(click on picture for the complete article from the Irish Echo)
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:
Recipient of the 2019 Father Murphy Award
Our special guest of the evening will be:
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
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.
by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A- Six month deportation reprieve for Malachy McAllister-Less than 48 hours before his scheduled deportation, Senators and Congressmen supporting Malachy McAllister were told that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan would grant a six month stay. Belfast born Hibernian and key member of the AOH National FFAI Committee, Malachy McAllister was scheduled to be deported on April 30th, after 23 years, in America. He was ordered deported because he had been jailed as a Republican political prisoner for his alleged role in an attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The reprieve, achieved after intense campaigning led by National President Jim McKay and Treasurer Sean Pender, will end in six months without legalization before the deadline. Malachy McAllister had fled to America after a British agent led loyalist attack on his home. He became, as Senator Chuck Schumer described, “a valued member of the Irish American community who has done nothing but productive things since seeking asylum following an assassination attempt on him and his family.”
Because he arrived in America after the original list of Irish political deportee cases, he was omitted from the cases settled by Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno in 1997.Ironically the immigration judge who denied McAllister’s claim for asylum in 2000,was current President Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry. She implored the Attorney General to use his discretion to allow the McAllister family to stay in America. McAllister has had his deportation stayed multiple times in response to Senate and Congressional bills. Senator Lindsay Graham as head of the Judiciary Committee made a request for Malachy to be granted a six month stay but DHS refused. This refusal was followed by Congressional and Senate campaigning for Malachy, helped by the Irish government and Cardinal Dolan. Senators Schumer and Menendez, along with Congressmen Engel, Pascrell, King, Smith and Neal were in the forefront of a bipartisan effort. McAllister had to submit an airplane ticket to Ireland to DHS on April 15th and was making final preparations for his family when Senators and Congressmen were notified that McAleenan would give the six month stay. This is a temporary reprieve not a permanent solution. AOH Immigration and FFAI are working with other Irish American groups get a permanent legal status for Malachy. A possibility, suggested by AOH Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy would be a “TRIG Exemption,” exempting the actions for which Malachy was imprisoned from barring him from staying in America. His acts were part of a conflict that ended more than 21 years ago. Terrorism Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG) can be exempted for the Irish conflict by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security in consultation with the Attorney General.
B–New Stormont Talks follow tragic Derry death-British Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadker made a joint statement setting up new talks to restart the Stormont Assembly, dormant since January 9,2017. The announcement came after both heads of government attended the funeral of respected young journalist Lyra McKee, along with many Irish party leaders. Ms. McKee had been tragically killed in Derry by members of the New IRA ,who had fired at the PSNI constabulary during rioting. Her death inspired an outpouring of grief and anger and an emotional appeal at her funeral by Fr. Martin Magill. Stormont collapsed after the late Martin McGuinness resigned over the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster to stand aside during an inquiry into the Renewable Heat Initiative scandal. Last year an apparent DUP-Sinn Fein agreement collapsed on Valentine’s Day 2018,when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along lines of similar measures in Scotland and Wales. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney held a follow-up press conference with British Secretary Karen Bradley. Some of the difficulties with talks immediately surfaced. DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr. demanded that Dublin should “butt-out” if they want to see talks succeed while members of the Ulster Unionist Party complained that “Dublin seem to be getting more information than we are.”
C-May gets Halloween extension to avoid “no deal” Brexit- The European Union granted Britain’s plea for more time before its exit from the European Union. Brexit, set for March 29th was given a new deadline of October 31st. The postponement allows Britain six additional months to avoid a “no deal” Brexit, without any trade or customs agreements. May was forced to ask the EU for a more time after Westminster voted down her 599 page Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. The EU is not expected to redo this agreement, reached only after lengthy negotiations. She requested a longer postponement but the EU granted 6 months. May is now in talks with the opposition Labour Party to get votes for her Withdrawal Agreement. “Brexiting” after May 22nd will require Britain to elect candidates to the European Parliament. Britain could also cancel Brexit by revoking their Article 50 withdrawal notice. May faces continued calls to step down. Brexit threatens economic disaster for Ireland. The Withdrawal Agreement, included 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 have only begun if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.
