" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Friday, February 03, 2006

THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS - founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year .......
First published in 'AP/RN' , 27th February 1986 .

The rise of Sinn Fein after 1916 caused division within the trades' council's ranks : in 1917 , the DCTU refused to participate in the Sinn Fein Convention , arguing that they would only attend a labour movement convention . William O' Brien and Thomas Farren were sent to explain the DCTU's attitude but instead stayed and made a significant contribution to the Sinn Fein conference .

Other trades' councils attacked them for this and a train of events was set in motion which eventually led to a split in March 1919 , with William O' Brien establishing the rival 'Dublin Workers' Council' . The split was a tragedy for the working class and the great possibilities that were wasted are evident by the fact that in early 1919 , the trades' council won support from Dail Eireann for the advanced 'Democratic Programme' .

The split continued until the late 1920's and the two sides were not reconciled until 1928 ; by this stage the differences had become irrelevant in the face of a 'successful' employers' onslaught and a decline in the number of union members : the re-united council affiliated itself to the Irish Trade Union Congress (ITUC) and the Labour Party , but by 1930 the political and industrial wings of the labour movement voluntarily parted .......

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BLOODY SUNDAY.......
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

Channel 4 television and Don Mullan separately presented expert evidence from the post-mortem results that at least three of the victims had been shot from a height and not from ground level ; Widgery also rejected an offer of evidence from former Derry Mayor Dr. Raymond McClean , who had pronounced four of the victims dead in the Bogside and attended all 13 post-mortems at Altnagelvin Hospital - he would have given his opinion that at least one and possibly two others had been shot from high above .

Widgery completed his 'mission' with remarkable dispatch ; the hearing of evidence and legal submissions was completed in under 100 hours , spread over 17 days between 21 February and 14 March 1972 : he 'heard' 114 witnesses - 37 people from Derry , including 7 priests , 21 journalists/photographers , 5 named and 35 un-named British soldiers , 8 RUC members , 6 doctors or forensic experts and two other civilians , including British 'Lord' Fenner Brockway , one of the scheduled speakers at the intended Guildhall Square rally .

Widgery delivered his report to British Home Secretary Reginald Maulding on 10 April 1972 ; it was published on 18 April 1972 - 71 days after the incident under investigation . It runs to 39 pages . All this can be taken as indicating a cavalier approach to his task by a man who , far from high-mindedly seeking out the truth , regarded himself as being on a political mission and had his mind already made up how best to accomplish the objective .......

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INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

The IRA pointed out (see AP/RN January 28 1982) that although informer Christopher Black's 'evidence' had a dramatic effect in terms of the number of Nationalists he was prepared to testify against , a year or two earlier he would have been told to report back to the IRA and subsequently to pass on information over a long period of time that might eventually have caused considerably more damage .

The IRA January 1982 amnesty , therefore , despite its timimg , was not , as media pundits speculated , a hurried response to a 'new breed' of informers , of which Black was the first , but had been decided on prior to Black's arrest to obviate the unfortunate necessity of dealing harshly with informers * remaining at large within the Nationalist community . (* '1169...' Comment : the Provisionals have now put themselves in a position where they are unable to "deal harshly with informers" as to do so would upset their new-found 'friends' in Leinster House and Westminster , not to mention their 'wanna-be' 'friends' in the Loyalist groups : in short , how they run their 'campaign' is being dictated to them by anti-Republican elements.)

Notwithstanding , therefore , the serious new use to which informers , from Black onwards , were being put , the increasing effectiveness of the IRA's internal security procedures had heavily reduced the ability of the RUC's Special Branch to operate high-grade informers secretly within the nationalist community , (sic- see above link) as they had done previously , in some cases for years ('1169...' Comment - and as they are obviously still doing).......

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS - founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year .......
First published in 'AP/RN' , 27th February 1986 .

The 1913 Lock-Out ended in February 1914 with neither side winning a clear victory and the Dublin Council of Trade Unions helping to organise an orderly return to work . However , the spirit of Dublin's workers was unbroken and this was ably demonstrated in a 10,000-strong May Day rally that same year .

