Cumann na Saoırse Náısıúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

Irish Republican Information Service 


 

In this issue:  01/19/13

1. Pseudo gangs, the media and the dark legacy of Frank Kitson
2. Loyalists attack the Short Strand
3. Loyalist protests continue across the Six Counties
4. Fearghal Ó hAnluain remembered
5. Kerry swim for CABHAIR
6. Wexford Volunteers commemorated
7. Brian Shivers’s conviction quashed
8. Parachute Regiment flags in Derry
9. Previously secret hunger-strike documents shine a light on South Tyrone
10. Eileen Doherty shot dead by a man who hijacked her taxi

 


 1. Pseudo gangs, the media and the dark legacy of Frank Kitson

ON Sunday, January 6 Republicans from throughout Munster and other parts of Ireland gathered in Limerick for the annual Seán Sabhat commemoration organised by Republican Sinn Fein. Little did we think that the scene was being set for the playing out of a Kitsonian melodrama, but more of that later.

To begin with a very fitting ceremony was held at the Republican Plot in Mount St Lawrence including a fine oration delivered by Geraldine McNamara of Co Tipperary, the National Publicity Officer of Republican Sinn Féin. All in all it was a dignified tribute to the memory of a noble Irish patriot.

Sadly the day was marred by the activities of a small gang who have, since May of 2010, been actively attempting to steal both our identity and good name. I am conscious of the accusation that to talk or write about them is to give them an attention that they do not deserve and indeed some would say an attention they crave after.

It is a point I would largely agree with but there are times when certain facts need to be placed on the public record. This we have not flinched from doing in the past and indeed will do so again in the future if we deem it necessary to vindicate the good name of Republicanism and in protecting it from the calumny of such groupings.

However, it is the actions of the media that I wish to discuss here and their collaboration with this gang in an act of identity theft. I will begin by giving a brief account of the events as they unfolded in the days following the commemoration. The Irish Independent on Monday January 7 in its print and online editions gave prominent position to the event staged by the Limerick gang, smearing the good name of Republican Sinn Féin in the process.

A phone call to the newsroom of the Irish Independent was followed by an email. However instead of simply returning our call, in what appears to have been a rather convoluted process, our email was passed on to the Limerick Leader, who did at least have the courtesy to contact us.

That evening RTÉ television’s main news programme Six One News carried what was essentially the earlier report of the Irish Independent. The RTÉ newsroom was immediately contacted and informed that the event reported in their news bulletin was not organised by Republican Sinn Féin. A statement was also sent to RTÉ as well as all other national print, broadcast and online media.

Despite a demand that the later nine o clock news bulletin carry our statement, the only concession to truth made by RTÉ was to drop the name of Republican Sinn Féin from the later bulletin. It took them a further two hours to amend the report on their website, and this involved merely including a couple of lines referring to a comments made by a spokesman from Republican Sinn Féin. The rest of the report persisted with the lie that Republican Sinn Féin had organised the event. The online news service, The Journal.ie, carried the statement in full.

Despite this wide dissemination of our statement, the Irish Independent, the Irish Times and the Evening Herald all continued to spread the big lie in their editions on Tuesday, January 8. Once more the Irish Independent was contacted and a statement and letter released. It was only at lunchtime on the Tuesday that the Irish Independent even deigned to contact us.

Over the course of two days the Irish media displayed an almost total disregard for truth or accuracy in their reportage. Based on previous experience if the media really believed this event had been organised by us they would have been more than forthcoming in seeking comments, interviews etc.

The fact that the only contact made by the media was in response to contact we made with them, and that largely of the token variety, is itself very telling. The most disturbing aspect of this entire charade is that the media were willing to propagate this lie for days while paying little or no regard to the principles of accuracy, truth and balance.

Gangs such as the one at the centre of this story fit the criteria of the infamous pseudo gang concept, first devised by General Frank Kitson of the British Army. They made their first appearance in British occupied Kenya in the 1950s. Since then their effectiveness has been honed and perfected by the British in various theatres of operation, from the Six Counties to Iraq. The South African apartheid regime used such gangs to discredit the ANC.

