FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair
A-Boris Johnson unveils border checks Brexit plan after illegal Westminster suspension-Boris Johnson revealed his Brexit plan to replace the “backstop” (or insurance policy drawn up to keep a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland). Johnson detailed his plan after his attempt to suspend or prorogue Westminster was declared illegal by the British Supreme Court. He wants the six counties to leave the European Union’s customs union when Britain does at the start of 2021.Howeve the north would, with Stormont approval, apply EU legislation relating to agricultural and other products -in what he calls an “all-island regulatory zone”. This arrangement would need new Stormont approval every four years. There would be physical customs checks or a hard border at specified locations across Ireland, although he says these will be at a few locations near but not on the border. The British promised to give the north grants to deal with the impact. The European Commission simply said these proposals “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”. Sinn Fein called the plans a “non-starter”, the Social Democratic and Labour Party said they were “dead on arrival”, and even the Ulster Unionist Party argued the north would be left in a “perpetual cycle of uncertainty”, needing a vote every four years.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said “We don’t see how the proposal to have two different customs territories on the island of Ireland can avoid customs checks between those territories.” He also questioned Johnson’s idea to give the collapsed Stormont Assembly a vote both on whether to opt into the all-island regulatory system in 2021, and whether to remain in it after an initial four-year period. The proposed Stormont vote every four years would hand the DUP a veto. Arlene Foster of the DUP reacted angrily to Irish objections saying it was Dublin’s “majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism”. British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal was “not acceptable” while the Liberal Democrats’ leader Jo Swinson accused Mr Johnson of not being “serious about getting a deal”. Labour MP Hilary Benn, chairman of the Commons Brexit Committee said the proposals were “worse than Theresa May’s”, asking: “How will it help peace and stability in Northern Ireland if every four years there is a divisive debate about whether to follow British or EU rules?” Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said the proposals were “designed to fail”. If the EU and Johnson cannot agree to terms ratified at Westminster by October 19th, the British prime minister will be mandated by the Benn Act to ask the EU for another extension on Brexit. Johnson repeatedly said he will leave the EU on October 31st. Ireland is at the heart of this crisis because Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain and force customs, import and immigration checks. The EU offered to allow the north to remain in the customs union, with customs controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales).The Tory Party, needing DUP votes at Westminster, vetoed any “backstop” or safety net as the DUP demanded. The “backstop” would only have taken effect if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.The new plan would mean two borders and divisive Stormont votes every four years.
B–Bloody Sunday prosecution brings Derry relief London protests- The case against the only British trooper being prosecuted for fourteen Bloody Sunday murders, reached a Derry courtroom for the first time. The former British trooper known as “Soldier F” in Court proceedings is charged with murdering James Wray and William McKinney, along with attempting to murder 5 others. He did not appear personally, but his counsel requested a committal hearing disputing whether there was sufficient evidence for the case to go forward. The matter was adjourned until December 4th for the preliminary hearing. Brothers of murder victims Liam Wray and Mickey McKinney attended the brief hearing along with other Bloody Sunday families, Derry political leaders and hundreds of others. Liam Wray said it was a “historic day” and his family was “glad and relieved that this day has arrived after 47 years.” Mickey McKinney called it “a significant event for us on the journey towards achieving the third and final demand of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign-the prosecution of a soldier for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday.” Meanwhile in London thousands of ex-troopers including hundreds of bikers brought central London to a standstill as organizer Gavin Wragg called the prosecution “one of the crimes of the century” and crown “appeasement of the IRA”
C-Constabulary must investigate torture of Hooded Men-The Hooded Men have won the latest stage of a legal battle to force an investigation into torture by the British Army in 1971.The Court of Appeal in Belfast said the constabulary must obey a lower Court order requiring them to investigate charges that torture had been approved by British Prime Minister Edward Heath and the British government. Declan Morgan, the north’s most senior judge, said the treatment of the men “would, if it occurred today, properly be called torture”. The Hooded Men were interned without charge in August 1971. The 14 men were forced to listen to constant loud static noise; deprived of sleep, food and water; forced to stand in a stress position and beaten if they fell. They were hooded and thrown from helicopters a short distance off the ground – having been told they were hundreds of feet in the air and made to run gauntlets over broken glass. Francie McGuigan, who spoke to the AOH Tour last February, said after the ruling, he still felt the effects of what was done to him.”What they had done to my brain and my body – I finished up that I couldn’t spell my own name,” he said.”That is torture – it was torture then, it is torture today and it always will be torture and it has to be stopped throughout the world”. Mr McGuigan added: “The High Court was right when it said there should be an investigation to identify and hold to account those ministers, Ministry of Defence and Royal Ulster Constabulary officers who were responsible for authorising and carrying out torture on us. After waiting for justice for nearly five decades the time for accountability is long overdue”. Their case against the PSNI was supported by human rights campaign group Amnesty International. Grainne Teggart from Amnesty International said the appeal court ruling was a vindication for the men’s “fight for justice and offers hope for torture victims around the world.”
