27 August 2005

Police hurt in parade riot


27/08/2005 - 22:00:37

A riot broke out in a Tyrone town tonight after a marching band passed through in the wake of the county’s All-Ireland quarter final victory over Dublin.

Seven police officers were injured and four people were arrested following the disturbance in Castlederg.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said one of the officers suffered a broken cheekbone.

“At 5.55pm a parade was coming from Newtownstewart via an approved route when a number of people came out of a bar, interfered with a banner and assaulted members of the parade and police officers,” said a spokesman.

The parade by the loyalist Black March Preceptory Order was passing through the staunchly nationalist Ferguson Crescent area of Castlederg, where dozens of Tyrone supporters in three separate licensed premises were celebrating their team’s victory over Dublin.

After violence broke out, the PSNI brought in more officers to enforce the Parade Commission’s ruling that the march be allowed to go through the Castlederg area.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie McHugh, who was returning from the match in Croke Park when the trouble broke out, said it made no sense to allow the parade to go through the area.

“I’m calling on the Parades Commission to explain why they went against the advice of their own person on the ground and insisted on sending the parades through Ferguson Crescent when they knew the Tyrone match was on,” he said.

He added: “The only result could be trouble and that’s what they got.”

Mr McHugh said a similar parade in the town two weeks earlier had passed off peacefully because the Ferguson Crescent area had been avoided.

Mala Poist: PSNI continue to rub salt into the wounds


Senior PSNI figure, DCC Paul Leighton, sent to Ahoghill in a PR fire-fighting mission this week, merely succeeded in throwing more petrol on the flames by claiming with a poker face that there was merely an “element” of sectarianism to the avalanche of attacks on Catholic homes and property in North Antrim in recent months.
Was it the attacks on Catholic churches, or schools, or Catholic-owned pubs or indeed Catholic homes that constitute an element? Whichever attacks constituted the element, one imagines Mr Leighton would concur that this is a remarkable set of circumstances whereby neighbourhood squabbling runs alongside sectarian violence without ever meeting.
In truth, this claim - from no less than the Number 2 to Hugh Orde himself – merely confirms the belief that the PSNI instinctively adopt a unionist stance when faced with loyalist violence.
Firstly, keep an open mind on the motive; secondly, seek to justify it by labelling it ‘reactive’ to a more sinister republican action.
This unionist bias was evident in the numerous remarks attributed to the Ballymena PSNI in linking the wave of attacks on Catholics to the internment parade held in the town in August, as if anti-Catholic attacks were somehow alien to the God-fearing people of the Bible belt prior to the republican parade.
The PSNI’s behaviour this summer lays bare the folly expounded by supporters of the force that it is a non-partisan policing organisation. In a six-week period, we have witnessed PSNI officers insult the collective intelligence of the nationalist community by purposefully seeking to conceal the reality of orchestrated loyalist violence.
The PSNI leadership have further rubbed salt in the wounds by maintaining a deafening silence about the ongoing UVF killing spree which has claimed five lives in seven weeks.
Hugh Orde’s silence over this matter contrasts sharply with the haste in which media interviews were arranged following the PSNI raid on Sinn Féin offices in Stormont.
The PSNI inactivity in Ahoghill is all the more remarkable when contrasted with two recent incidents. In the first episode, PSNI officers roared into nationalist estates in Antrim and Limavady towns to remove Irish flags, citing ‘operational reasons’ when asked for a reason by local media. Such operational reasons have yet to instigate a similar response from the PSNI to the hundreds of loyalist/union flags, UVF/UDA/LVF banners and emblems erected without hindrance across Antrim and Limavady towns and the North in general.
In the second incident, the organiser of the Ballymena internment parade was stopped at a PSNI road block and prevented from entering the city of Derry on the orders of the senior PSNI figure on the grounds that his presence could lead to a breach of the peace.
This novel use of PSNI powers raises a number of questions. Given that we know the PSNI had intelligence pointing to attacks on Catholics in Ahoghill, why then did the PSNI not prevent known loyalists from entering the village using these exclusionary powers? Come to think of it, why do they not use these powers to prevent marauding bands of loyalist thugs from erecting sectarian flags and bunting from mixed areas throughout the entire summer?
The conclusion we are left with as summer draws to a close is that the PSNI has failed yet again to come up to the mark as an impartial policing service, illustrating the distance it must yet travel to become acceptable to the vast majority of nationalists.

Chris Donnelly
Killultagh Sinn Féin representative

Royal Black Preceptory holds Donegal parade


27 August 2005 17:14

The Royal Black Preceptory has held a parade in Raphoe, Co Donegal, its first ever march in the Republic.

Over 3,000 people, including up to 30 marching bands, participated in what the organisers said was a festival based on religion, not politics.

Later in Bundoran, Co Donegal, Republican Sinn Féin held their 24th annual Hunger Strike Commemoration march through the town.

Around 400 people and three bands took part.

The gathering was addressed by the President of Republican Sinn Féin, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

Son dies four days after being accepted into university

Daily Ireland

By Laura McDaid

The mother of a west Belfast teenager who died four days after receiving his A-Level results has described her family’s devastation over his loss.
David McKenna (18) who suffered from Asbergers syndrome, a form of autism, achieved his dream of being accepted into Queen’s University, Belfast three days before he suffered a serious epileptic attack and died on Monday morning.
His distraught mother Isobel, who found David in his bedroom after becoming concerned that he hadn’t risen at his usual time, said she is still coming to terms with the fact that her son has died.
“It’s been the most difficult week of my life,” she said. “I can’t fully believe that he’s gone. We’re all completely broken hearted.”
The support of local people over the last week has provided huge comfort to the McKenna family, including David’s father Francis, and his eight brothers and sisters.
Over 250 mass cards lay in the front room of their home in Denewood Park off the Glen Road. “The front door has been open all week,” said Mrs McKenna. “People have rallied around us every day, offering support. We couldn’t believe the number of people who attended his funeral. Hundreds came to pay their respects. It was a great credit to him. He was such a good and loving wee boy who was liked by a lot of people and dealt so well with his illness.”
Pointing to a picture of David at a wedding two years ago, Mrs McKenna explained that his pose was characteristic of the gentle teenager: “A lot of photos were being taken of the guests below, but because of his Asberger’s syndrome, David never felt comfortable with large crowds or flashing cameras. He preferred to stand by and watch. This picture was taken without him knowing, and to me it just sums him up – happy and content watching the crowd below.”
Although David was epileptic, he did not suffer from regular attacks. The last occasion was on the night before a geography GCSE, which caused him to miss his examination the following morning.
His family said the attack which lead to his death on Monday was “a complete and utter shock”.
Pupils and staff of David’s former school, St Mary’s CBS on the Glen Road, Belfast were also devastated by the news of his death. A large number of them attended his funeral mass at St Teresa’s Church on Thursday. Principal Kevin Burke said yesterday: “It was a huge shock to all of us. David was a quiet, unassuming young lad who was well liked in his year, and so dedicated to his studies. He worked extremely hard to get the A-Level results he needed for Queen’s. It’s been an extremely tough week for his friends who are obviously finding his death difficult to come to terms with.”
St Mary’s CBS will hold a memorial service for David after the school re-opens in September.

Leading loyalist has bail conditions changed so he can go on holiday

Daily Ireland

By Ciarán Barnes

A leading Belfast loyalist who faces charges of trying to blackmail £10,000 (€14,000) from a Chinese businessman has had his bail conditions varied so that he can go on holiday, Daily Ireland can reveal.
As part of his bail requirements, Thomas Spence from Posnett Court in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, has to report to a PSNI barracks once a week.
However, that condition has been lifted for seven days between September 6 and 13 so the 39-year-old can go on a short break.
While he is away Mr Spence will celebrate his 40th birthday on September 11.
This is not the first time he has had his bail conditions varied so that he can go on holiday.
Earlier in the year the south Belfast man was excused from reporting to a PSNI barracks for one week so that he could visit Belgium.
In May 2003, Mr Spence was remanded in custody after he was charged with demanding £10,000 (€14,000) with menaces from a Chinese businessman with the intention that the money be used for the purposes of terrorism.
A detective constable told a court hearing that when questioned Mr Spence denied the charge. He also said that he believed the money was being collected on behalf of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Mr Spence was sent to Maghaberry prison, but released the following January. While in jail he served his time on the loyalist wing.
He gave a number of media interviews shortly after his release in which he accused prison wardens of brutality.
In January 2003, Mr Spence was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in a riot in Donegall Pass the previous June when shots were fired at the police.
He was found guilty of riotous behaviour.

DUP defends its stand

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
27 August 2005

THE DUP has urged anyone with information about attacks on Catholic families to immediately go to the police.

Under criticism from both the SDLP and Sinn Fein over its response to the rising wave of loyalist incidents, the main unionist party insisted its attitude had been unequivocal.

Gregory Campbell said: "There has been a concentration of attacks in parts of Co Antrim affecting Catholics, as well as against Protestants in the Fountain in Londonderry and in north and east Belfast."

"Simple condemnation in itself was insufficient and there could be no prevarication.