These state sponsored gangs work to an agenda designed to both discredit the true revolutionary movement in the eyes of the people and at the same time sow seeds of doubt and division in the ranks of the legitimate movement. Frank Kitson has indeed bequeathed a dark legacy to the world and in Ireland it seems there are those who are all too willing to implement his strategy. Vigilance and care are called for as seldom before.
http://thesingingflamedesdalton.blogspot.ie/(January 17, 2013)

 


 2. Loyalists attack the Short Strand

On January 16 Republican Sinn Féin said in a statement that the latest loyalist sectarian attack on the people of the Short Strand illustrated the unchanging reality of life for large sections nationalist community in Belfast and throughout Occupied Six Counties.

“Once again it is the nationalist people who must bear the brunt of loyalist mobs who have unleashed in order to further the political agenda of the unionist political establishment.

“The present loyalist riots - ostensibly on the issue of the flying of the Union Jack flag over Belfast City Hall – have been encouraged and directed by an unholy alliance of the DUP and armed loyalist death squads such as the UVF and UDA. None of this is new; traditionally the Unionist establishment have used armed loyalism as a weapon in its arsenal, to be used either to exert pressure on the British Government or to terrorise the nationalist community. In this instance it is being cynically used to further the political ambitions of the DUP, as it seeks to regain the parliamentary seat it lost to the Alliance Party at the last British General Election.

“The events in Belfast and other areas of the Six Counties over the past number of weeks simply underline the abnormality of the Six-County state. As Republican Sinn Féin warned in 1998, the Stormont Agreement has simply reinforced and institutionalised sectarianism in the Six Counties. Over the past 15 years it has served only to deepen the sectarian divide, thus condemning the people of the Six Counties to an ongoing cycle of sectarian conflict.

“This cycle of sectarianism can only be broken by the dismantling of the two partitionists states and the creation of a New Ireland. We believe that ÉIRE NUA would allow all sections of the Irish people to come together in mutual trust and respect, making a reality of the aspiration of Theobald Wolfe Tone to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.”

 


3. Loyalist protests continue across the Six Counties

ON January 13 twenty-nine members of the RUC/PSNI were injured and water cannon and plastic bullets were fired in Belfast as protesters clashed in escalating violence over the flying of Union flag. Bricks, bottles and other missiles were hurled in the east of the city as demonstrators were returning from a protest outside Belfast City Hall.

More than 1,000 loyalists, bombarded the British colonial police and nationalists with petrol bombs, fireworks and rocks following a demonstration against the decision to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown from City Hall. Masked loyalists, many draped in Union flags, also set cars alight and used makeshift battering-rams to
attack RUC riot vehicles.

On January 14 St Matthew’s Church was bombarded with petrol bombs, bricks and bottles in another night of loyalist rioting in east Belfast. Children with special needs had to flee St Matthew’s parish hall during the attack on the Lower Newtownards Road. A local resident of the Short Strand, who spoke with SAOIRSE but does not wish to be named for obvious reasons, said the homes of the residents beside the
Church were also attacked with petrol bombs, bricks and bottles. These attacks on the Church and houses beside it have been attacked on several occasions over the last number of weeks. “When the rioting began on December 3, the Short Strand was the first place the rioters made for after City Hall, and we have felt their presence ever since, he said. This is not the first time the local residents have had to defend the Church from attack.

“The children with special needs were terrified on Monday night [January 14] and it was sheer luck that they were all safely evacuated from the parochial hall. I have grown up in this area and year after year we have been subjected to hoards of loyalists chanting sectarian abuse, including death threats, whenever suits them, and nothing is
ever done about it. Threats to kill all Taigs and Fenians is up on social media sites for weeks now, but again, nothing is done about that either.

“Much has been said about nationalists throwing stones and bricks at loyalist homes, but nationalists were only defending their homes from the barrage of missiles and petrol bombs. We have to protect our families and homes. We cannot sit inside our homes and do nothing while missiles come through our windows and our local Church is burned down.”

