17 December 2005

Anti-corruption body to examine Ireland

BreakingNews.ie

**Getting so much money, which could be better spent, to reveal the obvious is corrupt if you ask me.

17/12/2005 - 16:36:26

One of the world's leading anti-corruption bodies has confirmed that it has received Government funding to carry out an audit of the problem here in Ireland in the New Year.

'Transparency International' - which set up a branch here this year - is getting a grant of €50,000 to see whether the laws and structures to tackle corruption in Ireland are up to scratch.

Chairman of the group, Colm McCarthy says they won't just be scrutinising the Government, but will also examine business organisations and international bodies.

Adams: ‘securocrats’ behind crisis

Irish Examiner

**Keep talking, Gerry...

17 December 2005
By Michael O’Farrell, Political Reporter

SINN Féin President Gerry Adams yesterday accused “out of control” securocrats of attempting to orchestrate another peace process crisis as he identified senior party member Denis Donaldson as a British agent. Speaking at a press conference in Dublin yesterday afternoon, Mr Adams said it was his belief that rogue members of the security services, intent on opposing the peace process, planned to out Mr Donaldson for political purposes.

“They hate republicans with a passion and for them the war isn’t over. For them the Good Friday Agreement was a huge mistake. For them Tony Blair should have let them get at the Republicans. They are the people who continue to operate within the special branch of the PSNI. They are the people who orchestrated the raid in Stormont.

“Here you have a situation, against a background of British policy being informed entirely by securocrats and by the security community, and within that a core that won’t let go, and they are the people who are manipulating the situation.”

Mr Adams said Mr Donaldson had come to Sinn Féin after the PSNI warned him he was about to be ousted and his life was in danger.

Mr Adams said he had never suspected Mr Donaldson but had always been suspicious about the way the Stormont Assembly had been suspended.

“I was very, very suspicious when the events of 2002 unfolded, when we saw this hugely-orchestrated operation up at Stormont because we knew there was no Sinn Féin/IRA spy ring.

“I certainly instinctively knew that there was something wrong in the middle of it. More recently when this case collapsed, that suspicion was deepened.”

Mr Adams said Mr Donaldson would not have had access to top Sinn Féin files.

“He obviously had access to the Stormont Assembly team and the administration of that. He is a long-time member of Sinn Féin so he would have been on friendly terms with many people in Sinn Féin. He was not a member of our negotiating team. He’s not a member of our Ard Comhairle. He’s not involved in any of the senior leadership forums within the party but, yes, he was a long standing member.”


British spy operated at heart of Sinn Fein for more than 20 years

Times Online

By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

THE closed and secretive world of Irish republicanism was thrown into turmoil last night after one of Gerry Adams’s most trusted lieutenants admitted that he had been a British agent for 20 years.

Denis Donaldson, who was acquitted last week of charges of leading an IRA spy ring in the “Stormontgate” affair that ended Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive three years ago, was a member of Belfast’s republican elite, whose credentials in the fight to end British rule in Ireland would, until now, have been regarded as unimpeachable.

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Denis Donaldson: Evolution of a tout...

But after he was “outed” yesterday and thrown out of Sinn Fein by Mr Adams, who shared a cell block with him during the 1970s when Mr Donaldson, 55, was welcomed into the inner sanctum of “Young Turks” who took control of the republican movement, the question raised in West Belfast was: “If Denis, then who else?” Mr Donaldson’s extraordinary confession came a week after he and two other men, including his son-in-law, were sensationally acquitted of charges of possession of sensitive security documents, which resulted in the forced rehousing of 2,000 people at a cost of £300 million.



In one remarkable — and, for Mr Donaldson, extremely lucky — respect, his expulsion from Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA, also marks a significant departure from the traditional fate of a republican charged by his or her own comrades of “working for the Brits”.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that only six months ago, prior to the IRA’s statement that it was ending its armed campaign to end British rule in the north of Ireland, Mr Donaldson would have suffered the fate of scores of earlier “volunteers” condemned to death for spying and been shot through the back of the head, his hooded body left on a roadside.



At a press conference in Dublin, Mr Adams said that Mr Donaldson had admitted to being a paid British agent for the past 20 years. Last night Mr Donaldson said that he deeply regretted his activities, adding: “I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life. Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch.”

According to Mr Adams, Mr Donaldson had approached Declan Kerney, the party’s Northern chairman, after being warned by police that he was going to be exposed and that his life was in danger. At a subsequent meeting with Mr Kerney and Leo Green, another Sinn Fein official, he admitted to being a British agent and was expelled from the party.

Asked if he suspected that there had been an informer, Mr Adams said: “I was very, very suspicious and some of us were very suspicious when the events of 2002 unfolded, when we saw this hugely orchestrated operation at Stormont, because we knew there was no Sinn Fein spy ring at Stormont.”

Only a week ago Mr Adams appeared shoulder to shoulder with Mr Donaldson outside Stormont after the spying charges were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions “in the public interest”. The case was heard at an unlisted hearing at Belfast Crown Court as the Queen and Prince Philip made a visit to the city, prompting charges that the timing was not coincidental. Unionists have demanded that the “public interest” in dropping the charges be explained.

It is likely that yesterday’s developments may go some way to explaining what seemed, even by Northern Ireland’s standards, a murky decision.

Mr Adams sought to divert attention from the news that his movement was penetrated at the highest level by blaming “securocrats” and the British Government for “political policing” that damaged the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. “The fact is that the collapse of the political institutions was a direct result of the actions of some of those who run the intelligence and policing system of the British,” he said. “The fact is that the key person at the centre of those events was a Sinn Fein member who was a British agent. This is entirely the responsibility of the British Government.

“If Britain’s war is over then the British Prime Minister needs to come to terms with the fact that he has to end the activities of the securocrats.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said: “Police do not confirm or deny whether an individual is or was an informant.”

Unionists were astonished by the expulsion. The Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “This has certainly given an added twist to the entire Stormontgate scandal and confirms our view that the reasons the court decided not to prosecute was because to do so would have compromised an agent of the state and sensitive security documents. It raises the question that the decision not to proceed was politically motivated.”

William Mackessy, one of the three men cleared of the spying charges, once worked as a security guard in the offices of Sir Reg Empey, then a minister in the powersharing executive at Stormont. Sir Reg, now leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said that he would be seeking an urgent meeting with government officials.

Sir Alasdair Fraser, Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions, declined to comment. But Sir Reg said: “If this was the person who was being protected by the DPP, then there is no reason why these prosecutions cannot proceed. It actually debunks the claims by Sinn Fein there was no spy ring operating inside Stormont, when in fact there was.”


Brooding silence as unopened cards fill letterbox at no 16

Belfast Telegraph

By Linda McKee
newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
17 December 2005

NEIGHBOURS of Denis Donaldson were arriving home with their Christmas shopping as the TV cameras descended on Aitnamona Crescent, seeking Donaldson's reaction to his shock expulsion from Sinn Fein.

Seasonal lights glimmered in windows all along the peaceful residential west Belfast street yesterday evening, but number 16 lay dark and silent.

With Donaldson facing a future away from Belfast after admitting being a British spy for 20 years, the blinds were drawn at his deserted house in a quiet street off the Monagh Bypass.

Last night, the mailbox at the side of the terraced house was stuffed with unopened Christmas cards.

Although a silver Volkswagen Golf car and trailer waited in the paved area outside the front door of the home of Sinn Fein's former head of administration at Stormont, neighbours said there had been little sign of life for the past few days.

Some were reluctant to comment at all on the neighbour who had been at the centre of the Stormontgate crisis - the political controversy that brought down the Northern Ireland Assembly.

One described him as being a quiet older man who wore glasses.

Another, referring to Donaldson and his wife Alice, said: "They kept themselves to themselves.

"I haven't seen them for a week or so."

Other locals were at keen to stress that outsiders were not welcome in their street, which lies in the republican heartland.

One neighbour was terse, saying: "I keep myself to myself and he keeps himself to himself."

A former close associate commented: "I presume now he will have to blow - how could you look people in the eye after this?

"It is his wife Alice and his daughter I feel sorry for."

As the first evening newscasts came, curious residents at Aitnamona were gathering at their doors to watch the unfolding drama outside as the flashes went off and the TV cameras began to roll.

Indirect quote of the day

BreakingNews.ie



Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has insisted the only spy ring which operated out of Stormont was operated by British Intelligence Services.


**It begins to look like 'British Intelligence' and 'Sinn Féin' are synonymous...


A shiner for the Shinners

Belfast Telegraph

Are republicans feeling twitchy as another spy is uncovered? asks laurence white

By Laurence White
newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
17 December 2005

NORTHERN Ireland's 'dirty war' has taken yet another bizarre, even surreal, twist.

Denis Donaldson, the self-confessed British agent, was one of Sinn Fein's top 'cold warriors' - this will spook republicans.

Just over a week ago, Mr Donaldson was one of three men facing charges of spying for Sinn Fein inside Stormont buildings.

