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McCann Family Press Conference on the HET Report January 31, 2013

Posted by Garibaldy in Justice.
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Full text of the press conference held by the McCann family regarding the release of the HET report into the murder of Joe McCann. Taken from here

Press Conference. Clifton House, Belfast. Jan 29th 2013
Paul –welcome & intro

First family member
On April 15 1972 our father, Joe McCann, was shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment in Joy St, Belfast at approximately 3pm. Much has been written over the years about the circumstances surrounding his death. Some of what was written was incorrect, some was correct. Today we want to set the record straight.

In the Belfast of the early 1970’s the British Army and RUC made no secret of their intent toward Joe McCann. Death threats were issued on a regular basis through family and friends.

Joe was a member of the Official IRA, an Irish Republican who didn’t have a sectarian bone in his body. He worked within his community with regard to social justice, encouraging people to be active at whatever level they could. He was involved in numerous civil-rights marches, campaigned for better housing and set up co-ops. He drew admiration for his humanity from unexpected sources with Gusty Spence, the U.V.F. leader, paying tribute to him after his murder. He was a loving husband to our mother, Anne and a caring father to the four of us.

For some time we have engaged with the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) with the support of the Pat Finucane Centre. Today we intend to make public the preliminary findings from the HET into the events that occurred that sunny Saturday afternoon in April in the Markets. We still have a number of outstanding issues to be resolved with the HET as we differ on some aspects of the investigation. But where we do agree, is on the main findings in the report surrounding the legality, or not, of the actual shooting.

Second family member
Two plain clothes members of RUC Special Branch in an unmarked car claim to have spotted Joe crossing Cromac Square that afternoon. They then claim that they drove into May St where they encountered a patrol of the Parachute Regiment, 1 Para, at the junction of May St and Joy St. One of the Special Branch officers admits that he then briefed the ‘Para’ patrol that Joe was in the area. The version of events that unfolded – as contained in the statements of the Branch men and the Para’s who opened fire – are totally contradictory and self –serving, in terms of times, distances and whether warning shots were fired.

Policeman B, as he is referred to in the HET report, claims to have stopped Joe at the corner of Little May St and Joy St, to have identified himself as a police officer and to have then told Joe to take his hands out of his pockets. He claims that Joe pushed him away, turned and ran down Joy St. At this point all three soldiers, A, B and C opened fire and Joe fell, having been struck by three high velocity bullets. He was unarmed.

It has not been possible to question the Special Branch version of events because, incredibly, the RUC then and the PSNI now, claim not to be aware of the identities of the two Special Branch officers who were following Joe that day. According to the HET and I quote,
‘The lack of access to their identities has been a major inhibitor in being able to provide a full and comprehensive review of all the circumstances of Joe’s death.’ End quote

In the view of the family, a view shared by the PFC, the refusal of the PSNI even today to divulge the identities of these two officers is shameful and has denied us the right to an Article 2 compliant investigation. We do not accept that their names are not known. Special Branch knows who these two men are.

Third family member
As Áine has pointed out, the statements of the soldiers and the two Special Branch men are contradictory and self-serving. Times, distances and adherence to the ‘yellow card’ rules are all at odds. Nor was any attempt made at the time to investigate these contradictions. Nevertheless the HET has come to very clear conclusions regarding the central issue of the legality of the shooting. I want to quote the HET report on this issue.

“The law dictates that once the defence of self-defence is raised, it is incumbent on the prosecution to rebut it. No attempt was made by investigators to do so despite the fact that there was no doubt that Joe had been unarmed when he was shot and that he had been running away from the police and soldiers”.

“The HET considers that Joe’s actions did not amount to the level of specific threat which could have justified the soldiers opening fire in accordance with the army rules of engagement or their standard operating procedures. This meant that the important issues that required a thorough investigation and examination related to the lawful use of reasonable force, as defined in Section 3, Criminal Law Act 1967. No such investigation took place”. End quote

The shooting of our father was not justified. It was unjustified. David Cameron described the actions of the soldiers of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday on January 30th 1972 as unjustified and unjustifiable. According to the HET the actions of the soldiers of the Parachute Regiment on April 15th 1972,a mere nine weeks later, were also unjustified.

We have always known this. Now it is the findings of an official report and we welcome that.