There were also two attempts to hijack buses in nearby Templemore Avenue.

Water cannon was used and plastic bullets were fired by the RUC as they too came under attack from bricks and fireworks at an interface on the Albertbridge Road near Short Strand.

Countless roads have been blocked during the loyalist campaign. In one case north of Belfast a pensioner trying to visit his dying wife in hospital was turned back. He said: “If your wife was dying what would you be doing? Have a bit of sense. Protestants, you don't know the meaning of the word, take yourselves home, show a bit of respect for people.”They responded by jeering 'cheerio' in a recording made by the BBC microphones on the Rathcoole housing estate in Newtownabbey.

In west Belfast a GP was twice prevented from attending a home visit with a patient terminally ill with cancer.

The turmoil over the past five weeks has been some of the most sustained in the Occupied Six Counties since 1998. The RUC, in full riot gear, faced hundreds of masked men almost every night since the beginning of December.

It was reported on January 17 that loyalist protests were to take place during the commuter rush hour in Belfast on January 18.

‘Operation Standstill’ is also set to take place at Taughmonagh in south Belfast from 6pm, at the old town hall in Donaghadee, Co Down, from 6pm and at the council buildings in Limavady, Co Derry at 7pm.

The Woodstock Link in east Belfast was closed to motorists as protests continued to take place on January 17. Protests also took place in Rasharkin and at Bushmills in north Antrim, among other places.

The next major protest is due to take place at Belfast City Hall on January 19 at 1pm.

Loyalists are planning to hold a ‘Unionist Civil Rights Rally’ at Ebrington, Co Derry on January 27, the same day as the annual Bloody Sunday march beginning at Creggan Shops and going to Guildhall. UKIP spokesperson for Foyle, Kyle Thompson, said the party has been organising in Derry city and has been in attendance at protests.

 


4. Fearghal Ó hAnluain remembered

THE annual commemoration to Fearghal Ó hAnluain took place on Sunday, January 13 at Lathlorcan Cemetery, Monaghan.

The parade, led by a colour party and the piper from North Antrim marched from the Cathedral to the graveside where proceedings were chaired by Fearghal Moore, Ard Chomhairle. A decade of the Rosary was recited by Dara Sloane and Seán Moore laid a wreath on behalf of the Republican Movement.

The oration was delivered by Róisín Hayden, Ard Chomhairle, who said:

“We are here today to remember the life of Volunteer Fearghal Ó hAnluain who alongside his friend and comrade Volunteer Sean Sabhat paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for Irish freedom and independence on New Years’ Day 1957.

“Fearghal was born in Ballybay, Co Monaghan into a staunchly Republican family. He was a draughtsman employed by Monaghan Co Council, a GAA footballer who played senior football for Monaghan and like Seán Sabhat had a love of all things Irish. He was an Irish speaker and like many other young men at the time wanted to see an end to the occupation of his country. The British presence in Ireland has always been a blight on the country and has claimed millions of lives, not all while fighting a war against the British -- hunger caused the population of Ireland to half in the mid-1800 hundreds during An Gorta Mór.

“At the age of just 20 Fearghal was killed alongside Sean Sabhat from Limerick while part of a 14-man IRA unit, taking part in an attack on the RUC barracks in Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh during Operation Harvest, otherwise known as the Border Campaign, in which several other Volunteers were injured -- including Dáithí Ó Conaill from Cork who was second in Command of the Pearse Column. Dáithí led the rest of the column across the Border to Co Cavan. Other members of the column came from Dublin, Wexford and Galway.

“Unfortunately Fearghal never lived to fulfil his full potential, like many a lad who loved his country. He realised the risks he was taking and the ultimate price he could pay, but was willing to pay that price for the freedom of his country from foreign occupation. He was a brave soldier of the Irish Republican Army and we remember him here today with pride.

