jbm7 at jbm7 at
Tue Aug 3 02:03:23 MDT 1999

The report below shows that the struggle in Ireland is far from over.
Jim MOnaghan


August 2, 1999
Human Rights Update on Northern Ireland

This Human Rights Update is made available to all Congressional Offices
and activists interested in updates on the conflict in the north of
Ireland.  Human Rights continue to be denied and abused in the six
counties, even while the Peace Process progresses.  It is the hope of all
Irish Americans and human rights activists everywhere that lawmakers in
the United States will stand up for the rights of the Irish people who are
the victims of state-sanctioned harassment and abuse.  On any of the
following items, specifics and more detailed briefs are available.

The Twelfth of July passed off relatively peacefully this year, despite
continued Orange Order threats to force their way down the Garvahgy Road.
The Parades Commission once again banned the annual Drumcree march from
entering the Garvaghy Road in Portadown and also kept the Orange Order
from marching through the nationalist Lower Ormeau community.  Because of
continued threats and pressure from the Orange Order, the crown forces,
including added British troops from England, arrived in Portadown the week
before the Drumcree march (on July 4) and set up an iron ring around the
Nationalist area.  Ditches, barbed wire, fences, massive amounts of tanks,
artillery and troops surrounded the Garvaghy Road area, penning in the
residents in preparation for trouble from the Orange Order and its
loyalist supporters.  Tensions were high when the "long march" came
through Lurgan and Portadown, with participants blatantly mocking the
murder of human rights solicitor Rosemary Nelson, killed!
 by a bomb attack in March of this year, and the murder of catholic man
Robert Hamill, who was bludgeoned to death by a loyalist mob in 1997 in
Portadown's town centre.

Over 100 international observers came to both the Garvaghy Road and to the
Lower Ormeau to observe the marches and the actions of the security
forces.  One incident in Portadown saw an observer being injured by
Orangemen who struck her as she was sitting watching their parade go by
St. Johns Catholic church at the top of the Garvaghy Road.  Observers saw
several incidents of RUC intimidation and assault on nationalist residents
during the evenings, which were quickly halted when the observers made
themselves known.  On the day of the Drumcree March, there was no massive
violence from the Orange Order on the scale of what has been seen in past
years, though there were random assaults on security forces from
loyalists.  The Garvaghy Road area remained under military siege for over
two weeks and still continues to be hemmed in by virtue of the ongoing
harassment and intimidation from the Portadown Orange Lodge.  The Orange
Order continues to delay in accepting direct talks with t!
he Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, and there has been no stated
resolution with regard to future parades.

The Nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road are now entering the 57th
week under siege by the Orange Lodge of Portadown and its supporters.
Since July 1998, the nationalist community has been under systematic
assault and held hostage by ongoing threats, intimidation, harassment and
blatant attacks by loyalists.  On Saturday, July 31, while several members
of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition were away participating in a
cross-community weekend effort, a loyalist walked into the Nationalist
housing estate at Craigwell Avenue carrying an AK47 assault rifle and a
handgun.  The RUC was alerted by a resident who saw the man as she was
driving by.  She later identified herself to the RUC, but has yet to be
questioned as a witness to the incident.  Residents attempted to disarm
him and in an ongoing struggle, a woman resident was grazed in the head by
fire from the AK47.  The Robert Hamill Committee (London) released a
statement publicly condemning the incident and the RUC's !
misleading reports of it: The RUC claimed the incident was "part of
clashes between Loyalists and Nationalists in the Obins Street area. This
is untrue. They say officers were attacked by nationalists when they
arrived to arrest the man. This is a serious distortion."  Said a
Committee spokesperson: "The current RUC version is redolent of false
press statements issued after Robert Hamill's murder in 1997 when they
also claimed "a clash between rival factions" had taken place in which
"police themselves came under attack".

"Portadown RUC's account of Robert Hamill's murder is refuted by many
other eyewitnesses who saw heavily-armed officers do nothing while a
baying loyalist mob kicked an innocent Catholic to death.  Given the
potential gravity of Saturday's events , it is impossible to envisage such
crass comments being made by arresting officers in any comparable incident
anywhere else on these islands."

The loyalist has been charged with possession of the weapon, but the
incident is deeply troubling and evidence of the fact that conditions for
Nationalists and Catholics in Portadown have not changed.  The incident on
Saturday, coupled with an attack on a Nationalist youth by loyalists on
Thursday, which took place in full view of RUC members sitting in their
land rover, is reminiscent of the attack on Robert Hamill in 1997, which
resulted in his death from bludgeoning and kicking from a mob of
loyalists.  The RUC's reports of that incident were eventually proven to
have been purposefully misleading, evidence of which was presented to the
US Congress in testimony at hearings before the House International
Relations Committee in April 1999.

Meanwhile, British minister Jonathan Powell will be returning to the six
counties to conduct further "proximity talks" between the GRRC and the
Orange Order.  The Orange Order continues to refuse to meet face to face
with nationalists, and the British Government so far is accommodating the
treatment of the residents of the Garvaghy Road community as second-class
citizens.  The Portadown Orange Lodge leader David Jones warned in the
last week of July that violence is sure to increase until the
all-protestant march is forced down the Garvaghy Road.  Saturday's
incident seems to reflect that prediction.  Meanwhile, unionist and
loyalist politicians continue to call for the expulsion of Sinn Fein from
the new Assembly on the grounds that the IRA has not disarmed.  This
despite the fact that the worst violence of the last three years has taken
place within David Trimble's own district, at the hands of loyalist and
unionist supporters.

