The Slaying of John Downes
While reorganising my bookcase, I came upon a pamphlet, in which I have some personal interest, titled: The Slaying of John Downes. This pamphlet includes vivid photographs of more than a score of smiling constabulary, busily clubbing, dragging or shooting plastic bullets at innocent nationalists in front of Connolly House during the Internment March of August 12, 1984. Among the memorable photographs is one of a constabulary member taking direct aim to shoot John Downes, which demolished the ricochet cover story foisted on the public by the self-righteous constabulary chief.
After reading your report about the nature of the charges against Eirigi activist Stephen Murney, I must ask whether this pamphlet has now been outlawed, together with all attempts to document present or past crown force misdeeds in film or photographs.
While most of the constabulary members pictured in the pamphlet have presumably retired, some may remain as commanders, or civilian consultant Patten rehires, training their successors in the handling of Republican suspects. Perhaps some are members of the HET. All would be uniquely qualified to insure that those who committed the unjustifiable killings of Bloody Sunday or the Ballymurphy Massacre enjoy the same brand of ‘British justice’ gifted those filmed killing John Downes or Nora McCabe.
The political motives for arresting and charging Stephen Murney are patently obvious. It will be much safer for constabulary to commit perjury about assaults, stop and threaten street searches, or home invasions if they need no longer fear film or photographs surfacing to demolish their cover stories .It will be much easier for constabulary boards and partnerships to acclaim progress if only activists and photo-journalists can be made to stop filming and documenting examples of repression.
The pamphlet was issued by the Sinn Fein Publicity Department. In those days any British moves to charge anyone like Stephen Murney, who compiled film or photographs of British repression, would have been beaten back by a major campaign. The party I supported would have mobilised against such blatant censorship and repression. It would have branded any nationalist politician, who sat still inside British assemblies swallowing such an injustice, as accomplices in British repression. Where will we find such badly needed leadership now?