It was his arrest in October 2002 and the arrest of two other men, one his son-in-law, the other a porter at Stormont, which effectively brought down the power-sharing Assembly and has left the province in political limbo for around three years.

The charges were dropped nine days ago after the prosecution service said it would not be in the public interest to proceed.

Well the public is well and truly interested now.

Political opponents of Sinn Fein will be rubbing their hands with glee as another alleged 'traitor for old Ireland' is unmasked.

Following on from the outing of the agent code-named Stakeknife who was the head of the IRA's security division, a second very senior member of the republican movement has been uncovered working for the British intelligence services.

Both are west Belfast men and both would have been seen as close to the northern leadership of the movement.

That is something which is bound to unnerve even the poker-faced Gerry Adams.

Just what will other senior republicans in places like west Tyrone, south Armagh, Kerry or Dublin be thinking?

Adams, Martin McGuinness and their northern colleagues carefully worked their way to the top of the republican movement and just as carefully sidelined others who did not share their vision of the way ahead.

What must those who favoured the bullet over the ballot box think of the leadership now?

In the bad old days of the Troubles those caught, or even suspected of, working for the police or Army were treated without mercy even though most were low-level operatives who had been turned because of some personal weakness.

But Stakeknife and Donaldson were of a different order. They had much more influence and knowledge. Indeed now many republicans will be asking just how much influence did they exert.

Even more chillingly, at least to republicans, many will be wondering if there are more agents in influential positions in the republican movement.

Donaldson said yesterday he had been working as an agent since the 1980s, so it is hardly stretching the imagination to think that others have been equally busy.

This all would be fascinating enough if it was just a simple Brits v Shinners dirty war. But it isn't.

We all have been caught up in the fall-out. We don't have an Assembly even though we keep electing more than 100 members to it. We don't have a say in how this province is run, even though we have more elected politicians than we need.

Instead we have a group of imposed Direct Rule ministers who are railroading through water charges, huge rate rises, sweeping education, health and political reforms without any fear or hindrance.

We are paying double because of this dirty war - paying for politicians who are doing nothing and (soon) paying through the noses for water which falls in such copious from our skies that it continually floods our homes.

And, ultimately, there is the highest price of all - we have lost all confidence in the political process.

All of those involved in dirty wars end up being soiled and most people don't want to share in that contamination.


Denis Donaldson admits spying but says 'Stormontgate' a fiction

Irish Independent

06:06 Saturday December 17th 2005

The so called Stormontgate affair has been described as nothing more than a fiction and a scam created by the special branch

Those are the claims of a top republican who last night confirmed that he was a British agent

Denis Donaldson who served as Sinn Fein's Head of Administration at Stormont was expelled from its ranks on Thursday

He's confirmed that he was recruited in the 1980's at a particularly vulnerable time in his life and was paid for his covert services

Gerry Adams revealed that Mr Donaldson was approached by police officers earlier in the week and told he was about to be "outed" as an informer

Speaking in Dublin last night, Mr Adams said he would be utterly amazed if Tony Blair was aware of the activities

DONALDSON STATEMENT IN FULL:

This is the full statement by the former Sinn Fein head of administration at
Stormont, Denis Donaldson:

``My name is Denis Donaldson. I worked as a Sinn Fein Assembly group administrator in Parliament Buildings at the time of the PSNI raid on the Sinn Fein offices in October 2002 - the so-called Stormontgate affair. I was a British agent at the time. I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.

``Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch. Over that period I was paid money.

``My last two contacts with Special Branch were as follows - two days before my arrest in October 2002 and last night, when a member of the special branch contacted me to arrange a meeting.

``I was not involved in any republican spy ring in Stormont. The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction, it never existed, it was created by Special Branch.

``I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch. I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result of my activities as well as to my former comrades and especially to my family who have become victims in all of this.''


Mystery of Sinn Féin man who spied for British

Guardian

· Party expels member who was agent for 20 years
· New pressure on Blair to make statement


Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Saturday December 17, 2005
The Guardian

A top Sinn Féin member who headed the party's Stormont offices last night confessed that he had been spying for the British for 20 years. Denis Donaldson, a 55-year-old former head of administration at Stormont, said he was recruited in the 1980s as a paid agent and deeply regretted working for British intelligence.

His admission, which prompted his expulsion from the party, is the latest twist in a three-year saga dubbed "Stormontgate" in which allegations of an IRA spy ring in Northern Ireland's parliament led to the suspension of the assembly in 2002 and three years of direct rule.

Nationalist and unionist politicians last night demanded that Tony Blair make a statement shedding some light on what appeared to be an increasingly murky affair. The Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, described Mr Donaldson's confession as "as bizarre as it gets".

Mr Donaldson was working as a Sinn Féin administrator in Parliament Buildings when police raided his party's offices in October 2002. Officers investigating an alleged IRA spy ring seized computer disks in what would become one of the highest profile spying cases in Northern Ireland. The government swiftly suspended the assembly after unionists threatened to resign.

Mr Donaldson and his son-in-law, Ciaran Kearney, a community worker, were arrested and charged with having documents likely to be of use to terrorists. A civil servant, William Mackessy, was charged with collecting information on the security forces. Hundreds of prison officers whose names were believed to have fallen into IRA hands were warned about threats to their safety. But last week the case against the three men was suddenly dropped in an unscheduled Belfast court hearing.

The court was told simply that the director of proscutions felt going ahead was "no longer in the public interest". Mr Donaldson said last night in a statement to Irish state broadcaster RTE recorded in a Dublin hotel room: "I was a British agent at the time. I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life. Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch. Over that period I was paid money. I was not involved in any republican spy ring in Stormont. The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction. It never existed; it was created by Special Branch."

His confession will increase demands for Mr Blair to shed light on the case and explain why charges against Mr Donaldson were dropped with no explanation. Unionists believed the IRA had been gathering intelligence and demanded to know if the government had forced the case to be dropped to spare Sinn Féin's blushes.

Mr Donaldson, who was once photographed with hunger striker Bobby Sands, appeared last week alongside Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams outside Stormont, jubilant that his name had been cleared. The party then accused politically motivated "securocrats" of orchestrating a baseless case to bring down the power-sharing government at Stormont and Mr Donaldson said he was considering suing the police.

When Mr Adams announced yesterday that Mr Donaldson had confessed he was a British agent, even those who knew him were stunned. Mr Adams said Mr Donaldson had been warned by police this week that he was going to be outed as a spy and his life was in danger. This prompted him to confess his double life to senior party officials. He deeply regretted working for British intelligence and apologised to his "former comrades" and to his family.

Not since Freddie Scappaticci - "Stakeknife", a former member of the IRA's internal security unit - was alleged in 2003 to have been the highest ranking British agent working inside the Provos, have the republicans faced such an uproar over alleged informers.

The Northern Ireland Office refused to comment on the claim that Mr Donaldson was a spy, but said the 2002 Stormont raids were conducted for no other reason than to "prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering". But the the moderate nationalist SDLP said there was a "distinct possibility" Mr Donaldson was being used as a scapegoat to cover someone else. Alasdair McDonnell, an SDLP MP, said: "It is time for Sinn Féin to stop trying to cover up. Now that the truth is coming out, we hope they will also face up to the truth of the Stakeknife affair and admit who knew what and when."

The spying game

Denis Donaldson is the new face in the IRA's rogues' gallery of alleged touts working for the British security services. Normally informants are interrogated, hooded and shot, though some have survived in hiding. There have been scores over the years, including:

Eamon Collins
He was battered to death in his hometown of Newry in 1999. He had renounced violence, turned informer and written an explosive book, Killing Rage, that revealed the organisation's violence.

Freddie Scappaticci
Said to be a former senior member of the IRA's internal security unit, Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife, was alleged to be the highest ranking British agent working inside the Provos. He quit his west Belfast home following newspaper allegations in May 2003. He gave a press conference after the allegations were made to deny the claims but has since vanished from public view.

Robert Lean
Twenty years ago Lean, one of the IRA's top men, turned Special Branch informant. Police believed his evidence would be enough to bring down the Provisionals. He revealed dozens of names before he was moved into Palace Barracks near Belfast. But his conscience got the better of him and he escaped and confessed to his former associates. They immediately ordered him to leave the city. He has not been heard or seen since.

Gregory Burns, John Dignam, Aidan Starrs
The IRA murdered all three and dumped their bodies in 1992. It was claimed they were police and MI5 informers who had been tried and executed by the organisation.


Scappaticci/Stakeknife


cryptome.org



Scappaticci/Stakeknife Court Papers



Go >>here

Related:

stakeknife-loss

fru-stakeknife


Today in history: Harrods bomb blast kills six

BBC ON THIS DAY

17 December 1983



Three police officers and three members of the public have been killed and 75 others injured after a car bomb attack in central London.

Police believe the IRA planted the bomb in a side street near Harrods department store in Knightsbridge.

