Freedom For All Ireland Report – April 2020

            FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Search continues for new Irish government coalition after Sinn Fein surprise in February election-Nearly two months after an election producing a three way split between, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael, the leader and composition of the new Irish government are still unknown. Sinn Féin gained 14 seats, and now holds 37,with Fianna Fail at 38,and Fine Gael at 35 seats. At least 80 seats are needed for a government majority and no party is close..The Dáil (Irish parliament)met on February 20th but no one had the votes to form a new government. Outgoing  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar resigned, but will remain as a caretaker until his successor is chosen. Sinn Fein Party leader Mary Lou McDonald began contacting smaller parties, including the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats, but their combined numbers would not be enough for a majority. During the campaign, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he would not join with Sinn Féin, because of its links to the IRA. A Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein combination would need only a few votes from Independents or the smaller parties. As results came in, Mr Martin appeared to soften and open the door to partnership with Sinn Féin. However Fianna Fail has since firmly rejected this option. Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, also says it will not join a coalition with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are in negotiations about forming a new coalition, with support from independents or one of the smaller parties. However, nothing is set. The results of the February 8th election registered dissatisfaction with the Fine Gael led government on issues like housing, homelessness, hospital waiting lists, and pensions. A planned ceremony for the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin constabulary, sparked  memories of the infamous Black and Tans. The ceremony was cancelled but not before boycotts, protests and awakened patriotic feelings. Sinn Fein gained votes on all these issues and voters wanted someone new. A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition, might succeed long term or might trigger voter resentment next time around.

B-No border poll for united Ireland in my lifetime says Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.-Despite recent opinion polls  showing increased support for getting rid of the border, Arlene Foster, who turns 50 this year, told BBC’s The View there would not be a united Ireland nor even a poll in her lifetime.  The Stormont First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader  was asked if she thought she would see a united Ireland in her lifetime. She replied: “No I don’t”. When asked if she would see a border poll in the same timeframe, she again replied: “No, I don’t“. Asked why, she added:”Because there has to be evidence there...As you know the test for a border poll is that people would vote for it in a majority. And there’s no evidence of that…Yes, people can have different opinion polls, but there’s no tangible evidence if you look right across Northern Ireland”. The Good Friday agreement says that Britain’s six county secretary “may by order direct the holding of a poll… if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting” would vote to be part of a united Ireland. Foster thinks this means British officials need not allow a vote in her lifetime. Meanwhile the DUP refused to join in a discussion week organised by Shared Ireland, a group which believes unity is the way forward, but asks unionists to take part in discussions. Colin Harvey, professor of human rights at Queens University, said unionists faced a challenge. “There has been a lot of focus on those proposing Irish reunification,” he said.”But if these referendums do take place, if there’s a referendum in the north, what is the proposition of unionists?”

C-New British Secretary Brandon Lewis plans Legacy Whitewash-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed Julian Smith as six county secretary and replaced him with Brandon Lewis, the former chair of the Conservative Party. Smith had brokered the deal to get the north’s parties back to the Stormont Assembly, after a 3 year impasse. He was faulted for pledging to deliver the legacy bodies agreed in the December 2014, Stormont House Agreement. The “New Decade New Deal” promised these laws within 100 days and this pledge was crucial to six county nationalists and the Irish government. The new plan for legacy cases is designed to shield British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, from investigations which could lead to prosecutions. For decades British crown forces had a de facto immunity or impunity, and were not punished for murders on behalf of the crown. Legal excuses were found for mass murders like the Ballymurphy Massacre or Bloody Sunday. Nationalists fought court battles to define right to life protections under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The leading case stemmed from the murder of the Gibraltar 3.It held that the right to life created  legal obligations (1)to conduct full, open and transparent investigations into state killings, which are public, independent and involve victims’ families, and(2) a duty of command, control and training over its forces who take life. The Stormont House Agreement made by the British and Irish governments and five of the north’s political parties in December 2014,promised 4 new legacy bodies to fulfil these obligations. The key body was a Historical Investigations Unit. The HIU would investigate almost 2,000 Troubles killings including those by British forces or collusion killings. An Independent Commission on Information Retrieval(ICIR)could give information to families in exchange for immunity. There would be an Oral History Archive and an Implementation and Reconciliation Group. The new plan is a gimmick to close the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases and stop them from ever being re-opened. Cases would be  reviewed by what the British say  will be an “independent body”. Only where it saw “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution”, would they investigate.  All other cases would be  permanently blocked from further investigations. The updated legacy plan was set out on the same day as Boris Johnson’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Jonny Mercer, announces legislation to protect former soldiers from “vexatious” historical investigations. Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney said the measure had “significant changes” from the legacy approach signed up to in the Stormont House Agreement. Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin said the new plan was “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called it “an act of spectacular bad faith”. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said ” the British government has once again moved the goal posts to protect those within its armed forces and those within illegal organisations they colluded with. Its ultimate aim is to prevent the truth from emerging about its role in the conflict”.

