Irish Republican News · December 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: US Action Alert
US Action Alert

The following action alert was issued by the IAUC on the issue of collusion following the publication of the report of the Cassel panel on the issue (published in summary below).

CONTACT SENATORS, CONGRESSMEN & MEDIA ABOUT COLLUSION

The Irish American Unity Committee, made up of representatives from all the major Irish American groups, has sent the following letter to all US Senators and Representatives in order to educate them on the issue.

It would be helpful if we, as individuals and representatives of other organizations, could follow-up this letter with personal letters, telephone calls or faxes to our own elected Senators and Congressmen. Any press coverage that you could encourage of this issue would also be beneficial.

We should let our representatives know that we are aware of this Problem and that Republic of Ireland also recognizes the need to fully and independently investigate this issue. Below also is a recent Press Release from the IAUC regarding the Irish government’s investigation of collusion between the British & the loyalists.

Also listed below are links to site where we can find contact information for our senators & congress people, local newspapers online & Mitchell Reiss (State Department).


Dear Representative:

Attached is a report on alleged British government collusion in sectarian killings in Northern Ireland recently issued by the Center for Civil & Human Rights of the Notre Dame Law School. The Center’s panel of inquiry, chaired by Dr. Douglass Cassel, was made up of four individuals with vast international experience investigating human rights abuses in Africa, South America and Asia.

The panel examined 25 cases of suspected loyalist paramilitary violence involving 76 murders occurring during 1972-77. The panel’s central mission was to examine whether the UK government had a case to answer with respect to allegations of collusion, in terms of both its substantive and procedural responsibilities under international law, and to determine whether further official investigation was required under international human rights law.

The report was compiled at the request of the Patrick Finucane Centre, a Northern Ireland based organization, that records and examines evidence of state and sectarian violence in the north of Ireland. The panel was completely independent in its inquiry.

We request that you review the executive summary report which we have enclosed. The full report is available at: http://law.nd.edu/news/cassel_report.html

If you would like additional information please contact Julie Coleman at 732-235-4907 or via email at unityinactioncommittee@yahoo.com

Sincerely,

Robert Linnon, President of Irish American Unity Conference
Jack Meehan, President of Ancient Order of Hibernians
Paul Doris, Chairman of Irish Northern Aid
Ned McGinley, Past President of Ancient Order of Hibernians
Joe Jamison, President of Irish American Labor Coalition
Gerry Coleman, Political Education Director of Irish Northern Aid
Gerald Lally Esq, Political Education Chair of Irish American Unity Conference
Kevin Barry, Irish American Unity Conference
Stephen M McCabe, Irish Parades Emergency Committee & President, Brehon Law Society Nassau County
Julie Coleman, Irish American Unity Committee & Irish Northern Aid Committee
Patrick Doherty, Brehon Law Society
James Cullen, Esq, Brehon Law Society
Jim Gallagher, Past President of Irish American Unity Conference
Deanna Turner, National Coordinator of Irish Deportees of America Committee
Michael Cummings, A.O.H. Freedom for All Ireland Committee
Sean Pender, A.O.H. Freedom for All Ireland Committee
Sean Cahill, Irish Parades Emergency Committee


For a list of all newspapers according to State: http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/

To find your Senator visit: http://www.senate.gov/

Telephone numbers for Senators can be found at: http://www.senate.gov/general/resources/pdf/senators_phone_list.pdf

List of mailing addresses for all Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

To find your Members of Congress visit: http://www.house.gov/

Telephone Numbers of all offices: http://clerk.house.gov/members/ttd_109.pdf

Mailing labels/list of addresses to send letters to each Member of Congress in MicroSoft Word format: http://clerk.house.gov/members/wordmemberlabels.doc

Copy Mitchell Reiss:

Mitchell B. Reiss
Director of Policy Planning Staff for the Department of State
U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Room 7311
Washington , DC 20520
Tel: 202-647-2972 Fax: (202) 647-0844
Email: policyplanning@state.gov


REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL PANEL ON ALLEGED COLLUSION IN SECTARIAN KILLINGS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

October 2006

Panel Members:

Douglass Cassel, Chair
Susie Kemp
Piers Pigou
Stephen Sawyer

KEY FINDINGS:

Collusion:

The Panel examined 25 cases of suspected loyalist paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland during 1972-77. The 25 cases involve a total of 76 murders as well as attempted murders. In 24 of the 25 cases, involving 74 of the 76 murders, evidence suggests collusion by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) or the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR):

:: In 12 cases - 11 murders and one attempted murder -- former RUC officer John Weir accuses RUC officers and agents or UDR soldiers of participation. The panel finds Weir’s allegations, in general, to be credible.

:: Firearms were used in eight of the 12 cases alleged by Weir. In seven of those eight cases, RUC ballistics tests corroborate his allegations. In none do they contradict him.

:: RUC ballistics tests show that one or more of these firearms were also the murder weapons in five more of the 25 cases.

:: Criminal convictions link two more of the 25 cases to involvement by State security forces.

:: Of the six remaining cases, there is evidence, in some cases strong, of State security force involvement in five. Only one case - a 1975 attack on a minibus near Gilford - appears to lack evidence of collusion. But given inadequate police investigations, no conclusion can be drawn.

:: Documentary, testimonial and ballistics evidence suggests that the violent extremists with whom RUC officers and agents and UDR soldiers colluded - and even overlapped -- gained much of their arms and ammunition, as well as training, information and personnel, from the RUC and UDR.

