07 May 2005
Hain makes Assembly restoration a priority
07 May 2005 20:47
The new Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, has said the election results in Northern Ireland have sent a message which he would be taking account of.
In his first statement since his appointment was announced last night, Mr Hain said getting the Assembly up and running again was 'an absolute priority' for the new British government.
Speaking outside the Northern Ireland Office in London this morning, Mr Hain added that he would be talking to all the main players in the North by phone over the weekend and would be travelling there on Monday.
He said he was 'privileged and delighted' to be doing what he described as a crucial cabinet job and that he would be giving it 100% of his effort.
The former leader of the House of Commons also paid tribute to the work done by his predecessor, Paul Murphy, and said that negotiation, effort and goodwill was the way to solve the problems facing Northern Ireland.
Mr Hain still retains his job as Welsh Secretary but added that it did not mean he would not be giving his Northern Ireland portfolio all his energy.
Congratulations from Ahern
Earlier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, congratulated Mr Hain on his appointment.
It was made by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as part of an extensive reshuffle of his cabinet following his re-election this week.
Mr Hain, 55, has risen steadily through the ministerial ranks. He is the son of South African white liberals who came to Britain in the mid-60s.
He later came to prominence in the anti-apartheid movement. During his radical past he was also involved in the 'Time to Go' movement which advocated a phased British withdrawal from the North and eventual reunification of Ireland.
Mr Murphy, meanwhile, will become Chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
SCENES FROM THE FUNERALS
**From the great Larkspirit site, THE IRISH HUNGERSTRIKES--A COMMEMORATIVE PROJECT
(last updated 20 November 03)
This subpage, like others on this site, is a work in progress. Of the many visitors who have come to this site, quite a few have asked about images from the funerals of the hunger strikers.
This is an attempt to collect images -- many of which have been emailed to us -- and to put them and the funerals into a broader context. Many of the sources are unknown, many are on multiple sites across the internet, so what we're hoping is this becomes a central point.
What we have found, quite contrary to public perception of the funerals as decreasing in size as the strikes went on, continued to be a galvanising force not only for prisoner issues but also for broader republican activism.
While many point to the numbers who attended Bobby Sands' funeral and those who attended Kevin Lynch's funeral and use that as evidence of decreasing support for the strikes, one is reminded that Dungiven was a fairly small and out-of-the-way town, so 5000 mourners is an impressive achievement in that light. As well, reports say that the Devine funeral was poorly-attended (one story we've found say only a couple dozen attended!), yet photos from his funeral prove otherwise.
These bits of historical fact will be incorporated into captions for each photo, but for right now we've decided to put these photos up now, and let them bear silent testimony to the sacrifices of the hungers strikers, and their families. Irish history is full of symbolic imagery used by groups and individuals for specific and emotive purposes, and as such we make no apologies.
As our research continues, we'll try to expand on dates, numbers, and specific items about each funeral, including the numerous British and RUC interventions and blockades, the post-mortem abuses of Francis Hughes and Patsy O'Hara, and the police and military raids on firing parties at a couple of the funerals.
Even in death, the hunger strikers were a threat to British imperialism, and even in death, they remain an inspiration to republican activists and to others worldwide.
Buried in Milltown, 7 May 1981
|BOBBY SANDS' FUNERAL - 7 MAY 1981|
**Right-click on photo for source
Video clip of funeral from Bobby Sands Trust
From In Memorium: Bobby Sands
Well over 100,000 people marched behind Bobby Sands' coffin through his own Twinbrook Estate to Milltown cemetery. A lone piper marched at the head of the procession, playing a song made famous by the hunger strikers: "I'll wear no convict's uniform, nor meekly serve my time, that Britain may call Ireland's fight 800 years of crime.'' At the end, three IRA volunteers, amidst the cheers and tears of those around them, fired the volley that is the traditional republican tribute to the fallen hero.
And hero he was. He towers over those who sent him to his death. He was murdered because he wouldn't buckle in the face of injustice. In Bobby Sands' own words: "If they aren't able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won't break you. They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show.
It is then we'll see the rising of the moon."
BBC refuses apology
The BBC has refused to apologise after nationalist voters were branded “soap dodgers” during a live election broadcast yesterday.
The comment came during the corporation’s Westminster election round-up after a text message sent by a member of the public branding Gerry Adams supporters “soap dodgers” was scrolled across the bottom of TV screens across the country.
Daily Ireland received several calls from angry viewers who were stunned to read the offending message as they followed the election count coverage from their homes.
Just minutes before the message was aired, it was announced that the Sinn Féin chief had reclaimed his Westminster seat by almost 20,000 votes. One irate caller to Daily Ireland spoke of her shock at seeing the message.
“It’s really not good enough. They need to monitor these things a bit better and we need to know how or why this message got through the net.”
When contacted, BBC Northern Ireland refused to apologise for allowing the controversial text message to be screened. A spokesperson also refused to reveal if the text was actually read by the BBC before it was broadcast.
When challenged about the sectarian nature of the text message, the spokesperson defended the BBC’s right to broadcast it.
“BBC Northern Ireland has provided comprehensive coverage of the election. The interactive element of the service reflects the opinion and views of the general public and allows them to have their strong views included.”
Gerry Adams last night expressed disappointment at the BBC’s response.
“The BBC have a responsibility to ensure that their coverage does not discriminate against any section of people here. Quite clearly in carrying that remark they have failed to fulfill that basic requirement of broadcast journalism.”
SATURDAY INTERVIEW: My boy Danny
GERARD and Carol McCartan spent three years struggling with the medical authorities to get help for their tormented son, Danny. Three weeks ago, his body was cut down from the electric cable he had used to hang himself with.
Within the past three months, 18 young people have taken their own lives in north and west Belfast – six alone within the past five weeks in the north of the city.
Kids are dying at the rate of more than one a week. The problem respects no borders. Ireland is second in the global league table of people under 25 taking their own lives, making it the most common cause of death among 15-24 olds. We have highest suicide rate in Europe.
Yet this country's services for parents and troubled young people appear to be stuck in the dark ages. Frustration led one group of parents recently to disrupt a recent meeting of the North and West Belfast Health Trust.
For those of us lucky enough not to have experienced suicide in our own family, these may just be statistics, albeit cruel and disturbing. Behind them, however, are stories of unbearable pain.
Gerard, Carol, Caroline and Danny McCartan’s story
Gerard, a butcher, met Carol, a shop assistant, at a dance when they were both 16. They married at 18, setting up home in the Bone area of Ardoyne.
While struggling, like many others, to make ends meet, they kept their heads above water. A brother-in-law was murdered by the UDA, but they were otherwise relatively unscathed by the Troubles.
A daughter arrived, Caroline, and then Danny. Caroline excelled at school. Danny was different. With a high IQ, he never liked classes and, although there were never complaints he was disruptive, he never settled.
Promises of consultations with educational psychologists came to nothing. Danny had the additional misfortune of being relatively short and stout and was nicknamed locally “Fat Boy". He hated it.
Three years ago, Danny began to cut himself – shallow cuts, sliced along his lower arms using a disposable razor. Carol and Gerard couldn’t believe it.
“We had never heard of it before.” says Gerard. “We took him to the doctor but he said it was just a fad amongst young people, nothing to worry about. He tried to reassure himself that the doctor knew what he was saying. But the cutting continued.
“From the age of 13, he wouldn't leave the house,” says Carol. “He hated the area. He said if he went out, he would end up on street corners drinking and taking drugs.”
Desperate to try and break the downward spiral, his parents sent him to Carol's brother in Chicago for three months in the summer of 2002. He thrived and came home “a different boy" – taller, thinner, more confident, with a spring in his step.
He quickly, however, became depressed again at home, longing to go back to Chicago to work with his uncle, to be back somewhere he had a clean sheet, away from Ardoyne and the “Fat Boy" taunts.
Phil McTaggart, the man behind PIPS (Public Initiative to Prevent Suicide and Self Harm), and whose own son took his own life, can remember visiting Danny around this time.
“It was a lovely evening, but Danny had the curtains drawn tight and was lying in bed. All he wanted was to go back to America. There was nothing in Belfast for him. He wanted a job, a purpose in life."
Eight months later, Danny returned to Chicago and, again, enjoyed himself immensely. After three months, however, his visa expired and he had to come home.
“They had no problem arranging a meeting with the psychiatrist after Danny died. She explained to them she had no idea that his need was so urgent and that, if she had known, she would have seen him immediately.”
