03 December 2005

GREYHOUND RACING EQUALS DEATH AND MUTILATION


greyhoundaction.org.uk

BAN GREYHOUND RACING



Those of you who think greyhound racing is a harmless sport where the animals are well cared for and retired to a loving home after their racing days are over need to take a look at this website. The photo links are horrifying, and everyone needs to see them to know what this industry is all about. Here are just two sample stories. PLEASE click on the above link to educate yourself and for contact numbers to help this cause.

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"Eva was found one morning by a girl in her back garden in Ballinasloe, County Galway. This girl Rachel already had some rescued Greyhounds and poor Eva (as we named her) was badly injured and infected.

She was brought to a Vet who said that the injuries to her ears were caused by Battery Acid or burning, as the hair around her ears was also singed. Her ears were septic , of a texture like charred fabric and one was burned right through with a gaping hole. "

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click to view Eva

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"A lady in Ireland came home last week to find a dog with his scalp mutilated and both his ears removed.

This appeared to be carried out by someone using a crude blade as the skin is hacked and infected. As Greyhounds are tattooed on both ears to identify them for racing and coursing purposes this practice is becoming all too common in Ireland and the UK.

Many dogs have been found both alive and dead minus their ears."

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click to view Fionn

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As you can see, this is an issue that needs urgent action. Please visit greyhoundaction.org.uk to find out what you can do to stop the obscene abuse of these beautiful, good-natured animals.


Raid suspect can be held longer

BBC

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Police have been given more time to question Chris Ward

Detectives investigating the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last year were on Saturday granted an additional 60 hours to question a man.

Chris Ward, 24, an employee of the bank, was arrested last Tuesday. On Thursday, police were given an extra three days to question him.

After the robbery, Mr Ward described on television how he was held captive in the run-up to it.

On Friday, a 50-year-old man held over the raid was released without charge.

He was arrested in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

A police search at Gaelic Athletic Association grounds in west Belfast on Friday is also understood to have been linked to the Northern robbery.

The GAA expressed shock at the investigation at Casement Park, which a police spokesman said was part of an investigation into serious crime.

Chairman of the Antrim County Board Joe O'Boyle said Casement Park Social Club had already co-operated with police.

He said Chris Ward worked there part-time.

Of the 11 people questioned to date in connection with the raid, three have appeared in court.

The robbery happened at the bank's Northern Ireland headquarters at Donegall Square West just before Christmas last year.

Some money seized in County Cork last February was linked to the robbery, but virtually all of the missing millions remain unrecovered.

Police on both sides of the Irish border subsequently blamed the IRA for the raid.


US citizen arrest warning

Daily Ireland

BY Ciarán Barnes

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An American citizen who the PSNI want to question about the Castlereagh break-in has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman.
Larry Zaitschek, who left the North for his native New York five days after the high-profile burglary, has been warned that he faces arrest if he returns.
The 36-year-old worked as a chef at the PSNI’s Castlereagh holding centre in Belfast at the time of the break-in when dozens of highly sensitive Special Branch files were allegedly stolen.
The PSNI believe Mr Zaitschek facilitated the burglary that occurred on March 17, 2002, and which senior officers have blamed on the IRA.
Sinn Féin has rejected these claims, insisting the break-in was the work of elements within the security services determined to derail the peace process. Despite publicly announcing that the American is a prime suspect, the PSNI has yet to provide the prosecution service with enough evidence to request his extradition.
Mr Zaitschek has a young son living in the North, but fear of arrest is preventing him seeing him. In light of this the New Yorker has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman though respected human rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW).
BIRW director Jane Winter said: “We have sent a complaint to the Police Ombudsman on behalf of Laurence Zaitschek about the PSNI’s failure, more than three years after the mysterious “break-in” at Castlereagh, to provide the Director of Public Prosecutions with enough evidence to decide whether or not Laurence Zaitschek should face extradition.
“Laurence Zaitschek maintains that he is wholly innocent, but the fear of arrest should he return is preventing him from having access to his small son.”
Sinn Féin policing and justice spokesman, Gerry Kelly, said the Castlereagh break-in fits into a litany of recent cases: “It starts with a high profile raid, continues with a Special Branch briefing to selected journalists, and ultimately ends in a legal cul-de-sac with those targeted in the original raid spending years trying to unravel the mess created,” said the North Belfast assembyman.

Swoop ‘overkill’ says GAA

Daily Ireland

BY ZOE TUNNEY

The GAA last night described a PSNI swoop at one of Ireland’s top football grounds as “overkill”.
PSNI officers raided Casement Park in Belfast as part of what the force described as an ongoing probe into illegal paramilitary activity and removed a number of items.
The GAA also distanced itself from the activities of three of its members arrested over two separate incidents in the North in the past week.
Yesterday, the PSNI raided the Antrim county ground at Casement Park in west Belfast in connection with the Northern Bank robbery.
On Tuesday, two of its Derry members, including Sinn Féin MLA Francie Brolly, were arrested allegdly in connection with the 1972 Claudy Bomb.
The Antrim County Board has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman, while the Gaelic Athletic Association in Dublin has made complaints to Dublin Castle.
The two prominent Derry GAA figures were released without charge amid claims by Francie Brolly that his high-profile arrest was “political policing at its best”.
Fifteen PSNI Land Rovers and numerous personnel descended on the offices and social club at Casement yesterday morning.
Officers had warrants to search both premises at the park and told GAA staff the raid was part of an investigation in to “organised terrorist activity”.
Files and documents relating to staff wages and accounts, including cheque books, were taken from the offices.
Vice-Chair of the County Antrim Board, Gerry McClory said: “This was complete overkill. There was something sinister in their gung-ho approach.
“It was an attempt to discredit our members as being involved in terrorism. We have assisted the PSNI with their investigation before when they asked. We have absolutely nothing to hide.
“Do the police think we have £26 million (€38.5 million) hidden in the changing rooms?”
Christopher Ward, one of three people currently being held in police custody in connection with last year’s heist, works in Casement Park Social Club part-time.
The 24-year-old Northern Bank worker was held hostage while the thieves carried out the biggest robbery in Irish history.
He is being held under the Terrorism Act and police have until Sunday morning to either release him or charge him after they applied for an extension to the time available for questioning him on Thursday.
GAA officials have hit out at the arrests claiming the arrests of three of its members in one week as “overkill”.
President of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Seán Kelly, said: “We know what the PSNI are doing. Even if it is coincidental we are not happy. It is too much.”
Earlier a statement on the official GAA website stated they had reported the matter at the “highest level to the Dublin Government”.
“These people weren’t arrested as GAA members but as individuals who can belong or engage in other voluntary activities, like they belong to the GAA.
“GAA supporters across the country aren’t going to be influenced by such actions by the PSNI,” he added.
A 50-year-old Carrickfergus man was released without charge last night after being arrested earlier in the week in connection with the robbery.
Mr Ward’s girlfriend was also arrested on Tuesday but released without charge.

UFF suspect's bail is altered

Belfast Telegraph

03 December 2005

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THE bail of suspected leading loyalist terrorist Ihab Shoukri was altered yesterday to allow him to move out of his mum's home and also to play football on a Sunday.

Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess, however, refused to lift a 7pm curfew on the 31-year-old north Belfast man, who is awaiting trial for membership of both the UDA and the UFF.

Shoukri, described in court as "no mere foot soldier," plans to move around the corner from his mother's Westland Way home.

Phone box is damaged in explosion

BBC

Army bomb disposal officers examined scene of explosion
A phone box in County Down has been damaged in an early morning explosion.

The frame, windows and door of the phone box at Winney Hill in Holywood were damaged by what police have described as an explosive device.

Army bomb disposal officers have been examining the scene and have removed a number of items.

Police want anyone who was in the area on Saturday morning - particularly at about 0330 GMT - and who witnessed anything to contact them.

Best cortege leaves for Stormont

BBC

**Video and other links onsite


The cortege is escorted through east Belfast

Tens of thousands of people have converged on east Belfast to say a final farewell to Northern Ireland football legend George Best.

A private blessing was held at the family home in Cregagh, before a public funeral at the Parliament at Stormont.

Some of the biggest names in football are among the mourners, including Best's lifelong friend Denis Law and England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

As the cortege left the family home, the gathered crowds began applauding.

It is now making its way to the Stormont estate.

Best, 59, will be buried beside his mother Ann at Roselawn Cemetery.

He died last Friday in London's Cromwell Hospital, several weeks after being admitted with flu-like symptoms on 1 October.

His footballing exploits for Manchester United in the 1960s earned him worldwide adulation, but his post-football life was marked by alcoholism and health problems.

It is one of the biggest funerals ever seen in Northern Ireland.

Tens of thousands are lining the streets to the Stormont Estate and will later line the route to the cemetery in the hills above east Belfast.

Three hundred invited guests will attend a special service in the Great Hall at Stormont, to be led by TV presenter and Manchester United supporter Eamonn Holmes.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former Northern Ireland internationals Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong and Martin O'Neill are among the mourners.

Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballing greats, including Harry Gregg, who played with Best, will carry the coffin.

Best's brother Ian, agent Phil Hughes, Dr Akeel Alisa, who treated Best, and his brothers-in-law Norman McNarry and Alan McPherson will also be pallbearers.