"We have also repeatedly called upon anyone with information regarding these incidents to provide it to the Police so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

"Severe sentences in the courts, after due process, are the best deterrent for anyone considering repeating the actions," the East Londonderry MP added.

His statement, timed to coincide with what is termed the end of the parading season today, said his party's position stood in contrast to both Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

"Sinn Fein/IRA have, over 35 years, not only refused to condemn attacks like these but their military wing carried them out with their full support. The SDLP, while condemning sectarian attacks, refrained from supporting the Police until they obtained political concessions on policing," he argued.

Policing role for paramilitaries in the spotlight

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
27 August 2005

THE question of criminals and paramilitaries being allowed into the PSNI was back in the spotlight today.

The SDLP criticised what it described Sinn Fein's support for parmilitaries to be allowed to join the police, while Alliance leader David Ford said there may be "bad apples in the police" .

Mr Ford told the BBC it was important to focus on the safeguards that exist to ensure all officers uphold the law.

"I think we may have to accept there may be certain bad apples in the police service.

"The key thing is to ensure the police service is run as best it can be and these bad apples are weeded out."

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness insisted that people involved in serious crime should not be allowed in the PSNI.

Mr Maginness commented: "Sinn Fein in negotiations is pressing again for the criminal records of IRA men to be erased so that they can join the PSNI.

"This is something that Sinn Fein have been seeking for years now. It is a reckless, dangerous and self-serving stance."

The Assemblyman added: "The SDLP has consistently argued that people who have been involved in serious crime should not be allowed in the PSNI.

"Sinn Fein's stance would open the doors for loyalist and republican paramilitaries to join the police."

Blackmen's parade is disrupted

Belfast Telegraph

Suspect device on route of march later declared a hoax

By Ashleigh Wallace
27 August 2005

THE Royal Black Preceptory's District Parade in Armagh was disrupted this morning following the discovery of a suspect device on the route.

There were widespread traffic problems in the city after the device was discovered in Lonsdale Road.

The parade was halted and traffic diversions were put in place while police examined the scene.

Thousands of members of the Royal Black Institution were on the march across Ulster today as part of the organisation's 'last Saturday' celebrations.

Loughgall village hosted Blackmen from Co Armagh and east Tyrone, where upwards of 70 preceptories were expected.

The flag-bedecked village sported a new arch for the occasion, with this year's demonstration hosted by Summerisland Royal Black District Chapter No 6.

The sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution, William Logan, was due to address those gathered.

And in Donegal, thousands of Blackmen and their supporters converged in Raphoe for the first Black Saturday parade to take place in the Republic. Around 36 preceptories from across Co Londonderry marched through The Diamond.

Local man, Alex Buchanan, said that Raphoe Royal Black Preceptory No 258 was honoured to be hosting the 'last Saturday' parade.

He said: "We're expecting 30 to 40 bands to take part in the parade and we'll meet in the Royal and Prior school grounds before parading through the village and up Sparrow Hill to a field."

Parades are also taking place in Newtownards, Lurgan and Newtownstewart.

Sinn Fein unfurl banner campaign for United Ireland

::: u.tv :::

By:Press Association
SATURDAY 27/08/2005

The vision of a United Ireland must not be limited to Gaelic football matches between teams from north and south, it was claimed today.

As Dublin and Tyrone clashed in n All-Ireland quarter final replay in Croke Park, Sinn Fein unveiled a building-sized banner in Parnell Street in Dublin to promote its unification campaign.

The Sinn Fein Mayor of Kerry, Toireasa Ferris, said the party wanted to see All Ireland structures developed in every single aspect of daily life in Ireland.

"While it is great to see GAA teams and supporters arriving in Dublin today from as far apart as Kerry and Tyrone for All Ireland matches over the weekend, we must ensure that this doesn`t remain the limit of our vision of Irish unity," she said.

Ms Ferris, who is the daughter of Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris, was joined at the launch by Councillor Francie Molloy, the Mayor of Dungannon in County Tyrone.

Sinn Fein is planning a `Make Partition History carnival`, featuring street theatre, costumes, and live music on September 24 in Parnell Square.

Ireland's 1916 'Alamo' saved for posterity

Belfast Telegraph

By David McKittrick
26 August 2005

The house in Dublin celebrated by republicans as the "Irish Alamo" for its role in the 1916 Easter Rising is likely to escape a demolition order thanks to a growing campaign to preserve it.

No 16 Moore Street was where the leaders of the insurrection made their last stand against the British. After surrendering they were shot.

Today, the house close to O'Connell Street is abandoned and dilapidated, with gaping holes in its roof and a general air of dereliction.

But interest has quickened in the fate of the building, which was the scene of a vital and fateful moment in the rising, the republican rebellion which eventually led to the British leaving southern Ireland.

Matt Doyle, of the republican National Graves Association, agreed yesterday that, as the northern Troubles tail off, more members of the public feel free to support the campaign to preserve the house. "There is a lot more interest and concern," he said. "You get a lot more people willing to contribute, while before they probably just switched the radio off."

Once regarded as one of Ireland's most important historical locations, it stands between a hairdresser's and a mobile phone shop, surrounded by market stalls offering fish, fruit and vegetables. Several years ago the house was scheduled for demolition, but now the authorities are making surveys of its condition.

The aim is to preserve it as an information and education centre as the area around it undergoes large-scale redevelopment.

Calling for "positive and practical action," a spokesman for An Taisce, the Republic's official heritage body, said: "It's important as a historical location, a place where history happened, and an opportunity to commemorate and explain the event."

The rebellion is annually revered by Irish governments, which mark it with pomp and ceremony as a seminal moment in the foundation of the modern Irish state. But there is a problematic undercurrent to celebrating the event, since the Easter Rising was unquestionably a violent event in which many civilians died.

While the authorities have always regarded this use of force as a legitimate means of budging the British, the outbreak of the northern conflict in the late 1960s posed a huge and troubling question. This arose because the modern IRA claimed validity from the precedent of 1916, saying that it was the legitimate inheritors of the physical-force tradition. The events of 1916, the organisation argued, in effect gave them a licence to kill.

While all sections of official opinion in today's Irish Republic strongly repudiate this view, the authorities are sensitive to the fact that the state had violent roots. Dr Brian Feeney, head of history at St Mary's University College in Belfast, said: "The rising was what created the state, but many southern ministers wish the 1916 stuff would just go away.

"Independent Ireland emerged out of an uprising and guerrilla warfare of a type which in many ways pioneered modern terrorist methods."

Perhaps partly because of this ambivalence, Dublin has comparatively few conspicuous reminders of the rising apart from some plaques. Many key locations, including 16 Moore Street, have not been preserved or highlighted by successive governments.

The importance of the Moore Street house is that many of the rebellion's leaders retreated there after British artillery pounded the General Post Office, the centre of the rising, into rubble.

It was there that the republican leader Padraig Pearse ordered an unconditional surrender "in order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population". After the surrender, Pearse and five occupants of the house were executed by firing squad.

Bail for man who denies bid to murder McCartney pal

Irish Independent

A MAN who allegedly was involved in the fatal fight at Magennis's bar, outside which Robert McCartney was killed, was released on High Court bail yesterday.

Lord Justice Sheil told the Belfast court that while there is a prima facie case against 36-year-old James McCormick, the seriousness of the charge "is not in itself a ground to refuse bail."

McCormick, from Friendly Street in the Markets area of Belfast, denies the attempted murder of Brendan Devine on January 30 during the incident when Robert McCartney (33) was fatally stabbed.

Denying his murder is 49-year-old Terence Davidson from Stanfield Place, also in the Markets area.

Gordon Kerr QC, prosecuting, told the court the case against McCormick was based on forensic and witness evidence after both Devine and a woman, known only as witness C, picked him out of a police line-up.

Mr Kerr said Mr Devine was interviewed by police and later identified McCormick as his attacker.

A forensic examination of the scene revealed McCormick's blood "at hand height" close to the entrance of the bar and on Market Street.

When McCormick was arrested in Birmingham, officers uncovered £6,700 (€10,050) and a British passport, which suggested he was considering using the cash in order to leave the jurisdiction.

Defence lawyer Joe Brolly claimed that McCormick had fled to Birmingham because of the IRA threat to shoot anyone involved in the bar fight.

He told the court the case against McCormick was "very problematic indeed" as Devine identified McCormick as his attacker but another witness said she saw only one man attacking Mr McCartney and Mr Devine.

Lord Justice Sheil released McCormick on his own bail of £2,500 (€3,750), two sureties, ordered him to sign at a police station and to surrender his passport.

Ivan McMichael

Soldiers die in Warrenpoint massacre


27 August 1979

The first bomb destroyed an army lorry killing six soldiers

At least 18 soldiers have been killed in two booby-trap bomb attacks at Warrenpoint, South Down, close to the border with the Irish Republic.

It is the highest death toll suffered by the army in a single incident since it arrived in Northern Ireland to restore order a decade ago. The IRA are believed to be behind the attack.

It came only hours after the Queen's cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bomb attack in Donegal Bay in the Irish Republic.

