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Donegal Gardai take law into own hatchets

category donegal | crime and justice | news report author Tuesday August 10, 2004 13:56author by Peadar O'Donnell Report this post to the editors

Gardai in Lifford, Co. Donegal, have destroyed a republican billboard, erected over a year ago, with sledgehammers, without and legal or official mandate to do so.

Sinn Féin Donegal Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described the destruction of a ‘Free the Castlerea Five’ billboard by Gardaí in Lifford, Co Donegal last Friday evening (06.08.04), as a ‘politically motivated act.’

Speaking this morning, Councillor Mac Lochlainn said:

“On Friday evening at approximately 6.15pm, members of the public witnessed a marked Garda van stop at the Lifford roundabout, where five uniformed Gardai proceeded to demolish a ‘Free the Castlerea Five’ billboard with sledgehammers.

“Sinn Féin contacted the Road Section of the Donegal County Council yesterday morning, to ascertain whether they had authorised the removal. They responded by saying that they had made no such request to the Gardaí in Lifford or elsewhere.

“Let us be clear about this, Donegal Gardaí engaged in what can only be described as an unprovoked and politically motivated act by demolishing a billboard which had been erected approximately a year earlier. During the past year, there has been no contact between the Gardaí and those who erected the billboard, to say that it was causing a problem and their clear intention was to destroy it rather than remove it intact.

“People will be concerned, but not surprised, by this latest act by the Gardaí in Donegal. The demolition job in Lifford comes against the backdrop of revelations from the Morris Tribunal and reinforces the perception that the Donegal Gardaí are a law unto themselves. Local people have also commented that it is ironic that the Gardaí were able to muster five officers armed with sledgehammers to smash down a billboard when their presence in the area at other times leaves much to be desired.

“I am calling upon the Gardaí to publicly state their reasons for taking a sledgehammer to the billboard. Local people reported that the officers carried out their task with much relish. This recent act will further undermine the credibility of the Gardaí in the eyes of Donegal people.” ENDS

author by donalpublication date Tue Aug 10, 2004 18:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

nonsense of the first order, why insist on calling them the castlereagh five? why not the adare five? it was in limerick after all that they murdered gerry mccabe. successfully shot him dead while they were unsuccessfully robbing a cash van, for irish freedom. not that they were wearing their ira hats that morning, they didn't go on 'ceasefire' till he was good and dead, though i bet the organisation came up during the conversations where witnesses 'realised' they hadn't seen who or what they saw.
does sinn fein really think that people have forgotten this or that the people who murdered and intimidated witnesses in LIMERICK are in some way VICTIMS of DONEGAL cops?

author by cormacpublication date Tue Aug 10, 2004 19:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

castlerea 5 - call them what you like, they are cold blooded murders, the murder they committed was in no way political it was for their own financial gain, they are cowards, the death penalty should never have been abolished and the Castle rea 5 should be dead and in their graves like the brave garda who in doing his job was murdered by thieves, political murders are also not justifiable by the way, may they rot in jail

author by mr ogilvypublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 02:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

if it didnt have planning permission and wasnt even on your property then there is no reason not to tear it down, then again some people dont generally ask permission to force their political opinions on people and try to brand an entire area with their beliefs, why not rent out a real billboard in a prominent location, you would get much more coverage and raise more curiousity and eyebrows, people foolishly attach legitimacy to messages that appear on a familiar billboard, and hell legitimacy is what you need, that is if you are willing to loosen the purse strings.

When Wallace put that anti war banner on his property without planning permission he was promptly told to remove it, why should you be shocked at being treated differently.

If and i do say if, it wasnt given permission to be there in the first place ringing up the council to ask who ordered its removal is quite frankly none of your business, it even sounds like a veiled threat, did you expect anyone to admit to it. Painting the five as hereos is not helped by acting in a pigheaded manner, no matter what your message it will generally evoke a negative reaction if people feel it is shoved down their throat because you are doing as you please when they feel they have to follow the rules

author by The Third Policemanpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Gerry McCabe was killed pointing an uzi sub-machine gun at men who were robbing capitalists to fund a socialist, republican revolutionary organisation.

While his death was, no less or no more than any other in the last 30 years, wrong, and part of a conflict that could be averted, the collusion of the 26-Counties in propping up the British Governments 18,000 illegal soldiers in the North is also wrong. They have colluded with loyalists, shot-to-kill, enforced the social and economic discrimination against nationalists, and held democracy in this country to ransom.

Whatever the IRA done was in reaction to that, an attempt to liberate a people that the previous commentators probably couldn't care a tuppeny bit about.

author by Eoinpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 14:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As far as I know ,neither Garda got a chance to even draw their side arm, let alone the Uzi that was in a case beneath one of the front seats. That robbery was purly for personal gain, and the fact that they are trying to use the excuse that it was a parimilitary operation is just a smoakscreen of convenience for that scumbag McCauley to get out of jail.

author by Sickenedpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 15:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Once again a Shinner crawls out from under his stone to protest in favour of PIRA scumbags. God help us !!

author by Joepublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 15:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It all depends on what sort of country you want to live in. You can have one where the Gardai operate more and more openly as a political force, shutting down any expression that they disagree with. This is clearly the case here as it was with the removal of the Iraqi flag in Cork at the time of the EU summit. In both cases the Gardai seem to have decided off their own bats to remove a political expression they did not like.

