26 March 2005

RTE News

Former British Prime Minister dies aged 92

26 March 2005 22:46

Former British Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan, has died aged 92.

He passed away at his home in East Sussex on the eve of his 93rd birthday.

Lord Callaghan served as Labour Prime Minster from 1976 to 1979.

He also held the positions of Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary during his political career.

As home secretary, he ordered British troops into Northern Ireland in 1969.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has extended his sympathies to the family of Mr Callaghan.

He said the former British Prime Minister will be particularly remembered for his visits to Derry at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland.


Adams slams British govt for 'downgrading' North's Equality Commission

26/03/2005 - 15:16:30

The Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is criticising the British government for "downgrading" the North's Equality Commission by advertising for a part-time chief commissioner.

Mr Adams said the decision was a retrograde one and would undermine a key mechanism of the Good Friday Agreement.

He said that while progress towards equality has been made, the Commission needs more, not less, support to fulfil its role and he has called for the post to be re-advertised as a full-time one.

Earlier, Mr Adams made a fresh appeal for the killers of Robert McCartney to come forward but he said he cannot force them to do so.

He was speaking as republicans gathered for today's 1916 Rising commemorations.


The women who pick up the pieces after IRA 'justice' has been done

March 26, 2005
By Giles Whittell

The McCartney sisters' fight is helping other families to speak out after years of heartbreak

A MUCH-LOVED brother is murdered in cold blood. A defiant campaign for justice is waged by his family. The thugs responsible equivocate, then stonewall, as the media and public move on to stories new.

There is something cruelly familiar about Alicia Kearney’s story, precisely because so many like it have scarred the past 30 years of Northern Ireland’s history.

Her brother was not Robert McCartney, who was murdered in the Short Strand last December and whose sisters hope that massive international pressure will force the IRA to surrender his killers to the courts. He was Andrew Kearney, shot in 1998 in both legs as he cradled his two week-old daughter on a sofa in his flat in West Belfast, and left to bleed to death.

The IRA apologised and called it a punishment shooting gone wrong. Kearney — never in trouble, from a staunchly Republican family — had dared to challenge an IRA commander in a pub a week earlier for intimidating a 17 year-old potential recruit. But No-one has ever been charged with his murder, much less convicted.

This week, in an interview with The Times, Alicia Kearney seized the opportunity presented by the McCartney sisters’ campaign to re-open one started by her mother seven years ago to bring Andrew’s killer’s to justice. That campaign lasted 13 months, after which Maureen Kearney died, as her family puts it, of a broken heart.

“I’m starting it again by talking to you,” Alicia said. “I am looking for justice through the courts.”

Her decision to capitalise on the surge of support for the McCartney sisters reflects both families’ dependence on publicity rather than the police, living as they do in neighbourhoods still effectively ruled by paramilitaries five years after the Good Friday agreement.

But it is also a powerful reminder that the McCartneys themselves are the latest in a long generation of women from both sides of the sectarian divide driven by bereavement to do the heavy lifting of reconciliation and community development on which the success of any peace initiative, and the continuation of the current ceasefire, ultimately depends.

“Some of the most progressive people I’ve ever met have been men,” said May Blood of the Greater Shankill Partnership, who has worked for years to bridge the chasm of mistrust between the two communities. “But in Northern Ireland the men go out and fight the war. That’s simply what they do. And the women pick up the pieces.”

Maureen Kearney began picking up the pieces in July, 1998. Her son, then 33, had been worried since his confrontation with the IRA commander in the Manchester United pub on Falls Road the previous week, but ordinarily he need not have feared for his life.

“Normally, for punishment shootings, they call an ambulance or even have one on standby,” Alicia said.

Andrew was well-liked, a talented footballer with the Donegal Celtics and in regular work as a builder. In the end what cost Andrew his life may have been the location of his flat, eight floors up in a high-rise. “We think they panicked that if they called an ambulance they wouldn’t escape because of the 16 flights of stairs. Instead they ripped the phone line out of the wall and left him to die, holding his wee baby.”

Alicia, 34, is the youngest of five surviving siblings. She believes she knows who ordered Andrew’s murder.

“This particular one likes to think he’s a hard man,” she said. She shrugs off questions about intimidation, either of her or her mother, but there is no doubt that most families of men killed by their own communities have been forced to live with the double anguish of bereavement and a taboo against speaking out.

Sandra Peak, who runs the Wave Trauma Centre for relatives of victims of violence related to The Troubles, calls this cocoon of fear a “multi-layered silence”. The McCartney sisters have broken out of it to spectacular effect, and no-one questions their bravery in doing so.

But it took even more courage for Margaret McKinney. Now 73, she lives a short drive from the Kearneys in Andersonstown. In May, 1978, her son Brian took part in the robbery of an IRA-run bar. He returned home badly beaten two days later, and told his parents everything.

They marched him to an IRA clubhouse on nearby Glen Road, repaid his £50 share of the takings, and hoped the matter would rest there. It did not.

The following week Brian, then 22, was picked up on his way home from work by two men in a car.

Frantic enquiries by his parents produced reassurances from the IRA that he and a friend had been exiled to mainland Britain. Margaret packed a suitcase, waiting for a call. It never came. Soon, she and those she approached for help were told simply “to stop asking questions”.

For 17 years, Margaret did just that, taking heavy medication to dull the pain of her loss.

“There was so much hatred and bitterness in my heart that I couldn’t cope at all. I had one heart attack after another. God, they were cruel years,” she said.

Mrs McKinney’s abiding wish was to find Brian’s body. Her first chance to say so publicly came with the 1994 ceasefire brokered by John Major. She told her story first to reporters, then to the Prime Minister at Hillsborough Castle and, in 1998, to President Clinton in the Oval Office. “He took my hand and said, ‘I promise you I’ll help you find your son’,” she said. “Ten months later Gerry Adams comes in here and says you’re going to get Brian back. Oh God, the joy. I cried, but it was with relief.”

Mrs McKinney has become a guiding light to others who decided to break the IRA’s code of silence and demand action to find the bodies of their loved ones. But in 1999 she was still relentlessly focused on Brian.

On June 29 that year he was dug out of a bog south of the border after a six-week search. She recognised him from his blue and white trainers.

He had been buried with a friend who had also been involved in the robbery. At the inquest the coroner said he had been walked to his grave with his hands tied behind his back, then shot in the head. “I never got justice for Brian,” she said. “I still cry for him, but I’m just so happy to have a grave to go to.”

In 1994 the Wave Trauma Centre recorded an 80 per cent increase in referrals of relatives of victims of sectarian violence seeking counselling and other support. It attributes most of the rise to the stand taken by Mrs McKinney. Founded in 1991 by eight women bereaved by the Troubles, the Wave centre, which now has five branches throughout the province, has since helped more than 3700 people cope with loss.

Will they ever do for these families what only the most powerful man in the world was able to do for Margaret McKinney? Despite the phenomenon that is the McCartney campaign and the relative tranquillity of Belfast in 2005, it is hard to find much optimism on such questions.

“For women to make the impact they deserve to make, they have to make it quickly,” said May Blood. “So far the IRA have been able to sit this one out. They hope it’ll just go away, and if no-one comes forward it will. It’ll be put on the long finger.”

That old Ulster phrase for a trail gone cold may be the least of the McCartneys’ worries.

An off-duty police officer in Belfast’s city centre gave this bleak forecast: “The sisters are OK now, but in six months, when everyone’s moved on, we’ll be lucky if one of their wee children doesn’t end up in the bloody River Lagan.”

Should it come to that, it will almost certainly be the work of men. And women will pick up the pieces.

Bnn - Bulgarian news network

Bulgarian Probe Finds No Trace of IRA Cash Laundering

14:33 - 25.03.2005

SOFIA (bnn)- Bulgaria’s chief financial intelligence official said Friday an investigation disproved suspicions that his country was implicated in attempts at laundering Irish Republican Army cash.

“There is no evidence of Bulgaria’s involvement in such a case,” Financial Intelligence Agency Director Vasil Kirov told a news conference in Sofia.

Authorities have been checking bank accounts and contacts of Irish businessmen Phil Flynn and Ted Cunningham, who traveled Bulgaria last January.

They were suspected at home of trying to launder IRA money. Irish police have seized a cache of GBP2.5 million (EUR3.6 million / US$5 million) in a country house Cunningham owns near the city of Cork. The money was presumably part of a GBP26.5-million (EUR37.9-million / US$53-million) loot from a Belfast bank robbery last December attributed to IRA.

The probe in Bulgaria found that Flynn and Cunningham had met Deputy Minister of Finance Iliya Lingorski and expressed interest to invest in property in the Balkan country.

