28 January 2006

1916 LEADERS SOUGHT INCLUSIVE IRELAND SAYS McALEESE

IAIS

01/27/06 14:25 EST

"The kind of Ireland the heroes of the 1916 Irish Rising aspired to was based on an inclusivity that would 'cherish all the children of the nation equally'" President Mary McAleese said in an address to a conference in Cork today.

"In the hearts of those who took part in the Rising, in what was then an undivided Ireland, was an unshakable belief that whatever our personal political or religious perspectives, there was huge potential for an Ireland in which loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist, catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic pulled together to build a shared future, owned by one and all," Mrs McAleese said.

The President said that there was a tendency for "powerful and pitiless elites" to "dismiss with damning labels" those who oppose them, explaining accusations that the 1916 Rising was an exclusive and sectarian enterprise.

She said those who took part in the Rising were "attempting to establish a free country in which we ourselves could take responsibility for our own destiny, a country that could stand up for itself, have its own distinct perspective, pull itself up by its bootstraps, and be counted with respect, among the free nations of Europe and the world."

Mrs McAleese also criticised the use of the phrase "narrow nationalism" being applied to Ireland.

"I have a strong impression that to its enemies, both in Ireland and abroad, Irish nationalism looked like a version of the imperialism it opposed, a sort of 'imperialism lite' through which Ireland would attempt to be what the Great European powers were - the domination of one cultural and ethnic tradition over others," she said.

"Irish nationalism, from the start, was a multilateral enterprise, attempting to escape the dominance of a single class and, in our case a largely foreign class, into a wider world. Many of the leaders had experience of the Americas, and in particular of North America . . . others were active participants in the international working class movements of their day. Whatever you might think of those involvements, they were universalist and global rather than constricted and blinkered."

"That small band who proclaimed the Rising, inhabited a sea of death, an unspeakable time of the most profligate world-wide waste of human life, yet their deaths rise far above the clamour - their voices insistent still," she concluded.

Mrs McAleese ended her speech by telling delegates to enjoy the rows the conference would generate.

The conference, entitled The Long Revolution: the 1916 Rising in Context, is being held today and tomorrow at UCC.

Blowing the myths about CRJ

Daily Ireland

Tony O’Doherty is the best known face of Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) in Derry. In recent months CRJ, has been described as a vigilante group or a front for the republican movement. O’Doherty, a former Northern Ireland international soccer player and Derry City manager, hardly fits the mould of a “RA Special” as one prominent politician described CRJ and its members recently. Here, Tony explains why CRJ is so important to his community.

Eamonn Houston
27/01/2006

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Tony O’Doherty is a well-known face in Derry’s Creggan estate. For years he has been at the heart of his community, as a sportsman and as a Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) volunteer.

In recent months, the issue of CRJ and its role in communities has been the subject of political verbal tennis. One particularly vitriolic attack came from SDLP justice spokesman, Alban Maginness. He compared CRJ projects to the infamous B-Special auxiliary police.
“The SDLP did not accept the B-Specials. We will not accept the RA-Specials either,” he said.
The attack was part of a fusillade of criticism of CRJ by the SDLP.
The allegations have irked Tony O’Doherty. The sprightly 58-year-old Creggan man has never been a member of a political party and has never been involved in a paramilitary group.
Instead, he is known as a former International soccer player, part of the management team that saw Derry City FC revived in the mid-1980s and a tireless community worker. He is a married father of four.
O’Doherty, whose energy is apparent in his naturally demonstrative manner, is keen to talk about his work in CRJ and the myths that he sees as blurring the ethos of the organisation.
Creggan, the sprawling nationalist estate where O’Doherty has lived for most of his life, has had its problems. At the outset of the Troubles, the estate was part of what became known as Free Derry. On Bloody Sunday, the majority of those shot and killed were from the estate.
In recent years, as the North began to emerge from conflict, the transition to a more peaceful environment posed its own problems. With a policing void threatening the very social fabric of an estate that had endured many tragedies during the conflict, O’Doherty and others set about organising at a grass-roots level to address issues that affected the “quality of life” of the community.
He says those issues are ones the criminal justice system is unable to deal with. They are largely social issues – on-street drinking, drugs concerns, housing issues and disputes. Local knowledge comes into its own in such situation and O’Doherty and his fellow CRJ volunteers see themselves as facilitators rather than enforcers.
He is hurt and offended by allegations that CRJ is simply another manifestation of the punishment squads of the Troubles.
In a typical week O’Doherty holds down a 38-hour a week job. When he finishes, his mobile seldom stops. On an average week his work with CRJ eats into another 20 hours of his daily life.
It is time readily given.
“I would welcome any criticism or critique of CRJ that is based on the facts of the matter,” he says, “There has been a lot of hysterical name calling that has been purely political. The most important people to me are the victims and potential victims within our community and this has somehow been ignored as the political snowballs are being thrown.”
O’Doherty is stung by criticism that the organisation is answerable only to Sinn Féin and republicans.
His response is emphatic: “If I thought for one moment that CRJ was a political organisation, or run by a political organisation, I would resign immediately. That’s the proof in the pudding. I would challenge anyone to find one incident, one event, in which we tried to modify someone’s political thinking or how they voted.
“A victim is a victim – pure and simple. Most of the criticism has come from the SDLP, but I don’t want to enter an argument, there are many tremendous and forward-thinking people within the SDLP, but I think that some in the party are emotionally blinkered when it comes to the issue of Community Restorative Justice.”
O’Doherty says CRJ volunteers will be in the Creggan area “night after night”.
“It is impossible to define a typical night. We don’t go into Creggan with a set agenda. We do a lot of outreach work, organise youth groups, soccer tournaments and local festivals. These are hardly the activities of some specialist paramilitary unit.”
O’Doherty firmly believes that, even if the policing debate was resolved to every political party’s satisfaction, CRJ projects across the North will still have a major role to play in communities.
“No police service in the world could provide such a service – it is just impossible because of the resources it would take.”
This argument is the one that O’Doherty focuses on most passionately.
“We are not trying to be the criminal justice system, or a new criminal justice system. We deliver social justice along the lines of the old Irish tribal systems with a strong ‘look after’ community view. This community view prevails in CRJ.”
O’Doherty says he has lost count of the occasions he has personally invited local members of the SDLP to join CRJ on the streets and observe the nature of its work.
His respect in his community is not up for debate. O’Doherty featured in the Northern Ireland squad for two seasons, 1969-70 and 1970-71. He played with, among others, George Best and Pat Jennings.
“If somebody can find that we deal only with republican clientelle or a particular political ethos then I challenge them to do so. We don’t. That just doesn’t happen. I would love to see the SDLP represented on our neighbourhood boards. What we deal with is items that affect the quality of life within our community. A proper policeman deals in crime.”
O’Doherty terms CRJ cases as “referrals”.
“In a two-sided dispute, if the people do not want our service then we respect that. We don’t impose our solutions on them. A lot of people are not best served by the British criminal justice system – that hasn’t properly served the people of England, never mind here.”
O’Doherty takes a long view of the CRJ’s future role.
“We are not about quick fixes. A lot of people give us respect because we do this on a voluntary basis. We can’t be used as a political football and we are not going to disappear. CRJ has a role for a long time to come, but we don’t believe that we are the only people. Political sound bites do not help this debate, we deliver for our own people. We deal with people across the social spectrum and don’t categorise anyone.”
That former political prisoners are among those who carry out CRJ work, is not surprising given the areas that the projects operate in.
“As chairperson, former political prisoners take directions from me, not the other way around. Decisions are taken either on behalf of the community or the victim. It will never be any other way,” O’Doherty says.
“People often say to me ‘how do you do it’ and I always ask ‘why aren’t you doing it’. These are your sons, brothers and sisters and they will have the children and grandchildren of the future.”

Robin Livingstone

Daily Ireland

Trevor economical with parking ticket’s chronological truth

BY Robin Livingstone
28/01/2006

I got my first parking ticket on Wednesday, and I deserved it too. Antrim Road is a clearway up to 9.30am and I parked outside the North Belfast News office at 9.25am.

The Trevor who gave me the ticket clearly didn’t want his colleagues in collection thinking he’s an absolute bastard, so he put 9.10am on the ticket. But at 9.10am, I was gridlocked on the Falls Road listening to Ryan Tubridy.

That’s the thing about Trevors. Telling porkies is second nature to them. They do it even when they don’t have to. They’re nearly as good at it as the Donegal gardaí. The first time a Trevor threatened to kill me was when I was a cub reporter covering a story in the Rodney district of the mid-Falls. There had been a shooting and, when I turned up with a photographer, this bloke with a machine gun stopped me and asked me who I was.

When I said I was with the Andersonstown News, he didn’t take it well. He didn’t take it well at all.

What he did was tell me to clear off and mind my own f*@#ing business. Sticking out my chest and drawing back my shoulders, I told him I was entitled to speak to the people milling around behind the tape. At this point, he lifted the barrel of his machine gun a couple of inches and said: “That’s what you’re entitled to there, you cheeky c*#t.”

If the truth be told, I was secretly delighted. There’s nothing more rewarding than having your worst prejudices confirmed, which is why a little bit of me dies every time a Trevor is nice to me these days.

I walked over to a Land Rover and asked who was in charge. After a couple of minutes, a Trevor with some stripes appeared and asked if he could help me.

I motioned him to follow me and walked the few yards to where the Trevor was still standing. With a suitably melodramatic flourish, I pointed at him and said to Stripes: “That man just threatened to kill me.”

Whether what the bloke had said to me qualified as a death threat in the strictest sense of the phrase, I’m still not sure but the die was cast.

“What did he say to you, sir?”