The dead at Warrenpoint included the most senior Army officer killed in Northern Ireland to date, the commanding Officer of the Queen's Own Highlanders, Lieutenant-Colonel David Blair.

The ambush had been carefully planned. The first bomb, weighing half-a-ton, was planted under some hay on a flat-bed lorry beside a dual carriageway 44 miles (71km) from Belfast on the Irish border.

It exploded killing six soldiers of the Second Battalion Parachute Regiment as they travelled past in a four-ton lorry at the back of a three-vehicle army convoy.

The surviving troops in the other two vehicles were immediately deployed to cordon off the area and call for reinforcements.

In Context

The IRA admitted carrying out the attacks the following day. They had also admitted carrying out the bomb attack in which Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed.

The Parachute Regiment went straight back out on patrol. Any suggestion their 18-month tour of duty would be curtailed was swiftly rejected.

A memorial service was held for the dead at the Royal Garrison Church in Aldershot on 26 September.

Among the dead was a civilian, the 28-year-old son of one of the Queen's coachmen. Michael Hudson was caught in the crossfire.

The deaths of Lord Mountbatten and the 18 British soldiers were followed by a series of killings of Catholic civilians by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Members of the Queen's Own Highlanders, who flew to the scene by helicopter, arrived from Bessbrook base in County Armagh.

Twenty minutes after the first explosion, as the helicopter took off carrying some of the injured, the second device was detonated.

Twelve more soldiers - two Highlanders and ten Paras - were killed.

At least one witness reported hearing heavy automatic fire from across the narrow canal, which formed part of the border, after the second explosion. The soldiers returned the fire. A civilian was later found dead nearby.

The British have strict orders not to pursue their attackers into the Irish Republic to avoid causing any diplomatic disputes.

Today in history: IRA bomb kills Lord Mountbatten


27 August 1979

The Queen's cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, has been killed by a bomb blast on his boat in Ireland.

One of the earl's twin grandsons, Nicholas, 14, and Paul Maxwell, 15, a local employed as a boat boy, also died in the explosion.

The attack was followed only hours later by the massacre of 18 soldiers, killed in two booby-trap bomb explosions near Warrenpoint close to the border with the Irish Republic.

The IRA has already admitted carrying out the attack on Lord Mountbatten.

A statement from the organisation said: "This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country."

Lord Mountbatten, aged 79, and his family had traditionally spent their summer holiday at their castle in County Sligo, north west of Ireland.

They were aboard his boat, Shadow V, which had just set off from the fishing village of Mullaghmore, when the bomb detonated around 1130 BST.

A witness said the blast blew the boat "to smithereens" and hurled all seven occupants into the water.

Nearby fishermen raced to the rescue and pulled Lord Mountbatten out of the water.

Security arrangements

But his legs had been almost severed by the explosion and he died shortly afterwards.

Other survivors were pulled out of the water and rushed to hospital.

At least one person is believed to be in a critical condition.

The attack has called into question the security arrangements surrounding the Mountbatten party. Lord Mountbatten never had a bodyguard.

The local police kept watch on Classiebawn castle for the one month a year Lord Mountbatten spent there.

But his boat was left unguarded in the public dock in Mullaghmore where it was moored.

The village is only 12 miles from the Northern Ireland border and near an area known to be used by IRA members as a refuge.

In Context

Another passenger on the boat, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, 82, died the day after the attack.

Lord Mountbatten was given a state funeral. Six of the soldiers who died at Warrenpoint were buried the same day in local churches.

Thomas McMahon, 31, was convicted of the three murders.

He had been detained in the area by police on suspicion of driving a stolen car two hours before the bomb went off.

McMahon was set free in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement.

26 August 2005

Andrew M. Greeley: IRA's struggle justified

The Arizona Daily Star

Via News Hound

My Opinion

The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times - the "official" thought molders of the nation - rarely agree on anything. Recently, however, they managed to agree on one subject. Both condemned the Irish Republican Army on the grounds that there was no justice in its claims.

The violence of the Stern Gang in Israel, the African National Congress in South Africa, the FLN in Algeria is apparently OK (at least to The Times), but the IRA does not have a legitimate cause. Such ignorance of Ireland's history is intolerable. We should expect better reporting from both of them.

England had no right to occupy Ireland and exploit and persecute the Irish people for half a millennium. When it was finally forced by the original IRA to grant quasi-independence to Ireland in the early 1920s, it had no right to carve out a gerrymandered rump state in the North of Ireland for the descendants of its colonists.

Moreover it had no right to shape that last surviving colony in Europe (six of the nine counties of historic Ulster) so that its Protestant inhabitants could oppress the artificially created Catholic minority. Nor did England have the right to tolerate for a half-century political, social, educational and religious persecution of Catholics.

Small wonder that this rule by a "Protestant Parliament for a Protestant nation" created such social injustice that there was a violent revolution.

While the IRA claims a vision of a united Ireland - a vision that is certainly historically justified - it was in fact fighting the unjust oppression of Catholics in this lingering relic of English imperialistic colonialism.

I deplore violence everywhere, but the long history of Ireland's quest for freedom from English domination demonstrates that it has had to fight for justice every inch of the way.

Hardly an article about British-occupied Ireland appears in American papers does not describe the IRA in any other terms than its claim for Irish unity. Hardly a word appears about the blatant injustice of the colonial regime.

The IRA finally forced the English government to the negotiating table. Kicking and screaming, the Protestant leadership joined the negotiations.

The result was the historic Good Friday agreement that imposed a complex form of power sharing on the Protestants. Since then, the Protestant leadership, having failed to persuade its constituents of the absolute necessity of power sharing, has torpedoed every attempt to implement the agreement.

The IRA promised in the Good Friday agreement to disarm when the other conditions of power sharing had been established.

The Protestant leadership managed to persuade the world that the IRA was the barrier to peace when in fact they - or their followers - were and are the real obstacle.

No oppressive ruling class ever gives up power easily. Protestants in the North are still not ready to give up their illusion of a "Protestant" nation. Protestants are still throwing gasoline bombs into the homes of Catholics in South Armagh - something The Journal and The Times will not report.

The IRA ceased fire seven years ago in the hope justice could be achieved by peaceful negotiations. It has finally gone the last mile by voting to give up all arms and disband. Will that satisfy the country's hard-line Protestants? Based on past performance there is no reason to think that it will.

The Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, a Catholic priest, teaches at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona. Contact him at agreel@aol.com.

Parents of baby Charlotte vow to fight on


Staff and agencies
Friday August 26, 2005

The parents of a terminally-ill baby have vowed to fight on despite their latest court defeat to overturn an order allowing doctors not to resuscitate her if she stops breathing.

Darren Wyatt, 33, and his wife, Debbie, 24, who have been told by the hospital treating their 22-month-old daughter Charlotte that she has made "remarkable progress", yesterday failed to persuade the court of appeal to rescind the order.

Doctors at St Mary's hospital in Portsmouth won the legal right last October not to resuscitate Charlotte if she suffered respiratory failure, after arguing that her brain and other organs were so seriously damaged she had "no feeling other than continuing pain".

In April this year, Charlotte's parents failed to have the October judgment overturned, leading to yesterday's proceedings.

After a full day hearing, Lords Justices Laws, Wall and Lloyd rejected the couple's appeal.

But the judges said a review of the case ordered by Mr Justice Hedley should be "accelerated", with a directions hearing next month.

Mr Wyatt vowed to fight on, telling the Daily Mail: "It is quite possible that by the time the legal review comes around Charlotte will be well enough to go home, and the hospital will end up looking very silly. Meanwhile, we have this death sentence hanging over her.

"When the high court made the original ruling last year, they said it would be wrong to resuscitate Charlotte because of her quality of life. But now the doctors accept her quality of life has improved, so why have they not lifted the order?"

Lord Justice Laws yesterday said the court "attached a high importance to the up-to-date position being properly investigated", with a view to a decision on whether the order should "now continue".

Granting the original order in October, Mr Justice Hedley said he did not believe "any further aggressive treatment, even if necessary to prolong her life, is in her best interests". He said Charlotte should be allowed "to meet her end ... in the TLC of those who love her most".

Charlotte weighed only 1lb and measured only 5in long when she was born three months prematurely in October 2003. She has serious brain, lung and kidney damage. She spends most of her time in an oxygen box, but is taken out to be cuddled by her parents when they visit.

Her parents, who describe her as a "fighter", claim she now smiles, reaches out to them and tries to talk.

Earlier, David Lock of Portsmouth NHS trust stressed: "This is not a case about disability. There is no question of not treating Charlotte because she is disabled."

He told the court: "This is a case about the balance between the benefits a treatment will deliver, if any, and the injury, the pain and the downsides of inflicting that treatment."

Political reaction to weekend of violence


As the dust settles on the aftermath of another devastating weekend in South-East Belfast, local politicians were unanimous in their condemnation of the violence which erupted at the Short Strand / Cluan Place interface.

A sustained and violent attack by loyalist thugs which left many nationalist families in fear for their homes and their safety has been criticised across the political board. Initial attacks by loyalists led to stonethowing across the peaceline from the nationalist area.