They lodged EUR1, 000 (some US$1, 300) each in the Sofia-based Korporativna Banka AD (Corporate Bank Plc) and paid EUR58, 000 (some US$76, 600) to lawyers in the second biggest city of Plovdiv in expenses needed to establish and register several firms.

Kirov has previously said all payments Flynn and Cunningham made in Bulgaria were part of legitimate business activities.

Ham and High: Wood and Vale Edition

Firms on alert after Real IRA terror warning

25 March 2005

Following the threat of a terrorist attack, police have warned Westminster businesses and shops to be extra vigilant.

Police believe the Real IRA, a radical splinter group in the Irish Republican movement, is planning a bombing campaign in central London.

Officers have warned that bombs the size of cigarette packets could be hidden in clothes and upholstery, causing fires when detonated.

Police are urging businesses to review safety procedures. Staff should regularly search vulnerable areas and make sure their CCTV is working properly.

For more information visit www.met.police.uk/counter_terrorism.


IRA monument in Northern town pulled down by vandals

By Gary Kelly

AN IRA monument in the centre of a Co Down town has been damaged by vandals.

The Celtic cross in Main Street in Castlewellan was pulled down from its base by vandals in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Three flag poles surrounding it were also uprooted with one tossed into the grounds of St Malachy’s Chapel.

The attack was condemned by Sinn Féin MLA for the area Catriona Ruane who said it was linked to political opposition to a republican Easter parade in nearby Newcastle.

The parade was called off by Sinn Féin earlier this week. Ms Ruane described it as a mindless act of vandalism. “Actions such as this will make the job of improving community relations much more difficult.

“I have no doubt that those who carried out this attack were determined to try and escalate tensions in the area.

“It is no co-incidence that this attack on a republican monument comes at a time when the SDLP and DUP are actively opposing the Sunday Easter parade in Newcastle.

“There are elements in South Down who are trying to stop nationalists and republicans from being able to celebrate the 1916 Easter uprising. These are the same people who cannot accept the ever increasing support for republicans and Sinn Féin in this area.

“I have a simple message for these people. We will rebuild the Castlewellan monument to the people who have died fighting for Irish freedom and we will continue to build the momentum for Irish re-unification,” she added.

SDLP councillor for Down District Eamonn O’Neill also condemned the vandalism.

“It is clearly an attempt to cause confrontation with the Provisional Republican movement at a time when we want conciliation,” Mr O’Neill said.

Irish Examiner

McDowell accused of changing story on deportation

By Paul O’Brien

JUSTICE Minister Michael McDowell was last night accused of changing his story as to whether he had read the file of Olunkunle Elunkanlo before deciding to deport him.

In an off-hand remark in the Dáil on Tuesday night, Mr McDowell appeared to suggest he may have delegated the reading of the file concerning the 20-year-old Nigerian student, or other cases, to his officials.

However, on Thursday night, a spokeswoman for the minister said he couldn’t remember whether he had read the file or not.

In between, Mr McDowell had announced a major climbdown by saying he would allow Mr Elunkanlo to return to Ireland on a six-month visa to do his Leaving Certificate.

The minister said his original decision had been wrong.

“I question whether in fact he ever read that file,” Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe said last night: “Anybody who read the file would hardly have come to the decision he came to.”

There was a serious legal issue at stake, he added, because Section Three of the Immigration Act 1999 sets out 11 different criteria which the minister must himself consider before determining whether a deportation order is to be made.

In Tuesday night’s Dáil debate, Labour TD Joan Burton said it was the minister’s job to personally consider the files in such cases, “but he passes it to others”.

Mr McDowell replied that “the deputy should acquaint herself with the Carltona principle”. This principle, which emanated from a 1944 British act, allows ministers to authorise senior officials to act on their behalf, although the ministers ultimately remain answerable for the actions.

The inference drawn by Mr O’Keeffe was that Mr McDowell had delegated Mr Elunkanlo’s file, or others, to officials for reading.

But on Thursday, the minister’s spokeswoman said: “He doesn’t remember this particular case.”

The minister was unavailable last night to clarify the matter.

Files on possible deportation cases are prepared by the Department of Justice’s repatriation section.

The minister receives the file together with a summary of the case and a deportation order, which he signs if he deems it warranted.

The department indicated on Thursday night that reading the summary would be sufficient for Mr McDowell to sign a deportation order.

Last night, Mr O’Keeffe said the minister had “changed his story”.

“It would be quite shocking indeed if we had a situation where the Justice Minister himself wasn’t fully complying with his statutory and legal obligations,” Mr O’Keeffe added.

The opposition has also called on the minister to clarify whether garda immigration officers entered a house in Athlone without a search warrant to look for a child earmarked for deportation.


Inquiry to check army links in killing of Ulster solicitor

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Friday March 25, 2005
The Guardian

The inquiry into the murder of the Northern Ireland solicitor Rosemary Nelson has been widened to consider whether the army or intelligence agencies were involved in her killing.

The inquiry, which begins next month led by the retired high court judge Sir Michael Morland, will now consider whether the government, police, army and other state agencies were in any way to blame for the car bomb attack which killed Ms Nelson or whether they facilitated her death or obstructed the investigation.

The solicitor, who had represented nationalist residents in Portadown's Garvaghy Road during the contentious Drumcree marching dispute, was killed outside her home in Lurgan, county Armagh, in March 1999 by a booby trap car bomb for which loyalists claimed responsibility.

Before her death it was alleged that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary had threatened her life.

The Northern Ireland secretary, Paul Murphy, yesterday widened the scope of the inquiry after submissions by human rights campaigners. Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch said she had given Mr Murphy evidence suggesting that soldiers may have been involved in the murder.

The inquiry into Mrs Nelson's death is one of four tribunals recommended by the Canadian judge Peter Cory on controversial murders in Northern Ireland.

But the government came under renewed pressure this week over its attempts to pass a bill which would allow ministers to decide what can be heard in public in future inquiries. The inquiries bill will enable any inquiry to meet in large part in secret and will give government ministers powers to direct aspects of it.

Judge Cory's recommended inquiry into alleged collusion between security forces and loyalists in the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 will not be set up until after the bill is passed, sparking criticism from the Finucane family of a "government controlled charade".

The judge told a Washington committee that the new legislation "would make a meaningful inquiry impossible", creating "impossible terms for any international judge asked to chair the inquiry". He described it as "an intolerable, Alice in Wonderland situation".

Lord Saville, who chairs the Bloody Sunday inquiry, has said he would not be prepared to serve on a tribunal under the new terms.

The Law Society, Amnesty International and eight other human rights groups this week issued a statement warning that any inquiry held under the proposed legislation "would not be effective, independent, impartial or thorough, nor would the evidence presented to it be subject to sufficient public scrutiny".

In order to command the trust of the public, the inquiry system must allow "close public scrutiny" and allow the relevant victims to actively participate. "The inquiries bill does not do this," they warned.

CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1981

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Thursday 26 March 1981
Bobby Sands was nominated as a candidate in the by-election in Fermanagh / South Tyrone on 9 April 1981.


