00:00.10 - 00:00.18

Football Commentator

 

Still a Dublin free on the home 70 yard line and Gayle Driscal’s going to take.

 

00:00.22 - 00:00.26

Football Commentator

 

And it goes to Peter Stevenson, the whole Dublin team standing up there for a moment.

 

00:00.27 – 00:00.35

Football Commentator

 

This is Mickey Lynch, and Alan Larkin grabs hold of him there but the referee waves on the play, gives the Derry man the advantage.

 

00:00.35 – 00:00.40

Football Commentator

 

Up to John O’Leary, as Brian Mullan has gone back to try to cover up, O’Leary now in towards Tom…

 

00:00.41 – 00:00.49

Football Commentator

 

It’s a goal, a goal, it’s a great goal! A great goal by John O’Connell, oh what a lovely goal!

 

00:00.56 – 00:01.00

Newsreader

 

The funerals have taken place of the two victims killed in Tuesday’s attack at McGleenon’s Bar in Armagh.

 

00:01.01 – 00:01.09

Newsreader

 

45-year-old John McGleenon was shot in the chest while 32-year-old Patrick Hughes died, as the gunmen detonated a no warning explosion.

 

00:01.28 – 00:01.31

Victim

 

Is everything ok?

 

 

00:01.31 – 00:01.32

British Army 1

 

Have you your licence?

 

Step out of the car.

 

00:01.35 – 00:01.36

British Army 2

 

Come, out!

 

00:01.38 – 00:01.39

British Army 2

 

Come, quickly, come!

 

00:01.44 – 00:01.46

British Army 2

 

Get down, Get down!

 

00:01.49 – 00:01.53

British Army 1

 

Hey Stop, stop, stop – stop!

 

00:01.57 – 00:02.04

Newsreader

 

The area was cordoned off and at first light this morning British Army technical experts went in to examine the bodies in case they had been booby-trapped.

 

00:02.08 – 00:02.10

Newsreader

 

Who do you think might be responsible?

 

00:02.11 – 00:02.18

Politician

 

Well ask anybody around here and they'll tell you. This is within the, what we described as the murder triangle.

 

00:02.19 – 00:02.27

 

Portadown to Coalisland, up to Aughnacloy where there have been more sectarian assassinations per head of the population than anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

 

00:02.28 – 00:02.34

Politician

 

The awful thing is that not a single one has been sort of made amenable to justice for them.

 

00:02.35 – 00:02.45

Fr Raymond Murray

Assassinations and murders, UDA, UVF, UDR and Mi5, Mi6 politicians and murder gangs.

 

 [Music]

 

00:02:59 – 00:03.13

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

The borderland of South Armagh, an area of Ireland steeped in Celtic mythology, where the ghosts of Cuchulain, Queen Maeve, Finn McCool and Cailleach Bhéara haunt the county's many burial cairns and crypts.

 

00:03:15 – 00:03.30

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Its rugged slopes, green fields and sweeping plains reach out to the fews that cradle the resting places of 18th century poets such as Art McCooey, Pádraig Mac Aliondain and Séamus Mór MacMhurchaidh.

 

00:03:31 – 00:03.36

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

A land where ancient quarrels have been settled but yet find time to reignite.

 

00:03:39 – 00:03.44

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

There's an ironic tragedy between the beauty of this land and the dark secrets it holds.

 

00:03:51 – 00:03.56

Alan Brecknell

 

My father met my mother in the late 60s and they got married and set up home in Belfast.

 

00:03:57 – 00:04.05

Alan Brecknell

 

At that time my father was working in the Rolls-Royce factory in Belfast, until some of his work colleagues found out he was a Catholic and he had to leave.

 

00:04:07 – 00:04.13

Alan Brecknell

 

He then worked as a postman in the area for a while. At this stage we were living in the Stranmillis area of Belfast.

 

00:04:15 – 00:04.22

Alan Brecknell

 

There was a small number of Catholic families living in the area at the time and we'd been warned on a number of occasions it was time to move out.

 

00:04:23 – 00:04.37

Alan Brecknell

 

I suppose the final straw for us was whenever a pipe bomb was left in one of our near neighbour’s windowsills and mommy and daddy obviously said at that stage it was time to move out of Belfast, and the decision was taken to move on at that stage.

 

00:04:41 – 00:04.49

Alan Brecknell

 

Daddy being from Birmingham, Mummy wanted to move there, she felt it would be safer, but my father loved the countryside so, and loved South Armagh, so we ended up there.

 

00:04:52 – 00:05.01

Alan Brecknell

 

I suppose my last recollections of my father are him leaving to go to the hospital to visit mummy and my new sister Roisin, she was only two days old at the time.

 

00:05:02 – 00:05.08

Alan Brecknell

 

And that's really the last that I can remember of him was seeing him going out through the front door to visit them in the hospital.

 

 

 

00:05:12 – 00:05.21

Alan Brecknell

 

That particular evening my aunt was with my father and the intention was to stop at Donnelly’s bar on the way home and have a celebratory drink with his workmates.

 

 

00:05.26-00:05.49

Alan Brecknell

 

They'd only just arrived about the same time as the gunmen. As they arrived they shot up the front of the bar shooting Patsy Donnelly and killing him almost immediately. Michael Donnelly, the bar owner’s son ran into the bar and hid behind the door. He was followed into the bar by the gunmen who spread the inside of the building with bullets.

 

 

00:05.54-00:06.00

Alan Brecknell

 

Shooting my father and a number of other individuals and seriously injuring them, they then threw in a bomb.

 

 

00:06.05-00:06.18

Alan Brecknell

 

A piece of shrapnel hit Michael Donnelly in the back of the head and killed him almost instantly. The bomb exploded and my father was probably already dead because he'd been shot before that.

 

 

00:06.21-00:06.41

Anne Cadwallader

 

I came to work in Ireland in 1981 and I found myself increasingly drawn to cases of miscarriage of justice when nobody else was taking a particular interest, and also in the potential for the state to take life illegally, and as a journalist you're always looking for stories that nobody else is investigating.

