FFAI – Congressman says backstop should be UNITED IRELAND

Tom Lambert
NYSAOH President

Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, representing Buffalo and Niagara Falls New York, recently met with New York State AOH President Tom Lambert and District 2 Director Craig Speers where issues affecting Ireland and Irish America were discussed.  The Congressman specifically commented on Brexit by noting “Brexit’s backstop should be Irish unity”.  Mr. Higgins also noted that with its self-inflicted political dysfunction of Brexit, Britain has “influenced growing support for Irish unity.”

  The AOH leaders met the Congressman to discuss Irish community concerns about, issues including Brexit, legacy and freedom for all Ireland. The two AOH leaders also discussed Congressman Higgins’ recent trip to Ireland along with Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Neal, then expressed appreciation to Congressman Higgins for all he has done on crucial Irish issues.

New York State AOH President Tom Lambert noted:

“Congressman Higgins has a long record of support on Irish issues. However, it is important for our elected representatives to hear how much their work on Irish issues means to their voters”.

“The AOH believes that American Congressional scrutiny can help make a difference on issues like Brexit, immigration and all for legacy victims in their long fight for truth and justice. We welcome Congressman Higgins’ statement and as NY State AOH President I am encouraging our members around the state to meet with their local elected officials”.

     

NYS AOH receives award from NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade

Congrats to the New York State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians on receiving the Second Place AOH Marching Unit award from the March 16, 2019 NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade. On hand to accept the award from the NYS board was John Manning NYS AOH Vice President, Immediate Past NYS AOH President Victor Vogel, and NYS AOH Treasurer Tom Beirne. 

Freedom For All Ireland Report – October 2019

  FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

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.

BBloody 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)

Philadelphia-Sunday November17th

New Jersey-Monday 18th-Sean Pender and Malachy McAllister

Washington DC-November 19-20TH

Hartford Connecticut-Thursday-21st

Albany-Friday-22nd-Fr. Murphy Awards Night

Peekskill-23rd-Division 18

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. 

                   CHRISTMAS  APPEAL

 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.

                            Slan,

                            Martin Galvin

Historical Happenings for October 2019

CHARLES STEWART PARNELL

by Mike McCormack, NY State Historian

On October 6, 1891, Ireland lost her uncrowned king.  His name was Charles Stewart Parnell, a Protestant Squire from Avondale in Co. Wicklow, the son of an English father and an American mother. The maternal grandfather for whom he was named was Charles Stewart: Commanding Officer of U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) during the War of 1812; the U.S. Navy’s first Rear Admiral (an appointment made by President Lincoln in 1862); and a genuine hero. On February 20 1815, with a strategy described by James Fenimore Cooper as, the most brilliant maneuvering in naval annals, Stewart, heavily outmanned and outgunned, soundly defeated and captured two British ships off the coast of Spain. He was awarded the freedom of the city of New York and the thanks of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who presented him with a gold sword.

Young Squire Parnell was indeed of respectable stock and in 1875 was elected to the House of Commons where, it was expected; he would serve dutifully and create no great sensation.  Parnell however, inherited his grandfather’s strong sense of moral justice and he took up the cause of Home Rule ─ a program calling for an end to the British Parliament in Ireland and the establishment of an Irish Parliament with full control of Ireland’s domestic affairs.  In taking up the cause, Parnell became the champion of the Irish people.

Landlords in Ireland, reacting to the changing European economy, were turning their holdings from farming to cattle grazing and thousands of tenant farmers were being dispossessed.  Parnell supported Michael Davitt’s Land League against the rack-renting landlords, and eventually became its President.  He urged tenant opposition to landlords through boycotts and rent refusal, and in 1879, sailed to America to address the U.S. Congress on the problem.  His sister, Fanny, set up an American Land League to raise and channel relief funds to the Irish League in order to defend the tenant farmers in court, making dispossession at least costly for the landlord.  The significance of this action is evident from British statistics which show that between 1849 and 1882, 482,000 families had been evicted.