Daily Ireland

Agreement is the greatest threat to unionism

Anthony McIntyre deserves to be heard when he speaks of politics. As he explains in some detail in an article in the LA Times recently (‘The IRA is Morphing into the “Rafia” ‘ LA Times, March 10) he was a member of the IRA, was imprisoned for killing a unionist paramilitary and took part in the prison protest against criminalisation of political prisoners.
Mr McIntyre, it could be said, has paid his republican dues and his claims in the article merit a hearing. Unfortunately, most of the claims appear to be built on air.
Claim 1. Gerry Adams smothers internal discussion in his party and surrounds himself with head-nodding lackeys. Evidence for this charge: none. How could there be? Like most political parties, Sinn Féin presumably doesn’t invite its most vocal opponents to sit in on internal discussions.
Claim 2: By signing the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin committed themselves to ‘celebrating’ the defeat of republicanism. Evidence: some. Gerry Adams’s party did indeed sign the GFA in 1998. Since then, support for that party has grown with every election. Two weeks ago, amid the media firestorm, the Sinn Féin candidate in the Meath by-election increased his vote share by 25 per cent. Over 300,000 people now vote for Sinn Féin, making it the third biggest political party on the island. Irish republicanism hasn’t been this strong since the 1920s.
Claim 3: Republicans have no strategic framework for securing the withdrawal of the British state from Ireland. Evidence: none. On the contrary, when the IRA called its ceasefire in the early 1990s, the Ulster Unionist leader James Molyneaux declared that the union with Britain was now faced with its biggest threat since the foundation of the state. Ian Paisley has repeatedly said words to the same effect, pointing to the GFA as evidence. Mr McIntyre may see no strategy for reunification, but Jim Molyneaux then and Ian Paisley today clearly do.
Claim 4: The IRA exists to enhance the power and prosperity of republican leaders. Evidence: none. Few political parties anywhere in the world have their accounts scrutinised with the rigour those of Sinn Féin receive, yet no accounting irregularity or figure manipulation has been detected.
Much sound and fury from Mr McIntyre, then, signifying not a lot. Of course his voice is not alone in attacking Mr Adams’ party. For months now, a blitzkrieg of criticism has been unloaded on Irish republicans.
In the pre-Christmas weeks, the outcry focused on the robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast. In the absence of any evidence then or since that the IRA had conducted the robbery, the British government has docked some £180,000-worth of Sinn Féin parliamentary allowances. Voices in the media, normally quick to detect injustice and cry ‘Foul!’, were silent.
Since the end of January, attention has switched from the bank robbery to the murder of Robert McCartney. Sympathy among Irish nationalists for the sisters of the dead man was and is strong. But there is a growing suspicion, in some cases hardened into certainty, that many in politics and the media expressing compassion for the sisters are in fact using the family as a club with which to beat republicans.
As many nationalists see it, international sympathy for the McCartneys is selective. They ask why the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 or of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson in 1999 or of the dozens of Catholics killed by loyalist paramilitaries down the years did not provoke the sustained outrage elicited by the death of Robert McCartney. They wonder why the McCartney sisters received acclaim throughout the US while Geraldine Finucane, also visiting over the same period, was virtually forgotten. Resentment deepens each time they see another politician appear on television to applaud the sisters, denounce republicans and call for the IRA to decommission and disband.
Of course IRA decommissioning and disbandment could have been secured months ago. Some weeks before Christmas, that organisation offered to destroy all its weaponry in the presence of General John de Chastelain plus two clergymen representing the Catholic and Protestant churches, and to stand down all IRA volunteers. Faced with the prospect of an IRA-free Sinn Féin, Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party hastily demanded more: there must be photographs, there must be ‘sackcloth and ashes’, there must be public repentance. The British and Irish governments pandered to Paisley’s fresh demands and the deal fell apart.
So yes, nationalist Ireland is united in sympathy with the rest of the world for the McCartney sisters and does hunger for an end to violence. But it is getting increasingly fed up with those like Mr McIntyre who stand on the coffin of Robert McCartney and indulge in finger-pointing unsupported by evidence.

Email me: judejcollins@gmail.com
Website: www.judecollins.net

Jude Collins is an academic, writer and broadcaster. His latest novel is ‘Leave of Absence’ (Townhouse, £6.99)

Daily Ireland

Letters to the Editor

Why the IRA?

In the late sixties, the IRA had decommissioned and gone away. Then what happened? The RUC, B Specials, the unionist/loyalist/UVF axis and their British masters all declared war on a defenseless nationalist population. Results, Burntollet, Bombay St, Bloody Sunday, internment etc etc.
Hundreds of nationalists burned out of their homes, interned and many murdered and maimed. What did our "guardians" in the Irish government do? They didn't just stand idly by, they jailed anyone who dared to defend us including some of their own ministers.
These are the same people who are today crying for the IRA to decommission and go away. You already got your decommissioning and your surrender. We know what you did then. By your present attitude and past record, we know well what you would do in the future.
The rebirth of the republican movement was, and is, our only defense against the invader and her surrogates. They taught us to get off our knees. These are the people we will continue to support and we will not be voting for surrender, or a sectarian police service.

Laurence O'Neill


**Don't know who wrote this, but it touches a few interesting points

The Kennedy Snub

Irish Voice

St. Patrick's 2005 was the week that Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
was essentially ignored, apart from a flood of condemnatory headlines
and tough talk from previous supporters such as Senator Edward
Kennedy and Congressman Peter King.

Privately, Sinn Fein drew a strong distinction between the two men.
King met with Adams twice and argued his point on the need for the
IRA disbanding which the party considered fair game.

Kennedy, however, was seen to have blindsided Adams after agreeing to
a meeting and then abruptly canceling. By refusing to meet Kennedy
has damaged himself in Sinn Fein's eyes.

Why Kennedy chose to do it was puzzling. After all, if he didn't want
to meet Adams he could have just said so to begin with. Something
clearly changed the weekend before St. Patrick's Day when the abrupt
decision was made.

For Kennedy's part, aides say he had agonized over his decision.
Close aides say the breaking point was evidence shown to him by the
Irish government that the IRA definitely did the Belfast bank

Kennedy had initially been particularly skeptical of the two
governments' claim that they had such evidence. When it was produced
and when the McCartney killing followed, Kennedy thought about
jumping off the Sinn Fein bandwagon.

The final straw was the IRA statement kindly offering to kill the
alleged perpetrators of the McCartney slaying. After that Kennedy was
on the anti-Adams bandwagon.

McCain No Friend

In the end Kennedy had a perfect right to come out against Sinn Fein.
He has paid his dues, and no other American politician can take away
his leading role in the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and the granting of a
visa for Adams to come to America.

It is not the same with Senator John McCain, however, who launched a
vicious attack on Sinn Fein at the American Ireland Fund dinner in
Washington with Adams present.

McCain has no track record at all on Ireland, other than being a
patsy of the British Embassy for many years. He gave every impression
that he was and is a devoted Anglophile.

Therefore, his attack should not have been that surprising, given his
background. The fact that he felt he had the moral authority on the
issue, which Kennedy undoubtedly had, is confusing, however. We will
never confuse those two men on the issue of Ireland.

Hillary Joins the Pack

Senator Hillary Clinton was another to join the great Sinn Fein
offensive, joining with Senators Chris Dodd, Kennedy and McCain to
issue a statement demanding that the IRA disband.

Clinton had been the target of an attack in the New York Daily News
on the day before St. Patrick's, implying she was soft on the IRA and
didn't want to call for them to be disbanded.

Immediately after that the New York senator was on the case and came
out strongly for the IRA to go out of business. Given the hard-line
stance on security issues it was hardly a surprise, but not meeting
Adams was a mistake on her part.

The Clintons, of all people, should realize that politics of
exclusion do not work. One wonders what Bill would have made of his
wife's move.

McCartney Glamour Girls Criticized

The McCartney sisters were not flavour of the week back in Ireland
with everybody. One unkind commentator referred to them as "The
Corrs," after the superstar rock group, because of the glamorous way
they dressed for the American Ireland Fund ball on March 16 in D.C.

Unfair, but some of their comments to the notoriously anti-Gerry
Adams Irish media were off key. Calling Republicans "Nazi thugs" as
the McCartneys did in an interview with the Sunday Independent
certainly did not win them any converts for their diplomacy.

Indeed, the vicious anti-Republican spin in the media in general led
many Irish Americans to retrace their steps on the issue and line up
behind Adams again.

As a rule of thumb, when you are being castigated by the vast
majority of the neo-Unionist media in Ireland, you are probably doing
something right as many Irish Americans realized. Never forget the
abuse heaped on John Hume when he set about bringing peace to Ireland
by those newspapers.

Bush's Tone

If there was one politician who distinguished himself in Washington
it was President George W. Bush.

Yes, he barred Sinn Fein from the White House, but was careful enough
to ensure that other parties didn't get to go as usual. In addition,
his special envoy to the North Mitchell Reiss got to meet Adams, and
apparently the two men had a very constructive discussion.

Bush also did not use the kind of inflammatory language that Senator
McCain, or to a lesser extent Senator Kennedy used, when talking
about Sinn Fein, no doubt keeping his options open.

Indeed, Bush was very moderate in his remarks, both after the
shamrock ceremony with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and
after meeting the McCartneys.

What could he know that others don't? Hmm.

RTE News

**This is NO way to solve any kind of immigration problem

Six Nigerian children in hiding in Athlone

25 March 2005 22:00

Six Nigerian children, who are wanted by the Garda Immigration Bureau for a deportation order, are still in hiding in the midlands, ten days after gardaí searched a school there.

Staff at Our Lady's Bower secondary college in Athlone have said students were left in uproar after the gardaí stormed into a classroom looking for a Nigerian girl.

An appeal has also been made for the girl's mother and another Nigerian woman to be allowed return to Ireland after she was deported on the same day. The two were deported to Lagos last week.

The calls come in the light of Minister for Justice Michael McDowell's decision to bring back Olukunle Elukanlo to sit his Leaving Cert.

Two Athlone-based Nigerian families were broken up when mothers Elizabeth Odunsi and Iyabo Nwanze were among 35 people deported to Nigeria on 14 March.

The two women each brought one of their children with them, but their other children were left behind.