“Ahem, he said I deserved to get shot.”

At this point Trevor decided to defend his good name. “No, I didn’t.”

“Okay, you lifted your gun and said: ‘That’s what you deserve, you cheeky c*#t.’”

“Sarge, I never said anything of the sort.” Sarge’s leadership qualities kicked in.

“Would you like to make a complaint, sir?”

I’d say people these days are quite happy to make complaints about the PSNI but, back in the ’80s, “Would you like to make a complaint, sir?” was Trevorspeak for “Leave now or, believe me, very bad things will happen to you”.

Getting on the wrong side of the RUC meant that a file containing your photograph, name, address, drinking haunts, car details and inside-leg measurements would end up being passed around a UDA shebeen on the Shankill before you could say “quis separabit”.

And so I walked off. Trevor’s compromise was to allow me to pass through the tape to talk to residents. As I looked back, both Trevor and Sarge were smiling broadly as they talked.

All things considered, I think I’m better off in 2006 with the mistimed parking ticket.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Doggone weird-looking

Is it just me or does everyone have a Staffordshire bull terrier on a lead this weather? Walking along the Andytown Road the other day, it was as if half the population was on its way to a Staffordshire bull terrier dog show that nobody had told me about.

I’m all for people out walking dogs — better than lying on the settee watching Big Brother or playing online poker until four in the morning. But I must admit to being biased against Staffs, ownership of which I include in the same category as Burberry baseball caps, tracksuits, unfeasibly large hoop earrings, scrunchies, Rockport jackets and chunky gold necklaces.

If it’s true what they say and a dog really does say something about its owner, I guess the Staff is meant to say: “I’m a hard man.” And when the owner puts a harness around the dog’s chest instead of a lead, then that’s probably meant to say: “I’m a really hard man.” As some really hard men were fond of saying when I was a boy: “Aye, son, hard on the nappies.”

What my brother’s dog says about him is another question. He owns a rat-tailed Irish water spaniel, which I suppose is best described as an oversized poodle. With its hair in a bun.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia describes the Irish water spaniel as “the ‘clown’ of the spaniel family”, which, if you look at the picture, is not far off the mark.

While the dog has a thick curly coat, its long tail is completely hairless, which tends to put people off even more than the bun does. The big fella can swim for Ireland, though — not surprising when you consider that the Irish water spaniel has slightly webbed feet.

My brother lives up the country — just as well, really, because that dog needs a lot of exercise and a lot of water. I think I’ll drive up there next week and borrow the dog for a while. I’m planning to take him for a walk along the Andytown Road just to break the monotony of the Staffordshire bull terriers. I’d say I’ll get some funny looks, what with no tracksuit, no baseball cap and a dog that looks like a clown.

A few years back, I was with my brother and the big dog walking the fields around Lough Neagh in search of some decent shooting. We were about to cross a pheasant- infested boreen when a small family saloon stopped and an elderly man waved us across with a smile.

It was Jim Molyneaux, the former Ulster Unionist Party leader, who owns a fair chunk of land on the lough shore and who is quite the country type. What he would have thought if he’d known the fellas with the funny dog walking his land were from the Falls Road I’m not sure.

I’d say he would have been fairly relaxed about it. But I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t have smiled if we’d had baseball caps and a bull terrier on a harness.

Army has ‘veto’ on house plans

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young
28/01/2006

a homeowners in Co Armagh has complained after the British army confirmed it had an input into planning applications in the area.
The British army's involvement in the planning process came to light this week when south Armagh man Martin Clarke revealed that the Ministry of Defence had held up an application by Northern Ireland Electricity to connect his new home in Dromintee to the electricity grid.
NIE requires planning permission to erect five electricity poles that will carry power to Mr Clarke's new home. After a delay of several months, the angry Armagh man was told this week that planners had finally received approval from the British army for the poles.
“This caused me a major inconvenience. NIE did a survey and got permission from the landowners and it was referred to the planners.
“I was told that they then referred the matter to the Ministry of Defence in London, where it was probably left in a corner somewhere. This job should have been done in September but I'm still waiting to get into my new home. I was very surprised to learn that the hold-up was caused by the British army,” he said.
Newry and Mourne district councillor Anthony Flynn said he was concerned at revelations that the British army had a say in approving planning applications in south Armagh.
“It appears to be a fact that the British army have the veto over planning applications in south Armagh, and I am led to believe that this does not happen in any other area throughout the Six Counties,” said Mr Flynn.
He said he would seek full clarification on the issue at the council’s next planning committee meeting.
The Sinn Féin councillor added: “It is essential to learn how far-reaching this veto is. People are asking have the British army an input to all planning applications including housing, which in effect is a veto,” he said.
A spokesperson for the British army maintained it had no veto.
“Just like other public bodies, utility companies and local councils, the MOD is one of many consultees on planning applications.
“Any objection that the MOD has must be fully within the current planning legislation and therefore the MOD has no power of veto on planning applications in Northern Ireland,” said the army spokesperson.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service said: “The Craigavon divisional planning office routinely consults Defence Estates on all applications for overhead powerlines.”

Bloody Sunday lecture: No monopoly on pain

Daily Ireland

By Ciarán O’Neill
28/01/2006

A man whose wife was killed in an IRA bombing said last night that nobody had a monopoly on suffering in the Northern conflict.

Giving the annual Bloody Sunday lecture in Derry's Guildhall, Alan McBride said it was vital that everyone accept responsibility for their actions but work together towards creating a better future.
Mr McBride's wife Sharon was one of ten people killed when the IRA bombed a fish shop in west Belfast's Shankill Road in 1993. His father-in-law was also killed in the attack.
Last night, Mr McBride spoke about the “sheer hell” that he went through in the aftermath of his wife's death.
He told the 300-strong audience how he channelled his anger into working with young people from all sides of the community.
Mr McBride admitted that many people within his community were opposed to him taking part in last night's lecture.
He said it was important that republicans work to build confidence within the unionist community. He urged Sinn Féin to support policing arrangements in the North.
He criticised the Democratic Unionist Party for its continued refusal to share power with republicans.
In a strong attack on the current stalemate in the political process, Mr McBride said he felt let down by politicians on all sides.
“It is almost eight years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and we still haven't got an assembly. This is nothing short of shameful,” he said.
“This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency without each side blaming the other in a process that goes round and round but delivers nothing.
“Nothing is going to replace the Good Friday Agreement. There are people who are saying we can move on without others but this is not going to happen.”
The Belfast man said he believed that a “truth recovery process” was important in the North, involving acknowledgment and apologies from those caught up in the conflict.
“At the end of the day, much of what has happened during the conflict was wrong and they should say so,” he said.
He said it was vital that all sides continue to work for peace.
“The best memorial we can have to those who died is to create a society where these things never happen again, a society where we as republicans and unionists can share what we have in common, and a better place for our children,” he added.
Several other events will take place in Derry today as part of the Bloody Sunday commemoration weekend.
The weekend will culminate tomorrow with the annual Bloody Sunday march, which follows the route of the 1972 demonstration. The march will leave Creggan shops at 2.30pm.
A special candlelight tribute will take place at the end of the march in memory of all those killed during the conflict. More than 3,500 candles will be distributed to marchers at Free Derry Corner.

De Lorean aide Bushell dies

Belfast Telegraph

By Roly Laird
28 January 2006

THE "brains" behind the massive DeLorean fraud, Frederick Bushell, has died at the age of 78.

Bushell was cremated yesterday in Norwich following a funeral service in the city's Wymondham Abbey.

The former company director was only one of the three masterminds behind the failed luxury carmaker to face justice.

In 1992 Bushell pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to conspiring to defraud the DeLorean Motor Company of more than £5m.

Bushell, who was chairman of Lotus at the time of the fraud, was sentenced to three years in jail, fined £1.5m and ordered to pay costs of more than £800,000 but he failed to pay the fine and spent an extra year in jail instead.

The trial judge at the time said: "Bushell, along with the late Colin Chapman of Lotus Cars and John De Lorean himself, had been engaged in a bare-faced outrageous and massive fraud.

"It was a disaster for the British taxpayer and so many people in Northern Ireland, including many of small means, who were ill-prepared and ill-equipped to cope with the gross misfortune that befell them when the DeLorean dream turned into a nightmare."

The judge also told the court that Bushell, with his knowledge of finanace as a chartered accountant, had been the brains behind the fraud even though he received the smallest of the three shares in the money.

The trio had funnelled more than £5m cash through a Panamanian registered Geneva-based company called GPD Services set up by Bushell and the Lotus chief.

Chapman died before Serious Fraud Office investigations were completed and De Lorean, who died just last year, could not be extradited from the United States.

Between 1978 and 1979 both Labour and Conservative governments ploughed more than £85m into the De Lorean project to bring skilled jobs to the unemployment blackspot of west Belfast.

By 1982 the company had gone bust with the loss of 2,600 jobs and all the government money.

Westminster's Public Accounts Committee slammed the De Lorean project as "one of the gravest misuses of public resources".

Liquidators acting for the government have succeeded in clawing back about £20m from John De Lorean and Swiss bank accounts owned by the late Colin Chapman.

Missing man's mother thanks Dorrians for their support

Belfast Telegraph

Her son vanished on New Year's Day

By Debra Douglas
newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
28 January 2006

THE mother of missing Co Down man Martin Kelly has thanked the family of Lisa Dorrian "from the bottom of my heart" for offering to take part in tomorrow's 'Walk of Hope'.

Martin Kelly, from Holywood, has not been seen since leaving Pat's Bar in the Docks area of Belfast on New Year's Day.

Tomorrow the 21-year-old's distraught family are holding a walk to look for him - a walk the Dorrian family have offered to assist.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Martin's mother Karen said she was "completely overwhelmed by their kindness".

