12 November 2005

Unionists say no to nationalist housing plan


A “unionist line” has been drawn through proposals to build 70 homes for nationalists in the Oldpark, say housing campaigners.
Plans for the site at Hillview, behind Dunnes Stores, were opposed at a recent meeting attended by members of the unionist community and politicians in the Avoca Street Community Centre.
But the St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee this morning demanded answers from the Housing Executive over its housing policy in North Belfast where nationalists number 85 per cent of those in housing crisis.
Officials of the Housing Executive attended the meeting as well as unionist councillors including the PUP’s Hugh Smyth, Independent Frank McCoubrey, UUP councillor Fred Cobain and the DUP’s Diane Dodds.
Gerard Brophy of the St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Committee said nationalists were being blocked from housing “at every turn”.
“Here are 70 families that could get a decent house and again the unionist bloc has got together to oppose any housing for nationalists.
“What they are saying about it becoming an interface is groundless, because there’s nothing but derelict houses in Manor Street.”
“They have opposed housing in Sailortown, where there is no unionist community anywhere near, and in every other place where Catholics are trying to get decent housing. In Somerdale, unionist housing is going ahead and that will create another interface. This is the unionist line being drawn again to keep North Belfast unionist. The minute there’s a row from the unionist side the Housing Executive immediately backs down. There needs to be an inquiry into who is in charge of housing policy in North Belfast. Is it the Housing Executive or unionists?”
But Hugh Smyth today denied that there was any political motive in the unionist opposition.
“I am opposed to this because it would create another interface. It’s nothing to do with politics. It’s a clear matter of creating another flashpoint. It will create nothing but difficulties for both sides of the community.”
A Housing Executive spokeswoman said it was in favour of the development.
“The site at Hillview has been acquired by North and West Housing.
“The Housing Executive, through the North Belfast Housing Strategy, has supported their proposals for social housing at this location on the grounds of housing need in North Belfast,” she said.
“The North Belfast Strategy Manager and senior Housing Executive officials regularly meet with community groups and elected representatives about proposed developments in North Belfast. Initial contact has been made with local politicians about the site at Hillview and the Housing Executive and North and West Housing are awaiting a response from Sinn Féin about possible dates for public consultation.”
Sinn Féin’s Margaret McClenaghan said, “Sinn Féin is asking unionist politicians to stop scaremongering around the issue of the proposed new Hillview Housing Development.”

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

The Plough, Volume 3, Number 7

To read the 8 November issue of The Plough, click >>here

To join Seven Stars Republican Socialist News, go >>here

Anti-GAA posters erected in village

Belfast Telegraph

Move 'part of intimidation campaign'

12 November 2005

A FORMER All-Ireland camogie championship medal winner intimidated out of her home after her grandson wore an Antrim jersey last night condemned anti-GAA posters in a mainly Protestant Co Antrim village.

Around 30 posters declaring "No fascist GAA jerseys in Ahoghill" were erected overnight on bus shelters, road signs and other public property.

Nationalists said it was the latest incident in a campaign against Catholics in the village which saw several attacks on homes this summer.

Kathleen McCaughey (51), who won an All-Ireland medal in 1979 told how the campaign against her started after her 11-year-old grandson Nathan was playing hurling in her garden in the mainly Protestant Brookfield Gardens estate and was wearing an Antrim GAA top.

Mrs McCaughey, who now lives in nearby Portglenone, said: "The ball hit a car and we were told there would be none of that type of game here. We were told to go out to Cloney (nearby St Mary's GAA club) and play Gaelic if we wanted.

"My family had played hurley and camogie in the estate for years and Protestants used to come out and play with us too.

"The erection of these latest signs is only to keep the bother going in Ahoghill."

Sinn Fein Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan said he was "outraged and angry" after the posters appeared.

Mr McGuigan added: "I have been contacted by nationalist residents in Ahoghill who have woken to find posters erected warning people not to wear GAA jerseys in the town.

"It seems that this is the latest stage in the unionist campaign to force all Catholics and nationalists from the town. Over the summer this campaign used pipe bombs, paint bombs and violence to force innocent people from their homes.

"Ahoghill is home to a successful GAA club and this campaign is clearly aimed at that club, its members and the wider nationalist community in the area."

North Antrim DUP Assemblyman Mervyn Storey condemned the erection of the posters.

He said: "Any attempt to intimidate any section of the community isn't to be welcomed. Whilst I have reservations about the ethos of the GAA, I would not advocate this type of behaviour."

Lord Laird slams no uniform decision 'outrageous'

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
12 November 2005

A DECISION by the Ministry of Defence to forbid Royal Irish Regiment members from wearing their uniforms at some Remembrance ceremonies has been branded "outrageous" by a unionist peer.

Lord Laird has been in contact with the Ministry in a bid to reverse the ruling.

"This is trying to take away people's basic rights," the Ulster Unionist politician insisted.

"For 30 years locally recruited soldiers have been able to pay tribute to their fallen comrades and friends, some of them fathers, uncles or grandfathers or men who have died alongside them.

"This has been taken away by the MOD and they are saying they will discipline anyone who transgresses. It is a step too far.

"Those soldiers died mainly in the line of duty in their uniforms. Why can't their comrades honour them in theirs.

"This is putting salt in the wound, particularly as it comes in the week when the On The Run legislation is being allowed to come back in.

"This is another obscenity towards the unionist people of Northern Ireland and we are not putting up with it."

An Army spokesman confirmed that only those attending events in an official capacity would be allowed to wear uniforms.

The spokesman said that the regiment had reduced in size over the years and there was no longer enough manpower to officially attend every Remembrance ceremony and service in the province.

For example, the 3rd Royal Battalion, based at Drumadd Barracks in Co Armagh, would have official representation at around 40 memorial events on Remembrance Sunday.

He said that members of the regiment were still permitted to attend the other events, just not in uniform.

The spokesman added that they had been in contact with the UDR Association, the Royal British Legion and other groups to ask them to play a greater part in the organisation of events.

Outrage over ban on staff wearing poppies

Belfast Telegraph

By Ashleigh Wallace
12 November 2005

RETAIL company TK Maxx has been accused of treating the people of Northern Ireland with "utter contempt" after it emerged that it has banned its Ulster workforce from wearing poppies.

Lagan Valley Assembly member Edwin Poots said the company's policy of banning poppies has "perpetuated the divisions in Northern Ireland," prompting him to call for a change in policy.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed staff in Northern Ireland were banned from wearing poppies to work, adding that the ban did not extent to employees in stores in England, Scotland and Wales.

Branding the policy as "outrageous" Mr Poots said he had been contacted by several members of staff employed in the Lisburn branch who have been left upset by the ban.

Despite the ban, several employees chose to ignore it and wore their poppies to work earlier yesterday.

All TK Maxx stores in Northern Ireland were due to observe a two minute's silence - in memory of those who lost their lives in the wars - both yesterday and tomorrow.

Mr Poots said: "The poppy is representative of the entire community but TK Maxx has turned it into a sectarian issue, which is to their shame.

"The people of Lisburn and Northern Ireland paid a heavy price during the two World Wars and also during the 30 years of terrorism here from 1969.

"The policy of TK Maxx is an attack on the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

"2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two and is the last major chance to thank all those ordinary men and women who went on to do extraordinary things 60 years ago.

"TK Maxx has treated the people of Northern Ireland with utter contempt by its refusal to allow their members of staff to wear the poppy."

A spokeswoman for TK Maxx said: "Given the conditions in Northern Ireland we, along with other retailers, ask our employees not to wear any emblems, except those of our nominated charities."

COLIN MIDDLETON: Plaque honours artist who inspired the poets

Belfast Telegraph

By Eddie McIlwaine
12 November 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click to view - 'Syeamores Ballygrainey' by Colin Middleton - photo from >>here

A PAINTER whose canvasses inspired the poets is being honoured today with an Ulster History Circle blue plaque.

It is being unveiled at the former home of Colin Middleton (1910-1983) at 6 Victoria Road, Bangor, by his daughter Jane.

Middleton, whose paintings are more in demand today than ever, was largely self-taught.

~~Born in Belfast in 1910, Colin Middleton was probaly the most eclectic Irish painter of the 20th century - moving with ease and conviction through Cubist, Surrealist and Expressionist styles throughout his life. Largely self-taught, his father's influence as an amateur artist and visits to London and Belgium fuelled his early interest in art. He worked in the family damask business until 1947 when the opportunity to teach art enabled him to give more time to painting. Throughout the rest of his life, frequently made precarious by poverty, Middleton painted images thrown up by his rich imagination. These derived their strength from two main sources - the passion with which Middleton presented them and the artist's interest in the colourful life of ordinary people - who sold fish, worked the streets and entertained the bus queues.

