by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A- Brexit chaos as Westminster rejects May deal-Britain’s exit from the European Union, Brexit, due March 29th was delayed as Westminster vetoed Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU. Multiple parliamentary defeats made May ask the EU for an extension. No one knows what will happen next. Had Britain accepted May’s withdrawal deal with the EU nations, Brexit could have gone ahead on May 22nd. Brexit could go ahead without any deal on April 12th or Britain could ask for more time and even renegotiations. Exiting after May 22nd, would require Britain to elect candidates to the European Parliament. Britain could also cancel Brexit by revoking their Article 50 withdrawal notice.
May survived a no-confidence vote within her own party two months ago, after pledging to step down before the next British election or further Brexit negotiations. Alternative Brexit plan were voted down in “indicative votes.” May’s defeats in Parliament have prompted renewed pressure to replace her now.
Meanwhile Brexit chaos continues to threaten economic disaster for Ireland. The EU and May negotiated a 599 page Withdrawal Agreement, including a “backstop” to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. Brexiteers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party, joined with the DUP, to oppose the “backstop” or safety net that would only begin if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.
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). This favored position would benefit the north. However the DUP rejected the backstop proposals as a “backstab” denouncing even preferences for the north as a slippery slope towards a united Ireland.
B-Token prosecution for Bloody Sunday as Bradley says crown force killings were not crimes-Only one British trooper will be prosecuted for 13 murdered and 15 wounded by British troops on Bloody Sunday. Up to 18 troopers were expected to be charged. The trooper, identified only as British “Soldier F”, was 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. The families of the other victims were described as “heartbroken” and “devastated.” Derry author Eamon McCann renewed his charge that no officers, or commanders were charged for murder or cover-up.
The announcement came days after Karen Bradley, Britain’s six county administrator told Westminster that fewer than 10% of conflict killings were at the hands of the British Army or Royal Ulster Constabulary and these killings “were not crimes. They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way”.
James Wray’s brother Liam said that while his family was relieved, he was “very saddened for the other Bloody Sunday families who have not got justice here and whose hearts must be broken”.
On Bloody Sunday, January 28, 1972,the British Army paratroop regiment responsible for the August 9-11 “Ballymurphy Massacre” opened fire on a civil rights march against Internment without charge or trial. It convinced many civil rights supporters that a regime which answered civil rights marchers with bullets would never give justice. The killings were judicially whitewashed by the Widgery Tribunal but after decades and the Saville Inquiry, Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable.” However only one token prosecution has been initiated. Meanwhile former British troopers are planning protests against any prosecutions and flags have appeared in Carrickfergus and other loyalist heartlands supporting the paratroopers and British “Soldier F.”
C-Finucane Supreme Court victory– Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that the crown failed to carry out any effective investigation as required by European law into the state’s involvement in the murder of civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane. The De Silva inquiry where Judge Desmond de Silva reviewed written reports instead of calling and hearing witnesses, did not satisfy the crown’s obligations to protect the right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They ruled that there had never been any state investigation which could establish the key facts or the guilt of those responsible for the murder.
Pat Finucane was a Belfast civil rights lawyer, who represented Bobby Sands and also testified in American political asylum cases for Sean Mackin and was scheduled to testify for Gabriel Megahey. Because of his success in British non-jury Diplock Courts,he received threats from the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Republicans who requested him as counsel were told that they should ask for someone who would be alive to finish the case. British MP Douglas Hogg threatened him under privilege in Parliament.
On February 12,1989,loyalists entered Pat’s home and murdered him in front of his wife and children. Republicans realized that British crown forces were involved but the British crown denied any complicity and their Ambassador accused me personally of being a “scurrilous liar” for briefing members of Congress about collusion in the murder and getting a Congressional protest letter. The Ambassador said the crown “would never stoop to such methods”. It has since been proven that British agents were in fact directly involved.
The family campaigned for a full public inquiry and Pat’s murder was included in the Cory Report as part of the Good Friday negotiations. Finally in 2004, the British Secretary for the north promised a public inquiry in a parliamentary statement. Prime Minister David Cameron invited the family to London but announced the Da Silva review instead of the expected public inquiry.
