" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Friday, June 10, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

The (Free State) Supreme Court was deliberately misled into believing that the RUC had a case against Dominic McGlinchey for the murder of an elderly woman , Hester McMullen ; this murder was handed to the court as a vicious crime which it could declare non-political : McGlinchey might well have been accused of being the Yorkshire Ripper . The crime he was accused of did'nt matter as long as it provided sufficient grounds for the (FS) Supreme Court to hand him over .

The RUC had not one sliver of evidence against Dominic McGlinchey in connection with that crime ; only after the extradition , when they had him in custody , did they begin building a case , and an extremely flimsy one , so flimsy that it fell apart in court ! The embarrassment for the Free State Supreme Court was deepened in cases which followed , including the Shannon and Burns cases .

Increasingly it was clear that the (FS) Supreme Court was being treated as a device , much like a supergrass , to jail people by questionable methods . The RUC said " Fetch ! " and it was done , whether by John Grimley or a Supreme Court Justice , on equally discreditable evidence .

In the John O' Reilly case , unlike, for instance , the McGlinchey and Shannon cases , the North of Ireland Authorities are seeking to implicate the (FS) Supreme Court in the discredited supergrass system .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

1973 opened with a British 'White Paper' that suggested the formation of an Assembly to which power would be devolved if it was shared between Protestants and Catholics (ie Nationalists and Unionists) ; an election was called for June 1973 and exactly one week before polling day Gerry Fitt received a phone call from RUC Assistant Chief Constable Sam Bradley - " He asked me if I had thirty pounds , and I said I had , and he said he was sending a detective up right away with a gun and a permit . 'It won't stop the loyalists killing you , Gerry ' , he said , ' but if you fire it in the air when they come at you they'll have to put a bullet through you . They won't get close enough to cut your throat' . " (' 1169... ' Comment - why should the RUC seek to arm and protect its 'enemy' .... ?)

He got the gun on Friday night and set off from Belfast with Senator Paddy Wilson for a tour , as leader of the SDLP , of the country constituencies : " I paid £28 for the hire of a car and Paddy drove me round . A police (RUC) sergeant in Cushendall , a pal of mine , took me up into a quarry and taught me how to fire it . We came back to Belfast on Monday night . Paddy met a bird in a pub and went off up the Cave Hill in a car . The butchers followed him into a quarry ... " Both bodies were stabbed and mutilated from top to bottom . Gerry Fitt identified them in the morgue .

The Assembly was formed and though more votes were cast for the dissident Unionist parties of Paisley and Craig than were cast for the unionist party of Brian Faulkner , the former Stormont Premier went off to Sunningdale to engage in talks with the SDLP and the Alliance parties .

Between them these three parties cobbled out a power sharing agreement , under the direction of Edward Heath ; they returned to the North of Ireland to form an Executive which took office on January 1 , 1974 .......

(MORE LATER).




UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .......
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

British Lord Chief Justice Lowry rubbed salt into the wounds of incredulity by using his summation for the purposes of a policy statement on the use of perjurers , in which he formally signalled the willingness of the Northern judiciary to accept uncorroborated evidence of an 'accomplice witness ' as the sole basis for a conviction .

Arguing that the judiciary was , and remained , independent of the (Westminster) ' Northern Ireland' Office and was not in any form of collusion , Chief Justice Lowry stated - " The resort to supergrasses has been described by some people as a method of convicting suspected terrorists . But the expression 'method of conviction' is a complete misnomer , since it is likely to give the impression that the Executive and Judges are together implementing a trial process with the joint object of convicting and imprisoning suspects .

It is for the Executive to prosecute a case if , on the available evidence , that seems to be the right course . But the function of the Judges , acting quite independently , has not altered ; it is simply to decide whether or not in any individual case the allegations of the prosecutor have been proved . "

Two days before Lowry made the above statement , the British Attorney-General , Sir Michael Havers , had spoken about the " financial arrangements ... " made with those informers .......

(MORE LATER).







Thursday, June 09, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

The (Free State) Supreme Court has a little egg on its face from its involvement with extradition : the policy of Southern governments since at least the fall of Sunningdale has been to de-politicise the Northern conflict and treat its paramilitary violence as simple 'criminality' . Occasional doubts about the RUC and the Northern courts were voiced , but these were pragmatic attempts to placate Northern nationalists and combat the drift to Sinn Fein .