D-Final chapter in Renewable Heat Scandal that led to 3 year Stormont collapse- The Renewable Heat Initiative, ridiculed as “Cash for Ash” or “Money to Burn,” which cost taxpayers 480 million pounds, and led to a three year collapse of the Stormont Assembly, ended without political fireworks in a quiet report by Judge Patrick Coghlin. Arlene Foster apologized for her failures but would not resign as DUP leader and First Minister. Coghlin was critical of Foster, for endorsing a plan which allowed businesses to make a profit by burning unneeded fuel, when she was minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade Investment (DETI).Foster admitted she had not read the legislation, but blamed her advisors and civil service. Traditional Unionist Voice head Jim Allister said “by spreading the blame widely, some may have escaped the sharper criticism that they deserved…Yet, the question remains – will there be consequences for anyone? In any other jurisdiction it is hard to imagine that heads would not roll. But here, even the concept that the buck stops with the Minister when a department spectacularly fails, as DETI did, has become so muted that a preemptive apology seems to do.” After the scandal broke in November 2016,there were calls for Foster’s resignation. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness asked Foster to step aside temporarily, while the matter was under investigation. When Foster refused, he resigned. Under the power-sharing rules, this meant the assembly could not meet. It remained closed for three years.

                 CHRISTMAS APPEAL APPRECIATION

Nineteen applicants will receive a record amount in FFAI  Christmas Appeal grants. The presentations were scheduled to be made personally this past week, but had to be postponed along with meetings to plan FFAI strategy proposals for our National Convention. With the British moving on a legacy whitewash, and added financial burdens of working despite closed offices, these groups tell us that our AOH-LAOH grants are desperately needed ! Four first time applicants will receive grants including : the Ballymurphy Massacre Families Committee (2) Museum of Free Derry operated by Bloody Sunday Trust,(3) Tyrone National Graves and (4)the Witness Project headed by Sean Murray. Repeat recipients include: Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, EALU-( Escape in Irish) centre for  Tyrone Republican ex-political prisoners, Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust, Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball and Omagh Choir.

New York and Pennsylvania were the top state contributors. Virginia rose to third and is a major success story. Jim McLaughlin and Terry Riley and Virginia challenge each division to earn awards for $1000 donations. There were some welcome successes in California, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire along with repeat success in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Louisiana and Kentucky. The LAOH must also be congratulated for a major increase in its contribution. America can make a difference for the six counties still denied freedom in Ireland, 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.

            

 

           FFAI SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION

                 

All of us have seen a great many things which we took for granted disappear, because of the current health crisis. That list includes platforms which we counted on, to help those in Ireland still denied freedom. St. Patrick’s Day parades, always an Irish rallying point, were lost. The Irish Presidential Forum, forcing candidates to speak to Irish issues has been pushed back. New York Hibernians lost formal ceremonies in the state Senate and Assembly memorializing the sacrifices of Terence MacSwiney, Kevin Barry and other patriots a century ago during the Black and Tan War.