"I cannot thank them enough for even thinking of me," she said.

"They are going through their own grief but are going to come up and give me some support and I thank them for that from the bottom of my heart.

"We are all going through a living hell and if we can offer each other support and give each other a hug, we can take comfort from that."

Lisa Dorrian's sister Joanne said the family wanted to do everything they could to help.

"Since we heard about Martin, our hearts have gone out to the family," she said.

"They are constantly in our thoughts and prayers and we are glad we have made contact with them and will be able to show them as much support as people have shown us and continue to do so.

"We want to go up on Sunday because that young man is missing and needs to be found.

"I just hope that he turns up as I wouldn't want any other family to go through what we have gone through in the past year, you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy."

Joanne, sister Michelle, Lisa's dad John and her ex-boyfriend Jamie Mills will join the Martin family on Sunday. Mrs Kelly has also appealed to the public to join them.

"I would like people to come along and to support us," she said.

"I'm just trying to find our Martin and want everyone to unite together to help me. I could never forgive myself if I didn't do everything possible to try and find my child.

"Every morning and every night I go into Martin's bedroom and I say a prayer that was sent to me by a mother who doesn't know me but who knows Martin and I pray for him to be brought home.

"I have to find him and I need help to do that," added Mrs Kelly.

Lisburn 'no' to council plan

Belfast Telegraph

28 January 2006

THE unionist-controlled Lisburn City Council has come out against the Government's proposals for a seven-council model in the province following local government elections in 2009.

Lisburn Council spent £24 million on a new civic centre which was opened only a few years ago and some councillors have expressed fears that the money could have been "wasted" if the headquarters of a proposed amalgamation of councils is located elsewhere.

The council's strategic policy committee has now agreed that until further consideration is given to the supercouncil plan the chief executive and other officers be instructed not to get involved in any discussions relating to the implementation of the seven-council model.

Former Mayor Alderman Jim Dillon said: "We believe the proposed new set-up would leave local government weak, remote and unrepresentative of the needs of local communities. We further believe it will damage community relations and increase sectarian division."

Bailsmen lose £9,000 each after Garland leaves country

Belfast Telegraph

28 January 2006

A JUDGE has ruled that three bailsmen who secured the release of fugitive Workers Party leader Sean Garland by lodging £30,000 in court will have to pay up.

Mr Garland, the 71-year-old former Official IRA chief, absconded after being freed on bail pending the US government's move to have him extradited.

The bailsmen were ordered to forfeit £9,000 each by the Recorder of Belfast, Judge Tom Burgess.

They are Dessie O'Hagan, a retired education officer for the Workers Party, living in Downpatrick, John Lowry, the WP secretary, and Roderick Hassan, a businessmen, both from Belfast.

Mr Garland, who hails from Navan, Co Meath, was arrested in Belfast last October on the eve of his party's annual conference. He appeared the next day at Belfast Recorder's Court and the US authorities applied for his extradition on multi-million dollar counterfeiting charges.

The court was told that a US Grand Jury indictment handed down last May alleged that Garland had engaged with others since the early 1990s in buying, transporting and either passing as genuine or re-selling large quantities of high quality counterfeit $100 notes.

The Crown opposed Garland's release on bail claiming there was a substantial risk that he would not come back to face the extradition application.

But he was freed after providing an address in Co Down and the three cash sureties.

The residence restriction was later lifted to allow him to return to the Republic to receive medical treatment but when his case came back to court in December he did not appear.

A warrant has been issued for Garland's arrest. In the meantime, the move to extradite him has been adjourned indefinitely.

Doping row rocks greyhound world

Irish Independent

**Ban Greyhound racing

Grainne Cunningham

THE world of greyhound racing was last night engulfed in a bitter row over the doping of two dogs.

Sports Minister John O'Donoghue demanded an urgent report from Bord na gCon into the controversial sacking of its chief executive Aidan Tynan.

He was dismissed following a dispute with the chairman of the body, Paschal Taggart, over whether the drugs offences concerning the two greyhounds should be publicised.

Mr Taggart said last night the Greyhound Board had failed to publicise at least one other positive test for the illegal drug EPO in a greyhound.

As the board faced a storm of controversy over the shock sacking of Mr Tynan, Mr Taggart rejected accusations that there had been a "cover-up of mammoth proportions".

And he insisted Mr Tynan's departure was for other reasons and was not related to the board's failure to follow its own policy of publicising doping cases.

Mr O'Donoghue has now sought an urgent report from Mr Taggart over the whole controversy.

Holohans ask DPP to appeal O'Donoghue sentence


BreakingNews.ie


28/01/2006 - 09:31:51

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Robert Holohan's mother Majella has reportedly written to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking him to appeal against the sentence handed down to her son's killer.

Last Tuesday, Wayne O'Donoghue was given four years for the manslaughter of the Cork schoolboy.

The Holohans feel this was too lenient and have, since the victim’s impact statement at the end of the trial, raised questions over the nature of the relationship between their son and the defendant..

The office of the DPP now has until the February 21 to consider the state's position.

Men accused of car murder attempt

BBC


The car drove through a police checkpoint

Two men have been charged with attempted murder following an incident at a police checkpoint in County Tyrone on Thursday.

A car was driven through the checkpoint in Dromore during the incident.

The car was chased and police fired a shot at it. The Police Ombudsman was informed about the incident, which happened at Dooish Road.

The two men are to appear at Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday.

The car was recovered shortly after the incident.

The Murder of Brian Stewart

Indymedia.ie

**Please see also BRIAN STEWART - TURF LODGE - 1976



by Davy Carlin
Friday, Jan 27 2006, 2:02pm

For the mother (now passed on) of a murdered child, for the sister of a murdered brother, for the niece of a murdered uncle, and for all the extended family we ask for your help in this regard. There will be no closure for us until we get the truth and the justice as Marie outlines below.

Dear friends, those who know me know of my commitment and dedication in standing at the forefront against injustice, bigotry and discrimination from whatever quarter it comes from, this around Belfast city, Nationally, and Internationally – over the last decade or so.

My activism at the forefront of the mass Anti Globalisation, Anti Sectarian, Anti War, Anti Racism and Anti Poverty Movements is well documented, amongst others (from Spokesperson to being the Chair of such Movements.)

My involvement in such comes from a fire in my heart that sees me drive forward on such issues with others.

I, with other activists, had also produced publications and provided space and active support for those within society who had feared to speak out against brutal racist attacks and for those who had little voice afforded to them, as they eeked out an existence on the streets of our cities.

Again all is well documented.

Being a Black kid and having grown up in a ‘White community’ within the heart of the Irish conflict (West Belfast) I had seen many injustices inflicted upon myself and those around me. One of those injustices is written about below, and the facts told. It is written by my Mother–in-Law, a sounder person one could not have hoped to meet, and with not a bad bone in her body. She, like her mother, brought her children up to see all people as people and not to judge on religion or colour, not an easy thing to do living within the heart of the Irish War at its height.

Yet the job her mother had done in that regard I had found in first meeting Marie (Senior) truly reflected that. And indeed what a job she had done herself I had thought on first meeting her daughter who was to become my friend, my companion, and now my wife.

This is an account of a family, my family's, continued struggle for truth and justice and of the murder of a child by a state. I ask of you, but three things. Firstly to circulate it amongst those of interest and relevance, as well as more widely so as all can read it. Secondly if one has any, any, information, to please forward it on. And thirdly to bring to bear and use all influence one can, to deliver us truth and justice.

This new Historical Enquiries Team (HET) I believe will not deliver us the truth and the justice we, like many other families in similar circumstances, need for closure. I have outlined my position on what sort of enquiry is needed within other parts of my Diary.

For the mother (now passed on) of a murdered child, for the sister of a murdered brother, for the niece of a murdered uncle, and for all the extended family we ask for your help in this regard. There will be no closure for us until we get the truth and the justice as Marie outlines below.

I will continue to raise and update on this case throughout my activism and within any publications, and articles - I shall write in the future.

(Ironically on the very day that Brian was being murdered in Turf Lodge, I was celebrating my 6th birthday in Ballymurphy estate just across the road).

And on that Marie gives the account of the murder of Brian Stewart.

THE MURDER OF BRIAN STEWART

Subject: This long overdue story is in response to my Mother’s dying wish of clearing my murdered brother’s name. His name was Brian and he was thirteen on the day he was murdered. He was buried on his fourteenth birthday.

On the 13th October 1963 Brian Stewart was born, the fifth child in our family of eight, four girls and four boys. Our father was a dockworker in Belfast whilst our mum always remained at home to care for us; her children were her world. Brian had blonde hair, freckles and the most beautiful big blue eyes I have ever seen. Brian was always smiling, telling jokes and playing the clown. We lived in a poor working class, mostly unemployed area with very few amenities. However our neighbours had a great sense of community spirit, sadly missing in many communities today. We lived at the foot of the Black Mountain, Brian’s favourite past time was playing in these fields, a free spirit, at one with nature.

On the 4th October 1976 at about 6:10pm, when I came home from work my mother was helping Brian to do his homework. I told my mum to go and make the dinner and that I would help him. Knowing that Brian had trouble with his spelling I sat and helped him. My mum called me to the kitchen for a cup of tea. It could not have been more than 3 or 4 minutes later that a young boy on a bike shouted up our hall that “your Brian has been shot”. When I discovered that he was not in the front room I ran to the scene, convinced that it could not be Brian as we had been together only minutes before. Some young boys told me that Brian had been carried into Mrs. Mulvenna’s house.