D-Loughinisland Film Journalists interrogated by Constabulary-Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey the prominent Belfast journalists who produced the documentary “NO STONE UNTURNED” were brought in for interrogation by constabulary in what is viewed as a further attempt to silence and intimidate anyone who investigates collusion by British crown forces. Six victims in Loughinisland were murdered while watching Ireland play Italy in a World Cup soccer match in 1994. The film names and shows the murderers, and reveals that besides evidence available from the 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. The two journalists were arrested last August and charged with stealing documents. They were forced to appear and be interrogated in an attempt to make them to name confidential sources.
Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said “when police are arresting journalists who have investigated police collusion in the killing of civilians, rather than the killers and those who helped them get away with murder, people everywhere should be worried”.
MALACHY MCALLISTER DEPORTATION FIGHT
Malachy McAllister’s fight against deportation is still at a 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.
Malachy is a pawn in an old British game of criminalization. The British think they can brand anyone who dares oppose them as a criminal. That was true of the patriots they shot in 1916. That was true of George Washington who himself said to the “Patriots of Ireland” in 1788 “had I failed the scaffold would have been my doom.”It was true of Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strikers who suffered torture and death rather than be masqueraded as criminals for Margaret Thatcher.
The British want America to brand Malachy a criminal by deporting him. The human cost to Malachy and his children does not matter to Britain. The AOH, led by our National President Jim McKay, Treasurer Sean Pender, Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy and FFAI, together with other Irish American organizations are fighting back. Already a Call to Action, answered by state chairs in Texas and South Carolina, has gotten important support.
Things are moving quickly. The AOH-LAOH will need to respond quickly and I urge everyone to check the national web site, FFAI updates respond to Calls for Action. We have to win for Malachy and his family!
MARK THOMPSON BOOK LAUNCH TOUR
Mark Thompson and Professor Mark McGovern are launching a new book COLLUSION – COUNTERINSURGENCY in NORTHERN IRELAND in April and are planning to do an American launch from June 1st to June 10th.
This groundbreaking book will put the lie to the claim that Britain forces were responsible for only about only 10% of the north’s killings and expose how they armed, directed, paid and protected their loyalist agents to carry out hundreds of killings then denied any blame.
They have asked AOH help to plan and organize this tour.
I have a personal interest in the book because my close friend Liam Ryan, who lived near me in the Bronx and was murdered at the Battery Bar in Ardboe, (a site visited during the FFAI tour) is one of the cases of collusion included in the book. I am asking for your ideas and help to set up the most effective schedule for them including book launch venues-political support-colleges-embassy receptions etc along with events where we can bring in people and help defer expenses.
EASTER COMMEMORATIONS AND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
A century ago representatives elected in the 32 county election of 1918, assembled as a National Parliament in 1919, and voted Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. An important theme for this year’s Easter Commemorations is the mandate the Irish people gave to the Easter Rising and 1916 Proclamation first by their votes in the British controlled general election and second by ratifying 1916 in the Declaration of Independence. The British instead of recognizing the democratic will of the Irish people responded with Black and Tan terror and ultimately partition. Speakers are encouraged to include the Declaration of Independence and its historic import in all Easter Commemorations.
FFAI TOUR-CHRISTMAS APPEAL
Anyone who doubts the importance of the AOH-LAOH to people in the north should read the full FFAI tour report in the upcoming Hibernian Digest, or speak to any of the 37 Hibernians who attended. We were met by leading figures in Belfast, Derry, Tyrone and Dublin. They met us because they regard us as their voice, as our National President says the “voice of the Irish in America.”
They count on us to put pressure on the British, to highlight injustice and for our donations to key groups. The reception we received is a credit to each member of the AOH-LAOH who works on FFAI or contributed to the Christmas Appeal. Your work matters and is deeply appreciated!
FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN
After getting behind because of the Christmas Appeal and FFAI tour, I am trying to get the FFAI Bulletins back on a monthly schedule. I held this to include the latest news on Brexit. 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.