Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose! A prize for anyone who can spot a the difference between the Fanna Fail propaganda and false promises and the Fine Gael "We are not them" rubbish? Why don't they just kiss and make up the Civil War is from the last century? Surely we are worth more than this? What is it saying about us that Michael Lowery and Beverly Flynn are predicted to top the poll?
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose!
We have been told repeatedly that officers must be like Caeser's wife i.e. above reproach. What about the German Officers who were complicit in mass murder or the Serbian officers murderous campaign against civilians? The suspect wife, Caesar's second was only married for politicial convenience. They were locked in what today would be called the divorce wars and it was a scandal, even for ancient Rome. Meanwhile the quaintly named Publius Clodius Pulcher infiltrated a sacred ceremony dressed in drag, because it was out of bounds to men. It was said that he wished to have sex with Caesar's wife Pompeia. Perhaps he was set up?
Caesar, while loudly defending her honour, quietly divorced her and declared that his wife should be above suspicion. This was rich coming from a sadistic profligate. Clodius escaped conviction on charges of sacrilage by bribing the Jury. He was later murdered in the street. Caesar went on to conquer the rest of Europe. No one is above suspicion!!!
Thursday, February 15, 2007
He was just 24 at the time. Except he didn’t voluntarily retire. He “was retired”. That’s a rather odd way of describing what happened to him, but it’s the term that was used. He was “retired” by the President at the behest of the Government. What did he do wrong? We don’t know. What crime was he charged with? None. Who gave evidence against him? No one, at least not to his face.Not charged, no witnesses, no accusations, no evidence. Just retired. De Róiste may be the victim of the greatest unresolved miscarriage of justice in Ireland. What he says happened to him lacked all semblance of natural justice. In 1968 he was a young army lieutenant. Out of nowhere, he says he was taken to military headquarters, put under confinement, interrogated for several days and eventually dismissed from the army.
Here is how parliamentary debate works in Ireland.
Mr. Boyle: Will the Minister follow the example of his predecessor and find a means through which this injustice can be corrected? As Deputy Costello pointed out, yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Captain Dreyfus affair and this case has striking parallels. Will the Minister put on record his intention to solve the issue in the quickest possible time?
Mr. O’Dea: The fact somebody is dismissed from the Army does not automatically mean he or she was unfairly dismissed.
Mr. Costello: He did not get due process.
Mr. O’Dea: The Judge Advocate General’s report was quashed on the basis that proper procedures were not followed. It would be impossible to reconstitute that procedure because the nature of the court decision was that the type of inquiry necessary is not appropriate. It would be an inquiry where, on one side, the applicant gives oral evidence, but on the other side, we would have only the dusty archives or people too old or ill to give evidence. Very few people have been dismissed by the Army in the interests of the service because that is a serious matter. The issue in question was taken seriously for that sort of action to be taken.
PROFESSION DELETED OFFICIALLY
(Retired by the President, in the interests of the service)
Good afternoon – or being in the South should I say hi y’all? Before I begin I’d like to thank the Carter Center for giving me this opportunity and special thanks to Tessa and Kavitha for arranging my visit. It is a great honour for me to be here.
I am going to ask you to pause mentally for a moment and try to visualize that your chosen career path is suddenly and without warning deleted officially by the President of your country? One day you are a contented person climbing the ladder of success in your chosen profession and the next day it is over and you are history. I’m sure you will agree that this is a most shocking and frightening situation in which to find oneself? Kafkaesque you could say! Public humiliation, your good name destroyed, your character assassinated, and a gap created on your resume ensuring that you are made unemployed and unemployable? Your educational achievements are suddenly no longer valid. Overnight you become a pariah to former friends and colleagues and when they seee you in the street they cross over rather than having to greet you!
This is precisely the situation I faced back in 1969 when I was suddenly retired as a young officer in the Irish army by President Eamonn de Valera. Our President, unlike the President of the United States does not have executive power and only operates on the advice of the government. That is in fact the crux of the dilemma. My forced retirement was accomplished by using a sweeping clause in the Irish Defense act that states, “The President (who is also commander in chief of the forces) may retire any officer ‘in the interests of the service’”. This draconian power has been used very rarely. In fact only 3 Army officers have been so retired since 1966. I was one and am the only one not to be given reason. After 1985 the act was amended such that an individual must now be told the reasons, and given an opportunity to respond. Unfortunately for me this amendment is not retroactive. Consequently ladies and gentlemen you have before you the only person in the history of the Irish Defense forces to be fired by a President without any credible reason or due process.
