18 June 2005


'Disappeared' plea during funeral

Mr O'Connor was buried two years after he went missing

The funeral has taken place of the County Armagh man whose body was discovered in his car in Newry Canal.

Gareth O'Connor, 24, went missing in May 2003 on his way to a Dundalk police station in the Irish Republic as part of his bail conditions.

Detectives believe Mr O'Connor was killed by the IRA. The IRA denied this.

Police divers found his car last Saturday. A priest at his funeral asked for those with information on the so-called Disappeared to come forward.

Father Sean Dooley told mourners at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, on Saturday, that the anguish continued for those families whose loved ones had been murdered by the IRA but whose bodies had not been located.

"I appeal to anybody who has any information about the Disappeared to contact their families directly or indirectly so that other bodies may be cut down from the crosses and given Christian burials," he said.

Bernie O'Connor walks behind the coffin of her son, with his partner Leona

"How can you go home to your families every night knowing the hell these families are enduring?" he asked those who thought they could help.

Mr O'Connor's blue Volkswagen Golf was discovered close to Victoria Lock near Newry last Saturday after a two-day operation involving members of the PSNI's underwater search unit.

A post mortem failed to establish the cause of death. DNA tests were needed to identify his body.

He had been last spotted on closed-circuit television pictures driving through the County Armagh village of Newtownhamilton.

Mr O'Connor, a father-of-two, had been charged with belonging to an illegal paramilitary group - the dissident republican Real IRA.

Following the Requiem Mass, Mr O'Connor's remains were buried in a family plot in St Patrick's Cemetery.


O'Connor funeral takes place in North

18 June 2005 14:08

The funeral has taken place in Armagh of Gareth O'Connor, who had been missing for over two years and whose body was discovered in his car at Newry Canal last weekend.

His family believe the 24-year-old father of two had been abducted and killed by the IRA, but that group denied involvement.

Mr O'Connor had been facing charges of membership of the Real IRA **and is also accused of being a tout (see The Badger's Sett for links on this).


Shankill bomber returned to jail

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly is back in jail

An IRA man who was convicted of the Shankill bombing in which 10 people died, is back in prison after his early release licence was suspended.

NI Secretary Peter Hain said he had authorised Sean Kelly's return to jail after security information indicated he had got "re-involved in terrorism".

Kelly was one of two men who planted a bomb in a Shankill Road fish shop in 1993. Nine civilians died.

He was freed early from prison in July 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement.

Kelly was injured in the explosion and his IRA accomplice was amongst those killed.

Mr Hain said: "I am satisfied that Sean Kelly has become re-involved in terrorism and is a danger to others and while he is at liberty, is likely to commit further offences.

"On the basis of security information available to me, I have decided to return Sean Kelly to prison with immediate effect."

Mr Hain also warned that he would not hesitate to suspend the licence of other prisoners who were freed from prison early under the Good Friday Agreement if they "presented a risk to the safety" of others.

NI Secretary Peter Hain has suspended Kelly's licence

North Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said Mr Hain had made a "deplorable" decision.

He accused Mr Hain of "acquiescing to the demands of unionists and securocrats opposed to the peace process".

"This was a calculated decision that will increase tensions in north Belfast and elsewhere in the middle of the marching season. It was a cynical decision," he said.

During his trial, Kelly, from north Belfast, refused to recognise the court and declined to give evidence in his defence.

He received a total of nine life sentences.

It will be now for the independent Sentence Review Commissioners to consider Kelly's case and decide whether to revoke his licence.


Bomber returned to jail

18/06/2005 - 15:20:42

One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious bombers was re-arrested and returned to prison today, accused of resuming links to 'terrorism'.

Sean Kelly, 33 who was jailed for bombing a Belfast fish shop that killed 10 in 1993, had his early release licence suspended today by Secretary of State Peter Hain.

Kelly was released with other prisoners in July 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Hain said he acted today on security intelligence that Kelly had become involved again with terrorist activity.

“I am satisfied that Sean Kelly has become re-involved in terrorism and is a danger to others and while he is at liberty, is likely to commit further offences,” he said.

“On the basis of security information available to me, I have decided to return Sean Kelly to prison with immediate effect.”

Mr Hain also warned that he would not hesitate to suspend the licence of other prisoners who got early release scheme under the Good-Friday Agreement if they presented a risk to the safety of others.

“My priority is public safety and the interests of the whole community and I cannot permit freedom to an individual intent on abusing the opportunity they have been given to benefit from the early release scheme,” he said.

“I am satisfied that this particular individual has breached the terms of his licence and that it is appropriate for me to suspend his licence.”

The independent Sentence Review Commissioners will now consider Mr Kelly’s case and decide whether to revoke his licence.

Kelly was sentenced to life for the murders of nine people, including two children, when he bombed Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill Road in October 1993.

Kelly was released under strict conditions in July 2000 that he didn’t support a specific organisation, didn’t get involved in terrorism acts or didn’t become a danger to the public.

Loyalist politicians have called for his arrest and return to prison in the past as they claimed he was orchestrating nationalist riots.


Kevin Fulton Accuses Solicitor Jason McCue

18 June 2005. Thanks to A.

Kevin Fulton links:

Relatives For Justice
Sunday Herald

Jason McCue links:

H20 Law
Times Online

The Law Society of Northern Ireland,
Law Society House,
98 Victoria Street,
Belfast BT1 3JZ,
Northern Ireland
United Kingdom

Friday the 3rd June 2005

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Complaint Against Solicitor Jason McCue

It has been brought to my attention that a number of documents are in general circulation regarding a member of the Law Society.

These documents purport to represent a police officer making an internal intelligence memo, in these documents it is clear the officer is making note of information received from a source, I now know to be Jason McCue, solicitor.

What is of concern to myself is that this intelligence was derived with what can only be with the explicit agreement of Jason McCue, or at the very least with the cognitive knowledge that the officer would be duty bound to report this information back to the intelligence machinery of the RUC/PSNI.

The information that was departed to the officer, was not evidence of a serious crime or an act of criminality, but contained information of a security package provided by a leading national newspaper group.

This security package was granted to assist my swift exit from the United Kingdom after I had given evidence in legal proceedings, in which one individual giving evidence had already been murdered.

But what causes further concern is that I was pivotal to Police Ombudsman's Investigation into the Omagh bombing, as a result of which I have safety and security fears from both serving and retired police officers who would wish to cause me harm or loss of life.

As a result of my being Whistleblower, in exposing the wrong doings of the state and the RUC/PSNI.

And the very fact that I had a confidentiality agreement with the national newspaper which Jason McCue was directly involved in both the drafting and the signing of the this agreement.

I diligently adhered to both the terms and the spirit of this confidentiality agreement, and I'm absolutely disgusted that a serving and registered solicitor can breach confidence with such a devastating effect.

As a result of this information being provided to the RUC/PSNI I was unable to return to my place of security which quite clearly was comprised and would likely place me at risk from attack from rogue elements of the police and or republican terrorists and or the agents.

My bolthole was also my only source of income, and my investment amounting to tens of thousands of pounds has been lost, along with a substantial income which should have been derived from my hospitality business.

He not only breached the said agreement, he discussed the matter with a third party without the contractual parties consent, knowing full well that to do so would be a breach of confidence.

It should also be noted that during the course of my signing this confidentiality, there was a clause which gave me the right to seek independent legal advice, when I raised this issue with Jason McCue.

He refused to forward the material to a solicitor that I was instructing, which I believe would be a conflict of interest, due to the fact that McCue was acting for and on behalf of the national newspaper and was both acting on my behalf by way of giving advice before during after I signed the confidentiality agreement, he also insisted that he retain copies of my agreement in his office for safe keeping.

I now require to know what the Law Society is going to do about investigating this matter.

How can anyone have confidence in the legal profession when confidentiality agreements are divulged to a third party without the knowledge or agreement of the contractual parties concerned, and that such a breach was caused by a solicitor.

Yours sincerely

{by e-mail signed: Kevin Fulton}

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- Sun Tzu

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Daily Ireland

**Via News Hound - This is good! My favourite is the last section.

Mixed grills? Yeah. Padre Pios? No.

