The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Back to the Old RUC Ways


Martin Galvin • 4 April 2007


Someone once memorably remarked that in politics there are three categories of lies: "Lies, damned lies and statistics. " Presumably, the author of this maxim never had the opportunity to witness an RUC-PSNI member performing in a British crown court which dispensed, or more accurately, dispensed with justice in proceedings against an Irish Republican. Even the briefest glimpse at the bail application of Gerry McGeough, as with tens of thousands of other British crown court proceedings against suspected Republicans over the past thirty years, would have revealed a whole new category of untruth that must stand alone.

The key RUC-PSNI performer against Gerry McGeough was Superintendent Harkness, who now appears to have orchestrated both the stage-managed arrest of the Independent Republican candidate outside the election count centre on quarter-century old charges, as well as the moves to delay and deny a bail release on those trumped-up charges. Harkness is thought to have served with the infamous DMSU divisional mobile support unit, in making his way up the ranks of the RUC-PSNI. During his election campaign Gerry McGeough had argued that it was wrong in principle for any Republican pledged to remove British forces to back the British crown constabulary and that in practice the renamed RUC-PSNI would continue to act as the cutting edge of British repression. Harkness is exactly the sort the British crown will task with selecting, training, and commanding new recruits and ensuring that such recruits fit the mold of the old RUC. Many had argued that the arrest had made McGeough's point more eloquently than his own words. Now Harkness was about to supply further eloquence.


The initial bail hearing had been adjourned because of last minute claims by the crown prosecutors that McGeough had jumped bail in the United States and was wanted in Germany. McGeough's solicitors had been forced to request a postponement rather than proceed without any advance notice that such a claim would be raised and certainly without any time to obtain court records refuting such claims. Harkness apparently provided this information to the crown prosecutors, who appeared to pass on anything Harkness said without question, no matter how improbable or inaccurate

Within a day the defense solicitors had documentary proof that the claims about America and Germany had been blatantly untrue. David Lewis, the solicitor who handled McGeough's case in America had supplied a formal affidavit attesting that the Tyrone Republican had been commended by Federal Judge Sifton for honoring his bail conditions, even being kept at liberty and allowed to report for a 3 year sentence that would exceed anything he faced in the six counties under Stormont Deal limits of 2 years. German authorities also supplied formal documents notifying him that there were no charges in that jurisdiction.

It was staggering. It would have taken little time or trouble in an age of computerized watch lists for British crown constables or prosecutors to check with their American and German counterparts and determine whether Gerry McGeough had ever jumped bail or faced open charges in their jurisdictions. Surely there had been sufficient time during the investigation and planning of the arrest on these ancient charges to make such an inquiry. Surely during the extended time when Gerry McGeough was being interrogated at Antrim barracks, someone checked. Surely during the days between formal charges and his High Court bail application, one of the many constabulary members deployed to arrest and interrogate Gerry McGeough was directed by Harkness to check with American and German authorities. It must be presumed that Harkness and the RUC-PSNI members under his command would have missed no chance to unearth grounds which they hoped might have disqualified McGeough from any bail consideration. It may well be concluded that Harkness was deliberately, blatantly and brazenly misrepresenting facts which were quickly and categorically proven obvious lies. The RUC may go by an alias but in a court proceeding against an Irish Republican Harkness harkened back to the old RUC ingrained habits setting a tone for those under his command.


McGeough's solicitors supplied the RUCI-PSNI with advance copies of the documents to be lodged in the crown court. Harkness was only beginning. McGeough's bail sureties had attended the first court session. Now on the eve of the rescheduled date, the crown lodged an objection to two of the men poised to post bail, including McGeough's election agent. The objection was that the two men, now respected and prosperous family men, thirty years ago served sentences in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. This was surprising. Former political prisoners were customarily accepted as bail sureties. Some who were imprisoned with them are under consideration for British ministries or places on the crown Police Board. Now according to Harkness and the crown prosecutors, the two men were not fit to forfeit money in the unlikely event Gerry McGeough jumped bail. Substitutes had to be and were found.

A second RUC-PSNI tactic was shocking. Solicitors had supplied documents from the local school confirming the enrollment and attendance of McGeough's three young children. The RUC-PSNI wanted permission to visit the school, observe McGeough's children and perhaps talk to the oldest child. These requests were angrily refused. First Harkness seemed to be impugning the honesty of the school officials and implying that the documents submitted to the Court were fabricated. More importantly the arrest of their father and visiting him in crown custody had a frightening impact on these children of tender years. Now the same RUC-PSNI constables wanted to question and perhaps traumatize the children in order to use their words against their father's bail request.

The RUC-PSNI also wanted the names and interviews with the substitute batch of bail sureties. Defense solicitors, who had originally cooperated on the assumption that the constabulary was asking in good faith, now told the crown to take up any further matters in court.