I know, I know on that date in history the whole world was watching the 1st U.S. moon landing but for me that was the year I was landed into a horrendous state of non-personhood and set out on a journey of infamy and ignominy. Incidentally president de Valera was a U.S. citizen, and that fact saved his life after the 1916 Easter rising in Dublin. The other leaders were all executed.
I was 24 years old and had just completed 6 blemish free years of service as an army Lieutenant. I did not realize then how important your good name is and like all ephemeral things - one does not miss them until they are gone. My late mother was fond of quoting from Othello:
“Who steals my purse steals trash;
‘tis something, nothing, ‘twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.”
The struggle to restore my good name has brought me here!
It is said of the Irish that we have we fought well in every struggle but our own. Once we were mercenaries, wanderers, saints and scholars. It is little known fact there an Irishman named Patrick Maguire sailed with Columbus. He is credited with jumping out to lighten the load in the landing craft and thus became the first European to touch ground in America.
There is a story told about these two Irishman who got shipwrecked on a distant island. Half drowned they awoke on the beach surrounded by local people trying to help them. One looks at the other and says, “What kind of government do you think they have here Paddy?” The locals marvel and said to them “You fellas are lucky to be alive. Why are you worried about the government here? “Because we’re against it” came the prompt reply.
My hometown Clonmel (Cluain Meala) is in the county of Tipperary. We grew up infused with pride that our town was to only one in Ireland to hold out against the Cromwellian siege. When they sued for peace the defending army of O’Neill managed to escape to the continent. I merely mention this for us to reflect on the fact that a conquering army only controls the ground it stands on.
Did you folks know that the Irish invaded Canada – from the U.S.A. believe it or not? After the Civil War here there were thousands of demobbed Irish soldiers. Of course they fought on both sides. They were recruited into an oath bound secret society formed in New York dedicated to freeing Ireland. “The Fenians” they were called, which referred to an ancient mythical army of warriors led by Fionn McCool. A unit invaded Canada somewhere close to Buffalo near Niagra Falls. They captured and occupied a British fort. The idea was to bring pressure on England through her colonies and they hoped, on account of the Crown’s meddling on one side in the recent war that they had tacit US support. (Nod and wink) For various political reasons that support was not forthcoming so they withdrew after a few days. They shipped arms and manpower to Ireland but the people were so devasted from the recent famines that left over a million dead they were too weak to rise and were crushed once more. This led to a huge increase in emigration to America. 40 million?
“The Irish, the race that god made mad,
Where all their wars are merry and all their songs are sad.”
Sometimes my struggle for justice seems futile to people but I believe that it is not those who inflict the most who will succeed but those who can endure the most!
Of course with the republican tradition in my family it was no surprise that, as a teenager I wished to join the national army. In order to prepare myself I volunteered for a cadre of the defense forces known as the FCA (Forsa Cosanta Aitiul or LDF) much like your National Guard. I was 16 years old. It was a real macho feeling getting into uniform, drilling, marching, shooting and playing war games! This is my rifle this is my gun, this is for fighting etc. If youth is wasted on the young I enjoyed wasting mine playing soldier and learning to drive army equipment. When I graduated with honors from High School my commanding officer recommended that I apply for the officer cadet corps. From over 1000 applicants who were tested and interviewed I was chosen as one of the 55 members of the 38th cadet class. It was a marvelous feeling!
I enjoyed my military training and have benefited throughout my life from the lessons I learned. As General Colin Powell remarked in his biography “you never stop being a soldier!” In 1963 Mrs. Jacki Kennedy, in her grief, thought to request an Irish cadet presence at the President’s funeral. All Ireland was in mourning as John F. Kennedy had visited the country that summer. Told the story of…… If you look carefully at the old fuzzy black and white movies you might just catch a glimpse of all the Irish cadets all smart and shiny; “Like a polar bear in a blizzard” as one joker remarked, when they got home.
The Irish cadet college runs a tough training course that is modeled on WestPoint. It was tough but fair and sometimes ruthless! Only 33 cadets in my class graduated and received commissions out of the original intake of 55. My family was very proud of me and they all came to the commissioning ceremony in the Curragh of Kildare. My grandmother was over the moon. She had seen our country go from an occupied puppet statelet to being a free republic and her grandson was now upholding his country’s honor as a commissioned officer in her beloved national army.