 

Meanwhile the crisis has not slowed British injustice. As the AOH warned at a House Foreign Affairs Committee  Congressional hearing, the British government designed legacy bodies that were supposed to open the door to truth, but will instead nail that door shut. Recently I met Emma de Souza, the County Derry woman whose application for her American husband was refused because she said she was Irish not British  under the terms of the Good

 

Friday Agreement. According to her the British government’s attitude was that the GFA was something the Labour Party negotiated more than 20 years ago, and the Tories did not have to bother keeping today.

 

Meanwhile the clock continues ticking for Malachy McAllister, whose deadline for deportation remains the end of May, and has lost chances to push his issue on St. Patrick’s Day with Cardinal or at the Presidential forum.

 

Hopefully this national crisis will end soon. We will get through it with the Irish spirit and unbreakable determination that was forged within us as part of our Irish heritage. As part of that Irish spirit and determination we cannot forget those still denied Freedom for all Ireland, and come back stronger than ever behind them!    

 

                     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

 

 

Freedom For All Ireland Report – February 2020

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Stormont returns but bad faith on British financial pledges charged – Two days before the deadline threatening a new election, agreement was reached to restore the Stormont Assembly, after a three year absence. DUP head Arlene Foster returned as the north’s first minister, while Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill was named deputy first minister. The agreement to restore the assembly was welcomed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and accompanied by British promises of extra funding to meet the north’s economic crisis in areas like health and education. However almost immediately new Finance Minister Conor Murphy charged that the British had “stepped back from its financial commitments” and the actual financial package was “an act of bad faith”, far less than the parties had been led to believe keeping the north in an “austerity trap.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed it a “momentous day…after three years without devolved government, an executive can now get on with the job of delivering much needed reforms to the health service, education and justice”.”Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar commended the six county political parties “for their decision to put the people they represent first and make measured compromises to reach a deal”. In a surprising move the DUP backing Sinn Fein member Alex Maskey as speaker instead of the SDLP member in line for the position. Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill will now have to show if they can share power and deliver on the commitments in the new Stormont. The five largest parties in the north, the DUP, Sinn Fein Alliance, SDLP and UUP also got ministerial posts. With the exception of the role of justice minister, posts are picked using the D’Hondt system, according to numbers in the assembly. The Justice Ministry is different because the DUP will not allow members from the nationalist SDLP or Sinn Fein to hold this post. The key stumbling blocks were the petition of concern, which had been wielded as a veto by the DUP, and an Irish language act. The new deal requires use of the petition, be “reduced and returned to its intended purpose” and would “only be used in the most exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, having used every other mechanism”. The deal pledges legislation for both an Irish language commissioner and an Ulster-Scots commissioner. Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge said it was a “historic advancement” but added it “falls very much short” of promises for an Irish Language act.

B-No honors for Black and Tans as planned ceremony backfires – A planned commemoration honoring the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police forces was “deferred” by the Irish justice minister after boycotts and popular outrage. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were formed in the early 19th century to help keep Ireland under British rule. The prefix Royal was added to the name of Irish Constabulary because of their efforts to put down the Fenians, including many Irish Americans and American Hibernians who fought during America’s Civil War. The DMP identified the leaders of 1916 to be shot. During the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), the British government bolstered RIC ranks by recruiting thousands of ex- British soldiers, mainly from England. The RIC special reserve were nicknamed the Black and Tans because of their distinctive uniforms, while a group of former British officers were known as the Auxiliaries. They were described in ballads as “England’s foul horde”  using terror tactics against the Irish, targeting civilians and burning homes  and farms including Balbriggan and sections of Cork. Speaking about his decision to defer the event, Justice Minister Flanagan said: “There were those in the RIC who committed atrocities. The horrific record of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries is well known. But there others officers who behaved with dignity and honour.” Dublin City councillors voted to boycott the Dublin Castle event with a motion that was passed by 38 votes to 10.The Wolfe Tone’s song “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” shot to the top of the play list. Newscasts and editorials reminded the public of the history of the force would be not just remembered but honored by a any such commemoration. The deferred commemoration is considered a  factor in the loss of popularity in opinion for Fine Gael in the upcoming Irish election.

