From The Pensive Quill
Alan Lundy is a 33 year-old Ardoyne man who was recently remanded to jail on charges that many suspect were contrived to remove him from the streets where his republican worldview had been causing problems for those sentinels of partition, Sinn Fein and the PSNI. In the public discourse of those campaigning on his behalf there has been no attempt made to portray the imprisoned man as a disinterested member of the local community. His family are quite candid about his politics, stating:
Alan is an unrepentant Republican, and does not hide his perfectly legitimate beliefs from anyone. He is involved in numerous Republican projects such as commemorations and Prisoner Welfare, and also takes part in community initiatives including anti-drug projects and opposing sectarian parades.
At the time of his arrest he was also vice chair of the local Seán Mac Diarmada 1916 Society, which indicates he was walking in the republican footsteps of his late republican father. He was further involved in the Greater Ardoyne Residents Committee (GARC ) which Sinn Fein, copying what the British used to do to it, has been trying to demonise, something even the most rudimentary bullshit detector is easily capable of picking up:
This continuing saga has delivered the anti-peace elements both an issue for building on and an unwelcome level of influence within the Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (GARC). This and other similar groups, like the Rasharkin Residents Collective, are clearly opposed to our peace process and the new policing dispensation.
Sinn Fein alleging that? Surely it has to be an act of ‘diabolical mimicry.’ Borrowing from the template of evangelical religion the auld peace process realises that it just couldn’t survive had it not an array of devilish enemies lined up trying to wreck it. And they all must be banished: to Hell or Maghaberry.
The name at the centre of this case is not unfamilar to me. I attended the funeral of Alan Lundy senior in 1993. It seemed inconceivable at that point that the republican struggle would collapse so ignominiously that his son, then barely into his teens, would be in prison twenty years later courtesy of the same British police force that had jailed his father. Alan senior had been a republican prisoner with whom I had spent time in jail. He had been gunned down by the UDA, presumably armed with weapons allowed into the country by the British state. The PSNI, then called the RUC, had been in the vicinity of the attack all day but had left the scene just prior to the arrival of the loyalist death squad. Nothing sinister in that, just colleagues changing shifts you might say.
One of the charges currently laid against Alan Lundy dates back to a 2005 Ardoyne riot for which he could have been arrested at any time. He lived openly, and as recently as this year’s 12th of July parade was visible as a GARC protest march steward. This invites comparisons with the case of the imprisoned Gerry McGeough, and has noses twitching around the scent of the British Police Service of Northern Ireland once again finding it hard to learn new tricks, instead reverting to form and resorting to base instinct.
McGeough, a former republican prisoner, was arrested and subsequently imprisoned for a 1981 IRA operation, as he left a polling station in Fermanagh South Tyrone. He too had been living openly and could have been swooped up at any time. It was only after he had demonstrated an unerring ability to publicly articulate a critique of the Sinn Fein position on policing that British police moved to take him out of the game. It had all the hallmarks of a political prosecution and there is nothing to suggest that the pursuit of Alan Lundy is anything different. In court this week his defence counselJohn O'Connor said it "beggared belief" that alleged evidence from 2005 was only emerging now.
The Irish Law and Democracy Committee too has expressed its concerns, and raised a number of serious questions which significantly taint the PSNI action in relation to this case. It had observers on the ground in Ardoyne during this month’s Twelfth disturbances and disputes claims made by the PSNI.
On Thursday last the mother of the imprisoned man was approached by 2 members of Sinn Féin, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard McCabe who offered the party’s help. The mother referred both men to her son Daniel who was more au fait with the issues. Concerned about his jailed brother, Daniel decided to explore the offer. That evening the North Belfast News was running an ad inviting members of the public to attend a local ex-prisoners centre the following day where their concerns about heavy handed policing on the Twelfth could be discussed. Accompanied by two other family members Daniel Lundy turned up at the centre where Councillor McCabe told him nothing could be done at that time as it was a legal clinic. A strange answer given that concerns about the PSNI abuse of legal processes had brought the family to the centre in the first place.
Frustrated at feeling they were being played, the trio left unhappy but were phoned by Gerard McCabe within 20 minutes and asked to return as Gerry Kelly, on occasion the recipient of heavy handed British policing methods in North Belfast, had arrived in the office and was prepared to speak to the family. In the 1970s Kelly had served time in the same Long Kesh cage as the late Alan Lundy. Now he serves on the same policing board as the force that helped kill him.
To the consternation of the family reps Kelly, they say, informed them that he would not be able to publicly support them. His rationale for taking this stance was not that he doubted Alan’s innocence; he had in fact acknowledged it was ‘ludicrous that Alan, or indeed anyone, should be charged with an offence of rioting in 2005 after a lapse of 7 years’.
In the family’s account Gerry Kelly would not help it because two sons of the late Alan Lundy, including the imprisoned one, were 'political opponents' of his and that precluded him offering any help to the family. If accurate this is clientelist politics at its vilest, doused with a streak of malice to add some tang.
Gerry Kelly has disputed this version and issued a statement to that effect in which he stated that ‘I am left with the belief that Daniel saw it only as a means to attack myself and Sinn Fein politically.’ But as suggested by Martin Óg Meehan ‘isn't it an indication of his credibility on this issue?’ To the discerning ear Kelly only manages to make his retort sound like yet another rerun of the redundant securocrat argument.
The Lundy family is angry that Sinn Fein has refused to help:
... given the sacrifice that our Father and Husband, Alan Sr. gave to the Irish freedom struggle including losing his life 1993. Is Gerry Kelly only representing those who support Sinn Fein or the wider community?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes. The upshot – only yes-men to Sinn Fein stand to benefit from the party’s patronage.
In Ardoyne, as elsewhere, Sinn Fein is being cruelly exposed on the issue of policing and justice. It has often been said that when the tide goes out it is then we really get to see who is naked. On this issue Sinn Fein has been beached wearing only the emperor’s new clothes. The prolonged false tide the party needed to give it cover has receded and its leaders are streaking about the beach ‘naked as jaybirds.’ Meeting monarchy has done little to mask that. Nobody is pointing the finger and saying ‘the queen has no clothes.’ And the Union Jack offered to Martin McGuinness as a loin cloth is too small to provide sufficient cover for the stones which are being squeezed with increasing force and frequency. While Sinn Fein might try to scream in a high pitched voice ‘no sharks’ this is belied by the gathering of voracious British police mouths eager to feast on the party’s powerlesness.
That the republican son of a former IRA volunteer and Sinn Fein activist languishes in a British jail almost two decades on from the assassination of his father suggests Sinn Fein achieved something more akin to emasculation than emancipation.