Ms Nwanze's son Emmanuel (8), and Ms Odunsi's children Mabajoye (18), Oluwaseun (14), and Olwasegun (11), are all in hiding in the midlands to avoid deportation.

The women had been rearing the children on their own.

A campaign has been launched to bring back Ms Odunsi and Ms Nwanze to their families.

25 March 2005


McDonald denies Short Strand 'culture of fear'

25/03/2005 - 15:56:50

Sinn Féin's National Chairman Mary Lou McDonald has denied the existence of a "culture of fear" in Belfast's Short Strand which is preventing witnesses to Robert McCartney's murder from coming forward with evidence.

Dublin MEP McDonald said today the McCartney family is meeting with Gerry Adams today and claimed they have the continued support of Sinn Féin in their fight for justice.

The McCartneys claim that the IRA has taken back one of the members it expelled over the killing, and they are questioning the group’s commitment to their campaign for truth.

Ms McDonald denied that there was any pressure on people to keep quiet about what they saw on the night: “I think there is a myth amongst certain sections of the media, perhaps a deliberately constructed one, around this business of fear in the community.

“It is certainly not a fear of republicans in terms of bringing this information forward. We couldn’t be more crystal clear, the IRA, Sinn Féin, republicans everywhere have called for people to bring the information forward,” she claimed.


'Border Fox' given temporary release

25/03/2005 - 17:41:12

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Republican prisoner Dessie O’Hare is out on temporary release from Castlerea Prison, it was confirmed today.

O’Hare, the former leader of the INLA who was known as the "Border Fox", is serving a 40-year sentence for the ransom kidnapping of a Dublin dentist, Dr John O’Grady, during which the tops of two of the man’s fingers were cut off.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: “He is out for a couple of days from prison on a programme that has been put in place. It is standard prison practice.

“He has had a couple of outings in the past few years, they passed without any incident.”

O’Hare, from Co Armagh, has served over 17-years in prison for the attack and kidnapping during 1987. He was transferred from Portlaoise Prison to Co Roscommon prison in late 2002.

The spokesman for the Prison Service said that O’Hare was only one of around 200 prisoners currently out on temporary release. “He is due back in this weekend,” he said.

O’Hare, who was also released for four-days last Christmas, would be required to report daily to a designated garda station during his release and Castlerea Prison may also have put other restrictions in place.

Daily Ireland

Hunger strike revisited

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Think you know the story of the 1981 hunger strikes? Think again. We’ve all seen Bobby Sands’ emaciated body, the footage of people honking car horns in glee at his election, that priest comparing conditions to an open sewer in Calcutta. You might even say that Richard O’Rawe’s Blanketmen (New Island), is – whisper it – old news.
All this is playing in the shallow end of a powerful tale. O’Rawe pulls the reader into the deep water till they’re gulping for air.
Rather than the ‘skin and bones’ Bobby Sands, the 2-D icon for a thousand murals, you meet a “man for all seasons”; softly spoken with a flair for sing-songs.
We are told that some prisoners weren’t so happy about the downside of the “dirty protests”, and were more than happy to face the wrath of the prison leadership rather than share their cells with maggots.
Such earthy images bring O’Rawe’s time in Crumlin Road to life. The mounting brutality of the ‘screws’ is ever-present. One tale tells of a prisoner who begged for salt to gargle away the mouth ulcers that tormented him. The guards pinned him down and force fed him two massive handfuls of salt.
The touch isn’t always so heavy. O’Rawe describes with great affection the prisoners smuggling in tobacco (brought in by a priest – hidden where no tobacco should go), and blowing the forbidden smoke under the doors to infuriate the guards. In one hilarious anecdote, O’Rawe describes the false sacrament of confession that experienced prisoners would trick rookies into, with the old hand posing as a priest.
Once the venial sins had been dealt with, they would probe into intimate details about the young prisoner’s love life. The joke was on the veteran: O’Rawe’s partner in sin was none other than the his companion’s daughter.
However it is the hunger strikes that dominate the book. O’Rawe steers clear of the traditional Irish, us versus them perspective.
Instead, he paints the story as a three way struggle between the “bosses” of the British, the “shop stewards” of the IRA army council, and the “workers” of the prisoners. To quote O’Rawe’s socialist father, “the workers always get shafted”.
He portrays the army council as intransigent as the British – insisting the prisoners stick to their demands, even when it was clear that the British wouldn’t move an inch.
As O’Rawe puts it, this policy of “no compromise” meant “no strategy”. He describes a decline in prison morale, the frustration of the situation and the overwhelming guilt in harrowingly matter-of-fact prose.
Even if I had wanted to put the book down, there wasn’t a chance.
O’Rawe was, and is, a committed republican. Yet he pulls no punches, saying the strategies of both hunger strikes was “fatally flawed”, and he is unrelenting in his criticism of the Army Council and the outdated elements of IRA ideology.
Even Gerry Adams, a “messianic figure” and a tireless negotiator, is seen to be covering his own back at times.
Any who think of the IRA as an inherently criminal organisation should read this book. So should people who think they can do no wrong.

Daily Ireland

The legacy of Easter Week 1916 is still resonating throughout Irish politics

BY Tom McGurk

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No matter how much lip service they pay to the ideal, Irish national politics has for generations had problems with the various political legacies of 1916.
Political parties North and South have competed to inherit the mantle but it was always a mixed blessing.
Until 1916, nationalist ambitions were grounded in the British political tradition; election to Westminster and the pursuit of Ireland's political aspirations as part of British politics.
1916 challenged that consensus in two fundamental ways. First, it rejected the notion that Irish separatism - that is, Home Rule - was within the gift of the British political establishment.
Second and more critically, it asserted, in the face of colonisation, the right of the Irish to bear arms in their own country.
Where Home Rule was a demand for a more equitable share in colonisation - a native part-ownership of the whole process - 1916 asserted the unalienable right of the Irish people to the sole charge of their own destiny.
Even more critically in terms of the politics of Ireland for the next century, it insisted on the moral right to bear arms in pursuit of Irish separatism, whether or not such an approach had a popular mandate.
Like all revolutionaries everywhere, 1916 laid down that the revolution - usually armed - comes first and then the people will follow.
Ever since, the Irish political establishments, North and South, have had endless trouble in paying lip service to the 1916 legacy and at the same time keeping it at a safe distance. This Easter weekend, for example, the Irish state's commemoration of 1916 will be perfunctory, if at all.
So complex is the Irish political discourse that the competing traditions of armed resistance and constitutional politics are never to be taken too lightly. Add partition to the equation and the historic argument has gone on for nearly a century.
In truth, the Irish people very quickly abandoned the 1916 revolutionary ethos. Despite later protestations, neither the first nor second Dáil affirmed the right of the IRA to fight the war of independence on its behalf. In fact, it was the volunteers who asserted themselves to be the Irish Republican Army and who ever afterwards enjoyed a complex and difficult relationship with the members of the Dáil.
For example, at one stage after the Treaty was signed and the first Cumann Na Gael Government came to the IRA seeking that they swear an oath of allegiance to the Dáil, the IRA refused.
As Ernie O'Malley pointed out in his memoirs: “After all, why did they need that? We had already sworn an oath of allegiance to the Republic. And suppose the Dáil settled for less than a Republic?”
O'Malley's memoir vividly illustrated the distinction between revolutionary politics and parliamentary consensus. Even the current consensus that asserts that the Civil War erupted because of the oath of allegiance to the British monarchy contained in the Treaty is disingenuous.
In fact, the crisis arose in the first place because of the dispute between parliamentary authority and revolutionary authority.
To the IRA, by the time the first shots were fired in the Civil War, the Treaty government led by Michael Collins had abandoned the republic. To them Collins was now imposing post-Treaty British policy on Ireland.
Equipped with British artillery, and having recruited a new national army largely composed of ex-World War I Irish veterans and a small part of the original IRA, his fight was to compose 26-county dominion status and not a republic.
That a majority of popular 26-county democratic opinion supported Collins mattered not to those who still asserted “1916” moral superiority.
After the Civil War as Eamon De Valera attempted to convert the defeated republican forces into a political movement, he again came up against the 1916 lesson.
Sinn Féin, the party he led at the time, would not recognise Leinster House and he was forced to form Fianna Fáil. After he took them into the Dáil, he made numerous efforts to unify the republican movement and bring what was left of the IRA into Fianna Fáil. For example, in 1932 he had his number two, Frank Aiken, suggest a merger. The IRA listened but would not come in. Within five years, as they consistently asserted their separate political agenda, he was forced to first jail them and finally ban them.
Effectively from then on the IRA was redundant in the 26 counties as a political force and it wasn't until after World War II that a new generation of the IRA ceased to attack the Southern state and began to concentrate on the North and partition. Their 1950s campaign achieved very little except to leave behind a generation of veterans who emerged with the Provisional IRA in 1969.
Not surprisingly, their attitude to parliamentary politics North and South from 1969 until the Belfast Agreement in 1998 was of the 1916 variety. Despite the fury of the Southern political establishment and the despair of constitutional politics in the North, the IRA bore allegiance only to themselves and the “moral rights” as asserted in the 1916 tradition.
Down to the present day the current crisis in the republican movement is directly descended from the original “revolutionary” as against “popular mandate” dispute. In this contest, the “ballot box and Armalite” slogan is therefore historically fascinating. In short, in almost a hundred years, even allowing for a brief period of crossover during the War of Independence, it has never been tried before.
No wonder that at this particular moment, the current republican movement is experiencing such difficulty. No wonder the Southern political establishment has been so insistent on burying 1916 in a political consensus that ignores so many questions.
However, by contrast, 1916 as a proto-type of anti-colonial assertion of national sovereignty had an extraordinary impact on 20th century world history.
Across the British Empire from India to Africa and then into the Middle East, the lessons of the “foggy dew” spread like a plague on imperial assumptions. The ghosts of Pearse and Connolly became symbolic anti-colonial stereotypes across the globe.
Whatever about Ireland the proclamation went about and the world was never the same again.

