It is now a full year since Colin was arrested and taken from his home. Firstly, to Antrim interrogation centre and subsequently to be incarcerated in Maghaberry prison, where he still remains. From March 2009 up until March 2010 Colin's family with the help of friends have embarked upon a campaign in order to highlight Colin's plight. That campaign has taken on many different guises including: the distibution of leaflets, the creation and maintainance of the 'friends of Colin Duffy' website, white line pickets, protests, contacting public representatives and speaking at public meetings and events.
Colin's family would like to thank everyone who gave support and assistance to them throughout this time and would appreciate their continued support in the times ahead.
The following details the progression of the campaign over this last year:
The family and friends of Colin Duffy held a public meeting in North Lurgan community centre on 26th March 2009. 250 people had gathered at short notice in the packed community centre in Lurgan's Kilwilkie estate to support Colin Duffy. The crowd's rage at the British authorities' treatment of Colin showed the support militant republicanism retains in working-class nationalist areas. Graffiti which has recently appeared on walls in the Kilwilkie estate demands his release.
On the platform was Tony Catney from West Belfast, a former Sinn Féin ard comhairle member, senior electoral strategist, and long-serving IRA prisoner. He had run Sinn Féin's Brussel's office and the POW department before resigning.
"Lots of people in this room could be in the same situation as Colie. All he is 'guilty' of, is standing up for his community and declaring himself an Irish republican," Tony said.
He claimed that continuing emergency legislation showed Northern Ireland wasn't normal. It had the longest period of detention for suspects of any western state, including the US.
Solicitor Padraigin Drinan said:
"The conditions in which Colin Duffy is being held are disgraceful. He's in a small cell in solitary confinement with no fresh air or natural daylight. It's sensory deprivation to disorientate him."
Ex-Sinn Féin Assembly member and human rights spokesman Pat McNamee said:
"For 40 years, even at the height of the conflict, the police weren't allowed to detain people for more than seven days. I experienced that period myself. Now, they try to hold people 28 days. How can they sell this six-county state as a normal democracy? How can Colin Duffy, demonised in the media, have a fair trial?"
There were complaints that lawyers generally, human rights organisations, and the clergy remained silent about ongoing human rights abuses directed against republicans.
Mike Ritchie of the Committee on the Administration of Justice said 28-day detention was "wrong" and there were "some very troubling elements" to recent arrests. Mike told the room that at the height of the conflict, the CAJ opposed the seven-day detentions. He described the 28-day detention as “outrageous”.
Éirígí activist and Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition leader Breandan MacCionnaith thanked those present for coming to the meeting. Breandan said:
“For those who say Colin Duffy has no support, just look around this room,”
"British policing in Ireland cannot be reformed." Forty years after civil rights marchers demanded an end to the Special Powers Act, even more repressive legislation existed." He continued:
“Sinn Fein politicians who continue to take their seats on the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships should hang their heads in shame, their support is providing cover for the RUC/PSNI."
"Those (Sinn Féin) who said they'd put manners on the PSNI must admit they've failed."
White line picket
The Friends Of Colin Duffy held a white line picket in today in Lurgan. Around 100 supporters of the campaign lined the towns Edward St. at 1.30pm. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out to motorists and passers-by. Among the many who attended were ex prisoners and former blanket men.
Commenting on the active support shown to the family, Colin's daughter Caitríona said:
"I didn't realise that my dad knew so many people from other areas and that he had kept in touch with alot of ex prisoners. Every one of them who spoke to my family and I offered their full support to us."
After about an hour, those gathered dispersed and reassembled about 50 yards away outside the local RUC barracks. Those assembled then held a further protest.
Speaking to the local media outside the barracks Colin's mother Cera said:
"I would like to take this opportunity to call on all those who believe in justice to support the campaign to secure Colin's release. I am really heartened by the active support shown here today and would ask that others should show real leadership and support the family's campaign also."
Unionists attempt to prevent public meeting
Despite the shameful attempt by Craigavon Council to prevent the Duffy family from holding a public meeting in their local community centre, the meeting went ahead. The family took the decision to hold the meeting outside the community centre after Craigavon Council banned the family from using the hall.