D-Threat to bring Britain to a standstill over trooper charges- With as many as 200 former British Army troopers and Royal Ulster Constabulary members now under investigation for Troubles’ murders, former troopers are now threatening to bring Britain and the north to a standstill unless Westminster gives them an amnesty. The threats were made at a rally outside Belfast City Hall, called in support of the single British paratrooper charged for the Bloody Sunday murders. The rally was attended two DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Gavin Robinson. Donaldson called investigations of British troopers a “witch hunt”. Meanwhile Tory back-benchers are now preparing a bill for an amnesty in the form of a statute of limitations to include Troubles killings in the north along with killings in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time the mother of a Derry child shot dead by the RUC with a plastic bullet in 1981, has been told that the file on her 15 year old son will be sealed until 2059. Helen Whitters appealed to British Secretary Bradley to open her son Paul Whitters’ file now saying that “I will not be alive and no one who actually knew Paul will be alive” in 2059. Also the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest heard testimony from a trooper who had married a woman from Ballymurphy and was in the area on leave. He said British troopers made up “ghost gunmen” to justify opening fire. He had been threatened by a British Army Captain, called a traitor and assaulted at his home by members of the Parachute Regiment to silence him. The inquest continues.
MARK THOMPSON-MARK McGOVERN BOOK LAUNCH TOUR
Mark Thompson and Professor Mark McGovern are launching a new book COLLUSION- COUNTERINSURGENCY in NORTHERN IRELAND in May 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.
FFAI TOUR-CHRISTMAS APPEAL RECIPIENTS
The following groups received donations from your contributions to the Christmas Appeal. These groups and amounts were based on written applications and recommendations from the National FFAI Committee with final determination by our National officers. Every designated donation to approved groups was honored and groups named for designated donations got additional monies because we wanted contributions to reflect your feelings.
- Relatives for Justice-supports the relatives of those killed or injured in the conflict-fights for legacy justice-provides counseling and support services with offices in Belfast and Dungannon-involved with campaigns like Ballymurphy inquest-, headed by Mark Thompson, and Carmel Quinn is one of the trustees.
- Pat Finucane Centre-Human Rights Advocacy group-based in Derry named after slain civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane – headed by Paul O’Connor, and connected to campaigns like Bloody Sunday.
- Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, is actually the Houben Centre dedicated to peace with justice in the sectarian flashpoint of Ardoyne.
- EALU-(means Escape in Irish)is a center for Republican ex-political prisoners located in Dungannon, East Tyrone, we visited their offices and they provide an array of services including job training ,counseling for ex-prisoners and families, legacy issues, education classes in Irish culture, language and history.
- Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee-maintains a memorial garden and commemorations for IRA Volunteers and Republicans who were killed by the British in the New Lodge area of Belfast.
- Conway Mill Trust-located in Pittsburgh funds 8 community based organizations in the north including one in the Garvaghy Road, four in Belfast and three in Derry.
- Tyrone AOH– foster Irish history ,culture, language and issues in an area of Tyrone where all things Irish were suppressed-they hold a special memorial for a local Hibernian killed in 1916,campaign against the environmental destruction of the Mass Rock and Sperrins area and also assist on legacy issues and other issues.
- Cairde Strabane-serves Republican ex-political prisoners in West Tyrone which provides job training, education, counseling, and a historical museum.
- St. Patrick Centre-cross community charity and exhibition, and cultural centre about St. Patrick in Downpatrick.
- Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh organization promoting and studying the unique culture and history of South Armagh.
- Bridges beyond Boxing-cross-community boxing club based in Belfast.
- Down Patriot Graves-maintains graves,organizes commemorations and promotes history of Irish patriots in South Down.
- Green Cross-provides money and help to the families who lost loved ones during the conflict.
- Belfast National Graves-to commemorate and maintain the graves of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.
- Omagh Basketball-cross-community basketball team in Omagh.
- Omagh Choir-cross-community choir.
These donations were presented during the tour which meant that a number of AOH and LAOH members handed out checks and showed that these contributions represent funds raised by a national organization. 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
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.
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.
Sixteen Members of Congress have joined in a bipartisan letter to British Ambassador Kim Darroch, expressing concerns about hundreds of families still waiting for legacy truth and justice. The bipartisan Congressional initiative, follows a recent visit by Mark Thompson of Relatives For Justice. The tour was organized by New York State Ancient Order of Hibernians, and supported by an array of Irish-American organizations including the Irish American Unity Conference and Brehon Law Society.
The Members of Congress cited issues including the denial of funding for Legacy Inquests and investigations, misuse of national security to block information ,and proposals of a statute of limitations amnesty.
