24 December 2005

Merry Christmas eve!


Irish Heritage E-mail Group

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This next treat was sent out by George through his Irish Heritage E-Mail Group (link above). It's a beautiful rendition of

'Silent Night' by Enya.


Here follow the song lyrics in Gaeilge, along with their pronunciation:

Silent Night in Irish - Oiche Chiuin as Gaeilge

Silent night
Oiche Chiuin
ee-khhuh khhoon

Oiche chiuin, oiche Mhic De,
ee-khhuh khhoon, ee'ha vic day,

Cach 'na suan dis araon,
kaw'k na soon, deesh arain,

Dis is dílse 'faire le speis
deesh uhs deesh-uh far-uh luh spaysh

Naoin beag gnaoigheal ceananntais caomh
Neen byug gnee'hal kyan'antish kave,

Criost, 'na chodhladh go seimh.
Kreest na kulah guh shave,

Criost, 'na chodhladh go seimh.
Kreest na kulah guh shave,

***

Oiche chiuin, oiche Mhic De,
ee-khhuh khhoon, ee'ha vic day,

Aoiri ar dtus chuala 'n sceal;
Airee air doo's kulah nah shkay'l;

Alleluia aingeal ag glaoch.
Al-la-loo-ya angal egg glayuck,

Cantain suairc i ngar is i gcein
Kantan su-ark EE-gnar iss EEgain,

Criost an Slanaitheoir Fein
Kreest on slawn-a-hore fain,

Criost an Slanaitheoir Fein
Kreest on slawn-a-hore fain.

Donaldson spy mystery begins to become clearer

Newshound

**Love the ending

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

It is exactly one week since former Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson admitted being a British spy. Barry McCaffrey gives one of the most detailed pictures yet of how events unfolded.

Special Branch informer Denis Donaldson was last night (Thursday) still admitting the full extent of his life as a double agent to the Sinn Féin leadership.

As the 55-year-old remained in hiding further details emerged of the events which led to Donaldson being uncovered as a British agent last Friday.

Republican sources confirmed that neither Martin McGuinness nor Gerry Adams knew that the Sinn Féin administrator was a double agent when they were photographed with him at Stormont buildings on Friday December 9.

However, Donaldson's double life began to unravel at 5pm the following day when uniformed PSNI officers visited his west Belfast home and informed him that he was going to be exposed in the media.

Police returned to Donaldson's Aitnamona Crescent home at 9pm but he was not there.

Less than 15 minutes later he telephoned Declan Kearney, chairman of Sinn Féin's northern executive and Donaldson's immediate superior, to tell him that the PSNI had warned he was to be 'outed' as an informer.

Republican's say it was a coincidence that Mr Kearney's brother Ciaran was Donaldson's son-in-law and his co-accused in the Stormontgate trial that never was.

Mr Kearney advised Donaldson to go to his solicitor.

Republican sources say that Mr Kearney's instruction was in line with Sinn Féin policy in dealing with anyone who has been warned by the PSNI that they are about to be exposed as an informer.

It is unclear whether republicans believed at this stage that Donaldson was a double agent or were working under the misapprehension that this was a 'securocrat' plot to discredit Sinn Féin's leadership.

While Mr Adams would later claim that republicans had suspected for two years that there was a spy within their ranks, it is not thought that Donaldson had come under suspicion.

On Sunday Declan Kearney informed Sinn Féin's former Stormont administrator that he would be interviewed at party headquarters the following day.

Following that interview Mr Adams was told that Donaldson had admitted to being a British agent and he informed the rest of the Sinn Féin leadership on the Tuesday.

On Wednesday December 14 Donaldson had two interviews with Declan Kearney and senior Sinn Féin official Leo Green at Sinn Féin's Sevastopol Street offices.

It was at this meeting that Donaldson began to reveal the full extent of his role as a Special Branch and MI5 agent for more than 20 years.

He admitted meeting his Special Branch handlers two days before his arrest over the Stormontgate affair in October 2002.

Media reports suggested that Donaldson received £35,000 for his role as a double agent, although the real figure could total a six-figure sum, through regular payments.

At the end of that meeting Donaldson was informed that he was suspended from Sinn Féin and that he should contact his solicitor Peter Madden.

On Thursday December 16 Donaldson had two more meetings with the Sinn Féin officials, ending at 2pm.

At 4.45pm he received a telephone call at his home from a Special Branch handler, who identified himself as 'Lenny'.

The handler is understood to have asked "Do you remember me?"

"I understand you have had a visit from our uniform boys," he said.

"I think it's time we got together."

'Lenny' then gave Donaldson a mobile contact phone.

When The Irish News called the number last night it was on answerphone.

Later on Thursday night Declan Kearney met Donaldson again and informed him that he had been expelled from Sinn Féin.

It is understood that Donaldson, in the presence of his solicitor, then attempted to contact 'Lenny' but the number went to answerphone.

Hours later Donaldson and his family are understood to have gone into hiding in Dublin.

Less than 24 hours later Donaldson's 30-year career as an Irish republican was in tatters.

Republicans point to the fact that the IRA had offered amnesties to informers on three occasions during the last three decades but Donaldson chose not to come forward on any of these occasions.

At 5pm Mr Adams and Gerry Kelly appeared at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin to publicly reveal that Donaldson was a British agent and had been expelled from Sinn Féin.

At 9.30pm that night a visibly shaken Donaldson appeared at a press conference to reveal his role as a double agent.

He revealed few details other than he had been a paid informer for more than 20 years.

Since then he has not been seen in public, although he is believed to be in hiding in the Republic.

A senior republican source last night confirmed that Donaldson has continued to meet with senior Sinn Féin officials over the last seven days to give detailed accounts of his life as an informer.

It is understood Donaldson's admissions are now being assessed by the Sinn Féin leadership, although the source insisted that he was a 'free agent'.

A Garda spokeswoman refused to state if it was aware of Donaldson's whereabouts in the Republic.

However, it last night appeared that there was no way back for the veteran republican-turned-informer.

"We are not taking this lightly," Mr Kelly insisted.

"This was a betrayal on a massive scale.

"He has betrayed his family and comrades.

"He played his part in helping the British government to bring down the power-sharing executive.

"He allowed himself to be used by the securocrats in their deliberate and calculated efforts to wreck the peace process.

"The question now is what Tony Blair is going to do to stop these people?"

December 24, 2005
________________

This article appeared first in the December 23, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

Career move for Shankill girl

Belfast Telegraph

Margaret is following the path of peace

By Kathryn Torney
ktorney@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
24 December 2005

THE Belfast schoolgirl who made the world sit up and listen when she wrote to Tony Blair pleading for peace in Northern Ireland eight years ago is making a career out of her peace and community work.

Margaret Gibney touched the heart of the Prime Minister when she wrote to him in 1997 as part of a school project when she was just 13.

During a visit to America, Mr Blair referred to her letter in which she wrote that she had only known one year of peace in her whole life. The Shankill Road girl made international headlines when he then invited her to Downing Street.

She went on to meet America's First Lady, Hillary Clinton, became a Unicef young ambassador of peace and delivered Channel 4's alternative Christmas speech to the nation in 1997.

For years afterwards, she kept in touch with Mr Blair and other high-profile political figures like the late Mo Mowlam.

Now aged 21, Margaret works for the Challenge for Youth organisation full-time while studying for a degree in youth and community work part-time.

She said: "It is hard work to work alongside doing a degree but it is what I want to do and I love it.

"I work with young people in communities where they may not have had a lot of opportunities or where they have come into conflict with their community."

Margaret said that her own experiences definitely played a part in her career choice.

"I want to help other young people realise that they can do things outside what other people's expectations are of them," she said.

Margaret, a former pupil of Mount Gilbert Community College and Belfast Royal Academy in Belfast, still lives in the Shankill.

"When I was growing up I always believed that things would change, and they did.

"For all the change that has happened it would just be unimaginable for it ever to go back to the way it was in Northern Ireland.

"Through my work I hope to help young people understand difference rather than fight about it."


Cork: Walk of the month

Its buildings, geography and people make Cork the perfect place for a winter stroll, says Christopher Somerville.

24/12/2005

'Well, being an Englishman, now, you'll know all about our saint and his horse?" said the old woman who was kneeling at her morning prayers in the sanctuary of St Fin Barre's Cathedral.

She got slowly to her feet and began to spin me the story. "Well, Fin Barre was a very handsome, fair-haired man by all accounts, and when he went over to visit Rome he seems to have made himself a lot of friends. One was St David - isn't he the Welsh saint? - well, anyway, Fin Barre called in to see him on his way back to Cork, and David lent him a great horse, and what did St Fin Barre do but 'gallip' the horse across the sea till they landed back in Ireland!"

She looked up at me consideringly. "Now, some might say that's just an old species of story. But the creature could have swum it, no bother at all to him, if he'd a saint on his back!"

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Cork's Fin Barre Cathedral

You're never starved of an enthusiastic word or 10 in Cork city, whether it's in the snug of some roaring old pub or in the holy hush of a great cathedral.

Under the blue and gold angels of the high Gothic sanctuary ceiling I took a short course in Irish sainthood, and another in the city's turbulent history.