Colin's brother Damian spoke about the council's decision:
"The arrangements were all in place. As far as the family were concerned, there wasn't a problem with the family using the community centre. Craigavon council had taken the booking and as far as we were concerned everything was sorted."
"It wasn't until the day of the meeting that we learnt of the council's u-turn. We view this decision as a disgraceful one. However, we will not be silenced and will continue to highlight the injustice of Colin's imprisonment."
The meeting took place outside the local community centre. Tony Catney from RNU opened the meeting by thanking all those who had attended, especially those who had travelled from other parts of the Six Counties. Tony applauded the family's decision to go ahead with the meeting despite being locked out of their local community centre by Craigavon council at the behest of the DUP.
The next speaker took up the theme: Breandán Mac Cionnaith, who for years has been to the forefront in exposing unionist bigotry in Craigavon council, lambasted Craigavon council's decision to refuse the Duffy family access to their local community centre.
Breandán MacCionnaith hit out at what he called an "abhorrent decision".
He said: "This shows the long history of discrimination that Craigavon Council has mounted against the Catholic and nationalist community in this whole area still continues today with the closure of this community centre.
"I would point out that it is not just closed against the Duffy family, it has been closed against every man, woman and child in this estate because other activities planned here tonight were cancelled at short notice."
He said 40 years after the protests for civil rights "we are back at square one protesting outside buildings which have been closed arbitrarily by some jumped up unionist dictator".
Colin wins legal battle over bugging
Colin's legal team has accepted a revised assurance that covert surveillance will not be used against him. His Barristers withdrew their legal challenge after declaring they were satisfied with a new form of words offered by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Colin had delayed a High Court application for bail until he received confirmation that no one is listening in on any legal consultations while in custody. An initial pledge given by the Prison Service was rejected because it stated that no surveillance will be authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This was turned down on the basis that it was seen as a qualified guarantee. But Colin's barrister Mark Mulholland told the High Court on Friday that the issues have been resolved. He said: "There is now an acceptable assurance which has been given by the respondent."
Mr Mulholland told a two-judge panel headed by Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr that his client would no longer be seeking a judicial review. Colin was also awarded legal costs for the case.
The judge said: "The applicant has been successful in the application and, although in the circumstances the application must be dismissed since the issue is no longer live, he is clearly entitled to costs. We order the applicant's costs be borne by the respondent."
48 hour fast
The 48 hour fast was an idea that Caitríona herself came up with. She wanted to do something personally to highlight the injustice suffered by her dad, Colin.
She brought the idea of a 48 hour fast to the committee for discussion and the committee agreed to support her decision to undertake the fast.
It was decided that to maximize publicity for the family's campaign Caitríona would travel to different locations throughout the six counties, and leaflets would be handed out in all locations.
Family seeks to enlist political support for their campaign
At a public meeting in Lurgan on Wednesday May 6th, it was announced that, as part of the campaign to highlight and expose the injustice surrounding Colin's imprisonment, the family would be formally writing to those candidates in the EU election who will be seeking votes from within the nationalist and republican community, asking them to formally and fully endorse the campaign for Colin’s immediate and unconditional release and to state their unequivocal opposition to prolonged detentions.
On May 21st, the family wrote to both the two SDLP and Sinn Féin candidates in the EU election and have included a statement which they are asking those candidates to issue publicly.
Colin's family have also asked both candidates to respond to them by May 30th indicating if they will endorse the family's campaign for justice.
It was also announced at the May 6th meeting that the family would be contacting all councillors who represent nationalist and republican communities across the North asking them to support our family’s campaign and to support the following motion in each one of their councils.
Subsequently, over 220 letters have been sent to individual councillors who represent nationalist and republican communities. Included in those letters is the text of a motion which the family has requested to be introduced and adopted in local councils.
