20 May 2006

Emotional ceremony at H-Block prison hospital

An Phoblacht

Remembering 1981: Anniversary marked in Long Kesh

(Author not named)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn the prison hospital in the H Blocks of Long Kesh Tom McElwee died on hunger strike in cell 1, Kieran Doherty and Raymond Mc Creesh died in cell 2, Francis Hughes died in Cell 3, Kevin Lynch died in Cell 5 and Bobby Sands died in Cell 8.

Laurence Mc Keown was on hunger strike for 70 days. He spent most of that time in the prison hospital. Brendan Mc Farlane was O/C of the republican prisoners in the H-Blocks during the Hunger Strike. He visited the prison hospital several times between March 1981 when the hunger strike started and October when it ended.

I visited six of the Hunger Strikers in the prison hospital. On Friday, 5 May on the 25th anniversary of Bobby Sands' death the three of us stood in the prison hospital corridor and identified the cells we were confident the lads died in. We did not know which cells Patsy O'Hara, Martin Hurson, Joe Mc Donnell and Mickey Devine died in.

Laurence is almost certain Mickey Devine died in cell 5, where Kevin died. The prison service claims they do not have records of the cell numbers where the men died.I find this hard to believe.

We are by nature curious and such facts like identifying which cells the hunger strikers died in is an important part of the story of the Hunger Strike. This information is especially important now because the prison hospital is a listed building. It forms the centre piece of the tour which is on offer to those visiting the prison.

To mark Bobby's anniversary a group of us held a short ceremony in his cell. We also held a minute silence in each of the cells where the lads died. In Bobby's cell Tom Hartley spoke briefly and recalled the agony of the times for the Hunger Strikers and their families. He described 1981 as a defining year in the freedom struggle and in the lives of those close to the Hunger Strikers.

Danny Morrison read an extract from one of Bobby's poems and his diary which he kept in the early stages of his hunger strike.

Jake Jackson, a close comrade of Bobby's spoke in Irish, Bobby's first language inside the jail.

Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, the seat held by Bobby when he died, spoke of the honour it was to follow in Bobby's footsteps and of how proud she was that the people of her constituency stood with the prisoners when those with power and influence had abandoned them.

As we moved from cell to cell someone from the group who knew would say who died there. From Bobby's cell we walked a few feet across a small corridor to cell 7. A voice recorded "we don't know who died here". We held a minute silence. In a zig-zag fashion we covered the ground of the prison corridor heavy under foot and heavy of heart.

In cell 6 a voice said: "We don't know who died here", a minute's silence observed. The group in caravan fashion proceeded to Cell 5, "Kevin died here" said Bik, "And I think Mickey died here" said Laurence as the minute's silence settled in.

Onto Cell 4 and the burden of the ceremony began taking its toll: "We don't know who died here" was lower in tone as some stayed in the corridor to compose themselves.

In Cell 3 I said: "Francis died here". I could see the faces of those around his cell search out a memory of him. For me I saw him in his bed with his mother and brother Oliver by his side.

In cell 2 Bik said "Kieran died here" and I added softly "so did Raymond" as we stood in silence before going to the last cell. There in Cell 1 it was left to me to complete the painful odyssey: "Tom died here". A sigh greeted the minute's silence. We quickly departed to different parts of the prison hospital to be alone with our experience.

It was emotionally very difficult because most of those at the ceremony were very close to events either inside the jail like Bik McFarlane, O/C of the prisoners or Martin McGuinness in the leadership of the movement at the time.

This is the first year since the Hunger Strikes, 25 years ago, that ex-prisoners and members of the Sinn Féin leadership have been able to pay their respects to the Hunger Strikers inside the cells where they died.

Strabane Ógra Shinn Féin Members Harassed by Political Detectives


Saturday May 20, 2006 21:41

The PSNI in Strabane have been accused of harrassing members of Ógra Shinn Féin on Friday the 19th of May.

The Republican Youth organisation has claimed that plain-clothed members of the PSNI harassed two well known members.

The two Ógra members were sitting in the middle of the town when an unmarked vehicle approached them from behind.

Speaking of the harassment, one of the Ógra members involved said, 'Four men where in the car, all wearing suits. The front window of the car was rolled down and I was asked my name. I refused to give my name until identification was shown. When I made the request, the four men exited the vehicle immediately. My friend and I were then separated, with two suited 'detectives' to each of us.'

'While we were separated we went under various jibes and remarks about our appearance, clothes, religion, and political allegiances. We were searched and questioned about various family members and our movements on that day. We were threatened with arrest, and my friend was accused of disorderly behavior, and myself of obstructing the 'police'.

Barry McColgan, spokesperson for Ógra Shinn Féin slammed the activites of the PSNI, saying, 'Throughout the harassment these 'political detectives' were continually verbally abusive to the two members. It was clear from the attitude of these unreformed bigots that they were trying to provoke the men into a reaction, a reaction they did not get.'

'This continuous campaign of politically motivated harrassment, intimidation, detentions and arrests of Ógra members is directed to surpress our political ideals but infact, makes us more resilient, cohesive and stronger, safe in the knowledge 'that we are right!

'We will continue in our campaign to 'Smash Political Policing', and in our campaign to secure community based and community led policing, that is truly accountable and has no links to the securocrats, the 'political detectives' and bigots of the past, where accountability is held by all the people of Ireland!'

