On Saturday 23 February the Irish News reported that the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America had backed the campaign of opposition to a planned goldmine in county Tyrone.
American members of the AOH visited the area recently with Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough and former Noraid leader Martin Galvin, who was described as a spokesman said, 'We support those who are defending this beautiful part of Tyrone from the threat Dalradian poses.'
McGeough joined the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA in 1975 and was arrested in August 1988 while crossing the Dutch-German border with two AK47 rifles in his car. He was charged with attacks on the British Army and held for four years in a German detention centre. However his trial in Germany was interrupted by extradition to the USA where he was charged with attempting to purchase surface to air missiles in 1983. He served three years of his sentence in US prisons until his release in 1996. At that point he was deported to the Irish Republic. McGeough was a member of the Sinn Fein national executive before leaving the party.
He was arrested in March 2007 and in February 2011 he was convicted of the attempted murder of Sammy Brush in June 1981. Sammy Brush was a member of the DUP, a postman and an off-duty UDR soldiers. Gerry McGeough was sentenced to 20 years but under the terms of the Belfast Agreement he only served 2 years and was released on 29 January 2013.
The unusual aspect of the story is that, while he was on trial for attempted murder, Gerry McGeough was elected president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in county Tyrone and still holds that senior office within the organisation, being elected year after year!
Yet this received almost no attention in the media. I wonder what the reaction of the media would have been if the Orange Order had elected someone as a County Grand Master, a post that is similar to that held by McGeough, when the person was standing trial for attempted murder!
I highlighted this back in 2011 and was reminded of it when I saw that McGeough is still the AOH president for Tyrone in 2019.
We are approaching one of the key dates in the AOH calendar, St Patrick's Day, so perhaps someone in the 'main stream media' might care to take it up!