The wording of that motion which the family have asked those councillors to support reads:
This council fully shares the concerns expressed by the family of Colin Duffy that his arrest and present imprisonment is unjust;
This council views Colin Duffy’s arrest and imprisonment to be part of a continuing and extensive campaign of persecution by British state forces which has previously included the use of murder, proven collusion between those same forces with unionist death-squads and the proven use by state forces of fabricated false evidence against Colin Duffy;
This council calls for Colin Duffy’s immediate and unconditional release; and,
This council condemns the use of legislation which permits the use of prolonged detention for periods of up to 28 and which is the most draconian of its type anywhere in the EU and other western democracies.
Campaign Goes To Clones
The campaign committee along with friends headed off to Clones in Co. Monaghan today in order to highlight the campaign. The first round match of the Ulster senior football championship between Armagh and Tyrone offered the campaign committee the opportunity to speak to thousands of GAA supporters.
Leaflets outlining Colin's long history of persecution by the British state were handed out to supporters of the Armagh and Tyrone county teams as they made their way into the ground.
The old rivialary between both sets of supporters was not evident as they engaged with the campaigners on the issue of Colin's detention. One of the campaign committee members said: "I know Colin is a avid supporter of the Armagh team, having travelled to many championship matches both in Croake park and here in Clones. However, I know Colin would be the first to appreciate the support of not only the Armagh followers but that of the Tyrone supporters also."
Breandán Mac Cionnaith, who was there for the match, helped members of the campaign committee hand out leaflets to the crowd.
Barry McIlduff from Sinn Féin, who was also there for the match, spoke to Colin's brother Damian. Ironically, Barry was an active member of the previous Friends of Colin Duffy committee when Colin was imprisoned in 1993. Damian pressed Barry on his and his party's current position in relation to Colin's present detention.
Harrassment at Casement
Following the successful distribution of leaflets to the Tyrone and Armagh supporters at Clones last month the campaign commitee decided to head to Casement Park in West Belfast for the Ulster senior football semi final between Tyrone and Derry.
At one point, while waiting on both sets of supporters to come out of the ground, the campaigners were interrogated and harassed by the RUC/PSNI. Colin's wife and children were among those who were subjected to this ordeal. Speaking out about what Colin's family were subjected to, one GAA supporter commented:
"It was blatantly obvious what they (the PSNI) were trying to do, they waited until most of the crowd had entered Casement Park before approaching the family. I saw one member confiscate a leaflet and hand it over to another member who proceed to radio through the information on it."
Another supporter who witnessed the harassment challenged the RUC/PSNI. Speaking after the incident he said: "It was a cowardly act, they waited until the match had started and then moved in on that group of women and children. I only realised afterwards that they were Colin Duffy's children when I read what it said on the children's t-shirts. They continue to operate as the RUC did before them, nothing's changed."
It is clear that the RUC/PSNI are not just intent on continuing their persecution against Colin but have directed their attention against Colin's family also. Just last week, another member of the family was stopped and detained for over an hour, on this occasion campaign literature was also taken.
Despite these attempts to silence the Duffy family, the family remain resolute and determined to highlight the injustice inflicted upon Colin. They refuse to be silenced. Colin's wife Martine said:
"If they think that by intimidating and harassing our children they will prevent us from seeking justice for Colin they need to think again. Such actions will only reinforce our family's determination to continue campaigning on Colin's behalf."
After what was normally a routine monthly remand hearing via video link Colin Duffy was assaulted by prison officers. Referring to the attack on him Colin has said that he remembers getting a sense that all was not well with what should have been a normal remand hearing.
While returning back to his cell Colin was subjected to a strip-search: an act which in itself is degrading but which was totally unnecessary given that Colin had no contact with anyone during the video link.
The procedure during the search was not a normal one: Usually one prison officer would conduct the search while the other would be seated and taking notes. On this occasion both of them were conducting the search.
Colin also said that they were very aggressive towards him. He was told to remove his ' top half ' which he did. He was then told to raise his arms and then for a second time to raise them even higher. Colin stated that his arms were as high as they would go. At this point, one of the prison officers grabbed him by the throat and the other hit Colin around his head with his fists. At some point during the assault an alarm button was pushed and within minutes a riot squad entered the search area and aggressively removed him to a ' punishment cell '.
