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.

The courtroom is changed to suit the Kirkpatrick case : there’s a perspex screen between the public gallery and the main body of the court . The Preliminary Enquiry had ended in May 1984 in a bloody battle with dozens injured . Harry Kirkpatrick is about to go into the witness box . Defence counsel has made an application that the accused be allowed to move , but British Judge Carswell rules that each accused can move one space only and adjourns the sitting to allow that to take place . But none of the accused moves.

An observer in the courtroom was heard to whisper – ” Do not pass go . Do not collect £200…” , and his friend whispers back – ” Go directly to jail…” . But still no-one changes places . Harry Kirkpatrick then takes the oath and , whilst on the stand doing so , never actually looks at the person asking him the questions . He’s dressed in a suit , with his collar open and the tie loose . His voice is clear and he’s clean shaven , but he ever only used to shave rarely , and always used to wear jeans and combat jackets and soft bright shoes. But not now.

Up in the public gallery , there are about sixty relatives ; dozens of blue prison officer uniforms ring around the twenty-seven defendants , and green uniformed RUC men guard the judge and the court building itself . Some of these are armed . Dozens of legal people , including Desmond Boal and Paddy MacEntee, throng in front of Judge Carswell . Kirkpatrick was ready to give his direct ‘evidence’…….

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.

In 1972 , Howard Marks was recruited to MI6 by an old Balliol College friend of his , Hamilton MacMillian, then as now a British Foreign Office Official and MI6 operative. Kirkpatrick also met James McCann, probably in Holland : McCann had escaped from Belfast’s Crumlin Road Prison in June 1971 while awaiting trial on firearms charges – he had taken part in the PIRA’s border campaign based in Dundalk and then went to the Continent in 1972 to organise arms smuggling for the PIRA . By early 1973 Marks and McCann knew each other well , and even took their girlfriends on holiday together.

Marks allegedly became involved with a sophisticated plot to smuggle cannabis into the USA from Europe , inside amplifiers of a non-existent pop group but the whole gang was rounded up in September 1973 by American narcotics agents . However , Marks escaped the round up and fled to Holland.

In Amsterdam his luck ran out : Dutch police picked him up in a separate drugs raid . British Customs officers brought him to London – voluntarily – where he was charged over the US drug-smuggling operation but was released on bail . That was in November 1974 . James McCann , meanwhile , had been busy raiding , as he later alleged, the West German arms dealer Otto Schleuter, in Hamburg . Schleuter , it has been alleged, was involved in the so-called ‘1970’s Arms Crisis’ in Ireland . Part of James McCann’s gang made off with a cargo of machine pistols but his girlfriend and an accomplice were arrested when drugs were found at a Hamburg Hotel . McCann escaped to Holland where Dutch police tailed him . But the Dutch government told their police force to leave him alone…….

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.

But heroin addiction does not only affect the user . If a female addict is pregnant she is likely to pass on her addiction to the baby . Six such babies were born between 1975 and 1980 , between 1981 and 1982 the figure shot up to 17 and , the following year , there were 25 babies born that were addicted to heroin , as far as the drugs unit knew of .

Only 8% of those women were weaned off drugs during the pregnancy , 40% were maintained on the drug methadone by the unit , 30% dropped out of the maintenance programme and only 20% maintained contact with the drugs unit.

After their babies were born , 65% of the mothers returned to their original addictions , 21% were lost contact with and only 11% were rehabilitated to a drug-free state. In at least three cases in one year the State Health Board removed children from addict parents and placed them in foster care . And all this time the State and its agencies completely ignored the situation until it could no longer do so . But , when it ‘intervened’ , it made things worse…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics.. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.