One month earlier , in April 1914 , the Dublin Council of Trade Unions approved the formation of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) , described by Lenin as "...the first Red Army in Europe .. " : under the leadership of James Connolly , a Trades Council delegate , ICA Units marched alongside the labour movement to mark May Day 1915 ; it was in that same year (1915) that the DCTU played an important part in opposing the First World War and British government attempts to introduce conscription in Ireland .

Against a massive opposition campaign by the employers and newspaper barons , the DCTU's President , Thomas Farren , contested the May 1915 by-election on an anti-war , pro-trade union , pro-suffragette ticket and came within 600 votes of winning . His manifesto had been written by James Connolly who , by this time , had aligned the Irish Citizen Army with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers - in Easter Week 1916 they rose in rebellion against British rule .

The aftermath of 1916 left the DCTU in disarray : James Connolly and Michael Mallin were executed ; Richard O'Carroll and Peadar Macken died in the fighting ; W.P. Partridge died as a resut of prison conditions ; Thomas Farren , P.T. Daly , William O'Brien , Cathal O' Shannon and Thomas Foran were all interned in England . All of the DCTU's and ITGWU's records were seized .......

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BLOODY SUNDAY.......
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

The 10 March 1972 memorandum records that "... only 15 .. " of the 700 statements submitted were "...drawn to [Widgery's] attention .. " - it is not clear whether Widgery himself actually read any of these 15 statements but , on the basis of this knowledge , he is recorded saying of all 700 statements that he did not " ...think that the people who wrote them could bring any new element to the proceedings .. " : the statements were discarded .

The NICRA dossier was discovered by writer Don Mullan three years ago , in a plastic bag in the office of a civil rights group in Derry , and forms the basis of his book , ' Eye-Witness Bloody Sunday' . What mostly gave the book its huge impact were the repeated references in the 100 statements reproduced verbatim to shots fired from the City Walls where they 'beetle' over the Bogside . The evidence selected by Widgery had either been unspecific on the point or told only of shots fired from ground level within the Bogside . Campaigners now argue that this factor on its own invalidates Widgery's conclusions and makes the case for a new inquiry .

It emerged that there had been other evidence available suggesting firing from the walls ; in January 1997 , 'Channel 4 News' broadcast tapes of British Army and RUC communications recorded during the shooting by amateur radio enthusiast Jim Porter ; British soldiers clearly identified as being on the walls are heard reporting incoming fire , firing and claiming "hits" : Mr. Porter recalled offering his tapes to the tribunal and being rebuffed on the ground that the recording of radio communications without appropriate authorisation is illegal (!) .......

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INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

Over a fourteen-month period during 1980 and 1981 , the Belfast Brigade of the IRA was forced to execute six informers , from among a number it had uncovered , who had passed on information to the RUC : four of them were IRA Volunteers , including Maurice Gilvarry .

By mid-1981 the IRA was sufficiently in control of the internal security situation * within the nationalist ghettos to have decided to call an amnesty which would allow informers - most of them initially recruited by the RUC using a mix of physical and pyschological terror - to come forward to the IRA without fear of punishment . However , because at that time the hunger-strikes were taking place , the IRA - so as not to allow the media an opportunity to divert attention away from that - delayed calling the two-week-long amnesty until the end of January 1982 . (* '1169...' Comment - .... if that was the case , it can only mean that this man was not in charge at that time and that this man was not then required to protect him .)

By early 1982 , Christopher Black had himself 'broken' under interrogation and agreed to turn ' queen's evidence ' against an eventual total of 38 North Belfast people he incriminated in statements .......

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS - founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year .......
First published in 'AP/RN' , 27th February 1986 .

The forum for the radicalisation of the labour movement during these years was the Dublin Council of Trade Unions , and the progressive grouping around Jim Larkin (which included James Connolly) meant that the nature of the DCTU was utterly changed . Its emergence as the campaigning voice of workers frightened the employers and William Martin Murphy responded by setting up an employers' organisation , the ' Dublin Employers' Federation' .