Related Link: http://www.osf.pro.ie
Ógra Shinn Féin osf6county at yahoo dot com

Empey plans more assembly moves


Empey says "elements in the government" oppose the deal

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has said "elements in the government" are opposed to his assembly deal with PUP leader David Ervine.

Sir Reg has said Mr Ervine joining the UUP assembly team will cost Sinn Fein a ministerial seat in any executive.

He has confirmed his party has been in touch with other assembly members about increasing the strength of the Ulster Unionist group.

However, he has refused to identify which politicians had been involved.

Mr Empey made the comments on the BBC's Inside Politics programme on Saturday.

The UUP has said Mr Ervine's move would pass a third Sinn Fein executive place to them and see a unionist majority for the first time on the executive.

Earlier this week, DUP leader Ian Paisley said by linking with the PUP the UUP were "allying" themselves with terrorism.

The party's deputy leader Peter Robinson said the Ulster Volunteer Force - with which the PUP has links - was active in criminal and paramilitary areas, according to the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Commission.

However, Mr Ervine has said a stronger unionist presence on any executive that was formed, would bolster confidence in his community.

"I think I'm doing a very logical, shrewd political move," he said.

Dialogue set to ease tensions ahead of Tour of the North


With this year’s Tour of North Orange parade only four weeks away the Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group has embarked on a series of meetings with groups and individuals right across the community.
Two years ago, the route took Orangemen along part of nationalist Duncairn Gardens where intense rioting erupted.
The Ardoyne group is currently involved in dialogue with the loyalist North and West Parades Forum. But group spokesperson Joe Marley said the most important dialogue of all was with the local community.
“We are striving to achieve a resolution to the issue of contentious parades on the Crumlin Road, but a key part of our work in recent weeks has been ongoing consultation with the people of Ardoyne and in particular with the people most affected by the violence associated with the aftermath of the loyalist parades,” Joe Marley said.
“We have already met with local youth providers and with residents from Mountainview, the Dales and the Crumlin Road.
“In recent weeks too we have begun to canvas the views of young people in the area about their attitudes to Orange marches.
“The community has a collective responsibility to ensure that our young people do not get caught up in senseless violence which achieves nothing.
“We will be calling on everyone, parents, youth leaders, teachers, clergy, community workers and the political parties, to play their part in ensuring the safety of our children.”
The APDG spokesman said the group would continue to call on the loyal orders to enter into dialogue with residents.
“The APDG will continue to fight for the rights of the local community to be recognised by the loyal orders but our approach is based on dialogue and peaceful protest. We do not want to see young people get caught up in the sort of thing that happened last year in June and July and which set back all attempts to achieve a resolution. We will be meeting with young people, engaging with local schools and youth providers in a bid to get everyone working together.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

Ardoyne home owner speaks of asbestos fears in the area


But Housing Executive says planned house inspections are purely routine

The Housing Executive has acted quickly to calm fears in Ardoyne that there is an asbestos risk in some local homes.
Concerns were raised among residents when a letter was distributed to homes saying that in the next number of weeks specialist consultants would be visiting houses in the Strathroy Park, Etna Drive, Holmdene Gardens, Northwick Drive and Highbury Gardens to see if there was any asbestos in houses.
But the Executive insists the inspections are just routine maintenance and part of a rolling scheme.
The letter, which was distributed to every house in the five streets, says the Executive will be compiling a register of how much asbestos, if any, is in each dwelling.
Paul O’Neill, who lives in Strathroy Park, said he was concerned at receiving the letter.
“We have had a lot of work done in the past and my fear is that if there is asbestos in the house it has been disturbed by the building work. The Housing Executive should have checked the houses before they did the renovation work instead of doing it now.
“There are children in nearly all of the houses mentioned in the letter and I am worried that they could be affected by the asbestos when work was done to the houses,” he said.
A spokesman for the Housing Executive said asbestos checks are a routine procedure.
“As part of health and safety regulations for the management of asbestos the Housing Executive has established a procedure for the inspection of all our properties as part of the routine inspections required for planned cyclical maintenance schemes,” said the spokesman.
“Such a scheme is scheduled for the Ardoyne area, and as is routine in all these cases, the houses involved will be checked to establish if there is the presence of asbestos in the property.
“Strict health and safety conditions are set down for the removal of asbestos.
“The Housing Executive will employ a licensed contractor who is trained in the specialist handling and removal of asbestos.
“Tenants would also receive appropriate compensation when the work is completed,” he said.

Journalist:: Evan Short

19 May 2006

Jean Mc Bride to raise Iraq contract with US Envoy

For immediate release

19 May 2006

Jean Mc Bride is set to meet US Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss and US Consul General Dean Pitman in Belfast tomorrow (Saturday) in the Consul's east Belfast residence at 10.30am. The purpose of the meeting is to raise concerns at the ongoing relationship between the Pentagon and the controversial British private security/mercenary company, Aegis Defence Services. Aegis, which was set up by former Scots Guards CO Tim Spicer, won a $293 million dollar US government contract to coordinate all private security in Iraq. The award of the contract to the former CO of the two soldiers who murdered Belfast teenager Peter Mc Bride in 1992 has led to protests from elected representatives on both sides of the Atlantic including Senators Kerry, Clinton, Schumer, Kennedy, Obama and others.