"Burned to cinders!" whispered my friend, her sibilants hissing like snakes in the red marble gloom.

"Burned by King William in 1690, and burned again in 1920 by the Black and Tans. But sure it's a grand old place, right enough."

Grand old places need more than a set of historical horrors to rest on if they are to make a great winter walk.

Architecturally and geographically Cork has what it takes, in spades - a comfortable, lived-in appearance to the winding streets and back lanes, attractive low-level Georgian houses and public buildings, handsome church towers and spires to give drama to the skyline, and a fine succession of bridges spanning the twin channels of the River Lee that part and join to make an island of much of the old city.

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St Patrick's Bridge across the River Lee

As for atmosphere and vibe - Cork has been staging music, theatre and art exhibitions all year in celebration of its reign as European City of Culture 2005, and there's nothing in the demeanour of the fun-loving Corkadians to suggest the party is going to end any time soon.

Out in the winter cold on the steps of St Fin Barre's Cathedral, I paused, hands plunged in pockets, to admire the space-rocket pinnacles and the sculptures of angels, saints and demons so exuberantly designed by wee William Burges, neo-Gothic architect to the rich and eccentric of Victorian Britain.

Then I crossed the South Channel of the River Lee and headed into the centre of the city.

Fat gouts of steam were rising into the leaden December sky behind the dully gleaming silos of Beamish & Crawford 's brewery on South Main Street. I thought of the sweet tang of Cork stout, and of a rattling good reel.

"Oh, aye, there'll be a session tonight all right," agreed the barman in the dark, snug interior of An Spailpín Fánach ("The Wandering Labourer"). "There never isn't, except on a Sunday. Do you play yourself? Well, you'll be welcome."

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The centre of Cork: "there's nothing to suggest the party is going to end"

Before the night's music-making, I wandered around the English Market and the old lanes of the Huguenot Quarter, refuge and workplace for dozens of Protestants on the run from religious intolerance in pre-revolutionary France.

Cork celebrates its great men and women in the names of streets and bridges - MacCurtain Street in memory of the political murder of Tomás MacCurtain, first Republican Lord Mayor of Cork; Nano Nagle Bridge after a selfless educator of the 18th-century Irish poor; Christy Ring Bridge to commemorate the greatest hurler in the history of Irish sport.

In the Huguenot Quarter itself, Rory Gallagher Place honours the late blues and rock guitarist, who was brought up in Cork.

Bell chimes were floating down on the north wind from Shandon. I crossed Christy Ring Bridge and made for the tower of St Anne's, high above the city.

"On this I ponder Where'er I wander, And thus grow fonder, Sweet Cork, of thee, With thy bells of Shandon That sound so grand on The pleasant waters Of the River Lee."

Old Father Prout is certainly Shandon's most famous son, but he might not be the most popular. His song The Bells of Shandon, written nearly two centuries ago, has drawn countless pilgrims to climb the tower on the hill and try to knock a tune out of the bells.

All day, every day, local residents must grin and bear the sound of punters chancing their ringing arms on Amazing Grace or Molly Malone. I had an over-confident go at Out On The Ocean, a jig I had temporarily on the brain. A nasty discordant mess of clangs and jangles shivered the midday quiet of the hill.

Back by the River Lee I passed the massive and futuristic face of Cork's Opera House. I had a cup of tea in the Crawford Art Gallery and a look at its exhibition of Irish Impressionists.

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Futuristic face: Cork's Opera House

In Rory Gallagher Place an icy afternoon wind stirred the leaves. A young girl set up to play in the shadow of the Gallagher sculpture. She shivered as she sang a Kate Rusby song in a brave little voice. A red-faced old boy in a thick scarf stopped and doubled back to drop a couple of euros into her guitar case and nod, "Good luck, now."

Towards nightfall a sudden hail shower scoured the streets of Cork. It drove me along Oliver Plunkett Street and up the steps into the Hi-B.

Now that is a bar made in heaven, a pub for a winter walker, a drinker's warm paradise in ancient plush, firelight and recondite talk. Sartre? Never had any time for the man. Christy Ring, you said? Now there was a nice hurler if you like. Existential, if you like. I saw them goals of his in the '56 Munster final, didn't I, Tommy? Wait till I tell you . . .

Stepping out

Map
Cork City map available from Tourist House, Cork City (see below).

Getting there
Flight: Aer Arann (www.skyroad.com) from Bristol, Edinburgh, Southampton; Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com) from Heathrow; Air Wales (www.airwales.co.uk) from Cardiff, Plymouth, Swansea; Bmi (www.flybmi.com) from Leeds Bradford; Bmibaby (www.bmibaby.com) from Cardiff, East Midlands, Manchester; British Airways (www.ba.com) from Manchester; Flybe (www.flybe.com) from Birmingham; Loganair (www.loganair.co.uk) from Glasgow; Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) from Stansted.

Ferry: Swansea Cork Ferries (www.swanseacorkferries.com).

Walk directions
From Tourist House Information Centre, left along Grand Parade; cross South Channel of River Lee by Nano Nagle footbridge; right along Sullivan’s Quay and Proby’s Quay to St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

Return along Proby’s Quay; left across South Gate Bridge; up South Main Street between Beamish & Crawford Brewery and An Spailpín Fánach. Right along Tuckey Street , left up Grand Parade.

Right through English Market to emerge on far (east) side in Princes Street. Left to cross St Patrick Street and go up Carey's Lane into Huguenot Quarter.

Right at Rory Gallagher Place, along Paul Street and Emmet Place, passing Crawford Art Gallery and Cork Opera House, to cross River Lee’s north channel over Christy Ring Bridge.

Left along Pope's Quay for a few yards, then right up John Redmond Street to Firkin Crane Institute, Cork Butter Museum, Shandon Craft Centre and St Anne's Tower (The Bells of Shandon).

From St Anne’s, right past Shandon Arms pub to reach North Cathedral. Leaving North Cathedral, right along street; left down Shandon Street to cross Griffith Bridge; left along Kyrl's Quay and Coal Quay to turn right at the south end of Christy Ring Bridge.

Down Emmet Place and Paul Street; left down Frenchchurch Street; left along St Patrick Street; fourth right down Wintrop Street to Oliver Plunkett Street (Hi-B bar on corner).

Right along Oliver Plunkett Street ; fourth left down Princes Street; right along South Mall to return to Tourist House Information Centre.

Length of walk
Allow half a day.

Refreshments
Lunch/breakfast: English Market; lunch/tea: Crawford Art Gallery café; drink: An Spailpín Fánach, Hi-B bar.

Accommodation
Jurys Inn Cork , Anderson’s Quay (00 353 21 494 3000, www.jurysinns.com): from £57 for a double room, b&b.

Further information
Cork Kerry Tourism, Tourist House, Grand Parade, Cork City (00 353 21 425 5100, info@corkkerrytourism.ie; www.corkkerry.ie).


Irish Playwright Speaks From Hideout

New York Times

December 24, 2005
By ALAN COWELL

LONDON, Dec. 23 - Gary Mitchell, a prominent Northern Irish playwright, has been forced into hiding along with his family following an attack on his Belfast home by what he called rogue paramilitary figures linked to the Protestant loyalist cause.

"We are a bit mystified, a bit frightened, a bit shook up," he said late Friday.

In a telephone interview from a secret hideout in Northern Ireland, Mr. Mitchell, who is 40 and a Protestant, described months of intimidation of himself and members of his family apparently inspired by his plays depicting Protestant paramilitaries and their influence on Protestant communities in the hardscrabble, blue-collar districts of Belfast he has known since childhood.

"I depict the Unionist community in a fair light," Mr. Mitchell said, referring to the Protestant groups that oppose Irish republicanism and seek continued ties with Britain. "I depict them the way I see them. Maybe they want it more romantic. I don't find anything heroic in attacking 17-year-olds and pensioners."

His flight into hiding on Nov. 23 reflected the seething unease across the sectarian divide that has persisted, despite the 1998 Good Friday agreement that was supposed to end the decades of strife between Protestants and Roman Catholics known as the Troubles, which have claimed 3,500 lives on all sides.

This year, Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old Belfast Catholic, was killed in a barroom Tattack blamed partly on members of the Irish Republican Army. Rival Protestant gangs fought battles in which four people died last summer.

The sectarian strife has touched Mr. Mitchell in increasingly dramatic ways. He was forced to move two years ago from the hard-line Unionist Rathcoole area, where he grew up and where he learned the harsh cadences that have made him what some critics consider the most authentic dramatic voice of working-class Unionism. Since then, he and his family have lived in the Glengormley district, a mixed area populated by middle-class Protestants and Catholics.

But, he said in the telephone interview, the volume of criticism about his plays - like "Loyal Women," performed at the Royal Court Theater in London in 2003 - and of personal threat intensified this year, culminating in a warning to leave within four hours, or every member of his family would be killed.

"I have had threats, people saying they were going to get me," Mr. Mitchell said. "The police have told me to alter my routine, not to frequent certain pubs and clubs. There's a playground-bully mentality that I have lived with."