 

00:06.42-00:07.17

Anne Cadwallader

 

It was an ordinary Sunday morning and I was reading the paper and a name sprang out of the page at me, Brecknell, somebody called Brecknell had been killed in South Armagh some time previously and I thought ‘Brecknell?’, that's not a South Armagh name. So I managed to contact the family and went down to meet them, and I asked eyewitnesses who'd seen how Trevor Brecknell had been killed to explain to his widow who was sitting in the room with me exactly what had happened, and it was a shocking, shocking experience. It was the first time that Anne Brecknell had heard how her husband had been murdered.

 

 

00:07.18-00:07.27

Alan Brecknell

 

I think the shock of finding out what we found out that day brought it home to the family really how little we knew about my father's killing and who was actually responsible for it.

 

 

00:07.29-00:07.55

Anne Cadwallader

 

I phoned my news desk expecting them to leap on the story and say “Give us everything you've got,” but the reaction was quite different it was “Oh no, not another Catholic sob story”. I was just so, so disappointed and hurt but that was a reaction in Dublin to what I had discovered. But I pushed for the story to be written and in the end it was.

 

 

00:07.55-00:08.10

Alan Brecknell

 

In and around this time new information started to emerge about what would have been known as loyalist attacks in the area and I suppose I didn't know much more about what had happened other than a group called the ‘Red Hand Commando’ had claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

 

 

00:08.12-00:08.37

Alan Brecknell

 

So at this time we began to ask questions of myself about what I did or didn't know about what actually happened and I started to ask questions of local people about what they remembered about what they knew about that night. But we didn't know really where to go to try and find out more answers, and at that stage someone mentioned to me that the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry helped families in similar situations to ourselves.

 

 

 

 

00:08.37-00:09.13

Paul O’ Connor

 

 I think it was 1999 Alan come into the office very softly spoken, very friendly and he was wearing a suit and we thought he was going to sell us a photocopier or, or a printer, and instead he began to tell us about the attack on the bar and about his dad and what happened in the background. He was aware that there was now an affidavit available, as was were we that made a number of very serious allegations about collusive behaviour and a number of attacks in the area. So we agreed we would look at it in detail and look at all the different attacks that happened in the area at the time. It was all very new to us.

 

 

00:09.15-00:09.34

Paul O’ Connor

 

Up to that point we'd been active in a number of cases we've been active around Bloody Sunday and Bloody Sunday justice campaign was based in the office, and we agreed to call together a meeting of witnesses and the GAA club in Silverbridge and witnesses came forward, a lot of witnesses came forward.

 

 

 

00:09.34-00:10.35

Mark Thompson

 

And I suppose the significance of the meeting was that you had families with evidence and information - but you also had witnesses at the events - and the significance of this being that there were so many connections, so many leads to follow and obviously these had never been followed by official bodies or people in authority.  Even though it's been hugely painful and traumatic, and we've lived with this, you know this is something we need to do.  We need to take this forward, and you know what happened in my home when my loved one was killed, or the incident is connected to what happened down the road is connected to what happened over just across in the other county and the other parish. That day was powerful in that sense that everywhere in the room where you pointed to, you're either a witness to something that had a lead, a piece of evidence that connected to another was unfolding was the sense that there was this gang of security force people that were supposed to protect people, supposed to bring people to justice, were actually out conducting these killings and carrying them out.

 

 

00:10.38-00:10.51

Paul O’ Connor

 

You might imagine that in a normal situation they'd been, they'd been asked to give statements, that the police would have asked them for statements. This hadn't happened, and they came forward, and we began to realize that we were looking at something much, much bigger.

 

 

00:10.56-00:11.23

Paul O’ Connor

 

As we began to research this and to talk to people in the local area many of them told us that there was actually an officer involved in the original investigation he was actually in charge although he was an officer of very low rank, but they believed was a person of integrity, they believed he tried to get to the bottom of this but couldn't. He had talked to the families a number of times over the years and they -  the families - told us that he would be an absolutely vital person for us to talk to.

 

 

00:11.33-00:11.40

Newsreader

 

In Belfast the families of those killed in an attack on a bar in Silver Bridge 24 years ago have appealed for a fresh inquiry into that atrocity.

 

 

 

00:11.42-00:11.54

Paul O’ Connor

 

So we arranged a press conference at the Europa hotel and appealed for him to come forward. We thought it unlikely, but in fact he did, and he made contact with us shortly afterwards through a journalist.

 

 

00:11.56-00:12.14

Paul O’ Connor

 

It was quite an extraordinary meeting in many ways, we were accompanied by a number of family members and this police officer - he was still serving - made a number of statements at that meeting that made us realize of what we were looking at was actually a much wider range of attacks, that what we were looking at was the Glenanne gang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

00:12.15-00:12.35

Alan Brecknell

 

The main thing to come out of the meeting with Gerry McCann was the term he used ‘permutations of the same gang’ were also responsible for at other attacks in South Armagh, including the murders of Sean Farmer and Colin McCartney in August 1975 who were returning from a semi-final of a football match, and also the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May in 1974.

 

 

00:12.37-00:13.11

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

In a series of coordinated attacks during rush hour traffic, three no-warning bombs exploded causing mayhem across Dublin city centre. Eleven people were killed in Parnell Street, 14 including an unborn child in Talbot Street and two women in South Leinster Street in almost simultaneous attacks. Ninety minutes later seven people were killed when the gang planted another bomb in the centre of Monaghan town, the Glenanne gang had effected their deadliest attack yet.

 

 

 

00:13.16-00:14.08

Margaret Urwin

 

I got involved in 1993. I met with some of the families and I was helping them very much on an ad-hoc basis to begin with. It wasn't until 1996 that we began to get things more organized and we got a legal team, Greg O’Neill solicitor and Cormac O’Dulichan, barrister. We gave the organization then the name ‘Justice for the Forgotten’. That was in January of 96. We went on then to try to get the Irish government to provide a public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings but all doors were closed to us until 1999 which was the 25th anniversary of the bombings, and the families met with the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for the first time.

