An unprecedented gagging order banning the media in Northern Ireland and Britain from reporting any aspect of the prosecution or trial of former Belfast republican leader, Ivor Bell on charges connected to the IRA disappearance of Jean McConville – including the trial date or any of the evidence presented in court – was imposed secretly by the Belfast courts last December, thebrokenelbow.com can reveal (see court documents below).
This disclosure comes as a ‘critical’ witness in the Bell prosecution has withdrawn from the proceedings because of a serious and apparently irreversible medical condition.
Lawyers for Dr Bob O’Neill, the librarian at Boston College and the custodian of the Boston oral history archive upon which the prosecution is based, applied to the US District Court in Boston recently to excuse O’Neill from giving evidence and this request was granted (see court documents below).
The precise reasons for Dr O’Neill’s withdrawal were outlined in a memorandum presented to the presiding judge, William G Young, but the contents were not publicly disclosed to interested parties.
Dr O’Neill’s evidence was considered vital for the prosecution because Boston College had lost Bell’s alleged contract with the college, the only piece of paper which identified participants in the project by name. The prosecuting authorities claim that the interviews by a participant known only as ‘Z’ were given by Bell while Bell and his defence team deny this.
Jean McConville – Disappeared by IRA in 1972, now the evidence in her case will be hidden
Dr O’Neill was likely to have given evidence about the chain of custody of Z’s interviews which the prosecution hoped would strengthen their claim that ‘Z’ was Bell.
At a secret court hearing in April this year, which mentioned Dr O’Neill’s illness, the presiding judge, Mr Justice O’Hara, remarked: ‘…Mr O’Neill is not a secondary witness in the proceedings, but critical to the issues before the court’.
The Bell ‘trial of the facts’ was supposed to have started on April 29th, but this was called off when the prosecution were notified by the US authorities of Dr O’Neill’s health problems.
Bob O’Neill – former librarian at Boston College, will not give evidence at Bell trial
It is understood that Dr O’Neill’s medical difficulty is one that develops and gets progressively worse over time. [Mehr lesen…]
Following statement was issued to this page through a third party for immediate release ahead of the funeral of Republican veteran Seamus McGrane tomorrow, Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
“The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann send condolences to the family of Óglach Seamus ‘Shay’ McGrane on the tragic news of his untimely death in Portlaoise prison. Seamus was a founding member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and its first Chief-of-Staff, he led from the front at all times and his guidance through difficult times was invaluable.
“He will be sadly missed by us all, and we will forever hold his comradeship and friendship dear. [Mehr lesen…]
In December 2017, the National Graves Association launched a campaign to reinter the remains of the National Invincibles, currently buried in Kilmainham Gaol and give them a dignified burial in Glasnevin Cemetery. Since the formation of the Irish Freestate, re-interments of Irish republicans were nothing unusual. [Mehr lesen…]
On Thursday morning, May 9, again three houses were raided, and four people arrested under terrorism legislation in Derry. The four males, aged 15, 18, 38, 51, were taken to the Serious Crime Suite in Musgrave Station. [Mehr lesen…]
I received some of the video footage removed from the internet by representatives of Saoradh. While some people will disagree with my decision, I decided to upload the video footage. [Mehr lesen…]
Walter Benjamin reminds us that “history is made up of fragments and absences. What is left out is as significant as what is included”. [Mehr lesen…]
How to inform supporters and the public about its political ideology is a regular point of discussion for all political organisations; even more so for radical organisations who cannot rely on the mainstream media for spreading their message. This is particularly true for Irish Republican organisations that developed a critical analysis of the peace process. [Mehr lesen…]
Over the past few days, graffiti emerged in parts of West Belfast, sending out a shivering message to former Irish Republican prisoner Danny McClean. One of these messages appeared on a gable wall on Lenadoon Avenue saying: “Danny McClean UDR RIP.”
In early January, McClean’s stood trial for IRA memberships charges, accused of being a member of the paramilitary group Óglaigh na hÉireann. [Mehr lesen…]
The past five or so years were rather difficult for those conducting interviews in Ireland. Nonetheless, interviews remain an essential source for those of us researching political violence and the Northern Irish Troubles. [Mehr lesen…]
As several of the blog posts of Writing the Troubles illustrate, oral history is a particularly controversial subject in Northern Ireland. The past years have been a difficult time for researchers looking to use interviews with former paramilitaries and those advocating political violence, particularly since the “Boston College (BC) Oral History Project” debacle. [Mehr lesen…]