Paul O’Connor, Director of The Pat Finucane Centre, admits IRA membership

Credit must be given to journalist Seamus McKinney of “The Irish News” for being the first journalist willing to run with my Blog story – 4 days after its publication – claiming that Paul O’Connor – Director of The Pat Finucane Centre so-called “Human Rights Group” – joined the IRA with me in 1970, an IRA past that he had hidden from everyone.

Given the magnitude of Paul O’Connor’s admissions:

  • that he was an active IRA volunteer/terrorist for some 2 years from 1970 to late 1972
  • that he was photographed holding an Armalite rifle at an IRA checkpoint at Hoggs Folly in the Bogside
  • that his friend and fellow IRA volunteer, Jim O’Hagan, met his death yards from Paul’s home in a bomb factory that he, Paul O’Connor, was associated with, including the gun and ammunition discovered there after Jim O’Hagan was shot and killed
  • that he had never admitted his IRA activities to victims, to his employers, to the Centre’s funders, to the police, to Jim’s family even – not forgetting to the many legal, parliamentary and international bodies to which he had made representations, from whom he had sought and received funding and support

it might have been thought that the Blog’s publication on Monday 18th of November would have merited a single mention in Derry’s media during the week that followed.

However, the overwhelming pro-Sinn Féin/IRA mentality in Derry is such that the Blog post about Paul O’Connor and The Pat Finucane Centre was completely ignored all week by both The Derry Journal and also by BBC Radio Foyle, even failing to get a mention on Friday morning’s review of the newspapers on BBC Radio Foyle when it was on the front page of The Irish News, which was reviewed during that segment!

Why would such a big Derry story fail to get a mention in Derry’s own media?

Derry is so handicapped by its years of cap-doffing servitude to Sinn Féin and the IRA that neither The Derry Journal nor BBC Radio Foyle dared to even reference the story, leaving it to the Belfast-based “Irish News” newspaper to break it.

Is this evidence of widespread “Peace Journalism”/censorship?

Paul O’Connor and Truth

It has taken a virtual gun against his head – a detailed Blog post by a fellow IRA volunteer and a photograph of Paul holding an Armalite rifle – to wring from Paul O’Connor a decades’ late admission that he was an active IRA volunteer with experience of weapons and explosives and with a bomb factory beside his home in which an IRA volunteer comrade of his met his death by shooting.

PaulOConnorColorCheckpoint
Paul O’Connor, IRA volunteer, with Armalite rifle at IRA checkpoint, May 1972

And yet, even in the teeth of his most reluctant and belated admission of IRA membership, he still claims – in common with Prince Andrew – that he “does not remember” the most vain photograph that shows him posing without a mask at an IRA checkpoint and holding an Armalite rifle, while the volunteers with him all sport masks – all this photography by an American photojournalist, Brian Hamill, he claims he can’t remember at all from 1972.

He admits, however, that anyone who knows him and views the photograph would be entitled to regard it as showing him.

However, Paul is most insistent that a year further back in time, in 1971, he CAN REMEMBER that on the evening that his IRA comrades were gathered in his bomb factory beside his home in plush Deanfield park making bombs and planning to plant them, that he was at home across the street with a cold, and had handed over leadership of the group to an IRA member we shall refer to as Volunteer “J” – and that he was not present when his comrade, Volunteer “J” shot and fatally wounded his comrade Volunteer Jim O’Hagan after an argument.

Paul also CAN REMEMBER that he scarpered over to “Free Derry” just after Jim was shot and presented himself thereafter as “on the run” being gifted safe ‘billets’ by the IRA and a weekly wage (admittedly small) for a year or so and he CAN REMEMBER that he never fired a shot or planted a bomb.

The IRA would have fired such an unproductive volunteer in short order.

Above all, Paul claims that he CAN REMEMBER most specifically that he has NO VICTIMS!

Paul CAN REMEMBER that he scarpered leaving his young IRA comrades, Frank Plumb and Gerry McLaughlin, to be arrested and to face the courts alone.

