by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A – DUP Conference on Restoring Stormont Assembly – Democratic Unionist Party head Arlene Foster, at her party’s annual conference, showed why Stormont collapsed. She called nationalist demands for legacy truth and an Irish language law “intransigent behavior” which must be given up to resurrect Stormont. She denounced a tribute to late Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, during the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis as “glorying in the murder of the IRA.” Foster demanded that nationalists accept British culture, the British flag, English royal family, British troops, British symbols and begin referring to the six counties as the separate country of ‘Northern Ireland’. She would only support the Irish language in a larger bill that puts Irish down to the level of other cultures. Clearly after years of power-sharing Foster’s idea of a “balanced deal” is one in which nationalists give up their beliefs about British rule and freedom for all Ireland, and submit to hers. Meanwhile British colonial secretary James Brokenshire set the new budget for the north and Arlene Foster called for greater direct control of the north by British ministers.
B – Sinn Fein Ard Fheis – Gerry Adams announced that he would be standing down as party president after 34 years. The new leader will be chosen in a Special Ard Fheis expected by February of next year. It seems almost certain to be Mary Lou McDonald. The party also decided to try to get into coalition as a junior partner with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail after the next 26 County election. This was a major change from the party’s prior policy of only entering a coalition where it would lead.
C – Pardon Moves for British Forces – Moves continued toward a ten year statute of limitations designed to mean no prosecutions of British forces for “Troubles” murders. In April, a Westminster parliamentary Defense Committee recommended such a measure to apply to British troops, the Ulster Defense Regiment and Royal Ulster Constabulary. In November, Tory MP Richard Benyon introduced a bill which would prevent court proceedings against British armed forces for any “offenses committed during military operations or similar circumstances; and for connected purposes.” These broad terms raise questions about whether it would include collusion and cover-up crimes. The bill was supported by DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly whose father Noel Little, was a member of Ulster Resistance which helped to bring in South African arms for loyalist paramilitaries. The British are now floating a ‘consultation document’ to get people used to the idea. Justice campaigners contend such a measure would violate European Law and the Good Friday deal. Meanwhile, a Coroner’s Court ruling that the British Army killing of 11 year old Francis Rowntree in 1972 was not justified, points to grounds for prosecution of Fracis’ killer.
D – Loughinisland Film and Court Revelations on Collusion – The film premiere of “NO STONE UNTURNED” and Belfast High Court cases have revealed more proof that British forces armed, paid, targeted, covered-up or were otherwise complicit in sectarian murders carried out by loyalist agents. Six Loughinisland victims were murdered for watching Ireland play Italy in a World Cup soccer match in 1994. The movie names and shows recent film of the murderers, then reveals that in addition to the overwhelming evidence available from the recovered car, weapons, and clothing, the wife of one of the gunmen had telephoned and written confessing her involvement and naming the gunmen. Despite everything, no one was ever charged. Meanwhile a Belfast High Court judge who had already ruled that the PSNI Constabulary had violated the rights of families of the Glenanne Gang by blocking any effective investigation into their murders, issued a new order to force the constabulary to do and publish a full investigation. The Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC and UDR is tied to more than 120 sectarian murders including 33 in the Dublin – Monaghan bombings. The judge was forced to issue the extraordinary order because the PSNI ignored his earlier judgment.
HEAR MARK THOMPSON- WILL AOH & AMERICA HELP STOP BRITISH IMPUNITY
(Read Mark Thompson’s Biography)
Over the past quarter-century Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, among many human rights campaigners, has fought for truth and justice for the victims killed by British crown forces and their loyalist criminal agents. In inquests, court battles, Ombudsman Investigations and international scrutiny, they have proven many victims innocent. This also points to the fact that their killers were guilty. The British are making clear moves towards a 10 year cut off that will cut off any chance for truth for more than a thousand families. AOH and American help is crucial. Mark will be speaking at five New York AOH FFAI events in January, arriving on January 9th,returning to Belfast January 15th.We want to fill his afternoons with press and political briefings!
- Wednesday, January 10th-Suffolk County AOH Division 2 Hall, 27 Locust Avenue ,Babylon-8pm-Suffolk and Nassau Counties
- Thursday, January 11th-Wolfe Tone Pub 37 East 29th Street, 6pm-9pm Manhattan-co-sponsored by New York, Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx
- Friday, January 12th-Rockland-Hibernian House 28 Railroad Avenue, Pearl River-7pm
- Saturday, January 13th-Albany-AOH HALL 375 Ontario Avenue, Albany – 7pm- honoring Ciaran Geraghty Past NYS AOH FFAI Chair
- Sunday January 14th-Peekskill-venue to be arranged
Mark is a great speaker who has given truth, hope and a small measure of justice to many families whose loved ones were murdered by the British directly or by their loyalist agents. Hear him explain why American and AOH pressure on the British is urgently needed!
Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.
NYAOH FFAI Chair