09 April 2005

BreakingNews.ie: Ireland

The above link is to BreakingNews.ie, which is an excellent source of news from Ireland, north and south. Today I have to be at hospital for family, so there will not be so many posts until later. Check also the sources on my links page. :)



Ex-UDA leader remanded in custody

Former UDA leader Jim Gray has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with possessing and concealing criminal property.

Gray, 47, had a 10,000 euro bankers draft and more than £2,700 in cash when he was stopped by police on Thursday, Banbridge Magistrate's court heard.

Gray said he could account for his possessions. Defence said the money came from the sale of two pubs.

The police have begun a full money laundering investigation.

The court heard that Gray, who was stood down from the UDA leadership in east Belfast last week, did not understand the second charge of concealing criminal property.

Under cross-examination, a detective sergeant said that it was based on police information and a belief that judging by the defendant's lifestyle he had "unjustifiable earnings".

Court order

That was disputed by his solicitor who said that the money came from the sale of two pubs.

Gray, from Knockwood Park, was described in court as a "high profile person in the loyalist community".

A detective said he believed he had been intending to leave the country.

Gray was remanded in custody to appear in court again on Thursday.

However, on Monday police are expected to apply for a court order to freeze his assets as part of a money laundering investigation.

08 April 2005

RTE News

John Paul II is buried in St Peter's

08 April 2005 18:35

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Pope John Paul's coffin has been buried in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

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John Paul's cypress coffin with the wind blowing the pages of his last will and testament

His funeral mass in the open in St Peter's Square was attended by hundreds of world political and religious leaders in what was one of the biggest gatherings of global leaders ever seen.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims watched the ceremony in St Peter's Square, while millions more watched on giant video screens around the city.

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The mass was interrupted briefly when crowds of worshippers, mostly apparently Polish, started chanting 'Santo Subito', asking for the late Pope to be made a saint immediately.

Officials had urged the visitors to stay in special tented areas on the outskirts of Rome, but many defied the appeal and spent the night camping out near the scene of the funeral.

It is estimated that up to 800,000 people followed the event in the Pope's home town of Krakow, in southern

The chief celebrant was the German Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Last night, Vatican officials closed the doors of St Peter's Basilica, ending four days of public homage.

It is estimated that up to two million people filed past the Pope's body to pay their respects.

The huge security operation will remain in place in Rome until tomorrow. The authorities say they are coping with the challenge so far.

Sunset service underway

Meanwhile, several thousand people are gathered at the papal cross in Dublin's Phoenix Park for a Sunset Service of Remembrance.

It is being televised live on RTÉ Two Television.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, were among the early arrivals.

Many schools around the country remained closed today and workers were allowed to take time off to attend mass or other remembrance services.

Daily Ireland

Frank fights back

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Donegal man Frank McBrearty Snr was subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation instigated by gardai investigating the death of Raphoe cattle dealer Richie Barron, it emerged yesterday.
Mr McBrearty told the Morris Tribunal of the Garda corruption in Donegal that followed Mr Barron’s death, which is now believed to be the result of a road traffic accident, and how he and his family were the victims of a “state sponsored conspiracy”.
He also made the dramatic move of bringing Justice Morris out to his jeep to show the judge the huge amount of legal papers he has to cope with without having legal representation.
Mr McBrearty’s son, Frank Jnr, was arrested for murder and Mr McBrearty Snr was also arrested following claims he had interfered with witnesses.
Mr McBrearty denied claims that he had intimidated witnesses, and said he had employed a private investigator Billy Flynn on the condition that if he found any evidence against the nightclub owner he was to go to the garda with it.
“I’m an innocent man and I want the truth. I did not intimidate any witnesses,” Mr McBrearty told the tribunal.
Mr McBrearty Snr said he had gone to Superintendent John Fitzgerald to ask him to stop the “frame-up”.
“He told me he was going to deal with it, that was the last I heard of it. John Fitzgerald knew me so well. He knew I could not be involved in any kind of crime like that.
“The guards were still carrying on round my premises,” he said. Checkpoints were put around the pub and gardai sat in his premises at night.
Mr McBrearty Snr said he felt terrible when he saw a Crimeline programme about Richie Barron’s death, which he claims was made with information fed by former Garda John O’Dowd to Supt Fitzgerald and others.
“I wish to protest about the manner in which the Crimeline report was portrayed by gardai, where the centre of the investigation was pinpointed as being my premises when the movement or death of Richie Barron was nothing whatsoever to do with me.”
Mr McBrearty accused Mr O’Dowd of harassing him.
“From the actions of Mr O’Dowd I can see it clearly: he was the main man in this whole thing. He orchestrated it, he set it up, he used William Doherty.
He claims “high-up officers right down to gardai” are lying.
“All they have to do is admit the wrong they have done,” he said.
Mr McBrearty told the tribunal that his family had received death threats and defamatory graffiti was scrawled on his premises in Raphoe as a result of the rumour that they were involved in Mr Barron’s death.
Mr McBrearty, who served with a peace keeping mission in the Congo and spent 15 years living in the UK before returning to Ireland in 1976, said his life had been destroyed by the incidents in Raphoe.
“I’ve never got my business back to full capacity. I’ve borrowed a lot of money to keep going,” he said.

Daily Ireland

Call to shoot thieves

A public meeting to discuss criminality in the Ardoyne area of Belfast descended into chaos when sections of the crowd demanded paramilitaries shoot car thieves in the head.
However, senior republicans rejected the calls, insisting that punishment beatings do not work.
They urged the crowd to look at different ways to tackle anti-social behaviour other than violence.
Although welcomed by the majority of the 200 people in attendance, a small group of around 15 berated republicans for their stance.
The meeting on Wednesday evening also witnessed a major argument between relatives of a man found dead in Ardoyne two months ago and members of Sinn Féin.
The family of Stephen Montgomery believe the father of two was murdered and they accused republicans of doing nothing to help them bring his alleged killers to justice.
The PSNI, however, is treating the incident as a fatal hit and run.
After 45 minutes the meeting eventually broke up when a large section of the crowd walked out.
Local community workers moved yesterday to distance themselves from the proceedings.
Ardoyne Focus Group development manager, Mickey Liggett, said the public meeting did not have the support of the wider community.
He also described as “way over the top” leaflets put through hundreds of letterboxes advertising the meeting which described Ardoyne as a “community from hell”.
Mr Liggett said: “This meeting was organised by a number of individuals who did not have the support of the Ardoyne Focus Group.
“From all accounts, it descended into a slanging match, offering no solutions to the area’s anti-social problems.
“Punishment beatings are not the way to deal with crime. This community is opposed to that type of retribution.”
Community Restorative Justice, an organisation that attempts to deal with the root cause of anti-social problems, had an equally dim view of the meeting.
Spokesman Brendan Clarke said: “It was an attempt to orchestrate community endorsement of physical punishment.
“I was there and, thankfully, the vast majority of people in the hall rejected these calls.
“We need to come together as a community to tackle anti-social behaviour.
“Shooting teenagers in the legs doesn’t work.”

Belfast Telegraph

Snow falls in April cold snap

By Damien McGinley
08 April 2005

Snow fell in many places this morning as the long predicted cold snap hit Northern Ireland.

Temperatures dropped to freezing overnight as an Arctic airflow extended south across the UK and Ireland.

Many early morning car journeys were disrupted by the snow flurries and ice patches on the roads.

Gritters were out throughout the night treating the major roads across the province. All the main routes had been salted by 7.30am.

The Roads Service had no reports of problems on the roads this morning and there were no problems at the airports or ferries.

Quite a few snow showers fell overnight although they were fairly light.

It is normal to get the odd cold snap in April but snowfall is very rare.

April temperatures typically range from 3C to 11C. At 9am today, the temperature in Belfast was 0C.

Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 6C today.

A change is predicted in Rome's weather ahead of Pope John Paul II's funeral also.

After a week of searing temperatures that caused many people to faint while waiting in line to see the Pope's body, weather forecasters predicted it to be cloudy with possible rain.


Since yesterday, Blogger has been having major trouble, with many users complaining on forums of the inability to post. I downloaded the desktop client called w.bloggar and just posted the following article from An Phoblacht, but I could not edit.

UPDATE: Blogger seems to be working now (April 8). Some stories not posted here can be seen at the other sites.

An Phoblacht

Two days in April - Remembering the Past


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Click to view - Photo: IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch was shot dead in April 1923

On 10 April 1923, 82 years ago, Liam Lynch was shot by Pro-Treaty forces.

General Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff, IRA, was born in Barnagurraha, County Limerick, in 1893. Lynch had commanded the Cork No 2 Brigade of the IRA during the ferocious days of the Tan War. He would eventually rise to command the 1st Southern Division, IRA.

When the Treaty with England was signed in December 1921, like many other IRA men, Lynch refused to abide by its term.

On that April morning in 1923, Lynch and a small number of his comrades were sitting down to a cup of tea when word came that a column of 'Staters' was coming across the Knockmealdown Mountains, cutting off their only retreat from another column of the enemy they knew to be in the valley below.

Carrying important papers that they wished to keep safe at all costs, Lynch and six comrades began a retreat up the mountain, hoping to avoid the trap. Soon they ran into the pro-Treaty forces on the mountainside, and exchanged fire. Lynch and his party were only armed with pistols and at a great disadvantage. Their only hope for escape was over an open expanse of mountain, where they would be exposed to what they knew would be a withering fire.

Having little choice, they moved up the mountain, bullets whistling all around them. Finally, inevitably, a bullet struck Liam. After surviving so many fights for Irish freedom, luck had finally run out for Liam Lynch.

He cried "My God, I'm hit, lads", as he slumped to the ground. As his comrades gathered around him they saw that he was badly wounded. Lynch's comrades tried to carry him with them up the mountain but it was impossible. He finally ordered them to leave him. "Perhaps they'll bandage me when they come up," he said.

Knowing that the papers they carried had to be saved, and that they could never make it up the mountain carrying him, his comrades reluctantly obeyed his order and left him behind. When the Staters reached him later and asked who he was, he replied: "I'm Liam Lynch, get me a priest and a doctor, I'm dying." Lynch lived to reach the hospital in Clonmel but he died there at 8pm that night.


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On 9 April 1981, 24 years ago, republican POW and Hunger Striker Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

On 30 March, Bobby was nominated as candidate for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone by-election, caused by the sudden death of Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoners' cause.

The next morning, day 31 of his Hunger Strike, he was visited by Owen Carron, who acted as his election agent. Owen told of that first visit: "Instead of meeting that young man of the poster with long hair and a fresh face, even at that time when Bobby wasn't too bad, he was radically changed. He was very thin and bony and his hair was cut short."

Bobby won over 52% of the vote in the by-election compared to 49% for the candidate of the Official Unionist party, Harry West.

Bobby Sands' winning margin was 1,400. Owen Carron, said:

"The nationalist people have voted against unionism and against the H-Blocks. It is time Britain got out of Ireland and put an end to the torture of this country."

Bobby had no illusions with regard to his election victory. His reaction was not one of over-optimism. After the result was announced, Owen visited Bobby.

"He had already heard the result on the radio. He was in good form alright but he always used to keep saying, 'In my position you can't afford to be optimistic'. In other words, he didn't take it that because he'd won an election that his life would be saved. He thought that the Brits would need their pound of flesh. I think he was always working on the premise that he would have to die."

At 1.17am on Tuesday, 5 May, on the 66th day on hunger strike, Bobby Sands MP, died in the prison hospital at Long Kesh.

07 April 2005

Daily Ireland

**This is your hamburger and roast. Is it worth it?

Concern for live exports

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click to view - live animals, strung up by one leg before having their throats cut

Animal welfare groups in the Republic have called on the government to withdraw its support for the live transport of animals from the state.
The Irish branch of Compassion in World Farming made the call after an in-depth investigation into the transport of cattle from Waterford to the Middle East.
Campaigners say the transport of animals by road and boat to Lebanon, although entirely legal, places unacceptable stress on the animals.
The Stop the Bull Ship campaign received a boost at its European launch in Brussels yesterday when the English actor Joanna Lumley echoed calls for the practice to be brought to an end. Trading live animals is currently subsidised by the European Union.
Campaigners were forced into action after monitoring a shipment of cattle that left Waterford in October last year. During loading at the city’s port, cattle were herded onto a ship using electric prods, a practice that the Irish government says should be avoided.
After enduring several days at sea, the animals finally arrived at the Lebanese port of Beirut. From there, they were transported to a government-run slaughterhouse.
Video footage secretly filmed by investigators revealed shocking conditions in the high-rise slaughterhouse. After being tied by one leg to a “slaughter line”, rows of terrified Irish cattle were killed by having their throats cut without first being stunned.
From an ear tag recovered at the slaughterhouse, the animals were later traced back to farms in the South of Ireland.
Mary-Anne Bartlett, director of Compassion in World Farming in Ireland, said the practice of transporting animals should be abolished.
“It is shameful that our government supports live cattle exports to the Lebanon. Anyone who cares about animals can see that this trade is inhumane and should be stopped. The export refunds that are fuelling this trade should be abolished immediately. Such refunds are a serious misuse of taxpayers’ money.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture in Dublin said department veterinary inspectors clear all animals transported from the Republic.
“Live exports are an important component of Ireland’s livestock industry, and the department is aware of the social, moral and economic imperative to ensure that the transport of animals is conducted in a manner which safeguards their welfare while being transported and minimises the risk of transmitting infectious diseases.
“The department, on a number of occasions, has sent veterinary inspectors to the Lebanon to witness the unloading of Irish cattle and to verify that the animals are unloaded and treated in a humane manner. On one occasion, a veterinary inspector identified that the loading of cattle was unsatisfactory. The department addressed this with the cattle exporter and the ship owner and has received guarantees that the matter would be addressed.”
The representative added that the transport of animals would continue even if the Republic or the European Union banned the practice.
“It should also be pointed out that an EU ban on live exports to the Lebanon would not necessarily mean that exports of cattle to that country would cease. Sourcing would take place elsewhere and could involve the shipment of cattle under conditions far less exacting than those existing under Irish law,” the spokesperson said.

Daily Ireland

Ex-prisoners once again rise to the challenge of opposing a strategy of criminalisation

Of late, the terms criminal and criminality have once again appeared in the speeches of politicians and in the media.
Just as in the mid-1970s the terms are being applied to republicans and republican activities.
Interestingly this time, the Dublin government of Bertie Ahern and not the British government is the instigator of this campaign of vilification.
Sinn Féin spokespersons have already addressed the accusations but as people who were on the end of earlier attempts to criminalise the republican struggle we feel it is timely that we speak out on the issue.
Coiste na nIarchimí is the umbrella organisation representing former republican prisoners, their families and displaced persons. Established in 1998 we have our head office in Belfast, an office in Dublin directly funded by the Irish government, and 15 ex-prisoner centres across the 12 northern counties.
The first republican ex-prisoner group, Tar Anall, was established on the Falls Road in Belfast in 1994, several months before the IRA’s cessation of armed struggle. Following the cessation, the European Union initiated a special economic support package for the North and a small portion of those monies was dedicated to assisting former political prisoners and their families.
Republicans have utilised that opportunity of financial assistance in an extremely productive manner and, in line with their politics, not just for the benefit of themselves and their families but for the wider community.
In the Creggan estate in Derry city, Tar Abháile, the republican ex-prisoner group, built a fitness and leisure suite to meet the needs of the community. In Clones, Co Monaghan the ex-prisoner group, Fáilte Chluain Eois, bought the former RIC barracks and transformed it into spacious offices and a crèche and child-minding facility which was sorely lacking in the area. Cumann na Meirleach in south Armagh is exploring a hill-walking venture; Tar Anall renovated part of the old Conway Mill on the Falls Road and now hosts numerous courses and facilities. Tar Isteach in north Belfast operates a counselling and emotional support service; Fáilte Abhaile in Dundalk is a vibrant youth project.
Similar innovative projects provide much needed facilities in Letterkenny, Sligo, Leitrim, Dungannon, West Belfast and Lurgan.
These projects reflect how former republican prisoners have used their skills and displayed their commitment to the communities that have given them and their families so much in the past.
In all of the work that has been undertaken and all of the funding that Coiste na nIarchimí and affiliated groups have been able to draw down under the European Union funds, no one can point to any mismanagement, misappropriation or misuse of funds. To even state that sounds defensive but it is necessary for the record and in light of the current campaign of vilification, which is being led by Southern politicians.
One wonders if that campaign is not primarily designed to divert attention from their own difficulties exposed by the inquiries and tribunals into the scandals of off-shore bank accounts, tax avoidance, bribery, corrupt practices of land development and other illegal and unethical practices.
Not only have republican ex-prisoners put their energies into creating valuable resources for the community but they continue to play a crucial role with youth to reduce violence and tension on the interfaces; in community development; with Coiste’s Processes of Nation Building programme which engages with representatives from all sectors of society, in social economy, in the arts, in the Irish language, in public life as elected representatives, and on a daily basis as ordinary, responsible civic-minded citizens.
The elements of criminalisation that exist in Ireland, North and South, are governmental in their origin and relate to the discriminatory barriers still in place against former political prisoners.
Although clearly recognised as political whilst in prison and released as such under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, former political prisoners are classed under the catch-all term of “possessing a criminal conviction”. This label has major implications in terms of employment, training, accessing compensation, insurance and mortgages, adoption, fostering, travel, representation on public bodies and so on.
The irony is that a former political prisoner could be the Minister for Policing in a new Assembly but be prevented from joining the civil service at a basic grade.
Our work is to remove these legal barriers and discriminatory practices. We thank those who have assisted us, especially the political representatives who recognise the justice of our case and the inconsistencies in current policy.
The governmental tactic of criminalisation of us and our community has never worked in the past. It will not work now because we will never allow it to work and those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes and failures of those who went before them.
Coiste na nIarchimí will hold a rally in the Europa Hotel in Belfast at 7.30pm on Monday, April 11 as an opportunity for ex-prisoners, family members and supporters to protest at the current campaign seeking to criminalise republicans. For further information, contact Mike Ritchie on (028) 9020 0770.