Following the murder Spicer sought to excuse the actions of his soldiers by defaming the victim, denying evidence that was held to be fact by the court and demanding the release of the two murderers on the basis that they 'should never have been charged'.

Jean Mc Bride said in advance of the meeting,

"Many many people in the US agree that this contract should not have been awarded. recently a video has emerged that shows Aegis employees shooting civilians who drive too close to their vehicles in Iraq. I'm not at all surprised. Spicer was involved in mercenary activities in Sierra Leone, the 'Arms to Africa' scandal and was arrested in Papua New Guinea where he was attempting to stage a coup. Its madness that he is now in charge of a bunch of gung-ho foreign fighters in Iraq. I am going to show this Iraq video to Mitchell Reiss. I told the Consul General last year and I will tell the Ambassador tomorrow-your government would not take kindly to the Irish or British governments doing business with someone who justified the murder of a US citizen. I don't take kindly to the US government doing business with someone who has accused my son of carrying a bomb and who has justified the shooting, in the back, of my unarmed 18 year old son."

Contact Paul O'Connor at the PFC for further details 07989 323418

Press can also view the Iraq shoot-to-kill video after the meeting which should end at 11.15am

See extensive background on Peter Mc Bride and Spicer at www.patfinucanecentre.org - Click under Peter Mc Bride in the menu items.

See original news story regarding the video >>here.

Soldiers banned from Ballymena bars


19 May 2006 20:42

Off-duty British soldiers are reported to have been banned from all bars in Ballymena, Co Antrim, where Catholic schoolboy Michael McIlveen was murdered a fortnight ago.

British military chiefs imposed the night-time curfew in a bid to ease sectarian tensions.

Local SDLP Councillor, Declan O'Loan, described the move as a wise decision.

'Anyone caught in the pubs after 7pm will have the book thrown at them,' one source said.

Michael, 15, was beaten to death in a gang assault which has traumatised Ballymena.

Six local teenagers have been charged with the murder.

The St Patrick's College pupil was cornered and attacked with baseball bats after being chased through the town early on 7 May.

O’Hara determined to let the fight go on

Daily Ireland

By Eamonn Houston

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe familiar image of 1981 hunger striker Patsy O’Hara grinning broadly dominates the gable of a house in the Bishop Street area where the O’Hara family lived. (Click photo to view)
Belfast artists put the finishing touches to the mural last week. It bears the message ‘let the fight go on’ in line with defiant self-sacrifice O’Hara made with nine others in Long Kesh prison in 1981.
The name of Patsy O’Hara is known to everyone in his home city. The former INLA leader in Long Kesh and Michael Devine were the two hunger strikers to die from the city.
His mother Peggy and family will watch as the monument and mural are officially dedicated on Bishop Street to mark the anniversary of his death on Sunday.
O’Hara, like many others, became politicised by the Civil Rights movement and Bloody Sunday, when 14 unarmed civilians died as a result of a British Paratroop massacre in the Bogside on January 30, 1972.
O’Hara would later write of the October 15 1968 Civil Rights demonstration: “The mood of the crowd was one of solidarity. People believed they were right and that a great injustice had been done to them. The crowds came in their thousands from every part of the city and as they moved down Duke Street chanting slogans, ‘One man, one vote' and singing ‘We shall overcome' I had the feeling that a people united and on the move, were unstoppable."
It was in 1975 that Patsy O’Hara’s burgeoning political beliefs would lead him into the ranks of the Irish National Liberation Army.
In 1979 he was arrested for possession of a hand grenade. His imprisonment would end in his leaving the Long Kesh prison in a coffin after 61 days of refusing food.
O’Hara’s prison protest began with the blanket men. When O’Hara’s mother Peggy learned of her son’s decision to join the 1981 hunger strike she thought the political status demands of the prisoners would be met before death.
She said: “There is no use in saying that I was very vexed and all the rest of it. There is no use me sitting back in the wings and letting someone else's son go. Someone’s sons have to go on it and I just happen to be the mother of that son."
She was photographed at the weekend beside the new mural in memory of her son.
Patsy O’Hara’s prison writings reveal a committed socialist republican, determined to see his protest through to the end.
"We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals are the British imperialists who have thrived on the blood and sweat of generations of Irish men,” he wrote.
When O’Hara died on May 21 1981, Derry was plunged into street violence and mourning.
There were claims that the prison authorities had abused his remains.
His funeral was one of the largest witnessed in his home city equalling those of the victims of Bloody Sunday.
O’Hara’s cortege was flanked by 34 INLA men and women as it made its way from his home to the city cemetery.
At the graveside a spokesman for the Army Council of the INLA said: “Our comrade did not die solely for the five demands of the political prisoners.
“He recognised that if the prisoners are criminalised, then the struggle for Irish freedom is criminalised.
“This is the reason why Patsy went on hungerstrike, and along with his comrades in death, Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes and Raymond McCreesh, courageously confronted the Thatcher regime and her loyalist lackeys."
In an atmosphere of overwhelming tension in Derry, the INLA spokesman said that the organisation would not respond to O’Hara’s death wildly and emotionally.
Speaking at O’Hara’s graveside, Bernadette McAliskey of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee castigated the Catholic Church.
“As the cortege left the Long Tower church this morning, personally I could not help but cast my mind back to a time in 1969 when there was no ambiguity on the part of Catholic hierarchy as to the position of young men like Patsy O'Hara.
“It is tragic, in this time in our history, that the Irish people, who for centuries have defended their church and their religion, should be, by and large, so sadly abandoned by it in their hour of greatest need.”
In recent years O’Hara’s legacy would find expression in prison cells in Turkey where many political prisoners went on hunger strike over their status.
In his much changed city, free of the political turmoil that had gripped it in O’Hara’s youth, his image on the mural on Bishop Street a new monument in his memory stand as reminders of the sacrifice the young Derry man made during the depressing days of 1981.

