term, felon-setting is deeply rooted in Irish
history, first coined to condemn an editor whose
story about Fenians marching in Cork set up arrests
and jail sentences on treason-felony charges.
The legal protection "sub judice" has
an even longer history, and is observed by many
legal systems to shield any accused from prejudicial
pre-trial publicity that may deprive the victim
of a fair trial.
It is not surprising, given his pro-British views,
unionist allegiances and indeed loyalist past,
that the source of your article openly claims
that Gerry McGeough, by virtue of being a Republican
and Irish patriot has forfeited the customary
rights to justice or fairness. It is very surprising
and disappointing that the ULSTER HERALD should
give credibility to such views and indulge in
both felon-setting and unfair pre-trial publicity
by reproducing them verbatim without even soliciting
a reply from the individuals and organizations
The article reprints a press release from a London
based pro-life advocate who protested the favorable
comments which Gerry McGeough, as a deeply religious
pro-life activist received from the Society for
the Protection of the Unborn [SPUC]. There is
no issue taken with Mr. McGeough's pro-life beliefs.
Nor does the source argue on principles of non-violence
or pacifism. Indeed the London Life League representative
pays tribute to the pro-life credentials of the
former Ulster Defense Regiment member and DUP
Councilor Sammy Brush.
McGeough is pronounced unfit for favorable mention
by SPUC not by any right to life criteria nor
by virtue of his involvement in the struggle,
but because he volunteered for what the London
spokesperson deems the wrong side. He denounces
Gerry McGeough for having been a former Irish
Republican Army Volunteer and former Sinn Fein
official, a current Republican and most of all
for being unrepentant. The IRA, the London man
says, should be classified as criminals, religious
bigots etc. Had McGeough joined the British crown
forces, the British Army, RUC or the UDR, or their
Loyalist allies he might be applauded for holding
pro-life views, it seems, according to the Life
Instead Mr. McGeough spent much of his youth in
German and American jails as part of the struggle
against British crown forces. The Ulster Herald
should be well aware that this is not a unanimous
judgment. Many readers such as those who attended
the Carrickmore Easter Commemoration or Hunger
Strike rallies presumably have a very different
view as to who were the real criminals and armed
wing of religious bigotry.
Not being very religious I would never tell SPUC
or any right-to-life group who should be mentioned
favorably. Presumably SPUC determined that Mr.
McGeough's strong right-to-life views were the
only criteria to be considered.
The London group is entitled to require a litany
of additional criteria such as loyalty to British
rule and honoring British crown forces including
the former UDR. In other circumstances such a
debate might be appropriate if one-sided.
However, Gerry McGeough and his co-accused Vincent
McAnespie, stand accused on serious quarter century
old charges which only merited arrests after Mr.
McGeough stood for election urging no backing
for the RUC-PSNI.
Your article essentially pronounces Mr. McGeough
guilty without benefit of evidence, trial or defense.
I do not have any personal knowledge as to whether
Gerry McGeough and his co-accused had any involvement
in a battle with the UDR member Sammy Brush in
remains to be seen whether Gerry McGeough and
the co-accused who must stand beside him in the
dock can get justice from a British court. Certainly
none would be expected from the London spokesmen
whose press release you printed as if it were
However, any accused even an independent Republican
deserves better than being felon-set and found
guilty in your newspaper.