ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
September 6, 2012
Mr. Eric H. Holder Jr.
Office of the Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Rm. 5115 .
Washington, D. C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Nearly a year ago the Presidents of our constituent organizations wrote to you with our concerns about subpoenas of records held in the Irish archives of Boston College. The subpoenas were issued by you for a British request made pursuant to a U. S.-U. K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). We have since joined together to advise you of our concerns not only for the serious misuse of the MLAT (see attached letter to Secretary of State Clinton) but, in the larger context, to the threats to the Irish peace process.
We ask you primarily to review the actual purpose of these subpoenas requested by the Northern Ireland police and to weigh their motivation in terms of the stated objectives of the MLAT. Secondly, we ask you to take into account that fulfilling this request would require cooperating with a politicized police force in Northern Ireland with a long and well documented record of human and civil rights violations and a long history of lawlessness, including admitted collusion in the murders of innocent people. Thirdly, we believe Secretary Clinton shares our concern for Britain’s failure to address the key confidence-building justice measures in the series of 1998 Belfast Agreements which ended the armed conflict. America played a substantial role in securing that peace and should not now be used as a tool to undermine the work of Secretary Clinton and so many others… American, Irish and some British.
We contend that:
- Article I of the U. S.-U. K. MLAT is NOT to be used where a prosecution is unlikely. The Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland in 2003 concluded in a report that there had been no investigation of the killing that is purportedly at the heart of the U. K. request. In 2006 the former Chief Constable Hugh Orde stated that “no successful prosecution could be mounted for the 1972 killing.”
- The ratification documents of the MLAT stipulate that the Agreement is not intended to re-open the past and forswore the prosecution of acts preceding the 1998 Belfast Agreement. Senator Kerry and now others believe they were misled by British officials who misrepresented their intended use of the MLAT.
- Article I of the MLAT indicates that a request for assistance should be denied if it is contrary to important public policy. The negotiations leading up to the Belfast Agreement were led by former Senator George Mitchell with the active participation of President Clinton. The peace process which has been ongoing since 1998 has been supported by two U. S. Presidents and funds from five nations including the U. S. Enforcement of these subpoenas will only benefit those who oppose the peace process.
- The British request now appears without doubt to have originated with a rogue element of the most discredited police force in Western Europe. Unfortunately there was never any effort to weed out the bad apples of the predecessor Royal Ulster Constabulary who participated in or orchestrated so many horrible crimes before they were re-branded. The Justice Department is being asked to cooperate with Bull Connor’s soul mates all dressed up in new uniforms It ill becomes the United States to make common cause with dangerous elements of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
You will find the concerns expressed above and others are well documented by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), the Relatives for Justice (RFJ), the Pat Finucane Center for Human Rights (PFC), the British-Irish Civil Rights Watch (BICRW) and Professor Patricia Lundy of the University of Ulster. Their submitted testimony and documentation can be found on the website of the Committee for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) co-chaired by Representative Chris Smith (NJ) and Senator Ben Cardin (MD). Some highlights, for example:
- The work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) of the PSNI has been seriously compromised by bureaucratic and legal manipulation. They were charged with investigating old killings. The HET was originally staffed solely by policemen from England because it was recognized members of the old RUC could not be trusted to investigate politically related killings in which they or their colleagues might be involved. This policy was conveniently and quietly changed. Thus it was no surprise that the issuance of these subpoenas followed the hiring of retired Royal Ulster Constabulary officers to review murders during the period when they served; murders which were never adequately investigated by any professional standard known to modern police forces. We fear yet another whitewash is at work while they focus attention on a single 1972 killing that the RUC chose to ignore at that time.
- Prime Minister Cameron has ignored the 1998 accord requirement for a public inquiry into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane. He did so while casually acknowledging British ‘security’ forces colluded with loyalist vigilantes in Finucane’s murder. Yet another cover-up of the security forces dirty work was admitted in the public press and yet the U. S. is asked now to cooperate with the same police force responsible for Mr. Finucane’s murder.
- The United Kingdom continues to obstruct and delay Ireland’s efforts to obtain British Army records on the no-warning Dublin-Monaghan bombings of 1974, still the largest act of carnage in the 30 years of conflict. This slaughter used materials, technology and coordination only within the control of the British Army even though Loyalists acting as agents of the Army planted the actual car bombs. The British government has refused to cooperate with the Irish Supreme Court justice appointed by the government to investigate these murders. Hiding the truth and avoiding accountability is unacceptable. The British government has a moral obligation to cooperate fully in the Irish government’s investigation.
To add to the above concerns we must note in particular the internment of Gerry McGeough, Marian Price and Martin Corey by a British Minister using the much disputed Closed Material or secret procedures in defiance of Britain’s own law and judicial rulings. These cases, we believe, violate both the letter and spirit of the Belfast Agreement.
We therefore respectfully request the Administration discontinue processing these subpoenas so the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may hold hearings into their use and their implications for the peace process. We believe the Committee’s members are entitled to discern from the UK the specific justification for the request, the possible misuse of MLAT and their commitment to the principles of the Belfast Agreement as an instrument to restore justice, democracy and the rule of law.
Other groups like us as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts would wish to testify at such a hearing. It is our belief that the concerns of Senator Kerry and others in Congress who have shared these concerns would be satisfied with such a hearing.
Mr. Peter Sheridan, the CEO of Co-Operation Ireland recently stated: “The growth in violent extremism has the potential to be a longer term threat to the economy than the current recession. The dissidents are growing in strength and capability.” We renew our request for your help in insuring that the U. S. does all it can to insure that violence does not escalate and that American laws and institutions are not used to destabilize a peace that is finally beginning to take root.
Mr. Brendan Moore
Ancient Order of Hibernians
Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
Brehon Law Society
Mr. Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq.
Irish American Unity Conference