 

00:14.09-00:14.38

Charlie Flanagan

 

Thank you, Lord Mayor, all the Senators and to everyone present, and in particular relatives of those involved and representatives of Justice for the Forgotten. I want to in the first instance express my gratitude and thanks to the committee for inviting me here today on this important occasion to lay a wreath on behalf of the government on the 42nd anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

 

 

 

 

00:15.16-00:16.22

Derek Byrne

 

When I was walking in to the garage in Parnell Street at the Westbrook Motor Company and at about 5:30 that evening a car came in and they were filling it up with petrol, and all of a sudden I hear a mighty bang and next thing all I remember is the priest giving me absolution. And then I was put into an ambulance and was going around to the hospital and heard another explosion, and then I woke up about seven hours after, I woke up in the morgue. I was pronounced dead on arrival. I woke up and I didn't know where was actually, and then I pulled the sheet or something off me and I started moaning, and one of the ladies I got to know then after from the hospital, she came over and she ran out and she got the porters and doctors. They came and I was brought to casualty and I was rushed straight up to theatre, and I was 18 hours in theatre and then I was three months in intensive care unit in a coma.

 

 

 

.00:16.26-00:17.18

Fiona Ryan

 

It, it took an awful long time to have any closure because I never actually saw that she was actually really gone, and I remember as a child when the doorbell would ring or something like that I'd always go into the front room and look out the window to see who was there, expecting that she had just had been hit on the head and had amnesia and she would remember something and come back to us. So that went on for months and months and months, and if I would see somebody out that kind of had a hairstyle like her or looked like her from the back I always thought it was her.  So, you know, it's just very, very difficult not having closure.

 

 

 

00:17.25-00:18.23

Anne Cadwallader

 

Although at that time the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten were beginning to investigate the activities of the Glennanne gang already, two very ordinary Catholic priests living in the area had done a fair amount of investigating themselves.  They'd even started writing to the newspapers and trying to get the two governments involved because they realized that there must be a cohesive gang working in the so-called murder triangle carrying out these murders.  It had to be - there were too many of them, they did everything they could to highlight it.  After one series of 17 murders they issued a statement saying that the RUC had a 100 percent failure rate in convicting anyone for these murders, and they went to Dublin, they went to Belfast, they wrote letters to the papers - yet it seems that the police were just not interested.

 

 

 00:18.24-00:18.33

Fr Denis Faul

 

I have put in over 40 complaints, as far as I can see it's ‘no go’ with any complaints against the special Branch of the RUC, and that is why you have ‘no go’ areas where the RUC cannot go in Northern Ireland.

 

 

00:18.34-00:19.48

Fr Raymond Murray

 

Father Denis Paul was a friend of mine and he visited prisons of course, and then he was very interested in what was going on around Dungannon. We saw that there were a lot of murders in what we called a triangle - Dungannon area right into the Moy and over to Portadown, and we were keeping a list of all these deaths and then I decided that we should list them, publish them and published the first pamphlet on that subject, the triangle of death.  And it was a name that was taken up by the media because ever afterwards they talked about ‘the murder triangle’. So we listed them and the little information we had from relatives at the time, and published the pamphlet, it went very quickly so we published a second one, and there were additions to it and we published a third copy with more editions so that became a central, essential document.  And we noticed that so many of these murders were happening, and it seemed to us that the roads were open for these murderers to come in and kill people and get away again.

 

 

 

00:20.17-00:21.26

Margaret Campbell

 

There was a knock at the door shortly after ten. I got up and went and answered it and two men were standing and asked me was Pat in and I told him ‘yeah so I returned back to living room and told Pat there was two men at the door looking for him.  We had been sitting at our supper and I was on my way to the kitchen to set them on the table when I heard him say ‘anything you want to know you better ask me here, I'm not going with you’ and I immediately knew then but the tone of his voice there was something wrong and these two men had him out through the front door.  One drew a gun, a hand gun first and fired a shot and when I realized what was happening the power had left my legs, I had fell and just crawled tight up against the wall, and another man stepped in with an automatic and opened up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

00:21.30-00:22.25

Margaret Campbell

 

I just lay there for a moment or two until I heard the feet run and a crawled around to do what I could, then I had to call for Donna, one of the children, and she came and I got her to kneel down and hold her father's head for he was moving about through broken glass and stuff, and I crossed the road to a neighbour - Mervyn - to come and help me, and he came and took the children out. Later then the police arrived, a doctor arrived, and the Ambulance came and we went to Craigavon, but Pat had died on his way there going through Guildford.

 

 

00:22.32-00:23.00

Margaret Campbell

 

Out of the blue, it must have been about a month, four weeks, the police came to the door and said they had an identity parade lined up, would I come? I did ask if I could take somebody with me and they said 'No, you're better on your own’. I didn't get time to change clothes, I was put in the back of the car and no one spoke.

 

 

00:23.02-00:23.23

Margaret Campbell

 

I was took to Belfast, all strange, not a sinner did I know, and when I got there they told me I had to go into this room there was a line of men … and to go down it and see did I recognized anybody.

 

00:23.28-00:23.29

 

I went in.

Margaret Campbell

 

 

00:23.36-00:25.13

Margaret Campbell

 

The policeman stood at the door and there was one man inside the door, but he stood there and the other policeman stood beside him, and I had to walk up this room to the line of men and as soon as I got up I did recognize a face. I just couldn't. I didn't even go to the end of the line and I turned and went back and I looked again, and I was I thought I was going to faint. I made to get out and the policeman stopped me and said to me ‘Did you recognize anybody?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ but I was in a state.  So they let me through the door into the hallway and they told me to ‘compose myself’. I was told to ‘compose’ myself, ‘go back in and put your hand on him’. I went back in, but I could not touch him.  I couldn't put my hand on him and I told him I couldn’t.  I know I didn't put my hand on him, I wanted out and away from where I was, and I didn't go back in again. But I told them yes, where he was.

 

 

 

00:25.19-00:26.23

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

The man that Margaret found it impossible to touch, the man she witnessed shooting her husband at point-blank range, was Robin Jackson.  Jackson was a Portadown loyalist who became one of the conflict’s most prolific killers.  He was also an RUC agent nicknamed ‘The Jackal’. Five days before Pat Campbell's murder, a man in whose home police had found 64 kilograms of explosives, two grenades and over five thousand rounds of assorted ammunition, had named Jackson as his accomplice. However, police failed to arrest Jackson, meanwhile he was at liberty to murder Pat Campbell. Jackson had been a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, then the largest regiment in the British Army. He was later involved in the massacre of the Miami Show Band in July 1975 when three band members were killed by members of the Glenanne gang as they attempted to plant a bomb in the musicians’ bus.

 

 

00:26.25-00:26.31

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Loyalist paramilitaries Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville were killed instantly as the bomb exploded prematurely.