In spite of the League’s limited success, a virtual land war continued between landlords and tenants.  The Crown reacted with arrests, but the situation remained tense. In order to avert open rebellion, the Land Act of 1881 was passed. It was a weak law, but it defused the situation until the government could act.  The Land League was declared illegal and its leaders arrested.  In the House of Commons, Parnell was accused of fomenting rebellion, but refused to answer the charge declaring that he drew his support from the people and he would only allow the people to judge him; he saw no need to defend his actions to England.  Referred to as the uncrowned King of Ireland, Parnell was at the height of his popularity, though his health was beginning to fail.  He threw his support to Gladstone in the 1886 British election, and engineered the defeat of the Tories.  He was now at the height of his power as well.  Gladstone fulfilled his promise to Parnell and introduced a Home Rule Bill, but it was defeated by the House of Lords.  Parnell demanded another; in the eyes of many he was becoming too powerful. 

Soon, a series of articles appeared in the British press accusing Parnell of instigating a crime-wave against the landlords and a special commission was appointed to investigate.  In spite of perjury and bribery, Parnell defeated his detractors but he made many enemies in Parliament, even though they dared not act against him.  Their opportunity came when an MP named Capt O’Shea filed for divorce from his wife naming Parnell as co-respondent.  Parnell, in typical fashion, gave no defense to Parliament. Instead of feeding the scandal, he chose to save his career by working harder than he had ever worked in his life despite his failing health.  Gladstone used the incident as an excuse to rid himself of Parnell and agitated against him.  The Catholic Church joined the detractors and publicly condemned him as an adulterer for his affair with Kitty O’Shea.  Parnell began to lose support among the Irish for the first time since he devoted his life to their welfare.

On Sept 27 1891, he attended a public meeting in Galway against the advice of his doctors.  He had promised to speak, and would not disappoint those who had remained loyal to him.  It was his last appearance; on October 6, he died. He was buried at Glasnevin beside Daniel O’Connell after a funeral procession that could only be termed magnificent.  In the eyes of some he had erred and was punished.  The tragedy of Parnell is that, in spite of his dedication and superhuman efforts, England was able to sow division among the Irish.  Parnell shall nevertheless be eternally remembered for the words he defiantly spoke in Parliament which are now engraved on his monument in O’Connell St, Dublin: No man has a right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. No man has a right to say thus far shalt thou go and no further. We have never attempted to fix the ne plus ultra to the progress of Ireland’s nationhood and we never shall! 

A Message from NYSAOH President Tom Lambert

Brothers,

The State Board will meet in Saratoga Springs the weekend of 11/1/19-11/3/19.

Reservations are at the Hilton Garden Inn , 125 South Broadway Saratoga Springs, N.Y. 12866. Reservations MUST be made by SEPTEMBER 17,2019 to qualify for the $99.00 plus tax per night rate. For reservations call (518) 587-1500, Extension 0, Group code LAOH. The special rate applies for Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 1-3 if anyone is interested.

The NYS AOH Board Meeting will be held on 11/2/19 at 10 AM at the Parting Glass Pub, 40-42 Lake Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. A catered luncheon buffet will follow which includes: Traditional Irish Shepard’s Pie; Bangers and Mash; Corned beef & Swiss Stromboli; Irish Potato Leek Soup, Brown Bread & Butter; and Bread Pudding Topped with Jameson Whiskey Sauce. The lunch is on us, but there will be a cash bar. There will be drink specials, however. Notre Dame is on TV that afternoon as well. The LAOH is also sponsoring a Bowling Tournament later on Saturday.

Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Springs
125 S Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 587-1500 Ext 0 GRP CODE LAOH

 

Slan,

Tom Lambert
NYS AOH President

Freedom For All Ireland Report – September 2019

               FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

September 2019

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

A-Boris Johnson suspends Parliament brings on Brexit crisis-In a move called a “constitutional outrage” by Speaker of the House John Bercow, and compared to Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary purge by Irish Minister Michael D’Arcy, Boris Johnson will prorogue or suspend Parliament for 5 weeks until October 14th, hoping to bulldoze Brexit through, by the Halloween, October 31st deadline. His plan backfired as Brexit opponents, including  21 members of his own party, banded together with opposition parties to stop Johnson from crashing out of Europe and forcing a hard border across Ireland. The combined opposition inflicted a series of major defeats on the new prime minister. They passed  a law which mandates he must ask the European Union for another delay if he cannot get a new deal by October 19th. Johnson then  expelled or “removed the whip” from 21 members of his own party who voted against him. His Tory party will try to depose the Speaker,(who applies rules and procedures impartially in the British system). Boris’ own brother resigned from the cabinet. Johnson said he would rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for more time to negotiate. Labour Party member John McDonnell said opposition parties “do not believe that we can pin him down and I do not trust him an inch. I do not think anyone does.” Another leading Labour Party member, Baroness Chakrabarti  said “every tin pot dictator … has used the excuse of having the people on their side to break the law, to shut down Parliament and the rest of it.” There is a real fear that Johnson will flout the law and bring on a Constitutional crisis. He no longer has a Westminster majority even with 10