Since the latest attack, he added, "my whole family and extended family are scattered around secret locations."

Unlike the novelist Salman Rushdie, who was protected by British government bodyguards after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa against him in 1989 following publication of "The Satanic Verses," Mr. Mitchell said he had no police protection. "We asked for police protection," he said. "They said they were too busy."

On Nov. 23, he said, men with their faces covered and wielding baseball bats came to his home and blew up his car, forcing him, his wife, Alison, and their 8-year-old son, Harry, to flee. "My car was bombed in my driveway," he said. Simultaneously, the home of an uncle was also attacked. His parents had already been forced to leave their home.

"It's very disruptive to watch a family struggle through it and see a little boy being frightened all the time," Mr. Mitchell said. His son, he said, has been so disturbed by the bombing that he is afraid of every small noise.

But he said he is determined to continue to work: "It's not going to stop me. I have a laptop. I have access to e-mail. I can send scripts off."

"Once you go outside the reach of these people," he added, "you are trying to establish a sense of normalcy."

Part of the reason for the attacks on him, Mr. Mitchell said, may be that republican writers tend to "create heroes and legends."

"I don't do this to loyalist paramilitaries," he said.

The Guardian newspaper in London recently reported that Mr. Mitchell's plays, including "As the Beast Sleeps" and "The Force of Change," show the continued power of paramilitary groups over Northern Ireland's divided societies. His work has been performed in Britain, the United States and Germany.

Paradoxically, though, he was once accused in San Francisco of being biased against Roman Catholics and refusing to allow them to perform in his plays. A 1999 production of "Trust," he said in a 2003 article in The Guardian, was favorably reviewed but poorly attended in San Francisco because of rumors that he would not allow Catholics to perform, direct or produce any of his work - a charge he denies.

He wrote in 2003: "Some of my neighbors have threatened me because I criticize the Protestant people. I can only offer that if I am being critical, then I am criticizing the human experience and not the Protestant community of Northern Ireland alone."

In the interview on Friday, he said, "I think everybody is opposed to my work."

Northern Irish shop owners warned of bomb attacks

BreakingNews.ie

24/12/2005 - 09:20:21

Police in the North have warned shopkeepers to be vigilant of potential incendiary bomb attacks in the Christmas period.

The PSNI fear dissident republicans could strike during the last-minute sales rush.

Owners have been urged to check premises before closing this evening and police patrols are to be stepped up.

Festive rush home well under way

BBC


Extra flights have been put on to cope with the holiday rush

More than 20,000 people are expected to pass through Belfast City Airport in the three days leading up to Christmas Day.

The figure represents an increase of 10% on normal traffic at the airport on the outskirts of east Belfast.

On Friday, four additional flights from London were put on to cope with the festive rush home.

Andrea Hayes, general manager of Flybe, the airport's biggest airline, said all flights were "filled to capacity".

However, traffic at the airport was not all one-way, with about one-third of passengers flying out of Belfast.

One man said he no longer lived in Northern Ireland and was on his way back to the Isle of Man.

"I'm going home... as you can see from the presents. It's a bit strange because most of my pals are now arriving back from Germany, from Dubai and places like that, and I'm heading off," he said.

"I have been here all week, seeing people, doing business and I've had a really good time and now I've got to try to get home tonight."

A woman passenger, waiting for the same flight said: "We arrived last Saturday. We have had an early Christmas here in Belfast, just with family at home, and yesterday we celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday.

"We had a surprise party for her last night. Everything was wonderful. We are laden down with presents now and we are going back to the Isle of Man where we have lived for the past 16 years."

Andrea Hayes said her company would put on extra flights "as and when they are required".

"Because of the way Christmas is falling this year, with it being over the weekend period, rather than getting everybody travelling at the weekend, the traffic has been steady throughout the week, which of course, all helps."


Help only a text call away for young people

Irish Examiner

24 December 2005
By Jim Morahan

YOUNG people under stress are being urged to send a mobile phone text to the Samaritans.
Help is only a text call away, says the emotional support charity.

Texting the word SAM, followed by their region, to 51500 will get them a response.

Samaritan phone lines are answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A Samaritans spokeswoman, said: “Young people often feel that their worries and concerns aren’t important and don’t want to burden their friends or families if they are feeling low.”

Suicide trends over the past 10 years have shown a 36% increase in the Republic.

Ireland rugby star Brian O’Driscoll, who launched the service, said: “Exam pressures can be huge and I believe that it is very important that young people have an outlet to express their concerns. Samaritans provides a valuable confidential service and the mobile phone is a great way of reminding them that support is only a phone call away.”

Brendan Daly, Samaritans regional representative, said: “It is our aim to send SMS texts to students at various times in the year to let them know that by ringing our help line, they will be listened to in confidence, accepted without prejudice and given the opportunity to explore difficult feelings.”

He added: “With this new service we hope to see students forwarding our texts to another person who might want to know they have the option to ring or email Samaritans in confidence.”

There were many perceived barriers to asking for help, said Mr Daly.

These ranged from not knowing who to ask, to not wanting to burden or worry those close to them.

“Our research shows that simply having an awareness of our SMS and email service made young people more likely to feel that Samaritans is a good option if they want to discuss difficult issues in their life,” he said.

Research shows young people don’t perceive their problems as being serious enough to make contact with Samaritans, yet they are one of the most vulnerable groups within society in terms of emotional health.

The research also shows that once they were made aware of the existing email service young people were far more likely to get in touch to discuss issues that worried them.

It also demonstrated that they were more likely to perceive Samaritans as being relevant to their lives.

Púca chief executive Eamon Holmes said it was a very worthy cause, and the mobile phone was a logical communication channel to reach out to young people.

23 December 2005

Whatever you believe, believe nothing

Daily Ireland

GEARÓID Ó CAIREALLáIN

If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would have been loathe to take the chance that my former comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of activity for which they had previously been renowned vis a vis dealing with informers.

The one thing I cannot understand about the Denis Donaldson saga is why did he run to Sinn Féin in the end?
If we are to believe that Denis Donaldson was a British spy who, for over 20 years of his life, grafted consistently to thwart the Republican project and advance the British cause in Ireland by touting whatever information he could to his British paymasters, why did he throw himself at the mercy of those he had betrayed when he was unmasked?
Murky is not the word for all this. Dark and dangerous barely convey the half of it either so, like everyone else, I am flaying around in the abyss of ignorance here. But let’s say that Donaldson was a British spy. I think we can all agree on that.
I believe he was outed in the hope that the IRA would kill him, thereby causing a crisis in the peace process, given that Gerry Adams and the IRA told us last July that all such activity had ceased.
Or else he would go to ground and his family would mysteriously disappear from West Belfast, allowing the PSNI to advance their thesis that his life was under threat. Under threat from whom? The IRA, of course. The PSNI, apparently, did tell Donaldson that he was about to be revealed as an informer and that his life was under threat. Why did they even bother to tell him?
Because Gerry Adams and the IRA told us last July that all such activity had ceased. So if someone’s life was under threat from the IRA, even if that someone was a long term and committed informer, bang goes the dump arms order and the new scenario heralded so boldly by last July’s IRA statement. Holding threats is part of the activity that we were told had ceased.
If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would have been loathe to take the chance that my former comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of activity for which they had previously been renowned vis a vis dealing with informers.
When Freddie Scapaticci was outed he also ran into the embrace of former comrades in Sinn Féin. But Scap denied all accusations of touting at first. He held his press conference and appealed to our sense of outrage and decency because he was originally hoping to deny all and brazen it out.
Whenever it became obvious that he had indeed been an informer then he disappeared. I suppose as the reputed former head of the IRA’s nutting squad he knew only too well that taking a chance with these people – even in times of ceasefire – could prove to be both foolhardy and hazardous. So why did Denis not cut and run?
Is there any chance that Denis Donaldson had already been turned by the IRA and that during his time as an informer for the British within the Republican movement he was actually acting as an agent for the IRA and Sinn Féin? Was he passing on information that the IRA and Sinn Féin wanted the British to have. No, I don’t know either, and it does sound more than a little fantastical. But the only way to deal with all this spooks and spies stuff is to think outside the loop.
Going to Sinn Féin following his outing was a pro-Sinn Féin act. It helped the Republican position and tended against the British, who would much preferred to have been able to point to his dead body found in a ditch along the border or his disappearance as proof that the IRA have not gone away, you know. So why would Donaldson choose to help those whom he had betrayed?
Perhaps a note of reconciliation, perhaps a deal was done to allow his family remain in West Belfast and he quietly slip away. Or perhaps he had been previously turned and was really working for the Republicans during the time that the British thought he was touting on their behalf. Or perhaps not.
There really seems to be only one of two possible scenarios likely. On the one hand, perhaps Denis relished working for the British over all those years because he just hated what the Republican movement were trying to achieve.
Or could he have been a reluctant spy to begin with? What if the Brits had caught him, I don’t know, having it off with another woman, or another man, or something like that. And they told him to forget if he could just confirm that a particular car was seen in the Short Strand area last week. Or if he was to stick this phone number in his pocket, and just give Trev a ring next Friday. Or whatever.
Because as soon as he would have done something small and inconsequential like that, then he was in.
The next time they requested information it would be under threat of telling the IRA that he was a tout.
Could he have cut a deal with the IRA to tout for them in order to save his life?
Following the outing of Freddie Scapaticci the Brits put out the names of two other stalwart Republicans who they claimed to have been informers. People made up their own minds. Already one of those two and a third man – a senior Sinn Féin figure in Belfast – are being mentioned as touts this time around. People will make up their own minds.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems to me that the purpose behind it all is to counter the strength of Sinn Féin and to stymie their advancing support among the voters North and South. And the best way for Sinn Féin to fight back is to increase support at the polls and take up positions of power in government North and South.
But this business in based upon lies and deceit. Its modus operandi depends upon lies and deceit and making people believe they know the truth when in fact they are hearing only lies and deceit.
Newspapers, television and radio are the perfect media for spreading lies and deceit, because we tend to believe most of what we are exposed to in the media.
But don’t believe it, don’t believe a word. Whatever you believe, believe nothing and you won’t go far wrong.
Agus Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir…