Sinn Féin Short Strand representative Deborah Devenny accused the PSNI of being “unwilling” to deal with loyalist violence.

“They have demonstrated once again, their unwillingness to deal with loyalist thugs intent upon intimidating people of this area. The PSNI have absolutely no control over this situation.

“Furthermore, there are three security cameras in the area which must have picked up events. It will be interested to see if the tapes are taken away and examined.

“This community is sickened and disgusted by a week-long siege on the district. A barrage of ball-bearings, golf balls, bricks and bottles have rained down upon people and property.”

Ms Devenny also called on unionist leaders to take responsibility for the violence.

“The political leadership of unionism and the Orange Order must face down these people.

“In a week when Sinn Féin launched a dossier outlining over 85 attacks on nationalists in the summer months, unionist paramilitaries continue to orchestrate and participate in these attacks,” she said.

MP for South Belfast, Dr Alasdair McDonnell called for better police protection for people living along the interface at Short Strand.

“Once again mindless sectarian violence has blackened the name of Belfast and damaged fragile community relations across the city.

“It is incredibly fortunate that many people were not seriously injured or worse during what was hours of concentrated and hate-filled rioting involving up to 400 people. “The people of the Short Strand have the right to the highest level of protection for their homes and persons, and they have the right to expect that from the PSNI. It is absolutely vital for the creation of a lawful society that everyone can rely on a fully accountable police service for protection.”

UUP councillor for Pottinger, Jim Rodgers said that he condemned violence “wherever it came from”.

“Regardless of what side did this, it is terrible,” said the Ulster Unionist. Innocent people suffering is not acceptable and I would urge those responsible to step down. I would like to take these people to the Northern Ireland Hospice to talk to terminally ill people. It would bring things into sharp perspective for them.”

Cllr Rodgers condemned what he called the “stand back” policy of the PSNI and called for greater police intervention. “Public disorder is increasing all over our city. The police should realise that sitting back is not going to solve these problems. I’m not suggesting that they go in heavy handed, but we do need a permanent and sensitive policing presence in these areas because at the moment they have totally lost control,” he said.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Joe Nawaz visits both sides of the Short Strand interface following a weekend of violence


With just a wall physically dividing the residents of Short Strand and Cluan Place, the weekend’s violence - which culminated in a pipe bomb being found outside a family home - also demonstrated the equally visible sectarian division that still exists in the troubled area.

The loyalist mob that congregated in Cluan Place on Saturday night, apparently inspired by that afternoon’s Old Firm victory for Rangers, launched an orgy of violence, taking aim at the nationalist homes just yards from where they were gathered.

For the people of Short Strand, the bombardment of golf balls and bottles took on a more sinister and potentially more deadly turn with the lobbing of pipe bombs and even gun shots being fired from over the peaceline.

Scenes reminiscent of the summer of 2002, when loyalists effectively laid siege to the nationalist enclave, appear to have been temporarily averted thanks to frantic telephone negotiations between community activists on both sides of the interface.

But with tensions at an all time high, the South Belfast News took to the streets of the Short Strand and Cluan Place to find that residents were not optimistic about the future.

In a rare moment of general consensus, the PSNI united most people in fury at their alleged inactivity or unwillingness to act while missiles rained down onto family homes near the interface.

Sinéad Rooney lives in the shadow of the wall that divides her Clandeboye Gardens home from loyalist Cluan Place. She said that tensions had been building up for the past month in the area and that residents had been bracing themselves for an escalation.

“For the past three to four weeks, we’ve been having things chucked over. Things like golf balls and stones were coming over maybe two or three times a day so we were expecting something bigger at some point.

“I was out on Saturday evening and when I came back home, it was like Beirut. The place was devastated,” she said.

“The tension in our area was unbelievable, people were terrified. I had children and a grandchild in the house and I am furious that my family’s safety is put at risk like this.”

Sinéad also attacked the PSNI’s role during the weekend’s trouble.
“Quite simply, they’re not doing their job. How can they sit by and allow our community to be bombarded in this way? All it would have taken was one jeep in Cluan Place and the mob would have been dispersed.”

Sinéad was unaware that there was, in fact, a PSNI jeep parked in Cluan Place on the night in question.

Tommy Morrow, a neighbour of Sinéad, came home around 10.30pm to find that “all hell had broke loose”.

“There was a crowd around the wall, I could see all the smashed glass and bottles flying over.

“I know that there was an agreement after phone call negotiations, for the ones over the wall to stop for about half an hour. Things went quiet for a bit, then all of a sudden, we could hear five gun shots from Cluan Place followed by about 400 bottles all at once – it was raining glass down all over us. Then they threw a pipe bomb, which landed in my neighbour’s garden.”

Mr Morrow said that it took Army Technical Officers up to four hours to arrive on the scene to deal with the nine-inch device.

“We were waiting half the night for them to arrive and the police seemed to do absolutely nothing as well.”

Mr Morrow added that residents in Cluan Place were just as much victims as their Short Strand counterparts.

“I feel for them. They’re just ordinary people like us who want to get on with their lives. They’ve been intimidated by loyalist thugs outside their area who take over and use it to attack us.”

Clandeboye Drive resident Peter Walsh mans a telephone hotline between Short Strand and Cluan Place representatives. He says that it was vital in preventing an escalation of the weekend’s violence.

“Things began to get a bit sinister over the past couple of weeks. Instead of the usual golf balls and bottles, we began to see things like threaded metal bars coming over the wall. This was obviously pre-meditated stuff and it was a bit of a worry,” said Peter.

“After heavy bombardment on Saturday, we brokered half an hour’s quiet over the phone. This was going well until all of a sudden a really heavy attack was launched. Tensions were so high it was just incredible. There was stuff coming back from this side, but I have to say that it was retalitory.”

Peter maintains that if it were not for the telephone network the situation would have escalated.

“It’s a vital means of communication between our two sides – they can try and calm their young people down and we can do the same.

“There’s about five or six loyalist factions in East Belfast and I know that the people on the telephones in Cluan Place are getting a lot of stick in their own community about it. But I think that in spite of the difficulties, it’s vitally important to keep the channels of communication open. We’ve made a conscious decision to stay with it.”

He added: “For years, we’ve lived in peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. People with their own agenda have come into the area and ruined that. I have every sympathy with the people in Cluan Place.”

In Cluan Place, residents were less comfortable speaking to the press. Everyone had something to say, but most were not prepared to go on record. The general feeling in the austere, flag laden cul-de-sac is that the media were “unfair” to loyalists.

A woman, with her daughter and grandchildren by her side said that residents in Cluan Place were left to deal with the aftermath of the weekend’s trouble themselves.

“Nobody came to help us. When it was all over, it was left to us to come out and clean the place up with our own hands – it looked like a bomb site.
“We had no choice – our children play on these streets and we have to clean it up for them.

“It’s not fair to keep them indoors because of this. Nobody mentions that in the news.”

Another elderly woman said that she was “sick of people going on about Short Strand”.

“It’s not all about them. You should have seen the state of Cluan Place the day after. It was a disgrace. I know there’s decent people on the other side but when you live here and have to face bottles and the like being hurled over it makes you angry to hear about them being ‘under siege’. That’s what we’ve felt for a long time.”

One person who was prepared to talk was resident William Hart, who mans the telephone ‘hotline’ between Short Strand and Cluan Place.

“We’d been getting attacked all day,” said William. “We saw kids from the Short Strand attacking cars on the link while the police stood by and watched.”

“This was going on for most of the day and then (UUP MLA) Michael Copeland turned up and warned us that he had a ‘feeling’ that something might kick off.”

William said that he tried to telephone his counterparts in the Short Strand when the trouble started to escalate.

“It was useless. Nobody answered all day. I ended up switching the phone off. What’s the point of having this connection if nobody speaks to you?”
William was also highly critical of police involvement and accused them of being “obstructive”.

“A resident was hit on the head with a bottle when he jumped on a child to protect it. We called an ambulance for him but when it came, the police, who were at the top of the street, refused to let it in.

“That was outrageous. Eventually the ambulance man ignored the police decision and came through. It leaves you with little faith in the PSNI.”

“I thought that we’d seen the last of this sort of thing three years ago. That’s why me and my family moved back to Cluan Place. I do know that we’re not to blame.”

He added: “I heard that the Short Strand ones kicked off because of the result in the Old Firm match. Perhaps they’re just sore losers, but it’s no reason to commit violence.”

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz



by VictoriaMcMahon

Loyalist racketeers are being blamed for a spate of attacks on two Chinese food outlets on the Saintfield Road.

The Silk take-away and The Elephant Room, owned by the same businessman, have had their windows broken and premises paint-bombed on several occasions over the past two months.

The latest attack on Silk takeaway occurred around 11.30pm on Saturday 13 August when the establishment was packed full of customers.

“It was lucky no one was seriously injured. The latest attack was done by adults not youths,” said a source close to the owner.

According to the source no one connected with the establishments believes the attacks are racially motivated as police at the scene informed staff.

