by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A – Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest opens- Forty-seven years after the Ballymurphy Massacre, new Inquests opened in Belfast, as family members of the 11 victims, many holding hands, witnessed the proceedings. The Inquest was technically limited to the 10 victims shot dead by British troopers between August 9th-11th,1971 in the Ballymurphy section of Belfast. However, as the Coroner’s representative, it also covered the killing of Paddy McCarthy, who died of a heart attack after being subjected to a mock execution.
The Inquest began with statements by relatives of Catholic priest Fr. Hugh Mullan, and nineteen year old Francis Quinn, who were the first to die. Family statements from relatives of Joan Connolly, shot while helping wounded victims, along with Daniel Teggart, shot 14 times, and Noel Philips were linked as part of a second incident. Joseph Murphy was wounded, taken into custody and shot again while in the barracks. Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr were killed over the next two days. British Military Police then claimed the dead were gunmen to justify the murder. The families are fighting to get the truth and exonerate their loved ones.
Already there have been a number of shocking revelations. The head of a British veterans group, Alan Barry suborned perjury by instructing troopers to ignore subpoenas or pretend complete memory loss in answering questions. British technical experts reported that victims’ hands had been swabbed for gunshot residue. Nothing was found, meaning none had handled or fired weapons. However that was ignored by the British. An autopsy confirmed that Joseph Murphy was shot a second time while in the barracks. British troopers boasted to family members and witnesses about “having no time for arrests only killings” as they threw “dead bodies onto a truck like animals”. Families received threatening hate mail mocking the dead. The Inquest continues.
B – Crucial Brexit Vote looms at Westminster December 11th- The European Union agreed terms with British negotiators to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland with British withdrawal from the EU set for March 29,2019. That deal is in danger of being vetoed by the British Parliament in a vote scheduled for December 11th. Hard line Brexiteers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party, joining with the DUP, and Labour can vote the deal down. They complain about the proposed backstop or safety net that would only come into play if a full trade agreement is not otherwise reached. No agreement would make the six counties Europe’s border with Britain, with customs, tariff and immigration checks. The EU and Ireland offered to permit 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. This would benefit the north. However the DUP bitterly condemned even this deal, denouncing preferences for the north as a slippery slope towards a united Ireland. The November 14th deal would require goods coming into the north to meet EU standards and keep Britain in the Customs Union until there was a new agreement. These terms have been called a betrayal by both hard-line Brexiteers and the DUP. Theresa May is now besieged by Tory hardliners, led by Boris Johnson, calling for a hard Brexit and the DUP’s “blood red lines” against preferential terms for the north. The vote on December 11th threatens this new deal and also threatens May’s position as Prime Minister.
C – AOH Tour boosts Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign Families– An Irish Embassy reception, Congressional meetings, and major public events in Albany, Cleveland, Philadelphia, the Bronx, New Jersey, Manhattan and Long Island heard Carmel Quinn’s call to “stand with us” in the fight for Ballymurphy justice.
Ms Quinn was hosted by the Irish Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Lonergan. She met Senator Schumer who issued a public statement, and key Congressional leaders Congressmen Eliot Engel, Joe Crowley, Richard Neal, Mike Doyle, and aides for Congressmen Chris Smith, Brendan Boyle, Peter King, and Conor Lamb. Pennsylvania State Legislators Michael Driscoll, and Kevin Boyle, joined Ms. Quinn on the stage in Philadelphia to present a House of Representatives Citation, to the Ballymurphy Campaign for “their unrelenting pursuit of justice… for all those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre.” City Councilman Bobby Henon presented a Philadelphia City Council Resolution honoring Ms. Quinn and the Ballymurphy Campaign.
Ms. Quinn spoke in New Jersey, Cleveland, Long Island, Albany at the prestigious Fr. Murphy Awards event, was honored by Bronx County AOH along with Congressman Crowley and IRISH ECHO Editor Ray O’Hanlon, and concluded the week in midtown Manhattan hosted by New York State Board AOH with a presentation by State President Vic Vogel. AOH members from across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan traveled long distances to attend the Cleveland event. Proclamations were presented from Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kapture ,Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council President Kevin Kelley. This event was videotaped at the request of AOH Boards around the country, who can now hear and see Ballymurphy’s appeal via Facebook or the National AOH Website. AOH support was highlighted in the main Belfast paper, the IRISH NEWS as well as the Irish-American papers.
D – Tony Taylor released after 994 days Internment by License-
Derry political activist Tony Taylor was released from Maghaberry Prison after spending almost 3 years imprisoned under draconian procedures likened to Internment by License. Mr. Taylor had served a sentence on Republican charges and was released. Then while shopping with his family he was arrested and told he had violated his license or parole, but that neither he nor his attorney would be informed of how. He later got a legal hearing where he, his own political and legal counsel were put out of the room so they could not hear much less put up a defense to the accusations. He was released under severe censorship restrictions and cannot speak about his unjust imprisonment. Internment by License is being used to intimidate other prominent Republicans who were released early for political offenses.
You have received the AOH Christmas Appeal mailing. Britain’s actions, imposing Brexit, denying an Irish Language Act, calling legacy justice investigations like Ballymurphy witch-hunts, all show they want to shut the door on Irish freedom forever. We can donate to groups supporting Freedom for all Ireland but only if you members who I know care so much, make donations happen. Please ask your State Board, County Board or Division to respond to the FFAI mailing at your meeting and give to the Christmas Appeal for Freedom for all Ireland. AOH 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 have asked for a commitment from everyone to participate and support FFAI with a donation or fundraising event. Help make Freedom for all Ireland, not an aspiration or endeavor but the reality for those Irish people still denied it! America can make a difference, but only if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way.
CONGRESSIONAL CALL TO ACTION
Last April sixteen Members of Congress joined a breakthrough bipartisan letter sponsored by the AOH to the British Ambassador about legacy truth. Both the British Ambassador and colonial British Secretary Karen Bradley had to reply. Attached is a draft Congressional letter to the British Ambassador about the Ballymurphy Inquest. Congressman Engel who met Carmel Quinn twice, became the first to send a letter to the British Ambassador that America is watching the Ballymurphy Inquest. FFAI is calling upon AOH members across the country to contact your local Senators and Congressmen, and ask them to send a letter to the British Ambassador. Send me a copy of any letters that go out so that we can publicize here in the US and in Ireland.
IRELAND’S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
During our National Convention, a resolution was passed to commemorate the centenary of Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. On January 21,1919, representatives elected in the 32 county election of 1918, assembled as a National Parliament, and voted Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. Like the signers of America’s Declaration of Independence, Irish patriots risked imprisonment or death at the hands of the colonial British government. We want to promote this proud event with state, city and local proclamations of Ireland’s Independence Day.
We are now planning on a week long AOH FFAI Tour visiting Belfast, Derry and Tyrone beginning around February 10th.Please check the AOH web page and watch for further details.
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.
NOLLAIG SHONA DAOIBH!
Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.