Speaking about Colin's ordeal his family said: " It has been our view that for years Colin has been a victim of State persecution even now while he is being unjustly interned within a british prison he is still being victimised and persecuted. When will it end?"
His family went on to call for all republicans and nationalists to organise and oppose this brutal regime in Maghaberry prison.
Protest at Stormont
The Duffy family took their campaign to the bastion of British rule in the Six Counties. Stormont was the venue for their latest protest. About 60 people took part in the protest to highlight the plight of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison. The protest was organised by Colin's family following the brutal assault on Colin earlier in the week.
This assault on Colin followed an attack on another republican prisoner, Dáire Mc Kenna, just two weeks earlier. Dáire's family also attended the protest.
The determination of the protesters was reflected by an 84 year old aunt of Colin who walked the mile long journey up the hill to Stormont.
When she arrived at the top of the hill she was asked by a relative as to how she was feeling. In reply she said:
"Well, it was a long walk for me but the main thing is that I made it and I'm here for Colin. That's all that matters, isn't it?"
After a brief spell at the steps of Stormont the protesters tried to gain access to the main entrance to the building but were prevented from doing so by Stormont security and the RUC/PSNI.
Those gathered then tried to gain access via another entrance. Once again they were stopped.
There was a brief stand off as the family demanded to speak to someone from the office of the First and Deputy First minister.
The family were told that no one within that office would make themselves available to meet with the family.
It was the intention of the Duffy family to outline their concern around the recent attack on their family member, as well as the degrading treatment of all republican prisoners in general: Including strip searches, 23 hour lock -ups and controlled movement.
The protest was ended after the family was told that their concerns would be noted and logged and sent to the office of the First and Deputy First minister. The Duffy family await their response.
However, the protesters' ordeal didn't end there. While making their journey back to their homes they were stopped searched and harassed by the RUC/PSNI.
At one stage on their journey five car loads of protesters had been stopped while travelling through a predominantly loyalist area and removed from their cars.
Women and children as well as male adults were interrogated and harassed at the busy roadside. This all happened in full view of loyalist on-lookers. Speaking about what happened on the way home, a friend of Colin said:
"It is clear that those within the British establishment are not only intent on continuing their persecution against Colin but are now turning their attention on Colin's family and friends also. This intimidation will not stop the campaign from seeking justice for Colin. It will only strengthen our resolve to continue."
Prison Persecution Continues
After the assault carried out on Colin by the screws in Maghaberry the analysis expressed by Colin's brother Paul spoken during an interview on radio free éireann became all too true. During the interview Paul expressed the family's concern that the British state's persecution of Colin didn't just stop when he was imprisoned. Interviewed on radio free éireann Paul stated:
"....We (the family) have asked the question: When is this all going to stop in relation to this persecution of him? Obviously, there's no intention of it stopping even with him being imprisoned....".
The latest incident to take place was on Monday 27th July. On this occasion Colin was denied access to his solicitor. Colin's solicitor was informed by prison authorities that Colin had refused to take the legal visit that his solicitor had requested.
According to Colin this was a blatant lie as Colin had not been informed by prison staff that his solicitor was there to see him.
Speaking about this latest incident Colin's brother stated:
"By deliberately not informing Colin about his legal visit the prison authorities have infringed upon Colin's legal right to access to his solicitor. I am calling on all legal bodies and human rights organisations to speak out about this latest incident."
It is also worth noting that only last week a solicitor was removed from the visiting area by a riot squad after a screw had hit an alarm button. On this occasion the prisoner's legal visit was 'cut short'.
Presently, Colin's solicitor intends to take the matter up with the prison authorities.
Upwards of 150 people packed into the Conway Education Centre on Sunday [August 9] to hear speakers Ruhal Ahmed, Pádraigín Drinan, Caitríona Duffy and Gerry McDonnell. Chaired by éirígí national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson, the talk was both thought-provoking and emotional.