He CAN REMEMBER that he left his dying friend and comrade, Jim O’Hagan, while he got offside.

Oddly, Paul has a BRILLIANT memory for memories that absolve him, but no memory for memories that might convict him.

He claims – ridiculously – that since he was presenting as “on the run” that he could not leave “Free Derry” to go into the city centre to plant bombs or to shoot at police or soldiers, while he was apparently able to easily cross the border into Donegal at will.

Paul makes this absurd claim after only recently watching a film on BBC Spotlight where Martin McGuinness and others made a car bomb in the Brandywell and easily drove it into Shipquay Street in the city centre without difficulty only 5 weeks before he – Paul – was photographed sporting an Armalite rifle slung over his shoulder.

Paul is not what I am able to call “repentant” at all about his IRA past, and indeed expresses his admiration for his father’s alleged “Old IRA” activities.

Paul is just sorry that he was caught out and forced to admit that his Pat Finucane Centre so-called Human Rights’ group was built on a massive deception – a man pretending to be an activist for those pesky indivisible Human Rights was actually secretly an IRA volunteer gunman/bomber with a distinct and admitted IRA bias – which must now be admitted to have tainted every case and investigation and report Paul has had his bloody hands on.

After all, it was Paul O’Connor who created the argument in the IRA’s newspaper, An Phoblacht in 1999, that law lord Lord Woolf’s various judgments should not be allowed to stand after Paul O’Connor “uncovered” that the younger Lord Woolf had been a soldier. Paul argued that a hidden military past was sufficient to unseat Lord Woolf. Sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander, Paul.

Sauce4GooseSauce4Gander
Paul O’Connor argues a military past disqualifies a judge

I have to admit that the frequent photographs I have seen on social media sites and elsewhere in recent years of Paul O’Connor hobnobbing with leading unrepentant IRA Human Rights’ violators have been totally nauseating – all while Paul was claiming to be a Human Rights’ Champion on behalf of victims.

The Murder of Jim O’Hagan

This week should not be about Paul O’Connor or about Shane Paul O’Doherty, but must instead be about the murder of Jim O’Hagan, finally.

Paul O’Connor makes a plea for sympathy in his “Irish News” newspaper admission that he was an IRA volunteer:

Should his 2 years only spent in the IRA all those years ago now be permitted to disbar him from his obvious service to Human Rights for all to see? Didn’t he only spend 2 years in the IRA and left it after only 2 years?

Facts about Paul O’Connor

Paul O’Connor never left the IRA – it left him. He admits he was ordered out of Derry by the PIRA for unspecified breaches of IRA orders in late 1972.

Paul O’Connor never admitted to anyone that he had been in charge of the IRA unit based in Deanfield.

Paul O’Connor never admitted that the bomb factory across from his home was his bomb factory where there was also a gun and ammunition.

Paul never admitted that the bombs being assembled when Jim O’Hagan was murdered were effectively his bombs since he was in command.

Paul never admitted that if – as he claims – he did not fire the shot that murdered Jim O’Hagan, he sure as hell knows exactly who did fire that shot.

The deceitful rebuttal statement issued by the Pat Finucane Centre only hours before Paul O’Connor finally admitted his IRA past not only called on people to treat my claims with a “strong dose of scepticism” but went on to state:

“If at some point the PSNI choose to reopen the case of the killing of Jim O’Hagan and the investigators wish to speak to Paul, we would expect him to fully cooperate and to provide, if he has any, any information which he has.”

So, while you have so far not condemned the murder campaign unnecessarily waged by the IRA, Paul, you must now forget all about the IRA and your own misfortune of having been found out after 5 decades of lies and concentrate on the family of Jim O’Hagan.