Fourth family member
So, the HET found that the soldiers were not justified in opening fire and that Joe posed no threat to them, I quote directly,
‘Joe was not armed and there is no evidence that he was doing anything other than trying to escape when he was shot.’ End quote

In the conclusions the report refers to the army rules of engagement, the yellow card in other words, and their standard operating procedures. This is highly significant.
The HET discovered a document in the archives of the First Battalion, the Parachute Regiment entitled, Standard Operating Procedures for internal security duties in Northern Ireland. This is the first time that the existence of this SOP, has been divulged.

It is significant, not only in Joe’s case, but also in other cases involving members of the First Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

It contains instructions on when soldiers may and may not open fire and I quote,
When not to fire: You may not fire at someone who either;
(A) Does not halt when you challenge him but is not yet causing any danger to anyone’s life or to the place you are guarding.
Or
(B) Runs away when you challenge him or drives away in a car.
End quote

Why then, when it became clear that soldiers A, B and C had violated both the ‘yellow card’ and their own Standard Operating Procedures, was a criminal investigation not carried out as the HET makes clear should have happened?

The HET stated the following,
“The circumstances of the shooting must have been considered contentious at the very least. The full investigation procedure that should have been instigated by the RUC did not materialise and it is the view of the HET that it should have done.”
“The reality is that many important questions remain unanswered despite this review.”

Family member

In summation, the findings of the HET report into Joe’s killing have concluded that;

Ø The Para’s acted unlawfully by contravening not only the Army’s ‘Yellow Card’ rules of engagement but their own ‘Standard Operating Procedures’

Ø The Para’s were unjustified in their use of lethal force, as Joe was unarmed and was running away when shot.

Ø The RUC/SB and the RMP/SIB both failed in their duty to properly investigate the killing.

We will now leave the last word to Mrs Josephine Connolly, her contemporaneous eyewitness report was recorded just after the incident.

We would like to thank Clifton House for facilitating this Press Conference and we would especially like to acknowledge all the help and assistance afforded us by Paul O’Connor and all the staff at the Pat Finucane Centre over the last number of years.

And finally, we would like to thank you all again for taking time to attend.

Flags and political loyalism January 31, 2013

Posted by smiffy in Loyalism, Northern Ireland, Progressive Unionist Party, The North, Ulster, Uncategorized, Unionism.
20 comments

Regular readers may be interested in a newly-published book on political loyalism by U.S. academic, Tony Novosel, entitled Northern Ireland’s Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism. published by Pluto books.

Over at the Pluto website, Novosel has published an interesting and timely article, situating the current protests around flags within the context of an historical pattern of the exploitation of working-class loyalist political mobilization by mainstream Unionist parties. While not uncritical of loyalist communities and their political expression, he does give the current situation an important added dimension, going beyond the sometimes easy stereotyping of #flegs.

Winter Soldier January 31, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Film and Television.
6 comments

 

Winter Soldier consists of footage of testimony given by Vietnam veterans of the routine atrocities they observed and committed.

In 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War invited returning soldiers to go to Detroit and speak out about the war crimes they had committed and witnessed while stationed there. The Winter film collective realised the historical importance of the event and documented it, creating Winter Soldier. The documentary was barely seen by audiences until was finally released to American cinemas in 2005. Many choking back tears as they spoke, veterans (including former Presidential candidate John Kerry) revealed shocking and officially sanctioned participation in horrific war crimes and acts of violence including the destruction of entire villages, the torture and rape of civilians, as well as executions of POWs.

Harrowing, chilling, and ultimately tragic, it’s a portrayal of how easily the dark side of human nature can be brought out.

This is being shown in the IFI on the 1st , 2nd and 3rd of Feb.
.

The Irish EU Presidency and after… January 31, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
14 comments

Wow. Reading Backroom in the Sunday Business Post this weekend was refreshing. No ifs and buts there, well not many. For Backroom the situation was worse and disimproving.

So s/he could in the course of a rather euro-sceptic piece note that in the context of the EU Presidency and Ireland:

It would be easy for our politicians – as they swan around Europe dealing with the political problems of a continent and enjoy five-star meals in five-star hotels on our behalf and at our expense – to become distracted from the mundane and grinding work of everyday retail politics back home.
What’s not to like for busy politicians in being cocooned in a secure space permeated by the compliance of civil servants and the flattery of fellow politicians? For everyone, the sojourn in Brussels offers a breather, far from the madding crowds of domestic political pressures.