 

 

Unionist DUP MPs. He had hoped that by suspending Parliament , he could run out the clock on effective opposition or force a snap election in which he held the upper hand. Ireland will be collateral damage in this crisis because Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, import and immigration checks. The EU was offered to allow the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration 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 take effect if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

BTrooper’s murder of Derry teen ruled unjustified after 47 year   fight- Seamus Bradley’s family finally heard a Coroner’s Court Judge rule that British troopers had no justification for shooting the unarmed Derry teen and watching him die without medical treatment. Judge Patrick Kinney rejected British Army cover stories that the nineteen year old had been firing a machine gun from a tree when shot on July 31,1972, sustaining additional injuries from a fall. He ruled that the unarmed youth was running away from members of the Royal Scots Regiment, when troopers got out of a tank like Saracen armored personnel carrier, then shot him four times. The judge ruled that Seamus Bradley had clearly been unarmed, posed no threat and was no danger to troopers, which would have justified opening fire. The family submitted medical and photographic evidence that Seamus Bradley had been tortured after his capture, which contributed to his death. While the judge would not make a finding of torture, he did rule that Seamus Bradley was not given medical treatment which would have saved his life. Kinney said the original inquest was flawed and inadequate. Nine months before Seamus Bradley’s murder, British Brigadier General Frank Kitson said “law should be used as another weapon in the government’s arsenal… little more than a  propaganda cover for disposal of unwanted members of the public.” Behind this propaganda cover, the crown legally rubber-stamped the ‘disposal’ of Seamus Bradley, Ballymurphy Massacre victims, Springhill-Westrock victims and so many others. Meanwhile they lauded British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, for using “minimum force” only “within the rule of law” to “uphold law and order.”The coroner sent a copy of the file to the Crown Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of criminal charges.

C-Loyalist flute band taunts Derry Bloody Sunday victims-The members of the Clyde Valley Flute Band, from Larne, wore a British Army Paratroop Regiment insignia with the letter “F” on their shirts to parade in Derry, where 14 Bloody Sunday victims were murdered by the Parachute Regiment. The letter “F” honored the trooper from the regiment charged with murdering two civil rights marchers and wounding two others.( His name has not been made public and he is referred to in Court documents only as “Soldier F.”) The emblem was sewn into uniform sleeves for the Apprentice Boys of Derry parade on August 10th,despite a pledge from parade organizers to local residents not to display any provocative symbols. The emblem was viewed as an insult to Derry, since there is no connection between the Paratroopers and the city except Bloody Sunday. Residents had met with the parade organizers before the parade and expressed concerns about the possibility of offensive displays of support for the trooper facing murder charges. Tony Doherty, the son of Bloody Sunday victim Patrick Doherty called the insignia “deliberately insulting and provocative”. Meanwhile several leading Democratic Unionist Party members including MP Gregory Campbell, and Stormont Assembly members Edwin Poots and Gary Middleton, posed for photographs under a banner bearing the Parachute Regiment insignia, in Derry before the parade. While that banner did not bear any specific reference to murder accused “Soldier F,” the meaning seems obvious.