Gerard and Carol planned a holiday in Spain for their son's return. It was a huge success, the first time the family had been abroad on holiday together. However, it was time to come home.
Gerard and Carol prayed Danny had “grown out of it". The cutting had stopped. Danny didn't have to go back to the school he hated. They believed they had their son back again.
He was, however, unemployed and was put onto a compulsory youth training scheme, installing dry lining. He hated it and the depression returned. Danny went to another doctor who prescribed strong tranquillisers and anti-depressants. They made him worse. “It made him withdrawn and then he began cutting his face," says his father.
Although he was sent for counselling, it didn't help much. “I was hiding every razor blade and knife in the house. We were living on the edge. We were consumed by constant worry", says Gerard.
“Every other morning there was a cut on his face or arm. It took over our lives. We didn't know where to turn." Danny started taking illegal drugs. They suspect ecstasy and cannabis. Then on August 12, 2004, he took an overdose.
Caroline, his sister, discovered him lying in bed with rosary beads around his neck, a note nearby and tablets scattered around the room. He was rushed to hospital.
There was no bed for Danny in the specialist juvenile psychiatric unit and he was placed on an adult ward at a south Belfast hospital. The suicidal thoughts returned. During a short visit home, between hospitals, he had secreted a knife in his clothing and later sliced both his thighs.
Earlier, while at school, Danny had fallen between the jurisdiction of the Belfast and Antrim education authorities. Now he fell between the responsibility of two different hospital trusts. As his father says, “another ‘breakdown in communication'".
After initial concerns, however, he settled relatively well into one hospital but was then - at two hours’ notice and without consultation - transferred to the adult psychiatric ward of another hospital where most of the other patients were elderly dementia sufferers.
“I'm 39 years of age and it scared me", says Gerard. “It was a horrible place – a culture shock". Danny couldn't stick it, packed his bags and returned home the following morning.
From then on, the family were at the receiving end of a variety of a community psychiatric nurses, doctors and social workers.
By now, Danny, as well as his parents, knew he needed help, badly. He was taking as many as 18 tablets a day. The doctors experimented with different medications. The weight he had lost in America was piling back on again.
Having been promised a psychiatrist's appointment within two weeks, he was given one six months away. All the family got on well with the psychiatrist whom they liked and trusted. Getting to see her, however, was another matter.
Danny turned 18 last Christmas and lost his social worker. That role was taken up by a community psychiatric nurse (CPN). The taunting over his weight began again.
He fell in with a different crowd and in March he began sniffing glue, “to escape" and to stop eating. He began saying he had nothing to live for. Gerard and Carol asked for another appointment with the psychiatrist but were told she would not see Danny while he was sniffing glue.
He finally got a psychiatric appointment for May 12. It was two months away. Danny phoned up the emergency doctor service, trying to get back into hospital.
Gerard phoned the psychiatrist’s receptionist, explaining how urgent it was, and the appointment was brought forward to April 20, two weeks early. At least that was something.Two days later, a letter arrived saying that appointment had been postponed until October. They decided not to tell Danny, fearing it would push him over the edge.
On Monday April 11, the community psychiatric nurse arrived at the house. Danny begged to be sent to hospital. The nurse said that there was no way that could happen while he was sniffing glue. He would have to give it up first.
“He was very blunt about it," says Gerard, adding quickly that he doesn't blame the nurse for what happened next. Danny left the house at 2.30pm, angry and feeling that his anguish wasn't being taken seriously.
It was the last time his parents saw him alive. At 9.40pm that night, their door rapped with the bad news. Gerard ran to a nearby derelict house where Danny had hanged himself on some electric cable. He was dead less than an hour.
They had no problem arranging a meeting with the psychiatrist after Danny died. She explained to them she had no idea that his need was so urgent and that, if she had known, she would have seen him immediately. Another communication breakdown. The medical professionals involved in his case are now conducting an investigation into what went wrong. Gerard and Carol are left to pick up the pieces.
Their faces express a mixture of incomprehension, grief and despair. Three weeks after Danny’s death, they are unable to come to terms with it. They know they did everything they could, but will be left wondering – forever – if there had been anything more they could have done.
No duck squads walking in a Gerry wonderland
I remember a time when the walls of West Belfast were covered with SSRUC, UTP and FTQ, which I have confidence in your ability to decipher for yourself.
Nowadays, it’s UTH and FTRA, which is a telling reflection both of the number of hoods in my part of the world and those fine gentlemen’s attitude toward the Aughnacloys. Clearly, though, not all youngsters are estranged from the republican movement.
I was walking home from St Oliver Plunkett Primary School after having exercised my franchise on Thursday evening when I happened upon a group of some 15 or 20 youths at the entrance to the Glencolin Estate.
They were carrying big Gerry Adams election posters which they had liberated from the lampposts and their attention was focused on two PSNI Land Rovers which were crawling along the Glen Road. As they walked alongside the vehicles they burst into song...
“There’s only one Gerry Adams
There’s only one Gerry Adams
He’s got too much hair
But we don’t care
Walking in a Gerry wonderland”
At that they loosed a volley of bricks and stones at the Land Rovers which roared off towards Woodbourne Barracks, leaving the boys waving their Gerry Adams placards triumphantly above their heads. From the lampposts above their heads, Alex Attwood looked down disapprovingly. Me? I smiled and decided to stop off at the Roddy McCorley’s for a couple.
At the bar we agreed that it wasn’t as much craic voting now that there are no Trevors with automatic machine guns surrounding the building. Half the fun was waving your Irish passport in the air and whistling The Broad Black Brimmer while the forces of law and order gritted their teeth and longingly fingered their safety catches. And, of course, you never placed your X in the booth, you did it with a flourish in front of the Stoops and the Sticks as soon as the elderly woman in the blue rinse handed you your paper. Ah, happy days.
I was left bereft in the early 70s when the Brits took the school over. At that time Oliver Plunkett was merely Blessed, but regardless of what title the Catholic Church had bestowed on him, the place was turned into a fortress overnight and the hedge school returned to Ireland. Sadly, I was to be back in my primary school rather sooner than I had imagined.
I’m going to plead the fifth about exactly what I was up to on the Glen Road outside the school that fateful day when the snatch squads got smart. Let’s just say that I was to the rear of a very fast-moving group which was being hotly and vainly pursued by some 20 King’s Own Scottish Borderers in full riot gear. Suddenly, to my left, a small group of lightly dressed Kosbies wielding huge batons emerged from a hedge and I was undone.
Down the school driveway I was frogmarched, bottom lip trembling, fat, salty tears welling up in my eyes. Past the sandbags and parked Saracens we went and into the assembly hall.
Where once we had recited decades of the rosary and played Chinese football, scores of heavily tattooed young men in green t-shirts were gathered around our dinner tables reading dirty books and smoking like laboratory beagles.
They looked up as I trudged by, grateful for a break from the tedium. But they didn’t snarl or spit, they grinned widely and some of them even whooped and cheered.
At the bottom end of the hall my captors found an empty table and plonked me down on it. Now it begins, I thought – the electric wires on the testicles, the blackjack to the back of the neck, the lighted matches down the fingernails. As I awaited my fate, I gazed through reddened eyes at the houses beyond the playground and wished I’d stayed at home and watched Scooby-Doo.
When he returned a few moments later, the tall black soldier who’d captured me didn’t have a pair of pliers or a cosh; instead, he held in his hands a tin of Fanta and a Wagon Wheel which he placed in front of me and invited me to take with a nod of his head.
For some 20 minutes I sat alone, slowly eating and drinking while all manner of thoughts raced through my mind: What are my ma and da going to say when word gets back? Am I due a few months in St Pat’s Home? Could this be the end of my altar boy days? And is this enough to get me membership of the Felons?
The big black guy appeared again and motioned me to follow him. We retraced our steps and at the Glen Road he pulled the gate open and told me to go home. I ambled off, relieved and confused. At the bus terminus my yahoo mates let out a cheer when I came round the corner.
They gathered round and I regaled them with tales of my ordeal in the belly of the beast. But somehow, I completely forgot to tell them about the Fanta and the Wagon Wheel.
By the time the Brits moved out I was at the big school, but on summer nights we would climb the gate to play handball against the huge gable wall and, on Mondays, peek through the heavy curtains at the Charismatics who met there once a week.