It is understood Best's son Calum will read a poem during the service which will also feature school choirs, readings and performances from Belfast singers Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry.

Best's former wives Angie and Alex, along with his last partner, Ros Hollidge, are also expected to attend.

The gates of Stormont Estate opened to the public at 0850 GMT and closed after the capacity for the grounds of 32,000 was reached.

There is no parking within two miles of the estate, but park-and-ride facilities are available.

Scheduled bus services are running as normal.

Chief Inspector Mark Purdon urged people to plan their journeys carefully.

The coffin is being transported to Stormont by a police escort via Cregagh Road, the Knock dual carriageway, and the Upper Newtownards Road.

The hearse will enter the main gate at Stormont, then travel along the Prince of Wales Avenue to the Parliament Building.

The service in the Great Hall will be relayed via big screen and loudspeakers to the crowd outside.

Later, the procession will return down Prince of Wales Avenue to the cemetery via the Upper Newtownards Road, Knock dual carriageway and the Ballygowan Road.

The Best family has asked that members of the public stay behind barriers, do not follow the cortege and respect their privacy at Roselawn Cemetery and the family home.

Vigilance urged over bomb threat

BBC

The police are asking the public to be extra vigilant in the run-up to Christmas after the discovery of incendiary devices in recent months.

Businesses are being asked to review security measures and to check their premises while shoppers have been urged to report anything suspicious.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said extra police officers have already been put on the streets.

"We have already dealt with a number of real and hoax devices," he said.

"We would urge everyone to look out for anything suspicious. If you see something that looks out of place, or even just raises concern, report it immediately to the police.

"We hope that increased police activity will work to disrupt criminals and help ensure that Northern Ireland is a safer place to live, work and, importantly at this time of year, to shop."


Appeal for peaceful Lundy's Day

BBC


The parade is an annual event

The police in Derry have appealed for a peaceful Apprentice Boys parade to mark Lundy's Day on Saturday.

Originally, 3,500 marchers, including 25 bands, were due to take part in the parade, but numbers may be affected due to George Best's funeral in Belfast.

The parade marks the 316th anniversary of the shutting of Derry's gates by 13 young apprentices against the forces of the Catholic King James II in 1688.

Bandsman will march in the Ardoyne area of Belfast, before heading to Derry.

The PSNI said they intended to police the Derry event in a way which would enable city life to continue as normally as possible.

Police said they would seize drink and said anyone displaying illegal emblems would have them confiscated and could face prosecution.

Traffic restrictions will be in operation but the bottom deck of Craigavon Bridge in Londonderry will remain open.

Restrictions

The Parades Commission has placed conditions on the parade by the Ligoniel Walkers Club in north Belfast.

No music other than a single drumbeat is to be played between the junction of Crumlin Road and Hesketh Road and the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road.

The parade must have passed the junction of the Crumlin Road and the Woodvale Road by 0815 GMT.

Earlier this week, Belfast Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers suggested the parade should be postponed as a mark of respect to George Best's family on the day of his funeral.

However, DUP assembly member William Hay said it would not be possible due to the large numbers of people who were coming to Derry from England, Scotland and Wales.

Colonel Robert Lundy is reviled by loyalists as a traitor.

He was governor of Derry when the city came under siege from King James' army and his notoriety stems from his efforts to persuade the defenders to surrender.


SF and SDLP accuse each other of collusion

Derry Journal

'We'll Go It Alone' - Sinn Fein Warn SDLP

By Amanda Williams
Friday 2nd December 2005

Sinn Fein last night claimed they would run Derry City Council on their own if a row with the SDLP over the On The Runs Bill cannot be resolved later today. On Tuesday the SDLP walked out of Council refusing to return until Sinn Fein withdrew allegations of collusion between the relative of a party member and Special Branch. The row broke out following a motion put forward by SDLP councillor Colum Eastwood on the contentious Bill during which he accused Sinn Fein of 'colluding' with the British government, a claim strongly denied by Sinn Fein, in attempt to cover up each others' wrongs.' Tempers flared resulting in the allegation being made by Sinn Fein's Kevin Campbell.
A bid to resolve the stalemate will be made this afternoon when an SDLP delegation led by Helen Quigley will meet with its Sinn Fein counterparts. "It is in the interest of all the people of Derry that we resolve any difficulties as soon as possible so that Council can continue to function to its full ability" Sinn FÈin Group Leader Maeve McLaughlin said. "In the meantime Sinn FÈin representatives will continue to attend all Council meetings to represent the people of this city."
Colr. McLaughlin added that after checking Standing Orders it had been confirmed that Sinn Fein could conduct full Council meetings as well as take policy decisions, with or without the SDLP. "The quorum for full council states that there must be eight members, Sinn Fein have ten, that is enough to carry on business as usual" she said. "We will not be going into today's meeting with an apology but we will listen to what the SDLP have to say. We hope they will realise their tenuous position and understand that they have no right to suspend democracy."
Helen Quigley confirmed that a meeting will take place, at the SDLP's request, and added that her party are determined to ensure that the interests of the ratepayers of Derry come first. "We will again be raising our concerns about comments made and we will demand that those comments be withdrawn" Colr. Quigley said. "We will go into the meeting positively to seek a resolution and nothing else so that we can get on with the work we need to be doing which people elected us to do." Colr. Quigley added that she hoped Sinn Fein would take a 'similar approach.'

No Amnesty For Omagh Bombers

Derry Journal

Friday 2nd December 2005

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims claim to have been assured by the British Prime Minister that no one connected with the 1998 atrocity will be granted amnesty. The father of Buncrana schoolboy, James Barker (12) - who was killed in the blast - was among the representatives of the 29 victims and those injured who met with Tony Blair this week.
Speaking after the 45 minute meeting at 10 Downing Street, Victor Barker from Surrey said the families had secured an unequivocal promise that amnesty would not be granted to those responsible. "The assurance we sought was that if there were any members of Sinn Fein or IRA that were involved in the Omagh bomb, whether or not they are on the run, they would receive no amnesty in respect of the 1998 atrocity in Omagh," said Mr Barker. "That assurance was given us unequivocally," he added.
he long awaited meeting was requested by the victim's representatives to press the case for a full crossborder public inquiry into the blast. However, they were told that an inquiry would be impossible until current civil and criminal court cases arising from the blast were completed, but did not rule out meeting their request after that point. Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden, 21, was killed in the no-warning attack, said Mr Blair had been "very supportive and as helpful as he could have been".
But he said Mr Blair did not seem to be "up to speed" with some details of the inquiry --something that was acceptable, given the complexity of the case. He added that Mr Blair had offered the assistance of a senior civil servant to help the families with their work and had promised to look at a dossier which they had prepared making the case for an inquiry. "I think there are certain undertakings that the Prime Minister has given this afternoon that we will hold him to, and I have no doubt that he will carry them through. "I think we had a fair hearing and we put the case strongly, so we are very happy with the outcome of the meeting. "We are realistic enough to know that we would never have a public inquiry in any case until the current cases are dealt with."
Mr Gallagher said that the families were determined to press on with their fight for the truth, no matter how long it took. "Some of the people close to the Prime Minister have been a bit naive in the way they have handled the Omagh bomb and they have underestimated the families 'determination to get to the truth," he said. Mr Gallagher said that he reminded Mr Blair of his comment in the wake of the bombing that there would be "no hiding place" for those responsible.
Mr Gallagher said that Mr Blair did not rule out a further meeting once the current court cases were settled, although he pointed out that he may no-longer Prime Minister at that point. One man is currently facing charges in connection with the Co Tyrone blast, which resulted in the largest single loss of life of the Troubles. But the trial of Sean Hoey,36, of Jonesborough,CoArmagh, is unlikely to go ahead until well into next year.


Angry Brolly Slams 'Politically Motivated' Arrest

Derry Journal

Friday 2nd December 2005

Sinn Fein MLA Francie Brolly has said that it was clear that his high profile arrest earlier this week allegedly in connection with the Claudy bombs of 1972 was politically motivated and due to a political agenda. Speaking after his release on Wednesday night Mr. Brolly said that he had been 'shocked' when the PSNI arrived at his house to arrest him. He said: "I have to say I was absolutely shocked when they arrived and it took me back to the day they came to intern me in 1973.
"With uniformed police about the place and them reading why I was being arrested I honestly have to say it made me feel the same as it did in 1973." He continued: "I asked the CID involved why they had never bothered coming to the house to question me about this. I told them that if they had wanted to they could have spoken to me at any time in my own home and we even could have had a cup of tea. "But once they made it all official and arrested me I simply did what I was advised to by my solicitor." Mr. Brolly said that he was reasonably well treated during his period in custody but added that he could see no reason as to why he had been arrested.
He said: "During the time I was in custody they never once put anything new to me and never said that they had new evidence or the like that would have justified them arresting me now. "They did put some allegations about my role as a republican back in 1972 but that was all. There was nothing new in what they questioned me about and I could see no reason as to why I should have been arrested and why my name was leaked to the media in the way it was. "I cannot help but wonder if I am suspected of being involved in the Claudy bombs why these allegations were never put to me in early 1973 when I was arrested and interned. This is the first time that I have ever been questioned about this sort of thing."
The Sinn Fein MLA said he has no doubt that his arrest was part of a political agenda and that the whole episode was politically motivated. He said: "Once again we are seeing political policing in the North with the PSNI following their own political agenda." Mr. Brolly was one of four people arrested on Tuesday in connection with the Claudy bombing in which killed nine people. All four, three men and a woman, were released without charge on Wednesday although the PSNI did say they were preparing a report for the Public Prosecution Service. The arrests were slammed by Sinn Fein as being politically motivated.