A coded warning was received at 1245 GMT but the device exploded just before 1330 when it is believed to have killed four police officers who were approaching it.

A huge blast ripped through the busy streets which were crowded with Christmas shoppers.

It sent out thick black smoke, rubble and smashed glass.

Many walking wounded were treated at the scene while those suffering more serious injuries were taken to nearby hospitals by ambulance and army vehicles.

Four hospitals were put on emergency alert to expect serious casualties.

Staff at the Harrods store reported seeing windows blown out into the shop and seeing colleagues and shoppers badly injured.

Second warning

Police worked to evacuate the area fearful other explosives might have been planted in surrounding shops and streets.

They evacuated stores and flats but had to repeat appeals to the public to empty the streets as chaos gripped the area.

Officers cordoned off the buildings affected and began a detailed search for evidence from today's explosion and to ensure there were no further devices.

A second warning call was made to authorities at the time of the first explosion claiming a bomb had been placed in the heart of Oxford Street.

It was said to be at the C&A store on the east side of the shopping street.

Police tried to clear the area crowded with shoppers and cordoned it off but it was later found to be a false alarm.

Today's events come after a series of threats from the IRA in recent days that it was planning a pre-Christmas bombing campaign in the capital.

In Context

In fact, 90 people were injured in the blast which took place on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The following day the IRA admitted planting the car bomb and said it had given a clear warning about the explosion.

But Scotland Yard denounced the organisation and stepped up security in the city.

Hundreds of extra police and mobile bomb squads were drafted into London to protect the public from any further attacks.

Harrods re-opened three days later despite the damage.

Its owners said the store would not be defeated by acts of terrorism.

16 December 2005

SF member expelled as securocrats role in collapsing Executive exposed - Adams

Sinn Féin

**Hmm...Donaldson is out in a jiffy. Scappaticci is still lolling around in Italy, is it? And this is 'entirely the responsibility of the British government". --the World According to Sinn Féin

Published: 16 December, 2005

Sinn Féin has revealed that a member of the party in Belfast, Denis Donaldson, was expelled last night after it was uncovered that he had been working as a British agent. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will hold a press conference today at 4pm (Friday 16th) in the Joyce Room in the Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin.

Speaking in Dublin this morning Mr. Adams said:

“The nature of British rule in Ireland is that for a very long time it has been driven by a security agenda, with policy dictated by British Intelligence, state police and military agencies. The Good Friday Agreement is, as much as anything else, about ending that.

“The collapse of the power sharing government was blamed on allegations of a Sinn Fein spy ring at Stormont.

“The fact is that there was no Sinn Féin spy ring at Stormont.

The fact is that this was a carefully constructed lie created by the Special Branch in order to cause maximum political impact.

The fact is that the collapse of the political institutions was a direct result of the actions of some of those who run the intelligence and policing system of the British.

The fact is that the key person at the centre of those events was a Sinn Féin member who was a British agent.

“This is entirely the responsibility of the British government.

“What is clear is that there are those within the PSNI and the intelligence agencies who are a law onto themselves, who use informers, spies and agents and who are operating to their own agenda with no accountability. They are manipulating the situation for their own narrow ends. They have sought to undermine Sinn Féin and are working against the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement which is the publicly stated policy of the British and Irish governments. The British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach have to wake up to this reality.

“Sinn Féin has been very conscious of the negative role being played by elements within the British system and we have raised these matters consistently with both governments. If Britain’s war is over then the British Prime Minister needs to come to terms with the fact that he has to end the activities of the securocrats. This entire episode underlines the need for an end to political policing. That, and defending the Good Friday Agreement remains the focus of Sinn Féin.” ENDS

Flynn escapes conviction over gun find

BreakingNews.ie

16/12/2005 - 11:54:45



Former government aide, Phil Flynn, today agreed to pay €5,000 to charity after a miniature gun and ammunition was found in a desk drawer in his office in Dublin.

Escaping conviction at Richmond District Court, the 65-year-old admitted having a pen gun and two tear gas cartridges.

Mr Flynn, a lifelong trade unionist and former vice president on Sinn Féin, agreed to donate the money to a local priest. He will have no criminal record.

Judge Anne Ryan told the court the only sentencing options open to her were a €250 fine or 12 months in prison. But given Mr Flynn’s high profile role in industrial relations the judge said a conviction and sentencing would interfere with his work.

After considering testimonials for almost 20 minutes, Judge Ryan said: “The fine open to the court is €253.95 and the court considers that in all circumstances that a fine if imposed would interfere with Mr Flynn’s livelihood, I’m taking all these matters into account, the court will accept a contribution,” she said.

Mr Flynn agreed to pay the €5,000 to Father Peter McVerry, a priest who works with young offenders, today.

Sinn Féin expels 'British agent' in Stormont row

BreakingNews.ie

16/12/2005 - 15:13:31

A top republican was thrown out of Sinn Féin tonight after its leader Gerry Adams alleged he was working as a British agent.

Denis Donaldson, 55, the party’s former head of administration, was expelled after an investigation by the leadership.

Eight days after he and two other men were cleared of spying charges inside Stormont, Sinn Féin announced he had been told to quit last night.

A statement from Mr Adams said: “The collapse of the power sharing government was blamed on allegations of a Sinn Féin spy ring at Stormont.

“The fact is that there was no Sinn Féin spy ring at Stormont.

“The fact is that this was a carefully constructed lie created by the Special Branch in order to cause maximum political impact.

“The fact is that the collapse of the political institutions was a direct result of the actions of some of those who run the intelligence and policing system of the British.

“The fact is that the key person at the centre of those events was a Sinn Féin member who was a British agent.

“This is entirely the responsibility of the British Government.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said: ``Police do not confirm or deny whether an individual is or was an informant.''

In October 2002, Mr Donaldson, his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney and civil servant William Mackessy were arrested on suspicion of operating a spy ring at Stormont.

Police Land Rovers raided Sinn Féin’s offices at Stormont in scenes which resulted in the then Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid suspending devolution in Northern Ireland in an attempt to stave off a unionist walkout from the power sharing executive.

Eight days ago, the Public Prosecution Service announced it was no longer pursuing a case against the three men because it was not in the public interest.

Sinn Féin said the decision to drop the charges against the men was proof that the Stormontgate raids were part of a political policing operation.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain have faced demands from unionists and moderate nationalists in recent days for a Parliamentary statement explaining why the Public Prosecution Service withdrew the case.

Following separate meetings with Lord Goldsmith on Wesdnesday, the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists, the nationalist SDLP and Ulster Unionists complained that he stonewalled them when they asked what the public interest was.

Sinn Féin leader Mr Adams was due to hold a press conference later at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel following the decision to expel Mr Donaldson.

Republicans were left reeling today by the claims against Mr Donaldson, a popular figure within Sinn Féin.

As the head of Sinn Féin’s administration at Stormont at the time of the spy ring allegations in October 2002, he was a familiar face around Parliament Buildings.

During devolution, he would have come into contact with other political parties on a day to day basis, popping in and out of their offices.

In May 2003, the Republican Movement was also stunned when it was claimed west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci was one of the British Army’s most valued intelligence agents, Stakeknife.

Mr Scappaticci strenuously denied the claims at a press conference.

In his statement today, Mr Adams criticised the use of informers and agents by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The West Belfast MP said: “What is clear is that there are those within the PSNI and the intelligence agencies who are a law unto themselves, who use informers, spies and agents and who are operating to their own agenda with no accountability.

“They are manipulating the situation for their own narrow ends. They have sought to undermine Sinn Féin and are working against the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement which is the publicly stated policy of the British and Irish Governments.

“The British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach have to wake up to this reality.”

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin had alerted the British and Irish Governments to the negative role in the peace process being played out by elements within the British system.

He continued: “If Britain’s war is over then the British Prime Minister needs to come to terms with the fact that he has to end the activities of the securocrats.

“This entire episode underlines the need for an end to political policing. That, and defending the Good Friday Agreement remains the focus of Sinn Féin.”

Unionists said tonight they were astonished by the expulsion.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “This has certainly given an added twist to the entire Stormontgate scandal, and confirms our view that the reasons the court decided not to prosecute was because to do so would have compromised an agent of the state and sensitive security documents.


Sinn Fein expels 'British agent'

BBC


Mr Donaldson (front) appeared at a party news conference last week

A veteran Sinn Fein figure has been expelled by the party which accused him of being a "British agent".

Charges of involvement in an alleged IRA spy ring against the party's former Stormont head of administration, Denis Donaldson, were dropped by the Crown.

Party leader Gerry Adams claimed he was about to be "outed" by the same "securocrats" who set him up as a spy.

The government said the October 2002 Stormont raid was solely to prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed following the arrests of three men, who had all charges against them dropped last week.

The Northern Ireland Office said in a statement on Friday that they "completely reject any allegation that the police operation in October 2002 was for any reason other than to prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering".


SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

--4 October 2002: Three men arrested following raid on Sinn Fein's Stormont office. Power-sharing executive collapses and government restores direct rule to NI a week later
--8 December 2005: Charges against three men dropped "in the public interest"
--16 December 2005: Sinn Fein says one of the men was a "British agent" and expels him from the party
--Government and police reject the party's claim raid was politically motivated

>>Calls for 'Stormontgate' inquiry

It said "the fact remains that a huge number of stolen documents were recovered by the police".

At a news conference on Friday, Mr Adams claimed Mr Donaldson had been approached by police officers earlier this week and told he was about to be "outed" as an informer.

Mr Adams said he contacted Sinn Fein and at a meeting at the party's Belfast headquarters on Thursday, he admitted that he had been working for the British authorities.

He said Mr Donaldson was not under any threat from the republican movement.

There has been no comment yet from Mr Donaldson.

Last week, Mr Donaldson appeared alongside Mr Adams at Stormont after the charges were dropped.

Mr Donaldson told the news conference that the "charges should never have been brought".


"If... one of Sinn Fein's top administrators in Stormont turns out to be a British spy, this is as bizarre as it gets".
Bertie Ahern
Irish prime minister


"It was political policing and political charges and the fact that we were acquitted today proves that," he said.

The police said on Friday that it was a matter of policy to neither confirm nor deny whether any individual is or had been an informant.

Police sources reiterated that the "Stormontgate" affair began because a paramilitary organisation was involved in the systematic gathering of information and targeting or individuals.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Mr Donaldson had been known to the Irish government and if "one of Sinn Fein's top administrators in Stormont turns out to be a British spy, this is as bizarre as it gets".

'Public interest'

The BBC understands that the mole whose information prompted the Stormont raids was not Mr Donaldson, nor was it the other two men against whom the charges were dropped.

Last week, the Director of Public Prosecutions would not be drawn on why the charges were dropped, only saying that it was "in the public interest".

Other parties have demanded that Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain or Attorney General Lord Goldsmith must clarify what were these public interest reasons.

The three men were arrested following a police raid on Sinn Fein's offices at Parliament Buildings on 4 October 2002, when documents and computer discs were seized.

Following the arrests, Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists and the Ulster Unionists, led at that time by then First Minister David Trimble, threatened to collapse the executive with resignations.

The British government then suspended devolution in the province, embarking on direct rule for the last three years.

North Belfast artist unveils Larkin tribute

Irelandclick.com


James Larkin - BBC photo

Belfast is to get a permanent reminder of trade union leader James Larkin thanks to North Belfast artist Anto Brennan.
The man best known for his political chess boards, which take pride of place in the offices of power around the world, has now turned his attention to the Irish trade unionist because of a personal interest in Irish history, and the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s plans to mark their founding father.
“I just got an interest in the man about 18 months ago and have been doing a lot of reading about him,” Anto said.
“He was a real character and I hope that I have captured this in my statue.
“Lately there has been a renaissance in trade union history and when the ICTU said they wanted to commission a work to remember him I was happy to have been chosen to do this.”
James Larkin was born in Liverpool and reared by his grandparents in Newry, County Down. At the age of nine he rejoined his parents in Liverpool and became a Docker soon afterwards, eventually getting fired for joining a Dockers' strike. In 1908 Larkin moved to Dublin where he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in 1909.
He became a famous figure throughout the world organising workers throughout Ireland, England and even New York.
The statue, which was unveiled last night in the John Hewitt, is Anto’s first major public work.
“It took three months to do and I took the likeness from a photo that was taken of him from 1907.
“I wanted to capture his passion and anger. He represents a part of history everyone can buy in to.”
The statue will now be sent to Dublin for bronzing and will be erected outside the ICTU building in March.

Journalist:: Evan Short

Family want the truth over 1971 British army Ardoyne murders

Irelandclick.com

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Click to view - photo of Ardoyne 1971 from CAIN

The British government’s Historical Enquiries Team are set to re-examine the case files of Ardoyne men Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Parker and Barney Watts who were brutally murdered by the British Army in 1971.
The sister of Jo Jo Parker and wife of Barney Watts has spoken for the first time about how the British soldiers who gunned down two of the most important men in her life have never been brought to justice.
“I’ll never see justice in my lifetime for what they did to Jo Jo and Barney.
“No one has ever been prosecuted and I don’t think anyone ever will,” said Theresa Watts.
“It was murder plain and simple. Its what happened in those days. It was swept under the carpet.”
Theresa Watts was only 26 when her life was torn apart at the height of the Troubles.
Her husband Barney was shot dead in February 1971 by British paratroopers in Chatham Street and less than ten months later, on December 12 her brother Jo Jo was shot dead in Toby’s Dance Hall by the British Army.
Theresa had just finished dancing with her brother when soldiers entered the Butler Street dance hall saying there were ‘wanted men’ inside.
A row broke out and the British soldiers, according to Theresa from the Royal Irish Fusiliers shot into the air to disperse the crowd.
The British army units outside the dance hall thought their men were being shot at and rushed in shooting.
It’s now 34 years later and the pain of losing two of the most important men in her life is as fresh as it ever was.
“I remember it as if were yesterday.
“I just couldn’t believe it when I was told it was 34 years ago this week that Barney was shot dead and Jo Jo.”
Both murders will now be investigated by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which is due to start work on January 28, 2006.
The British government announced earlier this year that they were setting up a team to investigate over 2,000 deaths, which occurred throughout the Troubles.
The team will be headed up by Dave Cox and Phil James, who previously worked with John Stevens on his investigation into the murder of Pat Finucane.
The HET will operate chronologically starting with cases in 1968 and working towards 1998.
Tom Holland of the Ardoyne Commemoration Project said it was time the Parker family was told the truth.
“No inquiry was ever set up to investigate the circumstances of Jo-Jo’s killing. No one was held answerable for the tragic events that fateful night.
“In the on-going debate over whether there should be a truth recovery process, and if it is the right time to deal with the past and talk of amnesties for British security force members, the Parker family’s simple quest for the truth, like hundreds of others throughout the North, needs to be properly addressed.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

First Irish-American newspaper to sell weekly in 32 counties

Daily Ireland

“There are now a growing number of people who have investments on both sides of the Atlantic, and they're shuttling back and forth.” – Sean Mac Cárthaigh

JIM DEE - Daily Ireland USA correspondent

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After more than three quarters of a century of updating Irish immigrants and Irish-Americans about all things Irish in the US, New York’s Irish Echo newspaper has decided its time to find new readers – in Ireland itself.
As of November 30, the weekly Irish Echo became available at newsagents across Ireland’s 32 counties for the first time in its 77-year history.
Sean Mac Cárthaigh, the Echo’s managing editor, said that the change is a reflection of the fact that there is an evolving two-way trans-Atlantic migration of many of its readers.
“What’s happened basically is that, for the first time ever, there are now significant numbers of emigrants – not just coming from Ireland to the United States, but also coming from the United States to Ireland,” Mr Mac Cárthaigh told Daily Ireland.
Mr Mac Cárthaigh said that there are at least three types of readers who would be interested in picking up the Echo in Ireland: Irish who’ve lived for a while in the US and want to follow goings-on in Irish America; Irish- Americans who’ve moved to Ireland to work in the booming economy; and Irish-Americans who've crossed the Atlantic because they have an Irish spouse who wanted to move home.
“And there are other things as well,” added Mac Cárthaigh
“There are now a growing number of people who have investments on both sides of the Atlantic, and they're shuttling back and forth. It’s nothing to them to get on a plane.”
Mac Cárthaigh said that there is also another group of frequent flyers who keenly follow the Echo – shoppers.
“They want to know what the bargains are in New York.
“It used to be just Christmas, and now we find that there are people coming over here shopping all the time,” said Mac Cárthaigh.
“It’s quite fascinating. We actually do a single page each week which is devoted to telling where this week’s sales and bargains are. And it’s high fashion stuff. They’re not coming to shop in Wal-Marts. They’re coming to shop in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf-Goodman, etc.”
“So for all those reasons we felt that we basically couldn’t go on serving Irish-America, unless we were in Ireland as well,” Mac Cárthaigh added.
“It’s almost the last part of the socio-economic jigsaw for us that we have to be available in Ireland, because part of Irish-America is now in Ireland.”
The Irish Echo began publishing in New York in 1928, and it is the city’s oldest English-language weekly serving an ethnic community. For decades the paper was a vital source of information for Irish immigrants seeking to carve out a new life after leaving behind economic hardship back home.
In the years when the mass-media paid scant attention to an island tucked away in the North Atlantic, the Echo became was also essential reading for anyone seeking news from back home.
Ned McGinley, the Pennsylvania-based president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said that: “The Irish Echo has always been the paper that Irish-Americans used to learn about Ireland and to find out what was going on in this country that related to the Irish. And until the Irish Voice appeared, it was the only paper that did that.”
McGinley said that when the conflict erupted in the North in 1969, the Echo “became kind of the organ of the Irish-American groups, where we would get out information. There was no internet then, and you never got anything on the television or radio then. So it really was the only source at times for information about Ireland.”
He said the paper filled the void by giving readers a broader understanding of the conflict than the mainstream media often provided.
“The only time that it ever made headlines was if Irish republicans blew up something,” said McGinley. “They were portrayed as the only bad guys. I can remember when things changed later on and people here were shocked that there were loyalist paramilitaries.”
McGinley said that in the past it’s always been “sort of a one-way street”, in that Irish-Americans were the ones seeking news about Ireland.
“But now with the changes, and people going back to Ireland who were maybe in the states years ago, you’re going to see a market for American news in Ireland that you haven’t seen before,” said McGinley.
Sean Mac Cárthaigh said that the Echo’s decision to sell copies in Ireland is just the latest move spurred by the ever-changing global media market.
“Over the last five years or so, maybe more, with the technology and more and more people getting broadband internet connections, we found that part of the role of the Echo, of telling people the news that has been happening in Ireland, has been diminishing,” said Mac Cárthaigh
“Because if somebody is completely captivated about what’s going on in Ireland, they’re going to log-on to the internet everyday and view the news on RTÉ, or read Daily Ireland, or read the Irish Times,” he added.
“So what we try to do in the Irish Echo is to give people a reasonably comprehensive and cogent wrap of what happened that week, and maybe have some analysis of where the thing is going.”