In August 1913 , the employers tried to suppress Jim Larkin's militant union by refusing to employ any members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union - this led to a 'Lock-Out' which lasted six months and saw a period of untold hardship and misery for Dublin workers which was marked by street violence , sympathetic strikes and the espousal of revolution by James Connolly . While the struggle was led by the ITGWU , the trades' council played an important co-ordinating role : a strike committee was established to which all unions reported and through which funds and supplies were channelled .

At the height of the Lock-Out , the DCTU's President , W.P. Partridge , accompanied Jim Larkin to England on his 'Fiery Cross' Campaign to rally English workers in support of the Irish union's fight .......

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BLOODY SUNDAY.......
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

Edward Heath (British Prime Minister) is recorded as saying that the Derry Guildhall building would be unsuitable as a venue for tribunal hearings as it " ..was on the wrong side of the River Foyle .. " (ie - the 'Catholic/Nationalist' side) . British 'Lord' Widgery himself stated that he "... saw the exercise as a fact-finding exercise ; it would help if the inquiry could be restricted to what actually happened in those few minutes when men were shot and killed . This would enable the tribunal to confine evidence to eye witnesses . " ('1169...' Comment - ....in other words : to restrict evidence to as few people as possible.)

In the event , Widgery confined himself to the evidence of some eye-witnesses , refusing to hear the evidence of others . In writing his report , he then ignored much of the evidence that he had heard and distorted a great deal of the rest : an examination of the text rules out the possibility of this having come about through mis-understanding , carelessness or unconscious bias .

In the days after Bloody Sunday , the 'Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association' (sic) gathered more than 700 eye-witness statements from civilians in Derry ; copies of these were presented to British 'Lord' Widgery on 9 March 1972 but , instead of welcoming this reservoir of relevant information , Widgery , according to an internal tribunal memorandum dated 10 March 1972 , "...considered that the statement had been submitted at this late stage to cause him the maximum embarrassment .. " . In fact , the three-inch-thick file of statements had been delivered to the British Treasury Solicitor's Office in London on 3 March 1972 - 34 days after the event and 17 days before the tribunal's final public sitting .

A delay of about a week had been caused by disagreement among relatives and others about whether to co-operate with the tribunal at all .......

(MORE LATER).




INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

Deprived first of the 'soft option' of internment and then of the 'luxury' of a comprehensive and unhindered policy of interrogation using torture , and faced with Republicans who , successfully for the most part , adopted a policy of strict silence while under interrogation , the RUC and their political overlords were forced to examine other methods to ensure the imprisonment and sentencing of suspected Republicans .

As always in the Six Counties , the 'primacy' of the 'rule of law' came a distinct second to the entirely pragmatic business of using whatever methods 'necessary' to lock up Republicans . And , for their part , too , the RUC Special Branch faced other problems as well - over the years they had successfully operated a number of low-paid informants within Nationalist areas , keeping them supplied with low to high grade information , reporting the movements of known Republicans etc .

In addition , when occasionally the RUC did succeed in 'breaking' an IRA Volunteer under interrogation , he was sometimes persuaded , in return for non-prosecution by the IRA , to return to active involvement within the IRA and to pass on information on a regular basis . In one notorious incident , a North Belfast IRA Volunteer , Maurice Gilvarry , who had 'broken' and being recruited by the RUC in 1977 , passed on information about a planned IRA operation which resulted in the stake-out/assassination of several of the IRA Volunteers involved .

The IRA , however , had established an Internal Security Department * which had largely succeeded in stemmimg the flow of high-grade information and discovering leaks ....... (* '1169...' Comment - As we now know , any "stemming of information" and "leaks discovered" by that 'Internal Security Department' was done with the permission of Westminster .)

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS - founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year .......
First published in 'AP/RN' , 27th February 1986 .

In the local elections of 1898 , the DCTU-established 'Labour Representation Committee' fielded 11 candidates in Dublin , eight of whom were elected , three of them being returned as Aldermen after heading the poll in their local wards . Unfortunately , personality clashes and a lack of confidence among those elected quickly wrecked the LRC and no further elections were fought until 1912 .

But politics of a radical Republican nature were beginning to emerge within the trades' council itself and it is worth noting that the decline in allegiance to the parliamentary 'Nationalist Party' and support for Sinn Fein occurred in the DCTU many years before it manifested itself on the national level .