Or you can choose a situation where the Gardai at least have to pretend to be politically neutral. Then if something is erected in breach of planning permission they might be involved in the escorting of a demolition crew but they have the excuse that they were 'just following orders'.

Breaching planning permission is NOT a criminal offence so the Gardai should have no juristiction except in helping to enforce a court order arising out of the civil process. There is no evidence of any process here at all so the logical conclusion is that this was simply an act of political censorship by a force that is out of control. You might applaud this because you also dislike the political sentiment being expressed but if you give the guards the power to do this then you also give them the power to censor you.

author by dilseachtpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"gerry mccabe was killed pointing his uzi.......".

this is bullshit of the highest order,
learn your facts before your kneejerk crap is offered

author by hilariouspublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“Sinn Féin contacted the Road Section of the Donegal County Council yesterday morning, to ascertain whether they had authorised the removal. They responded by saying that they had made no such request to the Gardaí in Lifford or elsewhere.

you guys crack me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!
im sure council workers have kneecaps aswell

author by Fergalpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 17:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Donegal Gardaí have been exposed as utterly corrupt. They have taken malicious prosecutions, falsified evidence and taken bribes. And what do the shinners get excited about? A fucking sign! Keep up the good work boys!

author by David Mcpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 20:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do you and others continue to be apologists for "socialist, republican revolutionary organisations" That create scenes like this one taken on a fine summer afternoon in Omagh Co tyrone 6 years ago?


author by Eoinpublication date Wed Aug 11, 2004 23:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

IRA Socialists ? ha, they really act like it dont they !

author by brennerspublication date Thu Aug 12, 2004 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"castlerea 5 - call them what you like, they are cold blooded murders"

None of these men are in prison for murder. Atleast if your going rant on about something atleast know what it is ur talking about arsehole!

author by Brendan Ferronpublication date Thu Aug 12, 2004 17:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There are currently four prisoners in Castlerea prison who are serving sentences in relation to the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare on June 7th 1996. They are:

Kevin Walsh
14 Years

Pearse McCauley
14 Years

Jerry Sheehy
12 Years

Michael O'Neill
11 Years

Pearse McCauley is from Strabane, all the rest are from county Limerick.

John Quinn has been released on completion of his sentence.

Since the Good Friday Agreement was signed a total of 429 prisoners have been released in the North and 45 have been released in the South. This includes people convicted of incidents that happened after the Adare robbery. The four Adare men are the only prisoners convicted in relation to the incidents which happened before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Dublin Government

The Dublin government, through both Bertie Ahern and John O'Donoghue are on public record as stating that these four men will not benefit from the releases agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. They have never argued that they are not IRA prisoners, only that they do not come under the terms of the Agreement. Mary Harney stated in the run-up to the general election that the PDs would not be part of any government that released the men. The appointment of a Progressive Democrat Minister for Justice in Michael McDowell holds little hope of any real progress.

The reasons put forward by Dublin as to why the men will not be released have changed since the signing of the Agreement. In response to a letter from the Alliance Party in the Six Counties four years ago John O'Donoghue wrote to them stating that the release of the men was impossible as it might jeopardise the referendum on the Agreement.

They have continued to alter their explanations and their claims as time has passed. Their refusal to implement the Agreement has widespread repercussions. How can the Dublin government call on anyone to commit to the Peace Process when they refuse to implement the Agreement they signed up to and the Irish people voted for?

Myths and Facts

A number of myths, propagated by the media, establishment politicians and the Gardaí have been circulated about the men's cases and their conditions.

The IRA has denied involvement in the attempted robbery in Adare.

While the IRA at first disclaimed knowledge of the operation this position was reversed a week afterwards following an initial inquiry. All five men were accepted and treated as IRA prisoners while in Portlaoise prison and they were moved to Castlerea as part of the IRA unit. They continue to be seen as IRA prisoners by the Dublin government and the prison authorities.

The IRA was on ceasefire at the time.

The first IRA ceasefire ended in February 1996 and the second was called in July 1997. The Adare robbery occurred on the 7th of June 1996. The Good Friday Agreement was agreed in April 1998.

During negotiations the Dublin government told Sinn Féin negotiators that the 'Prisoners' section of the Agreement would not include anyone ever charged for the Adare robbery.

Dublin stated they would have difficulties if any of the men were sentenced, but Sinn Féin's position was that the Agreement must include all prisoners and no such exclusion was inserted in the final Agreement.

The men are convicted murderers.

None of the men were convicted of murder. Four were convicted of manslaughter, which is the unlawful and unintentional killing of a person. It means there was no intention to kill and the State and the Court accepted this.

The Good Friday Agreement

The 'Prisoners' section of the Good Friday Agreement states:

Both Governments will put in place mechanisms to provide for an accelerated programme for the release of prisoners, including transferred prisoners, convicted of scheduled offences in Northern Ireland or, in the case of those sentenced outside Northern Ireland, similar offences (referred to hereafter as qualifying prisoners). Any such arrangements will protect the rights of individual prisoners under national and international law.

