06 August 2005

PSNI hits out at riot mobs


06/08/2005 - 09:34:06

Police chiefs today hit out at the mob behind a new wave of rioting on the streets of Belfast.

Officers were pelted by 15 petrol bombs, paint bombs and other missiles as they tried to deal with disturbances in the north of the city.

Trouble flared on Cambria Street and the Crumlin Road last night, just 24 hours after 40 police men and woman were injured in rioting blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.

In the latest burst of violence, youths began throwing stones at passing cars.

But when a 19-year-old man was arrested for public order offences, police said the crowd turned on them.

Superintendent Gary White said: “Police worked hard all evening with community representatives to try to resolve the situation and restore order.

“However, it’s clear that a small number of youths were intent on provoking violence and attacking the police. This type of behaviour is unacceptable. Both police and the local community want to see an end to these type of disturbances and we will continue to work to achieve that end.”

No injuries were reported, and the man arrested is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court today on rioting charges.

Colombian government demand return of IRA suspects


06/08/2005 - 02:02:04

Colombia has demanded that the Irish government extradite the three IRA-linked fugitives who were sentenced to 17 years in prison by a Colombian court of training Marxist rebels in terrorist tactics.

“Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern must demonstrate his country’s commitment to the global fight against terrorism,” Colombian vice president Francisco Santos said in a statement.

Santos said the Taoiseach had the “legal and moral obligation” to return the three men to Colombia even though the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were arrested in Bogota in 2001 after leaving a jungle stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and accused of teaching the rebels how to make IRA-style weaponry.

The trio, who deny the accusations, spent 34 months in a Colombian jail cell before a June 2004 court acquittal. The judge, however, demanded they remain in Colombia pending a state appeal to a higher court.

In December, the first ruling was overturned and the men sentenced to up to 17 years in prison, but by that point authorities had lost track of them – until they resurfaced in Ireland yesterday despite n international arrest warrant against them.

“A Colombian court issued its verdict that confirmed what we believed from the start: that they were three IRA terrorists – explosives experts – who came to Colombia to train the FARC,” Santos said.

The FARC, which funds itself through drug trafficking and kidnapping, has been battling to topple the government since 1964.

Santos insisted that the ongoing peace process in the North should not be allowed to impede the men’s extradition.

“The crimes committed by the Irish citizens and the judicial case against them are not related to the Irish (peace) process,” the vice president said. “Their case involves collaboration and participation in terrorist activities in Colombia.”

No hiding place for Colombia Three in North


05/08/2005 - 20:33:29

Three Irishmen convicted of training rebels in Colombia will be rearrested if they set foot in the UK, the British government warned tonight.

As unionists challenged the Irish Government to detain the men amid claims their return to the Republic was part of a deal to secure IRA decommissioning, the Northern Ireland Office warned there would be no hiding place for them north of the Irish border.

A spokesman said: “That is a matter for the Irish authorities. If they enter the UK an extradition request will be dealt with without delay.”

The three men returned to Ireland in the last few days, eight months after they were convicted in their absence of training Marxist rebels in the South American country.

Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley had been missing since last December after an appeal court reversed their original acquittal and sentenced them to 17 years in prison.

The Irish Government, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and one of the men denied there was any deal to allow them home as the Colombian authorities signalled they would seek their extradition.

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter Robinson called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to immediately hand the men over to the Colombian authorities.

“These three men were intricately involved in the global terrorist network,” the East Belfast MP said.

“Bertie Ahern would do well to remember the words of President Bush when he said: ’those who harbour terrorists are terrorists.”’

The three Irishmen were arrested at Bogota’s El Dorado Airport in August 2001 as they prepared to board a flight out of the country and accused of teaching left-wing rebels in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) urban terrorism techniques.

However they vigorously denied the claim, insisting they were visiting Colombia to monitor the country’s peace process.

Mr Monaghan tonight claimed no deal was done with either the British or Irish governments for their return and insisted they were not on the run.

“There hasn’t been any deal, we returned as soon as we could,” he said.

“I’m back in Ireland only a few days and as you can imagine, a lot of people in a lot of countries had to help us and I can’t endanger those people.

“I’m not on the run, I’m back and I would hope that I would be left in peace and that the Irish Government, who were quite good during the time we were away and the Taoiseach asked that we be sent back while we were waiting on the appeal and so on so I’d hope they would continue in that vein, but if it’s the case that the gardaí or someone wants to talk to us or talk to me, that’s alright.”

Mr Monaghan told RTE that the three had not gone to Colombia to train FARC rebels and insisted they only visited the country to learn about the peace process.

An Irish government spokesman said: “This issue was not part of the government’s discussions with Sinn Féin and we had no prior knowledge of their return to Ireland.”

Mr Robinson said the DUP was looking for the men’s immediate arrest and for the Republic to hand them over to the Colombian authorities.

“Mr Ahern must facilitate by whatever means necessary their swift extradition, even if that means new legislation,” he said.

“If he does not, unionists in Northern Ireland will believe him to be complicit. These men are on-the-run terrorists, convicted of terrorism in a Colombian court.

“They are in the Republic of Ireland and given that there is supposed to be a global battle against terrorism, Bertie Ahern knows what he has to do.”

Former Stormont Culture Minister Michael McGimpsey said the Irish Government had a duty to send the three men back to Colombia.

However, the Ulster Unionist negotiator said he thought this was unlikely to happen.

“It is surely no coincidence that the Colombia Three have arrived home after the events of the last fortnight emanating from the IRA statement,” the south Belfast MLA said.

“The Irish government are unlikely to send them back as this move is likely to be part of the latest concession choreography to republicans.

“The Colombia Three are probably the first ’on the run’ to be given a pardon. Once again, despicable political expediency is replacing common sense and due process.”

The Irish Department of Justice said it was aware of reports the three men were back in Ireland.

A spokesman said no extradition treaty existed between Ireland and Colombia, but if they received a request for extradition it would be considered.

Fine Gael opposition party leader Enda Kenny demanded an immediate statement from the Mr Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell on the circumstances surrounding the men’s return.

Mr Kenny also called on the government to clarify whether their return was part of the negotiations between it and Sinn Fein in the run up to the recent IRA statement on its future intentions.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell is currently out of the country.

Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane, who spearheaded the campaign to have the Colombia Three returned to Ireland, today said it was a relief to have them home but that she did not know how they had made their way back into the country.

Speaking outside Sinn Féin’s headquarters in Dublin Ms Ruane said: “It’s been a long four years for the families of these men and for them.

“They’ve suffered terribly and its good to have them home.”

The South Down MLA, who attended the men’s trial and visited them in prison said there was no deal done to get them back to Ireland.

Asked if she thought the timing of their return could have been better or if it had damaged the peace process, Ms Ruane said: “I think what we need to do in the peace process is move forward.

“We need all party talks and we need to get the negotiations up and running.

“The DUP, the UUP or anybody cannot block change in relation to the peace process.

“Yesterday the DUP was saying it was other things that were blocking the peace process, and tomorrow its going to be something else.”

Ms Ruane said there was an incredible context in which the relationship between Ireland and Britain had changed forever and that everyone just needed to move forward.

Asked if she was concerned the Irish Government might allow the extradition of the men back to Colombia Ms Ruane said she had met with Irish Government officials on a number of occasions over the past few years.

“The Irish Government during the trial and after the men were found innocent made representation to the Colombian government saying that they felt the safest place for the men was in Ireland.

“Irish people the length and breadth of this country know that these men cannot nor should not be sent to Colombia and I hope the Government understand that,” she said.

She said Mr Monaghan had said he was available to talk to gardaí and that the men were not in hiding.

She said she had no involvement in bringing the men back into the country over the past couple of days but that she had spoken to them and they were currently with their families.

“When I began in the campaign my aim was to get these three men back to Ireland – that part of it is done I’m pleased to say and I hope that’s the end of it,” she said.

05 August 2005

Man critical after building site accident


**This man needs your prayers please

05/08/2005 - 19:14:16

A construction worker is in a critical condition after he was almost buried in a thirty foot deep trench.

The accident happened on a building site off the Dock Road in Limerick city at 1.20pm today.

The victim, who is in his 30s, was working in the trench when the side of it collapsed on top of him and he was buried by three tons of earth.

He was immediately dug out of the trench by his colleagues and rushed to hospital where his condition has been described as "critical".

Two ambulances and three units of Limerick Fire Brigade were called to the scene.

Adams welcomes return of Colombia 3 to Ireland

Sinn Féin

Published: 5 August, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP responding to reports that the Colombia 3 have returned to Ireland said:

"I want to welcome this news. It will be a great relief to the three men's families and friends and I would hope that they can now get on with their lives."