New York State AOH Freedom for All Ireland Chair Martin Galvin noted:
“We welcome this Congressional scrutiny and will monitor and provide information in relation to the British government’s response. It seems that as victims use crown justice mechanisms to get legacy truth ,the British are starving their own courts, inquest judges and Ombudsman investigations of funding while moving towards pardons dressed up as statutes of limitations.
Since Mr. Thompson’s visit, a judge has ruled that former First Minister Arlene Foster had unlawfully blocked funding for legacy inquests by demanding political agreement before discussing funding to fulfill the state’s obligations to legacy victims. We believe that American political pressure on the British can help make a difference for legacy victims in their long fight for truth and justice.”
Relatives for Justice respond to U.S. Congress House of Representatives letter to the British government Ambassador in Washington DC, Sir Kim Darroch, in which they raise concerns and call on the UK representative to explain failings by his government to implement agreements made on addressing the legacy of the past in the North of Ireland. The signatories also call upon the UK to honour their legal obligations with respect to Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by holding compliant investigations into killings. They also call for funds to enable inquests to take place and criticize any attempt to impose an amnesty for the British army, RUC and their agents by way of a statute of limitations.
Responding RFJ’s Mark Thompson said:
“We welcome and endorse fully the content of the letter. Hopefully this now opens further lines of communication in which members of the U.S. Congress can monitor and assist in making progress on the implementation of legacy agreements and human rights.
The letter reiterates precisely the concerns raised by RFJ during two recent visits to the U.S where we briefed members of Congress and urged them to intervene given the UK’s failure to implement legacy agreements for victims and survivors of the conflict. This included providing evidence at a key Congressional Hearing only a few weeks ago examining these very same matters. In particular we thank House Representatives Joe Crowley, Chris Smith and Richie Neal the joint co-sponsors of the initiative. They listened and responded.
Hopefully the letter, with its direct no nonsense content, will cut through the pretense and cynical games being played out by London and the NIO as they continue to stall and prevent implementation of legacy agreements reached in December 2014.
Families have waited far too long for accountability. Legacy, legal obligations and human rights, sit quite separately from the politics and political vacuum and must be addressed whether or not the political institutions are reestablished. In January of this year the AOH hosted an ‘emergency visit’ around legacy inviting RFJ to address a series of meetings throughout the State of New York. The backdrop to the visit wasthe refusal by the UK to implement agreed legacy mechanisms, their arbitrary inserting of a ‘national security’ veto in draft legislation re same, a proposed amnesty for UK State forces and their agents, and the persistent campaign in blocking inquests.
We appealed to Irish America and beyond to assist – to intervene. The response was immediate and encouraging. Hopefully these combined efforts will have the desired effect of creating external political scrutiny and pressure for theimplementation of agreed legacy mechanisms for all victims and survivors of the conflict.”
Mark Thompson of Relatives For Justice
by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
MARK THOMPSON – RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE
AOH TOUR FOR VICTIMS’ FAMILIES
Mark Thompson ended a week long emergency American tour which generated a new Congressional initiative, five public events and formal proclamations of support by the New York State Senate, Assembly and local governments. Sponsored by the New York State Board Ancient Order of Hibernians, the tour brought together other Irish American organizations, and commitments to help Relatives for Justice and the victims they represent break the deadlock on legacy truth.
The emergency tour was an AOH response to crown moves to give British troopers and constabulary an amnesty, while denying Inquest Courts and Ombudsmen investigators needed funding. Mark Thompson made an emergency appeal for American help, noting that the AOH and Irish-American grassroots had been a driving force behind every American initiative for Irish justice.
Before his first public meeting, Mr. Thompson held the first of several prearranged telephone briefings, beginning with Congressman Richard Neal’s office. These briefings would climax in a meeting with Congressman Joe Crowley and a proposal for a new Congressional initiative to support legacy victims.
Mark Thompson’s first public address took place at the Suffolk County AOH Hall, in Babylon, Long Island, hosted by New York State AOH President Victor Vogel. AOH officers including Past State President Jim Burke, Suffolk County President Jerry Belmont and Nassau County President Pete Begley packed the hall, alongside relatives of legacy victims. Chris Thompson of the Suffolk County Brehon Law Society, and noted MacBride Principles campaigner Patrick Doherty, now with New York State Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, also attended. Here RFJ received the first of many legislative Proclamations of support for its work, sponsored by New York State Senator Phil Boyle.