However you can imagine my horror to find my wee brother on their sofa thrashing around in great distress. He was vomiting up the dinner he had just eaten at home. A Mr. Frank Diamond was trying to bring some comfort to Brian. My brother was not aware of anything around him. When the ambulance man picked him up his wee head hung over the man’s arm as he passed by me, his head was level with mine, it is a memory forever etched in my mind. Brian’s big blue eyes were staring blankly into mine. I immediately was sick as I knew in my heart Brian was gone. He survived on life support until 10th October 1976. We buried Brian on his fourteenth birthday, 13th October 1976.

Brian had been standing outside the shop talking to two teenage girls, with his back to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers' foot patrol which was making its way down the street, in full battle gear, guns et al, a normal daily occurrence in Catholic working class areas of Belfast at that time. Brian was not aware that he was experiencing the final conscious moments of his young life. Brian was shot in the head with a plastic bullet which I believe was manufactured in Scotland at Brocks Fireworks of Sandquhar, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

The soldier who fired the bullet which killed my brother was a member of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. The name he gave in court was Pte Charles Andrew Smith from Edinburgh. A young man himself who was born on 21st. of April 1952. This young man took his orders to fire the fatal shot from a Lt. O’Brien. A Major Timothy Patrick Toyne Sewell, an English officer was standing on the road taking photographs. He was beside Pte. Andrew Smith. The army continually claim that Brian was throwing missiles at the soldiers and yet the official autopsy report states that he was struck on the left side of his skull. This caused an 8cm. hole which left his brain extensively fractured, lacerated and bruised. An artery in his head was also shredded. Considering the position that the soldier stated he fired from this proves that Brian had his back to Pvt. Smith.

We discovered later that two hours earlier, Lt. O’Brien had told a young boy, (Jim Irvine, RIP 16 years old) who looked like Brian that he was “going to get him”. Unfortunately Brian was standing outside a shop 4 yards from this young man’s home when the fatal shot was ordered. Brian fell to the ground when the bullet smashed his skull; another soldier in the foot patrol proceeded to drag Brian down the street by the ankles, banging his head off the ground whilst doing so, despite his massive head injury. Later at the court case, this soldier Pt. Aitchison perjured himself and claimed he was attempting to render first aid! The young eyewitness who gave evidence during the civil case was castigated as a vicious liar by Judge Brown, when she gave evidence that this British soldier had dragged the child by the ankles after he was shot. Three other witnesses confirmed that this is in fact what happened. The official autopsy report bore this out by stating that Brian had extensive bruising on his ankles.

Brian arrived at the hospital accompanied by my younger sister and a neighbour. While the doctors vainly battled to save Brian’s life, his little body was surrounded by army personnel in combats. My sister who had accompanied Brian was not allowed to be with him until the soldiers had surveyed the consequences of their dreadful deed. Not only had Brian’s young life been stolen but he was denied the comfort of someone close to him - just to hold his hand - please remember my brother was a thirteen year old boy - the horror of this thought haunts my sister until this day.

The day following the shooting, while Brian was in hospital fighting for his life, Major Timothy Patrick Toyne Sewell (the officer who had been taking photographs) gave a television interview stating that Brian had been leading a riot of 500 people that Brian had been “observed for a considerable time, was specifically targeted and he got what he deserved”. You can imagine the distress this caused our family as we tried to come to terms with the fact that Brian’s brain was so badly damaged that he was not going to survive. I do not believe that anyone of sane mind could imagine a 4ft 9inch, childish thirteen year-old could lead such a threatening crowd or deserve a death sentence.

At Brian’s inquest Major Sewell, who was the only representative from the British army who gave evidence, changed the story of 500 rioters; however, he again perjured himself by claiming Brian was leading 20 rioters. This is quite a dramatic change from his original story. No one in authority asked where the mythical 480 rioters went. This Major Sewell went on to perjure himself further by claiming that the intended target had been a boy dressed in a blue and white stripped jersey. He went on to say, “We would not have aimed at a boy of Brian’s stature“. Major Sewell claimed he saw the baton round gun being fired from the shoulder aimed to hit a direct target. He made no mention of Pvt. Smith’s aim being deflected by the same Pvt. Smith being hit by a missile.

Video footage of his interview would have allowed our legal team to point to his perjury. We were refused the use of the video evidence by Cecil N Taylor, the BBC’s Head of Programmes, Ormeau Avenue Belfast. The facts were that there was only Brian and two young girls standing on the corner talking. At this time there was no riot in progress. Lt. O’ Brien may have suspected that my wee brother Brian was the boy he had two hours earlier “threatened to get” and he gave the order to fire based on this assumption. This is the only version of this controversial shooting that makes sense in my opinion.

The very next morning a local television crew filmed the narrow street where Brian, was wounded. There was no rubble on the ground, there were no broken windows, damaged cars or any evidence that even a minor incident had occurred where Brian was shot. The statements made by the reporter on this broadcast indicated that there was no evidence of a riot.

This would have been in direct contradiction of the statement made by Lt. General Sir David House and put out by the Northern Ireland Press Office. This Lt. General Sir David House was the man in charge of the entire British Army in Northern Ireland. The statement he issued through the Press Office described an extremely aggressive group of rioters 500 strong in which one of the most active bottle throwers was shot in the head the evening before.

Despite repeated requests by our family and a few sympathetic English Members of Parliament, this footage was never released to be used as evidence. Major Sewell did not produce any of the photographs he had taken before and after the fatal shot was fired. If he had been interested the truth these photographs would have proved inconclusively that my brother was an innocent child standing in his own neighbourhood.

When my mother finally initiated a civil action in order to find out the truth of my brother’s death, Mayor Sewell did not even appear to give evidence; apparently he was not under the jurisdiction of the British Army or the British Courts. Under whose command was this mysterious officer? Why was he walking about with an armed patrol taking photographs? Charles Andrew Smith, the soldier who shot my brother never denied that he calmly walked past me and sniggered when a little girl pointed him out as the man who shot my brother. I was five months pregnant at the time; I was close enough to this soldier to touch him. Regardless of the circumstances I would not have put my future child’s life in danger (a boy, born 07/03/77, named Bryan in memory of my brother). There was no riot going on in that street, major, minor or otherwise.

In early March 1982 the appeal against the ruling of Judge Brown started. In court during this appeal Charles Andrew Smith, the soldier who fired the fatal shot, perjured himself by stating that he was hit on the shoulder with a stone which deflected his aim. This conflicted with his initial statement given on 5th Oct. 1976 to a David Kennedy 178 Provost Company RMP/SIB. Here was a soldier, who six years earlier had murdered a thirteen year old child with a lethal weapon, admitting in court, that he still did not know the regulations for the use of the plastic bullet gun. His honesty on this point both amazed and horrified me. He perjured himself because he knew that firing plastic bullets at someone’s head can be fatal. How could you take the life of a thirteen year old child and still not feel the need to inform yourself on the firing instructions of a lethal weapon you would still be using on a daily basis.

Lord Justice Jones in his summation of the case stated: “and so I come to the last question, namely did Cpl. Smith (promoted for his heroic act) act with reasonable care in firing. Of course he had to exercise reasonable care. Indeed he had to be very careful, in my opinion, because the baton gun is a potentially lethal weapon, the use of which must be judged against a high standard of care. Cpl. Smith was a trained and experienced operator with this weapon.” (This is the same Cpl. Smith that in the same judge's court and under oath admitted that he did not know the firing instructions). Lord Justice Jones went on to say, ”No doubt he did not give any warning, that is a factor to be taken into account but cases vary,” he continued, "in others might not be of any material significance”. Obviously the Learned Lord Justice Jones was totally unaware of the British Army’s detailed instructions on firing or he arrogantly chose to ignore them, just as he had totally ignored the personal testimony of all the civilian witnesses, who were upstanding citizens with no reason to fabricate their statements. During the court case the army representative claimed that the record of dispatches between the foot patrol and their base at Fort Monagh had been destroyed, somewhat negligent in such a serious case and which says a lot about the R.U.C’s rigorous investigation, that they made no effort to get it into their possession days after the fatal controversial shooting. To compensate for the records' destruction the army introduced the log sheet which records communications between foot patrols and their central base (included). As you can see there was no communication between 1350 hours and 1834 hours.

If these soldiers were in such life threatening danger they felt compelled to fire a lethal shot without warning, why had they not reported this situation? Why had they not requested assistance? Furthermore, the ambulance had been called at 18 minutes past 6pm; this indicates to me that at least 16 minutes elapsed between the fatal shot being fired and the first mention of a riot, 1834 hours.

This damning evidence proves CONCLUSIVELY what all the civilian witnesses claimed, including the ambulance assistant; there was no riot taking place when Brian was shot. In less than 10 minutes a riot was staged 150 yards from the site of the shooting. This was created by the same foot patrol returning with reinforcements to the junction of Norglen Gardens and Norglen Road firing plastic bullets at random. This action was part of their attempt to instigate a riot in order to cover up their fatal shooting. I personally witnessed this as I watched the ambulance attempt to negotiate its way through the soldiers who had formed a line along the top of this street. I returned home another route along Norglen Parade to comfort my mum who was distraught.

In any civilized country in the world if someone is murdered there is a thorough investigation into the circumstances and rightly so. If the victim is a child or a vulnerable person, then their right to life should be protected by everyone with a moral conscience. My brother was a thirteen year old boy, three minutes from his own home; he was a threat to no-one. He died because he was a Catholic living in a working class area of Belfast during ‘the troubles’.

