It’s odious to refer to a person’s nationality in a way that casts him as an outsider in Derry/Londonderry, but it recalls Englishman Robin George Edwin Percival‘s extraordinary 1996 statement to The New York Times labelling the traditional Ulster Apprentice Boys as “outsiders coming in from other places“:
The Apprentice Boys have been celebrating the Relief of Derry for something over 200 years:
In 1788 and 1789 there were important centenary anniversary commemorations.
In early December 1788 the closing of the gates was remembered by special church services in both the cathedral and a Presbyterian church, followed by a civic procession, a military parade and the burning of Lundy.
It also involved a special dinner, attended by town dignitaries as well as Catholic clergy.
In August 1789 commemoration of the breaking of the boom and the relief of the city included a sizeable procession to the cathedral which involved not only the members of the corporation but the Catholic bishop and his clergy, as well as the Presbyterian clergy and elders.
On both these occasions the siege was commemorated as a great blow against tyranny which brought liberty to people of all Christian denominations…
In the atmosphere of late eighteenth-century Ireland, with the rise of a tolerant Irish patriotism, events of 1688-9 were seen as part of the Glorious Revolution with its constitutional benefits for all, embracing Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland, and Protestants and Catholics.The Sieges of Derry, William Kelly, Four Courts Press
What was Englishman Robin George Edwin Percival doing referring to “outsiders” entering Derry/Londonderry?
What was Englishman Robin Percival doing on the pompously titled “Executive Committee” of the newly conceived Bogside Residents’ Association in 1996 when he was living in 38 Great James Street outside the Bogside?
In fact, what has Englishman Robin Percival been doing as a Director/Trustee of The Bloody Sunday Trust?
In fact, what has Englishman Robin Percival been doing as a Director/Trustee of The Pat Finucane Centre?
In fact, what has Englishman Robin Percival been doing as a Director/Trustee of The Museum of Free Derry?
In fact, what has Englishman Robin Percival been doing as a Director/Trustee of The Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum?
In fact, what was Robin Percival doing as Director of Cunamh Ltd back in 2000 along with IRA gunman and Sinn Féin hack Raymond McCartney and Sinn Féiner Colm Barton?
What was Englishman Robin Percival doing on the Parades Commission in 2011, appointed by Her Majesty’s Government to police the pesky loyalists (and a nominal few nationalists for pretend measure) who wanted to continue traditional parades on the streets of Northern Ireland?
Loved by the local Derry IRA movement and by Her Majesty’s Government – how did Robin Percival win the respect of these two formerly opposed but now reconciled bodies?
What kind of local backing does an Englishman have to confidently refer to Protestant Ulstermen as “outsiders” in Derry/Londonderry?
Percival’s eventual membership of Sinn Féin undoubtedly made it all possible.
Our Man In The Bogside
Born in Prescot, Lancashire in 1947, Robin George Edwin Percival was to benefit from the foresight of Liverpool Anglican Bishop Francis Chavasse who founded St. Peter’s College as a constituent college of Oxford University with the original aim of providing “a low-cost Oxford education for promising students of limited means“.
Prior to Oxford, Percival boarded in the Methodist Kings School in Bath, a ‘public school’ – an expensive private one.
Be in no doubt that St. Peter’s College Oxford has produced many luminaries:
Stephen Hickey (1998)
UK Ambassador to Iraq since 2019.
Sarah Bamber (1992)
UK Deputy Consul-General, Hong Kong since 2013.
Elizabeth Joyce (1991)
Chief of Section, United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee.
Dr Karin von Hippel (1987)
Director General, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI).
Sir Julian King KCVO CMG (1982)
Former British Ambassador to Ireland (2009-11), Permanent Secretary to the Northern Ireland Office (2011-14), Director General Economic & Consular at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2014-2016), and now EU Commissioner for the Security Union.
Sir Gerald Warner KCMG (1951)
Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office, 1991-6. Honorary Fellow.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield (1949)
Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service, 1984-91.
Sir Rex Masterman Hunt (1944, deceased 2012)
British Governor of the Falkland Islands between 1980 and 1985.
Matt Jukes QPM (1992)
Assistant Commissioner for Transformation, Metropolitan Police Service.
Commander Mark Emerton (1980)
Judge at the Ministry of Justice.
Lt Col Julian Moir (1980)
King’s Royal Hussars until 2011. Defence consultant.
Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton (1977)
Former Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces. Current Constable of the Tower of London.
Paul Condon, Baron Condon (1972)
Life peer, formerly Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope (1972)
Formerly the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval staff.
And many many more!
Graduating in the late 1960s, Robin Percival visited the troubled city of Derry/Londonderry initially under the auspices of the previously mostly Quaker Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in 1969 but arrived to stay in the city in 1972 when it suffered two Human Rights atrocities – Bloody Sunday committed by British Army paratroopers and The Claudy Bombings committed by the local IRA terrorists.
As we shall see, Robin Percival was to give his all to the 1972 Bloody Sunday atrocity while completely ignoring the IRA’s 1972 Claudy Bombings atrocity – and all of the IRA’s other atrocities.
Robin Percival did not bridle when journalist Nell McCafferty described him as a ‘protestant atheist‘ – the mostly Quaker FOR introduction to the Bogside’s natives had served its purpose.
By the 1970s the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (in the USA) had long been open to persons of all faiths and none if they espoused pacifism and a desire for reconciliation over war.
In the UK, the mostly Quaker World War I early influence over FOR had long waned.
There were no strict membership requirements – and there was no structure overseeing or policing people who claimed to be espousing loose FOR principles.
In other words, anyone could self-declare as FOR and that declaration could serve to introduce a person to a host community.
The Quakers had established a remarkable and respected neutrality in Northern Ireland between the conflicting factions – this was most obvious at Northern Ireland’s prisons where the Visitors’ Centres were Quaker run – so that both republican and loyalist visitors could use the facilities while upholding the peace.
