30 December 2005

missing posts

Missing posts from around 30 December til New Year's Day can be found >>here due to Blogger site issues. Thank you.


Mirror of Craig Murray's Torture Exposé

**Readers: The post I made concerning Craig Murray was unreadable because Mr. Murray's site is down at this time. I asked Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads for information about replacing the lost information, and he kindly and quickly supplied me with the following link and post. Thank you Tim.


Craig Murray's Site Still Down: Here is a mirror of his post on the leaked documents.

By ringverse at Fri, 30/12/2005 - 01:11

While Craig Murray's site is temporarily down for reasons as yet unknown.
What was at first looking like a problem due to the volume of traffic, is now looking more ominous.

UPDATE (11:37pm) - Craig Murray's site is currently down. This is almost certainly a server issue, and it will be dealt with in the morning.

UPDATE (00:48) - Well, shut my mouth. Something fishy *is* going on. Details in the morning. Meantime, my advice to those who are hosting this data is as follows;

Back-up your websites... just to avoid any possible hassles.

Boy, it's a good thing we hosted this in multiple locations, isn't it?


Here is a mirror of his post on the leaked documents:

Damning documentary evidence unveiled. Dissident bloggers in coordinated expose of UK government lies over torture.

Help us beat the British government's gagging order by mirroring this information on your own site or blog!

Constituent: "This question is for Mr Straw; Have you ever read any
documents where the intelligence has been procured through torturous means?"

Jack Straw: "Not to the best of my knowledge... let me make this clear... the British government does not support torture in any circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use." - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005

I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture... On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood. - Ambassador Craig Murray, memo to the Foreign Office, July 2004

With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition, the UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.

Craig Murray is refusing to do this. Instead, the documents are today being published simultaneously on blogs all around the world.

The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful".

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Craig Murray says:

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.

After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.

The two documents in question can be viewed here and here.
They can, and should be downloaded here and here.

National Archives - 1975: Year of crisis, kidnapping and chaos

Irish Examiner

29 December 2005
By Caroline O’Doherty

ELABORATE secret plans were drawn up in 1975 to cater for 100,000 refugees that the Government feared would flee from the North if the Troubles worsened.

Secret meetings were held with senior hospital and health officials, gardaí and defence experts, and blueprints were prepared on how such an influx would be accommodated, provided with medical care, and policed.

A covert survey of private properties was carried out and accommodation for 99,000 people identified, while the need for basic supplies such as blankets and powdered soup mix was quantified and priced.

CIÉ was consulted and a plan to cancel commuter services and redeploy rolling stock made, so all the refugees could be brought out of the North within four days of a crisis erupting.

In 1975, Northern Ireland was still in a state of chaos, with a shaky IRA ceasefire and frequent attacks on Catholics by loyalists. The IRA was also infiltrating its "Balcombe Street Gang" into Britain for a bombing campaign that would lead to more than 100 incidents before the end of the year.

A garda assessment of the security implications of the crisis was also sought and the commissioner at the time returned a grim prediction.

"Even in the most optimistic light, a mass exodus ...would tax the resources of the security forces in the Republic to the limit. Looking at the situation less optimisticallysome areas could become virtually uncontrollable and the involvement of the Garda Siochána in security matters would be such that normal policing of the country would be practically non-existent," he warned.

The Cosgrave-led Fine Gael-Labour coalition of the time had the previous year considered, in general terms, the possibility of a massive refugee influx in a "doomsday" scenario where the British made a sudden and complete withdrawal from Northern Ireland.

The Government's top-secret contingency plans were based on the assumption that 1,000 people would require treatment for serious injuries, and that they could be treated in Border area hospitals and in Dublin.

State papers, released by the National Archives today, show that while that threat had subsided by 1975, the Government believed that another upheaval could spark a mass flight from the North and that detailed plans had to be formulated in response.

Officials were asked to examine refugee situations in Pakistan, Palestine and Cyprus to see if any tips could be gleaned for dealing with a similar situation in the Republic. Secrecy was stressed at all times during the discussions for fear of adding to the political difficulties in the North if the Government's preparations became public.

But the Cabinet also faced the dilemma that if they did not acquire properties and buy supplies in advance, they would be hopelessly ill-equipped if the disaster struck.

One official said purchasing should begin immediately and that it would be possible, if the public got wind of what was happening, to claim they were for the Department of Defence's everyday needs.

The papers are among tens of thousands of previously undisclosed memos, briefing documents, letters, notes and Cabinet minutes from key Government departments, released today under the 30-year disclosure rule. Traditionally released on January 1, the date has been brought forward to coincide with the early release of papers from Britain and Northern Ireland. British papers, meanwhile, also published today, show the actual and potential influence the Vatican exercised on politics in Northern Ireland.

British diplomats were particularly concerned about criticism of Britain's role in the North, and pointed the finger of suspicion at the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Gaetano Alibrani, who was seen as the prime source of such criticism.

Bring me sunshine, bring me paramilitary surrender


For an insightful comment on this article, please visit >>Souse

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Thursday December 29, 2005
The Guardian

Having tried internment, military might, power sharing and even secret talks with the IRA, the government considered one last desperate measure to dig themselves out of the escalating war in Northern Ireland - Morecambe and Wise.

Papers from 1975, released today, reveal proposals for a "Brighten up Ulster" campaign designed to put a smile back on people's faces in the wake of a disastrous 1974, during which the devolved government collapsed after a general strike organised by loyalists, the IRA bombed Birmingham pubs, and more than 300 people were killed in Northern Ireland.

One suggestion for raising spirits made by the chairman of the government's Information Policy Coordinating Committee was to see Britain's favourite comedy double act perform their trademark Bring Me Sunshine dance routine on the lawns of Stormont.

In a letter to committee members on March 18 1975, just over a month after the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire, Michael Cudlipp stressed the need to "think really big" in organising a campaign of "morale-boosting" events. "Why not have big variety stars?" he asked, suggesting Morecambe and Wise, who were then at the peak of their careers, and who he hoped could be persuaded to "give their services for more or less free as part of an attempt to boost Ulster".

He envisaged hosting a big Morecambe and Wise performance at Stormont "subject to all obvious difficulties" and security considerations.

His ambitions did not stop in Britain: he also suggested recruiting Frank Sinatra to sing for free as a good deed for Northern Ireland. Other "cultural personalities" such as the Welsh baritone Geraint Evans were proposed.

In a series of memos over the months following the IRA truce, committee members said the "Brightening Up Ulster" campaign should highlight the "sunny side of life" in Northern Ireland, bring back mass entertainment and create a "postwar atmosphere and spirit".

One committee member, Jimmy Hamilton, recommended an "inter-town It's a Knockout competition" hosted by the rugby commentator Eddie Waring. He perhaps hoped that the addition of giant foam costumes and buckets of gunge would cancel out the murderous violence on Northern Ireland's streets. He suggested, as a sign of goodwill for the "morale-boosting" events, that "where possible, even it is only a token gesture, [we] remove the security barriers in towns".

Other ideas for themed events included a "Miss Good Cheer" beauty pageant, a special "Sociable Week" with the message "Don't Let's Be Downhearted" in which Rotary Clubs and the Women's Institute could run "Good Cheer conferences". One committee member wrote: "The theme tune of the effort could be based on the song 'Pick Yourself up, Dust yourself down, start all over again.'"

It was suggested that newspapers, at that point full of the horror stories of the Troubles, could run special "Good Cheer" supplements with "positive news" stories lined up for TV and radio.

One memo cautioned that government assistance in these feel-good events should be "discreet". The "Brightening Up Ulster" campaign was a "normality drive" aimed at bringing back the sporting, cultural and entertainment events that had stayed away in the early 1970s, and creating an atmosphere in which "normality activities" flourished.

Between December 1974 and spring 1975, the same government committee was also developing its strategy in the propaganda war against the IRA. One memo on a paper called "Undermining the IRA" stated: "The IRA's will to fight can best be undermined by a concerted PR/information campaign aimed at isolating the Provisional leadership and movement from the remainder of the Catholic community."

Mr Cudlipp wrote that the Northern Ireland secretary, Merlyn Rees "emphasises that there must be no attempts at 'black propaganda' without ministerial authority. He is extremely concerned at the 'blowback' effect of such methods. He emphasised however that this did not mean he was not greatly in favour of a vigorous and attacking information policy and indeed he is anxious that we should be far more on the attack than on the defence."

Morecambe and Wise did not perform at Stormont and, by the end of 1975, it was clear that the IRA ceasefire had not led to a decrease in violence. The truce was called off in 1976. By the end of 1975, 206 people had died in Northern Ireland, 174 of them civilians. The majority were killed by loyalist and republican paramilitaries.