BY Robin Livingstone

So the term ‘Padre Pio’ has entered the dictionary. According to the latest edition of Collins it’s “a form of punishment shooting employed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in which the victim is shot through the palms of both hands.”
Now I have to come clean here. I know a bit about punishment beatings and shootings, not because I’m in the RA or anything, honest... simply because I was brought up in Lenadoon where beatings and shootings were a depressingly regular occurrence. And not surprisingly, young Livingstone was on the scene before or after a few, ah, nasty events.
But never, not once, have I heard the phrase ‘Padre Pio’. Never, not once, have I heard it uttered by any of my friends or neighbours. And, crucially, never, not once have I heard it uttered by any republicans, or even by any of the Hucklebucks whose task it was to administer the Wild West justice.
The only people I’ve ever heard using it are journalists. The phrase appeared out of nowhere only recently, and was enthusiastically adopted by hacks because they’re lazy and love it when somebody else does their work for them and most of them work for people who hate republicans.
The Padre Pio thing works as great propaganda on a number of levels. Not only does it confer an aura of martyrdom on the victim, it also winds up those many Catholics who have a soft spot for the bloke with the bleeding hands.

Polyester knickers

I’m not sure what my favourite piece of reportage was from the days when a reporter’s assignment was simply “go to the bar at the Europa and talk to the bloke in the green jumper with patches on the shoulders”. I liked the knickers one. This claimed that IRA volunteers carrying firebombs in their underwear were likely to suffer a horrible fate because the static electricity generated by the polyester in their knickers was likely to set the device off. Ouch!
Doubtless women asking for cotton knickers at Marks & Spencer immediately fell under suspicion.
Then there was the streetlight Mata Hari business. Young squaddies (Brits were always young and they were always squaddies) were being lured to their deaths by republican strumpets who undressed at the bedroom window without drawing the curtains. When a red-blooded young squaddie stopped under the street lamp outside the house to admire the view, he was picked off by an IRA sniper. Devilish, yes, but at least the bloke died happy.

Hoax oath

I always liked the Sinn Féin oath myself. The wonderful part about it is that it is still widely circulated and a fair number of Prods think it’s kosher. The oath begins “I swear by almighty God, by all heaven, by the holy blessed prayer book of the Roman Catholic Church, by the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, by her bitter tears and wailings, by St Patrick, our blessed and adorable host, the rosary, to fight until we die wading in a field of red gore of the Saxon tyrants and murderers of our glorious nationality, if spared, to fight until not a single trace is left to tell that the holy soil of Ireland was trodden by these heretics.” And that’s just the warm-up.
The provenance of the hoax oath remains unclear, although that Europa bloke in the green jumper seems a likely candidate. But, clearly, whoever was responsible was embarrassingly unaware that a goodly number of IRA volunteers hate the Catholic Church more than the Free Presbyterians do.

Sacred Heart and a teddy bear

Given that the Irish and British press is overwhelmingly anti-republican, the fightback has been plucky but modest. When I was a cub reporter a veteran photographer, over whose name I shall draw a kindly veil of silence, used to spend a lot of time taking pictures of houses that had been destroyed in British army raids. And when I say destroyed, I do mean destroyed. These weren’t so much fingertip searches as kango hammer searches and more than once I’ve watched a house being dismantled while a Brit dug the garden up with a mini-JCB.
Anyway, this photographer fella had all the usual tackle in his bag – cameras, lenses, film, sandwiches – but he also had a couple of, let’s see now, what will we call them... props. He had a smashed picture of the Sacred Heart and a teddy bear. And when the raiding party left and we were allowed in to interview the householder and take pictures, he’d place the smashed Sacred Heart picture and the teddy bear in the middle of the mess and snap away to his heart’s content. Funny how much impact they added to the picture.

A very lucky tout

Now mixed grills, unlike Padre Pios, have been around for years. In the parlance of the street, a mixed grill is a bullet to both elbows, knees and ankles – always making sure to lie the victim down on grass to avoid those potentially troublesome ricochets. Next step up from a mixed grill is the old lead headache, normally the fate of touts but not always, I can reveal, because I was fortunate – or unfortunate – enough to meet one who beat the odds.
It was at the black taxi rank at Lenadoon shops and I was in a lengthy queue when a van pulled up and two IRA men opened the back doors and lifted out a bloke tied to a chair and set him down on the pavement. He had blood coming from his nose and mouth and a placard round his neck, which read ‘I Am a Tout’. Given that at this time touts normally spent two days upside down in a cattle shed in Co Louth before being dumped on the border with a booby-trap underneath them, it occurred to me that the placard should have read ‘I Am a Very Lucky Tout’ or perhaps ‘I Am a Very Well-Connected Tout’.
Taxis came and went and the queue shortened, but nobody lifted a finger to help him – come to think of it, nobody even looked at him. Well, not directly anyway.
I’m going to be honest here and admit that when I drew close to him I felt a little uncomfortable; not as uncomfortable as he felt, but uncomfortable nevertheless.
When my taxi came I clambered in with undignified haste and as I waited for the vehicle to fill up, I wondered whether I shouldn’t do the right thing and give the bloke a hand. I was quickly disabused of that notion by fear of a mixed grill, but not of a Padre Pio.

Belfast Telegraph

Violence mars first big event of march season
29 injured in clashes around Ardoyne shops

By Andrea Clements and Deborah McAleese
18 June 2005

EIGHTEEN police officers and 11 members of the public were injured when violence broke out in north Belfast during the first major parade of the marching season.

Police said at least 10 petrol bombs, stones and bottles were thrown by nationalist protesters as dozens of marchers from the Tour of the North Parade passed the Ardoyne shop fronts last night.

Officers used water cannon after police and marchers were attacked. A 14-year-old girl suffered a broken arm at the flashpoint.

Sporadic fighting also broke out within the nationalist protesters, after bottles thrown from the back of the crowd hit those at the front.

Three people were arrested and charged with public order offences.

North Belfast District Commander Chief Supt Mike Little hit out at the violence, describing it as "disappointing".

He said officers had come under "sustained attack" but that they had returned the area to normal as quickly as possible.

"Police will investigate the attacks on the parade by protesters as it passed the Ardoyne shop fronts.

"We will also investigate a breach of the Parades Commission determination by the protesters and subsequent disturbances.

"We will be examining CCTV footage from the scene and will work to bring all those found breaking the law to justice," he added.

North Belfast MP, the DUP's Nigel Dodds, said the attack on the parade and those returning home was "totally disgraceful".

"Men, women and children were subjected to a vicious and indiscriminate attack that left a number of people with serious injures," he added.

His party colleague Nelson McCausland said protesters had shown a "flagrant breach" of the Parades Commission determination.

SDLP's Alban Maginness said last night's events were a bad sign for the rest of the marching season and he called for the PSNI to review their operation.

"This now puts a further onus on all those involved around parades to redouble their efforts to try to keep this summer on our streets as peaceful as possible."

Sinn Fein said the decision to allow the march to go past Ardoyne had been a "recipe for disaster".

Councillor Margaret McClenaghan said the Orange Order had refused to speak to the Ardoyne dialogue group.

She said it was a mistake that the lodges and bands had been allowed past 20 to 25 minutes before their supporters.

And she claimed that parade supporters being escorted by the PSNI had "verbally and physically attacked" Catholic residents of the Crumlin Road.


Paint attacks 'may be sectarian'

The police are investigating a possible sectarian motive for attacks on five homes in north Belfast.

Paint was thrown at the houses in the Ligoniel area just after 0230 BST.

Pensioners, one of whom is in her 80s, live in three of the homes. A boy of four and two-year-old girl were asleep in another of the houses.

Scorch marks were also found which police think may have been caused by a petrol bomb. Sinn Fein's Tierna Cunningham said people were terrified.

Meanwhile, residents in the Bogside area of Derry have claimed masked men threw bottles filled with paint at their homes.

The incident is said to have happened in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police are investigating these incidents.


Profile: The Orange Order

The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternity

The Orange Order is the largest Protestant organisation in Northern Ireland with at least 75,000 members, some of them in the Republic of Ireland.

Its origins date from the 17th century battle for supremacy between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Prince William of Orange, originally of the Netherlands, led the fight against Catholic King James.

He eventually took the throne in England and his final victory over James at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690, sealed the religion's supremacy in the British Isles.

In 1795, a clash between Protestants and Catholics at the Battle of the Diamond near Loughgall, County Armagh, led to some of those involved to swear a new oath to uphold the Protestant faith and be loyal to the King and his heirs, giving birth to the Orange Order.

Since then, the order's principles and aims, and those of similar organisations it is related to, have changed little.


It regards itself as defending civil and religious liberties of Protestants and seeks to uphold the rule and ascendancy of a Protestant monarch in the United Kingdom.

The only membership criteria is that an applicant is Protestant.

The order is organised into "lodges". Lodges are created where and when members wish to set them up - Sir James Craig, Northern Ireland's first prime minister, established a lodge at the House of Commons and there have been many linked to British military postings.

Orangeism is also active in former British colonies - principally Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the two west African countries of Togo and Ghana.