D-Tyrone man faces trial for taking down UVF terror banner –

 Sixty-five year old Frank McGirr, will face a criminal trial, charged with taking down a banner paying tribute to notorious Glenanne gang member Wesley Somerville. Somerville was one of  the Dublin-Monahan bombers and Miami Showband murderers. Frank McGirr, whose brother Colm was murdered by the British Army’s SAS along with Brian Campbell in 1983,is being prosecuted for removing a banner honoring Somerville from a public lamppost in Moygashel, County Tyrone in June 2017. Somerville was a member of the British Army’s Ulster Defense Regiment, the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force and the infamous Glenanne Gang. He was part of the UVF gang which planted 4 bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, on May 17,1974, killing 33 people. Somerville was himself killed when the bomb he and Harris Boyle were attempting to put in a minibus being driven by the Miami Showband went off prematurely. Somerville with other UVF members wearing British Army UDR uniforms had set up a fake checkpoint outside Newry on the main road to Dublin. They stopped the minibus and ordered band members to stand at the side of the road. Somerville was attempting to place the bomb under the driver’s seat when it went off. The other UVF members opened fire on the 5 musicians killing 3 of them. The loyalist Moygashel Residents ‘Association said they wanted the banner because “Somerville was very much a part of the Protestant culture of Ulster.” 

 

         MALACHY MCALLISTER DEPORTATION FIGHT

Malachy McAllister’s fight against deportation is nearing another critical point. He is an example of Britain’s policy of making political points with Irish victims. 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.  

 

We need AOH members, particularly those represented by Republican Senators or Congressmen to take action. Already a Call to Action, from our National President, was answered by state chairs in Texas and South Carolina, and gotten important support.

 

The AOH was able to accomplish this because AOH members in local districts contacted representatives and said Irish Americans in their constituency wanted them to take a stand and support Malachy. If we can get Congressional or Senate support especially in the Judiciary Committee we can move the bill forward and keep Malachy McAllister here!!!

 

   MARK THOMPSON TOUR AGAINST JOHNSON’S LEGACY COVER-UP

 

Last November Carmel Quinn’s tour for the Ballymurphy Massacre victims was a heralded success for the Ballymurphy families, for the AOH and for getting crucial American support for legacy justice. Proceedings like the Bradley or Ballymurphy inquests are rewriting lies with truth and destroying British fairytale myths about their dirty war in Ireland. Alongside Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Tories are vowing to end what they call “unfair prosecutions” of British troopers for murdering the Irish, where the word unfair should read any. They want to stall or weaken any mechanisms which might give families justice. The AOH will try to combat Britain’s legacy cover-up by bringing back Mark Thompson, of Relatives for Justice, in mid-November. Our National VP Danny O’Connell, National Director Denny Parks and National FFAI Committee member Sean O’Dowd are setting up events in Chicago and Ohio. We are trying to bring Mark to Washington, Philadelphia, Albany and the Bronx with more locations being added and the schedule still being put together.

 

 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 building that network. Ask your Congressman to meet Mark Thompson in Washington and get a briefing on Boris Johnson’s legacy cover-up!

 

            FFAI TOUR-CHRISTMAS APPEAL PREMIUMS

 

We have just received the special premiums or gifts for $1000 donors to the Christmas Appeal. This year the premium is a mounted bodhran, specially made for AOH or LAOH donors by Tyrone ex-prisoners. Your FFAI contributions mean a great deal and these specially made premiums show how highly we are regarded !  

 

 

                 FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

 

 Please read the monthly FFAI Bulletin in the 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.

                             MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.                             

                                

Freedom For All Ireland Report – August 2019

               FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

A-Boris Johnson threatens Ireland and European Union with “no deal Brexit” unless new deal concessions –After becoming British Prime Minister without any general election, popular mandate or Westminster majority , Boris Johnson began by threatening a no deal Brexit disaster on October 31st, unless the EU renegotiates the Withdrawal Agreement to his liking. He is gambling that the EU will bow to threats and offer major concessions to stop Britain  from crashing out of Europe and forcing a hard border across Ireland. Johnson in his first Westminster speech as Prime Minister promised a “golden age”, ushered in by an October 31st withdrawal ” no ifs, no buts”. He said the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the British government under Theresa May was something “no country that values its independence and indeed its self-respect could agree” and its terms for the Irish border, a “monstrosity” “unacceptable”, “anti-democratic.” Johnson boasted that his regime was “turbocharging” preparations for a no deal Brexit crash out, if Europe refused to abolish the backstop. He snubbed Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, by not phoning him for six days.(Customarily incoming British Prime Ministers make a courtesy call to the head of the Irish government within a day of taking office).Johnson then clashed with Varadkar, saying the backstop must be abolished. Varadkar replied that the emergency measure was made necessary by British decisions. Ireland’s Tanaiste or Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney described  Johnson’s strategy as “give me what I want or I will burn the house down for everybody.”  He said if Johnson wants to “tear up” the existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU

 “we are in trouble” and charged the British Prime Minister with deliberately putting Britain on a “collision course” with Ireland and the European Union. Johnson said he would not meet with French and German leaders unless they agree in advance to “abolish the backstop”.