Striker’s activist legacy and ‘full of life’ nature still remembered

Daily Ireland

Twenty five years ago this weekend Raymond McCreesh from Camlough in South Armagh and Patsy O'Hara from Derry City died on hunger strike in Long Kesh at the age of 24. We look at the their lives and the momentous events surrounding their deaths

by Mick Hall

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us“Ray McCreesh had the ability to instantly switch from being very serious to being full of humour," says Breandán Lewis, a childhood friend of the south Armagh hunger striker. “He possessed an energy both serious and light. I can only describe him as being full of life."
The familiar publicity poster of the young republican icon laughing for the camera was taken in December 1975, when he was just 18 and six months before being arrested after a dramatic shoot-out with British paratroopers.
Breandán and his family members featured in the original photograph. (Click photo to view)
“I can remember vividly when it was taken. Ray had been talking politics at my family home. The tension then broke with some light-heartedness and his image was captured," says breandan. The McCreesh and Lewis families first met within Irish language circles and remain close today, living in the same village of Camlough, Co Armagh. Seven generations of the McCreesh family had lived in the area.
Ray McCreesh attended Camlough Primary and St Coleman's Secondary school in Newry. Breandán, now a local Sinn Féin councillor, went to the same school but was three years older. At St Coleman's McCreesh is said to have shown an intense interest in Irish language and history, being described as "very conscious of his Irishness". He later became a fluent native speaker during his incarceration at Long Kesh prison. A keen sportsman, he played under-16 minor football for Carrickcruppin GAA club.
After studying fabrication engineering at Newry Technical College, he began working at Gambler Simms Steel Ltd, but decided to leave, believing his personal security was being compromised by taking the same route through loyalist countryside each day. He returned to working on a milk round, which covered the Mullaghbawn and Dromintee areas of the south Armagh border, a job he had first started aged 14.
His involvement in republican activism at this point was already deep. In 1974, he was promoted to the IRA's first battalion South Armagh aged 17, after joining the Fianna in 1973. His milk round gave him an intimate understanding of the local terrain and an insight into the movements of state forces.
“Although he spoke freely about politics with people he respected, he talked nothing of his military involvement," Breandán says.
“He was committed, knew the seriousness of his situation and from the outset maintained an inner composure which precluded all such talk. He rarely drank and kept a low profile. It resulted in him never really being suspected by the police and army.
"When he was captured, people around Camlough were surprised at the extent of his involvement."
Late on the evening of June 25, 1976, McCreesh and three other volunteers set out to ambush a covert military post opposite the Mountain House Inn on the main Newry to Newtownhamilton Road, near the town of Sturgan. After being dropped of by a volunteer in a commandeered car, McCreesh, Paddy Quinn and Danny McGuinness, made their way across fields, towards the post. The car made its own way towards the ambush point, being parked there to draw the soldiers' attention. As the driver returned to join the others who were walking down the hillside following the line of hedgerows, he spotted paratroopers closing in on their position.
“The driver was armed only with a short Sten gun," explains Paddy Quinn.
“He fired it in their direction and all of a sudden the field around us was being cut up with bullets."
The driver was shot three times as paratroopers opened up with SLRs and light machine guns. Even so he managed to escape.
"Myself and Ray zig-zagged across fields towards a farmhouse. There were bullets flying everywhere. The house was empty and there was no car in the drive. Instead of taking off on foot we waited on Dan, who was hiding in a bunker beside the quarry on the hill where we were ambushed. He had been watching us from the hill and saw the amount of tracer bullets fired at our position. He thought we were dead, so he just stayed there.
“After several minutes a helicopter landed at the back of the house and as we made our way to the front, another landed, blocking our way. Paras got out and began firing through the windows, shooting up the house. We fired back and there was a stand-off."
Shortly afterwards a local priest, Fr Peter Hughes, arrived at the scene and attempted to negotiate a surrender.
“I can remember Ray remember asking: ‘Should we fight our way out of here?' I told him we would have no chance and if we surrendered we'd live to fight another day."
The men agreed to surrender. As they walked from the house a paratrooper began firing.
“We went back inside. The NCO began cursing the soldier, saying he had orders to get us out before dark. We walked out again and were taken away by the RUC to Bressbrook barracks. We were interrogated and beaten for three days. Dan McGuinness was captured at the quarry the next day."
After nine months on remand in Crumlin Road jail, McCreesh was tried and convicted, in March 1977, of attempted murder, possession of a rifle and ammunition, and IRA membership. He received a 14-year sentence, and lesser concurrent sentences, after refusing to recognise the court.
In the H-Blocks he immediately joined the blanket protest. He refused his monthly visits for four years, right up until he informed his family of his decision to go on hunger-strike on February 15, 1981, this year. He also refused to send out monthly letters, writing only smuggled ‘communications’ to his family and friends.
The only member of his family to see him during those four years in Long Kesh two or three times was his brother Fr Brian McCreesh, who occasionally said Mass in the H-Blocks.
“He was a jolly lad, but stubborn," remembers Paddy Quinn.
“It was no surprise when he put his name forward for the hunger strike."
One of the most controversial aspects of McCreesh’s hunger strike involved allegations that the NIO and prison officials had drugged him, in order to confuse the protester during the last week before he died. The intention, many believe, was to pressurise the McCreesh family to intervene and take him off the protest. After 50 days of fast, family members, including Fr Brian McCreesh and were called to the prison hospital at the request of the prison doctor. They were told by a medical officer that McCreesh had been given the last rites by a Catholic priest, which had left him “shocked and frightened”. Fr Brian McCreesh was said to be suspicious of this, knowing that his brother was a deeply religious man and would have taken comfort from the sacrament. The prison doctor then claimed that the hunger striker seemed to have replied “yes” when asked if he wanted him to save his life.
When questioned by family members Raymond was dazed and incoherent, although he slowly came round and reasserted his determination to carry his protest through.
Ray McCreesh died over a week later, 61 days into his protest, on May 21, 1981.
“It was a very dark time, and we have never really got over,” says Breandán Lewis.
“People in Camlough gathered to say the rosary every night. Others involved got in political activism. When Raymond died, the emotional impact was immense and it was long-term.”
The response in the prison was of sadness and determination.
Paddy Quinn said: “The more brutality you received the deeper you dig your heels in. Raymond’s death gutted us, but it made us more determined.”