I carried out my many duties including training young infantry platoons and was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st. I saw service in the Artillery corps, Air Corps and finally was posted to Supply and Transport. This was the heyday of the rock and roll era. We had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones playing in Dublin even before they came to the US. In Ireland at the time there was also a phenomenon known as the Ballad boom. The pubs were lively venues for all sorts of singers, poets and musicians. I enjoyed military life and of course my off duty time having the occasional pint of Guinness with my fellow officers in various venues. In light of what was to happen, I subsequently learned that some of the Army brass frowned on this mixing with civilians or ‘civvies’ as non military people were referred to. They thought it too bohemian (unconventional) for a young officer to be seen there. They had a particular disdain for O’Donoghue’s Pub of Merrion Row in Dublin. The place still exists and is a venue for tourists as much as ever. It is the real macoy.
As transport officer for the Western Command I was detailed to go to Dublin and organize our portion of the sale of used military junk in a public auction to be held in Clancy Barracks. I did this to the best of my ability and when it was over it was publicized as the most successful such sale to date. Everyone involved was delighted. On my return to home base I was suddenly and without warning, or caution placed under armed arrest and taken in a staff car on the 3-hour journey back to Dublin. The arresting officer, whom I knew and served with, remained silent throughout the journey. The best he could offer was the old cliche “I don’t know I’m just following orders. Perhaps it is a mix-up?” He delivered me to military security and they marched me up 3 flights of stairs and placed me in a bare room that was then locked and barred. During the next few days of incarceration I was forcefully interrogated and threatened, for hours on end. At first I thought it was some kind of endurance test such as we were subjected to during training. I was very confused! When I asked the interrogator what this was all about he replied gruffly, “That is for you to tell us Lieutenant”. Needless to say I was terrified. He inferred that I was guilty of such crimes that suicide might be an available option. He left the room leaving his sidearm on the table. My family would be disgraced he said. He threatened me with a Court Martial! He said my girlfriend whose dad was a police superintendent would dump me.
I am aware that interrogation is a hot topic here nowadays but let me assure you that a trained interrogator, given enough time can breakdown any individual and I must emphasize - whether innocent or guilty! The purpose of interrogation is to destroy the spirit. It make the subject feel more comfortable confessing to whatever allegations are put against them rather than to holding out. In my experience it has no bearing on what the truth is. The second day after my arrest I gleaned that this was a security matter and had something to do with my drinking in O’Donoghue’s pub. An informant had allegedly seen me talking with a particular individual. I never got to face this so-called informant. I was asked what I knew about this person? He was seen approaching and talking to me for a few minutes at the public auction and that, said my interrogator was very serious. When he told me the individual was suspected of being a subversive I was surprised, and also somewhat relieved. I knew that I was not a subversive nor did I know any. The guessing game was over! I was always in the company of fellow officers when I went to these places.
The Irish army compiles annual reports on all its officers. These reports contain one of two possible conclusions, either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If you get unsatisfactory you must be informed and be given a chance to correct whatever it is that is wrong. All my reports had been satisfactory to date.
When I was released back to my posted assignment pending further investigations I hired a Lawyer. He, as a civilian was shocked at the story I told him. He could not believe that I had not been cautioned nor could he understand why I was not dealt with in my own command. “What is the charge?” he asked. I answered truthfully that I didn’t know. His advice was for me to remain silent and to seek a court martial in order to meet the charges against me. He said he would write to the army on my behalf, protesting at my unjust treatment. Which he did!
After a month or so of fear and intimidation I was given a new posting. It involved a pay raise and more responsibility. Both my military friends and my lawyer figured the arrest was all a mistake and that the trouble had now blown over. A SNAFU rather than a FUBAR, friendly fire so to speak. Out of the blue I was summoned back to my barracks HQ. I was marched into a room in front of my commanding officer. He was flanked by other officers, some armed. He handed me a sealed letter saying, “We both know what is in it. You have 12 hours to vacate you quarters.” He instructed me to open it in his presence but I was unable to comprehend what had happened, let alone read the thing. I felt sick and faint! My career over without even the fig leaf of fair procedures. My solicitor got it wrong. Though I was innocent I was being severely punished for no reason. This punishment has lasted a lifetime!
Thus began for me what amounted to ‘internal exile’ - as brutal and final as any practiced by the old Soviet Union. My father disowned me. He was so ashamed of me and could not take my word over that of the President. “You want me to believe that the President is wrong and you are right,” he thundered? He barred me from my home forever! Having himself served in the army during the WW II he was what was known as a Dev man. I found myself suddenly, friendless, homeless, jobless and for all practical purposes unemployable. I realize now that no one in their right mind would hire someone with “retired by the president, in the interest of the service” on their resume? Talk about the mark of Cain? It had overtones of terrorism and subversion attached to it. Eventually I was forced to emigrate to find work; first I went to London and from there to Pennsylvania. I got held overnight by the Special Branch in Holyhead and feared for my life. An uncle, who was in the Military told my mother that the IRA would kill me for being an imposter and as they had not I must be associated with them. He also said that there was a photograph of me as part of an IRA funeral firing squad, he had not seen this himself. This was a total fabrication and a typical example of how lies and rumors can take on lives of their own. Truthfully if I had been part of the IRA I would be feted and welcomed in the corridors of power today!