 The “backstop” was agreed by Britain and the EU as part of the 599 page Withdrawal Agreement to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, import and immigration checks. The EU invited the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales). Brexiteers within the Tory Party, backed the DUP, to veto a “backstop” or safety net that would only begin if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

Johnson took over for Theresa May after winning a contest within the Conservative Party. There was no general election and he needs 10 DUP votes for a majority in Westminster. Alliance Party head Naomi Long said “we need a statesman not a showman.” SDLP head Colum Eastwood said “Johnson coasted into Downing Street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster”. Michelle O’Neill said Sinn Fein would “engage Johnson on the fact that there is nothing good to come from Brexit”.

 BNew amnesty moves for British troopers meet Congressional challenge-In the closing days of the contest for Tory Party leadership, Boris Johnson vowed to end “unfair prosecutions” of British troopers for murders committed in the north between 1969-98 with a statute of limitations. (Read ‘unfair” as ‘any’  murder prosecutions of troopers). He quickly created a post of British Army veterans minister and named Johnny Mercer, the most vocal advocate of trooper amnesty at Westminster, to head it. The move would make a mockery of British claims that its troopers and constabulary were not “above the law” or did not act with impunity in the north. Only a handful of British troopers were ever imprisoned for murders like Ballymurphy or Bloody Sunday. There are growing British worries about prosecutions of former troopers, because proceedings like the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest reveal how British troopers committed brutal murders which were white-washed by the crown. Six Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter to Deputy British Ambassador Michael Tatum, citing American concerns about state force amnesty in legacy killings and Britain’s failure to implement agreed legacy mechanisms. The bipartisan Congressional initiative, joined by Representatives Peter King, Eliot Engel, Chris Smith, Brian Fitzpatrick, Nita Lowey and Brendan Boyle. The initiative also follows a recent AOH sponsored tour by Mark Thompson of Relatives For Justice and Edge Hill University Professor Mark McGovern, author of Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland. The British government repeatedly claimed that it was opposed to amnesty for killings by British military, including in a formal letter by then Ambassador Kim Darroch to Members of Congress on May 18,2018.An amnesty in the form of statute of limitations was overwhelmingly opposed by those who responded to the British government Consultation on legacy, announced earlier this month. However this policy was summarily discarded by the new Tory leader. Legacy mechanisms were agreed and published by the British government as part of the Stormont House Agreement of 2014. These mechanisms, which include a Historical Investigations Unit into Troubles killings, have never been implemented. Many nationalists believe that the HIU would bring charges against crown forces for killings or collusion with loyalists in murders.

C-Julian Smith, named six county secretary  snubs Derry nationalists-Julian Smith replaced Karen Bradley as Britain’s six county secretary. He was met by Bloody Sunday and Irish language protestors as he arrived in Derry for his first day in the new post. Smith who had been applauded on the stage as a “friend of the party” at the Democratic Unionist Party conference 2017, had been a key figure in keeping the DUP MPs propping up Theresa May. He visited a number of unionist landmarks, including the Apprentice Boys of Derry Siege Museum, the Apprentice Boys Walker’s Monument and the city walls. He avoided nearby nationalist sites such as the Bogside, Museum of Free Derry or Free Derry corner. Smith then said he would speak with all political parties in the north and treat them equally. However he is viewed as the DUP’s choice for the post, carrying  out policies set by Boris Johnson who seems willing to sacrifice  Irish interest for Westminster political gains. Meanwhile talks to restore the devolved Stormont Assembly, which has not sat since January 2017 continue. There is no agreement on key issues       

 

 

 

 

 including an Irish Language Act, implementing legacy mechanisms, the Renewable Heat Initiative and social issues. Last year a DUP-Sinn Fein agreement fell apart on Valentine’s Day, when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along the lines of Scotland and Wales.