Hain issues devolution deadline to Ulster parties


·Sinn Féin and DUP told to restore power sharing
· Elections for Stormont in 2007 may be cancelled

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Friday December 30, 2005
The Guardian

The Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, threatened yesterday to cancel the next Stormont elections and, in effect, pull the plug on devolution if Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist party do not form a power-sharing government in the next year.

Mr Hain's vow, which would prolong direct, quasi-colonial rule indefinitely, came after more than three years of anger and frustration at the intransigence of local politicians since the assembly was suspended.

Scrapping the elections, due in May 2007, would effectively end devolution as a viable concept. Mr Hain would not be drawn on what the government's alternative strategy was. "I'm not getting into plan B because I think plan B is not an attractive proposition for anybody," he said.

In an interview with the Guardian at Hillsborough Castle, where he spent Christmas, he also threatened to cut the £41,000 salaries of the 108 assembly members if they did not hammer out a way of governing together.

Northern Ireland has been in political limbo since Stormont was suspended in October 2003 after allegations of an IRA spy ring, which resurfaced this month after charges against three republicans were dropped and the head of Sinn Féin's Stormont offices outed himself as a British agent. The assembly members, who were elected in November 2003, have never taken up their seats, with the two biggest parties, Sinn Féin and the DUP, unable to agree about even talking together.

Mr Hain said voters would not accept another "charade" election to an empty chamber that was never going to sit.

"It's not me acting as an old colonial governor. I'm actually saying: 'I want you to run your own affairs, I want to give away power.' I think the voters want that as well," he said.

The public was showing "a deep-seated alienation bordering on minor contempt for the inability of Northern Ireland's politicians to get their act together," he added. He said he had met all Northern Ireland's political leaders in the past 10 days, and neither Ian Paisley, the DUP's leader or Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader had challenged his view. "I am talking straight rather than tough but if people want to interpret it as tough that's a matter for them," he said.

He said cancelling an election was a "pretty big decision" which would have to be made by December. Mr Hain has faced growing criticism over his stewardship of Northern Ireland, with his judgement called into question most recently by all parties over the "on the run" legislation which would allow fugitive republicans and members of the security services accused of crimes during the Troubles to escape prison without having to appear in court. Sinn Féin, the only party to initially support the bill, last week did a U-turn and said it would not support it.

Yesterday Mr Hain conceded changes would be made. "There's no doubt that the bill will need major surgery," he said adding that there were "legitimate arguments" against some details. He hinted that he was looking again at whether defendants would be forced to appear in front of special tribunals, before being freed on licence.

"I am very reluctant to just kill the bill as Sinn Féin are now demanding, and other parties in Northern Ireland [previously] demanded. I think we can find a way forward in which there will be, if not total consensus, then much broader consensus," he said.

Mr Hain refused to open up intelligence files to clear the air after the Stormont affair or to give a full public explanation of who was spying on whom and why.

"There were lots of James Bond type stories around it," he said, "which gets everybody excited, but there isn't really anything more to say from the government's point of view unless people want to dwell on the past forever."

He denied there were any rogue elements at work in the security services and said the police had been fully reformed.

Despite the fact that Sinn Féin's refusal to endorse the police service has been strengthened by the affair, he said it must "buy into policing" before an assembly could sit again. Legislation setting out a framework for handing power over policing to Stormont would go before parliament in February and Sinn Féin must call a special party conference to debate it. Before then, the government's ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission, will rule on whether the IRA has kept its promise, made in July, to end all violence. Mr Hain said he would meet the parties in February to discuss their responses but all-party talks would not take place for some months.

Year For Big Decisions, Hard Choices

Derry Journal

By Sean Mclaughlin
Thursday 29th December 2005

2006 WILL be a year for big decisions and hard choices in Irish politics. This is the view of three of the North's key political leaders --the SDLP's Mark Durkan, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin and Gregory Campbell, of the DUP --who believe the next 12 months will throw up many challenges for the stymied political process.

Speaking to the 'Journal' last night, the three politicians were in agreement that many opportunities were missed in 2005. However, when asked to reveal how existing difficulties and obstacles can be overcome, their opinions tend to differ --and dramatically. Derry MP Mark Durkan says the new year must be marked by "solid progress and real advance". "We have to move beyond the posture politics and blame games which have undermined the delivery of the Agreement over the past number of years," he said. "We need all parties to get real about their own responsibilities and the opportunities that exist for all of us if we go forward democratically together. "I am not naive about the problems created by the positions of other parties or the performance of government. But none of these problems are reasons for staying in stalemate." Mr. Durkan says the British and Irish governments should begin 2006 by making it "clear and credible" that "we are in a countdown to the restoration of the [Good Friday] Agree-ment's institutions." "Parties need to move beyond spin, excuse and pose and show each other and the public what they are really up for in terms of democratic sharing in the North, North-South co-operation, policing, equality and human rights."

Foyle Assemblyman Mitchel McLaughlin is convinced that 2006 must herald the end of direct rule in the North. He says the "problems and missed opportunities" of 2005 must be exchanged for "progress and stability" during 2006. "Sinn Fein is determined to maintain the pressure where it is required - and that is on the two governments," he said. "We will not be snared into petty party political mudslinging that only deflects from the serious business of holding the two governments to account. "It is the governments, in the absence of devolved institutions, that have the power to deliver on the spirit of the Agreement." Mr. McLaughlin, Sinn Fein's general secretary, says his party remains determined to end British direct rule and to "correct the bad decisions imposed by un-accountable ministers." He also urged the DUP to share power with republicans.

Gregory Campbell, meanwhile, is convinced that hard choices will have to be faced by republicans in the year ahead. The DUP MP told the 'Journal': "If the Provisional republican movement thought last year was hard, then they need to prepare themselves for the next 12 months as more tough choices will have to be made. "It's either bank robberies or Budget announcements - but they cannot have both; it's either killing outside a Belfast bar or creating a better economy - but not both," he said.

29 December 2005

Craig Murray - Exposé of UK government lies over torture


December 29, 2005

**See also >>this article on Cryptome's mirror concerning UK torture

Craig Murray
Writer and broadcaster

"Damning documentary evidence unveiled. Dissident bloggers in coordinated exposé of UK government lies over torture.

As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is nowa prominent critic of Western policy in the region.

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.

Craig Murray is refusing to do this. Instead, the documents are today being published simultaneously on blogs all around the world.

The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless 'useful'.

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture."

>>Read on

Comment: Policing priority


If there’s one New Year wish that this community is entitled to have granted, it’s for a police service that can truly be said to serve our people and which will, in turn, be supported by all.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde can say all he wants in defence and explanation of what his officers have been up to in past year and the years before that, but he can’t wish away the undeniable truth, and that is that the PSNI is as discredited in the eyes of nationalists and republicans as the RUC ever was.

The ordinary man and woman on the street may not know, and probably never will know, the entire truth of the Stormont ‘spy ring’ episode. But they do know that the evidence on which the case was built was found in the home of a man who was in the pay of the RUC/PSNI for 20 years. In an environment in which truth and honesty are in very short supply, that is one fact which is untarnished, it is a fact that tells us much, much more than any amount of self-serving rhetoric from the British government and its agents.

We are asked to accept as entirely normal that the PSNI will acquire and amass intelligence. After all, the argument goes, no police service can do its job properly without information, some of which is not easily accessible through normal police channels. This would all be well and good if the PSNI were using informants to pursue and arrest those criminal elements who are tightening their grip on this community’s throat. But when the PSNI uses it premier intelligence-gathering resource, Special Branch, to target a political party with catastrophic implications for a hard-won and historic political deal and its democratic outworkings, then Hugh Orde is in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that nationalists and republicans will consider that acceptable. It is not, and as long as the PSNI continues to invest more energy in surveillance and skullduggery in this community than it does on protection and service, then it will continue to find itself reviled and rejected.

As if the whole Stormont charade were not reason enough for us to keep the PSNI at arm’s length, the year-long Northern Bank investigation is fast turning from a joke into a fiasco. None of the arrests and charges that we have witnessed thus far is likely to inspire confidence in the bemused observer, but the treatment of Chris Ward, the young Poleglass bank official who was held for eight days and interviewed on 50 separate occasions, was particularly desperate and shameful. Although it emerged in court that Mr Ward’s home had been bugged, as had an apartment he stayed in while on holiday, the PSNI admitted in court that the evidence against the accused is wholly circumstantial. For the record, the dictionary defines the phrase ‘circumstantial evidence’ as “evidence which is not positive nor direct, but which is gathered inferentially from the circumstances in the case.” So, even after their ‘suspect’ had his private life subjected to the most minute and sustained scrutiny, even after the traumatised young man was given the most prolonged and intensive grilling ever experienced by anyone in the North, the case gathered and presented to the court was rambling and inferential.
The dark days of the Diplock conveyor belt are gone, thank goodness.