A (Free State) Government source was quoted in 'MAGILL' magazine in November 1984 as saying - " It's a side road for a year or eighteen months or so to pick up a problem . Once we've dealt with the repairs we'll be back on the main road again . " ('1169... ' Comment - that same attitude , as expressed 21 years ago , is prevalent today from those in Leinster House ; they will occasionally pay 'lip service' to events in the Six Counties [depending on the event] but will not push the issue . There are no votes in it for them .)

The "...main road .. " was the depiction of the RUC and the Northern judicial system as 'normal bodies adhering to accepted standards' - the same political 'wind' was blowing through the (FS) Supreme Court and the door to extradition was opened . The Dominic McGlinchey case was the 'jemmy' that opened the door .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

On March 24 , 1972 , Stormont was prorogued to the sound of guns and bombs as the North of Ireland was engulfed in the cross -fire between the British Army , the UDR , the RUC , UVF , UDA , UFF , Official IRA and Provisional IRA ; Gerry Fitt and Bernadette Devlin were the only two anti-unionists left with political status , and even they were forbidden from negotiating with anybody .

While the politicians chaffed at redundancy , people who were in jail as a result of the war chaffed at their criminalisation : a hunger strike was called and Gerry Fitt was instrumental in persuading Northern Secretary Willie Whitelaw to grant , in June , 'special category status' to prisoners convicted of political offences . This , coupled with a mass release of internees , and the famous talks in London with IRA leaders , who included Gerry Adams (specially released from internment for the talks ) , broke the political deadlock . ('1169... ' Comment - Gerry Adams has since publicly declared that he is not now , nor was he ever , a member of the PIRA . As he gave that statement , a cock could be heard crowing for the third time in the background ... )

The IRA declared a ceasefire and the way was open for the SDLP to return to constitutional politics : the IRA ceasefire lasted nine days . Within a month of the granting of 'special category status' , the Provos were responsible for the bombing of Belfast on 'Bloody Friday' and the bombing of the village of Claudy . Many civilians died . The Shankill Butchers were also out that July with knives and many Catholics died . It seemed to Gerry Fitt , who lived in the 'Murder Mile' that stretched from Carlisle Circus up along the Antrim Road where he lived , that every time he opened his front door , or his newspaper , somebody was dead .

Whatever sympathetic links had ever existed between him and 'the people' who defended the area where he lived - "...the vigilantes only ever stood in my front garden with big sticks , in 1969 and 1970 .. " - were well and truly broken . The year 1973 opened with an offer from the British .......

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UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .......
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

But if the RUC's optimism for the potential of their perjurer strategy has been tempered by a series of retractions in recent months - Walter McCrory (Derry) , Charles Dillon (County Derry) , Robert Lean and Patrick McGurk - and if they have been forced to the realisation that it will continue to be an imperfect strategy , with perjurers as much subject to the persuasion of the nationalist community's abhorrence of their actions as they are to RUC threats and inducements , nevertheless the third major event in this momentous week ensured the continued successful use of paid perjurers as a means of securing convictions .

It was an event that marked a further and fundamental diminishing in the standard of evidence required in Diplock Courts for conviction : (British) Lord Chief Justice Lowry's sentencing of seven men on IRA charges , in Belfast Crown Court , on Wednesday 26 October , on the uncorroborated evidence of Kevin McGrady , was incredible even by Diplock 'standards' . Three weeks earlier , on October 5th , he had released two of the ten defendants and thrown out 13 of the original 45 charges (including charges of murder) , saying that in respect of those he found Kevin McGrady's evidence "...so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself , as a tribunal of fact , to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt . "

Yet in his final summation on the 25th , despite acknowledging that McGrady's evidence had contained "...some glaring absurdities .. " and was "...contradictory , bizarre and in some respects incredible .. " , and despite finding the remaining eight defendants innocent of a further 19 charges , Lowry nonetheless returned verdicts of guilty against seven of them on the remaining 13 charges .

In one case , the former Sinn Fein National Organiser , Jim Gibney (28) , was sentenced to terms of 12 years and 5 years on two charges , even though he was cleared of no less than 20 other charges on Kevin MGrady's " bizarre " 'evidence' .......

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, June 08, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

There was evidence that the informer Harry Kirkpatrick was coached by the RUC ; British Justice Carswell solemnly advised himself that it would be unsafe to convict on such evidence - he then rejected his own advice (!) and gave ten of the defendants life sentences . The rest got between eight and twenty years apiece .

