Christy Walsh Heard in New York But not Belfast

Sandy Boyer (SB) interviews Christy Walsh (CW) via telephone from Ireland about his legal case and his current hunger strike to obtain justice.

WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
4 April 2015

SB: And now we're going over to Ireland – we're talking to Christy Walsh.    This is Christy's twentieth day on hunger strike. He was framed by the British Paratroopers - served seven years - he's trying to clear his name. Christy, thanks very much for being with us. 

CW:  You're welcome and thank you for having me. 

SB:  And Christy, the first obvious question is: Why? I mean, you're not in prison. Why is it so important to you to clear your name that you're on a hunger strike? 

CW:  Because even to this day it still impacts on my life - from work or anything I try to do - it's there. It doesn't go away. 

SB:  And how are you feeling? I mean, this is your twentieth day on hunger strike.

CW:  There was a lot of anticipation about the idea of what going on a hunger strike would be like but it's not what I really thought it would be like. The first few days I had like low sugar moments and just the hunger, the craving. Now, I don't feel hungry. I know my stomach's empty. But I'm in good enough spirits. There's a few moments maybe where I feel a bit more run-down or so but overall I'm pretty strong, you know? 

SB:  And Christy, every day while you're on hunger strike you've been sending two emails: one to Peter Robinson, who is the leader of the Stormont government in Northern Ireland and the other to Martin McGuinness, formerly of the IRA, who's the Deputy First Minister. Has either one ever gotten back to you? 

CW:  Neither one of them have gotten back to me and I'm not asking for anything other than the law stipulate that they can deliver. 

SB:  Now to be frank, I'm not surprised that Peter Robinson doesn't get back to you. Peter Robinson is with the Democratic Unionist Party - it was Ian Paisley's party - and to be very frank I think his point-of-view is probably that all Irish Republican should probably all rot in gaol. So you're not going to get a lot of sympathy from him. 

But Martin McGuinness on the other hand, is the former Officer Commanding of the IRA in Derry, the former Chief-of-Staff of the IRA, he would have had comrades on hunger strike, many comrades in prison, so I'm kind of surprised that he hasn't gotten back to you. 

CW: Well, I'm actually surprised over the years because one of the most notable things that I have discovered is that more British soldiers, more members of the British Parliament, more Unionists have written to me than elected members of Sinn Féin. They have been much more positive towards me than any elected member of Sinn Féin ever has been.

And I didn't come on here really to attack parties but that is I have to give fair dues to many English people who have supported me.  And there was one British soldier in fact who came into West Belfast, conducted his own investigation who's totally supported me over the years and it's marvelous what he did. But Sinn Féin wouldn't.

SB:  And what are you asking Martin McGuinness to do, specifically? 

CW:  Well, David Ford – I had a court date on the 31st of May and what the court was going to look at was prosecutorial misconduct. I have a lot of evidence that soldiers claim that they were coached prior to the trial.  One retracted his trial testimony under police caution when it was discovered that it was completely false. And another one had told us that he had made – his original statements - had all gone missing and he was told to re-write them or he was ordered to re-write them – and what they took out actually was that these soldiers - these same soldiers that arrested me - had arrested other people prior to my arrival at the scene. And these people were, well at least I know at least one of them, was discretely released the following day.

Now, I don't know the story about who these people are, whether they were involved with paramilitaries or whether they weren't, but the head of British intelligence, John Derek Martindale, he was head of intelligence right through the conflict, and I have a hand-written report of his where he identifies one of these men as having been the original person to have had possession of this device and not me. 

SB:  Yeah, that was a masonry jar if I'm not mistaken? 

CW:  A coffee jar – a glass coffee jar. 

SB:  A glass coffee jar. Did it contain gasoline or anything?

CW:  Sorry? 

SB:  Did this jar have gasoline or anything in it? 

CW:  It had a small quantity of explosives in it. 

SB:  Oh, okay, but you didn't have - but the fact is that you are falsely accused of having that in your possession. 