But Robin Percival quickly stepped outside the scrupulous neutrality of the Quaker tradition in Northern Ireland by openly associating himself with and advocating the pro-Sinn Féin IRA ‘Withdrawal of Troops from Northern Ireland‘ movement, declaring that “a priority should be a demand for a date to be set for the end of British involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland“.
This declaration in no way respected – or loved in a reconciliatory manner – the three centuries’ old Unionist tradition’s desire to be British.
By so doing, he would have been well aware that he was sending out an odour deeply attractive to the local republican movement that was always keen to convert a Brit – Londoner John Stephenson being a previous example [aka Seán Mac Stíofáin who rose to become Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s] and Roy Greenslade of more recent unmasking.
Robin did everything correctly to attract the admiration of the natives – he threw himself into activism in the Trades Unions.
He was willing, nay pleading, to assist.
It only required the natives to notice him and to ordain him to serve.
1970s Bloody Sunday Commemorations
Since Bloody Sunday’s murders were committed upon a Civil Rights’ march, it was for some time considered unthinkable that an organisation itself wedded to terrorism – to committing Civil Rights and Human Rights atrocities – would ever take effective control of Bloody Sunday commemorations – I am referring to the paramilitary IRA and its political front Sinn Féin.
For some years before it was eclipsed, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association managed its own commemorations explicitly separate from IRA paramilitaries and their supporters “to prevent any undignified insult to the memory of the dead” who had, after all, been on a pacifist Civil Rights march when murdered.
During that period, relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims joined with NICRA in holding smaller commemorations separate from the IRA movement’s larger protests which were almost always followed by street violence.
It’s worth looking briefly at the early NICRA commemorations:
1973 – Under a heading “Parade Plan – PD Flayed by Hume“, The Belfast Telegraph reported:
The report noted that PIRA Sinn Féin “turned down a request from Derry CRA to postpone a march planned for Sunday, January 28“.
This IRA refusal resulted in NICRA switching its commemoration from the Provo Sunday to NICRA Saturday in subsequent years to avoid contamination by those promoting terrorism and Civil and Human Rights atrocities.
It was later in 1973 that a gang of Provisional IRA thugs led by IRA Army Council member Maura Drumm finally attacked a Civil Rights platform in Belfast – see here.
As the IRA movement colonized the Bloody Sunday commemorations, it used the occasions to attack Civil Rights’ champion John Hume and his Social Democratic and Labour Party:
“Speakers at the march each year were usually supporters or members of Sinn Féin, who often attacked the SDLP. In 1976, for example, they were referred to as a party of quislings and in 1985 as a bunch of geriatrics.
It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that many members of the SDLP, such as John Hume, did not attend these marches.”Ed. T. Fraser
By 1978, the Provisional IRA Sinn Féin Bloody Sunday commemoration required the display of a powerful M60 machine gun – the must have Civil Rights and Human Rights tool…
“Ducksie” Doherty loving the PIRA Sinn Féin Civil Rights writing tool, the M60 machine gun at the PIRA’s Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry/Londonderry 1978:
The message was simple – if anything was to be achieved, it was to be achieved by the IRA’s force of arms and not by pacifist Civil Rights protests.
“Ducksie” posed with another weapon to wow the marchers, in a sheer stocking.
Robin Percival Joined Sinn Féin
When Robin Percival joined Sinn Féin – the political front of the Provisional IRA – it was not a rash decision lightly taken by a raw 15 year old or a poorly educated local man.
The Oxford educated Fellowship of Reconciliation [FOR] veteran was making a fundamentally life-altering decision that involved repudiating the degree of his presumed former pacifist beliefs and whatever morals he had absorbed from the normally Quaker FOR and offering his deliberate assent to the IRA’s terrorist ‘armed struggle’ with all of its horrific Civil Rights and Human Rights atrocities of which there were very many…
It was undoubtedly unprecedented that a self-declared FOR activist and presumed pacifist had gone renegade and joined the republican movement most identified by its victim-manufacturing ‘armed struggle’.
How could a pacifist front a paramilitary murder machine?
Nor has Robin Percival – to my research knowledge – ever explained his decision to leave Sinn Féin if indeed he ever truly left it.
For a man who has campaigned to “Set the Truth Free” this aspect of his public life – joining a movement with an atrocious record not only of violating the Civil Rights and Human Rights of thousands of people but even celebrating those violations and violators – deserves elucidation.
Robin Percival attended Bogside Residents Association protests against traditional Apprentice Boys marches – in one he was photographed beside IRA volunteer Gerry O’Hara/aka Gearoid O’Heara a short distance away from Denis Nelis/aka Donncha MacNiallais and from IRA leader Martin McGuinness and his brother William.
There were so many prominent republicans at these protests, so many convicted IRA members and leading members of Sinn Féin, that a citizen would be forgiven for believing that they were entirely orchestrated by the IRA.
[IRA volunteer Gerry O’Hara/Gearoid O’Heara was the only IRA member to publicly admit to a war crime – see here.]
In fact, at one point IRA Chief of Staff Martin McGuinness, with Gerry O’Hara at his side, directs the crowd to obey the instructions of the Bogside Residents Association.
For an English Oxonian such as Robin Percival to gain acceptance into militant Irish Republican ranks in Derry – paranoid about touts and spies as they were – would have required some serious obeisance before the IRA’s aims and methods.
I don’t know what tests Robin Percival underwent or proofs he offered to convince security-minded Provisional Republicans in Derry city that he was not an English spy or ‘agent of influence’.
By 1985, the Derry Brigade of the IRA was all too aware that another person who joined Sinn Féin in 1972 had been an agent of MI5 for many years – Derryman Willie Carlin – who later penned a book about his time as a spy.