Responding to comments from DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, Mr. Adams said

'I want to make clear that this issue was not discussed with the Irish government nor was it either a deal or a side deal related to recent developments in the peace process." ENDS

Colombia 3 'are back in Ireland'


The three Irishmen each received 17 year sentences

Three missing republicans sentenced to jail terms for training Marxist rebels in Colombia have secretly returned to Ireland, it has been reported.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan were sentenced to 17 years after an appeal court reversed their earlier acquittal on the charge.

The men, who vanished in December 2004 while on bail awaiting a court of appeal decision, deny a deal was done.

Irish state broadcaster RTE reported the trio returned in recent days.

RTE interviewed one of the men, Jim Monaghan, at a secret location.

He denied that any deal had been done with the British or Irish governments following the IRA's statement last week in which it said it was ending its campaign of violence.

James Monaghan pictured back in Ireland

He said he did not consider himself to be "on the run" and would not be hiding from Irish police.

There is no extradition treaty between the Republic of Ireland and Colombia.

Monaghan would not say how the three men got back to Ireland, but that they had got "a lot of help from a lot of people" and that he would not endanger them.

He said he hoped the Irish government would not place any obstacles in the way of the three men staying in the country and the government "would be very remiss to send anyone back to Colombia".

"We are looking for their immediate arrest and for the Republic to hand them over to the Colombian authorities."
Peter Robinson
DUP deputy leader

He said the men were not prepared to go back to Colombia if they lost their appeal in the case, and that they would be seeking legal advice about the possibility of extradition back to Colombia.

An Irish government spokesman said: "This issue was not part of the government's discussions with Sinn Fein and we had no prior knowledge of their return to Ireland."

However, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny demanded an immediate statement from Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on the circumstances surrounding the men's return.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "We have only just become aware of the presence of these men in the Republic of Ireland.

"That is a matter for the Irish authorities. If they enter the UK, an extradition request will be dealt with without delay."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he welcomed the news.

However, he added: "I want to make clear that this issue was not discussed with the Irish government, nor was it either a deal or a side deal related to recent developments in the peace process."

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said he had expressed his party's "grave concern" about the three men's return with the British government.

"We are looking for their immediate arrest and for the Republic to hand them over to the Colombian authorities.

"Mr Ahern must facilitate, by whatever means necessary, their swift extradition. If he does not, unionists in Northern Ireland will believe him to be complicit," he said.

'Remain in the country'

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey said the Irish government had a duty "to send the three men back to Colombia".

"It is surely no coincidence that the Colombia Three have arrived home after the events of the last fortnight emanating from the IRA statement," he said.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said the case had caused huge damage to the peace process.

"Their return will not be celebrated by democratic nationalists across the island," he said.

The men, who had been accused of being IRA members, were found guilty of travelling on false passports.

They were acquitted of training Farc guerrillas, but the Colombian attorney general appealed against that decision.

Trio were sentenced for training Marxist rebels

A judge had ordered the men to remain in the country pending the outcome of the appeal.

Their whereabouts were unknown and an international arrest warrant was issued for them.

McCauley, 41, is from Lurgan in County Armagh, Monaghan, 58, is from County Donegal and Connolly, 38, is from Dublin.

The three had been detained at Bogota's El Dorado airport in August 2001 as they were about to board a flight out of the country.

Their arrest led to speculation that Irish republicans had formed links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

The main charge against them was that they had been teaching the rebels urban terrorism techniques.

The Irishmen strenuously denied this, saying they were in the area to monitor the fledgling peace process as well as being eco-tourists.

NIO slammed over job ad ban

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has been accused of operating a policy of discrimination after it refused to advertise for new members for the Parades Commission in Daily Ireland.
Adverts for the posts appeared in the Irish News, Newsletter, Belfast Telegraph and the London edition of the Times.
When asked to explain why it was refusing to advertise in Daily Ireland, the Parades Commission said it had also refused to advertise in the British tabloid, The Sun.
However, this claim has cut no ice with republicans who believe the organisation’s governing body, the NIO, is operating unfairly.
Sinn Féin Assemblyman Michael Ferguson has complained to the NIO about the department’s treatment of the newspaper.
He said: “The NIO is hiding behind a review of its ongoing services, but to use this excuse and then advertise Parades Commission members posts in the London Times is a bit much.
“The NIO is denying Daily Ireland the same opportunities it affords other newspapers and that smacks of inequality.
“The department acknowledges there are anomalies in its advertising and procedures, yet it is not prepared to address these ahead of the review being completed even though it knows it is discriminating.”
Mr Ferguson added: “Not advertising Parades Commission posts in Daily Ireland compounds this inequality and pushes the situation into the realms of ridiculousness.”
SDLP Assembly member and party spokesperson on equality, Patricia Lewsley, said it was important for the NIO to be seen to be operating in a fair and equitable manner.
She said: “The NIO must operate in a fair and equal way, it is imperative for it to act like this.
“Job adverts and appointments should be published in newspapers that represent both sides of the community.”
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: “On occasions the government will advertise in other newspapers outside Northern Ireland if the post requires it.”
Daily Ireland’s problems with Parades Commission adverts is not the first time the newspaper has faced official opposition to important notices being placed in its pages.
The British government was recently forced into an embarrassing climb down over its refusal to advertise in the newspaper.
The publication of Daily Ireland’s audited sales figures of 10,467 copies per day eventually forced the British government to give the newspaper some advertising.
However, it still refuses to place advertisements for jobs in Daily Ireland.

Loyalists attack PSNI following feud raids - **PSNI shielding UVF leader

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Violence erupted in Belfast yesterday after a series of PSNI raids in connection with a feud between loyalist paramilitaries.
Three cars, a lorry and a bus were hijacked during the trouble which broke out in the Crumlin Road area at around 5.30pm.
A large number of petrol bombs and paint bombs were thrown during the disturbances, with reports that a number of petrol bombs were thrown at Catholic homes in the area.
The disturbances were connected to the arrest of six men yesterday during a PSNI operation linked to the ongoing paramilitary feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.
The feud has claimed the lives of three men, the most recent being Stephen Paul, who was shot dead outside a house in Wheatfield Crescent on Saturday.
All three murders have been attributed to the UVF.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Margaret McClenaghan last night said the nationalist Ardoyne area had also been targeted during the violence.
“A number of petrol bombs and paint bombs were thrown from the loyalist Woodvale Road area into the Ardoyne,” she said.
“Loyalists were also trying to antagonise nationalists youths but community leaders have been out on the ground trying to keep the situation calm.”
Meanwhile, senior loyalists yesterday questioned why the leader of the UVF has not yet been questioned by detectives in connection with the ongoing feud.
The UVF leader has sanctioned three killings in recent weeks but has yet to be brought in for questioning.
Senior loyalists are now asking why the PSNI has not taken action against the Shankill Road man, who has been plagued by rumours that he is a police informer.
During the loyalist feuds of 2000 and 2003 involving the Ulster Defence Association, the group’s then leader, Johnny Adair, was taken in for questioning a number of times and sent to jail on two different occasions.
A loyalist source told Daily Ireland that the PSNI’s reluctance to confront the UVF boss, who is named as an informer in a report by human rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch, has added to rumours that he is a “tout”.
The source said: “This man has been in the UVF for 30 years, but he doesn’t even have a paramilitary conviction.
“Most people thought he was good at keeping a low-profile, but now even people in the UVF are asking questions.
“His organisation has killed three people in the last couple of weeks. Why has the PSNI not even brought him in for questioning?
“They jumped all over Johnny Adair and sent him back to jail during the last loyalist feuds. What’s the difference between Adair and this man?”