New York Freedom-for-all-Ireland Chair, Martin Galvin noted:
“the phrase to get away with murder was literally true of British policy. British crown forces, or their paid agents who colluded and carried out murders, were shielded. Now as Relatives for Justice threatens to use British justice mechanisms to get truth for these victims, the British are starving their own courts, inquest judges and Ombudsman investigations of funding while moving towards pardons dressed up as statutes of limitations.”
MANDATED BY FAMILIES
Mark Thompson began by saying that “Relatives for Justice was mandated to represent hundreds of families in the north whose loved ones, were not alone murdered but then slandered to justify their murders”. He pointed in the audience to relatives of Maura Meehan and Dorothy Maguire, killed by British troops in Belfast in 1971,and to relatives of John Boyle, shot by British SAS troops in 1978.He detailed the circumstances of these killings and the legal cover-up which followed, to explain how the British mistreated hundreds of families .
He said, “now as families get near truth after years pushing against a wall of deceit, the British want to use amnesties and a funding cut-off to lock the door on justice. Victims’ families want(a)no amnesty pardons for British forces,(b)funding for legacy inquests and Ombudsman inquiries, and (c implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in 2015”.
He quoted an expression that “when America sneezes Britain catches a cold and we want Irish America to sicken the British with demands for legacy justice”.
The next night, Mr. Thompson spoke in mid-town Manhattan at an event co-hosted by Queens, Brooklyn, New York and Bronx AOH.
The crowd included, AOH national officers Jere Cole, Sean Pender Dan Dennehy Jeff Nisler and Tom Beirne, State President Vic Vogel and Treasurer John Manning. Special thanks to Walter Cooper , Jim Sullivan, back from Florida and Parade Committee Chairman Denis McCarthy. Hibernians were joined by Jennifer Frankola of the Brehon Law Society, and Leslie Cassidy of the Irish American Unity Conference.
Here RFJ received a State Assembly Proclamation of support sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz and a Bronx Borough Proclamation presented on behalf of the Borough President by Gabriel and Patricia Megahey, friends of long time Bronx resident Liam Ryan. David Tubiolo presented a Proclamation from Westchester County. These Proclamations made special note of RFJ’s work for this American citizen, murdered in his native Tyrone.
This time Mr. Thompson pointed to Malachy McAllister, the proprietor of the Wolfe Tone Pub, who escaped an assassination attempt in Belfast, at the hands of British agents as well as the killing of Liam Ryan in Arboe County Tyrone. He explained the facts of these cases, how the British hid the truth and appealed for AOH and American help.
Mark Thompson then traveled to Rockland County for an event at the Hibernian House, arranged by Dermot Moore and co-chaired by Vincent Tyer and John McGowan.
Again Mr. Thompson met relatives and friends of victims killed by crown forces or crown agents. A cousin of Sam Marshall and friends of Rory and Gerard Cairns were in the audience. Mark Thompson started with an explanation of these killings as well as recent developments in the Loughall inquests. He used these specific cases to illustrate, the obstacles that the British have used to stonewall the families in the battle for truth.
One of the most emotional moments came when one relative asked whether the British would ever allow truth about these murders.
Mr. Thompson replied that “the families will never give up, have gained a lot of progress that once seemed impossible and it is important that RFJ and Irish America never give up supporting them”.
The event also included presentation of a Rockland County Legislature Resolution of support by Vincent Tyer, donations to RFJ and was attended by Past National President Brendan Moore.
Before traveling to Albany, Mark Thompson detoured to Queens and a formal meeting with Congressman Joe Crowley. He was accompanied by AOH members Sean Pender, Bob Nolan, Dermot Moore and Martin Galvin. Here Congressman Crowley agreed to lead a formal Congressional sign-on letter to the British government.
Mr. Thompson then headed to Albany and the AOH Hall in Albany where the prestigious Fr. Murphy award was presented to Ciaran Geraghty, Past NYS FFAI Chair by past State President Tim McSweeney. The event was co-chaired by Dolores Desch and John Levandosky, with National Director Liam McNabb as Master of Ceremonies, State President Vic Vogel piping the dignitaries in and State Vice-President Tom Lambert among a host of State and National officers in attendance.
Here Mark Thompson explained that it was the anniversary of the murder of his brother Peter Thompson. The Thompson family had been laughed at, then threatened when they tried to find out the truth. He explained that that murder, that cover-up and that injustice was the driving force which had motivated him to help form and lead Relatives for Justice, and why he felt so deeply about other families put through the same grief.
