John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Doire Councillor, Gary Donnelly, via telephone from Doire, about the counter-democratic means the British government is using once again to intern another Irish Republican, this time Tony Taylor, and about the call for Irish-America to once again join the campaign against Britain’s use of internment in Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 41:09)
Martin: Gary, are you with us?
Gary: I am indeed, yes.
Martin: Gary, sorry, we had a little bit of difficulty getting to you. Alright. Who is Tony Taylor? Why is he in prison without any real charge or without even any trial and without a hearing that his solicitor or his family member, his wife, or his local Councillor, you, are able to attend and see what the real allegations against him are?
Yeah, that’s correct. Unfortunately, the negativity of partition, which continues to foster division, reinforcing illegal borders and denying basic justice to those who would seek its removal and British ministers who would have no democratic mandate in Ireland have bestowed upon themselves the power to arbitrarily imprison Irish people in Ireland, you know, particularly those who would want to see that British border removed. Unfortunately, Tony Taylor comes under that category. Tony Taylor was a former political prisoner and he’s a Republican activist. And Tony had found himself arrested one day and put back in prison because of his licence without any evidence whatsoever being presented to him or being able to challenge.
Martin: Yes, and when – alright, he gets put in on licence he then, they say that this is based on some kind of ‘secret evidence‘ or some kind of ‘special intelligence’ that the British have. How do you contest and fight that evidence? How was he able to have his solicitor, Aiden Carlin, his family there, at a public hearing – how is he able to challenge that evidence if he’s not told what the accusations are?
Gary: It’s impossible.
Now what happened: Tony had a hearing, a so-called hearing, at which there was two people – they weren’t judges but they were like parole people. Tony was appointed a solicitor by the state who would be present when this guy, this faceless British intelligence operator who was behind a screen – Tony was removed from the proceedings. Tony’s solicitor was removed. The state-appointed solicitor was allowed to remain and people were put outside the court while this person gave so-called ‘evidence’ for two days and it was unable to be challenged, even heard, you know, so it’s impossible to counteract that.
Martin: Gary, I’ve used this example in the past just as somebody, as somebody, who works in criminal law: If, let’s say for example, you or I would be accused of being at some kind of illegal meeting or illegal activity in, let’s say, in Belfast right now. You would be able, normally you would tell your, you would find out – you were accused of doing ‘something’ on a particular date and time. You then could say: Well wait! I was actually on a radio programme. There would be tapes of that programme. John McDonagh and Martin Galvin could say that it was a live programme – they did the programme live. You’d be able to show phone records to show that you were not in Belfast, that you were in Doire. You would have an overwhelming alibi evidence and defence to those charges. If they don’t tell you what you’re being accused of doing, where the activity that you’re accused of having took place – what date it is – and they tell some solicitor – that is not allowed to speak to you about it, which you don’t pick and you’re not allowed to converse about it because you don’t know the details – how can you possibly present any kind of real defence even though you may have an overwhelming defence like that? How is that possible?
Gary: It’s not possible.
The reality is that Tony Taylor is the victim of British injustice. Tony Taylor has been interned and they’ve attempted to dress it up. But you can’t dress it up. You know, you can’t challenge something that’s put against you if they won’t tell you what it is. You know you have some guy – even in this so-called ‘open session’ of the court – this guy was sitting behind a curtain where you couldn’t see his face, you couldn’t tell his expressions and it’s impossible to work within those parameters. Then people were excluded from the court and he had two days of giving whatever –you know, it’s not evidence – because if it was evidence it would be put before a court – even the court system here in this part of Ireland run by the British you know, they still have Diplock courts, which are non-jury, single courts. They have special powers that are loaded in favour of The Establishment. You know, it’s not in the interest of fairness or justice. But it’s designed to protest British interest in Ireland. And even with all that apparatus they’re so-called ‘evidence’, whatever it is that they have, didn’t fit, didn’t pass the test, to even go within that system. So what they have done is that they have changed the goal post and brought in some guy who spent two days lambasting Tony, no doubt, from behind a screen and didn’t have to back it up by any evidence whatsoever.
John: Gary, Martin and myself were just over there and very hard to explain to people here in New York and throughout the country what a sectarian statelet the Six Counties are with the election posters are in one area is a Loyalist – and there’s election posters in Nationalist areas – I mean it affects every part of society in the Six Counties. Now, there was a drawing that happened I think in Europe for football – Oh, great! There’s going to be a football! Glasgow Celtic drew Linfield. Now the articles that are coming out: Well we can’t have it on July 12th – which is the Glorious Twelfth – which is a national holiday in the Six Counties where they march about 1690, the Battle of the Boyne. Then they say: Well we’ll move it to The Eleventh: Well that’s when we have the bonfires. We can’t possibly have it there at eight o’clock – maybe two o’clock. Now they’re talking about they might have the game, because they think so much violence will be around this football game, with no one in the stadium! The sectarianism in the Six Counties affects every facet of life there. I mean, everyone that you know in Belfast or Doire they’re all heading to Bundoren or Donegal to get away for the week
Yes. There’s traditionally a mass exodus around that time because really what it is – it’s a bigot-fest where triumphant coat-trailing exercises and people you know, the Orangemen and women, parade their bigotry in open display.