On The Runs Law 'Scandalous' - Bloody Sunday Victim's Brother

Derry Journal

Friday 2nd December 2005


BBC photo

The brother of a teenager shot dead by British paratroopers in Derry on Bloody Sunday has branded the controversial 'on the runs' legislation "diabolical and scandalous". John Kelly, whose 17 year-old brother Michael was killed on the streets of the city on February 30, 1972, is angered that the legislation offers effective amnesty to those responsible for the atrocity.
Speaking to a national Sunday newspaper, Mr. Kelly said the law would allow security force killers to laugh at their victims. "Those who committed murder and those in the British establishment, who organised and approved it, must have a big smile on their face. "They can now walk away without repercussions. They will never have to appear in court. All they will be required to do is meet their solicitor, sign a licence and they can walk off laughing at us." He has called on all nationalist politicians to oppose the British Government bill which was debated in the House of Commons last week. The SDLP are strongly against the legislation while Sinn Fein support it - although the republican party insists that security force killers should not have amnesty.
The Saville Inquiry established that soldier F killed my brother. My dreams of seeing him prosecuted and jailed are now over. "They have ripped justice from under us. It will be the same for the families of Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill.
"This grotesque piece of legislation should be opposed by all nationalist parties and right thinking people." The 'Sunday Tribune' also reported that Liam Wray, brother of Jim, who was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said the legislation changes must include a time limit for security force killers to come forward. According to the report he said that those who didn't come forward in the given period should be subject to the full rigours of the law. The SDLP have accused Sinn Fein of "selling out" bereaved families and urged the party to immediately withdraw support for the legislation.

'We're Not Targeting Ramsey' - Real IRA Tells Journal

Derry Journal

Friday 2nd December 2005

The Real IRA in Derry have said that they have not been responsible for any of the hoax bombs outside SDLP Assembly man Pat Ramsey's house nor the two recent bomb hoaxes which caused widespread traffic disruption in the city. But the dissident republican group did accuse Mr. Ramsey of 'feeding into a police agenda which is trying to blame us for what has been happening.'
The group told the Journal yesterday: "Pat Ramsey knows that the Real IRA have not been behind the attacks on his home and the PSNI/RUC also are well aware that we have not been responsible for the devices left at this house. "Yet both of them are quite content to publicly link us with these incidents and in the case of the PSNI/RUC they explicitly stated that the same people who killed David Caldwell carried out these hoaxes when they know perfectly well that this is not the case. "What the PSNI and Pat Ramsey are trying to do is to turn the local community against republicans by blaming them for all the disruption caused by these hoaxes. We have not planted any device outside Pat Ramsey's home but if we wanted to target him we could do so very easily. Nor were we responsible for the two hoax devices near the barracks. While this is a tactic used by republicans in the past we were not responsible for either of the two recent incidents."
The dissident republican group said they were convinced that the PSNI were aware that the devices at Pat Ramsey's house were hoaxes from the start. They added: "On the second occasion the police told Pat Ramsey that they would be out later so as to avoid being attacked by young fellahs throwing stones. If they honestly believed that there was a bomb there would they have decided to leave it for another while before investigating it?
"We believe that the attacks on Pat Ramsey's house may well have been carried out by young people trying to lure the PSNI/RUC into the area. But both the PSNI and Pat Ramsey are trying to use these incidents as an opportunity to attack republicans and they are both feeding into the same agenda which they know to be false."

U.S. immigration debate attracts international attention

World Peace Herald

By Stephen Dinan and Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
December 2, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Ireland's government wants the United States to legalize Irish illegal aliens in the United States, underscoring the intense interest foreign governments are showing in the immigration debate now playing out in Congress.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern met yesterday with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and told reporters the Irish parliament has endorsed Mr. Kennedy's bill to grant illegal aliens now here a multistep path to citizenship.

"We do support it ... completely and on an all-party basis, and I want to tease out with him how he sees this matter progressing, particularly given the recent developments, not least the speech by President Bush," Mr. Ahern said.

The issue receives substantial coverage in Irish expatriate newspapers in Boston and New York, but Ireland isn't the only nation to enter the immigration debate. This week, Mexican President Vicente Fox said Mr. Kennedy's bill is his preference, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Mr. Kennedy's proposal would create a guest-worker program open both to new workers from overseas and current illegal aliens. After six years, workers could get a green card, putting them on a path to citizenship. The bill also calls for stricter border security -- something the administration says it's already doing.

Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned of one such measure aimed at one group of aliens -- those who enter the U.S. illegally from countries other than Mexico (OTMs) -- telling them that if caught, they will be detained until deported.

"The word on the street used to be if you were a non-Mexican and you were caught, you would be released and therefore you were home free. And I know that's a very bad message," Mr. Chertoff said. "We are reversing that: If you are caught at the border, you are going to be detained ... until you're sent back again."

His comments were in response to the "catch-and-release" policy, in which illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico, when detained by the U.S. Border Patrol, get Homeland Security notices to appear before an immigration judge, although fewer than 13 percent show up. Mexicans are immediately returned to Mexico.

Mr. Chertoff said an expedited removal program instituted in all nine Border Patrol sectors on the U.S.-Mexico border will allow agents to detain and later remove OTMs in as little as 32 days. He said expedited removal would give Homeland Security "the ability to gain greater control of our borders."

He acknowledged during a press conference that expedited removal targets only detained illegal aliens from Honduras, Brazil, Nicaragua and Guatemala who have spent less than 14 days in the United States and who are caught within 100 miles of the border.

Mr. Chertoff declined to predict whether the department would extend the program further into the nation's interior, but described criticism of the limits as "overblown."

Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar, who attended the press conference, called the expedited removal program "a very critical piece of the solution of reducing the number of illegal incursions" along the nation's Southwest border.

Chief Aguilar noted that agents along a 200-mile stretch of border in South Texas apprehended between 3,000 and 4,000 Brazilian illegal aliens every month this year until July 10, when the expedited removal program was implemented. Since then, he said, the number has dropped to between 300 and 350 a month.

Despite the number of OTMs, the issue of U.S. immigration law affects Mexico, which accounts for millions of illegal aliens, most of all. By comparison, U.S. government figures say Ireland, accounted for just 3,000 illegal aliens in 2000.

"Illegal Irish immigration is very small, and government estimates shows that it's trivial -- well less than a hundredth of a percent, and the estimate shows it's falling," said Steven A. Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, who said it doesn't make sense that Ireland would take a position in the debate.

Still, Mr. Kennedy yesterday said illegal alien Irish will benefit along with other illegal aliens.

"Those Irish that are here, that haven't adjusted their status, this would permit them to initially adjust their status, pay a small down payment, indicate a work record and deal with other kind of security issues and be able to work towards both a green card and citizenship over a number of years," Mr. Kennedy said.

Previously other sponsors had called the $2,000 fine "hefty," rather than the "small down payment" Mr. Kennedy called it.

A spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and a sponsor of a measure competing with Mr. Kennedy's, said the Irish endorsement doesn't affect the debate.

"We are a lot more concerned about what the people in Texas have to say, frankly," Don Stewart said.

Even as Ireland pushes for looser U.S. immigration laws, it has been doing the opposite at home, passing laws aimed at combating illegal immigration, increasing the number of deportations and ending birthright citizenship for anyone born on its soil.

A fitting Irish tribute to a national icon?

Daily Ireland

A flawed icon for this flawed Irish nation of ours, no matter what political tangle we wrap ourselves up in with our two states and two crappy soccer teams.