The Garvaghy Road residents have produced and published a book called
"Garvaghy: A Community Under Siege." For the first time, individuals who
must live through the terrors and harassment of institutionalized
sectarianism at the hands of the Orange Order, and who have yet to gain
equality from a government that long ago promised it, are telling their
stories. Readers will be struck by the incredible heroism of each of the
residents of the Garvaghy Road, and will soon come to wonder how it is
that the current situation can have lasted so long in a "humane" society.
You can now order copies of this historic collection of words and writings
from the publisher, Beyond The Pale Publications, in Belfast, or get more
information from the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition website:

On Wednesday, July 27, the Pat Finucane Centre reported that two men had
been arrested and were being questioned in connection with the murder of
Pat Finucane.  The two were being held at Gough Barracks in Armagh. One is
from the Glencairn area of Belfast and the other is thought to live in
Bangor, Co Down.

RUC agent William Stobie, who was arrested June 24, was charged in
connection with the murder. This brings to three the number of people
arrested since Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens reopened the
inquiry earlier this year.

As the PFC noted, in the ten years since Pat Finucane was murdered the RUC
failed to arrest and charge a single suspect. Updates regarding Pat
Finucane's murder can be found at the Pat Finucane Centre website:

In July, the FBI confirmed that it had pulled out of the Rosemary Nelson
murder investigation only days after RUC chief Ronnie Flanagan announced
that the inquiry was "international" due to the FBI's presence.  In fact,
the FBI never had an active role at all in the investigation or in
connection with the charges of RUC collusion.  The involvement of the
Metropolitan Police was also not an intensive involvement, and to date,
the RUC is still running all aspects of the investigation.  Meanwhile, the
US Congress' House International Relations Committee has released the
transcript of the April 22nd hearings in which several witnesses testified
as to the RUC's collusion with loyalist murderers and the force's
culpability in many officially unsolved crimes and murders throughout the
north during the last 20 years.  The Rosemary Nelson Campaign and human
rights organizations continue to call for a fully independent inquiry into
her murder last march.

In its Annual Report released at the end of June, Amnesty International
also backed an independent inquiry into Mrs. Nelson's murder.  The
organization also cited the new emergency provisions in the Offences
Against the State Act (in the 26 counties) as a violation of international
standards of human rights.  These new provisions, identical to ones added
to the EPA in the north following the Omagh bombing, were rebuked by civil
rights attorneys across Ireland and England as draconian and a backwards
step in the peace process.  Several months before her murder, Rosemary
Nelson led nearly 50 attorneys in the signing of a petition against the

The Rosemary Nelson Campaign maintains a website at:
And the full report on her murder and the events surrounding it,
researched, written and published by the Pat Finucane Centre can be found

On July 27, three High Court Judges in London ruled that 17 members of the
Parachute Regiment involved in the murders of 14 civilians on Bloody
Sunday in Derry may remain anonymous. The Pat Finucane Centre notes that
this latest twist in the long running legal battle over anonymity for
members of the Parachute Regiment comes as no surprise but will
nonetheless be received with great shock and anger in Derry. "It is
believed that the British military establishment, aided and abetted by
sections of the right wing press, had pressed for anonymity in the hope
that this would cause the families to withdraw from the Tribunal which
would then collapse," said a PFC spokesperson at the news of the ruling.

According to unconfirmed reports, lawyers for the Tribunal do not intend
to appeal the latest High Court decision. Confidence in the independence
of the inquiry has now been seriously undermined. "The fact that a London
court could intervene in crucial matters concerning a Tribunal led by
three senior international judges will leave the impression that the
British Government has set up an inquiry that is far from independent,"
said the PFC.  Updates on the Bloody Sunday investigation can found at the
Pat Finucane Centre website:

 The US Congress passed its massive foreign relations budget bill in July,
which included an amendment halting all funding for the FBI to train the
RUC until there are fully independent international inquiries set up to
investigate the murders of Rosemary Nelson and Patrick Finucane.  Both the
Subcommittee on Human Rights and the House International Relations
Committee have actively pursued accountability for the RUC and the
numerous amounts of evidence that support claims of RUC and British
government collusion with loyalist crimes in the six counties.  To see
updates on legislation and Congressional actions with regard to human
rights issues in the north of Ireland, see the INAC legislative website at

The RUC recently announced its own new regulations on the operation and
firing of plastic bullets, saying that it would no longer fire plastic
bullets in any situation other than to protect life.  Human Rights
organizations and activists saw this as a step to circumvent imminent
reform of the organization after a year-long investigation by the Patton
Commission.  However, the RUC ignored their own new regulations last week
during an incident in North Belfast.  After loyalists swarmed the Catholic
area of Rose Street and Clifton Park Avenue on Thursday evening and began
throwing fireworks and missiles at residents, the RUC, in full riot gear
entered the area and fired a number of plastic bullets.  In addition,
several live rounds of plastic bullets were dropped and left on the
streets.  Witnesses reported that "the RUC fired into a group of young
Nationalists while completely ignoring a group of loyalists who were
cutting through nearby fencing with a grinder," said Gerry Kelly!
, an Assembly member for North Belfast.  Several hours after the incident,
a seven-year-old girl was found by her mother to be playing with a plastic
bullet live round.  Later, an RUC spokeswoman asked people in the area who
may have found the plastic bullets to return them to the police station.

Plastic Bullets are banned as lethal weapons everywhere in the United
Kingdom except the north of Ireland.  The United Campaign to Ban Plastic
Bullets continues its efforts and can be found at

For more information, contact:
Carissa Zall, Human Rights Director
Irish Northern Aid Committee
363 Seventh Avenue, Suite 405, New York, NY 10001
email: INACHR at

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