Gerry ‘Blute’ McDonnell, who gave his account of being interned in the Long Kesh Cages, is a republican activist, a former blanketman, 1983 H-Block escapee and spent a total of 23 years incarcerated. Gerry gave a personal account of the hardship endured by the internees and their families.
Belfast-based lawyer Pádraigín Drinan then spoke about cases of the Hooded Men, whom she represented during their long fight for justice. The Hooded Men were a group of men selected for torture at the time that internment was introduced in the Six Counties in August 1971. She told of this human rights abuse and gave a forthright and moving recollection of that time in Irish history.
Ruhal Ahmed, who travelled from Birmingham to speak at éirígí’s event, is a British resident who was abducted by the US army in Afghanistan and subsequently detained in Guantanamo Bay. Ahmed, who was released in March 2004, spoke passionately about his experiences in US custody and the abuses of civil liberties inherent in the so-called War on Terror. One of the ‘Tipton Three’, whose horrendous experience was documented in Channel 4’s ‘Road to Guantanamo’, Ahmed related to the experiences of Gerry Mc Donnell and the Long Kesh Cages internees.
Finally, Caitríona Duffy from Lurgan spoke about the case of her father, Colin, who was one of the first Irish citizens to be detained under the draconian 28-day detention legislation. Colin has already been the victim of two previous miscarriages of justice. The articulate 20-year-old spoke of the vendetta the RUC/PSNI held against her father since she was a child.
Newry mural errected
Supporters of the Free Colin Duffy campaign erected a 24ft long mural in the Derrybeg estate in Newry to show their support for Colin and his family. The National flag was also erected alonside the mural.
The mural which also highlights the continuation of Internment took 2 weeks to complete and was erected by local Republicans.
Colin's family would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in this project. Newry Republicans have a long and distinguished history in their opposition to British rule in the Six Counties. Not only have those who erected this mural highlighted Colin's case but it is also a clear message that the present day form of internment by remand needs to be opposed.
As a result of this initiative by Republicans in Newry Colin's family call on Republicans in other areas to visibly highlight the plight of Republican prisoners throughout the Six Counties.
Colin's family intend to launch a high visibility campaign, including the erection of murals, across the Six Counties over the coming weeks. Anyone wishing to assist in this campaign please contact the family directly or by clicking on the following link: Contact Us
Republicans held a protest at the bridge of peace in Drogheda to call for the immediate release of Republicans Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers on Wednesday 9th September. The protest, which was organised by Duleek Independent Republicans, called for an end to internment by remand and an end to 28 day detention.
Unfortunately, due to a family event which coincided with the time of the protest Colin's family and close friends were unable to attend. However, in a response issued to one of the organisers of the protest, Colin's family said:
"We really appreciate your efforts in highlighting Colin's case as well as that of Brian Shivers. We will therefore give a commitment to support any future events and ask if it may be possible to discuss the family's campaign with yourselves over the coming weeks.
We have made Colin and Brian aware of the protest you held and they send their thanks.
Colin's family's position from the outset has been that the plight of all Republican Prisoners needs to be highlighted ie. the issues of 28 day detention, internment by remand and prison conditions etc. Your protest last night reflected this position and we commend you for it."
This initiative shown by Duleek Independent Republicans is to be welcomed wholeheartedly. As a result of the contact established after the protest between Duleek Independent Republicans and Colin's family, plans for another protest are already underway. Colin's family call on all Republicans to attend any future events.
Challenge to 28 day detention laws
Colin, along with five other people who were arrested in March this year, have launched a new High Court challenge to British laws. Under current British laws, Irish citizens in the Six Counties can be locked up and repeatedly questioned by police for up to 28 days without being charged. They might not even be told why they are there.
Colin and the other detainees have already won a legal case against a decision to extend their period in custody. However, their lawyers are now seeking a declaration that the relevant terrorism legislation was incompatible with their right to liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Proceedings began earlier this year when a County Court judge granted the PSNI more time to question all six under the amended Terrorism Act which allows for people to be held for up to 28 days before they must be charged or released. Although this extension was quashed, a further claim that it breached their European Convention rights was set aside at the time due to the urgency of the case.