GEARÓID Ó CAIREALLáIN

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George Best’s untimely death may yet be the cause of an unsightly, political and sectarian squabble that will ensure his passing is remembered in the same terms as his life – that of a flawed genius.
Things were progressing swimmingly until about yesterday, then the downhill career towards farce seemed to be in danger of going out of control.
Icons can’t just die, be waked and stuck in the ground as if they were any Joe Soap like you or me, but Georgie – fair does to him – was following a script written in Hollywood. Reminded me of Pope John Paul II, God rest him.
First there were the football genius years, peppered by the seeds of self-destruction. All up front – television, tabloid headlines… the lot. Then came the serious phase of self-destruction – wild drinking bouts, marital bust-ups, professional walk-outs, shambolic, drunken appearances on TV.
There were high profile court cases – mostly arising out of drink-driving – bankruptcy, of course, further marital problems… and a new liver that most people considered he didn’t deserve to get (but he was George Best, you know)… everything still in the full glare of publicity… until, finally, the rough and sorrowful, sickly, old man before his time appearances on TV earlier this year. The end.
Of course, following the inevitable, the world did the right thing and remembered Georgie the way he wanted – as a wild and whimsical soccer genius. Never mind that the self destruction phase of his life was twice as long as the soccer genius phase, we forgave and remembered. We held a death watch that stretched into its second week and, sticking to the script, ooohed and aaahed at every single clip of sixties and seventies genius we could sit through.
With tender, loving generosity we forgave Georgie everything and thanked him for the excitement, thanked him for the memories, thanked him for rekindling the twin fires of youth and innocence. And with over a week in the build up to the funeral there was plenty of time and opportunity to look back, recount tales, amass the anecdotal evidence needed to bring the whole process to its logical conclusion… the canonisation of George Best. St Georgie, the Belfast Boy Genius.
Geordie, as he was known in Belfast, was a genius, Geordie was non-sectarian, Geordie symbolised the spirit of Eternal Youth. There were GAA shirts, Linfield shirts and Celtic shirts, Man Utd, Man City, Norn Iron and Republic shirts hung on the railings of the City Hall… the spirit of Geordie would renew and regenerate… let’s call the Airport after him, or else the City Hall itself. What about the new ground out at Long Kesh, let’s call it the Best Stadium, even if it never gets built! But then…
Why is his funeral being held at Stormont? What is all this about Castlereagh Borough Council hijacking the proceedings? Why is there not more emphasis on sport, and soccer, with kids in their rigs all over the place. We have had letters to the papers, and comment on tv and the lines to the radio phone-in shows are getting blocked with callers. George Best’s funeral is on the verge of becoming a controversy. The controversial funeral of George Best we will call it in years to come.
Are we afraid of the memory of George Best? Is it a case of that – as the poet said – everyone wants a part of him, no one wants him all?
I won’t make it to the funeral, myself but, with a tearful eye, I’ll follow the proceedings on TV. Because it’s the end of an era called the ‘60s.
I was young in the ‘60s. In fact, I only left primary school in 1969. So maybe I am not thinking straight. But. What is it? All my remembered perfections were in the ‘60s.
JFK, for instance. Perfect. Young, energetic, good-looking, modern. And Catholic. The Beatles. New people for a new era. Young, energetic, good-looking, modern. And Catholic. Arkle. God, do you remember Arkle. Ireland’s finest. Beat the hell out of Millhouse. They stuck more weights into his saddle bag and he still won by a mile. And Down. Down won the All-Ireland three times in the ‘60s, and what about Mohammed Ali? Young, gifted and black, like Pele… and George Best. Geordie, the genius, the ‘60s Icon. Geordie was the Best.
The Divis Street riots, Martin Luther, Robert Kennedy, Caledon, Duke Street, man on the Moon and then… Bombay Street, and the ‘60s were over.
Yes, George Best is a national icon. From the ‘60s, with love, life and energy to burn. A flawed icon for this flawed Irish nation of ours, no matter what political tangle we wrap ourselves up in with our two states and two crappy soccer teams.
Castlereagh can’t have all of Geordie, probably don’t want all of him anyway because, after all, he supported an all-Ireland soccer team.
When he was young and beautiful he supported an all-Ireland soccer team, and just last March when he was wrecked by drink and on his last legs, he supported an all-Ireland soccer team.
Derek Dougan, Best’s colleague and captain of the Northern Ireland soccer team in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, put an all-Ireland soccer team together to play the then World Champions Brazil in Landsdowne Road in July 1973. Lost 4-3 but showed what could be done, what should be done. One soccer team for all of Ireland… but last June they gouged Dougan’s portrait off a mural depicting Protestant soccer players from East Belfast: NO ALL-IRELAND TEAM AROUND HERE.
Nor will the Apprentice Boys cancel a march in honour of Best’s memory – much more important to take every opportunity to cause nationalists grief.
And what about that Ulster Bible Belt evangelical, sign of the fish crowd? This Best lark is all very well, but he was a womaniser and a drinker of hard liquor. And he supported an all-Ireland team.
After the ‘60s were gone, there just wasn’t the same… I don’t know, innocence, I suppose, in life any more. Or maybe I just started to grow up into life myself. The years are long gone, and now Geordie’s gone, the ‘60s icon. And we really should be able to remember him in some, fitting way. What about renaming Windsor Park to call it Best Stadium? Or what about a statue outside the City Hall?
Or what about doing what he himself asked us to do, and set up an all-Ireland team that could make this country a contender for international soccer glory.
We know that’s what Geordie wanted because that’s what Geordie said.
And I wonder, if there had been an all-Ireland soccer team in the late ‘60s with Jennings in goal and Johnny Giles in midfield, Derek Dougan up front and Geordie Best number seven… and had that team been able to take on Brazil, Portugal, Italy and Germany and beat them… would the ragamuffin winger from east Belfast have found the fulfilment that he craved, found it on the football pitch instead of in the nightclub?



SF urged to join police board

Daily Ireland

Policing body to reveal details of 215 new DPP members

Eamonn Houston

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Click to view - Denis Bradley

The outgoing vice-chairman of the North’s policing board last night warned republicans that MI5 and British security services will be allowed to continue to operate freely in the North if Sinn Féin remains “on the outside” of policing arrangements.
Denis Bradley, who was brutally beaten by republican dissidents in a pub attack in Derry in September, was speaking as the Policing Board appointed the 215 members of District Policing Partnerships. His comments also came after allegations of political policing by the PSNI over the arrests and questioning of four people – including Sinn Féin MLA, Francie Brolly – in connection with the 1972 Claudy bombing.
According to Mr Bradley, the absence of republican involvement in a forthcoming debate over the devolution of powers in Britain, could result in British security services continuing to operate with a free hand in the north under the cover of “national security”.
He said: “I think that it is about time that republicans dealt with a massive issue – the forthcoming devolution bill. The Special Branch has been described as a force within a force, but there is the issue of MI5 and the British security services. That, in the view of the British government is an issue of national security. Republicans are not facing or dealing with that. They [security services] are here as long as England are here.”
Speaking to Daily Ireland, Mr Bradley urged Sinn Féin to become centrally involved in the policing debate and refuted claims that political policing is being deployed in the north.
“There is not an issue of political policing,” he said. “Policing needs to be taken to the working class on both sides of the religious divide.
“I think that it’s about time for republicans to face this issue.
“I stand on the Patten recommendations. I believe that all intelligence-based policing should be monitored.
“What I would say to any political party is, if they are not happy, get in there and pull your weight.”
The Policing Board will today reveal details of the 215 members of the DPPs. Chairman of the board, Sir Desmond Rea, said that the appointments marked “another very significant day for the community and for policing.”
Mr Bradley said: “The journey is well started and, for me, it has been an interesting social experience. The more people involved the better. Today’s appointments demonstrate that policing is a central issue. People are recognising that this is a central issue. Unfortunately, republicans feel that they cannot take part in this. What I have seen is the tall, the small, the rich the poor, the rural and the urban get involved. This is a devolution of justice and I would expect republicans to get involved in that. People are ready for neighbourhood and grassroots policing.
“For too long police officers have lived apart from their communities. It was the preserve of the middle class. Policing needs to be as efficient and educated as possible and that only comes through living in communities.”
Mr Bradley also said that recent “political disruption” had masked what he described as the true issues of policing. He said that policemen should, ideally, be living in the heart of nationalist and loyalist areas of the North.
On Wednesday evening, Sinn Féin chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness condemned the arrest of the popular Sinn Féin Co Derry MLA Francie Brolly and three others as “the most blatant examples of political policing by the PSNI I have experienced”.
The DPP appointments include 11 Alliance councillors, 98 Democratic Unionist Councillors, nine Independent councillors, one Progressive Unionist Councillor, 56 SDLP Councillors and 64 Ulster Unionist Party councillors.


No forces’ amnesty, SF insists

Daily Ireland

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams yesterday urged the Taoiseach to “persuade” the British government to remove the amnesty for British crown forces from its ‘on-the-runs’ (OTRs) legislation.
Speaking to reporters outside government buildings following a 90-minute meeting with Bertie Ahern, Mr Adams also said that his party had made the restoration of the political institutions in the north a priority.
He said he told the Taoiseach that his party wanted to see that the political institutions are put in place as quickly as possible in the New Year.
Leading his delegation, which included Martin McGuinness and Mary Lou McDonald, Mr Adams added that OTRs had been central to the discussions.
“First of all, the Taoiseach made clear that he had no advance notice of the British legislation that dealt with the amnesty for the British crown forces and their agents,” said Mr Adams.
“And we put it to the government that they needed to persuade the British government to remove that from the legislation.
“It is in breach of the Joint Communiqué from Weston Park. And it is certainly in breach of any agreement we had and any understanding that we had with the two governments.”
When asked what he would say to people who argued that if the legislation covers paramilitary OTRs it should also cover the British Army, Mr Adams said he did not agree.
“You are not talking about people on the run in this instance for what are termed paramilitary offences,” he said.
“You are talking about a very very small amount people who jumped bail or absconded who if they were arrested would be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement anyway. And all the parties to the Weston Park talks agreed that this was an anomaly that needed to be resolved.
“But then the British, just in a broad sweep, gave an amnesty to everyone from their forces who were in any way involved in any offences on this island and anywhere else, not one has served a day in prison for any of that.”
He was then asked whether he was worried that the OTR issue could hold up the restoration of the institutions.
“What it will do is cause even greater hurt for those who have been hurt or bereaved or injured as a result of actions here by the British in Dublin City or in Monaghan, or in my own constituency or any part of the six counties,” he said.
“Or those implicated in the killing of Eddie Fullerton, for example, it just causes deep hurt to those victims and their families. As far as Sinn Féin are concerned we have a mandate to be involved in the institutions. And the main focus of our meeting was to see those institutions put back in place. And we want to be there with the other parties working on our mandate and being accountable and answerable to the populace for doing that.”
SDLP leader Mark Durkan yesterday restated his party’s opposition to the controversial Northern Ireland Offences Bill after a meeting with the family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
Mr Durkan also met with campaigners representing the Pat Finucane Centre and Relatives for Justice.
“Tony Blair made a clear commitment to hold an independent public inquiry in to the Finucane murder if Judge Cory recommended it. He has driven a coach and horse through that commitment. The inquiry that he wants to hold will be neither public nor independent. It can be muzzled by the government at any time.”