The Prophet – Robin Percival
Having chosen Julieann Campbell – sometime Director/Trustee/Chair/Family Press Officer of the Bloody Sunday Trust – to write an insider history of the Trust [“Setting the Truth Free“], Robin Percival laid claim to the entirety of the origination not only of The Bloody Sunday Trust itself, but also of its two contentious offspring, The Pat Finucane Centre and the The Museum of Free Derry:
And The Pat Finucane Centre as well:
So Robin Percival claims that he wrote a paper in 1989 outlining or originating a structure for an entity that became The Bloody Sunday Initiative that led to the creation of both The Pat Finucane Centre and The Museum of Free Derry.
Percival claims that he submitted this founding document to “the ruling body of Sinn Féin in Derry” – the politburo – in August 1989.
Strictly speaking, “the ruling body” of Sinn Féin anywhere is the overarching IRA Army Council.
Why would anyone interested in the Civil Rights movement and its historic confrontation with the Parachute Regiment on Jan 30, 1972 want to be associated with a terrorist movement – the IRA – that ultimately carried out a total of 130 Bloody Sundays worth of murders before disbanding, decommissioning its weaponry and retrospectively declaring its ‘armed struggle’ a dead duck?
Why didn’t Robin Percival submit his document to the non-violent Civil Rights activist and Social Democratic and Labour Party leader John Hume, who was shortly to win not merely the Nobel Peace Prize, but also the Gandhi Peace Price and the Martin Luther King Award?
The only explanation is Percival’s membership of Sinn Féin.
Having made his prophetic submission to Derry Sinn Féin – avoiding the SDLP party with its pacifist Civil Rights background – Percival was aligning himself AND the organisations outlined in his document with Sinn Féin and its parent body, the Provisional IRA.
The IRA Killing of Charles Love, 16yrs old
Five months after Percival claims that he submitted his document to the Sinn Féin politburo in Derry, the IRA Sinn Féin Bloody Sunday commemoration took place on Sunday 28 January 1990.
As the IRA Sinn Féin marchers approached Rossville Street below Derry’s Walls, the IRA exploded a bomb on the Walls in an attempt to kill soldiers and/or police.
Chunks of masonry debris showered down on onlookers and journalists who were awaiting the arrival of the marchers.
Charles Love, a 16yrs old youth from Strabane, was hit on the head by a large piece of stone from Derry’s Walls and died shortly afterwards. He had been standing beside the Bloody Sunday monument.
When the bomb exploded, members of a uniformed Republican band cheered, unaware that one of their own had been hit and was dying.
Charles Love was a member of ‘Republican Youth’ in Strabane, and also a member of ‘Strabane Memorial Flute Band’.
IRA leader Gerry Adams was present to witness the IRA’s killing of the republican teenager.
John Hume, SDLP leader, Member of Parliament for Foyle and Member of the European Parliament, highlighted that one victim of every two murders in Northern Ireland was a civilian.
Paul Hill of “The Guildford Four” – invited to speak at the SFIRA commemoration – expressed his horror of all violence – clearly embarrassed by the attack and killing and sorry he ever got involved.
He refused to participate in a planned Derry City Council reception as a mark of respect to the killed teenager.
Bishop Edward Daly – veteran of the original Bloody Sunday march – had refused to be associated with marches organised by the Bloody Sunday Initiative.
He challenged the Bloody Sunday Initiative to state publicly its opposition to “violence, murder, bombings and cruelty of any kind“:
Bishop Daly stated:
The dominant theme of many of these annual marches has been militant and pro-violence rather than anti-violence…
They were exploited as a platform by some people who were apologists for campaigns of violence and murder – the complete contradiction of what Bloody Sunday meant and means to me.
IRA Commander Martin McGuinness “refused to condemn the IRA” – after all, the bombing had received his ultimate authorisation.
In some ways, the IRA’s years old claim that it has always avoided ‘actions’ during Civil Rights marches was laid bare as a blatant lie – here the IRA had exploded a bomb on top of its own Bloody Sunday commemoration marchers.
While a number of IRA volunteers from January 30 1972 were quite well aware during the Civil Rights march that was about to become Bloody Sunday that IRA leader Martin McGuinness and his IRA volunteer comrade McFadden had broken through from High Street into Duffy’s Bookmakers with explosives and a Thompson submachine gun (overlooking British soldiers below in William Street), every effort was made by the IRA to cover up McGuinness’ activities on Bloody Sunday when he appeared before the Saville Inquiry.
Part of the effort involved convincing Derry people that the IRA did not operate during Civil Rights marches.
It was only much later that it became clear that the IRA did whatever it wanted to do regardless of risks to civilians, and its volunteers did in fact move weapons and explosives during Civil Rights marches and commemorations.
Robin Percival on the IRA Killing of Charles Love
Robin Percival noted that the Bloody Sunday Initiative as it was then called had organised the 1990 march and went on to record the close relationship it enjoyed with the Derry Brigade of the IRA.
Following the IRA’s killing of Charles Love, Percival recounted that the Derry Brigade IRA O.C. came to a Sinn Féin meeting to explain “one of their most spectacular botched operations“:
“It gives you an insight into IRA thinking at the time in that they went bananas at the thought that we were going to use the word ‘condemn‘…
We ended up describing it [Love’s killing] as a ‘gross error of judgement‘…Robin Percival
So, members of the Bloody Sunday Initiative attended a Sinn Féin meeting attended by the IRA O.C. on whose instruction the bomb attack occurred which killed Charles Love – and the Bloody Sunday Initiative would not “condemn” the IRA killing in order not to offend the Derry Brigade of the IRA.
Demanding inquiries and prosecutions of British soldiers, why was there no equal demand for prosecution of the IRA killers of Charles Love?