‘Remarkable’ no one was killed in riots after Orange parades

Daily Ireland

Policing Board urged to investigate two incidents of alleged police brutality

Human rights advisers have said it is “remarkable” no one was killed during intense rioting following two Orange Order marches in Belfast earlier in the year.
A report published yesterday focusing on violent parades at Ardoyne on July 12, and on the Springfield Road on September 10, ruled that the PSNI was justified in firing nearly 260 plastic bullets.
However, human rights advisers to the Policing Board did call on Chief Constable Hugh Orde to investigate two alleged incidents of PSNI brutality.
In images captured on camera officers are seen kicking and beating men in two separate incidents on the loyalist Shankill Road.
Other recommendations include the PSNI obtaining modern screening equipment to keep rival factions apart, and ensuring all officers wear identification numbers.
During both riots the PSNI fired close to 260 plastic bullets and used water cannons extensively. The British army fired five live rounds and 140 plastic bullets.
The report found that in Ardoyne nationalists threw blast and petrol bombs at the PSNI, while on the Springfield Road officers had 150 live rounds fired at them by loyalists along with hundreds of blast and petrol bombs.
Commenting on the disturbances lawyers Keir Stamer and Jane Gordon said: “That no one was killed and that there were so few serious injuries to police officers, the military or members of the public is remarkable.”
SDLP South Down MP and chairman of the Human Rights and Professional Standings Committee, Eddie McGrady, said: “The board, as part of its role in monitoring complaints against the police will be consulting the Police Ombudsman regarding complaints made following both the Ardoyne and Whiterock parades and any major policy issues arising.
“The Police Ombudsman will also investigate and report on the firing of all AEP impact rounds [plastic bullets] and these reports will be sent to the board in due course."
Chairman of the Policing Board, Professor Des Rea, believes the violence on the streets after both parades was among the worst witnessed in years.
“We cannot afford a rerun of what happened this year next year,” he added.

‘OTR’ law blasted by brother of Para victim

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston

The brother of a young man killed by British paratroopers in one of the worst massacres of the Troubles last night called for the scrapping of the proposed Northern Ireland Offences Bill as controversy surrounding the planned legislation deepened.
Under the proposals of the new legislation people currently classified as ‘On the Runs’ will not have to serve time in prison for offences committed before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.
Their cases would instead be heard by a tribunal and if found guilty they would not be imprisoned but would receive a criminal record.
There are believed to be around 20-30 OTRs living mainly in the Republic.
However the legislation proposed by the British government last month also covered all members of the British security forces involved in state killings or in collusion with loyalist paramilitary murder gangs.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said that the families of those whose loved ones had been killed by state forces would never accept legislation that allowed the killers to escape court.
His comments came after newly installed Tory leader, David Cameron, on a visit to Belfast, said that so-called ‘On the Runs’ must appear in court as part of the legislation.
DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, also claimed the British government was considering alterations to the proposed legislation.
In his strongest attack on the legislation to date, John Kelly told Daily Ireland: “It should be scrapped – pure and simple. This is a diabolical piece of legislation and the security forces have been removed from it.
“There's no sense in beating about the bush on this one any longer.
“The soldiers who killed our loved ones should not only be brought before a court, but prosecuted as well."
Meanwhile new Tory leader David Cameron has stated he would support the peace process during a visit to Lagan College, the North's first integrated secondary school for Catholics and Protestants.
He said his party would work with the government to bring peace and progress to the North but stressed his inaugural visit as leader was designed to listen to people's concerns.

Laughing up his sleeve

Daily Ireland

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said yesterday he was ‘highly amused’ when questioned over his role in the Frank Connolly saga

Connla Young

Journalist Frank Connolly has broken his silence on the Michael McDowell controversy just hours after the Irish justice minister said he now finds being questioned about the saga by the press amusing.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Ireland last night Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI) head Frank Connolly says he's heartened by the number of messages of support received from colleagues and the public since the storm broke over allegations by Michael McDowell that he took part in an IRA mission to Colombia.
Mr Connolly, who has denied ever applying for a false passport, as alleged by Minister McDowell, or travelling to Colombia to meet with Farc rebels, says the campaign against him has become “Kafkaesque".
“I'm like a butterfly in a tsunami at the minute but it's clear that there's an awful lot of support out there.
“Messages of support, by phone, text and email, have been coming to me personally and to the centre over the past few days.
“A quick look at the letters page of the Irish Times shows that the public knows this is a witch-hunt by Michael McDowell. This is an issue of human rights and the public sees it that way."
Mr Connolly said he may issue a comprehensive statement in coming days.
The board of the CPI yesterday issued its first statement since the controversy broke in the Dáil.
Centre chairman Fergus Flood has already said that he's keen to meet with American philanthropist Chuck Feeney whose Atlantic Philanthropies decided on December 7 to cease further funding for the investigative body. It's believed Mr Feeney, who declines press interviews, is in Ireland this week.
Mr Connolly's remarks came just hours after Mr McDowell told a Dublin radio reporter he was amused that journalists should continue to question him about the Connolly affair. The minister for justice also endorsed an article in yesterday's Irish Times by Kevin Myers which supports his position.
“I read the papers the same as your self, I am not discussing this issue here today. Listen, I am highly amused by people asking me now to deal with issues when they were all screaming at me about talking about this issue. One recommendation to all of you, read Kevin Myers, put it up on your wall, and memorise it."
Mr McDowell continues to stand by his claims despite reports that a private investigation company hired by Chuck Feeney to look into Mr Connolly's background gave the former Sunday Business Post journalist a clean bill of health.


Belfast Telegraph

Order 'disingenuous' over meetings

By Chris Thornton
16 December 2005

Members of the Orange Order have been involved in "umpteen" meetings with the Parades Commission in spite of the group's official ban on contact, outgoing Parades Commission chairman Sir Anthony Holland reveals today.

The Commission chairman, who finishes almost six years of leading the marching body on New Year's Eve, said the Order has been "disingenuous" about its position.

In an interview in today's Belfast Telegraph, he also accused some residents' groups of throwing up "artificial barriers" to parades and indicated he is not "wildly enthusiastic" about the presence of two Portadown Orangemen on the new Commission.

Sir Tony said former Portadown District Master David Burrows is the only member of the new Commission he had met previously - as part of the "unofficial contacts with the Orange".

"We've had secret meetings, private meetings, non-attributable meetings, all sorts of meetings with members of the Orange Order, sometimes as members of the Orange Order, sometimes in different capacities," he said.

He said some residents' groups have turned meetings with marchers into a stalling process.

"But they get away with that, in inverted commas, because until there's proper engagement from the Orange they don't have to actually crystallise the arguments and the rationale they've got against the parade," he said.

Asked about the presence of two Portadown Orangemen on the new Commission, Sir Tony said: "There used to be a saying you used to see in Yes, Minister: 'That's a brave decision, Minister', meaning of course that the civil servant wasn't wildly enthusiastic. "I think it's a brave decision, actually.

"But it could work."