Rule book out the window

Daily Ireland

Appointment of two Orangemen to new Parades Commission may breach official guidelines

Ciarán Barnes

The appointment of two Orangemen to the new-look Parades Commission may have breached official guidelines, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Nationalist residents groups have asked the Commissioner for Public Appointments to investigate whether David Burrows and Don McKay’s appointments constitute a conflict of interest.
Both are Portadown Orangemen and at a press conference yesterday Mr McKay said he intended taking part in next summer’s disputed Drumcree parade along the town’s nationalist Garvaghy Road.
When appointing the new Parades Commission members, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) used guidelines laid out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Contained in these guidelines are five main areas which the commissioner believes could lead to a conflict of interest.
These include “a relationship with another organisation that could lead to a split in loyalties” and “membership of some societies”.
With two prominent Orangemen now sitting on a body that decides whether controversial parades should proceed, nationalist residents groups believe there is a clear conflict of interest in Mr Burrows and Mr McKay’s appointments.
In light of this they have called on the commissioner to investigate.
Garvaghy Road residents spokesman Brendán Mac Cionnaith said: “It is noticeable that the British secretary of state Peter Hain, who is ultimately responsible for these appointments, has totally avoided this issue around conflicting interests in any of his comments to the media.”
Mr Mac Cionnaith’s comments were echoed by the Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group in North Belfast.
Spokesman Joe Marley said: “We do not feel that this new commission is capable of delivering unbiased or impartial determinations and lacks the balance and the vision required to resolve this issue once and for all.”
A spokesman for the NIO refused to comment on the conflict of interest claims, saying the appointments were now a matter for the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Speaking on Wednesday, secretary of state Peter Hain welcomed Mr Burrows and Mr McKay’s involvement in the Parades Commission.
While Mr McKay confirmed he would take part in next summer’s Drumcree parade, Mr Burrows was remaining tight-lipped on the subject.
“I said I would be looking at all the parades. I will be looking at them all within their own merit. It would be unfair for anyone to stand here and try and say on something like that.”

At least 30 children beg in capital

Irish Examiner

03 December 2005
By Seán McCárthaigh

MORE THAN 30 children and teenagers are involved in begging on streets in Dublin on a regular basis, according to a leading children’s charity.

The majority of children involved in begging are members of the Travelling and Roma communities, according to the 2004-2005 annual report by Leanbh - the special service operated by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which works with children who beg.

However, the overall number of sightings of child beggars has fallen by 19% to 785 over the last 12 months.

Leanbh spokeswoman Suzanne McClean welcomed the decline in the incidence of juvenile begging but warned that it still remained a problem within the Travelling and Roma communities.

However, she stressed that the vast majority of families in such groups utterly rejected child begging.

“Many of these parents come from families where begging has been practised over many generations and their achievements in combating this cycle of begging are to be commended,” said Ms McClean.

Although few parents force their children out on the streets to earn money, she claimed many were aware of their children’s activity and generally provided them with a form of tacit approval. A quarter of all reported sightings last year involved children under four.

However, Leanbh acknowledges that such children are usually accompanied by their parents or other family members.

“Begging can be lucrative but there are deeper issues as to why a child starts begging in the first place,” Ms McClean pointed out.

She added: “Any long-term solution must focus on the needs of individual children found begging and on ensuring an appropriate response to those needs by parents and the State.

Although the statistics only relate to children begging in the capital, Ms McClean said the problem occurred in most major urban centres outside Dublin.

Leanbh discourages members of the public from giving money to children on the streets as it “only feeds the habit”.

Instead, the organisation recommends people who become aware of children begging to contact the 24-hour Leanbh helpline on 01-6447712.

Last year, the charity provided therapeutic help to 71 children and were involved with assisting 132 families.

Overall, there has been a decrease in the number of sightings of children begging on the streets over the past decade - it has fallen from almost 2,900 in 1997 when Leanbh was established to 785 last year.

Belfast Police Warn of Dissident Bombs

Yahoo! News

Fri Dec 2,10:02 PM ET

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Police warned Northern Ireland's shoppers Friday to be on the alert for firebombs hidden by Irish Republican Army dissidents in the busy run-up to Christmas.

IRA dissidents were likely to hide cassette-sized incendiary devices in flammable items on store shelves, two senior Belfast commanders of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a joint statement.

The dissidents oppose the IRA's 1997 cease-fire and the 1998 peace accord for this British territory.

Such devices, developed by IRA weapons engineers in the 1980s, have been used to damage or destroy many hundreds of businesses, particularly in the days before and after Christmas. IRA dissidents last year targeted more than a dozen businesses, wrecking a few stores. They almost always are timed to detonate in the middle of the night, causing damage without wounding shoppers.

"We have already dealt with a number of real and hoax devices recently and these attacks not only put lives at risk, they threaten businesses, they threaten jobs and affect us all," police Assistant Chief Constables Duncan McCausland and Peter Sheridan said.

Today in history: Bomb explosions in Manchester

BBC ON THIS DAY

3 December 1992


Blast shattered office windows

Two bombs have exploded in the centre of Manchester injuring 65 people.

The first device was in a car parked at Parsonage Gardens, the heart of the city's commercial district, and the second, which caused the majority of injuries, was near the city's Anglican cathedral.

A bomb exploded at 0840 GMT, seven minutes before two warning calls were received.

Police ordered the public out of buildings, unwittingly into the path of the second explosion at 1005.

A spokeswoman for Manchester Royal Infirmary, where victims were taken, said all but one of them had minor wounds caused mostly by flying glass, and were suffering from shock.

A telephone warning of other devices forced police to evacuate the whole of the city centre of shoppers and order office workers to remain indoors - causing widespread disruption.

"The whole of central Manchester is now deserted," said a police spokeswoman.

"Literally tens of thousands of people have been affected by this.''

No one has admitted carrying out the blasts, but it is suspected to be the work of the IRA.

The force of the first explosion caused structural damage and shattered windows in a number of offices in St Mary's Parsonage, behind the Deansgate shopping precinct.

Church refuge

Three office buildings - Cardinal House, Albert Bridge House and Arkwright House - were damaged when the bomb exploded behind Kendal's, a House of Fraser department store.

Eighty-five minutes later the second bomb went off in Cateaton Street between the cathedral and Market Place.

It smashed the face of the cathedral clock and shattered Victorian stained glass windows in the building.

Manchester Cathedral was providing refuge for hundreds of people moved out of Deansgate.

A year ago, IRA firebombs exploded in Manchester's Arndale Centre.

In Context

The IRA admitted the bombing the next day.

Both 2lb bombs injured 64 people in total and caused damage and business losses estimated to total £10m.

It formed part of the biggest IRA campaign on the British mainland since the 1970s, with a series of bombs planted across the capital.

Four years later Manchester was targeted again by the IRA.

One million square feet of shopping space was wiped out when a 3,300lb bomb exploded on 15 June 1996.

The device injured more than 200 people and caused damage estimated at up to £700m.

It took three-and-a-half years to redesign and rebuild the city centre at a cost of £1.2bn.

Northern Bank raid suspect released

BreakingNews.ie

02/12/2005 - 21:54:06

A man being questioned about the £26.5m (€39.18m) Northern Bank raid was tonight released without charge.

The 50-year-old from Carrickfergus, County Antrim was arrested in the latest in a series of raids by detectives investigating the robbery in Belfast last December.

Chris Ward (aged 24) from Poleglass, West Belfast, who was one of the Northern Bank staff members taken hostage by the gang, is still being detained.

Three men have already been charged over the biggest cash theft in both British and Irish history – one with the robbery itself.