Despite the IRA’s killing of Charles Love during the march, the Bloody Sunday Initiative soldiered on the following year:
This is a most extraordinary insight into the mindset not only of Robin Percival, but also of his Bloody Sunday Initiative and Sinn Féin comrades – the IRA somehow was NOT deemed to be a “shoot to kill/death squad” even though in 1990 it had killed Charles Love right in front of their eyes…
In fact, in 1990 the IRA went on a murder rampage:
In October 1990 the IRA abducted Derryman Patsy Gillespie from his terrified family and chained him to a massive car bomb with instructions to drive it into a British Army checkpoint – Patsy was aware that IRA gunmen were holding his family hostage as he drove the IRA’s bomb.
Patsy and five soldiers were blown to bits… but the Bloody Sunday Initiative did NOT regard the IRA murderers as a “shoot to kill/death squad“…
The degree to which the Bloody Sunday Initiative was now operating as a proxy for the IRA became even clearer when it unveiled a plaque in memory of Charles Love the following year – the plaque made No Mention of his IRA killers – not exactly “Setting the Truth Free“…
Another plaque dedicated to Charles Love was erected in Townsend Street, Strabane, and it once again pointedly failed to record Love’s killers – the IRA:
It was gross hypocrisy on the part of these self-appointed justice seekers to decry British murders while pointedly ignoring many many more IRA murders while conniving with the IRA in secret meetings.
Leading Derry SDLP Councillor Pat Devine stated with regard to the Bloody Sunday Initiative’s attempt to weld its cause to that of The Birmingham Six:
The best help that Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA can offer them (The Birmingham Six) is to stay well away from the genuine campaign being waged by people of integrity who are trying to secure their freedom.
There can be no place in this genuine campaign for individuals or organizations who cannot outrightly condemn the outrage on Sunday that was an abuse of an anniversary and the wanton taking of a young life.Pat Devine, “Derry Journal”, January 30, 1990
In 1992 – true to form – the Bloody Sunday Initiative invited IRA and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to give the oration at the commemoration.
“Some of the relatives of the 13 people shot dead by troops during a Civil Rights march in 1972 fear the IRA will hijack today’s rally for propaganda purposes.”
Many relatives joined Bishop Edward Daly for the silent laying of wreaths at the memorial and a church service later.
Mairead McKinney, daughter of Gerard McKinney – one of the original Bloody Sunday victims – had the courage to protest about IRA leader Gerry Adams:
We want people to know that what the IRA is doing is something we don’t hold with…
There is no difference between the people who killed my father and the people who killed the lads in Cookstown”- [reference to an IRA bomb detonated under a workmen’s bus that killed 8 Protestants ten days earlier at Teebane crossroads]Mairead McKinney
Former Mayor of Derry and respected SDLP councillor William O’Connell declared the Bloody Sunday Initiative “a front for Sinn Féin” – which was the same as saying it was a front for the IRA.
The Bloody Sunday relatives were totally split at this point between those who opposed the IRA and those who either fully supported the IRA or were unwilling to condemn the IRA.
Local newspaper, The Derry Journal, routinely printed letters without identifying the writers who might fear intimidation by the IRA.
One such letter challenged P O’Connor and C Feely regarding the obvious IRA takeover of the commemoration:
How and by whom were relatives of those murdered on Bloody Sunday ever put in thrall to the IRA and its campaign that created the equivalent of 130 Bloody Sundays worth of victims?
Paddy Joe McClean and John Hume publicly declared that the greatest offender against Civil Rights in Northern Ireland was the Provisional IRA.
Robin Percival Inc & Inc & Inc & Inc
The first official published proofs of “retired teacher” Robin Percival’s INCORPORATION into entities alongside IRA and/and or Sinn Féin members began to appear from the year 2000 as unprecedented “Peace Dividend” monies started to flow into Northern Ireland.
These proofs were foreshadowed four years earlier when the “Bogside Residents Group/Association” was suddenly created to counter the Apprentice Boys of Derry marches.
Not alone was non-Bogside resident Robin Percival prominent in it as one of its two spokespersons, but also the other acknowledged spokesperson was convicted IRA gunman and would-be police killer Denis Nelis who later effected a name change to ‘the IRA gunman who wished to be known as Donncha MacNiallais‘.
Percival isn’t safe to be let out in Derry/Londonderry – at every turn he uncovers another convicted IRA bomber, gunman or ardent Sinn Féiner…
In October of 1999, a few months before he incorporated The Bloody Sunday Trust, Robin Percival was appointed Director of Cúnamh Ltd – ‘cúnamh’ just being the Irish word for aid or assistance – along with convicted IRA gunman and locally alleged ‘tout’ Raymond McCartney and Sinn Féiner Colm Barton.
As sure as a magnet attracts iron filings, Our Man Percival just can’t keep those pesky IRA volunteers and Sinn Féiners at bay!
At the same time, Derry’s Most Popular and Most Available Company Director/Charity Trustee – Robin Percival – was appointed Director of a separate entity Cúnamh ICT Ltd.
On 14 June 2000 Percival incorporated The Bloody Sunday Trust listing himself and IRA volunteer Tony Doherty as the very first directors, witnessed by ‘community entrepreneur’ Conal McFeely and situated at the Northern Ireland Cooperative Development Agency office in Shipquay Street.
Born in January of 1963, Tony Doherty was 9yrs old when his father had been killed on Bloody Sunday.
Almost a decade later, Tony Doherty rejected the ethos of the non-violent Civil Rights movement (that had motivated his father) when he swore allegiance to the Army Council of the IRA and became an active volunteer, in his case a bomber and gunman.
He was arrested and later convicted in 1982 for the bombing of a furniture shop in Derry city centre.
Doherty sought and got a letter from Bishop Edward Daly with a view to mitigating his sentence – this was read out by the judge.
His co-defendant Thomas Carlin sought and got SDLP councillor and former Mayor of Derry Pat Devine to speak on his behalf to mitigate his sentence.
