Catholics serving as judges and prosecutors in the Northern Ireland legal system are “traitors” who will be dealt with as “collaborators” once the English are removed, a leading Tyrone republican has said.
Gerry McGeough, who was convicted in 2011 for his role in the attempted murder of a part-time UDR member in Tyrone, made his remarks while being interview on an Irish-American radio show at the weekend.
TUV leader and QC Jim Allister said McGeough’s remarks “require to be investigated as incitement,” while the daughter of a Catholic magistrate, whose sister was murdered during an IRA attack on her family, said the comments made her “beyond angry”.
As well as his conviction for the attempted murder of Sammy Brush, McGeough was also found guilty of IRA membership and of possessing the two revolvers which were used in Mr Brush’s assassination attempt.
McGeough, who was re-elected president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Tyrone earlier this year, made his controversial remarks while being interviewed by Martin Galvin for WBAI radio in New York City.
The 57-year-old former prisoner, who is now at odds with Sinn Fein, said: “There are people from republican families who are sitting as Diplock court judges, and prosecutors, and all the other stuff of the day you can’t possibly imagine, and they are arrogantly passing judgement on patriots.”
Commenting on his most recent court experiences, McGeough said: “Anyone who showed resistance was deemed to have had ‘bad character’. So you have Irish Catholics, traitors in effect, administering British rule here in the six counties.
“We want [the English] out and then we will deal with all these other issues...the collaborators and all the rest of it.”
Mr Allister said: “These despicable comments by convicted terrorist McGeough require to be investigated as incitement. They are not some abstract political attack on Catholic judges, but come in the horrific context of the IRA having carried such invective through to murderous attacks on members of the judiciary from a Roman Catholic background who dared to serve on the bench.”
The TUV leader added: “Tom Travers, Garrett McGrath and Rory Conaghan epitomise those who paid the price for incitement such as McGeough, the terrorist, not patriot, is peddling.”
Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead in a 1984 gun attack that seriously wounded her father Tom, said McGeough’s remarks were hurtful in the extreme – and as offensive as Sinn Fein’s decision to “reward” one of those involved in the murder with a lucrative special adviser’s role at Stormont.
“I would like to see the Catholic church come out behind families like mine,” she said.
“I came off Twitter because on there my dad was called all sorts of names – his attempted murder was justified, and Mary’s murder was justified, that they deserved what they got. I find what [McGeough] said to be a bit of a threat to people like me, who are now standing up and speaking out, and who felt that we are safe to speak up and talk about our families when you still have people out there who have those sort of views.”
Mrs Travers added: “Does he think that I’m a traitor because I’m a Catholic and I speak out against the IRA?
“Is that what he’s saying, because my dad was in the judiciary? Do we still have to fear them? Everything is far from okay if that is what people think. And I would hope that other victims – from whatever section of the community – would stand up and say absolutely that what that man said is completely wrong, because no one has the right to take a life.”
Mrs Travers said there never was any justification for killing Catholics, or anyone else, working in the judiciary, security forces or civilian support staff, and added: “They were not traitors and they gave more to this country than [armed republicans] ever have or ever will.”
In the same interview, McGeough said a united Ireland was needed urgently – “not for the north, but for the sake of the south”.
He said: “The south urgently needs us northerners to take control of things because they have just gone so wishy-washy it’s beyond belief – they’ve no spark of patriotism, they’ve turned their back on their faith, everything you could possibly imagine – they’ve really no sense of Irishness worth talking about so we have to re-instill all that in them.”
On Brexit, he said he voted for it knowing the following “chaos” would break up the UK, which in turn would lead to a united Ireland.
“The only way we’re going to get a united Ireland is to break up the United Kingdom, so-called. And now what we’re seeing is people are starting to openly talk about border polls and all the rest of it. Why do we need a border poll? Why do we have to vote to prove anything? They [English] just need to get the hell out of our country,” McGeough added.