02 December 2005

McGurk’s families meet Ombudsman

Irelandclick.com


BBC photo

FAMILIES of those killed in the McGurk’s Bar atrocity this week met a representative from the Police Ombudsman’s office as part of their campaign to have the conduct of the security forces reinvestigated.
Pat Irvine said the meeting, which came just days before the 34th anniversary of the outrage, had been “constructive and meaningful”.
The meeting came on the same week that a member of the McGurk’s campaign group, Alex McLaughlin, travelled to Dublin for a high-profile meeting today with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.
Pat Irvine said the meeting with the investigation team had dealt with many issues surrounding the explosion on December 4, 1971 at the family-run bar in Little Georges Street.
A total of 15 people, including two children, were slaughtered in the atrocity, which was the biggest single loss of life in the conflict until the Omagh bombing.
“This was a very hopeful meeting and a very constructive one,” said Pat. “This is part of the process of reinvestigating events of bombing and we are looking forward to more meetings with the Police Ombudsman’s team. We need to get to the truth because our loved ones were labelled as bombers when the RUC and even a Stormont Minister at the time said it was a IRA own goal,” she said.
Questions remain unanswered as to how, despite high security force presence on the day, the UVF bombers got through to plant the bomb at McGurk’s Bar. At the time of the explosion the security forces were nowhere to be seen despite an intensive hunt in the area for IRA jail breakers from the Crumlin Road prison. Witnesses have been coming forward in the past weeks including a man, then a young boy, who saw the UVF plant the bomb in the doorway of McGurk’s.
“The case is opening up and the truth must be exposed,” added Pat.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

RTE News - Recommendation over 16 Moore Street

RTE

02 December 2005 20:22

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A firm of experts has recommended to Dublin City Council that a premises on the city's Moore Street be listed as a protected structure.

16 Moore Street is thought to be the final headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

The recommendation has been welcomed by Fine Gael Councillor Gerry Breen, who said 16 Moore Street was a building rich with history and significance for Irish people and the future citizens of Ireland.
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The firm also recommended that a detailed survey of the building be carried out.

Fr Troy launches book on Holy Cross dispute


Irelandclick.com

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Click thumbnail for full view - Belfast mural depicting Holy Cross - photo by CRAZYFENIAN

North Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy, who helped children and their parents through the Holy Cross protest, is to publish his memories of the troubled times which made headlines across the world.
Fr Troy’s book, entitled Holy Cross: A Personal Experience, is to be released next week at a special launch in Holy Cross hall.

Little girls going to lessons at Holy Cross primary were subjected to sectarian abuse and violence from loyalist protesters over a 12-week period in 2001.

During the blockade they taunted the children, their parents, teachers and priests, as well as displaying pornographic posters, throwing balloons containing urine and even bombs.

The scenes of naked sectarianism horrified television viewers around the world.

Fr Troy had only arrived in Ardoyne a few months before the protest began and, despite being in place only a few months, he became a central figure in one of the most disturbing incidents in the North’s recent history.

He said he didn’t find the book hard to write, as the memories were still fresh in his mind.

“I didn’t find it hard to write it at all. This was something I had lived with for so long, it was almost part of a therapy to gather it all together,” he said.

“I didn’t keep a diary during the protest. But I had always kept letters that were sent to me about it, and I kept those, whether they were positive or negative. I answered as many as I could at the time because someone had felt it important enough to write their feelings down. I had a lot of interest and observation from people across the world and that provided an interesting insight four years later into what people were actually saying at the time.

“They all helped me to do some sort of assessment of what happened and what it meant to me.”
The protest was also the focus of another book, published last year by Daily Ireland columnist Anne Cadwallader.

Fr Troy is a Passionist priest originally from Bray, in Co Wicklow. He was ordained in the wake of Vatican II, and was elected to the general government of his order in 1994, a post he held until his transfer to Holy Cross parish in 2001.

The book is launched next Thursday at 7.45pm after Mass in Holy Cross. Everyone is invited to attend.
Proceeds will be channelled into the development of a cross-community family centre in the parish grounds.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee



School head’s fury at two year waiting list

Irelandclick.com

The principal of Holy Cross Boys School has spoken of his outrage that one of his pupils will have waited over two years to receive treatment for his special behavioural needs.
Headmaster Terry Laverty, his teaching staff and local councillor Margaret McClenaghan have all expressed their deep concern that a little boy, who was diagnosed with having possible Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) two years ago will only receive treatment in February 2006.
“Originally we were told by the North and West Belfast Trust that the books are closed on new referrals, but after the North Belfast News got in touch, the child now has an appointment,” Terry Laverty said.
“It seems that you can get a referral no problem in any part of the city for this, but in North Belfast it’s a different situation.
“The time this child and his parents have waited is totally wrong. I have several other children in the same position in the school who have been kept waiting for treatment for similar behavioural issues. I’m sure other schools in North Belfast are in a similar positioni.
“At the end of the day, you cannot be judged on your postcode, this is an equality and human rights issue.”
The six-year-old child from Ardoyne is a primary three pupil now and his needs in the classroom and at home are great.
He shows all the classic signs of ADHD, including an inability to concentrate, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Together they are having a massive impact on the quality of his school and family life.
The primary school received a letter from the North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust in May of this year, stating they were unable to take any new referrals.
“I am unable to accept this referral as ADHD service is presently closed. We will keep a record of the referral so that if the service reopens we will offer [child’s name] an appointment,” the letter said.
According to NI-ADD, a Belfast-based organisation which helps parents and children deal with the effects of attention deficit disorders, ADHD is a condition that affects around five to nine per cent of school-age children here.
Co-ordinator Sarah Salters said in the past year they were contacted by over 500 people with enquiries.
“Now that’s just the concerned parents or individuals who know they have ADHD. There is a high number of people who don’t even know they have it,” said Sarah
The Department of Health does not have figures for how many children have been diagnosed with the disorder in the North of Ireland, but in England and Wales that figure is estimated at 40,000.
It is treated with drugs, like Ritalin for example, alongside other treatments such as counselling and behavioural therapy.
The North Belfast News asked the North and West Trust about the child’s treatment.
They informed us that a date of November 29 has been set for the child to see a specialist in a new ADHD pilot project working out of Townsend Street in West Belfast. But this date was incorrect and the Trust has now confirmed that the child will now be seen on February 7, 2006.
“The first group’s letters will be sent out on November 29 and the second batch, which this child is in, will receive their letters after Christmas. A date has set for this child for February 7.”
The spokeswoman added that ADHD is a complex problem which requires input from a wide range of professionals across a number of agencies.
“The Trust continues to work in partnership with child psychology at the Royal Victoria Hospital, educational psychology at the Belfast Education and Library Board and the Eastern Health and Social Services Board to further develop services.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee


Home of SF MLA comes under attack in Belfast

BreakingNews.ie

02/12/2005 - 12:11:09

The home of a Sinn Féin MLA has come under attack in west Belfast.

Ball-bearings were thrown at the windows of Sue Ramsey's house during the overnight incident.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on the homes of Sinn Féin members in the area.

GAA raid 'linked to ?26m robbery'

BBC

An investigation at Gaelic Athletic Association grounds in west Belfast is understood to be linked to the £26m Northern Bank robbery.

The GAA expressed shock that the police were conducting an investigation at Casement Park.

It said it had no prior knowledge of the operation and was not given any reason for the inquiry.

A police spokesman said the operation was part of an investigation into serious crime.

The GAA said there had been an indication it related to allegations about an individual and alleged activities unrelated to the GAA.

The GAA said it had reported the matter to the Dublin government.

Earlier, a man was arrested by police investigating last December's robbery in Belfast.

The 50-year-old, from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was arrested on Friday under the Terrorism Act, a police spokesperson said.

Northern Bank employee Chris Ward was arrested on Tuesday. On Thursday, police were given another three days to question him.

After the robbery, Mr Ward described how he was held captive in the raid.

He told the BBC's Spotlight programme how he and a male colleague were forced to facilitate the theft of millions of pounds from the cash centre of the Northern Bank's headquarters.

Prevented


A 22-year-old woman who was also arrested on Tuesday was released without charge a day later. Both people were arrested at different addresses.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for a man charged in connection with the robbery told the High Court in Belfast his client had been prevented from making a bail application.

The lawyer said the application, on behalf of Dominic James McEvoy, could not be made because the authorities were "withholding vital information".

Mr McEvoy, 23, from Kilcoo, County Down, was charged after his DNA was allegedly found at the Loughinisland home of a bank employee who had been held hostage.

He was remanded in custody until 9 December.

Earlier this month, police investigating the robbery arrested several people.

Of the 11 people questioned to date in connection with the robbery, three have appeared in court.

The robbery happened at the bank's Northern Ireland headquarters at Donegall Square West just before Christmas last year.

Some money seized in County Cork last February was linked to the robbery, but virtually all of the missing millions remain unrecovered.

The Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, subsequently blamed the IRA for the raid.


Car explosive reveals return of IRA bomber

Belfast Telegraph

Tom Brady
02 December 2005

Gardai have identified a former top Provisional IRA explosives expert as the manufacturer of an under-car bomb seized by detectives in Dublin last week.

The bomb was primed and ready for use against a targeted renegade republican in a feud between dissident splinter groups in the capital and on the border.

The identification of the bomb-maker has heightened concerns among senior anti-terrorist officers about the role of former Provisional activists in criminality in the wake of the Northern peace deal.

The explosives expert is from outside Newry but lives in Dundalk. He played a major role in the IRA's terror campaign along the border in the 1980s and 1990s and was believed to have been heavily involved in the mortar attack which killed nine RUC officers at Newry police station in February 1985.