Tom McGurk is a writer and broadcaster based in Dublin.

CAIN: Proclamation of the Irish Republic, 24 April 1916

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IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government:





Daily Ireland

TAKE FIVE: The lives they led

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BY Laurence McKeown

At Easter time we remember those who gave their lives in the struggle for the Republic; family members, close friends, neighbours, schoolmates, and others known to us only through song and text. Too often we interpret, “given their lives for the Republic”, as applying only to those who died in battle. We don’t immediately think of those who endured poverty, harassment, torture and imprisonment as they struggled for the vision of a better society and the impact their activism had upon their families, parents, partners and children. Leaving hardships aside, what too of the opportunities in life they denied themselves? The comforts and rewards that would have come easy to them had they applied their skills, commitment and dedication to the pursuit of more individualistically oriented goals. To turn an ideal into a reality requires conviction and carries a price tag. To move a struggle forward requires more than cheap talk.
The republicans convicted of the killing of Garda Gerry McCabe recently issued a statement apologising for his killing and stating that they no longer wished the issue of their release to be a stumbling block to future negotiations. It’s not that the men now think they are not entitled to release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. They believe that as much today as at any time in the past when they pursued numerous legal challenges to their continued incarceration. But for the overall good of the peace process, for progress, for the Republic, they are prepared to endure further years of imprisonment. They are to be commended in their selfless stance.
Maybe those who killed Robert McCartney will reflect on the actions of the prisoners in Castlerea and consider how they too could help further the cause that they signed up to? Did they ever ponder what sacrifices they might one day have to make? Or was being in the IRA more important in itself than the goal for which that organisation struggled?
Romanticism may well regard falling in combat on the battlefield as the only true manifestation of martyrdom, but it rarely happens that way.
It’s more about a daily slog, about hardships, anxieties, fears. It’s about taking harsh decisions in the cold light of day that you know will impact greatly upon you personally. It’s about giving up the personal for the collective.
When we think of our patriot dead it’s about the lives they led and the courage they displayed; not their deaths.

Laurence McKeown was a republican prisoner for 16 years in Long Kesh and spent 70 days on the 1981 hunger strike. He is the author of a doctoral thesis, the co-author of a feature film, H3 and two plays, The Laughter of Our Children and A Cold House. **He also wrote Out of Time - Irish Republican Prisoners Long Kesh 1972-2000.

Daily Ireland

Interface trouble brews

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Community leaders at a notorious Belfast interface have called for calm after a series of attacks on nationalist homes.

On Tuesday, loyalists from the White City estate in the north of the city threw paint at four homes in the neighbouring nationalist area of Longlands.
Other nationalist homes on the Serpentine Road, which is separated from the White City by a six-metre-high fence, were attacked by loyalist stone-throwers.
The latest sectarian attacks came less than 24 hours after 12-year-old Catholic teenager Megan Brown was assaulted by loyalists on the Whitewell Road.
Prior to this attack, Protestant homes in the area also had paint thrown at them.
Lynne Noble’s ten-year-old son Terence McDonald was one of those injured in Tuesday night’s disturbances.
The schoolboy was hit on the face by a brick thrown by loyalists as he played with friends in the back garden of his home on the Serpentine Road.
Ms Noble said her family would now be moving out of the area.
“I can’t take any more,” she said. “I have three children, all aged under ten, and I feel that their lives are in danger.
“They don’t want to live here any longer, and who can blame them? Living in this part of north Belfast is like living in a war zone at times.”
North Belfast Sinn Féin councillor David Kennedy said Tuesday’s attacks were unjustifiable and purely sectarian.
“Local nationalist residents were very concerned following the sectarian attacks last weekend.
“However, their fears have not been alleviated by subsequent events in the area.
“These are worrying developments and I am urging nationalists to be extremely vigilant in the coming days.
Loyalism is doing what it does best in a political vacuum - attacking vulnerable targets in the knowledge that very little pressure will be brought to bear on them,” said Mr Kennedy.
Whitewell community worker Paul McKernon said that, despite calls for calm, there was potential for fresh trouble in the area at the weekend.
He said: “There will be a republican band parade in the Whitewell area on Easter Sunday.
“Although it will stay entirely within the nationalist community, loyalists have indicated they will protest by blocking sections of the Whitewell Road on Saturday evening.
“I’m calling for cool heads and urging loyalist community representatives to ensure there is not a repeat of the missile-throwing incidents and attacks we have seen over the last few days.”
Mr McKernon said the catalyst for the latest violence was a loyalist band parade held at the end of February by the Ulster Defence Association in support of the Whitewell Defenders.
“The PSNI escorted loyalists past nationalist homes and that caused anger within the community. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse.
“There is an awful lot of tension in Whitewell at the moment. The area is ready to explode.
“I am calling on everyone to take a step back,” said Mr McKernon.
Ulster Political Research Group spokesman Sammy Duddy, who gives political advice to the UDA, echoed this call for calm.
“Violence is pointless. Nationalists and unionists should be working together to ensure people can live in peace.
“Both communities are suffering in Whitewell for no reason,” he said.

Daily Ireland

Death of a music legend

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Ireland’s traditional music community was saddened yesterday by the news of the death of legendary fiddle player, Sean Maguire.
Mr Maguire’s friend and one of the greatest exponents of Irish traditional music, Joe Burke, last night expressed the wide sense of loss felt across the country.
“It’s a massive loss to Irish traditional music as he had an enormous effect on Irish music in the twentieth century,” Mr Burke said.
“Right from the early 1940s he astounded audiences and other musicians with his skills. There was nobody else like him. He had a way with music that was unique.”
Mr Maguire suffered a stroke a number of months ago and passed away shortly after 8am yesterday.
He was born in Belfast on December 26, 1927, into a family with a rich musical tradition.
His father, John, played piccolo, concert flute, whistle and fiddle while his brother Jim, who passed away in early 2002, was also highly respected as a fiddle player.
Mr Maguire had played the fiddle since he was 12-years-old and famously turned down an invitation to join the Belfast Symphony Orchestra because he felt more at home playing traditional music.
“I decided to devote my techniques to the furtherance and promotion of my culture,” he once said.
Over the years he became an accomplished musician playing the piano, guitar, concert flute, whistle and uillean pipes.
In 1948 he joined the Malachy Sweeney Céilí Band, playing alongside his father John before he formed The Sean Maguire Céilí Band, playing all over Ireland and England and making a number of solo, group and céilí albums, and later played with the Four Star Quartet.
He toured the USA and Canada in the early 1950s playing to packed audiences in Carnegie Hall and he also appeared on the prestigious Ed Sullivan televsion show.
In the 1960s he played with the Gael-linn Cabaret before meeting accordionist Joe Burke. They formed a lifelong musical friendship in the late 1960s and played together for years.
“In the early 1970s we played a lot together all over Ireland and Britain. We played right across England and Scotland and we even played on the Shetland Islands,” Mr Burke told Daily Ireland yesterday.
“He was never the same man two days in a row as he was such a colourful character and he was larger than life. He was such a great conversationalist, was always great company and he was liked by everyone he met.”
Mr Maguire also played with Barney McKenna from the Dubliners and their duet on The Mason’s Apron is revered as a traditional music classic.
He also gave classes at the Clonard Traditional School, run by the McPeakes, and later at the Andersonstown Music School.
In the 1980s cancer of the throat forced him to withdraw from public performance.
But spirit and determination helped him overcome it and he had a speech valve fitted and returned to living a normal life.
He resumed his master classes, interviews and concerts.
His love affair with Irish traditional music continued right up until his death yesterday.
Mr Maguire will be taken to St Luke’s Church, Twinbrook, Belfast on Sunday afternoon before burial in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, after 10am mass on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph

Transfer of police from forkhill 'part of review'

By Jonathan McCambridge
25 March 2005

Policing services in south Armagh are to be transferred from Forkhill army base to Crossmaglen police station, it was today announced.

