17 September 2005

Loyalists targeting GAA

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

GAA clubs in Co Derry have been urged to check their premises after the PSNI warned they are being targeted by loyalists.
County board officials contacted 18 clubs in the district yesterday after the PSNI claimed they received intelligence that GAA clubs in the Magherafelt District Command Unit area were under threat of loyalist attack.
It is understood the loyalist plot involves scattering crushed glass on playing surfaces at club grounds across south Derry where hundreds of adults and children train and play daily.
The PSNI last night confirmed that they have carried out searches at GAA clubs in the Magherafelt area.
News of threat comes one week after a St John’s Catholic church, Magherafelt, which sits just yards from the town’s O’ Donovan Rossa GAA club, was targeted in in a sectarian graffiti attack. It was the second incident at the small historical church in two weeks.
The adjacent GAA facility formed part of yesterday’s PSNI searches. The club has been the target of several loyalist pipe bomb and glass attacks in recent years.
In the late 1990s a number of GAA clubs in the south Derry area were targeted in a series of sectarian pipe bomb attacks. These attacks were widely believed to have been the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The GAA community across the island was rocked in 1997 when Bellaghy Wolfe Tones chairman Sean Brown was abducted and gunned down by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) as he locked up at club premises.
South Derry Board secretary Brian Smyth says the latest warning is being taken seriously by members.
“We have sent word to all clubs that this is to be treated as a serious warning. That is not a guarantee that something is going to happen but we are putting everybody on alert because of their seriousness of the calls we have received.
“Clubs in the area have been targeted in the past and of course Sean Brown was murdered, which is still in the headlines. These sorts of things do create fear but I would like to think that this fear will not stop us playing our games.
“We were told when contacted that intelligence was received that crushed glass would be used on local fields. But we have advised clubs to be on the look out for anything suspicious.”
Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor Sean McPeake condemned the latest attack.
“I would hope this is not the start of another campaign against the GAA in this area.
“It’s very worrying when you consider the attack on the nearby church in recent weeks. The GAA provides an important service for the youth of the area and it’s unacceptable that loyalist paramilitaries and people of evil intent would act in this way.”

Two simple ways to get Irish to flourish

Daily Ireland


In his by now legendary address in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich in Belfast last month, Dr Shlomo Izre’el, Professor of Semitic Languages in Tel Aviv University, Israel, identified two prerequisites for the survival, revival and flourishing of the Irish language in Ireland, namely idealism and necessity.
The former, he observed, we have in spades, the latter he was less sure of. In fact, his study, his observation, his gut feeling and his common sense told him that while English was a linguistic necessity all over Ireland (excepting, perhaps, the Gaeltacht areas), the pure necessity for Irish as a linguistic tool in Ireland was negligible.
He went on to compare the Irish situation with that of Israel, where Hebrew today is a linguistic necessity. You just cannot live a full and proper life in Israel today without Hebrew. In Ireland it is impossible to live a full and proper life without English.
The fact that Hebrew went from having no speakers of the modern language to having over six million within 100 years was one of the reasons why I invited Shlomo to come to Cultúrlann and share his view of the Hebrew experience with us.
Despite the various arguments, boycotts, protests and differences of opinion, I am glad that Professor Izre’el accepted the invitation to deliver the annual Pádraig Ó Donnchú commemorative lecture, and I am convinced that Irish does, indeed, have a lot to learn from the experience of Hebrew in Israel.
I, too, have identified two prerequisites for the survival, revival and flourishing of the Irish language.
Let us be clear about a thing or two from the outset. My over-riding interest in Irish is as a linguistic tool for Irish people. A means of communication that is particular to us, our own, Irish language: the Irish language of today and tomorrow for the Irish people of today and tomorrow. We need our own, Irish language to ensure that we remain distinctly Irish in the world.
I know the Irish language is the repository for a rich and wonderful literature, both oral and written. I am happy to think of the great stories and sagas that were to our ancestors as movies and television soaps and dramas and theatre are to us today. I read modern Irish literature all the time from Ó Cadhain to Mac Grianna, from Aodhán Ó Rathaille to Cathal Ó Searcaigh, from Nuala Rua to Deirdre Ní Ghrianna. I love poetry and novels, short stories and plays but they are all bunkum as far as reviving the language is concerned.
I am not interested in learning Irish just to be able to read and appreciate our great language, the oldest in Europe.
Sure, I might as well learn Latin or ancient Greek, if it is all just about reading and appreciating literature. If you are thinking of learning Irish just to be able to read and appreciate literature, take my advice and forget it.
I want Irish to be the living, vibrant, no-nonsense, irreverent and beautiful everyday tongue of the people of Ireland.
Most people in Ireland don’t read great literature in any language, so why should they in Irish. It’s page-turners we want, full of murder, deceit, high-speed action and sex. Like every normal person waiting for a plane, or a train, we want to be entertained, but not to be taxed in the brain. We want to escape, not be burdened by the nobility of art and culture.
Or else we want music mags, camera mags, car mags, computer mags – any damn mag that is useful – in Irish.
Of course some people – like yours truly – want class literature, but we are in a minority. Also, even those of us who demand highbrow literature (I have read Cré na Cille, let it be known), also want lowbrow stuff as well. Like a movie mag, to keep up with the comings and goings of the stars. Or a gossip mag to keep up with the comings and goings of, well… the stars.
All these weird and wonderful toys of leisure will come when market forces detect a need for them.
If a publisher thought he could make a few quid profit by sticking out a DIY – Does – Exactly – What – It- Says mag in Irish, then a publisher most certainly would do so. Until then, however, I don’t think so.
Basically, in order to have the type of services in Irish that we already enjoy in English – whether they be of the written variety or otherwise – we need more Irish speakers. A lot more Irish speakers.
Which brings me two my two prerequisites for the survival, revival and flourishing of the Irish language.
First, learn Irish. Second, use Irish. Learn Irish, use Irish – couldn’t be simpler.
In a dream world, an ideal world, the Irish government would instigate a short-term action plan to have a critical mass of the Irish people speaking Irish within, say, three or five years. Five years. Enough people speaking Irish to create the necessity for other people to speak Irish.
This is not an impossible proposition. Irish is an easy language to learn, although the idea of the current Irish government going on a crusade to revive the language is a bit hard to picture.
Imagine walking into a shop in Andersonstown, or Lucan, or Dundalk and your first instinct would be to speak Irish. That you just knew that Irish would be language most likely to be used by the shop guy and most of his customers.
Imagine if you wanted to find out who won the match last night, or how the Israeli pullout from Gaza and the West Bank was getting along, or what’s the betting for Saturday’s three-thirty at the Curragh, or whatever, that you immediately went to Lá, or TG4, or Raidió Fáilte, Raidió na Life or Raidió na Gaeltachta…
Imagine a world where you spoke Irish most of the time to most of your friends, most of your family, most of your school mates, work colleagues, political comrades, political enemies.
This is all possible, provided you follow my two step guide to reviving the Irish language: learn Irish, use Irish.
First of all we have to want to. More next week…

Northern Ireland | Ahern to meet Colombian minister


Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern is to meet his Colombian counterpart, Carolina Barco, in New York next week.

They are expected to discuss requests filed by the Colombians for the extradition of the three Irishmen convicted of training Farc rebels.

The extradition papers are being examined by the Department of Justice in the Irish Republic.

The talks will take place on the fringes of next week's meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan were sentenced to 17 years in jail after being convicted of training Farc rebels, but vanished in December 2004 while on bail awaiting an appeal.

They returned to the Irish Republic in August.

British child porn suspect in hiding here

Irish Independent

A BRITISH man wanted as part of a major child porn investigation in Britain is believed to be hiding in Ireland.

Jason Ryan Cooke (34), from Anglesea in Wales, disappeared two months ago after being sought by police in connection with a major child porn investigation.

Cooke is wanted for allegedly downloading 372 indecent images of young boys and girls from the internet, and police also found 68 video clips of children. Cooke has numerous connections in Ireland, including contacts in both the Republic and the North. British police believe Cooke has spent time in Ireland previously and could now be hiding here.

Police have appealed for help in tracing him. Cooke, a white male, is of large build with long hair and a full beard. Anyone who may suspect they've seen Cooke is asked to contact their local garda station or the British police.

Ralph Riegel

Protesters block city road again


Loyalist protests have disrupted rush-hour traffic

A crowd of mainly women and children blocked Donegall Road in south Belfast for a time, in the sixth consecutive day of loyalist protests in the city.

They gathered near Shaftesbury Square at about 1530 BST, moved towards the Boyne Bridge for a time then returned.

The protest has now ended and the road has re-opened.

Rush-hour traffic has been disrupted since Monday by loyalists angry at the police's response to disturbances which followed a re-routed Orange march.

On Friday, UUP leader Sir Reg Empey called for an end to the demonstrations, saying that they were causing loyalist areas to suffer.

"The government's attention is now being focused on concerns that people have in many of these loyalist areas," he said.