And it’s true. Anyone who has observed the short space between the Merrion Hotel and Government buildings, and the journeys that EU reps and others make between those two points, will recognise the sheer detachment from the everyday that those represent. Indeed to live a life where that typifies ones interactions is to live a life starkly at odds with the reality for most citizens in any European state. That, as the SBP, notes it is all being paid for by ourselves is but a minor and somewhat ironic detail. But it’s one that is far too often forgotten.

I have to admit that the scenes from Davos this last week raise my hackles, as does the sight of government cars rushing through traffic, though it seems to me there’s somewhat less of that these days than there used to be – no doubt to salve the anger of the populace.

One can only imagine the sense of entitlement that that breeds. Not good. Not good at all. The following is on the money.

But back home, life goes on. Back home, the economy is still flat-lining and mortgage arrears continue to worsen. Sure, economic activity appears to have stabilised and may even be lifting. But the emphasis is on the word “may”. Back home are thorny political issues, such as legislating for medical abortion.

And this:

And back home is where the voters live.

They do indeed.

And there are ramifications from all this:

Recent opinion polls would suggest that the government parties have already lost one quarter of their support at the last general election. If political support continues to haemorrhage at that rate, the government parties could lose half of their support come the next general election.
That could cost Fine Gael and Labour 50 seats or more. Only a sustained economic recovery and a generous EU deal on our debts can save the government from this fate. But the prospect of each is quite uncertain.

As has been noted here before, there’s no guarantee even were those latter phenomena indicating recovery, of sorts, to manifest themselves that there would be a correlation with government polling figures. And as the news at the weekend suggests there’s less likelihood of that ‘generous EU deal’ now than there was when Backroom wrote the piece.

Backroom suggests that the Presidency may represent an high-water mark of sorts, after which the government will own what happens from here on out, whereas before it was still coasting on its initial popularity. Perhaps, but I think that the government began to lose that quite some while back, and it is the last eight months that were the transitional period from one state to another.

Moreover it is notable that Backroom doesn’t offer the government any advice as how to proceed. That may be sensible. It could well be that there is no advice that can help at this stage.

More on the ULA… sort of… January 31, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
7 comments

…and an interesting misprint in the Phoenix in relation to the ULA split/demise. It suggests that a ‘new left force’ has emerged to replace the ULA’ and that the five TDs have ‘splintered five different ways’. Is that entirely correct, that last assertion, because surely Clare Daly and Joan Collins are working more closely than hitherto. And the Phoenix itself admits this is the case when it suggests that this ‘new group’…

…consists of former SP member, Daly, Joan Collins TD and Wallace.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But the misprint?

…with occasional support from TDs, Ming Flanagan and Maureen Collins.

Maureen Collins?

Who she?

Could they mean Maureen O’Sullivan?

That seems unlikely.

The anniversary of the death of Jim Larkin in 1947… January 30, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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…is marked here on East Wall for All.

What you want to say… Open Thread, 30th January, 2012 January 30, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
59 comments

As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

It would be interesting to hear what IBEC has to say about this… January 30, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
7 comments

…The Central Bank has revised downwards its growth projections for this year on the basis of a less favourable international outlook.

In its first quarterly bulletin of the year, the bank’s economists predicted that gross domestic product would grow by 1.3 per cent in 2013, lower than the 1.7 per cent forecast three months ago.

Given that only eight days ago IBEC predicted this:

The Irish economy will grow by 1.8 per cent this year up from 1.2 per cent in 2012, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation has predicted.
In its latest Quarterly Economic Outlook, the employers’ group said it expects to see a “turning point” for the Irish economy during 2013. The group predicts economic growth of 1.8 per cent over the course of the year, slightly higher than the latest Government forecasts.

Seems scepticism about the IBEC figures is well founded.

And in relation to those IBEC figrues this comment from Michael Taft on this thread is illuminating:

It’s a little curious that the IBEC projections received a ‘good news’ treatment. They now project consumer spending will grow by 0 percent this year. Three months ago they projected that consumer spending would rise by 0 percent. When it comes to GDP projection, IBEC now estimates 1.8 percent growth. Three months ago they projected 1.8 percent growth. Six months ago they projected growth of 2.3 percent. Nine months ago they projected growth of 2.4 percent. I guess a projection that doesn’t have a revision downwards constitutes ‘good news’.