They are gone not because the government or the police wants them gone, but because there is a new and vigorous young generation of lawyers out there who are not cowed or chilled by the awesome power of the state and its agencies and who see opposition to state injustice not as subversion but as their bounden duty. Which is why threadbare cases, fit-ups and cynical conspiracies do not automatically succeed the way they did in the past, but are instead subjected to the most intense and forensic professional scrutiny. That is why the Stormont house of cards collapsed; that is why those being targeted in the Northern Bank investigation will not go quietly.

Away from the whys and wherefores of Stormont and the Northern Bank, what characterised each case was the staggeringly cynical exploitation of the media by the PSNI spin machine. How easy the media is to manipulate is a question for another day perhaps. Mr Orde’s heart may soar at the sight of hordes of his officers camped outside another home on the teatime news, but for the residents of West Belfast it’s just the signal for another round of political posturing.

The IRA’s bold move in dumping its arms should have been the catalyst for a range of similarly progressive steps, not least a move away from the policing ways of the past. But what we’ve seen is elements within the PSNI stepping up their campaign to stymie political progress. If Mr Orde is serious about winning broad community support for policing, his priority in 2006 must be to neuter those within his force who contine to follow their own agenda.

West is ‘depraved’ says UUP councillor


by Damian McCarney

A County Down Ulster Unionist councillor is standing by his claim that West Belfast is “depraved”.

Eddie Rea, a councillor in Killyleagh, made the shock comment in an interview with a local newspaper published last week. Mr Rea stood by his slur on the community this week when he spoke to the the Andersonstown News.

“That is what you would say if you drive through it. It’s graffiti and old untidiness and stuff. It is generally untidy and down in the heel. It is still running fairly high in unemployment.”

He said that he made the comments because South Down Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane had been speaking about the “regeneration of Ireland”.

Therefore Mr Rea sought to illustrate the futility of Sinn Fein’s economic policies in practice by focusing on West Belfast, the constituency of the President of the party sits.

“I would argue their ultra-socialistic viewpoints are not the way back.”
He does not believe that it is just West Belfast that is “depraved”, but also areas which have poor leadership.

“There are a hell of a lot of unionist areas that have not been led out of the depravity they have been living in… and there has not been good political leadership on the ground.”

When asked if he understood that West Belfast people might find it offensive that he described them as depraved, which is defined in the OED as “morally corrupt” he said, “You might find it offensive, but I’m trying to help. Would you waken up and smell the coffee? Start believing in yourselves.

“You don’t have to follow a semi-Marxist agenda. It’s leadership. If you put people who do not have the right economic strategy in as leaders – God help the people.”

Ironically Mr Rea only came into politics five years ago, after selling his textile company as the ailing textile market could not compete with the Marxist economy of China.

“It was bucked,” said Mr Rea, “thanks to the Chinese.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Suicide: an epidemic


Kevin Morrison, Youth Project Co-ordinator with the Echo Project, writes about the escalating suicide crisis and what is being done to educate our schoolchildren

West Belfast, Belfast, in fact the entire island of Ireland, has been significantly affected by the issue of suicide and self-harm for as long as we can care to remember.

Only in recent years is the taboo nature of suicide receding and the issue being given more of a priority.

In recent years we have also seen a careful examination of the causes of suicide and different strategies and measures have emerged to address this killer in our midst.

The statistics of suicide are even more alarming when compared to other causes of death in our society.

Road traffic accidents have a brutal and sudden way of impacting on our lives.
The nature of the horrific injuries sustained and cause of death is very public and penetrating.

Death and injury caused by road traffic accidents, drink driving and stolen vehicles are a very public concern and worry, and one we often champion to resolve.

According to World Health Organization estimates, in the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide, and 10 to 20 times more people attempted suicide worldwide.
This represents one death every 40 seconds and one attempt every 3 seconds, on average.

This also indicates that more people are dying from suicide than in all of the armed conflicts around the world and, in many places, about the same or more than those dying from traffic accidents.

One response that has emerged to address suicide is a model of intervention from a Canadian Public Services Corporation called ‘LivingWorks.’

This organisation’s primary focus is to create learning experiences that help communities prevent suicide.

The model of intervention that has been introduced to Ireland in the past number of years (the first ever in the Twinbrook area) is called ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

Over half a million people worldwide have been trained in ASIST, which equips people with the necessary skills to deliver first aid intervention to a person who is considering suicide.

The Colin Community Forum, through its Colin Area Youth Capacity Build Programme, was central in getting eight local people from across all sectors trained to deliver the ASIST workshops.

To date, over 100 people have been trained as suicide first aid interventionists in the Colin Area, with more workshops planned for the New Year.

These people have included health workers, youth workers, community activitists, counsellors, doctors and nurses, those bereaved through suicide and those who have attempted suicide.

In a groundbreaking and bold move, the Colin Area Youth Capacity Build, in partnership with the Falls Community Council, the Lynx Project, Echo Youth Project and St. Colm’s High School brought, for the first time ever, the ASIST Workshop into a school.

Students and teachers together shared experiences, emotions and attitudes and developed skills central to the model of intervention.

Through role-playing scenarios, simulations and group discussion the issue of suicide was no more taboo and brought to the fore of these people’s lives, some who only several weeks ago experienced the death of a past pupil through suicide.

The students were excellent and although initially reserved, they fully participated in all the components of the workshop.

The contributions from both students and teachers ensured that this workshop was a success.

In my opinion, more schools need to be as progressive as St Colm’s High School and be proactive in seeking to address what should not be a taboo or unspeakable subject.

Suicide has killed many, many people in our community, and we need to work collectively together in a co-ordinated and organised manner to tackle this tragic cause of loss of life in our midst.

For further information on ASIST Workshops in the forthcoming New Year you can contact Bill McComb or Kevin Morrison at the Colin Community Forum, 02890 604004.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Daily Ireland ends first year on high


As 2005 comes to a close and Daily Ireland nears its landmark 300th edition, it’s time to thank investors, readers and supporters who made the birth and remarkable success of this republican newspaper possible.

Daily Ireland’s currency has been news, and to mark the end of the year with exclusive coverage of the Stormontgate and Spygate controversies is a great credit to the newspaper’s news team.

This week’s exclusive interview by our US correspondent Jim Dee with former Castlereagh holding centre chef Larry Zaitschek was picked up by our colleagues in all the main broadcast and print media while authoritative commentators from all walks of life have gone to our pages first to get an accurate assessment of the nationalist community’s reaction to the Spygate scandal.

The impact of Daily Ireland on the Irish media scene has been profound and impressive in 2005 with our editors, columnists and feature writers appearing in all the main broadcast media across the country — in the past week alone, Daily Ireland’s flag has been carried on RTÉ, Radio Ulster, Raidió na Gaeltachta and on almost every independent radio station in the country.

But it’s not only in government, political and media circles that the editorial comment and coverage of Daily Ireland is assessed but in every location where supporters of a United Ireland come together.

Through the platform of www.dailyireland.com we have added a totally new global dimension to news coverage from Ireland.

The addition of Dublin correspondent David Lynch to our news team and the opening of a new office in the capital has strengthened Daily Ireland’s national coverage and will be augmented in the New Year with the appointment of advertising agency representation in Dublin.
On a shoestring budget, our promotional teams have made Daily Ireland a household name and for their efforts were nominated for a prestigious marketing award in October.

They are already gearing up to leverage Jarlath Burns and our other sports commentators to ensure the paper continues to enjoy a high profile during the upcoming Championship season.

But the cornerstone of their campaign remains the subscription model — if you don’t have a subscription to Daily Ireland, go now to www.dailyireland.com and get one — which continues to enjoy strong support nationwide.

It’s not only in its editorial pages that Daily Ireland has been making the news, we’ve also broken ground in our legal challenges to funding blocks by British government agencies and remain confident that justice will be done — not to mention standing up to the bully-boy tactics of a certain government minister.

Thousands of pages of British government documents have now been accessed through discovery and the patterns of bias they reveal at the highest levels make for sorry reading seven years after the Good Friday Agreement promised equality for all.

Ultimately, our success is down to the support of our investors, especially in the US (where we have welcomed three new substantial backers to our second round of funding) and the backing of our readers, practical patriots who understand that a daily newspaper which tells the whole story is a vital building block in the new Ireland.

For that support, Daily Ireland says thank you, just as we thank this newspaper’s marvellous and unrivalled team.

We have been given a fair wind in the first 11 months — not least by many of our media colleagues — and we are poised for further progress in 2006, courtesy of your support.

Go raibh Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi mhaise agaibh uilig.