Now I think the significance of this is that Celtic were – you know even the football team, Celtic – Celtic were a team that were set up in Scotland for Irish immigrants after the famine and now when they play within a European fixture and they come back and they to try and play in Belfast there’s a situation where they can’t play on the designated day and now they’re not being allocated any tickets – they’re obviously, I believe that the team have been got to, have been put under pressure, not to take any tickets or so it’ll be effectively played – if it’s going to be played – that it will be played behind closed doors with one set of supporters. Now if that doesn’t signify that there’s something seriously, fundamentally wrong within this artificial state then nothing will.
Martin: Yeah, they say it’s part of a British state, British rule, but you can’t travel from Scotland, which they say is part of the United Kingdom, people can’t go and simply watch a football match, or soccer match as we would call it here in America, in safety because of they’re perceived, just by virtue of their religion, as being enemies of British rule and could be attacked. Gary I – we’re talking to Gary Donnelly who’s an elected Councillor in Doire – I just want to ask you one or two more questions about the procedure: Tony Taylor’s in prison based on a decision by a British Secretary, formerly it was Theresa Villiers, it’s now James Brokenshire – these are people – they’re elected in England, they’re people who are ‘auditioning’ for better jobs at a location they want to be, they simply come, they’re appointed as secretaries to administer British rule in the North of Ireland by the Prime Minister – they work for a limited period of time, they have very little knowledge or interest in the North of Ireland and they can make decisions and, it turns out, the Irish government has spoken out that Tony Taylor should be released. Members of the clergy have said Tony Taylor should be released. Both Nationalist political parties, Sinn Féin and the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), as well as independent Republicans like yourself have said that Tony Taylor should be released. How is it that a British Secretary like this can just make this arbitrary decision and keep Tony Taylor in under these ridiculous circumstances that you’ve mentioned?
Gary: Well they do it because they can do it and they can get away with it.
As I said, these ministers – they bestow upon themselves the power to imprison Irish people in Ireland without even being able to face the allegations that’s against them. But you know, I think what you have to do is you have to look at: These are the actions of a failed state and a failed state that has to go to these extremes to prop itself up but it’s only the latest in extreme measure to secure partition. You know we’ve had plastic bullets, lead bullets, shoot-to-kill, state death forces, Loyalist paramilitaries who were funded, armed and controlled by the British state, paid perjurers, supergrasses, Diplock courts – this is just the latest in a long line of extreme measures that the British have to put in place in order to secure their presence in Ireland.
Martin: And one of the things about the impact: It seems like the British always have a case like this going. They had one with Martin Corey for a long period of time who was jailed under the same procedures. Marian Price, of course, was in for a long period of time and that was a case that this was – Sandy Boyer and others at this station used to highlight every week. No, it’s Tony Taylor. And the problem is or the difficulty is, not only for his wife, his young family including one son who is physically challenged and needs Tony very badly – but it’s a message to everybody else on a licence, like Gerry McGeough, like so many others who have been released on licence, that if you start to work politically, if you start to raise your voice, if you start to speak out against the system too forcefully we can use these same type of procedures and you’ll be back in jail and it doesn’t matter if the Irish government, or both Nationalist political parties or the Church or anybody or human rights activists support you we’ll just simply hold you until we see fit to let you go.
Gary: That’s exactly right. You know it does have implications, it has implications for ex-prisoners. You know it’s them saying: If you raise your head, if you get involved solely in political activity – because Tony, before he went to prison, was engaged solely in political activity – and this sending the message to ex-prisoners: You raise your head above the parapet – we’ll put you in prison. You know, and it’s shocking but it’s not shocking in a way you know because it’s all designed to send a message to anyone who would dare to seek the removal of the British order or the British presence in Ireland. You put your head up – we’ll cut it off.
Martin: Okay, what – is there anything that can be done now from the United States – any sort of political pressure we could use to get Tony Taylor released?
Gary: Yes well, Tony’s campaign in Ireland is gathering a bit of momentum at the minute because people thought that he would be released – that the British would have a red face, the spotlight has been shone on them – and that they would release him. There obviously isn’t enough pressure. I know here a number of councils, including Doire, Strabane, Newry, Donegal – the corporate positions – they have passed motions calling for his release. I know that there are other councils, currently at the minute including Dublin Council, where motions are about to be put forward. I think it’s the same in the US where trade unions, activists, clergy, politicians need to be speaking out. They need to be highlighting this case. And I think as this goes on – this injustice, this blatant injustice, this black-and-white issue – that more and more people will become involved and it will put pressure on the British government I think. It needs to go to Europe. You know the pressure just needs to be kept up because they need to be exposed for what they’re doing so that it ends and it doesn’t happen to any other Irish citizen.
Martin: Gary, we’re coming to the end. I just want to ask you a very quick question, just a few seconds: What do you expect if the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) make a deal, bring a lot of money back to The North, like they’re saying – what do you expect Doire to get out of it?
Gary: Probably like what they’ve gotten out of each and every other successive British government or local puppet government: very, very little because since statistics became, you know, started – the people of Doire have topped all the wrong tables of economic poverty, of child deprivation, of unemployment – whatever government is put in place, whether it’s a SinnFéin/DUP government or whether it’s a Tory/DUP government we will be just drip-fed, enough piecemeal crumbs from the table so that we’re not dying on the streets. I don’t see anything changing.
Martin: …Gary, we’re going to have to leave it at that. Thank you very much and again, we’ll continue to support Tony Taylor and his release.
Gary: Thank you very much. (ends time stamp ~ 55:03)