Daily Ireland

Grace’s cabin in ruins

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click to view - Rainier and Grace

A small Co Mayo community mourned the death of Prince Rainier yesterday and expressed regret that nothing has been done over the decades to restore a local tumbledown cottage, which is the ancestral home of his late wife, Princess Grace.
The three Grimaldi children, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, became owners of the now roofless, three-roomed building and an adjoining 35 acres when their mother, the former Grace Kelly, died tragically in a car accident in 1982.
The property, which was first visited by Rainier and Grace in 1961, has lain derelict over the years, despite occasional bursts of correspondence between Monaco and Mayo County Council as well as a local development committee.
Even a former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, intervened briefly, but unsuccessfully, in the 1980s. On a visit to Monaco, Mr Reynolds suggested to Prince Rainier that the cottage, where Princess Grace’s grandfather, John Bernard Kelly, eked out a living before emigrating to the United States, should be renovated, but the response was cool.
Maureen Smyth, who acted as Secretary of the Culmore Development Committee in the 1980s, yesterday expressed regret that nothing had been done to restore the cottage into a tourist attraction.
“I am disappointed that things didn’t work out,” Ms Smyth commented. “The provision of an amenity centre in Culmore took precedence over the Kelly cottage project. Plans for the cottage died a death.
“Unless the county council takes up the matter I doubt if locals will. It is too big a project for a small community.”
Frank Chambers, a member of Mayo County Council, who helped involve the then Taoiseach in the 1980s, said yesterday a restored cottage would have been a tourist asset not only for the west but for the whole of Ireland.
Despite the lack of progress over the years, Councillor Chambers, who is Chairman of Newport and District Development Company, expressed optimism that the cottage might become some kind of a monument.
“Some kind of memorial, fitting and symbolic, should be put in place,” Councillor Chambers said.
Grace’s son, Prince Albert, visited the property in 1987 dropping in by helicopter unannounced.
Solicitor Patrick Durcan, who represents the Rainier family’s interests in Mayo, declined to comment yesterday when contacted.

Monaco closes casinos as Prince dies

Monaco plunged into mourning and its famed casino closed its doors when the death was announced yesterday of Prince Rainier, the long-ruling monarch hailed for modernising the tiny principality once renowned as a “sunny place for shady people''.
Rainier, whose marriage to American film star Grace Kelly brought elegance, glamour and world renown to what once was a Riviera backwater, died at 6.35am at the hospital treating him for heart, kidney and breathing problems. He was 81.
Prince Albert, his bachelor son and heir, was at his side after doctors called him just before 6am to tell him the end was near, the royal palace said.
Albert (47) was groomed from birth to succeed his father, and had already taken over the royal powers - but not the throne - last week because Rainier was too sick to rule.
Rainier's body was transferred from the hospital back to his hilltop palace shortly after his death and will lie in state in the palace's Palatine Chapel so Monegasques can pay their respects, said an official.
The Mediterranean enclave's famed Monte Carlo casino closed its doors as a sign of respect.
“Each of us feels like an orphan because the principality has been marked by his imprint over the 56 years of his reign,” said Patrick Leclercq, head of government in the principality of 32,000 people.
There was no immediate official word on funeral arrangements.
Rainier was expected to be buried alongside Princess Grace at the 19th-century Monaco Cathedral, where they wed on April 18, 1956. Beside her tomb is an empty slab of marble waiting to be engraved with the prince's name.
Tributes flooded in from European leaders and politicians who praised Rainier, who had been Europe's longest-serving monarch, as a reformist prince.
French President Jacques Chirac said Rainier “enabled his country to gain access to the international stage and gave it modern structures, all the while preserving the traditional elements which, over time, forged Monaco's originality.''
A palace statement said Rainier died “as a result of the broncho-pulmonary, heart and kidney conditions that caused his
Rainier had in been hospital since March 7.

Daily Ireland

UDA power struggle at boiling point

An internal power struggle is raging within the UDA between long-standing members of the paramilitary organisation and its younger members, loyalist sources warned last night.
News of the UDA’s latest internal difficulties emerged amid reports that its leaders in north and west Belfast, Andre Shoukri and Jim Spence, are to be dismissed.
The expulsion threat hanging over their heads is being seen as the latest attempt by long-term UDA south Belfast commander, Jackie McDonald, to gain control of the organisation.
McDonald was heavily involved in the removal of Jim Gray and five of his closest associates as UDA leaders in east Belfast last week.
Although Shoukri and Spence have not yet been expelled, their positions within the organisation are said to be severely compromised.
Loyalist sources have accused Shoukri of skimming money from UDA funds to pay for a severe gambling addiction.
Loyalist leaders are also allegedly becoming increasingly concerned with Spence and the rumours that persist about him being a Special Branch informer.
Attempts to oust Shoukri in north Belfast could be difficult given that the 26-year-old self-styled “brigadier” has a loyal following among young UDA members in the hardline Tiger’s Bay, Westland and Ballysillan areas.
However, Spence represents a much softer target with many of west Belfast Shankill Road’s UDA rank and file willing to turn against him. In the summer of 2003, Spence incurred their wrath when he “stood down” a number of veteran UDA men.
Loyalist sources claimed the expulsion threats represented a clash of ideology between the group’s older and younger members.
One said: “The UDA is a money-making machine, whether it is through drugs, extortion or prostitution.
“The older members like to keep their activities quiet, but the younger ones think they are celebrities and love the fact their pictures appear in the newspapers every other week.
“They were warned at a meeting a couple of weeks ago to adopt a low-profile, but it hasn’t happened.
“Open any newspaper on a Sunday and you will find pictures of Spence, Shoukri and Jim Gray. That is why they are being kicked out.”
It is understood the man behind the current expulsion drive, convicted extortionist Jackie McDonald, is attempting to seize control of the entire UDA which has traditionally been split into six brigade areas – north, south, east and west Belfast, south Antrim, and Derry/north Antrim.
Reacting to the current internal difficulties facing the UDA, north Belfast SDLP member Alban Maginness said the group cannot be allowed to find a permanent niche in society through the cosmetic expulsions of high-profile leaders.
Mr Maginness said: “The expulsion of Jim Spence and Andre Shoukri will not change the nature of the UDA or make it acceptable.
“The transfer of power from the bully boys of the north and west of Belfast to the smooth-talking brigadiers of south Belfast is a PR exercise. It is not enough for a few people to be expelled for drug-dealing. The UDA needs to wind up or be shut down.”