Where now for the ULA? Saturday 2nd February,Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin January 30, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.
67 comments

Where now for the ULA?

Meeting with

Joan Collins TD
Clare Daly TD
Cllr Declan Bree

Saturday 2nd February, 2pm to 6pm, Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin.

Following on from discussions amongst non aligned members* of the ULA it was decided to have a full and open meeting between non aligned members and supporters of Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Declan Bree about how we can take the ULA project forward together. On the day the three public representatives will outline their proposals for doing just that.

This is a very important meeting for for all non aligned members to attend particularly in light of the current situation within the ULA. We would encourage everyone who can attend, for all or part of the day, to do so.

The non aligned have an email discussion group if you would like to be added email rdlp715@gmail.com to request to be added.

*Members of the ULA who are not members of the founding groups.

Ireland breaches European human rights laws on workers rights January 30, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Employment Rights, Human Rights, Workers Rights.
10 comments

Ireland has been found to be in breach of eight European requirements on employment rights (pdf here). A total of 11 breaches of the Revised European Social Charter were itemised by the Council of Europe in legal findings published on Tuesday (29 January). The Charter is a sister human rights treaty to the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf).

The findings were made by the European Committee of Social Rights, an independent legal body set up to judge state’s conformity with the Charter.

In addition to finding that Ireland is breaching European human rights law, the Council of Europe watchdog indicates that it doubts that the State is properly implementing its legal duty to strive for full employment, and echoes an OECD report that Ireland’s performance on assisting people with job searches in ineffective. The Committee took note of the OECD’s findings that a quarter of people eligible for help from FÁS were never referred to it and that Irish spending on labour market policies relies on job creation schemes that have been judged to be ineffective. However, the Committee decided to defer coming to a legal finding of compliance or breach until the Government provides more information.

The Employment Equality Act was found to to be incompatible with the human rights standard because the maximum compensation that can be awarded is not sufficiently dissuasive and may not be enough to make good the loss a person suffers. The law was changed in 2011 to raise the amount to €40,000. Only the provisions on gender discrimination, where the upper limit does not apply, are found to meet the standard required.

Most of the shortcomings highlighted in the legal report concern the rights of non-EU workers. Ireland has been found to discriminate illegally against those workers in relation to their access to vocatonal training, their access to vocational guidance, the length of their residency requirements for access to higher education, and their access to further or continuing education.

Fees levied by Ireland for work permits were found to be excessive. At the time the Committee assessed the situation, they ranged from €500 to €2,250 (in the case of a person renewing a permit for five years).

A rule requiring both Irish and non-Irish people to be resident in a local authority area for a year before they are eligible for a maintenance grant for vocational training was also found to be a breach of the European Social Charter.

Ireland was also found that the rights of all newly employed workers — both Irish and non-Irish — is breached because they are not protected under the Unfair Dismissal Acts in their first full year in any employment. “The Committee considers that one year period of exclusion is manifestly unreasonable”, the report says. It also finds that excluding workers who have reached the normal retiring age from the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Act goes beyond what is permitted in European human rights law.

The European Committee of Social Rights also finds that employment rights of army officers is breached. Officers may not seek early termination of their commission unless they repay to the state at least part of the cost of their education and training, and the decision to grant early retirement is left to the discretion of the Minister of Defence. The human rights watchdog find that this could lead to a period of service which would be too long to be compatible with the freedom to choose and leave an occupation.

The Committee found Ireland to be in conformity with six provisions, and deferred reaching a conclusion in the case of six other provisions because the Government had not provided enough information to enable the Committee to assess if the State is meeting its obligations.

The findings were made in the annual reporting procedure under the Revised European Social Charter. A quarter of the 31 articles of the Charter are examined each year, in thematic clusters. The next report will examine Ireland’s situation in relation to health, social security and social protection.

Ireland ratified the Charter thirteen years ago. Unlike the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter does not provide individual redress, but collective complaints from trade unions, employers’ bodies and European NGOs can be heard by the European Committee of Social Rights.

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