Lawyers for Colin and the others returned to the High Court yesterday to request a declaration which could have far-reaching implications. Legal sources predicted that if the application is successful it would have a major impact on the length of time Republicans can be held in interrogation centers. Colin's barrister Barry Macdonald, representing all six, set out how the relevant legislation made clear that any arrest must be to bring the suspect before the “competent legal authority”. During submissions which focused heavily on legal points, the barrister said that in Britain this referred to the magistrates court. To bring a suspect there charges must have been brought, and within days, it was argued.
Campaigning in Drogheda
Colin's family attended the protest organised by Republicans in Drogheda to call for Colin's release. The protest was a follow-up to a previously held protest in the same location two weeks ago. On this occasion Colin's wife Martine and four of their children along with other family members were in attendence. One of the organisers of the protest said afterwards that they "were delighted with the turn-out in Drogheda" and that "it was a privilage to have Colin's family present".
Members of Colin's familly joined republicans from Newry, Dublin, Meath, Louth and Armagh to protest against his continuing incarcration and the extradition of other republican detainees.
Public meeting in Dublin
University College Dublin (UCD) was the latest venue for a public meeting dealing with British State repression. On Thursday the 22nd of October, thirty people attended the public meeting organised by the Frank Ryan Society on state repression in the six counties and in particular the case of Colin. A member of the Frank Ryan Society chaired the meeting and introduced Paul Duffy, brother of Colin and also a former republican prisoner.
Paul spoke of the long term level of harassment Colin and his family have had to put up with over the years. From being a personal witness to British State collusion in a sectarian murder, to being stitched up on various occasions. The harassment meted out to the Duffy family on both sides of the border was exemplified by the presence of five members of the Special Detective Unit outside the venue. One of whom when he was provided with literature on the miscarriage of justice stated that Colin was a 'terrorist'. When confronted and surrounded by a number of republicans, and civil liberties activists the Special Detective was not able to repeat his previous utterances in the presence of the Duffy family. In fact, he was unable to string a coherent sentence together at all.
A former republican prisoner also spoke of his own experiences of prison and the necessity for support outside of the prisons. He stressed the importance of material, financial and moral support outside of the prisons. In the case of Colin Duffy and considering the massive miscarriage of justice, it was imperative for anyone with a concern for civil liberties to support the Duffy family.
During questions and answers, an important discussion developed where the general consensus was that although republicans of different hues have different strategies and directions, causes such as the Friends of Colin Duffy Campaign is something that every republican, socialist and civil rights activist can unite around and pursue.
The Frank Ryan Society has pledged to continue to highlight the case of Colin in the foreseeable future and welcomes any effort that is made to highlight Colin's case.
Leaflets distributed in Drogheda
Leaflets highlighting the legacy of British state persecution against Colin were distributed to the people of Drogheda by members of Colin's family and supporters of the campaign for his release. Banners calling for his release along with other banners highlighting prisoners' issues were on display in the town centre. Colin's family would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Drogheda and further afield for their support.
Bail hearing ajourned once again
A bail application by Colin was adjourned for a second time over concerns by the PSNI about checking on his whereabouts if he was released.
Colin has been in custody since March.
His first bail application in the High Court last Tuesday was adjourned because a soil analysis report was not available. The hearing had been due to be conducted in the High Court via video link with Maghaberry Prison.
A defence lawyer applied for an adjournment, saying he had expected a report on soil analysis to have been made available before the hearing began.
“Unfortunately, although the report will be finished today I have no oral indication of its finding,” he said.
He said police had been given an alternative address in the event of bail being granted.
The judge agreed to adjourn the application until Friday 30th October.
On Friday members of Colin's family and friends were in court only to hear once again that Colin's bail application had been adjourned for the second time. Lord justice Coghlin adjourned the application until next Friday 6th November after Colin's lawyer said that "three addresses in the Lurgan area had been furnished to the police but the defense had been informed that the locality would impose great difficulties on officers complying with proper bail checks."