Daily Ireland

A defining moment

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Gerry Adams’ Statement:

I want to speak directly to the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann, the volunteer soldiers of the Irish Republican Army.
In time of great peril you stepped into the bearna baoil, the gap of danger. When others stood idly by, you and your families gave your all, in defence of a risen people and in pursuit of Irish freedom and unity.
Against mighty odds, you held the line and faced down a huge military foe, the British crown forces and their surrogates in the unionist death squads.
Eleven years ago, the army leadership ordered a complete cessation of military operations. This courageous decision was in response to proposals put forward by the Sinn Féin leadership to construct a peace process, build democratic politics and achieve a lasting peace.
Since then, despite many provocations and setbacks, the cessation has endured.
And more than that, when elements within the British and Irish establishments and rejectionist unionism delayed progress, it was the IRA leadership which authorised a number of significant initiatives to enhance the peace process.
On a number of occasions, commitments have been reneged on. These include commitments from the two governments.
The Irish Republican Army has kept every commitment made by its leadership.
The most recent of these was last December when the IRA was prepared to support a comprehensive agreement. At that time, the army leadership said the implementation of this agreement would allow everyone, including the IRA, to take its political objectives forward by peaceful and democratic means.
That agreement perished on the rock of unionist intransigence. The shortsightedness of the two governments compounded the difficulties.
Since then, there has been a vicious campaign of vilification against republicans, driven in the main by the Irish government. There are a number of reasons for this.
The growing political influence of Sinn Féin is a primary factor.
The unionists also, for their part, want to minimise the potential for change, not only on the equality agenda but on the issues of sovereignty and ending the union.
The IRA is being used as the excuse by them all not to engage properly in the process of building peace with justice in Ireland.
For over 30 years, the IRA showed that the British government could not rule Ireland on its own terms. You asserted the legitimacy of the right of the people of this island to freedom and independence.
Many of your comrades made the ultimate sacrifice.
Your determination, selflessness and courage have brought the freedom struggle towards its fulfilment.
That struggle can now be taken forward by other means. I say this with the authority of my office as president of Sinn Féin.
In the past, I have defended the right of the IRA to engage in armed struggle. I did so because there was no alternative for those who would not bend the knee or turn a blind eye to oppression or for those who wanted a national republic.
Now there is an alternative.
I have clearly set out my view of what that alternative is. The way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support for these goals internationally.
I want to use this occasion therefore to appeal to the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann to fully embrace and accept this alternative.
Can you take courageous initiatives which will achieve your aims by purely political and democratic activity?
I know full well that such truly historic decisions can only be taken in the aftermath of intense internal consultation. I ask that you initiate this as quickly as possible.
I understand fully that the IRA’s most recent positive contribution to the peace process was in the context of a comprehensive agreement. But I also hold the very strong view that republicans need to lead by example.
There is no greater demonstration of this than the IRA cessation in the summer of 1994.
Sinn Féin has demonstrated the ability to play a leadership role as part of a popular movement towards peace, equality and justice.
We are totally commited to ending partition and to creating the conditions for unity and independence. Sinn Féin has the potential and capacity to become the vehicle for the attainment of republican objectives.
The Ireland we live in today is also a very different place from 15 years ago. There is now an all-Ireland agenda with huge potential.
Nationalists and republicans have a confidence that will never again allow anyone to be treated as second-class citizens. Equality is our watchword.
The catalyst for much of this change is the growing support for republicanism.
Of course, those who oppose change are not going to simply roll over. It will always be a battle a day between those who want maximum change and those who want to maintain the status quo. But if republicans are to prevail, if the peace process is to be successfully concluded and Irish sovereignty and reunification secured, then we have to set the agenda — no one else is going to do that.
So, I also want to make a personal appeal to all of you — the women and men volunteers who have remained undefeated in the face of tremendous odds.
Now is the time for you to step into the bearna baoil again, not as volunteers risking life and limb but as activists in a national movement towards independence and unity.
Such decisions will be far-reaching and difficult. But you never lacked courage in the past. Your courage is now needed for the future.
It won’t be easy. There are many problems to be resolved by the people of Ireland in the time ahead. Your ability as republican volunteers to rise to this challenge will mean that the two governments and others cannot easily hide from their obligations and their responsibility to resolve these problems.
Our struggle has reached a defining moment.
I am asking you to join me in seizing this moment, to intensify our efforts, to rebuild the peace process and decisively move our struggle forward.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin reiterates call for Children's Minister

Published: 7 April, 2005

Speaking at the launch today of a Children's Manifesto by several of the North's leading children's NGO's, Sinn Féin health spokesperson and Upper Bann MLA, John O'Dowd has reiterated Sinn Féin call for a Children's Minister. Mr O'Dowd said:

"As a party we reaffirm our support for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with its clear demand 'that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society and brought up in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity'. It is our contention that all state actions in relation to children should adhere to the letter and the spirit of this convention.

"The reality is that children and children's services are still seen as the Cinderella service. Children's services have been under funded for a number of years and while there were some improvements while the Assembly was in session, where we saw the appointment of the Commissioner for Children and Young People, and the development of a ring-fenced Children's Fund, the situation for children's services has deteriorated markedly since the imposition of direct British rule.

"Sinn Féin appreciates the good work that is being done by the Children's Commissioner for children and young people in difficult circumstances, and I would like to reaffirm my support and the support of our party to this office and the positive work that they are carrying out.

Addressing members of the children's NGO's and others from the community and voluntary sector who attended the launch, Mr O'Dowd MLA added:

"By failing to provide adequate funds for children's services, the British government is damaging the future of our society. They have no right to do this. Most recently, we have witnessed the cutbacks within the Education and Library Boards, against the advice of the Commissioner, the advice of NGO's and the advice of all Political Parties. These cut backs have, and will continue to impact on the most vulnerable of our society. There is simply no justification for this.

"Sinn Féin deplores the treatment of the Children's Fund in the recent budget. We believe that funding for children and children's services should be ring fenced. I support the intervention from the Commissioner on the recent budget were he said, 'he has no doubt that children and young people will lose out under this budget and that the reality is that when services are cut, the potential of children to achieve can be lost and the potential for them to be at risk is increased'.

"As a party we have tried to ensure that the rights of children remain centre stage and while we welcomed the appointment of the Commissioner we were disappointed that there was not a Minister for Children appointed during the Assembly. We will continue to push for a Children's Minister.

"Sinn Féin is also going to launch its own Children's Manifesto based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among the practical steps we wish to see is the rolling out of UNICEF's Child Friendly Cities Scheme. To that end, we are presenting motions to a number of District Councils calling for them to become part of this scheme.

"Sinn Féin supports the demands of the Children's Manifesto. Sinn Féin also recognises the importance of a close and effective working relationship between the Children's NGO sector and political parties to ensure that the welfare of all our children is promoted as effectively as possible." ENDS


IRA responds to Adams appeal

Mark Oliver and agencies
Thursday April 7, 2005

The IRA said today it was giving "due consideration" to the appeal by the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, for it to fully embrace politics and abandon the armed struggle.

In a brief statement released to the Press Association news agency under the IRA's pen name of P O'Neill, the Republican group said: "The leadership of the IRA was given notice of the appeal by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. We have noted his comments. The IRA will give his appeal due consideration and will respond in due course."

In a speech yesterday in west Belfast that was described as extraordinary by analysts, Mr Adams said that, while in the past he had defended the IRA's right to engage in armed struggle, there was now an alternative in "building political support for republican and democratic objectives".

He appealed to the IRA "to fully embrace and accept this alternative", but did not go as far as calling for the IRA to disband.

Republican sources said last night the Sinn Féin leader was attempting to urge the IRA to consider its own future ahead of any negotiations which could start up after the general election, possibly in the autumn.

However, unionists have responded sceptically, noting the statement was delivered on the second day of a general election campaign in which Sinn Féin hopes to assert its dominance over the rival nationalist party, the SDLP, which it has eclipsed in recent elections.

The SDLP's leader, Mark Durkan, questioned whether Mr Adams's statement was sincere and today said his was the only party in the province with proposals that would bring a quick end to direct rule in the province.

The Stormont power-sharing assembly, which was created after the 1998 Good Friday agreement, was suspended in October 2002 after claims about a republican spying ring at the Northern Ireland Office.

Today Mr Durkan told the ePolitix website: "If people want to return to the agreement then they should return the SDLP in greater strength. History shows that when the SDLP vote goes up then we all make progress and that when the more extreme problem parties make gains we all stay stuck."

The Democratic Unionist party leader, Ian Paisley, yesterday dismissed Mr Adams's speech as a "political stunt". He said: "There must be a complete and total abandonment of IRA/Sinn Féin and that's not going to happen. The DUP won't be back in any negotiating table. "

Northern Ireland's peace process stalled at the end of last year over whether the IRA would allow weapons decommissioning to be photographed. The republican movement was then thrown into crisis by allegations the IRA carried out December's £26.5m Northern Bank raid in Belfast and was involved in the murder of Catholic man Robert McCartney in January.

Pressure has been mounting on the IRA to abandon violence and crime and disband. Last month Mr Adams had a cool reception during his annual St Patrick's Day trip to boost support in the US, where Mr McCartney's sisters were, in contrast, welcomed by the US president, George Bush, and other leaders.

Earlier today, Sinn Féin's vice-president, Pat Doherty, said Mr Adams's speech had prompted debate within the movement. Speaking in London, Mr Doherty said: "This is a huge issue ... everybody who has lived through the conflict in the north knows the reality of violence [from] the British army and the unionist death squads. Many republicans and nationalists see the IRA as their defenders.