Both sang like canaries to the arresting RUC detectives.
In an unusual turn for IRA prisoners, Doherty even pleaded guilty to his bomb and gun charges – this guilty plea would have gained him a much shorter sentence.
He got 8 years for the bomb and gun charges which – with the generous 50% remission granted by the British government – meant that Doherty served a mere 4 years for his IRA bombing activities.
After his release in 1985, and after his incorporation into the Bloody Sunday Trust, Doherty had the nerve to publicly question Bishop Edward Daly’s complaint about IRA infiltration of the Bloody Sunday Trust.
This was typical of Provisional IRA prisoners in general – run to the bosom of the SDLP and Catholic church for help when arrested and brought before the courts and then – after their early release back into society – bite the hands that aided them.
Of all the many relatives of victims of Bloody Sunday who would never associate themselves with violence, Robin Percival chose to incorporate a convicted IRA bomber and gunman as one of the first Directors of the Bloody Sunday Trust (June 14, 2000).
The Pat Finucane Centre
Robin Percival has repeatedly claimed responsibility for co-founding The Pat Finucane Centre which was incorporated in July 2008 but without any initial reference to Robin Percival anywhere on the filings.
This changed in 2009 when he had himself appointed one of its Company Directors.
However, the Contact Person listed on the first company filings was none other than that veteran and closet IRA volunteer gunman and bomber Paul O’Connor who was also apparently “appointed” as a salaried Project Manager or Director of the Centre (different from a company director) apparently without any open job advertising or interviews.
So of all the available talent in the city of Derry/Londonderry, Robin Percival managed to appoint as Project Manager/Project Director – often referred to as Director of the Pat Finucane Centre – a well-known IRA member who not only posed around the Bogside with IRA weaponry without a mask but was willing to be photographed doing so by the press.
It was well known to IRA members and IRA supporters in Derry that Paul O’Connor had gone “on the run” in the Bogside “Free Derry” area in August of 1971 immediately after the murder of teenage IRA volunteer Jim O’Hagan in Deanfield, the salubrious gated community where O’Connor then lived in the Waterside.
It was equally well known that a bomb factory had been discovered in an empty barn opposite Paul O’Connor’s home where Jim was shot and killed and where guns and ammunition were discovered.
It was equally well known that two of Paul O’Connor’s IRA volunteer comrades in his Waterside Unit did NOT flee after their comrade was murdered by another IRA volunteer – these two were arrested and later convicted and jailed while Paul went on the run and left them to their fate.
These were Frank Plumb and Gerry McLaughlin – for their guilty pleas and cooperation with the police, they received much reduced sentences.
It was well known that Paul O’Connor had been a fully active IRA gunman/bomber from the safety of the Free Derry area for a year afterwards – as evidenced by the photographs showing him arming his Company of IRA volunteers – handing them their weapons from the back of a van.
So while Robin Percival was associating with Sinn Féin members – many of whom had unapologetic dual membership of Sinn Féin AND the IRA – it was NO SECRET that Paul O’Connor had a violent IRA background dating back to 1971 and beyond that period even to when he joined the IRA in September of 1970.
One close friend of Percival was convicted IRA gunman Raymond McCartney who had been a co-director of Cúnamh Ltd for seven years with Percival since 1999.
McCartney had told the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that he joined the IRA just after Bloody Sunday and within days was able to ascertain the names of the leadership of the IRA at that time [see here] – I believe him – it would have been possible during “Free Derry”.
McCartney was an IRA gunman at precisely the same time that Paul O’Connor was openly carrying guns and displaying guns at checkpoints around the Bogside and Creggan in 1972 – IRA volunteer Raymond McCartney must have known his fellow IRA volunteer gunman Paul O’Connor very well indeed.
Surely Raymond McCartney mentioned to his pal and co-director of Cúnamh Ltd – Robin Percival – that his choice of Project Leader/Manager/Project Director for The Pat Finucane Centre – our Paul O’Connor – was an old IRA volunteer comrade gunman of his back in the day in Free Derry???
Did all of the various IRA members and Sinn Féin members surrounding Percival fail to tell him about Paul O’Connor’s background of involvement in murder, bombing and shootings???
Didn’t Percival ever ask Paul O’Connor why his studies in the Strand Technical College had been so suddenly interrupted unfinished with him eventually fleeing ‘on the run’ to Germany, then to Nicaragua, then to New York before returning to Derry years later with the whiff of blood, cordite and gelignite trailing after him?
It was no secret that he had been ordered out of Derry by the IRA and had disappeared abroad for many years.
What was unexplained was Paul O’Connor’s return to the city somehow evading or avoiding any inquiry or prosecution for the the murder of Jim O’Hagan, the bomb factory, the guns and explosives and the period as an IRA gunman/bomber around Free Derry for a year with widely shared photographs to prove it.
This return period – unhindered by police, army or the IRA – was entirely unexplained.
So, of all the available candidates in Derry/Londonderry, Robin Percival appointed IRA volunteer Paul O’Connor to the top job in the newly founded Pat Finucane Centre either without a simple background check – a failure of due diligence – or else he knew very well indeed Paul O’Connor’s IRA background when he appointed him as a closet IRA volunteer masquerading as a squeaky-clean Human Rights activist.
How was Robin Percival constantly falling over Derry IRA volunteers and Sinn Féiners when he was incorporating companies and handing out jobs or directorships???
Did the former pacifist or ghost of Quaker in him never stop to ask: “What the **** is going on with all these IRA volunteers and Shinners suddenly flocking to a Brit??”
‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’…
Robin Percival & Paul O’Connor Unmasked
In August of 2018 Loyalist activist and blogger Jamie Bryson was the first person to publish allegations that Paul O’Connor had been involved in an IRA murder and was in receipt of an OTR letter – allegations that brought Bryson threats of legal action.