“There are other things happening around us today that we are not proud of. This year the people of Derry will have to put up with the shameful title of ‘UK City of Culture’. Derry is not a British City, it is as Irish as Cork and Dublin, Sligo, Wexford or Galway. Republican Sinn Féin will vigorously oppose any attempts to promote and celebrate such an insulting and disgusting title. We will be among the hundreds to attend the Bloody Sunday march in Derry at the end of the month and ask people here to join us there to remember the fourteen men murdered by the British Army as they took part in a protest demanding their civil rights as Irish citizens.

“Over the last number of weeks we have seen sectarian loyalists wreck havoc in Belfast and other town across the Occupied Six Counties, over the removal of the Union Jack from Belfast City Hall except on 17 designated days. That self-seeking Willie Frazer announced last week that he was bringing loyalists to Dublin to demand the removal of the Tricolour from Leinster House. Now, we have no love for the current inhabitants of Leinster House – our allegiance is to the subverted Second Dáil Éireann – or indeed those who have inhabited it for many the long year. However Frazer’s decision is another testing of the waters, to see how far can those loyal to Britain go to make British rule acceptable in Ireland.

“We have seen British gun-boats in Dublin and Cork ports; a commemoration to the murderous Black-and-Tans in Glasnevin; the unveiling of a plaque to Carson in Dublin; a visit from the Queen of England, her daughter, her sons and her sister. All these visits/events low key in themselves, with the exception of the visit by Elizabeth Windsor, making them an almost everyday occurrence, as if these were the most normal things in the world. Well, they are not normal, and the British presence is not normal or indeed acceptable. The Union Jack should be permanently removed from flying in any part of our country, north, south, east and west.

“While there has always been co-operation between the British Colonial Police and the Gardaí, we now see unprecedented levels of co-operation between them. They are working as one for the British government and the 26 County Administration. These are dangerous times for Republicans, and we need to be careful of who we trust, especially those who purport to be Republicans.

“The latest report on the murder of Pat Finucane, (and it is only a report, a far cry from the independent inquiry his family are looking for), proved conclusively the collusion between the loyalist death-squads, the British so-called security forces and the British Government, and indeed the informers used by both.

“2013 will mark the third year that Martin Corey has been held hostage in Maghaberry Prison. Martin spent 19 years in prison for his political beliefs and despite being released, the former British Minister in the Six Counties, revoked Martin’s licence for no reason whatsoever. He was taken back into custody on April 16, 2010, on the basis of ‘closed material’. On July 9, 2012, Justice Treacy ruled that Martin Corey's human rights had been breached and he should be released immediately on unconditional bail. This was overruled by Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward. Several court appearances later Martin is still in jail, no charge against him, no interrogation, and no reason given. The latest on Martin, and indeed the situation in the jail, can be read in this month’s SAOIRSE.

“Republican Sinn Fein calls for Martin’s immediate release and also the release of Marion Price who is seriously ill in hospital. We remember also all the POWs incarcerated in jails in Ireland and across the world held in appalling conditions under unjust and foreign rule.

“The Dublin Lock-out which began in August 1913 is but one when William Martin Murphy was among those who locked out thousands of union members in an attempt to break the ITGWU. James Connolly and Jim Larkin were to the fore in trying to protect the workers. By mid-September more than 25,000 workers were locked out.

“The families of these men, numbering up to 100,000, faced starvation. In Mountjoy Jail, Connolly went on hunger strike, the first Irish political prisoner to use the hunger strike as a weapon of protest. After a week he was released and later said that “the great “lock out” in 1913-14 was an apprentice ship in brutality, a hardening of the heart of the Irish employing class.  This led directly to the founding of the Irish Citizen Army, who took up arms against the British, with the Irish Volunteers in 1916.

“The Lock-out lasted for eight months. At the end of this time the workers were forced back to work; but despite this setback, the union went from strength to strength. The unions of today would do well to remember and follow men like Connolly, Larkin and the men who battled against the capitalist bosses.

“We need to prepare for the Centenary of the 1916 Rising in the coming months before it’s hijacked by people trying to steal our name and many others purporting to be Republicans. Get active in your area to commemorate some event to mark one of the most important Centenaries in the history of Irish Republicanism.