"There will be a rational intellectual debate but there will be an element of emotion in all of this and it will take time for all of that to work its way through."

He denied that Mr Adams had made his statement in an attempt to shore up support for Sinn Féin among nationalists following the murder of Mr McCartney and ahead of the general election on May 5.

Yesterday, Mr Adams said he had defended the armed struggle in the past because, at the time, "there was no alternative for those who would not bend the knee, or turn a blind eye to oppression, or for those who wanted a national republic ... [but now] the way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support for these goals internationally."

Downing Street said the statement was "significant" and hoped it was the way forward "to peaceful and democratic means".

However, the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, said: "Nothing less than a complete and decisive end to all IRA activity and capability will be acceptable if there is to be any prospect of achieving inclusive politics in Northern Ireland."


IRA still has terror capability - police chief

07/04/2005 - 13:42:09

The IRA is still unlikely to carry out a major terrorist operation which would breach the organisation’s ceasefire but retained its capability, a senior policeman in Northern Ireland claimed today.

After the IRA today said it would give due consideration to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams’ call for them to embrace politics and abandon the armed struggle, Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid told Northern Ireland Policing Board he was aware that recent events could overtake his assessment of the Provisionals’ capabilities.

But responding to a question from Democratic Unionist Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr, he said the organisation remained up until this point involved in criminal activities such as robberies and carried out punishment attacks and beatings.

“They continue to maintain their organisation’s operational capabilities,” he said.

“They could, if they wanted to, mount a terrorist operation which would be in breach of their ceasefire.

“We continue to assess that such a move is unlikely and remains a last resort.

“They continue to conduct various other criminal enterprises including robberies and various types of civil administration.”

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that following Mr Adams’ dramatic appeal yesterday to the IRA to begin an internal debate on its future and grasp the opportunity to pursue its goals through politics, it remained to be seen how the organisation would respond.

He was unwilling to give any further assessment of whether the IRA would respond positively to Mr Adams.

He told Mr Paisley: “We will wait and see what it means.

“It is a statement made by a political party which it would be wrong of me as chief constable at this particular moment in time to make a particular observation on.

“We will wait and see and we will see where that takes us.”

Mr Kinkaid also reported that dissident republicans opposed to Sinn Féin's peace process strategy continued to target the security forces and others and were responsible for a spate of recent incendiary attacks.

Mr Orde also confirmed earlier in the meeting that there had been a number of arrests against dissident republicans and other people with suspected links to republicans and loyalists over extortion.

Individuals linked to dissident groups, Mr Kinkaid said, also were involved in criminal activities.

He also reported that the threat from loyalist paramilitary groups remained despite attempts by some to operate a ceasefire.

The number of loyalist paramilitary-style assaults and punishment shootings remained high and members of the groups continued to commit robberies and there was heavy involvement in extortion.

Policing Board members were told that all paramilitary groups continued to recruit and to train members.

Mr Paisley queried whether Mr Adams’ statement yesterday was just words or whether there was any substance to them.


IRA suspect granted bail

07/04/2005 - 14:25:50

A Kildare man who was arrested as part of a Garda Special Branch investigation into the activities of dissident republicans was granted bail by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

Art Sherwin (aged 54), an electrician and father of ten, of Ballinagappa Road, Clane, Co Kildare, was charged last month with membership of an illegal organisation styling itself as the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA.

Today, Detective Inspector Liam Hogan, Special Detective Unit, opposed bail and said that he believed that Sherwin would continue to commit serious offences if released on bail.

The Detective Inspector said that he believed that Sherwin would continue to be a member of an unlawful organisation if given bail.

He said the illegal organisation is the Real IRA which is not on ceasefire and which has been responsible for numerous atrocities.

He agreed with Sherwin’s counsel Ms Anne Rowland BL that Sherwin had spent seven days in Tallaght Hospital after he was taken ill while in garda custody and was found to be suffering from untreated high blood pressure.

Mr Justice Richard Johnson, presiding, said the court considered that it was appropriate the bail should be granted.

The court fixed bail in Sherwin’s own bond of €1,000 and an independent bond of €20,000, ordered him to sign on twice daily at Naas garda station and ordered him not to apply for a passport or leave the jurisdiction.

The court also ordered that he should not associate with his two co accused, Robert Humphreys and Gareth Kelly, or with anyone convicted of a scheduled offence.

Sherwin was remanded with consent to bail until June 21.


Down to oppose opening Croke Park

The Croke Park issue is expected to dominate the GAA Congress

Down have decided to oppose the opening of Croke Park to football and rugby but only on the chairman's casting vote.

Wednesday's debate on Rule 42 resulted in delegates evenly split on 20 votes each and chairman Jerry Burns then opted to oppose any change.

The controversial rule dictates that the GAA's Dublin modern venue should be used for Gaelic games only.

Those favouring change have argued that the close vote indicates a move towards opening up the 80,000-seater stadium.

Reports from the Down meeting suggested clubs wanted a change but found their wishes countered by the management committee.

The eventual outcome means seven of the Ulster counties are expected to oppose any change to the current rule. Donegal and Cavan are the only Ulster counties expected to back a new stance.

There have been calls for the GAA to let the Irish rugby and football teams play at the north Dublin venue while Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped.

If that does not happen, they may have to stage their home international fixtures at a British venue.

Congress votes on the matter on 16 April, with a two-thirds majority needed to pass a motion.

Despite the Ulster opposition, support in other provinces could mean a close-run thing.


SDLP demands action against Orangemen who defy rulings

07/04/2005 - 12:00:55

The SDLP has demanded that the PSNI take action against Orange Order members who defy rulings by the Parades Commission.

The party said many Orangemen have ignored these rulings in the past and are planning to do so again during the upcoming marching season in the North.

SDLP members are due to question PSNI officials about the matter during a meeting of the Policing Board this afternoon.

The party is demanding that prosecutions be brought against people who broke the law during two Orange Order parades in north Belfast month.


Bilingual battle is still being fought

A new campaign which aims to promote the Irish language in the greater Poleglass and Twinbrook areas has been launched this week as part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the erection of the first Irish street signs in the area.

Launching the campaign, Máiréad Uí Adhmaill, Sinn Féin local election candidate for Dunmurry Cross, and an Irish language enthusiast, said that she wished to call upon Lisburn City Council and other statutory bodies to support the campaign and added that she hoped the Council would do this by officially recognising the streets that first went bilingual in Twinbrook in 1980.

“In the past, of course, people did it for themselves regardless of the intolerance and hostility of the state.

“However, if we are now living in a new era we have a right to expect support from statutory bodies and the local Council for our efforts,” said Máiréad.

“For example, we now have a Naíscoil, a Bunscoil and Irish classes all situated on Bothar Chnoc an tSamhraidh /Summerhill Road, a road whose Irish version erected in 1980 isn't even officially recognised by the Housing Executive or Lisburn City Council.”

Paying special tribute to all those Irish language activists in Twinbrook who, with the support of the local community, paid for, made and erected the first bilingual signs, Máiréad said, “It was a time when draconian laws existed against the use of Irish.

“Irish speakers had no legal protection whatsoever. In fact, the campaigners incurred the wrath of both the then Lisburn Borough Council and the RUC, and a number of the Committee were arrested and interrogated in the infamous Castlereagh Barracks,” explained Máiréad.

“It was also a time when Irish speakers could be arrested and in fact jailed for refusing to give English translations of their names.

‘We are now supposedly living in changed times.

“The Good Friday Agreement, the signing of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages and the 1995 Local Government Order all give varying degrees of official recognition to the language,” concluded Máiréad.

In support of the community campaign, Councillor Paul Butler also called upon local people to help by using the existing legislation to get bilingual signs erected on their streets. ‘This campaign will assist local people who wish to do this,” he said.

Anyone wishing to support the campaign to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of bilingual signs in Twinbrook can contact Máiréad at 028 90 611176 or cumanngaelach@hotmail.com

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan



7 April 2005

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called on the IRA to commit itself to “purely political and democratic activity” during a deeply historic address at Conway Mill in Belfast yesterday afternoon.

Mr Adams said that the republican struggle has now reached “a defining moment” in which the IRA should “lead by example” and “rise to this challenge”.

The West Belfast MP’s address - which had already been given to the IRA Army Council - could now herald the most momentous developments in the peace process since the IRA’s cessation of military activities in 1994.

Speaking directly to IRA volunteers, Mr Adams stated that a political alternative now exists to “armed struggle”.

“Your determination, selflessness and courage have brought the freedom struggle towards its fulfilment. That struggle can now be taken forward by other means. I say this with the authority of my office as President of Sinn Féin,” Mr Adams said.