Protest in Dublin
On Saturday the 14th of November, Republicans in Dublin held a picket at the GPO in O'Connell Street at 3pm, to highlight political internment that is unjustly being practised in the occupied Six Counties and in particular the case of Lurgan republican Colin Duffy.
Colin, for over the past last two decades, has been the victim of illegal incarceration, psychological and physical abuse, even a State sponsored murder attempt, which luckily Colin survived but tragically resulted in the death of another man, republican Sam Marshall.
The blame lies at the door of the British security services, formally known as the Royal Ulster constabulary, now operating under the guise of 'The Police Service of Northern Ireland', which has been trying its best to frame Colin as far back as 1990.
In the recent political and media hysteria that has surrounded the Massereene shootings, the RUC/PSNI have now found another excuse to persecute Colin and his family, and he now finds himself unjustly being held a prisoner within Maghaberry prison.
Republicans in Dublin and across the 26 counties highlighted Colin's case and other cases involving illegal political internment, and sent a message that republicans will not tolerate internment in Ireland, and will continue to protest and stand against this form of aggressive imperialism being exercised by Britain within the occupied six counties.
It must be noted that the establishment within the 26 counties that claims to represent the interests of the Irish people, have completely ignored the plight of Irishmen being illegally imprisoned.
Infact, at a recent public meeting in UCD, where members of Colin's family were present to highlight Colin's case, members of the Gardai special branch were present to harass and question those present including Colin's family. The Gardai have made it very clear they wish to prevent anyone from supporting Colins plight, it has been made very clear where the State's sympathies are. It is up to republicans to highlight Colins plight.
Protests in support of republican prisoners escalate
On Saturday 5th December one of the biggest Republican prisoner pickets ever held in Newry took place when between 70-80 Irish Republicans stood in solidarity with Republican prisoners and their families.
Picket organisers with POWs, Hungerstrikers and Colin Duffy's children
This protest followed one held previously in Dundalk on Saturday 28th November. A picket was also held today in Jonesborough on Sunday 6th December.
A number of families of the prisoners were also in attendance including the family of Lurgan Republican Colin Duffy. As most of you know Colin and his family are no stranger to political policing, harassment, intimidation and collusion.
The large turn out sent a clear message to members of the public that these Irish Republicans will not be forgotten. In the crowd were life-long republican activists, several Ex POWs, former Hunger Strikers and a large number of high profile republicans.
Billboard in the Bogside calling for Colin's release.
Sam Marshall, 20 years on, Time For Truth - Time for Justice
Over 2,000 people attended the march and rally organised by the Marshall family to commemorate the life of Lurgan republican Sam Marshall and to demand the truth about British collusion with unionist death squads in his murder.
Among those in attendance were other families who are seeking answers to questions relating to the role of the British state and its intelligence services in the murders of their loved ones.The large procession retraced the route Sam and his two comrades, Colin Duffy and Tony McCaughey, took the night that he was murdered.
In March 1990, the three friends had just finished signing bail at the nearby RUC barracks when two masked gunmen emerged from a car and opened fire. Miraculously, both Colin and Tony escaped death. In the days leading up to the attack, both Colin and Tony and their neighbours noticed that a red maestro vehicle had been following them.
On the night of Sam Marshall’s murder, the three republicans observed the same car on two occasions, once outside St Peter’s Chapel and again outside the RUC barracks.
Since that night questions have been asked about the Maestro car and the role it had to play in the attack. In 1994, during an extradition hearing in north America, RUC inspector Alan Cregg admitted that the car spotted in Lurgan did indeed belong to the British intelligence services and that it was part of an undercover RUC operation on March 7 1990, the date of Sam Marshall’s murder. However, he failed to divulge any other evidence, using the pretext of “national security”.
Shortly after Sam’s murder, a camera which bore the symbols of the British Ministry of Defence and NATO was discovered to have been spying on the home of Colin Duffy.
Relatives of other victims of collusion and british state violence carried photographs of their loved ones and marched along side the Marshall family. Also in attendence were members of Relatives For Justice and An Fhírinne who campaign on behalf of the families. There exists well over 400 cases where there was obvious collusion between the killers and the security forces – both in the police and military.