Harry Kirkpatrick's accusations against John O' Reilly are that he was a member of the INLA and that in April 1981 he conspired to murder Kenneth Schimeld , a civil servant . A bomb was attached to the bottom of Schimeld's car , fell off and was safely detonated by the British Army .

Kirkpatrick alleged that O' Reilly attended a meeting at which the murder was discussed . He also said that someone else later told him that someone else had in turn said that John O' Reilly placed the bomb under the car . There is no other evidence against O' Reilly . If someone says you did something you go to jail ; if someone says someone else told them you did something you go to jail . Then , after two or three years in jail , you can receive a long sentence , even when the person pointing the finger is known to have an intimate relationship with the RUC and has a vested interest in putting you away .

Proceedings which accept such evidence , from such a source , in a mass trial format , bear only a satirical resemblance to due process of law and have been condemned by lawyers here and in Britain . The 'supergrass system ' of jailing people has been condemned by all political shades on the island , unionist and nationalist . The Southern government , through its representative at the Anglo-Irish Conference , Peter Barry , has repeatedly criticised the system .

Nevertheless , the Free State Minister for Justice , Michael Noonan , has already given the nod for the extradition proceedings to proceed against John O' Reilly . In the next few months the case will be appealed through the Free State High Court and almost certainly into the Free State Supreme Court .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

'Bloody Sunday' , January 1972 : " It's a United Ireland now or nothing . " The words of John Hume , as he ' raised' the first green flag ('1169...' Comment - verbally , only ... ) . Bernadette Devlin punched Reginald Maulding in the face on the floor of Westminster and nationalist politicians withdrew even from the lowest form of political engagement , local government , in the North . It was all too much for Gerry Fitt , the 'political in-fighter' , to bear : never an electoral pacifist , he hated seeing Unionists step into uncontested City Council seats as one by one the anti-Unionist Councillors withdrew from the 'ring' or were counted out for non-attendance .

He dashed down to City Hall , signed the attendance sheet , made a token attendance and dashed home . Paddy Devlin persuaded the SDLP to ignore this breach of the rules , but even he had to restrain Fitt publicly when Unionist jeers about Fitt's token presence in City Hall provoked Fitt to throw down a challenge that he could resign altogether , fight as an abstentionist and still beat them .

When the other Dock seat fell vacant , with the prospect of a Unionist setting foot in the the political 'birthplace' of Gerry Fitt , he " ... went mad with frustration altogether and walked that floor like a lion .. " , his wife Anne recalled . " He and (Stormont) Senator Paddy Wilson set off down town to scour the pubs . Gerry swore he would find somebody to fight the seat before the night was out . Towards closing time I got a call from him . " " I've found someone , Anne " , he said : " Great ! " , I said . " It's a women , Anne , " he said . " Even better , " I said . " It's you , Anne ... " , he said . Unable to wiggle out of the party bonds that tied him down , Gerry Fitt watched with delight while Anne toured the streets handing out the election address which she wrote herself -

- " When elected I will not be attending City Hall but I will be preventing a bigoted Unionist from doing so in your name . " Anne Fitt won by 2536 votes to 288 , obtaining a larger vote than her husband ever did in that ward . But a battle of a different kind was about to commence .......

(MORE LATER).




UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .......
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

The informer Robert Lean escaped from RUC 'protective custody' but was arrested under Section 12 on leaving a press conference ; he was held in Castlereagh for seven days . Apparently the RUC seriously intended to charge him with a killing on 'new evidence' obtained from the perjurer , William Skelly , who had originally implicated Robert Lean , in a revenge act for his retraction , but the RUC finally changed their minds . It is highly improbable that the (British) Crown Prosecutor could have persuaded even a Diplock Court that the informer William Skelly had forgotten this 'evidence' until after Robert Lean retracted , and then miraculously remembered it !

The inference that the RUC had been aware of 'evidence' linking Lean to a killing at the outset , but had suppressed it in order to do a 'deal' with him , and so imprison prominent Republicans , would have been unavoidable . Most damaging of all from the RUC's viewpoint was Robert Lean's assertion that his 'deal' for immunity was to sign statements already prepared by the RUC incriminating specific individuals wanted 'out of the way' by them . Top of the list was Gerry Adams , but it seems the RUC were unable to charge him because Robert Lean refused to co-operate with a face-to-face confrontation .