"There will be no progress made while these disturbances continue."

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there had been "a total failure in unionist leadership".

"Like others, I have to ask why it has taken him (Sir Reg) a week to scramble to that sort of line of sense," he said.

City of fear

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge and Deborah McAleese
17 September 2005

Belfast remained on a knife-edge last night following sinister attempts to bring traffic chaos to the city.

Police took a robust line in keeping roads open after loyalist protests in a number of areas - there were scuffles between police in riot gear with dogs and protesters on the Donegall Road.

At one point Great Victoria Street in the City Centre was closed by police following a road-block, despite calls by UUP leader Sir Reg Empey for an end to the demonstrations.

Earlier in the day rumours swept Belfast claiming that shops, businesses and schools were to shut down from lunchtime amid fears of mass loyalist roadblocks.

Some schools reported bogus calls claiming to be from Translink telling them to send children home because buses were cancelled.

There have been warnings that the ongoing disturbances could put international investors off coming to Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile Secretary of State Peter Hain has told the Belfast Telegraph that he believes his decision to release Shankill bomber Sean Kelly has stoked loyalist anger - but claimed he could not have handled the situation any other way.

He has defended the amount of time it took him to drop recognition of the UVF ceasefire, claiming he did not want to jeopardise behind closed doors attempt to end their bloody feud with the LVF.

Mr Hain has also said it would be "unreasonable" to exclude all republicans - as distinct from IRA members - from joining the police.

Loyalist jailed for Harryville horror

Belfast Telegraph

I'm still living in fear says Catholic victim

By Deborah McAleese
17 September 2005

A Ballymena loyalist who strangled and repeatedly stabbed a Catholic man in an horrific sectarian attack and then planned to cut up his body with a saw was last night starting a 16-year sentence behind bars.

But even with the depraved thug safely off the streets the victim of the horrific murder attempt said he would never be able to put the terrifying ordeal behind him.

Neil White (30), from Wakehurst Road, Ballymena, was one of three men who tried to strangle 31-year-old Michael Reid with a phone chord and then stabbed him repeatedly with a knife shouting sectarian abuse in October 2003 at a house in Patrick Place, Harryville.

Mr Reid was forced to pretend he was dead in the hope that White and the two accomplices - who have never been caught - would stop attacking him.

As he lay motionless in a pool of blood White and the two men continued to kick and stab him to make sure he was dead and then started to discuss how they would dispose of his body. They then decided to get a saw and cut him up.

While the two other men left to get a saw White stayed with the body but Mr Reid was able to fight White off and make his escape.

He ran from the house but collapsed a short distance away where he was picked up by a passing police patrol.

As White was imprisoned at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, Mr Reid, who has been forced into hiding, said he was still living in fear. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph he said: "I am still in fear for my life as the two other men are still out there. I want police to keep trying to get them.

"I expected White to get about 16 years so I suppose I am happy enough with that but I wish he had got more. I will never be able to put this behind me but I'm just trying to get on with my life as best I can."

Sentencing White, Mr Justice Coghlin said sectarianism was a "corrosive toxin that remorselessly eats away at the social fabric surrounding many communities in Northern Ireland".

He said: "Mr Reid was a Catholic in Harryville, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Over time sectarianism has been cynically exploited by politicians and paramilitaries.

"No child is born sectarian but rather acquires such attitudes and beliefs as a result of social contact and influence including family, peer groups and the wider community."

Hain sticks to his guns over release of IRA man Kelly

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent
17 September 2005

Freeing Shankill bomber Sean Kelly has contributed to the sense of grievance among loyalists, Secretary of State Peter Hain has admitted - but he says he couldn't have handled Kelly's imprisonment and release any other way.

The Secretary of State also defended the length of time it took him to drop recognition of the UVF ceasefire, saying he didn't want to jeopardise attempts behind closed doors to end the feud with the LVF.

But he said he was not specifically attacking unionist politicians yesterday when he accused unionists of becoming fellow travellers with "thuggery and gangsterism" in the wake of this week's loyalist rioting.

"Nothing I have said since the riots and gangsterism of last weekend has in anyway suggested that unionist politicians either incited or condoned the violence," he said.

"I have a good relationship with all unionist politicians and leaders and respect for them as we work together on the forward agenda. I well understand how difficult the present situation is for them."

Yesterday the Belfast Telegraph reported Mr Hain's remarks - which concerned a failure to react strongly to the violence against police - applied to unionist politicians. He has now indicated the remark applied generally to some unionists.

At the same time, SDLP leader Mark Durkan attacked unionist politicians for sitting alongside the UVF and UDA on the North and West Belfast Parades Forum.

After UUP and DUP councillors decided to boycott the Belfast Police Partnership, Mr Durkan said: "Clearly the UUP and DUP prefer to work with gunmen than the police.

"They prefer to work with people who shoot at the police than with the men and women whose job it is to enforce the law."

Mr Hain had returned Kelly to prison in June over suspicion he had again become involved in terrorism. But he released him in July the day before the IRA declared an end to its armed campaign.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Hain said: "There was no forward plan to let him out.

"I locked him up because he was breaching his licence. I had a report that arrived in my red box one night from the PSNI and it would have been irresponsible of me not to have acted on that.

"Equally it would have been wrong of me to ignore the fact that the IRA statement was of a historic and completely different kind from anything that had come before and opened up a new era in Northern Ireland, a statement to which he was signed up.

"Given that sequence of events, I don't think any other Secretary of State could have taken any different decisions.

"Is it the decision I'm most proud of? No, of course not. But given the circumstances I don't think any of those decisions could have been different."

In the wake of last week's rioting, Mr Hain said the Government would no longer recognise the UVF ceasefire.

UVF violence has been an issue for several months, but Mr Hain said he delayed the decision because of ongoing attempts to stop the group's feud with the LVF.

"There were other reasons why I delayed making a decision, in terms of other moves that were going on in an attempt to bring the feud to an end and attempts at dialogue - not by me, obviously," he said.

"And actually a premature specification could have got in the way in that.

"I don't have any regrets about the specification, either, but would it have changed anything on the ground over that weekend? I rather doubt it.

"And in a way there was a whole political hullabaloo around it, as if this was the be and end all. Now people are saying what difference has it made and that was my point all along."

Mr Hain said it would be "unreasonable" to exclude republicans - as distinct from IRA members - from joining the police.

"This is very simple," he said. "Anybody joining the Police Service, whatever their personal political position, whatever community they come from, have to conform to the same very high recruitment and vetting standards. Full stop, end of story.

"In a sense I don't want to know what their political views are. But I do want a Police Service, as it has increasingly become, that is representative of the community.

"And I do want republicans who have signed up for the democratic and peaceful future, I do want them to be supportive of the police and engage with the police.

"If people are saying that a 19-year-old from a family that has had republican connections is barred from joining the police straight out of school as a young recruit, despite satisfying all the standards, then obviously not. Obviously that's unreasonable."

But he said he was not saying "you can demobilise paramilitaries and integrate them". "Absolutely not," he added.

BreakingNews.ie: Unionists accused over loyalist violence


17/09/2005 - 13:41:33

Unionist political leaders were accused today of “almost soliciting” the loyalist violence which erupted in Northern Ireland a week ago.

The rhetoric used the Rev Ian Paisley and Sir Reg Empey ahead of last Saturday’s contentious Orange Parade in Belfast was heavily condemned by SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

And he said it appeared the loyalist paramilitary tail was now almost wagging the unionist dog.

Hitting out at the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist party leaders, Mr Durkan said: “Effectively the signal they sent to people was ‘do your worst and we won’t blame you, do your worst and we will blame the police.

“Do your worst and we will blame the Parades Commission and we will blame the Secretary of State’.

“Of course that is exactly what they have done since.”

Mr Durkan, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme, said the leaders of the two unionist parties had allowed the loyalist paramilitaries to take the lead over policing and parades.

“It seems as thought the whip hand in unionist politics actually lies with the paramilitaries who showed their real nature last weekend,” he said.

He dismissed the DUP call for a “root and branch” review of the Parades Commission – what the party really wanted was its abolition, he said.

Mr Durkan said ahead of the re-routed Whiterock parade Sir Reg had not, through the terms he had used, made his position clear.

“It was, I believe, the rhetoric used by himself and Ian Paisley, even in advance of last weekend, that almost solicited the sort of violence we had,” said Mr Durkan.

Meanwhile two Anglican bishops today offered to help communities caught up in the loyalist violence.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, Alan Harper and Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Millar, said they hoped to meet people in the areas affected.

Bishop Harper said they “wanted to understand the issues behind the violence".

He said: “The first thing we intend to do is to meet the clergy on the ground from those parishes that have been directly concerned in Belfast.

“We will then invite them to talk to us alongside members of their own congregations whom they will identify as being able to talk freely to us about that matter.”

In a joint statement the bishops said they rejected violence as a legitimate method of expressing grievances.

The bishops also demanded an end to the “unseen intimidation” of stones through widows, finger-pointing and the subtle violence which was as real as the riots.