The actions of the British authorities before and after my brother’s death indicate that he did not count. He died on the whim of an English Officer and a Scottish soldier. This soldier will claim that he was only following orders. Is this not the same claim that the Nazis made during the Second World War? It was not accepted by the same British government then, nor should it be now. The British army, the British Government, and the law colluded in covering up the murder of this innocent boy; they should have been honour bound to protect him. The RUC did not attempt to investigate Brian’s death (interviewing witnesses etc.), until our local housing community group phoned the police station on behalf of my mum, informing them she would phone newspapers if they did not attempt to investigate. This was about five months after Brian’s death. My mum was told the investigating officer was off sick, force that exceeds twelve thousand people. Why did they not appoint someone else?

Detective Constable R. Peacock, then based at Springfield Road, was supposed to be the investigating officer, a Cont. Mulholland his assistant. They began taking statements on the 1st March 1977. The British Army, the British Government, their court system and the police colluded in covering up the murder of an innocent boy These people had both a moral and legal obligation to protect him. As far as the law was concerned the only honourable person we came in contact with, in relation to Brian’s death, was a young barrister named Norman Shannon. This young man worked tirelessly in Brian’s defence. Our family could not have praised his efforts high enough. Mr. Jerry Fitt our local M.P. at that time wrote to the N.I. office on behalf of my mum inquiring why no inquest had yet to be arranged; their explanation was the police investigating Brian’s murder had failed to forward the papers concerning their (non-existing) inquiry.

The verdict of the inquest was an open verdict. A letter from the Northern Ireland Office dated 24.7.78 stated: “The circumstances surrounding the death of Brian Stewart were subject of exhaustive police investigation. All papers were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who decides independently of the Police and Army and there were no grounds for the prosecution of any soldier”. A letter from Roy Mason Secretary of State dated 24.7.78 stated, “I cannot accept, however, the views expressed in your letter (my mum, Mrs. K Stewart) that the military lied. It is not, and never has been, denied that Brian died as a result of an incident with the army. What is denied are assertions that the investigations into his death were anything but thorough, painstaking and directed towards uncovering the facts. If the D.P.P. had directed that charges should be brought in the case of Brian Stewart then charges would have been brought. Members of the security forces are expected to act within the law and are subject to the penalties of the law if they do not do so".

Why were most of the soldiers involved in Brian’s murder promoted by the time they had to attend court? C.N. Taylor, B.B.C. Head of Programmes, refused my mother’s and various English politicians' requests to have the important video footage of the interview given to David Capper by Major Sewell, although the company did confirm the interview was still in their possession. This interview aired on the Scene around six evening news 5-10-76 and again on 19-10-76 - Spotlight I believe. I wonder does anyone remember watching this interview. Lord Avebury who had contacted the British Broadcasting Corporation on my mother’s behalf, received a letter from the same British Broadcasting Corporation falsely informing him that this evidence had been passed on to my mum’s solicitors.

During the final appeal of the civil action Judge Jones refused to hear the testimony of Mr. David Capper (the reporter who interviewed Major Sewell) therefore suppressing this vital evidence ever being heard in court. In fact he discounted all evidence except the totally fabricated story presented on behalf of the British army in conjunction with the British Government.

Our Parish Priest Father Mc Killop told my mum he drove by the spot where Brian was shot moments before it happened; he confirmed to her no riot was taking place. Our own Parish Priest knew the truth about Brian’s death, however he refused to go to court to tell the truth ‘that the military lied'.

Father Faul told my mum that he had a private confidential conversation with a senior army person who confirmed that our family’s version of what occurred was in fact the truth. My mother had a lot of respect for Father Faul; however I still fail to see why he failed to stand up and speak the truth knowing how important it was to my mum.

My mum marched on the Shankill with the peace people despite her personal opinion about the origin of that organization. They had a meeting in our community centre the morning Brian’s life support machine was turned off. Mairead Corrigan Maguire refused to condemn Brian’s murder because she said it was controversial. Her family members died at the hands of a man who had been murdered by the same men, British soldiers; was that not controversial? Members of our tightly knit community chased them away in respect for the grief our family was experiencing. The media broadcast and printed the British army’s press release; no-one was moved to do some investigating journalism on behalf of Brian. As a consequence of this adverse media coverage my mum received hate mail concerning Brian during the early days of her grieving. The mail was signed loyalists and Protestants. Coming from a ‘mixed’ family we knew these ignorant people where the exception rather than the rule but their vile words hurt at that vulnerable time nonetheless. The Taoiseach, Mr. J. Lynch, T.D. when contacted by my mum asking for assistance with clearing Brian’s name - his advice to her was to consult her legal representative; he obviously did not want to get involved.

A well known local solicitor turned up at my mother’s house whilst Brian’s coffin was being brought in. He asked my mum to allow him to represent Brian’s case. On the day of the inquest Mr. X accidentally bumped into my mum in the High Court in Belfast. Mr. X had not only forgotten who she was but also that he was supposed to be her legal representative at Brian’s inquest. Obviously he was totally unprepared, no statements, no evidence, no prepared questions etc. Never having been in a court before, we were stunned and despondent.

Mr.X's final contribution was to fail to follow up on the open verdict. To this day I still wonder how could a newly appointed solicitor involve himself in such an important high profile and controversial case and then totally forget to appear to represent the case. His appearance at the court was a total accident. I am also puzzled as to why my mum had to petition so many people in her vain attempt to secure the vital video evidence which this solicitor could simply have issued a subpoena in order for it to be produced. Eventually my mum got in touch with courts herself to discover that the director of Public Prosecutions felt there was insuffient evidence for a prosecution to take place. I believe this was due to the soldier’s lies and this Mr. X’s incompetence.

1976 was not a good year to find champions for innocent children no longer with us to tell their own story.

My mother discovered that her only option to have Brian’s name cleared and his story told was to initiate a civil action. My mother changed her solicitor and began the proceedings. Civil Actions are the only legal recourse a person has if the D.P.P. decides not to prosecute. My mother had to take this action out against the Ministry of Defence. As my father was working, it was estimated his disposable capital was 1,445 pounds per year, this was to support our family of ten. In order to initiate these proceedings my mother had to pay 228 pounds, quite a sacrifice for our family at the time. It always seemed sad to me that my mum had to pay British agency hard earned money in order to bring another British agency (which had murdered her young son) to court. Just before the Civil Action was to be heard before Judge Brown (in a futile attempt to prevent any exposure of the circumstances surrounding the murder of my brother and the subsequent perjury by members of the army involved),
the Ministry of Defence offered my mother 300 pounds, the maximum available compensation for the death of a child at that time. I believe however a condition of this acceptance was that the Ministry of Defence would not accept responsibility for Brian’s death. In my mind this offer of compensation confirmed that the British Government knew they were guilty of murdering my brother. My mother naturally turned it down. She had not gone to court for compensation; she had gone to court to defend her young son whose life had been stolen, whose name had been slurred. My mother had gone to court to have Brian’s name cleared and to have the truth concerning his death made public.

I have brought my children up to believe that race, creed or colour are not important - values inherited from my mum. It is what you do in life that matters. My brother was a young boy who brought joy into the life of everyone he knew; he deserved to mature into a man who could have contributed a lot to the world we live in. Brian had a large family circle and many friends who were deeply affected by his death. Thirty years later the hurt has not healed because the truth about his death has never been told.

When the peace process was being negotiated an inquiry named the Patten report was in progress. Even though my mum could barely stand as she had only one more month before she lost her courageous battle with cancer, she personally went and made her submission. My mother’s deepest wish was that Brian’s name would be cleared and it would be proved that Brian was an innocent child who lost his life unnecessarily. Because of her deep religious convictions my mother did not crave revenge. In fact she campaigned in England during the miners' strike to have plastic bullet guns removed from the police stations who were stocking them up to use on protesting minors. She also campaigned with a dedicated group of concerned individuals, i.e. Clara Reilly, to have the plastic bullet gun removed from use, as it has not been proved that it was not open to abuse by ignorant or devious individual’s and was inaccurate enough to maim and kill innocent bystanders. Another of those campaigners was Mrs Emma Groves, a housewife permanently blinded when a plastic bullet was fired through the front window of her home. My mother’s faith in truth and justice never wavered; she always believed until her death that Brian’s name would finally be cleared. Clara Reilly had been one of the nine civilian witnesses to Brian’s murder. Clara supported our family during the early days of Brian’s death. Clara and my mum became friends because of these tragic circumstances. Mrs. Reilly always made herself available to my mum if she needed help or support which was so important in those difficult days. I do not believe it would be a regular occurrence for an unassuming quiet housewife to take on the might of the British Government in defence of her child akin to the David and Goliath story.

Now that the politicians and law makers have decided that anyone involved in any killings that occurred during ‘the troubles’ will more than likely not be prosecuted or imprisoned, I feel it is time for the truth to be told. There have been a lot of families in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales who have suffered the same grief as my family. I realise their grief is neither less nor greater than the hurt we still suffer; there is no hierarchy in the grief of families. We have all been the victims of the mismanagement of successive British governments and politicians. I do believe, however, that those in positions of authority have a duty to protect and defend the people they claim to serve; therefore, their behaviour should be beyond reproach. This includes members of the security forces, police and ‘activists’ from both sides of the political divide who felt compelled to either defend their community or further their political agendas. I believe that all life is sacred. If however, you choose to be a combatant, you do so understanding the consequences may incur you being responsible for taking someone’s life or indeed losing your own. In the hierarchy of victims I believe the innocent murdered civilians must be taken into consideration first.