Journalist:: Máirtin Ó Muilleoir

Dignam killing probe

Daily Ireland

Human rights group concerned security forces did nothing to prevent death

Ciarán Barnes

The PSNI’s Historical Enquiry Team is to probe the killing of a Special Branch and British military informer after having files on his death sent to it by a respected human rights organisation.
British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) is concerned that the security services may have had prior knowledge that the IRA was planning to kill Johnny Dignam, but did nothing to prevent his execution.
According to BIRW, this information would have been passed to the British military by the alleged IRA double agent Stakeknife, who is reported to have been a member of the IRA’s internal security unit, which was responsible for killing informants.
The naked bodies of Mr Dignam and two friends, Gregory Burns and Aidan Starrs, were found within a ten-mile radius in south Armagh on July 1, 1992.
In an initial statement, the IRA said the Portadown men were killed because of their involvement in the murder of Mr Burns’ girlfriend, Margaret Perry, the previous year.
The statement said Ms Perry discovered Mr Burns was working as an informant and that, because of this, he had her killed by Mr Dignam and Mr Starrs.
In a second statement, the IRA said that after being arrested by the RUC in connection with the murder, Dignam and Starrs agreed to work for Special Branch.
The organisation also produced audio tapes of the men confessing their roles as informers prior to being shot.
In its last monthly report, BIRW expresses concerns not only about the murder of Dignam, but the deaths of Burns, Starrs and Ms Perry.
It notes that the PSNI’s Historic Enquiry Team is now responsible for investigating killings connected to the British military agent Stakeknife.
In light of this, BIRW director Jane Winter confirmed her organisation has sent a file on John Dignam to detectives.
She said: “BIRW is concerned that no one has ever been brought to book for any of these four murders, which may have been preventable owing to the prior knowledge by both army intelligence and Special Branch.”
At the beginning of 2005, the parents of Johnny Dignam, Pat and Irene Dignam, called for a public enquiry into claims their son was sacrificed in order to protect a British army double agent.
Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, Irene Dignam said: “I need to know if these allegations are true.
“If they are, then Johnny’s death could and should have been prevented.
“I want the truth. I want to know if the authorities abandoned my son, and let him be killed, in order to protect other individuals.”


Irish American Information Service

12/29/05 05:17 EST

Irish premier Bertie Ahern today said he hoped to see the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and executive lifted in 2006, and "the earlier the better".

Mr Ahern said he still hoped to see a united Ireland in his lifetime, but regarded peace and stability in the North as a more important objective.

Mr Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair are expected to start talks on the restoration of devolution with Northern Ireland's political parties following the publication at the end of January of a report on IRA decommissioning.

The Taoiseach today made clear that, if the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) report backs up the IRA's claim that they have put all their arms beyond use, he will push for a speedy return to power-sharing at Stormont.

No referendum on unification could practically be held in the North for at least a decade after the restoration of the Belfast Agreement institutions, which were suspended in 2002 amid claims of a republican spy ring at Stormont, he said.

Mr Ahern described the IRA's announcement in July of a cessation of military activities, followed by the act of total decommissioning in September, as "hugely significant moves".

"If the IMC state that that is credible, that it has happened, then it will allow Tony Blair and myself to try again to get the parties to enter into meaningful discussions that will hopefully lead to the restoration of the Northern Assembly and executive and the North-South bodies at some time during 2006, and the earlier the better," he said.

Asked if he was hopeful of securing an agreement to enter power-sharing from the Assembly's two largest parties, Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein, Mr Ahern said: "All we can do is use our powers of persuasion on the strength of the case. The reality is we have moved Northern Ireland from a place of daily killing. It is now a more stable place."

"That was done on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement... parties sharing power together on a cross- community basis, working to the agenda of the Good Friday Agreement for the betterment of the people of Northern Ireland," Mr. Ahern said.

Asked whether he agreed with the assessment of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams that he would live to see Irish unification, Mr Ahern said: "Of course I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime. I don't know whether I will or not. But what is more important is that we see peace and stability and people working together in Northern Ireland."

The way I look at this is that it is not important that it happens in the short run. I have said that the constitutional issue in Northern Ireland is now fixed and change can only be made by the wishes of the people of the North."

"To have that kind of election now or in the next few years would be entirely unhelpful. What happens in a decade's time or later on is another thing. What we need now is to have the institutions working and then people can make their own judgment in their own time," Ahern concluded.

Doomsday plan for 100,000 refugees

Daily Ireland

Irish government papers reveal fears that Belfast pogrom would follow British ‘disengagement’

Jarlath Kearney

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Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave

Six months after the ending of the Ulster Workers Council strike in July 1974, the Irish government made top-secret contingency plans to accommodate up to 100,000 Northern refugees in the South.
The plans – which anticipated the need to hospitalise 1,000 seriously injured people – are detailed in papers from 1975 released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule.
During the height of the UWC strike in July 1974, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson had drawn up short-lived plans for his government to ‘disengage’ from the North in a so-called ‘Doomsday’ scenario.
Following the success of the UWC strike in smashing the fledgling power-sharing executive agreed at the Sunningdale talks, the political conflict in the North degenerated quickly.
Northern republicans were also concerned about the possibility of loyalist pogroms similar to those of 1969. In 1974, the IRA’s Belfast Brigade O/C Brendan Hughes was captured in possession of detailed plans for the widespread defence of Catholic communities across the city.
The IRA plans were alleged to include the option of razing whole streets to the ground in order to create buffer zones at interfaces.
The new papers released by the National Archives now confirm that the Irish government was also preparing for a serious escalation in the conflict throughout the North.
Food, bedding and medical supplies were all stockpiled in the South as part of the preparations.

Among the Irish government plans prepared in 1975 was an option to transport 100,000 refugees from Belfast to the South within four days.
Up to 6,000 of the refugees would have been accommodated at Mosney holiday camp, and the Department of Health was prepared to open an emergency headquarters in Dublin at the Customs House. 1,000 seriously wounded people would have been hospitalised at facilities around the border counties and in Dublin.
However, the plans also reveal that Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave personally over-ruled the Department of Defence’s advice by halving the contingency planning in terms of scale. This meant the Irish government only intended purchasing enough supplies for 50,000 potential refugees.
“It was considered that the placing of orders on that scale would not lead to any significant degree of speculation about the purpose of the orders and would avoid the possible adverse consequences," a confidential memo to the Taoiseach recorded. Despite apparent budget considerations restricting the resources available to fund the plan, the government also ruled out asking the International Committee of the Red Cross for assistance to prevent any perception that Ireland was “in a state of war”.
The government feared that any leaking of the top-secret contingency plans could destabilise the political situation in the North. For that reason, knowledge of the plans was confined to a small number of government ministers, officials and just two health board chief executives.
However, by April 2005, there were just enough blankets to cope with 500 refugees and it was estimated that supplies for 50,000 would take at least six months to acquire.
In the memo to Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, the urgency of implementing the plans was stressed:
“The Government would be subjected to considerable criticism, at a time when maintenance of its authority and of support for its policies was of the highest importance, while the refugees could suffer great hardship.”
The memo also highlighted the positive economic benefit that proceeding with orders for the contingency plans could generate:
“Orders for the quantity of the blankets involved would represent a significant amount of business for the woollen mills which would help to mitigate current employment difficulties.”
Despite noting that the Diocese of Down and Connor had already commenced its own programme of stockpiling supplies provided by the North’s Health Department, the Irish government ruled out any possibility of providing supplies directly to people on the ground in the North.
“The implications of trying to provide this type of protection inside Northern Ireland would be extremely serious," the memo to the Taoiseach stated.

Mountbatten offered use of his castle to Irish state

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael Brennan
29 December 2005

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Classiebawn Castle - Photo from Sligo Heritage

The Irish Government rejected an offer from Lord Mountbatten for the free use of his castle in County Sligo, according to newly-released files.

The former Earl of Burma, who was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, had inherited Classiebawn Castle after the death of his wife.

He wrote to the Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in March 1975 to offer the castle to the state as a gesture to cement his family's close connection with Ireland.

"My suggestion would be that it should be available for the President, you, your Ministers or official visitors to Ireland, for a period to be mutually agreed."

After overseeing the liberation of Burma and Singapore from Japanese forces in 1945 and the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947, Lord Mountbatten made regular visits to Ireland.

"The only request I would make is that you would allow my family and me to use the castle during the month of August, as we have done almost every year since the war. Not only do we look forward to our annual visit but we value keeping up the close family ties with Ireland through our annual visit," he told Mr Cosgrave.

Lord Mountbatten employed 14 staff to look after the 10 bedrooms, five bathrooms and four reception rooms in the castle.

Within 10 days, the Department of the Taoiseach had drawn up a memo on the proposal.

It noted that the state would have the castle rent-free, except for the normal upkeep such as rates and maintenance.