RIRA verdict ‘unsafe’

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

Calls were made last night for an overhaul of the Irish justice system by leading legal figures.
The appeal was made after the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin ruled that the conviction of five men charged with Real IRA membership may be unsafe.
The three judge appeal court panel found that the men’s original conviction wasn’t sound after it emerged that three judges at their original non-jury Special Criminal Court trial viewed garda files belonging to the accused. The men were subsequently released last Thursday.
Last night a solicitor for the five men welcomed their release from Portlaoise Prison.
However Limerick-based solicitor John Devane spoke of his despair at the current state of the Irish justice system and called for the Offences Against the State Act (1998) to be axed. A controversial amendment to the act made in 1998 allows people to be convicted of paramilitary offences simply on the word of senior garda officers.
“If you are determining the guilt or otherwise of someone you do it based on the facts before you, not on how big a police file a person might have,” he said.
“The appeal judges agreed with this and believe the original decision is unsafe. Juries don’t get to look at someone’s file prior to judgment so why should a judge?
“People should be found guilty or innocent based on the facts. These men should not have been found guilty based on three seconds of video clip.
“Some people try to dismiss what I say by claiming I’m a republican supporter but I am a solicitor in this country and three judges agree with me.”
Trinity University law professor Ivana Bacik, who stood for the Labour Party in the last general election, agreed that the current system requires change.
“I think there are lots of ways the criminal justice could be reformed and reviewed.”
The five men charged with Real IRA membership, Limerick men Ciaran O’Dwyer (50), and Ultan Larkin (34), and John Murphy (25), Gerard Varian (46) and Aidan O’Driscoll (26), from Cork, were sentenced in June to a range of jail terms solely on the word of a senior garda and a three-second video clip of several of them entering a Co Cork Hotel in 2003.
It is expected all the men will appear before the courts next year when the charges against them will be dismissed or a retrial ordered.

Disability Act to take effect at year end


05/08/2005 - 12:57:22

All government departments and public bodies will be obliged to make their services accessible to disabled people from the end of this year.

The move was announced today by Junior Minister Frank Fahey, who said he had signed an order paving the way for the introduction of the provisions on December 31.

The measures were included in the Disability Act passed earlier this year.

Mr Fahey said the order would also require government departments and public bodies to take action to increase the proportion of disabled people they employ to 3% of their total workforce.

Annual vote roll may be dropped


The government has published plans to drop the requirement for a new electoral register to be compiled in Northern Ireland every year.

The measure - introduced to combat electoral fraud - has been criticised by those who believe it has reduced the number of people entitled to vote.

Instead the Chief Electoral Officer can decide when the roll needs refreshing.

It is also proposed that people should be able to get on the register up until 11 days before an election.

The current cut-off point is nearer to six weeks.

A new elections bill to be put before parliament next year will also deal with the controversial question of donations to political parties.

A consultation paper published on Friday suggests that - in contrast to the rest of the UK - Irish citizens will continue to be allowed to donate to parties in the province.

The government is still keeping its options open about whether party donors should be allowed to remain anonymous if they have security concerns.

Sinn Fein's national director of elections Pat Doherty MP welcomed the consultation paper and its proposals.

"It is a recognition that the current arrangements are deeply flawed and need urgent change," he said.

"Annual registration has proven to be a complete disaster. Public confidence in the electoral system needs to be rebuilt and it is my hope that today's paper can be the first step along this road."

Apprentice Boys parade is banned

**In other news:

Four people held over the 1997 murder of a Northern Ireland GAA official have been freed pending further inquiries. >>Read it



The Apprentice Boys march was due to take place next weekend

The Apprentice Boys have been told that their march through a flashpoint area of north Belfast has been banned.

The Parades Commission said a parade through Ardoyne would have "an adverse effect on fragile community relations".

The commission said there was potential for public disorder if the parade took place at Ardoyne shops next week.

Apprentice Boys spokesman Tommy Cheevers said the decision was a direct consequence of nationalist rioting at an Orange march in Ardoyne on 12 July.

He said he was "totally gutted" by the decision.

Sinn Fein assembly member Cathy Stanton said banning the parade was the "only logical decision".

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

Divis’s unblinking eye


Out of the West - Robin Livingstone

I reckon the Brits should donate those cameras they’re taking off the spy posts in South Armagh and on Divis Tower to the Armagh Observatory. I’m told their range is limited only by the curvature of the earth and that just before the planet slopes off into the far distance, they can make out expiry dates on car tax discs and numbers on front doors. Apparently the listening and tracking technology is even better.

I guess we’ll never know what successes such serious kit allowed the Brits to score in their fight against the IRA. In poker, if a player folds then the winner doesn’t have to show his hand because it would suit the loser to know the winner’s strategy; similarly, if the IRA had to call off an operation because the whole thing went pear-shaped, the Brits never said a word about it because it wasn’t in their interests to let the IRA know what had happened. But I think it’s fair to say they won their fair share of victories, most of which never ended up with a shot fired, never mind a body count. How could it be other? With the degree of control afforded by an eyrie such as Divis, bristling with space-age boys’ toys, the city of Belfast was like a battle game laid out on a table with British officers in battle fatigues standing over it, pushing the pieces around with their swagger sticks.

They scored successes against the IRA, and yet, incredibly, we’re asked to expect that countless acts of loyalist depredation wrought in the shadow of the tower went unseen and unheard. Of course they didn’t and the fact of the matter is that the British army has a mountain of surveillance information stored away in some dark place never to be seen by those families to whom it would bring understanding or closure. For the residents of Divis Tower, and for me, it’s enough that the ghosts in the tower are leaving the place as they came in: unknown and unwanted.

Meanwhile, we’re told 50,000 people were members of the UDR and the RIR at one stage or another, which is an awful lot of people – seven per cent of the unionist population, somebody tells me. That’s a lot of Prods with guns and with knowledge of guns. Decommission that, as the man said.

After the announcement that the home battalions of the RIR are for the high jump, I never heard so much self-pitying whingeing in my life. It would be nice to think that they could work up one tenth of the passion over the imposition of water charges, the cuts to education, and special needs education in particular, the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of the community sector, or any of the other quality of life/employment issues. Some chance.

Even as some unionists are trying to formulate some kind of ‘Mouse That Roared’ response to the axing of the RIR, elsewhere others are trying to wangle as much money as possible out of the British government. The Ministry of Defence says the soldiers who are set to get the beetle are already well catered for, which is self-evidently the case, but never mind the anger, never mind the outrage, never mind the sorrow and never mind the betrayal, any chance you might get your hand in your pocket, Tony?

Crazy - Parades Commission ruling to allow march to pass nationalist homes on Whitewell is...


Nationalists on the Whitewell have described a Parades Commission decision to allow the Royal Preceptory to walk past a Catholic area tomorrow (Friday) night as “crazy”.
Community worker Paul McKernon criticised the decision to allow 150 marchers and a band to walk from the Orange hall on the Whitewell past nationalist homes.
He said a spate of attacks had occurred this week and that tensions were high in the area.
The Black march also coincides with the Greencastle Festival this weekend, raising fears of trouble.
But the Royal Black Preceptory, whose walk was marred by trouble last August, says it’s not interested in “triumphalism”.
Paul McKernon said the walk was not an annual one, adding that at a time when the Parades Commission said it was trying to reduce marches, the decision to allow an additional one was “ridiculous”.
“Here we are again with another crazy decision by the Parades Commission. There was trouble last August and this will add to tensions in the area.
“There have been attacks from Graymount on homes in Catherine Court on Monday and Tuesday with windows being broken. Last August residents standing in Catherine Court were attacked when the Royal Black marched past their homes. Now we have this march on a Friday night at 8pm.
“This is also an organisation that refused to talk to residents, but are happy to walk through their streets.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Police accused in wake of rioting


05/08/2005 - 09:16:50

Police were probing allegations that officers acted in a heavy-handed manner during raids on loyalist homes in Belfast prior to serious rioting, a senior officer confirmed today.

Forty police officers were injured during clashes with angry loyalists in the Crumlin Road and Woodvale areas which resulted in 11 plastic baton rounds being fired.

None of the police officers’ injuries were life-threatening.

Residents blamed police behaviour during raids earlier in the day connected to a probe into a loyalist paramilitary feud, claiming officers used abusive language towards children.

The disturbances flared around 5.30pm yesterday with three cars and a lorry being hijacked and set alight.

A blast bomb was thrown at police lines at around 10pm, while a bus was completely destroyed and other vehicles were damaged. A HGV cab was also driven at police lines. Officers also came under fire from petrol and paint bombs as well as fireworks.

Earlier six people were arrested as officers raided a total of 15 homes in connection with their probe into a feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and its rival, the Loyalist Volunteer Force which has claimed the lives of three people.

Democratic Unionist councillor William Humphrey expressed concern about police conduct during yesterday’s raids.

“We have raised the behaviour of some officers which I witnessed yesterday with senior officers,” he said. “We want to see community relations being built in this community and not destroyed.”

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Wesley Wilson said any allegations against officers would be investigated.

“I know that there have been allegations of heavy-handedness by people,” he said. “The allegations made to the District Commander of North Belfast will be investigated and there are procedures for doing that.”

However he said the allegations still did not justify last night’s rioting.

Although there was no direct evidence that loyalist paramilitaries were directing the violence, the acting ACC said it was reasonable to suspect the Ulster Volunteer Force orchestrated last night’s disturbances.