Middleton received many awards and considerable recognition throughout his career but critical response to his work was always modified by a confused reaction to his numerous stylisic changes. Those changes may have affected Middleton's commercial success buy they did not alienate the poets, including Michael Longley and Seamus Heaney, who have made a number of references to his work in their poems.

The plaque, the placing of which is supported by North Down Council, will be a huge attraction in the seaside resort where the artist used to be a popular figure either strolling on the prom or working on another canvas.

"His work derived its strength from his sheer passion and his interest in the colourful lives of ordinary folk," says Dr James Hawthorne, the former BBC chief, who is now at the History Circle and has been working on the Middleton plaque for some months. It was his fondness for the ordinary things in life that came across in his canvasses that prompted poets like Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley to mention Middleton in their writings.

Meanwhile, another blue plaque is going up on Monday, this time in honour of Franciscan scholar Aodh Mac Aingil (1571-1626). It will be unveiled in the garden of the St Patrick's Centre of Downpatrick ? his home town ? by Senator Maurice Hayes.

Bishop Mac Aingil was a scholar in philosophy and theology as well as being a writer of poems in Irish and had a tremendous influence in Ireland and in Rome too, says Dr Hawthorne.

"He was the personal envoy from the Earl of Tyrone in Philip 111 of Spain," he said

However, when Mac Aingil was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1626 he died before he could get back to Ireland to take up office.

Warning over cutting councils

Belfast Telegraph

12 November 2005

REDUCTION of the present 26 councils to just seven could cause the "sectarian Balkanisation" of Northern Ireland, the SDLP warned last night.

Just over a week ahead of the expected Government decisions on the review of public administration, the party's annual conference also rejected any proposals to give added powers to local councils under Direct Rule.

Party chairperson Patricia Lewsley warned that the priority must be the return of devolution with direct rule Ministers intent on imposing huge rates increases and water charges.

Today a key motion warns continuing intransigence by the DUP and Sinn Féin is preventing elected representatives from fulfilling their responsibility to improve the provision of Health and Personal Social Services.

Health spokesperson Carmel Hanna will warn against the persistence of waiting lists forcing people to opt to go privately and jeopardising the public service ethos of the NHS.

The South Belfast MLA will hit out at continuing instability and lack of leadership which, the motion says, "has created an unstable environment where it takes too long for decisions to be made and encourages a culture of lack of responsibility-taking".

Durkan to accuse SF and Democratic Unionists


12/11/2005 - 11:11:22

Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists were today expected to be accused of carving up the peace process in the North to serve their own interests.

Sources close to nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he would launch a hard-hitting attack on Gerry Adams and the Rev Ian Paisley in his speech to delegates at the party’s annual conference in Belfast.

The attack will follow claims by SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell last night that Sinn Féin’s approach to the peace process was reminiscent of the George Orwell novel, 1984.

The South Belfast MP told SDLP members: “In George Orwell’s often-quoted novel 1984, he includes an appendix on the principles of Newspeak – a language based on English and promoted by the ruling Party to subvert debate and individual thought.

“Under the Newspeak regime, words look like English and sound like English but don’t mean what the untrained eye expects them to mean. Sound familiar?

“What a great coincidence that we see the Provisional Movement unwittingly adapt another of Orwell’s messages as their rallying cry: ’Building an Ireland of Equals’ where, as we know, they think that they and they alone are more equal than everyone else on the island.

“But, I like you decided long ago that I would not allow my politics and values to be hijacked, twisted or determined by the Provos or anyone else for that matter.

“These phrases – Prosperity, Equality, Respect for Diversity and United Ireland – still mean much to me and still form the background and the backbone of this party’s politics and values.”

Dr McDonnell also queried Sinn Féin’s economic policy including its opposition to the euro.

He claimed the Economist Intelligence Unit had said if Sinn Féin got into power in the Irish Republic, it would cause the country uncertainty and instability.

He also rounded on the DUP and the Ulster Unionists over their response to rioting which erupted in loyalist districts of Belfast in September when a Protestant Orange Order march was rerouted from a contentious area in the west of the city.

The SDLP deputy leader said: “The DUP makes great noises about being the Party that will cut red tape and encourage business, yet excuses and justifies loyalist protests that bring the whole country to a standstill and make a mockery of our work to promote Northern Ireland to inward investment opportunities.

“What about the Ulster Unionist Party, which once prided itself as the party of business?

“Its leader, Reg Empey, whom I once worked with on a range of economic development issues here in Belfast, and who was once a very competent Minister of Enterprise, gets elected as leader and announces that parades, not prosperity need to be at the top of our political agenda.

“We saw what parades do for prosperity on September 10 when Belfast was shut down and so much was burned down.”

Conference delegates were also due to hear today from the vice chairman of Northern Ireland’s Policing Board Denis Bradley during a debate on policing.

In September Mr Bradley was savagely beaten in a bar in Derry in an attack blamed on dissident republicans.

Leading loyalist pleads not guilty to charges


12/11/2005 - 14:07:47

Leading loyalist Andre Shoukri has pleaded not guilty to charges of blackmail, intimidation and money laundering, Belfast Magistrates Court was told today.

The 28-year-old, whose address was given as Clare Heights, gave a thumbs-up to around a dozen supporters in the magistrates’ court as he appeared alongside William Boreland in the dock.

Mr Shoukri, who was dressed in a green t-shirt and casual jacket, faced one charge of blackmail, one charge of intimidation and one charge of money laundering.

Thirty-eight year old Mr Boreland faced one charge of blackmail, two charges of using a firearm or imitation firearm to cause fear and to cause an arrestable offence, one charge of intimidation and one charge of money laundering.

A detective sergeant told magistrate Bernadette Kelly that Mr Shoukri replied not guilty when the charges were put to him yesterday.

He also said Mr Boreland made no reply.

The detective sergeant said he believed he could connect both men to the charges.

Both suspects were remanded in custody to appear by video link on December 9.

Their solicitor, Philip Breen urged the media to report today's proceedings with respect for the principle of a fair trial.

He criticised the Police Service of Northern Ireland for the leaking of information in the run up to today's appearance before magistrates.

Among those allowed inside the courtroom was Mr Shoukri's brother Ihab.

Outside, around 40 loyalists, some of them hooded or wearing baseball caps and scarves to disguise their faces, gathered at the gates of the Laganside court complex.

A massive security operation was launched by the PSNI, with a dozen land rovers outside the court, police in riot gear and half a dozen officers inside the courtroom.

Bemused parents and children arrived at the Waterfront Hall across from the courts for an Irish dancing championship, only to be confronted with the heavy security operation and the loyalist mob.

As they left the court to go back into the cells, Mr Shoukri and Mr Boreland were applauded by their supporters.

They were told to ``keep your chin up'' and ``see you soon.".

Second man charged with murder of Co Armagh teens


12/11/2005 - 15:36:49

A second man has appeared in court charged with the murders of two teenagers in County Armagh five years ago.

Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine from Portadown were stabbed to death after leaving a disco.

25-year-old Mark Robert Burcombe from Lisburn has been charged with the murders.

He has been remanded in custody to appear again on December the 6th.

PSNI 50-50 recruitment 'must end'


Mr Bradley said 50-50 should be got rid of as soon as possible

The PSNI's 50-50 policy for recruiting Catholic and Protestants will have to end in the longer term, Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley has said.

Mr Bradley played down concerns over restorative justice during a speech at the SDLP's annual conference.

Ending 50-50 recruitment would aid a proper human rights culture, he said.

Earlier, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Gordon Brown would have better addressed NI's difficulties since the Good Friday Agreement than Tony Blair.

The SDLP leader was speaking ahead of an address to his party's 35th annual conference in Belfast on Saturday.

He said Mr Blair's contribution had been vital in securing the Agreement.

However, he believed Mr Brown would probably have proved "less tolerant" of "disruptive tactics" by the local political parties.

The SDLP conference got under way at a Belfast hotel on Friday night and will continue until Sunday.

Mr Bradley told delegates he was "not terribly fearful that Sinn Fein or any other republican organisation or loyalist group will try to control policing within their own areas".

"If they do try to control it, they will fail miserably. It will not happen and if it happens for a month or two or a year, it won't happen in the long term," he said.

"That is not the kind of people that we are."

He added: "We have a 50-50 recruitment process at this moment in time but it was got as an aberration to right an old wrong and to make right that which was not rightable by any other process," he said.

"It should be got rid of as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan told the conference the British and Irish governments had to stop their "concession of the week" approach to the DUP and Sinn Fein.

"When we meet the two governments later this month, our message will be clear: get on with the agreement," Mr Durkan said.

"Drop the concession of the week approach that has undermined confidence so badly.

"Get back to the consensus building approach. That gave us the agreement in the first place and offers the only credible basis for taking it forward now."

Knife victim Abigail Witchalls gives birth to boy


· Mother and baby 'doing well', says hospital
· Child arrives six months after near-fatal attack

Robert Booth
Saturday November 12, 2005
The Guardian

Abigail Witchalls, who was stabbed and partially paralysed while walking with her young son in a country lane, gave birth to a baby boy yesterday.