Hunger strikes history on sale

Daily Ireland


A CD book tracing the history of the 1981 hunger strike was launched yesterday on the Falls Road.
An Stailc Ocrais – A History Of Hunger Strikes In Ireland was compiled by nine young relatives of republican ex-prisoners.
Aged between ten and 18, they come from all over Belfast and worked on the project since the beginning of the year.
Working in conjunction with republican ex-prisoners organisation, Coiste na nIarchimí and Falls Community Council the young people researched the history of hunger strikes in Ireland from the days of the Brehon Laws up until 1981.
The project began as a booklet but on completion of this, the script was recorded on to a CD by the young people, who themselves, play the role of narrators throughout the recording.
Accompanied by background music, the CD is a wonderful compliment to the booklet.
Dominic Adams, Coiste’s youth development worker, said: “This is a great achievement by these young people. Each of them has had the experience of having a close relative imprisoned and it was this, which motivated them.
“They gave up their spare time and worked long hours researching and recording their findings.
“They wished to learn more about the hunger strikes and the reasons for their relative’s imprisonment.
“This project is a tribute to their willingness to do just that.
“The booklet and CD are a must have for all young people who wish to learn more about the hunger strikes – not just in 1981 but throughout Irish history.”
The CD is available from Coiste na nIarchimí at 028 9020 0770.

Events honour two hunger strikers

Daily Ireland


A series of events is being held in the Falls area of west Belfast this weekend to mark the 25th anniversary of the deaths of the hunger strikers Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara.
The weekend of events is being launched tonight at 7pm in the Cultúrlann, 216 Falls Road. A video screening and national hunger-strike exhibition will be followed by a short talk by Seán Murray. Free refreshments will be provided.
Tomorrow will see a Gaelic football blitz for the Raymond McCreesh/Patsy O’Hara Cup at O’Donnell’s GAA pitch at McRory Park on the Whiterock Road, starting at 1pm. The games will involve teams from the Beechmount, Clonard, Falls, and St James’s areas.
The cup will be presented at a function in the Foresters Club on Albert Street, starting at 8pm. Shebeen will provide the music. Tickets cost £5.
On Sunday, a black flag vigil will start at 2pm. The assembly points are: Sevastopol Street Sinn Féin centre; corner of Beechmount Avenue; top of St James’s Road.
St Mary’s College at 191 Falls Road will host the event Talk Back: The Legacy of the 1981 Hunger Strike at 3pm.
The panellists will include former Sinn Féin publicity director Danny Morrison, ex-Armagh prisoner Mary McConville, former hunger strikers Bernard Fox and Pat Sheehan, and an IRSP spokesperson.
Sinn Féin assembly member Fra McCann, a former blanket man, will chair the discussion.