D-Bonfire threats by loyalists force City Council retreat –July is not only marked by triumphal Orange parades across the north but also by hundreds of huge July 11th night bonfires. Many of these bonfires are topped off with posters of nationalists, KAT signs( meaning kill all Catholics), or Irish symbols which are publicly burned to cheers and sectarian songs as part of the celebrations. This year the most sinister example was a bonfire built in the parking lot of a Belfast City Council owned leisure center at Avoniel. When local residents called for the bonfire materials to be removed from the city owned property, a crowd connected to the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force formed a barricade at the entrance to the parking lot. They made threats to staff and forced the facility to be closed. Belfast City Council made a formal complaint to the PSNI constabulary about “aggravated trespassing” and hired contractors to remove the bonfire materials. The names of the contractors were leaked to loyalists. Threatening graffiti naming the contractors was painted on the walls, with slogans like contractors “attack loyalism at your own risk!” Instead of enforcing the City’s right to remove the materials, constabulary  warned there was a risk of “serious violence” using firearms if council workers made any attempt to dismantle the bonfire. Belfast City Council then gave up efforts to remove the bonfire.

 

 

    AOH BUILDING CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR FFAI

 

 This past week anyone reading the daily papers in the north, the nationalist IRISH NEWS or the unionist BELFAST TELEGRAPH or anyone reading the Irish American papers, the IRISH ECHO and IRISH VOICE, read about AOH supporting victims’ families in the north by getting a major Congressional letter on legacy justice to the British Ambassador. We got many phone calls and email messages from Ireland, thanking the AOH, and telling us that American Congressional initiatives have a major impact on the British and are a morale boost for those fighting for justice.

 

The AOH got word on Friday afternoon that Congressman Peter King agreed to take the lead. Over the weekend we were able to get five more co-signers, including important committee chairs.

The AOH was able to accomplish this because AOH members in local districts have contacted representatives and said Irish Americans in their constituency wanted them to take a stand and support us on the key issue of legacy justice.

 

We want to build 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 building that network.  

 

 

 

             FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

 

 Please read the monthly FFAI Bulletin in the 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.

Freedom For All Ireland Report – July 2019

by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:


FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A- Brexit chaos forces May resignation as Johnson-Hunt vie for PM-British Prime Minister Theresa May ,was forced to resign after a six month Brexit delay and humiliating Westminster votes. Her successor, narrowed down to either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, is being chosen by paid up members of the Conservative Party, (approximately 160,000). The incoming leader of the Conservative Party hopes to have enough Westminster votes to continue May’s term as Prime Minister without facing a general election. Brexit is now scheduled to take place on October 31st,but the European Union and Ireland are unlikely to add more concessions to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by May. The drive to complete Brexit by that date means a growing risk of a “no deal” requiring customs and border controls across Ireland.

 May announced her resignation in a tearful statement in which she said she had done “everything I can” to convince MPs to support the withdrawal deal negotiated with the European Union and it was now in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort”. She became Prime Minister because David Cameron resigned after a referendum mandating Brexit. May’s took the post to preside over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. She quickly called a general election in 2017, expecting an increased majority to strengthen her hand but lost seats to Jeremy Corbin and Labour. She became a minority party Prime Minister, depending on votes from the Democratic Unionist Party.

She negotiated a 599 page Withdrawal Agreement but her deal was rejected with May facing historic Westminster  defeats.   

The main objection to her Withdrawal Agreement,was the “backstop” to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. No deal Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, tariff and immigration checks. The EU invited the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales). Brexiteers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party, joined with the DUP, to veto a “backstop” or safety net that would only begin if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

 The front-runner is Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London, viewed as a hard-line Brexiteer, who threatens to leave the EU on October 31st deal or no deal. Jeremy Hunt originally voted to Remain in Europe but will now implement Brexit. The winner will have about 100 days to solve the Irish problem.

 BBanners for Bloody Sunday murder-accused spread across north-Banners and flags supporting the single British Trooper charged with murders on Bloody Sunday are spreading across the north. The trooper, named only as “Soldier F” is scheduled to appear in court in Derry in August to be charged with the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. Banners have already been put up in Belfast, Ballymoney  Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine , Portadown and Tandragee, proclaiming support for him. A banner on the Lisburn Road, one of the busiest in Belfast bears the slogan “our soldiers are heroes not criminals.”