She gave birth nine days after being discharged from hospital following more than six months of treatment for serious injuries sustained in an attack on April 20.

A spokesman at St George's hospital, Tooting said yesterday: "Abigail and Benoit Witchalls [her husband] are delighted to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at 2.30pm today weighing 5lbs and 6oz. The delivery went very well and mother and baby are doing fine."

Article continues
The baby was due around Christmas, but Mrs Witchalls went into labour early on Friday morning, six weeks early. Until her discharge this month she had been treated at the spinal injuries unit of the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital in north London. When she returned to her home in Surrey she had some movement in her right arm, which meant she was able to feed herself. She was also able to breathe and speak.

Medical experts said last night that Mrs Witchalls' ability to give birth would not have been compromised by her paralysis.

Donald Campbell, a Harley Street consultant neurosurgeon, said: "You can't push because you can't use your abdominal muscles. But the womb itself will contract normally and the baby will be born. Most of it is really a reflex that is not controlled consciously."

Mr Campbell said there was no reason she would have to have a caesarean section, although if it was a difficult birth it would be possible the method could be employed or forceps used. Hospital staff would have been on alert to spot any complications she would not have been able to feel.

Mrs Witchalls, 26, was in the early stages of pregnancy when she was attacked while pushing her son Joseph in a buggy near their home in Little Bookham, Surrey. They had just left his nursery when she saw a man in a car who had made her feel uneasy. The man reappeared and Mrs Witchalls panicked and ran down the lane, but as she was blocked by a gate she saw her attacker was holding a knife to her 21-month-old son's throat.

The man insisted she should approach him and when she did he grabbed her hair, pulled her down towards the ground and stabbed her once in the back of the neck leaving a three-inch wound.

Three weeks after the attack a suspect, Richard Cazaly, died in hospital following a paracetamol overdose.

Cazaly was a neighbour of Mrs Witchalls. It is thought he had driven to Scotland on April 25 and, at some point, taken a large number of tablets. He was admitted to Raigmore hospital in Inverness on April 28 and later that day transferred to the Edinburgh Royal infirmary where he died on April 30.

Surrey police said no one had been charged in connection with the attack and papers had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. No decision on the file has yet been made.

Revealed: UK wartime torture camp


Ian Cobain
Saturday November 12, 2005
The Guardian

The British government operated a secret torture centre during the second world war to extract information and confessions from German prisoners, according to official papers which have been unearthed by the Guardian.

More than 3,000 prisoners passed through the centre, where many were systematically beaten, deprived of sleep, forced to stand still for more than 24 hours at a time and threatened with execution or unnecessary surgery.

Some are also alleged to have been starved and subjected to extremes of temperature in specially built showers, while others later complained that they had been threatened with electric shock torture or menaced by interrogators brandishing red-hot pokers.

The centre, which was housed in a row of mansions in one of London's most affluent neighbourhoods, was carefully concealed from the Red Cross, the papers show. It continued to operate for three years after the war, during which time a number of German civilians were also tortured.

A subsequent assessment by MI5, the Security Service, concluded that the commanding officer had been guilty of "clear breaches" of the Geneva convention and that some interrogation methods "completely contradicted" international law.

On at least one occasion, an MI5 officer noted in a newly declassified report, a German prisoner was convicted of war crimes and hanged on the basis of a confession which he had signed after he was, at the very least, "worked on psychologically". A number of people who appeared as prosecution witnesses at war crimes trials are also alleged to have been tortured.

The official papers, discovered in the National Archives, depict the centre as a dark, brutal place which caused great unease among senior British officers. They appear to have turned a blind eye partly because of the usefulness of the information extracted, and partly because the detainees were thought to deserve ill treatment.

Not all the torture centre's secrets have yet emerged, however: the Ministry of Defence is continuing to withhold some of the papers almost 60 years after it was closed down.

OTR deal is ‘disgusting’ says fugitive

Daily Ireland

‘On the run’ man slams agreement of facing special tribunal on return

Zoe Tunney

A Belfast man currently on the run in the South yesterday said he was “disgusted” with the deal struck between Sinn Féin and the British government over his proposed return to the North.
Under the terms of the deal, announced by the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, in Westminster on Wednesday, on-the-runs wanted for offences committed before the Good Friday Agreement will face a two-stage legal process.
If they are granted a certificate allowing them to take part in the scheme, they will be brought before a special tribunal which will have the same powers as a Crown court.
They will, however, be exempt from arrest, questioning and remand in relation to the offences.
There will be no jury sitting at the tribunals.
In the event of a conviction, the person will be eligible to receive a licence guaranteeing that he or she will not be jailed.
The same amnesty applies to members of the security forces wanted for crimes committed on civilians before the Good Friday Agreement.
Stiofán MacGib was 19 when he arrested at his home in west Belfast in 1978 for membership of the IRA and possession of a weapon.
He said he is totally disgusted with the terms of the amnesty.
“I was neither a member of the IRA or in possession of a weapon when I was arrested just before my 20th birthday,” he told Daily Ireland.
“For 27 years, I have had to live in the Free State for something I did not do and now Sinn Féin tells me - through the media - that I have to stand trial in a British court.
“I do not even recognise the state, never mind the court.”
Mr MacGib said he was struck by the legitimacy the deal gives to the British state and court system.
"I now have to put myself at the mercy of a British court and to do so would be to own up to the legitimacy of the British presence in the North," he said.
“It seems like the British are happy to accept the IRA’s disbandment and decommissioning but will still assert their authority.
"How can we, as republicans, say that the British have no legitimate right to be in the North and yet expect people to attend their court?”
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said only cases where there was evidence to support a claim that an on-the-run committed an offence would have to go before a special tribunal.

Second man charged over murders


David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb were killed in February 2000

A second man has been charged with the murder of two teenagers in County Armagh more than five years ago.

Andrew Robb, 19, and David McIlwaine, 18, both from Portadown, were stabbed to death on 19 February 2000 after leaving a disco in Tandragee.

Their bodies were found on a road outside the town.

A 25-year-old man is due at Banbridge Magistrates Court on Saturday. On Friday, another 25-year-old man was remanded in custody over the killings.

Kevin Barry - 'The Forgotten Ten'

**The Irish Heritage Email Group sent round a compilation of an article on Kevin Barry, and in looking for the original link, I found the Wild Geese Today site with all the parts and photos.

"Between November 1920 and June 1921 the British government executed twenty-six Irish Prisoners of War by firing squad or by hanging. Among those executed were ten men who were to become known as the Forgotten Ten. These ten men, one of whom is Kevin Barry, remained buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. On October 14th 2001 the ten were reburied in the Republican plot in Glasnevin cemetery." --Sinn Féin

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us




"Ten IRA volunteers, fighting for their fledgling nation, met their fate more than 80 years ago at the end of a British noose, and until [2001] lay buried in Mountjoy Prison. Kieron Punch relates each of their stories, starting with 18-year-old Kevin Barry."

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Sinn F?in: Paisley Jnr's comments ignore reality of intimidation in Ahoghill - Philp McGuigan

Sinn Féin

Published: 11 November, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has today slammed comments made by Ian Paisley Junior after posters were erected in Ahoghill, Co Antrim stating that GAA jerseys were not welcome in the village.

In response to media questioning, the DUP MLA said that he found it difficult to take the threats seriously.

Speaking today Mr McGuigan said:

"Ian Paisley Junior's comments are reflective of the DUP attitude to the ongoing campaign of intimidation against the Catholic community in North Antrim over recent months.

"During the height of the loyalist sectarian campaign of intimidation the silence of DUP representatives in the county spoke volumes. Now we have Ian Paisley Jnr saying that he finds it difficult to take such threats seriously. Well Mr Paisley should go to the village and tell those residents who have been under siege since the summer and before, that he is unconcerned by the posters.

"These disgraceful comments show the distance the DUP must still travel if it is to disassociate itself from the vestiges of militant and sectarian loyalism. In fact, the DUP have contributed to the cold house culture which pervades many vulnerable nationalist communities in North Antrim" ENDS

11 November 2005

Top loyalist charged after raids


Andre Shoukri is due to appear in court on Saturday

The leader of the UDA in north Belfast has been charged with blackmail, intimidation and money laundering.

Andre Shoukri, 28, was arrested earlier this week following a series of police searches in the Westland estate in the north of the city and Castlereagh.

Another 36-year-old man has also been charged with blackmail, intimidation, money laundering and possession of a firearm in connection with the raids.

Both men will appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on Saturday.