 

 

00:26.37-00:27.40

Paul O’Connor

 

Well, the Ulster Defence Regiment was the largest regiment in the British Army. It was geographically recruited here in the North of Ireland and had only served here in the North of Ireland. It was essentially a counterinsurgency unit that was set up at the beginning of the troubles. It, itself took over from the discredited ‘B Specials’ which was a special police unit that existed since the 1920s and it was clear from the outset that the UDR was set up to recruit from within the loyalists and the unionist community. They were almost entirely drawn from within that community.  Declassified documents from British sources, from the Prime Minister's office from the Ministry of Defence, the Secretary of State's office make it quite shockingly clear, that from the perspective of the British government it was acceptable to recruit someone into the regiment who was an active Loyalist Paramilitary, who was a member of a Loyalist Paramilitary group.

 

 

 

00:27.40-00:28.28

Hew Bennett

 

There's no doubt that the creation of the Ulster Defence Regiment was influence for the British Army by the experience in the Empire. These kinds of locally raised regiments that were controlled and commanded by British officers, as an intrinsic part of the chain of command of the British Army, were common through all of the counterinsurgency campaigns. There was a real and genuine hope at the instigation of the regiment that it would be truly cross community and would be non-sectarian in character, but it became apparent very quickly that that was not going to be the case, and the British Army was willing to live with the consequences which were that this would be in many ways a sectarian regiment.

 

 

00:28.30-00:28.47

Paul O’Connor

 

Many people from the Loyalist community joined the regiment to get weapons’ training and to steal weapons, and according to the official documents that we found, the UDR was the largest, single source of modern weapons flowing to the Loyalist Paramilitary Groups.  Tt was a recipe for disaster.

 

 

00:28.48-00:29.10

Paul O’Connor

 

One of the things we noticed whenever we started to do the research was the large numbers of guns that were disappearing from both RUC and UDR armouries. Places like Glennanne UDR base, places like the Territorial Army Reserve Volunteer Force based in Lurgan and Ballykelly, Ballykinlar, to name but a few.

 

00:29.02-00:29.59

 Alan Brecknell

 

Here we have a pictorial of just the devastating effect that one of these guns could have.  This is a nine millimetre sterling submachine gun stolen from Glennanne UDR base on the 20th/ 21st of May 1971 and subsequently used to kill 11 people and seriously injure numerous other people in the attacks where these 11 people died.  I suppose with the chart also shows us is who was using these guns and here we can see that some of the people who were involved in using these guns were also members of the RUC and the UDR. And we can also see, as I said who all was killed and one of those people who was killed in one of the first attacks with this gun, was my own father who was killed in Donnelly’s Bar in Silver Bridge on the 19th of December 1975.

 

 

 

00:30:02 – 00:30.12

British Army General

 

We do not, as a matter of course, as a matter of course our brief about patrols looking for Protestant terrorist that is the domain of the RUC.

 

00:30.13 – 00:30.30

Paul O’Connor

 

The RUC, the police, was created in the early 1920s at the same time as the state of Northern Ireland was created and it reflected the contested nature of the state, as it was almost 93% drawn from the one community and it had both a part-time element on a full-time element.

 

00:30.30 – 00:30.42

Paul O’Connor

 

It was a militarized force from the outset, it was framed on the colonial model of British policing and it had a very fraught and fractious relationship with the Catholic and nationalist community.

 

00:30.47- 00:31.04

Paul O’Connor

 

As a non-violent Civil Rights movement grew in force during the late 1960s, it was the reaction of the RUC to that movement and the attacks on the first Civil Rights marches by the police that actually energized the movement, mobilized people, and lit the fuse for the conflict at that time.

 

00:31.06- 00:31.35

Paul O’Connor

 

Then in the 1960s - and 1969 in particular - we had a situation where there was coordinated loyalist attacks, particularly on the Catholic population in Belfast.  Tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes, the Irish army settled refugee camps along the border which put up the refugees fleeing the north, and what was striking about these attacks was that the RUC - the police - actually took part in the attacks on the Catholic community in Belfast at that time.

 

 

00:31.36 - 00:31.43

Paul O’Connor

 

So instead of preventing them they were active participants in the burning of whole streets in Belfast at that time.

 

 

00:31.50-00:31.58

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

On the 5th of June 1976 the gang attacked a small rural pub called the Rock Bar near Keady, County Armagh.

 

 

00:31.59-00:32.04

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

On approaching the pub they shot a local man called Mick McGrath as he left the building.

 

 

00:32.06-00:32.09

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

They then detonated a nail bomb, which failed to explode.

 

 

00:32.15-00:32.24

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

What was striking about this particular attack was that all those involved were members of the local police force - the RUC - with some on duty as the attack took place.

 

 

00:32.32-00:32.46

Paul O’Connor

 

In summing up and sentencing these police officers the Lord Chief Justice went so far as to claim, and I quote that “they were trying to rid the land of pestilence”, now that's the kind of language that Nazis used about Jews.

 

 

00:32.52-00:33.46

Margaret Urwin

 

A very important landmark for the campaign in 1999 was the fact that we acquired the affidavit of John Weir who was a former sergeant in the RUC, and he had been convicted of the murder of a man called William Strathearn and he had served several years in prison, and he prepared an affidavit outlining the

activities of the Glenanne gang, and it became available to us in the spring of 1999 through Tim Pat Coogan.  For the first time really we realized that the Dublin / Monaghan bombings was linked to so many other attacks north of the border and that it was also linked to the Miami show band, and that it was linked to the Dundalk and the Castleblaney bombings as well and the murder of John Francis Greene all of which took place in the Republic.

 

00:33.49-00:34.13

Margaret Urwin

 

In February 2001 Judge Barron - who was conducting the inquiries into the Dublin / Monaghan bombings - met with John Weir in Paris.  The two lawyers and myself also met with John Weir in Paris at the same time, that was a separate meeting and I know also that we arranged for the Pat Finucane Centre to meet with him at that time as well.

 

00:34.14-00:34.40

Paul O’Connor

 

I think that the significance of the meeting with Weir was that we were able to test his affidavit, we were able to test the evidence that have been put out there had to put detailed questions to him.  We spent several days with him and put different parts of the jigsaw together and began to understand what it was we were looking at, thanks to him, and thanks to other evidence that was becoming available.  But of course he was central to the gang, so it was an absolutely vital meeting.