On the day my brother was shot there were nine soldiers in the foot-patrol. They were: Lt. O’Brien, Pvt. Charles A. Smith, Major Sewell, Pvt. Aitchison, Sgt. Ravenhill, Lance Corporal Carr, Pvt. McMeona, Pvt. Lee, Pvt. Wilson. (A), Pvt Wilson (B). More than likely they returned to a barracks full of British personnel to relate what really happened to my wee brother. Most of these personnel were from the King's Own Scottish Borders regiment. Everyone who heard the truth from that patrol must have mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters children and friends. Someone must have heard of a little thirteen year old boy being shot in Belfast during October 1976. I ask you all, please search your conscience, come forward with the truth. This government is planning to spend quite lot of money investigating the unresolved murders; if they come clean on those deaths they were involved in, not only would it set an example to other organisations, but some of this money could be re-directed to where it would be better spent on hospitals, schools or those in need.

My understanding is that the British government has control over its military, its police and its courts. There is no question that they have all the relative information in regards to Brian’s death, and so there is no need to waste time or money.

I implore anyone who has any information relating to my brother's death to please come forward. There are only so many times in our lives that we are given the opportunity to “do the right thing”. There are ways of doing it anonymously.

Thanking you in advance,

Marie Duffy
Brian’s oldest sister

* If this testimony affects you I’ll be most grateful if you pass it on

27 January 2006

Irish Freedom Committee to oppose Black Watch in Boston

Irish Freedom Committee

The Boston Cumann of the Irish Freedom Committee will confront the appearance of the murderous Black Watch Regiment and Welsh Guards with pickets this Sunday, January 29th, at the Fleet Center in Boston.

The Irish Freedom Committee consider this appearance, timed one day before from the 34th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry, as an outright offense to the Irish American community and to all who support peace with justice in Ireland.

The record of the Black Watch in Ireland is one of bloody enforcement of British military rule in Ireland. The Black Watch Regiment of the British Army did eleven tours of duty in the Occupied North of Ireland, during which time their soldiers murdered twelve innocent civilians, including a Polish journalist whose body was brutally mutilated by soldiers. The history of the Black Watch includes decoration for combat against American citizens during the Revolution for United States Independence.

The Welsh Guards, touring with the Black Watch, are an armed infantry who have carried out five six-month and one two-year operational tours in Northern Ireland. The Welsh Guards serve as sentries to the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace.

PICKET THE BLACK WATCH IN BOSTON

The murderous Black Watch regiment will perform in Boston one day before the Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. This appearance is a slap in the face to Irish America and to all who support peace with justice in Ireland. Please join the Boston Cumann of the Irish Freedom Committee in protesting this offensive event!!


WHEN: SUNDAY January 29, 2006
ASSEMBLE 11:30 AM
WHERE: FLEET CENTER, CAUSEWAY ST., BOSTON MA
CONTACT: Boston@irishfreedomcommittee.net

Other Tour dates and downloadable fliers can be found at the Irish Freedom Committee website at http://www.irishfreedomcommittee.net

Former offical IRA leader criticises McCreevy

BreakingNews.ie

27/01/2006 - 17:54:04

A former Official IRA leader wanted in the US for forging millions of dollars today criticised a former Irish government minister at a public meeting in Dublin.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Irish Workers Party chief, Sean Garland in December after he failed to appear at a Belfast Court.

The 71-year-old was arrested in the city in October but subsequently released on bail on the condition that he live with friends in the North.

His bail was later varied to allow him to return home to Navan, Co Meath to undergo medical treatment for a diabetes condition.

Mr Garland today attended a conference in Dublin’s Mansion House on the future of Europe, organised by the Irish Labour Party and the Party of European Socialists.

He criticised former Irish Finance Minister and current Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy for his conservative policies.

Contributing to an audience debate on the EU Services Directive, Mr Garland said of Commissioner McCreevy: “The less said about him the better.

“He has proved himself to be very reactionary and he is behaving in the same manner in Europe now.”

Mr Garland also criticised the lack of resources to help left-of-centre politicians promote their policies on the EU.

He declined to speak to the media after today’s meeting.

The Official IRA was formed in later 1969 after a split in the republican movement created the Provisional IRA.

Mr Garland was arrested by police in a Belfast hotel on the eve of his party’s annual conference in October.

He later appeared in court on foot of a US arrest warrant alleging that he had been involved in counterfeiting large quantities of 100 dollar bills.

Stolen donkeys home after ordeal

BBC

Four female donkeys stolen from a field in County Down have been discovered safe and well.

The animals, two of which were in foal, were taken from a field at Banbridge belonging to the family of their owner, Patrick McDermott.

The animals were found on Friday just five miles from their home.

Last November, four donkeys in foal which were stolen in County Armagh, were discovered in County Limerick and returned to their owners.

Man charged with loyalist's murder

:::u.tv:::

FRIDAY 27/01/2006 16:12:29

A man was today charged with the murder of a former loyalist gunrunner.

Brian Tollet, 29, appeared in private at Glasgow Sheriff Court over the attack on Lindsay Robb.

Tollet, from Glasgow, made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody, the Crown Office said.

Robb, 38, who was jailed for 10 years in 1995 for his involvement in a UVF gun-smuggling plot, died after an incident in the Ruchazie area of Glasgow on New Year`s Eve.

He was a member of the Progressive Unionist Party at the time of his arrest and had represented the party in discussions with the Government just months before being jailed.

Robb was the first Loyalist Volunteer Force prisoner to be released early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, part of the Northern Ireland peace process.

He walked free from the Maze Prison, outside Belfast, in January 1999 and later settled in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, with his wife.

Cousins slam SF for killing stance

Newshound

(Bimpe Fatogun, Irish News)

The family of Robert McCartney have said that Sinn Féin's conduct since the killing has been even more hurtful that the killing itself.

The 33-year-old died after being stabbed outside Magennis's bar in Belfast city centre on January 31 last year.

The IRA later offered to shoot members believed to have been involved.

After the killing Sinn Féin suspended seven party members and the IRA expelled three of its members.

But two of Mr McCartney's cousins have now hit out at Sinn Féin, whose support, they say, "lay with the people involved in Robert's murder, not with the McCartneys".

The charge has been rejected by Sinn Féin.

Last May Terence Davison and James McCormick were charged with murdering Mr McCartney and attempting to murder Brendan Devine.

But the McCartney family remain convinced more people should face the courts.

In separate letters to The Irish News Gerard Quinn and his sister Kathryn accused "democratically elected republican representatives" of "using their positions to manipulate opinion on the facts".

Mr Quinn said rioting which followed police searches in the Markets area of south Belfast after the killing was "an orgy of allegedly orchestrated violence aimed at hindering the investigation".

"Alex Maskey Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast – the scene of the disturbances – publicly stated that 'the scale and approach' of the police operation was completely 'unacceptable and unjustifiable'," he said.

"Mr Maskey's comments angered not just the murdered man's family but also the local community and saw an unprecedented uprising within republicanism."

Kathryn Quinn said the pain of losing her cousin had got worse in the past year.

"What in my opinion has to be the worst was the lack of support – despite proclaiming the opposite – from Sinn Féin, a party we had voted for and people we had known and respected for many years," she said.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said the party had "made very clear our determination to help the McCartney family".

"The party has clearly and unambiguously repudiated those who were responsible for Robert McCartney's murder," he said.

"The party president has repeatedly called on everyone with information to make it available. We have worked hard on the ground to create the climate in which this can happen.

"Witnesses have come forward and made statements... Indeed the PSNI confirmed in May that they had received 151 witness statements. This does not square with the allegation of a wall of silence."

Mr Quinn appealed to the "at least 45" independent witnesses he believes were in Magennis's bar on the night of the killing to come forward.

January 27, 2006
________________

This article appeared first in the January 26, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

DUP to resist move on SF allowances

:::u.tv:::

**Via Newshound

Unionists today pledged to resist British government plans to restore parliamentary allowances for Sinn Fein MPs.

By:Press Association
26 January 2006

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has confirmed Westminster will debate ending the ban introduced almost a year ago because of IRA crime levels.

But Jeffrey Donaldson, of the Democratic Unionist Party, claimed a new ceasefire watchdog report, due to be given to the British and Irish Governments on Monday, would show it was too soon to reinstate payments.

The Lagan Valley MP said: "This announcement by the Government is highly premature.

"It`s unlikely that the Independent Monitoring Commission will give the IRA a clean bill of health.

"We have evidence from police that the IRA is still engaged in criminal activity, so it`s wrong that Sinn Fein should be in receipt of taxpayers` funding from Westminster.

"We will be opposing this in the House of Commons."

Sinn Fein`s MPs were stripped of their allowances last March for a 12 month period.

The sanction followed IMC recommendations for financial penalties to be imposed amid claims that the IRA carried out the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in December 2004.

Although Sinn Fein`s five MPs have never taken their seats in the Common, because they refuse to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen, the party has offices at Westminster and claim allowances for constituency work.

The year-long ban could have involved more than £600,000 in allowances being withheld.

The motions tabled for debate on February 8 involve backdating payments to November 1, 2005.

MPs will vote on the restoration of Sinn Fein`s entitlement to allowances and to receive financial assistance for the party`s representative business.

Its £120,000 grant from the suspended Stormont Assembly has already been reinstated.

According to Mr Hain the move at Westminster was based on the Provisionals` pledge to abandon their armed campaign.

He said: "The Government is of the view that the major advances by the IRA since its statement of July 28, 2005, including decommissioning, and Sinn Fein`s commitment to the political process mean that the time is right to reinstate the allowances to encourage further political engagement at Westminster."

The proposals also sparked angry protests from the DUP in the House of Commons.

Belfast East MP Peter Robinson challenged ministers to "reflect on the wisdom" of the motions.

He demanded: "I expect that the Government will know the outrage in Northern Ireland that at a time when they still continue to use the proceeds of the largest bank heist ever to take place in the British Isles and while the police are indicating a high level of criminality within the Republican movement, that the Government is intending to reward them?"