"The Taoiseach feels that, having regard to the limited use that the state would be likely to make of the castle and the relatively heavy annual expenditure that would be involved, the offer should be declined. He recommends accordingly to the Government."

Mr Cosgrave was more diplomatic when he wrote to Lord Mountbatten on April 4, 1975 to refuse the offer.

He thanked him for the "very generous gesture" and the friendly feelings towards Ireland which had inspired it.

But he said he had come to the reluctant conclusion that the limited use the state would have for the castle would not justify the acceptance of the offer.

The file on the issue, which has been released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule, contains further evidence of the close relationship between Lord Mountbatten and senior members of the Irish Government.

Lord Mountbatten was killed along with members of his family when the IRA blew up his fishing boat off Mullaghmore in 1979.

26 may face charges after Dunloy

Belfast Telegraph

29 December 2005

TWENTY-SIX people face being reported to the Public Prosecution Service with a view to potential charges being brought in connection with a controversial stand-off in Dunloy on July 12 this year.

Vehicles were used to block roads into the mainly nationalist village and a number of people sat down on a roadway to prevent Orangemen driving to a church service.

Riot police and water cannon were brought in, but after a long stand-off and talks involving police and Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness, protesters agreed to be physically removed by police and the parade was completed without further incident.

The stand-off began when Orangemen, who have in recent years been banned by the Parades Commission from marching from Dunloy Orange Hall through the centre of the village to Dunloy Presbyterian Church, decided to make the journey by vehicle for a wreath laying ceremony but were prevented from doing so.

After the road was cleared the Orangemen then drove in a convoy to the church where, six hours behind schedule, they laid a wreath and sang a hymn.

This July police said the sit-down was illegal and they intended to investigate breaches of public order and road traffic offences.

Pay-offs of £60,000 demanded for soldiers

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
29 December 2005

ULSTER Unionists have demanded £60,000 pay-offs for Royal Irish Regiment members - on top of the standard Army redundancy terms, it has been confirmed.

And the party also wants £1,500 for each year served for part-timers as well as a retraining package.

Party leader Sir Reg Empey said the package for the axed Regiment's soldiers - expected to be announced early in the New Year - would prove a key test for Secretary of State Peter Hain.

But he warned that he feared the announcement could fall "well short" of what he believed is required.

"The final shape of the redundancy package for members of the Royal Irish Regiment's home service soldiers will be an early test of Peter Hain's commitment to deliver confidence building measures," he said.

"Any feedback we have been getting in recent weeks would indicate a package well short of what is required to take into account the unique situation that soldiers find themselves in here."

His call came after Mr Hain revealed he has asked Cabinet Ministers to be generous in relation to the Royal Irish Regiment.

Sir Reg said he hoped Mr Hain convinces his colleagues in Government that a meaningful deal is needed "especially because of the appalling manner of the announcement of the decision concerning the regiment and the need for soldiers to retire with dignity and in good order".

"Given that Peter Hain and Defence Secretary John Reid both say that the Royal Irish soldiers have in fact completed their task, then let the Government put its money where its mouth is.

"After all, nearly £200m has been made available for the Saville Inquiry so I see no justification for a penny pinching package for the Royal Irish."

The DUP, which has been involved in detailed negotiations with Dr John Reid, the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, on the RIR package, has said the announcement will help determine its approach to political negotiations.

North: Victim's group in plea over joyriding


29/12/2005 - 11:43:44

A victims’ group which has campaigned to take joyriders off the roads warned the authorities in the North today: Now it’s your turn.

The west Belfast-based Families Bereaved Through Car Crime revealed it plans to take a step back and scrutinise the proposed new councils’ efforts to end the menace.

Spokesman Tommy Holland said: “The families have achieved so much, like getting the police auto-crime team set up, but they are only ordinary people.

“Now we’re passing over the baton. It’s down to these seven super-councils, education and health boards.

“We believe if everybody works together, they can create an environment that will eventually end joyriding, creeper burglaries and ram-raids.”

Since it was set up three years ago, the group, made up of 10 families that have lost 11 relatives to the scourge, has lobbied tirelessly for tougher sentences and a police crackdown.

It has also established links with others in Derry where car thieves also go on the rampage.

More than 50 people have been killed by so-called joyriders in the last 20 years, with most deaths occurring in west Belfast, according to Mr Holland.

More than 2,000 people have also been injured, including many who have lost limbs and suffered brain damage.

The continued threat from vehicle thieves has forced up car insurance in the area.

“It’s gone sky-high, and shows that apart from the tragedies, this is hurting the economy as well,” Mr Holland said.

But next year the focus will switch to district council community safety teams, he said.

“We have asked Belfast City Council to bring together a working body from all the councils.

“We will be watching and if, as they claim, this is a big priority, then they should get on with it.

“The families will keep lobbying, but the politicians and super-councils need to step up. Let’s see how they do the job.

“We are throwing down the gauntlet.”

British gloated over poor showing at de Valera funeral


British gloated over poor showing at de Valera funeral
29/12/2005 - 11:11:28

Official papers released in the North today under the 30-year disclosure rule show that British diplomats gloated over the absence of world leaders at the funeral of Eamon de Valera.

The former Irish president died in 1975 at the age of 92, but predictions that many heads of state would attend the funeral were never realised.

The papers made public today show that GW Harding, an official at the British Embassy in Dublin, gleefully noted at the time that the level of foreign representation was not as high as expected.

He said even the "anticipated crew of Irish-American vote-seeking politicians" had failed to put in an appearance.

New state papers cast fresh light on Ireland of 1975


29/12/2005 - 09:56:39

Tens of thousands of official government papers are being released to the public today under the 30-year disclosure rule.

The memos, letters, and notes, which are held in the national archives, cast new light on the workings of the Irish State in 1975.

The documents made public today reveal that secret plans were drawn up to cater for 100,000 refugees from the North if the Troubles worsened and security deteriorated.

Officials were asked to examine refugee situations in Pakistan, Palestine and Cyprus as part of their preparations for a possible exodus of Catholics from the North in the event of increased violence.

Elsewhere, the newly released papers also reveal that military intelligence kept files on current, previous and future cabinet ministers in 1975, as well as political parties, trade unions, women's organisations and journalists.

The politicians targeted included former Fianna Fáil minister Conor Cruise O'Brien, a trenchant critic of the Provisional IRA.

Elsewhere, a declassified file from the Department of the Taoiseach reveals that former trade unionist Phil Flynn was kept under surveillance during the IRA kidnapping of Dutch businessman Tiede Herrema, even though he had been asked to mediate in the affair.

BreakingNews.ie: Govt stockpiled supplies for troubles refugees


29/12/2005 - 07:23:24

The Irish Government began stockpiling food, blankets and hospital supplies 30 years ago to deal with a potential influx of up to 50,000 refugees from the North.

The continuing violence, which had already caused the deaths of 1,000 people, meant that the Government feared in 1975 that there might be a further worsening of the political situation.

Its top-secret contingency plans were grounded on the assumption that 1,000 people would require treatment for serious injuries and that they could be treated in hospitals in the border areas and in Dublin.

The Department of Health was preparing to establish an emergency headquarters at the Customs House in Dublin and properties had been identified across the country which were capable of holding up to 100,000 people.

This included the Mosney holiday centre in County Meath, which had a capacity for 6,000 people and is now used as a refugee centre.

The newly-released material from the National Archives shows that the Government believed that 100,000 refugees could be evacuated from Belfast by train in four days, if the rail network was operational.

Although the Department of Defence thought provision should be made for 100,000 refugees, Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave was conscious of a warning from his civil servants that large purchases might expose the plans.

“It was considered that the placing of orders on that scale would not lead to any significant degree of speculation about the purpose of the orders and would avoid the possible adverse consequences,” said a confidential memo to the Taoiseach.

He decided that provision should be made for 50,000 refugees at a cost of 800,000 pounds (€1m).

Only two health board chief executives were informed of the plan due to the overwhelming need for secrecy.

The Government feared its contingency plans might be misconstrued in the North and would result in serious consequences “on the political plane and in violence”. In 1975, the North was still in a state of chaos, with a shaky IRA ceasefire and frequent attacks on Catholics by loyalists.

The IRA was also infiltrating its “Balcombe Street Gang” into Britain for a bombing campaign, which would lead to more than 100 incidents before the end of the year.

The “grave budgetary situation” at the time meant that the Government was not able to afford to buy provisions for more than 50,000 refugees. It considered looking for assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had helped provide blankets, beds and tents to refugees in Cyprus the previous year.

But it was felt that this might be politically unwise because it might affect Ireland’s international standing and also imply that the country was in a state of war.

The need for urgency was stressed in a report to the Taoiseach in April 1975, because there were only enough blankets for 500 refugees and it would take up to six months to stockpile an adequate number for 50,000 refugees.