 

 

00:35.00-00:35.39

John Weir

 

I was a member of Armagh Special Patrol Group.  Special Patrol Group was a section of the RUC, they would have been the anti-terrorist squad that dealt with riots and civil disturbance.  We did not deal with ordinary police duties, it would have attracted men who liked that type of action, so it would have attracted officers who tended to be more militant than the ordinary policeman.

 

 

 

 

00:35.40-00:37.10

John Weir

 

I was approached by Garry Armstrong and Ian Mitchell, they explained to me that we should take the war to the IRA instead of sitting back and it was- I think - a lot of people's belief that the IRA was being allowed to operate without much opposition, much hindrance, they explained to me they had already started this by doing a gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar outside Keady.  They asked me if I would be interested in joining what they were doing, I told them I would need to know more about it but yes of course I would be interested, but they did explain to me that there were quite a number of people involved. After that a meeting was arranged, Lawrence McClure was there.  Lawrence explained to me that it was only right he should tell me that a lot of jobs had been done up until that, such as Dublin Monaghan bombings, Reavey’s, Silverbridge bar bombing and shooting.

 

 

00:37.12-00:37.21

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Some of the RUC men Weir names were involved, over many years, in a number of fatal bombings and shootings alongside paramilitaries in the Ulster Volunteer Force.

 

 

00:37.22-00:37.44

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

They include RUC man William McCaughey - a self-confessed killer- also RUC reserve constable Lawrence McClure, believed to be one of the gang’s most experienced bomb makers, who was convicted of causing an explosion and possession of firearms at The Rock bar.  For which, however, he only received a suspended sentence.

 

 

00:37.45-00:37.56

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

RUC constable Ian Mitchell was also convicted of causing an explosion at The Rock bar and possession of firearms, but similarly, only received a suspended sentence.

 

 

00:37.57-00:38.24

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Gary Armstrong - who Weir also names - escaped any conviction in the Rock bar attack, although the Historical Enquiries Team- a police unit set up to investigate historical murders- says he was clearly a principal offender.  In a later book penned by Armstrong after his release from prison, he clearly details his role in the Rock bar attack in a chapter called ‘Unfulfilled Potential’.

 

 

00:38.25-00:38.36

Anne Cadwallader

 

Between the middle of 1972 when the gang really started its work, until the end of 1975, that's less than three years, the gang had killed 89 people.

 

 

 

 

 

00:38.38-00:39.27

Anne Cadwallader

 

In one month alone in April 1975 the first person they killed was Dorothy Traynor, a Protestant woman walking home with a Catholic husband through Portadown.  Within three days they'd killed Martin McVeigh, who was murdered as he cycled home from work in the same town - Portadown.  A couple of weeks later they blew up a little cottage that was being renovated, killing two brothers and a sister and the sister’s unborn baby girl, and by the end of the month they'd also killed a man called Owen Boyle who had been sitting at his kitchen table looking at photographs of his newborn baby girl.  So there in just one month, in one small geographical area, you had four separate attacks in which seven people were killed.

 

 

00:39.27-00:39.47

Anne Cadwallader

 

These attacks were remorseless and they ratcheted up the pressure until the end of 1975 when a completely new development took place.

 

 

00:39:39-00:39.54

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

As with previous attacks, the modus operandi of the gang was to strike two targets almost simultaneously.  In Whitecross, County Armagh, the Reavey family sat down to watch a popular TV show when gunmen entered the family home.

 

 

00:39.55-00:40.11

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

24 year-old John Martin was hit as he sat in his chair, while 22 year old Brian was shot in the back trying to escape into a nearby bedroom.  Anthony, the youngest brother, dived underneath the bed for cover before the gunmen sprayed the bed with bullets.

 

 

 

00:40.12-00:40.38

Eugene Reavey

 

A little while later Anthony heard them going out through the front door and getting into the car, and speeding off.  So then he ventured out from under the bed, and as he was passing Brian who was in the fireplace, he felt his pulse and he knew that he was dead, and he came on up into the kitchen then and John Martin, he was lying in a pool of blood, and he felt his pulse and he knew he was also dead.

 

 

 

00:40:39-00:41.01

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

At around the same time gunmen burst into the home of the O'Dowd family, only 17 miles away in Ballydougan, County Down. Again, the intention was to wipe out an entire family.  As they rushed their way into the house, they opened fire on Barney O'Dowd who was hit a number of times.  His brother Joe, who attempted to charge the gunman, was killed instantly.

 

 

00:41.03-00:42.10

Barney O’Dowd

 

Well I was shot first in my arm, I was spun around, and by that time I knew that Barry was dead, because he was in the room, that they were in.  But I crawled out into the hallway and Declan’s body was lying there too.   you he was in the intensive care of course and was there for a week and they the doctor came around that morning and he says ‘You should be… really had things went according to logic,, he says you shouldn't be here, because those are bullets going straight for your heart.  For no apparent reason in the world,’ he says’ there was neither bone nor gristle nor muscle to stop it.’  But it took a 90% turn and took my kidney with it.

 

 

00:42.12-00:42.21

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

As the smoke settled, three members of the O’Dowd family and two Reavey brothers lay dead. 17 year-old Anthony Reavey died later in hospital.

 

 

00:42.22-00:42.37

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Retaliation for the men’s killings was swift and brutal.  The following evening a minibus of textile workers was stopped by members of the IRA in King's Mills not far from the Reavey home where the killings had taken place the night before.

 

 

00:42.38-00:43.01

Newsreader

 

These pictures tell the story of the horror that followed. Up to 20 gunmen surrounded the minibus, its Catholic driver taken to safety, the Protestants on board mown down mercilessly.  Policemen who arrived shortly afterwards told of bodies piled on top of one another, the gore and the personal effects give a hint of the carnage.

 

0043.03-00:43.49

Paul O’Connor

 

When we met John Weir in Paris, one of the burning questions we had is why he and the others and the gang had not retaliated for the Kingsmill Massacre.  His answer was chilling.  He told us there was a plan and the plan was to attack a primary school, to kill all the children in the school, to kill the teachers.  We asked him why it didn't go ahead and he told us because the UVF leadership in Belfast believed that the plan came from Army headquarters, came from military intelligence, and had been planted, that military intelligence had wanted the whole situation to spiral out of control and this was too much for the UVF and they refused to go ahead.  Even for them it was a step too far.