C-Brexit comes but real problems only beginning – Hundreds of anti-Brexit campaigners held demonstrations along the Irish border as Britain left the European Union on January 31st. Protesters gathered at six locations along the border in counties Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal. Stormont Finance Minister, Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein, said: “This part of Ireland did not consent to Brexit, we voted significantly to remain within the EU and we are being taken out of the EU without consent. There is now an 11 month transition period where Britain remains in the EU’s customs union and single market and continues to obey EU rules but is no longer part of the political institutions. There are no longer any British MEPs in the European Parliament. Now Britain must negotiate a trade deal with the European Union that includes Ireland. Britain wants access for its goods and services to the EU but wants out the customs union and single market and an end the overall jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. All 27 member states and the European Parliament have to be in agreement on a trade deal. Formal talks might only begin in March and Johnson has said there will be no extensions to the transition period. If there is no trade deal  by the end of the year, then the Britain faces the prospect of tariffs on exports.

D-Wolfe Tones were targets of Miami Showband Massacre – The lead singer of the Wolfe Tones, believes they were the intended target of the loyalist attack that claimed the lives of three members of the Miami Showband. The Miami Showband were targeted after being stopped at a bogus patrol, manned by UDR and UVF members, in the early hours of July 31 1975.Lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy  were murdered as they returned to Dublin after a concert in Banbridge, Co Down. All three were shot several times, after a bomb was placed under the band’s van to make it seem as though the group had been transporting explosives. Top of ForBottom of FormTwo members of the UVF gang behind the attack, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were killed when the bomb exploded prematurely. UDR members Thomas Raymond Crozier and Rodney Shane McDowell, and UVF member James Somerville, were convicted of the murders. Brian Warfield of The Wolfe Tones, said shortly before the Miami Showband attack the band were warned that their lives were at risk. Adding that they had been warned not to travel across the border in the mid-70s following an incident at a GAA club outside of Kilkeel when they had to flee the area by driving across the Mourne Mountains. Mr Warfield said: “I believe the massacre of the Miami was set up for the Wolfe Tones on that night.” “We were playing in a big marquee … I came out and the organizers

said to me ‘you can’t go home the main road’.”I said why is that and he said ‘because there is a blockade waiting for you down there’.”He said, “we’re going to take you over the mountains of Mourne”, which they did”.”The day we got back to Dublin the Special Branch said that the Wolfe Tones were not to go north again, that our lives were in danger.”I believe that the Glenanne Gang were in that front bar …getting ready to pick up the Wolfe Tones on the way home.

CHRISTMAS APPEAL

There is still time to contribute to Freedom for all Ireland and the Christmas Appeal. The Stormont Assembly was restored after three years, but the British government stepped back from its financial pledges putting the north in a new austerity trap. Brexit was pushed through with long term effects on Ireland that will not be fully seen for years. Legacy mechanisms promised at Stormont House in 2014, will finally be moved forward but only after the British and DUP have blocked truth and justice for families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents. The British want to remove  Human Rights Acts protections formally written into the Good Friday Agreement, giving a legalized immunity for British troopers. The DUP wants to undercut investigations of crown forces by the Historical Investigations Unit.

Those still denied freedom in Ireland count on the AOH and LAOH to stand behind them. Those who participated in last February’s AOH-LAOH tour saw and heard firsthand how important our grants are.

We have already received more appeals for help than ever before from justice groups, ex-prisoners, cultural groups, etc.

Don’t let them down!!!

AOH-LAOH FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL
PO Box 904
Jefferson Valley,
New York 10535

REGISTER NOW FOR PRESIDENTIAL FORUM

At one time, it was commonplace at Irish events to hear speakers ask why American presidents never spoke about Irish issues like they took up the issues of other countries. That ended in 1992 because of the work done by John Dearie and the pledges given by candidate Bill Clinton, which changed the Irish political landscape so dramatically.

 The 1992 Presidential Forum was historic for Irish America because of pledges given by future President Bill Clinton about a visa for Gerry Adams, a special envoy which became George Mitchell, and the question about Joe Doherty and political asylum which led to deferred action for Irish political deportees like Matt Morrison, Gabriel Megahey and Brian Pearson etc.