Twelfth of July is climax of the marching season

The annual 12 July "demonstrations" across Northern Ireland, the most important date in the Orange calendar, commemorate that victory at the Boyne.

At the heart of Orangeism is the right to parade - and the argument about what those parades stand for.

Orangemen and women say that the parades are intrinsically linked to their culture and community, be it a public statement of faith, a commemoration of those who gave their lives in war or the annual Twelfth of July festivities.

They stress that for decades there was no dispute from the Catholic community over routes and timings of parades.

Opponents of the organisation say the parades stand for bigotry and sectarianism and symbolise a Northern Ireland organised to uphold the rights of only one part of the population.


They argue that opposition to parades has grown as the Catholic community has asserted its right not to be subjected to the whims of one section of the community.

The Orange Order has never been simply a religious organisation. When the Home Rule movement emerged in the 19th century, the Orange Order steadily moved towards the unionist position.

The organisation opposed Home Rule and partition but concluded that the newly created Northern Ireland would be the defender of its cultural, civil and religious rights.

The first unionist Members of Parliament were drawn from the ranks of the loyal orders.

Dispute over Drumcree parade has made world headlines

Almost every minister in the Northern Ireland government from 1921 until the imposition of Direct Rule in 1972 was an Orangeman.

As the violence of the Troubles deepened, the Orange Order supported the security forces against republicans and its members opposed any political agreement seen as ceding ground to republicans or giving Dublin a say in Northern Ireland affairs.

During the early 1990s, republicans began attacking rural Orange halls, particularly in County Armagh, raising fears among the organisation that its members were threatened with being forced out of areas.

But at the same time, the Orange Order was faced with members displaying an ambiguous relationship towards loyalist paramilitaries and their activities.


The Orange Order has had historic links with the Ulster Unionist Party. In previous years, it sent about 100 delegates to meetings of the party's ruling council.

However, in March 2005 the Orange Order formally cut its links with the party, ending 100 years of ties.

The order said because of restructuring within the Ulster Unionist Party, it would have to make "impracticable changes" to its constitution.

The decision to reject the Good Friday Agreement had placed the organisation closer to Ian Paisley's DUP than the pro-agreement Ulster Unionists and led to some members questioning whether or not the institution had become too political.

Last year's march in Portadown passed off peacefully

Nowhere was this polarisation seen more than at Drumcree in Portadown. The route of the march, one of the oldest annual parades by the order, took on a symbolic meaning for both communities out of all proportion with its actual importance.

The Drumcree dispute has not only put the organisation at loggerheads with the Catholic community - but also with the forces of law and order which it, ironically, saw as one of its closest allies.

In 2000, one senior Orange figure said that the order was losing moderate members because it was increasingly dominated by politics, "ignorance and malevolence". Images of protesters blocking traffic while brandishing Orange regalia with loyalist paramilitary figures in the background were causing a drift away from the order, he said.

Other members traced the change to the summer of 1998 when some of the worst violence associated with Drumcree was witnessed.


Parade ruling 'breaches' examined

The police are investigating alleged breaches of a Parades Commission ruling by protesters after violence erupted at an Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Eighteen police officers and 11 others were injured in the trouble during Friday's Tour of the North parade.

Missiles were thrown by nationalist protesters as the parade passed a flashpoint area at Ardoyne on its return journey.

Six petrol bombs were thrown as police used water cannon to regain order.

Trouble flared at about 2100 BST as three lodges, followed by supporters, went past Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road, where nationalists had gathered to protest against the march.

Marchers had been separated from the protesters by a corridor of about 60 Land Rovers and police in riot gear, but were pelted with missiles, including bottles, bricks and golf balls.

There were further clashes between police and protesters and two water cannon were deployed. Six petrol bombs were then thrown. A teenager's arm was broken during the trouble.

PSNI District Commander, Chief Supt Mike Little, said his officers had come under "sustained attack".

He described the trouble as "extremely disappointing" and said officers would be investigating a breach of the Parades Commission ruling by the protesters.

"We will be examining CCTV footage from the scene and will work to bring all those found breaking the law to justice," he said.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said blame for the trouble lay with the original ruling by the Parades Commission.

"It has been a complete disaster from the decision," he said.

"We spent all year arguing that the Parades Commission should have the ability to deal with supporters as well," he said.

Police powers

However, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, of the DUP, said the fault lay with the protesters.

"The determination allowed for a peaceful protest. The protest was violent. Orange brethren, bandspeople and supporters and everybody else followed the determination to the letter.

"Even when they were under attack, nobody responded. They didn't flaunt anything, they didn't have anything provocative. They were attacked viciously."

SDLP assembly member Alban McGuinness said the trouble did not auger well for the coming marching season.

"There have been a series of incidents here, and I must say, a very, very unfortunate lead into the marching season," he said.

"This does not bode well. It has done nothing for community relations."

The march was the first to be affected by an extension of the law governing the behaviour of parade supporters.

It gave police wider powers to control the movement and behaviour of parade followers at flashpoint areas.

The Tour of the North is among the first of a series of parades by Protestant Orangemen which culminates in the biggest demonstrations on 12 July.

A ruling by the Parades Commission had restricted nationalist protesters to the footpath outside the Ardoyne shops and loyalists supporters also face restrictions, following conflict at a parade last July.


Ireland may abandon tax exemption scheme for creative writers

Secret talks threaten cultural incentive

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Saturday June 18, 2005
The Guardian

Ireland, the land of saints, scholars and scribes, still nurtures a guilt complex for banning and exiling its greatest literary names. Joyce, Beckett, Wilde and Shaw all fled its mean-spirited ways. So for the last 35 years, the world's smallest cultural superpower has consoled itself with a unique act of generosity: writers, artists and composers are spared from paying tax.

But Celtic Tiger Ireland is now being accused of reverting to its old philistine ways as the government consults in secret on whether to scrap the scheme.

Detractors claim that tax-avoiding British writers are taking advantage, and that an elite of millionaire popstars is using it to get rich. The Arts Council is outraged, arguing that Ireland faces losing "one of the most enlightened pieces of legislation ever introduced for the arts in any country".

The scheme was dreamt up 1969 - the year Beckett won the Nobel prize for literature. It was the brainchild of Charles Haughey, then finance minister, now better known as the disgraced taoiseach who once spent £6,000 of public funds on Parisian shirts and took up to £8.5m in payments from businessmen. Haughey wanted to be seen as a patron of the arts.

All income from a "creative" work such as a novel, play or song would be exempt from tax, he decided. He told the British bestseller writer Frederick Forsyth, who had moved to Ireland and availed himself of the scheme, that his plan was "not so much to bring you bastards in, but to stop the outflow of Irish talent".

Nevertheless, the tax exemption, which cost the Irish government €37m in 2001, has attracted a long line of British cultural tax exiles. Forsyth, author of The Day of the Jackal, signed up in the 1970s while he drove his white Rolls Royce around county Wexford. The pop band Def Leppard and the singer Lisa Stansfield later moved to Ireland.

The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson avoided tax on his book Strange Places, Questionable People while he lived in the exclusive town of Dalkey. DBC Pierre, who won the £50,000 Man Booker prize in 2003 and used the money to pay back a friend he had swindled, lives in a cottage in Leitrim, where his income from novels is tax-free.

But this year's biggest controversy has been the arrival of the millionaire Scottish author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh, who moved to Dublin while his partner studies at university there and immediately signed up for tax-free status on his next book.

"Anybody would agree with a scheme where they don't have to pay tax," Welsh told the Guardian, adding that he would not see any benefits until next year. "I didn't move here for tax reasons, but obviously as a writer I would take advantage of it. I know the scheme is there to keep big entertainers like U2 based in the country instead of losing them to LA."

Ireland is left guessing as to how much or how little Bono and the members of U2 benefit. But a list of more than 1,000 artists and writers who have claimed tax-free status since 1998, released under freedom of information legislation, has caused sharp intakes of breath.

Cecelia Ahern, daughter of the taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who received a reputed $1m advance for her first bestseller, is exempt from tax on creative work. So are Sinead O'Connor, Elvis Costello, and the band The Thrills. Also on the list is French writer Michel Houellebecq, who won the world's richest literary prize, the €100,000 Dublin Impac award, and currently lives in Cork.

Joan Burton of the Irish Labour party said the government had included the writers' tax breaks in its current financial review as a "smokescreen" to detract from the real issue that the top 400 earners in Ireland paid little or no tax thanks to other more questionable schemes. She said 80% of tax-exempt writers and artists earned less than €50,000 a year and needed to be supported.