Dungiven Man 'Disgusted' At US Arrest

Derry Journal

Friday 11th November 2005

A Dungiven man has said he is 'totally disgusted' at the way he was treated after he was stopped entering the United States last week and pressurised into becoming an informer for the PSNI. The man, Sean Devine, also said he is deeply perturbed at the extent of the surveillance he must have been kept under in order for the security services to know so much about him.
Mr. Devine said that he had been involved in work for republican prisoners in Maghaberry but had never been before a court on any sort of charges. He told the Journal what happened: "I went to the US on Saturday and we landed at Newark airport. As I was waiting to go through all the usual checks this Customs man approached me in the line and asked me to come with him to another room. "I did so and this man came in and identified himself as an FBI agent. Then three other people identified themselves, one said he was 'Stewarty' from MI5, the other two identified themselves as 'Declan' and Mervyn from the PSNI. Mervyn spoke with a strong Derry accent." Mr. Devine went on: "I was asked did I know why I was there and I told them I wanted a solicitor and an official from the Irish embassy. They ignored that and told me that they knew everything about me and that they wanted me to do something from them. They then named a load of republicans from Derry who they said they wanted me to inform on and as they put it 'put them away for a long time.'
They started pressurising me and offered me a house in Lisbon and a large sum of money although they never actually produced any. They also said they could arrange for me to have a holiday anywhere in the world for a couple of weeks to allow me to think their offer over." Mr. Devine continued: "They also told me that I was being refused entry to the United States but that if I agreed to 'help' them they could make a call to the White House and have a waiver issued which would allow me in.
"All during the questioning they kept telling me things which they could only have known from an extremely close surveillance. They mentioned that they waited in the Isle of Man for me to come there and that was my original intention to go there for a holiday. They were also able to tell me all my movements on the Thursday when I was originally supposed to fly out. They knew my passport had been faulty and that I had been refused permission to fly and also where I had gone after I left the airport and even where I went in Dublin." The Dungiven man was held from 11 a.m. until 5. 30 p.m. then told he was being deported from the US . He was placed on a flight coming to Ireland at 8 p.m. He added: "I am disgusted at the way this was done and by the fact that they seemed to have invaded my life. I refused to have anything to do with them even though they gave me a number to phone when I got back. Also it seems that the FBI and PSNI are working closely together trying to recruit informers."

Dancers kick up their heels at Ulster Championships

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
11 November 2005

Glittering costumes and prancing pumps have taken over the Waterfront Hall in Belfast for the popular Ulster Irish Dancing Championships.

Around 1,500 entrants will take part in the competition which is running until Sunday.

This is the first time the championships have been held at the Waterfront, although it has already hosted two successful world championships and, earlier this year, the largest ever all-Ireland contest.

The dancers hail from ten counties, including Louth, which also competes under the Ulster banner.

Finnola McGrath (13), from Glengormley, was one of the talented youngsters taking part in the under-13 class yesterday. Her 21-year-old sister, Christina, dances professionally and is on tour with Riverdance in France.

Proud mum Marie said: "The girls both love dancing. When she was small Finnola watched her sister and has been dancing practically since she could walk.

"The Waterfront is a brilliant arena with a fantastic stage and plenty of room for the girls to show off their steps."

Sharing her enthusiasm, Finnola said: "Dancing takes you to lots of different places. I have been to the American championships in San Francisco. It's great."

Emily Logue (13), from Strabane, has been practising jigs and reels for the last eight years

"You do feel nervous before you go on stage but once you're up there you enjoy it," she said.

One of the organisers Jack Connolly, said: "Irish dancing is hugely popular with thousands of youngsters in Ulster taking part. We're thrilled to be at the Waterfront which is an excellent venue.

"We try and move the championships around and have held them in Newry, Bundoran and Enniskillen, but we are already booking in to come back here again next year. The world championships will also be held here again next Easter."

The Ulster Irish Dancing Championships are the first major event to be brought to the city as part of the Celebrate Belfast 2006 programme.

Man charged with two North murders


11 November 2005 13:56

A 25-year-old man appeared in court in Armagh today, charged for the second time with the murders of two teenagers five years ago.

Steven Leslie Brown was remanded in custody at Armagh Magistrates Court charged with the murders of Andrew Robb, 19, and David McIlwaine, 18, in February 2000.

The teenagers were stabbed to death after leaving a nightclub at Tandragee in the county and being abducted by a number of men.

Their bodies were dumped at the side of a country road. They had been repeatedly stabbed and had their throats cut.

Brown, of Castle Place, Castlecaufield, County Tyrone, was charged with the murders soon afterwards. However, the charges were withdrawn and the case never went to trial.

He appeared in court today dressed in a Chelsea football top, and surrounded by armed police. He spoke only to confirm his name.

Detective Chief Inspector Tim Hanley told the court that when he charged Brown last night, he replied: 'Not guilty to each charge'.

However, Chief Inspector Hanley told the court he could connect the accused to the charges.

Brown was remanded in custody until 6 December to reappear at the same court by video link.

O'Loan calls for exchange of information


11 November 2005 14:01

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has said there should be a statutory right to exchange of information between her office and the Office of the Garda Ombudsman's Commission in investigations into allegations of police corruption.

Nuala O'Loan also said that she believed that investigators should have total and immediate right to access to all police files and not have to inform a minister, as is the provision under the current Garda Bill.

She said having to inform a minister or anyone else could compromise the integrity of the investigation and slow the process down.

Ms O'Loan was speaking at a conference on community safety in Dundalk this morning.

The conference also heard criticism of the Gardaí and the judiciary in reacting to anti-social behaviour and complaints about public order.

However, a garda representative at the conference said they would take all criticism on board and were working on strategies to increase manpower and create a higher garda visibility on the streets.

Adams gets round US ban with live link-up speech

Belfast Telegraph

By Sean O'Driscoll
11 November 2005

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams spoke by live satellite link to the annual Friends of Sinn Fein dinner in New York last night to circumvent a US fund-raising ban.

Adams told the guests, who paid $$500 a plate to attend, that Friends of Sinn Fein had sold more tickets for the event than ever before because of the publicity surrounding the fund-raising ban.

"I'd like to thank those in the US administration who made this possible," he joked to cheers from more than 700 guests.

"I'm disappointed not to meet with old friends, meet new friends and make a report on the process of progress since last we met," he said.

His speech was broadcast on two giant screens on either side of a ballroom in the New York Sheraton Hotel near Times Square.

A team of technicians worked to carry the signal, while Friends of Sinn Fein officials stood beside them, working out logistics with technical staff in Ireland.

Mr Adams said that Sinn Fein's refusal to sit on the policing board was the reason given by the US government for refusing the fund-raising visa.

"It appears to have been at the root of the disappointing decision by the US administration to refuse me a fund-raising visa. Nationalists and republicans want to be policed, we are a law-abiding people," he said.

Earlier, labourers' union boss, Terry Sullivan, made a fiery speech attacking the US government's decision not to give Adams a fund-raising visa.

His words were strongly supported by Bronx Congressman, Charles Engel, described the fund-raising ban as an "absolute disgrace".

"At the very time when Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams are taking all kinds of risk for peace, it's absolutely the wrong time to slap them in the face," he said.

Former Ardoyne resident, Jim Smith, a long time New York Sinn Fein supporter, said he challenged the US envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, about the fund-raising ban at an event on Tuesday night.

He said Reiss told him the ban was put in place because Sinn Fein would not take seats on the policing board.

Anger at SDLP support for reintroduction of Internment

Sinn Féin

Published: 11 November, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has said that there is widespread disgust and anger at SDLP support for the British government's latest repressive laws including the power to intern people for up to 28 days.

Mr Murphy said:

" Irish nationalists and republicans are only to aware of the fall out from the use of repressive powers and arbitrary detention. Tens of thousands of people have been detained under such powers here in the six counties. We have lived through the years of internment without trial, we have lived through the years of the torture centres and conveyor belt justice. The Good Friday Agreement was about ending all of that.

" Having fought so hard to see the Special Powers Act removed and with it the 28 day provision which was available in it, the SDLP comfortable in their British parliamentary seats had no problem in voting to reintroduce such repressive powers back into the six counties.

" The victims of this measure will be young Muslims in England and given the experience of the past week young nationalists and republicans here in the six counties. The SDLP action has been greeted with disgust and anger within the broad nationalist and republican community.

" It is now clear that the SDLP is very much part of a new policing establishment. They already support the use of plastic bullets and CS gas on our streets and now they have clearly given the green light to the re-introduction of internment as well." ENDS

Ahern refuses to answer questions on church-state links


11/11/2005 - 11:32:11

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has walked out on reporters who questioned him about his defence of the church's relationship with the State.

Yesterday, Mr Ahern defended the church's involvement in the Irish education system and its overall role in Irish society following stinging criticism earlier this week from Progressive Democrats TD Liz O'Donnell.

Ms O'Donnell said the church could not be trusted to tell the truth in the wake of the clerical child sex abuse scandal in Ferns.

She also said the church's involvement in education should be re-examined and its finances should be independently audited.

When Mr Ahern was questioned about the matter before a Fáilte Ireland conference in Dublin today, he walked away from reporters and refused to answer any questions.

