Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Twenty-six men were convicted on the word of Harry Kirkpatrick. On their appeal against those convictions could well rest the future of the 'Anglo-Irish Agreement'
('The Hillsborough Treaty')
. Based on a full transcript of the Kirkpatrick trials , the story of how these convictions were obtained shows why the 'Supergrass System' is a pale shadow of justice.
By Derek Dunne. From 'MAGILL' magazine, February 1986.

There had been a lot of 'visitors' calling to Harry Kirkpatrick during his two years in safe-keeping in Crumlin Road Prison . William 'Budgie' Allen's (aka William Reeves) wife had called to see him , and his best friend Gerard Barkley had also called , as had his own wife , sisters and mother . The RUC had been in with him 117 times in eighteen months , although most of those had been social visits - two RUC men , Meeke and Mitchell , had built up a relationship with him , despite the fact that Kirkpatrick claimed he had spent sixteen months trying to blow away as many of them as possible ! Kirkpatrick called the two RUC men by their first names , Kenny and Tommy , and they called him Harry.

Harry had made statements about dozens of people , said how they had been involved in scores of 'crimes' . Twenty-seven of them were now in prison and , for almost two months , they had trouped through a tunnel across Crumlin Road to the Courthouse . The 'evidence' against them consisted of the word of Harry Kirkpatrick , who was then resting in the special annex of the same prison. The court time was taken up with proving that incidents happened as the 'Supergrass' claimed they had.

Kirkpatrick had passed a note to his wife on one of the last occasions that she came to visit him - " Things are going my way now , " he wrote . That was on Sunday 21st April 1985 ; on the Monday , 27-year-old Harry Kirkpatrick would troupe through the tunnel and take the witness stand . On his word he would send twenty-six men to prison for a couple of thousand years between them.......

Customs Officers in England have arrested a man who could blow the lid off an embarrassing British Intelligence operation against the Provisional IRA , when he answers drug smuggling charges in London later this year.
From 'MAGILL' magazine, July 1980.
By James Curtis.

Howard Marks had been on the run for six years and is no stranger to the courts in Britain . In April 1974 he was due to face earlier charges of conspiracy to smuggle cannabis to the USA and , when out on bail , he had told family , friends and lawyers that he had been recruited by MI6 to collect information about the Provisional IRA and claimed that his spymaster knew he was involved with drug smuggling .

The possibility that Howard Marks might raise his MI6 involvement in his defence no doubt worried his intelligence bosses ; at this time , prison escapee Kenneth Littlejohn was telling the world that he had been cleared by his MI6 bosses to rob banks in Ireland . British MP's were calling for a full inquiry into the security and intelligence services , but those 'spy authorities' were spared any embarrassment when Marks conveniently vanished from his lodgings in Oxford a few days before his trial.

There has since been speculation about whether he was genuinely abducted or whether someone told him to make himself scarce . In the event , his parents were not directed to surrender any bail money . Back behind bars now , Howard Marks is unlikely to get bail a second time.......

A look at issues raised by Liz Curtis' recent book.
From 'IRIS' magazine, August 1984.
Review by Trisha Fox.

As Liz Curtis concludes in her book - " British people must , in the end , carry the responsibility for the policy their government pursues : they pay the piper and they could, if they wished, call an end to the tune .

Whatever the shortcomings of the coverage and the secretiveness of the British authorities , it is possible for people to take the initiative and seek out the information for themselves . Ireland is , after all , only next door."

(Next : 'Fighting Back - The Campaign Against Heroin In Dublin' , from 1984)