“These people had wheelie bins full of bricks and bottles, they had so many petrol bombs that we actually stopped counting how many were thrown at our officers and blast bombs,” he said.

While no arrests were made, he confirmed police would be reviewing video evidence to identify those involved.

Northern Ireland Office minister David Hanson condemned last night’s rioting.

“Once again it is loyalist paramilitaries who have brought violence into loyalist areas,” he said.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will protect the whole community and must have the support of the whole community. Those with influence must use to bring an end to this self-destructive violence.”

Govt urged to clarify stance on Dáil access for North MPs


05/08/2005 - 07:52:49

The Labour Party has called on the Government to disclose any deal it may have made with Sinn Féin regarding speaking rights in the Oireachtas for Northern politicians.

There has been much speculation in recent weeks that the Government was set to allow Northern MPs and MEPs to attend debates in the Dáil and Seanad.

The speculation has angered unionists, who say the move would be an unacceptable attempt to create an embryonic all-Ireland parliament.

Labour TD Liz McManus is now calling on the Government to reveal it has agreed to such a move in return for last week's IRA declaration that its war is over.

She said the issue could create further political polarisation in the North and the Government should clarify where it stands.

Second arrest over 1997 killing


Sean Brown's body was found in a burned out car

Police investigating the murder of a sports official in Northern Ireland in 1997 have made another arrest.

Sean Brown, 61, was shot dead as he left his local Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club in Bellaghy, County Londonderry.

A 39-year-old woman, originally from Northern Ireland, was arrested on Thursday morning at a house in Waltham Crescent in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

A man arrested at the same address on Wednesday is still being questioned.

The woman is currently in custody in Nuneaton awaiting questioning by officers from Northern Ireland.

The 44-year-old man was also to be questioned by PSNI officers.

New inquiry

A police spokesman said the man was also originally from Northern Ireland but was living in the Warwickshire area.

The murder of Mr Brown was featured in a reconstruction by the BBC's Crimewatch programme in June.

A GAA match was recreated for the programme, and poet Seamus Heaney and Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Robin Eames were interviewed.

Last year Sean Brown's family reached agreement with PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde on how a new investigation should proceed.

It followed a critical report from the police ombudsman on the original Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation into Mr Brown's death.

In January 2004, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said she had upheld two complaints from Mr Brown's family about the RUC inquiry into his murder.

A new team of investigators, including officers from outside forces, started a new inquiry.

Sligo 'still not paying proper homage to Yeats'

Irish Independent

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SLIGO should be to WB Yeats as Stratford-on-Avon is to Shakespeare or as the Lake District is to William Wordsworth, the President of the Yeats Society has argued.

Speaking during the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo yesterday, Michael Keohane criticised the local authorities for failing to give the influential poet his due recognition.

"Apart from this School, I don't think Yeats is being properly recognised. There should be a major street renamed in his honour. Also there are four key buildings in the town which are directly connected with his family and there isn't a single plaque on them," he said.

He added that Sligo city, with its own airport, should be promoted for cultural breaks with the collected poems of Yeats being used as the perfect guide to the area.

"This is where the future of tourism lies and we have to learn to take advantage of that. People are tiring of the two-week sun holiday and are opting instead for short city breaks to cultural cities like Prague and Trieste. So why not Sligo?" he asked.

This year's 45th Yeats International Summer School and Festival, has attracted over 110 delegates from all over the world, who have no doubts about the international significance of the writer.

The fortnight offers seminars, plays, exhibitions and tours all paying homage to the city's most famous adopted son.

For the School's loyal supporters and newcomers alike, coming to Sligo which provided the inspiration for much of the poet's most famous works, always offers new ways of exploring the enigmatic writer. American student Erin Sells, from Atlanta, Georgia said: "I have never done anything like this before and it is very exciting to be able to discuss Yeats with such intellectual and influential people."

Yeats Society chairperson, Michael Keohane pointed out that far from being a 'Dead Poets Society', the esteem in which Yeats is held among the living, is reflected in the attendance at this year's School of some of Ireland's leading contemporary poets including Seamus Heaney, Dennis O'Driscoll, Eamon Grennan and Tom Paulin.

Seamus Heaney was even sitting in the lecture hall during a lecture which compared his work to that of Yeats.

Anita Guidera

Hepatitis C victims get belated apology -

Irish Independent

THE Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) yesterday apologised, after more than 12 years, to 33 blood donors who tested positive for Hepatitis C, but weren't informed of the diagnosis.

The donors at the Cork IBTS centre were not told they were positive for several years in the early 1990s.

The matter first came to light in 1996, at the time of the Finlay Tribunal into the infection of people with Hepatitis C through contaminated products supplied by the IBTS.

In a statement yesterday the IBTS said it was deeply sorry for not informing the donors that they had the illness as early as possible.

It said it would be contacting each donor individually over the coming week to pass on the apology.

An independent report published earlier this year criticised the IBTS over the delay, saying it was misconceived and inadequate.

Hepatitis C screening was introduced at the Dublin and Cork centres in October 1991. All donors who tested positive for the illness in Dublin were notified from the start of 1992 - a measure not implemented in Cork until November 1993.

Eilish O'Regan

Shell halts work on gas pipeline

Irish Independent

UP to 200 workers employed on construction of the controversial Corrib Gas Field plant in Co Mayo could lose their jobs after Shell announced that work is to be suspended until after Christmas.

In a statement last night, Shell E&P Ireland announced that all offshore pipeline work was to be temporarily suspended just two days after permission was granted by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, for construction to begin on the 75km pipeline.

No further work will be carried out until "public discussion and dialogue" take place, the company said in a surprise statement issued last night.

It added that it could not withdraw legal proceedings which have seen five Co Mayo men jailed for objecting to construction of a pipeline near their homes.

A spokesperson for the petroleum giant said it had "no wish" for the current situation with the men to continue, but added that suspension of the work would give the public time to engage in a "period of calm".

The five Mayo men - known as the Rossport Five - have been in prison for more than a month after being jailed for contempt of court following their protests over the Shell development.

Preliminary work on the off-shore pipeline was due to begin on August 14 and would have lasted for three weeks.

A spokesperson for Shell said this work was unlikely to take place until after Christmas, which would have possible implications for 200 workers currently employed. Last week the company let 91 workers go.

It now plans a media and public relations blitz aimed at securing local support for the project.

"We really feel it's going to need widespread public support," the spokesperson said.

"We have no wish for this situation to continue and hope the public will take part in a period of calm."

Managing director Andy Pyle said: "While we strongly believe that all safety aspects of the onshore pipeline have been fully addressed, we want the public to have confidence that every reasonable step has been taken. Today's announcement regarding the temporary suspension of the offshore pipeline works is a further sign of our commitment to safety."

However, local TD Dr Jerry Cowley, who is actively involved in the campaign against the facility, said it was "very hard" to believe anything the company said. "Everything they've done up to now has been a PR job," he said.

"Shell have the option of collapsing that injunction, so why won't they do that if they're looking for good will? Decency and justice would require that those men walk out of jail.

"People accept now that there's not going to be a pipeline laid," he claimed.

The spokesperson for Shell added that suspension of the work would not materially affect the project's completion date.

Paul Melia

Today in History: IRA members jailed for 4,000 years


5 August 1983

Twenty-two members of the IRA have been jailed for a total of more than 4,000 years following one of Northern Ireland's biggest mass trials.

Four defendants were given life sentences with 18 others receiving shorter prison terms.

In total 38 defendants faced various charges including murder and attempted murder.

Kevin Malgrew, who faced the most charges - 84 - was sentenced to jail terms totalling 963 years.

Sentencing him the judge, Mr Justice Basil Kelly said: "You are a ruthless terrorist. I do not expect any words of mine will ever raise in you a twinge of remorse."

In spite of the long sentences none of those convicted is expected to spend more than 20 years in prison as the judge ordered the terms should be served concurrently.

The IRA members were convicted largely on the evidence of a police informant, the so-called "supergrass" Christopher Black.

He was granted immunity from prosecution and is now believed to be abroad.

A police spokesman said they believed Black was being hunted by the IRA.

'Community pressure'

The judge, Mr Justice Basil Kelly wore a bullet proof vest throughout the trial.

Like all judges in such cases he will receive police protection for the rest of his life.

But in spite of some of the long sentences he handed down, Mr Justice Kelly also showed compassion to some of those of trial.

He set 13 people free with suspended sentences or discharges saying he realised the "enormous pressure" placed upon them within their community to help extremists.

Postman Francis Murphy got a suspended sentence for allowing a IRA man to wear his uniform so he could carry out a murder.