This would have been a good time for the Board of Directors/Trustees of the Pat Finucane Centre to ask O’Connor if he had in fact been in the IRA – nobody knows if he was so asked and nobody’s telling.
In November 2019, this blog produced photographic evidence of Paul O’Connor’s IRA activities and detailed accounts of his IRA past. [See here.]
Within days, Robin Percival’s Pat Finucane Centre issued a statement denouncing the allegations as unproven and as part of a Loyalist plot…
There must have been some major communication clusterfart between close buddies Percival and O’Connor because with 2 or 3 hours of Percival’s fantasy denunciation of the allegations about PaulieWaulie, Paul himself broke down under the gentle interrogation of Seamus McKinney of The Irish News newspaper and confirmed this blog’s allegations as TRUE…
How to explain Robin Percival’s excessive efforts – contradicted within hours by O’Connor himself – to cover for his deceitful buddy pal Paul O’Connor?
Nobody asked Percival and Percival isn’t telling.
This Truth Is Not Being Set Free by Percival.
How to explain Robin Percival’s failure either to admit his knowledge of Paul O’Connor’s IRA background during the many years that O’Connor masqueraded as a clean Human Rights activist employed by the Pat Finucane Centre or else the absence of any righteous outrage at Paul O’Connor’s deceit and lies that have tainted the Pat Finucane Centre even now?
How to explain the Board of Directors/Trustees of The Pat Finucane Centre failing to act with regard to O’Connor’s background – either they knew about it and covered it up or they didn’t know and yet have failed to take any action against O’Connor?
While many citizens would imagine that IRA members who committed terrible Civil Rights and Human Rights atrocities would shy away from putting themselves before the searing scrutiny of any Human Rights organisation for fear of having their terrible deeds uncovered and broadcast to the world – this has neve been an issue with any of the three organisations that Robin Percival has claimed to have founded or co-founded.
There was never going to be any investigation of IRA Civil Rights and Human Rights atrocities.
IRA members Paul O’Connor, Raymond McCartney, Martina Anderson and Tony Doherty feared no inquiries while serving.
IRA Chief of Staff Martin McGuinness feared no investigation of his 25 years of mass murder and bombings as he smiled and beamed among these “rights activists”.
2011 – The Last Bloody Sunday March?
At the founding of the Bloody Sunday Justice Committee back in 1992, there were three original demands as recorded in various references:
It was also agreed that the campaign would need clear, simple demands. Eventually, a three-point platform was agreed. The three demands were;
1) The repudiation of [The] Widgery [Tribunal] and institution of a new inquiry.
2) Formal acknowledgement of the innocence of all the victims.
3) The prosecution of those responsible for the deaths and injuries.
The campaign stressed that these were its only demands. A statement went out to the press:
‘We welcome into membership anyone who supports our objectives irrespective of religion or political persuasion.’
When in 2010 British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised after the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday had vindicated claims that those shot dead by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday were in fact innocent Civil Rights marchers, the question arose whether the subsequent 2011 Bloody Sunday commemoration march should be the last.
Tom Bentley noted:
” An apology can declare an issue resolved, thereby delegitimising and reducing space for those who point to how the injustice endures.
In this vein, Cameron’s (2010) apology, like others of the genre, stated the wish to ‘move on’ and ‘close this painful chapter’.
Intriguingly, in the case of Bloody Sunday, it was not only the apologiser who engaged in the discourse of closure; certain relatives and others who had campaigned so tirelessly for justice publicly declared that day that ‘we have overcome’.
The IRA and its political front Sinn Féin appeared eager to “move on” and to kill the commemorative march that had served it so well over the years.
IRA volunteer and Bloody Sunday Trust front man Tony Doherty uttered the lines:
The march has always been used as a tool for our campaign for truth and justice. It was used to keep the memory of the dead alive and to keep the injustice and the denial of truth in the public eye.
We don’t expect and we can’t expect the people of Derry to keep marching on our behalf when the vast majority of us believe the campaign has been successfully concluded.
IRA Chief of Staff Martin McGuinness’ favourite local protégé, Presbyterian minister David Latimer, hailed a “new era for good relations in the city” – merely because the Bloody Sunday march was being disappeared?
The sudden republican interest in killing the march raised a number of important issues.
If there was a majority of families in support of ending the march, there was now a minority that disagreed.
What’s more, these dissenting families claimed that they had not been warned of the sudden announcement.
One family’s position was described in the press:
Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, said she felt the decision to end the march was “very premature”.
She added: “It was dropped on us like a ton of bricks, completely unexpectedly. Who decided the march should end and why?”
“The people of Derry were not afforded the opportunity of having an opinion about this and I feel they should have had.”
Most obviously, one of the three original aims of the 1992 Bloody Sunday Justice Committee had not been met – “The prosecution of those responsible for the deaths and injuries“.
Why the sudden rush to end the march while not all the families were in agreement and one of the three foundational aims had not yet been met?
It was not long before claims were aired of a dirty secret deal between the IRA/Sinn Féin bloc and the British Government dating from as far back as the signing of The Belfast Agreement in 1998 – signed within months of Tony Blair announcing the new Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings.
The IRA’s secret deal with the Blair government over “On The Run” letters – effectively an amnesty for IRA members “on the run” – must have had an equivalent prize for the Brits – namely a similar amnesty for British soldiers and in particular those soldiers in the frame now for the Bloody Sunday murders.
Commentators noticed what appeared to be a remarkable choreography surrounding the David Cameron apology for Bloody Sunday and the subsequent Bloody Sunday organisers’ sudden decision to end the march.
Within months of the announcement that “organisers” were going to end the march, Chief Organiser himself – Englishman Robin Percival – was rewarded by his appointment by Her Majesty’s Government to the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland where his obvious pro-Sinn Féin bent would be brought to bear on curbing traditional Orange Order and Protestant Ulster Loyalist street marches – a major prize indeed for Sinn Féin.