PSNI crime stats lack credibility

Irelandclick.com

• SF councillor says crime figures are ‘artificial’ and are much higher than PSNI claims
• Robberies up by 100 per cent
• Criminal damage cases up by ten per cent

Fresh figures released by the PSNI which show North Belfast is the criminal damage and robbery capital of the city are only the tip of the iceberg Sinn Féin has said.
Oldpark Councillor Carál Ní Chuilín has questioned the accuracy of the figures released by the PSNI which show a 10 per cent increase in the amount of criminal damage offences recorded in the north of the city on this time last year.
The figures also show more than a 100 per cent increase in the number of robberies carried out, with a massive hike from 107 to 217 incidents.
According to the statistics there have been 1659 cases of criminal damages recorded in North Belfast from April until October as opposed to 1504 for the same period in the previous year. In comparison only 955 cases were recorded in East Belfast while there were 1379 cases in West Belfast and 1456 cases in the south of the city.
Sinn Féin Councillor Carál Ní Chuilín said the figures “lacked credibility”.
“I would say these figures are artificial like many police figures which are released by the PSNI – we do not feel they reflect the reality of the situation in North Belfast.
“A lot of people in North Belfast would tend not to report crime simply because they do not have faith in the police service. At present we have a political police force and our position has always been that we need a police, which has complete trust of both communities.
“There have been too many years of bad policing in North Belfast with many people here having lost people through collusion.
“We understand there is high crime in North Belfast, so it’s important we work collectively to resolve the problem of criminality.”
SDLP councillor and member of the North Belfast District Policing Partnership, Pat Convery, said members of the community needed to report crime to the PSNI .
“The only way we can reduce these figures is by cooperating and engaging with police to highlight the problems within local community,” Pat Convery said.
The councillor said he was aware that a significant portion of criminal damage was carried out late at night. But he said by not engaging with the PSNI, the community was allowing crime to increase.
“Lots of criminal damage is carried out late at night and very seldom is it observed, so it’s an issue that is extremely worrying for everyone.
“It’s something that we as a community need to work on to help reduce, and reduce permanently.
“We need to double efforts within the community to make sure that behaviour like this is unacceptable.
“Residents within the community have to realise that crime is causing hardship to others. If they want a responsible community then they have to act responsibly.”
Meanwhile the Policing Board have released their latest figures on how the PSNI is being received by Protestant and Catholic communities.
The results have been taken from a survey of 996 people and they show a fall in confidence in the PSNI’s ability to deal with public order situations while only nine per cent of those asked felt the overall standard of policing in their area had improved.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

Dallat is quizzed in UFF death squad inquiry

Belfast Telegraph

By Clare Weir
16 December 2005

An Assembly member has been questioned by the Police Ombudsman over alleged police collusion in the Castlerock and Greysteel massacres.

SDLP East Londonderry Assembly Member John Dallat said he was quizzed over information he gave to police about the killer gang thought to be behind both atrocities.

Four workmen were shot dead by UFF gunmen at Castlerock in March 1993. The following October eight people were murdered in the Rising Sun bar at Greysteel - crimes that Dallat said last night "could have been averted" because of information he gave about Torrens Knight, one of the UFF men convicted for the Greysteel murders.

Mr Dallat also expressed concern that the OTR legislation currently going through the Westminster parliament may scupper an investigation into possible collusion in both cases.

"Both Greysteel and Castlerock could have been averted had this been dealt with properly. The police officers I was dealing with were good honest men but they were up against an intelligence network.

"I raised serious concerns about the existence of a UFF gang headed by Torrens Knight whom I knew was based in Macosquin," he said.

Although he said a police raid took place, the Castlerock shooting followed.

He added: "In the period between March and October I was repeatedly assured that the killer gang was being carefully monitored in its movements and this appeared to be backed up by a 24-hour checkpoint on both bridges in Coleraine for a prolonged period.

"Unfortunately the plan failed and a further eight people lost their lives at Greysteel before arrests were made."

Mr Dallat added that his calls for investigation into claims that Knight was a member of the Force Research Unit formed part of the Police Ombudsman's inquiry.

The Police Ombudsman confirmed yesterday that Mr Dallat had been interviewed and that more witnesses could be questioned in the coming days.

Former soldier found dead in cell

BreakingNews.ie

15/12/2005 - 19:16:40

A former soldier jailed over the loyalist murder of two Catholic workmen was found dead in his cell today.

Investigators were called in to Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim after John Marsden’s body was discovered.

Marsden, 30, who served with the Royal Signal Corps before being dismissed, was jailed for life for supplying the gun used in the double sectarian killing in May 1994.

Armagh men Eamon Fox, 44, and Gary Convie, 24, were shot dead by an Ulster Volunteer Force gunman as they ate lunch in a parked car near a building site at Tigers Bay, north Belfast.

Marsden, who was 19 at the time of the murders, was said to have collected the weapon and later hid the killer’s clothes.

He was released in July 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement early release scheme for paramilitary prisoners.

But in September of this year Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain ordered him to be put back behind bars because he was seen as a danger to the public.

Marsden, believed to be from the Ormeau area of Belfast, had been charged with driving while unfit and drugs possession.

But he decided to stay with other life sentencers, rather than go onto the separate Erne House wing with loyalist inmates.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed he was found dead in his single-bed cell shortly before 9am today.

A spokesman said: “The next of kin, Coroner and police have been informed.

“In compliance with procedures introduced in September 2005, the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office has been asked to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.”

However, it is not being treated as suspicious.

Loyalist sources said Marsden, who was thought to have been appealing his return to prison, had distanced himself from the UVF since his conviction.

Women's inequality - legacy of Irish counter-revolution

An Phoblacht

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Click to view - Photo: Countess Markievicz

Equality - Astonishing low level of women in Irish politics and public life

In an article first published in Múscail last February, Caolfhionn Ní Dhonnabháin argues that the current appallingly low level of female participation in parliament and positions of power in the 26 Counties, must be viewed against the backdrop of partition and the subsequent development of the Free State.

If you were to be told that a state existed where 50% of the population was White and the other 50% was Black and were then told that only 13% of those elected to the parliament of that state were black, would you be outraged?

Currently 13.8%, or 23 out of 166, of those elected to the Dáil are women. The world average for the participation of women in parliament is 15.4%. The European average is 18.1%. The 26 Counties falls below the Sub-Saharan African average of 14.6%. Turkemenistan has twice the percentage of female elected representatives as the 26 Counties while Sweden at 45.5% has over three times as many.

Only three out of the 14 Ministers which Bertie Ahern nominated to Cabinet in the current Dáil are women while only one out of the 17 Ministers of State which he appointed are women. According the figures published by the National Women's Council of Ireland, women account for only 3% of managing directors, 9% of secretaries general in the civil service and 7% of high court judges.

Yet the astonishingly low level of female participation in parliament and in positions of power has not been met with an outcry. That is because inequality for women has been ingrained in the state since its foundations. The current role and position of women in the 26 Counties must be viewed against the background of partition and the development of the Fee State.

Writing in the Irish Worker in March 1914 James Connolly warned that partition "would mean a carnival of reaction both North and South, would set back the wheels of progress". This proved to be the case for women in the new 26-County state.

Ireland had a vibrant women's equality movement at the beginning of the 20th Century, led by women such as Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Meg Connery and Margaret Cousins. Many of those active in the organisations of suffragism were also active in nationalist and socialists organisations.

James Connolly, a champion of equal rights for women often spoke at meetings of the Irish Women's Franchise League (IWFL), which was established in 1908.

The years directly preceding the Easter Rising were characterised by a debate between those women who sought a parallel fight for women's rights and those who believed that this could be put on hold until the establishment of an independent Ireland when such rights would be delivered on.

Women participated in Sinn Féin, the Irish Citizen Army and the Gaelic League on equal grounds as men but were not admitted to the Irish Volunteers, a fact that resulted in the foundation of Cumann na mBan.

The Irish Citizen, the paper of the IWFL, criticised Cumann na mBan for accepting an inferior role to men in the struggle for Irish freedom while Cumann na mBan pointed out that a vote in a British parliament would be of little use and Inghinidhe na hÉireann were contemptuous of the idea of demanding votes for women along with Home Rule.

The suffragette Emeline Pankurst once said: "We are here to claim our right as women, not only to be free but to fight for freedom" and in many ways this statement encapsulates the dilemma faced by some Irish women at the turn of the last century who chose to give precedence to the fight for women's rights because they could not accept an inferior role to men in the fight for Irish freedom.

The 1916 Proclamation addressed to Irishmen and Irishwomen, promised equal rights and universal suffrage. Women participated in the 1916 Rising and the Tan War. Women's involvement in political campaigns in Ireland went back centuries including the Societies of United Irishwomen, the Ladies' Land League, the Gaelic League, Inghinidhe na hÉireann, militant suffragism, Cumann na mBan and the Citizen Army all of which contributed to the acceptance of women's equality espoused in the 1916 Proclamation. Those who did not accept women's equality at the time of the 1916, such as Eamon De Valera who refused to allow women in Boland's Mills during the Rising, went on to form part of the reactionary establishment in later years.

A resolution affirming women's equality within Sinn Féin was passed by the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1917. However, with the exception of Constance Markievicz who ran in the Dublin constituency of St Patrick's, women were not nominated by Sinn Féin to contest winnable constituencies in the General Election of 1918. Winifred Carney, a member of Cumann na mBan who was also active in the suffrage and socialist movements, was nominated for a largely unionist Central/East Belfast constituency which she had no chance of winning while Hannah Sheehy Skeffington refused the unwinnable constituency of North Antrim. Surprisingly Kathleen Clarke was not nominated to run in any constituency. Only one of the Sinn Féin Deputies elected to the First Dáil — Constance Markievicz — was a women.