 

 

00:43.59-00:45.38

John Weir

 

The plan that was decided on was to shoot up a school in Belleeks, just on the outskirts of Belleeks. So when you say shoot up the school, do you mean kill the primary school children in the school? Teachers? Children, teachers yes, yes. And you believe British Military Intelligence was behind this? Yes I do indeed, yes I do indeed. What was their motivations for this? If that had happened I think there is little doubt there would have been a shocking retaliation from the Republican side, a similar retaliation from the Republican side but it would have eventually, in a very short time I should say, it would have put the country into a proper Civil War situation.  I think the country was almost already in a civil war situation but if that happened, even the moderates on both sides they were going to have to take sides and there was going to be, there was going to be a serious, serious civil war.

 

 

00:45.40-00:46.51

Paul O’Connor

 

 

We had a meeting with the Chief Constable, the most senior police officer in the PSNI, accompanied by an assistant Chief Constable at their headquarters, and we asked them what did they intend to do about the fact that a former police sergeant - William McCaughey - had admitted publicly that he was also party to the plan to kill 30 children at a school and their teachers.  There was a pause, they looked at each other and they told us that nothing had been done and there was no intention of doing anything, he wasn’t to be rearrested, it wasn't to be reinvestigated, nothing would happen.  And I think at that moment and after when we left the building, we talked about it and we realized that where else in Europe would a former police officer admit to a plan to kill a large number of children in a school, and his former employer would say that he had no plans to re-interview him as a result?

 

 

00:46.41-00:46.55

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

At Downing Street, in London, the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was faced with what he called himself an ‘apocalyptic crisis’. Northern Ireland was spinning out of control and civil war could not be ruled out.

 

 

00:46.56-00:47.07

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Amongst the options he considered were outright withdrawal and self-government, if the people of the North were ungovernable he could not govern them in.

 

00:47.07-00:47.30

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

In an atmosphere of near panic, Wilson called a council of war at his official country retreat, Chequers, in the peaceful Buckinghamshire countryside. Also present was the Secretary of State for Defence Roy Mason and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Merlin Reese.  On the security side the team was headed by Sir David House the General Officer commanding Northern Ireland.

 

00:47.31-00:47.50

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

While Wilson attempted to control the worsening situation, the hawks within British military intelligence hoped for a different outcome. One where all-out war could be waged on the IRA.  In the meantime the Glennanne gang were slaughtering anyone but Republican targets.

 

 

00:47.51-00:49.03

Anne Cadwallader

 

So we asked ourselves why?  Why these people?  And we drew up two lists - one was of people who were unlucky enough to be caught up in indiscriminate pub and car bombs and the other list was of people who were targeted, who were watched, chased, hunted at their work or at their home.  And we discovered to our surprise that every single one of those bar one were self-starters, people who were making something of their lives.  They were ordinary people.  And then we asked ourselves why?  Why these people?  And the theory we came to was that Frank Kitson, in his classic manual of counterinsurgency operations, wrote that ‘if you can't catch the fish either by rod or by net then poison the water’ and our theory is that these ordinary people were targeted to persuade other ordinary people to repudiate the IRA, to withdraw support from the IRA.  Of course it didn't work it had the opposite effect.  Violence begets violence, if people can't trust the law they will take the law into their own hands.  It was completely counterproductive as well as illegal and immoral.

 

00:49.03-00:49.25

Paul O’Connor

 

I think the stage we've reached is an understanding of what collusion was, what it meant.  Illegal cooperation with, toleration of, cooperation between members of the security forces and loyalist paramilitary groups.  Sometimes this happened on an individual level, and sometimes this happened on a more structural level particularly in the 1980s and 90s.

 

 

00:49.27-00:50.04

Paul O’Connor

 

There was no actual crime of collusion in this jurisdiction, but clearly it involved a number of criminal acts by police officers and / or soldiers, and it's been a phenomenon throughout the troubles and we find collusion in many countries, we find governments using pseudo gangs, they use deniable third forces in order to carry out counterinsurgency, but in a deniable way.  I think the role of loyalist paramilitaries here was very similar, they did what the security forces felt that they couldn't do, because in theory they were bound by the rule of law and so they could use deniable third forces to do it for them.

 

 

00:50.05-00:50.37

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

In Dublin, the campaign group Justice for the Forgotten, had for years been demanding a public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.  It still took seven years for the Irish government, six years after the IRAs 1994 ceasefire, to agree to a restricted form of inquiry. Under Justice Henry Barron the inquiry found in his own careful words, and despite London refusing to cooperate with the inquiry, that the case for collusion was ‘neither fanciful nor absurd’.

 

 

00:50.39-00:50.50

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Crucially, however, for the families bereaved by other Glennanne murders north of the border, Barron published a full appendix listing the ballistic links between other key attacks.

 

 

00:50.51-00:51.44

Paul O’Connor

 

After publication of the Barron report, it became obvious to us that there was still no response from the state.  That very serious allegations of criminality were not going to be investigated, that there was going to be no response, and so we decided that we should respond.  We should bring people in - international figures - so we approached a number of people, UN investigators, who’d worked in El Salvador, people who'd worked on the South African Truth Commission and others, academics, lawyers people with experience and we invited them to Ireland, and asked them to look at the evidence, to meet with whistle-blowers, to meet with families, to meet with PSNI, which they did, and many others, and to draw their own conclusions, to draw up their own report, the International Panel Report.  Which is what they did, and for us that was a very valuable experience.  To have people from outside the jurisdiction come here, look at the evidence, and come to their own conclusions.

 

00:51.51-00:53.00

Doug Cassells

 

Ten years ago from 2004 to 2006 I had the privilege of chairing an Independent International Enquiry into potential collusion by British security forces in paramilitary killings of Catholics in Northern Ireland. They certainly were not a few bad apples, there were a significant number of British intelligence agents from within the RUC and the UDR who were involved directly in these killings or in collusion with them, and their activities - their illegal activities- according to the evidence we received, were known to their immediate superiors, including a number of chief inspectors and inspectors.  But we were not able to ascertain at the time as to how far up the chain of command this went.  We do know that senior authorities in London were on notice of information that should have caused them to conduct further investigations of this collusion in Northern Ireland.  We found no indication that they took that obligation seriously.