His handlers had earlier told the media that he would only speak about tourism.

The Taoiseach's defence of the church has already sparked criticism from a number of areas.

The One in Four support group has described his comments as "ill-timed and poorly judged", saying the good works of the church did not cancel out the rape and abuse of children.

Labour Party TD Liz McManus, meanwhile, said Mr Ahern had displayed an ignorance of the full implications of the Ferns scandal.

"The Ferns Report shows a high level of depravity and cover-up by the institutional church, as well as negligence by the State," she said.

"The Taoiseach's response was grossly defective. It offended the survivors of abuse. It didn't appreciate the importance of reform when it comes to the education of our children."

Thousands due to sit 11-plus test


More than 15,000 Primary Seven pupils in Northern Ireland have completed the first of this year's 11-plus transfer tests on Friday.

>>How are northern schools run and funded?

The hour-long exam covered English, Mathematics, and Science and Technology and will be followed by another test in two weeks' time.

The government is to abolish the controversial transfer test in 2008.

Then grammar schools will no longer be able to choose pupils on the basis of their academic performance.

In recent years, the number of children eligible to sit the tests has been dropping, and the proportion of them who choose to do it has also been falling.

The decision to abolish the 11-plus transfer test and academic selection in Northern Ireland was announced in January 2004, following consideration of the Costello Group's report.

The government-appointed working body was set up to suggest alternatives to the current transfer tests.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education published a list of options for what should happen when the 11-plus ends.

The department said the intelligence of a pupil would not be permitted as a factor.

South Armagh History - Edentubber Martyrs

Burns and Moley

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Left top: Vol. Paul Smith - Bessbrook, Co. Armagh. Right top: Vol. George Keegan - Co. Wexford.
Left bottom: Vol. Paddy Parle - Co. Wexford. Centre bottom: Their friend Michael Watters - Co. Louth. Right bottom: Vol. Oliver Craven - Newry, Co. Armagh.

At 12.50am on the morning of November 11th 1957, five Republicans met their death on a lonely hillside near Carrickaman frontier post overlooking the Louth/ Armagh border. History books record that the five died when a bomb exploded prematurely in a two roomed slated house at the foot of the Mourne mountains. As part of the Irish Republican Army's 'border campaign' (1956-62) which had earlier that year claimed the lives of the famous Sean Sabhat from Garryowen and Feargal O'hAnluain, the unit had planned to attack the six county statelet's communications network. The intended target for the bomb was a bridge and telephone exchange.

>>Read on

Remembering the Past: Edentubber Martyrs

An Phoblacht


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click for full view of Edentubber Memorial from South Armagh at Danny Morrison

On Monday 11 November 1957, five republicans were killed in an explosion which demolished a small cottage at the foot of Edentubber Mountain in County Louth.

Gardaí on the scene shortly after the explosion, found human remains scattered by the blast and only after lengthy examination of the remains was it established that five men had been killed.

Four Thompson sub-machine guns and ammunition were found among the wreckage. The Newry Frontier Sentinel reported: "The finding of a machine gun strapped to a bicycle led to the belief that the men were starting out on an expedition when a land mine they were handling exploded."

The five men killed in the explosion were Michael Watters, Patrick Parle, Paul Smith, George Keegan and Oliver Craven.

Vol George Keegan

Born under the shadow of Enniscorthy's Vinegar Hill, George Keegan came from a family with a deep-rooted republican tradition, being a descendant of a rebel hanged in 1798. His father, Captain Patrick Keegan, was commandant of the IRA's North Wexford Brigade during the Tan War and was in the Atheneum in Enniscorthy in 1916 when they were the last group in Ireland to surrender to British forces. A single man George was last seen in County Wexford several weeks before his death at Edentubber. He was 29.

Vol Paul Smith

Adjutant Paul Smith from Bessbrook, County Armagh was the eldest of a family of seven. An architect's apprentice he was said to be of a happy and carefree nature, was widely read and had a flair for leadership and responsibility. Slightly built, he was described as being 'as hard as iron' and had been involved in many daring missions. For this the British and Stormont authorities had put a price on his head. Paul had been away from home for over six months. He died aged 19.

Vol Oliver Craven

From Newry, Oliver Craven was a labourer and had been a driver before joining Oglaigh na hÉireann. Described as powerfully built and quietly spoken, he was particularly noted for his cool headedness. On the run and wanted by the Stormont authorities, he had evaded capture several times. Also single, he had been away from home for almost six months and was only 19 when he died.

Vol Paddy Parle

Paddy, from William Street, Wexford Town was a founding member of the Parnell GAA Club. A worker in a local printing firm, he loved all things Irish and was a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. Paddy also had a special regard for James Connolly and the cause of the working class.

In the mid-'50s he joined the local IRA unit on the outbreak of the Border Campaign and was instrumental in organising an active membership. Seven or eight Wexford men became part of the Vinegar Hill Column and operated for a few months until arrests put an end to their activities. He was last seen by his brother, two months previously. He was 27.

Michael Watters

Michael, who owned the cottage where the bombs exploded, was a forestry worker and had lived there alone since the death of his mother two years previously.

After a Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dundalk, on Thursday 14 November, the coffins of the Wexford men were taken away on the first leg of their final journey south. Throughout the day people from Dundalk, South Down and South Armagh filed past the coffins of the remaining three, over which was mounted a Fianna Éireann honour guard.

Later at their funeral in St Patrick's Cemetery, John Joe McGirl, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/Leitrim, delivered the graveside oration. In the course of it he said:

"The tragedy which brought to a sudden end the lives of five great Irishmen is a tragedy of the Irish nation, the tragedy of an Ireland that is unfree and divided. These men came from the North and the South to join together to end the tragedy of our nation and our people."

McGirl, a leading republican for four decades until his death in the late 1980s, also pointed out: "For 35 years the nationalists in the North looked to their brother Irishmen in the South for a direct lead against British occupation. They were sadly disillusioned by the inept approach to the problem of occupation by their fellow Irishmen in the South.

"Having examined and employed all peaceful approaches to the unnatural division of our country, they once again asserted their God-given right to freedom and have fought side by side with gallant men from the South."

There is no trace today of Michael Watters' home but a monument marks the spot to which republicans have returned each year since the first anniversary of the explosion.

The Edentubber Martyrs died on Monday 11 November 1957.

Government lies over use of Shannon exposed

An Phoblacht

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
US soldiers in uniform

• Photographs taken at Shannon Airport last Saturday and published above, show in graphic detail the 26-County state's continuing complicity in the war in Iraq. Huge numbers of US soldiers, in full uniforms, mixed with civilians in the main lounge of Shannon Airport last Saturday. This gives a lie to the government's pretence of neutrality and is also in direct contravention of the Defence Act of 1954, which specifically prohibits foreign soldiers from appearing on Irish soil in their uniforms.

North raids - Political agenda driving PSNI Stage managed arrests

An Phoblacht


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click to view

"The PSNI operation against republicans is being driven by the political agenda of securocrats within the PSNI," said Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.

The MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone was commenting following a series of raids and arrests in Tyrone, Down, Belfast and Derry being linked to last year's £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

The robbery has been repeatedly attributed to republicans by the PSNI and media despite the fact that to date no evidence supporting this assertion has emerged.

The PSNI operation, which saw five arrests within 36 hours, and a further three arrests, began last Tuesday.

Gildernew was speaking after one of those arrested was released without charge. Media tip offs accompanied the arrest of Brian Arthurs, a well-known Tyrone republican.

The PSNI arrived at the Dungannon home of Brian Arthurs on Wednesday morning 2 November. Over five hours the PSNI removed 39 bags of personal property including children's course work and a child's birthday money. Arthurs was arrested and held for two days before being released.

Paula Arthurs woke to the screams of her youngest child as a PSNI raiding party punched and kicked their way into her home. "It was before seven in the morning. I awoke to the noise of banging and shouting. They were screaming, 'PSNI, PSNI, open the door, open the door'. They were kicking the front door and shouting very loudly," says Paula.

"My youngest child sleeps in a bedroom downstairs at the front and the PSNI were banging on his window with their fists. Declan is only eight-years-old and by the time I got to him he was hysterical with the shock and fear of it all.

"I opened the door and a number of PSNI officers pushed past me, ran upstairs and handcuffed by husband. Brian was immediately dragged from the house and taken away," says Paula.

"I was alone with the children, my two teenage daughters and son Declan. When my brother arrived at the house, the PSNI refused him entry, they physically threw him across the garden and then locked us in. I was effectively under house arrest," says Paula.

"I have experienced raiding since I was a child, it's not something I want for my children. Declan had never experienced a raid before. He has been utterly traumatised. My son can no longer sleep in his own room. His confidence has been badly shaken."

"I can't begin to describe how undermining the invasion of your home is for a child. A home is the centre of a child's security, but when the PSNI arrive, it counts for nothing," says Paula.