Meanwhile, Forsyth, who is portrayed in the Irish press as the symbol of a greedy British writer exploiting Ireland's generosity, said he had not known about the scheme when he married an Irish woman. "And being a complete fool, I didn't actually write a book while I was in Ireland so it only saved me a few quid."

He said the scheme should now be scrapped. Irish writers no longer needed an incentive not to flee to Bohemian London and "if British writers want to avoid tax, they can go elsewhere: the Channel Islands, the Bahamas, Bermuda or the Isle of Man".

The call of the Emerald Isle

Writers and songwriters whose work is exempt from tax:

DBC Pierre

Winner of the Booker Prize for Vernon God Little in 2003, Pierre now lives in the border county of Leitrim, an increasingly popular hideout for artists and writers. He says he did not move to Ireland only because of tax but has declined to comment publicly on the merits of the scheme.

Michel Houellebecq

The controversial French novelist, who was acquitted of inciting anti-Muslim hatred in France after outspoken comments in a press interview, lived a reclusive life on an island off the coast of west Cork for several years, claiming tax relief on his novels.

Irvine Welsh

The Scottish author of Trainspotting lives in the fashionable Dublin suburb of Ranelagh while his partner studies at University College Dublin. He has vowed to live a more "bourgeois" and "pipe and slippers" life in Ireland.

Alan Warner

A star of the Scottish literary new wave of the 1990s, Warner - a friend of Welsh - has lived in Dublin since 1997. He claimed tax relief on his first book Morvern Callar, which won the Somerset Maugham prize and was adapted for the screen by Lynne Ramsay

Elvis Costello

Born Declan MacManus, Costello grew up in an Irish family in Liverpool and now lives in Dublin. Like other singers, he can only claim tax relief on income from musical compositions, not for his income from performing or touring.

17 June 2005


Scenes from the Tour of the North parade



Petrol bombs follow march trouble

Petrol bombs have been thrown and at least one police officer injured during trouble at an Orange Order parade in north Belfast, police have said.

Stones were thrown at marchers by nationalists on the return leg of the Tour of the North parade as they passed a flashpoint area at Ardoyne.

Two water cannon were deployed, but a number of marchers have been hurt.

Earlier, police said they had put in place a significant security operation, but hoped the march would be peaceful.

However, trouble flared at about 2100 BST as three lodges, followed by supporters, went past Ardoyne shops where nationalists had gathered to protest the march.

Marchers had been separated from the protesters by a corridor of about 60 Land Rovers and police in riot gear, but were still pelted with missiles, including bottles, bricks and golf balls.

There were further clashes between police and protesters and the water cannon were deployed. A number of petrol bombs were then thrown.

Police have now pulled out towards the junction of the Crumlin Road and debris has been left scattered on the street.

"Police will study CCTV footage gathered at the scene and those breaking the law will be reported for prosecution," a police spokesman said.

The march was the first to be affected by an extension of the law governing the behaviour of parade supporters.

It gave police wider powers to control the movement and behaviour of parade followers at flashpoint areas.

The Tour of the North is among the first of a series of parades by Protestant Orangemen which culminates in the biggest demonstrations on 12 July.

A ruling by the Parades Commission restricted nationalist protesters to the footpath outside the Ardoyne shops and loyalists supporters also face restrictions, following conflict at a parade last July.

Unison.ie / Irish Independent

Dad flies to be with children after siege nightmare

THE father of two Irish children dramatically rescued from a school siege in Cambodia last night thanked those who risked their lives to save his son and daughter.

Aid worker David McMahon was on his way from Georgia to Siem Reap in northwest Cambodia to be with his wife and children.

The four-year-old boy and three-year-old girl were held hostage with 29 other nursery children by masked gunmen who threatened to shoot them one by one.

One three-year-old Canadian boy was killed by the rebels during the six-hour siege and three of the hostage-takers were also shot dead after police stormed the building where the children and their teacher were being held at gunpoint.

Irish-born Daragh McMahon (4) and Monica (3) were among those held hostage at Siem Reap International School while their mother, Cambodian-born Bunly, kept a terrified vigil outside the school.

When contacted in Georgia last night, Mr McMahon said his children had been holidaying in their mother's native country where he had worked previously for eight years with Concern and the HALO Trust, a British charity specialising in land mine clearance and bomb disposal.

The family had been preparing to join their father in Georgia where he had recently moved to work for the HALO Trust.

Mr McMahon, who is from Co Clare, praised the efforts of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the Irish Embassy in Beijing and the British Embassy in Phnom Penh who were very supportive to the family.

"Both children were released unharmed and are safely with their mother. I am currently on my way to Cambodia to be with my family," he said.

"The family would like to thank those who risked their lives to end the crisis and offer their deepest sympathy to the family of the deceased child," he added.

The children's grandmother, Mary McMahon, from Newmarket-on-Fergus, spoke last night of her terror when she got the 6am call from her son to say Daragh and Monica had been "kidnapped".

"Naturally I was shocked. It was terrible. I was speaking with David and Bunly during the day. I was on to her when the news came through that they were being released. It was such a relief but our hearts go out to the Canadian family. While we are celebrating, they are grieving," she said last night.

"The children are young and well travelled so hopefully they will get over this."

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it had been in contact with the Irish relatives while its embassy in Beijing had been in contact with the father.

"Whatever assistance is required from us will be made available to the family. The main thing now is that the children have been confirmed safe," he said.

Concern's assistant country director for Cambodia, Mark Munoz, took his children out of the school just two weeks ago when he moved to a new position with the Irish aid agency in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Pehn.

Speaking from Phnom Pehn last night, he said his wife Patricia had been in constant phone contact with the parents of their children's classmates throughout the siege. Their children, Gus (5) and Dorothy (2) would have been in the classroom which was seized.

Martha Kearns

Irish Echo

Murdered within sight of the law

Diane Hamill stands witness for her dead brother

By Anne Cadwallader

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BELFAST - Seven years ago, Diane Hamill spoke for the first time in public about the death of her brother, Robert. A crowd of about 20,000 people, gathered at a Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry, listened intently.

In more recent days it has been her turn to listen as a public inquiry into Robert Hamill's murder began to ask the same questions.

In her January 1998 Derry speech, Hamill told of how Robert had been kicked to death by a loyalist mob screaming "Die, you Fenian bastard, die".

She told of how police patrol, within sight and hearing distance, failed to come to his aid.

She spoke of how police failed to even put tapes up to secure the scene of crime until the morning after the attack.

She spoke of how they also failed to make any arrests until Robert had lost his battle for life in a Belfast hospital.

"We're hopeful, really hopeful", she says of the inquiry.

"The judge in charge seems like the sort who won't take any nonsense. We believe that the inquiry team is dedicated to their work.

"We also hope that police officers will come forward with evidence. Maybe after all these years, someone might be troubled by their conscience and tell what they know."

The Hamills, mother, father and ten children, lived in the Obins Street of Portadown and, until April 1997, led a relatively normal life.

Around July 12th, the bonfires on the nearby Corcraine estate were sometimes frightening, as were the stones and taunts often thrown in their direction close to the local peace line. Still, the family wasn't political and mostly keep to itself.

Robert, a 25-year-old father of three, was the fourth eldest. Diane was his elder sister. She was on night duty at a nursing home in Carnlough, Co. Antrim, when she heard Robert had been seriously wounded in an attack in their home town.

On his way home from a dance, he and friends had been ambushed by a loyalist mob. Robert had been knocked to the ground and beaten mercilessly.

"Mum said Robert had been hurt by a whole lot of Protestants and the police hadn't helped him.

"I phoned casualty in Craigavon and they told me he was ventilated. I knew then that it was bad."

The Hamill family gathered at Robert's bedside in Belfast.

"He never regained full consciousness, although at one stage the consultant said he was out of danger.

"He was semi-conscious for a while but it was like he was trapped inside his body and could do nothing about it. He was uncomfortable and writhing in pain so they had to sedate him. It wasn't until the post-mortem that they identified a diffuse brain injury."

A "diffuse" brain injury means that someone has not been killed by a single blow but by a series of blows as the brain repeatedly hits the skull, amounting to a fatal injury.

The first time Diane asked herself serious questions about what was really going on behind the scenes was when press reports claimed Robert had been injured as the result of a fight between rival factions.

She knew from eye-witnesses that this wasn't right. He had been the victim of a totally unprovoked attack.

Diane went to a solicitor and explained her concerns but he discouraged her from phoning the police, asking her instead to leave it in his hands. The next time they met, the lawyer couldn't look her in the eye and, on advice from friends, she went to see another solicitor.

That solicitor was Rosemary Nelson.