“The police said they thought it was racist but if this had been racist, Silk would have been attacked years ago. It has been opened since 1991 and it is only in the last few months there has been any trouble. No one believes this is racist,” confirmed the source.

“Anytime the place has been attacked the people from the community have offered their support saying they are so sorry to see the premises having to be redecorated again.”

Well-placed sources have confirmed to the South Belfast News that loyalist paramilitaries are responsible for the attacks that have cost the two businesses thousands in repairs.

“It’s simple maths: the owners are refusing to pay protection money and as a result they find that their businesses are being attacked. If they agree to pay the money being demanded by loyalist paramilitaries, the attacks will stop overnight.”

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said the force was still trying to establish a motive for the latest incident.

“We are pursuing all lines of inquiry,” said the spokesperson.

Deputy Mayor of Castlereagh Geraldine Rice said it was disgraceful that hard working members of the community were being targeted. “I totally condemn this attack against people who are hard working and contribute to our society. It seems that loyalist racketeering is a reasonable explanation when you consider the number of other premises and Chinese takeaways around there and they have not been attacked. This is certainly something I will be raising at the next DPP meeting,” she said.

Journalist:: Victoria McMahon

SDLP founder Gerry Fitt dies at 79


26 August 2005 18:58

Gerry Fitt, the first leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), died in England this afternoon.

The 79-year-old had been in poor health for some time.

SDLP Leader Mark Durkan expressed his deep sympathy for the family of Gerry Fitt. Mr Durkan said Mr Fitt was a key figure in the civil rights movement and in the political life of Northern Ireland for many years.

An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said Lord Fitt was often in the front line of the Troubles but practised the message of moderation and tolerance that he preached.

A native of Belfast, Mr Fitt once worked as a barber's assistant and served in the British Merchant Navy for the 12-year period from 1941 to 1953.

He was elected to Belfast City Council and first won a Belfast City Council seat in 1958 as an Irish Labour member.

In 1966, he took the West Belfast Westminster seat from the unionists and began to raise civil rights issues in the House of Commons.

He was a founder member and first leader of the SDLP in 1970.

I973 was the high-point of his political career when, as SDLP leader, he signed the Sunningdale Agreement and became Deputy Chief Executive to Brian Faulkner in the power sharing executive at Stormont.

It collapsed the following year and he subsequently insisted that unionists had been pushed too hard on all-Ireland structures.

He resigned from the SDLP in 1979 over policy differences. He criticised the hunger strikes in 1981 and lost his City Council seat that year to the SDLP's Brian Feeney.

He was an outspoken critic of the IRA during the early 1980s and was attacked in his home by republicans. He lost his Westminister seat to Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams in the I983.

The following month he was appointed a life peer by Margaret Thatcher and Michael Foot as Lord Fitt of Bell's Hill. His return visits to Belfast were limited.

Visitors to tour NI Troubles jail


The layout was based on Pentonville Prison in London

Belfast's Crumlin Road jail is to take inmates again next month - but only for the weekend.

The complex, built in the Victorian era, will be open to visitors on 10 and 11 September as part of European Heritage Open Days.

They will be given an hour-long guided tour of the wings including the infamous hanging cell.

The Grade A listed building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and was built between 1843 and 1845.

The free event is being organised by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Department for Social Development.

A spokesman said the jail was "an early example of an innovative approach to prison planning and organisation".

The layout was based on Pentonville Prison in London.

"This, in turn, was influenced by the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA, the first to be laid out on the radial cellular system," said the spokesman.

Cultural events

The four wings contain 640 cells which are open to view from the central inspection hall.

The jail and the adjoining Crumlin Road courthouse are connected to one another via an underground tunnel, built to securely transfer some of Northern Ireland's most notorious prisoners across and prevent escape attempts.

The former courts building was the scene of some of the most infamous trials during the Northern Ireland troubles.

It has recently been used for a number of cultural events, including a play.

Heavy security fencing was removed at the courthouse and jail in 2002 as part of a £10m project aimed at developing a tourist attraction to rival San Francisco's island prison, Alcatraz.

People interested in the tour will have to pre-book by phoning the North Belfast Community Action Unit on 028 90726047.

BreakingNews.ie: Pipeline protestors: No confidence in safety review


26/08/2005 - 11:11:36

Opponents of the planned Corrib gas pipeline say they have no confidence in the latest safety review planned for the scheme.

The Government has appointed an international consultancy firm to carry out the assessment within the next six weeks.

The company in question has previously worked for Shell, the firm behind the controversial pipeline project in north Co Mayo.

The board appointed by the Government to award the contract for the review has insisted there is no conflict of interest, but local residents opposed to the pipeline say this is unacceptable.

Spokesman Mark Garavan said: "The company itself is part of the oil and gas industry in Britain. It has worked before for Shell and no doubt will hope to work for them in the future."

The latest safety review is being carried out because of local concerns about the previous one, which was carried out by a company owned by Shell.

Mr Garavan said local residents who want gas from the Corrib field pumped to an offshore terminal believed the Government commissioned the review to evade its own responsibilities in the area.

He said the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats coalition was "entirely compromised" due to its support for the Corrib project.

"Sufficient evidence is already available for [the minister] to make a determination on whether the pipeline is safe or not," he said.

25 August 2005

Seven-year-old is garda for a week


25/08/2005 - 15:35:45

A seven-year-old boy, who suffers from leukaemia, has become a garda for a week.

David Moran from Co Mayo was granted the opportunity after he told the Make a Wish Foundation it was his dream to join the force.

He was kitted out in a full uniform, and has been spending time with the traffic corps as well as the Garda dog and air support units.

The young pretender today met the Taoiseach outside his constituency office in Dublin, before setting up a roadblock to watch for dangerous drivers.

Leonard Hardy: Extradition battle ahead

Daily Ireland

Connla Young

“The legal team will argue that Leonard’s arrest and detention violates his human rights as a European citizen. Neither Spain nor Germany extradite their own citizens yet they are happy to extradite an Irish citizen. All European citizens should be entitled to the same protections.”

The wife of an Irish man arrested in Spain last week has spoken of her husband’s determination to fight any attempts to extradite him to Germany.
Leonard Hardy was arrested at a hotel in Torremolinos last Wednesday by Spanish police acting on an international arrest warrant issued by German authorities.
The 44-year-old is wanted by the German authorities in connection with an IRA attack on a British army base in Osnabrück in 1989.
Speaking to Daily Ireland from Spain last night, Donna Hardy said her husband’s arrest and detention had violated his human rights.
“His legal team will argue that Leonard’s arrest and detention violates his human rights as a European citizen,” said Mrs Hardy.
“Neither Spain nor Germany extradite their own citizens yet they are happy to extradite an Irish citizen. All European citizens should be entitled to the same protections.”
A former republican prisoner, Mr Hardy has been living openly in the South since his release from jail in the mid-90s and regularly travelled abroad on family holidays.
The Belfast man, who now lives outside Dundalk in Co Louth, was on a summer break with his wife Donna and four children when he was arrested.
He was previously arrested at Rosslare in 1989 and charged with possession of explosives.
After serving five years in Portlaoise prison he was released. Mr Hardy’s then future wife Donna (née Maguire) was arrested in the same garda operation and held for seven months in Mountjoy prison in Dublin before being cleared of all charges.
Several months later, she was arrested in Belgium. After a protracted legal process, the Newry woman was eventually extradited to Germany and sentenced to six years after the authorities claimed she was involved in the Osnabrück attack.
Mrs Hardy’s legal team believes her experience over a decade ago may well have a direct impact on her husband’s fate now. Mr Hardy denies all charges that he was involved in the Osnabrück incident.
“When I was brought to Germany and sentenced they took into account the time I had served in Mountjoy in relation to the Rosslare incident as well as the subsequent time I spent in jail,” said Mrs Hardy.
“They linked the Rosslare incident to the one at Osnabrück in my case
A former republican prisoner, Leonard Hardy was arrested at Rosslare in 1989 and charged with possession of explosives. After serving five years in Portlaoise prison he was released. Mr Hardy’s future wife Donna (née Maguire) was arrested in the same garda operation and held for seven months in Mountjoy prison in Dublin before being cleared of all charges.
Several months later, she was arrested in Belgium. After a protracted legal process, the Newry woman was eventually extradited to Germany and sentenced to six years after the authorities claimed she was involved in the Osnabrück attack.
Mrs Hardy’s legal team believes her experience over a decade ago may well have a direct impact on her husband’s fate now. Mr Hardy denies all charges that he was involved in the Osnabrück incident.
“When I was brought to Germany and sentenced they took into account the time I had served in Mountjoy in relation to the Rosslare incident as well as the subsequent time I spent in jail,” said Mrs Hardy.
“They linked the Rosslare incident to the one at Osnabrück in my case and took that time off my sentence. Our legal team will argue that the same terms apply to Leonard if he is extradited and convicted.
“The legal team will also argue that Leonard’s arrest and detention violates his human rights as a European citizen. Neither Spain or Germany extradite their own citizens yet they are happy to extradite an Irish citizen. All European citizens should be entitled to the same protections.”
Mr Hardy has been living openly in the South since his release from jail in the mid-90s and regularly travelled abroad on family holidays.
German authorities are currently finalising their extradition warrants. It is expected Mr Hardy will apply to the Spanish courts for bail in the coming days.