Commons Leader Geoff Hoon replied: "What is vitally important is that we encourage organisations that have in the past been engaged in terrorist activity to be able to participate effectively and peacefully in the work of this country.

"In those circumstances the opportunity to debate these questions and have a vote upon it will come on February 8.

"It is a matter for this House to decide and it is a matter that I am sure will be fully and thoroughly debated on that occasion."

Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds persisted: "How on earth can it be justified that the Government brings forward a motion to restore allowances, indeed, increase them for their representative work when they do not attend the House?"

He challenged Mr Hoon to withdraw the motion if the IMC report showed that the IRA was still involved in criminality.

Mr Hoon told him: "I accept your argument entirely, if organisations are not committed to a peaceful process, if they are not committed to democratic work, then clearly they should not be entitled to those allowances."

KC Hibernians honors priest for work to disarm IRA

Kansas City Star

27 January 2006

Father Alex Reid, who helped disarm the Irish Republican Army, has won the Heart of America International Peace Award from Kansas City's Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Reid will be presented the award at the AOH Freedom For All Ireland Banquet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Past winners include Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds.

Tickets cost $40. For more information, call (816) 525-4866 or (816) 524-7151.

-James Hart/The Star

Reiss: SF will sign up to police reforms

BreakingNews.ie

27/01/2006 - 14:09:28

It is only a matter of time before Sinn Féin joins other Northern parties in signing up to policing reforms, a senior United States government official claimed today.

Ambassador Mitchell Reiss told a police graduation ceremony at Garneville College in east Belfast it was widely believed the North had one of the best police services in Europe.

But US President George W Bush’s special envoy to the North told graduates that, having come through considerable reform, the Police Service of Northern Ireland faced more challenges when all sides signed up to policing.

“Given the history of Northern Ireland, your decisions and actions will be scrutinised and constantly weighed.

“It is a responsibility that you’re more than capable of handling. I know, because I’ve seen your fellow constables rise to this challenge repeatedly.

“And one day soon, you will have to face another challenge. One day soon, all of Northern Ireland’s political parties will move to fully support the PSNI.

“I believe it is only a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’.

“That’s what I’m working to bring about: that’s what my colleagues in Belfast, London, and Dublin are all working toward. When this happens, you will have to build trust and confidence across the community.

“When this day comes, I know you will meet this challenge, just as you have met so many other challenges that have brought you to this day.”

All parties except Sinn Féin have signed up to police reforms in the North which transformed the Royal Ulster Constabulary into the PSNI.

The reforms were aimed at redressing the religious imbalance by persuading more Catholics to join the PSNI after the demise of the overwhelmingly Protestant RUC .

They also led to the creation of a Police Ombudsman, a Policing Board and District Policing Partnership boards which are designed to hold PSNI officers and their leadership to account for their actions.

However despite the nationalist SDLP, Irish Government and the Catholic Church backing the reforms, Sinn Féin claims the reforms have not gone far enough and do not have the support of the majority of nationalists.

The party has been pressing for the transfer of policing and justice powers out of the hands of ministers from Westminster to a devolved government at Stormont.

The British government is expected to introduce legislation later next month addressing Sinn Féin’s demand.

Sinn Féin, which met Ambassador Reiss in Belfast earlier today, has come under considerable pressure from the US government to sign up to policing.

Ambassador Reiss’s comments echoed claims last week by New York Congressman Jim Walsh, when he met political parties in Belfast, that he believed it was a matter of when and not if over Sinn Fein’s participation in the Policing Board.

Ambassador Reiss told an audience which included Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and Policing Board member Sam Foster that policing was the outstanding success story of the North’s peace process.

“Many individuals, including new constables such as yourselves, have taken courageous steps to launch the new beginning to policing,” he told the graduates.

“And make no mistake: with sweeping structural reforms, accountability mechanisms, and local oversight, many people think you have one of the best police services in all of Europe.

“I think everyone in Northern Ireland knows this, as the figures of increasing public support for the PSNI in unionist, nationalist, loyalist and republican communities show.”

The Truth, And Nothing But The Truth'

Derry Journal


By Julieann Campbell
Friday 27th January 2006


Jackie Duddy

As the 34th anniversary of Bloody Sunday killings approaches, Kay Duddy, whose younger brother Jackie was the first to be murdered on that fateful day, spoke to the 'Journal' about justice, her family life since that fateful day, and her hopes for the forthcoming Saville Inquiry Report. Having lost their mother to Leukaemia just a few years previously the close knit, good natured family of fifteen children then living in the Central Driver area of Creggan were not to know then that the events of Sunday, January 30, 1972 were to dominate the rest of their lives.

As January 30, 2006 fast approaches the same family are still awaiting an explanation for why their 17-years-old brother was shot dead in the Bogside whilst attending a march for Civil Rights. Kay has since dedicated her adult life to the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, intent on achieving what many thought impossible --justice. But how has the years of dedication affected Kay's personal life? She told the 'Journal': "Has the campaign interfered with my life? Very much so, because my life wasn't my own, I had to make time for family as much as I could, in between the group trying to get support and getting the petition signed, encouraging people to listen to us and back us up." This Sunday sees the 34th annual Bloody Sunday Commemorative march, chaired by Kay herself. But what message does she hope to give the thousands in attendance during her speech this Sunday? Kay said yesterday: "In my speech, I'm hoping to get the message across that after this enquiry, after all the walking the feet of ourselves, knocking on doors, travelling all over the world, meeting Senators and going to the Whitehouse, that FINALLY we are going to get the truth and justice we've always been looking for."

Does Kay believe that public perception of the events of Bloody Sunday has changed over the decades? "Yes, I think people perceptions have changed," she said, "It gave people the chance to talk about their thoughts and feelings about the day for the first time, the campaign made people more aware. "The deceased were at first classed as nailbombers and gunmen, so people had that perception for years afterwards, but then they realised that this was just young men and boys. Six of those killed were actually only 17-yearsold, and so people began to realised that this was a terrible event, not just an event that happened that day." Kay wasn't actually on the march herself.

She explained what happened: "I was at home, and at sometime during the day, an aunt and uncle came to the door to tell us that Jackie had been 'hurt down the town,' I think that was the way it was put to us. "We didn't have a phone in the house and so I went to the local community centre to phone the hospital. I asked was a Jackie Duddy admitted to casualty and they asked who was making the enquiry, I said it was his sister. And the person - I think it was a female --came back and said that Jackie Duddy was dead on admission to hospital, that's how we found out he was dead. And I just remember screaming, I think I threw the phone in the air, and then we had to go and tell my Daddy. He had been on nightshift at the local hospital and we has to go and waken him to tell him what had happened." "After that, everything is fuzzy, I lost about three days... I don't remember the wake in our house. I thought I was at the funerals, but the same aunt that had told us Jackie was hurt told me later that I'd collapsed on the chapel steps and had to be taken home." The news made a dreadful impact on the Duddy family. Kay recalls: "It broke our family, destroyed our family. One of the links in our chain was broken. Jackie was a 17-years-old brother of mine, interested in his amateur boxing, a laidback, happy-go-lucky kindof young fella, and that part of our life was suddenly taken away.

"It just wasn't a member of the family," she went on, "it was a whole generation. We don't know if he would've gone on to marry, I'd have had another sister-in-law, if I would had more nieces and nephews? If he'd have gone on to fight at the Olympics? How his life would have panned out. That chance was all taken away from him in a single day."

But Kay is thankful the family remained strong: "We were very unfortunate in that we'd lost our mammy before Jackie's death to Leukaemia, and we've since lost our daddy, so I feel we're very, very fortunate that, as a family, we've stuck together through thick and thin - I'm very proud of that fact." After all the years of the Justice Group campaigning for a new inquiry, the Saville Inquiry was established. But are there any particularly vivid memories of that campaign that Kay has?

"I remember a lot of it," she says, "especially travelling to London, travelling to America, going to 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition for a new inquiry that the people of Derry had signed, going to Capitol Hill to talk to a room full of senators, something I never thought I'd be able to do! I didn't even talk through it - I cried the whole way through it --which I think might have made more impact than just talking about it." "It was very hard work," Kay went on, "we spoke to anyone who would listen. We knocked on their doors and knocked on their doors until they must've been sick of the sight of us. Until they sat up and took notice." Shouted 'Up the Paras" The end of the Saville Inquiry was held in the Methodist Hall in central London, so how did Kay feel at having to travel to London to hear the evidence of the soldiers themselves? "It should have been held in Derry, because that's where it happened," she said. "I think that the Inquiry being taken to London was to maybe try and put us off, but if anything, it strengthened our resolve. London was horrendous --like going into the unknown because we didn't know whether people would show animosity." She remembered only one occasion of hostility towards the group. "When we got there, we laid a wreath for all the people killed in the Troubles outside Westminster Abbey, and a man drove past in an open-back lorry, shouting "Up the Paras" and actually did a second lap to shout it again. But to my knowledge, that's the only time they even acknowledged we were there." Kay describes the 13 months travelling back and forth to London as 'horrendous' and added: "The fact was, when I was there - I wanted to be home, and when I was home, I wanted to be there. I wasn't there all the time, but as much as humanly possible, and as much as it disrupted my life, it was something that had to be done."

The families have waited a long time for the truth, and Saville's findings will no doubt be revealed in the next few months. Kay describes the wait as "a great big void in our life," and is understandably anxious about its conclusions. She went on: "Every day someone asks me "Any word of the report yet?" The Widgery Report was a total whitewash, and it was great to know that that was binned, and everyone knowing it had been a whitewash. That was one of the first victories through the campaigning, our second was achieving the second inquiry. From then on, we just grew from strength to strength." When the Saville findings are eventually published, does Kay believe they will achieve justice at long last? What does she hope the report will show? "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," she said.