“In the past I have defended the right of the IRA to engage in armed struggle. I did so because there was no alternative for those who would not bend the knee, or turn a blind eye to oppression, or for those who wanted a national republic.

“Now there is an alternative. I have clearly set out my view of what that alternative is,” he said.

“The way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support for these goals internationally.

“I want to use this occasion therefore to appeal to the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann to fully accept this alternative.

“Could you take courageous initiatives which will achieve your aims by purely political and democratic activity?” Mr Adams asked.

Acknowledging that “truly historic decisions can only be taken in the aftermath of intense internal consultation”, Mr Adams called on the IRA start this review process as quickly as possible.

Reacting to the development, a British government spokesperson admitted that it was “a significant statement”.

“Obviously the key will be what the IRA does as a result, and it's on that that any final judgement must be made,” the spokesperson said.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Random Ramblings from a Republican

Today in Irish History

Go >>>here


Sun reporter takes fake bomb into Windsor Castle

Press Association
Thursday April 7, 2005

Police are investigating another security breach at Windsor Castle after a Sun journalist drove a van containing a fake bomb close to the Queen's apartments just days before the royal wedding blessing.

Sun journalist Alex Peake drove past the chapel where the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles are due to be blessed on Saturday, the newspaper said in a front page story titled "Gatecrasher in the Castle".

The newspaper said Mr Peake and photographer Gary Stone posed as delivery drivers.

Their hired van carried a brown box that had been clearly marked with the word "bomb".

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "This apparent breach of security at Windsor Castle in the run-up to the royal wedding properly raises serious concern.

"It is only right that the facts are established before any action is taken against any person who may be culpable."

The statement added: "The commissioner has ordered an immediate inquiry to establish these facts."

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said: "Security is a matter for the police who have been asked to investigate."

The news came after it emerged on Tuesday that two intruders broke into the private area of Windsor Castle on April 3.

Self-styled comedy terrorist Aaron Barschak was involved in another high-profile security breach when he gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party in 2003.

The paper has also breached security in parliament smuggling a fake bomb into the House of Commons last year.


IRA considers Adams appeal

07/04/2005 - 11:02:32

The IRA said today it was giving “due consideration” to Gerry Adams’s appeal to it to fully embrace politics and abandon the armed struggle.

In a brief statement released to the Press Association under the IRA’s pen name of P O’Neill, the organisation said: “The leadership of the IRA was given notice of the appeal by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

“We have noted his comments.

“The IRA will give his appeal due consideration and will respond in due course.”


Two released over 1974 murder

Patrick Kelly who was shot dead in 1974

Two men being questioned about the murder of a councillor over 30 years ago have been released without charge.

Patrick Kelly, a nationalist member of Omagh District Council, was shot dead in July 1974. His body was found in a lake in County Fermanagh weeks later.

The murder was admitted by the UFF. The inquiry was re-opened in 2003, led by an officer from the West Midlands.

Files relating to separate offences committed 30 years ago have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Two other men who were arrested in their homes on Tuesday were released without charge.

Mr Kelly, 33, was shot on the Badoney Road as he drove to his home at Golan on 24 July 1974.

Searches were organised to look for Mr Kelly

That same night, bloodstains, shirt buttons and cartridge cases were found on the roadside a mile from Trillick, where it is believed he met his killers.

His body was found three weeks later, 10 miles away in Lough Eyes in Fermanagh. He had been shot several times and his body had been weighted down.

A major search was launched after the roadside discoveries, but it was called off a week before Mr Kelly's body floated to the surface of the lake.

Police had been under intense pressure to launch a fresh investigation amid claims of collusion between the killers and the security forces in the murder.

His family want an independent inquiry into his death.


EU opens its heart but not its coffers to the McCartneys
Sisters win standing ovation at Brussels meeting

Angelique Chrisafis in Brussels
Thursday April 7, 2005
The Guardian

In a plush amphitheatre in Brussels's warren of parliament rooms, hundreds of Europe's socialists gathered yesterday to hear what they called an "honourable" case for basic human rights.

The sisters of Robert McCartney, who was murdered outside a Belfast bar after a row with members of the IRA, stepped on to the platform and said they now had no choice but to sue his killers in the civil courts.

Article continues
The sisters' vow to break what they deemed a "political cover-up" over the murder was greeted with a standing ovation from MEPs. Later the heads of the European parliament and commission promised to support the campaign.

It is almost 10 weeks since the murder and the start of a campaign that took the McCartneys from a working-class Catholic enclave in east Belfast to the White House, but no witnesses have come forward with evidence to convict the killers. A 31-year-old man arrested and released this week remained silent during questioning, as others did before him.

"I admire you," said a Belfast woman as Gemma, Catherine and Paula McCartney boarded their flight to Brussels. "It's only the women round here that get things done."

But the sisters are tired and frustrated that despite the international outrage they are no nearer justice.

Gemma McCartney, a district nurse, had a gash on her hand after flinging a candlestick at her living room wall in silent rage. She had seen someone involved in the killing staring at her from his window as she walked down the street.

International film-makers are still sending show reels to Paula McCartney's terraced house; writers want to collaborate on books. The sisters have turned them down. "How can you make a film of our story if we don't have an ending yet?" Gemma said.

The sisters said they would launch a civil action as soon as they had raised £300,000. They had consulted the solicitor Jason McCue, who is working on the Omagh families' civil case against those suspected of the 1998 Real IRA bomb. It is doubtful whether the European parliament or commission could donate funds, but one MEP suggested members might give from their own pockets.

Catherine McCartney said: "It won't bring justice in the sense of convictions. But at least in court the people of Ireland will know what happened that night. The whole cover-up will be exposed.

"The wall of silence created by both Sinn Féin and the IRA is as strong today as it was on the first day ... For some, intimidation is a key factor. For others, I believe now there is a political cover-up."

She said Sinn Féin was not helping. A private meeting with senior figures in the party last weekend had been "non-productive".

The sisters complained of a whispering campaign against them in recent weeks, followed by a smear campaign saying political string-pullers were behind them. They said Sinn Féin could have "discouraged" those slurs.

The republican movement is clearly uncomfortable that the McCartneys are still there, and there is distrust on both sides, but the family is not going away. "One particular person [involved in the killing] is being protected. Why? Maybe he knows things that would embarrass other people. That is the only conclusion we can draw," Catherine McCartney said.

Bairbre de Brun, a Sinn Féin MEP, met the sisters yesterday. She denied that their meetings with politicians were an embarrassment to the party, which returned its first two MEPs last year. Sinn Féin was doing everything in its power to help and it was "imperative" to see witnesses come forward to give a full account.

Martin Schulz, leader of the socialist group in the European parliament, said the sisters had been "put under pressure to pretend [the killing] didn't happen, to suppress all human feeling, to sacrifice it to a political strategy".

In the coming weeks the sisters are to hold a vigil outside Magennis's bar, where their brother was killed. They will meet the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, and the taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and plan another rally.

"We haven't had a family life or eaten or slept properly for nine weeks," they said. Their husbands were still off work looking after their children. They have not had time to sit down with their grieving mother.

Funds were tight, Gemma said. Two others sisters, Claire and Donna, and Mr McCartney's fiancee, Bridgeen Hagans, could not afford to come on the Brussels trip. Family and friends had chipped in to pay for flights and a shared hotel room. A group of Japanese factory workers had sent some cash after a whip-round on their shop floor.

A coach load of Swiss tourists recently stopped at Donna's sandwich shop in central Belfast to deliver a good luck card.

06 April 2005

Belfast Telegraph

Adams meeting with family off
Sinn Fein blames media presence at monastery

By Andrea Clements
06 April 2005

Confusion today marred a meeting due to take place between a Londonderry family whose son was knifed to death and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The family of James McGinley was due to meet Mr Adams at Clonard Monastery on Belfast's Falls Road to discuss their claims republicans in Derry are covering up for and protecting Bart Fisher who is serving a three-year sentence for killing.

But waiting media were told the meeting was not going ahead although it was confirmed that both parties were inside the monastery.

A spokesman said the media should not have been told about the meeting. He said Clonard was a place of sanctuary and a misunderstanding had taken place.

Eileen McGinley, James' mother, also said a misunderstanding had taken place. She said the meeting would be re-scheduled although she didn't know when. "We're waiting for Gerry Adams to contact us. He says he's willing to help."

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein said: "The meeting was arranged as a private meeting to allow Gerry Adams the opportunity to listen to the family. He arrived there this morning and discovered the media there. "Clonard has long been a place where individuals, organisations and religious people have met in absolute privacy to conduct business.

"There has never been a media presence at these things before.