“Promote SAOL NUA and ÉIRE NUA which are the way forward to bring about a just and lasting peace in Ireland. We call here today on the British Government to give a declaration of intent to withdraw from the Occupied Six Counties, because until they do there will never be peace in Ireland.”

As usual there was a heavy presence of 26-County Special Branch and a young man from the occupied area was arrested and held in Monaghan Garda barracks for several hours.

 


5. Kerry swim for CABHAIR

ON New Year's Day members and supporters of Sinn Féin Poblachtach, Ciarraí gathered at Banna Strand near Tralee, where Mark Neligan and Christy McCannon took part in a sponsored swim in aid of CABHAIR (Irish Republican Prisoners and Dependents Fund).

The two men took to the water at 2pm and stayed in the freezing cold water for several minutes before emerging and standing for photos with friends and supporters.

Sinn Fein Poblachtach, Ciarraí would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who sponsored Mark and Christy in this worthy and important event in aid of the POWs and their families and we pledge our continued support to Republican Prisoners and also send them our salutations and best wishes.
 


6. Wexford Volunteers commemorated

ON January 10 Cumann Pádraig Ó Pearaill, Sinn Fein Poblachtach, Loch Garman held a commemoration to mark the 90th anniversary of the deaths of IRA Volunteers Bernie Radford and Con McCarthy.

Wreaths were laid on the grave of each Volunteer by Jappa Murphy and Brian Quinn. Jimmy Kavanagh gave the oration, during the course of which he said:

“On January 10, 1923 Bernie Radford and Con McCarthy were killed in action against Free State forces at Spenserstown, not far from were we stand today. Together with five comrades they were surrounded while billeted in the stables of a local farm. Despite being surrounded and outnumbered they engage the Free State forces in a fierce gun battle which lasted well over a half an hour.

“Running short on ammunition they were eventually force to attempt a breakout and it was while carrying out a rearguard action that allowed the rest of the group to escape the two men were mortally wounded. In the words of one of the Free State soldiers present ‘they made a determined stand right to the end’.

“Both were young men. Bernie was 23 and Con was 24. Both were local men, popular and respected throughout the area. Primarily both were committed Republicans. Volunteers in the Irish Republican Army, they were totally opposed to the sell-out Treaty of 1922 and dedicated to the establishment of a 32-County All-Ireland Socialist Republic, as envisioned in the Proclamation of 1916 and laid out in the manifesto of the First Dáil.

“In June of that year Mick Radford, while unarmed and under a ceasefire, was shot dead by Free State forces in an act that typifies the vindictiveness and cruelty of the new regime. He is also buried here with his brother Bernie.

“We come here today to mark the 90th anniversaries of the deaths of these brave Republican soldiers at the hands of other Irishmen who lacked their dedication, commitment and courage. Last month we stood at the graveside of Liam Mellows in Castletown to mark the Anniversary of his execution and in March we will be in the Republican Garden of Remembrance to commemorate the executions of Parle, Creane and Hogan.

“It is to these atrocities and countless others around the country that the current Free State traces its foundations. If Mick and Bernie Radford and Con McCarthy were here with us today they would oppose the ersatz administrations that exist in both parts of our divided nation with the same vehemence as they did in 1922. As Republicans we can do nothing other follow their example.

 


7. Brian Shivers’s conviction quashed

ON January 15 the conviction of Brian Shivers (47) for the killing of two British soldiers at a British army base in Massareene, Co Derry was quashed.

However, he is to remain in prison as the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decided to retry him on the same charges.

Shivers's conviction was deemed unsafe in the court of appeal in Belfast because no finding was made on when he allegedly became aware of the ‘murder plot’.

Brian, from Magherafelt, County Derry, had used the court to challenge his conviction for the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar.

In February 2012, Shivers was ordered to serve a minimum 25 years in prison for his part in the killings. He was also found guilty of six counts of attempted murder and one of possession of two firearms with intent to endanger life.

His co-accused, Colin Duffy from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was acquitted of all charges, including the two murders.