It also warned of the consequences if the Government was found to be unprepared for the situation.

“The Government would be subjected to considerable criticism, at a time when maintenance of its authority and of support for its policies was of the highest importance, while the refugees could suffer great hardship.”

On the positive side, the memo pointed out that the stocks of blankets purchased would not be wasted if an influx of refugees did not occur because they could be used by the army and the local authorities instead.

It added: “Orders for the quantity of the blankets involved would represent a significant amount of business for the woollen mills which would help to mitigate current employment difficulties.”

The report noted that the Diocese of Down and Connor was the only one to have begun stockpiling supplies in the event of a breakdown in the situation. The Northern Ireland Department of Health had secretly provided some of them without encountering any opposition from the IRA.

The report did not recommend sending any supplies over the border because it was virtually certain these would come under the control of the IRA or loyalist paramilitaries.

The only way to prevent this would be to use the Irish army.

“The implications of trying to provide this type of protection inside Northern Ireland would be extremely serious.”

In the end, the feared influx of refugees did not occur and the plans were left to gather dust on the shelves.

Ceasefire breakdown seen as propaganda opportunity


National archives

Owen Bowcott
Thursday December 29, 2005
The Guardian

The breakdown of the IRA's extended ceasefire in 1975 was anticipated in Whitehall as an opportunity to launch "black propaganda" attacks and blame republicans for the return to violence.

A memorandum drafted by the Foreign Office also proposed continuing clandestine contacts with the provisional movement and loyalist paramilitaries, while only arresting the leaders of hardline factions. The strategy reveals that behind the scenes there was little confidence that the IRA's suspension of hostilities would deliver a resolution to the conflict.

Attempts to engage Harold Wilson in negotiations had begun several years earlier. When opposition leader, he had met IRA leaders in Dublin and Buckinghamshire during 1972 and 1973. John O'Connell, an Irish MP who acted as the go-between, tried to arrange more contacts in early 1975. The prime minister referred the new approach to the Northern Ireland Office. "What he proposes is, in my view ... unacceptable," Wilson noted.

The suggested conditions for a "permanent truce" were the "appointment of a commission of three [to look at the future of the province] ... steady release of detainees, political amnesty when peace is permanent ... and the sending of two people to talk to the IRA".

By late January, the NIO was more optimistic. "There was an extremely strong desire for peace in both communities, as evinced by the large numbers who were attending peace rallies," an official noted.

On February 10, the IRA announced the suspension of hostilities. But early hopes were soon disappointed. Arthur Galsworthy, UK ambassador in Dublin, recorded that "contacts with Provisional Sinn Féin had continued spasmodically, but had revealed no sign of any desire on their part to discuss 'macro-political' questions".

A report from army headquarters in Lisburn in July, marked "secret", said: "We have seen many reports during the last six months indicating that PIRA [Provisional IRA] have been taking advantage of the ceasefire to carry out some degree of restructuring."

In August, shortly before the ceasefire expired, the Foreign Office drafted its strategy paper. Entitled The ending of the ceasefire: HM government's aims and the means to achieve them, the document noted its first duty was to "minimise the danger to the civilian population and to the security forces". The second was to "ensure that all the blame for the breakdown and consequent events lies on the PIRA in the eyes of the Catholic population, the Irish people and government, the USA, the Vatican, international public opinion generally and the British public".

Other aims were the "maintenance of contacts with Provisional Sinn Féin" and "Protestant paramilitaries" as well as the pursuit of "black propaganda designed to sow suspicions between the PIRA [and other republican factions]".

Philadelphia, the Last Stand for Urban Murals

Washington Post

Here is an article about mural art in the states

Real Estate Appreciation Has Trumped the Art Elsewhere

By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005

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Click to view - The city of Philadelphia happily houses one of the nation's largest murals: "The Family Is One of Nature's Masterpieces," which extends 130 feet. (By Chris Gardner -- Associated Press)

PHILADELPHIA -- They are the hidden gems of this old city, running up the side of down-at-the-heels Victorian rowhouses and dominating vacant lots with a surreal intensity. A child reaches for a star painted onto a chimney, a grandmother sews a purple quilt, six lifer inmates seek salvation.

They are haunting and passionate, and these vast murals are like wildflowers that took root in urban decay and never died.

The city of Philadelphia happily houses one of the nation's largest murals: "The Family Is One of Nature's Masterpieces," which extends 130 feet. (By Chris Gardner -- Associated Press)
Best of the Post: Nation
The best photographs taken throughout the nation by Washington Post photographers in 2005.

White-haired Marian Custus peers out her door where a row of elegant townhouses once stood. The owners fled, and crack and arson crept in. All became rubble. Two years ago the artists arrived and enlisted neighborhood kids and painted two radiant murals on the sides of rowhouses, known collectively as "Holding Grandmother's Quilt."

"Do you know how lucky I am?" Custus confides to a visitor. "It's like waking up every morning and having a museum painting in your neighborhood. I feel so lucky to live here."

No city in America has so much mural art, a brick wall poetry that reflects every mood in Philadelphia. There are portraits of Dr. J and Frank Sinatra and a brilliant mural of Jackie Robinson sliding home. But as touching are murals of neighborhood children and a beloved cop who died in Iraq, a "Healing Wall" that stretches 300 feet along the railway tracks and a 50-foot Brobdingnagian garden mural that dominates a now-drug blasted corner in the Mantua neighborhood.

"It's like they're the autobiography of this city," said Jane Golden, director of the city's Mural Arts Program, who searches for barren walls with the intensity of a huntress. "They have the power to move the soul."

This art took flower in New York City. Disinvestment and white flight and arson laid New York low in the 1970s, but out of that decay stepped thousands of graffiti taggers and muralists, among them Keith Haring and Dondi and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Some saw their art as brilliant and others as a scourge but that debate does not matter anymore because most of the art is gone.

Real estate is too valuable now for street art; every vacant lot has become a Build it Now! commodity. The only murals left in Manhattan are 16-story ads for Calvin Klein and Bose speakers.

"We had this great flowering of mural art and now it's all gone," said Vanessa Gruen of New York's Municipal Arts Society. "We've covered it with underwear ads."

The District has its own rich history of mural art, though never in such density as that of New York and Philadelphia. Its remaining walls, too, are threatened as development surges through Shaw and Adams Morgan.

Philadelphia has gone the other way, at least for now. Its urban renaissance has burned slower and with less of a mercantile aesthetic. A half-dozen murals have been demolished recently -- including a Harriet Tubman painted for the Republican National Convention -- and replaced by parking lots and condos. But artists are philosophic.

"It's acrylic paint, so it has a life of 25 years anyway," said Dave McShane, the Irish Italian son of a Philadelphia plumber, who set out to be a doctor but ended up in fine arts school. "If it lasts three years, that's okay -- it's regular everyday art for regular working people."

In fact, mural extinction seems unlikely here, not least because Golden, a dark-haired, fast-talking ball of kinetic energy, stands guard. To drive with Golden, as she steers a city-issued jeep up the old streets of Mantua and Fishtown and Kensington, is to sense her passion.


Golden hits the brakes and points to a mural of a child reaching for a star, painted across every inch of a three-story tenement wall. "All the neighbors talked about when the neighborhood was so safe that they could go up to the roof on a hot night and eat dinner and look for stars," she said. "When people can hear and see themselves, they reach a state of grace."

Golden came to her avocation by accident. She was a mural artist fresh-arrived from Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Graffiti artists were tagging -- or defacing -- walls, and Mayor W. Wilson Goode (D) formed the Anti-Graffiti Network, which hired Golden.

"They handed me a cardboard box and said: 'You'll have 1,000 kids. Good luck!' " Golden shakes her head. "The kids would draw with me for two hours and then they'd go and spray-paint all over the building."

Gradually that changed. The kids came from graffiti gangs such as the High Class Lunatics and told her they shoplifted fine-art magazines to rummage for ideas. So Golden hauled them to museums and gave them books and eventually let them paint a mural -- only if they agreed to stop spray-painting. The kids found a wall near the subway tracks, and set a fire burning in a garbage can to stay warm.

"It was completely overrun with drug dealers," she said. "Guys would come up and say, 'Lady, you're standing on my stash.' "

In the years to come she and her artists -- who come from all over the nation, and Ecuador, Mexico, Japan and Germany, and from local juvenile homes and maximum-security prisons -- would paint thousands of walls. They dodged shootouts and gang wars and negotiated boundaries in this territorial city.

No mural came harder than one on Lehigh Avenue, where the Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond neighborhoods intersect. Three years ago a local artist, Cesar Viveros-Herrera, had in mind a 300-foot-long "healing" mural against a railway wall, to be illustrated with the faces of local youths, some dead, some alive. It would be multiracial and multiethnic, and in Kensington that did not go down well.