 Victims groups have complained that the banners are a hate crime and should be taken down by the PSNI. Photographs have been posted showing members of the PSNI constabulary standing by and observing as banners are being put up. The PSNI issued a statement saying “it was not the responsibility  of the PSNI” and they “would only act to remove flags where there was a substantial risk to public safety.”Soldier F” is the only British trooper charged for any of the 13 killings and 15 wounded on Bloody Sunday, January 28, 1972.Other Bloody Sunday families were deeply hurt as it had been thought that up to 18 prosecutions would be announced.

C-Opportunity for Stormont talks deal fading-With the July-August Orange marching season beginning, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a joint statement of talks to restore Stormont, there was a “narrow window of opportunity to reach agreement in the immediate period ahead” but that it was essential to “intensify talks to this end.”

An intensified round-table session then lasted only 25 minutes. Afterwards Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and British Secretary Karen Bradley did not comment. Bradley’s position was weakened by the resignation of Theresa May who appointed her. It is now speculated that the talks may be paused over the summer months as the same sticking points which led to the breakdown of a tentative agreement in February 2018, appear to remain. These issues include an Irish Language Act, firm legacy mechanisms, the Renewable Heat Initiative and social issues. Last year a DUP-Sinn Fein agreement fell apart on Valentine’s Day, when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along lines of similar measures in Scotland and Wales.

 Stormont collapsed in January 2017, after the late Martin McGuinness resigned over the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster to stand aside during an inquiry into the Renewable Heat Initiative scandal. The RHI Inquiry concluded last December after 114 sessions, but the final report is still pending. This report may be highly critical of Arlene Foster and could reflect on her suitability to be First Minister. There disputes about legacy mechanisms and whether the British will fully implement the institutions agreed at Stormont House. Social issues could be resolved by abolishing petitions of concern which allow vetoes. 

D-Ballymurphy Commander says was not told about 11 killings- –As testimony in the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest nears its conclusion, shocking revelations continue. British, Army Lt. Colonel Derek Wilford, who commanded the Paratroop Regiment’s first battalion, claimed no one told him about the killings of a Catholic priest ,a grandmother and nine others to him in 1972.The British commander said he would have treated the killings seriously “had it come my way”,but it was a “complete surprise”. Wilford also commanded Bloody Sunday five months later in Derry. He said in his written statement that his battalion had been interviewed after Bloody Sunday but nothing like that happened after Ballymurphy.

Another paratrooper testified that his unit had run a prize “sweepstake” with the money going to troopers who “got a kill.”

Terry Laverty, in a written statement described how the trooper who killed his brother John Laverty bragged about it.

The evidentiary portion of the inquest is nearing conclusion.  

         MARK THOMPSON-MARK McGOVERN AOH TOUR

 Mark McGovern, Professor of Sociology at Edge Hill University in England, studied dozens of collusion killings in Tyrone and South Derry, applying academic research standards. Helped by Mark Thompson and Relatives for Justice, Professor McGovern was able to combine documentation compiled by victims’ families, with court transcripts and British military studies to put together a shocking new look at British collusion in the context of British military strategy.

The importance of American support was underlined by a special appeal by Tyrone victims’ families to relatives and friends in America to attend the AOH sponsored launch.

The tour opened at the historic MacSwiney Club in Philadelphia,    because of connections to Carrickmore man Joe McGarrity, and to Liam Ryan, whose murder was one of those investigated in the book. The event began with presentations of a Congressional Proclamation from Congressman Brendan Boyle and a City Council presentation, congratulating the two men for opening a new chapter in the battle for legacy justice.

Mark Thompson, of Relatives for Justice outlined the facts of some of the cases investigated. He began with the example of Kathleen O’Hagan ,a pregnant woman killed in front of her children because her husband Paddy O’Hagan was a well known Republican. Mr. Thompson described the number of threats the family received, the remote area, timing and other circumstances which proved this and other horrific murders could not have been carried out without British direction. Ironically it was pointed out that Mrs. O’Hagan had family connections in America.

Mr. Thompson also pointed to Malachy McAllister, who helped organize the tour and who was targeted by the British for a loyalist assassination attempt by one of their agents. Malachy McAllister’s current fight against deportation was raised throughout the tour.

