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This disclosure comes as a ‘critical’ witness in the Bell prosecution has withdrawn from the proceedings because of a serious and apparently irreversible medical condition.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. [Read More…]
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. [Read More…]
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. [Read More…]
Former Provisional Shane Paul O’Doherty argued in this newspaper last week that republican inmates didn’t qualify as prisoners of war. Here, historian Dieter Reinisch says O’Doherty’s view is at odds with British Government policy throughout the 20th century.
In an article published in this newspaper on January 5, Shane Paul O’Doherty argued that “captured (IRA) combatants could never qualify as prisoners of war” because they “did not conduct military operations according to the laws and customs of war”. [Read More…]
On May 29, Benjamin H. shot four people dead in the Belgian town of Luttich. [Read More…]
The fact that Irish Republican prisoners are held in British prisons in the North of Ireland causes conflict for the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Irish Republicans are Irish Nationalists, thus, their national identity is suppressed during their imprisonment in the British State. [Read More…]
Newly released British Government Papers reignited the debate on the 1981 Hunger Strikes in the H-Blocks of HMP Maze/Long Kesh. This debate started a few years ago with Richard O’Rawe’s publication of Blanketmen. [Read More…]
Although the Northern Irish Troubles are internationally recognised as a settled conflict, there are currently more than one hundred Republican prisoners held in prisons on the Irish isle. A complete black-out by international media outlets makes them Europe’s forgotten prisoners.
A Malaysian born Irish Republican prisoners who has served his minimum five-year term has lost his legal challenge to being kept in prison. [Read More…]