Given your admission of membership of the IRA and association with the bomb factory, gun and ammunition that killed Jim O’Hagan, you must now at the very least do the following:

  • In a statement to the police, name the wealthy, conscienceless IRA volunteer who not only murdered Jim O’Hagan and then scarpered to a new life outside the jurisdiction – aided by the IRA to do so – a man who has evaded justice and failed to admit his crime of murder directly to Jim O’Hagan’s family.
  • Apologise to Jim O’Hagan’s family for your failure to help identify the murderer of Jim while you stood by viewing the IRA help the murderer to cross the border and escape both Jim’s family and justice.
  • Call on the disappearing Volunteer “J” to come forward and face the much-diminished music of 2 years only in prison for the murder of Jim O’Hagan. You know he has returned to this jurisdiction after years away, and I am quite sure you have in the past known he was back in Northern Ireland and were in contact with him. You know very well his family members still in Derry.
  • Some people believe that this missing Volunteer “J” might contradict your story, and it might serve you if he does not come forward. You should therefore help the police to track him down to vindicate your claims that you did not fire the shot that killed 16 years old Jim O’Hagan.

Paul O’Connor’s Plea for Sympathy

The plea expressed by you at the end of your interview in The Irish News that it must now be victims and staff members of the Pat Finucane Centre who must judge whether you can continue as a Human Rights’ Champion in the Pat Finucane Centre – you who have perpetrated on all of those people a deceit without any conscience – is total nonsense.

It is the justice system which should in the first instance determine your near future – have you not admitted not only a hidden IRA membership but also participation in a bomb factory beside your home?

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IRA bomb and bomber photographed by Brian Hamill in the Bogside, May 1972

Have you not claimed that the only reason you were not present when the bombs were being fashioned was that you had a cold and stayed home across the street, and had passed the leadership of the unit you commanded to Volunteer “J” for the evening, who must have gone on to murder Jim O’Hagan and then scarper in most cowardly fashion?

You allowed the PFC to state in its deceitful rebuttal statement of yesterday – hours before you admitted your IRA membership – that you went on a world tour for some years while many hundreds if not thousands of your fellow IRA volunteers went to prison for one or two decades.

Are you not man enough even now, not Human Rights enough even now, to admit before the courts your crimes and to serve a portion of a mere 2 years in a modern prison, quite unlike the prisons faced by hundreds of your young former IRA comrades – many “on the blanket” – while you were on your world tour?

If you need me to assist you in making the required admissions and statements to the police in the coming days about the murder of Jim O’Hagan – and about the murderer of Jim O’Hagan – I stand ready to assist you in person in Derry.

Finally, call publicly on Volunteer “J” to come forward and to give closure to the tortured family of Jim O’Hagan, who should never have lost his young life in your bomb factory.

Volunteer “J”‘s family members must surely know where he is in recent years in light of the police declaring that Jim O’Hagan’s murder could not be solved – this claim by police must have given Volunteer “J” the courage to return home from time to time.

We who knew Jim O’Hagan should once and for all delete the many competing versions of Jim’s murder and offer up a truthful narrative and you are the man who can finally begin that process, if as you claim, you have an interest in Human Rights and victims of injustice, even though you have steadfastly ignored the IRA’s multitude of Human Rights’ atrocities in your self-proclaimed Pat Finucane Centre Human Rights group.

Man up after 50 years of lies and deception and show belated leadership, Paul!

It is unfortunate for you and for so many other IRA members that your trite campaigns – “Time for Truth” – “Time to set the Truth free” – played no part whatsoever in your belated admission of IRA membership and detailed knowledge of the unsolved murder of Jim O’Hagan.

The Pat Finucane Centre and Truth are strangers to one another.

PaulHoggsFolly2
Paul O’Connor turns his back on Truth

6 thoughts on “Paul O’Connor, Director of The Pat Finucane Centre, admits IRA membership

  1. Comprehensive and interesting piece.

    However your assertion that Paul O’Connor would only serve two years, should he volunteer disclosure, is probably unsustainable. In light of comments made by the presiding Judge during John Downey’s recent bail application it seems that the maximum 2 years time served proposal under GFA does not apply for crimes committed before the introduction of N.I. Emergency Provisions Act 1973.

    Convictions for offences committed before Aug 8th ’73 may not be qualifying offences under the terms of the N.I. (Sentences) Act 1998.

    Like

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