"As a consequence of media presence the meeting between Gerry and the family didn't go ahead.

"They had a brief conversation and agreed to re-schedule for another time and another place."


Taoiseach demands action from IRA

06/04/2005 - 18:32:37

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said today's statement from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams must be matched by action from the IRA.

Mr Ahern said: “Mr Adams says that the Republican movement has reached a defining moment.

“He has asked the IRA to initiate internal consultations on the steps they must take as quickly as possible.

“We must obviously await the response of the IRA to this appeal.

“It is vital that the IRA’s consultations be concluded in a timely manner and that everyone will know that the necessary steps have been taken, that they will be adhered to and that the IRA is thus moving on.

“For so many years we have had false dawns and dashed hopes,” the Taoiseach said.


Two 'ex-soldiers' held over 1974 murder

06/04/2005 - 19:03:31

Two men were still being questioned tonight about the murder of a nationalist councillor in Northern Ireland over 30 years ago.

They are being held at Antrim for interview by detectives investigating the murder of Patrick Kelly, aged 33, who was shot dead in July 1974 and his body then dumped into a lake.

Two other men who were also arrested as part of the investigation were released today without charge.

Sources close to the investigation said some, if not all four men, were former soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Relatives of the victim claim the UDR was involved in the murder when Mr Kelly was shot dead after locking up his bar in the village of Trillick, County Tyrone. His car was found burned-out and three weeks later his body was discovered in a lake 10 miles away.

Irish Examiner

**Forgive me a little levity here, but I thought from the headline she had seen the Pope wearing a gown, but it turns out she saw an apparition of the Pope ON the gown - Ohhhhhhhkayyyyy! This is much better than seeing Madonna in a grilled cheese...

I saw Pope in hairdresser’s gown, claims grandmother

06 April 2005
By Jimmy Woulfe, Mid-WestCorrespondent

A CO Tipperary grandmother claims she saw an apparition of Pope John Paul II while at the hairdressers last Saturday.
Mary Ward who lives at Ballygraigue, Nenagh, said the vision of the Pope appeared on the hairdresser’s gown she was wearing in the Cut and Dye salon in Friar Street.

Staff members at the salon also claim they saw the apparition.

Mrs Ward has now placed the gown on an altar to the Pope she has erected at her home.

“I saw the apparition of the Pope when I was having my hair done at around 2pm on Saturday last. I was having highlights put into my hair when the view appeared on my lap on the black gown. He was smiling. I then asked one of the girls, Tracey, if she could see anything as I moved to get under the hair drier and one of them said ‘oh my God it’s the Pope’,” Mrs Ward said.

“A few other of the girls working in the salon saw it. It lasted for about a quarter of an hour. I shook the gown and the face was still there. The Pope looked what he was like about the time he came to Ireland. He was smiling and I could see the lines on his face on the gown. When I got up to go under the hair drier it went away.”

Mrs Ward, who has three adult children and four grandchildren, took the nylon black gown home with her.

“I have put it on an altar I have made to the Pope with flowers and candles,” she said.

Now she expects the home where she lives with her husband, Bert, will be inundated with callers to see the gown.

“Already there have been a lot of photographers calling to get pictures,” she said.

Hairdresser, Tracey Shoer, from St Joseph’s Terrace, who works in the salon said she also saw the apparition.

Tracey said: “One of the other girls told me to have a look at the gown. I didn’t have a clue what it was and then I saw the Pope’s face, clear as day. He was a young Pope with the big tall hat on his head ... There were a few customers in at the time who saw it. I have never seen anything like this before.”

Since word of the reported apparition spread, many people have been calling to the salon.

Bernadette Ryan, owner of Cut and Dye salon said: “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want this place to turn into a shrine.”

Daily Ireland

TAKE FIVE - Stadium Stormont

By Tommy McKearney

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If you travel westwards along the M1 from Belfast, you’ll be able to see a graphic example of one of Britain’s answers to its Irish problem. It’s called Long Kesh. Some call it the Maze and others talk about the Blocks but all agree that it was a large, high-security, British Army-guarded prison housing hundreds of political prisoners.
Unlike the Crumlin Road or Armagh jails, Long Kesh was built specifically to hold prisoners of the Northern Irish conflict. For reasons of British state policy it was deemed expedient also to house non-political prisoners there but, have no doubts, Long Kesh was not erected because of some inexplicable outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland. It was designed because, for half a century, London endorsed an undemocratic regime in Belfast and when challenged by a peaceful civil rights movement, refused to order meaningful radical improvements. The inevitable outcome was that a long-suffering and incredibly patient community resorted to arms.
It is recognised as failure on the part of any government, when a sizeable section of the population feels driven to insurrection. Witnessing major civil upheaval, good administrations examine their stewardship; arrogant bullies tend to blame and then punish the people. Like incompetent doctors burying their mistakes, Britain shot or locked up evidence of its inability to create democracy within Northern Ireland; constitutionally an integral part of the United Kingdom.
Many examples exist of London’s mismanagement of Northern Irish affairs. Graveyards and ‘peace-walls’ and segregated education to mention just a few, though for starkness little compares with the concrete monstrosity situated beside Ireland’s first-ever dual-carriageway. Stop and look at it and ask why the British government needed that Bastille in order to govern this small piece of territory.
Better go soon too, because the British government intends building a sports complex over the site. Sure, there will be a token Block left, but effectively the testimony to monumental, decades-long British governmental failure will be covered-up physically and metaphorically. It is disgraceful that the British government is attempting to hide evidence of its years of failure and scandalous that sporting organisations might aid and abet them do so.
The entire site should be retained, not for partisan purpose but as a marker to remind us where bad governance leads.
If Britain really wishes to build upon its failures here, why not place the new stadium on top of a demolished Stormont?

Tommy McKearney is a former member of the IRA and now works with ex-prisoners and as an organizer for the Independent Workers Union.

Daily Ireland

Border areas a ‘cold house’

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Photo of Clones from this >>this album

The Southern Border counties were a cold house for thousands of republicans who had fled the North during the Troubles, according to a landmark research report.
The new research, entitled The Emerald Curtain, was launched yesterday at a conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.
The report found that about 2,000 Northern ex-prisoners and about 2,000 Southern ex-prisoners settled along the Border with their families.
Brian Harvey, one of the project’s researchers, told Daily Ireland yesterday: “They were received like many immigrants are received today — as troublemakers.
“This group continues to face difficulty in accessing employment due to both legal and illegal discrimination. Many found themselves in poverty, cut off from society.
“Our report recommends that they be targeted in the national action against poverty strategy.
“We have also found that many of the republicans’ children have experienced real problems of identity.”
Researchers Brian Harvey, Assumpta Kelly, Seán McGearty and Sonya Murray have called for additional government expenditure in areas such as health, transport, and community and social services. Several key issues were discussed at a conference after the launch of the report and had a positive response.
The researchers took the town of Clones in Co Monaghan as an example of a community affected by the division through the economic war and split with sterling.
“Clones used to be the most prosperous town in the area before partition severed it from its economic heartland of Fermanagh and the Erne Valley,” Mr Harvey said.
“Between the 1911 census and the 1952 census, Co Monaghan went from being regarded as a prosperous area to being termed ‘disadvantaged’.”
The report also looks at a range of issues, including the effects the Border had on women, and the Southern Protestant community since partition.
Speaking to Daily Ireland about the effects of the Border on women, Mr Harvey said: “With road closures along the Border, the Ulster economy was split in two, and the counties on each side of the Border became peripheral to the decision-making process and the area was left underdeveloped.
“As a consequence of this, women stayed in the home as this is a feature of underdevelopment.”
The study has also found that the Southern Protestant community has been adversely affected by the presence of the Border.
Mr Harvey said: “Some of them felt that their identity is not respected. For example, there has been no Orange Order march in Monaghan since the 1930s. I also had an opportunity to visit Orange halls in Monaghan and they have all had to have their windows barricaded up.”
The study found that there was a need for more cross-Border political co-operation.
“While politicians from the area do work together, the people living in the Border areas do not have a strong political body to represent them,” said Mr Harvey.
The report recommended the establishment of a North-South civic forum, as proposed in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and also by the draft agreement of December 2004 between the British and Irish governments, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin.