Prisoners affiliated to organisations which have not established or are not maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire will not benefit from the arrangements. The situation in this regard will be kept under review.

Both Governments will complete a review process within a fixed time frame and set prospective release dates for all qualifying prisoners. The review process would provide for the advance of the release dates of qualifying prisoners while allowing account to be taken of the seriousness of the offences for which the person was convicted and the need to protect the community. In addition, the intention would be that should the circumstances allow it, any qualifying prisoners who remained in custody two years after the commencement of the scheme would be released at that point.

The Governments will seek to enact the appropriate legislation to give effect to these arrangements by the end of June 1998.
This represents the sections of the Good Friday Agreement dealing with prisoner releases.

A number of points can be made in relations to this.

a) The definition of a 'qualifying prisoners' is very clear - someone convicted of 'scheduled offences' in the North and 'similar offences' elsewhere. The Adare case falls into this category.

b) The only clause that sets out who does not qualify for early release is in paragraph two which states that the only people who will not benefit are those affiliated to organisations that are not on cessation. As the IRA have maintained a cessation since July 1997, and the Agreement was signed in April 1998, the Castlerea Four clearly come under the terms of the Agreement. They are not excluded by any clause in the Agreement.

The Sinn Féin Position

Sinn Féin's position on this issue has been clear and unambiguous from the beginning. Shortly after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said:

"There have been a number of inaccurate and misleading claims and media reports in recent days, namely that it was made clear to Sinn Féin during the Good Friday negotiations that the prisoners who were to go on trial for the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe would not benefit from the early release programme. This is not the case.

The facts are quite straightforward, The Good Friday Agreement covers all IRA prisoners imprisoned for incidents, which occurred before April 10th 1998, regardless of the jurisdiction they were or are jailed in.

Sinn Féin did raise the case of these prisoners, along with others. The Dublin government's representatives said that if these men were sentenced their early release would cause difficulties but we insisted there could be no exceptions.

The absence of any clause in the Good Friday Agreement excluding these particular prisoners is proof of how the negotiations closed.

I am very conscious of the pain of this for the McCabe family. Just as I am conscious of the pain for families in the North watching the release of prisoners here. The Castlerea prisoners are not prisoners apart. They qualify under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and they should be released."

Sinn Féin has continued to raise this issue with the government and call for the release of the men. Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of Coiste na n-Iarchimí, newly elected Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, himself a former prisoner stated:

"It is also fitting at a gathering like this to remember those who remain in prison. Today we send solidarity greetings to those who remain in prison. Especially those in Castlerea prison who are qualifying prisoners and who should be released immediately. Their continued imprisonment is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement. That agreement meant difficult decisions for many people. It is time for the Dublin government to face up to that and release these men."

Supreme Court Judgement

The following is a clip from the judgement delivered 29th January 2004;

"The Good Friday Agreement although it recorded undertakings and arrangements acknowledged by the parties to be binding on them has never at any stage been incorporated in the domestic law of state and that the relevant provisions under consideration in this case conferred no rights on individuals which are capable of enforcement by a court in this jurisdiction has important consequences. Not merely does the 1998 Act confer no power of release on the government or the Minister or, correspondingly, vest any right capable of being enforced on the applicants to be treated as qualifying prisoners. It goes no further than enabling the Minister to specify them as "qualifying prisoners" and seek the advice of the Commission in regard to their release.

Support The Castlerea Four

The Castlerea Four need YOUR support.

Contact your local elected representatives and demand that they support the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, with particular reference to the plight of the Castlerea Four, as part of the search for a meaningful resolution of the conflict.

Write to the Minister calling on him to support the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement by releasing the Castlerea Four. Contact him at: Department of Justice,
72/76 St. Stephen's Green,
Dublin 2.

Write to the men, send them your messages of solidarity and support. The address is: Castlerea Prison, Castlerea, Co Roscommon.

Delegations to visit the men are always welcome. Anyone wishing to organise such a delegation can do so by contacting the offices of Coiste na n-Iarchimí.

author by G Foxpublication date Thu Aug 12, 2004 20:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

if the castlerae 5 where robbing it for personnal gain then I doubt very much that SF would be asking for their release and I also think that if they carried out that robbery without permission from the I R A then they would have had a very short life there after. Mcauley was an active member of the provisionals

author by G Murphypublication date Thu Aug 12, 2004 21:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I understand your feelings about letting them free. I just hope that the same feelings you share towards keeping them in jail as you do with finding the people responsible for bloody Sunday, the killing of Pat finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill.

author by davepublication date Mon Sep 13, 2004 02:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

therefore it had been erected illegally!

author by Conor Pearsepublication date Sat Dec 10, 2005 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is it not part of the IRA's service code that no member of the IRA should attack a member of An Garda Síochána?In that case, the members of the Adare robbery, in which Det/Gda McCabe got shot, should not be covered by any political agreement including the Good Friday agreement.
The IRA should have excommunicated the "Castlerea 5" as they shot a member of An Garda Síochána. They do NOT qualify.

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