And the Mr Justice Kelly gave Mr Murphy's mother an absolute discharge for having later burnt the uniform.

"Very many other mothers would have done the same," he said.

In Context

Eighteen of those convicted on Black's evidence had their convictions quashed in 1986.

The IRA trial followed another "supergrass" court case in April involving members of the Protestant Ulster Volunteer Force.

The key evidence in that trial came from Joseph Bennett who was granted immunity in return for his testimony.

It led to 14 men being imprisoned - two for life terms.

Christopher Black and Joseph Bennett were among about 30 former extremists who turned informant.

Their evidence lead to the identification of up to 300 people and had a crippling effect on the groups' activities.

N.Irish loyalists hold on to guns despite IRA move


By Kevin Smith
Thu Aug 4, 2005 02:55 PM BST

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click to view - UDA in Rathcoole 2004 - photo REUTERS/Paul McErlane

BELFAST (Reuters) - With a cast of chillingly-nicknamed characters and an alphabet soup of rival factions, Northern Ireland's Protestant paramilitary groups have spent years locked in murderous infighting.

Given the turbulence within these paramilitary groups, experts say, the pledge last week by their Irish Republican Army foes to dump arms and end violence is unlikely to bring any reciprocal moves from Protestant gunmen soon.

Since 2000, feuds between warring "loyalists" -- so-called because of their fierce allegiance to the crown and hostility to a united Ireland -- have left nearly 20 men dead, with three killed since the beginning of last month.

"What you've got with loyalism now is a headless chicken that's running around incredibly frustrated and all the nerve endings are fighting each other," said James Dingley, lecturer in terrorism and political violence at the University of Ulster.

"They have no political brains within their ranks to give them coherent guidance," he said.

Loyalist groups, which reacted to the IRA's campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland by killing Roman Catholics, were responsible for around 1,000 of the 3,600 lives lost in the 30-year conflict. The IRA was responsible for around 1,800.

But since an IRA ceasefire in 1997, the chief struggle among loyalist paramilitaries has been for control of Protestant neighbourhoods in disputes often linked to drug dealing and racketeering.

"The feud situation is dominating things so you're not going to get a quick response," said Mervyn Gibson, chairman of the Loyalist Commission, which includes members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Red Hand Commando (RHC) alongside churchmen and politicians.

"They'll consider the (IRA) statement carefully and like the rest of the (pro-British) unionist community they'll wait to see the words followed by actions," he said.

However, the likelihood of Protestant guerrilla groups -- who regard themselves as defensive organisations against the threat of republicanism -- giving up their guns is remote.

Aside from requiring weaponry to carry out their feuds, groups like the UVF and the smaller Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) -- the two factions involved in the latest power struggle -- see no political gain from giving up arms, as may have been the case with the IRA and its political ally Sinn Fein.

Also, moves to scale back the British military presence in the province in the wake of the IRA's declaration have increased loyalist insecurity about the lack of homegrown protection against dissident groups like the Real IRA.

"I can't see them giving up their weapons, probably because they don't think the union (with Britain) is safe any more," said Henry McDonald, co-author of a book about the UDA.

"Also, the UVF is engaged in a shooting war with the LVF and while that's going on they're not going to give up their guns."

Security sources say loyalist groups have been upgrading their arsenals in recent years, with one source estimating the UVF alone had "enough weaponry to arm at least one infantry battalion".

That kind of firepower is one reason why police fear an escalation in the latest feud as the UVF sets about eradicating the LVF, a breakaway group set up in 1996 by the late Billy "King Rat" Wright and heavily involved in drug dealing across the province.

Other recent feuds have included a struggle for supremacy between guerrilla boss Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair and rival UDA commanders which ended in several deaths and the exiling of Adair and his supporters to England.

Another high-profile paramilitary, Frankie "Pig Face" Curry, one-time leader of UVF splinter group the Red Hand Commando, was shot dead by his former comrades in west Belfast in 1999.

04 August 2005

Officers injured in disturbances


Six vehicles were set on fire during the trouble

Eight police officers have been injured and plastic bullets fired during rioting on Belfast's Crumlin Road.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles were thrown and cars hijacked during the disturbances.

Police in riot gear were involved in a stand-off with rioters and the PSNI said loyalist paramilitaries were behind the violence.

The trouble followed the arrests of six men in connection with an operation linked to the ongoing loyalist feud.

Three cars and a lorry were hijacked and set on fire. The police closed off part of the Crumlin Road. A bus was also set on fire in Enfield Street.

The disturbances broke out shortly before 1730 BST.

Police on Cambrai Street came under attack from stones, bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs.

Acting PSNI Chief Inspector Paul McCormill appealed for calm and said the trouble could escalate.

"The serious outbreak of violent disorder is attributable to loyalist paramilitaries," he said.

Police in riot gear went to the scene

"At the minute we are just containing the people in the area and we're just waiting to see how things are developing," he said.

"We've been contacting community representatives and we are trying to diffuse that situation by negotiation with representatives from the community.

"I would appeal to those community representatives to exercise whatever influence they have over the people in the area, to ensure that this serious disorder is brought to a peaceful conclusion as soon as possible."

A "significant number" of petrol bombs, paint, bricks and stones were thrown at police, he said.

Three plastic baton rounds were fired by the PSNI.

Local community workers said the disturbances broke out in direct response to the earlier searches.

There were allegations that police had been heavy-handed during the searches.

However, while local DUP representatives were raising their concerns with police, trouble broke out.

Transport company Translink said it had suspended services on the Shankill Road after the bus was hijacked.

There were no passengers on board the vehicle which was hijacked at the top of the Ballygomartin Road. The driver was not injured.

The Crumlin Road is closed between Tennant Street and Brookfield Mills.

PSNI must change: South African cop

Daily Ireland

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click to view - Robert McBride

A senior member of the South African Police Service last night told an audience of 800 people in west Belfast that the PSNI will have to change to become “impartial” and “accountable”.
During the apartheid era, Robert McBride served time on death row as a commander in the people’s army Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress.
Mr McBride emphasised that ANC and MK members were “amalgamated” into an entirely new and accountable police service after a political settlement was concluded in South Africa.
Mr McBride was speaking at the Féile an Phobail ‘West Belfast Talks Back’ seminar, in association with Daily Ireland. He is now police commissioner in one of the largest urban districts of South Africa, serving over four million people.
“Your police have been, from my observations, a political police service. It will have to change to become a police service to serve the people – impartial, accountable. Now that can be done,” Mr McBride said.
“When there was a political settlement our people were amalgamated into the new police service. In fact a whole new act was established that did away with the old police service,” Mr McBride said to loud applause.
Explaining that he now trusts and socialises with former security police who plotted to kill him, Mr McBride continued:
“Of those people who I serve with, who were my enemy before, there are very few of them who I don’t trust.
“The majority of them are professional police in a different environment, with retraining, a different emphasis, and to a large extent I trust them with my life, and I think the question you guys must ask yourself: ‘is there a time in the future when you would be able to work together from your different communities as one police service, serving people - not as a police force, as a police service - serving people, so that people can walk in the night unmolested?’
“That is our dream at home and our problem is much bigger than your problem. Its ten times bigger,” Mr McBride said.
Listening to Mr McBride’s intervention from the floor was a panel consisting of Ulster Unionist Party leader Reg Empey, Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly and Democratic Unionist Party assembly member Arlene Foster.
Mr Murphy stated that Sinn Féin would “not have a mission” asking the nationalist community to consider the issue of policing unless major changes are brought about by the British government.
The Newry and Armagh MP highlighted that considerable concerns exist in the broad nationalist community over issues like the British government’s failure to devolve policing and justice powers, the enhanced intelligence role being given to MI5 and the ongoing use of plastic bullets.
When questioned about her party’s meeting in London yesterday with secretary of state Peter Hain, Arlene Foster refused to divulge the detail of the DUP’s current position.
However earlier in the day, the DUP threatened to delay devolution for at least two years.
The threat came when a large DUP delegation led by Ian Paisley strongly attacked secretary of state Peter Hain during a meeting at the Northern Ireland Office in London yesterday morning. Mr Paisley’s delegation will meet prime minister Tony Blair in Downing Street later today.
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said “the prospects of a return to devolution have been damaged very considerably by the actions of this government”.
“The community in Northern Ireland is outraged at what government has done,” Mr Robinson added.
A Sinn Féin delegation will also meet with Tony Blair in London today. Party president Gerry Adams will be joined by chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, party chairperson Mary-Lou McDonald and equality spokesperson Caitríona Ruane.
Ahead of the meeting, Gerry Adams last night said that the DUP strategy is to delay the re-establishment of the political institutions.
“If the DUP’s objective is to delay, delay, delay, then the British government’s should be to implement, implement and implement all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and to tell the DUP that they can only have a say in the peace process by sharing power with Sinn Féin,” Mr Adams said.