"She sat me down and I told her what had happened and she began clicking her fingers, asking the people she worked with to do this and that right away. She was really on the ball, fantastic.

"She pushed us the whole way. I would tell her that I couldn't manage to keep going and she would insist that I could, that I was a strong woman. She was a great example."

After eleven agonizing days in hospital, Robert died. The media gathered at the family home and Diane found herself acting as their spokeswoman.

"It was like a coping mechanism for me. It was something to do.

"I was so angry with the police. How dare they? Did they really think they would get away with it? To let then kill him and no-one do or say anything about it?

Once the campaign started, the family became the target of a loyalist hate campaign in Portadown. Loyalists would rip down the flowers the family attached to lampposts where Robert had been attacked.

During loyalist parades, people would make shout and gestures at the family home, jumping up and down on the spot and asking if the Hamills "knew what it was like to hear someone's brain go squelch, squelch, squelch."

Loyalists also put up flyers in the town center referring to the "Six Portadown Heroes," a reference to the six men who were then facing charges, all of whom, bar one, were acquitted.

None of the alleged perpetrators has ever been convicted of murder.

The investigation dragged on. Then Rosemary Nelson was murdered.

Diane heard about the bombing while at work in a Belfast hospital. She phoned Rosemary's office and was told she was seriously injured. Like others, she instinctively traveled to Drumcree Community Center where people were already gathering to hear the latest news.

It was there that she heard that Rosemary Nelson was dead.

The whole agonizing experience, she says, has made her far less concerned about what people think of her. She's more self-confident and determined. She fully accepts that she was naïve before the murder about the nature of policing in Portadown.

She has reduced the number of meetings she speaks at, finding it massively draining to pour her heart out to strangers.

"It's made me stronger", she says. "It's changed my priorities in life. Little things don't worry me so much now."

Diane and her family are hopeful that the public inquiry will finally get to the truth of why he died.

The inquiry has adjourned and will not sit in public again until November at the earliest. Up to 100 witnesses are set to testify at the public inquiry, chaired by former British high court judge, Sir Edwin Jowitt.

Evidence will be studied to assess whether any failure or omission on the part of officers to halt the attack, identify the killers or properly investigate the murder was deliberate or negligent.

If all this is done, the Hamill family will stand to gain some measure of peace.

This story appeared in the issue of June 15-21


Why thousands flock to Belfast monastery

As the clock ticks down to the IRA's expected statement on its future direction, Clonard Monastery in west Belfast is the focus for prayers for peace.

One of the ten daily services inside the church

Every June, the Catholic church on Belfast's Falls Road draws pilgrims from across Northern Ireland.

The annual Festival of Faith is rooted in Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary and nine successive days of services known as a novena.

The streets around the monastery are festooned with bunting in the papal colours of yellow and white.

Even in the pouring rain the church is filled to capacity ten times a day and the stewards deal manfully with the traffic chaos.

In the grounds, a toilet block has been erected and volunteers from the St John Ambulance are parked up.

Some of the pilgrims bring flasks in anticipation of a long visit. For those who cannot find space inside, loudspeakers carry the services.

There is humour too. Posters advertising the event mimic the catchphrase of a popular lager advertisement by proclaiming: "Clonard - probably the best novena in the world!"

Ten thousand people a day pass through the church and more than 100 lay people are involved in the smooth running of the event.

War years

Fr Aidan Egan, who is among the organisers, says: "If you imagine the Odyssey Arena being filled ten times a day, you realise that you need a bit of help and it's there."

During the war years, Clonard was a place of shelter for the citizens of west Belfast when Catholics and Protestants sheltered together in the vaults of the church during air raids.

But the monastery, which sits on Belfast's peace line, also has a special significance in Northern Ireland's peace process.

Ten thousand people pass through Clonard a day during the novena

Several of its redemptorist priests were involved as intermediaries between republicans and others in the political establishment at various key times in the Troubles.

During the IRA hunger strikes of the early 1980s, Father Alex Reid helped to search for a settlement to the Maze prison protest.

He later helped in the process of an exchange of ideas between the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, and the Irish government.

The focus of his close colleague Father Gerry Reynolds has long been on ecumenism and the search for harmony between the Christian denominations as a means of breaking down sectarianism.

He welcomes guest preachers to Clonard each year from the Protestant churches.

Terrible price

Fr Reynolds says the desire for peace is very apparent from the written prayers of the Clonard pilgrims.

He told the BBC's News website on Thursday: "There is so much of the pain and the trauma of the Troubles still in people's lives. We have bought the situation that we're in now at a terrible price."

He hopes the IRA's statement will progress politics.

"The hope of us all is, as a secret army, they will end that phase. That they will no longer be a military force, thinking of themselves as a deterrent against some attack from the other side.

"We have moved beyond that. We hope that military potential will be put aside, destroyed, decommissioned, whatever the word is, that it will be obliterated really forever.

"And we hope that we will move into a totally political mode of advance working together towards the common good."

Fr Egan agrees and says Clonard is a force for hope.

"You cannot discount the power of thousands and thousands of people's prayers."

The Clonard Novena continues until 23 June.


‘Help us find mystery taxi’

By Damian McCarney

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Police Ombudsman staff investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 29-year-old man who died after he was hit by a PSNI Land Rover say they are anxious to trace the occupants of a taxi cab which was in the area at the time of the tragedy.

Glenalina man Jim McMenamin died at the scene of the incident shortly after 1am on Saturday, June 4 on the Upper Springfield Road near its junction with Avoca Close. Initial reports suggest that the Land Rover had been responding to an emergency call when it struck Mr McMenamin.

Earlier this week senior Police Ombudsman staff leading the investigation attended a public meeting at the Upper Springfield Community Trust. The investigators said they had received excellent support from the bereaved family and from the community but said they want to hear from anyone with information about what happened who has not already contacted them.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman’s Office said, “Investigators are particularly anxious for the driver of a dark coloured Volkswagen Passat taxi to come forward as he or she may have information which will assist the enquiry.

“They also want to hear from anyone who saw a police Land Rover leave the New Barnsley base at around 1am, and drive up the Springfield Road.”

The spokesman said that the Police Ombudsman has mounted an independent, impartial investigation to establish the circumstances of what happened.

“Investigators are carrying out a detailed forensic analysis of the police vehicle and have examined the scene of the incident. They have conducted extensive house-to-house enquiries in the area and are analysing relevant material provided by PSNI.”

Anyone with information can contact the Police Ombudsman at 90 828627.

Journalist:: Damien McCarney

Daily Ireland

Ombudsman seizes radio tapes of fatal collision

by Ciarán Barnes

The Police Ombudsman has seized PSNI radio tapes as part of its investigation into a fatal collision involving a police Land Rover in west Belfast.
Jim McMenamin died after being hit by the police vehicle on the Springfield Road on June 4. Police officers in the vehicle claimed they were responding to an emergency call when they knocked over and killed the 29-year-old.
Ombudsman investigators are keen to learn if sirens can be heard during radio transmissions between police officers. It is standard procedure for PSNI vehicles to sound sirens when responding to emergency calls.
Details on who telephoned the emergency call, where the PSNI Land Rover was going and how fast it was travelling are also being probed by Nuala O’Loan’s office.
Earlier in the week the Police Ombudsman issued an appeal for information from the occupants of a taxi who may have witnessed the incident.
Daily Ireland understands the taxi stopped for a short time at the scene of the fatal collision.
However, it is not thought the taxi’s passengers were questioned by the PSNI at the time.
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said: “Investigators are carrying out a detailed forensic analysis of the police vehicle and have examined the scene of the incident.
“They have conducted extensive house-to-house enquiries in the area and are analysing relevant material provided by the PSNI.
“Investigators are particularly anxious to hear from the driver of a dark-coloured Volkswagen Passat taxi. We want the person to come forward as he or she may have information which will assist the enquiry.”
The spokesman said they also want to hear from anyone who saw a police Land Rover leave New Barnsley barracks before driving up the Springfield Road at around 1am on June 4.
The McMenamin family were too upset to speak about the circumstances surrounding their relative’s death.
They urged anyone with any information on the crash to contact the Police Ombudsman.


New team to challenge city’s problem areas

West Belfast’s first ever ‘Neighbourhood Officer’, who has been appointed to oversee action plans for a cleaner, safer environment in the Lower Falls community, says the fact that his “heart and soul” lies in the area should make his new role easier to manage.

Martin Voyle (42) was appointed to the post in a venture that is jointly funded by Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

The Divis man will work with the local community in the Lower Falls while drawing up an action plan covering four main areas of work – estate management, environmental management, community safety and community involvement.