In 1997 my sister, Adi Roche founder of the Chernobyl Childrens Project, was a candidate in the Irish Presidential election. It is agreed by everyone that this was the dirtiest election ever in Irish history. The sexists chortled that it was because mainly women were running. (that’s women for ya) President Mary Robinson had resigned to take up a post with the United Nations! Forces connected with Fianna Fail, the party that has been in power for most of the past 70 years, saw fit to leak false stories about me to the press in order to enhance the chances of their candidate, the eventual winner Mary McAleese. The media lied claiming that I was retired from the army for having IRA terrorist connections. My sister was tarnished by association and was urged by the gutter press to denounce her brother as a traitor. From odds on favorite at the start she finished a poor last. The media door stepped me and managed to get a very angry photo of me slamming my door against them on all the papers. Adi was asked if she would give me a pardon if ever she became President? At about this time my father slipped into Alzheimer’s. He died in 2002 – we never reconciled!
After the election I started working to clear my good name with a new legal team. Following the unwarranted public attack on me we petitioned the High Court for a Judicial Review in order to gain access to my army files. The state told the judge that I was guilty, had signed a confession and was therefore wasting the court’s time. The Judge suggested that this may well be so why not produce the signed statement and the necessary files to the court and we could all go home. The Judge did not make an order, only a suggestion. Nevertheless my solicitors and I were overjoyed. That was on Tuesday. On Thursday the state came into court and told the judge that there was no signed statement from me - (which I knew although I feared they may have forged a confession). They also stated that the files had been lost since 1969. They now claimed the files issue was moot as they proposed fighting on the delay stating that I was time barred. This was very frustrating to us, but as they say nowadays it was the fight we had not the fight we wanted! After many years of hard work by my legal team the final High Court judgment was that my delay was “both inordinate and inexcusable” and so my Judicial Review was denied. We were granted costs, which showed that my case was not ‘vexatious’. My punishment was to continue.
Our courts are not like you have in this country. They are intimidating! The room in which the court sits is paneled and dark like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The judge sits above everyone else and talks down to the litigants. Combined with that the whole business is clouded in ancient, incomprehensible legalese. They all wear funny horsehair wigs and black gowns and bow and scrape to each other with obsequious mutterings of “If it please m’lud, and begging your pardon m’lud” while they bend and back out of the room.
Despite the setback we decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. This involved some considerable element of risk as we could lose and get costs, amounting to thousands of Euros awarded against us! The Supreme Court is never to be taken lightly. If you thought the High Court was intimidating the Supreme was supremely so. There were now 3 Judges hearing my case. We felt we could grant the ‘inordinate’ amount of delay but that we had some traction with ‘excusable’ part. A psychiatrist had diagnosed me as suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and we hoped this finding would mellow the court to allow my judicial review. You can imagine my feelings when the State Lawyer stood with my precious PTSD document, held disdainfully betweens his fingers. Letting it fall, looked around and said, “I believe m’luds that these can be procured today on the Internet”. Then he went on about the security of the state and the President never firing an officer except for the most grievous reasons. My heart sank. I could sense that we were not going to be even given the opportunity to present our case, and so it was. The Chief Justice leaned his bewigged head over his podium and, gazing at my defense lawyer, said “Mr. Stewart, this case has been found to be both “inordinate and inexcusable” from the point of view of delay” – pause, “then why are we here?” I felt it was over. To be honest movie moment…
I was denied again due to time delay and thus I was blocked from gaining access to my files. FOI did not apply as the state claimed privilege on the grounds of security. Patriotism is supposed to be the last refuge of scoundrels but in my experience security is the last refuge of scoundrels! All my legal avenues were now exhausted!
In 2002, out of sheer frustration, we called a press conference in Dublin protesting my innocence, in a hotel opposite the house of parliament/Dail. Sr. Helen Prajean, the author of “Dead man Walking”, attended. I gained massive public support including from actor Gabriel Byrne. I went on national radio and TV pleading my case. I challenged those who attacked me during the Presidential campaign to have the courage to confront me! The Minister of Defense was caught off guard and forced to announced a Judge Advocate General’s review of what he referred to as “all gaps and ambiguities” in my case. We immediately protested that this was a case of the army investigating itself. We wanted an independent investigation. The fact that the JAG refused to interview either any supportive colleagues or me was unacceptable to my defence. The ‘sub judice’ rule was applied in my case silencing me and my lawyers during the review period.