Shivers, who suffers from cystic fibrosis and has only a few years to live, was originally found guilty as a secondary party who aided and abetted by setting fire to the getaway car.

DNA analysis had established a link to matches found in the partially burnt-out Vauxhall Cavalier used by the gunmen.

Shivers's lawyers argued that it was legally impossible for him to be convicted of murder because there was no actus reus, or criminal act, prior to the murder.

Delivering the verdict, chief justice Declan Morgan said the trial judge had not dealt with the concept of a joint enterprise.

“The issue for the court was whether it should be inferred that there was a common enterprise to which the appellant agreed prior to the attack to carry out a shooting attack with intent to kill,” Morgan said. “The learned trial judge made no finding on this issue.”

Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Girvan, held that the test applied by the trial judge required no knowledge of the attack until a rendezvous with the gunmen.

On that basis he stated: "We do not accept that a person who provides assistance after a murder with full knowledge of what has happened thereby becomes guilty of murder.

"There is no authority to support such a proposition. The learned trial judge made no findings as to when the appellant had the relevant knowledge."

He added: "We conclude, therefore, that the appeal must be allowed."

Shivers, who always maintained his innocence, appeared by videolink from Maghaberry t prison to hear the outcome of his appeal. His lawyer said he was relieved by the verdict but expressed concerns about his health.

Niall Murphy, of Kevin R Winters and Co, said: “This is an example of the justice system working; however we are gravely concerned at our client's ongoing acute medical condition.

“He has been admitted to hospital for 56 days across three separate admissions since the hearing of his appeal in May and he is routinely refused access to his medication.

“Mr Shivers has been through a terrible ordeal whereby he has been repeatedly assaulted/abused whilst in prison and in hospital where he is continuously under armed guard.”

 


8. Parachute Regiment flags in Derry

ON January 17 it was reported that flags of the Parachute regiment of the British army had been erected close to the Bogside in Derry. The flags, some of which are overlooking the Bogside estate, were put up in the previous 24 hours.

Fourteen people died when British paratroopers shot civil rights marchers in Derry in 1972. The Saville Report, published in 2010, declared all the victims to be innocent and the British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised in the House of Commons.

Events are due to be held at the end of January to mark the 41st anniversary of the atrocity.

 


9. Previously secret hunger-strike documents shine a light on South Tyrone

ON January 7 secret government documents newly published on the internet have shone a spotlight on South Tyrone and one of the key events in the history of the Troubles, according to the Tyrone Times newspaper.

The Public Record Office documents, published as part of the CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet) archive, reveal how the 1981 Fermanagh South Tyrone by-election threw the British government into a panic, with several legal strategies proposed to prevent Bobby Sands from taking his seat as MP.

Confidential letters released under the 30-year rule also show that the hunger-striker’s victory took the British authorities by surprise.

Humphrey Atkins, Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State, in a letter dated April 8 to Francis Pym, the leader of the House of Commons, discussed the possibility of Sands winning the election, but said: “I would not at the moment judge this to be a likely outcome.”

Atkins also claimed that the House of Commons “would and should not countenance having a convicted terrorist as a member” and confidently predicted “widespread revulsion” in Northern Ireland (sic) should Sands win.

The possibility of rushing through a change in the law was discussed by senior politicians and civil servants to prevent prisoners from standing as MPs.

The authorities misread public opinion in South Tyrone and were surprised by the large turn-out for Sands, with many in the government expecting “a larger proportion of Catholic voters to abstain or spoil their votes, rather than vote for a convicted terrorist”.

A confidential report concluded: “Many nationalist voters may have been influenced by the implication in Sands’ campaign that he would come off his hunger-strike and resign his seat if he won.”

Among the prison documents released is a medical report on Galbally IRA volunteer Martin Hurson describing his vital statistics on the day he declared himself on hunger-strike.

Referred to as prisoner C/278/79 from H Block 5, his condition was described as satisfactory, with a blood pressure reading of 140/90 and a pulse of 80.