 The most important step in any Irish political forum is guaranteeing a big enough crowd so that presidential candidates

feel it necessary to make time to speak about our Irish issues. Former Assemblyman John Dearie has asked the AOH for help. Judge McKay will be one of the panelists.

Please register for the event by emailing IrishForum2020@gmail.com, and include your name and telephone number. The forum will be held at 1 pm on April 26th at Fordham Law School, on West 62nd Street, New York.

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
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

NB-Because of time constraints this must be sent out before the Irish General Election. Will have a full analysis in the next bulletin!

NYS AOH Christmas Appeal

A chairde

The below report in the IRISH ECHO details the New York State AOH FFAI event this Wednesday January 15th will feature key information about the upcoming Presidential Forum from John Dearie and the latest update from Malachy McAllister on his fight against deportation.

This is the New York State Board FFAI  function for the Christmas Appeal and also a chance for Divisions or Counties who cannot do a $1000 donation individually to be part of New York’s contribution to the Christmas Appeal which will be earmarked for Relatives for Justice.

Checks can be given to New York State AOH


Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A full size copy of the flyer, can be downloaded by clicking here

Freedom For All Ireland Report – December 2019

A chairde:

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

 

A-Johnson has his Brexit majority – Boris Johnson picked up 47 seats and an overall majority more than 70 seats, which will empower him “to get Brexit done quickly.” Meanwhile wins by nationalists and republicans in the north and the Scottish National Party in Scotland, kept Irish unity and Scottish independence on the agenda.

 Johnson called the British General Election after a series of parliamentary defeats blocked him from moving forward with Brexit and his renegotiated withdrawal agreement out of the European Union. He banked on winning an outright Tory majority in the election, picking up enough MPs approve his deal. With the largest Tory majority in 30 years, he has his parliamentary backing to get out of the EU by 31 January. Johnson wants to complete a new trade deal with the bloc by December 2020 or go without any trade deal and terminate any interim agreements by the end of 2020.

 Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin will resign after the worst showing by Labour in 30 years.

 In the north the Democratic Unionist Party, went into the election with 10 seats and expected to pick up the seat vacated by the retiring Sylvia Hermon. Instead the DUP suffered a “Friday the 13th nightmare” defeat. Both deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Emma Little-Pengelly were ousted, while the vacated seat was taken by Alliance.

 The SDLP won seats in Derry and South Belfast, leaving the DUP and unionists with only 8 of the north’s 18 Westminster seats. It is the first time nationalist parties held more seats than unionists in the six counties. Nationalists swept all border communities and 3 of Belfast’s 4 seats.

The DUP also lost all leverage at Westminster. The party’s 10 votes had been needed first by Theresa May and then Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister. However the DUP broke with Johnson over his Brexit plan, calling it a “betrayal agreement” because it allowed for checks and regulations on goods which crossed the Irish sea. Getting his Brexit deal done proved more important to Johnson than keeping his word to unionists about avoiding a line down the Irish Sea.DUP objections to Johnson’s deal will now be dismissed.  

 The loss of Nigel Dodds, party leader at Westminster, and the seat he had held for 18 years to John Finucane, was a bitter blow for the party.

Meanwhile the SNP swept 48 of Scotland 59 seats. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon called the result a “renewed, refreshed and strengthened” mandate for Scottish independence. Johnson said he will not allow Scotland a new referendum on independence but the calls for a new referendum continue and will be noted in Ireland.

B-Britain reneges on OTR letters for Republicans while moving  amnesty for British troopers-Sixty-seven year old John Downey, is being held without bail in Maghaberry Prison, on IRA related charges from 1972,despite an OTR pledge by the British crown that he would not be prosecuted. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has pledged what amounts to a legal amnesty for British troopers, by changing the Human Rights Act, to cease applying to any acts by British forces that took place before 2000, including murders during the Troubles.

This move would cut-off access to British courts for relatives of victims killed by British crown forces, and violate specific sections of the Good Friday Agreement where Britain pledged to put the European Convention of Human Rights into law for the north, with direct access to the courts.

