Supplementary Memorandum submitted by
the Royal Ulster Constabulary
RUC CONTACT WITH MR VINCENT McKENNA
1. The Committee has asked that I produce
details of contacts between Mr Vincent McKenna and the Royal Ulster
2. The following list summarises records
held at RUC Headquarters of contacts between RUC officers, Mr
McKenna, FAIT and other organisations he was associated with.
(i) April 1996Mr McKenna wrote to
the Chief Constable, on behalf of an organisation named "Verus
Justice" at Queen's University Belfast. He invited the RUC
to send a representative to a debate "Flashpoints" on
parades' issues. The invitation was declined.
(ii) March 1997FAIT complained to
the RUC via NIO, in relation to two alleged, paramilitary shebeens
(illegal drinking clubs) in West Belfast. The complaint was examined
by the local police commander who reported that the complaint
was unfounded. NIO were advised of this.
(iii) April 1999Mr Sam Cushnahan of
FAIT wrote seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss
the creation of an anti-intimidation unit in the RUC. This followed
FAIT's submission to the Patten Commission. The Chief Constable
initially agreed to meet FAIT but was later unable to do so. A
Chief Inspector from RUC Community Affairs Branch did however
attend a meeting at which FAIT discussed their submission to the
(iv) June 1999Mr McKenna wrote to
NIO expressing concern at threats made to him. NIO requested that
RUC carry out a security assessment. This was completed and NIO
later admitted Mr McKenna to the Northern Ireland Key Persons
(v) In September 1999, a member of the public
wrote to Downing Street expressing concern at threats to Mr McKenna
from various paramilitary groups. These papers were passed from
the Prime Minister's Office to the NIO and then the RUC. The RUC
responded listing attacks on/threats to Mr McKenna and agreeing
that there was a serious threat to Mr McKenna, who had recently
been admitted to the Northern Ireland Key Persons Protection Scheme.
(vi) In July 2000, Mr McKenna wrote to the
Secretary of State, as a representative of the Northern Ireland
Human Rights Bureau. He complained of an alleged amnesty for wanted
terrorists. NIO referred the correspondence to the RUC, who confirmed
that if wanted persons were detected in this jurisdiction, they
would be arrested.
3. In addition to these contacts, at the
request of FAIT a Chief Inspector from RUC Community Affairs Branch
did meet Mr Sam Cushnahan on several occasions around the end
of 1997 to discuss restorative justice issues. The Chief Inspector
later delivered a presentation to a small FAIT meeting on the
RUC's views on restorative justice. After Mr Cushnahan left FAIT,
RUC Community Affairs had no further contact with FAIT.
4. In addition to the contacts listed above,
over a number of years the RUC has also become aware of threats
to or attacks on Mr McKenna. These included:
1 April 1998Alleged threat reported in
18 July 1998Allegedly attacked by six
men at Ormeau Road, Belfast. During the course of this attack
McKenna alleged his life was threatened. As a result of police
enquiries, one person was later charged with common assault and
threats to kill. He was convicted in respect of the common assault
charge only, on 18 July 1998.
27 July 1998Alleged threat reported in
16 November 1998Crude incendiary device
delivered to Mr McKenna at the FAIT office;
20 March 1999Mr McKenna found a trip wire
device at his home;
3 September 1999Mr McKenna received a
hoax device in the post;
5 September 1999Mr McKenna received two
threatening telephone calls to his home, stating "PIRA are
going to kill you".
5. At each stage Mr McKenna may have had
discussions with police on these attacks and his personal safety.
It is clear that the RUC also carried out a formal assessment
of Mr McKenna's security, as it would for any other person who
was the subject of serious threats or attacks. The results of
this were reported to the NIO, who admitted Mr McKenna to the
Northern Ireland Key Persons Protection Scheme.
6. It is, of course, possible that Mr McKenna,
on occasions, contacted other RUC officers in respect of specific
issues, eg individual cases of intimidation. Unfortunately:
(i) such contacts would not necessarily
have been recorded formally by the officers involved;
(ii) even if they were recorded, the records
will be somewhere among 54 possible local filing systems. These
are not computerised and attempting to recover any records will
be both time consuming and costly.
7. As I indicated in my oral evidence to
the Committee, the RUC contact directly with FAIT and Mr McKenna
was very limited.
8. Our general approach is that we are prepared
to meet or work with any group of law-abiding members of the public,
if we consider this will contribute to our overall aims as a police
service. FAIT adopted a very high profile on issues of paramilitary
exclusions and intimidation, especially in the media. The RUC
was frequently asked by the media to comment on or respond to
such issues and did so in line with our general policy of openness
on such issues.
9. Clearly we were aware of FAIT's activities
through the media and other sources, but the RUC did not have
any formal or informal relationship or system of co-operation
with FAIT. Indeed, FAIT only formally approached us on the occasions
outlined above. Perhaps this is not surprising. As I indicated
in my oral evidence, it is often our experience that the victims
of paramilitary attacks are reluctant to speak to the police.
FAIT may have considered that, for their own reasons, they did
not wish to be seen to work too closely with police but that must
be an issue for them.
10. Had FAIT approached us directly asking
that we co-operate in any programme or venture, we would have
considered this on the same basis as an approach from any other
voluntary group. In this context we would have had regard to:
(i) the objectives of FAIT;
(ii) the details of their proposal;
(iii) the nature of those involved in the
11. As already indicated, so far as I can
establish, the RUC was never formally approached by FAIT nor did
the RUC seek any relationship with that organisation, Verus Justice
or the Northern Ireland Human Rights Bureau.
12. Had FAIT approached us we would have
wished to examine any proposals exceptionally carefully and maintain
an "arms length" relationship with that organisation.
4 January 2001