Revelation that Aid Minister ignored UN requests for food aid disturbing

Sinn Féin

Published: 4 August, 2005

Sinn Fein Councillor Killian Forde has described as "disturbing" the revelation that Overseas Aid Minister Conor Lenihan ignored at least four separate requests by the UN's food aid section for funding of famine relief in Niger over the past 10 months. He said if Minister Lenihan wasn't capable of managing his overseas aid brief he should be dismissed.

Councillor Forde said, "Two of these requests were made when Ireland was an Executive Board member of the UN World Food Programme, a position they were elected onto and entrusted by other UN members to prevent food shortages becoming famines. This they failed utterly to do."

Councillor Forde, a former overseas aid worker, said "The Ethiopian famine of the mid 80's caught the world by surprise, since then millions has rightfully been spent developing sophisticated tracking mechanisms to forewarn on impending food crisis's. The news that four specific requests for assistance by the UN's World Food Programme were ignored by Minister Lenihan is disturbing and makes a mockery of the hard work and money that has been incurred developing 'Early Warning Systems' to prevent occurrences of starving kids as we have seen from Niger.

"The fact that Ireland had a seat on the Board and therefore a unique viewpoint on the long lead in time of this famine only compounds this scandal." Killian also pointed out that, "under the Conor Lenihans tenure Irelands donation for famine prevention to the UN has slipped and in 2004 Ireland lagged far behind smaller European countries with even the impoverished African State of Malawi contributing more."

Councillor Forde added that, "Ireland has a long and proud tradition of delivering great aid programmes, being generous and swift in our response. This Government has a clear choice - it can either allow that proud tradition to be sullied by its current policies under Minister Lenihan or the Taoiseach should dismiss Minister Lenihan if he has been acting alone in his mismanagement of his overseas aid brief." ENDS

Blair receives DUP list of demands

RTE News

04 August 2005 19:53

DUP leader Ian Paisley has given the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, a list of demands which he says must be met before his party will enter any discussions about the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Speaking after a meeting with Mr Blair at Downing Street this morning, Mr Paisley said the DUP cannot sit down for talks immediately unless it is sure that the IRA has finished criminality.

The party's Deputy Leader, Peter Robinson, said the DUP would require a long period of assessment to make sure the IRA has decommissioned and ended its paramilitary activity and criminality.

The Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, has accused Mr Paisley of engaging in delaying tactics on the political future of the North.

Mr Adams said the British leader should tell Mr Paisley that the old days were finished and equality had to be the future.

No public handshake for Adams and Blair, geez...

A Sinn Féin delegation led by Mr Adams held a separate meeting with Mr Blair today.

DUP cites 'concessions'

Today's developments follow exchanges between the DUP and the Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, in London yesterday.

The DUP accused the British government of making a series of concessions to Sinn Féin after the IRA's promise to end its campaign a week ago.

The DUP warned that the return of the Stormont Assembly could now be delayed by up to two years.

In last week's statement, the IRA promised to decommission all its weapons. Before that, the Shankill bomber Sean Kelly was released.

Since then, the scaling back of British Army bases has started and the disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment announced.

Six arrested over loyalist feud


Army and police patrols have increased

Six people have been arrested and 14 premises searched in north Belfast in an operation linked to the ongoing loyalist feud, the PSNI has said.

Detectives are working to disrupt activities relating to "fear and intimidation" from the feud in an operation costing £30,000 a day.

So far three people have died in the feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The latest victim was Stephen Paul, 28, who was shot dead by the UVF.

Detectives have appealed for information about a car used in the killing.

It was seen speeding on to the Crumlin Road from Wheatfield Crescent where Mr Paul was shot dead on Saturday.

Detective Superintendent Roy McComb, who is leading the investigation, said: "I grow weary of people being murdered just because someone puts a title on them."

"Regardless what anyone believes another person to be a member... nobody has the right to take life.

"This morning we have carried out a number of searches and have arrested a number of men in relation to this murder and activities across Belfast involving loyalist paramilitary activities."

Another man was injured in Saturday's attack.

A number of families linked to the LVF have also been forced from their homes following UVF intimidation in an east Belfast estate.

Police and soldiers have been patrolling estates in County Down and north Belfast since the evictions in a bid to prevent a re-occurrence.

Cars set alight in disturbances


Several cars have been set on fire

Petrol bombs and paint have been thrown and cars hijacked during disturbances in north Belfast.

Disturbances erupted on the Crumlin Road, Cambrai Street and Enfield Street areas of the city.

Three cars and a lorry have been hijacked and set on fire. The police have closed off part of the Crumlin Road. A bus is also on fire.

The trouble follows the arrests of six men in connection with an operation linked to the ongoing loyalist feud.

The disturbances broke out shortly before 1730 BST.

The Crumlin Road is closed between Tennant Street and Brookfield Mills.

History archives at West Belfast festival

Belfast Telegraph

By Staff Reporter
04 August 2005

FASCINATING archives dating back to the 1920s are currently on display at the West Belfast Festival, including photographs of Sir Edward Carson and documents relating to internment in the early years of Northern Ireland.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has opened up its archives to reveal the files charting the province's tumultuous history.

The exhibitions, which are being showcased at St Mary's University College, include detailing the 1940s imprisonment of people for possession of explosive substances, events heralding the establishment of the Stormont government and the impact of the Second World War on Belfast.

On display will be Home Affairs, internment and Prison Branch files, a plan of the prison ship Argenta, on which 700 people were interned in 1922, and photographs of Sir Edward Carson signing the Ulster Covenant in 1912.

A PRONI spokesman explained: "It is important that the unique resource within the Public Record Office is better known and used."

The exhibition, which has been organised in partnership with the Falls Community Council, will be on display today and tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.

Orde rebuked over stand-off scenes

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
04 August 2005

CHIEF Constable Sir Hugh Orde has been told at Policing Board headquarters that the "disturbing and sinister" images of police inaction during the Garnerville stand-off must never be repeated.

During the meeting yesterday the SDLP also challenged senior officers over the decision to fire plastic baton rounds during recent violence at the Ardyone on July 12.

Police were heavily criticised following the recent UVF occupation of a housing estate in the Garnerville area as a number of LVF linked figures were driven from the area as part of feud related tensions.

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said: "We made it as clear as day to the Chief Constable that the Garnerville debacle must never again be repeated.

"The image and the message of loyalist paramilitaries in control was disturbing and sinister.

"After all the advances on policing in recent years, it was a throw-back to the bad policing of past years."

Earlier this week Sir Hugh defended the actions and insisted the PSNI was in control of the streets, rather than loyalist paramilitaries.

During the meeting the use of plastic baton rounds for the first time in three years at Ardoyne was also raised.

Police discharged 22 rounds after they came under ferocious attack from nationalist residents after the passing of a controversial Orange parade. Over 100 police and a number of journalists were hurt.

Mr Attwood said: "The attack on the police in Ardoyne was ferocious and orchestrated, as bad as anything in recent years, but the use of plastic bullets, after three years without use, remains unacceptable to the SDLP.

"The SDLP, nonetheless, has urged the PSNI to build on the better policing practice and considerable restraint demonstrated in Ardoyne."

British army observation tower starts coming down


04/08/2005 - 09:16:33

The British army has begun work to dismantle its spy post at the Newtownhamilton PSNI station in south Armagh.

The observation tower is one of several being removed as part of a demilitarisation process announced in the wake of the IRA's declaration war is over.

The work began this morning and is expected to take up to two weeks to complete.

Now they can't even spell Mhaigh Eo, God help us -

Irish Independent

A MISSPELLING on a huge sign at the main entrance to Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, has left a Dail deputy seeing red.

The second "h" is missing from the Irish spelling of "Mhaigh Eo", on the sign outside the complex.

Now Deputy Michael Ring wants the Health Service Executive to have the spelling error corrected.

He protested: "After spending millions on developing the hospital they couldn't get the spelling right and I am calling on the HSE to get the proper spelling on the sign.

"Surely the spelling should have been checked before the sign went up. We will be a laughing stock if it is not corrected."

The HSE Western Area said last night moves were being made to rectify the incorrect Irish spelling.

Sub-contractors employed during Phase Two of the major construction works at the hospital are being blamed for the error.