"I am really angry that because of the political agenda of some people, those who are determined to thwart political progress, those who don't want real change, and because of that my children have been subjected to this ordeal.

"It has already changed the way they view the world. Years of nurturing and preparing them for a new and more hopeful future has been lost in a moment. Last week the PSNI turned back the clock for me and my family," says Paula.

Commenting on the media's role, Brian Arthurs said the PSNI had only been at his home a short time before the television cameras arrived. "They must have been tipped off, how else could they have arrived so fast. I was set up through the media and my arrest was stage managed so it could appear on television throughout the country," he said.

Brian said his arrest had followed prolonged media campaign against him. "I've suspected for a while that with stories like this appearing in different newspapers I was being set up for something," said Arthurs.

The PSNI informed Arthurs' solicitor that his client was being held on the word of an unnamed intelligence source. "The PSNI do not have a scrap of evidence linking me to the robbery. They know I had nothing to do with it. Politicians talk about a new beginning to policing. There is no new beginning," he said.

A formal complaint has been lodged with the Police Ombudsman's office. "The PSNI subjected my family and myself to verbal and physical harassment. My teenage daughters had their A level and GCSE course work confiscated," said Arthurs.

"A PSNI detective threatened my eight-year-old son with being shot dead like his uncle. Declan was told to "get in the fucking house or we'll shoot you like your uncle". Brian Arthurs' brother Declan was shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall in 1987.

On Tuesday the quiet village of Kilcoo, County Down had been the focus of the PSNI operation. Two young men were arrested during raids on their families' homes. Twenty-two-year-old Peter Morgan was later released without charge. Accusing the PSNI of heavy handedness, Morgan said he had been "terrified by the aggressive manner of the PSNI".

"There is not one bit of evidence against me and there was no evidence produced during my arrest and detention," he said.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Dominic McEvoy, also from Kilcoo, denied all charges against. According to the PSNI, McEvoy's DNA has been identified amongst a number of DNA samples of unidentified people connected to a hat discovered somewhere outside Loughinisland and allegedly linked to the robbery.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has described the PSNI case against a Coalisland man as "paper thin".

"I have learned this evening that the PSNI plan to charge a constituent of mine with failing to inform them that he sold a van similar to the one the PSNI believe may have been used in the robbery. This kind of ridiculous, phoney charge will fool nobody," said McGuinness.

Forty-three-year-old Martin McAliskey has denied attempting to pervert the course of justice in relation to the purchase and sale of a white van. He has been released on bail.

"As in the past, I am quite sure that this and other cases will collapse but not of course in the blaze of publicity generated by the PSNI in recent days," said McGuinness.

"The PSNI, realising the widespread anger caused within the nationalist community, appear to be trying to justify their operation with what can only be described as paper-thin cases," he said.

According to the media a third man from Kilcoo has been arrested, a 40-year-old Belfast man and another man from Derry are also being held.

McKevitt appeal told trial was fair

Irish Independent

THE organisation led by convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was responsible for "murder and mayhem on this island", a court heard yesterday.

State counsel George Birmingham, on the third day of McKevitt's appeal against conviction for directing terrorism, said that the State was obliged to bring the individual who led that organisation to trial.

McKevitt (54), of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth was jailed for 20 years by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 after he was convicted of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

McKevitt was in court for the appeal hearing, which was also attended by his wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt.

He said the DPP had gone to elaborate lengths to ensure that Mc Kevitt was given a fair trial.

Mr Birmingham said that this even involved making officers of the British Security Service available for interview by lawyers retained by McKevitt.

McKevitt's lawyers have appealed against conviction on the grounds that there was not full and proper disclosure of all material and that the Special Criminal Court erred in law.

The appeal is continuing.

Ann O'Loughlin

Victims campaign over 'amnesty'


The petition was handed in to Downing Street

A victims' delegation has handed in a petition to Downing Street against proposals to allow fugitives from Northern Ireland to return home.

It urged the government to justify the "staggering contradiction" between its proposals for Northern Ireland and its planned 90-day anti-terror law.

The group was accompanied by DUP MPs who have refused to back the NI plan.

Aileen Quinton whose mother died in the 1987 Enniskillen bombing said victims felt it was an "amnesty" to terrorists.

The proposals, which were introduced in the House of Commons on Wednesday, cover up to 150 people wanted for crimes committed before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Their cases would be heard by a special tribunal, but if found guilty they would be freed on licence without having to go to jail.

Ms Quinton said the government had under-estimated the difficulties it would have in passing the legislation.

She read out the text of the letter the group had handed in to the prime minister.

"We are writing to you to request a meeting face-to-face so that you can explain to us how you can justify this legislation," it said.

"You claim that victims are at the heart of your policy in Northern Ireland. If that is so then you should have no difficulty in meeting with us."

The DUP MPs who went to Downing Street included Jeffrey Donaldson, William McCrea and Iris Robinson.

Mr Donaldson said there were no circumstances under which the DUP would support the law, calling it a "betrayal" of the victims in Northern Ireland.

He said: "There really is no stomach for this legislation.

"I think there is a real prospect now that it will be defeated in the House of Commons as well (as the Lords)."

A DUP delegation earlier met NIO minister David Hanson and reinforced their opposition to the bill.

'Deeply offensive'

Meanwhile, the contentious issue was high on the agenda when an Ulster Unionist delegation met Tony Blair in Downing Street on Thursday.

Party leader Sir Reg Empey accused the government of "rubbing salt mercilessly in the wounds of the victims of terrorism".

Sir Reg said that the UUP had made it plain to Mr Blair it would fight the legislation.

He also criticised the "contradiction" of the government in bringing the Northern Ireland Offences Bill forward on the same day it had tried to push through powers to detain terror suspects without charge for 90 days.

The UUP's sole MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, said the government's move had been "deeply offensive".

She confirmed, however, that she had voted with the government in favour of the 90-day detention plan, after taking advice on the matter from Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

Raffertys accuse SF of protecting killer


10 November 2005 22:34

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Rafferty family to travel to US

The family of murdered Dublin man Joseph Rafferty has accused Sinn Féin of protecting his killer.

Mr Rafferty, 29, was shot dead outside his home in Ongar in West Dublin last April.

His sister, Esther Uzell, said there are senior Sinn Féin people with information who have not come forward to the gardaí.

She was speaking following a meeting with the US Ambassador at the Embassy in Dublin this afternoon.

The family intends to travel to the US and meet members of Congress to put pressure on Sinn Féin to co-operate with the garda investigation.

However Sinn Féin denies it is harbouring anyone and says it would encourage anyone with information to come forward.

So far gardaí have interviewed over 2,000 people, taken 600 statements and arrested 11 people as part of their investigation.

The family say they know who murdered Mr Rafferty, they know what he is involved in and they know other people have information and they have not come forward.

Man charged with murder of two NI teenagers


10 November 2005 22:32

A man has been charged with the murder of two teenagers in Northern Ireland five years ago.

The 25-year-old is expected to appear in court in Armagh tomorrow in connection with the fatal stabbing of Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine.

The teenagers were killed in February 2000 after leaving a nightclub in Co Armagh and their bodies dumped at the side of a country road.

Another man is still being questioned about the double murder.

10 November 2005

'What was it all for?'


10 November 2005

Live links for footnotes onsite

Why are former Royal Ulster Constabulary officers seeking compensation for stress now, 10 years after the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland?

by Chris Gilligan

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland's five-year campaign to bring a class action for compensation for police officers who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder arrived in the courts this week (1). One retired officer told reporters outside the court in Belfast, where the case opened on 7 November: 'You have nightmares...You relive the events you have seen - the murders, the bodies, the body parts you have picked up.' (2)

The role that the police played in the frontline of the conflict in Northern Ireland - when they were called the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) - will certainly have placed strains on individual officers. Between August 1969 and 1994, when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) declared a ceasefire, 296 members of the RUC were killed as a direct result of the conflict; many more were injured.

And yet, exposure to traumatic incidents is not the basis on which the class action is being taken. As the Police Federation press release points out: 'The officers are not claiming for the exposure to traumatic incidents in itself - they accepted the risks of service in Northern Ireland... The plaintiffs' case is that they were inadequately equipped to deal with the effects of the extremely traumatic nature of their duties... their authorities failed to deal properly with the predictable psychiatric and psychological consequences of such duties....' (3)

In other words, individuals knew of the physical dangers involved in joining the RUC but were not fully aware of the psychiatric risks - and the RUC as an employer was apparently wrong not to carry out a systematic risk assessment which would have helped its employees to deal with the psychological hazards involved in fighting a counterinsurgency war.

Interpreting experiences from the past in terms of 'trauma' is a relatively recent phenomenon; as such, it is more a product of the peace process than of the Troubles. A study of serving RUC officers carried out during the conflict, at the end of the 1980s, noted that 'stress is not a feature of their talk about the paramilitary threat', and 'the occupational-therapy unit is not valued highly among ordinary policemen and women because it is seen to be where the "weirdos go"' (4).