CW:  Well, yes. There's quite a volume of evidence that shows that I'm demonstrably innocent and the court has refused to hear it and it is gone - it's been referred to David Ford really to handle it...(crosstalk) 

SB:  ...David Ford is the Minister of Justice. 

CW:  ...the Justice Minister and that's not due process to have a Unionist politician to decide whether I'm guilty or innocent. Now David Ford came up with the idea that there was forensic evidence on me and he went into court and testified that and my lawyers didn't rebut that. But there's no forensic evidence exists against me – none whatsoever! Not even a fragment. None! Not a microscopic element of forensics exists against me. 

But David Ford went into court and told the court that exists – my lawyers didn't rebut it - and it stands - and that was only in 2012. 

SB:  But as you said, David Ford is a Unionist politician. He was put in office through a deal, because he's with the Alliance Party, and Sinn Féin and the DUP made a deal. They said: We can't have someone from the DUP as the Minister of Justice. We can't have someone from Sinn Féin and we don't want someone from the Social Democratic Labour Party so we'll have somebody from the Alliance Party. And they put him there and they've kept him there ever since. And I would say, at least, that that is why you can't get justice. 

CW:  Well, David Ford and his department have summed it up quite well I think and they have, from internal reports which I have, that their reason for opposing me getting any justice is: That if Walsh's application succeeds it could raise his profile and it could raise concern about other convictions. So they're not even worried about me. They're worried about other cases that are there – and I don't know what these cases are - but that's their concern. 

And the reason for that concern is: I have caught a prosecutor red-handed. I took a prosecutor's file from the court room - I gave it to the police, I gave it to the judiciary and I gave it to all the senior politicians - here's the evidence - now do something with it. 

One member of David Ford's party wrote to me that really, I could be done for theft for stealing a file from a court room. So I went to Mount Pottinger RUC Base in the centre of the city and I offered myself in. I said: Either I'll assist you in the investigation of a crime or I am the person that should be investigated. I took a file from the court room without the prosecutor's knowledge or permission. I did it - so do something about it – and they won't.

SB:  But it would seem to me that from what you're saying that what David Ford said - that he's worried! There might be other miscarriages of justice out there - other people who have been unjustly victimised. 

And he seems to be saying that if you're vindicated they might have to vindicate other people as well. And that's a fairly damning indictment of the whole justice system in The North. 

CW:  And this isn't going back to the past because the prosecutor we're talking about is still actively a prosecutor to this day. So it's not something sort of this is where we're talking about The Troubles and everything's changed now. No, these people are still in place. 

SB:  Before we let you go - it would seem to me this is a pretty extraordinary news story. This is your twentieth day on hunger strike.  Every day you send an email to the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister - and has any Northern Ireland paper covered this? 

CW:  Not one. But there is one paper over in the UK – over in England which - it has expressed some interest of doing an interview with me this week. 

SB:  Well, that's good news.

CW:  It is. 

SB: But you would think that the media right on the ground in the North of Ireland might have some interest in this story. 

CW:  I'm at as much a loss as you are on that.

SB:  And we should - before I let you go - I think I need to thank Anthony McIntyre of The Pensive Quill, the blog The Pensive Quill, which I recommend to you very highly. And Anthony brought this case to my attention. If you go on The Pensive Quill every day you'll get the latest news on this hunger strike.

So Christy, thanks very much, the best of luck to you. We hope that you're cleared very soon so that you can come off this hunger strike. 

CW:  Thank you and could I actually just affirm what you just said on Anthony – I mean he's done sterling work and but for him probably a great many people would never have known anything.

SB:  And by the way – I just want to say: I'm sitting three thousand miles away in New York City – if I can find out about this case, Martin McGuinness, who's in Belfast (or Derry) can find out about it just as easily.

CW:  It's hitting him in the face every day he opens up his computer.

SB:  Okay, well Christy, as I said, we hope that we don't have to talk to you again because we hope that you'll be cleared and you'll be able to come off hunger strike. So thank you very much and we're going to be keeping track of your case. 

CW: You're welcome.  All the best.  Thank you. 

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