by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A-Pat Finucane family in Supreme Court appeal-The family of murdered civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane, took the fight for an independent judicial inquiry to the Supreme Court in London. Pat Finucane battled for justice in the British non-jury Diplock courts which replaced Internment, despite threats by British Minister Douglas Hogg, and Royal Ulster Constabulary members telling clients “Finucane would not be alive to finish your case”. Brutally murdered in front of his family on February 12,1989,British Army and RUC agents who were involved had warned crown officials of the planned murder. The case broke open denials of collusion. The family has been fighting for a public inquiry, where their lawyer could question witnesses, instead of a crown appointed judge merely reviewing documents. Counsel Barry MacDonald called it “murder by proxy whereby the state engaged in terrorism through loyalist paramilitaries”. Geraldine Finucane pledged her family “had come for an inquiry and for justice. We will never stop”. A decision is expected in the fall.
B-Choice of Drew Harris as Garda Commissioner alarming-Civil rights and legacy groups are critical of the choice of the crown’s Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris as Garda Commissioner heading Irish police in the 26 counties. Harris was a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary before its name was changed to Police Service of Northern Ireland and worked closely with MI5 British intelligence. His father was a high ranking RUC officer killed by the IRA. Harris has been a major obstacle on legacy truth. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said “Drew Harris has had a stranglehold on legacy and has acted partially and with vested interest at all times not least concerning incidents of shoot-to-kill and collusion carried out by the state during the conflict”. The Irish government thought Harris’ appointment would be favorably received by unionists. Harris oversaw the decision to arrest, rather than interview former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and veteran Republican Ivor Bell in connection with the Jean McConville case. Because Ivor Bell refused to inform on Adams, he still faces charges despite serious medical issues.
C-British troopers stonewall Ballymurphy Inquest- There are fears that the inquest into eleven Ballymurphy murders, scheduled to begin on September 11th,may be further delayed because British trooper witnesses refuse to comply. The “Ballymurphy Massacre” took place over a three day period, beginning on August 9, 1971. Ten people were fatally shot including Catholic Priest Fr. Hugh Mullan, and mother of eight Joan Connolly. An eleventh victim died from a heart attack after a mock execution. Victims were shot as many as 14 times. The British crown blamed all killings on the victims, claiming the Paratroopers were under fire, despite no British casualties nor IRA weapons found. British news broadcast crown accounts. Some troopers took part in Bloody Sunday, 5 months later. British troopers and veterans groups are trying to delay the inquest, crying “witch-hunt”, and refusing legal requests for testimony or contact information. Families of the victims have been fighting almost 47 years for a chance to prove their loved ones innocent.
D-Orange marching season hinders Stormont moves– While the Stormont Assembly deadlock continues, attempts at new talks will be hindered by the onset of the Orange marching season. The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, after an eleven year interval, will meet on July 25th.This meeting would allow the governments to publish suggestions for new talks. The Orange marching season, extending through the summer will include huge bonfires where Irish flags, pictures of the Pope and various nationalist politicians are burned. British and loyalist flags fill towns and more than 4,000 parades will be held. This year the Mid-Ulster District Council, with its nationalist majority will be a special target. The Council voted to add signs in Irish to Council properties and wants to regulate bonfires located on council land. Loyalists responded by distributing specially made Mid-Ulster Council flags to be burned atop bonfires across the six counties. Last February the DUP backed out of an agreement, which would have put Arlene Foster back as First Minister, merely because it included an Irish language Act subject to a Respect for Languages Act and in tandem with an Ulster Scots Act. This was too much for unionists. No DUP compromises are expected in this political atmosphere.
EMMET MONUMENT REDEDICATION
The words “Emmet Monument” have a special place in Irish history. In the nineteenth century when all hope of freedom seemed to have been crushed, Emmet Monument Societies were created. The subtle joke was clear to any Irishman or woman. Robert Emmet told Norbury, known as the “hanging judge”, that he wished his epitaph to be inscribed on his tombstone only after Ireland “takes its place among the nations of the earth.” Emmet Monument Societies meant freeing Ireland from British rule, and became the forerunners of the Fenians and other patriot groups which made 1916 a reality.
On Sunday July 22, 2018 the anniversary of Robert Emmet’s rebellion, there will be a special rededication and unveiling of a monument to the Emmet family in Beechwood Cemetery, New Rochelle at 3pm.
The family plot includes the graves of Thomas Addis Emmet, an exiled United Irish leader, among other family members who were patriots of Ireland, as well as the United States. There will be a reception afterwards at the Heritage on McLean Avenue. For information call-718-877-0345.
Many of the organizers are young AOH members who started a new Division. This should be a great event.
TOM CLARKE-KATHLEEN DALY CLARKE MEMORIAL
During the Suffolk County meeting on July 18th, the framed certificates from the Tyrone AOH in appreciation of the Tom Clarke -Kathleen Daly Clarke Memorial will be formally presented to our State President Vic Vogel and to the Suffolk County members who built and maintain this great memorial.
Looking forward to the National Convention, meeting FFAI leaders from around the Country and sharing some of the ideas that have worked for us in New York with other states!
Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.