For years south Armagh has been the only part of Northern Ireland where all police movement is by Army helicopter, and officers need constant military back-up because of the threat from republicans.

Newry and Mourne Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford informed the local District Policing Partnership at a meeting last night of a complete review of policing in south Armagh as part of the normalisation of policing.

Officers will be switched from Forkhill army base to Crossmaglen from the beginning of May.

Police said the level of service in Forkhill would not be diminished, although officers will be redeployed to Crossmaglen, Bessbrook and Newtownhamilton.

Additional police officers are also set to be redeployed to south Armagh.

Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said: "I believe these arrangements will provide a better policing service across the whole south Armagh sector. Local people will see a significant change in policing style.

"We look forward to additional officers, who will start working in the area in May, joining their colleagues in the sector.

"I call on members of the communities in Forkhill, Crossmaglen, Bessbrook and Newtownhamilton to support their local officers as they strive to provide policing services for them through working in partnership."

Information leaflets on the new arrangements have been prepared and will be distributed to residents in the Forkhill area.

Forkhill residents wishing to contact local police can do so by ringing Bessbrook on 30 838222, Newtownhamilton on 30 878222, Crossmaglen on 30 861777 or Ardmore on 30 265500.

The Sector Inspector for the south Armagh area is Inspector Ian McDonald, who can be contacted at Bessbrook Station.

Sinn Féin

SDLP Accused Over Plastic Bullet Move

Published: 25 March, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing issues Gerry Kelly has accused the SDLP 'of once again acquiescing to the continuing use of plastic bullets by the PSNI'. Mr Kelly's remarks come after the Policing Board of which the SDLP are a key component voted to introduce a new plastic bullet.

Mr Kelly said:

"Plastic bullets kill that is the bottom line. They are lethal devices and have no place in an acceptable policing service. The SDLP in public have consistently claimed to be opposed to the use of plastic bullets. They told us that through membership pf the Policing Board they would ensure the removal of Plastic Bullets. Yet on the Policing Board they have previously rubber stamped the purchase of thousands of these devices. Yesterday the Policing Board voted to introduce a new plastic bullet, the SDLP made noise but were ultimately powerless to prevent this and will without doubt go along with the decision of the Board. The SDLP have once again acquiesced to the continuing use of plastic bullets by the PSNI.

"The continuing use of Plastic Bullets by the PSNI causes great anger within the broad nationalist and republican community. The Sinn Féin position on Plastic Bullets is clear and unambiguous. We are absolutely opposed to the use of plastic bullets and have campaigned to have them removed for decades. The ongoing use of plastic bullets has of course formed part of our discussions with the British government on the wider issue of trying to achieve an acceptable and accountable policing service. Nationalists and republicans want to see plastic bullets removed not re-invented or re-branded by the Policing Board or the SDLP." ENDS

RTE News

CIRA suspects charged with terrorist offences

25 March 2005 14:55

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Two men thought to be leading figures in the Continuity IRA have been charged with terrorist offences following a police operation in Belfast.

The two men, aged 35 and 34, face a number of charges, including attempted murder, extortion and firearms offences.

The charges are connected to arrests in north Belfast earlier this week.

Both men will appear in court in Belfast tomorrow.


McCartneys say IRA has readmitted murder suspect

25/03/2005 - 09:56:56

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney has claimed the IRA has allowed one the men it expelled over his role in the murder back into its ranks.

The IRA expelled three members who they say were involved in the killing of the Short Strand father of two outside a Belfast bar. But now the McCartney family claim that one of them has been allowed to rejoin the IRA ranks.

Paula McCartney accused the IRA of contradicting itself.

"They have admitted that this person was indeed a criminal, they expelled him from their ranks because he was a criminal and now he's been brought back in again," she said.


Bomb charge accused is remanded

A man has appeared in court charged in connection with a bomb attack.

John Joseph McCusker, 51, of Galloon Gardens, Newtownbutler, was also charged with membership of the Continuity IRA.

He was remanded in custody when he appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court on Thursday evening.

He was charged with a bomb attack in Lurgan in June 2004 and with the attempted bombing of Rosslea police station in October 2003.

New Ballymun - Regeneration and Demolition

I was looking through my comments to approve--and I have to do that or I get hit with hundreds of spam ads--and I came across this really cool comment on the post I made when they demolished the McDermott Tower. This is the clickable thumbnail I put in at the time. Martin C. has kindly written that if we would like to view more awesome pics of the demolition, we can go >>>here. Thank you, Martin!

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Illegal fuel plant is shut down

An illegal fuel laundering plant

An illegal fuel laundering plant with the capacity to process about 20,000 litres of fuel a week has been uncovered in County Armagh.

Customs officers say the plant, found in farm buildings on the Armagh to Caledon road, would have meant an annual revenue loss of £620,000.

Officers removed 5,000 litres of contaminated diesel from the site, two miles from Armagh city.

Customs officer Colin McAllister said their work was having an effect.

"This operation highlights our intention to stop organised smuggling and laundering operations," he said.

"The successes we have had over the last week will have disrupted a number of criminal enterprises in Northern Ireland and has stopped a substantial amount of harmful diesel entering the legitimate fuel market."


Board is backing new baton round

Plastic bullets kill people--children included

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has backed the adoption of a new plastic baton round by police.

In a statement the board said the decision to replace the baton round with an 'attenuated energy projectile' was subject to conditions.

These include Chief Constable Hugh Orde consulting with the Children's Commissioner and other bodies.

Board Chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said the AEP presented "less risk of causing serious or fatal harm".

"The use of plastic baton rounds is of real importance to many people across Northern Ireland, not least those who have in the past suffered loss or harm to their family members and friends, and the board acknowledges this," he said.

Mr Rea added no baton rounds had been fired since September 2002 and that their use was recorded and investigated by the police ombudsman.

He said the rounds are not to be used as "an indiscriminate means of crowd control" but "against specific individuals" to protect the public and police officers.

SDLP board member Alex Attwood said that his party had opposed the decision.

He said there had been "inadequate medical assessments on the impact of this weapon on children".

"It is important to note that it was the board which decided this issue which confirms the central and pivotal authority of the board when it comes to policing decisions," he said.

The chief constable will have to demonstrate that he has consulted with relevant bodies at a board meeting on 7 April.

24 March 2005


Arms and security data recovered

An AK47 assault rifle was recovered

The police have uncovered a substantial arms find and a notebook containing information about the security forces.

It is believed the haul is connected to the Continuity IRA.

The police said they carried out eight house searches over the past few days as part of an ongoing investigation by the Organised Crime Branch.

During the raids - thought to be in west Belfast - they seized three vehicles, an AK47 assault rifle and five real and replica handguns.

A shotgun and a quantity of ammunition were also recovered.

They also seized component parts of an explosive device and a notebook containing personal details of security personnel.

It is understood the find is connected to two arrests for alleged extortion in the Dargan Road area of north Belfast on Monday.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin Launch Easter Lily Campaign

Published: 24 March, 2005

Speaking today at the launch of the annual Easter Lily campaign in Stormont, Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said that this weekend would see tens of thousands of republicans taking part in marches, commemorations and wreath laying ceremonies across the island.

Mr Kelly said:

"This year marks the 89th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. It is an important time for Irish republicans. It is a time for remembering our friends and colleagues who have given their lives in pursuit of our republican ideals and goals. It is a time for reflecting on these ideals.

"We recall the words of the 1916 Proclamation - an historic document - one of the most progressive documents ever written. The Proclamation spells out the demand for social and economic justice and democracy, of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, ability or race, equally.

"Easter is also a time of renewal - a time when we as Irish republicans rededicate ourselves to the legitimate and achievable goals of independence and unity for the people of this island.

"The past year has undoubtedly been both a challenging and indeed very difficult, year for republicans and the peace process. We made a massive breakthrough in the elections in the 26 counties yet ended the last year with the failure once again of unionism to agree the share power on the basis of equality and respect.

"This year Easter comes with the political establishment set once again on a course of criminalizing the republican struggle and by extension our patriot dead. This weekend provides republicans with the opportunity to send a clear message that we are rightly proud of our heritage and our struggle and will not allow it to be tarnished or criminalized.