What has changed in the last decade-and-a-half that has turned the issue of mental health from the preserve of 'weirdos' to one of the main campaigns of the Police Federation, the organisation that represents the interests of former and serving police officers in Northern Ireland?

In the past, the fact that police officers were engaged in a war against the IRA meant that they understood their experiences in political terms. In 1991, academics John Brewer and Kathleen Magee noted that, among officers, 'there is no wish to give the paramilitaries this degree of satisfaction or influence; and the masculine occupational culture militates against the public expression of emotional feelings' (5). Both of these factors constrained officers from expressing their experiences through the idiom of stress. Today, neither of these factors still exists - thus there is a space for theories of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to make sense of past experiences. With the development of a peace process, the paramilitaries no longer represent a threat to the social order in Northern Ireland - and today's wider therapy culture encourages people to give public expression to their emotions.

The impact of therapy culture in Northern Ireland can be seen in the way that the police have embraced the language of victimhood. As part of the peace process, there was a review of policing in Northern Ireland. Chris Patten, the former Conservative Party minister, was appointed to oversee a process of consultation on policing reform. His report recommended far-reaching changes to the police service - including changing its name from the RUC to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). It was in the context of the Patten report, as one commentator observed, that the RUC started using the language of victimhood as 'part of an effort to thwart proposals for radical change and to ensure that an "evolutionary" perspective of police reform prevailed' (6). In this sense, the Police Federation is taking its cue from the PSNI itself, and the class action is simply the latest initiative to present the police as victims of the Troubles.

In representing their members as victims, the federation is calling on a theme that has powerful resonance in contemporary society. But is it really fighting for its members' interests with such a lawsuit? Will serving or retired police officers really benefit from the argument that their problems are caused by stress and may be helped or alleviated by therapy and compensation?

An interesting study of the psychological health of retired RUC officers carried out in 1998 found that nine of the 20 officers interviewed were diagnosable as suffering from PTSD. The violence they witnessed was not, however, the only issue on their minds. Two of the former officers made explicit reference to the early release of convicted terrorists as part of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and assessed their past actions in relation to these present events. The report's authors note that two of the retirees 'were particularly dejected about their current psychological state, asking, "What was it all for?"' (7).

The question 'what was it all for?' goes to the heart of the issue. The experiences that these officers went through had meaning for them at the time: as they saw it, they were fighting for a reason, for a cause. But in the context of the peace process, they have been deprived of this meaning. The problem, it seems to me, is not so much that the context has changed, but that no new framework of meaning has been developed through which people can make sense of the past or of their experiences in the present.

The agreeing to disagree nature of the Good Friday Agreement allows each faction to provide their own story about the Troubles: some argue that it was a war of liberation, others that it was a war fought in defence of the Union, and others still that it was a war against terrorism. Such a free-for-all means that people can start wondering what they fought for, whether it was worth it, and can begin to see their earlier actions as having a detrimental psychological impact.

The spread of therapy culture in Northern Ireland is a product of the peace process. As the conflict recedes into the past but debates about its impact on individuals continue, so individuals - even police officers - can claim to be stressed and disorientated. The Police Federation is seeking a solution to these problems through the courts, but it is only in the political domain that an answer to the question 'what was it all for?' might be found.

Chris Gilligan is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Ulster, and reviews editor for the journal Ethnopolitics.

Read on:

spiked-issue: Ireland

(1) PTSD group action - one month to trial, Police Beat, October 2005, p. 36 ; Police Officers' Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Case Opens, Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Press Release

(2) Police officers seek trauma compensation, BBC News, 7 November 2005

(3) Police Officers' Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Case Opens, Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Press Release

(4) Inside the RUC: routine policing in a divided society, John D. Brewer (with Kathleen Magee), Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991, pp. 178-9.

(5) Inside the RUC, p. 178.

(6) Mulcahy, A., 2000. 'Policing History: the Official Discourse and Organisational Memory of the Royal Ulster Constabulary'. British Journal of Criminology, 40(1), p. 82

(7) Paterson, M.C., Poole, D., Trew, K. and Harkin, N., 2001. 'The Pyschological and Physical Health of Police Officers Retired Recently from the Royal Ulster Constabulary'. Irish Journal of Psychology, 22(1).

RIRA link to Conlon murder

Daily Ireland

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The murder of County Armagh man Martin Conlon may be connected to a violent robbery carried out close to the border several months ago, Daily Ireland can reveal.
It is understood a substantial sum of cash was taken in the raid at the home of a businessman during which a number of adults and small children were held hostage.
Several independent sources in County Armagh last night claimed that Mr Conlon may have been gunned down in the fallout that followed the violent raid.
It is understood that the robbery was particularly vicious and a young child was left extremely traumatised by the actions of the raiders.
The circumstances surrounding the robbery are understood to have generated extreme bad feeling in the Border region.
Mr Conlon died several hours after being found at the side of a road where he had been dumped just minutes after being taken from the house of a friend in Armagh City.
The 35-year-old’s abductors used a stun gun to disable the former lorry driver as the homeowners three children, all under the age of ten, looked on in horror.
The Continuity IRA yesterday denied involvement in the Armagh man’s murder.
Local sources have pointed the finger of suspicion at a faction of the Real IRA.
However, Daily Ireland understands that Mr Conlon, although having spent time in jail for Real IRA offences, was at the time of his death no longer a member of that organisation.

Victims' campaigner receives new UVF death threats

Daily Ireland

Raymond McCord says that he won’t be intimidated after being warned by the PSNI that paramilitaries planned to murder him if he didn’t stay away from trial at Belfast Courthouse

Ciaran Barnes

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The PSNI warned a victims’ campaigner to stay away from the trial of a leading loyalist over fears the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) would kill him coming out of the court house.
Raymond McCord has been a regular visitor to the public gallery since the trial of Mark Haddock, Darren Moore, Alexander Wood, James Loughlin and William Loughlin began on Monday.
Haddock and Moore are accused of attempting to murder night-club bouncer Trevor Gowdy in December 2002, falsely imprisoning him and setting fire to his car.
Wood and the Loughlin brothers are charged with conspiracy to assault Mr Gowdy and causing him actual bodily harm.
When Mr McCord arrived in Belfast crown court he was warned by the PSNI that the UVF was planning to kill him when he left, on the eight anniversary of his son’s death.
Raymond McCord junior, 22, was murdered by the UVF on 9 November 1997.
Since his death Mr McCord has been a constant critic of the paramilitary organisation.
In the Dáil two weeks ago Labour leader Pat Rabbitte named Mark Haddock as the UVF commander who gave the order to kill Mr McCord junior.
He also claimed Haddock was a RUC Special Branch informer whose role allowed him to escape prosecution despite involvement in eight murders.
Mr McCord told Daily Ireland that despite the threats he would continue to come to court every day to witness Haddock’s trial. He said: “The UVF will not frighten me into not coming to court.
“I have had more than 20 death threats since I started my campaign for justice. I am determined that the my family and the families of those targeted by the UVF get justice.”
The trial of Haddock, Moore, Wood and the Loughlin brothers is expected to last two weeks.
The man they are alleged to have attacked, Trevor Gowdy, took the stand yesterday to give evidence against them.
He has been in hiding under the witness protection programme since being attacked three years ago.
Recalling the incident Mr Gowdy told the court that on 20 December 2002 Moore and a third man called at his home to tell him that Haddock wanted to speak to him, and that he was to go with them to a social club in the Monkstown area of north Belfast.
Mr Gowdy refused, but drove himself to the premises. He said that when he arrived at the club Haddock accused him of hitting two of his men. Mr Gowdy described how he was then attacked by Haddock, Moore and the third man.
He said that Haddock shouted at him “that if he had got me on Thursday night I’d be hanging from a tree”.
Mr Gowdy was then subjected to a series of violent assaults. He said he was struck by Haddock with a baton or crow bar, and by the third man with a hatchet.
He alleged that he was then bundled into the boot of his car and stabbed with a knife by Moore before he was able to escape from the boot.
Mr Gowdy said his attackers then fled from the scene.
The trial continues.