Daily Ireland

Pope’s condemnation of violence on Irish visit was for one side only – the oppressed

By Danny Morrison

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The loyalist prisoners in Crumlin Road all cheered and whooped with joy and we were convinced that a Catholic had been killed overnight. We had no radio in our cell but quickly learnt that the news had announced the death of Pope John Paul, who had been pope for just 33 days.
His successor, Karol Wojtyla, was elected shortly afterwards and took the name Pope John Paul II.
Various historical and political repercussions have been attributed to John Paul II’s papacy, not least that his visit to his homeland, Poland, in 1979 — when millions turned out to hear him and got a sense of their real strength — provided the impetus to the Solidarity trade union movement and the eventual downfall of communism.
That same year, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich announced that the Pope would be visiting Ireland from Saturday, September 29 until Monday, October 1. The Holy See said that the various details of the visit had yet to be determined, and there was great speculation about the reaction of unionists and possible disturbances if the Pope came North. For Northern nationalists, who felt deserted and beleaguered, it would have been spiritually galvanising and on a par with John Paul’s visit to the beleaguered Poles under communist rule.
At the time, I was firmly convinced that neither the British nor Irish governments, nor sections of the Catholic hierarchy, wanted him to visit the North. Firstly, this was a state whose proud badge was “No pope here”. A visit would have presented a security nightmare given the likelihood of Paisley-led protests — Ian Paisley had only recently topped the poll in the first European elections — and the possibility of riots or worse. Loyalist protesters would have exposed themselves as narrow-minded bigots at a time when the thrust of both British and Irish government propaganda was to hold the republican movement responsible for all violence.
Were the Pope to have stood on the soil of the Six Counties, how could he have remained silent about the reality of life there? On the one hand, he could certainly have spoken about the ferocity of the IRA campaign. But, on the other hand, he would have had to address the violence of the state and thus embarrass the British government.
He would have had to speak about the torture of those held in interrogation centres; the sectarian loyalist assassination campaign against Catholics for being Catholic as well as nationalist; the beatings in the H-blocks; and about Armagh prison, where women were locked up 24 hours a day, deprived of exercise, visits, letters, toilets.
Even Cardinal Ó Fiaich had described the H-blocks as “one of the great obstacles to peace in our community”.
On August 27, an IRA bomb killed Lord Louis Mountbatten and three others in Sligo Bay. A few hours later, the IRA killed 18 British soldiers in two landmine explosions near Warrenpoint. Even though Lord Mountbatten had been killed by the IRA in the South, it was announced that the Pope would not now be visiting the North because of “the upsurge in IRA attacks”. A Northern visit that should have been undertaken for pastoral reasons was cancelled for political reasons.
Two weeks later, there was speculation from sources in Rome that the Pope would make “a major speech on terrorism and injustice”. Closer to home, Bishop Cahal Daly said that “the Pope may ask the IRA to put away its guns”. It was easy to see what way the wind was blowing.
There was massive disappointment in the North among the faithful. But people — including many republican supporters — began frantically raising funds and organising buses to go to Drogheda in Co Louth to hear the Pope. I was amazed and a bit disturbed at the zealotry. Perhaps if I had been the Catholic I once was, I would have been able to empathise but I saw only the politics of this visit and expected the play of propaganda and the same things we had been used to hearing before. I remember how deserted our streets were the day he came to Drogheda.
I listened to his speech on television.
Pope John Paul II on his knees begged republicans “to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace. You may claim to seek justice,” he told us. “I, too, believe in justice and seek justice… Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish.”
I waited for some analysis — however superficial — of the causes of violence, about the inequalities caused by partition. He referred to Oliver Plunkett’s head but not to the people who cut it off.
He addressed the politicians. He started off with a token pretence to equivalence of treatment: “To all who bear political responsibility for the affairs of Ireland, I want to speak with the same urgency and intensity with which I have spoken to the men of violence.” But it was only advice he wanted to give them: “Do not cause or condone or tolerate conditions which give excuse or pretext to men of violence.”
Bishop Cahal Daly’s fingerprints were all over the speech, and an opportunity was squandered to put pressure on the British government to resolve the prison crises and encourage republicans to view an alternative to armed struggle.
In June 1981, after the deaths of the first four hunger strikers, Cardinal Ó Fiaich went to Margaret Thatcher and appealed to her to make some changes in the prison regime to resolve the hunger strike. She said it would be wrong to give any concessions to the prisoners and fulsomely quoted the Pope’s 1979 speech on the “men of violence” to justify her position. Subsequently, British governments were to quote Cardinal Cahal Daly’s stance in refusing to meet with the Sinn Féin president and MP for west Belfast, Gerry Adams, as part justification for their refusal to talk to Sinn Féin.
“Men of violence” was a phrase coined by Brian Faulkner when he introduced internment in 1971. After direct rule in 1972, it was used extensively by British secretaries of state and prime ministers. It was a phrase that had pro-British and anti-republican connotations. By no stretch of the imagination was the Pope’s use of this phrase simple naivety or coincidental.
And so, despite the Falls curfew, internment and Bloody Sunday, the British men of violence were allowed off the hook and were not asked to account for the children, women and men they had killed, for the prisoners they had tortured. Papal excoriation was for one side only — the weakest side, the oppressed.
Yet an obvious disparity between the Pope’s criticism of the IRA and the reality of the wider nature of the conflict came at the youth Mass on the Sunday. Two teenage victims of British and loyalist violence were introduced to the Pope. He warmly greeted 19-year-old Richard Moore, who had been blinded when he was 11 by a British army rubber bullet, and 16-year-old Damien Irwin, who had lost a leg when loyalists bombed the route of an Easter parade in Belfast in 1977. But their details and the causes of their suffering were never included in any speeches the Pope made because to have done so would have been to raise questions about the nature of the conflict and why he had condemned only one side.
John Paul II also urged adherence to traditional Catholic moral values and denounced abortion, divorce, contraception, sexual promiscuity and drugs — thus calling into line the changing and changed morality of most Irish Catholics.
However, it was typically his denunciation of the armed struggle that was given most prominence. And so we had discriminating editorials like that in The Irish Times, which called on the IRA to say: “The Pope was right. There is another way” — but did not make the same call to the 400,000 Irish women on the pill.
Two days after the Pope left Ireland, loyalist gunmen burst into the home of 42-year-old Sadie Larmour, just off west Belfast’s Falls Road, at around tea time and shot her twice. Her sister and her 78-year-old mother were also fired on but escaped injury.
Sadie Larmour died 15 minutes later. When her death was announced on the radio, loyalist prisoners in Crumlin Road jail cheered and whooped with joy.

Danny Morrison is a regular media commentator on Irish politics. He is the author of three novels, three works of non-fiction, and a play about the IRA, The Wrong Man.


BNP leader faces race hate charges

Press Association
Wednesday April 6, 2005

The leader of the British National party was today charged with four race hate offences, police said.

Nick Griffin, 45, was arrested at his home in mid-Wales last December by West Yorkshire police as part of a long-running investigation into the BBC programme Secret Agent.

Mr Griffin answered his bail today at Halifax police station and was charged with four offences of using words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

The Secret Agent documentary, screened in July last year, featured undercover filming of BNP activists.

Mr Griffin will appear before Leeds magistrates court tomorrow.

Earlier today, the BNP founding chairman, John Tyndall, was charged with two offences of using words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

Mr Tyndall, 70, of Brighton, was arrested in December last year following a speech he made in Burnley in March 2004 as part of the same investigation into the BBC documentary. He will also appear before magistrates in Leeds tomorrow.

More than 250 BNP supporters from all over the country, draped in Union and St George's flags, gathered outside the police station as Mr Griffin answered his bail this afternoon.

The party had organised what it described as "a freedom of speech" rally, to highlight what it claimed was a campaign to stop it speaking about immigration.

Mr Griffin arrived at the police station to loud cheers from supporters.

The crowd chanted "Freedom, freedom" as he launched an attack on the government and West Yorkshire police.

Before he was charged today, Mr Griffin told protesters: "We're not going to protest by rioting. We will leave that to the far left and the Muslims."

People of all ages held "Fighting For Democracy" placards and cheered as a bagpiper played.

More than a dozen police officers monitored the demonstration.

Mark Collett, 24, a BNP activist from Leeds, has also been charged today with eight counts of the same offence and will be appearing at Leeds magistrates court tomorrow with both Mr Griffin and Mr Tyndall.

The charges follow a joint investigation by West Yorkshire police and the Crown Prosecution Service casework directorate.

Later Mr Griffin emerged from the police station and made the victory sign to the crowd. He told them that he had been charged for telling the truth and would use his trial as a platform for defending the party's belief.

He said: "Whether I am found guilty will depend on the jury and whether someone should be jailed for telling the truth."

Mr Griffin told reporters that he had "no regrets" and "would continue to tell the truth" even if he had to go to jail.

Mr Griffin led a rendition of Jerusalem followed by the Lord's Prayer before leaving in a people carrier.

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