Twenty-six men were convicted on the word of Harry Kirkpatrick. On their appeal against those convictions could well rest the future of the ‘Anglo-Irish Agreement’
(‘The Hillsborough Treaty’)
. Based on a full transcript of the Kirkpatrick trials , the story of how these convictions were obtained shows why the ‘Supergrass System’ is a pale shadow of justice.
By Derek Dunne. From ‘MAGILL’ magazine, February 1986.

By the time Harry Kirkpatrick was released in October 1980 , seven men had gone on hunger strike, two IRSP activists , Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little, had just been assassinated and ten men would die on hunger strike the following year.

Kirkpatrick got out and went to live with his sister Michelle in Twinbrook , Belfast , and went to see the Brigade Quartermaster of the INLA for Belfast , Jackie Goodman. He wanted to become involved in active service – but nothing came from that meeting . Kirkpatrick then went to see Gerard Steenson, INLA Brigade Operations Officer .

Kirkpatrick became Steenson’s assistant ; according to Harry , apart from his ‘promotion’ , that particular meeting discussed an operation – the first he would take part in . Kirkpatrick was now back on the streets , people called him ‘Harry O’ , and he was to remain at liberty for the next sixteen months . According to himself , he would be involved in multiple ‘murders’ , conspiracies to ‘murder’ , robberies , explosions , hijackings , intimidation , scouting and intelligence gathering . At the end of those sixteen months , he would name everyone allegedly involved with him…….

Customs Officers in England have arrested a man who could blow the lid off an embarrassing British Intelligence operation against the Provisional IRA , when he answers drug smuggling charges in London later this year.
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine, July 1980.
By James Curtis.

The background to the Howard Marks affair runs briefly as follows : he was brought up in a respectable , middle-class family in South Wales . He was a rebel at school – but said to be a brilliant student – and won a scholarship to Balliol College In Oxford , England, in 1964 . In 1969 he went to Sussex University to carry out research and , whilst there , was equally well known as “a likeable rascal” , dabbling with drugs .

He had all the latest hi-fi gear and records in his flat , and was never short of money ; he explained his extravagance by claiming he had a terminal illness . By 1971 , stories were circulating on the Sussex campus about drugs and arms smuggling through Shannon airport with the connivance of Irish customs officers . ‘Howie’ Marks seemed to know all about these adventures . In 1972 , Marks returned to Oxford to open a boutique . Three things then happened in an uncertain order – he allegedly became involved in a plan to smuggle drugs from Holland to England , his ‘spying career’ began , and he met a PIRA prison escapee…….

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HEROIN IN DUBLIN……. The drugs crisis is one of the major problems facing young people in Dublin today. In large areas of the city it has now reached massive proportions , while in the inner city there is estimated to be a higher percentage of drug addicts and drug abusers than in Harlem in New York . But it has been only recently – 5 years after this epidemic began in earnest – that any notice has been paid to the problem. And even now the Free State government has failed to confront the crisis in a meaningful way . Tony Barry of Na Fianna Eireann has been looking at the issues for ‘IRIS’ magazine.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine, December 1984.

Further statistics from the Medico-Social Research Board and the Jervis Street Hospital Drug Treatment and Advisory Unit emphasise the scale of the drug problem in Dublin : in the inner city area , an estimated 10% of young people between 15 and 24 years of age were using heroin and injecting it daily . 80 teenagers were on drugs in one street alone . Some addicts now go straight on to heroin without , as used to be the case , ‘progressing’ through glue-sniffing or softer drugs such as ‘pot’ .

Not surprisingly , the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction has shot up dramatically . In 1979 at the Jervis Street drugs unit – the only one of its kind in the State – there were 415 patients seeking treatment . In subsequent years this has escalated – 554 in 1980 , 800 in 1981 , 1,307 in 1982 and 1,515 in 1983 . About half of those attending that drugs unit are referred there by the courts or probation service , the others are looking for treatment themselves . But by any standards they represent only the tip of the addiction iceberg .

The huge upsurge in drug addiction in recent years has put a severe strain on the scarce medical facilities available : the hepatitis laboratory in University College Dublin’s Microbiology Department, for example , has experienced a 500% increase in the incidence of hepatitis since 1980 . Hepatitis is a highly contagious viral liver disease and can be contracted through the use of unsterile and contaminated syringes used for injecting heroin directly into the vein (‘mainlining’) . Now a new strain of the virus , resistant to previously administered treatments , has appeared and is spreading fast…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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