Omagh families angry at release

Daily Ireland

Man being sued by bomb relatives is to be freed for Christmas

Ciarán Barnes

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The father of an Omagh bomb victim has described a decision by the Irish government to free a Real IRA leader on Christmas parole as a “slap in the face”.
Liam Campbell, who is being sued by families who lost loved ones in the bomb, is one of 12 hardline dissident republicans being released from Portlaoise prison for ten days over the festive period.
Joining him will be INLA veteran Dessie O’Hare, the former leader of the INLA in Dublin, and a man described as the second in command of the Munster Real IRA.
The men are expected to be let out on Christmas Eve following a decision taken by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among the 29 killed in the 1998 bombing, described Campbell’s release as “farcical”.
He said: “Decisions like this really hurt the families of those who died. It is a real slap in the face.
“Although the governments seem to have jailed most of the Real IRA leadership its members are still being treated with kid gloves. Real IRA leaders being let out on Christmas parole is just another example of this.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said Christmas parole releases were a matter for the Irish Prison Service.
Although contacted, no one from the Irish Prison Service was available for comment.
Liam Campbell has been in solitary confinement in Portlaoise on a landing shared by criminals since a summer fall-out with Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt.
He refuses to join the E3 landing shared by his Real IRA faction and the hard-line Continuity IRA, the only republican military organisation not to call a ceasefire.
Campbell was jailed for eight years in May 2004 after being found guilty on two counts of being a member of an illegal organisation.
The 43-year-old denied the charges relating to two dates, October 3, 2000 and July 29, 2001. He was arrested in Bettystown, Co Meath, in July 2001 and jailed for five years that October.
The conviction was quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in January 2004 but Campbell was retried on both the original and a subsequent charge the following May.
He was jailed for four years on both charges to run consecutively with the final 18 months suspended. The sentence was backdated to May 1, 2001.
Campbell, from Dundalk, is one of five men being sued in a landmark £10 million (€14 million) civil action by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.
The others are Michael McKevitt, Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna and Colm Murphy.


IRA 'in turmoil' over U.K. spy claims

United Press International

By HANNAH K. STRANGE
UPI U.K. Correspondent

LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The Irish Republican Army is "in turmoil" over suggestions the recent exposure of a Sinn Fein member as a British agent might have been an attempt to protect a more senior spy in the organization.

The group is suspicious the collapse of the trial of three Sinn Fein members accused of spying at the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the subsequent revelation that one of the men had been working for British intelligence for 20 years, was orchestrated in order to maintain the cover of a British agent closer to the heart of the IRA.

This agent was rumored to be a leading figure in Sinn Fein and the IRA, an intelligence source told United Press International.

Alban Magenniss, former mayor of Belfast and a Northern Ireland Assembly member for the republican Social Democratic and Labor Party, said the IRA was taking the theory "very seriously" and all members were "watching their backs."

The organization was scrutinizing members, interviewing them and checking their bank accounts, he told UPI.

The affair opened up "a cesspit of espionage and counter-espionage, intelligence-gathering and counter intelligence-gathering, and the planting and manipulation of agents," he said.

Dubbed Stormontgate, the case of the alleged Sinn Fein/IRA spy ring is a murky affair of the type that has long blighted the Northern Ireland political landscape.

With all the elements of a Graham Greene thriller, the episode has been described as "as bizarre as it gets" by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and "preposterous" by senior unionists.

The controversy erupted earlier this month when prosecutors dropped a three-year-long case against three Sinn Fein members accused of operating a spy ring in the offices of the Northern Ireland Assembly, on the grounds the prosecution was no longer "in the public interest."

The case took a further twist when one of the men, Denis Donaldson, a senior figure in Sinn Fein, admitted Friday he had been working as a British agent for the past 20 years and claimed that the spy ring was a fiction created by British intelligence.

The allegations were vehemently denied by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who Monday rejected calls for a public inquiry into the affair.

Both he and Prime Minister Tony Blair denied there was any political hand in the decision to drop the case against the three Sinn Fein members, but their reticence to divulge details has fueled suspicions of an ulterior agenda.

The raids on Sinn Fein's offices at Stormont in Oct. 2002 brought an end to three years of devolution, and led to the return of direct rule by Westminster.

Sinn Fein claims elements in British intelligence were opposed to the peace process and invented the spy ring in order to bring down the power-sharing assembly.

Party President Richard McAuley told UPI the operation had essentially been a "coup d'etat."

A small number of people within British military intelligence, Special Branch and the Police Service of Northern Ireland had been "actively working against the peace process," he said.

He claimed the raids on Sinn Fein's offices had been "a piece of political theater" organized and orchestrated by the then head of Northern Ireland's Special Branch, Bill Lowry.

A prominent supporter of the Democratic Unionist Party, Lowry had, along with other rogue elements, been opposed to Sinn Fein taking its place in a power-sharing assembly, McAuley said.

Lowry had known of Donaldson's status as a British agent and had sacrificed him as part of a "conspiracy concocted by the Special Branch, within the PSNI, the people who were part of the old Royal Ulster Constabulary," he said. "There is a little nest of vipers in all this."

He dismissed unionist allegations that Donaldson was in fact a double agent, and that the British government had done a deal with Sinn Fein to drop the case in exchange for IRA disarmament, announced earlier this year.

Donaldson had only revealed his identity after a Special Branch agent visited him last week and told him he was about to be outed, McAuley claimed.

The accusations were no more than "conspiracy theories," he added.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior said earlier this week that Hain's denial of a political hand in the collapse of the case was "preposterous," and called for an inquiry into the affair.

Though he dismissed suggestions that the spy ring was British-orchestrated, Paisley said he believed a Northern Ireland Office official had been authorized to pass information to Sinn Fein.

"If that is the case then the government's refusal to make a statement is not about protecting the life of an agent but about hiding their own duplicitous hand in the mercy business of aiding and abetting Sinn Fein's political agenda."

Donaldson had in fact been a "double agent," he claimed, "playing both sides for money and power."

Crispin Black, who formerly worked for the British government gathering and analyzing intelligence in Northern Ireland, said certain facts suggested Donaldson had been some kind of double agent, particularly that Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams had insisted he need not fear for his safety. Normally members of Sinn Fein or the IRA who were outed as spies would be tortured and/or killed, he said. "There has to be somebody helping him."

The whole affair "did not stack up," he told UPI. Hain and other ministers were being "very tight-lipped" and there was "something odd" in the collapse of the court case.

However it was more likely that there was a political deal to drop the case than that "rogue elements" in the intelligence and security services had fabricated the spy ring, he said.

Black said there was a "long-standing rumor" in the intelligence services that there was a more senior British spy operating in the IRA.

The theory has also been alluded to by Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, who told media in Dublin on Monday: "I've heard all the rumors; I've heard even names mentioned, which I think is very unfortunate and dangerous. But that's something Sinn Fein has to deal with."

Rumors though they may be at present, it appears the IRA is taking them extremely seriously.

Alban Maginness told UPI: "Their organization is in turmoil over this, and heads will roll."

Govt pledges action if US lied about Shannon

BreakingNews.ie

23/12/2005 - 14:46:34

The Government today insisted they would take all necessary action if it emerged that US security agencies were carrying prisoners through Ireland.

With the Irish Human Rights Commission calling for inspectors to check CIA aircraft, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs claimed they had clear and explicit assurances that no laws were being broken.

They insisted they had not permitted so-called extraordinary renditions.

“It has also been made clear that the appropriate authorities will act if there is specific and credible information regarding particular aircraft of the type in question,” it stated.

“Once again, however, the Government recalls that it has, on numerous occasions, received explicit, unambiguous and unqualified assurances from the US authorities that no prisoners have been transported through Irish airports, nor would they be, without the express permission of the Government.

“These assurances have recently been reiterated at a very high level.”

The IRHC urged the Government to urgently seek an agreement with US authorities to allow inspections of aircraft suspected of involvement in so-called extraordinary renditions.

In a statement the Department said they would study the recommendations.

But anti-war activists demanded the Government go further and bring in a blanket ban on CIA and American war planes at Irish airports.