He spent some time behind bars. But after the internal row among leading Provisionals at a meeting in Falcarragh, Co Donegal, he split from the organisation and eventually joined the dissident Real IRA.

Since then, he has been heavily involved in organising robberies and was suspected of being linked to a couple of murders as well as drugs trafficking.

In recent months he has headed up a criminal outfit that comprised members of the Real IRA in Dundalk, the INLA in south and west Dublin and ordinary criminals.

But a falling out over the proceeds of "fund raisers" has led to a bitter feud between the dissidents and the under-car bomb was intended for a senior INLA man in Dublin.

Gardai think the likely target was the former INLA leader in the South.

Heavily armed members of the Garda's Emergency Response Unit seized the bomb when they intercepted a vehicle on the M1 motorway at Cloghran, Co Dublin, a week ago.

The bomb, which contained under half a kilo of explosive, was primed and included a magnet to attach it to the undercarriage of the target car.

It was fitted with a mercury tilt switch which meant it would detonate when the car moved - similar to the assassination of the former Conservative MP and close associate of Margaret Thatcher, Airey Neave.

The Cloghran bomb was also fitted with an anti-handling device to ensure the safety of the man transporting it from county Louth to Dublin.

Gardai believe the bomb was taken from Dundalk to Drogheda where it was handed over to the man in charge of delivering it.

But detectives moved in before it had reached its intended destination and the bomb was defused by Army ordnance experts.

In follow-up inquiries detectives recovered more than 100 rounds of assorted ammunition at an industrial estate in Blessington, Co Wicklow.


Early release for Finucane killer delayed

Belfast Telegraph

Still no date for hearing: lawyer

By Chris Thornton
02 December 2005

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The lawyer for the man jailed for killing solicitor Pat Finucane has reinforced his client's complaints about a delay to an early release hearing.

Ken Barrett, sentenced to life last year, told the Belfast Telegraph this week he wants the same treatment as hundreds of other prisoners released for "Troubles crimes".

He said cannot understand why his application for early release "has taken so much longer than anyone else's".

The Government has objected to Barrett's release on the grounds that he could be a danger to society and over concerns he could rejoin the UDA.

The case was scheduled to have a hearing before the Sentence Review Commissioners next week, but the Government requested and received a delay until the New Year.

The Prison Service told the Commission the delay was needed because they had "just been advised" that secret intelligence could form part of the case against Barrett. If intelligence is used, it would require a special process to screen the information from Barrett and his legal team.

The Prison Service also argued more than one day was needed for the hearing. Joe Rice, Barrett's solicitor, said he could not understand how the Government just found out about secret intelligence.

"They have known for the best part of a year this hearing would take place and they only find out now that damaging information might be included," he said. "Mr Barrett has now been in custody for two-and-a-half years and the Prison Service are still not ready to bring this to a hearing.

"What they are doing is dragging their heels. This is a classic piece of obfuscation.

"We have no criticism of the Commission in this. The Commission has a real responsibility to protect the public.

"In this case there is not a scintilla of evidence that we're aware of that Ken Barrett is a danger to the public.

"We do know he can never live in Northern Ireland if he is released.

"And he will never be taken back into the organisation he pleaded guilty of membership of. He wants to go back to making a normal life with his partner and family outside of Northern Ireland."

A Prison Service spokesman said the Commissioners "have sought a range of material about this case, some of which is still being assembled".

He added: "It may contain damaging information but this has yet to be confirmed.

"Only one day had been set aside for the hearing, but it has become apparent that more than one day will be required."

Barrett is under 24-hour lock-up at Maghaberry Prison. Last year he pleaded guilty to murdering the solicitor in 1989.

The Government has approved an inquiry into the Finucane murder, but it has yet to be scheduled.

Mr Finucane's family have objected to the new legislation drafted for the inquiry and campaigned to discourage judges from taking up its chairmanship under the new rules.

Loyalist peace moves put on hold

BBC


A plan to move loyalist groups towards politics has been shelved

The government was prepared to appoint an independent panel to assist loyalist paramilitaries to move forward, it has emerged.

The idea followed recent discussions between Downing Street and senior Ulster Unionists.

It is understood David McNarry and David Campbell met Tony Blair's chief of staff about moving paramilitaries from violence to "peaceful politics".

Loyalists, however, have not indicated a wish to cooperate with such a panel.

Following the discussions between the Ulster Unionists and Jonathan Powell, the government explored the creation of a three-strong panel as a way of improving communication with loyalist paramilitaries.

Initiative

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said the panel would have consisted of Mr Campbell, who was recently elected as Ulster Unionist chairman, the Church of Ireland bishop Alan Harper and the Northern Ireland Office's former Security Director, John Steele.

This initiative followed a public appeal by Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey at his annual conference for loyalists to disarm and "call it a day".

However, after recent meetings within loyalism, the panel idea seems to have been shelved, with the paramilitaries concentrating on continuing their own internal consultations about how to respond to the IRA's decision to call off its armed campaign.

Family hopes for gift of life this Christmas

Belfast Telegraph

By Clare Weir
02 December 2005

The mother of a Derry boy waiting for a new heart today spoke of her mixed emotions as she plans a special Christmas for her three-year-old son Paul.

Bella Donnelly said she is on "tenterhooks" after another visit to the top English hospital where the live-saving operation will take place.

While the family are making plans to ensure Paul enjoys a great Christmas, Bella said it was sad to think that another child has to die in order for him to survive.

Paul and his mum have just returned to their Hazelbank home after another visit to the world-renowned Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where they met with the two surgeons who will eventually perform the operation if and when a heart becomes available.

Paul, who suffers from dilated cardiomyopathy - an incurable enlargement of the heart - recently received a new pacemaker, the second he has had fitted in his short life.

The Hazelbank playgroup pupil was added to the standby heart transplant list in July, and has since been upgraded to an "active" list, meaning that his family will have to jet to England as soon as a suitable heart becomes available.

Paul's mum Bella told the Telegraph that every day was now a "waiting game".

"We have always had to take things one day at a time but we are really playing the waiting game now," she said.

"Because Paul is actively on the list, we could get the call at any time. It's sad to think that his life depends on the death of another child, but we've exhausted all the options.

"If he doesn't have a transplant then there's nothing else we can do. We met the surgeons over in Newcastle this week so we'll have to play it by ear.

"It's all systems go because this is the only thing that can save his life."

Paul, who also suffers from a weak immune system, has been given the flu vaccine and last week was so ill he needed oxygen and a nebuliser because of the pressure on his lungs from his enlarged heart.

But Bella says that she and his brother and sister are hoping to cheer him up with a Christmas treat.

"When he first got really sick we got people to send him 'get well' cards and in the end we got hundreds from people all over the world," she said.

"Now we are planning a big Christmas with lots of lights and decorations and we hope it will give him a wee lift."

Man held over Northern Bank robbery

RTE

02 December 2005 11:46

A 50-year-old man from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, has been arrested in connection with the Northern Bank robbery.

He was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.

A 24-year-old man arrested in Poleglass on Tuesday is still being questioned. It is understood that he is Christopher Ward, who worked as a bank official in the Northern Bank at the time of the raid and was held captive by an armed gang while the robbery took place.
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A 22-year-old woman arrested in the same operation on Tuesday has since been released.

Prior to today's arrest, a total of 10 people have been arrested in connection with the robbery in which £26.5m was stolen last December.

A Co Down man was charged with the robbery itself and the false imprisonment of a second bank official and his wife in Co Down. Two others face lesser charges arising out of the investigation.

Teenager appointed to sit on DPP

BBC


The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account

A teenager from County Tyrone has become the youngest independent member of a district policing partnership.

Mark McMackin, 18, from Seskinore, outside Omagh is among 215 people appointed as independent members on the 26 partnerships in Northern Ireland.

They will work alongside councillors from all the parties except Sinn Fein.

Chairman of the Policing Board Sir Desmond Rea said it was "another very significant day for the community and for policing".

"DPP's have become an integral and accepted part of local policing and have brought policing closer to the community and the community closer to policing in a way that has never happened before here in Northern Ireland," Sir Desmond said.

The appointments were announced by the Policing Board on Friday.

Statistics from the 2001 census and other data was used to ensure each DPP is representative of the local community.

Of the 215 independent members 129 and women and 86 men, 120 are Catholic and 95 non-Catholic.

The Policing Board reappointed 133 existing members and 82 from 516 who applied following an open public competition.

'Shaping policing'

Sir Desmond said: "It is a legal requirement for the board to ensure that the composition of each DPP as a whole - elected members and independent members together - is representative of the community it serves.

"Therefore the board took into account the community background, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation of all candidates.".

From farmers to photographers, housewives to publicans, engineers to nurses, the age of independent members varires from 18-78.

Sir Desmond said DPPs were making a "significant difference to policing" and those appointed will be at the "forefront of shaping local policing".

"The board will be considering how best it may support the partnerships in the challenging role of gaining the co-operation of the public with the police in preventing crime," he said.

Mark McMackin is part of a second wave to be appointed following the completion of four years by those who first held the posts.

He is currently studying for five A levels at the Christian Brothers School in Omagh.

"I realised the Policing Partnership was made up with members of the council - and I remember thinking their average age was rather high," he said.