Children's commissioner in plea over sectarian attacks


25/08/2005 - 19:21:42

Young people must be shielded from the sectarian violence plaguing parts of the North, the children’s commissioner said tonight.

Nigel Williams urged communities and parents to prevent their children becoming pawns in the paramilitary trouble which has flared in north Antrim and east Belfast.

Sinn Féin called on Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party to use its influence to end the campaign of intimidation.

After a meeting with Northern Ireland Security Minister Shaun Woodward, MEP Mary Lou McDonald claimed the DUP had failed to show leadership, despite much of the trouble flaring in Paisley’s constituency.

But the party leader’s son, Ian Paisley Jr, said the DUP had condemned the violence and said it was time Sinn Féin backed the PSNI.

Mr Williams said children, as victims or perpetrators of violence, were being scarred for life by their experiences.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said: “We have become too used to seeing children involved in and suffering from the street violence we witness on our television screens and on the pages of our newspapers.

“Children and young people must not be allowed to be exposed to such vicious scenes, they must not be allowed to be hurt, they must not be allowed to become involved and they must not be allowed to become pawns in whatever sick games paramilitaries may be playing.”
On the long-term impact of the violence, the commissioner said: “We must remember that a child that witnesses such scenes, or a child whose home is attacked bears more than just physical scars.

"This is a psychological trauma that will colour their lives long into adulthood.”

Looking to the future, Mr Williams said: “Children, young people and their parents have told me of the lack of facilities, the lack of constructive direction in their lives outside school.

“And they are then faced with two months off school, when lack of facilities and limited opportunities for play and leisure can lead to them undertaking risk-taking activities.”

A house was extensively damaged overnight in the latest petrol bomb attack to take place in north Antrim.

No-one was at home at the time of incident, which police believe was sectarian, in Castle Park in Ballymoney, which happened between 10.30pm and 11pm.

In recent weeks, Catholic homes, churches and schools have been targeted in a spate of petrol bomb, arson and paint bomb attacks in Ballymena, Ahoghill and Rasharkin in the heart of the Democratic Unionist leader’s constituency.

Police have also issued Catholic families in Ahoghill with fire blankets should they be attacked.

SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren condemned the latest attack.

Mr Farren said: “We need to have these people taken off the streets by robust police action.

“There must be no hiding place for sectarian attackers in either community.”

Mary Lou McDonald called for a “clear political response” to the violence from the British government and unionist politicians.

Speaking outside Stormont’s Castle Buildings the Sinn Féin MEP said: “The incidents, particularly in the Short Strand and north Antrim, were orchestrated and they were clearly targeted at vulnerable Catholic and nationalist homes and communities.

“I would say to anyone who is involved in an act of sectarian violence against any of their neighbours to stop it, and stop it immediately.

“It is unacceptable in 2005 that people are afraid in their homes.

“We have all signed up to the Good Friday Agreement and are committed to ensuring that people can live free from sectarian harassment.”

Ms McDonald said the trouble in east Belfast was clearly led by loyalists and was part of an orchestrated campaign, compared to other parts of the city where the attacks have been tit-for-tat.

The MEP accused the DUP of being “utterly mute” on the violence.

She added: “There needs to be a consistent pattern of clear and unequivocal condemnation from unionism in terms of these attacks.

“It also has to be made clear from the leaders of political unionism that the individuals who are perpetrating these attacks must be isolated.

“They must show that leadership, and so far I don’t believe they have.”

But Ian Paisley Jr, who is also a member of the North’s Policing Board, responded to criticism from Ms McDonald by insisting the DUP’s opposition to the attacks was unequivocal.

“We have condemned unequivocally this most recent wave of attacks and we ask anyone with information about the attacks to forward it to the police and help ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” the North Antrim MLA said.

“We would challenge Mary Lou McDonald to publicly support the police, law authorities and the courts in their attempts to ensure that justice is served upon those responsible for these attacks.”

Suicide victim's parents in plea over psychiatric services


25/08/2005 - 19:36:16

The heartbroken parents of a teenage suicide victim today pleaded with the North’s health chiefs to act before tragedy is inflicted on any more families.

Danny McCartan, 18, hanged himself at a derelict house near his north Belfast home in April.

The apprentice joiner’s dreams of starting a new life in the United States were shattered after anti-depressant tablets bloated his body and brought back the weight taunts that tormented his childhood.

With their grief still raw, his parents Gerard and Carol held talks with Health Minister Shaun Woodward at a major suicide prevention conference in Belfast today.

Their anguish has been compounded by the cancellation of a scheduled psychiatric assessment just before Danny’s death.

Mr McCartan said: “I just hope nobody has to go through what we have had to go through.

“Suicide can come to anybody’s door at any time.

“Something needs to be done for the people of Northern Ireland and we’re hoping things start to move.”

Mr McCartan and his wife realised Danny was struggling in January last year when they noticed cuts on his arms.

A GP told them there was nothing to worry about, but months later he took an overdose, they said.

Danny had planned to move to Chicago to be with his older brother after finishing his training.

But instead he underwent treatment at the Mater Hospital and a psychiatric unit at the Knockbracken centre in south Belfast.

At one stage he was on 18 different types of medication a day, as well as being assessed by a psychiatrist.

A social worker stopped seeing Danny when he turned 18 in December, with a Community Psychiatric Nurse assigned.

“The tablets were making him gain an awful lot of weight,” recalled Mr McCartan.

“Danny was 6ft tall and slim, but when he was younger he was small and heavy. He got taunted at school and they came back again.

“In the four weeks leading up to his death he was getting more withdrawn, and then an appointment with his psychiatrist in April was cancelled until October without explanation.

“The day he died Danny came down and spoke to the CPN, he was willing to go into any place to get his head all cleared but we were told there were no beds.

“Danny left the house at 2.30pm on April 11, and we got a rap on the door at 9.30pm. Danny was found hanging in a derelict house on his own.

“There’s a whole lot of answers we are still looking for.

“I believe if Danny had seen the psychiatrist he would still be alive.”

Two accused of driver murder bid


Man was injured while he sat in his taxi

Two men have been charged with attempted murder over a gun attack on a taxi driver in County Down last weekend.

The victim was shot as he sat in his car at Stirling Avenue in Newtownards early on Saturday 20 August.

He was said to be in a stable condition after the shooting. Police said it may have been linked to loyalist feuding.

The two men, aged 19 and 20, will appear before Newtownards Magistrates court on Friday.

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Adair bail application rejected


Johnny Adair was refused bail

Loyalist Johnny Adair has been refused bail following an application to Bolton Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

Mr Adair, 41, of Chorley New Road, Horwich, Greater Manchester, who was accused last week of harassment, was remanded in custody for a second time.

He denies pursuing a course of conduct leading to the harassment of Stephen McQuaid and Kerry Thompson.

William Woods, 37, of Halliwell Road, Bolton, also denies two charges in connection with the same incident.

Mr Adair faces one charge while Mr Woods, who was also refused bail, faces two counts of harassment and one charge of common assault.

The incident is alleged to have taken place outside a launderette in Halliwell Road, Bolton.

Both men will reappear at Bolton Magistrates' Court for a pre-trial review on 1 September.

Outrage at DUP man's Hunger Strike comments


“I have friends who are prison officers, and they told me that their best time in the Maze was when the Provos were on hunger strike, because they lived like animals, and that’s what they were!”

Republicans and nationalists expressed outrage yesterday, following the comments of a DUP councillor who claimed his friends in the Prison Service revelled in the suffering of the 1981 hunger strikers, and described them as “animals”.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
DUP's Paul Given

Speaking at Lisburn City Council on Tuesday night, Councillor Paul Given (above) expressed his views on why councillors should bestow the freedom of the city on the Northern Ireland Prison Service, saying: “I have friends who are prison officers, and they told me that their best time in the Maze was when the Provos were on hunger strike, because they lived like animals, and that’s what they were.”

Minutes after Cllr Given’s comment, members of the DUP, UUP and Alliance passed a motion to bestow the freedom of the city on the Prison Service.

Yesterday, nationalists and republicans reacted angrily to Tuesday night’s events. Former hunger striker Lawrence McKeown said that he was “not surprised” by the alleged mentality of the prison officers.

Angry reaction to DUP man’s hunger strike comments

“The period from 1976 to 1981 was obviously a delight for many prison guards in Long Kesh,” he said. “They were brought in to oversee a policy of criminalisation of republicans, and earned substantially more money than others in their field for doing so. This young councillor’s comment only verifies what we already knew, and it’s also no surprise to me that the DUP would want to commend people of this twisted mentality by offering them the freedom of the city, for what it’s worth.”

Mike Ritchie, who now works for Coiste na n-Iarchimí promoting the economic and emotional well-being of republican ex-prisoners, said Cllr Given’s remarks are “consistent with the demonisation of ex-prisoners that has infused DUP thinking since the Good Friday Agreement.”