Parades body manipulated

Daily Ireland

NIO is blasted over what is seen as attempt to affect make-up of march quango - Minister asked DUP MP and Orange chief to urge members to apply for jobs

BY Ciarán Barnes

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFormer security minister Shaun Woodward encouraged leading members of the loyal orders to apply for posts on the new Parades Commission during a hush-hush meeting last autumn, Daily Ireland has learned.
The Labour MP met Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters and Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds on September 7 to discuss controversial parades in the North.
A senior Northern Ireland Office official, whose name is known to Daily Ireland, also attended.
During the meeting, Mr Woodward encouraged Mr Saulters and Mr Dodds to ask members of the loyal orders to apply for positions on the new Parades Commission.
The NIO official then wrote to the leaders of the Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys and the Royal Black Institution asking for opinions on who should be appointed.
Within weeks, Co Armagh Orangemen David Burrows and Don MacKay were appointed to the seven-strong commission. At no time were nationalist residents’ groups encouraged to apply or consulted on whom should be appointed.
British secretary of state Peter Hain oversaw the appointment process.
Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd accused Mr Hain of behaving like the “lord viceroy of Ireland”.
“The appointment procedure is in place to protect the rights of all in society. To abuse the procedure is to abuse the rights of all in society,” he said.
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said it was clear the NIO had “interfered” with the appointment process.
She said: “I have to ask why this meeting took place. Was the NIO offering concessions to the DUP? I am very sceptical.”
A spokesman for the NIO confirmed Mr Woodward had met Mr Dodds and Mr Saulters on September 7.
Mr Woodward was replaced as security minister in an NIO shake-up last week. He was overseas and unavailable for comment yesterday.
A judge is to rule in the High Court in Belfast today on the legality of the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay to the Parades Commission.
Mr MacKay resigned from his post this week. It had been revealed he had listed two referees on his application without having asked for their permission.
Mr Burrows also listed a referee on his application without asking permission.
He has so far resisted calls to resign.
Yesterday the Parades Commission granted the Orange Order permission to march along a disputed section of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, Co Armagh.
The Parkmount junior Orange lodge will parade past nationalist homes on Parkmount and Victoria Terrace on May 27.
Residents had opposed the march, which will pass along the part of the Garvaghy Road where DUP leader Ian Paisley and former Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble did their infamous celebratory jig in 1995.

PSNI ‘seeks informers’

Daily Ireland

Co Tyrone men tell of attempts to recruit them amid warnings not to tell the media


A group of Co Tyrone men have claimed the PSNI tried to recruit them as informers.
The men, all from the Strabane area, went public after claiming the PSNI had been involved in a sustained attempt to recruit them as informers at different times over the last six months.
They said some of them had been warned not to reveal details of the recruitment attempts to the press.
Strabane republican Ben Brady said he was concerned that the PSNI would try to set him up or have him shot after members of the force approached him.
“I am being stopped every time I go out the door — four or five times a week. I think it is getting to the stage where they are going to set me up or I’m going to get shot.
“Look at that fellow in Ballynahinch [Steven Colwell]. They riddled him. When I’m on the road, they set up road blocks just for me and there is nothing to stop them opening up.
“I have been in jail for political offences and, if I’m found up a back road, nobody is going to give a damn.
“My solicitor has contacted the Police Ombudsman’s office. There are other people in this who are being asked to provide information about me as well as other things,” he said.
The Co Tyrone man said the PSNI had approached up to seven local men in recent months. Taxi driver Patrick Deehan from Sion Mills said two PSNI officers had tried to recruit him as an informer as he sat outside City of Derry Airport on Wednesday.
The healthcare worker said the PSNI had tried to blackmail him in recent months.
He also claimed PSNI members had warned him he would “end up like John Brady”, a jailed Tyrone republican who supporters believe was framed by the PSNI.
“I lifted a fare in Strabane and brought him to the airport. I now believe this man was a PSNI man. I didn’t know him but, when he got out of the car, two men I know to be PSNI men got into the car. I told them to get out and they asked me to run them into Eglinton village.
“I said no, that I wasn’t moving until they got out. They have tried to recruit me twice in the last six months and every time they try to blackmail me with something new.
“They have offered me cash and a car. I am getting married next month and earlier this week they threatened to tell my girlfriend that I have been seeing other women.
“I told them I didn’t care what they said. I wasn’t going to work for them. Then they said that, if I didn’t work for them, I was going to jail. I have a court case next month and they know this. They said they were going to keep coming back and that time was running out for me,” said Mr Deehan.
The Sion Mills man spoke of his fear for the future.
“At the start, I laughed at this but now it is serious. When the man I lifted in Strabane got out of the car, he paid me £25 [€37] for the taxi fare.
“The PSNI might have pictures of me taking the money and they could show it to other people and try to portray me as a tout. They said I could end up like John Brady and they could frame me if they wanted to.
“I am worried about this now and I want the PSNI off my back.”

South is overseas claims Royal Mail

Daily Ireland

By Padraig O Meiscill

**See Royal Mail delivers record PROFIT

Royal Mail has come under fire over charging international rates for post moving from the North to the South of Ireland.
According to Royal Mail, posted items going to the Republic from the North are “international mail” and should be paid for as such.
An educational institution in Belfast received notification to this effect early in the week, stating: “Republic of Ireland mail should be treated in the same way as any international mail.”
The rate for people in the North of Ireland posting to the Republic is therefore the same as that for people living in England, Scotland and Wales.
Belfast Sinn Féin assembly member Michael Ferguson said: “Along with the extortionate rates we pay for gas, electricity etc., the British government are effectively making us foot the bill for their occupation of the North of Ireland.”
“It’s really illogical when you think about it that somebody posting a letter from Derry to Letterkenny or from Newry to Dundalk should have to pay an international tariff rate, whereas a letter going across the Irish Sea to England is treated as domestic mail” he said.
The West Belfast MLA claimed the tariff would have a negative impact on developing cross-border business. He said: “What we have here is a classic example of partition distorting the entitlements of the Irish people and probably economic growth as well.
“The people who set the rates in Royal Mail need to get their heads round the fact that Belfast and Dublin are in the same country and should be treated as such. The harmonisation of postal costs on the island should clearly become an element of the all-Ireland agenda.”
When contacted, a spokesman for Royal Mail said the tariff was not a recent development and that the North was treated no differently from “the rest of the UK”.