Radical Irish Republicans like Michael O' Lehane , P.T. Daly and Peadar Macken emerged as leading lights in the trades' council in the early 1900's and , in alliance with the more socialist delegates , managed to remove the conservative elements from positions of influence in the Council . This was made possible by the changed nature of the Dublin labour movement after the 1908 carters' strike .

Led by Jim Larkin , the carters' strike marked the emergence of the general workers as an organised force within the trade union movement through their union , the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) : Larkin's success as an organiser and motivator , allied with the militancy of the unskilled worker , set the stage for the 'Great Lock-Out' of 1913 .......

(MORE LATER).



BLOODY SUNDAY.......
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

The more clearly the truth emerges about Bloody Sunday , the uglier it seems , and the less likely that the British government will agree to look it in the face . Given the context set out above , it will strike many as common sense that the Bloody Sunday operation was intended to strengthen the position of (Six County) 'Prime Minister' Brian Faulkner and stave off Stormont's collapse . Direct evidence might be found in the minutes of the meetings at Stormont on 26 January 1972 and two days later at Downing Street : at the Widgery hearings , James McSparran QU , for the relatives , raised this with the Commander of Land Forces in the North of Ireland , Major General Robert Ford -

McSparran : " Before the brigade orders were prepared , it had been discussed by the Security Committee and it had been discussed by the cabinet ministers in England ? "
Widgery: " That is not a question for the General (Robert Ford) . "
McSparran : " Could I ask him does he know if it had been discussed ? "
Widgery: " No ."

That Widgery's exclusion of the political background was itself politically motivated is suggested by the minutes of an extraordinary discussion between Widgery , Edward Heath and the British 'Lord Chancellor' , 'Lord' Hailsham , at Downing Street , two days after the massacre , on the evening before the British 'Commons' announcement of Widgery's appointment to conduct the 'inquiry' . Among "... a number of points which I [Edward Heath] thought it right to draw to the Lord Chief Justice's [Widgery] attention (was that) it had to be remembered that we were in Northern Ireland (sic) fighting not just a military war but a propaganda war . "

('1169...' Comment - Edward Heath , like the rest of his type then , [and , indeed , now , where the Irish are concerned] made no secret of his true feelings towards the 'natives' in other comments he made at that same time ...)

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INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

The use of informers is not a new phenomenon , either within Irish history , the present phase of the liberation struggle , or within any comparable liberation movement ; in fact it should be borne in mind that the IRA itself has frequently recruited informers within the enemy camp . It is the use of informers , not their mere existence , which is constant , that determines the danger they pose . Nor is the enactment of 'extraordinary' legislation or the arbitary re-interpretation of existing legislation a new phenomenon in the context of British efforts to crush nationalist resistance since 1969 . ('1169...' Comment - British efforts to "crush resistance" in Ireland has taken place since long before 1969 .)

Internment at the British Secretary of State's pleasure , in 1971 , underwent a change of name but not of substance in response to international outcry , to the less draconian-sounding 'detention' on the authority of a judicial 'tribunal' : British embassies throughout the world propagandised that 'internment was ended' . When the Gardiner Report finally argued pragmatically that internment (or 'detention') was unproductive as a means of reducing Republican resistance , it was phased out to be replaced by Diplock 'Courts' sentencing on the basis of torture-extracted statements in Castlereagh . Long Kesh internment camp underwent a cosmetic name change too , 'becoming' 'Her Majesty's Prison Maze' . 'Special Category' status was replaced by an attempted process of criminalisation .

Eventually , what had become known with good reason as the H-Block conveyor belt , shipping hundreds of Republicans into jail on little or no evidence , was undermined to a significant degree by Amnesty International's torture findings on Castlereagh interrogation methods in 1978 , and by the Bennett Report in 1979 . ('1169...' Comment - Westminster was hostile to both Amnesty and Bennett not because they went some way in exposing the RUC/judiciary/'establishment' as corrupt [which Westminster already knew!] but because it meant that 'the mother of all parliaments' would have to change tact , but not substance , in how they 'dealth' with 'the troublesome Irish' .)