"There are over 100 commemorations throughout the island and scores more smaller events. Internationally many Irish exiles will also take part in commemorations. I am calling on people to wear an Easter Lily and to make this years Easter Commemorations and events bigger and better than ever before." ENDS

Note to Editors

In this the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin, republicans throughout Ireland will gather on Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday to honour and commemorate Ireland's patriot dead.

Please see below for a list of the main commemorations - dates, locations and speakers.

Main Commemorations

Easter Sunday:

Dublin City -- Assemble 1.30pm Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square and March to GPO. Main Speaker: Martin McGuinness MP

Belfast -- Assemble 1pm, Beechmount Avenue. Main speaker: Martin Ferris TD

Derry City -- Assemble 2.30pm at the Bogside Inn, Westland Street march to City Cemetery. Main Speaker: Gerry Adams MP

Tyrone -- (Carrickmore) Assemble 3.30pm. Main Speaker: Pat Doherty MP

County Waterford -- (Killrossanty) Assemble 3pm. Main Speaker Mary Lou McDonald MEP

Fermanagh -- (Tempo) Assemble 2.30pm at Doon Lane. Main Speaker: Michelle Gildernew MP

Monaghan Town -- Assemble 3pm, O'Hanlon Memorial, Clones Road. Main Speaker: Gerry Kelly

Galway -- (Conamara) Assemble 3.30pm. Pearse's Cottage, Rosmuck. Main Speaker: Bairbre de Brún MEP.

Armagh (Newry City) -- Assemble 12.30pm at Patrick Street. Main Speaker: Conor Murphy

Armagh -- (Crossmaglen) -- Assemble at 10.30 am, Rangers Hall. Main Speaker: Matt Carty

Cavan -- (Kilnavart) Assemble 12 noon Kilnavart Cemetery. Main Speaker: Sean McManus

Cork (Bandon) -- Assemble 12.30pm, Republican Plot, St Patrick's Cemetery. Main Speaker: Toireasa Ferris

Cork City -- Assemble 2.30pm National Monument, marching to St Finbarr's Cemetery. Main Speaker: Sean Crowe TD

Derry - (The Loup) Assemble 2.30pm, Ballyronan Road and march to grave of Brigadier Seán Larkin. Main Speaker: Arthur Morgan TD

Donegal -- (Drumboe) Assemble 2pm, Johnston's Corner, Stranorlar. Main Speaker: Alex Maskey

Down -- (Castlewellan) Assemble 4pm at Lower Square march to monument. Main Speaker: Caitriona Ruane

Drogheda -- Assemble 11am St Peter's Church to the Halpin/Moran monument, Marsh Road. Main Speaker Martina Anderson

Dundalk -- Assemble 3pm Market Square, march to Republican Plot, St Patrick's Cemetery. Main Speaker: Martina Anderson

Kerry -- (Tralee) Assemble 3pm, the Pike Man, Denny Street. Main Speaker: Gearoid O hEara

Limerick City -- Assemble 12.30pm Munster Fair Tavern. March to Republican Plot, Mount St Laurence Cemetery. Speaker: Killian Forde

Mayo -- (Achill) Assemble 10am, Dookinella. Main Speaker: Rita O'Hare

Wexford Town -- Assemble 11.45am Crescent Quay, parade to Republican Plot. Main Speaker: John Dwyer

Easter Monday:

Armagh City -- Assemble 2pm Irish Street. Main Speaker Conor Murphy

Down -- (Downpatrick) Assemble 6pm Scotch Street, proceed to Republican Monument. Main Speakers: Caitriona Ruane/Alex Maskey

Meath -- (Ashbourne) Assemble 11.30am at church and march to Republican Plot. Main Speaker: Joe Reilly

Monaghan -- (Clones) Assemble 1.30pm, The Diamond. Main Speaker: Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Easter Tuesday

Co Antrim (North Belfast-Ardoyne) Assemble 1pm Elmfield Street. Main Speaker: Gerry Kelly

Toomebridge -- Assemble 4pm. Main Speaker: Barry McElduff

An Phoblacht

**Second message concerning Jimmy McGinley and Mark Robinson at bottom

IRA Easter message 2005

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On this, the 89th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, we remember the men and women of every generation who have given their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom.

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extends solidarity to the families of our comrades who have fallen during this phase of the struggle. We remember those comrades with honour and pride.

We send solidarity to our Volunteers and to our friends and supporters at home and abroad.

We think of our imprisoned comrades and their families at this time also.

Over ten years ago, the leadership of the IRA declared a complete cessation of military operations. We did so to enhance the development of the Irish Peace process.

From then until now we have, on a number of occasions, demonstrated our continuing support for this process.

At times of significant crisis or political impasse, we have taken initiatives to move the situation forward.

Our approach has been premised on the belief that the achievement of a just and lasting peace requires constant forward momentum in the Peace Process.

For the past two years, the Peace Process has been locked in stalemate and has slipped backwards into deepening crisis.

During that period, specifically in October 2003 and in December 2004, we agreed to significant initiatives as part of an agreement to break the logjam. On each occasion, other parties reneged on their commitments.

An unprecedented opportunity to transform the situation on the island of Ireland was thrown away by rejectionist unionism, aided and abetted by the two governments.

The DUP attempted to turn the initiative of December 2004 into a humiliation of the IRA. The concerted efforts of both governments since then to undermine the integrity of our cause, by seeking to criminalise the republican struggle, is clear evidence that our opponents remain fixated with the objective of defeating republicans rather than developing the Peace Process.

The sustained campaign directed against the republican people over recent months is nothing new. We have seen and heard it all before.

Those who opted to follow the Thatcher path will not succeed.

Our patriot dead are not criminals. We are not criminals.

Republican men and women suffered deprivation and torture to defeat attempts to criminalise our struggle. Ten of our comrades endured the agony of hunger strike and died defeating the criminalisation strategy.

We will not betray their courage by tolerating criminality within our own ranks. We will not allow our opponents to further their own petty self-interests by levelling false allegations against Óglaigh na hÉireann.

The IRA has spelt out its position in relation to the killing of Robert McCartney. It was wrong, it was murder, it was a crime. But it was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA.

The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have tried to assist in whatever way we can. Unfortunately, it would appear that no matter what we do it will never be enough for some.

Those in the political and media establishments who have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon have again laid bare their own hypocrisy.

This causes justifiable resentment among republicans. But it must not cloud the issue. Óglaigh na hÉireann expects the highest standards of conduct from our Volunteers.

Struggle requires sacrifice and discipline. It promises hardship and suffering. Our fallen comrades rose to those challenges and met them head on.

The discipline and commitment of our Volunteers and the wider republican base have been the backbone of our struggle. In these testing times, that steadfastness and determination are needed more and more.

We salute you and urge you to remain strong and united.

The crisis in the Peace Process and the reinvigorated attempts to criminalise us have not diminished in any way our determination to pursue and achieve our republican objectives.

Irish unity and independence provides the best context for the people of this island to live together in harmony.

The primary responsibility now rests with the two governments.

They must demonstrate their commitment to a lasting peace.

Pandering to the demands of those who are opposed change is not the way forward.

P O'Neill,

Irish Republican Publicity Bureau,


IRA not responsible for Derry killings

The following statement was received by An Phoblacht this week.

"Following recent allegations the IRA wish to make it clear that we were not involved in, nor responsible for, the deaths in Derry of Jimmy McGinley and Mark Robinson."

P O'Neill,

Irish Republican Publicity Bureau,



Ex-policeman at centre of drugs cash probe

24/03/2005 - 15:07:30

A suspected drugs baron at the centre of a major investigation in Northern Ireland is a former police officer, it emerged today.

Colin Armstrong, 38, owns nearly 50 properties worth an estimated £5m (€7.2m) including an apartment on the French Riviera.

His bank accounts on both sides of the Irish border – he also has a flat in Dublin – have also been frozen as part of the inquiry which followed an 18-month long undercover probe by the Assets Recovery Agency.

Armstrong, who lives with his partner at a luxury house at Glenavy, Co.Antrim, once served as a full-time reservist with the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

He was stationed in Co.Armagh at one time, it been claimed.

Investigations into his financial affairs are going back more than a decade, after it was alleged by the agency that he imported illegal drugs from Belgium into Northern Ireland in 1994 when he had links with the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force in Mid Ulster where nearly all his properties are based.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed: “He was a full time reserve officer who left in August 1991.”

However, it is understood his resignation following disciplinary action was not as a result of any criminal activity.

Although questioned several times by drugs squad officers investigating the distribution of drugs to clubs in North Down and on the North Coast, Armstrong has never been charged.