“It is time to move beyond this and to create genuine processes that engage more than a handful of people in our land in determining the future,” they added.

:: A 14-year-old Catholic schoolboy allegedly joined loyalist rioters to attack the security forces in Lisburn, Co Antrim last week, it was revealed today.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was allegedly videotaped throwing stones and police and troops last Monday.

He was released on bail and ordered to stay indoors between 6.00pm and 8.00am when he appeared at Lisburn Magistrates Court.

16 September 2005

Blast bomb device thrown in city


Blast bomb devices were thrown in Derry

A bomb explosion has been reported in the Fountain estate area of Derry.

The police said a blast bomb type device was thrown at a bar on the Abercorn Road.

There were no reports of any injuries. Army bomb experts are examining a second device which has been discovered.

The security forces have sealed off the area from Carlisle Square to Bishops Street.

Police chief slams Unionists over partnership boycott


16/09/2005 - 17:40:48

Belfast’s top police commander tonight hit back at unionists who have quit community partnerships over the street violence raging across the city.

As loyalist protestors threatened new traffic chaos, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland challenged political representatives to lay off his officers and help end the disorder.

He said: “There is some evidence of others working hard to help end it, however all we are hearing from some quarters is abdication of responsibility and accusations of blame. This is unhelpful and inaccurate.”

Mr McCausland‘s appeal came amid heightened tensions in the city following a week of vicious rioting.

As a 36-year-old man was charged with attempted murder, and possession of firearms and explosives linked to the violence, bogus police officers phoned shops, offices and schools, warning them to close early due to the threat of fresh trouble.

Rush-hour traffic chaos was also threatened as crowds blocked off main roads.

The stand-offs developed between police and demonstrators angered at the handling of a week of violence since an Orange Order parade was re-routed.

Minor clashes were reported at Sandy Row in south Belfast.

Motorists also faced disruption at other routes in the city.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey urged the protesters to get off the roads and let their representatives negotiate for them.

He said: “Allow the politicians to pursue the agenda of getting improvements to these areas, getting peace to these areas.

“Government is not going to focus on that while this disorder continues.”

Earlier unionists came under fire for boycotting the city‘s District Policing Partnership in fury at security force tactics.

Members on the forum announced the tactic after another night of mob violence, when water cannons were used to drive back a mob of petrol bombers in the north of the city.

Unionists said after pulling out police chiefs had been intransigent and claimed the relationship with the community had broken down.

But Mr McCausland insisted police were playing their part in trying to restore order.

“All of my commanders are committed to continue to engage fully with representatives to help deliver safer places to live and work, they have my total support in this.

“I am disappointed that some feel they must disengage from District Policing Partnerships. I can give my commitment to local communities that my officers will continue to engage with these forums to help make communities safer.”

Mark Durkan, leader of the nationalist SDLP, hit out at unionists for dealing with paramilitaries, yet abandoning the policing partnership.

He claimed the terror organisations, who fired 115 shots at police during the rioting, sit on a Parades Forum alongside the Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists.

“Clearly the UUP and DUP prefer to work with gunmen than the police,” the Foyle MP said.

“They prefer to work with people who shoot at the police than with the men and women whose job it is to enforce the law.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, in the United States to brief Congress members on the political process, claimed unionism was in crisis.

He said: “It is both a fear of change and desire to dominate which lies at the heart of the crisis within unionism.”

Naomi Long, an Alliance Party representative on the policing forum, said the unionist boycott was disappointing and shameful.

Ms Long revealed that only one apology was handed in at last night’s meeting, with the rest just failing to show.

She said: “I’m absolutely dumbfounded by the lack of leadership and integrity we are seeing within unionism in the face of some of the most serious rioting and disorder we have seen in recent days.”

Traffic chaos as roads blockaded


Loyalist protests have disrupted rush-hour traffic

Several roads in Belfast have been blocked by loyalist protesters causing traffic chaos for the fifth day in a row.

Police, however, said the protests appeared to have ended and traffic was now reported to be running freely.

A stand-off between police in riot gear and about 100 protesters on Donegall Road ended following negotiations.

A number of cash machines in the city centre are empty as deliveries have been hampered by the road blocks.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey called for an end to the demonstrations.

He said as long as they continued, loyalist areas would suffer.

"The government's attention is now being focused on concerns that people have in may of these loyalist areas," he said.

"There will be no progress made while these disturbances continue."

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there had been "a total failure in unionist leadership".

"Like others, I have to ask why it has taken him (Sir Reg) a week to scramble to that sort of line of sense," he said.

Earlier, bogus callers caused further disruption to businesses across Belfast.

A number of shops and offices in the city received calls purporting to be from the police advising them to close early.

There have been protests at Dub Lane on the Upper Malone Road, Seymour Hill and Kingsway in Dunmurry and Finaghy crossroads, causing long tailbacks.

Meanwhile, a statement from loyalists has said a blockade planned for Broadway roundabout has been cancelled.

It was scheduled to take place on Friday, however, loyalists said they intended to consider other forms of protest.


Schools in the city were also contacted by hoax callers.

Translink said the calls to schools incorrectly claimed that Friday's school bus services had been cancelled.

The company has decided to either suspend or divert several of their bus services because of the nightly violence which started after Saturday's Orange Order Whiterock parade in west Belfast.

On Thursday night, police used water cannon on rioters in the Forthriver estate after officers came under attack.

Rush-hour traffic leaving the city has been disrupted since Monday by loyalist protesters angry at the police's response to disturbances which followed the diverted march.

On Thursday, police cleared many protests off main roads and arrested four people, but were told they faced paramilitary attack if they tried to move women and children protesters.

However, they said they intended to step up their operations to deal with the protests.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said all road protests were illegal and that community leaders should exercise their influence to bring them to an end.

He said that the protests, mostly featuring women and children had been peaceful, but that they were causing disruption.

Bodies to be exhumed from the Crum?


Ten years on: community still trying to exhume body of Jewish man from Crumlin Road Jail

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The Crumlin Road Jail is a site that holds massive potential as a tourist attraction for North Belfast and the city of Belfast as a whole.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Click thumbnail to view Harrison Library page of Crumlin Road Jail photographs - this one shows the tunnel linking the prison and the Courthouse on the opposite side of the Crumlin Road

Its dark and violent history is of vast interest to the local community and experts the world over and plans to transform it are gathering pace.
This week, the head of an advisory panel was appointed to oversee plans to develop the Grade A listed building, alongside its neighbouring site Girdwood Barracks, racking up a massive 30 acres.
Roy Adams is the chair of that panel and it is expected that the North Belfast Partnership Board will play a key role.
Like Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay a sizable number believe the North Belfast jail, known to many as The Crum, should become a world-class tourist experience.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Click to view more photos - exercise yard

Since the jail was built in 1845, 17 men suffered the ultimate sentence – death by hanging.
Within the confines of The Crum there is a section of unconsecrated ground where their remains were buried.
The Prison Service has since exhumed two men, including Tom Williams.
The Prison Service was unable to comment on the specifics of exhumation due to the sensitivity of the matter.
But added that: “established methods of identification were used to identify the bodies exhumed to date”.
It is unclear who is buried where in the graveyard, and the initials of those buried in the earth, which were etched into the wall, have now mostly gone.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Click to view more photos - 'the circle'

According to the President of the Jewish community in Belfast, Ronnie Appleton, they have been trying to exhume the remains of an American man who was hanged in 1931.
Eddie Cullens was the only American to be executed by hanging in the island of Ireland and the only Jew to be killed in this way in the Crum.
The circumstances of the murder, for which he was found guilty, are intensely strange. It involved the murder of Achmet Musa, a Turk, who was found shot in the head in a field, naked except for a woman’s blue and white rubber bathing cap.
It is believed that Cullens and Musa had been part of a travelling circus, which claimed they had the oldest man in the world – Zaro Agha – who was touted as being 156.
The seal on Cullens’ fate and the police investigation was the bathing cap, which had been seen previously in his car by a witness.
The Rabbi who ministered to the condemned Eddie Cullens was quoted as saying: “He went to the scaffold with the deep conviction that his hands were clean and clear of the blood of this man.”
Ronnie Appleton said they had been trying for nearly ten years to officially bury Eddie Cullens.
“We have been in correspondence with the NIO for years now, but the trouble is they’re not very sure where he’s buried. There were marks made in the walls but they were plastered over, so they can’t identify exactly where he is,” he said.
“The Secretary of State has given permission for the body to be exhumed but the hold-up is that they haven’t located him.”
The Glenravel Local History Project has carried out extensive research on the jail over the past five years and was the first organisation to conduct a tour of the jail and shed light on its gruesome history.
The history group, based in the Ashton Centre, approached the Prison Service in 2000 with a proposal to move the remaining bodies to Clifton Cemetery.
“The Prison Service wrote back and said they would take it under consideration,” Glenravel historian Joe Baker said.
“But we proposed this when we thought the jail was going to be demolished. We would be in favour now of holding a joint religious ceremony to turn the graveyard into consecrated ground.”
According to the Department of Social Development, which has responsibility for the jail, part of the death sentence required that the body should be buried in an unmarked grave within the grounds of the jail.
“The Royal Prerogative of Mary was exercised to remit that part of the sentence required burial in prison grounds,” DSD said.
“We will consult with the local community and other interests about the bodies as part of our work in taking forward a development plan for the jail site.”
The last man to be hanged in Crumlin Road jail was Robert McGladdery on December 20, 1961 by executioner Harry Allen.
Allen was the last hangman to carry out this duty in the North of Ireland. He had been a one-time assistant to Thomas Pierrepoint who executed 19-year-old Thomas Williams.
There were other gruesome deaths, which took place in the jail including suicides. The most tragic was that of a 12-year-old boy who was accused and found guilty of stealing clothes and food.
The child claimed he hadn’t eaten in days, but he was nevertheless sentenced to three months’ time and told the hangman would flog him.
On his arrival and placement in a cell, the child was so petrified of his punishment that he took his own life.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