Cumann na mBan members opposed the Treaty by a huge majority, partly because women stood to lose more by a compromise settlement. They rightly saw that their rights would only be guaranteed by a republican victory. Women were prominent in the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War.

It has been argued that the Civil War had a negative effect on male perceptions of women's right to participate in political life and this perception was translated into legislation enacted by successive Free State governments, which placed obstacles in the way of women's participation in politics. However, the fact that those who came to power in the 26 Counties post-partition came from a conservative tenant farmer class, who were equally opposed to the causes of feminism and socialism, also played its part.

Though in 1921 women in the 26 Counties were granted an equal right vote as men, women's access to power by way of economic independence came under attack from the reactionary governments of Cumann na nGael and Fianna Fáil. A raft of legislation was introduced in the period following partition including the discriminatory Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 1925, the Juries Act 1927 and Conditions of Employment Bill 1935.

The Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 1925 sought to confine state examinations for senior civil service positions to men. The legacy of this legislation is clearly evident in the figures referred to earlier which show that women currently account for only 9% of Secretaries General, the highest grade in the civil service

Despite the fact that women had served as judges in the Republican Courts during the Tan War, the Juries Act, 1927 was introduced to exempt women from jury service.

The Conditions of Employment Bill 1935 gave power to the Minister for Industry to restrict employment of women in industry. Among those who campaigned against this were women such as Helena Moloney and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, while the Labour Party, which claimed to represent the legacy of Connolly, argued against equal pay for women and gave complete support to the Bill.

The 1937 Constitution marked a low point for Irish women. It marked a definitive break with the promise of equality for all citizens contained in the 1916 Proclamation and was strongly opposed by many of the women who had been involved in the struggle for independence along with those women who had been involved in the Suffrage Movement. Women who had fought equally for a free Ireland were not about to be sent back into the home by De Valera and the Catholic Church.

The period since 1937 saw a minimal advance in the participation of women in Irish political and civic life. The combination of the power of the Church and the reactionaries of Cumann na nGael — later Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who ran the State worked to halt the progress of women. That period saw the collapse of the Mother and Child Scheme, the archaic restrictions on contraception and the endurance of the marriage ban until the introduction of the Employment Equality Act in 1977.

The lack of progress in those years is evidenced by the somewhat startling fact that when Maire Geogheghan-Quinn was appointed to Cabinet in 1979 it was the first time that a woman had been appointed to cabinet since Constance Markievicz had been Minister for Labour in the First Dáil in 1919 when she was the first woman in Europe to achieve such a position.

The governments which took power following the establishment of the Free State sought to row back the progress made by women during the early years of the century when, through their involvement in the organisations of nationalism, socialism and suffragism, they claimed their right to equality. The men of Cumann na nGael and Fianna Fáil worked to ensure that women would never again reach the positions of power which they held when Cumann na mBan overwhelmingly rejected the Treaty.

Undoubtedly the obstacles erected by the reactionary parties which came to power in the 26 Counties after partition have contributed to the fact the percentage of elected representatives and those in positions of power such as the higher levels of the civil service remain staggeringly low compared to many other states.

If progress is to be made in bringing about a balanced participation of women and men in decision making we must reject the reactionary, anti-woman state fashioned by Cumann na nGael and Fianna Fáil following partition and strive towards the creation of the Republic envisaged in the Proclamation.

Keepers of the flame

An Phoblacht

BY Mícheál MacDonncha

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Click to view - A Living Music - Travellers and Irish Traditional Music

Irish traditional music is heard, respected and enjoyed today on electronic media and in live performance all over the world but it was once the object of snobbery and derision in this country. At its lowest ebb it was referred to as 'tinker music' because for a long period the only visible performers of the music in many parts of the country were Travellers. For Travellers the jibe is not an insult now but a tribute because our music may well have perished but for the Travelling people who kept it alive.

Despite the Gaelic revival, Irish traditional music was marginalised for much of the early and middle part of the 20th Century. Conradh na Gaeilge held feiseanna and concerts which provided platforms for musicians and singers. But when the recording of music began, very little traditional music was recorded in Ireland. Most recordings were done in the United States and records of the likes of emigrant Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman were sent from America and had a huge influence. But it was Traveller musicians who kept the flame alive at home in Ireland. They carried tunes and styles around the country, linking the isolated pockets of tradition from the hills and glens of Donegal to the little towns of County Clare and the slopes of Sliabh Luachra.

One such Traveller musician who has attained the status of legend was Johnny Doran. Born in Rathnew, County Wicklow, he was a great-grandson of the 19th Century uilleann piper John Cash. Taking up the pipes himself, Johnny Doran travelled the length and breadth of Ireland in the 1930s and '40s and earned his living playing at fairs, football and hurling matches and race meetings. There was a wild spirit in Doran's playing, matched with astonishing skill. It earned him and his family a good living, relative to the poverty in which most Travelling families lived. One of Doran's last public performances was at a Clann na Poblachta rally at the request of Seán MacBride. Shortly after that, around New Year 1948, the Doran family's caravan was parked near Christ Church in Dublin when a high wall fell on it. Johnny was badly injured and died two years later.

In his Companion to Irish Traditional Music Fintan Vallely describes Johnny Doran's influence as "inestimable". One young man who saw Johnny play at the races was Willie Clancy (1918-'73) of Milltown Malbay, County Clare. He immediately wanted to take up the pipes and went on to become one of the best known and loved of traditional musicians, bridging the era of Cash and Doran with the revival of the music in the '60s and '70s.

Johnny Doran's younger brother Felix was also a piper, different in style but very skilled. He built a successful business in England and had a set of solid silver pipes made for himself. The legacy of the Dorans has been carried on by younger pipers from a Traveller background, including their relative John Rooney of Crossmaglen, Mickey Dunne of Limerick and Paddy Keenan of Bothy Band fame.

Lucky indeed were the Travellers who could earn their living from music. Others were not so fortunate, and one such was John Reilly (1926-'69). He travelled the roads of Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon and came to maturity when his tinsmith trade was no longer required, condemning him to a life of poverty and ill-health. He had a vast store of songs, only a small sample of which were recorded. Even during the revival in the '60s, unaccompanied singers were often not appreciated and an 'expert' said of John, during his one brief visit to Dublin: "We don't go in for unaccompanied songs, we're more interested in folk singers."

John Reilly had a big influence on Christy Moore who recorded a number of his songs, including The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, The Well Below the Valley and Lord Baker. But by then John was dead, having contracted pneumonia in the run-down dwelling where he lived alone in Boyle, County Roscommon. Very few appreciated him at the time but his memory is now secure, much credit for which is due to Christy Moore and to Tom Munnelly who recorded him.

John Reilly's songs were learned at the campfire and his style was for singing in such intimate surroundings. On the other hand Margaret Barry (1917-'89) was the most famous exponent of the street-singing style. With her banjo she travelled the country and lived on to win some fame in the television age. Her full-blooded and full-throated style is continued today by such as Mary Frances Keenan of Ennis, a young singer with a beautiful voice.

The Dohertys were travelling tinsmiths in County Donegal and they combined the skills of their trade with fiddle-playing. When timber fiddles were scarce they made them out of tin. Their most famous son was John Doherty (1903-'80). His style has influenced generations ofBohinta.

Many of these musicians took part in the concert last Friday. It was a brilliant night with Traveller musicians and singers, young and old, celebrating the thriving tradition which their people have helped to keep alive.

• The CD Travellers and Fellow Travellers — Keepers of the Flame (PP CD 002) is published by Pavee Point Travellers Centre, 46 Great Charles Street, Dublin 1. email: info@pavee.iol.ie; internet: www.paveepoint.ie

1966-2006: Ireland - 50 years after the Rising

An Phoblacht

BY Matt Treacy

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Click to view - Establishment lip service — Unionist exaggeration

2006 marks marks the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. The run up to this anniversary has seen the 26-County Government, spurred on by the re-popularising of republicanism in general, and rising support for Sinn Féin in particular, announce the reinstatement of the state commemoration of the Rising.

The year 1966 marked the 50th anniversary of the Rising. It was an era in which the southern political establishment still paid lip service to the ideals of 1916 and engaged in much verbalised republicanism. It was four years since the formal ending of the IRA's Border Campaign and three years before the outbreak of renewed conflict in the Six Counties with the suppression of the Civil Right Movement.

Here, An Phoblacht columnist Matt Treacy looks back at 1966 examining the attitudes of the political establishments North and South and within the Republican Movement.