He said that American help from the AOH and other Irish American organizations was crucial if relatives of Britain’s victims were to have any chance for truth.

Professor Mark McGovern began by tracing the development of British military strategy in counterinsurgency back to 1896. He also cited the myths or “stories the British tell themselves to justify how they fight wars”. They say they use “minimum force” and “uphold law and order” while the actual strategy in colonial situations was to demoralize the population with murders and insure that those who carried out murder for the crown would never be caught.

Professor McGovern, then pointed to the evidence published in the da Silva Review, Stevens Inquiry, Ombudsman Investigations, and Court Transcripts etc. He spoke of his own research, family interviews and investigations in accordance with academic standards. He said “the evidence is now undeniable and it is just no longer credible to pretend Britain did not collude in these killings.”

Here as in other venues, people stood in line to buy autographed copies of the book, before the speakers took the floor. 

                  NEW YORK

 Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson traveled to New York City for an event at O’Lunneys Time Square, where they paraded in behind piper P. J. O’Hara.

A number of friends and relatives of the victims mentioned in the book attended. Liam Ryan’s sister Mary, and his friends Patrick Clarke and Gabriel Megahey, were called up to present a citation on behalf of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, while Eamonn O’Brien presented a citation on behalf of Westchester County Legislator David Tubiolo.

Many key AOH and veteran Irish activists were introduced, including a number of relatives of victim John Quinn.

In Washington DC, Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson launched the book at the prestigious National Press Club in an event attended by Irish Embassy and British Northern Ireland Office representatives, as well as Congressional aides and Irish American leaders. They met Congressman Peter King to start a series of key Congressional briefings on Wednesday June 5th, before giving a briefing at the Irish Embassy on the need for Irish government help in the battle for legacy truth. They held a launch in Virginia at Murphy’s Irish Pub in Old Town Alexandria. On Thursday, they appeared in Rutherford New Jersey in a special launch featuring Malachy McAllister and organized by AOH National Treasurer Sean Pender.

 Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson were at the Watertown AOH Hall, near Boston on Friday, the Newport Rhode Island AOH Hall, on Saturday, and on Sunday June 9th at the Gaelic American Club, in Fairfield, Connecticut.

They concluded a whirlwind tour with a launch at the Albany Irish American Heritage Museum before briefing Irish American legislators.

The response to the tour has been overwhelming, with hundreds of books purchased and forcing a reprint by the publisher.

 “This book is an important chapter in the battle for legacy truth ,as victims’ families in Tyrone, south Derry and indeed across the north lived it. Loyalists may have fired the shots but British crown forces directed murders and protected killers as part of overall British planning. This book and these speakers have had a tremendous response in AOH sponsored events and in meetings with Congress.

” It says a great deal that victims’ families thought American help and the AOH important enough to come to us as soon as the book was released, to ask our help. The AOH is proud to stand behind them in the fight for legacy truth”. 

          COOPER-McKEE-McKENNA REMEMBERED

Sadly we must note the recent deaths of three giants whose historic roles in Ireland should not be overlooked.

Ivan Cooper was a Protestant leader of the north’s civil rights movement, and SDLP founder who led the Bloody Sunday March in 1972 and served as an MP. (He had hoped to meet AOH members alongside Eamon McCann during the February FFAI tour, but could not do so because of ill health).

Billy McKee was a legendary IRA commander in Belfast and founding member of the Provisional IRA, wounded while defending St. Matthew’s Church in 1970,and later won a Hunger Strike for political status in 1972. He was a lifelong Republican.

Kevin McKenna, was the longest serving IRA Chief of Staff and held that key position from 1983’s difficult days through most of the Good Friday negotiations.

                FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

 Please check for the monthly FFAI Bulletin 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.

                          MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.                              

                                

A Message from NYSAOH President Victor Vogel

Brothers,

Jim Scott, a great Hibernian and Past President of J.F.K. Div. 1, Schenectady County was in a bad vehicle accident last evening. His injuries are extensive, but he is stable. He has a long road in front of him, however I’m told he is talking and being the “Jimmy” we all know …

Please join the State Board and myself in offering prayers for strength and a speedy recovery. 

Slan,

Vic Vogel
NYS AOH President