“Keep children away from interface” – SF


In face of a week of violence and mayhem carried out on their doorsteps, the residents of North Queen Street have appealed for young people in the area not to get involved.
Last weekend cars and a bus were set on fire by Loyalists in the interface area.
Fireworks and petrol bombs were hurled at from the Tiger’s Bay area at Catholic homes in Duncairn Gardens and mobs tried to entice young Nationalists to engage in violence.
The residents of the lower North Belfast community have appealed to parents in the area to make sure they know where their children are, and help towards a quieter weekend.
Sinn Féin councillor, Carál Ní Chuilín, has appealed for support from the community on the issue and has distributed leaflets asking “Where is your child tonight?”
“From Saturday afternoon right through again to Wednesday night we had crowds of youths gathering at the interface. There were children as young as six-years-old getting involved. Our community workers worked through the night to make sure tensions didn’t boil over.
“But we need the community’s help on this.
“On Saturday we had one mother drive down to her child about 8 o’clock at night, handed her child a gravy chip through the window and drove away.
“Interface violence is bad enough and it can lead to a very dangerous situation. We need parents to know where their children are, and if they find them getting involved, to take them home.
“A lot of this is designed to entice young nationalist youths onto interfaces and exacerbate the situation further.
“We’re hoping for a quiet weekend but we’re appealing for parents to help to keep numbers down.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Strand victim speaks out


by Victoria McMahon

The friend who was with Short Strand man John McKay when he was viciously attacked and left for dead by a loyalist mob has broken his silence over the horrifying ordeal.

The brutal assault on the two Catholic men Friday past was only the tip of the iceberg – a preview of what lay in store for the people of Belfast as widespread violence by loyalists and Orangemen caused havoc throughout the city and the North. 29-year-old John McKay and best friend Ciaran Kelly (34) were walking home to their Short Strand homes in the early hours of Friday morning when they were attacked by a 15-strong loyalist mob, leaving postman John fighting for his life.

“This was attempted murder,” said Ciaran who watched helplessly as his friend of 14 years lay in a pool of blood as loyalists rained blows and kicks to his head.

“I felt so helpless. I tried to get to John but there was just too many of them,” said Ciaran.

In a bizarre twist the pair were returning home from The Edge bar and restaurant where they had been attending a fundraising event for murdered friend, stab victim Robert McCartney, when a bottle was thrown on to the nationalist side of the Albertbridge Road where they were walking.

Ciaran Kelly has been reliving the moments before the brutal unprovoked sectarian attack on his friend John McKay whom he describes as a “gentleman who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“It was clear they were aiming at us. I think I said to John ‘There’s going to be trouble here’,” remembers Ciaran.

“We decided to quicken up and get to the walkway. All I can remember when we got to the walkway is that in a blink of an eye there was about 15 of them jumped us.

“I got knocked to the ground, there wasn’t as many attacking me as there were at John because he was still standing, whereas I was falling backwards. I struggled as much as I could and I got myself up and over to the traffic island.

“I was screaming the whole time for John to get up,” says Ciaran.
John however had been knocked unconscious and it would later emerge suffered a fractured skull and perforated eardrum.

“I saw him lying in a pool of blood. I thought he was dead. I really did fear the worst,” says Ciaran.

When Ciaran tried to ring for help his mobile was kicked out of his hand by their attackers. He says if it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of passing black taxi drivers John would have been beaten to death.

“One black taxi driver stopped and kind of drove at them trying to get them away from John. The taxi driver did save John’s life at that time. It made them go, seeing other people arriving on the scene, they dispersed. Then the taxi drivers surrounded us, protecting us from the mob.

“When I got near where the black taxi was I saw one guy stamping on his head. I was just annoyed I couldn’t get over to help him. When I did get to him I just covered over the top of him. I was so afraid they would come back.”
Lucky to escape with minor cuts and bruises Ciaran says he lays blame for the terrifying assault at the door of unionist politicians and Orangemen who called people onto the streets.

“This was only a prelude to the mad events that have happened since then.
“It doesn’t take a scientist to make the connection between what happened to John and the inflammatory situation that had been building. These people who attacked John were inflamed by their politicians and the Orange Order, they called these animals out onto the streets,” says Ciaran.

“It takes brave men to pick on just two people but it has happened to more than just us. It’s all the hype of last week started all this and it accumulated, starting on Friday night.”

Now recovering at home surrounded by family and friends John is due to be groomsman at his sister’s wedding in a fortnight’s time.

“It could easily have been a funeral we were all attending, not a wedding,” said his sister.

Journalist:: Victoria McMahon

Loyalist warning


Exclusive by Joe Nawaz

A new generation of violent, radical loyalists is being bred thanks to British Government policy towards the Protestant community, according to a local loyalist leader.

Speaking to South Belfast News after a weekend orgy of loyalist violence throughout the city, Colin Halliday, spokesperson for the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) also warned that the rumoured government review of the status of the UDA and UVF ceasefires could have “grave consequences” for peace in the North of Ireland.

“Our young people are very angry and they’re not listening to us any more,” he said. “They see how the IRA have benefited from years of violence and are starting to think that that is the way forward. There is a serious danger that we are looking at a situation where our youngsters will become a new generation full of bigotry and hatred.”

The former loyalist prisoner was also adamant that the UDA ceasefire was still intact and warned: “It would be a terrible mistake for [NI Secretary of State] Peter Hain not to recognise that. It would set us back years and the consequences could be terrible.”

The Northern Ireland Office’s “disdainful” treatment of the Protestant community will unleash a new generation of violent, radical paramilitaries, a senior South Belfast loyalist has warned.

Speaking exclusively to the South Belfast News in the aftermath of three days of intense loyalist violence, Colin Halliday, of the UDA linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), warned loyalists were reaching “breaking point” .
“We are looking at a situation where our youngsters will become a new generation full of bigotry and hatred,” he said.

“You only have to look at what happened across the city on Saturday and Sunday to see which direction it is going.

“Luckily in South Belfast we managed to keep a slightly better lid on it than in other parts, but the anger and tension is still there. The young people just aren’t listening any more.”

Mr Halliday added that young loyalists were increasingly seeing violence as the only way forward.

“They look at the IRA and how much that they achieved through violence and then look at their own community.

“This weekend’s trouble has been months in the making – as a community we are feeling that we have been at best ignored and at worst victimised by the British Government.

“You only have to look at the heavy handed treatment of the security forces against our people. The pendulum has swung and it is the loyalist community who are suffering. Look at the exaggerated reaction to the IRA and their wee bit of paper last month, and then see how the NIO won’t even allow a small march in Whiterock – that is not even handed,” added the former prisoner.

Mr Halliday also warned than the rumoured negative ruling on the state of the UDA and UVF ceasefires could have “very worrying consequences”.

“I can categorically say that the UDA ceasefire is still intact and will remain so.
“It would be a terrible mistake for [NI Secretary of State] Peter Hain not to recognise that. It would set us back years and the consequences could be terrible.

“I don’t know who’s advising Hain but he needs to talk to the people here on the ground to gauge just what the feeling among ordinary Protestants is.
“We’ve been saying for a long time now that the British Government needs to engage in talks immediately with the UDA and others to understand the frustration of our community.

“Nobody wants violence like that we have seen recently, but the onus is on Mr Hain to address that and begin to listen to us so that we can work together to prevent a new generation of terrorism,” added Mr Halliday.