Ed Horgan, retired army commandant and peace campaigner, said: “We welcome, belatedly, the pressure. But I would go further than that – all US military aircraft should be banned.

“I believe it is very likely that prisoners were transported through Shannon at some stage in the past and CIA planes were being used in the process of taking prisoners to be tortured.

“The CIA should be banned from going through for past offences.”

Mr Horgan, who was arrested and detained at Shannon yesterday as he travelled to England, said he was very concerned about reports that 2,000 unnamed and undocumented prisoners had been moved out of Europe in the last few weeks.

Dr Maurice Manning, IHRC president, said Irish officials had an obligation to prevent actions on our soil which could facilitate torture.

“In the Commission’s view, and in light of Ireland’s international legal obligations in this field, reliance on diplomatic assurances is not sufficient to protect against the risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” Dr Manning said.

“Given the fact that the obligation on the state to protect against all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment is an absolute one, and given the gravity of the allegations that have been made to date and which are under active investigation by the Council of Europe, it is not sufficient for the Government to rely on such assurances.”

Under domestic and international law Ireland is obliged to ensure prisoners do not travel through the state en route to countries where they may be tortured.

Dermot Ahern, Foreign Affairs Minister, pressed US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice on the matter in Washington earlier this month.

She insisted prisoners where not being transported through Shannon.

Richard Boyd Barrett, Irish Anti-War Movement spokesman, welcomed the recommendation but insisted US aircraft should no longer have free run of Shannon.

“The report makes it clear that it is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to the fact that Shannon may have been used to facilitate torture,” he said.

“It looks fairly clear that the US is involved in organising a very elaborate systems of kidnap and torture. It is good that there is more pressure on the Government to end its shameful connection with the US military at Shannon.”

Border Fox is given parole

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
23 December 2005

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Click to view - Dessie O'Hare - photo from IRSM.org

Border Fox Dessie O'Hare, a former head of the INLA, is to be released from jail tomorrow for a week-long Christmas break.

O'Hare was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment in 1988 - one of the longest terms ever handed down in the Republic for an offence other than capital murder.

He was jailed after being found guilty of a string of charges including kidnapping and mutilating Dublin dentist John O'Grady the year before.

O'Hare, who was also the prime suspect in 27 murders, sprang to public notoriety when he and other members of an INLA gang kidnapped Mr O'Grady.

O'Hare used a chisel to cut off the tops of two of Mr O'Grady's fingers, which were sent to gardai with a ransom demand.

Gardai eventually rescued Mr O'Grady and O'Hare went on the run.

Three weeks later, after a shoot-out, he was arrested and imprisoned.

The terror chief, from Keady, Co Armagh, is among a group of high-security prisoners being let out of Portlaoise prison.

O'Hare is 17 years into his sentence, most of it at Portlaoise, but is expected to be released shortly under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is also thought that ex-Real IRA deputy leader Liam Campbell, who was jailed for eight years in 2004 for membership of an illegal organisation, may also be allowed out for the festive season.

The Christmas parole scheme is sanctioned by the Republic's Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The Prison Service said that public safety was paramount in their reviewing of temporary release applications.

Ulster Unionist Newry and Mourne Assembly member Danny Kennedy said O'Hare's release would cause wide concern in the Protestant community.

"He shouldn't be allowed parole. It will give concern to a lot of my consitituents.

"He has a notorious record and there is no indication that he has ever expressed regret or any degree of remorse.

"There is no indication that he has moved on. I would question whether he is ready to be rehabilitated into the community."

Informers – an unsavoury fact of life

Newshound

(Jim Gibney, Irish News)


Jim Gibney

I first met Denis Donaldson, or rather I met his name, a few days after June 27 1970. The word on people's lips on the streets of the Short Strand was that he and a few other teenage members of the local IRA saved the people of the Strand from a loyalist pogrom.

The battle of St Matthew's, as the attack became known, gave birth to the modern IRA.

Denis Donaldson was a local hero.

Thirty-five years later by his own admission he has entered the hall of infamy as an informer; a traitor to his country, the movement he helped set up, his comrades, his friends and most of all his devoted family.

I can hardly believe I have just written the previous paragraph.

Those of us close to Denis Donaldson were rocked by the informer revelation.

The people of the Short Strand are in shock. It will take time to overcome the personal and the political implications of it all.

But we will.

I am not a stranger to informers. On the three occasions I have been to jail informers put me there. They are an occupational hazard, an unsavoury fact of life. They never stopped me being a republican and never will.

I should not be surprised, but I am, that Denis crossed to the other side.

Freedom struggles carry a heavy price tag.

Every part of me has been tested to its outer limits by the demands of the struggle.

I have walked behind the coffins of teenage comrades of mine.

I visited men and women in prison on hunger strike and watched men dying in the H-blocks.

Behind bars I watched youths grow to men in their middle years.

I saw families' grief-stricken when loyalist killers claimed a child of theirs.

I experienced the pressure used to break people in interrogation centres.

I know how difficult it is to maintain one's composure under such pressure.

There is no shame in breaking under interrogation. The shame is in what Denis did when he left the interrogation centre.

He had options and unbelievably he chose to betray everything those who knew him thought he believed in.

Over the last week the word betrayal has been used most frequently by those closest to Denis. It is how we feel.

If there ever was a stereotypical mould for an informer then Denis Donaldson broke the mould.

He was charming, entertaining, witty and clever. He used these fine qualities to conceal his double life of treachery.

I could not count the number of times I shared political ideas with him.

It hurts deeply now to think he passed my thoughts to others for money.

For those close to him the hurt runs deep because it is personal.

For others the cost is measured politically.

A friend described Denis as a 'listening device' for the Special Branch.

Rarely did he suggest an original idea. He was not close to Gerry Adams. He was not part of the small group of people in the national leadership of Sinn Féin who developed the peace process.

He did not contribute to shaping the strategy, which led to the IRA's first cessation.

He was not part of the group handling the day-to-day negotiations with the British and Irish governments over the last 10 years.

The informer revelation starkly confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying for years.

Inside the British system there are powerful individuals who are a law onto themselves.

These are the same people who killed human rights lawyer Pat Finucane and hundreds of innocent Catholics because it served their interests.

It is now clear there was a spy ring at Stormont. It was a British spy ring run by British intelligence agencies.

They organised a coup and overthrew a democratically elected government.

The issue now is will Tony Blair do anything about his agencies?

If Peter Hain's comments are anything to go by then it is likely we have not seen the last of the securocrats.

There is a very simple message in all of this drama: informers come and informers go.

The struggle for a united Ireland, which they desperately seek to bring down, carries on regardless.

December 23, 2005
________________

This article appeared first in the December 22, 2005 edition of the Irish News.


Happy Christmas from the Continuity R.U.C

32csm's Message Board

Posted on 23/12/2005 at 11:19:13 by P.R.O Comhairle Uladh

A Republican from Dunavon housing estate in Dungannon was busy at work today when he received a phone call from the R.U.C / P.S.N.I informing him they were in his house and would he like to come home, after rushing home he found the Cops taking bags and bags off clothes all his Cd's and DVDs any letters or paperwork in the house and his home computer, the man told the McKearney / McCaughey Cumann " if it was not nailed down they took it with them" he was given no explanation for the raid and was not arrested he told members off the McKearney / McCaughey Cumann " the Bastards took all my family's Christmas presents" he said he feels like his house and his family have been violated, how can some one march in to your house a couple off days before Christmas and steal your family's presents with out warrant or reason he said. The McKearney / McCaughey Cumann completely condemn this attack on the mouth off Christmas, it is not just an attack on an individual but an attack on the entire Republican Community in Tyrone at this sacred time off the Year, it shows once again that the only thing the Crown Cops are interested in is destroying Republicanism these attacks only strengthen our resolve we will not bow down to these Orange Loyalist Bigots .


R.S.F East Tyrone

British Agent Tells (a Bit) of Years Undercover in Ulster


New York Times

By ALAN COWELL
Published: December 23, 2005

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Click to view - In Long Kesh prison, Northern Ireland, in the 70's, four I.R.A. stalwarts, from left: Tomboy Loudon, Gerard Rooney, Denis Donaldson and Bobby Sands. Mr. Donaldson proved to be something else: a spy for Britain. -Press Eye-

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec. 21 - For decades, Denis Donaldson was a prominent insider in the Irish Republican movement in Belfast. He served in prison with Gerry Adams, leader of its political arm, Sinn Fein, and Bobby Sands, the hunger striker, who died in 1981. He trained in Lebanon with Hezbollah militants.

Mr. Donaldson at his news conference last week, when he admitted he was a double agent. Friends said he did not fit that mold.

So it was all the more stunning last week when he held a news conference in Dublin and declared himself a British agent. No one had even a slight suspicion.

"He was affable, humorous, unassuming, intelligent," said Danny Morrison, a former Sinn Fein associate who is now a novelist. "He didn't lead a lavish lifestyle; I doubt if he even owned own his own house. He didn't drink too much. He didn't gamble. He didn't drive a flashy car. His wife never wore fur."