On their release , two of those actually imprisoned on Lean's statements - Edward Carmichael and Ivor Bell - confirmed that they had also been offered immunity if they would incriminate Sinn Fein elected representatives , Adams , Danny Morrison and Martin Mcguinness . Additionally , Edward Carmichael had been offered £300,000 and Ivor Bell was told to "...name my own figure .. " .

The RUC were not having a one-hundred per cent success rate with their informer/perjurer strategy : but they were not prepared to give up on it .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, June 07, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

On November 4 , 1985 , John O' Reilly was again arrested under Section 30 , this time in Limerick ; the ostensible reason for this arrest was to question him about a robbery which had taken place . In Portlaoise he had been questioned for forty-eight hours , having been lifted so that his identity could be checked in case of a motoring offence .

Now , ostensibly on a matter of armed robbery , he was held for just five hours ; he was then released . As he attempted to leave the Garda Station , however , he was arrested on the RUC warrant . He was committed to Portlaoise Prison and remains there awaiting extradition .

By fleeing South , John O' Reilly had missed taking part in the 'famous' Harry Kirkpatrick trial ; had he not skipped bail he would have been one of twenty-eight defendants tried simultaneously on 201 charges arising from thirty separate incidents - all to be heard before one judge who would remember and weigh the 'evidence' on all 201 charges as applying to each of the twenty-eight defendants !

Had such a trial taken place before a jury , involving even one defendant on one charge , the judge would have been legally bound to warn the jury that the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice would be an unsafe basis on which to convict . The jury , having weighted the 'evidence' , would be free to reject the judge's advice .

The case against the twenty-seven defendants , minus John O' Reilly , went ahead : the judge , Justice Carswell , described Harry Kirkpatrick as " ...a man of bad character and low moral standards (given to ) a series of lies and evasions .. " .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

In July 1971 , during a stone-throwing riot , the first two Derrymen were shot dead by British soldiers : John Hume (SDLP) insisted that his party withdraw from Stormont in protest : Gerry Fitt , never a man for abstention , disagreed . But Hume won the argument and went a step further , setting up an alternative Parliament in Dungiven , so far west of the Bann that the Glenshane Pass had to be negotiated to get to it . Gerry Fitt had no car , could'nt drive , and they wanted him down there to consider abstractions .

In August 1971 internment was introduced and hundreds of Belfast Catholics were lifted from their beds ; Gerry Fitt endorsed the SDLP decision to not even discuss things with the British government and flew off to America to counteract the propaganda being put about by a Tory Minister who had gone over to disinform .

A British soldier was shot on the Louth/Armagh border while both men were in America , and Gerry Fitt said of this on TV that it was "...one more regrettable and tragic incident which we have to expect while the Border exists and the British troops continue to carry out the sectarian will of the Unionist government . "

He raised funds among Irish Americans for the campaign of civil disobedience , including the witholding of rent and rates , upon which the entire nationalist community had launched , with the united backing of both Republicans and the SDLP . Then came 'Bloody Sunday' , January 1972 .......

(MORE LATER).




UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .......
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

The informer Patrick McGurk had implicated nine Dungannon men as far back as February 1982 , five of whom had been held on remand for twenty months - the longest remand period involved in any of the perjurer cases . On September 20 1982 , the RUC , apparently doubtful that Patrick McGurk would go through with his 'evidence' if produced in court , instead invoked the obsolete 'Bill of Indictment' to by-pass the preliminary enquiry stage of the case against the nine accused . This meant that , until his return to Dungannon on Wednesday 26th October , Patrick McGurk had been held incommunicado , without access to family or friends , throughout the 20-month period .

If , as seems to be the case , Patrick McGurk was unwilling to testify but was prevented by the RUC from retracting and prevented from contacting his family , it makes a nonsense of RUC assertions that - once having been given immunity from prosecution - their perjurers ( or 'converted terrorists' in RUC jargon !) are 'free agents' voluntarily in protective custody . Not surprisingly , some of the defendants in the McGurk case are said to be considering suing the RUC for wrongful imprisonment .

The Robert Lean episode , too , has gone a long way to publicly undermining propaganda about 'converted terrorists' and 'free agents' : not only did Robert Lean feel so unfree that he felt it necessary to escape from 'protective custody' in Palace Barracks , Hollywood , County Down , by climbing out of a window and stealing the car of his RUC 'minder' , but , on leaving a press conference in West Belfast the following afternoon , he was immediately arrested under Section 12 and held in Castlereagh for a further seven days .......

(MORE LATER).