"I had a neighbor who ragged how it was going to attract dealers," recalled Eileen Blair, 55, whose Scottish grandparents moved to Kensington in 1915. "I'm like, 'Where have you been, honey? We've had drug dealers here since the Vietnam War.' " A mediator called a meeting, and 200 neighbors walked in. Blair felt sick to her stomach, and Golden wasn't feeling any better. A local pol blasted away. Then a 12-year-old girl with a terrible stutter stood up.

Blair recalls the moment: "This girl takes the microphone and says, 'This mural is like a puzzle. If you take the pieces out, the puzzle won't work anymore. And this puzzle is our lives.' "

Blair's voice slides thin -- she's crying.

"That was it," she said. "One person after another got up and said what a great idea this mural was."

The last trace of conflict washed away as they painted. "I don't know how to describe it -- it's like ice-skating or combing a child's hair," Blair said. "You pick up the brush and your defenses come down."

Golden drove to the dedication of the "Healing Wall" months later. She expected 20, maybe 30 people. She saw a crowd of 250. She scooted around the block just to collect herself. "I saw all the people we'd argued and laughed with and I felt chills all over my body," she said. "This work is a metaphor for change. Nothing good -- nothing -- happens just like that."

Officials concerned over support in US for IRA


By Jimmy Burns
Published: December 29 2005 02:00

Support for the IRA in the US was one of the prime concerns of British officials charged with dealing with Northern Ireland affairs in the mid-1970s.

In early 1975, British intelligence helped provide the US Federal Bureau of Investigation with an updated blacklist of suspected IRA members, whose US visa applications were then turned down.

British officials also considered encouraging moderate Irish Catholic politicians to raise funds in the US, as a way of diverting funds away from Irish Republicanism. But within Whitehall it was generally accepted such efforts had limited impact on the steady support the IRA enjoyed among some Irish-Americans, with UK officials estimating up to a third of the organisation's income was being raised in the US.

A Northern Ireland Office official wrote in a memo to a Foreign Office colleague on June 4 1975: "Many American citizens, not particularly well informed (or indeed much concerned) about Northern Ireland, would be similarly bamboozled by the apparent unity of Irish organisations in the US in subscribing to a policy of getting the British out of Northern Ireland."

One of the main concerns of British officials was the extent to which the Irish National Caucus - an informal network of pro-Irish Republican Americans - might extend its influence within the US Congress and the US media.

In Washington, British embassy officials warned that once Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, had "gained respectability or power" in the South [of Ireland], then the Irish National Caucus "would become an organisation to be taken seriously both on Capitol Hill and in the country at large".

Meanwhile, Whitehall paranoia was stirred by the decision of Pope Paul VI to make a saint of Oliver Plunkett, an Irish Catholic archbishop executed in the 17th century for alleged treason against the British state.

Kenneth Jones, an official with the Foreign Office's western European department, warned in a memo dated April 23 1975 that the planned canonisation was politically a "source of greater embarrassment" to the government than had been the canonisation of 40 Catholic martyrs five years earlier. As supporting evidence, he quoted an Irish Catholic priest who had drawn an analogy between Bishop Plunkett's persecution and the "squalor of British internment procedures" involving IRA suspects.

Desmond Crawley, head of the British delegation to the Vatican, advised that the government should keep a low profile on the Plunkett affair. The canonisation went ahead with the presence of the Pope, and senior Irish government figures. The Vatican publicised the event as an example of ecumenical reconciliation.

28 December 2005

‘Blair the betrayer’

Daily Ireland

Powerful Irish-American groups launch fierce attack on British Prime Minister

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Irish-America’s most senior political leaders have strongly criticised the British government’s handling of the peace process.
In an open letter to prime minister Tony Blair yesterday, the Irish-American lobby, which represents a number of powerful organisations, called for the immediate reinstatement of the North’s devolved political institutions.
Irish-American leaders also insisted “an open and transparent inquiry” must now be established “into how and why Britain's intelligence services brought the Assembly down”.
The North’s power-sharing Assembly was unilaterally collapsed by the British government in October 2002 following allegations of a so-called ‘republican spy-ring’.
The ‘spy-ring’ allegations fell apart earlier this month when three Belfast men – including senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson – were found not guilty after the Public Prosecution Service decided not to proceed to trial. Mr Donaldson has since admitted he was a paid agent for PSNI Special Branch and MI5 at the time of his arrest in October 2002.
“The Assembly, despite its limitations, provided the people of the North of Ireland with their first opportunity for democratic debate and self-government on a genuinely representative basis since the partition of Ireland 85 years ago,” the Irish American leaders said.
“It was a remarkable achievement for tolerance and fairness by all the parties involved in reaching the Good Friday Agreement.
“However, successive British Secretaries of State have twice acted unilaterally to shutter the gates of Stormont and shatter the aspirations of people of all political and religious persuasions in the North of Ireland. In this latest debacle, the only ‘spy-ring’ at Stormont was that orchestrated by the British security services themselves.”
Describing the implications as “serious in the extreme”, the Irish American leaders accused the British government of having “betrayed” the people of Ireland and Britain.
“British officials promised devolved government: British officials have violated that promise and manipulated the fragile institutions of power-sharing. The result is that, nearly eight years after the Good Friday Agreement, those institutions have been in operation for only 20 months, with direct rule from Britain for the overwhelming majority of the time.
“Your government bears the responsibility for bringing down the freely and democratically elected Assembly. If this happened in any other part of the world, a British Prime Minister would be first in line to condemn such police state misconduct. The peoples of Ireland and Britain are all stakeholders in the peace process. The United States, through President Clinton and his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, played a vital role in building cross-community confidence and securing the Good Friday Agreement.
“That confidence has been betrayed and all concerned have the right to demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the conduct of those responsible.
“Unless British security services are operating without control and accountability, senior persons in your government must have known throughout that ‘Stormontgate' was a fraud and that Donaldson was working for your own security services.
“With cross-community confidence now at an all-time low, your government bears the responsibility for restoring hope and breathing new life into a moribund peace process.
“At the very least, all stakeholders in the peace process have the right to an open and transparent inquiry into how and why Britain's intelligence services brought the Assembly down three years ago.
“Just as importantly, the British government has to show the resolve necessary by immediately reinstating the political institutions and make the Good Friday Agreement work,” the Irish American leaders said.

British trying to pervert Nelson probe

Daily Ireland

US lawyer and colleague says solicitor was a victim of agents of the state


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The remains of Solicitor Rosemary Nelson's BMW car after she was fatally injured in an under-car booby trap bomb attack outside her home in Lurgan - Photo: William Cherry/PACEMAKER 15/3/99

In the law, there is a time-honoured axiom that justice delayed is justice denied.
In the case of Rosemary Nelson justice was denied during her lifetime and has been delayed after her death.

Of course, readers of Daily Ireland are familiar with Rosemary, her work, her courage and her assassination in a case marked by overwhelming evidence of collusion by state agents.
She distinguished herself as a legal champion of those citizens unfortunate enough to have become objects of government prosecution, harassment, false accusation and intimidation.
Because of her success within the British legal system, cowards masquerading as patriots killed her on March 15, 1999. As Daily Ireland readers also well know, Ms Nelson was the subject of brutish and obscene threats by members of the RUC for at least three years prior to her killing.
Thus we should not be surprised that an inquiry established by the British government to investigate collusion by its own agents has once again delayed the day of reckoning.
As a lawyer and colleague of Rosemary, I find the recent announcement by the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry of a delay in public hearings until January 2007 to be contrary to the interests of justice.