In the press briefing accompanying the announcement of the new appointment, Robin Percival’s background and activities were reduced to:
Robin Percival has spent his career in education and is currently writing his second novel.
Wow! That left out all of the information only summarised here!
Her Majesty’s Government rewarded retired teacher Robin with a stipend of a cool £25,000 per annum for his participation in the commission.
Percival and Bogside comrades then set about doing what they previously claimed had been done to them – they began to undermine and delegitimize those families who wished to continue the Bloody Sunday commemoration march – the easiest way to do this was to have them labeled “dissidents”.
IRA Volunteer Tony Doherty commented:
“The dissidents . . . [were] attending the march, Sinn Fein was attending the march, the SDLP was attending march, the Socialist Workers were attending the march and our groups.
So it became quite factionalised.”Tom Bentley Interview.
Like it wasn’t factionalised before by Doherty’s IRA?
Percival gave his more educated opinion:
“People Before Profit, some of the dissidents . . . IRSP [Irish Republican Socialist Party], people like that. They feed it because it fits the narrative that they want people to believe, which is that nothing has changed even though many, many, many things have changed. That the Brits are devious bastards and that the Saville Report was hogwash and, in fact, par [Eamonn] McCann, little different from Widgery. This feeds that kind of desire on the part of some [who] want to claim that Sinn Fein was party to all of this, which, of course, is utter nonsense. Sinn Fein weren’t even party to the decision to end the march.”Tom Bentley Interview
Percival particularly disliked Eamonn McCann’s political views.
Even local MP, the SDLP’s Mark Durkan – a later transfer to Fine Gael – joined in:
“The danger is that some of the people . . . continuing [to] march, unfortunately some of them are people who are also associated with a continuity IRA mentality.”Tom Bentley Interview
Put the boot in why don’t you, Mark!
Much of this Derry backstabbing fell on sisters Kate and Linda Nash whose 19 year old brother William Nash was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and whose father Alex was shot twice [but survived] as he attempted to go to his son’s aid.
Linda Nash had told Tom Bentley:
Nice as apologies are, I mean, they murdered somebody in broad daylight deliberately and unarmed, unarmed people, is brutal murder, and how can you atone for that? The only way you can atone for that in any way is to go to trial, face the court, and be tried for what you done.
It was deal making between Sinn Fein and the Northern Ireland Office. That’s who arranged it all… We feel that was also part of the deal making. ‘We’ll apologise and stop the marching’…
They all work in that museum [Museum of Free Derry] over there, and they would further Sinn Fein’s aims . . . they tried to stop . . . the Bloody Sunday march, then we protested.
Liam Wray, whose brother Jim Wray was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, told Tom Bentley:
The man who fired the bullets into my brother’s back was responsible, but his officers and the political machinations that went on before that are equally important because those people are responsible. And we didn’t get that. We got [in the inquiry and apology] the easiest thing, and the idea was that we’d all go home quietly and joyously and happy.
And so the key influencer who claimed he had originated The Bloody Sunday Trust, The Pat Finucane Centre and The Museum of Free Derry – Our Man Robin Percival – who had begun by labeling Protestant Apprentice Boys as “outsiders coming in from other places” had now graduated to feeling confident enough of local backing to label families of victims of Bloody Sunday as outsiders of another kind:
People Before Profit, some of the dissidents . . . IRSP [Irish Republican Socialist Party], people like that…
It was only because Robin Percival the English Outsider knew he had the backing of the IRA movement in town that he could so carelessly disparage those Derry underdogs who were now to be ‘delegitimised’…
As Linda Nash told Tom Bentley:
They were desperate to stop us marching. Sinn Féin also said that if we organised the march, they would delegitimise us… The Bloody Sunday march was boycotted by all IRA groups.
I says, usually they would come and give you a hiding, or they would give you a battering, they just boycotted us. They couldn’t come and tell us why.
Yesterday’s poachers had turned today’s gamekeepers.
Robin Percival & The Museum of Free Derry
It’s not impossible, but I would argue that it is unlikely that the Museum of Free Derry will ever investigate, record and publish a detailed record of the Provisional IRA’s reign of terror and horrific Human Rights atrocities committed in, around and from Free Derry.
Nor will it ever do the same for the Official IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army.
Just in the Derry city area, and including Claudy (less than 10 miles from the city centre) and counting the IRA’s bombs in Coleraine, the Derry Brigade of the IRA murdered 51 unarmed civilians – that’s 4 times as many unarmed civilians as the Paras murdered. [See here.]
Some IRA victims were abducted, tortured, extra-judicially “executed” and had their bodies dumped at Foyle Road, Brae Head or the Buncrana Road.
The corpse of one murdered abductee was disappeared and then later reappeared, dumped in a coffin at the border after being unceremoniously dug up from a bog grave.
This victim was shot in the back of the head at close range with a high velocity rifle – as a result, his last funeral was a ‘closed coffin’ affair owing to the man’s exploded skull.
Others – like Brandywell child Kathleen Feeney – were shot in “accidents” that were denied for decades…
Or like Frank McConnellogue – Vice Chair of the Bogside Community Association – and 9 years old Gordon Gallagher in Creggan – who were blown to bits by IRA boobytrap bombs set down beside civilian homes.
No, the IRA influence over organisations founded or co-founded by Robin Percival has prevented any IRA Human Rights violators ever being interviewed, deposed, shunned, embarrassed or brought to account by these self-appointed fearful champions of Human Rights.
Fearful? Fearful to speak truth to the IRA.
Robin Percival & Eamonn McCann
Although Robin Percival has never recovered from the unmasking of his close buddy Paul O’Connor, he has never been opposed to public unmasking himself.