If the British government aren’t willing to tell the truth, then, perhaps, an independent and international inquiry is the only option for hundreds of families.
In her address to the crowd, Fra, a sister of Sam’s, laid the blame for her brother’s murder squarely at the door of the British establishment:
“The policy makers in the NIO, the politicians in Whitehall and Downing Street, the senior people in Special Branch, in MI5 and British Military Intelligence – that’s where the blame and the guilt rests.”
Colin's brother Paul chaired the proceedings. Paul thanked everyone for attending today's event, particularly those who travelled some distance. He continued with a special welcome to all those members of other families present who lost loved ones through collusion, state violence and injustice. He also welcomed members of Relatives For Justice (RFJ) and An Fhirinne which both campaign on their behalf.
Before starting the proceedings proper Paul stated that there would be a showing of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme in relation to Sam's murder which was originally broadcast in 1994 immediately after the ceremony.
Paul continued: " I would just like to say a few words about the ceremony itself: which will commence with an address on behalf of the Marshall family by Sam's sister, Fra.
Other speakers will include Eamon Cairns whose two sons, Rory aged 18, and Gerard aged 22, were murdered in their family home in October 1993.
Eamon will be followed by Pat McNamee and Caitriona Duffy.
There will then be a wreath laying ceremony beside the plaque in memory of Sam and all the victims of collusion and state violence. This will be followed by a minutes silence for all those victims.
A special presentation to the Marshall family will then take place.
The proceedings will formally conclude with Amhrán na Bhfiann."
Colin Duffy's speech, read by his eldest daughter Caitríona:
"On this day 20 years ago, Sam, Tony and I set off on the same journey that you have just walked today. It ended that night with Sam lying dead. It’s a night that has remained fresh and vivid in my own mind as I’m sure it has in the minds of Tony and all Sam’s family, friends and comrades.
"What happened that night was the outworking of a strategy employed by the British over many years in using loyalist murder gangs as an extension to their ranks; to both terrorize the catholic/nationalist population and to portray the conflict as a religious sectarian internal one and to attempt to quell republican resistance.
"Britain’s politicians signed off on this strategy and their military carried it out: What we do know is that on the 7th March 1990 they played an active part in Sam’s murder.
They were present all along the route that you have just travelled. They supplied the information, they instructed the murder gang and they gave them all the time they needed to make good their escape.
"We claimed at the time that British forces were involved but some people believed it was just republican propaganda. It was admitted later that we were under surveillance on the night and at the time of the attack. Therefore, there are obvious questions to be asked and answers to be given about their role on the night in question.
"Throughout these past 20 years the Marshall family have been seeking answers but as of yet there have been none forthcoming. 20 Years on we shouldn’t just ask for those answers but we should demand the truth about their undeniable involvement. Justice and fair play demands the truth. The family, friends and comrades demand the truth and all of us should accept nothing less than the truth. We must all stand firmly behind the Marshall family in their quest for truth and justice.
"Sam like many in the republican constituency was imprisoned in Long Kesh. As a political prisoner he joined the blanket protest. He refused to be criminalized or allow the struggle for national liberation to be criminalized. Upon his release he became active in the struggle for a 32 county socialist republic and for an end to British occupation in Ireland, none of which has yet been achieved. The substitute which some would have us accept is an assembly at Stormont but with all the real power retained by the British at Westminster. This is unacceptable to republicans. The ideals that Sam and others like him held are the ideals that we all must not lose sight of and we must continue to struggle for.
"For those of us who knew Sam and knew his politics, we know that he opposed the British occupation of our country. We know that he actively opposed British policing in Ireland. We know that he believed in the establishment of a 32 county socialist republic. Sam made no apologies for these views while alive and neither should we here today.
"We must all demand truth and justice for the Marshall family and all the other families who have suffered at the hands of the British state. Let us all raise our voices and let the call for an international inquiry into British state forces collusion be heard loud and clear. "