He added: “The prison protests were caused by the refusal of unionism and the British government to recognise the political motivation which led people to involve themselves in conflict.”

Mr Ritchie added that all those involved in the Coiste are “repulsed” by Cllr Given’s statement. Coiste plan to send a letter to Lisburn City Council expressing their condemnation of what was said in council chambers.

“The people described as ‘animals’ by Mr Given are the peace-builders of Ireland,” he said. “When they stand for election they are endorsed by the electorate, as was Bobby Sands MP. When they speak in support of the peace process they are listened to. The protest – and the sacrifice of the hunger strikers – has been internationally recognised as emblemetic of the justness of their cause.

“This is evidenced by the fact that the prison and the hospital where the hunger strikers died has been listed as a building of significant historical importance – an argument we successfully made to the Maze Consultation Panel that made proposals for the future of the site in January 2005.”

Mr Ritchie pointed out that the Prison Service has been exposed as “a sectarian institution, which has no confidence amongst nationalists, as evidenced by the fact that less than 10 per cent of staff are from a Catholic background”.

Sinn Féin councillor Angela Nelson, who was in attendance during Tuesday’s meeting said the comment was “not only offensive and disgraceful in its own right, but an illustration of the sectarian and bigoted character of many within the Prison Service, whom the DUP are only too happy to commend through their motion to bestow freedom of the city.”

SDLP councillor Brian Heading, who also attended Tuesday night’s meeting, said that if Cllr Given’s claims were true, they cast serious aspersions on the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

“If it is the case that these prison officers have voiced this opinion, then this is a grave matter and Cllr Given, if he can stand by what he says, should pass on the names of these employees who have failed to carry out their duty as prison officers.” He added that to bestow the freedom of the city on the Prison Service minutes later, with no condemnation of Cllr Given’s remarks, was “highly insensitive”.

Responding to Mr Given’s remarks, a spokesperson for the Prison Service told the Andersonstown News: “There is a duty on prison staff to ensure that prisoners are treated with dignity, and when outside the prison environment they shall not commit any action by word or by deed that is likely to bring discredit on the Prison Service.”

Speaking to the Andersonstown News last night Cllr Paul Given said he stood by his comments.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Police investigate apparent arson in Antrim


25 August 2005 09:19

Police are investigating what appears to have been a sectarian arson attack in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, last night.

A PSNI spokesman said a petrol bomb was thrown through the kitchen window of a house at Castle Park in the town some time between 10:30pm and 11pm.

Extensive damage was caused to the kitchen and smoke damage to the rest of the house. No one was in the house at the time.

The alarm was raised by the owner, a man in his 20s, when he returned home at around 1am.

Belfast hosts suicide prevention conference


25/08/2005 - 11:48:44

International experts and campaigners are meeting in Belfast today to discuss ways of preventing suicide.

Around 300 people are expected to attend a special one-day conference on the issue arranged by the local British health minister, Shaun Woodward.

More than 50 people have taken their own lives in the North so far this year and the problem is particularly bad in north and west Belfast.

Representatives of some bereaved relatives are due to take part in today's conference, as are local community and voluntary groups.

Petrol bombs thrown at officers


Petrol bomb attacks have taken place over several nights

Petrol bombs and other missiles have been thrown at police during another night of disturbances in north Belfast.

The home of a couple aged in their 70s was one of a number of houses in Alliance Avenue also targeted by petrol bombers.

The man was taken to hospital suffering shock after four devices were thrown.

Rival gangs of youths clashed in the Twaddle, Cranbrook and Ardoyne areas but there were no reports of any injuries.

Police said up to 30 youths threw paint, golf balls and a smaller number of petrol bombs at officers in the Brompton and Cranbrook areas.

The violence lasted about two hours. The police said community representatives worked with them to restore calm.

Earlier on Wednesday night, three children, including a 13-month-old baby, were splattered with paint during an attack at a house in north Belfast.

A gang of four youths attacked three homes in Cliftondene Gardens at about 1730 BST. Loyalists are being blamed.

The children - a girl aged six, a boy under two and the baby Lorcon Grew - also suffered minor cuts in the incident.

A neighbour, whose home was also attacked, said the mother was distraught.

"She was standing at the door with the baby in her arms and was pleading with them not to do anything," he said.

"But they still went ahead and threw the petrol bomb and paint bomb.

"Two young children were playing in the garden - one gets covered in paint and apparently the baby was cut with glass."

Crate of bottles

Belfast deputy lord mayor Pat Convery said those responsible on both sides of the divide were sinking to new lows, targeting the elderly, the sick and mothers with babies.

"Murder cannot be far away unless we put a stop to it now," he said.

Many homes have been attacked during disturbances

Earlier, windows were smashed at a Protestant family's home in nearby Alliance Gardens.

In the Cliftondene Gardens incident, a petrol bomb hit the wall of a house, while paint attacks broke windows and showered a woman with glass.

It is understood the two young boys are related and the girl is a friend.

The gang escaped on foot leaving behind a crate of bottles filled with paint. Sinn Fein said they had meant to target more Catholic homes.

The police said they had recovered a number of "unused paint bombs" close to the scene and have appealed for local community representatives to use their influence to stop these attacks.

Superintendent Gary White condemned the attacks.

Sinn Fein councillor Danny Lavery said Wednesday evening's attacks were sectarian.

Petrol bomb attack 'is sectarian'


A petrol bomb attack on a house in Ballymoney in County Antrim is being treated as sectarian.

The device, thrown between 2230 and 2300 BST, caused extensive damage to the kitchen of the Castle Park house.

The property suffered smoke damage throughout. The owner discovered the damage when he returned home at about 0100 BST on Thursday.

"Initial inquiries suggest that the incident was sectarian," said a PSNI spokesman.

SDLP North Antrim assembly member Sean Farren said someone could have been killed in the attack.

"Fortunately the occupants were out at the time, but this in no way mitigates the crime of those who used what we know only too well can be a murderous weapon," he said.

"We need to have these people taken off the streets by robust police action."

Sinn Fein's Phillip McGuigan said there had been a sustained campaign of intimidation against nationalists in the area.

"These attacks have been allowed to become the norm because of the ambivalence of many unionist political representatives," he said.

"I want to reiterate my belief that the DUP and others, who sit on forums and commissions with the leaderships of the UDA and UVF, can help bring about an end to these attacks."

Attack on Catholic owned pub latest in long line of sectarian attacks

Sinn Féin

Published: 24 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Councillor for Dunmurry Cross Angela Nelson has today said that an attack on a Catholic owned pub in Dunmurry Village is part of a concerted sectarian campaign waged by Unionist paramilitaries across the Six Counties.

Ms Nelson made her comments after the Motte and Bailey pub was attacked with paint-bombs last night.

Speaking today Ms Nelson said: "Yesterday evenings attack is the latest in a long line of attacks against this specific public house, and part of a wider campaign of sectarian harassment against vulnerable nationalist communities right across the north.

"On the 11th August, two young men leaving the pub were attacked as Apprentice Boys paraded through Dunmurry Village. Since then the premises have been attacked on a number of occasions and cars have been set alight. Nationalists in Dunmurry are rightly querying whether or not CCTV footage in the area has captured these attacks, and if the PSNI are prepared to act on this information. If the PSNI are able to arrest people in connection with unrest in the Ardoyne, then why can't the same apply here in Dunmurry?

"For many years now, the borough of Lisburn has been a cold house for nationalists, both inside and outside of the Council Chamber. Unionist politicians have a responsibility to challenge those loyalist paramilitaries who are intent on stirring up sectarian hatred. Indeed, they could start by facing up to those they sit with on various parading and community forums. Unfortunately, most nationalists believe that unionist politicians are not up to the challenge." ENDS

24 August 2005

Children are hurt in paint attack


Three children, including a three-month-old baby, have been splattered with paint during an attack at a house in north Belfast.

A gang of four youths attacked three homes in Cliftondene Gardens at about 1730 BST. Loyalists are being blamed.

A petrol bomb hit the wall of a house, whilst paint attacks broke windows and showered a woman with glass.

The children - a girl aged six, a boy under two and the baby - also suffered minor cuts in the incident.

It is understood the two young boys are related and the girl is a friend.

The gang escaped on foot leaving behind a crate of bottles filled with paint. Sinn Fein said they had meant to target more Catholic homes.

During the attacks, a Catholic mother ran outside to plead with the gang not to throw paint at her house because her two-year-old son was playing outside.

But the gang attacked the house anyway.

The police said they had recovered a number of "unused paint bombs" close to the scene and have appealed for local community representatives to use their influence to stop these attacks.

Superintendent Gary White condemned the attacks.

"Yet again it is the most innocent and vulnerable members of the community in north Belfast that have been affected by the activities of those intent on ensuring that interface violence continues," he said.

On Tuesday, night the home of an 82-year-old Protestant cancer sufferer and his wife was attacked in Hesketh Road.


Sinn Fein councillor Danny Lavery said Wednesday evening's attacks were sectarian.