Martin, who has worked as a Housing Executive warden for two and a half years and as a youth worker in the Divis area for 15 years, explained yesterday: “This position came about because there have been occasions in the past when it was hard to determine whether a problem was a Housing Executive issue or a Council one, and because there are a lot of people out there who are unsure who to contact or what to do when they have a problem that needs addressed by either of these bodies.

“Basically I’ll be on the ground supporting the services provided by the Housing Executive and the City Council, and working with their staff. I’ll also be working with local businesses and community bodies to improve the local environment.”

In his new role, Martin will be providing advice about other agencies such as health and social services, providing a housing management service, monitoring maintenance for abandoned properties and any incidents of anti-social behaviour around them.

He will deal with nuisances such as disputes, noise or problems with unsupervised pets.

He will also be supporting vulnerable members of the community, such as minority groups and the elderly, and assisting both Belfast City Council and the Housing Executive at meetings and forums, keeping tenants informed of their outcome.

“I can’t make Housing Executive or Council decisions, but the idea is that I’ll be the first line of contact, pointing people in the right direction or offering advice. This can involve things as small as a Housing Executive door needing fixed, to more serious criminal problems that need to be addressed. Or it can involve promoting initiatives like the Lock Out scheme for elderly people – the age for applying for this scheme is going to be lowered, but this is an example of something that a lot of people maybe don’t know about.”

With his experience as a Housing Executive warden, a Divis youth worker and co-manager of the famed Immaculata Football Club, Martin has a thorough knowledge of the Lower Falls area, its people and its social issues. But he says the environmental aspect of the post is something he was previously unfamiliar with.

“I’ll have to identify places where there has been illegal dumping and devise a strategy to stop it, and I’ll be checking on rubbish removal, ensuring abandoned vehicles are removed and arranging the removal of graffiti. That’s an area I don’t have so much experience in, but I feel very strongly about getting the place cleaned up because it’s my home at the end of the day.”

Martin believes the scheme, which will benefit three other Belfast areas – Woodvale, Lower Ormeau and Woodstock – has come about because of the previously proven success of Housing Executive wardens.

“This just widens the job description and generally improves the quality of life around the four local communities – it’s a big undertaking, but I think it can be done.”

Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of NIHE, said yesterday. “This scheme is all about providing front line services for local communities. NIHE and the Council touch the lives of everyone in these areas and so it’s vital that we are accessible and able to respond quickly to any problems that may arise. This scheme should make the areas concerned safer, cleaner, more attractive and a much more pleasant place to live.”

Journalist:: Laura McDaid

Daily Ireland

No republicans on rights body

By Jarlath Kearney

No one from a republican background has been appointed to serve on the North’s newly-constituted Human Rights Commission.
Commissioners with strong links to the SDLP, Alliance Party, Women’s Coalition and DUP have all been appointed in a tranche of seven new members announced by secretary of state, Peter Hain, in London yesterday.
As revealed by Daily Ireland yesterday, former Women’s Coalition MLA and University of Ulster lecturer Monica McWilliams was appointed as chief commissioner. Ms McWilliams takes over from Professor Brice Dickson, who stepped down in February 2005.
DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jr yesterday attacked the appointment of Ms McWilliams and claimed that she lacks credibility.
Sinn Féin human rights spokesperson Caitríona Ruane reacted coolly to the announcement of new commissioners and declared that the reconstituted commission will be judged on its results.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the announcement marks a “new beginning” for the commission.
Two figures with close links to the SDLP, Queen’s University Belfast law professor Colin Harvey and Down District Policing Partnership chairperson Eamon O’Neill, are among the new appointees.
Alongside Ms McWilliams, new commissioner Ann Hope has links with the Women’s Coalition.
Alliance Party councillor and deputy mayor of Castlereagh, Geraldine Rice, and controversial Ards DUP councillor Johnathan Bell have also been appointed.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Monica McWilliams said that “it is not contradictory for someone committed to human rights to have a strong political activist role”.
Ms McWilliams said she feels “it is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to be given the chance to lead the Commission in drafting a Bill of Rights”.
The Bill of Rights was a major recommendation coming out of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and Ms McWilliam said completing that project “is going to be the major objective of the next Commission”.
Ms McWilliams also praised recent work by the commission’s staff in relation to issues like the rights of women prisoners at Maghaberry and subsequently at Hydebank young offenders centre.
A key problem in terms of the previous commission’s handling of the Bill of Rights was that some commissioners wished to undermine existing fair employment monitoring by removing the established practice of communal designation. On this point Ms McWilliams said she has no intention of “reinventing the wheel”.
“In other countries there has been a sunset clause on that type of monitoring, but we’re probably nowhere near that yet,” she said.
The new chief commissioner also said that she made the strengthening of the commission’s powers “an issue in my own appointment”.
Sinn Féin MLA for South Down Caitríona Ruane said that “the worrying thing about this commission is the number of political appointees”.
“Sinn Féin has always said people on the commission should have a strong record as human rights experts. From an initial scrutiny of the new commission, it is ‘human rights-light’.
“Given these political appointees and the British government’s treatment of the commission, Monica McWilliams has an uphill battle on her hands.
“The commission itself will be judged in terms of the outcomes it delivers,” Ms Ruane said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan welcomed the appointment of Monica McWilliams and called the new Commission a “positive step”.
“I endorse in particular her stated commitment to a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland as promised under the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr Durkan said.
Ian Paisley Jr said the appointment of Monica McWilliams is “a clear sign of the government’s total disregard for the view of unionists in Northern Ireland”.

Daily Ireland

Honour hero of Bloody Sunday

by Eamonn Houston

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Calls were made last night for the Irish government to issue a posthumous bravery award to a man regarded as a hero of Bloody Sunday.

Patrick Walsh, who died yesterday aged 71, braved gunfire in Derry on January 30, 1972, to crawl into open ground and help the dying Patrick Doherty.
The image of Mr Walsh crawling out to Mr Doherty is one of the iconic images of Bloody Sunday.
Mr Doherty’s son Tony, yesterday led calls for official recognition of Mr Walsh’s bravery.
During the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, a number of British soldiers present during the massacre instructed their legal counsel to “salute” the courage of the Creggan man.
Tony Doherty said last night: “Paddy Walsh’s bravery in trying to help my father should have been recognised a long time ago by the Irish Government on behalf of the Irish people. I think that the Irish government should consider a posthumous award to recognise this act of bravery on the part of one of its citizens.”
Former SDLP leader, John Hume, extended his condolences to the Walsh family and also called for official regcognition of Mr Walsh’s courage.
“In any other country in Europe, or indeed the world, Paddy Walsh would have been recognised nationally. His was a total act of bravery,” said Mr Hume.
The Irish government currently has no mechanism to honour civilians who have made major contributions to society or who have demonstrated exceptional acts of bravery.
Fine Gael’s Michael Finucane has raised the matter in the Dail and the Irish Seanad.
Speaking to Daily Ireland, he urged the government to look at the French model of honouring its citizens.
“We should be looking at something like the French Legion of Honour. There is nothing at present to honour anyone living or dead.
“As a nation we always speak well of the dead, but it is a pity that they were never recognised when they were living.”
SDLP Assembly member for Foyle, Pat Ramsey, voiced his disappointment that there is nothing within the nationalist community to acknowledge achievements or acts of bravery.
“It may be time for the Irish government to consider some form of recognition for people with particular achievements.
“Speaking in the local council chamber this week on a proposal to erect bronze plaques at the homes of famous Derry people, I expressed my concern that achievements are usually acknowledged when the person has passed away. I believe that there should be a way of rewarding people while they are alive.”


Belvoir ‘more like Beirut’

Victoria McMahon

Castlereagh Housing Executive, recent winners of an award for ‘Excellence in Customer Service’, has been accused of “doing nothing” by angry Belvoir House residents over living conditions labelled “third world” by a local councillor.

Residents of the high-rise flats say their complaints about the vandalism and squalor of the communal areas of the flats are falling on deaf ears.

Belvoir House resident Gordon Davis told the South Belfast News: “Belvoir has won Best Kept Estate in the past but look at the state of the place now. The windows and lights at the entrance to the flats have been broken for the past six months, the shattered glass is still lying on the ground. The place is just a dumping ground yet we are supposed to live here. It’s disgraceful.”

Colin McClure and partner Zelda McAvoy said they fear for the health of their two small children as the lift in the building stinks of human faeces and urine – and the alternative of the stairs isn’t any better. For four years the young family has been on the Housing Executive list – desperate to get out of the 11th-floor two-bedroom flat that has become their prison.