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Monday, January 30, 2006

THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS - founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year .......
First published in 'AP/RN' , 27th February 1986 .

The trades' council saw its role as being "...a useful medium in settling of disputes.. " between employer and worker ; its Officers acted as arbitrators in disputes and were often successful . With this type of reputation , the DCTU rapidly expanded and by 1890 had trebled its affiliated membership to 81 unions and acquired large new premises in Capel Street , Dublin .

At the outset , the DCTU stressed that it was non-political yet , by its very nature , the Council found itself dealing with politicians in their role as employers and public representatives . The inevitable conflict which arose led to an increased radicalisation of the DCTU itself and a realisation that workers must be represented on public boards "...by workers instead of capitalists and seedy adventurers .. " .

This awareness led to a decision in 1898 to establish a Labour Representation Committee (LRC) with the objective of standing in election on a working-class ticket : LRC'S were also established in Belfast and Cork .......

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BLOODY SUNDAY.......
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

Bloody Sunday has been a bitter and emotional factor in Northern politics for 26 years (ie : 1972 - 1998) , but it did'nt become a 'mainstream' issue or begin to figure in Anglo-Irish relations until the early 1990's - the relatives' organisation , the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign (BSJC) , was formed in 1992 , when activities around the 20th anniversary of the massacre brought representatives of the 14 families together for the first time .

Until then , the annual commemoration march , the upkeep of a memorial in the Bogside and sporadic propaganda activity had been organised by the Bloody Sunday Initiative , a loose group with a shifting , largely Republican membership . It was a measure of the difficulty of winning mainstream support until recently that when this writer travelled to Dublin in January 1992 with a number of relatives of the victims for the publication of the book 'Bloody Sunday in Derry' , written to mark the 20th anniversary , only one TD (sic - Leinster House member) , Tony Gregory , attended the launch in Buswell's Hotel , across the street from Leinster House , although every member of the (Free State) Oireachtas had been individually invited .

It has since been helpful that the founding of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign coincided with the inception of the peace process (sic- a true 'peace process' would require a date for British withdrawal) , which has required the Southern authorities to be seen representing the concerns of Northern nationalists . Interest in Bloody Sunday has been significantly boosted too , by new evidence that has come to light in the last two years . Thus the sense of momentum that has given some campaigners confidence that the truth is imminently to be acknowledged by the British authorities .......

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INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

In many cases the RUC has also consciously used informers to arrest and remove key political personnel in Sinn Fein ('1169...' Comment - ..... that is [re PSF anyway] , presumably , when those " key personnel " themselves are not in the employ of Westminister !) who have been involved either locally or nationally in reorganising the party since the hunger-strikes . Well over 250 men and women - mostly nationalists - have been remanded , many for long periods in custody awaiting 'trial' , on the uncorrororated 'evidence' of a string of informers , beginning with Christopher Black , who have been bribed with offers of immunity from prosecution for their own alleged involvement in republican or loyalist activities , and with promises of huge cash payments and a new ID in return for giving 'evidence' in court .

In addition to interning on remand large numbers of suspected republicans on the flimsiest of 'evidence' , the British administration has also successfully used the previously almost defunct 'Bill of Indictment' in an unprecedented manner to bypass judicial preliminary enquiries , after several informers took the opportunity of their first appearance in open court - temporarily freed from RUC isolation tactics - to retract incriminating statements made against those they had accused . As well as severely embarrassing the RUC , and exposing the coercive methods they had used to recruit informers , these retractions threatened the whole basis of their use .

The 'Bill of Indictment' , with the collusion of magistrates and the half-hearted 'opposition' of a small number of lawyers , effectively 'saved the day' ; to secure 'convictions' in informer 'trials' , the British administration must - assisted by the RUC , the Orange judiciary and the Diplock non-jury courts - secure another fundamental change in 'law' , removing the previous unwillingness of judges to accept the 'evidence' of an alleged 'accomplice' against an accused without corroborative 'evidence' . The outcome of the Christopher Black trial will undoubtedly have a critical bearing in this respect , although by no means a conclusive one .......

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