When the “Raytheon 9” Anti-War protesters were on trial for entering and allegedly damaging the Raytheon plant in Derry, and while they were garnering national and international support from Anti-War organisations, Robin Percival helpfully published why Derry people were NOT supporting them – and highlighted their political colouring and that they were NOT GENUINE anti-war protesters or true internationalists:
Actually, only six of the defendants are in the dock. Three others are currently on remand in the Republic of Ireland on charges relating to dissident republican activity…
While there is widespread opposition to Raytheon it is not reflected in terms of demonstrations and public meetings.
In part this has to do with the individual politics of the Raytheon Nine themselves.
Four of the nine are linked to the Socialist Workers’ Party (of whom Eamonn McCann would be the best known) but the other five are members of dissident republican organisations such as the 32 Counties Sovereignty Movement (the political wing of the Real IRA, the organisation responsible for the Omagh bomb) and the IRSP (Irish Republican Socialist Party, which split from Official Sinn Féin in 1974).
There is a suspicion that their involvement in the Raytheon campaign has more to do with the argument with Sinn Féin rather than from a genuine anti-war and internationalist perspective.Robin Percival
Robin Percival – the man who knows the genuine from the not genuine.
And speaking to Tom Bentley, Robin Percival once more expressed his personal dislikes:
People Before Profit, some of the dissidents . . . IRSP [Irish Republican Socialist Party], people like that. They feed it because it fits the narrative that they want people to believe, which is that nothing has changed even though many, many, many things have changed. That the Brits are devious bastards and that the Saville Report was hogwash and, in fact, par [Eamonn] McCann, little different from Widgery.
Eamonn McCann resigned from the Bloody Sunday Trust in 2012.
McCann has continued to march alongside the families “delegitimised” by Percival and others.
In response to Percival’s criticisms, Eamonn McCann stated:
I am involved in the Bloody Sunday campaign not because I am a republican but because I am a socialist and therefore anti-imperialist.
I have marched on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday every year since the killings took place.
I am a founder member of the Bloody Sunday Trust and was Chair of the Trust for 10 years.
I am a member of the Derry Anti-War Coalition.
I am one of the founders and am now one of the four convenors of the Gathering, the network of environmental activist groups across the North and further afield.
I am Chair of the Board of the Void Gallery, the international reputation of which is based on its role in bringing challenging radical art to Ireland and involvement in giving artistic expression to progressive campaigns.
I am involved in the fight for a woman’s right to choose and for Gay and Trans liberation.
I have been a committed Trades Unionist for many years.
As a member of People Before Profit, I do not see these as different or distinct activities. They are all the one, all elements of the same anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist approach to politics.
In each of the campaigns in which I have been involved, I have worked, usually harmoniously, with people who haven’t agreed with me on things other than the objectives of that particular campaign.
For socialists such as myself, capitalism is the source of al our political ills. Imperialism is the root cause of national oppression.
The responsibility for Bloody Sunday lies with British imperialism in the service of the capitalist system. The responsibility of socialists in the Bloody Sunday campaign is to hold the British State to account.
In contrast to Widgery, Saville’s tribunal vindicated the innocence of the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre (with the singular and disgraceful exception of Gerald Donaghy). This was a huge victory for the campaign, in particular for the families of the victims.
Like thousands of others, I cavorted with joy for the families on the day Saville’s report was published.
But Saville fell far short of pinning the blame on the proper culprits, the British ruling class in its political and military manifestations. I have written extensively on this aspect of the matter.
I believe I have shown that Saville ignored or distorted crucial aspects of the evidence before him so as to be able to produce a report which left imperialism off the hook.
This is most clearly evidenced in Saville’s refusal to follow the evidence in relation to Michael Jackson, the man who physically wrote out the cover-up of the mass murder. For this and other services to the state, Jackson subsequently rose through the ranks to become Chief of the General Staff, Britain’s top soldier.
Had Saville told the truth about Jackson, David Cameron would not have been able to tell the House of Commons and the world that while the behaviour of a bunch of paratroopers on the ground had been “unjustified and unjustifiable”, no blame attached to the British Army as a whole, and certainly none to Britain itself.
The publication of Saville’s report was a great day for the families.
It wasn’t a bad day either for the British ruling class either.
We have marched a long way since January 30th 1972, but the murderers and the men behind the murderers have not yet been held to account.
There is still a way to go, which is why we march on.
Robin Percival has, over the years, expressed admiration for Sinn Féin, even when members of Sinn Féin expressed the most vile “jokes” about IRA massacres of Protestants.
One such massacre occurred at Kingsmill, County Armagh, when IRA gunmen stopped a van carrying 11 Protestant workmen who were made to stand alongside their van before being riddled with bullets.
Ten victims died and one survived.
On the 42nd anniversary of the massacre, Sinn Féin MLA [member of the legislative assembly at Stormont – the local parliament in Northern Ireland] Barry McElduff posted a selfie video on social media showing himself in a service station where he managed to find a loaf of Kingsmill bread which he placed prominently on his head.
Robin Percival could not contain himself – he had to support the insupportable.
Following a 3 month suspension by his party, McElduff could not quell the revulsion over his sectarian video and was forced to resign.
Robin Percival believes IRA Chief of Staff and IRA Chief Liar Gerry Adams should have won the Nobel Peace Prize over John Hume…
Robin has never understood the antipathy that some people feel towards Gerry Adams…
Could it possibly have anything to do with the extra-judicial execution of – and disappearance of the corpse of – Jean McConville and Gerry’s 50 years of lies about his IRA membership and leadership?
IRA leader & liar Gerry Adams gently grilled by RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan:
Robin Percival was plucked from obscurity by Her Majesty’s government and awarded a seat on the Parades Commission.
It is not impossible that his efforts will shortly win him at the very least an O.B.E. and recognition among the luminaries of St. Peter’s College, Oxford at last.