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz



• Loyalist gangs take control of North Belfast Streets
• Schools targeted during week of terror attacks
• Man attacked with golf clubs

Our Lady of Mercy targeted with burning car

Our Lady of Mercy Girls’ Secondary School bore the brunt of a vicious fire attack on its premises this week.
As the staff and its pupils returned to school on Monday morning, they discovered the shell of a car burnt out outside the school’s entrance.
The car had been rammed in an attempt to break down the school’s heavy gates and was then set alight.
The burning vehicle caught fire to the front porch area and caused major smoke damage to the building.
Throughout the week, anxious parents have called to the school to collect their children early due to the city-wide loyalist protests.
The protests have blocked major arterial routes which Translink’s buses use to transport children home.
Principal of Our Lady of Mercy Peter Daly said he had called the PSNI to the school on Monday afternoon to protect the children going home on buses.
“We have to try and keep everything as normal as possible. We’ve got the gate fixed, which is good. But I thought we’d be better safe than sorry and I called the police. At least this way, if nothing happens it’s okay, but if something did kick off I’d know that our pupils would be escorted down the road on the buses.”
Other schools in North Belfast had pupils leaving early for fear of being caught up in loyalist violence, including St Gabriel’s Boys’ School on the Crumlin Road.

Loyalist gangs take control of North Belfast streets

North Belfast bore the brunt of petrol, blast and paint bomb attacks on Saturday while loyalist mobs took control of roads and hemmed Catholic communities into their homes.
The violence was widespread across the area with significant acts of violence and intimidation taking place in North Queen Street, Ardoyne and Ligoniel.
In Ardoyne tensions were simmering for most of the week and community workers were patrolling the area until 5am on Sunday morning. The same workers were out on the streets at 8am.
A car was set on fire at the rear of Holy Cross church on the Woodvale Road on Saturday and petrol bombs were also thrown at Brookfield Mill on the Crumlin Road later that day.
On Sunday afternoon a young boy of 11 years was accosted by a gang of men wearing Rangers shirts on the Berwick Road in Ardoyne and threatened with his life.
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Margaret McClenaghan said nationalists had been taunted all weekend.
“We just tried to make sure that no one rose to the bait,” she said.
“The tension has been building up here for the past two weeks now and we were worried it was going to spiral out of control, because it’s clear that people have had enough.
“But even though loyalists tried to entice young ones in Ardoyne to engage in violence, it didn’t work.”
The councillor said concerns mounted considerably yesterday when she was informed that a 300-strong crowd was to be escorted by the PSNI down the Crumlin Road from the loyalist stronghold of Ballysillan in groups of five or six to attend a rally organised by the Orange Order. The rally was later cancelled.
“If it had have happened basically they would have been facilitating a march down the footpath,” Margaret McClenaghan said.
In another frightening incident, two brothers, their elderly mother and their 11-year-old nephew were surrounded by an angry mob of loyalists at the Fortwilliam slip road off the M2 motorway.
The family from Ardoyne were told to “get the f**k out the car” and told to hand over the keys by the 30-strong mob who were wielding handguns, baseball bats and iron bars.
“At that part of the road you can’t see round the bend so all of us panicked when we saw them,” the man said.
“We stopped the car, and they were like bees swarming all over the car. They pulled us out and we were left stranded while they set it on fire. The cops were literally a hundred yards away and they didn’t do a thing.
“My mother was in a terrible state. She’s a pensioner and she’s got a bad heart. Her legs were like jelly as we tried to run away towards the cops. They said they couldn’t help, they were stretched as it was.
“Me and my brother, we tried to warn other drivers but it was too late. It ended up my car and three other cars went up in smoke.”
The victim said he and his group were left stranded on Fortwilliam slip road for half an hour before an off-duty nurse gave them a lift to the Cavehill Road.

Man attacked with golf clubs

An Ardoyne man and his elderly mother-in-law were mobbed by a group of women and a teenager wielding a golf club as they tried to avoid a loyalist protest.
The Royal Victoria Hospital employee who was driving into Dunnes on the Crumlin Road to bypass the blocked roads suddenly found himself surrounded.
The teenager with the golf club smashed the rear window of the car first, then the side windows before breaking the windscreen through.
“I was wearing my uniform because I had just finished work in the Royal.
“I’d picked my mother-in-law up and we were driving home when we started having problems on the roads.
“Cambrai Street was blocked off and Hillview was closed so we tried to get into Dunnes Stores.
“A group of ten or 12 women started on us and when they saw my uniform they called me a ‘fenian bastard’ and that’s when the windows started coming in.”
The incident happened around 4.30pm on the Crumlin Road and has left both passengers extremely shaken.
“The whole experience was terrible.
“If this was supposed to be a peaceful protest... I can tell you there was nothing peaceful about it.
“I’m just really upset about it and disappointed that it happened in the first place.”

Double standards over loyalist violence says SF

The loyalist lockdown showed no signs of abating today after five days and nights of protracted loyalist blockades and rioting gripped North Belfast and other areas.
As the rioting, which started on Saturday after the rerouting of the controversial Whiterock Parade brought many arterial routes to gridlock and saw scenes of some of the worst rioting witnessed here in years, the British government announced that it no longer recognised the UVF ceasefire.
However controversially no such moves have been made to specify the UDA who the PSNI Chef Constable Hugh Orde also blamed for the violence.
At midnight on Tuesday night, the UVF became a "specified" organisation, along with the Red Hand Commando.
David Ervine of the PUP said the move was “hardly unexpected” and he described it as "tragic and it would mean that there would be more ground to cover once the UVF was restored to the political process”.
The move against the UVF means that membership charges can be brought against those who belong to the organisation.
The Secretary of State said he took his decision after reviewing evidence about the weekend violence and an IMC report on UVF participation in a feud with the LVF that has left four men dead.
He said the move should be an "absolutely crystal clear signal that violence will not be tolerated".
In a contrasting statement Secretary of State Peter Hain however declared that the UDA ceasefire remains officially intact but under review.
He said his decision to ban the UVF was based on a catalogue of violence.
PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde had blamed both loyalist groups for taking part in gun attacks on police at the weekend. In one case, PSNI captured footage of a gunman operating in Highfield, an estate dominated by the UDA.
As it became clear that the NIO would rule the UVF had breached its ceasefire, the UDA issued a statement calling for the street violence to end.
"We are instructing our own membership to avoid any confrontation on the streets and steer away from any acts of violence,” said the North Belfast brigade.
The UDA called on politicians to use their influence to help restore order.
The Secretary of State said the activities of the UDA and other paramilitary groups would remain "under close inspection and scrutiny" by the IMC.
"The UDA is part of that. We will continue to monitor it day by day and week by week,” he said.
"I did note the statement from the UDA calling for an end to street violence, and that is very welcome."
The UDA lost recognition of its ceasefire in 2001, only regaining that status last year.
Over 60 people have been arrested this week in connection with the violence.
Unionists said there had been a build-up of resentment within their community because of the government's handling of the peace process.
SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the senior leadership of the DUP has still not offered a word or line of condemnation of the weekend violence.
“The DUP must get the prize for selective condemnation. After the Ardoyne riots they said the intense violence which left so many police officers injured was a scandal and a disgrace.
“They also reckoned the use of blast bombs showed premeditated, organised violence,” he said.
“Strangely, the DUP website offers no such assessment of the events of last weekend. There is plenty of condemnation – of the police, the Parades Commission, US Envoy Mitchell Reiss, the British government and the entire nationalist population - but not a word about petrol-bombers, blast bombers or gunmen.”
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said that the Orange Order and Unionist need to accept responsibility for loyalist violence.
“The Orange Order and Unionist must accept responsibility for the widespread and orchestrated loyalist violence of recent days.
“In addition to the violence we have all witnessed on our television screens there were also attacks across the north on nationalist homes and property.
“The ambivalence, hypocrisy and double standards that unionists and Orange leaders have shown over recent days is astounding.
“Had these protests been organised by nationalists or republicans, then they would have been forcibly removed long ago as happened in Ardoyne on July 12 to facilitate an Orange march.
“Yet loyalists can disrupt Belfast with apparent impunity as the PSNI look on.”

Gunnell Hill attack

A Protestant couple were forced to leave their home in Whitecity and a Catholic home suffered scorch damage during trouble on the Whitewell at the weekend.
Houses on both sides of the sectarian divide were damaged during the weekend of serious violence after Orangemen were barred from walking the Springfield Road on Saturday.
A house was one of a number that came under attack by petrol bombers in the Gunnell Hill in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The petrol bombs caused damage to the roof and water tank that flooded the electrics in the house.
During the attacks, nationalist homes in Serpentine Gardens came under attack by loyalists. A house on Serpentine Road was scorch damaged.
UPRG member John Montgomery claimed the attacks on Whitecity were completely unprovoked.
Whitewell community worker Paul McKernon condemned attacks on Protestant and Catholic homes.
A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive confirmed the attacked home on Gunnell Hill had been temporarily vacated.
“The family has been provided with temporary accommodation within the immediate vicinity while their home is being repaired and local staff will remain in close contact with them.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Reprisal fears over blockades

Belfast Telegraph

Police warned not to remove women or kids

By Deborah McAleese
16 September 2005

POLICE refused to remove women and child protesters blocking roads across Belfast yesterday because of fears of retaliatory loyalist attacks.

Although they moved in to keep some of the city's main routes clear officers refrained from moving child and women protesters in light of intelligence information that loyalist paramilitaries were prepared to attack.