Under threat from RUC

I learned of Rosemary’s death as I was en route to a White House reception hosted by Bill and Hillary Clinton to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the ongoing peace process in Ireland.
Obviously some in Ireland and Britain had not yet accepted the dream of an Ireland of shared dignity and respect for the law. I, and many others, were in shock that Rosemary was killed when for two years we had been sounding the alarm that her life was in danger and she was in need of protection.
Space does not allow me to set forth a complete chronology of the warnings and appeals sent to British and Irish officials on Rosemary’s behalf. But let me highlight several of the most significant communications.
March 13, 1997: Correspondence to Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, Independent Commissioner for Holding Centres reporting death threats against Ms Nelson by RUC detectives stationed at Gough Barracks.
April 14, 1997: Attorney Lynch reports to Ms Nelson that the RUC threats against her were raised by US Senator Robert Torricelli with British ambassador to Washington John Kerr.
June 30, 1997: Correspondence from Lynch to RUC Chief Inspector Day of continuing threats against Ms Nelson by members of the RUC.
June 30,1997: Correspondence from Lynch to Independent Commission for Police Complaints (ICPC) chairman Donnelly reporting threats against Ms Nelson, requesting referral of matter to the Attorney General of Great Britain and stating: “I am concerned that if prompt and responsible action is not taken, Ms Nelson will meet the same fate as that of Patrick Finucane.”
July 17, 1997: Lynch corresponds to Jack Straw, British home secretary, reporting continuing threats against Ms Nelson and requests prompt action “to get to the bottom of the matter”. Lynch concludes: “My immediate concern is the safety of Ms Nelson.” Straw does not respond.
July 17, 1997: Lynch writes to Mrs P Russell, ICPC deputy executive, and requests appointment of an investigator to promptly conduct a “thorough and unfettered investigation of the threats against Ms Nelson”.
July 24, 1997: British Ambassador Kerr advises US Senator Torricelli that the ICPC is having “great difficulty” in pursuing the Nelson investigation because of her ignoring “suggestions" that she meet with RUC investigators. He suggests that she contact the Gough Barracks, the source of threats against her.
July 25,1997: RUC Chief Inspector Day writes to Lynch to advise that “this matter continues to receive my urgent attention".
July 27,1998: Jerome Shestack, president of the American Bar Association, writes to Secretary of State Mowlan urging the British government to take all necessary steps to end the harassment of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland.
September 9,1997: Simon Rogers, NIO Police Division, advises that Ms Nelson’s complaint is to be closed down because of her “failure to cooperate”.
November 5 and December 1, 1997: Submission of statements of witnesses to RUC Chief Inspector Day and ICPC detailing threats by identified RUC officers against Ms Nelson.
January 5, April 20, July 20,
July 21, August 10,
September 10, September 14, September 16,1998: Lynch in correspondence with RUC, ICPC and Commander Mulvihill of the London Metropolitan Police citing ongoing harassment and threats against Ms Nelson by RUC members.
September 21 and 22, 1998: Lynch and Ms Nelson participate in personal presentation in Belfast of witnesses and statements to Commander Mulvihill and three investigators from London Metropolitan Police documenting dates, places and details of threats against Ms Nelson. Names and descriptions of RUC officers engaged in misconduct and obscene threat are provided. Assurances given of full and vigorous investigation and punishment of offenders. No discipline enforced against any identified RUC officer engaged in threats.
November 12, 1998 and January 25, 1999: Lynch communicates to Mulvihill requesting action and status of investigation.
February 27, 1999: Lynch and five US colleagues meet with Chief Ronnie Flanagan at RUC Headquarters, Belfast and urge him to deal with the ongoing threats from his force against Ms Nelson. He assures the delegation that the matter is “under investigation".
March 15,1999: Rosemary Nelson is killed in Lurgan
March 15,1999: Lynch telephones Flanagan and is advised in return message that. “No stone will be left unturned” in the investigation of the killing of Ms Nelson.

British arrogance

On April 19, 2005 the inquiry into the death of Rosemary Nelson by the British-appointed inquiry team opened with great ceremony at the Lurgan Community Centre. The chairman, Sir Michael Morland, emphasised the independence of the inquiry and stated that decisions as to the work of the Inquiry would be “ours and ours alone".
Sadly, this attitude of all-knowing superiority has been the hallmark of British conduct in Ireland throughout the relationship of Ireland and Britain.
Sir Michael anticipated that public hearings would commence in the spring of 2006. That date has now been pushed back to January, 2007.
Justice delayed truly is justice denied. While living, Rosemary and her friends and colleagues diligently sought justice from the British state. She was denied.
For almost seven years since Rosemary’s death, truth and justice have been delayed, avoided and obfuscated in the search for the perpetrators of the threats and collusion which took the life of a courageous defender of the rights of all the citizens of Ireland.
Now we are told that we must wait another year for justice to be delivered to Rosemary, her beloved family and the many clients and ordinary people who Rosemary helped along the way in a life of service to her fellow men and women.
In the view of this lawyer and admirer of Ms Nelson, the case has not been made for additional delay. The hearings should commence before witnesses disappear, memories fade and the wrongdoers enjoy another day of tranquility.
I close with the comments of Martin Luther King Junior delivered in Memphis a few days before he was cut down by gunmen. When I hear Dr King’s words, I picture Rosemary.
Perhaps you will also.
“Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimised with what is life’s final common denominator – that something we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. Every now and then ask myself, ‘What is it that I would want said?' And I leave the word to you this morning.
“I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Junior tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question.
“I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind.
“But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I wanted to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.
“If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught , then my living will not be in vain.”
Yes, Rosemary Nelson was a drum major for righteousness and all of the other shallow things don’t matter.
And her living was truly not in vain for all who she cheered with word or deed. We miss her each day. We must honour her sacrifice by bringing to light the truth behind her death and resolve that never again will the state be allowed eliminate one of its most courageous champions of the rights of the people.

Edmund Lynch is a US attorney who has won a number of awards for his work in the field of human rights.

Drumcree test for new commission

Belfast Telegraph

Parades body to rule on January 28 request

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
28 December 2005

NORTHERN Ireland's new Parades Commission holds its first meeting next week - to decide on the flashpoint Sunday Drumcree parade.

The outgoing commission meets for the last time tomorrow, having already made determinations on Portadown district's weekly application to parade for each Sunday until January 21.

Then the new commission, including former Portadown Orange district master David Burrows, will next week make a decision in relation to Sunday, January 28.

Mr Burrows, who is also joined on the new commission by fellow Orangeman Donald Mackay, who is a member of the DUP, was not immediately available for comment today.

But Portadown lodge spokesman David Jones said: "I have received determinations from the commission for every Sunday in January up until the 21st and there is no change.

"It's really a question of wait and see now. The new commission is still operating under the same legislation.

"Yes, there are new personnel involved but we are just watching and waiting to see if there will be a change and the key date should be January 28."

A commission spokesman today confirmed the new members are due to hold their first meeting next Thursday and the outgoing commission its final session this week.

"They can make decisions up to 28 days ahead but are unlikely to go beyond the 21st," the spokesman added.

Outgoing commission chairman Sir Anthony Holland said he has already met Mr Burrows, who resigned as district master earlier this year for personal reasons, as part of what he called "unofficial contacts with the Orange".

Tesco recalls Christmas lights


28 December 2005 09:53

The supermarket chain Tesco has recalled two types of Christmas lights which they fear may be faulty.

Customers are asked to return the Tesco 100 indoor multi-function Red Berry lights, model number TS 100 4R/FW and the indoor multi-function clear lights, TS 5611 GC.

A Tesco spokesperson said no complaints had been received in Ireland, but there had been a number in the UK.

The problem centres on a capacitor which if faulty could lead to overheating.

'Stakeknife' in spotlight over 1992 murders

Belfast Telegraph

Life could have been saved: group

By Michael McHugh
28 December 2005

THE PSNI team probing the alleged activities of IRA mole Stakeknife is being urged to re-investigate another brutal murder of a republican by the IRA.

The killing of Portadown man John Dignam in June 1992 comes under the spotlight as the row over British informers and Stormontgate rumbles on.

The PSNI's Historic Enquiries Team (HET) is understood to be probing the murder as part of the Stakeknife investigation into allegations surrounding west Belfast man Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci.

Mr Dignam, Aidan Starrs and Gregory Burns were murdered by an IRA team after being dubbed informers despite Stakeknife, himself a British agent, allegedly being in a position to save him.

They were found shot dead in a remote field in south Armagh.

The British/Irish Rights Group has sent a dossier on Mr Dignam's murder to the Historic Enquiries Team and director Jane Winter said there were a number of questions which needed to be answered.

"We have sent a file on one alleged victim, John Dignam, and we have put in everything which we have been able to discover about that case and the HET have confirmed that they will be looking into that," she said.

In addition to being alleged informers, the trio were accused by the IRA of having killed Portadown woman Margaret Perry.

"The allegation is that some of the people involved were working for the FRU and working for Special Branch and if that is true it is possible that all four murders, of Mr Dignam, Aidan Starrs, Gregory Burns and Margaret Perry, could have been avoided," Ms Winter added.

"After what the Perry family went through the thought that her death could have been prevented is a terrible thought. If that is true then whoever is responsible should be brought to book."

Relatives of Mr Dignam have demanded a public inquiry into the matter and have called for Scappaticci to be summoned to give evidence.

The HET was handed the files on Stakeknife. The team was also given files on the murders of the trio by the Stevens team which had been investigating the killings.

"I think the HET is better placed to look not just at Stakeknife but at all the issues which Stakeknife has thrown up," Ms Winter said.

"People have had to live with the stigma of having their relatives labelled informers and this may not have been true.

"The HET is quite interested in looking at a pattern of crimes. They have more information at their disposal than the Stevens 3 team would be in a position to get as to which killings were carried out by the IRA's so-call internal discipline unit and who was involved and the real truth behind those killings."

A PSNI spokesman said they were not commenting on the matter.

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