A high-profile republican’s comments branding Catholic judges “traitors” and “collaborators” are being investigated by police.
Last weekend, Gerry McGeough told a New York radio station that Catholic members of the judiciary in Northern Ireland were “arrogantly passing judgment on patriots”, and added: “So you have Irish Catholics, traitors in effect, administering British rule here in the six counties. We want [the English] out and then we will deal with all these other issues...the collaborators and all the rest of it.”
IVU has written to the PSNI expressing concern at the menacing nature of Mr McGeough’s comments
On Friday night the PSNI confirmed it had received several complaints following the original News Letter article on Tuesday.
A spokesman said: “Police are aware of the comments and have received a number of complaints. Enquiries are ongoing to determine if any offence has been committed.”
McGeough was convicted in 2011 for his role in the attempted murder of a part-time UDR member, working as a postman, in Co Tyrone,
Although sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, he served only two years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement before being released on licence.
In May this year, McGeough was re-elected president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Co Tyrone.
Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United (IVU) has lodged a formal complaint with the PSNI urging them to investigate the remarks as “incitement”.
Mr Donaldson said: “IVU has joined with others in formally writing to the PSNI expressing concern at the menacing nature of Mr McGeough’s comments which by any fair minded person’s understanding surely amount to ‘incitement to hatred’.”
In a letter to the News Letter, chair of Bar Council of NI Gerry McAlinden QC, said: “Any attempt to intimidate members of the judiciary or members of the legal profession engaged in prosecution work is to be deplored by all right-thinking members of society.”
A spokesman for McGeough told BBC Radio on Thursday that the former IRA prisoner did not intend to threaten anyone with his remarks.
When news of the WBAI’s Radio Free Eireann broadcast broke, TUV leader Jim Allister said McGeough’s remarks “require to be investigated as incitement”, while Ann Travers – the daughter of a Catholic magistrate – whose sister was murdered during an IRA attack on her family said the comments made her “beyond angry”.
Responding to a request from Mr Allister to examine whether McGeough’s comments were a breach of his licence conditions, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State James Brokenshire said he will “carefully consider Mr Allister’s comments and will respond to him in due course.”
The News Letter has been unable to make contact with Mr McGeough, however his wife Maria said he was away from home but is due back on Saturday (August 13).