Northern Ireland: Bloody Sunday relatives urge extension of undercover policy inquiry to North

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Bloody Sunday relatives urge extension of undercover policy inquiry to North
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Recent revelations of the activities of undercover British police in the North make it "imperative" that the Undercover Police Inquiry (UCPI) be extended to Northern Ireland, Kate Nash said last week.

Ms. Nash's brother was killed and her father wounded when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry in January 1972.

"I am totally behind Jason Kirkpatrick in trying to discover why a secret unit from the Metropolitan Police was monitoring him and, maybe, manipulating the anti-globalisation campaign he involved in.

"We knew that Northern Ireland was crawling with MI5, MI6, Military Intelligence, Special Branch, etc., around the time of Bloody Sunday. Now it's emerged because of Jason's case that they weren't the only ones."

In the High Court in Belfast in February last year Kirkpatrick was given the go-ahead to bring judicial review proceedings against a ruling by the current inquiry into covert policing confining its investigations to events in England and Wales, omitting the North. The court accepted that Kirkpatrick had been under surveillance in Belfast, Britain and on the European mainland by an officer from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) known as Mark Kennedy.

The Inquiry was set up in March 2015 by then Home Secretary Theresa May after it had emerged that officers from the Metropolitan Police's Special Demonstration Squad had formed relationships and even fathered children with members of political groups which they had infiltrated. The unit, and/or its predecessor, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), had also spied on at least a dozen justice campaigns, including the family-led campaign on the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

The inquiry is chaired by Sir John Mitting, replacing Sir Christopher Pitchford, who resigned in May last year after having been diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Sir Christopher died in October.

"It seems there has been no fundamental change," says Kate Nash.

"I was overjoyed that Saville found that my brother and my father had been innocent people out marching for civil rights. But I still want to know who was ultimately responsible for the soldiers bursting onto out streets and beginning to shoot to kill.

When the State kills its citizens, it has to be held to account. I want the full truth, including how far up the military and political chain responsibility goes. Jason Kirkpatrick is likewise entitled to the truth."

In July 2014, a police inquiry into the allegations of misbehaviour by clandestine police, headed by Derbyshire chief constable Mick Creedon, reported that, in addition to the Lawrence family, 17 other campaigns may have been infiltrated or disrupted between 1970 and 2005. These concerned deaths at the hands of police or in police custody or after contact with the police, or related to murders which, it was claimed, had not been properly investigated by the police. Apart from Stephen Lawrence, the cases included the deaths of Cherry Groce, Rolan Adams, Wayne Douglas, Harry Stanley, John Charles de Menezes, Joy Gardner, Michael Menson and more.

In a related development, the Times reported in June that an undercover SDS agent, "Sean Lynch," had, between 1968 and 1974, targeted organisations active in the early days of the Troubles, including the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (Nicra.) Darragh Macken of Belfast law firm KLR Law, which represents both Kirkpatrick and a number of the Bloody Sunday families, told the paper:

"The period falls squarely into the time that Nicra was organising the Bloody Sunday march.

"This is an element of undercover work that has fallen completely under the radar. The legacy investigations into the Troubles have been effectively operating with one eye closed. This could have implications for other legacy investigations, including the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday."

Calls for extension of the UCPI to the North have come from Amnesty, two former Northern Ireland Ministers for Justice, David Ford and Claire Sugden, and many others. Ms. Sugden has written to the Home Office saying that the Inquiry must follow the evidence, including when the evidence takes it to Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has also expressed concern. Two years ago, after details of the British undercover operations in the North had become public, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Policing Board that the PSNI had been "completely blind" to the fact that undercover British units had been operating in the North, much less what they had been up to. He described their posting to the North as 'madness.'

"All we know is what we didn't know - that they were here."

Kate Nash says:

"Even after 12 years of the Bloody Sunday inquiry and expenditure of close on £200 million, potentially crucial evidence was missed, or deliberately hidden. The same seems to be happening again.

I want to know whether 'Sean Lynch' played any part in Bloody Sunday."

Kirkpatrick commented:

"I was under surveillance in Northern Ireland, in Britain and on the continent. The inquiry cannot omit the North from its remit.

If they hid 'Sean Lynch' from the Saville Inquiry, I wonder what they are now hiding from the UCPI."

The inquiry had been expected to complete its work this year, but has been delayed, mainly by applications for anonymity by police witnesses. Its report is not now expected until 2020.

Eamonn McCann

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