John Downey had been arrested in 2013 and accused of involvement in an IRA attack in England.However those charges were dismissed because he had been granted immunity in an OTR “on the run” letter,which pledged he was not wanted for arrest, questioning or charge by the crown. Terms for the release of Republican prisoners and closure for those Republicans, who the crown wanted to make prisoners for pre-1998 actions, were high on the agenda in negotiations. Tony Blair, the British leader in these negotiations, said the OTR issue was “absolutely critical”, “fundamental” and talks could have “collapsed” without a satisfactory settlement. Negotiations on OTRs continued after the Good Friday Agreement and were amplified in the Weston Park Accord of 2001.The British, in Paragraph 20, pledged to take such steps necessary to insure that prosecutions for pre-April 1998 actions against members of organizations on ceasefire were “no longer pursued”. Administrative mechanisms were constructed to carry oral and later written immunity pledges. Senior staff  were assigned to carry out this agreed process. Republicans who had lived years outside the north returned home and lived openly. Following the 2013 arrest and the 2014 dismissal of all charges, the British apparently decided to renege on these immunity grants and make an example of John Downey.

Meanwhile the one-sided secretive scheme of undeclared immunity or impunity for members of the British Army or constabulary who committed or colluded in sanctioned murders is now about to be made British law.

 C-Stormont agreement expected from new talks-After a nearly  three year absence, talks are beginning this week which are expected to revive the Stormont Assembly. Past talks broke down, most notably in February 2018 when the DUP reneged on an agreement because supporters would not accept an Irish Language Act. However the election results put new pressure on both the DUP and Sinn Fein to make an agreement. The British General Election took away the DUP’s leverage at Westminster and cost it two seats while the Sinn Fein vote share was also reduced. British colonial secretary Julian Smith  threatened to call new six county Assembly elections, if there is no deal by mid-January. Stormont collapsed in January 2017 when Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister over the DUP’s handling of the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. Other issues, such as an Irish Language Act, reform of the Petition of Concern and the legacy of the Troubles, have also come to the fore in successive rounds of failed talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.The talks will begin with individual meetings between Smith and the five largest Assembly parties, the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance before moving to round table talks. The Irish government is also scheduled to join in the talks.

D-Veteran Republican Ivor Bell vindicated after 5 year ordeal-The five year prosecution of 82 year old prominent Irish Republican Ivor Bell, ended with his being cleared of all charges and a ruling that there was not any admissible evidence against him. Bell had been in his late 70s in 2014, when taken from his home and charged with soliciting the death and disappearance of an informer more than 40 years earlier. Ivor Bell had been one of a 5 member delegation flown to England to represent the IRA in negotiations with the British in 1972,as well as a former IRA Chief of staff and Belfast Commander. The controversial charges were based on statements allegedly made by him in an interview recorded on the Boston College tapes. Bell said he was not the man on the tapes, known as ‘Interviewee Z’ and that he had been living in County Louth at the time of the Belfast killing. The interviewee said only that he was opposed to disappearing or secretly burying any informers killed by the IRA. After 5 years of stringent bail restrictions and petty harassment, the tapes were ruled unreliable and could not be used as evidence against Mr Bell. The judge told jurors: “There is now no evidence which the prosecution can put before you in order to support the case.”My role now is to direct you to return a verdict of not guilty, because you simply cannot find him to have done the acts alleged.”Mr Bell’s solicitor, Peter Corrigan, said his client had been vindicated. The Boston tapes were an oral history project, commissioned by Boston College. Recordings were made of interviews with former combatants about their activities during the Troubles on the understanding these would not be made public until after their deaths. Ed Moloney, the journalist behind the Boston College project, said he welcomed Mr Bell’s acquittal.

 

                CHRISTMAS  APPEAL

  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is no fiend of Ireland or Irish justice. His top issue is Brexit no matter what Brexit means for Ireland. He wants to deny truth and justice to the families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents by laws that remove Human Rights Acts protections formally agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. He will continue austerity cuts in funding that will bring greater hardship in the six counties.

At times like these, Irish people in the north look to America to stand behind them. We have already received more appeals for help than ever before. America can make a difference for them, at this crucial time 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.