Mayo County Councillor Johnny Mee said: "If they are going to use the Irish version, and I think they should, they should take the trouble of ascertaining the proper spelling of our county."

The HSE said: "The work on Phase Two of the hospital, including signage, involved a number of parties - hospital personnel, the design team, the construction company and sub-contracted company providing signage.

"There was an obvious error and we are endeavouring to rectify it."

Tom Shiel

Ulster Resistance spectre

Daily Ireland

To comment: c.barnes@dailyireland.com

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In the six years between December 1981 and December 1987, loyalist paramilitaries murdered 71 people.
During the next six years from January 1988 to the loyalist ceasefire in October 1994, the same paramilitaries increased their kill rate by 300 per cent – murdering 229 people.
Part of the reason for this massive rise was the huge shipment of arms they received from South Africa at the beginning of 1988.
Loyalists swopped plans for missiles developed at the Shorts weapons factory in Belfast in return for South African guns.
The British government knew about the shipment, but did nothing to prevent it arriving on these shores.
The weapons were deposited in Co Armagh before being divided evenly between the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the shadowy Ulster Resistance group.
Although it has never claimed a paramilitary killing, Ulster Resistance has allowed its weapons to be used by other loyalist paramilitary groups resulting in scores of deaths.
It is estimated the group has 70 assault rifles, 30 Browning pistols, 165 fragmentation grenades, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and four RPG7 rocket launchers hidden at different locations throughout the North.
Ulster Resistance weapons were used in the 1992 Sean Graham’s betting shop massacre in Belfast that claimed five lives and left seven others seriously wounded.
They were also used to murder brothers Rory and Gerard Cairns in the Co Armagh village of Bleary in 1993.
Following last week’s confirmation from the IRA that it is to commit to a programme of decommissioning, the UDA and UVF are now being asked what will they do with their weapons?
However, little has been mentioned of Ulster Resistance’s arms cache.
Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which played a central role in launching the organisation, has been particularly quiet on the subject of its arms.
At an Ulster Resistance rally in Belfast’s Ulster Hall in November 1986, DUP leaders Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson donned red berets while flanked by men in military style uniforms.
They were joined on stage by then Belfast mayor Sammy Wilson – the current DUP MP for East Antrim.
Mr Paisley warned Ulster Resistance was not for “the faint or half-hearted” and went on to pledge that the group would use “all means which may be found necessary to defeat the Anglo-Irish agreement”.
Also prominent at the rally were Alan Wright, a religious zealot from Armagh and leader of the Ulster Clubs, and Noel Little, a former DUP council candidate who would be arrested for Ulster Resistance gunrunning in 1989.
Mr Wright’s uncle, Dick Wright, worked for the South African weapons manufacturer Armscor and played a central role in organising the huge loyalist paramilitary arms shipment into the North in 1988.
The DUP leadership has long protested that it severed all links to Ulster Resistance when it realised the organisation was becoming militant.
A statement released by the DUP in November 1987 said that while it had encouraged recruitment for Ulster Resistance, party leaders had never been members.
Despite the denials, the spectre of Ulster Resistance will continue to hang over the DUP until the outstanding issue of its illegal weapons is dealt with.
North Belfast DUP Assemblyman Nelson McCausland refuses to talk specifically about the issue of Ulster Resistance arms.
He says he wants to see all paramilitary weapons decommissioned but the priority has to be the IRA’s because it is linked to a major political party.
Mr McCausland does not accept the DUP has a link to Ulster Resistance.
He said: “I know nothing about the organisation or anyone pertaining to represent it.
“If anyone has any questions about Ulster Resistance they should direct them to someone connected with the organisation.
“The DUP does not in any way represent Ulster Resistance.”
At a meeting of the Ulster Independence Committee (UIC) in 1989, two years after the DUP had distanced itself from Ulster Resistance, a notice of sympathy was recorded for three of its members arrested in Paris.
In echoes of what had occurred the previous year, the men were negotiating with South Africans for the supply of weaponry in return for plans of missiles developed at Shorts.
Mr McCausland was one of those in attendance at the UIC meeting when the notice of sympathy was expressed.
Speaking in 2001, the DUP man said that from what he could remember, the notice was for the three men and their families and the predicament in which they found themselves.
He insisted it did not indicate any agreement with what they were engaged in.
What this incident does highlight however, is the degree of sympathy expressed towards Ulster Resistance by some quarters of the unionist community.
Even when the whole world knew the group was involved in procuring arms to kill Catholics, unionists who style themselves as staunch opponents of paramilitarism still emphathised with its members.
Many nationalists argue that the same attitude still exists today, only now it manifests itself in a cloak of silence that covers Ulster Resistance’s hidden weapons.

Hotel 'hero' saves guests in fire


The fire caused damage to the hotel roof

A Belfast man has been hailed a hero after alerting dozens of holidaymakers to a fire in their Donegal hotel.

About 40 guests were in the Beech Hotel in Downings when the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

Several fire crews tackled the blaze which damaged the second floor. Gardai said the man's actions had saved many lives, including three children.

A woman in her 30s from Northern Ireland has been arrested and is aiding with police inquiries at Milford.

Some of the guests have been describing their experiences.

The Fay family from Omagh, County Tyrone, have said they are fortunate to be alive.

They were asleep when another hotel guest banged on their door and woke them up at about 0400 BST.

Marty Fay said the "Good Samaritan", Freddie Rea, wrapped his three-year-old son in a blanket and carried him out.

Freddie Rea has been hailed a hero

He also got the older children, aged seven and nine, out quickly.

Mr Fay described Mr Rea as a "complete hero, an absolute hero".

"It was not just my door he was rapping; he rapped on everybody's door. He is basically a hero. Superb. My kids are here today because of him."

Superintendent Vincent O'Brien said Mr Rea had saved many lives.

"I would like to compliment him because I believe that many lives were saved here last night," he said.

"Shortly after 4.00am this man saw smoke bellowing out from one of the bedroom doors and he actually went round and knocked on every door of the hotel.

"He managed to evacuate just over 36 people in the hotel - three of those young children."

However, Mr Rea has played down his 'hero' role.

"I just went into the room, wrapped the baby - the three-year-old - in a blanket and carried him downstairs," he said.

"I just went up and banged on the doors, generally alerting people. There was nothing really spectacular about it."

Investigation into cause

Hotel guest Joe McGowan said it was an horrendous experience.

"I have been in bombs in Belfast throughout the period of the Troubles and I think that was the most frightening, because I realised that if I did not get out of that room I was going to be burnt," he said.

"Really and truthfully, I don't know how I got out."

The owner's son, Darragh McClafferty, said he was relieved that everyone was safe.

"That was the main worry: that everyone was out and safe," he said.

"That was the main check straight away. That is all you have got to think of, there is nothing else.

"I mean, bricks and mortar can be rebuilt."

An investigation is under way to try to establish the exact cause of the fire.

03 August 2005

PSNI ‘protects’ loyalist

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

The PSNI has been accused of trying to protect a senior loyalist who is on remand in prison on serious charges.
The claim was made by Raymond McCord Sr, who contacted detectives in May 1999 to allege that the man had threatened to kill him.
The loyalist was arrested and charged but the charges were dropped several weeks later.
Mr McCord said police had told him a file on the loyalist had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He said detectives had later told him that the DPP had decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Mr McCord never accepted this explanation. Last week, he received a letter from the new Public Prosecution Service confirming his suspicions that the PSNI has been protecting the loyalist.
The letter, seen by Daily Ireland, states that prosecutors never received a police report on the threats to kill.
Mr McCord, whose son Raymond McCord Jr was murdered by an Ulster Volunteer Force gang in north Belfast in 1997, said: “This letter has destroyed my faith in the PSNI.
“It proves the police lied to me when they said it was the DPP who had decided not to pursue charges against this man. It disturbs me that the police never even bothered sending a file on the threats I received to the DPP. That begs the question: Why would the police lie to me?
“They are obviously trying to protect someone. I believe the man they are protecting is this senior loyalist.”
Mr McCord said he hoped to meet Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, the Belfast West MP, and the SDLP’s Belfast South MP Alasdair McDonnell to discuss his son’s murder.
He added: “I don’t care who I have to meet to get justice for my son and to prove the Special Branch covered up the details of his death.
“I’m a Protestant from a loyalist area but that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about the situation with republicans and nationalists.”
At the beginning of the week, the human-rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch announced it had compiled a dossier on the McCord murder.
Group director Jane Winters said it seemed as if UVF members who doubled as police informers could act “with impunity”.
Copies of the report have been sent to the United Nations, the United States Congress, Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and the Independent Monitoring Commission.
The McCord family specifically instructed British Irish Rights Watch not to forward a copy of the report to the PSNI.
The Police Ombudsman’s office is investigating the PSNI handling of the McCord murder case and is expected to release a report later this year.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Mo Mowlam 'critical but stable'


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Ex-cabinet minister Mo Mowlam is widely popular

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam is critically ill, hospital officials have said.