 

00:53.01-00:53.32

Anne Cadwallader

 

The next big step change came when the Historical Enquiries Team was set up to investigate all the unsolved murders of the conflict, which quickly was broadened to all murders during the conflict and within that organization - the HET - there was a special team set up to investigate claims of collusion or where the state was allegedly involved in the murders.  It was headed up by a particularly intelligent, determined detective called Steve Morris.

 

 

 

00:53.36-00:54.06

Steve Morris

 

My expectations were that I would conduct a full and thorough review of a number of murders that were believed to have involved certain degrees of collusion.  It was already evident there had been some degrees of collusion at a lower level, and by those members of the security forces that were directly involved, but as the review continued and we found out more, I was surprised about the extent - and the degree - to which the collusion was involved in some of those cases.

 

 

00:54.08-00:54.46

Steve Morris

 

The one case that totally surprised me was the fatal bombing of the Step-in in August 1976 where two people were killed where there was obviously involvement of police officers- that really flabbergasted me by the lack of response from the RUC.  It was quite evident from the outset of looking at certain intelligence material and documents, that elements of the RUC knew that some of their officers were planning and eventually carried out the fatal attack at the Step-in.

 

 

00:54.47-00:55.03

Newsreader

 

So many others which have happened in towns and villages throughout the north in the past seven years of violence.  The car was packed with explosives and left outside the bar where the unsuspecting customers were inside enjoying a drink.  Without any warning the car bomb exploded and within seconds the pub was demolished.

 

 

 

00:55.04-00:55.51

Steve Morris

 

What is incomprehensible to me, is that that the RUC - to a quite senior-level - were aware that a bombing was being carried out and in fact that a bombing had occurred, knowing who was responsible and knowing who they were, they still did nothing about it.  None of those officers were arrested until 1978, and even then they weren't arrested specifically for the Step-in, they were arrested for other matters, so from August 1976 until December 1978 the RUC did nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

00:55.53 -00:56.40

Anne Cadwallader

 

For us, the Step-Inn bombing was the smoking gun, because although we believed that it was very similar to a lot of other attacks in the Glennanne series, the difference with the Step-Inn was the Historical Enquiries Team under Steve Morris managed to find all the paperwork, which showed that what the authorities had known about the plan, leading up to the Step-in the carrying out of the bombing itself, and the fact that although they knew every single person who'd been involved in the planning, the all coordination, the determining of the target, the making of the bomb, the storing of the bomb, everything, they knew everybody and everything about this bomb, despite that and despite the fact that two people were killed and, and a huge number of other people were very seriously injured not one single person was ever charged or convicted with that bombing despite the RUC knowing virtually everything about it.

 

 

 

 

00:56.41-00:56.45

Seán Murray (Interviewer)

 

What was your reaction all those years later to the HET report?

 

00:56.50-00:57.37

Malachi McDonald

 

Devastated, and at the same time a wee bit of relief that I had done all I could.  Because I knew the army was there and checked the whole thing that night.  They checked us coming up from Armagh and they told us that the army and the police was within a couple yards of where the bomb was, and none of the RUC was ever questioned at the inquest, and the HET told us one thing that they went through the surveillance around mid afternoon and they knew that bomb was there for days. So the state committed the murder of Betty and that’s it, murdered - and while she was putting her kids to bed.

 

00:57.40-00:57.50

Malachi McDonald

 

The only part we can do now is get the inquest put forward, and no more telling lies, they own up to what they done.

 

00:57.57-00:58.53

Paul O’Connor

 

It was clear to us from seeing the individual reports that were coming out from the Historical Enquiries Team, that what we were looking at here was coordinated attacks, that some of the same people using the same weapons, same farm houses, same hides, same modus operandi were working together and that to truly understand what was happening it needed to be looked at as a whole, that to do anything else would be to atomise each individual attack, to individualize it which didn't tell the bigger story.  The story that was understood at police headquarters, that was understood at Army Headquarters at the time, that these were coordinated actions and indeed that some members of the security forces were taking part in these attacks, and so we said to the HET that the only way to properly understand this was to produce an overarching report.  They agreed, they began to work on it, but it was never completed and it was never delivered.

 

 

00:58.54-00:59.39

Kevin Winters

 

Well we think the prospect of an overarching, wide-ranging, thematic report was pulled at a senior level within the PSNI, because the conclusions would have been just too catastrophic, it would have essentially made the case and in fact it would have amounted to a state recognition and confirmation that collusion existed within the security forces in this particular sector in the conflict, and I suppose politically and for many, many other reasons that was just too uncomfortable for many people and for the British government.  That meant pulling out of the overarching report and that, really, was just unacceptable for the families.

 

 

 

00:59.40-01:00.18

Steve Morris

 

One of the fundamental elements of my overarching report would have been for this question to be asked:  ‘How is it, that a group of police officers know that they can go back to a farm where there is a bomb in a car, having been under surveillance, and yet they know they can go back the following day and plant it and the bomb goes off? What gave them the confidence that they were not going to be apprehended there and then, or at some later stage?’ For me, that is the biggest question that needs to be answered.

 

01:00.23- 01:01.16

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

 

Desperate to get to the truth, before some of the elderly bereaved relatives died, Steve Morris’ unanswered questions were put before the courts in Belfast. Their lawyers challenged the HET’s  failure to provide the thematic report that they were promised. Amongst the legal exhibits provided to the High Court was a copy of Anne Cadwallader’s’ Lethal Allies’. The first time any such book was accepted as a legal exhibit in the northern courts. In July 2017 the court delivered a stunning victory for the families, ordering the Chief Constable to come up - within weeks - with an acceptable, independent, fully resourced report to fulfil the HET's promise. Humiliated, the Chief Constable appealed despite objections from the bereaved families, 11 of whom had passed away since the court case began.

 

 

 

01:01.25-01:01.37

Alan Brecknell

 

It's been a long , hard road for, for the families to date, and I suppose it has been very disappointing that the overarching report that would have pulled everything together and made all the connections hasn't been completed to date.

 

 

01:01.44- 01:01.47

Callum Janes (interviewer)

 

Anne, how important is today for the families?