D-British Army killed unionist then blamed IRA admits HET-The family of a Protestant security guard shot dead in Belfast in 1972,went public to correct the record to show that 56 year old Thomas Mills was shot dead by the British Army, which then blamed the IRA. The Mills family had been told that the IRA killed Thomas Mills as he worked as a security guard in a Belfast factory. This claim was not challenged in the original Coroner’s Court Inquest. The family had always accepted this version but wanted an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team within the Constabulary to get more facts about IRA involvement in the murder of their loved one. However the HET revealed that British troopers had shot and killed Mr. Mills then blamed it on the IRA to avoid bad publicity. Family lawyer Paul McNickle said “This family has been waiting 47 years for the truth about their father.” Mr. Mills’ daughter Margaret Blac said “We certainly did not go looking for this. It came to us”. The Mills family believes that others are in the same position. They are waiting for another Coroner’s Court hearing to establish how their father was murdered by the British Army and why the truth was hidden from them for decades.
AOH FIGHTS JOHNSON’S LEGACY SHUTDOWN WITH THOMPSON TOUR
After Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Tories vow to shutdown prosecutions of British troopers for murdering the Irish, and plan to end hopes for justice by cutting off truth mechanisms once and for all. The AOH will stand behind these families and fight Britain’s legacy cover-up! We are bringing back Mark Thompson, of Relatives for Justice in mid-November.
His schedule will include:
Chicago- Friday November 15th
Ohio-Saturday November 16th (location being arranged by Danny O’Connell and Denny Parks)
New Jersey-Monday 18th-Sean Pender and Malachy McAllister
Washington DC-November 19-20TH
Albany-Friday-22nd-Fr. Murphy Awards Night
Bronx, New York at Rory Dolan’s on Sunday 24th
Mark’s visit to Washington can be another step in building up a network of Congressmen, who are aware of key FFAI issues and the importance of Irish issues to voters in their district. Brothers living in Congressional districts across the country, are a key part of this effort. FFAI is calling upon AOH members across the country to contact your local Senators and Congressmen, and ask will they make time to hear Mark Thompson in Washington D.C. on November 19th or 20th.
Within the next two weeks the AOH will begin this year’s Christmas Appeal. Britain still denies truth and justice to the families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents in places like Ballymurphy or Loughinisland. Brexit threatens catastrophe across Ireland. They even refuse an Irish Language Act. The Stormont Assembly does not function because of unionist bigotry. Instead of opening the door to Irish national freedom, Britain and the DUP want to nail that door shut. America can make a difference, but only if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are the cornerstone of our FFAI initiative.
Our National Officers are asking for a commitment from everyone to participate and support FFAI with a donation or fundraising event. Please donate and help the AOH and LAOH make the difference. Help make Freedom for all Ireland, not an aspiration or endeavor but the reality for those Irish people still denied it! Don’t let them down!!!
MALACHY MCALLISTER DEPORTATION FIGHT
Remember Malachy McAllister’s fight against deportation. Malachy has multiple grounds which should entitle him to legal permanent residence under American law. He is a prominent AOH member, key member of the National FFAI Committee, and respected member of the Irish-American community. He was a political prisoner decades ago in a war that is long over, after being targeted by British agents within loyalist paramilitaries.
AOH members, particularly those represented by Republican Senators or Congressmen can help. Already a Call to Action, from our National President, was answered by state chairs in Texas and South Carolina, and gotten important support. If we can get Congressional or Senate support especially in the Judiciary Committee we can move the bill forward and keep Malachy McAllister here!!!
FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN
Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.