1966 was a year when the 26-County state seemed to be confidently facing into a future of prosperity and international respect. The economy was opening up to foreign investment and the Fianna Fáil Government was talking about new houses and jobs and rising expectations. At Easter the state would commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

Easter Week began with De Valera reviewing a Defence Forces parade at the GPO on Easter Sunday, 10 April. Six hundred veterans of the Rising also took part. That night RTE television broadcast Cuimhnicheán -- an hour-long film celebrating the events of the Rising. The Garden of Remembrance was formally opened on Easter Monday and on 12 April, Tomás Mac Anna directed a pageant in Croke Park involving thousands of schoolchildren. There were also dozens of events organised in other parts of the state.

While the state paid lip service to the continued objective of securing national unity, in reality the 1966 events were seen as a way of legitimising and consolidating itself. Republicans, of course, took issue with this, and the Movement's commemoration's were of a different nature and led to conflict with both the Southern and Northern states.

In the 26 Counties, as in the two previous years, the Garda was directed to prevent the sale of Easter Lilies and this led to clashes with republicans. The incidents were of a relatively minor nature but did lead to a number of people being charged with assault on Gardaí in the course of their seizing collection boxes. The most serious incident took place at Midleton, County Cork on 11 April when an off-duty Garda was attacked in apparent reprisal for his taking part in the seizure of Lilies the previous day. Two men were later charged.

A number of groups also organised violent actions but these did not have the sanction of the IRA. Indeed there was concern among members of the leadership written by Joe Dolan and popularised that year by the Dubliners put it, others took a dim view. A week after the event an article in the University College Dublin magazine Campus saw it as perhaps only a portent of things to come. The piece was entitled 'Extremism' and was written by Michael O'Dea: " Although many of the trappings of the IRA and its preposterous newspaper seem laughable and even quaint, we shall ignore at our peril the threat that this body poses to law and order in Northern Ireland and in the Republic... It looks as if many more bombs, North and South, will shatter the silence of the night before the year is out." An editorial in Hibernia in November 1965 had expressed similar fears that the anniversary would provide the occasion for an "IRA renaissance".

The largest republican commemoration took place in Dublin on Easter Sunday and was subject to sustained attack by the Gardaí. In his address at Glasnevin, Sinn Féin President Tómas Mac Giolla described Seán Lemass's meeting with Six County Premier Terence O'Neill in January as a "total surrender" and as recognition of British rule in Ireland. Attempts were made by the Gardaí, under the command of Chief Superintendent Michael Fitzpatrick, to seize the flag of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. This was unsuccessful and the subsequent violence led the Labour Party to condemn the Gardaí who it claimed acted "without any provocation from members of the procession".

Around 5,000 people took part in the commemoration that had proceeded from St Stephen's Green to Glasnevin Cemetery. Séamus Costello, who was IRA acting Chief of Staff while Cathal Goulding was being held on an arms charge, was Chief Marshal. Addressing the Colour Party he said: "Now here is the order — this flag is getting to Glasnevin Cemetery. I don't care how it is getting there, but there it is getting." The Gardaí made several attempts to seize a flag that bore the inscription 'Oglaigh na hÉireann — Cathlan Atha Cliath' but were thwarted. Séamus Fagan of Windmill Park, Crumlin, Laurence Malone of Donnycarney Road, Patrick Steenson of Leinster Avenue, Leo Scullion of Annamoe Drive, James Murphy of Ringsend, Patrick Haughey of Belgrave Square, Anthony Murray of Mellowes Road Finglas, and William Boylan of Edenmore Grove, Raheny were sentenced to terms of two or three months for their part in the clashes.

A publication issued by the Republican Movement to mark the anniversary, entitled The Separatist, was banned under the Offences against the State Act. The publication was clearly an IRA initiative but it spoke of the Movement in the third person as though the authors were examining it from the outside. The introductory article noted Sinn Féin's commitment to abstaining from parliament but that the party was increasingly involved in social issues. "At the moment the Movement seeks to weld all labour and nationalist elements under the banner of freedom and equality."

The pamphlet included an interview with an IRA Volunteer who declared that before they could face the British in a military campaign they would have to " unite the people in a mass freedom movement". Such a military campaign would, however, assuredly come and the authors were confident that the IRA possessed the capability to ensure that the next time they would be successful. "They are experts in guerrilla warfare and are confident that military action in the future, coupled with economic resistance now, will win them the support of the Irish people."

The Labour TD for Dublin Southwest John O'Connell raised the seizure of The Separatist in Leinster House on 5 May. He wanted to know why copies of the pamphlet had been taken from the Drogheda printers where it was produced. The Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan referred to the criminal proceedings that had been taken and when asked by O'Connell whether he himself had read it, replied that he had and that he was satisfied that it contained "much matter which was a direct incitement of subversive activity". O'Connell had earlier enquired on what grounds the Gardaí had been ordered to seize the flag on Easter Sunday. Lenihan replied that the organisers of the demonstration had been warned in advance that its display would not be tolerated as it represented an illegal organisation. When O'Connell pressed the Minister, Lenihan retorted: "If the Deputy wants to join some of these subversive organisations, let him do so openly."

The Six-County Government was greatly concerned over the threat posed by the IRA in the run-up to the 50th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising. On 9 December, 1965 O'Neill wrote to the British Secretary for State at the Home Office, Frank Soskice to report that " we have been advised by the RUC that preparations are afoot for an early resumption of IRA activities in Northern Ireland". Among the evidence O'Neill referred to were reports that Cathal Goulding and Seán Garland had visited IRA units in the North and that arms had been brought in from the 26 Counties. O'Neill felt that those who had been trained were "impatient for action", and that "in many aspects the present situation is on a par with that which prevailed immediately before the last IRA campaign was mounted in 1956".

There had been a number of incidents including the breaking up of a British Army film show in Belfast in October 1965, and five men in semi-military uniform were arrested close to the home of the British Army GOC, Northern Ireland Command in November. The RUC also claimed that 34 training camps had been held in the 26 Counties in 1965. Lemass told the British that he was aware of IRA activities and was watching them carefully. On the whole he thought that reports of the IRA tended to be exaggerated but this did not mean that he was taking them lightly.

There was a petrol-bomb attack on an RUC Land Rover in Andersonstown on 10 February 1966, for which the IRA denied responsibility. The Belfast Telegraph also claimed that the Gardaí were preparing for an IRA campaign to begin at Easter, based on the intensive recruitment and training programme carried out by the IRA over the previous 12 months. In the course of a series of interviews with the Belfast Telegraph in February, Mac Giolla denied that the IRA had plans for a campaign. Indeed he claimed that the IRA was badly equipped for such a venture.

As Easter approached, the Northern Ireland Home Affairs Minister Robert McConnell put it on notice that no infringements of the Public Order Act or the Flags and Emblems Act would be tolerated. Wilson was informed of renewed concerns from Belfast but was assured by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins that his office was in contact with their counterparts in Dublin "who were being very co-operative". On 4 April, Jenkins sent the Prime Minster a lengthy report on the situation and the precautions that were being taken in the run-up to Easter. "Information received both from Scotland Yard and the Northern Ireland Government shows that the threat is a real one. During the last year or so there has been a steady build up of membership of the IRA, and it was estimated at the end of last year that there were some 3,000 trained members or supporters who could be called out in an emergency. Military training has been carried out at camps held secretly in various parts of Ireland, and an adequate supply of arms and ammunition is held". In response, the RUC stepped up protection of personnel and installations and there were plans to reinforce the police with the Army if that was necessary.

Apart from minor incidents Easter 1966 passed off peacefully in so far as the IRA were concerned. Despite this, the Northern Ireland authorities were still planning to take action against republicans apparently on the basis of new intelligence. The excuse used by unionists was plans for an Easter commemoration to be held at the Casement Park GAA grounds and the danger that this would provoke a counter-demonstration by Paisleyites. In consequence, the authorities had introduced a ban on cross-border rail traffic and would be monitoring road movements. They did not, however, believe that they would require military assistance.

Craig defended the actions of the Six-County Government as "necessary precautions to deal with the threatened IRA outbreak". While activity had decreased, he claimed that republicans continued to pose a threat. The Stormont Republican Labour MP Harry Diamond ridiculed this as a "mare's nest" and contrasted the hysteria over the IRA to the actual murders that had been carried out by the UVF. Diamond was referring to the murder by the UVF of John Scullion in Clonard on May 27, and of Peter Ward on 26 June. Gusty Spence and two others were arrested and charged with Ward's murder and the UVF was proscribed.

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Click to view - Easter commemoration 1966

Apart from whatever fears may have surrounded the 50th anniversary there was a suspicion that the Six-County Government had exaggerated the threat to coincide with the Westminster election campaign in which polling took place on 31 March. Republicans only stood in five of the 12 constituencies. Gerry Fitt, standing as a Republican Labour candidate, was given a free run in West Belfast and won the seat with a majority of over 2,000. The republican candidates took 82,089 votes with Tom Mitchell coming closest to being elected in Mid-Ulster with 47.75%. The overall vote in the five constituencies contested was slightly down from 1964 when they had secured 83,534.

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