"Paint and petrol bombs were thrown at these three homes in a purely sectarian attack," he said.

"Sinn Fein have spoken out clearly and strongly against all sectarian attacks including those last night in Heskith and those today on the Ardoyne Road.

"We stand against attacks like these from whatever section of the community they come from and will work constructively to bring them to an end."

He urged unionist representatives to come out as strongly and clearly against the attacks to try to end them.

Probe pledged into 'sectarian' radio content


24/08/2005 - 18:16:53

Internet authorities tonight pledged to probe any fears about an online radio station allegedly glorifying loyalist terrorists.

SDLP Assembly member John Dallat has demanded the shutdown of a website he believes is trying to recruit teenage paramilitaries.

The East Londonderry MLA has also urged Chief Constable Hugh Orde to move against Loyalist FM.

The site claims to be promoting loyalist culture by playing music and providing entertainment for the 1,080 registered users.

But its online jukebox contains songs where a father implores his sons to take his gun and fight as Ulster Defence Association men, and another portraying a 16-year-old taking up a rifle on behalf of the YCV – the Ulster Volunteer Force’s youth wing.

Mr Dallat said: “Given the countless massacres that loyalist paramilitaries have been involved in, this is obviously just about incitement to hatred and lawlessness.

“I have written to the chief constable, drawing his attention to it and suggesting it was a recruiting agent for the worst kind of paramilitaries.”

The website is hosted by Preston-based firm Pogga.

Stephen Johnston, the company’s customer service representative, stressed it was only responsible for literature on the site.

Checks carried out with the UK-wide National High-Tech Crime Unit assured them it was legal to carry the text as long as it contained no incitement to violence or hatred, he said.

Mr Johnston insisted: “We don’t host the music played.

He added, however: “We have not received any complaints against the website, but if we did we would look into them.

“If they were valid we will take the site down.”

FDC Servers in Chicago, which hosts the music played, could not be contacted for comment.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman insisted the force would probe any alleged online crimes.

She said: “The PSNI do not routinely monitor the internet.

“However, when a suspected criminal offence is reported to us we will always investigate.”

No-one involved with the website was available for comment, but in its freedom of speech section Mr Dallat came under fire.

“Nowhere on this website do we glorify any illegal organisation. On construction of this site the management team were specific and thorough with relation to that point. We do not and have not at any time ever played any role in recruiting for illegal organisations,” it said.

“The only message we convey is our belief that as Ulster citizens we have every right to be proud of our British culture and way of life. Surely Mr Dallat striving to be a confident pluralist and non-sectarian should accept our right to this?

“We do not display or advertise any propaganda related to any illegal organisation. LFM is run and financed by its listeners.

“We sell CDs produced by bands from across the UK to people from all over the world, who enjoy the cultural music Mr Dallat so obviously abhors.

“The internet is open to everyone the same as freedom of speech. Who is the bigot here?

“A station promoting culture, not denying the violent past the people of Ulster have endured over 30 years, including all in the loyalist community, addressing the good and bad, reflecting on all aspects through both song and chat?”

It also called on the SDLP man to express the same outrage at sites supporting republican paramilitaries.

Mr Dallat insisted he would not hesitate to criticise evenly.

“There are equally shocking republican websites. One, for example, openly encourages recruitment to the youth wing of the Continuity IRA.

“This is about turning them into child soldiers. It is about child abuse.”

Teenager arrested over yard arson


A lorry was one of the vehicles destroyed in the blaze

A 17-year-old youth has been arrested over a suspected arson attack at a council yard in Ballymena which caused damage estimated at £50,000.

A new tractor, a low-loader lorry and a small truck were destroyed in the fire at the Market Road depot, a nursery for plants for municipal flower beds.

A new transit van was also badly damaged in the blaze.

It is the second major fire at council property this week. On Monday a fire caused £1m damage in Londonderry.

In this latest incident, firefighters managed to prevent the fire at the premises spreading to nearby flats.

Firefighters stopped the blaze from spreading to nearby flats

Ballymena Station Officer Kieran Barr said there appeared to be four seats of fire.

"The crews worked well to stop the fires spreading and cut down the damage that way," he said.

"In the boundary of the grounds there's a block of flats. If the shed had have gone, we would have had to consider evacuating the residents from the flats.

"At the minute, the police are carrying out an investigation, but because the seats of fire are so far apart, in my opinion it would be deliberate."

Knife found 'not murder weapon'


A knife found near where a 15-year-old boy was fatally stabbed was not the murder weapon, police have said.

Thomas Devlin was stabbed as he and two friends walked along Somerton Road in north Belfast on 10 August.

Detectives said the knife, found by a resident cutting a hedge at the rear of his house off the Landsdowne Road on Monday, was not used in the attack.

However, they said it was not ruled out of the ongoing inquiry. Police issued a fresh appeal for information.

Thomas had just bought sweets from a nearby shop when he was stabbed in the back five times.

His 18-year-old friend was injured in the attack, but not seriously. A 16-year-old boy managed to escape.

Thomas, a student at Belfast Royal Academy, was a talented musician who played the horn at school.

A number of people detained for questioning about the murder have been released without charge.

Arrest in school shooting inquiry


**The man has since been released pending police reports

Darragh spent two months in hospital following the shooting

A 70-year-old man has been arrested by police investigating the shooting of a five-year-old boy outside his County Fermanagh school earlier this year.

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

Darragh spent two months in hospital after he was struck by a bullet from a .22 rifle.

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Kyle said no-one else was being sought over the shooting.

Detectives had previously said they believed the shooting was accidental and had appealed for whoever fired the shot to come forward.

DCI Kyle thanked the local community for their support

They said they believed Darragh was hit by someone shooting in nearby fields.

Mr Kyle said the investigation would not have been possible "without the full support of the local community".

"In particular, I would like to recognise the responsible approach adopted by all those whose rifles were seized for their patience during the period of time that it has taken to have them examined."

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

Darragh was critically ill in hospital and went through two lengthy operations before he could return home.

Bernard O'Connor, headmaster of Darragh's school, said on Wednesday that he was expecting him back to begin primary two on 1 September.

"He's made, more or less, a miraculous recovery. He's able to run about, play, watch television, read and do all the normal things," he said.

"He has got a slight impairment in his left leg and left arm, but we hope that through time and with physiotherapy, he will be back to normal."

Petrol bomb attack on Belfast house


24/08/2005 - 08:02:40

A petrol bomb with a firework attached to it was launched at a house in Belfast overnight, police said today.

The incident was one of six attacks on properties in the north of the city, which included a paint bomb being thrown through a window at the home of a couple in their 80s.

Police said a house in Skegoneill Avenue was targeted with the petrol bomb, which did not ignite, shortly before 11pm.

Half an hour earlier, a paint bomb struck a house and a car was set alight in Somerdale Park.

Meanwhile, a cancer sufferer and his wife were left traumatised when their home was paint-bombed by republicans.

John Mussen, 82, said he and his wife were attacked “because we never go out”.

A window in the living room of their home at Hesketh Road was smashed and paint splattered all over the furniture shortly after 8pm yesterday.

Three neighbouring houses were also paint-bombed.

The Democratic Unionist Party condemned the attacks and accused republicans of being responsible.

Assembly member Nelson McCausland said the attack was “blatantly sectarian and designed to ensure the continuation of unrest in the area”.

He added: “This area has had to endure these types of attacks over a long period of time. This attack is a deliberate attempt to ensure that tension in the area remains high. It is blatantly sectarian and clearly well-organised.”

Rangers fans get ferry foot ban


There was trouble between Rangers and Celitc fans on the ferry

Stena Line has banned Glasgow Rangers supporters travelling as foot passengers from its sailings between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The ferry company said it had taken the decision following trouble involving supporters on a sailing on Saturday.

Trouble broke out as Rangers and Celtic fans returned from an Old Firm derby match, which Rangers won 3-1.

Jim McGreevey, whose mother was on board, said that she had been terrified by the sectarian behaviour.

"The supporters, they weren't even singing football songs, it was about killing Catholics, and named Catholics that have been shot dead," he told BBC radio's Nolan Show.

"Then one of the Stena Line staff came down and asked them to be quiet, this seemed to up the ante and they just got out of control."

The ban will cause problems for Rangers fans tonight as the team is due to play in a Champions League qualifier in Glasgow.

Stena Line said the ban is beginning immediately but would not affect those who travel with clubs most of which travel by bus and are registered.

The ban will only apply to individuals or small groups who are not registered as clubs and travel as foot passengers.

Council members meet imprisoned men


24 August 2005 11:56

Members of Mayo County Council have been meeting with the five men imprisoned as a result of their objection to the Corrib gas pipeline.

The meeting at Clover Hill Prison was to include examining possible options to secure their release.

Paddy McGuinness of Fine Gael said the options being discussed centred on the men's concerns about health and safety arising from Shell's Corrib gas field project.

However, with the men entering their ninth week in prison, a spokesperson for the Shell to Sea Campaign says they will remain in prison unless Shell drops its High Court injunction.

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