An angry Colin said, “Let’s not beat about the bush: these flats are slums. To be living in conditions like this in the 21st century is just ridiculous. The Housing Executive has dug their heels in against doing anything for us because we have dared to complain about living in these disgusting conditions. This has been going on for years and yet they continue to do nothing about it.”

He added: “It is more like living in Beirut than Belvoir.”

Expectant mother Zelda said her five-year-old daughter Amy pulls her jumper up over her head because of the overpowering smell in the lift.

“I’m always watching the two of them to make sure they don’t touch the walls or the handrail – it is absolutely disgusting. Dear knows what they could catch. Sometimes people have even spat on the buttons of the lift. We shouldn’t have to live like this. I just pray we get moved,” she said.

A spokesman for Castlereagh Housing Executive said they knew of a window in the communal hallway being broken through an act of vandalism and thaat it would be repaired when the redevelopment scheme, planned for the high rise later this year, starts. But the spokesman denied the Housing Executive had received any recent complaints regarding unhygienic conditions.

“Whilst the District Office has not received any recent complaints from residents about maintenance work being required, we will continue to monitor the situation and carry out any necessary repairs prior to the start of the improvement scheme. The Housing Officer is also in regular contact with the residents in preparation for the improvement work to start, and arranges for repairs and cleaning to take place as required.”

Alliance Castlereagh councillor Sara Duncan said she had recently passed on complaints about the vandalism to District Manager Paul Carland.

“Within the last month I have spoken to Paul Carland and he gave me assurances he would be looking into the vandalism of the windows. People in Belvoir House are living in third world conditions and I will be talking to Paul Carland again over this. Understandably the people in Belvoir feel very ignored and let down.”

She added: “I am extremely disappointed that nothing has been done about this. People can’t be expected to live this way while paying rent, it is hardly value for money. I would ask the Housing Executive not to wait until the refurbishment and put an end to these conditions immediately.”

Cllr Duncan said she was dismayed at hearing about unhygienic conditions. She said she would be alerting the Council’s Environmental Health Department to see if anything can be done.

Journalist:: Victoria McMahon


COMMENT - South Editorial

Our new street art must be there for the public

Public art is an important element to bringing life to the streets and public buildings of any town or city.

Belfast for too long has been seen as a grey, war-weary city, and the introduction of good local street art and sculptures is to be welcomed as a sign we are finally moving away from our past.

When it comes to art, Belfast as a city should be about more than just tribalistic murals on gable walls.

In the past few years street art has arrived in our city with a vengeance, developed and commissioned by various government agencies and community organisations, and although some is without doubt better than others, it all has its place.

However, there is an exception, to every rule.

Plans revealed this week for a new giant sculpture at Belfast City Hall have received a mixed response from both the city fathers and bemused residents.
The unconventional looking sculpture of a naked woman will stand some 50ft high and will no doubt raise a few eyebrows from passers by.

However, it remains to be seen how this £300,000 piece of sculpture will add to the image of our city.

Will this expensive sculpture help put us on a par with places such as Prague, Rome and Barcelona? Or will this statuesque woman bring more ridicule than tourism revenue?

To create a beautiful city money must be spent on regeneration and art plays an important part in that rebirth.

But let that art reflect the history of our city and the aspirations of its people, rather that the fantasises of an individual or a socially detached group of artisans.

When you buy a piece of art for your own home, should it be a an expensive understated oil or a print of dogs playing snooker, you buy it because it reflects your own personal taste.

But public art that is placed in city centres, parks and public buildings has to be looked at by all the people of this city and cannot be just one person’s vision. Huge sums of money, whether public or raised privately are spent as an investment in the future of our city.

Public art should be about just that – the public. And when it comes to placing huge and expensive pieces of art at heart of our city, the public should have their say and it should be their will that is heeded at the end of the day.
We hope that the people will make their voice heard.


City granted Fair Trade status

Campaigners raised a cup of Fairtrade coffee on Thursday morning to toast the announcement that Belfast has been named a ‘Fairtrade City’.
The Fairtrade Foundation confirmed this week that Belfast was the latest city to be granted Fairtrade City status.

For the past nine months, Fairtrade Belfast has been working to raise awareness of the plight of producers in developing countries – particularly coffee, cocoa and tea growers – and guarantee them a fair deal for their product.

At the moment, almost 100 shops and cafés in Belfast sell or serve Fairtrade products, and the number continues to rise. Fairtrade Belfast currently is working with many more hotels and restaurants, and their suppliers, to offer Fairtrade products to their customers.

Tony Weekes, Chairman of Fairtrade Belfast, pointed out that the city and its people had a long history of commitment to ethical trading.

"In the late 18th century, Thomas Russell – the first Linenhall librarian – organised and led a successful campaign to boycott sweetmeats in protest against the slavery used in sugar plantations in the West Indies.

"Also in the 18th century, Belfast was the first city in these islands to ban ships involved in the slave trade from its harbour," said Tony at a special Fairtrade coffee morning held in The Spires shopping centre.

He added: "The granting of Fairtrade City status is just one step on a long journey to providing a better life for those perceived to be less fortunate than ourselves."

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Wallace Browne, called on the people of Belfast to make a conscious decision to help producers in developing countries build better lives for themselves.

"It is such a simple thing for consumers to choose Fairtrade products, and yet it is a small change that makes a big difference.

"The Fairtrade system not only means paying a fairer price but also guarantees a long-term trading commitment, allowing communities a real chance to plan and build for a brighter future," said the Lord Mayor.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Bookies gets the green light

All bets are off as a bookies in the picturesque residential area of Stranmillis has been given the go ahead despite objections from local residents and the planning department, it emerged this week.

It was thought the odds were staked against the bookmakers being granted permission such was the level of objection from Stranmillis residents, Methody College, the Ulster Museum and local businesses. The bookies had been viewed as a rank outsider in the planning dispute after a proposal from the same applicant was turned down back in 1992.

However it’s luck changed following a decision taken after a meeting of the Planning Appeals Commission late April deciding in favour of the bookmakers.
Chairperson for Stranmillis Residents Association, Alison Greg said people living in the area were "gutted" by the news.

"Residents were told on the decision at our meeting this week and they are completely disgusted. It is very annoying for people who live in the area because the planners objected, the Ulster Museum, Methody College and yet it got permission."

She added, "The Planning Appeal Commission is not listening to the planners or the residents. I don’t understand where they are coming from."

It is understood the green light was given to the bookies due to a combination of factors. The main reasons given include; the highly residential area of Rosetta having a bookies, the rear ‘expansion’ at the Stranmillis Road bookies would not prove unsightly as the planning department had ruled and the change in image of a bookmakers has changed over the years to become more socially acceptable.

While residents were taken off guard by the decision SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy said he was "disappointed but not surprised" the bookies has been granted permission.

He claimed, "There is a 90% chance when it gets to the Planning Appeals stage the applicant will succeed."

He said, "I have asked David Ferguson the Chief Executive of Planning to try and implement some changes as the system as it is now is heavily weighed in the favour of the developer."

Cllr McCarthy added, "The area is supposed to be an area of Townscape Character. The building and the area would be better served if it were turned into a residential house."

The best bet now for residents and other objectors was to appeal the granting of the bookies’s license, said the Laganbank cllr.

"Although developers have a right of appeal resident’s have none," he said.

Given that, the best bet now for residents and other objectors is to switch targets and appeal the granting of the bookersmakers licence, said Cllr. McCarthy

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Irish EU referendum postponed

17 June 2005 15:37

The Government has said it is postponing the referendum on the EU Constitution, but that the ratification process will continue, with a longer period to debate the issue.

Portugal earlier said it will postpone its referendum on the European Union's proposed constitution after the decision by EU leaders to extend the deadline for ratification.

The referendum had been planned for October.

EU leaders at their summit in Brussels have begun a second day of talks in an effort to reach agreement on a long-term budget for the union.

Arriving for the meeting, the Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson, said he was pessimistic about the chances of a deal on the budget and said it might be better to delay a decision for another year.

Last night the leaders agreed to extend the deadline for ratifying the constitution beyond November 2006 after its rejection by French and Dutch voters.

No new deadline has been announced, but the Luxembourg presidency said that member states had agreed to review the situation in mid-2007.

Denmark had already announced the postponement of its September referendum.

In an interview with RTÉ News last night, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said that he was confident that the EU Constitution could be saved.

No question of renegotiation: Juncker

Speaking after EU heads of government held several hours of talks, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, said there was no question of the constitution being re-negotiated.

However, Mr Juncker also said we could not pretend that nothing had happened and what was required was a period of reflection, stocktaking and debate.