Mr. Donaldson's double life told a story of awful choices familiar to readers of John le Carré. Behind the open conflict of the Troubles, as the long Northern Ireland conflict is called, lay a war of shadowy handlers pressing informants to the worst of betrayals.

"There had to be a moment when he was compromised," Mr. Morrison said in an interview. "He would have had to make a choice - between living with the consequences of what they were going to expose about him, or deciding to enter into a pact with people who had inflicted so much suffering on his own community, his friends, himself."

In the beginning, it must all have seemed much simpler.

According to accounts pieced together from former associates, journalists and scholars, Mr. Donaldson's early career followed a familiar trajectory in Ulster.

He volunteered for the I.R.A. and in 1971, as a young adult, was caught trying to bomb a distillery and government buildings. He was sentenced to four years and shared prison accommodation with Mr. Adams, establishing a bond that made the betrayal all the more poignant.

Mr. Donaldson, now 55, also featured in a jail-cell photograph of the hunger striker, Mr. Sands, adding to the credentials that underpinned his career in the Republican movement. It also made him an attractive target for the British to turn.

Mr. Donaldson was arrested again, in 1981, in France while returning with a false passport from a Hezbollah training camp in Lebanon, said Brian Feeney, a historian and author of a recent study of Sinn Fein. He was held briefly and released.

This incident was evidence of his role in fostering the international ties that the I.R.A. built up with supporters in the Middle East, including Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya.

Some time during this period, Mr. Donaldson, by his own account, became a spy for the British. The details of his recruitment are unclear and he was not available for an interview. Former associates said they believed that Mr. Donaldson was in hiding in the Irish Republic.

"I was recruited in the 1980's after compromising myself during a vulnerable period in my life," Mr. Donaldson said at the news conference in Dublin. Offered a choice of being exposed or informing, he said, "I have worked with British intelligence and R.U.C./P.S.N.I. Special Branch," referring to the Northern Ireland security police. "Over that period I was paid money."

Once he had taken a first step into the world of secret intelligence, many people here said, retreat would have been difficult.

"The handlers would start off slow," said Richard English, a professor of politics and the author of a history of the I.R.A. "They would say: every so often you will give us a bit of something and you will get a bit of money." But, once he had taken the money, "it was difficult for him to get out" without risking execution by the Irish Republican Army.

Mr. Donaldson's later work as an agent coincided with a critical period when the armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland was giving way to a political drive by Sinn Fein.

After the 1998 Good Friday agreement, the cornerstone of peace efforts, Mr. Donaldson also became Sinn Fein's administration chief at Stormont, the provincial parliament.

"As Sinn Fein became more important than the I.R.A., Sinn Fein also became more important to the Special Branch," said Professor English. From the point of view of the intelligence agencies, "they had a man at the heart of the key bit of the Republican movement, which was the political movement."

Sinn Fein officials dispute Mr. Donaldson's importance. "He was in the middle leadership," said a spokesman for Sinn Fein, who spoke in return for anonymity under the organization's rules covering contacts with reporters. "He was never a member of the negotiating committee. He wouldn't have been a senior figure. He wouldn't have had access to confidential papers."

For all that, he emerged abruptly into the limelight when the police raided the Sinn Fein office at Stormont in October 2002 and arrested Mr. Donaldson and two other men, accusing them of spying for Sinn Fein and the I.R.A. - a remarkable charge against a man who now says he was a British agent at the time.

Prosecutors dropped those charges without explanation two weeks ago, and Mr. Donaldson insisted last week that the entire episode at Stormont was a conspiracy by intelligence agencies to undermine the Good Friday agreement.

"The so-called Stormont-gate affair was a scam and a fiction," he said in Dublin. "It never existed. It was created by Special Branch."

Such allegations have deepened the mystery around Mr. Donaldson.

Was he used by dissident British intelligence as an agent provocateur to torpedo the Good Friday agreement, as some Republicans insist? Had he now been sacrificed to protect the identity of a more senior British mole in the Republican movement? Or was he the reluctant spy, compromised in the 1980's but never happy to do his secret master's bidding, as he now claims.

"He has got into this because of a personal situation," Professor English said, suggesting a possible course of events. "He has not given up his ideas and he is leading a tortured double life. He doesn't tell them everything."

Indeed, in the treacherous world he entered, he could barely have afforded to be too open with his handlers. Until its cease-fire in the mid-1990's, the I.R.A. dealt summarily with informers, known as touts.

"He was someone with iron nerves," said Mr. Feeney, the historian. "If he had been exposed even five or six years ago, he would have been found in a plastic bag on the South Armagh border with a bullet in his head."

Moreover, his cover could easily have been blown if the I.R.A.'s internal security agents came to suspect a link between operations of which he had knowledge and operations betrayed.

"If an informer informs at a particular frequency, he's going to come under suspicion," said Mr. Morrison, the former Sinn Fein official, who also spent time in prison in the 1990's.

There would, of course, be routine ways to protect him.

David Shayler, a maverick former officer in MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, said, "He would lead his normal life as a member of Sinn Fein and he would occasionally disappear to meet his handlers."

Those meetings, according to several people interviewed here, were usually held in wealthy Protestant areas where surveillance by the I.R.A. would be more difficult.

But finally it was his handlers who brought the double life to an end. Mr. Donaldson said police officers visited him at home last week - a sure sign of trouble in Northern Ireland - and told him he was about to be exposed in a newspaper report as a British agent. He faced one more hard choice.

"He had to make up his mind: fleeing into the arms of his handlers or throwing himself on the mercy of the Republican community," Mr. Morrison said. Reflecting a shift from its more violent past, the Republican leadership chose to use Mr. Donaldson's confession as further evidence of British perfidy.

Or was it all perhaps one more play in a shadowy game?

"Espionage, double dealing and dirty tricks have been rife on all sides in Northern Ireland for years," the journalist Niall Stanage wrote in The Guardian. "The peace process did not bring an end to the dirty war."


Govt urged to inspect US planes at Shannon

RTE

23 December 2005 07:20

The Irish Human Rights Commission has called on the Government to carry out inspections of certain US aircraft landing at Shannon.

The commission expressed concern at reports that US aircraft were being used to transport prisoners to secret locations where they were at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

It noted that some of the aircraft involved had been recorded as stopping at Shannon.

The commission said Ireland has an obligation under international and domestic law to prevent any actions which would facilitate torture, even in another country.

It said the Government's reliance on international assurances that such actions were not taking place was insufficient.

The commission called on the Government as a matter of urgency to seek US agreement for the inspection of the US aircraft in question on landing at Shannon or any other Irish airports.

Incident at Scottish nuclear plant

RTE

23 December 2005 07:50

The emergency services in Scotland were called to an incident at the Torness nuclear power station south of Edinburgh last night.

The alarm was raised at the plant near Dunbar just before 9pm when staff disposing of spent fuel in the ponds at the plant became aware of a problem.

Officials described the problem as the 'anomalous behaviour of the irradiated substances'.

A spokesman for British Energy, which operates the plant, said officials were monitoring the situation, but there was no major panic.

He said none of the 38 staff had been evacuated and the plant was continuing to generate electricity.

Robert McCartney killer ‘planning to emigrate to US’

BreakingNews.ie

23/12/2005 - 07:52:30

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Robert McCartney

The sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have said the man they believe ordered the killing of their brother is planning to emigrate to the United States.

Catherine and Paula McCartney made the claim in an interview with the BBC last night.

Mr McCartney, a 33-year-old father-of-two, was beaten and stabbed to death in Belfast last January, allegedly by IRA members.

His sisters and fiancée have accused the republican movement of protecting the killers and of trying to intimidate the family into dropping their high-profile campaign for justice.

Cabinet 'consulted over spy move'

BBC

The attorney general has revealed that cabinet colleagues were consulted about the "Stormontgate" affair.

Lord Goldsmith said they were asked whether they had "information that might bear on the consideration of the public interest by the DPP".

However, he said the information obtained from ministers played no part in the decision to drop the charges.

The revelation was made in a letter to DUP leader Ian Paisley, who said he was still pressing for a full explanation.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in October 2002 following the arrests of three men, including Denis Donaldson, who had headed Sinn Fein's administration office at Stormont.

Charges against the three were dropped earlier this month after the prosecution offered no evidence "in the public interest".

A week later, Mr Donaldson was expelled from Sinn Fein. He admitted he had worked as a paid British agent since the 1980s.

Knee-capped builder first to be extradited on VAT charges

Irish Independent

**Talk about having a bad week...

George Jackson and Kathy Donaghy

A BUILDING sub-contractor was last night extradited from the North to face VAT-related charges in the first extradition case taken by the Revenue Commissioners.

Patrick McGonigle (56), who together with his 31-year-old son was shot in the leg in a paramilitary-style shooting in Derry earlier this week, was last night extradited to face six VAT-related charges.

Mr McGonigle, a sub-contractor who has addresses at Woodlands in Derry and at Quiet Water in Muff, just across the border in Co Donegal, is the first person to be extradited from the north to the south on such charges.

A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on March 21, 2003, after he failed to appear in Carndonagh District Court in Co Donegal, for making incorrect VAT returns.