Police chiefs yesterday said they did not want to inflame the situation.

However, they still came under attack in north Belfast last night when 150 rioters hurled petrol bombs, bricks and bottles in the Forthriver Road area. Water cannons were deployed to bring the mob under control.

Traffic chaos was further aggravated when gangs again hijacked and torched vehicles.

As several vehicles were set alight in the north and west of the city, riot police dramatically rescued the driver of a Tennent's beer lorry and his cargo which rioters were trying to loot and use as a burning barricade on West Circular Road.

A convoy of police vehicles escorted the driver and vehicle to safety.

Police went on the offensive over the illegal protests for the first time yesterday, following four days of misery for motorists and public transport users.

Four men were arrested during a protest at the Knock Road, near PSNI headquarters, just hours after Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland confirmed an operation had been put in place to keep open the main arterial routes at Broadway, the Westlink and the Crumlin Road at the Mater Hospital.

Mr McCausland said community leaders should exercise their influence to end the protests.

He added: "We have always said we would be proactive in dealing with this activity on Belfast's streets.

"Gathering evidence and reporting people for prosecution, as we have been doing, is a graduated response to dealing with peaceful but illegal protests, mainly involving women and children.

"As these protests have not ceased, officers are taking further action to ensure that main routes, especially those near major hospitals, will be kept open."

For the third evening, Translink has been forced to cancel some of its bus services due to "community unrest".

There was still no indication last night as to how long loyalists were planning to continue their protests.

Fury as ex-UDA boss Gray is allowed bail

Belfast Telegraph

By Deborah McAlleese
16 September 2005

A HIGH Court decision to release former UDA chief Jim Gray on bail was met with outrage last night.

There was anger that Gray, who is charged with money laundering and possession of the proceeds of crime, has been granted bail at a time of civil unrest within loyalist communities.

Gray was released on £15,000 bail - his own bail of £5,000 and two sureties of £5,000 - after a judge was told it could take up to two months before a forensic accountant produces a full report into his financial dealings.

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said the court's decision was "sending out the wrong message at the wrong time".

Forty-seven-year-old Gray, formerly of Convention Court in Belfast, was ordered by Mr Justice Coghlin not to leave Northern Ireland and given a tight curfew. Police will hold on to his passport.

He was also ordered not to have any contact with two co-accused - his girlfriend Sharon Moss and former estate agent Philip Johnston - and to report to police five times a week.

Gray, who has been directed to reside at an address in the east of the city, was arrested on April 7 along with Ms Moss, on the A1 dual carriageway between Banbridge and Loughbrickland.

He had a bankers draft for €10,000 euro, €270 euro in cash and £2,720 with him.

A Crown lawyer told the court that Gray claimed he had received the money after selling two bars in Belfast - The Bunch of Grapes and Avenue One.

However, he pointed out that after Gray's bank accounts were checked it was found his outgoings exceeded his alleged income of £300 per week.

Police also discovered that he had property in Belfast and Spain.

A defence lawyer said Gray had received whatever money he had legitimately and had allowed officers full access to his financial documents.

Gray had almost £50,000 in bank accounts in the province when arrested.

The Crown warned that his release could spark violence as he is under paramilitary threat and that he could obtain a false passport.

Questioning Gray's release Mr Attwood said: "While citizens have the right to seek their liberty there will be large numbers of people who will not understand the decision of the courts. The vast majority of people say this makes no sense. Serious questions must be asked."

Call for PSNI to get tough on disruption

Belfast Telegraph

By Maureen Coleman
16 September 2005

CONCERNS were mounting today at the PSNI's alleged inaction over the ongoing illegal road blocks staged by loyalist protesters.

Main arterial routes in Belfast and surrounding areas have been closed at rush-hour each night this week, causing traffic chaos for commuters.

Yesterday evening, as motorists made their way home, a number of roads were closed throughout the city, including Cliftonpark Avenue, Seymour Hill, the upper Malone Road at Taughmonagh, Broadway, Shankill Road, Lanark Way and Agnes Street.

A top police chief admitted yesterday that while the protests were illegal and causing disruption, officers had refused to remove women and children blocking roads across Belfast because of fear of retaliatory loyalist attacks.

SDLP MLA and member of the Policing Board, Alex Attwood, said the community's patience had run out.

"What the community needs now is the tough robust policing we saw at the weekend," he said.

"The community had a little understanding of why the police were keeping their distance, but they now want to see strong decisive policing against those who are mounting these roadblocks and causing disruption on our streets."

However an angry Alliance MLA said that as he was listening to Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland's vows to keep the roads clear, he was stuck in a traffic jam, before eventually being turned back by police and forced to take an alternative route.

Seamus Close said that rather than assisting "law-abiding, democratic people" the police were perceived to be "acquiescing to thugs flouting the law".

He said: "I support the PSNI but these young officers are not being allowed to do their jobs."

Yesterday, ACC McCausland promised to "keep the life blood of the city open".

But, he added: "I have clear indications that if I move against women and children, paramilitaries or other organisations in the community may come out against me and my officers.

"I want to balance that and make a decision in terms of maintaining law and order and the peace of the community but I intend to keep the roads open as much as possible."

Hain: Unionists living in denial

Belfast Telegraph

Riots and protests continue

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent
16 September 2005

UNIONIST politicians have made themselves fellow travellers "with thuggery and gangsterism" during this week's explosion of loyalist violence, Secretary of State Peter Hain said today.

As the unrest threatened to spill into a second week, Mr Hain gave his blunt assessment of unionism in a Belfast Telegraph interview - saying many unionists live with a "sense of denial" about what the peace process has achieved and need to "get real" about the future.

The rift between unionists and the Government deepened last night as DUP and UUP members resigned from Belfast's District Policing Partnerships.

The resigning councillors accused police of "intransigence" - at the same time that an FBI agent visiting Belfast said US police would have had "no problem using deadly force" against the loyalist rioters who attacked the PSNI this week.

Loyalist protesters again blocked traffic in the city last night, followed by some rioting in west Belfast.

Loyalist sources have hinted that the campaign could escalate, with the threat of more resignations and a possible rally in Belfast next month.

But Naomi Long, an Alliance Party representative on the Belfast Police Partnership, said unionist support for policing was "skin deep".

"When push comes to shove, the commitment of unionist politicians to the defence of police and the rule of law and order is just tactical and superficial," she said.

In today's interview, Mr Hain said the loyalist violence was "pre-meditated, pre-planned and you can't do anything other than condemn it openly".

"I think it's important that we draw a line in the sand on that," he said.

"I think the vast majority of Protestants and unionists totally abhor violence, are law-abiding, but there's been an element of fellow-travelling with what happened over the weekend, saying 'well, we told you so'.

"There's an element of not reacting to the ferocious violence against police in a way that the reaction would have been to equivalent violence from republicans against police. I just think there's a sense of denial over that as well.

"You're either with the rule of law or you're not.

"There has been too much fellow-travelling with thuggery and gangsterism. Which I know has appalled the great majority in the Orange Order. I know that for a fact."

Mr Hain also said the havoc in loyalist areas will not be "cost free" - because money will have to come from "other public investment" to pay for the damage.

Paisley's warning of more violence

Belfast Telegraph

Government 'must address unionist fears'

By Deborah McAleese
16 September 2005

UNIONISTS last night put the onus on the Government to control loyalist violence.

DUP leader Ian Paisley warned the Government that unless it addresses unionist frustrations, loyalist violence will continue.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey accused Secretary of State Peter Hain of not listening to the concerns of the communities that erupted in violence this week.

Calls were made for the Government to abandon the Parades Commission as it has "no support" within these communities.

A delegation of DUP and UUP members met with Mr Hain yesterday to discuss the recent violence that paralysed the streets of Greater Belfast since the weekend.

Following the meeting, Mr Paisley said: "There will be no political progress whatsoever until the Government is seen to treat unionists with equality and respect. The choice for the Government is very clear. It either follows the democratic solution that has been presented to it or continues with the message that terrorism and criminality pay."

He added: "It is time for the Secretary of State to abandon the Parades Commission and move to an alternative structure.

"The Parades Commission was never supported by the unionist community and there is certainly no confidence in it to deal impartially with the parading issue."

Calls were made by the UUP for Mr Hain to "get on the ground" and engage with the communities that "inexcusably erupted in violence" at the weekend.

Sir Reg Empey said: "Mr Hain should have engaged directly with these communities at an earlier stage. He must listen to their concerns and enter into dialogue with opinion formers at a grass roots level.

"He must understand that the sense of alienation felt by ordinary unionists is profound.

He added: "The problem underlying the violent scenes witnessed at the weekend is that over the years people's experience is that violence works, democracy doesn't.

"The Secretary of State must work with local politicians to restore credibility in the democratic process."

Both leaders condemned the violence and called for it to be brought to an end.

New PSNI appeal after crossbow attack

Belfast Telegraph

By Deborah McAleese
16 September 2005

POLICE have renewed an appeal for information after a crossbow was fired at the army during rioting in Belfast on Sunday evening.