 

 

01:01.48- 01:02.14

Anne Cadwallader

 

Important, frustrating, yesterday was disappointing, we have the ups and downs legally in this story but I know that however frustrating and upsetting it is for me, there are people all over Northern Ireland who have lost families, who are getting up this morning wondering if this is going to be the day when they finally get some justice.

 

 

01:02.016-01:03.21

Anne Cadwallader

 

So these days you never know what the courts are going to decide but, there's no doubt about it in the three months since our ground breaking victory in the courts on the 28th of July 2017, although the PSNI and the state were ordered by the judge to negotiate with us and come forward with agreed root to an inquiry and a report, we have just discovered that they have done nothing in those three months -absolutely nothing. So if you're an individual or a citizen and you're ordered to do something by a court, you have to do it, but somehow if you're a police force and you're ordered by a court to do something you can get away with doing nothing for at least three months, and if they decide to appeal today, which is possible, it could delay everything by a year.  Some of our family members are old and ill, they might not be here in a year to see the report that they've waited and fought for so long come into existence.

 

 

01:03.35- 01:04.30

Darragh Mackin

 

Is it a hugely pivotal day for the Glennanne families and their fight for justice for two reasons: the first one is that the court has- in the rare move- ordered that the police should now take action and complete the report that was promised to all of these families. The second issue, it is an unprecedented move the court has asked for the police to provide affidavit evidence compelling and setting out why they have not given any notes or records as to why this decision was taken, the reality is this decision has been made clear by the court is irrational and unlawful and it’s about time that justice was no longer delayed to the families of Glennanne and that justice was done and the police completed this report without any endless litigation.

 

01:04.31-01:05.08

Eddie Barnard

 

It’s almost four years since we started this case and I have watched family members from Dungannon pass away, and there's other family members throughout the Glennanne series who’ve passed away. For the families this had been an emotional torture, a psychological torture and it's near time that George Hamilton realized that enough is enough and the day of the dinosaur RUC days are over.  To have proper policing there has to be a fairness and justice. Thank you.

 

 

 

01:05.09- 01:06.00

 Anne Cadwallader

 

So far we've identified 38 people who are involved in the murders of a hundred and twenty plus people who were members of the so-called security forces, we've named most of them there may be others we don't know of, very few spent a day in jail. Now that's too many people over a short a few years involved in 120 murders in one geographical small geographical area to be explainable by the bad apple theory.  As far as the victims were concerned they were just collateral damage in what was a state systemic policy of collusion, now as far as the families are concerned they have the right to truth and justice. Some want apology and acknowledgement others want their day in court.  We’ll support whatever road they choose.

 

 

01:06.01-01:06.46

Fr Raymond Murray

 

Well, it's amazing how the truth comes out, as George Bernard Shaw, it was he that said it ‘comes like blood under the door’. And it has happened from time to time, that some people, their conscience has taken them and they have revealed different material and as the years have gone by of course the families have been interested of trying to find out the truth of what happened and who was responsible, but at the same time a lot of these killings haven't been solved. When it suited the authorities then they did give information about the UDA, UVF or collusion but in comparison to the huge amount of collusion and the unsolved, it's not all, it's not very great, yeah.

 

 

01:06.48-01:06.59

Margaret Campbell

 

I thought I was going to get answers and maybe justice at long last, but I still have got nothing, I still have got nothing.

 

 

01:07.00-01:07.15

Barney O’Dowd

 

Expose them, expose them for what they did. Jackson went on ahead to, to kill lots more and they still got the police protection.

 

 

01:07.20-01:07.53

John Weir

 

I think it went to the very, very top. I think it even crossed the water, where politicians knew what was going on and gave the go-ahead, and basically the attitude would have been, you’re doing a great job boys but, don't be getting caught and dropping us into problems.

 

 

01:07.55-01:08.15

Alan Brecknell

 

I suppose what still needs to be done is they get an acknowledgement of what actually happened, the British state through the period of the troubles, through the period of the conflict tried to portray themselves as a neutral arbiter, at this stage that story doesn't stack up anymore, the British state were involved in numerous killings, they were involved with loyalist paramilitaries.

 

 

 

01:08.20-01:08.29

Alan Brecknell

 

I suppose my abiding hope would be that we can tell that story, that we can honour those who lost their lives to the collusive acts of members of the security forces.

 

 

 

01:08.42-01:11.49

Stephen Rea (Voiceover)

Leaving the white glow of filling stations

And a few lonely streetlamps among fields

You climbed the hills toward Newtownhamilton

Past the Fews Forest, out beneath the stars--

Along the road, a high, bare pilgrim's track

Where Sweeney fled before the bloodied heads,

Goat-beards and dogs' eyes in a demon pack

Blazing out of the ground, snapping and squealing.

What blazed ahead of you? A faked road block?

The red lamp swung, the sudden brakes and stalling

Engine, voices, heads hooded and the cold-nosed gun?

Or in your driving mirror, tailing headlights

That pulled out suddenly and flagged you down

Where you weren't known and far from what you knew:

The lowland clays and waters of Lough Beg,

Church Island's spire, its soft treeline of yew.

 

There you used hear guns fired behind the house

Long before rising time, when duck shooters

Haunted the marigolds and bulrushes,

But still were scared to find spent cartridges,

Acrid, brassy, genital, ejected,

On your way across the strand to fetch the cows.

For you and yours and yours and mine fought the shy,

Spoke an old language of conspirators

And could not crack the whip or seize the day:

Big-voiced scullions, herders, feelers round

Haycocks and hindquarters, talkers in byres,

Slow arbitrators of the burial ground.

 

Across that strand of ours the cattle graze

Up to their bellies in an early mist

And now they turn their unbewildered gaze

To where we work our way through squeaking sedge

Drowning in dew. Like a dull blade with its edge

Honed bright, Lough Beg half shines under the haze.

I turn because the sweeping of your feet

Has stopped behind me, to find you on your knees

With blood and roadside muck in your hair and eyes,

Then kneel in front of you in brimming grass

And gather up cold handfuls of the dew

To wash you, cousin. I dab you clean with moss

Fine as the drizzle out of a low cloud.

I lift you under the arms and lay you flat.

With rushes that shoot green again, I plait

Green scapulars to wear over your shroud. 

 

 


 

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