Wednesday, November 22, 2006

There is substantial evidence that a major crime was perpetrated within the Garda Siochana five years ago .
The evidence for this crime has certainly been available to senior Gardai ever since then , but no enquiry whatsoever has taken place , let alone any Garda being disciplined in connection with that crime .
By Vincent Browne and Derek Dunne .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , September 1983 .

Brian McNally was convicted by the State Special Criminal Court but the State Court of Criminal Appeal held that the court of trial had been wrong in admitting in evidence alleged verbal admissions , as no note had been made by the Gardai concerned of these alleged admissions , and therefore Brian McNally had not had an opportunity to read over such a note , or an opportunity to amend same , or to sign it .

Solicitor Pat McCartan who was acting for Brian McNally and Nicky Kelly asked Dr. Sean O Cleirigh and Dr. Sean Magee to examine Brian McNally when he was transferred to Mountjoy Prison - he asked both doctors to attend to ensure that at least one of them would be available . Dr. O Cleirigh made the examination on the evening of Thursday , April 8 , 1976 , at around 7.30pm , some 36 hours after Brian McNally had signed the self-incriminating statement .

Dr. O Cleirigh said in evidence that he found marks over McNally's left shoulder consisting of a mixture of bruising , scratching and excoriation , approximately four inches by two inches , and similar type marks below the left buttock . He found more bruising at the back of the right leg and right thigh , six inches by two inches , a similar mark below the right knee (four inches) and two red scratch lines . There was a reddening of the skin over an area of four inches , below the left knee and calf , and there was swelling and discolouration of the left eye . The left ear was swollen and inflamed and there was an abrasion of about a quarter of an inch on the right ear . Dr. O Cleirigh had more to add.......

From 'FORTNIGHT' magazine , October 1983 .

Arguments in favour of the current use of 'supergrasses' in the North of Ireland usually consist of three 'essentials' -
1) In an emergency situation a balance has to be struck between the right of accused persons to a fair trial and the right of the community to be free from political violence :
2) The 'supergrass' phenomenon is merely a particular application of the time-honoured practice of defendants 'turning Queen's evidence' , which is commonplace in criminal trials throughout the 'UK' :
3) Supergrass 'evidence' provides the authorities with an indispensable method of putting 'terrorists' behind bars and its use may even herald the end of paramilitary activity in the North of Ireland altogether .

Strong points can be raised to each of these points -
First , it can be argued that the right to a fair trial is a legal and moral absolute , non-negotiable even in public order crises , since the exposure of innocent people to punishment can never be permitted merely in order to make it easier for the authorities to deal with the 'guilty' .

In a democracy it is the duty of the state to guarantee civil peace without attempting to purchase it in the currency of fundamental legal rights . Significantly , in the North of Ireland , it is the bastions of Unionism who most vehemently advocate the abandonment of this 'cardinal principle' of British jurisprudence.......

By Michael Farrell .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , June 1983 .

Sinn Fein only contested 7 of the 12 constituencies last October while the SDLP fought all 12 . In the seven constituencies where they faced each other directly , Sinn Fein actually got 40 per cent of the combined nationalist [Sinn Fein and SDLP] vote and , in the five key constituencies listed above the gap was even narrower with Sinn Fein getting 45 per cent of the nationalist vote and actually beating the SDLP in two areas - Fermanagh-South Tyrone and West Belfast .

Sinn Fein are very precise about their objectives in this election - ('1169 ...' Comment : ....and those objectives did not then centre around working in a British-established 'parliament' on Irish soil..) they don't claim that they will beat the SDLP overall this time : Gerry Adams aims at 90,000 votes or just under half the nationalist total . They see this election as only one step in their strategy and are looking ahead already to the North's local elections in 1985 - and possibly the EEC elections next year , though they haven't decided on contesting them yet .

They aim to substantially improve their vote this time and get the SDLP on the run with a view to beating them in 1985 and ousting them from what Sinn Fein sees as the SDLP power base , the local councils . For Sinn Fein to win even 90,000 votes would require a 41 per cent increase over their total in the Assembly elections : it is a big undertaking . Can they do it ? The signs are that they might.......