The crossbow was fired during an attack on police and army shortly before midnight in the Lecale/Glenmachan Street area of Broadway.

The army fired two live rounds in response.

A man was later taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm.

He has since been released and is now helping police with their enquiries.

Detectives at Musgrave Street have asked for anyone with information about the incident to contact them on 02890 650 222.

BreakingNews.ie: Co Mayo pipeline protestors begin 80th day in prison


16/09/2005 - 10:48:05

Supporters of the five Co Mayo men jailed for obstructing work on the Corrib gas pipeline are due to mount a protest outside Cloverhill Prison today.

The demonstration was arranged to mark the 80th day that the so-called Rossport Five have spent in prison.

The men were jailed for refusing to obey a court injunction ordering them not to obstruct work on the pipeline.

They claim the structure poses an unacceptable risk to the local population and want an offshore terminal built as an alternative to pumping gas from the Corrib field directly onshore.

Unionists 'to withdraw from DPP'


Policing partnerships are meant to help the police work with locals

Unionist members of Belfast District Policing Partnership have withdrawn in protest at the police handling of recent violence in loyalist areas.

Rioting has affected parts of Belfast since trouble broke out at the disputed Whiterock Orange parade on Saturday.

In a statement, the unionists said the partnership with police had collapsed, particularly in west Belfast.

They accused west Belfast PSNI Chief Superintendent David Boultwood of not engaging with the unionist community.

He had "used his influence to reroute the Orange Order's Whiterock parade", they claimed.

The unionists said they would be seeking a meeting with Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde early next week to express their concerns.

The city councillors and members of the DPP who put their names to the statement were Robin Newton, Elaine McMillan and Ruth Patterson, DUP; Ulster Unionists David Brown and Jim Rodgers; Independent Unionist Frank McCoubrey and Hugh Smyth, Progressive Unionist Party.

They said they intended to keep their position in relation to the DPP under review.

Policing Board chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said he had not yet been formally told of the DPP withdrawals.

"DPPs exist in part to monitor police performance - the most important way to do that is to engage," he said in a statement.

DPPs are made up of councillors and residents who work with the police.


The decision that unionists should withdraw from the Belfast DPP was made at a meeting of the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum on Thursday night.

Alliance Party assembly member Naomi Long, a member of the south Belfast DPP, said the withdrawal was a "fruitless and immature display".

"I am absolutely dumbfounded by the lack of leadership and integrity which we are seeing within unionism in the face of what has been some of the most serious rioting and disorder that we have seen on our streets in recent days," she said.

Ms Long said that the commitment of unionist politicians to the defence of the police and to the rule of law and order was "just tactical, superficial and skin deep".

District policing partnerships were set up across Northern Ireland under reforms initiated by a commission headed by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and implemented by the government.

The partnerships are made up of councillors and members of the local community, who work alongside the Police Service of Northern Ireland's 29 District Command Units in trying to meet local community policing needs.

Painting the walls in a colour of peace and hope


16 September 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click to view CAIN photo of peace line by Martin Melaugh

A FEW HUNDRED yards from the violence of last Saturday, a minor revolution is happening on Belfast's Peace Wall. The infamous murals depicting guns, paramilitaries, barricades and threats are being phased out. Murals featuring sporting heroes, taxi tours and peace messages are replacing them. The loyalist ex-prisoners behind the change now want to transform the Peace Wall into Europe's largest open-air art gallery. Meanwhile, on the Wall's republican side, former prisoners have set up a mural tour business to give locals a slice of Belfast's lucrative tourist trade.

The former prisoners are so determined to transform the unemployment blackspot of West Belfast, they are prepared to do the most dangerous thing possible - cooperate with each other.

Open-topped double-decker buses have been weaving hourly through the narrow, terraced streets on either side of the Peace Wall since life in Belfast "normalised" five years ago. Since then, watching and photographing the divided world of West Belfast has become big business. And, after two days' interruption, they are travelling again as usual - past the barricades, past cranes removing burnt-out cars, to take visitors to sites of old bombings, shootings, hijackings, riots, hunger strikers' graves, and, of course, the 20ft high sections of the concrete Peace Wall itself .

A new boutique hotel, part of the Glasgow-based Malmaison group, features political murals throughout its city-centre upmarket building. Black cabs transport around a quarter of a million people round the "hotspots" on guided tours. Drivers are well informed and surprisingly neutral - they have acted as public transport since buses were withdrawn on West Belfast routes after hijacks in the 1980s.

West Belfast isn't a neutral place, though. It's living history - a real frontline with dangerous street life, infamous street names, memorials, flags and paramilitary slogans everywhere - not to mention the blackened relics of the last week's streetfighting. However, although the Falls and Shankill are the focal points of every Belfast tour, hardly a penny is spent in the area.

That's where the two warring clans of West Belfast are agreed: something's got to change. Although they have no formal contact - and once lived simply to oppose one another's right to exist - it's the former political prisoners who are leading the way and negotiating with their own paramilitaries to replace the armed struggle with a search for cultural identity and prosperity.

As the events of the weekend show, that's easier said than done. But when touring the divided walls of West Belfast it becomes clear a lot has been done quietly over recent years. In fact, commercialising the world's fascination with the Troubles may be the only way to find employment for former prisoners, who are barred from civil service and local government jobs, adoption, foreign travel, taxi-driving licences, bank loans and mortgages.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 secured the release of 15,000 political prisoners. Many were surprised to be freed under such controversial circumstances, but now complain about the limitations imposed by their criminal records. Former doctors, lawyers and accountants remained unemployed.

"It certainly gives you time to think," says William Smith, a loyalist former prisoner who now runs a support group, EPIC.

From his bright-yellow office at the very top of the Shankill Road, William surveys a road strewn with Union Jack bunting for the best part of two miles. This, he says, is progress.

"Until a few months ago those flags were UVF and UDA paramilitary flags. We're trying to rediscover our culture - stop the children walking past images of guns and men in masks. We're so used to those images we don't even see them any more. But the children do."

He's curious about what the republicans are doing - the International Wall on the Falls is a site he's heard of but never seen.

"Unlike them [the republicans] we don't care what the rest of the world thinks. We are defending the status quo. It's that simple. Our way of thinking has been, 'Why should a Unionist community have to persuade anyone. Or apply for money to set up projects. It's our society and we just want it kept that way.'"

Three years ago Smith visited Los Angeles in a cross-community tour and was amazed to see powerful murals telling the story of the Hispanic and Mexican populations - overseen by a council-funded Director of Murals.

"What they were doing was like us but much more powerful. They were explaining their history, exploring their culture, converting onlookers, creating sympathy - we've been sticking two fingers up," he says. "I realised if we changed the murals, we could use art to our advantage."

Smith came back convinced the isolated and defensive culture of the Shankill fitted into a worldwide community of street art. He persuaded the loyalist paramilitaries to allow some murals to be painted over and replaced with "no-guns storyboard" murals. One massive mural portrays the aftermath of IRA attacks on local civilians - questioning republican integrity without a display of guns. Other murals celebrate the loyalists' high points of British rule - the Queen's Jubilees and the life of the late Queen Mother.

Right beside a local school is the spray-painted image which could hold the key to the future. Created by American street artist John "Zender" Estrada, it has nothing to do with the political situation and everything to do with the youth centre it advertises. Now he wants to apply Zender's approach to the Belfast Peace Wall.

A six-metre-high steel, concrete and chain-link series of walls - flung up over decades to protect "interface communities" - it is a symbol of all that is wrong in Northern Ireland. Built right up to the backs of houses on the republican side, it's visible only on the loyalist side - especially at Cupar Street where facing houses have been demolished and a glass-strewn no-man's-land allows visitors to survey Western Europe's last community fortress.

Zender and local children have already drawn pilot community murals on some walls but visitors - including the Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton - have all but obliterated the artwork by writing peace messages over them. Smith views the graffiti positively.

"Tourists want to see our story. They want to leave messages of hope, too. There's going to be room for both." He envisages a future where the 166 bleak cement panels are transformed into a colourful art history of the Shankill with a large peace message wall. The project - "If Walls Could Talk" - would base international mural artists in the Shankill and train 12 local children to work with 12 local schools and fill the 700-yard section of Peace Wall with murals 20ft high.

Smith could do worse than discuss the idea with his opposite number, Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin, of An Coiste, who sits in another bright-yellow office at the top of a terraced house less than half a mile from Smith's.

The two men have met once -in government offices in the city centre. The An Coiste office sits just off the Falls Road, where street signs are in Irish, green flags and Irish newspapers abound and "Eurozone" signs in shop windows proclaim a European, not British, frame of mind.

Set up in the wake of the prisoner release in the late 1990s, An Coiste realised the republican story had become the focus of worldwide academic interest. Political tours were set up to try and professionalise and commercialise the Republican response. Or, as Caoimhin puts it: "Why should some bloke from Donaghadee [a rural beauty spot] be employed to drive round our streets telling his story not ours?"