After a delay of 3 months the findings were leaked to the media before being given to my legal team. Playing with semantics the review found that, although the note keeping by the army was sloppy at the time, everything else was correct, in as much as an open lie is correct. Any unsuitable gaps and ambiguities were ignored. Despite my vain hopes for justice I got no relief from this review but crucially it was ordered that my files be released to me. As the JAG concluded, everything in the files was in the files even the supposedly lost files appeared to be there. I was satisfied that at last I would get to see what the charges against me were. Interestingly the files that the state told the High Court were missing since 1969 mysteriously reappeared 2 months after my defeat in the Supreme Court. They contained an unanswered letter from my solicitor (which is illegal) and also a false statement against me attributed to a fellow officer. This was a glaring gap and ambiguity! We are in possession of a sworn affidavit from the officer, (Comdt. Patrick Walshe) in question stating that the alleged statement is a lie! Either of these crucial items could have been used in the courts by my team to gain the relief, if we had them. There was nothing else of any substance in my files. The state knew it in 1969 and they know it today.
We also received our costs in the Supreme Court. We immediately appealed to the High Court and in 2005 the High Court duly quashed the JAG review. The Judge found that I had not been given “fair procedures”. My team and I had hopes that my name would finally be cleared or that I would get another more independent hearing. The least we expected was that some kind of remedy would be found in answer to the Judge’s decision! Nothing! Unfortunately the Judge made no specific recommendation other than to throw out the Judge Advocate General’s review.
This past June a question was asked in our Oireachtas/Parliament in the presence of the prime minister as to what action they proposed to take on foot of the High Court decision, considering that it had been over a year since the judgment. No action is forthcoming.
One may ask how a nation that struggled so hard for freedom independence and democracy can allow such a wrong to continue.
The Carter Center has become part of this country’s long tradition of peacemaking and spreading freedom. Like President Carter before them, President Bill Clinton and Senator George Mitchell set about grappling with what the British refer to disparagingly as their “Irish problem”. Mind you I was brought up to refer to it as our English problem but that is a story for another day.
Senator Mitchell put a peace process in motion on Good Friday 1998 that is still holding to this day. It is called the Belfast Agreement and he used the now famous formula that “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” in order to stop the killing! And it worked. The wholesale violence has ceased. The horror of waking up to a radio litany of bloody murder has finally been halted. “Too much suffering makes a stone of the heart” and in Ireland it truly did. Long may the Jimmy Carters and George Mitchells of this world live! Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is a lonely and dangerous road!
Although I have 2 grown children in the United States, Dara who works in PA state government and Sinead who is working for Kellogg’s, I am not a US citizen. When I applied for citizenship back in 1987 after 15 years residing here, legally & with green card, the issue of my Irish presidential retirement surfaced once again. The immigration officer, holding my paperwork in his hand, asked me what the term “retired by the president in the interests of the service” meant. I was unable to explain. As my marriage had broken down by this time I returned to Ireland and continued the challenge of clearing my good name.
I was horrified at the carnage in the northern eastern part of my country so I volunteered to work with a reconciliation group based in the south called “The Between” organization. They worked with both Nationalists and Loyalists! We visited those troubled communities and, cooperating with both sides were able to give week long holidays in Cork to traumatized men, women and children. One week for one side - the next for the other. It was very rewarding work. I spent almost 10 years working with Between!
When enough things that are untrue are said about you no one will know what really is true! For nearly 40 years I have been “The innocent victim of blind justice.” I have never been charged, tried or convicted of anything. I have never been given so much as a parking ticket yet I am fair game for any gutter press hack! It is general election time in Ireland this year and I hope to be able to get the politicians motivated to clear my name. It is now a political issue as I am finished with the Judiciary, unless I appeal to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This would take at least 5 years and the costs are both emotionally and financially prohibitive at this time. Justice can never be done to anyone until the injustices perpetrated against him or her are recognized as such!
Thank you for your interest and attention ladies and gentlemen. I now wish to present to The Carter Library a copy of the book detailing my case, “Speaking Truth to Power” by Don Mullan. This book was funded by the Rowntree Foundation, a peace and Justice group from England. I also have the support of the BIRW. Please visit my blog http://www.deroche.blogspot.com/ for updates on my struggle.
In the same manner in which the just are rewarded in the world to come even for their smallest merits, so are the evildoers in this world. Babylonina Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit
The most dangerous file is an empty file. Blots on one's record may also accuse, but they also protect. In turbulent times decent people have no use and are therefore of little value.