He is now under investigation by an interim receiver appointed by the High Court, but who has not been identified, and who now has control of all the properties, including an apartment on the Cote d’Azur and his home at Glenavy where his lives with his partner, Geraldine Mallon.


McCartneys will not stand in poll

Witnesses to the killing have been reluctant to come forward

Relatives of murdered man Robert McCartney have decided not to stand in the local or general elections.

Mr McCartney, 33, was killed after a bar row in Belfast on 30 January. His family has blamed IRA members for his murder and intimidating witnesses.

His sister Paula said the family had decided that their energy would be best spent on the campaign for justice.

"If we went into the elections, our attention would be distracted by other issues," she said.


"We want to concentrate solely on resolving the issue of Robert's murder.

"We still have the same momentum, not just as a family - I feel people are very interested in how this is resolved because they feel it affects their future as well."

Earlier this month, Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness cautioned the family against stepping over the party political line.

"To step over that line, which I think is a very important line, into the world of party politics, can do a huge disservice to their campaign," he said.

Last week, the family brought their campaign to Washington, meeting President Bush as well as a number of high-profile US politicians.

President Bush invited the McCartney family to the White House as part of a gesture to all those working towards peace in Northern Ireland.

Three men were expelled by the IRA after the killing, including the two main suspects in the case.


Grieving brother: "How are cops going to investigate a 31-year-old murder? -
And I want to ask Hugh Orde that face-to-face".

A West Belfast man whose brother was murdered by loyalists in 1974 has called on the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde to detail how the police are planning to solve the murder which has been “lying cold for over 30 years”.

The request comes after the British government announced earlier this month that a squad of 100 investigators – the Serious Crime Review Team – is to be assigned to work on the unsolved cases of 1,800 victims of the Troubles in an initiative costing £32 million.

Gerry Armstrong's brother Paul was tortured before being shot dead by the UVF under the guise of the Protestant Action Force on November 8, 1974. He was just 18 years old.

At the time RUC detectives assured the Armstrong family that the killers would be brought to book for the horrific murder. However, 31 years on nobody has been caught or tried for the killing.

Now Gerry says he wants a “face-to-face” meeting with Chief Constable Hugh Orde to discuss the investigation into his brother’s murder.

“At the time my mother was offered £300 compensation for Paul’s 18 years on this earth. Of course, we refused. But now almost 31 years later this vast amount of money is going to be spent on 1,800-plus unsolved murders. I would like to know how,” said the Whiterock man.

Gerry went on to say that he finds it difficult to see how the PSNI are going to solve the murder now when the detectives in charge of the case at the time were incapable of doing so.
“When Paul was murdered, a team of detectives assured my late father, James, that no stone would be left unturned in the investigation. All these years later it seems quite obvious that not too many stones were overturned.”

Whilst it has been reported that new forensic techniques would be made available in the hope of achieving breakthroughs in the cases, Mr Armstrong is sceptical. “I would love to have hope in this but I honestly can't see how these detectives are going to be able to trace forensic evidence in the case of my brother. He was killed and left lying in a derelict bakery in Byron Street.

How they would begin to search for forensics here after 31 years is beyond me.

“Perhaps they still have Paul’s clothes, I know we never got them back. But how could they find forensic evidence now when the police force at the time obviously couldn’t, or didn’t want to?”

Mr Armstrong said he is apprehensive about the move and is hoping that it is not a smokescreen for the PSNI to look as though they are doing something about unsolved murders.

“I've heard Hugh Orde talking on the radio about this, I’ve seen him talking on the TV and I hope it isn't just talk. Thirty one years ago my family heard enough talking about how the killers would be caught, it didn't lead to anything and I hope this doesn't go the same way.”

Frustrated at the amount of time that has passed without any breakthrough, Mr Armstrong questioned the name of the new investigative team.

“They are calling themselves the Serious Crime Review Team but I don't see why my brother's murder wasn't serious enough to be tackled thoroughly at the time, yet now all of a sudden it is. It seems strange and myself and my family are not sure what way we should welcome the news.”

Gerry Armstrong said he accepted that there were many similar cases to Paul's over the years.

He says he just wants justice for his family who have since lost both parents – they died without ever really knowing what happened to their son.
The West Belfast man says that he would exhaust all options open to him. His first option is that face-to-face meeting with Hugh Orde.

“What we want are answers and while it would be nice to have American senators and people in high places to profile Paul's case, I really just want to speak to the Chief Constable because at the end of the day, he is the only one that can give the answers that my family have been waiting 31 years for.”


Attwood hails SDLP unity paper

SDLP West Belfast MLA, Alex Attwood, has slammed Sinn Fein’s green paper on Irish unity, saying it wouldn’t persuade a single unionist to agree to a united Ireland.

In the week that the SDLP’s ‘Better Way’ document on Irish unity was launched by party leader Mark Durkan, Mr Attwood told the Andersonstown News: “People now have very clear choices between a party that stands fully behind democracy and policing, and one that stands for injustice in their policing. The SDLP is the only party that can bring about Irish unity on an agreed basis. Only the SDLP has the ability to persuade enough unionists to vote for Irish unity.”

The SDLP councillor suggested Sinn Féin’s recently released green paper on Irish unity was unworkable. “They couldn’t persuade a single unionist to agree to it,” he said. “Sinn Féin talk about Irish unity but there’s no strategy to bring it about. Gerry Adams said that a united Ireland cannot come about unless there is unionist consent and assent. For the president of a united Ireland party, I find it bizarre that he used those words.

“Our view under the Good Friday Agreement is that if a majority in the North vote for unity, it will be brought about. We don’t give unionists a veto, but we want them to be reassured by it. If you look at our document, we shape out what Irish unity would look like. We can reassure unionists that they have nothing to fear in a united Ireland – that their rights, identity and culture will be respected and their position guaranteed.”

The ‘Better Way’ document, launched at Belfast Castle on Monday, details the party's support for “the will of the people”.

It adds: “We are 100 per cent for the Good Friday Agreement, just as we are 100 per cent for a united Ireland.

“And that is why, in our strategy for a united Ireland, we believe the Agreement must endure.”

Cllr Attwood added: “We make no apology for working to reassure unionism that our objective is not domination but equal partnership. That's what persuasion politics is all about. That’s what any party that is serious about achieving unity should be about.”

Responding to Cllr Attwood’s comments, Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson vigorously defended his party’s green paper.

“Sinn Féin have a strategy based on demonstrating the practical benefits and the huge potential of Irish unification. The green paper is the culmination of much of that.

“But we have also a detailed strategy relating to the working relationships of councils throughout the border region that will pay practical dividends. We have a strategy for engaging with civic society on issues such as an All-Ireland Charter of Rights, as well as an agenda for business, community and other sectoral interests, as persuaders for unification.

“We have a strategy to demonstrate to the farming and rural community how their interests are best served within the All-Ireland context, from movement on lifting the beef ban to the implementation of CAP reform.

“There is no point diluting our aspirations to appeal to unionists who I believe deserve to be engaged with honestly. Sinn Féin are totally committed to Irish unification. Unionists know that. Everyone knows that. The job of work is to engage with the unionist community through many different channels – at grass roots level, in and around the community sector, through arguments about the economic potential of unification, and to farming and rural communities.

“The SDLP should appreciate that no-one, unionist or otherwise, will welcome being patronised if all they are looking for is transfers to stave off electoral decline.”


SDLP strategy for a United Ireland

• The Assembly would continue as a regional parliament of a United Ireland with all its cross-community protections. The Irish Constitution would be changed to accommodate this.
• The Executive would be kept, bringing together all political parties.
• The right to identify oneself as British, Irish or both would endure, as would the right to hold British and Irish passports.
• Just as the Irish Government has a say in the North now, the British Government would have a say in the North as a United Ireland.
• Just as there is a northern representation in the Seanad at present, those in the North who want it should have representation in the House of Lords in a United Ireland.
• The party pledges to campaign vigorously in favour of a Yes vote on unity while assuring unionists of their guaranteed place in a United Ireland.
Sinn Fein strategy for a United Ireland

• It would require specific forms of support from popular and political opinion in Britain.
• The existing 18 Westminster MPs would be automatically accorded membership of the Dáil, with consultative and speaking rights.
• A determined number of seats would be allocated to six-county parties in proportion to their electoral representation.
• Voting rights in presidential elections and elections to the Seanad would be extended to citizens in the North.
• The British Government would have no say in the North in a United Ireland.
• The Oireachtas would open the door to those of the unionist tradition who may, in the future, wish to avail of representation. Unionist seats would be left vacant as a constant assertion of the recognition of the Irish nation that they have the right of entitlement in national institutions.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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