Knowledge by Superiors:

:: Credible evidence indicates that superiors of violent extremist officers and agents, at least within the RUC, were aware of their sectarian crimes, yet failed to act to prevent, investigate or punish them. On the contrary, they allegedly made statements that appeared to condone participation in these crimes.

:: Even after Weir and another officer confessed in 1978 - information that should have blown the lid off RUC and UDR involvement in murdering Catholics - police investigations and ensuing prosecutions were inadequate by any reasonable standard.

:: As early as 1973, senior officials of the United Kingdom were put on notice of the danger - and indeed of some of the facts - of sectarian violence by UDR soldiers using stolen UDR weapons and ammunition, and supported by UDR training and information. At least by 1975 senior officials were also informed that some RUC police officers were “very close” to extremist paramilitaries.

Earlier Police Investigations:

:: Both the original police investigations of the 25 cases in the 1970s, and the later police investigations following the allegations made public by Weir in 1999, were deficient by any reasonable standard.

Current investigations and reforms are inadequate:

:: The British government deserves credit for introducing reforms that will make future investigations more likely to meet international standards.

:: However, these reforms will not help the victims in the 25 cases examined by the Panel, or many other victims of past collusion in sectarian murders.

:: To date very few cases have been referred to the Police Ombudsman, who in any event lacks jurisdiction to investigate UDR soldiers.

:: The Historical Enquiries Team, established by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, does not meet international standards for investigations. Moreover, except where its enquiries lead to new prosecutions - unlikely in most cases from the 1970’s - it plans to share findings only with families of victims, and not with the public.

:: The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is meticulously supervising British compliance with six judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases from Northern Ireland. However, except in those six cases, the Committee focuses on reforms for the future. Its current supervisory effort does not assist other victims of past collusion - including the families in the 25 cases examined by the Panel.

MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS:

Consultation:

:: The panel urges the government to conduct a thorough and inclusive consultation with all interested groups and individuals in relation to the choice and nature of measures adopted to fulfill the obligations referred to in this report.

Investigations:

:: The British government should conduct investigations that meet international standards in the 25 cases examined by the Panel, and in all other past cases involving serious allegations of collusion.

:: To meet international standards, such investigations must be undertaken on the initiative of the State, by independent investigators, capable of assessing whether murder or attempted murder was committed and of identifying perpetrators, subject to public scrutiny, and carried out without further delay.

:: Investigations should examine and report on patterns of collusion, not merely individual cases.

:: Investigations should examine how high up the chain of command in Belfast and London there was knowledge, acquiescence or complicity in murder and attempted murder.

:: Investigations should examine collusion in sectarian murders, not only by the RUC and UDR, but also by the British army and intelligence agencies.

:: Investigations should also credibly examine murders committed by Republican groups.

Moral Reparations:

:: Results of investigations (including those of the Historical Enquiries Team) should be made public.

:: Where adequate investigation indicates collusion by State security forces in sectarian murders, the State should publicly acknowledge its responsibility.

:: In such cases senior officials should publicly apologize to families of victims.

:: Paramilitary groups on both sides of the conflict should cooperate with credible official investigations.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A. The Panel and its Mission (Chapter II of the Report)

In 2004 the Pat Finucane Centre of Derry asked Professor Douglass Cassel, then of Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois, USA, to convene an independent international panel of inquiry into alleged collusion by members of United Kingdom security forces in sectarian murders and other serious crimes in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970’s - and particularly the activities of the so- called “Glenanne group.”

The panel’s central mission is to examine whether the British State has a case to answer with respect to allegations of collusion, in terms of both its substantive and procedural responsibilities under international law, such that further, official investigation is required by international human rights law.

The Independent International Panel consists of four members, all with extensive relevant experience, as follows:

:: Professor Douglass Cassel teaches international human rights, international humanitarian and international criminal law, previously at Northwestern and now at Notre Dame Law School in the United States of America.

:: Susie Kemp is an international lawyer based in The Hague who is Legal Adviser to Impunity Watch.

:: Piers Pigou served as an investigator for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and as advisor to East Timor’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

:: Stephen Sawyer is Senior Counsel and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the Center for International Human Rights of Northwestern University School of Law in the United States of America.

:: Thomas Vega-Byrnes, a Chicago-based attorney with extensive international experience, was the panel’s counsel.

The panel is professionally independent of the Finucane Centre. Its terms of engagement (Appendix A to its Report) are to investigate and report in an “independent and impartial manner according to its professional judgment.” Its final report is to be published “independently of whether the [Finucane Centre] agrees with its conclusions.”

The panel provided draft copies of its report to the Finucane Centre, the British government and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Helpful comments were received, which the panel has taken into account in this final version.

The panel understands that in the polarized atmosphere of Northern Ireland, it is difficult for any assessment of human rights violations to be accepted as objective by all sectors. Nonetheless the panel hopes that its effort to examine the evidence in an impartial, professional manner will suggest the importance of a more thorough, official inquiry, with full access to State files, and independent of the police and army and other agencies allegedly involved in collusion. Only so can the British government make clear to victims, to history - and to itself - the extent to which its agents participated or colluded in or tolerated gross violations of human rights, for which its offices have, to date, failed to conduct due investigations and prosecutions or to make due disclosure and reparation.

© 2006 Irish Republican News