He suggested that those member states who were holding referendums needed more time to explain the benefits of the constitution than those countries using the parliamentary method.

Ultimately, Mr Juncker said, all EU member states had agreed that the constitution was the right answer to many of the questions citizens in Europe were asking themselves.

Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday 'hero' is dead

By Brendan McDaid
17 June 2005

The family of a marcher who famously ducked bullets as he tried in vain to save a friend on Bloody Sunday today paid tribute to the man hailed as a hero during the Saville Inquiry.

The daughters of Paddy Walsh (70), from Rathlin Drive, described their father as a "big dote".

Mr Walsh, who had suffered from bowel cancer four years ago, died yesterday at his home.

The Creggan man's testimony before the Saville Inquiry in November 2001 was among the most vivid eyewitness accounts of what happened in the Bogside on January 30, 1972.

He described how he crawled from cover to help his friend Paddy Doherty, who was bleeding after being shot by soldiers.

Famous photographs at the time showed him crawling up to Mr Doherty as he lay prostrate.

Mr Walsh said he at first thought Mr Doherty must have been armed, otherwise he would not have been shot.

He added, however that after checking every pocket of the fatally wounded man, he found him unarmed.

Mr Walsh also explained how shots were fired as he tried to help Mr Doherty.

At the hearing into the events that led to the deaths of 14 men, a barrister representing Mr Doherty's family praised Mr Walsh for his heroism, while a solicitor representing the soldiers said he saluted Mr Walsh for his courage and compassion.

Mr Walsh's daughters, Vivienne Walsh and Ann Grant, today said their father's bravery on the day was a mark of the man.

Ms Grant said: "He was well known after Bloody Sunday. Everybody in the Creggan, Bogside and Brandywell knew him.

"He was a big gentle giant who loved football. He was the North west Penalty Kick Champion of 1959 and his heroes were George Best and Paul Gascoigne."

Her sister Ms Walsh added: "The actions he took on Bloody Sunday, that's the kind of man he was, trying to help people. He was a big dote."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness MP today also expressed his sadness.

Describing Mr Walsh as a hero, Mr McGuinness said: "I was saddened to hear of the death of Paddy Walsh, an ordinary man who displayed extraordinary courage in the face of grave danger in an attempt to save another Derryman, Paddy Doherty, on Bloody Sunday.

"I knew and admired Paddy for many years and consider him to be one of the most unassuming but courageous people that I was fortunate to have known.

Mr Walsh's funeral will take place on Saturday at St Mary's Chapel in Creggan at 11am with internment immediately afterwards in the city cemetery.

He is survived by his wife Anna, and children Brian, Patricia, Vivienne, Anne and Yvonne.


Shot boy is set to leave hospital

Darragh Somers is due to leave hospital

A five-year-old boy, shot in his school playground in County Fermanagh, is due to leave hospital and return home.

Darragh Somers was shot in the head as he played outside Mullinaskea Primary School, near Enniskillen, on 22 April.

He went through two lengthy operations and was critically ill at Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

He has now recovered sufficiently to go home. Police believe the shooting was accidental and have appealed to whoever fired the shot to come forward.

Darragh was shot in the head by a bullet from a .22 rifle.

More than 50 weapons were seized and checked as part of the police investigation into the shooting.

On Friday, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Kyle said that until test results were returned, police could not say whether the weapon used was illegal.

"We have interviewed a considerable number of legal weapons holders," he said.

"If anyone who has not yet spoken to police has relevant information, no matter how insignificant they feel it may be, we would like to hear from them."

The detective said that the police were delighted Darragh was getting out of hospital and wished him a speedy recover.

"It is now almost two months since Darragh was shot and it may be that the person who fired the shot feels too scared to come forward but there is still time to do that," he said.

"As we have said from the outset, it would be better if that person approaches us voluntarily."

Police have previously said they believe Darragh was hit by someone shooting in nearby fields.

Sinn Féin

Catholic woman taken to hospital after home attacked in Ardoyne

Published: 17 June, 2005

North Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Cathy Stanton has accused unionist paramilitaries of attempting to heighten tensions ahead of the Tour of the North after a Catholic woman had her home attacked in Kerrera Street in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Stanton said:

"At around 5am this morning a car pulled up outside the home of an elderly catholic woman in Kerrera Street in Ardoyne. Loyalist slogans were shouted and the windows on the front of the house were smashed. The woman has since been taken to hospital suffering from heart problems.

"Last nights attack on the home of this vulnerable woman has obviously caused anger within the local community. It is my firm belief that the purpose behind it was to heighten tensions ahead of tonight's Orange Order Tour of the North parade. I would appeal to local people to remain calm in the face of this provocation from unionist paramilitaries." ENDS

Belfast Telegraph

Parents may go to court on buses removal
Fury over board move to cut school services

By Kathryn Torney
17 June 2005

A group of Ulster parents may take a judicial review against an education board's decision to withdraw school bus services from their area, it has emerged.

The Western Education and Library Board announced last month that it would withdraw 18 services involving 25 buses and 1,600 pupils from the end of this month.

The WELB had intended to make the cuts on a gradual basis over a number of years, but claimed it was forced to scrap all services at the end of this school year due to the "severe" budget reductions imposed on the board by the Government.

Mary McDonnell, a parent representative, told the Belfast Telegraph that parents at 22 schools are currently getting legal advice on the possibility of taking a judicial review against the decision.

"They are supposed to give us notice of this kind of decision but in the end they only told us four weeks before the services were due to be cut. We have a barrister looking into it," she said.

"I don't think the WELB has put much thought into this. I think this is just one way they are trying to force rural schools into closure."

The chief executive of the Western board and senior officers met with a number of school principals to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

A WELB spokesperson said: "The board carried out a major review of arrangements for concessionary transport in 2003.

"The outcome was a decision that where a transport service can be shown to be no longer required for pupils with transport entitlement, it should be withdrawn.

"It is important to emphasise that the only routes affected are those which no longer are needed in order to accommodate pupils who have an entitlement to transport assistance.

"On all other routes pupils who have already been allocated a concessionary seat will continue to be able to travel on a concessionary basis, provided that the seat does not have to be allocated to a pupil with transport entitlement.

"No new concessionary seats will be allocated, however, to pupils who live within statutory walking distance of a suitable school but who prefer to attend a more distant school."


Barrons to sue the State

In a separate development, the family of cattle dealer Richie Barron, the man Frank McBrearty Jnr was falsely accused of murdering, plans to sue the State.

The Barron family will initiate legal proceedings as a result of the Donegal Garda corruption scandal.

Papers due to be served today accuse the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General of negligence and dereliction of duty in their failure to ensure a proper investigation into the death of Mr Barron.


Security tight for Orange march

Security is expected to be high for the annual Tour of the North Orange march, due to take place in north Belfast.

Nationalists are planning a protest at Ardoyne where about 80 Orangemen and their supporters are due to pass on their return route.

The march is the first to be affected by an extension of the law governing the behaviour of parade supporters.

The police have wider powers to control the movement and behaviour of parade followers at flashpoint areas.

The Tour of the North is among the first of a series of parades by Protestant Orangemen which culminates in the biggest demonstrations on 12 July.

The tour's route, on Friday, alternates on a two-year basis.

The flashpoint is where the feeder parade passes shops and housing in the mainly nationalist area of Ardoyne.

During this part of the march, the bandsmen are restricted to playing a single drum beat.

A ruling by the Parades Commission restricts nationalist protesters to the footpath outside the Ardoyne shops and loyalists supporters also face restrictions, following conflict at a parade last July.

Only when the parade has passed the shops can the supporters proceed, on the direction of the police.

Politicians from all sides have said they have been working for a peaceful outcome.

Alban Maginness, SDLP, said that he hoped that the new law would have a positive impact.

"Of course, it remains to be seen what way the supporters will want to play this, what way the Orange Order will want to play it and what way the police will be able to deal with this piece of new legislation," he said.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, said he was opposed to the parade but was working for a peaceful outcome.

"The Orange Order are responsible for the crowd they bring back with them and the crowd that come back after a day's drinking is very abusive, very bigoted and very sectarian," he said.


He said residents had collected firm evidence of what had happened in the past and this parade should not happen.

Nelson McCausland, DUP, claimed that it was republicans who rioted last year.

"That would be a bit rich coming from people who, last year, rioted in the shameful way they did," he said.

"Folk have to get back to Ballysillan after the parade."

Mr McCausland said his party was also working for a resolution.

The Tour of the North is expected to last about three hours and set the tone for the marching season over the next few months.

About 1,000 Orangemen are expected to take part.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

Each year, Orangemen commemorate Protestant Prince William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.

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