Kay went on: " For us, personally, we've actually accused Soldier V of murdering Jackie, which he denied, but somebody murdered Jackie, its as simple as that, and we want that acknowledged. "They immediately labelled Jackie after that terrible Sunday afternoon as a nailbomber, petrolbomber, a gunman, and that has lived with us the past 34 years. That stain on his character has to be taken away - that's very, very important to us. We were never out for vengeance, we always wanted truth and justice, but what that justice will be, remains to be seen."

Does Kay have faith in Lord Saville, I asked her? She replied: "I think Lord Saville set out to do a job, and I feel he will do the job he set out to do. What we're really hoping for is closure. Its been like a wake for the past 34 years for our loved ones, and I feel its time we lay them to rest, once and for all, with the truth and dignity that they all deserve." "The wounded have lived with this legacy for the last 34 years, and I hope that this report will give them closure and peace of mind so they can move on with their lives as well," she added. Kay also expressed her gratitude to everyone who has supported her family and all the other families since Bloody Sunday, and who "helped us achieve what we've achieved up to now." She added: "A heartfelt thanks from myself and from all the family members and all the wounded to everybody that was there for us, and still are, and I want them to pray like they've never prayed before that we get the result we've worked so hard for."

'Sunday' Relatives' Pain Has Never Healed - Says Derry-Born Author

Derry Journal

Friday 27th January 2006

A Derry-born clinical social worker who has spent the past decade cataloguing the traumatic aftermath of Bloody Sunday says many of the victims' relatives "have never had the opportunity to heal." Dr. Patrick Hayes, who works with victims of trauma in his successful practice in Massachusetts in the United States, says that, to this day, the families of those killed in the Bogside on January 30, 1972, are tortured by the memories of the violent events.

Dr. Hayes recently coauthored with Dr. Jim Campbell a critical analysis of the British government and its role in the events of Bloody Sunday, 'Bloody Sunday: Trauma, Pain and Politics', published by Pluto Press, includes a detailed account of the human cost of violence in the North. As well as containing key material on the impact of the Saville Inquiry, the book also tackles the subject from a new angle that covers both the political and psychological aspects of what happened.

Dr. Hayes - who was born in the Bogside 61 years ago and lived in the city until he was nine years-old before moving to Boston - says many of the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That they have remained undiagnosed --and untreated - is, he says, a travesty.

People suffering from PTSD, says Dr. Hayes, may relive the experience for years through nightmares and flashbacks. Indeed, these may last a lifetime. This, he says, is what's happened to the family members of those killed on Bloody Sunday. The Derry-born author was attending the University of Massachusetts when the 1972 massacre occurred. "I remember being furious at the time, but that just kind of passed," he says. Then, in the early 1990s, he met Marie Smyth, a lecturer at the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, who triggered his interest about Bloody Sunday. "We developed an interest together in PTSD and how it may have impacted on the families," he says. So, in 1992, Dr. Hayes and his wife, Eileen - an associate professor of nursing - made their first trip together to Derry.

Overwhelmed with emotion at his return home, Dr. Hayes' interest in Bloody Sunday grew and he began to formulate plans for a book. These plans would eventually serve as material for a doctoral thesis at Queen's University, Belfast, where his co-author Jim Campbell, is a senior lecturer.

In 1997, Dr. Hayes and his wife returned to Derry to interview the families of those killed. Over the next few years, they visited Derry a dozen more times. During these trips, Dr. Hayes interviewed 26 people whose relatives died on the streets of the Bogside. Bloody Sunday, says Dr. Hayes, marked the beginning of three decades of emotional and physical ailments caused by PTSD. "They've never had the opportunity to heal," he says. "This is not going to resolve until people can feel they've been vindicated. That's there an apology - that it never should have happened. Then these people can go on with their lives."

CRJ myth put to bed by Derry chairman

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston

27/01/2006

A former Northern Ireland international soccer player today defends Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) projects across the North, saying that the organisation has been misrepresented by “political sound-bites”.
Tony O’Doherty, a CRJ chairman in Derry’s largest housing estate, has rejected recent claims that CRJ is a front for republican paramilitaries.
He was speaking as a fresh row broke out between the SDLP and CRJ over the role of the organisation.
Mr O’Doherty has never been involved in a political party or republican organisation.
He played in the same Northern Ireland team that featured George Best and Pat Jennings in the early 1970s.
In a wide-ranging interview in Daily Ireland today, he says he would resign with immediate effect if he thought CRJ was a front for republican paramilitaries.
He also reveals his hurt at being branded as a “RA Special”, referring to recent comments on the organisation made by SDLP justice spokesman, Alban Maginness.
“It has been said and believed that we [CRJ] take political orders. That is absolutely ludicrous – we will work with anybody,” Mr O’Doherty said.
He added: “I’m not a political puppet for any party or organisation”.
Last night, SDLP policing spokesman, Alex Attwood, lashed out at Mr Noel McCartney, a senior CRJ member. Mr McCartney was quoted in a newspaper, saying that the CRJ would not work with the PSNI until outstanding issues on policing were resolved by the political parties in the North.
Mr Attwood said: “How can you help administer real justice if you refuse to work with the police? That just won’t work.
“It won’t protect the public from crime. But it could frustrate police investigations, let wrongdoers off the hook and lead to serious human rights abuse.
“The SDLP has received numerous complaints about CRJ, including serious mishandling of sex abuse allegations.”
Mr Attwood said that the British government has attempted to “downplay” his party’s concerns and was “putting human rights in danger”.

Gerry Kelly speaks exclusively to the North Belfast News about the year ahead for Sinn Féin

Irelandclick

Republican heads are up as Sinn Féin prepares for next month’s talks

In all the years that have followed the signing of the Good Friday Agreement the events of 2005 will be marked as being the most significant in terms of the peace process.
In December 2004 the North came within a hair’s breadth of having the assembly restored, only for the progress to stall over DUP demands for photographic evidence of agreed IRA decommissioning. Despite this setback in July 2005 a momentous statement was released from the leadership of the IRA declaring their willingness to take the gun out of Irish politics followed in September by a pledge to put their arms verifiably beyond use in a final act of decommissioning.
The decommissioning did not have the desired effect with the DUP and the year closed with the assembly packed in mothballs where it still lies in 2006.
Speaking exclusively to the North Belfast News, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said that against the backdrop of the IRA’s historic move, all excuses for keeping the assembly in suspension had been removed.
“If you were looking for action, then Republicans took action in a very historical statement on July 28. Anyone who understands republicanism, and indeed Irish history, would know how substantial a statement that was.
“The IRA took itself out of the equation and ended its armed campaign. Then it acted further and brought acts of completion in terms of the arms issue in September.
“There are no excuses left; all the issues that anti agreement unionists were looking for are now gone.”
Gerry Kelly says that despite Unionists’ continuous reference to the IMC - which he refers to as an unelected body staffed by secrurocrats and political opponents - it is up to every political party to drive the process forward and look ahead to talks that will begin in February.
“What we need now is to create momentum and when I say we, I mean the collective we. The two governments are the ones in charge of this and are the ones who have continued the suspension. Sinn Féin thinks that the institutions should be restored and we believe that bluffs should be called and the d’Hondt system should be triggered. There are talks starting in February and as we understand all the political parties are going and our concentration at these talks will be on getting the institutions up and running because at the bottom of all of this, the Good Friday Agreement was a platform on which to build the institutions.”
Commenting on the DUP rejection of the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Kelly said it was up to the two governments to “stand up to the DUP” and stop giving them concessions to try and buy their support for the agreement.
“The DUP are now in charge of unionism and they are clearly against the Good Friday Agreement. They have openly stated they want to undermine the agreement but they need to know that they can’t do that. This is about coming to a working agreement and institutions that actually help everyone involved.
“The two governments were given, across the island of Ireland, a massive mandate and they need to use that to stand up to the DUP because when it comes down to the actual facts you have to ask the question ‘who is preventing the institutions going up?’.
“It is certainly not Sinn Féin, the SDLP or the UUP so the people stopping it are the DUP and they need to know there is no alternative.
“In their effort to bring the DUP back into the fold the government is giving them concessions which are foolish concessions. When you get a parades commission that has two Orangemen on it what message does that send out? It might send out a very good message to the DUP but it certainly doesn’t send out a good message to anyone else, and I think that may include other unionists.”
In one of the biggest shocks of last year, senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson confessed to being a British spy. The revelation that he had been giving information to handlers in the RUC and PSNI Special Branch shocked many republicans, but Gerry Kelly believes that far from making republicanism weaker, these revelations and the campaigning against Sinn Féin will make the party stronger.
“You do not go through 30 years of struggle and not have spies and state agents and all of that but I think that republicans will come out stronger.
“We are now some time past the revelation and I think people are now more confident - they have decided to move on.
“He was not involved in the negotiations team and he was not in the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Féin and although I don’t want to play down what he did, because clearly it was a very personal betrayal of people that he worked with for years, I don’t think it should be exaggerated either. I think people will move on and I hope people will get stronger from it and certainly my experience from going round talking to people is that heads are up. We have a political project and it’s about getting some momentum back into the peace process and I think that’s what people are working for.
“Republicans are generally confident and there is nearly a back handed compliment in some of this stuff. The way Michael McDowell attacks Sinn Féin and the way Alex Attwood is going at Sinn Féin, there is a bit of a panic on because we are growing both North and South.
“We are an all Ireland party and we are showing people an alternative politics. I think people are up for alternative politics now. More and more people are saying there is a dynamic in Sinn Féin and our policies and that is what is needed.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

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