PSNI is accused of holding back sectarian statistics

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young and Concubhar Ó Liatháin

The PSNI has been accused of deliberately withholding statistics on the levels of sectarian attacks in Ballymena.
Last night local councillor Monica Digney questioned whether PSNI computers were as “bigoted as those who sit at them” after police chiefs claimed software currently used by them is unable to “provide analysis of the victims of sectarian incidents”.
The PSNI made the claim after Daily Ireland requested a breakdown of figures relating to sectarian attacks in the troubled town.
Bizarrely, the PSNI claimed they couldn’t provide the figures. When asked to explain why not, a spokesperson said: “In its present form, the software used by the PSNI to gather statistical information holds finite layers of information about a vast number of incidents. It is currently not possible to provide analysis of the victims of sectarian incidents for this reason.”
Last night Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney said she wasn’t surprised to learn that the PSNI were reluctant to reveal the levels of sectarian attacks in Ballymena.
“I’m not surprised by this at all. Especially when you see some of the remarks that the PSNI have made over the past week. I just wonder are their computers as bigoted as those who sit at them?
“I don’t think anyone has any faith in the PSNI to be even handed in their dealings with the nationalist community, particularly in a place like Ballymena where anti-Catholic bigotry and sectarianism permeates every section of society.”

Catholic rights are secondary to unionist needs


(Jim Gibney, Irish News)

The most disturbing aspect of the comments attributed to Ballymena DUP councillor Roy Gillespie about the murdered school boy Michael McIlveen is that they are widespread although usually unspoken among sections of the unionist and Protestant people.

Gillespie's reported remark that 15-year-old Michael "will not get into heaven" is sourced in his biblical belief, which is reflected in the same statement that, "the Pope is the antichrist and is head of the Catholic Church, which is not a true church or faith".

Although such views are outrageous, insulting and insensitive to the murdered youth's family, friends and the Catholic community of Ballymena and beyond, Gillespie is unlikely to face censure before the law for incitement to hatred or be disciplined by the leadership of the DUP.

Michael McIlveen was hunted down as if he was little more than an animal on a savannah who wandered into a gang of predators hungry for a 'kill'. He was pursued relentlessly, separated out from his friends, his only source of protection, harried for half-a-mile, surrounded, cornered and then bludgeoned.

Michael was killed because he was a Catholic.

Although to many within the unionist and Protestant population Catholics are every bit as threatening as nationalists or republicans.

There is a danger that negative influences can be received through political parties, churches and organisations like the Orange Order and loyalist paramilitaries.

Sectarianism weaves its way insidiously through sections of the unionist and Protestant population.

It emerges publicly in an attitude which sees Catholics as less than full human beings.

Sectarianism, in its most extreme theological form, exists inside the Bible-based Free Presbyterian Church led by Ian Paisley. It is politically expressed by his party, the DUP, which is an extension of his church.

Ian Paisley did not create this mix of politics and religion. It exists among Protestants and can be traced back through various firebrand clerics for at least two centuries.

Paisley inherited this mix and shaped it into a formidable political force.

Sectarianism in its rawest form kills and the death of Michael McIlveen is the most recent example.

He is the third young Catholic killed in as many years by gangs of Protestants.

Fifteen-year-old Thomas Devlin was stabbed to death on Belfast's Somerton Road and James McMahon (21) was kicked to death outside Lisburn Council offices.

Sectarianism also exists among many Catholics, nationalists and republicans and has resulted over the years in Protestants being killed and attacked.

Partition and the consolidation of the unionist and Protestant population into the six counties led to sectarianism being institutionalised and legitimised with state authority.

This led to a prevailing attitude that Catholics lives are expendable in the face of the denial of perceived Protestants' rights such as marching down Garvaghy Road.

It matters little that several Catholics including the three Quinn boys were killed because the Orange Order insisted on marching this road.

Other Catholic children such as those in Holy Cross felt the fury of sectarian abuse from Protestants while David Trimble spoke about Sinn Féin needing to be "house trained".

This week the UUP covered in a cloak of unionist respectability an organisation of dedicated Catholic killers, the UVF, when they absorbed the PUP leader into its Assembly ranks.

This UUP-UVF alliance confirms the experience of northern Catholics – their rights have always been secondary to unionist needs.

Although there are many individual unionists and Protestants challenging sectarianism in their own community Catholics like Michael McIlveen will always be in danger until that sectarianism is rooted out of mainstream unionism and Protestantism.