Government intervention to force individual hunger strikers to capitulate was also proposed.
The possibility of feeding the hunger strikers intravenously was suggested.

Senior Northern Ireland Office official R A Harrington said the government faced a “lull in the campaign” after the death of Sands.

In his view, “capitulation (ie a decision to take food) by one of the hunger strikers would be of enormous value to us, not just in itself but because of the great disarray into which the PIRA propaganda effort would be thrown”.

Mr Harrington asked if there was any possibility of using all the resources available to the government “to identify the best candidate for capitulation and then go to some lengths to organise pressure on him … before his condition becomes critical”.

He suggested that they might select a hospital officer or assistant governor to befriend the prisoner concerned and cultivate a relationship with him with a view to persuading him to end his protest.

It might be possible, he argued, to engage the Catholic Church, “possibly with the help of Bishop Philbin”, to bring further pressure to bear on the prisoner and his family.

The issue of government intervention was raised a month later, on 29 June, 1981 by the Lord Privy Seal, Sir Ian Gilmour, in a letter to NI Secretary of State, Humphrey Atkins.

Mr Gilmour suggested the possibility of feeding the hunger strikers intravenously.
In his view, “any more deaths would do great damage both in Ireland and abroad, with consequences that cannot be fully foreseen”.

The minister’s suggestion, however, did not play well with senior officials who concluded that this would require drugging hunger-strikers which would be “unthinkable”.

The Public Record Office in Belfast has released 959 previously confidential government files under the 30-year rule.

Most of these are from 1982, with a number relating to the 1981 hunger strike.

Of these, a total of 72 are recommended for full closure with 129 subject to partial closure or ‘blanking out’.

This is due to the existence of personal information or inclusion of ‘sensitive data’.

In some cases, notably in the case of files relating to the 1981 hunger strike, partial closure has been applied with papers removed or redacted.

 


10. Eileen Doherty shot dead by a man who hijacked her taxi

A CONVICTED loyalist killer went on trial on January 13 accused of a near 40-year-old sectarian murder.

Robert James Shaw Rodgers, 59, of Tierney Gardens, Belfast, denies the murder of Eileen Doherty, 19, who was shot and killed on 1 October, 1973. The Diplock court heard that Rodgers was convicted and jailed for a killing less than a year later.

The teenager was shot three times by a gunman who had hijacked a taxi that was taking her back to west Belfast.

Miss Doherty had been visiting her then fiancée Alex McManus in the Ormeau Road area when she went to the depot of Atlas Taxis at about 22.45pm on September 30.

There were two other men in the depot also waiting for a taxi so the firm's owner, John Sherry, said he would take all three at once but as he drove along Annadale Embankment, one of the men "pointed a gun at his head" and hijacked the taxi, the court was told.

The prosecuting lawyer said Mr Sherry shouted a warning to Miss Doherty and the pair ran but that the killers caught up with the teenager.

A witness who was cycling in the area saw a man get out of the passenger seat, grab her by the arm and heard "three or four shots" before the man ran back to the car which then sped off.

The car was found the next morning and when it was examined, an RUC fingerprint officer found two palm prints matching Rodgers' right and left hands on the inside of the rear passenger window and on the steering wheel.

He was arrested when the case file was reviewed by the Historical Enquiries Team but during police interviews he made a brief statement denying involvement and then refused to answer any questions put to him.

The prosecution said it was not the first time Rodgers had been in court charged with murder as, in 1975, he was convicted of committing a sectarian murder the year before.

The lawyer told the court that in 1974, an 18-year-old boy was killed in north Belfast by two men on a motorbike who shot him a number of times, “that was within a year of the shooting of Miss Doherty”.

“Mr Rodgers has offered no explanation for the presence of his palm prints in that car,” he said, adding that if there was any question as to them getting there by any “unfortunate coincidence... that is resolved by the revelation that in 1974 he carried out a further sectarian murder”.

"We say that the court can convict him on the evidence as a secondary party to the murder of Eileen Doherty."

The trial judges have reserved their judgement.

 


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