‘Words not enough’ when rejecting ex-IRA man’s hardline comments

Gerry McGeough is a hardline republican, convicted of attempted murder and more, who was recently released early from a 20-year sentence
Gerry McGeough is a hardline republican, convicted of attempted murder and more, who was recently released early from a 20-year sentence

The survivor of an IRA murder bid has called for action against a member of the gang which tried to kill him, after he declared that republicans should “deal with” the issue of Catholic “collaborators”.

Sammy Brush said mere words of condemnation for Gerry McGeough’s remarks were “pretty cheap”, and that more concrete steps should be taken against the ex-IRA man, who is today a high-ranking member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH).

He suggested that the order itself could act against him, or that the PSNI or Secretary of State could get involved.

In 2011, McGeough was convicted of trying to murder Mr Brush 30 years earlier whilst he was on his postal round.

He was also convicted of gun possession and IRA membership.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, McGeough’s 20-year sentence was cut to two years. He was released in late January 2013.

McGeough is current president of the AOH in Co Tyrone, and after the emergence of his comments this week, the order’s leadership moved to distance itself from his remarks.

Despite stating that McGeough’s beliefs in “no way, shape or form” reflect those of the order, an AOH spokesman said on Tuesday no disciplinary action against him was planned.

Mr Brush, a 74-year-old ex-DUP councillor, based in Co Tyrone, said: “Words are pretty cheap. I would take a lot more from actions, rather than words.

“It’s quite easy for someone to say ‘he’s not speaking for us, but we accept [him] still as a senior officer in the organisation’... Actions would be more appropriate on this particular occasion.

“To me, it would show to a lot of people that they’re serious about living with their neighbours.”

In one excerpt of McGeough’s interview, given to an Irish-American radio station, the ex-paramilitary said: “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.”

In particular, he condemned people from “republican families” who work as prosecutors or Diplock judges.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he had written to the new Secretary of State, asking whether McGeough’s comments were “compatible with his licence conditions”.

Mr Brush said: “My first thought was: ‘Surely, if he’s on licence, is this not reason to revoke that licence?’

“I think that the authorities are pretty reluctant to take action like that.

“But at the same time, if I was saying those things about the judiciary or about anyone else, I think there’d be somebody getting me by the back of the neck and saying: ‘Come on, we need to interview you here – you can’t go around saying things like this’.”

Asked if it should perhaps be a matter for the police, he said: “I think it should be. I think it’s incitement to hatred anyway, and perhaps promising violence at a later date.”