But despite a number of searches by the PSNI, Mr McGonigle remained at large.

However, in the early hours of Tuesday Mr McGonigle and his son, Michael, who lives at Cranlee Park in Derry, were attacked by four masked men, one of whom was armed, outside a fish and chip shop close to the Derry-Donegal border at Culmore.

The gang bundled them into a car and drove them five miles to the Creggan Estate in Derry where they shot both men.

The gang then drove from the scene and the car they used was later found on fire at Quarry Street in the Brandywell area of the city.

The shooting was claimed by the Real IRA. The police said the attack was related to an ongoing feud between rival criminal gangs in the north-west.

They also linked it to the shooting last September of a man who was wounded in the leg at his business premises at Culmore.

Resident Magistrate Barney McElholm was told during the extradition hearing at Derry's Magistrates' Court that McGonigle was arrested yesterday morning by police officers at Strand Road PSNI station.

A Crown lawyer said that warrants for McGonigle's arrest were issued by a District Justice in Carndonagh District Court on December 2, 2003.

McGonigle is charged with six offences of knowingly or wilfully delivering to the office of the Collector General, Sarsfield House, Limerick, incorrect VAT 3 returns, on various dates between March 2000 and April 2001.

The charges are contrary to Section 1078 (2) (a) and (3) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

The lawyer told the court that McGonigle did not want to be legally represented and that he was not contesting the extradition proceedings.

When asked by the Magistrate to confirm that, McGonigle replied "yes". He also told the court he was waiving his right to appeal his extradition within 15 days and told Mr McElholm: "I do not want 15 days, I do not need that, I want to go today."

McGonigle, who walked with a pronounced limp in his right leg when he arrived in custody for the extradition hearing, then signed before the Magistrate a form in which he consented to his immediate extradition to the south.

It is understood that the amount of money involved runs to a six-figure sum and is in the region of several hundred thousand euro.

Only three people have been the subject of bench warrants in connection with tax related charges.

All of the three individuals are based in Co Donegal.

Mr McGonigle was remanded in custody when he appeared at a special sitting of the District Court in Donegal town last night. He was charged with a number of tax offences and remanded to appear again on December 29.

22 December 2005

DID O’LOAN KNOW ABOUT DONALDSON?

Daily Ireland

**Take 2

BRITISH AGENT REVELATIONS OPEN UP CAN OF WORMS

Ciarán Barnes

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PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde will tell Bertie Ahern today that the Police Ombudsman gave the Stormontgate operation a clean bill of health. However, a top solicitor is now asking if the Ombudsman knew the PSNI’s main suspect was a British spy.

The SDLP is considering calling on the Police Ombudsman to conduct a second inquiry into the 2002 Stormont raids which led to the collapse of the Assembly, it emerged yesterday.
Newry and Armagh MLA, Dominic Bradley, told Daily Ireland that, in light of the Denis Donaldson spy revelations, Nuala O’Loan’s office may have to revisit the original investigation.
The SDLP man’s comments came after a lawyer acting for one of the men at the centre of the Stormontgate affair raised doubts about the ombudsman’s investigation.
Kevin Winters, a solicitor for Ciarán Kearney, said issues have arisen in relation to material provided to investigators by the PSNI.
Both Mr Bradley’s and Mr Winters’ concerns centre on whether the Ombudsman knew Donaldson was an informer during its probe into PSNI raids connected to the alleged Stormont spyring.
The investigation ended in August 2004, 16 months before Donaldson was unmasked as a spy.
It found that the raids at homes of republicans in west Belfast and Sinn Féin’s Assembly office were justified.
However, the Ombudsman’s refusal in recent days to comment on the crucial issue of its knowledge of Donaldson’s role as an informer has cast doubts over these findings.
Mr Winters believes a lot of legal issues arising out of the probe require considerable analysis and examination.
He said: “One of these areas is the Police Ombudsman investigation and its remit, specifically on the issue of the material provided to the Police Ombudsman to conduct its investigation.”
Daily Ireland understands that the PSNI had no obligation to inform the Ombudsman that Denis Donaldson was a spy unless investigators asked that specific question.
Republicans are convinced that this key fact was hidden from the Ombudsman in order for it to give the PSNI Stormont raids a clean bill of health.
During searches of homes in west Belfast officers found a bag allegedly containing sensitive documents taken from Stormont.
This discovery was said to be the catalyst for the raids on Sinn Féin’s Stormont offices that led to the fall of the Assembly.
The bag was found in the home of Special Branch agent Denis Donaldson.
Republicans are convinced it was placed there purposely by Special Branch to provide an excuse for the raid and bring down the Executive.
Donaldson admitted his role as a 20-year Special Branch and British military agent at a press conference in Dublin last week.
The admission came shortly after he, Ciarán Kearney and Billy Mackessy were acquitted of charges of being part of an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont.

Wanted man welcomes SF stand on OTRs

Daily Ireland

ZOE TUNNEY

A man forced to live in the Republic because he is wanted in the North for alleged IRA offences yesterday welcomed Sinn Féin’s decision to call for the controversial on-the-runs legislation to be scrapped.
Stiofain MacGibb spoke out as the controversy over the legislation continued yesterday with the a new war of words between Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
Mr MacGibb was arrested along with 48 others during a British army swoop of west Belfast in 1978.
Just days before his nineteenth birthday he went before court charged with membership of the IRA and possession of firearms.
“I was neither a member or had any weapons,” he said yesterday.
He was granted bail but fearful of the diplock court system and the terrorism legislation in the North, he went across the border to escape his inevitable fate at the hands of British justice.
He has been forced to live in the South for the past 27 years. In that time he missed the funerals of his parents and grandparents and has never returned to his Belfast home.
Last month, the British government presented new legislation which would allow on-the-runs to return to the North under certain conditions.
The controversial plans included special tribunal hearings where cases would be heard in front of a retired judge and no jury, have all normal powers although the fugitive would not have to appear.
If found guilty, the OTRs would be allowed to go free under a licence like those granted under the Good Friday Agreement.
When the OTR legislation was first announced, Mr MacGibb said he would never recognise a British court never mind go before one.
“It’s legitimising the British crown and admitting I did something wrong. I would have to live under licence,” he said.
“There are certain things republicans will simply never do.”
The most controversial element of the legislation which angered republicans most was attempts by the British government to include British army and RUC personnel accused of state collusion in the murder of nationalists in the amnesty.
Sinn Féin argues it had not agreed to the inclusion of security forces in the bill and on Tuesday the party dramatically called for the Northern Ireland (offences) Bill to be scrapped.
Mr MacGibb yesterday welcomed the move and defended Sinn Féin’s decision.
“It was a bad piece of legislation which was not negotiated properly,” he said.
“I believe it was negotiated in good faith but I also believe the British government tried to piggy back British soldiers, Special Branch and the RUC in through the back door.”
Sinn Féin’s Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness yesterday reiterated that his party want the legislation scrapped because it was not what they had agreed with the British government. He also hit back at the SDLP for their criticism of Sinn Féin over the on-the-runs issue.
SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said that Sinn Féin’s “continued insistence’ that it did not agree to all aspects of the on-the-runs bill showed the party to be “deluded at best and devious at worst”.
“Sinn Fein’s credibility has already nose-dived thanks to its wheeling and dealing. By insisting that it agreed to the on the runs bill at Weston Park, the party is only succeeding in undermining itself further,” he said.
The Irish Labour Party last night claimed Sinn Fein’s U-turn on the proposed legislation let the Irish government off the hook.
Leader Pat Rabbitte said the decision by Sinn Fein to oppose the bill has allowed the government to drop its proposals for dealing with the problem.

Was there a Stormontgate?

Belfast Telegraph

Via Newshound

**I don't agree with Maloney's apparently favourable view of brit motives, but I am posting the article because it makes several interesting assertions.

The Sinn Fein theory, that the spooks are out to destroy the peace process, suffers from a fundamental flaw. Not only is it rubbish, but the exact opposite is the truth, says Ed Moloney

By Ed Moloney
featureseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
21 December 2005

IT is difficult to say which of the two spectacles visible in the wake of Denis Donaldson's outing as a long-term British spy was the more depressing to watch: the sight of the Sinn Fein leadership once more trotting out the securocrat conspiracy theory - this time that it was MI5 and the PSNI Special Branch who had invented the Stormont spy ring - or that of so many in the media again giving this nonsense credibility.

Of the two the latter has to be the most disturbing. One can hardly blame the Shinners for raising the securocrat scare again. Blaming obdurate security force personnel for shoring up unionist intransigence over power-sharing went down a treat with their own people, provided a ready-made excuse not to do things like decommissioning and sharpened the sectarian divisions which fuelled their electoral rise.

Why drop a winning formula, especially when the media happily swallowed it?

This time the Provo leadership had another reason to use the ploy, and that was to cover their embarrassment over the Donaldson revelation.

This is a development which, alongside Freddie Scappaticci's exposure as a spy within the IRA's counter-intelligence section, raises valid questions about who really has been running and guiding the Provisional movement in recent years: the British, the Adams-McGuinness leadership, or the two together?

