Author, activist coming to Philly area to discuss book on British government murders

Author Mark McGovern and Relatives for Justice CEO Mark Thompson will be in the Philadelphia area on Sunday to promote a book they say shows Britain armed, directed, paid and protected loyalist agents to carry out murders in east Tyrone and south Derry, in Northern Ireland, then denied blame.

McGovern and Thompson’s local appearance will be the start of an American launch of Collusion and Counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland that will take them to six states and Washington, D.C., arranged by, among others, Martin Galvin, chairman of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Freedom for All.

The book launched on May 9 at St. Mary’s College in Belfast.

The men will appear on Sunday, June 2, at the MacSwiney Club, 510 Greenwood Ave., Jenkintown, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The visit is organized by Gerry McHale and Pearse Kerr. The venue was chosen in memory of Liam Ryan, a former member of the Irish-American Clan na Gael organization whose murder is one of those investigated in the book. The Bronx resident attended events at MacSwiney.

McGovern, a Derry native and sociology professor at England’s Edge Hill University, and Thompson will also visit North Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. They will travel to D.C. for a series of congressional briefings on June 4-5, with a possible appearance at the National Press Club.

The men will challenge British officials who claim they were responsible for only 10 percent of the north’s killings during The Troubles, fighting that took place in the late 20th century. The book combines original eyewitness accounts, unpublished materials, court transcripts, interviews with survivors of the violence and relatives of murder victims, forensic and ballistic evidence and British military studies to present a case for British collusion.

Mark Thompson

In an interview, Thompson said he hopes Congress’ Helsinki Commission, co-chaired by longtime New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, will continue to examine issues such as policing reforms and, specifically, promote an independent international judicial inquiry into the 1989 murder of human rights attorney Pat Finucane.

“I suppose that pressure from the U.S. has always been pivotal in moving the British, nudging them in the right direction, as there obviously exists vested interest from (the UK) viewpoint in resisting open, transparent and legally compliant investigations into state killings and collusion,” he said.

Thompson, who has previously given evidence at congressional hearings and at the United Nations, said the book focuses on murders from 1988-94. Two of the more barbaric murders, he said, were those of the wife of a republican who was seven months pregnant and the elderly relative of another republican.

In addition, he said, more than 25,000 republicans were jailed. Only four British soldiers were imprisoned, later released and reinstated back to their regiments.

“We want the families’ stories to be heard and the truth to be told to a U.S. audience, which in turn creates the momentum for movement on these issues back home,” he said. “We want people to attend the launches, hear firsthand, and get the book – to share with others and create more awareness of the issues that still require to be addressed. With enough U.S. pressure, we can achieve the implementation of independent investigations.” ••