It was odd to watch your neighbours speaking in tongues and then suddenly falling down, but it all made much more sense when we discovered lager at around the age of 16.
I was back in the assembly hall last year, invited there as an ‘old-boy-made-good’ to present some end-of-term awards.
I stood at the back of the hall waiting to be called up and as the priests and teachers spoke I was struck by how small the hall seemed now, filled with five to eleven-year-olds, and how huge it had seemed back then when it had been filled with squaddies. And it struck me what a marvellous thing it was that none of the children had ever seen a British soldier in Lenadoon, much less be rugby-tackled by one.
Nothing more important than peace: Hain
07/05/2005 - 11:54:29
New Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain pledged today to bring all sides in the North together in a bid to secure lasting peace.
Mr Hain said that in appointing him to his new Cabinet post, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had stressed to him the importance of securing a permanent peace and getting agreement in the North.
And he added: “There is no prize more important than peace.”
Mr Hain, speaking today in Central London, said: “I am privileged and delighted to be doing this absolutely crucial Cabinet job.”
He insisted that combining the roles of Northern Ireland and Wales Secretary of State would not affect his ability to carry out his duties.
He pointed out that he had already shown his ability to be able to combine two roles within government.
Mr Hain stressed the importance of working with both the Irish and American governments in the roads to peace.
He added: “The election results have sent their own message. I need to take account of this and bring everybody together.
“We need to get everybody working together. We have had now a tremendous period of peace since The Good Friday Agreement was signed.”
Cork man charged with IRA membership
07/05/2005 - 13:16:02
A Cork man was charged with firearms and ammunition and membership of an illegal organisation at a special sitting of the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.
Niall Smith (aged 30), of Adelaide Terrace, Summerhill North, Cork was charged with the unlawful possession of a Webley and Scott semi automatic pistol and one round of .32 inch ammunition at Barrack St. Cork on May 5.
He was also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on the same date.
Detective Garda Dave Fitzgibbon gave evidence of arresting Smith at Barrack St on Thursday night.
Smith was remanded in custody until next Wednesday.
Short Strand commemorates Hunger Strikers
Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris and Bernadette McAliskey were just two of the many people who travelled to the Short Strand last Sunday to speak at a Hunger Strike commemoration held in the area.
At the rally, a plaque was unveiled in honour of local IRA Volunteers by Betty Dorrian, whose husband Robert was killed on active service in 1972.
Former political prisoner Pat Magee traced the history of the area since the eruption of the conflict in the late 1960s, when British forces attempted to beat nationalists into the ground after they demanded civil rights.
He spoke fondly of Hunger Striker Patsy O'Hara, with whom he was interned in the 1970s.
Martin Ferris recalled his visits to the Clandeboye Estate at the height of the loyalist siege, when people had to live behind closed doors and barricaded windows. He chastised those Dublin Ministers "who were quick to jump on the British bandwagon and criminalise republicans, yet did nothing for the people of the area through 30 years of conflict".
The anarchist from Broughshane
Misfit - an Autobiography
By Captain Jack White
The name of Captain Jack White flits through histories of the pre-1916 period. He was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army and was the first to drill and train its men. He later worked with the Irish Volunteers. And that brief appearance on the stage of Irish politics is about as much as most students of Irish history know about him.
White came from staunchly unionist Broughshane, County Antrim, and his father was a general in the British Army who was famous for his defence of Ladysmith during the Boer War. Jack followed his father's footsteps and served as a British Army officer in South Africa, India and Gibraltar, where his father was the British Governor. Starting from the privileged confines of the official residence on the Rock, White followed a remarkable path, which led him to revolution in Ireland.
It was in Gibraltar that White had a kind of premonition in which he saw himself at the centre of revolutionary events. He set to wandering and ended up in a kind of early hippie commune in the south of England.
Vegetarianism, communism and free love were practiced and it was in this unlikely setting that White was first 'turned on' to Irish politics. He says he saw the relationship between male and female, thought and being, introvert and extrovert, as analogous to the relationship between Protestant and Catholic in Ireland. (White's wife was a Catholic and he was a Protestant. His treatment of her did him no credit, as he admits.) In any case, he sought his destiny in his native land and returned to Ireland in 1913, plunging into the middle of the Home Rule crisis and the Lockout.
He publicly challenged the Carsonite opponents of Home Rule as contradicting the true spirit of Protestantism. With Roger Casement he organised the famous public meeting for Protestant Home Rulers in Ballymoney, County Antrim in October 1913. Witnessing the brutality of the police against the locked out Dublin workers he urged the formation of a workers' defence force. It must have been his obvious conviction as well as his useful military training and ability that gained him acceptance in the ranks of militant labour with James Connolly and Jim Larkin.
It would seem that White was as difficult a character to work with as Larkin himself and he soon fell out with the Citizen Army. He then offered his services to the Irish Volunteers, commanding and training battalions in Derry and Tyrone in 1914. This work also had a fractious conclusion but not before White took an extraordinary and baffling initiative. He hatched a scheme which he proposed to the British Government, whereby it would, with Volunteer officers, jointly train Volunteers who could then opt for defensive operations at home or for foreign service — ie in the Great War which had then begun.
White seems to have viewed this as a 'cunning plan', with the Irish deceiving the British into training their army for them. In the event, John Redmond induced most of the Volunteers to join the British Army, while the principled minority went on to prepare for the Rising. White's plan was utterly unacceptable to both the anti-Redmond Volunteers and to the British.
The next step in White's curious journey was his Red Cross work in Belgium for a short period. By 1916, we find him back in Dublin campaigning to stop Connolly's execution. He crossed to Wales to try to get the Welsh miners to strike in defence of Connolly. He tells us little of this episode or of his subsequent imprisonment. Then his autobiography ends abruptly. He did continue it but the manuscript was destroyed after his death in 1946.
In an epilogue, Phil Meyler tells us of White's life after 1916. He saw himself as a Christian Communist and worked with various left-wing groups during the '20s and '30s, writing for An Phoblacht, among other journals. He was involved with Republican Congress and went to Spain in 1936. White was much inspired by the Anarchist revolution in Catalonia and this book includes several interesting pieces he wrote about that 'ism' which was closest to his heart.
White's last political act was characteristically quixotic. He called a meeting in the Orange Hall in his native Broughshane to propose himself as a Republican Socialist candidate in the 1945 General Election but never actually got nominated. He died six months later.
This publication brings long overdue recognition to an extraordinary character who proved the point that it "takes all sorts" to make a revolution.
BY MÍCHEÁL Mac DONNCHA
Sinn Féin President attends Hunger Strike event
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was on Wednesday joined by former Blanketmen and Sinn Féin representatives for a short re-dedication ceremony at the Bobby Sands mural on the party's Sevastopol Street offices. The event came on the eve of the 24th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands on Hunger Strike.
Former Blanketman and comrade of Bobby Sands, Jake Jackson said:
"Bobby Sands and the other Hunger Strikers transformed Irish politics by the selfless stand which they took in confronting Thatcher and her criminalisation agenda. The idealism of the Republican PoWs and their supporters on the outside was in sharp contrast to the approach adopted by the British government and the establishment parties in Ireland.
"It is ironic and symbolic that the people of the Six Counties will go to the polls on the 24th anniversary of Bobby's death. It was his election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone which made the suffering in the H-Blocks and Armagh Women's Prison an international issue. Republicans and nationalists 24 years on would have the opportunity to send out a similarly strong message to those within the British and Unionist establishments who are still blocking progress and still following a failed agenda of exclusion and demonisation when they cast their ballot tomorrow."
Speaking to reporters at the event, Gerry Adams reflected on the progress which had been made since the Hunger Strikes of 1981 but said that much work remains to be done in the time ahead.
"May 5th is a hugely symbolic date for Irish republicans," he said. "Irish society has been transformed in the years since Bobby and his nine comrades died confronting Thatcher and the British establishment and since the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone elected Bobby as their MP and the people of Cavan/Monaghan elected Kieran Doherty as their TD.
"But much more work and effort is required from republicans in the time ahead as we chart out a course to the sort of Ireland we want to see delivered.
"I believe the way forward that I have mapped out provides an unprecedented opportunity to revive the peace process, to get the Good Friday Agreement implemented, to drive forward the all-Ireland agenda and to get political power back into local hands so that we can tackle water charges, cuts in education and other essential services.