Mark Thompson’s final public event at the Quiet Man Pub, Peekskill hosted by National Director Dan Dennehy, FFAI Chair Bob Bolbach, County President Brian Duffy, District Director Aidan O’Kelly Lynch and Division President Clive Cronin. Here Mark Thompson said he was overwhelmed at by support he had received night after night, from Irish America and the AOH. He noted again how grassroots Irish-America had spearheaded every initiative to help victims of British rule that had come from America. He found everywhere he had spoken, a tremendous willingness indeed desire to help. He said he victims’ families will be encouraged by the groundswell of support he found in America.
State President Vic Vogel then presented Mr. Thompson with a special plaque, memorializing the five tour events where Mr. Thompson spoke. The State President, who had authorized the tour attended multiple events as did National officers, Jere Cole, Sean Pender and Dan Dennehy.
A- New British colonial secretary had never been in six counties
British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Karen Bradley to succeed James Brokenshire to preside over the six counties. Bradley had never even visited the north of Ireland before her appointment. Now she will preside over talks to restore Stormont power sharing despite her lack of interest, much less knowledge of Irish issues. She named former British trooper Kris Hopkins, as a Special Policy Advisor (Spad).Hopkins had survived IRA attacks in Belfast and South Armagh. The appointment was criticized by Mark Thompson of RFJ, who said the selection was made as the “Tory/DUP alliance seeks to push an amnesty for British soldiers through Parliament.”
B- UVF Commander and British Agent Gary Haggerty gets minimum sentence for 5 murders and 202 terror crimes
Former Ulster Volunteer Force loyalist killer and British informer Gary Haggarty, received a sentence in Belfast Crown Court that will free him for a new life under the PSNI/MI5.
The original sentence of 75 years for 5 muders,23 conspiracy to murder and 4 kidnapping counts among 202 terror offenses was reduced to six and one half, allowing Haggarty to walk free to his new life almost immediately. Among the murder victims was grandfather Sean McParland, shot dead in front of his children
two Catholic workman eating lunch on the job, Eamon Fox and Gary Convie, Sean McDermott and John Harbison. Fox’s son Kieran said he was “gutted” by the sentenc. “The man is a serial killer. He was a paid State informer. The RUC knew he was killing at will and let it continue.”
C- Free Tony Taylor calls after 700 days Interned by License
Derry Republican Tony Taylor has now spent over 700 days imprisoned in Maghaberry by order of British secretaries despite repeated calls for his release or due process. Mr. Taylor,a respected Derry Republican was jailed under procedures described as Internment-by-License. He served a sentence for possession of a weapon but was then jailed based on secret information that the British refuse to release to him or his lawyer for defense.
D- Battle to Ban Irish flag from St. Patrick’s Day Parades
While Irish flags are proudly carried around the world and in most of Ireland in St. Patrick’s Day Parades, an announcement was made that the Irish flag would be banned in the strongly Republican town of Strabane on the West Tyrone-Donegal border.
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council announced that the Council wanted a “cross-community” event that would be inclusive and promote reconciliation by banning flags.
When Independent Republican Councillor Paul Gallagher protested, he was told that Irish flags have long been excluded from St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Derry, Belfast, Newry and Downpatrick.
Councillor Gallagher challenged the ban at a Council meeting and is asking why British flags can be flown in events funded by unionist dominated councils but Irish flags can be excluded.
In Strabane the ban on Irish flags may rescinded but uncertainty continues as well as the status of the ban in Derry and Newry.
Special Thanks With Apologies
Brothers I want to thank each of you who helped make the Mark Thompson tour so successful. This tour through the events and publicity in Irish-American papers has gotten a great response, not only from those who attended, or read about it, but perhaps most important from the victims’ families in Ireland who welcome our AOH backing in their fight for truth and justice. We are now working on a Congressional letter and other initiatives including ideas for additional tours.
I apologize to everyone whose name is not included.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 10-15th, 2018 – Mark Thompson ended a near week long emergency American tour which generated a new Congressional initiative, five public events and formal proclamations of support by the New York State Senate, Assembly and local governments. Sponsored by the New York State Board Ancient Order of Hibernians, the tour brought together other Irish American organizations, and commitments to help Relatives for Justice (RFJ) and the victims they represent break the deadlock on legacy truth. View some of week’s event photo album.
Thompson is a founding member and CEO of RFJ who fulfills the group’s mission in providing a proactive and holistic approach to support families affected by conflict and human rights violations. His continuing work provides effective support for redressing human rights abuses and providing a wide range of services and support for those affected in Ireland.