Earlier this summer 50 European academics, hosted by Queens University, were given talks and tours by Republican former prisoners for two days. In an unprecedented move, the group were then taken by bus to the Peace Wall, where a loyalist guide boarded in a handover operation akin to the prisoner swaps across the old Berlin Wall. The group was then given an account of the conflict by EPIC former prisoners.

It worked. But Caoimhin would go further. His vision - now perhaps unattainable - is a cross-community organisation, Welcome to West Belfast, allowing representatives of local people from the Falls and Shankill to plan and market daily bus and walking tours run by locals on each side.

Whether the loyalist infighting on the Shankill will ever allow such formal cooperation is doubtful, but the Republicans have pressed ahead with their own political walking tours. They've been running daily for a month. They start at the Divis Tower - either scarily infamous or utterly unfindable for visitors - and there has been relatively little take-up. Tour guide Sean was uncertain about the wisdom of a city-centre pick-up point: "It would only take one confrontation with Ian Paisley to lose business completely."

Meantime the International Wall on the Falls has been developing business of a different kind. Sympathetic groups such as the West Belfast Taxi Tours and a government-funded anti-racism quango have paid for mural ads. The going rate is between £500-£1,000 - a fraction of the cost of a billboard ad.

The wall comments on international disputes - the occupation of Iraq is currently centre-stage - and is updated regularly, like a monthly mural comment strip. One thing's clear, though. If both sides are determined to "stuff the red tourist buses" and snatch a share of the lucrative tourist trade, they'll need to co-operate, even if it's done so covertly that it makes the talks between the British government and the IRA in the 1980s appear positively public.

Will the former prisoners prove to be misguided optimists or the only effective agents of social change in their warring communities? Watch the walls.

Counter terrorism experts hold secret Belfast meeting


16/09/2005 - 01:18:02

**This is a joke, right?

Some of the world’s leading counter terrorism specialists have been meeting in secret in Belfast this week, it was revealed today.

While it has been combating loyalist street violence over recent days the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has also been hosting a major counter terrorism programme.

Senior officers from the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland have been taking part.

The “Leadership in Counter Terrorism” programme , which finishes today, addresses intelligence and counter terrorism, policy development and resource assignment matters.

The programme was developed by the PSNI Police College in partnership with the FBI Academy and Scottish Police College.

Superintendent Gary Gracey, head of leadership development at the PSNI, said the Police College had been involved in the development and delivery of the counter terrorism programme for some time.

The service had been delighted to welcome the delegates to Belfast this week, he said.

“This programme, specialising in counter terrorism, is designed to meet the ever-changing demands of policing these threats.” Mr Gracey said.

He added: “A worldwide forum coming together to learn together and from each other is truly the best way to ensure that we are prepared to deal with the global threat of terror and crime.”

David Corderman, his counterpart at the FBI Academy, said: “This programme is unique in its approach to the issue of global counter terrorism and the only one if its nature available.

“It provides the opportunity to create a truly global network in the counter terrorism field, an opportunity that had to be taken post 9/11.”

He said the PSNI and Scottish police colleges and the FBI were working with academics from the Univesity of St Andrews and Harvard University in Boston to “deliver an outstanding programme tailored to meet the needs of senior officers in this field.”

The PSNI said the aim of the programme was to develop skills and perspectives required to provide leadership to organisations and communities, to minimise the fear and threat of global crime and terrorism and to deal with the chaos, confusion and destruction which it causes.

Water cannon used against rioters


A crowd gathered in the Forthriver estate off the Ballygomartin Road

Police officers have used water cannon against rioters after violence broke out in north Belfast.

A crowd gathered in the Forthriver estate off the Ballygomartin Road and threw bricks, stones and other missiles at the police.

A vehicle was also set on fire in the area.

Earlier, four people were arrested after roads in Belfast were blocked by loyalist protesters causing traffic chaos for the fourth day in a row.

Police cleared many protests off main roads, but were told they faced paramilitary attack if they tried to move women and children protesters.

Earlier, several vehicles were hijacked and set on fire after police carried out searches in a loyalist estate.

One man was arrested during the search operation on the Highfield estate.

Part of the Crumlin Road was closed after a car was hijacked and set on fire and a lorry was set alight on the Ballygomartin Road.

Several vehicles were also set on fire on the West Circular Road.

Public transport company Translink has suspended bus services to Springmartin and Glencairn because of the trouble.

Buses to Ligoniel and Silverstream have been diverted.

Police said they were stepping up operations to deal with loyalist protests causing traffic disruption in parts of Belfast.

They said an operation was in place in the city to keep the main arterial routes at Broadway and the Westlink open and that the Crumlin Road will be kept clear to ensure access to the Mater Hospital.


Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said all road protests were illegal and that community leaders should exercise their influence to bring them to an end.

He said that the protests, mostly featuring women and children had been peaceful, but that they were causing disruption.

Vehicles have been set on fire in Belfast

"We have always said we would be proactive in dealing with this activity on the streets of Belfast," he said.

There has been trouble, mainly in loyalist areas, sparked by the re-routing of an Orange Order parade on Saturday.

Police and soldiers came under sustained attack over the weekend.

Shots were fired at the security forces as well as blast and petrol bomb attacks in the wake of the Whiterock parade.

A number of vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire.

There were a number of attacks on the police on Tuesday, but not on the scale of the previous three nights.

15 September 2005

Sinn Féin News

Sinn Féin

Alex Maskey announces outreach event with unionist community

Published: 15 September, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast Alex Maskey has today announced an outreach event with panel members from the unionist community, representing church, civic, and political opinion. Mr Maskey said the event was 'particularly timely given last weeks events cross the North'.

The event entitled: 'Towards National Reconciliation' is part of Sinn Féin's Cead Bliain celebrations (100th Year), and will be held in the Conway Mill, Falls Road this Saturday (17th September) from 11am to 1pm.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

"Saturday's event represents the start of a programme of events across the six counties to widen the process of dialogue between republicans and the broad unionist community. Given the events of the past week this conference is particularly timely.

"I am pleased to announce that the panel will consist of Dawn Purvis from the PUP, Rev. Lesley Carroll, Convener of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and Trevor Ringland, Chair of the One Small Step Campaign. I think that it is important that local nationalists and republicans hear at firsthand the range of views provided by the panel.

"Sinn Féin is about engaging and reaching out to others, including the unionist and ethnic minority communities. We will not move forward or make political progress without real and meaningful dialogue." ENDS


Paisley in denial

Published: 15 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has expressed disappointment over Ian Paisley's attack on party president Gerry Adams and accused the DUP leader of compounding the negative leadership of recent months and being in denial about his responsibility to get the peace process back on track.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Ian Paisley's attack on Gerry Adam's only serves to highlight how deeply in denial the leadership of unionism is about it's responsibility for the Loyalist sectarian campaign of the summer and the violence of recent days.

"Last weekend's violence is a response to the realisation that the status quo is not an option and to the uncertainties of a process of change which demands equality, human rights, proper policing, justice and inclusion. It is a response to the dawning reality that the days of domination, triumphalism and second class citizenships are gone forever.

"This is compounded by the negative approach of the DUP and UUP.

"The unease and instability in unionist communities stems from a political vacuum created by unionist politicians and now filled by loyalist violence. Ian Paisley and his colleagues are running out of excuses." ENDS


Sinn Féin appointees to Long Kesh Panel

Published: 15 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney and Lisburn Councillor Paul Butler have been appointed to the Long Kesh Advisory Panel. Today the two representatives are meeting with the Strategic Investment Board and officials taking forward the master plan.

In a joint statement after the meeting Cllr Butler and Mr McCartney MLA said:

"This site has huge potential. However, Sinn Fein will not support any development plan that does not give equal priority to the development of a heritage and peace zone and a multi-sports stadium.

"Events in Long Kesh have helped shape the recognition and understanding of the political nature of the conflict here. It has witnessed much grief and pain for all those who passed through it and for their families and relatives.

"The international heritage and peace zone can act as a beacon of hope to all communities and societies emerging from political conflict and support the process of conflict resolution both nationally and internationally.

"However, we are still a long way from securing the end product. We still need to see the detail about how the development will be resourced and we need to see ongoing political will from all sides to see this development through to completion." ENDS


Anger as UUP and DUP vote for school bus cuts

Published: 15 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Michael Ferguson MLA has said that DUP and UUP elected representatives on the SEELB are short changing parents and children after they voted against a Sinn Fein motion at today's board meeting calling for the reversal of cuts to school transport provision in the area. The vote was lost by 12 to 15 with 4 abstentions.

Mr Ferguson said:

"The actions of the UUP and DUP today are a huge disappointment. They have let down the parents and children who they purport to represent. Both parties said that they would defend education services yet when push comes to shove they have failed to defend this important service for local parents and their children.

"This is a blow particularly for working parents.

"If the UUP and DUP had found it in themselves to back this Sinn Fein motion today we would have achieved a major progress in fighting the cuts to services." ENDS

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?