"I have travelled widely across the Six Counties in recent weeks and there is a demand out there for the impasse in the process to be overcome and for real political progress to be achieved. That will be our focus in the immediate aftermath of these elections."
Gama workers vote for industrial action
06 May 2005 18:25
Around 250 workers on Gama construction sites in Dublin have voted overwhelmingly to take official industrial action in support of Turkish workers who were underpaid.
The workers are members of three unions: SIPTU, UCATT and the plasterers' union, OPATSI.
SIPTU construction branch secretary Eric Fleming said the three unions are now expected to serve official strike notice early next week.
Workers have been protesting against their Turkish employers for four weeks since they discovered their wages were incorrectly calculated.
The protest has disrupted work on many of the Gama sites.
Meanwhile, the Labour Relations Commission issued proposals this afternoon to try to resolve the Gama dispute.
It is understood the proposals centre on a framework for discussions to take place over the next three weeks.
However, the LRC will be unable to engage with the parties if they are engaged in unofficial industrial action.
A spokesperson for Gama said the company has advised the LRC that it is available to attend a conciliation conference.
Hain named new NI Secretary
06/05/2005 - 21:03:08
Peter Hain was tonight named the Northern Ireland secretary as part of Tony Blair's Downing Street reshuffle.
Mr Hain replaces Paul Murphy in the post.
Mr Hain was previously the Leader of the House of Commons. As well as his new role in Northern Ireland, Mr Hain will have a separate role, retaining responsibility for Wales.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern paid tribute to Mr Murphy's time as Northern Secretary. "I wish to acknowledge the enormous contribution and dedication of Paul Murphy during his time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I wish him all the best for the future," he said.
McGuinness victory confirmed
06/05/2005 - 22:08:35
Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness was the last Northern Ireland MP to be installed tonight (Thursday) after two boxes of votes went missing from Derry town centre.
Assistant Chief Electoral Officer June Butler described the taking away of the boxes by a driver before they were counted as “a simple error”.
However, the votes were recovered on an official lorry after a frantic search as the already painstaking count was able to conclude.
Mr McGuinness brushed off the incident and managed to increase his majority to almost 11,000 in the constituency he has held since 1997.
“These elections will be over in the blink of an eye, and there will be a mighty responsibility on all political leaders of all descriptions to play their part in building a better future for our people and particularly for our children, who deserve better," he said.
“What better way can we do that than by restoring the power-sharing institutions?”
SDLP's Durkan wins seat in Foyle
Mark Durkan wins Foyle for his party
The SDLP leader Mark Durkan has won the Foyle seat. He took 21,119 votes compared to 15,162 for Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin.
The border seat was one of the last great prizes for republicans and it had been thought the contest might be much closer.
However, the figures do reveal a big reduction in the SDLP majority of 24,538 to Sinn Fein's 12,988 in 2001.
Much of that was a huge personal vote for the then SDLP leader John Hume.
Speaking after the result was announced Mr Durkan said the party had proved the pundits wrong.
"I was written off. The SDLP was written off. People called this election two or three nights ago.
"I know it is a bit of a Jose Mourinho tactic to do it and show those sorts of tactics. But the fact is like Jose Mourinho, the result wasn't as it was called."
He said he felt "vindicated at a personal level and at a party level".
Mr Durkan said he had "learned the lesson of taking voters for granted".
Earlier on Friday, the SDLP scored an unexpected electoral success when they took the South Belfast seat from the Ulster Unionists.
However, they lost Newry and Armagh to Sinn Fein.
Mr Durkan succeeded John Hume as the SDLP leader in 2001.
He is a former Derry City councillor, a Foyle assemblyman and one of the party's main strategists.
He recently became a father for the first time.
Mitchel McLaughlin is the Sinn Fein party chairman.
In January 2005 he rejected calls to resign over remarks he made about an IRA murder victim.
He told an RTE television programme that the killing of Jean McConville - one of the Disappeared - was not a criminal act.
His remarks were seen as possibly damaging for his electoral fortunes and were raised again during the campaign.
McDowell slammed over McBrearty meeting
06 May 2005 22:58
Frank McBrearty Snr declined to bring lawyers
The McBrearty family has criticised the Minister for Justice after he refused to meet them in Dublin today.
They said they would now pursue their case through the courts and in Europe if necessary, to ensure their legal costs at the Morris Tribunal are covered.
The meeting was cancelled after Michael McDowell claimed the family placed pre-conditions on the meeting.
The minister said the family declined to bring their legal representatives to the meeting, which was to discuss their concerns about the State's refusal to guarantee their legal costs.
Mr McDowell insisted he could not treat them differently to other witnesses and claims they had also wanted to bring other people to today's meeting who he had not agreed to meet.
Last month, Frank McBrearty Senior walked out of the tribunal because of the State's failure to guarantee the family's legal costs at the hearings.
The Government has consistently said it cannot give a guarantee on costs because it was solely an issue for the tribunal, which could only make such a decision when it had concluded its work.
The tribunal is examining allegations of garda corruption in Co Donegal that came to light after members of the McBrearty family were falsely accused of the murder of cattle dealer Richie Barron.
UUP leader loses Upper Bann seat
UUP leader David Trimble with his wife, Daphne, after the declaration
The Ulster Unionist leader and former Northern Ireland first minister, David Trimble, has lost his Upper Bann seat.
David Simpson, DUP, beat Mr Trimble by 5,000 votes. It was the fifth seat loss for the UUP and came amid speculation Mr Trimble would soon resign as leader.
With all 18 seats declared, the DUP is celebrating an election victory with nine seats, Sinn Fein has five, the SDLP has three and the UUP, one.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan won Foyle - a seat held by John Hume since 1983.
The DUP took a total of four seats from the UUP.
However, the SDLP lost its Newry and Armagh seat to Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy. The seat had been held by deputy leader Seamus Mallon since 1986.
In Mid Ulster, Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, retained his seat, as did Gerry Adams, West Belfast, Michelle Gildernew, Fermanagh/South Tyrone and Pat Doherty, West Tyrone.
The SDLP's Eddie McGrady held his South Down seat.
William McCrea, DUP, took the South Antrim seat from David Burnside of the UUP.
The DUP's Sammy Wilson took East Antrim from Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs. Mr Wilson polled twice as many votes as Mr Beggs, who had been an MP for 22 years.
Following his defeat, Mr Trimble said: "I believe the situation in Northern Ireland is now a much better one as a result of what we have done."
In a statement on Friday night, UUP chairman James Cooper, said the party was "bitterly disappointed" at the election results.
"It raises a number of questions at a strategic and political level within the party that we will reflect on over the course of this weekend and in the months ahead as we seeks to rebuild trust," he said.
David Simpson said of his own victory over Mr Trimble: "It sends out a very, very clear signal that push-over unionism has gone forever."
DUP leader Ian Paisley said Mr Trimble had beaten himself, adding: "David Trimble took the wrong road".
The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell had a surprise win in South Belfast, taking the seat from the UUP. Jimmy Spratt of the DUP came in second place.
Iris Robinson of the DUP retained her seat in Strangford, Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP retained his Lagan Valley seat, whilst DUP leader Ian Paisley retained his North Antrim seat.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams was re-elected in West Belfast and the UUP's Sylvia Hermon retained her seat in North Down.
Peter Robinson of the DUP retained his East Belfast seat, his party colleague Nigel Dodds held his North Belfast seat and Gregory Campbell of the DUP held his seat in East Londonderry.
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew retained her seat in Fermanagh/South Tyrone and her party colleague, Pat Doherty, held his seat in South Tyrone.
Earlier, Gerry Adams retained his West Belfast seat with 24,348 votes and the SDLP's Alex Attwood came second with 5,033 votes.
Mr Adams was confronted by two of the Omagh relatives as he arrived at the count in Belfast City Hall. He made no comment to the protestors.
The counting of papers in the local council election does not begin until Monday.
A total of 918 people are competing for 582 council seats.
Suspected CIRA member arrested
06 May 2005 17:27
A man believed to be a leading figure in the Continuity IRA is being questioned by detectives in Cork.
The man was arrested with a loaded pistol at Barrack Street in the city.
He is in his 30s and from Limerick, but has been living in Cork.
He was arrested as part of a garda operation into the activities of 'dissident' republicans in Munster.
06 May 2005
SF agrees meeting with Omagh victims
06/05/2005 - 15:47:23
Sinn Féin has agreed to a meeting with relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.
Before his runaway victory in West Belfast was confirmed, the party president Gerry Adams was challenged by Victor Barker and Michael Gallagher whose sons were killed in the August 1998 bombing outrage.
Mr Adams is being urged to call on republicans to make statements to investigating police officers and a party spokesman later confirmed that chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was ready to meet with victims’ relatives.
There was some jostling when Mr Adams arrived at City Hall for the declaration with Mr Gallagher claiming he was manhandled by Sinn Féin supporters.
His son, Aiden, 21, and Mr Barker’s son, James, 12, were among the 29 killed in the atrocity. The two men had been supporting the human rights candidate Professor Liam Kennedy who polled just 147 votes compared to Mr Adams’ 24,348.
The Sinn Féin leader pledged to support all sides in his overwhelmingly nationalist constituency.
He said: “I represent all those people who voted for us, those who voted against us and those who did not vote at all. Even though we were the subject of a campaign of vilification and invective this vote shows the savvy and sophistication of our voters in West Belfast.”
The SDLP candidate Alex Attwood admitted Mr Adams had been returned with a powerful mandate but claimed that within the last four to five months the hopes of many people behind the Good Friday Agreement were being dashed.
He said: “Let us no longer have the politics of baby steps. We need to take big leaps and have imagination.”
Mr Adams who was in contact with Downing Street earlier today to congratulate Tony Blair on his general election victory insisted: “It is only a question of when we meet the DUP and if they don’t then it’s a challenge for Mr Blair.”
Government asks people to sign blank cheque
Published: 6 May, 2005
Sinn Féin European Affairs spokesperson in the Dáil, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has said the Government's draft constitutional amendments go further than ratifying the EU Constitution and would rule out almost any future referral of fundamental matters of Irish sovereignty to the people. He slammed the Government for providing private advance briefings to Fine Gael and Labour and releasing the proposals to the media before they were placed before the Oireachtas. He said:
"The Fianna Fáil/PD Government will be asking the people to sign a blank cheque to by making these amendments to the Constitution. Not only would this ratify the fundamentally flawed EU Draft Constitution it would also allow the Government to dispense with the need for any future referendum on EU matters.
"The Government wants to over-turn the historic judgement in the case taken by a private citizen, the late Ray Crotty, in 1987 which established the right of the electorate in this State to be consulted about matters of Irish sovereignty as they are effected by the EU.
"The Government has insulted the Oireachtas by providing private briefings to two parties - Fine Gael and Labour who are complicit in the sell-out of Irish sovereignty - and ignoring the other members of the Oireachtas.
"Sinn Féin will oppose these amendments and will defend Irish sovereignty and neutrality."
Sinn Fein win Newry and Armagh
Conor Murphy wins Newry and Armagh for Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein has taken the Newry and Armagh seat from the SDLP. Conor Murphy defeated its candidate, Dominic Bradley, by 20,965 votes to 12,770.
The seat had been held by former SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon who stepped down this time.
The defeat is softened by an SDLP gain in South Belfast for Alasdair McDonnell and the success of party leader Mark Durkan in Foyle.
Sinn Fein has finished in the election with a total of five seats.
RESULTS IN KEY BATTLES
Trimble ousted in Upper Bann
Durkan defends Foyle for SDLP
SF gains Newry and Armagh
SDLP takes South Belfast
East Antrim landslide for DUP
McCrea captures South Antrim
Hermon holds North Down
All results in Northern Ireland (click on link at top)
The SDLP's candidate Dominic Bradley is a former teacher with strong GAA connections.
But there were clues about how he might do from his performance in the Assembly election of 2003 when his first preference vote was about half the size of Conor Murphy's.
The gap between the two parties had begun to narrow in 2001 when Sinn Fein trailed the SDLP by only 6%.
This was a rise of 10% on the 1997 result.
The DUP's Paul Berry was in third place in Friday's poll with 9,311 votes.
Concerns expressed about loyalist parade in Belfast tonight
06/05/2005 - 11:19:58
Nationalist politicians in the North have expressed concern that a loyalist parade is due to pass Belfast City Hall tonight while the Westminster election count is continuing inside.
Around 4,000 loyalists are due to stage a First World War commemoration parade in the city centre while Sinn Féin and SDLP supporters are still at the count centre.
The SDLP has described the decision to go ahead with the parade as madness, while unionists have appealed for calm.
1079 and growing - That’s the number of applicants on the housing waiting list, up 22 per cent since the start of the Executive’s £52m strategy
An urgent public inquiry has been called for into the Housing Executive’s record on housing in the north of the city as we reveal that numbers of people on the housing waiting list rose yet again in North Belfast.
Since the launch of the Executive’s seven-year strategy in 2000, the waiting list has steadily grown from 880 applicants in March 2000 to 1,079 in December last year.
The £52 million strategy since it’s launch shows no improvements in the housing misery, but rather a worsening situation.
This morning the Housing Executive said the figures for the first four months of 2005 were not yet available.
But as of last December 883 applications for urgent housing were from nationalists classed as homeless or “in housing distress” and 196 from the unionist community.
That has risen from 793 from last August and means over 90 applications have been received by the HE in the last four months of 2004.
Of that number 368 are single people and 98 applications state “elderly”. However, the figures do not suggest how many people would be living in a house in the elderly category. But most striking is that over 400 applications for urgent housing are from families.
This morning we asked the Housing Executive for a head count of the entire number of people waiting on urgent housing including the number of people in each family behind each application.
However, the Housing Executive said it needed more time to find a total.
“As of December 2004 there were 1,079 households in housing stress in North Belfast of which 883 are perceived to be Catholic. It has to be noted that of the 883 households 368 are single people and 98 are elderly,” said a spokeswoman.
Gerard Brophy of St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee said an independent inquiry was needed into “these appalling figures”.
Despite rising figures the Housing Executive says its strategy is working.
“These figures speak for themselves and we need an inquiry into how this obviously sectarian strategy came about,” said Gerard Brophy.
Housing campaign gets support from groups
North Belfast’s housing campaigners have been supported by community and housing groups from South and West Belfast in their demand for “houses, not hostels”.
Tommy Holland of West Belfast’s Upper Springfield Federation of Residents Associations said at the Garmoyle Street protest yesterday that he was dismayed at the wet hostel that includes an outside “wet garden”.
“We were very impressed when St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s came to Upper Springfield and gave our residents a presentation of their urban village development that would create 1,100 homes, open space and play areas,” he said.
The people of the old Sailortown moved to many areas of North and West Belfast in new developments that were springing up in the 1960s. But former residents say they were duped into moving with promises of new homes would be built in the ancient quarter of the dock.
Residents were moved out to allow the construction then of the M2 motorway.
“So it was with dismay that we were made aware that a wet hostel would be built within an area of North Belfast that has over 4,500 (people) on the waiting list, over 40 hostels and hundreds of hostel be spaces,” said Tommy Holland.
He expressed how he was shocked at a courtroom revelation by solicitors acting for the Housing Executive that it had no legal duty to seek out consultation with the community.
“We feel that there has been great inroads with community groups with regards to consultation in the west of the city. But we feel that residents groups and those involved in housing community networks cannot stand back and ask the same questions about housing need in North Belfast.”
Kelly blasts Housing Executive “arrogance”
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly has accused the Housing Executive of “arrogance” in its continued stance on putting a wet hostel into a proposed urban village in the docks.
More than half way into the controversial seven-year North Belfast strategy, Gerry Kelly said the housing homeless figures had gone up instead of down.
But the Housing Executive insists the strategy is working.
“We have the worst homeless situation that the strategy has ever produced. At the same time the Housing Executive is making decisions against the wishes of local residents. That has all happened before the strategy has been completed,” said Gerry Kelly.
He paid tribute to the work of the St Patrick’s Housing committee saying they had highlighted the Housing Executive’s arrogance towards the issue.
“People come from all over Europe to see the Carrickhill. They are now chasing an urban village and those plans are well advanced. The Housing Executive instead of supporting this process is trying to shift the wet hostel currently in Brunswick Street. That is hindering any attempts to bring in any development and shows the arrogant thinking of the Housing Executive.”
Rain fails to dampen the fighting spirit
TEXT Your support FOR the St Patrick’s/St
Joseph’s housing campaign by texting the
word NBN to 0788799558 with your comment
The rain lashing onto of a few cardboard shelters did nothing to dampen the spirits of North Belfast’s most ardent campaigners this week.
The members of St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing committee slept out all night to protest at the lack of housing provision in North Belfast and to demand the scrapping of a “wet hostel”.
Kids from the Tar Isteach youth group helped make some of the structures and constructed a window and even a window box with paper flowers.
Sleeping bags, torches, flasks of tea and coffee and buns were in abundance as was plenty of banter.
But the more serious issue of housing and how the campaigners say the hostel will block their plans for an urban village in Sailortown was never forgotten in the driving rain.
That vision of social and private homes with services would alleviate the huge numbers of nationalists on the housing waiting list in North Belfast.
Car horns beeped as the small group camped up against the gable wall of Stella Maris. It sits beside a huge motorway interchange as well as a number of bars.
Concerns have been raised as to how drinkers would negotiate traffic at the crossroads that forms part of an arterial route for Belfast’s main ferry port.
The campaigners got ready for their overnight stint in Sailortown as workmen continued renovations on the proposed hostel that was the result of a landmark court case forcing the Housing Executive to reveal it did not have a legal obligation to consult with people about any proposed development..
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
The discovery of asbestos at Breda House high-rise flats has shocked and angered long-term residents of the Belvoir estate who were unaware of its existence and say they have been “ left in the dark” by the Housing Executive.
People living in the area woke up to men in white suits removing asbestos from the top-floor flats last week, despite having never been informed of the material’s very existence in their homes or its removal under the instruction of the local Housing Executive office.
It is understood that though residents of the top-floor flats have been rehoused, over half of Breda House residents still remain living in the lower floors.
Harry Steeson, a retired pensioner and a resident of Breda House said, “There are men here walking about in white suits just like they are from space but we weren’t even informed about it. People here are very concerned. There wasn’t even any meeting called about the dangers of the asbestos removal. Our fears haven’t been alleviated, no meeting has been called to tell us what is going on.”
Mr Steeson said people in Belvoir were growing more concerned by the day about being kept in the dark over the removal of the substance notorious for its potentially deadly health implications. A spokesman for Castlereagh Housing Executive confirmed that people who had been living in the flats had not been told of the material’s existence or kept up to speed on its removal.
The spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, consultation on this scheme, involving major improvements, had been completed before the asbestos survey was carried out. As a result of an asbestos survey, which is now standard practice, trace elements of asbestos have been found in Breda House.”
After the South Belfast News contacted Castlereagh Housing Executive they agreed to “contact all residents to advise them of the nature of the additional work being carried out.” The spokesman added: “The asbestos removal will be undertaken under strict Health and Safety Regulations.”
Gordon Rutledge of the Belvoir Housing Forum said, “We haven’t heard anything about this, it has come as a complete shock. I will be confronting the Executive over this. We will certainly be bringing it up with the relevant authorities. At some level it should have been discussed and people should have been informed.”
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
**continued from yesterday
My Brother Bobby
by: Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981
School patrol talks in chaos
By Claire Regan
06 May 2005
Confusion was today hanging over a meeting of education bosses in Belfast after it was claimed that a controversial decision on the future of lollipop services is not due to be discussed as planned.
Members of the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) are to meet this morning to conclude a meeting on proposals to axe dozens of patrols across the city after it was abandoned last Thursday when four councillors walked out.
It was expected that the minutes of the general purposes and finance committee, which were being discussed at the time of the walk-out, would be either rubber-stamped or rejected at today's meeting.
The proposals, which have caused public outrage, include cuts to 54 lunchtime patrols along with 14 at post-primary schools and 38 on roads where there is also a pelican crossing or traffic lights.
But according to BELB vice chairman Jim Rodgers, notification of the agenda received by members does not include any mention of the matter.
The Ulster Unionist, one of the councillors who walked out leaving the meeting with too few members to continue, has sought legal advice on where the matter stands.
"The discussion on the proposed cuts to the school crossing patrol service was not completed when the meeting was stopped," he said.
"I have taken legal advice and my understanding is that when the meeting resumes, it has to take up where it left off. We're not finished - this issue is not just dead and buried.
"A proposal I had on the floor to reject the cuts, that was never voted on, still stands. Clearly a problem has arisen."
The Belfast Telegraph is planning to hand over the remaining petitions signed by readers in response to the Save Our Lollipop Service at this morning's meeting. We presented members with 2,630 signatures at last week's meeting. That total has now grown to over 3,600.
The campaign was launched by this paper in response to public disquiet over plans which were drawn up in a bid to save almost £300,000 as part of a package of cuts of almost £7m reluctantly passed by BELB to cope with a budget shortfall imposed by the Department of Education. The total stripped from services across the five education boards hit £30m.
Politicians, road safety experts, leading trade unions, school leaders, lollipop people and parents' groups have joined our calls for members to abandon the proposals.
FF politicians to hold talks with Irish emigrant groups in US
06/05/2005 - 08:09:50
Three Fianna Fáil politicians are due to travel to the United States today to discuss the situation facing illegal Irish immigrants in the country.
Junior Minister Tony Killeen, Limerick TD John Cregan and Senator Paschal Mooney are due to meet the Irish Apostolate Conference in Washington DC and Irish emigrant groups in New York during the trip.
An estimated 50,000 Irish people are living illegally in the United States without proper documentation.
These people are usually unable to travel home to Ireland for family events or holidays as they would not be allowed back into the United States.
The US government is considering proposals that would allow immigrants to become legal US residents if they register with the authorities and pay a fine.
05 May 2005
British Army Operation ongoing in South Armagh
South Armagh Sinn Féin Councillor Packie McDonald has demanded that the British Army and PSNI end an operation in Meigh which began with the village being sealed of at around noon today.
NUJ backs Daily Ireland workers in job crisis
The National Union of Journalists announced yesterday that it will raise concerns about the Irish and British governments’ treatment of Daily Ireland ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Irish Secretary, Seamus Dooley, expressed alarm at reports from both the management and staff of Daily Ireland that the newspaper has been subjected to political vetting and systematic discrimination.
Describing the reports as “deeply disturbing”, Mr Dooley said: “The NUJ supports the concept of editorial diversity and any discrimination against a newspaper on the grounds of politics would be totally
“The NUJ will be raising this issue with the Irish and British governments as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Mr Dooley’s comments follow the agreement of a resolution by the staff of Daily Ireland.
The resolution was agreed after an announcement by Daily Ireland management last week that jobs could be lost.
Management at the publication have lodged a landmark complaint with the North’s Equality Commission regarding the British government’s ban on advertising with Daily Ireland.
Prior to the publication of Daily Ireland on February 1, Irish Minister of Justice Michael McDowell made serious allegations about the newspaper which are now the subject of
The following is the text of a motion passed by the Daily Ireland chapel:
“The Daily Ireland NUJ Chapel comprising news journalists, designers, sports journalists, sub-editors, features department and senior editorial staff have hereby resolved to:
(a) Publicly assert that the creation and development of Daily Ireland represents a highly significant contribution to the development of an inclusive media and progressive participative democracy on the island of Ireland.
(b) Publicly repudiate the sustained and cynical campaign of political vetting and systematic discrimination practiced against this newspaper by the Irish government and the British government (notably the Northern Ireland Office), particularly in the context of the commercial and political obstacles placed by both governments in the path of creating and maintaining sustainable employment within this newspaper.
(c) Publicly request the effective and immediate intervention to both governments of the National Union of Journalists, all other trade unionists, all other sections of the media, all political parties, the community and voluntary sector, human rights NGOs, the business community, and all other people of goodwill who wish to see the values of inclusive media and progressive participative democracy sustained on the island of
NUJ national organiser Des Fagan has also expressed concern about the threat to jobs at Daily Ireland.
He called on the company to do everything possible to secure employment at the newspaper. Mr Fagan said the NUJ is committed to protecting employment at the newspaper.
“Our priority is to save jobs. In the event of job losses we will be seeking the best possible deal for our members but our earnest hope is that job losses can be averted," Mr Fagan said.
A poignant anniversary
The 24th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands MP will ensure that today’s elections will be a poignant occasion for republicans across the North of Ireland.
Bobby Sands died on May 5, 1981 after 66 days on hunger strike. His successful election as an anti-H-Block MP for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency just three weeks earlier changed the political landscape forever. The 1980/1981 hunger strikes were the culmination of the campaign of resistance against the British Government’s attempt to criminalise republican prisoners.
The event resulted in the deaths of ten men but generated mass mobilisation of the North’s nationalist population on a scale not witnessed since the aftermath of Bloody Sunday in 1972.
Bobby Sands was nominated as an anti-H-Block candidate and won the election after the death of Frank Maguire MP.
Jake Jackson, a former Blanketman and cellmate of Bobby Sands in Long Kesh, spoke of the legacy of Sands’ death yesterday at the rededication of a mural on the Falls Road in Belfast to Bobby Sands and the hunger strikers.
He said: “I’m glad to be here today, 24 years after Bobby Sands died on hunger-strike, to defend the Irish freedom struggle and to defend republicanism. Bobby and his nine comrades died on hunger strike and it was a catalytic event which changed the course of Irish history. I think tomorrow again, in Bobby’s own words, everyone has their own particular part to play and no part is too great or too small.
Speaking on today’s elections, Mr Jackson added: “Right across the Six Counties there will be young people and old people and people just about my age who will be out on the stumps from half-six in the morning to half-ten or half-eleven at night and what they’re going to deliver is a resounding mandate for Sinn Féin which is going to change the course of politics on this island yet again. “It’s kind of fitting that on Bobby Sands’ anniversary we’re going to the polls and as Bobby himself said, our revenge is going to be the laughter of our children.”
Blasts hit British consulate in New York
Thursday May 5, 2005
Two small explosions went off outside the British consulate in New York today, police said.
The New York police department said the blasts, which happened at 3.35am local time (0835 BST), had shattered windows in the building, but nobody was injured and the consulate, in midtown Manhattan, had suffered no structural damage.
Pictures from CNN showed the area cordoned off, with bomb squad staff and fire engines in attendance.
"There was an explosion in front of the location," a New York police spokesman said. "It was detonated in one of the cement flower boxes used as a barrier outside the building. There was some damage to the front window, but there are no reports of any injuries at this stage."
The police said they were piecing together shrapnel at the scene, and it appeared that two homemade grenades had been used. One was the size and shape of a pineapple, the other the size and shape of a lemon. The two went off within a minute of each other.
One of the devices had some gunpowder inside linked to a fuse. The police added: "It was one of those things you light and then run."
Raymond Kelly, the New York city police chief, said there had been no threats and no phone calls after the explosions.
"There is no known motive for this action at this time," said Mr Kelly at a news conference at the scene of the explosions as a helicopter flew overhead.
Mr Kelly said video film from security cameras was being studied for clues as to who might have set off the explosions.
Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York city, cautioned against jumping to conclusions. "There is no knowledge of what the motive was," he said.
The road was closed for two blocks on either side of the consulate, a big office building at the corner of East 50th street and Third Avenue.
The consulate helps distressed Britons, issuing emergency British passports for one-way journeys to the UK and handling visa applications. The consulate's press and public affairs department organises exchange programmes, seminars and conferences.
A trade and investment section gives free advice and assistance to US firms interested in starting or expanding a business in the UK.
The blast occurred as British voters went to the polls in the general election, but experts said it was too early to speculate on whether there was any connection between the two events.
Professor Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrew's University, said: "We have no idea yet who the perpetrators were, but obviously the authorities will be keeping a close eye on the investigation."
In November 2003 a suicide bomb attack devastated the British consulate general in Istanbul, in Turkey. Among those who died in the incident was the consul general, Roger Short, the UK's top envoy in the city.
May 5th, 1981 - Bobby Sands Dies
"We refuse to lie here in dishonour! We are not criminals, but Irishmen! This is the crime of which we stand accused..." - Bobby Sands
**This is a nice article on Bobby because you can click on many links within it to learn more about
Defending the honour of our Mickey Marley
A dhuine uasail,
In Monday's Andersonstown News (and an earlier edition of Daily Ireland), in an article on the passing of Belfast legend Mickey Marley, Barnbrack's Alex Quinn claimed that part of the song Mickey Marley’s Roundabout was deliberately written to poke fun at Mr Marley.
Alex Quinn claimed that the lyrics “If you haven't got a penny and your ma's gone out, you can still get on his roundabout” were untrue, and that Mickey would have chased any child who couldn't pay.
As the writer/composer of the song in question, I refute the claims of Mr Quinn.
I wrote the song as a deserved tribute to a real Belfast character and no part of it poked fun at Mickey.
And I personally know (and knew) those whom Mickey let on the roundabout free when they didn't have the money.
I hope this puts the record straight for Mr. Quinn.
Finally, long may the song Mickey Marley’s Roundabout keep evergreen and happy our memories of Mickey – the last of the real Belfast characters.
Mise le meas,
(aka Seamus Mac Róibín)
Election 2005 - 6,000 extra voters on register--
But many are this morning left without crucial electoral ID cards
An increase of 6,000 in the numbers registered to vote in West Belfast today should have been a cause for celebration this week.
After five years of ever-dwindling numbers on the West Belfast electoral register, the figure rose to a more healthy 53,831 for 2005.
However, the positive figures have been tainted with the news that the Falls Community Council were inundated with calls this week from frustrated constituents who said their electoral ID had not yet arrived.
Hundreds of votes could be wasted if those affected do not receive their photographic ID by post this morning.
Stephen Corr of the Falls Community Council says it’s a huge blow for the organisation, which worked tirelessly in February to increase the number of first-time voters on the electoral register.
“After recent elections, it was clear that voting numbers were well down,” he explained. “ So the British MP John Spellar agreed that the names registered over the last two years would be married together to increase the figures.”
One major shortcoming with the new legislation was that it did not address the issue of first-time voters.
So at the end of February, the Falls Community Council, in conjunction with the Electoral Commission, instigated a week-long drive to encourage first-time voters to register.
“We visited local schools and set up stalls in local shopping centres, and it was a big success – we managed to get over 1,200 to register.”
But on Monday, the first concerned callers contacted the Falls Community Council to say that they had not received their identification.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Stephen. “After all our efforts, after bending over backwards to get these people registered, it’s turned out that a substantial number of them won’t be able to vote tomorrow [Thursday]. We thought our job was done by getting people on the register, but it isn’t. Our phones haven’t stopped all week, and I just think it’s an outrage that these people who have gone to the effort of registering, can’t do so now because of government bureaucracy and inefficiency.”
The community organisation plans to take the matter to the Equality Commission if a substantial number of constituents are denied their right to vote.
“I would call on anyone who is registered but didn’t receive their ID to contact myself at the Falls Community Council, because we intend to take action through the local MP’s office after the election,” said Stephen.
“The British Government goes on about democracy and everyone’s duty to vote, but then they make it so difficult and bureaucratic here. They went to extremes to get people voting in England and Wales, but the same effort wasn’t made in the North of Ireland, and the danger is, if you put a young person off voting, they might not vote again.”
Last night Sinn Féin Lower Falls Councillor Marie Moore praised those who have lead the registration drive in West Belfast, but said one in five in West Belfast still didn’t have the vote.
“That is a direct result of the legislation introduced by the British government which was supported by unionists and the SDLP. Sinn Féin has won the argument that the current electoral registration process is fundamentally flawed. We expect the incoming British government to change that law to enable all voters to exercise their rights,” she added.
My Brother Bobby
by Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981
photo source: Ireland's OWN
**I am including this link because there are two videos on site--one of the news and one of Bobby's mother Rosaleen Sands
5 May 1981: Bobby Sands dies in prison
Hunger striker Bobby Sands has died in prison 66 days after first refusing to eat.
The 27-year-old republican spent the last days of his life on a water bed to protect his fragile bones.
He had been in a coma for 48 hours before being pronounced dead by medical staff at the Maze prison in Northern Ireland.
Sands' parents, brother and sister were at his bedside when he died.
This was the second time Sands had been on hunger strike, the first was in 1980 when a number of prisoners in the Maze prison were demanding political status for sectarian prisoners.
Three other republican prisoners at the Maze prison remain on hunger strike. There is grave concern for 25-year-old convicted murderer Francis Hughes, who began his strike 15 days after Sands.
Bobby Sands, who had served five years of a fourteen year sentence for possessing a gun began his hunger strike on 1 March.
He had softened his stance since the first strike and this time was making five main demands: that sectarian prisoners be allowed to wear their own clothes, that they be given free association time, visits and mail, that they should not to have to carry out penal work and should be given back lost remission.
The Provisional IRA is now expected to launch a campaign of violence and destruction in response to Sands' death.
Mo Chara Bobby Sands
Last Friday, 3 May, former republican POW SEANNA WALSH delivered the annual BOBBY SANDS MEMORIAL LECTURE in the fitting surrounds of the Felon's Club in West Belfast. Seanna was a close personal friend of Bobby Sands, the first of ten Irish republican prisoners who died on hunger strike in 1981, and he shared some memories of the man he knew so well.
I was surprised but very honoured to come here tonight and speak at this the 20th Bobby Sands lecture. Go raibh maith agaibh don choiste chuimhneacháin as an cuireadh labhairt.
We are at a crucial juncture in the current phase of the Irish struggle for a United Ireland, on the cusp of substantial electoral gains in the Southern elections, but I've decided not to talk about all this.
I'm here to talk about Bobby Sands the man, Bobby Sands the son, the husband, the father - the poet warrior, the self taught Irish language speaker and teacher, the indomitable spirit of the republican prisoner.
I first met Bobby on remand in Cage 8 of Long Kesh before being moved to Crumlin Road Gaol in January '73. What struck me about him was the cocky self-assuredness of his Belfast dander and his spiky Rod Stewart hair cut.
I was a 16-year-old, 'thought he knew it all' child of Short Strand, East Belfast; he was from Twinbrook and before that Rathcoole and was a couple of years older.
We came through remand together but I didn't get to know him well until I doubled up with him in Cage 17 and later then in Cage 11 as we served out our sentences together.
There was a clatter of Short Strand men in Cage 17 and then after the burning of the camp, in Cage 11. We took a bit of stick about being a 'clique' but Bobby and several others would have been part of that group too.
The man behind the icon
And what was he like then, this the foremost icon of the last 30 years of republican struggle, the man behind the face that's recognised and venerated by freedom loving people from New York to San Francisco, from Johannesburg to Hebron, right across Europe?
Well he was very much one of 'us', an ordinary guy who loved a bit of craic, kicked a football, had a sleg and a laugh, and lapped up the sing songs and concerts we'd organise as the guitars and mandolins were pulled out to accompany the poitín voices - we'd sing and play away into the early hours.
Bobby read and absorbed books hungrily - political and historical books about British involvement in our country and the resulting resistance to that involvement, as well as novels. He also showed an interest in the plight of 'the ordinary man' throughout the world and the struggle for social justice, fair play and freedom. This was reflected in his writings and poetry while on the blanket. In the early years he was almost like a sponge, soaking in all these different ideas, histories and theories.
As he prepared for release in early '76, he worked hard to prepare himself physically and mentally for his return to the outside and re-involvement in the republican struggle. There was no room for doubt - he was coming out to reorganise the republican base in his area, Twinbrook, and he had a picture in his head, a plan he was determined to make true.
He reorganised the army, the auxies, na Fianna and Sinn Féin, but then he took things a step further. He organised republican involvement in the tenants' associations - until then a fiefdom of the Sticks and SDLP. He pushed republicans to become involved in the everyday battles with the British Direct Rule administration and unionists on Lisburn Council. As far as he was concerned, there was so much to do and not enough time to do it.
He still found time though for his singing and playing the guitar. There was one memorable night when, in the middle of one of Bobby's cabaret sessions, an IRA foot patrol came into the local drinking club and after checking a number of peoples IDs, they approached Bobby on the stage with the intention of asking him to read out a statement from the local unit - he had written it an hour previously! Somehow the Volunteer managed to misplace the statement and had only a bru card in the pocket, Bobby took this from the Volunteer and ad libbed his way through a 15-minute speech.
After six short months, however, he was back inside and I was already there too, waiting on him coming back. The rules were different this time though, with the denial of political status after March 1976.
Bobby was at the forefront of resistance to Britain's criminalisation policies on remand in Crumlin Road Gaol and then once sentenced, in the H-Blocks. He had been involved in writing a local weekly newssheet before recapture and he decided to continue writing for it in gaol. After a while he started writing for Republican News, soon to become An Phoblacht/Republican News. He was now like a man possessed; it was his job to tell the story of every brutal assault, every sadistic attack on the naked prisoners in the H-Blocks. He also opened up communication with our women comrades in Armagh Women's Gaol and those who retained political status in the Cages of Long Kesh.
The horrendous conditions in which we suffered meant nothing if the world outside of our immediate families knew nothing about them. Bobby was central to getting the word out, first of all to republicans and then to the wider community.
One effect of all this letter and article writing he was engaged in was that he developed a grá for poetry. He began to scribble bits of verse, which he would recite to the wing, interspersing it amongst his song repertoire. Nothing too heavy.
On one particular occasion, while we were in H6 in 1979, we received a collection of poems by the nationalist poet Ethna Carberry. Bobby was really taken with the maternal heartbreak of "An Páistín Fionn" and the blood-curdling tale of "Brian Boy Magee" that he set down and penned a letter. He got to the door that night after screws had left the wing and called to Brendan Hughes - 'Dorcha, get up to your door, wait till you hear this letter, it's a cracker, it's to your woman Ethna Carberry. I had to write to her after reading those poems'. The Dark replied, 'You may get your Ouija board out Bobby, she died 70 years ago!' You can imagine the slegging he got there.
Preparing for Hunger Strike
As the crisis in the H-Blocks dragged on from '79 into '80 and we went through different avenues to move the British on the Political Status issue, it became clear that we would be left with one last option - The Hunger Strike.
We had talked about the final recourse to Hunger Strike since the collapse of the Cardinal Ó Fiaich negotiations with Thatcher. It seemed to us that it didn't matter what the people of Ireland thought or said, the British had but one aim and that was to smash the republican resistance both inside and out of the gaols.
People began to prepare for Hunger Strike in the summer of 1980. We had been involved in a letter-writing campaign since the formation of the National H-Block/Armagh committee in the winter of '79. This was intensified in the run-in to the Hunger Strike in October 1980. We wrote to anyone and everyone of influence in Ireland, in Britain, throughout the world. Bobby was in his element. We were not allowed to receive replies, only personal letters - one per month - were allowed, so to be honest none of us knew what impact, if any, these letters had. We do know that hundreds and hundreds poured out of each block week after week, month after month. I later found out that these tiny letters had a massive impact throughout the world, carrying our message of the horrors of the H-Blocks.
Yet somehow or another, at the end of a frenzied day of writing, visits debates and arguments with governors and warders and whoever else, Bobby used to be able to get up to his door after lights out and relate a yarn. Usually, this would be from some obscure novel he had read but the tale he spun would be like nothing less than a movie blockbuster as prisoners sat in the darkness; mattresses propped on the cell pipes, listening to some magical tale of good overcoming evil, the righteous oppressed throwing off the shackles of the oppressor.
The hunger strike of 1980, as we all know, ended with the doublespeak and bad faith that helped the British to conquer and rule half the world. Instead of letting people's heads go down, Bobby and the rest of us on the gaol leadership bent over backwards to come to some sort of comprise with the prison governors and their allies in the NIO. They were not interested. They believed, foolishly, that republicans were beaten, that they had us on the run and it was simply a case of them holding their nerve and watching the gaol protest collapsing. How stupid were they?
It became apparent to a number of us that a second hunger strike was inevitable. With Bobby leading the charge in the face of justified concerns and worries from the army leadership outside, we pressed our case. We were successful. Bobby organised for himself to be the first man on the strike, the first then to die, the two-week gap before Francie Hughes joined him giving the British space to move, to make concessions once Thatcher had her pound of flesh.
At the end of his second week on the strike, he wrote to me telling me that he had put on a fine hopeful face to those around him on the wing, to his clann on the visits. But he told me he had no intention of trying to pretend anything with me. He was determined to do what had to be done and he knew that the British would show no mercy. Yet he was confident that by his actions his comrades coming behind, and a whole generation of young still unborn, would be so inspired as to ensure that his goal, his dream, his Aisling would become a reality. The rest is history. The story of the actual Stailc Ocrais was told and retold so often last year I'm not even going to try to revisit it here.
Tá mé chun chríochnú anseo beidh sibh sásta cluinsint ach
A chairde, we have come a long way since those sad dark days of 1981. We've still got a long way to go but we're steadily making progress. During those leanest of days in the prisons we got by "one day at a time". Out here it is a battle a day too. So:
Ar Aghaidh go bua
Ar Aghaidh don Phoblacht.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh as éisteacht liom anocht. Slán abhaile.