The Provos have good reasons to seek refuge behind securocrat skirts, but by this stage of the game - post-Northern Bank - the media should have learned to regard everything said by Sinn Fein as a potential, if not probable, lie.

Not only that, but in the light of the recent sensational claims made by Messrs Adams and McGuinness it is surely time to exercise a critical judgment and to assess the evidence.

Boiled down to essentials, what the Sinn Fein leadership is saying amounts to this: in an attempt to prevent Sinn Fein staying in government, and as part of an effort to kill off the peace process, MI5 and the PSNI leadership conspired to subvert the policies of their democratically elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair by inventing a spy ring at Stormont, thereby ensuring the collapse of the Executive.

If this is true, and the spooks had managed to get away with it, then Stormontgate would represent one of the most audacious anti-democratic plots in British history - one that dwarfs the allegations of spookish dirty tricks against Harold Wilson in the 1970s.

Common sense suggests that in such circumstances, amounting to a grave constitutional crisis, Tony Blair would have to move quickly to crush such dangerous dissent or see his authority fatally eroded. But he hasn't. And that is because he knows Adams and McGuinness are playing politics and that what they say is so much eyewash.

The Sinn Fein conspiracy theory - that the spooks are out to destroy the peace process - suffers from a more fundamental flaw. Not only is it rubbish, but the exact opposite is the truth. The peace process represents the wildest fantasies of the security establishment come true and the last thing the spooks want is to see it destroyed.

The peace process has enabled MI5 and the PSNI Special Branch to achieve something that very few if any security forces have ever accomplished: to see their enemy defanged by its own leadership and led out of violent revolutionary ways into constitutional politics and a world where the principle of consent overrides the Armalite.

MI5 and the PSNI know they could never have done this themselves, that they needed people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to do it for them.

So why on earth would the spooks want to undermine them, to frustrate them and place obstacles in their way as the Provo leadership claim they have consistently done - most recently with Stormontgate?

To have done so would have been to act fundamentally against their own interests. It just wouldn't make sense.

Not only does the Sinn Fein conspiracy theory not hold water, but the evidence about securocrat behaviour is strongly to the contrary. Three episodes tell the story.

Not long after the IRA robbed the Northern Bank and the Provos were under pressure, Martin McGuinness singled out a civil servant in the Northern Ireland Office called Joe Pilling as a perfect securocrat-type.

Calling him the 'Chief British Intelligence Officer', Pilling was berated for deploring the prospect of a Sinn Fein Assembly majority in the course of a talk in the United States.

Joe Pilling was not a spook but the Permanent Secretary at the NIO at the time the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated. It was Pilling who strongly pushed to decouple IRA decommissioning and the release of IRA prisoners against the wishes of many unionists. He succeeded and prisoners got out without the IRA giving up a single bullet, but if he hadn't the peace process would have been pitched into a real and possibly fatal crisis. Was this the behaviour of a securocrat out to destroy the process?

In October 1996 Gerry Adams faced the greatest crisis in his IRA career. An IRA Convention had been called in the wake of the collapse of the IRA ceasefire and dissidents were planning to overthrow him.

What did the RUC Special Branch do when they found out? According to ex-Chief Superintendent Bill Lowry, successful efforts were made to stop dissident delegates attending. Adams survived by the skin of his teeth, as did the peace process, but if those dissidents had got to the meeting it might have been a different story.

Was this the behaviour of securocrats out to destroy the process?

In 1987, Gerry Adams opened secret contacts with then Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King and the peace process was under way. A year later British military intelligence discovered, via UDA agent Brian Nelson, a plot to kill Gerry Adams. They stepped in and Adams' life was saved, and with it the peace process.

Was this the behaviour of securocrats out to destroy the process?

Ed Moloney is the author of 'A Secret History of the IRA'

Time for spooks to come in from the cold

Kildare Nationalist

Thursday, December 22, 2005

WHAT an extraordinary island we live on. In the south, a government minister uses D·il privilege and confidential garda files to destroy a man’s reputation and livelihood, while in the north a British agent at the heart of Sinn Féin is hung out to dry by his erstwhile handlers. Both cases illustrate an abuse of power made more worrying by the fact that neither British nor Irish ministers seem to find anything wrong with it.

Take the Frank Connolly case first. The minister for nonsense Michael McDowell believes that Connolly, a former journalist who now heads the independent Centre for Public Inquiry, represents a serious threat to the security of the Irish state. This was his justification for leaking garda files to a national newspaper. Despite the eminent people sitting on the board of this relatively new body, Mr McDowell was so concerned at Connolly’s involvement that he launched a campaign that resulted in the effective destruction of the Centre for Public Inquiry as well as the blackening of an Irish citizen’s name. In the minister’s eyes, this was a good day’s work.

It should be a cause for alarm that a minister in charge of the internal security apparatus of this state takes such a cavalier attitude to civil rights and due process. Mr McDowell is answerable to us, the citizens of this country. He appears to think it’s the other way around.

Frank Connolly may well have questions to answer about whether or not he has ever been to Colombia and, if so, what he did there. However, this disgraceful episode is certainly not the way to go about getting those answers.

Mr McDowell’s pathological hatred of republicanism appears to be mirrored by the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland - or at least elements within it. How else to explain the so-called Stormontgate affair of 2002, when conveniently placed television cameras captured dramatic footage of the PSNI ‘raid’ on Sinn Féin’s offices at the Stor-mont Assembly? It was widely reported in the media that a ‘republican spy ring’ had been broken and the spies arrested.

It now appears that the only spies operating in Stormont were paid British agents. Yet this was the pretext for a high-ly public police raid that led to the deliberate collapse of a democratically-elected legislature. And they call this policing?

The taoiseach himself has said he is baffled, declaring that: “It never added up. A large number of police and huge armaments, storming in, to collect a few clerks and a few files and the TV was in first. It stretches my imagination.

“This was a huge case. It doesn’t get any bigger than bringing down democratically elected institutions that people voted for. What this is about I just don’t know.”

It seems obvious that some within the PSNI, particularly in the Special Branch, will never be able to reconcile themselves to the legitimate aspirations of Northern nationalists. To that end, they were willing and able to subvert the Northern Assembly. Until such time as the Special Branch is disbanded and the rogue elements within the PSNI are brought to heel, it is unreasonable to expect the nationalist community to make any positive moves on policing.

One can only hope that the New Year brings more enlightened political leadership on both sides of the border.

**Not holding my breath...

Fears over criminalisations of Irish immigrants in US

BreakingNews.ie

22/12/2005 - 18:16:56

New anti-immigration legislation going through the US Congress could create criminals out of illegal Irish people, it was claimed tonight.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (2005) may have disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of undocumented Irish.

He urged the Irish Government to lobby Washington politicians to ensure the maximum possible level of protection for Irish citizens.

“The Bill has now passed through the House of Representatives and if it is passed by the Senate in its current form, its impact will be to criminalise the estimated tens of thousands of Irish people resident in the US without proper documentation,” Mr Rabbitte said.

“Many of these people have been in the US for a considerable period of time, have put down roots and, in some cases, have homes and families there.

“They may now find themselves facing arrest and deportation, or even imprisonment.”

Mr Rabbitte said there had been a long history of emigration from Ireland to the US but there have always been those who operated outside of the system.

“The US authorities were often prepared to turn a blind eye, but in the new post September 11 climate, hardworking, honest people now find themselves regarded as potential criminals.

“While I accept that Ireland is not exactly a shining example to the rest of the world in regard to how we treat people without proper documentation in our own country, I would urge the Taoiseach to lobby President Bush and the members of the Senate to ensure that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to regularise their positions, rather than face deportation.”

Urgent action is now required by the Irish Government in cooperation with members of the Senate who are sympathetic to the plight of the Irish, the Labour leader added.

Christmas release for almost 300 prisoners

BreakingNews.ie

22/12/2005 - 16:57:45

Up to 280 prisoners will be granted temporary release this Christmas, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said tonight.

This figure represents 9% of the prisoner population and is a small reduction on the number released last year, which was 294.

Many of the prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences, while others are serving relatively short sentences.

“The overriding concern in considering applications for Christmas release from prisoners is the safety of the public,” Mr McDowell said tonight.

In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, if any, and previous criminal history.

The periods of release, under the Criminal Justice Act 1960, vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) to up to eight nights.

All releases are subject to stringent conditions, which in the vast majority of cases includes a requirement to report on a regular basis to his/her local garda station.

Any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the gardaí.


Murder probe police seize items

BBC


Thomas Devlin was murdered in a knife attack

Detectives investigating the murder of schoolboy Thomas Devlin have seized a number of items during searches of homes in north Belfast.

The police said the premises in the Mount Vernon area had been searched on Thursday in connection with his death.

Thomas, 15, was stabbed five times as he and two friends walked along Somerton Road on 10 August.

In September, the PSNI confirmed the prime suspects in the inquiry were two young men with a black and white dog.

Stabbed

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

He had just bought sweets from a nearby shop and was on his way home when he was stabbed in the back five times.

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

A number of people detained for questioning about the murder were subsequently released without charge.

Thomas' mother Penny Holloway has said whoever attacked her son meant to kill him.


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