The defense was now prepared for a contested bail application unlike that of McGeough's co-accused Vincent McAnespie who had been granted bail without objection. However nothing prepared them for what was to come in scenes in which observers later described as Harkness appearing like a ventriloquist while prosecutors seemed to mouth whatever words he whispered.

The crown began by solemnly alleging that Gerry McGeough was a member of the Continuity IRA. The crowd gasped. The claim was nonsense. Republican Sinn Fein had in fact run a candidate against Gerry McGeough. The party may well be separate and independent of the CIRA, but it is hard for anyone except Harkness to believe that they back competing candidates in elections. McGeough had campaigned on a platform that he would enter Stormont if elected to fight for a united Ireland and oppose concessions to Paisley. The CIRA presumably like RSF candidates would subscribe to abstentionism.

The crown next contended that McGeough had been responsible for killing British troopers in Germany and might still be under investigation there or in America. Again an audible gasp sounded in the courtroom. Documents had been submitted to the crown and court from the United States and Germany . Who was to be believed Harkness and the RUC-PSNI or legal authorities from America and Germany? Had the crown no scruples about misleading the court and should they not have done a more credible job of it?


Next the crown claimed McGeough did not live at the address on Carrick Castle Road and denied that his children attended the local school despite all of the evidence including mail, phone service, church attendance and children's school attendance. A respected community worker would be called who attested to knowledge of McGeough's good character and authenticated his residence.

The last involuntary gasp from those in court was the loudest . Harkness was asked whether he had made any attempt to raid for evidence at McGeough's home. With characteristic RUC-PSNI aplomb Harkness solemnly recounted that an attempt had been made to search McGeough's home but that a crowd had gathered and rioted to prevent the raid.

There were a few things horribly wrong with this claim beyond the fact that it was fiction. Anyone who had ever been to McGeough's home would know that the address is not in Dungannon town but located in an extremely remote rural area. It was joked that it would take a week to collect a large enough crowd to riot and prevent the RUC-PSNI from making a raid. Moreover how could such heavy rioting blocking a raid led by Harkness have remained secret to the press, public and all others except Harkness?

A bail hearing which was expected to take less than an hour would take the morning session and much of the afternoon. McGeough's legal team was able to demolish the RUC-PSNI objections point by point with documentary proof trumping trumped-up crown claims. An exasperated crown judge wondered aloud if the RUC-PSNI was inept in not documenting claims imagined to be true or simply proffering claims it knew to be blatantly false.

Gerry McGeough was released but on restrictions that would prevent him from going the few miles needed to buy petrol in Emyvale County Monaghan, much less publishing his magazine Hibernia in Drogheda. He faces ancient charges with evidence collected or manufactured by those under Harkness' command. He may, if crown prosecutors decide, face a Diplock Court. The message sent by his arrest was repeated at his bail application for those Republicans who failed to hear it the first time.

You may aspire to a united Ireland, but those who do so outside the strait-jacket of the British imposed structures, or who refuse to endorse the crown constabulary, even if you do so by election campaigns and peaceful means will be dealt with by the RUC-PSNI

Meanwhile, next week Republicans will mark Easter, reading the Proclamation of 1916, remembering those who sacrificed their lives to make its ideals a reality and for some wondering when we will see an Ireland where patriots like Gerry McGeough need never again face British repression.






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

9 April 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Alternative Ulster
Gerard Gallagher

Back to the Old RUC Ways
Martin Galvin

Cross Border Co-Operation
John Kennedy

Statement from the Morley Family
The Morley Family

Time for Truth is Now
Mick Hall

Revising the Uprising?
Paul Maguire

Easter 2007 Oration
Francis Mackey

Stormont an Obstacle to Realising Ideals of 1916
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Destined for the Dustbin of History
Dr John Coulter

A Beginning Must Be Made
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

Vision for Northern Ireland
Ian Eggleston

House Trained At Last
Brian Mór

Bullies Top the List
Dr John Coulter

Niall Griffiths' antidote to the 'Vomit Novel'
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Two Looks Back in Time
Dr John Coulter

Blame It On The Shinners, Bono & That Freak Sir Bob
Brian Mór

Levi's Law
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Facing Up to Reality of Holocaust
David Adams

The Big Bribe
John Kennedy

Everywhere The Past
Anthony McIntyre

27 March 2007

Paisley and Adams: The Ghosts of Politics Past
Brendan O'Neill

Democractically Elected Musical Chairs
Mick Hall

John Kennedy

Bun Fights & Good Salaries
Dolours Price

No New Era Yet
Republican Sinn Fein

The Cul de Sac called 'Futility'
Anthony McIntyre

Pathetic Claims
Joe McDaid

Gerry McGeough
Martin Galvin

Gerry McGeough & Political Policing
Anthony McIntyre

Miscarriage of Justice
Helen McClafferty

Racism Bridging the Sectarian Divide
Dr John Coulter

The Prince of Darkness
Anthony McIntyre

What's All the Fuss About the Veil?
Maryam Namazie



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices