14 May 2005

Daily Ireland

**Via News Hound

TAKE FIVE - The personal is political

Laurence McKeown
To comment:columnists@dailyireland.com

Lady Sylvia Hermon, BBC photo

I sent an email last Saturday to newly elected Unionist MP, Sylvia Hermon. I don’t usually send emails to MPs, not even to Conor Murphy whom I wrote about in such glowing terms recently. I wrote not to congratulate her on her victory but for the manner in which she dealt with the DUP hecklers. At the end of a long day during which the electoral decimation of her party had become increasingly apparent, leaving her the sole remaining Ulster Unionist MP, she behaved like a true star. She smiled at the hecklers and carried herself with style and even a smile upon her face.
I didn’t hear her the following day when interviewed by RTÉ but apparently she spoke in very gracious terms about how Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness during the negotiations had inquired about her husband’s health (he has Alzheimer’s disease) whereas the DUP members (so loud in their support for the RUC) had never once done that. For republicans, Jack Hermon will be remembered for his role as Chief Constable at a time of shoot-to-kill policies and collusion with unionist paramilitaries but it didn’t make Gerry or Martin any less republican to behave towards his wife, Sylvia, in the manner they did. I would expect nothing less from them.
Republicans have a humanity, derived to a large extent from the suffering our community has experienced - often at the hands of the RUC - but also because republicanism is about an objective, an ideal, a better way of life. It’s not about bitterness, revenge, or gloating, nor do republicans personalise conflict. They can argue vociferously against their opponents’ views without degenerating into personal abuse and bad manners.
Maybe if David Trimble, like Sylvia Hermon, had been a bit more gracious in his dealings with republicans and hadn’t tried to mimic his unionist rivals he would have achieved much more and we might all be in a very different place today. He and his party certainly would be.
The UUP will choose a new leader and won’t want any advice from us in that regard but just imagine if it was someone with flair and style and confidence who wasn’t afraid to praise his political opponents when appropriate? I say ‘his’ because the thought of the Ulster Unionist Council electing a woman as leader just seems so far off the radar screen at the moment. But then again, just imagine.

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


Lung transplant patient doing 'extremely well'

14/05/2005 - 16:05:38

The woman who underwent the first lung transplant in this country is doing "extremely well" according to the Mater Hospital in Dublin this afternoon.

A spokeswoman said the patient, who is 55-years-old, has been able to get out of her hospital bed and sit in a chair just two days after undergoing the historic procedure.

She said that her doctors were very happy with her progress.

The operation was carried out at the hospital's new heart and lung transplantation unit, which opened last year.


Human rights stalwart jailed

14 May 2005
By Kieran McDaid

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PRESIDENT Mary McAleese paid tribute to a human rights champion at a reception in Dublin yesterday - as he languished in a Sudan prison after being arrested on his way to Ireland.

Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam was arrested just hours before he boarded a plane bound for Ireland to pick up the inaugural Front Line Award for his work in the field of human rights.

His wife, Sabah Mohamed Adam Ali, and 10-year-old daughter, Huda, were granted emergency visas and received the award on his behalf at a ceremony in City Hall, attended by 26 ambassadors, including the representatives of Britain and the US.

Mrs McAleese said Dr Mudawi, the director of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), a voluntary organisation engaged in humanitarian activities in Darfur and human rights development throughout the country, worked tirelessly for others.

“Dr Mudawi has been profoundly involved in humanitarian and human rights work throughout Sudan but of course the dreadful misery that is Darfur has consumed much of his recent work and focus,” she said.

“He has paid a high personal price for that work - harassment, imprisonment, false allegations, solitary confinement,” said Mrs McAleese.

“He has protested through hunger strike and faces an uncertain future. He has earned this award the hard way. He has also earned our respect but of course what he yearns for is probably none of those things but rather the kind of national and international pressure which would render his work unnecessary.”

Dr Mudawi, a 49-year-old professor of engineering, has been arrested on two previous occasions by the Sudanese authorities. Front Line, an Irish-based international organisation which provides grants, advocacy and protection for human rights defenders at risk from intimidation or violence, rewarded Dr Mudawi for his work in the war-torn country.

Dr Mudawi, who is facing espionage charges which carry a potential death penalty, sent a message of thanks to the reception.

“I will continue the effort in Sudan to bring democracy and rule of law so that people’s rights are respected,” he said. “I thank Front Line for exerting pressure to defend human rights defenders and for supporting them.

“I appreciate it. I exhort people to support Front Line in this work. I also want to thank the Irish Government for their efforts and ask them to continue.

“I am grateful for the award and honoured by the presence of the President of Ireland.”

Sabah also thanked Front Line for the award.

“As a wife and as a Sudanese citizen I believe that he deserves the award because he believes in what he is doing and he is ready to sacrifice himself for the human rights of others,” she said.


‘Parents’ flock to adopt sheep as Kerry farm opens its gates

14 May 2005
By Donal Hickey

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click to view - 'Kerry sheep' from David Simpson's Photographs

IT’S the Kerry version of an idea that has been working in other EU countries for some years and it could lead to the survival of at least one mountain sheep farm.

For €45, you can now adopt a sheep on the 1,200-acre Kissane holding, at Moll’s Gap, on the scenic Ring of Kerry between Killarney and Kenmare.

Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae, himself a farmer and sheep expert, will perform the official opening of the Kissane Sheep Farm on May 27.

Behind the venture are fifth generation farmer John Kissane and his Dutch partner, Anne Nieuwenhuizen, a former Olympic, World and European hockey champion.

“I’ve already seen similar projects working in Europe, where people can adopt a cow, or a chicken, and regularly visit these animals on farms. I believe this is the first project of its kind in Ireland,” said Anne.

“But our plan is about continuing to survive on the land. EU grants will be gone in a few more years. The goal of Adopt a Sheep is to preserve the Irish heritage of sheep in the mountains and save the family farm for future generations.”

With the help of seven hard-working sheep dogs, John Kissane and his family were able to run a profitable farm in one of the beautiful parts of the country for many years.

But now, EU regulations discourage him from keeping sheep on the hills, while sheep and wool prices are also on the slide.

The couple met, in April 2003, when Anne participated in a sheepdog clinic run by John as part of a Dutch management training programme.

“I was fascinated by the man and the animals and decided to apply for a summer job. In July of that year I came back to help John with the gathering and shearing of the sheep. In April 2004, I moved to Ireland and I love it,” she said.

Sixty-four sheep have already been adopted on the farm.

Anne said the €45 annual “adoption” fee covers the yearly costs of feeding and veterinary care for one sheep. She said the money also benefited the whole flock, through spending on farm maintenance, fencing and gates.

“Adoptive parents” receive a certificate with their name and the tag number of their sheep. They also get free admission to the farm and most of its activities.

The 1,000-sheep farm is open for visitors until October. John Kissane gives sheepdog demonstrations and in July and August, visitors can look at sheep being sheared. They can even join in and help if they want to.

They can also enjoy three marked walks through the mountain terrain of the farm.


Greens accuse Govt of squandering money

14/05/2005 - 15:34:35

The Green Party has accused the Government of wasting huge sums of taxpayers' money and failing to properly manage the State's affairs.

The party's finance spokesperson, Dan Boyle, said the current Fianna Fáil/PD coalition has squandered a full year's expenditure through mismanagement since it came into power.

Deputy Boyle also strongly rejected criticism of Green economic policies. He said that initiatives such as a carbon tax and refundable childcare tax credits could save the country millions of euro.


And now from Minister Money-over-matter...

Keep Greens out of government, says Roche

14/05/2005 - 13:02:31

The Green Party should be kept as far away from government as possible to protect Ireland’s economic gains, Environment Minister Dick Roche declared today.

Speaking as the party holds its annual convention in Cork, Fianna Fáil Minister Roche claimed the Greens promoted anti-business taxes and continuously oppose vital infrastructure projects.

“If the Green Party had its way, the Irish people would still be travelling across bog roads to take the emigrant ship,” he said.

“The gains that Ireland has made must be protected and the best way to do that is to ensure the Greens are kept as far away from Government as possible.”

Greens leader Trevor Sargent is tonight expected to launch a stinging attack on the Government as he seeks a strong mandate to join an alternative government after the next general election.

He is likely to criticise the Fianna Fáil-led administration for its poor record in the health, education and the environment sectors.

But Minister Roche said today that Fianna Fáil-led governments had created jobs and fostered economic growth by cutting taxes on enterprise and investment.

“Greens have consistently called for raising taxation on investment and enterprise – moves that would be deeply destructive for our economic prospects,” he added.


Missing: the mystery of 300 boys who have disappeared from school

Torso in the Thames case reveals 'scandal' of vanished children as welfare groups urge action

Steven Morris and Rosie Cowan
Saturday May 14, 2005
The Guardian

A "scandalous" number of children as young as four, many of them African, are missing from school rolls in London, it emerged yesterday.

The Metropolitan police revealed that in one two-month period, 300 black boys aged between four and seven vanished from rolls in the capital. Despite extensive investigations, involving police forces across the world, only two of the 300 were traced.

Child welfare groups and education chiefs expressed shock at the figure and warned that some of the missing children might become victims of exploitation.

Some experts estimate that thousands of children vanish from the system each year. Though it is assumed that most come to no harm, there were calls for the government to bring in regulations to force the authorities to do more to trace all missing children.

Hilton Dawson, patron of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, said: "It's scandalous. I think the government is hiding from this issue. We need an effective working relationship between schools, social services, the police and immigration. That simply isn't happening."

The depth of the problem was highlighted when police investigated the murder of a young African boy - nicknamed Adam - whose torso was found in the Thames. They asked schools in London to check if any boys aged four to seven had gone missing over the relevant two-month period in 2001. Officers were shocked to be told that 300 had vanished. Of these, 299 had come from Africa.

The Met revealed yesterday that it has managed to trace only two of the 300. Most of those questioned said the boys had returned to Africa - but it has been impossible to verify this in most cases.

Tim Benson, the headteacher of the Nelson primary school in East Ham, east London, said he was "taken aback" by the figure. "We should be concerned," he said.

Kevin Crompton, chairman of the Association of Directors of Education and Children's Services, added: "We need to improve the tracking of children, particularly if they come from abroad."

Education welfare officers try to trace children who have stopped attending school. However, they only inform the police of a pupil's disappearance if they suspect that some harm has befallen the child. If a parent or guardian tells the school that a child has gone abroad, the school tends to believe him or her, again unless there are grounds for suspicion.

The problem of children of west African origin going missing is particularly acute, as there can be a culture of youngsters being passed around an extended family and taking the name of the relative he or she is with at that time.

Some children's organisations - and the Conservative party - have called on the government to do more to regulate this practice, which is known as "private fostering".

The government has estimated that as many as 10,000 children may be cared for in this way.

Barbara Hutchinson, deputy chief executive of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, said private fostering made it easier for children to be trafficked into the country and sexually exploited or used as servants.

She said: "I am horrified at the figure, but not surprised. Many privately fostered kids get passed on from household to household. They may be moved around to avoid immigration control; they may be exploited. We know some children are being trafficked to be used as domestic servants or for sexual exploitation."

Theresa May, the Conservatives' family spokesperson, said: "This shocking news reinforces what experts in the child protection field have been telling government for many years.

"Children who are not in the care of the parents are disappearing without trace, possibly victims of trafficking, abuse or even murder.The government has failed to listen to pleas for tighter controls."

Chris Beddoe, the director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, said the revelation underlined the lack of joined-up operational procedure for police, immigration, social services and schools.

She said: "In the worst case scenario, some of these children could be dead, or being physically or sexually abused, but the truth is we simply don't know because we don't have enough information, and that's outrageous," she said.

"We heard recently of a 13-year-old girl who told her teachers her parents had gone home and left her on her own in the UK, and some time later she too disappeared. The teachers don't know what happened to her. We are hearing this type of thing all the time."

She suggested that if the 298 missing African boys were still in the UK, some might be used for benefit fraud.

"It's predominant in west African culture for parents to send children to extended family, often quite distant relatives, for a better life," she said. "But traffickers can exploit this practice to get children into the UK, and children can also be passed around various households, which are all claiming benefits for them."

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the government was "deeply concerned" about any child missing from education. "We have been working hard to ensure that much more robust systems are in place to protect the welfare of children and that information about children is shared by professionals."

Belfast Telegraph

The invisible victims of Troubles trauma

By Nevin Farrell
14 May 2005

MANY people are suffering from Troubles related trauma and may not even be aware of it, experts say.

The finding was revealed as a Trauma Advisory Panel in the Ballymena-based Northern Health Board held a series of awareness raising roadshows.

Co-ordinator Sheelagh Sheerin said yesterday: "The roadshows were designed to promote the awareness of how people have been affected by the trauma of the conflict, some of whom remain the invisible victims of The Troubles - they may not have visible signs of injury, but are suffering because of their experiences."

The roadshows were funded by the Victims Unit in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's Division of Good Relations and Reconciliation.

Dr Paul Miller said: "We are delighted to be working to raise the awareness among health professionals on the subject of conflict related trauma and its impact on the lives of people living in Northern Ireland."

The key message from the roadshows was that many people have been affected by The Troubles and whilst the statistics identify the numbers who died or have been injured during the conflict, it remains unknown how many people have been emotionally or psychologically affected.


Views sought on police patrolling

Views are being sought on how officers cover the beat

Alternative ways in which the police could patrol the streets of Northern Ireland are to be assessed in a review by the PSNI and the Policing Board.

It will assess public expectations, visibility of officers on the beat and the strategy of how they are deployed.

Patrolling by the PSNI will be compared with methods used by other services.

The review team wants individuals and community groups to give their views on current levels of patrols in their areas and suggest improvements.

The Best Value Review is currently in the early stage of the consultation process.

The reviewers will meet with a number of focus groups and will consult with district policing partnerships, members of the public and "hard to reach" groups.

13 May 2005

Belfast Telegraph

**Via News Hound

Salutatory experience of life on sidelines of political scene

Eamonn McCann
12 May 2005

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Click to view - Photo of Eamonn McCann from Indy Media.ie

You know you're a fringe phenomenon when television crews run away from you. This happened at the Templemore Sports Complex on Friday night just after the completion of the count for Foyle.

It was one of my two interesting experiences of the election campaign. The other concerned the PSNI and Glasgow Rangers.

At Templemore, the folk from Hearts and Minds had pleaded for an interview. Eventually, I agreed. It wasn't that they were desperate for material, nor (I think) that I'd become a bumptious class of candidate.

But they were preparing an item on "the small parties" and we in the Socialist Environmental Alliance (SEA) weren't sure we wanted included in a mixum-gatherum of minor irrelevancies.

"We want to know why you keep banging your head against a brick wall when you know you have no chance," explained a graduate of the Ormeau Avenue School of Fastidious Diplomacy.

The reason for our chagrin was that at that particular point the SEA wasn't a small party at all but, rather, one of the Four Main Parties in the constituency, having romped to a sensational 3.62%, well ahead of the Ulster Unionists, trailing behind on 2.29%.

Admittedly, this heady eminence was to last only three days, until local government ballots were counted on Monday. But that's irrelevant.

Having graciously agreed to favour the Beeb with an interview, I was moving to the only point I wanted seriously to make when, all of a sudden, the camera-person collapsed his tripod across his shoulder, secured the camera under his oxter, spun on his heel and ran pell-mell for the side door, tugging the interviewer jerkily along, connected to the camera by microphone cable.

This tumult had been triggered by a gulder from (I do believe) George Jackson that: "Mark Durkan's about to speak!".

If it had been baby Dearbhaill about to speak, I'd have understood the excitement.

But anyway, that's how I learned I was a fringe phenomenon.

The other interesting thing was a friendly chat with a Rangers fan as we protested together against the police.

This pleasant scene unfolded outside the courthouse on Bishop Street on the Monday before the poll.

Two days earlier, an incident in the Waterside which I can say nothing about (because it's sub judice) was followed by a fracas during which, according to a number of witnesses, some members of the PSNI behaved improperly.

As a result, I found myself engaged in a series of conversations with youngsters I'd never met before who made no secret of their dislike and distrust of the police.

THEY shared the belief, widespread in parts of working-class Belfast, that the PSNI behave more belligerently towards young people in Protestant areas than in Catholic areas because they know there'll be little comeback from the Protestants' representatives.

"If they pushed Catholics around like they push us around, Sinn Fein would be down on them like a ton of bricks."

I had the placards composed in my mind before they'd finished their tales of harassment.

And thus it was that we gathered, from the Fountain, the Bogside, Lincoln Courts and the Creggan, marching up and down the well-trod (by me, anyway) pavement in front of the courthouse, carrying indiscriminate placards urging: "End Police Brutality" and such. This (again, for me anyway) was a first.

The Fountain woman alongside me sported an Ibrox Park baseball cap, so I mentioned, by way of casual conversation, that she must have been pleased that the Blues had splashed their way to three messy points at Pittodrie the previous afternoon.

"Oh, yes!" she enthused, "we really needed the points…"

"Still," she generously conceded after a moment. "I don't suppose you were too pleased."

And I agreed that, no, I hadn't been.

It only occurred to me later that I ought to have added that of course, though, I was pleased for her.

Interesting election, viewed from the fringe.


Murder charge loyalist given bail

A leading Belfast loyalist who is awaiting trial for murder is to be freed on bail.

William 'Mo' Courtney, of Fernhill Heights in the Shankill area, was to have gone on trial on Monday accused of murdering 21-year-old Alan McCullough.

His body was found on the outskirts of Belfast on 5 June 2003.

However, because of prosecution delays, the judge at Belfast Crown Court said he could not justify keeping the accused in jail any longer.

Mr Courtney has been given one week to lodge a bail surety of £5,000 and also to provide an address outside Belfast.

Mr Justice Hart told the court that the primary reason for the delay in the trial, "was simply because the prosecution" had served evidence against Mr Courtney on his defence at a late stage.

He also said it was still not certain that the trial could be listed for hearing at the beginning of the new Crown Court term in September, adding that the case was unlikely to be heard until at least October.


Hain sails into storm over peace process

13/05/2005 - 15:41:27

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click to view the lovely and provocative Ian Paisley

Peter Hain was at the centre of his first political storm in Northern Ireland tonight after he was accused of rewriting British government policy there.

Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley lambasted the new Northern Ireland Secretary after he told the DUP and Sinn Féin in his first interview since taking over at Stormont there could only be forward movement in the peace process.

With the DUP insisting the British government should press ahead with setting up devolved government without Sinn Féin or devise a more accountable system of direct rule, Mr Hain said yesterday: “There was an agreement seven years ago endorsed by referendum, both north and south, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and no agreement in modern living memory has had that type of endorsement.

“Therefore you cannot just discard part of it. I understand both where the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin are coming from but that’s not the end of the story.

“I think both parties know that that is not the end of the story.

“Certainly in my preliminary discussions with them, very good discussions, I think everybody realises that there is no reverse gear on this process.

“It’s what forward gear you take. Do you stay in neutral or select a forward gear?”

But his comments drew an angry reaction from Mr Paisley who said the minister was going back on promises on changes to the Good Friday Agreement which were made to the DUP by the British Prime Minister and Secretary of State in last year’s negotiations.

The North Antrim MP said: “Before we were prepared to take part in the previous talks we told the (British) government we had to get this matter sorted once and for all and we asked: was there going to be an opportunity to the amend the Agreement?

“If not, we had nothing to say.

“We went into talks on the fundamentals of the Agreement and asked them to define what they were. They were twofold.

“Firstly, all parties at the table must be in agreement that there must be a democratic government where every person in it was bound by the democratic process only.

“Secondly as far as the Agreement was concerned, the only part that had to be agreed was that all parties, if elected and provided they adhered to the first principle, should be in government.

“We accepted those and on that basis went into the talks and agreed certain changes to the Agreement.

“Now we have a Secretary of State coming into Northern Ireland and within days he is telling us that the Agreement was the greatest thing in living memory, giving it his endorsement and insisting no part can be discarded.

“We have to know has the British government’s policy changed? If that is the case, let them spell it out to the people of Northern Ireland. Let (Prime Minister) Tony Blair speak.

“Mr Hain better realise that he is not in some Welsh valley. He is in Northern Ireland which is part and parcel of the United Kingdom and which will still be part of the United Kingdom.

“Is he actually telling us now as far as this election is concerned it is going to have no influence over what the British Government is going to do?”

During last week’s local government and Westminster elections, the DUP greatly strengthened its mandate, capturing three extra House of Commons seats and 52 more councillors across Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionists’ vote dramatically slumped, with David Trimble among four MPs who lost seats and 40 councillors also among the casualties.

Mr Trimble quit as UUP leader this week and tomorrow the 108 party executive will decide during an elections post mortem how they will handle any leadership election.

Belfast Telegraph

McCartney threats 'not from republicans'

By Chris Thornton
13 May 2005

Threats to burn out the family of murder victim Robert McCartney do not come from republicans, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams insisted today.

Mr Adams said he was certain that republicans were not behind the threats which police warned the family about last night.

Days after getting the European Parliament's backing for their plans to take civil action against the suspected killers, PSNI officers told the five sisters and fiancee of Mr McCartney of the arson threats.

The family said police intelligence indicated that their homes and a sandwich business run by Gemma McCartney could be torched by criminals.

Paula McCartney said the family was "shocked" but would not pull back from their campaign to bring the killers to justice.

"At the end of the day, we are the victims here, and we are being terrorised," she said.

"It was our brother that was brutally murdered.

"We are taking the threats very seriously.

"You have to consider that we have small children, we have to take it seriously."

The family said they believe the killers are behind the threats.

Mr Adams said today that "no republican is involved in any threat against this family".

"There is no suggestion - from what I have heard - from the PSNI that republicans are involved.

"I'm quite certain that if there was any inkling of republicans being involved the PSNI would have made that clear," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Mr Adams said the case remains unsolved because "those who killed Robert McCartney are not men enough to own up to what they did.

"They are guided entirely by selfishness."

He also accused the PSNI of not handling the investigation properly.

Paula McCartney said today that the threats will have "absolutely no impact at all" on the family's campaign.

Daily Ireland

**Following this article is a story from the BBC archive on Brian Nelson

Nelson link to four murders

By Ciarán Barnes

A rifle used in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) murder of two young brothers in Co Armagh 12 years ago was used in at least two other killings, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Rory and Gerard Cairns were shot dead at their home in Bleary in 1993. The brothers were aged 18 and 22.
Daily Ireland has learned that the AK-47 assault rifle used in the shootings was one of hundreds shipped into the North from South Africa by British army double agent Brian Nelson. The same weapon was also used to kill Lurgan republican Sam Marshall in 1990 and Catholic factory worker Gervais Lynch the following year.
For 15 years the security services have failed to make public the ballistics of the AK-47 or reveal to the Cairns, Marshall or Lynch families the history of the weapon.
Relatives of the dead men are convinced this is because it would have proved their loved ones’ murders were a result of loyalist/security agency collusion.
Johnny Marshall, the brother of Sam Marshall, yesterday said he was stunned by news concerning the AK-47.
He said: “This begs the question why did the RUC not provide us with this information a decade ago? Why has it taken 12 years for these ballistics reports to come to light?
“It is clear to me that the RUC have been trying to hide something here.
“Detectives knew that a rifle imported by a double agent was being used to kill people throughout Armagh by another double agent, Robin Jackson, yet they chose to keep this secret.
“If that doesn’t prove collusion existed, I don’t know what does,” added Mr Marshall.
A Police Ombudsman probe into RUC misconduct concerning its investigation into the Cairns’ killings unearthed the history of the AK-47 assault rifle.
The Cairns family were unavailable for comment yesterday.
The Police Ombudsman would not comment yesterday on either the Cairns’ investigation or the history of the weapon used to murder the brothers.
Sam Marshall was murdered by the UVF in 1990, minutes after signing bail at Lurgan RUC barracks. On the day of his death he was believed to have been tailed to and from the barracks by an RUC undercover car.
In January 1991, Gervais Lynch was shot dead in his home near Lurgan, Co Armagh.
His UVF killers calmly opened the back door of his house before shooting him three times.
Two years later, the same loyalist gang murdered Rory and Gerard Cairns at their home.
All four killings are believed to have been carried out by a Portadown UVF gang led by British agent Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, who died of cancer in 1998.
Prior to the UVF receiving its stockpile of weapons from the 1989 Nelson arms shipment, the organisation had not murdered anyone in the north Armagh area for six years.



Dark side of the war

Loyalist gunmen played a brutal part in the conflict

By Peter Taylor
Wednesday, 31 May, 2000

The story of Brian Nelson is one of the murkiest episodes in Britain's secret intelligence war in Northern Ireland.

Brian Nelson: British agent involved in loyalist killings

It's about murder, cover up and collusion between British intelligence and the loyalist paramilitaries, and comes closest to confirming republicans' perennial charge that the British state was complicit in murder and adept at covering it up.

Nelson, a former British soldier from the Shankill Road, was a British agent operating as the intelligence chief of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA), providing the vital intelligence that guided its killers to their targets.

He was directed to do so by the secret army unit for which he worked known as the Force Research Unit - the FRU. The FRU recruited and handled agents. Its crest is a man with a net - its motto "Fishers of Men".

Beyond the law

Astonishingly, the FRU helped Nelson with the intelligence he handed on to the killers. It's a shocking story straight out of the pages of a fantasy thriller but it's true, confirmed in a remarkable interview with "Geoff", one of Nelson's handlers, for our BBC2 series, "Brits".

Tracking him down took months. When it comes to covert operations, the MOD's doors are double-locked and bolted. Geoff admits that Nelson "strayed outside the law at our behest" and feels disgusted that when his activities came to light, he was "hung out to dry" by the Establishment.

He's the first Nelson handler to break his silence. The implications of what he says and the questions raised by it are massive.

The killing of Gerard Slane on 22 September 1988 sheds chilling light on how Nelson operated and shows how fine was the line the FRU trod.

UFF: a cover name used by the UDA

Just after 4am, four masked gunman from the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the UDA's killer wing, sledge-hammered their way into the Slane's house off the Falls Road, and shot Gerard four times in the head.

They claimed that he'd been involved in the killing of one of their own a fortnight earlier. An RUC detective said there was nothing to suggest that he had.

The last words his wife heard were Gerard screaming, "Teresa, it's the "Orangies"!". She rushed out onto the landing and saw her husband lying dead.

Unmasking an agent

Brian Nelson had provided the UFF with the detailed intelligence that had enabled the "hit" to go ahead. He had found Slane's address, checked it in the electoral register, got hold of a photograph and made out a personal file on him - all with the blessing of the FRU.

Nelson was a key figure in the UFF

"Brian Nelson may not have pulled the trigger," Teresa told me, "but to me he was as guilty of my husband's murder as the actual murderers themselves."

Nelson was finally unmasked as an army agent involved in murder in 1990 after John Stevens, then the Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, investigated collusion between the security forces and the loyalist paramilitaries.

"He was as guilty of my husband's murder as the actual murderers themselves".
Teresa Slane

Nelson pleaded guilty on five counts of conspiracy to murder - Gerard Slane was one - and sentenced to ten years.

But these charges were suspected to be only the tip of an iceberg of conspiracy and killing that involved Nelson, the FRU and British intelligence.

Geoff first met Brian Nelson at the beginning of 1987. "He seemed quite a nice person. A family man. He told me he hated violence and he didn't agree with the way in which loyalists were carrying out their attacks.

Agent 6137

He saw himself as the spear-point in the thrust against terrorism." That's why in the early 1980s, Nelson had originally offered his services the FRU and became the UDA's intelligence chief in West Belfast.

After two years, he decided to quit and went to work in Germany. Whilst he was away, loyalist killings dramatically increased from four in 1985 to fifteen in 1986. Most of the victims were innocent Catholics.

At the beginning of 1987, the FRU decided to bring him back, re-recruit him and infiltrate him back inside the UDA.

Apparently MI5 was dead against the idea and believed that Nelson should be left where he was. Army intelligence felt differently. Nelson was given a code-name - Agent 6137.

Geoff became his co-handler and was responsible for his resettlement in Belfast. "We brought his family back into this dangerous job, paid the deposit on a house and car and set him up in a taxi firm. We paid him a salary of £100 a month in cash to do this job specifically for us.

" At the time there was a lack of information coming in from the loyalist side and we needed someone to give us that information. They were just killing people and they didn't care who they were. To me Brian Nelson was a patriot doing an extraordinary job."

Again, with surprising rapidity, Nelson rose to become the UDA's intelligence chief for the whole of the province. His orders from the FRU were to encourage the UFF to stop killing innocent Catholics and concentrate its murderous energies on targeting suspected republican terrorists.

The FRU helped Nelson with the intelligence to carry out the killings. "We suggested that he collate all the information and we taught him the rudimentary system of compiling file cards and photographs."

Geoff showed him how to do it. It was naïve of army intelligence to imagine that Nelson could carry out his mission without becoming involved in conspiracies to murder and even in murder itself.

To do otherwise would mean his life expectancy would be short in such a dangerous double game.

Warnings that failed

Theoretically, the FRU encouraged Nelson to focus the UFF's targeting on IRA suspects so it could save lives, the idea being that once it was known that an attack was due to take place, the target could be warned or steps taken to prevent it.

This is how the chain was supposed to work. Nelson would warn Geoff: Geoff would alert his superiors; the FRU would then alert the RUC's Tasking and Coordinating Group (TCG) that comprises all the intelligence agencies from Special Branch to M15.

They then would decide what, if any, action to take. On some occasions the system worked as intended and lives were saved. On many others it did not and lives were lost, sometimes by mistake.

But when Nelson passed on information to his handlers, it wasn't always acted upon. In the case of Gerard Slane, Nelson warned one of Geoff's successors on two occasions that Slane was being targeted, ten days before the attack and finally the day before the attack itself.

Teresa Slane knew nothing of it. She had no warning visit from the RUC and no attempt was made to thwart it. "My husband might have been here today were it not for the RUC," she says bitterly.

Finucance murder remains deeply controversial

But there's no evidence that the RUC ever knew about it. So what happened to the information? Did it get beyond the FRU? Was it sanitised somewhere up the chain? Was a decision taken to let the killers go ahead? Or was the information simply not precise enough?

There are many questions still to be answered, not least why the killers themselves, whose identities Nelson knew, were not arrested and stopped.

But Nelson didn't always pass on the information. Those who came to know him said he also had a passionate hatred for the IRA and a "psychopathic tendency".

This may have inclined him to act on his own as well as with the encouragement of the FRU. Geoff claims Nelson did much of the intelligence work himself and had to do so to maintain his own credibility with the UFF.

Treading a fine line

Geoff was aware that people would get suspicious and his agent's life was on the line every day. But did Geoff personally ever supply him with information? "No, not directly. But if he said, "is that so-and-so's registration, I would say to him, "you don't have that wrong."

It was the beginning of the slippery slope. If that was the case, I asked, and the car owner was killed, weren't he and the FRU complicit in murder? Geoff was matter of fact.

"Well, it's a fine line you walk," he said. I pointed out that in the end Nelson went to gaol for conspiracies to murder. "Yes," he replied, "at our request." Encouraged by him and his colleagues? "Yes". And by the FRU? "Yes". And by British intelligence? "Yes".

As a result, I added, Nelson went to gaol. "Yes and I'm ashamed of it. Brian believed, not that he was bullet proof, but that he had protection from us and that what he was doing, he was doing at our request and therefore he had immunity - and he didn't."

Geoff is bitter. "He saved, in my estimation, dozens of lives. He was essential to the war effort and gave us an insight into the loyalist organisations we never had in the past - and I believe don't have now.

" He was the jewel in the crown. I'm ashamed at the way he's been treated by the Establishment who had used him and guided him and put him in that position. I promised Brian that the Establishment would look after him and it didn't. It let him down and I'm ashamed of that."

Towards the end of his time as handler, Geoff did become concerned at the way that Nelson was behaving and recommended to his superiors that he should be stood down for a while.

But his report was ignored. "I was told that he was too important and that he had to stay in place because of the information coming in was so vital."

Stevens inquiry faces difficult questions

Nelson continued to work as an agent and became involved in even more controversial killings, most prominently that of the lawyer, Pat Finucane, who, like Gerard Slane and many others, was gunned down by the UFF acting on intelligence some of which had been provided by Brian Nelson.

Nelson had provided the killers with a photograph that featured Finucane leaving the court with one of his clients. This remains one of the matters still under investigation by John Stevens, now, eleven years later, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

But Brian Nelson's legacy did not end with his sentencing. He not only distributed his intelligence storehouse to the UFF in Belfast but to its organisation all over the province - and he did so without the knowledge or approval of his handlers.

Likewise, dissemination didn't stop with the UFF. On several occasions, Nelson copied his intelligence material and handed it over to the UFF's loyalist rivals in the UVF and Red Hand Commando.

Nelson spread his net wide with the result that, should the ceasefires end, the loyalist paramilitaries still have a republican hit list provided by a British agent.

There's still one question to be asked. If, when his inquiries are finally complete, Sir John Stevens recommends prosecution of members of the FRU - or higher - on conspiracy charges, will the prosecutions go ahead?

Or will they, like those in the wake of the Stalker inquiry, be conveniently buried "in the national interest". Such are the political dilemmas when covert operations become public.

Peter Taylor's series, Brits, was broadcast in May 2000 as the final part of his trilogy on The Troubles.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin to launch EU Constitution campaign

Published: 13 May, 2005

In the coming months the people of Ireland will be asked to vote on the proposed EU Constitution and it is crucial that there is a full and open debate on the consequences that this constitution will have for Ireland and the European Union.

On Monday 16th May at 2:30pm Sinn Féin will launch its campaign opposing the proposed EU Constitution in Buswells Hotel on Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Attending the press conference will be Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and party representative to the Forum on Europe Councillor Daithí Doolan.

We will also be announcing details of a major two day conference on the content and implications of the proposed EU Constitution which will take place in the Irish Film Centre on Eustace Street in Dublin on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May.


Warplanes in Irish airspace costing taxpayers millions

13/05/2005 - 14:43:48

Taxpayers have forked out millions of euro to cover the cost of military jets flying over the country, it emerged today.

With more than 100,000 troops passing through Shannon Airport this year alone Roisin Shortall, Labour Party transport spokeswoman, said it was shocking that the public were footing the bill for warplanes using Irish airspace.

Ms Shortall said the Government needed to re-think the policy of granting foreign air forces free access to flight paths.

“I believe that the public will be shocked and surprised to find that the Irish taxpayer is actually paying for the privilege of allowing these aircraft to fly though Irish airspace,” she said.

“Ireland is clearly a significant loser here as very few Irish military flights over-fly other countries, but our position on the edge of Europe means that many foreign military flights go through Irish controlled airspace.”

The Labour TD noted other neutral countries including Austria, Finland and Switzerland did not grant exempted status to US military flights.

“Surely it is time for Ireland to consider adopting a similar policy,” she said.

“It is bad enough that we should be allowing US military flights to use our airspace and to land at Shannon, but it is surely totally unacceptable that the Irish taxpayer should be having to foot the bill for these flights.”

The Department of Transport confirmed the Irish Aviation Authority was reimbursed to the tune of €10m for flight charges since 2000.

The figures showed a threefold increase in cost over the last five years. In 2000 charges ran to €1,139,283, in 2001 €1,377,560 and in 2002 €1,642,541.

The fees hit €2,148,374 in 2003 and last year the bill paid for by taxpayers reached €3,687,933.

The Department of Transport was unable to break down the nationality of military aircraft flying over the country.

But in a separate response to a question tabled by Ms Shortall it emerged 110,766 US troops passed through Shannon this year, more than double the 47,149 for the same period in 2004.

The Department of Transport confirmed the free flying deal was part of a Eurocontrol agreement.


Real IRA chief can challenge fund

Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt has been given the go-ahead in the High Court to challenge a government donation to the Omagh bomb victims.

Mr Justice Weatherup granted him leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision to help finance a civil claim against McKevitt and four other men.

The government gave the Omagh relatives almost £750,000 to sue them for £14m.

The judge said there seemed to be an arguable case over the way the power to fund the Omagh relatives was exercised.

McKevitt, 54, from Blackrock, County Louth, is serving a 20-year sentence in Portlaoise for running the Real IRA, the organisation which carried out the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people and unborn twins.

He and four other people in the Republic of Ireland - Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy - are being sued.

Time extended

It is hoped to fix a date for the hearing before the end of the year but more delay could be caused by Murphy's re-trial in Dublin on a charge of plotting the Omagh attack.

McKevitt's case against the Lord Chancellor and the Legal Services Commission - formerly the legal aid department - was based on "inequality of arms" after his claim for £1m in legal aid was turned down.

Counsel for McKevitt said more than £400,000 of the £742,702 provided by the Lord Chancellor had already been paid out to legal representatives of the Omagh families.

Crown prosecution opposed the granting of leave because of the delay in bringing the matter before the court.

He said the Lord Chancellor's announcement was made in February, 2004, which was way beyond the normal time limit of three months.

Mr Justice Weatherup said he was extending the time limit because of delay caused by McKevitt's own judicial review over the refusal of legal aid and the fact that contact with his lawyers had been inhibited because of his incarceration.

The judge said the full application for a judicial review would be heard on 21 June.

Derry Journal

Paisley Wanted Sinn Fein-DUP Outcome

By Ian Cullen
Friday 13th May 2005

IN HIS first major statement since his election as Foyle M.P., Mark Durkan last night launched a scathing attack on both Sinn Fein and the DUP claiming that they had gone out of their way to 'promote' each other in the run up to the elections.

Speaking to the 'Journal' from London where he was taking part in a 'get to know' Westminster induction yesterday, the SDLP leader said the posturing by the two parties ahead of last Friday's elections now looked stupid.

"Not only did Ian Paisley and the DUP promote Sinn Fein during the election campaign but Sinn Fein tried to promote confidence in the DUP during the election by constantly saying that there would be a deal immediately after the election between the DUP and themselves."

And the new Foyle MP launched a particularly scathing attack on the DUP leader and his aims for a voluntary coalition. "Ian Paisley might think that his calls for a voluntary coalition are impressive but they are not; they are hollow and unconvincing.

"He was happy to spend the election pumping Sinn Fein up because he wanted a two party outcome for Sinn Fein and the DUP.

"Everyone in the SDLP knew he wanted Sinn Fein and the DUP and that he hoped that I would not win Foyle. So, knowing all of this, does he really think we would fall for his calls for a voluntary coalition with him and the DUP?

"Ian Paisley's record over the last few days makes Sinn Fein's assurances about the DUP's real position sound stupid," he added.

And Mr Durkan accused the DUP of using an "inproportionate" election result to kill off the GFA once and for all.

"The DUP got a third of the vote but under the first past the post system ended up with half of the seats and they are trying to use that inproportionate result to declare the agreement buried.

"The SDLP are clear that no one party's mandate can override or overturn the agreement's mandate.

The overwhelming mandate for the agreement in the North and throughout Ireland should be the compelling standard for democrats," he said.

Mr Durkan's comments came after a meeting with new Secretary of State Peter Hain in which the possibility of entering into a voluntary coalition was put to the SDLP leader.

"I made it very clear to him that the agreement has to be his agenda, that Governments need to learn the lesson that conducting a process outside or against the agreement is not the way to underpin the agreement.

'He asked me my views on the option of voluntary coalition but I told him very clearly we will not make the mistake that others have made of stepping outside of the agreement as a mistaken short cut of getting back to it," he said.

An Phoblacht

O'Donnell's legacy - Remembering the Past


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Click to view - Photo: Peadar O'Donnell pictured in 1930

Peadar O'Donnell was born in Meenamore, Donegal. He came from the poverty-stricken Rosses area of West Donegal. His father supported the family by mixing small farming, fishing, migratory work in Scotland and work in a local mill.

Peadar was educated locally and trained as a teacher at St Patrick's College, Dublin. He left teaching (and a prominent role in the Donegal branch of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation) to become a full-time organiser with the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in 1918.

His mother, a fervent Larkinite, and her brother Peter, a member of the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World) in Butte, Montana, had instilled a strong syndicalist sensibility in the young Peadar and its fruits emerged in an active burst of union organising. He led the Asylum Workers' Union in a strike in the Monaghan Mental Hospital in 1918, when the union, with the support of the patients, took over the asylum, over which they raised the Red Flag!

The strikers gained the sympathy of the townspeople, won their demands, and had "a victory dance at which policemen, strikers, inmates, Sinn Féiners, nationalists and unionists all gathered together".

With the outbreak of the Tan War, O'Donnell joined the IRA and quickly rose through the ranks. He took the republican side in the Civil War and was in the Dublin Four Courts with Liam Mellows and fellow republicans when they were attacked by the Free State Army.

After their surrender O'Donnell, then a Colonel Commandant in the IRA, was imprisoned for two years. In Mountjoy Jail, he was in charge of Communications in 'C' Wing, where he commenced a 41-day hunger strike. Peadar wrote a moving account of this particular strike. The hard core of strikers, who by late November 1923 numbered about 200, were moved, on stretchers, from jail to jail, camp to camp, to break up their solidarity.

On 18 November, even Cardinal Logue expressed the hope that internees would be released before Christmas. Two days later came the first death. Commandant Denis Barry died in Newbridge camp. On 22 November Captain Andrew Sullivan died in Mountjoy. The next day the strike was called off, after Tom Derrig, Frank Gallagher and the leader, Michael Kilroy, had checked with the other jails and camps.

One positive result of the strike was that the women political prisoners (in March 1923 there had been 300) were released, but otherwise the aftermath was bitterness, and the government stepped in, hoping to spread further dissension among the ranks by releasing Volunteers who would sign a form accepting the Free State.

Peadar, in March 1924, two days before the abortive army mutiny, literally walked out of Harepark Camp on the Curragh, in disguise. The next year, he published his first novel, Storm, which was followed by The Islanders, both of which depict the poverty on the Donegal seaboard

For the next ten years he served on the Army Council and Executive of the IRA, arguing that class politics should be the dynamic of republican politics and that the IRA should adopt the role of a Connollyite citizen army. As editor of An Phoblacht from 1926 to 1929, he pursued his left republican beliefs, focusing particularly on the land annuities campaign, which he himself initiated as a grassroots popular campaign.

He was a leading figure in the 1931 Saor Éire experiment, when the IRA embraced a socialist programme. At the IRA convention of March 1934, a final effort was made by O'Donnell to persuade the IRA into a radical political role. He failed, withdrew and called for the formation of the Republican Congress, which met in September 1934.

But divisions occurred, leading to a split which destroyed the movement. On one hand a section wanted to adopt the slogan 'For a Workers' Republic' and argued that the Congress should be a stepping stone towards a political party. The others wanted to form a 'united front' pledged to the slogan 'For a Republic'.

O Donnell argued that to adopt the 'Workers' Republic' at this stage was premature, because it would leave Fianna Fáil to claim monopoly on the realisation of 'the Republic'. While the former said that you could not get rid of British imperialism until you smash capitalism, the latter argued that 'you cannot smash Capitalism until you get rid of British Imperialism'. When a small majority voted for the aim of the Republic and the formation of a popular front, the rest resigned.

Peadar went to Spain on a writing holiday in 1936 and was accidentally caught up in the revolution and civil war. His experiences formed the basis of his book Salud! An Irishman in Spain.

In 1946, O'Donnell became editor of The Bell, the most significant literary magazine in mid-20th Century Ireland and remained its editor until it ceased publication in 1954. In 1963, he published There Will Be Another Day. He condemned America's involvement in Vietnam.

He was associated with most of the progressive campaigns in post-war Ireland and was a seminal figure in groups like the Anti-Apartheid Movement and CND. He was prominent in the Save the West campaign of the 1960s and in the National Land League, which agitated for the break up of large estates. He also continued his lifelong support of Irish emigrants abroad, particularly in Britain.

One of his last public political outings was to take part in a demonstration in Galway against the visit of US President Ronald Reagan in 1984. He published the last of his seven novels in 1975, and died aged 93 in 1986. O'Donnell was called a 'quasi-anarchist' as in an editorial in a paper on the occasion of his death, a title which, if not intentionally complimentary, managed to capture him in a phrase.

For Peadar, it wasn't enough just to get rid of British rule, all inequality had to be abolished in order for the people to be free.

On 13 May 1986, 19 years ago, the writer, journalist, trade union leader, socialist and republican, Peadar O'Donnell, died, aged 93.

An Phoblacht

The passage of time will not diminish our demand for truth

BY Jennifer Williams

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Click to view - Photo: Gerry Armstrong, whose brother Paul was killed in 1974

"PSNI and former RUC members and British Army undercover intelligence agents are increasingly in a battle with each other, as each revelation about the dirty war threatens to expose the extent of the role played by the British in state-sponsored killings throughout the North," says Robert McClenaghan of An Fhírinne.

Talking to An Phoblacht recently while attending a major conference in Belfast on state violence, McClenaghan said that British forces had resorted to legal duress and intimidation in their attempt to conceal the activities of British Army Intelligence operatives who played a key role in targeting nationalists to be killed by unionist death squads.

"It has become clear over the years that these intelligence operatives actively collaborated with and fed intelligence to the unionist death squads and that the undercover Force Research Unit (FRU) was a high level intelligence unit tasked with handling undercover agents in the Six Counties and the 26 Counties," he said.

The FRU's activity only came to light through the persistent campaigning of human rights groups and the families of people killed by the UDA and the UVF as part of the British Government's policy of collusion. McClenaghan called for an immediate inquiry into "a policy that has cost the lives of hundreds of nationalists".

Families gather

On Saturday 30 April a conference in the Devinish Complex in Belfast saw up to 150 people, mostly the relatives of people killed by state forces during the conflict, debate issues thrown up by the state's attempts to ignore those killings.

Titled State Violence, State the Truth, the conference was organised by campaign groups Relatives for Justice and An Fhírinne and provided a forum for the relatives of those killed to talk about their experiences and how their lives were affected by the killing of a loved one at the hands of the state.

Among the issues discussed was how the British have attempted to cover up the killings of many nationalists, or as one contributor described it, "the masking of the truth", through the inquest system, the new Inquiries legislation, and the recent funding of a new internal PSNI unit to examine pre-1998 killings.

Speaking strongly on these issues was Relatives for Justice campaigner Clara Reilly, who told the audience that victims of state violence would have no confidence or trust in the new NIO/PSNI crime review branch.

"The Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) is no different a strategy than that which exists in the form of the Inquiries Act, preventing the truth surrounding the killing of Pat Finucane from coming to light," she said.

"There are equally dangers that the same people involved will use the SCRT and continue to police politically.

"If Hugh Orde and the British Government genuinely want to address issues of the past, then as a matter of building trust we call on them to now make public the suppressed Stalker/Sampson and Stevens Reports into collusion in full.

"We have no confidence that the SCRT process will deliver; instead we believe that it will act against our interests whilst promoting the state interests," she said.

Ardoyne's experience

Also attending the conference was Tom Holland, of the Ardoyne Commemoration Project. He was keen to explain to An Phoblacht what the group is about.

"A total of 99 residents lost their lives as a result of the political conflict between 1969 and 1998. Most of these were killed by the RUC, British Army or loyalists.

"The project has allowed families to speak aloud for the first time about their experiences; we want to let the truth be heard."

"The British Government are playing politics with this issue because they don't want to deal with the truth."

Holland also explained how the Project has compiled a book based on over 300 interviews of family, friends and comrades of those from Ardoyne who died; Ardoyne: The Untold Truth, is a moving attempt by a community to tell its story of pain and in loss in its own words.

Families speak out

Families of those bereaved were keen to tell their stories. One of those was Gerry Armstrong, whose brother, Paul Armstrong, was killed by loyalists in November 1974.

"I think this is brilliant what is happening today, it gives both myself and my family the chance to have our voices and opinions heard," he said.

"My brother was brutally tortured at the hands of the state, my mother could not bring herself to visit his grave. The British Government has no idea about the pain they have caused to my family."

Also speaking at the conference was John Finucane, son of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, killed by the UDA in 1989. The Finucane family have worked tirelessly in trying to secure an independent inquiry into the killing and have rejected the British government's Inquiries Act.

"Myself and my family are totally against the Inquiries Act and we have made this clear, we will continue to fight for a meaningful inquiry which is what we rightly deserve," he said.

Sheena Campbell

Former Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Curran, whose partner Sheena Campbell was shot dead in the York Hotel, Belfast, on 16 October 1992, also spoke to An Phoblacht.

A longtime member of Sinn Féin, Campbell was a law student at Queen's University, Belfast, when a gunman entered a crowded hotel where she was having a drink with friends and shot her dead. The UVF claimed responsibility for the killing.

Sheena had stood as a candidate for the party in the Upper Bann area in a Westminster Parliamentary by-election in 1990.

At the time, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams described the killing as "part of the ongoing campaign of murder against members of Sinn Féin, which has seen many of our friends killed or wounded".

Brendan spoke about the politics surrounding collusion. "we have to keep fighting for justice, as we need to stop this policy from happening anywhere else".

"Fifteen years ago, collusion was seen as a republican conspiracy theory; now it has respectability. This shows that change has been brought about by the efforts of the families and campaign groups such as Relatives for Justice and An Fhírinne.

"The £32 million which has been offered by the state to help with inquires is nothing but a drop in the ocean to what they have spent on operations in which they killed our friends and comrades. Justice will only prevail if the people keep fighting."

No to plastic bullets

In a powerful contribution to the day's events, relatives of plastic bullet victims criticised the PSNI and Hugh Orde over the decision to introduce a new type of plastic bullet and vowed to never "give consent to any police force that uses plastic bullets".

On behalf of the United Campaign against Plastic Bullets, Frances Meehan, sister of Michael Donnelly, and Helen Whitters, mother of Paul Whitters, said: "We would like to place on record today that no police force using these weapons will gain our consent.

"The introduction of the new AEP by the PSNI is a disgraceful development and another example of the lack of will of the British Government to implement entirely the proper Patten report into policing.

"Last year, we lost one of our esteemed members, Dominic Marron. He died as a result of the injuries he sustained as a 14-year-old when he was shot in the head by a plastic bullet fired by the RUC.

"He is the 18th person to die from a plastic bullet wound."

This conference was a valuable opportunity to bring families affected by the state and state sponsored killings together to share their experiences, identify their needs and show that their demand for justice has not diminished with the passage of time.


US catholic group opposes McAleese visit

13/05/2005 - 10:32:30

A US catholic organisation is opposing a visit to a Pennsylvania university later this month by President Mary McAleese.

The 16,000-strong Cardinal Newman Society has accused Mrs McAleese of being out of line with Catholic teaching due to her views on gay rights and women priests.

Mary McAleese is due to accept an honorary law degree and make a graduation speech at the Catholic Villanova University on May 22.


Strike action over education cuts

Union members are protesting against education cuts

A strike by almost 12,000 education board workers is likely to cause massive disruption in schools and libraries across Northern Ireland.

Special schools dependent on classroom assistants and specialised transport are expected to be worst affected by the one-day strike.

Nipsa, Unison and T&G union members in the education sector voted to strike in protest at £30m cutbacks.

Education and library boards have blamed inadequate government funding.

Staff who are taking strike action include classroom assistants, catering staff, technicians, caretakers, and bus drivers and escorts.

Ten out of Belfast's 11 special schools will not be open for pupils.


Other mainstream schools, especially in rural areas, have warned that education board buses may not turn up for pupils.

Some schools will not have a canteen service and have told children to bring packed lunches.

A number of primary and nursery schools will not open but most secondary schools have predicted they will open as usual.

Some libraries will also be shut, with one board predicting that half of its branches would not open.

The new education minister, Angela Smith, said Friday's industrial action was "deeply regrettable".

She added that she wanted to meet all the key people in education as soon as possible.

Guardian Unlimited

McCartneys offered police protection
Sisters of Belfast stabbing victim defy threat to burn homes

Sam Jones
Friday May 13, 2005
The Guardian

The sisters of Robert McCartney, the Belfast man murdered in a brawl involving members of the IRA, were offered police protection last night after officers in Belfast warned that "criminal elements" were threatening to burn down their homes and businesses.

Mr McCartney, 33, a father of two, was stabbed and beaten to death outside a Belfast pub in January this year.

Police officers warned his family that they had information about possible attacks on their property.

But Catherine McCartney said she and her four sisters Paula, Gemma, Claire, Donna and his fiancee Bridgeen Hagans, would continue their campaign.

"They told us that the threat to burn us out of our homes and to burn down Donna's business came from criminal elements," she said. "These threats tonight are not going to deter us and they illustrate the type of people we are dealing with.

"We are told they are coming from criminal elements but we would like to know exactly what that means. Does that mean criminal elements from within a terrorist organisation?"

Catherine McCartney said the police had informed the family that they had become aware of the threats through their own intelligence.

She added: "We are taking the seriousness of these threats seriously."

Her sister, Paula McCartney, said it was "absolutely scandalous that the victims" were now being targeted.

"It's bad enough that our brother was murdered," she told BBC News 24. "We are very, very determined. Nobody will intimidate us. We will not rest until the murderers of Robert are brought before a court of law."

She said the family's refusal to back down had angered those making the threats. "They obviously feel that some developments are going to happen if we do get the civil action up and running and somehow they feel under threat." But she said they would accept the offer of police protection. "They are offering to protect us and tomorrow we are going to be getting those security measures in place."

She said nobody could ever be "100% confident" in the security offered, but added: "You can't take any chances with small children in the family."

A spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to discuss the nature of the threat last night. But she did say the police never ignored threats to individuals' security.

The IRA has expelled three members over their involvement in the incident, which happened outside Magennis's Bar on January 30.

It has also ordered all those involved in the attack, during which Mr McCartney's friend Brendan Devine was also injured, to help the family's efforts to secure justice.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Sean Hayes, ex-Assembly election candidate Cora Groogan and party member Deirdre Hargey, were among those inside the bar on the night Mr McCartney died.

The party later pulled plans to run Ms Groogan and Ms Hargey as candidates in Northern Ireland's local government elections.

But Sinn Féin has drawn the line at cooperating with the PSNI, which it does not recognise. It has instead advised witnesses to make statements through their solicitors to pass on the police ombudsman.

Police visited the family days after the European parliament supported moves to secure funding from the EU for a civil action against Mr McCartney's killers if criminal proceedings did not take place.

In March, the McCartneys travelled to the White House to highlight the case during St Patrick's Day celebrations.

During their visit to Washington they also received the backing of leading US politicians on Capitol Hill including senators Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy, John McCain and Chris Dodd.

The murder of their brother has attracted huge international attention, with US and European journalists visiting Short Strand, where Mr McCartney lived.

RTE News

Roche holds M3 talks with Wallace

12 May 2005 21:06

Dick Roche gives go ahead for M3

The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, was to meet the Director of the National Museum, Dr Pat Wallace, today to discuss the controversial decision to route the M3 motorway close to the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

Dr Wallace, who is known to have opposed the plan, has been invited to give evidence to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment.

Earlier this year, Dr Wallace was due to give his views on the M3 to the Oireachtas Environment Committee but was blocked by Arts Minister John O'Donoghue because he was providing advice to Government on the matter.

The Committee Chair, Fianna Fáil's Seán Haughey, was critical of the move at the time and, now that a decision has been taken on the M3, says he wants to hear from Dr Wallace 'at the earliest opportunity'.

There will be keen interest in what Dr Wallace will say given that he has declined public comment to date but is known to have been opposed to the routing.

An Taisce has described the M3 plans as unjustifiable but the NRA says they are most welcome.


McCartney family 'in burn threat'

Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have been warned of threats to burn them out of their homes and businesses.

The warning came from the police and blamed criminal elements.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed in January. His family say IRA members were involved and witnesses are afraid.

Earlier this week, the European Parliament voted to request EU money to help fund a civil case against those suspected of the killing.

The father-of-two was killed near Belfast city centre after a row in a bar.

"I'm not frightened for myself personally but I have four children here from 13-years-old down, so I have to take it seriously for them".
Catherine McCartney

MEPs back McCartney justice fight

Catherine McCartney, one of Robert's sisters, said she believed the threat had come from within the republican movement.

"For the past three months, we have been asking the republican movement to stop protecting the criminals who murdered Robert that night," she said.

"And now today after our campaign, we get a threat saying our houses are going to be burned down.

"I'm not frightened for myself personally but I have four children here from 13-years-old down, so I have to take it seriously for them."

Ms McCartney said there was a threat to burn a sandwich shop owned by one of the sisters.

Another sister, Paula McCartney, said they remained determined to find justice for their brother.

"Nobody will intimidate us. We will not rest until the murderers of Robert are brought before a court of law," she added.

She said the threat had been made because the sisters had taken a stand.

"They obviously feel that some developments are going to happen if we do get the civil action up and running and somehow they feel under threat.

"Catherine and myself had just arrived home from Strasbourg and police arrived to tell us that their intelligence had received information that the McCartney sisters' houses were under threat of being burned down.

'Very shocked'

"Obviously we are shocked, and considering that we were in Strasbourg and 25 countries are in support of our campaign which was very heartening and positive, now we arrive home and receive this kind of information."

She said police had not revealed specific details of the threat but had offered protection to the family.

Police would not comment directly as the case involved the security of individuals.

A large majority of the European Parliament voted to fund a possible civil action by Mr McCartney's sisters if the current criminal inquiry failed.

The motion will now be considered by the European Commission, which has already pledged help, and EU ministers.

Any cash support would come from the EU's fund to help victims of terrorism.

This fund has never before been used to finance an individual legal case.

12 May 2005

Daily Ireland

Murder accused was ‘on run from IRA’

A teenager accused of murdering a nursery nurse on Jersey was on the run from the Provisional IRA, a court heard yesterday.
Paul Greenan (19) claimed he had been forced to flee his native Belfast to the Channel Island after paramilitaries threatened to shoot him.
He admits attacking nursery nurse Tracy Burns (35) two months after arriving on the island, but denies murder. He claims responsibility for his actions was impaired by a personality abnormality.
Miss Burns was found dead in a car park in St Helier in the early hours of March 14 last year. She had been kicked, punched, and her head stamped on in an attack so violent that her right eyeball was dislodged and Greenan's boot print was visible on her face.
Prosecutors at Jersey's Royal Court claim Greenan had drunk 10 or 12 pints of lager and tried to rape Miss Burns before killing her.
He was arrested at the scene and interviewed less than 24 hours later.
Reading a summary of the interview to the court on the second day of the trial, Detective Sergeant Keith Bray said Greenan had lived with his mother in Northern Ireland, but had fled.
The officer said: “He had been expelled from secondary school at the age of 14. He stated that he had got expelled from school because he could not go in because, if he had done, he would have been shot by the Provisional IRA.
“He had been working with the milkman, but had to stop because of threats from the Provisional IRA. He had come to Jersey to settle and had hoped to find work. He was running away from the Provisional IRA.
“He had been living with his father since his arrival in Jersey."

Daily Ireland

Protesters will block M3 route

Furious campaigners have vowed to prevent work beginning on a motorway beside Ireland's most important heritage site.
The Irish government yesterday gave the go-ahead to the controversial M3 motorway which will run past the world-famous Hill of Tara in Co Meath, the former seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
The new motorway is to replace the N3 road from Clonee to Kells, Co Meath and is designed to ease serious traffic congestion in and out of Dublin on this stretch of road.
By giving the go-ahead for the motorway, the government has ignored advice from leading archaeologists, conservationists and local campaigners opposed to the destruction of Tara and even the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, who all made representations in a bid to prevent them from proceeding with the controversial road.
Ciarán Ó Sé, from campaign group Gaeil Óga, yesterday said his group will do everything in their power to save Tara from the roadbuilders.
“We feel compelled to do whatever it takes, even if that means lying on the road in front of the bulldozers," he said.
Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, yesterday said he had approved major archaeological digs along the proposed route. This means he has given the all-clear for bulldozers to move in and begin excavation work around the Hill of Tara.
The proposed route for the 60 kilometre stretch of motorway has no less than 141 archaeological sites in its path.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Dick Roche said he recommended “stringent” conditions on the M3 project, including reports from professional archaeologists and regular inspection by state experts.
He also said all artefacts uncovered will be deposited in the National Museum.
Mr Roche’s announcement is expected to be met with a stiff legal challenge by campaigners.
Vincent Salafia is a solicitor and PRO for the Save Tara-Skryne Valley campaign. He said: “This is complete lunacy and it’s exactly what we’ve been trying to avoid. It’s another Carrickmines situation.”
This refers to an ongoing legal battle between the government and conservationists who have taken the government to court over a road they are building near Carrickmines Castle in north Co Dublin.
The judge in that case made legal history when she recognised the government had a constitutional duty to protect the country’s heritage.
It is on this basis that campaigners will challenge Mr Roche’s decision over Tara in the High Court.
Any action will call into question the National Monuments Act 2004. Last year, the then Minister for Heritage, Environment and Local Government, Martin Cullen, amended the original Act when it seemed protesters would halt work at Carrickmines.
Mr Salafia believes the government’s decision is actually part of a wider strategy to have the National Monuments Act go through the law courts and succeed in being deemed legal.
“This is about the planning of future motorways, not just Tara,” Mr Salafia said. “Carrickmines was their flagship public/private partnership project. If this succeeds they will get a clear route to carry out any other projects.”
Green Party TD, Ciarán Cuffe, said: “This is a bad day for history, heritage and the Hill of Tara. It is an enormous mistake. We all want progress but not at this cost.”

Irish American Information Service

05/12/05 14:59 EST

The former police chief who led the British Police Complaints Authority investigation into Scotland Yard's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder in 1993 is to examine the criminal investigation into the notorious murder of Northern Ireland human rights attorney Rosemary Nelson.

Mr Robert Ayling is to lead a team of former officers examining the criminal investigation into one of the North's most controversial deaths.

Mr Ayling, who retired as acting chief constable of Kent Constabulary last year, was appointed by the inquiry into Mrs Nelson's assassination.

The public tribunal is examining allegations that British security force members plotted with the loyalist paramilitaries who killed Mrs Nelson in a car bomb attack at her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh in 1999.

The inquiry, chaired by Sir Michael Morland, said in a statement tonight: "Mr Ayling is exceptionally well-qualified to undertake this role, in terms of his seniority and his experience of reviewing murder investigations and intelligence work."

He led the Police Complaints Authority investigation into Scotland Yard's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder in 1993.

This formed a significant part of the evidence put before the Macpherson Public Inquiry.

Chairman Sir William Macpherson described Mr Ayling's investigation as "thorough, painstaking and fair".

He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for his efforts in 2000.

Other members of the police team are being recruited by the Nelson Inquiry, which is expected to hear from witnesses next year.

Mrs Nelson, who had represented nationalist residents in Portadown's Garvaghy Road during the contentious Drumcree marching dispute with the Orange Order, was murdered by a booby trap bomb claimed by loyalists.

Prior to her death she claimed members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary had threatened her life.

Judge Cory investigated some of the North's most controversial killings, including those of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, Robert Hamill in Portadown in 1997, LVF leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison in 1997 and Mrs Nelson in Lurgan in 1999.

A splinter loyalist terror organisation, the Red Hand Defenders, said it carried out the mercury-switch car bomb attack.

Human rights organisations have claimed police failed to properly investigate earlier death threats.

The inquiry was set up after former Canadian Judge Peter Cory found enough evidence of possible security force collusion to warrant further investigation. Despite a six-year inquiry that saw detectives take more than 5,000 statements, no one has been charged with the murder.


Bypass must be rerouted to protect Viking site

12 May 2005
By Harry McGee, Political Editor

ENVIRONMENT Minister Dick Roche announced that the route of the Waterford bypass must change to protect an important Viking site.
Mr Roche said yesterday that, under the National Monuments Act, he has issued directions to Waterford City Council requiring the protection of the site at Woodstown, discovered in April 2003, which is on the route of the N25 bypass.

The discovery was made after an Environmental Impact Statement had been furnished and after approval had been granted for the road by An Bord Pleanála.

“The site is considered to be of national importance because of its archaeological and historical significance,” said Mr Roche yesterday. “It is a multi-period site with extensive Viking occupation and is considered a National Monument.”

The minister visited the site at Woodstown earlier this year.

He also consulted with the director of the National Museum, Dr Pat Wallace, as he is required to by statute.

Dr Wallace has indicated that he agrees with the proposed approach.

A working group has been established to formulate a long-term strategy for the site.

The National Roads Authority will also be required to submit its proposals for a re-alignment of the road to avoid the site.

Sinn Féin

Murphy - McDowell needs to learn democratic rights are not concessions

Published: 12 May, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has described comments by the Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell branding the right of northern MPs to representation in the Dail as 'a concession which was not on the cards' as typically partitionist, short sighted and flawed.

Mr Murphy said:

" Since he arrived in the Department of Justice Michael McDowell has been on a one man anti-Sinn Féin crusade. In that time also the Sinn Féin vote right across Ireland has increased and we have secured representation on every elected tier on the island. The same cannot of corse be said of Mr McDowell's party.

" The issue of representation for Northern elected representatives in the Dail was put on the agenda by Sinn Féin. In various negotiations the Irish government repeatedly insisted that this was an issue not for them but for the all party Oireacthas committee. Given this and the fact that the Committee has reported and recommended movement on this key issue it seems strange that Michael McDowell is now claiming jurisdiction over an issue which the Irish government previously claimed is nothing whatsoever to do with him.

" The rights and entitlements of Irish citizens living in the six counties are not concessions as McDowell would have us believe. His remarks on this issue today are typically partitionist, short sighted and flawed. It is a disgrace that the SDLP feted this man during the recent election campaign and now he seeks to impinge upon the democratic rights of their MPs.

" Nationalists and Republicans know exactly where Michael McDowell is coming from. He will always put narrow party political and partitionist interests before the achievement of national and democratic rights and before the advancement of the peace process. Today's comments are further evidence of that." ENDS

RTE News

Woman undergoes lung transplant at Mater

12 May 2005 17:56

Mater Hospital, Dublin

A female patient in the Mater Hospital in Dublin has undergone the first lung transplant operation to be carried out in the State.

The woman is recovering in intensive care after undergoing the operation in the early hours of this morning. She is said to be in a stable condition.

Medical organisations and groups representing patients have welcomed the development.

Up to now, Irish patients had to travel to England for lung transplants.

An Coimhlint

As you may already know, today marks the 24th anniversary of the death of Francis Hughes in the H-Blocks. You will want to visit this link because there is a photograph of Francis you may never have seen before.


Random Ramblings from a Republican

Today in Irish History:
Francis Hughes dies in the H-Blocks

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>>>Read on


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