Monday, June 06, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

John O' Reilly remained in jail on Harry Kirkpatrick's say-so , awaiting 'trial' . Again and again he was refused bail . By October 1984 he had served two years and nine months - this was equivalent to a sentence of over five years , yet he had been convicted of nothing !

In October 1984 John O' Reilly finally got bail ; he was due to appear in court in Belfast on January 28 1985 . When he did'nt turn up a bench warrant was sworn out for his arrest . He had crossed the border to the South .

When he had been almost twenty-four hours in custody in Portlaoise Garda Station a Garda read out an extension order , holding him for another twenty-four hours under Section 30 - John O' Reilly was not then and is not now wanted for any crime in the South of Ireland . The questioning continued : at around 10.30 pm on the second day O' Reilly was allowed to see a solicitor , Henry Kelly , and a barrister , Michael Gray . He spent a second night in the station and was again questioned the following day .

At about 5.30 pm , after forty-eight hours in detention , John O' Reilly was released ; sometime that day , October 11 , 1985 , Assistant Commissioner of the Garda , David Leahy , signed a one-sentence authorisation for "...the execution of this warrant in the State by any member of the Garda Siochana . " That warrant was the one from Belfast . It was now the responsibility of the 26-County Gardai to " ...bring him forthwith .. " before the Northern court .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

While Irish Republicans formulated their own disorganised and poorly armed response to matters (starting with a split in January 1970 !) , the Civil Rights MP's came together in a broad political front : " We met in Donegal and Toome and John Hume favoured the 'Social Democratic' approach " , said Austin Currie , " because he was into the ' European' perspective , and Paddy Devlin and Gerry Fitt favoured the ' Labour ' approach . Fitt had the senior political experience so ' Labour ' was given priority .

The 'Labour and Social Democratic Party' was the agreed name and we started drawing up policy . Around three in the morning Paddy Devlin sat straight up and said - 'Jesus Christ - the 'LSD' Party ! They'll think we're spaced out capitalists !' " The SDLP was 'born' in August 1970 with Gerry Fitt as titular head , and his political currency still shrinking in value , from 'Republican Labour' to ' Social Democratic Labour' , to a party identified more by initials than policy .

Paddy Devlin and Ivan Cooper visited Bernadette Devlin in jail and informed her that , among other things , reform not resistance was to be the future order of the day ; if she did not fall in step with SDLP policy they would oppose her in future elections , splitting the vote rather than let a unity candidate take the seat . Her Westminster colleague , Gerry Fitt , did not come to see her in jail .

Gerry Fitt had stated when the SDLP was launched - " It's a miracle that a party which includes elements from west of the Bann and the Falls Road should come together ... " ('1169... ' Comment - those that 'came together' to form the SDLP may not have realised it at the time , but the Party was formed to "reform" [ie 'tweak'] the existing system , not change it.) While Fitt became embedded in the 'stable body politic' of Westminster , the political and military landmines detonating all over the North of Ireland caused the SDLP to step in , step out again of Stormont and the moves they took were indeed dictated by the areas in which they lived .

With violence breaking out on all sides in Belfast , Gerry Fitt called in February 1971 on the British Army to raid the homes of Protestants as well as Catholics , so that it would not be seen as an agent of Stormont ....... ('1169 ... ' Comment - the Republican response to those raids would have been to condemn the British Army for being there at all , not to demand that they attack your neighbour as well as you .)

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UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

Even by North of Ireland standards , where dramatic political developments have a tendency to follow one another with un-nerving rapidity , Wednesday 19th October 1983 and the week that followed was an unusually active period in the psychological warfare between the British government and the Republican struggle that continues to focus around the use of paid perjurers .

It was a week which , at least in terms of propaganda , Republicans won on points - but it also heavily underlined the British government's commitment to the perjurer strategy in the face of mounting opposition .

The retractions by Robert Lean (Belfast) and Patrick McGurk (Dungannon) of their incriminating statements against a total of 37 people accused of republican activities , by Lean on October 19th and by McGurk on October 24th , was a crushing embarrassment to the RUC .

Robert Lean , in particular , had been portrayed in 'leaks' to a sensationalist media to be the IRA's No. 2 in Belfast , and in a classic exercise in 'trial by media' the RUC claimed that his evidence had secured the imprisonment of the IRA's Chief of Staff and its Belfast Brigade Officer Commanding ; both of the individuals against whom these claims had been made were among those released two days after Lean's retraction .

McGurk's retraction a few days later was equally damaging to the image cultivated by the RUC around its use of perjurers .......

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