The popular and charismatic ex-cabinet minister oversaw the negotiations which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Ms Mowlam, Labour MP for Redcar between 1987-2001, is well-known for her outspoken views and tactile charm.

A spokeswoman at King's College Hospital said Ms Mowlam, 55, had been admitted at the weekend. She described her condition as "critical but stable".

She would not give further details of Ms Mowlam's illness or say whether it was connected to a previous brain tumour.


Ms Mowlam, who is married to merchant banker Jon Norton, was popular with voters, partly because of her determination to carry on as Northern Ireland secretary despite treatment for a brain tumour which caused hair loss.

In 1998 she took a particular political risk by going inside the Maze Prison when it became clear that the peace process would only succeed with the backing of the prisoners. The loyalist UDA/UFF prisoners had previously withdrawn their support for the process.

She spoke to the prisoners face-to-face for 60 minutes, and two hours later the paramilitaries' political representatives announced they were being allowed to rejoin the talks.

She told reporters at the time: "I didn't negotiate, I didn't do a deal. If you want progress, you ain't going to get it if you don't have talks."

Standing ovation

She made the peace agreement a personal triumph, but reconciliation eluded her.

In 1999 she was replaced as Northern Ireland secretary by Peter Mandelson, and became Tony Blair's cabinet "enforcer", seen by some as merely being a minister for the Today programme.

Her time in the cabinet was somewhat marred by a steady flow of reports that someone in a high place was "briefing against her".

There were also claims that Mr Blair was annoyed that the 1998 Labour Party conference had given her a standing ovation during his speech - a charge denied by the prime minister.

Policing Board tenure 'extended'


Professor Desmond Rea is the chairman of the Policing Board

The government has asked the 19 current members of the Policing Board to continue to serve into next year.

NI Secretary Peter Hain said for reasons of stability and continuity he wanted members to continue for a period ending no later than October 2006.

The DUP wanted a complete revamp of the board to reflect its strong showing in the last election, whilst the SDLP was in favour of an extension.

The terms of office of all board members were due to expire in October.

The board is comprised of nine independent members and 10 drawn from the political parties.

Mr Hain said he hoped the board, which holds the PSNI to account, could be reconstituted before October 2006.

He added: "I am well aware of the different positions from the parties on this issue.

"However, my overriding concern during these deliberations has been that the board, which successfully fulfils a vital role in policing accountability arrangements, is provided with stability and continuity to continue its important work. "

Mr Hain added: "All parts of the community must support the work of the Policing Board and I pay tribute to the board's continued commitment to their role in ensuring that the PSNI is effective, efficient and accountable to community."

The current Chairman, Professor Desmond Rea, and Vice Chairman, Denis Bradley are to continue in their roles.

Mr Rea said the board would remain focussed on supporting the PSNI, holding it to account through the chief constable, and making arrangements for obtaining the co-operation of the public with the police.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood welcomed the secretary of state's decision as the "right" one.

Mr Attwood said: "The announcement yesterday by the British government revealed how it is the IRA who have held up normalisation given that what was announced yesterday was agreed and published over two years ago.

"Despite the efforts of Sinn Fein and the IRA to hold up policing over the same period, they have failed, and failed miserably.

"Sinn Fein should cut their loses on policing and join us in implementing far reaching policing change."

DUP anger

However, the DUP's Sammy Wilson said it was a disgrace that the board no longer accurately reflects Northern Ireland's political landscape.

"This is dictatorship over democracy," he said.

"It's political bias over fairness and it is an attempt by the government to ensure that it has got a board which will drive through the agenda which is required to placate Sinn Fein on policing.

"We are sick and tired of these slaps in the face to our community while he (the secretary of state) bends over backwards for a bunch of terrorists."

In a statement the DUP's Policing Board members said their party's co-operation on the board "cannot be taken for granted".

The Northern Ireland Policing Board was established in November 2001 following recommendations in the Patten Report.

IrishExaminer.com: Fury as Shell gets green light for pipeline

Irish Examiner

03 August 2005
By Paul O’Brien

THE Government was accused of favouring ‘big business’ over people last night after Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey granted oil giant Shell permission to construct the offshore section of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline.

Mr Dempsey gave his blessing despite having recently ordered a safety review of the onshore element of the project, the results of which will not be known for several weeks.

The minister’s decision showed the Government was clearly “on the side of Shell”, said Green Party energy spokesman Eamon Ryan, adding that it made “a mockery of his own supposedly independent safety review of the onshore section of the same pipeline”.

“If the Government was really representing the public interest, then it would ask Shell to hold back on any further work on the project - offshore as well as onshore - until all the safety issues are properly addressed,” Mr Ryan said.

Mayo Independent TD Jerry Cowley said he was “totally disgusted” by the decision, adding that the Government was “kowtowing” to Shell.

Last week, it emerged the company had carried out work on the onshore section of the pipeline without permission. Within days, Minister Dempsey ordered Shell to dismantle the 3km-long section of pipeline it had welded together onshore, but has now given his blessing for work to begin on the 70km stretch of pipeline offshore.

Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the five Mayo men imprisoned because of their opposition to the project, said the decision underlined the “incoherence” of Government policy.

“We have this crazy situation where he is telling them to dismantle pipeline at the weekend and (now) he’s giving them permission to build part of the same pipeline offshore,” he said.

The pipeline is designed to link the gas fields in the Corrib with a processing terminal at Bellanaboy, five kilometres inland.

Local opposition to the project centres on fears that the onshore section of the pipeline will run too closely to homes, posing health and safety risks.

The overall project already has permission. However, under an agreed programme, consent for construction work is effectively being sanctioned in seven distinct phases. Of these, phases 1,2, and 6, and preparatory works of phase 3, had already been approved. Yesterday’s decision related to phase 4.

Shell welcomed the approval, saying it would “now carefully consider the terms of the consent and shortly make a decision on when to undertake this work”.

SF Hail Dail Speaking Rights Plan

Derry Journal

Tuesday 2nd August 2005

Irish government moves to allow Northern Ireland MPs and MEPs to debate in Dail Eireann would be a welcome recognition of the rights of Irish citizens north of the border, Sinn Fein has said. Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin welcomed reports that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's government will embark on plans in the autumn to allow 18 MPs and three MEPs from Northern Ireland to take part in Dail debates on issues affecting their region.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has reacted furiously to the proposal which, he claimed, was another concession to Sinn Fein in the wake of the IRA's announcement that it is abandoning its armed campaign. However, Mr. McLaughlin confirmed it was a demand his party's negotiators had pressed for.

"The Irish government have given commitments to facilitate this, as an expression of the right of northern nationalists, of Irish citizens, to participation in the political life of the nation. "I welcome any move by the Irish government to give effect to these commitments."

Mr. Ahern was warned yesterday that, in the event of devolution returning, Ulster Unionists would retaliate with their own sanctions if speaking rights were given in the Dublin Parliament to Northern Ireland MPs and MEPs. Former Stormont Economy Minister Reg Empey said the proposal was outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and was a breach of the principle that the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland would be required before there is any change to the province's constitutional status.

"I believe this move is very dangerous because it would effectively be setting up an embryonic all-Ireland Parliament," the East Belfast Assembly member said. "When the idea was first mooted two years ago, the UUP opposed it. We told the two Governments then, and have repeatedly since, that if it is pursued by Dublin, we will no longer be obligated to our support for north-south institutions."

Sinn Fein would like to see its five MPs, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, and their Northern Ireland MEP Bairbre de Brun being given speaking rights. There have also been suggestions they could play a part in Dail committees. Mark Durkan's SDLP would also be expected to welcome the move and send its three MPs to the Dail.

Mr. Empey's threat against north-south bodies was reminiscent of Ulster Unionist sanctions during devolution aimed at Sinn Fein. During the last Assembly, his predecessor, David Trimble, refused to nominate Sinn Fein ministers for crossborder meetings with Irish government ministers because of the IRA's reluctance to disarm. Should devolution return and unionists refuse to attend or even recognise cross-border institutions, it would cause difficulties for a section of the Good Friday Agreement many nationalists hold dear. Sir Reg accused the rival DUP of failing to grasp the significance of the speaking rights move. "The DUP fell asleep at the wheel on this issue in negotiations last year," he said.

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