 

           Don’t let them down!!!

           AOH-LAOH FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL

                                            PO Box 904

                                          Jefferson Valley,

                                         New York 10535

 

  TIME TO MAKE McALLISTER’S VICTORY FINAL

 

It was a “Happy Thanksgiving” for Malachy McAllister, his supporters and for justice. After yet another six months of deep anxiety for himself and his family, the combined efforts by political leaders, Cardinal Dolan and the AOH succeeded in halting Malachy’s deportation for another six months. It is too important a victory to be hollowed out, or even lost, six months from now.

One can only imagine what it is must be like for Malachy to face the real threat of deportation again and again.

Few individuals could have earned the sympathy and backing of the range of supporters necessary to keep him here, given the current political climate. Senators Menendez, Schumer, Congressmen King, Engel, Smith and Pascrell were among those who personally intervened with the administration. Cardinal Dolan called the President. Many law enforcement and military officials publicly endorsed him. The Irish Embassy backed him. The AOH and other Irish organizations campaigned for him. 

Malachy has multiple grounds which should have entitled him to full legal permanent residence under American law. He has lived in America for decades, is a father , successful businessman and, respected member of the Irish-American community. He should  be allowed to live here without semi-annual battles against  deportation hanging over his head, where the British and DHS as the expression goes “only have to get lucky once.”

In 1997 the Irish political deportee cases were settled by the Clinton administration, upon formal request by  Secretary of State Albright to Attorney General Reno.It was supposed to open the door for others. Malachy McAllister found the door had been shut. Malachy McAllister, was involved in a conflict which is long over. Clearly Cardinal Dolan, leading politicians, law enforcement and so many Irish Americans would not have backed a criminal. America must not continue to victimize him and his family at Britain’s behest! We cannot enjoy Malachy’s victory only to see him go through it again in 6 months.

                                                 

 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

             NOLLAIG SHONA DAOIBH!-MERRY CHRISTMAS

Albany Freedom for All Ireland Night

You are invited to the Albany LAOH and AOH 2018 Freedom for All Ireland Night on Friday, November 22, 2019. This year we will be honoring:

 

Malachy McAllister
Recipient of the 2019 Father Murphy Award

Our special guest of the evening will be:

Mark Thompson
Relatives for Justice

Doors open at 6pm – Event starts at 7pm – Price $30.00 which includes Dinner. There will be raffles and door prizes.

The event will take place at:

Albany Hibernian Hall
375 Ontario Street
Albany NY 12208

For more information contact: Dolores Desch – laohdolores@yahoo.com or John Levendosky at j.levendosky@gmail.com

Download the event flyer  |   Download the journal ad contract

Freedom For All Ireland (FFAI) is a National AOH/LAOH initiative that promotes One Island, One Ireland with peace, justice and equality for all. All proceeds raised by this event are donated to over a dozen worthy charities/causes throughout the North of Ireland.

FFAI Fundraiser Dinner – Schenectady AOH JFK Div.1

A Freedom For All Ireland Fundraiser, Guest speaker will be Martin Galvin, National FFAI chair. Monies raised will go to the FFAI Christmas appeal. Event will be October 26th, 2019 at 6:00 pm. A turkey dinner will be provided for $20.00 at 7:00 pm.
For more information please contact:
Joe Osborne
518-369-0203
joexmen@outlook.com

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

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.

Unquiet Graves: The Story of the Glenanne Gang

Alan Brecknell from the Pat Finucane Center will present the documentary Unquiet Graves: The Story of the Glenanne Gang which details how members of the RUC and UDR, (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland.  It will detail how these members worked hand in hand with known sectarian murderers in the targeted assassinations of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other civilians in a campaign aimed at terrorizing the most vulnerable in society. Now known as the Glenanne Gang, the group of killers rampaged through Counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from July 1972 to the end of 1978.

The film is narrated by academy award nominated actor Stephen Rea and directed by award winning director, Seán Murray.
Admission is free and open to all.  Doors open at 7pm for a meet and greet with the film presentation at 7:30. Documentary is 1 hour and 15 minutes.