'Bar woman' was on a UDA death list since July

Daily Ireland

Cíarán Barnes

The woman whose evidence led to the arrest of leading loyalist Andre Shoukri has been living under an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) death threat since July, Daily Ireland has learned.
She fled the North after a UDA member put a gun to her head and told her she would be shot for “stealing UDA funds”.
Paramilitaries were angry at her attempts to clean up a pub they were using as their unofficial headquarters in north Belfast.
For months the woman had tried to force Shoukri’s UDA faction off the premises.
However, they refused to move and in the end forced her out when they threatened to kill her.
The woman left the north before contacting the PSNI and agreeing to give evidence against the UDA gang.
She gave the PSNI details on criminal rackets that were being planned in the bar and methods the north Belfast UDA use to launder cash.
On Tuesday morning detectives from the PSNI’s Organised Crime Squad arrested Andre Shoukri and his elder brother Ihab.
A close friend of the Shoukris from the Ballysillan area of north Belfast was also lifted, as was a fourth man in east Belfast.
All are still being questioned about serious crime in the north of the city.
The UDA is planning to ‘stand down’ Shoukri as its boss in north Belfast following his arrest. The 27-year-old’s successor has already been chosen.
Opponents of Shoukri within the north Belfast UDA spoke openly of his terror campaign against the woman who has now agreed to give evidence against him.
One said: “He had this girl tortured, I’m not surprised she has gone to the police. Shoukri and his gang would go into the bar where she worked and demand free drink, and they would take money out of the tills to pay for bets in the bookies.
“The woman was trying her best to make a go of her business.
“People had been staying away in their droves because Shoukri’s gang drank there, she knew this and was trying to turn the place around.
“She had enough when one of Shoukri’s mates put a gun to her head. She knew then that she had to get out and she left,” added the UDA insider.
Since joining the UDA in the mid-1990s Andre Shoukri has regularly courted trouble. In 1996 he was jailed for his involvement in the death of Dubliner Gareth Parker who was run over by a car after being punched by Shoukri.
The loyalist was back in court in 1998, when he was jailed for attempting to smuggle cigarettes.
Two years later he was jailed again for his part in a blackmail plot against a Catholic businessman. During the 2002 UDA feud, Shoukri was arrested with a gun in his car.
He was initially jailed for six years but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Elder brother Ihab, also a convicted blackmailer, has a lower profile but is currently awaiting trial for UDA membership.

Corrs 'on the run' from SF jibe


(Margaret Canning, Irish News)

Dundalk pop band The Corrs should have Run Away from accepting honorary MBEs a Sinn Féin councillor said yesterday (Wednesday).

Although he admitted to appreciating The Corrs' musical efforts, Barry McElduff said: "An MBE (member of the British Empire) should not be something an Irish person should carry proudly.

"The history of the British Empire is disgraceful," he said. "They pillaged, exploited and sacked wherever they went."

Describing MBEs as an anachronism, the Omagh councillor added: "People can dress the MBE up any way they like, but it is still antiquated and a throwback to the Middle Ages. Why any Irish person would accept it I don't know."

In reference to the Limerick-born presenter Terry Wogan's OBE and honorary knighthood, he said:"I think a lot of people are tired of the Terry Wogans of this world."

He also referred to Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney's defiant expression of nationalism: "Be advised! My passport's green.

"No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen."

As the Corrs received their award on Monday, violinist Sharon said they were surprised to be given the award by "another country" but that it was nice for them to be recognised for their music and voluntary work.

She said the band had considered in advance the likely reaction to their acceptance of the awards.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was pleased to see the band's work acknowledged.

"They have been exceptional ambassadors for this country," he said.

November 10, 2005

This article appeared first in the November 9, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

CIRA – 'We did not kill Armagh man'

Daily Ireland

Republican group moves to end speculation on murder

Connla Young

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

“Mr Conlon was never a member of the Continuity IRA and never had any dealings with the Continuity IRA. It is not for us to speculate why he was shot”

The Continuity IRA has moved to end speculation that it was behind the murder of County Armagh man Martin Conlon.
In an exclusive interview the Officer Commanding the organisation’s Armagh City unit told Daily Ireland that 35-year-old Mr Conlon was not killed by the armed republican group.
Mr Conlon died after being shot several times in the head on Monday evening. He had earlier been dragged from a friend’s house in the Monaghan Road area of the city.
In recent days certain media reports have speculated that Mr Conlon may have been murdered after a fall out between armed anti Good Friday Agreement groups in Armagh City. The Continuity IRA’s Armagh City OC, accompanied by his second in command, last night said Mr Conlon was not a member of the organisation and slammed reports that republican groupings are at loggerheads in the Cathederal City.
“The Continuity IRA had nothing to do with the murder of Martin ‘Golfball’ Conlon. There is absolutely no conflict with the different republican groups in Armagh City. We have a good working relationship with other republican groups in this city. Despite what has been suggested there is no dispute involving either Continuity IRA or Real IRA prisoners either. Mr Conlon was never a member of the Continuity IRA and never had any dealings with the Continuity IRA. It is not for us to speculate why he was shot.
The senior CIRA man also moved to end speculation locally that Mr Conlon may have been killed because he was working with British security services. The unemployed lorry driver’s body was discovered dumped a short distance from the scene of a recently failed CIRA bomb attack leading some to speculate that the murder site was symbolic.
“We can claim responsibility for the anti-personnel booby trap device left outside Armagh last week. We phoned in two warnings and the British government jeopardised civilian lives by leaving the device there for two days. Martin Conlon had nothing to do with that incident. An active service unit from Armagh City placed that device it had nothing to do with Martin Conlon, he wouldn’t have known about it. Any speculation to the contrary is wrong.
“We have called this conference out of respect to the Conlon family and make them aware we had nothing to do with his death. We express our sympathy to the family.”
The Continuity IRA spokesman denied that a number of men, including a prominant north Armagh republican, had been ordered out of the country by the group in recent weeks.
“No-one has been expelled from this city. We believe these reports are being generated by British forces trying to fire things up because the organisation is getting support.
The CIRA spokesman reissued a death threat made against three alleged drug dealers ordered out of Keady, County Armagh, several weeks ago.
“Three men were expelled from Keady (County Armagh) a few weeks ago for drug dealing. These three men are dead men walking if they do not leave the country.”

Maskey attacks Durkan over Collusion comments

Sinn Féin

Published: 10 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has reacted angrily to comments made the SDLP leader Mark Durkan accusing republicans of being involved in collusion with the British government in covering up the past.

Mr Maskey said:

" As a victim of the British State policy of collusion I am angered by Mark Durkan's insensitive and ill-informed remarks yesterday.

" Unlike the SDLP Sinn Féin has always supported the victims of state violence and collusion. Many of our party members were among those targeted, injured and killed. I have personally lost close friends and comrades and have been shot myself. Sinn Féin continues to stand beside these families as we have done for years.

" The hypocrisy and barefaced dishonesty of the SDLP in claiming that we are in collusion with the British government in covering up the past has caused great offence to many victims families who I have spoken with today.

" During the long years that our party was targeted by unionist death squads controlled and directed by the British State and RUC Special Branch, the SDLP dismissed our assertions of collusion. When the families of those killed through the collusion policy lobbied Westminster the SDLP MPs ignored them. When they travelled to Stormont for a similar lobby the SDLP once again snubbed them.

" Sinn Féin will continue to challenge the British government for the truth about their activities in our country and we will continue to support the families in their campaign for justice. The SDLP on the other hand will continue to sit in the British parliament attacking Sinn Féin and Irish Republicanism while trying to score cheap political points." ENDS

Threatening posters appear in Ahoghill overnight

Sinn Féin

Published: 10 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan this morning said he was 'outraged and angry' after posters appeared overnight in Ahoghill warning local people not to wear GAA jerseys in the town.

Mr McGuigan said:

" I have this morning been contacted by nationalist residents in Ahoghill who have woken this morning to find posters erected warning people not to wear GAA jerseys in the town.

" It seems that this is the latest stage in the unionist campaign to force all Catholics and nationalists from the town. Over the summer this campaign used pipe bombs, paint bombs and violence to force innocent people from their homes. It seems that this has now moved on to a poster campaign aimed at nationalists and in particular nationalist children and young people living in and visiting Ahoghill.

" Ahoghill is home to a successful GAA club and this campaign is clearly aimed at that club, its members and the wider nationalist community in the area. People in Ahoghill will wait now to hear the response of the local MP Ian Paisley who was of course very slow in coming forward to deal with the violent campaign over the summer months." ENDS

Irish government should purchase Finger Printing Machine from 1916 Rising

Sinn Féin

Published: 10 November, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has written to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern asking that the government urgently intervene to purchase a finger printing machine used by the British to take the finger prints of the leaders of the 1916 Rising shortly before their execution.

Mr. Adams said:

"It has recently been revealed that a finger printing machine, which was used to take the fingerprints of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising, is to be auctioned in England on December 14th. This is an artefact of national importance. It should not be allowed to remain overseas in private hands.

"I believe that the Irish government should ensure that this machine is secured for the state. If necessary the government should buy it.

"In other countries around the world, particularly those emerging out of colonialism every effort is made to tell the story of how freedom and independence was achieved. The record of successive Irish governments in this respect has been poor - witness the continuing controversy around 16 Moore Street, or the sell-off of the 1916 surrender note by Padraig Pearse.

"The Irish government has a responsibility to preserve, honour and commemorate the men and women who fought and died in pursuit of freedom and democracy." ENDS

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