"I thought I could sit there and do nothing or go for it and change things.

"I am delighted to have been accepted, I have never been the youngest at anything before."

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.

They fall under the auspices of the Northern Ireland Policing Board which handles some of the most sensitive issues facing policing.

District policing 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.


Remembering the Past - SAS execution

An Phoblacht

**Photos from Relatives for Justice

BY SHANE Mac THOMÁIS

On 4 December 1983, at the height a crown forces' shoot-to-kill policy, two unarmed IRA Volunteers were summarily executed by undercover British operatives. Nineteen-year-old Brian Campbell and 23-year-old Colm McGirr from Coalisland, County Tyrone, were gunned down in a hail of bullets on Sunday afternoon 4 December 1983 by an undercover SAS squad, seconds after they left their car to check an IRA arms dump off the Cloghodg Road. The fact that the SAS was in the immediate vicinity of the dump, showed they had awaited the arrival of the Volunteers and executed them on the spot without any attempt to arrest or detain them.

Locals reported hearing around 50 shots fired in rapid succession. A third IRA Volunteer was wounded as he drove away from the scene. After the ambush a local woman, Sarah Rafferty witnessed an ambulance arriving, yet almost a full hour later it left without removing the Volunteers' bodies.

Apart from the severe mutilation caused by bullet wounds to McGirr's body, both his wrists and arms were broken after he was shot and killed. There was also reason to believe that Campbell lived for a short time after the shooting, as he had black marks on his body caused by being kicked or thrown around.

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Colm McGirr

Both bodies were eventually removed several hours after the shooting and taken to Craigavon Area Hospital where Brian Campbell's mother Cathleen and a local priest were refused access by the RUC.

Volunteer Colm McGirr was the youngest of eleven children. He was arrested by crown forces a week before his killing and held for three days. Before he left Gough Barracks the RUC told him he would never see 1984. Volunteer Brian Campbell, aged 19 was the fifth child of Brendan and Cathleen Campbell. Brian was constantly harassed by the RUC, and that escalated after his brother Séamus's escape from Long Kesh in 1983.

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Brian Campbell

On the last occasion Brian was arrested the RUC told him it would be the last time as they were going to shoot him to 'even up the score' for Séamus's escape.

An inquest into the shooting was called on 14 March 1984 but was adjourned when three of the SAS soldiers failed to appear. The coroner was told that one of the soldiers had left the army and was now out of the jurisdiction. Solicitor Paddy Duffy described the inquest as 'a charade'. The inquest resumed for one day on 24 June 1985. None of the four SAS members that shot Brian Campell and Colm McGirr were present.


Sectarian attacks in North Belfast

An Phoblacht

01 December 2005

Amid fears that unionist paramilitaries are developing a new type of pipe bomb to be used in attacks on nationalists, tension in North Belfast is high after two men were attacked by unionist gangs over the past week.

Newtownabbey Sinn Féin Councillor Breige Meehan told An Phoblacht that she is worried that loyalists are experimenting with new bomb-making technology after a mystery explosion on Thursday night 24 November. A blast was heard near the Cullyburn Road, close to Newtownabbey Council's office and although the bomb was not targeted at anyone in particular Meehan believes unionist bombers may be testing new devices.

A 36-year-old North Belfast nationalist suffered a broken leg after a gang of loyalists ran him over in on Sunday morning 20 November. Eamonn Delaney said he and two friends had just left a 24-hour garage when a unionist mob shouted sectarian abuse and threw bottles at them before jumping into a silver Audi car and giving chase. "I got chased to the bottom of Old Church Road when the car came up behind me and I went up over the bonnet and landed on the ground. When I tried to stand up I realised my leg had been broken."

Delaney said the driver turned the Audi and drove towards him again. "I threw myself over a small fence so they could not get to me and it was only then that the car sped off."

Delaney reported the attack to the PSNI after he had his leg put in plaster in hospital. They said they were treating the attack as attempted murder.

Meanwhile a nationalist taxi driver had a lucky escape after a crowd attacked him as he dropped off a fare in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was driving up Crumlin Road when his passenger asked him to drive into Cambrai Street and then on to a smaller street off the Shankill Road. "The passenger had a number of items in the boot of my car and as he went round to take them out I wound the window down to get the fare when all of a sudden a loyalist gang appeared and started punching and beating me about the face and head."

The taxi driver managed to escape and drove himself to hospital where he received treatment for bruising and facial injuries. "It was very scary because there were about ten of them. They must have recognised the taxi sign."

Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan called on those responsible to end the senseless attacks before someone is killed or seriously injured. "These taxi drivers, and I don't care what area they come from, are providing a very necessary service to all communities and should be left alone to do their work."


Amnesty for fugitives dominates meeting

Irish Examiner

By Harry McGee, Political Editor
02/12/05

THE controversy over the amnesty for so-called republican on-the-run fugitives (OTRs) dominated the latest meeting between the Government and Sinn Féin in Dublin yesterday.

Although the meeting also explored the next steps in restoring the Northern institutions, the OTR question featured strongly during the one-hour meeting at Government buildings attended by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Féin delegation, speaking to reporters, said they wanted to learn the intentions of both British and Irish governments in relation to the next phases of the peace process.

The party has argued that moves towards devolution should commence immediately in the wake of the IRA standing down and its decommissioning of arms.

However, DUP leader Ian Paisley has already publicly ruled out any negotiations in the short-term on the grounds that the Independent Monitoring Commission will not give the IRA a “clean bill of health” when it next reports in January.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has previously stated he would like to see the assembly in place by spring. But Irish Government sources say privately that this timescale now looks optimistic.

Ahern accepts US assurances on Shannon usage

RTE

""I'd say that Dermot and assorted other Republic 'bag men' were accepting more than 'categoric assurances' from the US...

01 December 2005 23:07

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has said that he accepts 'categoric assurances' from the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, that Shannon Airport has not been used for 'anything untoward' in relation to CIA rendition flights.

The minister was speaking after a meeting with Condoleeza Rice in Washington this afternoon. The meeting was not open to media questions.

The US Secretary of State travels to Europe next week and is expected to respond to concerns raised about reports that the CIA secretly used European airports and detention centres to transport and interrogate prisoners.
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A report in today's New York Times, quoting aviation industry sources and human rights groups, says that some 33 CIA flights have gone through Shannon over the past four years.

The meeting between Dermot Ahern and Condoleeza Rice is understood to have involved a 'frank exchange' on the issue of Shannon, according to officials present.

Floods force people out of homes

BBC


Rescue workers at the floods on the Ormeau Road

People living in the lower Ormeau area of south Belfast are spending the night out of their homes after their houses were flooded from torrential rain.

In places the water mixed with raw sewage and many residents have decided to move out until repairs can be carried out.

Some fear it could be the New Year before they can move back in.

Emergency crews have spent the day dealing with the damage caused by floods in the greater Belfast area.

The south and east of the city was the worst affected and six people had to be rescued by firefighters.

By mid-morning on Thursday, flooding was reported at Castlereagh Road, Park Road and Shawsbridge Road. These areas are now completely clear.

The Water Service, Roads Service, the Rivers Agency, Belfast City Council and the Fire Service all mobilised workers in an emergency operation.

Throughout the day more than 60 workers have been pumping out water and clearing gullies.

River Terrace off Cooke Street in the lower Ormeau Road was severely flooded, and the situation has not improved. Many residents are now without power.

About 40 homes in River Terrace were affected.

A Department of Regional Development spokeswoman said there were indications that pumps were operating normally at River Terrace pumping station.

The Housing Executive said it had been assisting in dealing with severe flooding in the lower Ormeau Area where 130 homes had been affected, one third of which belong to the Executive.

It said it had been meeting political and community representatives to discuss what needed to be done about the situation and was also dealing with requests for temporary accommodation.

Firefighters rescued six people in the Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

Divisional Officer Ken Leathem said: "With waters rising to three and four feet the Fire & Rescue Service's Specialist Rescue Team was deployed with a search and rescue boat to bring a family of two adults and two children to safety from their home in Cooke Street.

"A man who uses a wheelchair was also brought to the safety of his relatives by our firefighters from his Balfour Avenue home.

"In a third flooding related incident, in the lower Ormeau area another man was also rescued from his car."

A group of nursery school children near the Ormeau Road in south Belfast had to be carried to safety after a sewer outside the school burst.


Flooding caused traffic problems in Castlereagh

Cornelia McCluskey, playgroup leader at St Malachy's playgroup, said she had to ensure that the children escaped after the area became flooded.

"I have had to carry children through raw sewage to get them out of the building myself," she said.

Residents in the lower Ormeau were stranded and could not get back to their cars.

"I've been waiting 20 minutes, trying to get back to my car," said Anne Mallon.

"I have a dog in it and the flood waters seem to be rising."

Margaret McCormac who lives in the area was trying to sweep the flood waters out of her home.

"The sewers are blocked, raw sewage is floating into the house," she said.

"It really stinks. It is the third time we have been flooded. It is absolutely ridiculous."

Counties Down and Antrim and Belfast city centre were the worst affected by the heavy rain.

Many roads, including part of the M2 motorway, were closed because of the heavy rain.

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