May 19, 2006

This article appeared first in the May 18, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

PSNI raids factory that made Ihab Shoukri’s counterfeit jacket

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

**Fake jacket and pointy head!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTHE PSNI raided a suspected counterfeit goods factory in north Belfast yesterday morning. The factory was allegedly responsible for producing a leather Team Red Bull motor racing jacket worn in court by the north Belfast loyalist Ihab Shoukri.
The 30-year-old is facing Ulster Defence Association membership charges. He stood in the dock before Christmas wearing the jacket.
In yesterday’s raid in a house in the Ballysillan area, the PSNI said it seized thousands of copied DVDs, CDs and computer games with a street value of at least £50,000 (€73,000).
Police also took away equipment used to copy the DVDs and CDs.
Also seized during the raid were replica Formula One and motor racing clothing — jackets, shirts and overalls — with a street value of around £25,000 (€37,000).
A police spokeswoman said there had been no arrests in relation to the seizures but a file was being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service.
Colleagues of Ihab Shoukri told Daily Ireland that the factory had produced the jacket worn by the loyalist in court last year.
“People are having a laugh because there was a photo of Ihab in the newspapers wearing one of the fake Formula One jackets,” said one UDA member.
“People are wondering if he had to pay for it.
“Ihab takes a lot of pride in his appearance.
“He will be embarrassed that people have found out he’s running around in fake designer clothes.”

Policing board rejects British proposals

Frank Millar, London Editor
19 May 2006

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has rejected the British government's proposed guidelines for the operation of Community Based Restorative Justice Schemes (CBRJ) to deal with "low-level crime" in loyalist and republican areas.

The SDLP has been leading the opposition to the British government's Draft Guidelines - fearing restorative justice schemes will provide cover for extending paramilitary control in the communities, and a new form of "political policing" which the Patten reforms were designed to eliminate.

And the party's fears have been reflected by unionist members of the policing board, who agree the proposed operation of the schemes would permit CBRJ representatives to effectively "bypass the police in their engagement with the criminal justice system" in the North.

In a cross-party submission to criminal justice minister David Hanson ahead of publication of his final proposals next month, the policing board insists that CBRJ schemes cannot be allowed to participate in the criminal justice system without giving "unqualified acceptance" to the role of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). And it says schemes refusing to recognise the police should be denied "the imprimatur of the state."

This emerged last night as SDLP and DUP members of the board insisted that Mr Hanson should present his proposed final "guidelines" to them in advance of a public announcement believed to be scheduled for June 18th.

And news of the board's uncompromising response confirmed that the issue of restorative justice schemes is integral to the entire policing debate, which DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley says must be resolved as part of any powersharing devolution deal in November.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has attempted to allay concerns about the CBRJ issue, suggesting that the final proposals brought forward by the government will "of course" have to be agreed with the PSNI.

In a previously unpublished extract from an interview with The Irish Times last week, Mr Hain said: "Any taking forward of restorative justice has two cardinal principles underpinning it. One, it's got to be agreed with the police. The other, it has to be in line with the rule of law. There is no compromise on those points."

Despite Mr Hain's apparent assurance, however, senior SDLP sources last night expressed their concern that ministers would seek to bypass cross-party opposition by proceeding in the first instance with a limited number of "pilot schemes" subject to only "minimal regulation".

At the same time a senior member of the policing board said he did not know if the PSNI's submission and statement of concerns was as comprehensive as that of the board.

The board says it believes CBRJ schemes could have a role to play in dealing with activities of concern to local communities in the North. In its submission to Mr Hanson, it says it is essential for any guidelines developed in relation to such schemes "to clarify what is meant by low-level crime", in order that all involved should "understand the parameters of CBRJ".

However, the board rejects "the rationale" apparently underpinning the Draft Guidelines, which it says "appears to be that, as at present there is nothing to stop people setting up schemes, then surely it is better to have them regulated than not regulated".

Several Afghans threaten to jump


19 May 2006 17:49

Several of the Afghan hunger strikers at St Patrick's Cathedral have threatened to jump from the organ loft in the building.

A statement from the Church of Ireland this evening confirmed that they are now pursuing legal options to bring the stand-off to an end.

Earlier, one of the hunger strikers was taken away from the cathedral. He was taken out on a stretcher to an ambulance which had arrived there at about 4pm.

Just before 3pm, more garda vans had arrived at the main entrance to the building, and 20 additional gardaí went inside.

Fifteen officers entered the cathedral shortly after 9am this morning, while at least 30 other officers were stationed in groups around the building.

One of the Afghan youths on hunger strike claimed the gardaí had given a 7pm deadline for the protest to end.

The 17-year-old claimed they had been told if they did not leave by then they would be arrested and put into prison.

An eighth minor was made a ward of court this afternoon.

However, the President of the High Court refused an request that the gardaí take the minors into custody when he made seven of them wards of court at the request of the HSE this morning.

Church of Ireland representatives have asked the men to leave the Cathedral.

A spokesperson said the request had been made in the light of threats made by the men to take their own lives.

The spokesperson said that threats of self-harm were not acceptable.

The spokesperson refused to confirm whether or not they would be requesting gardaí to remove the men.

Earlier, the hunger strikers were reported to have threatened to kill themselves if any attempt is made to remove them.

A spokesperson for Residents Against Racism, Henry Dent, criticised the garda operation and said there was an unnecessary number of gardaí in the area.

The group had earlier claimed some of the men attempted to commit suicide last night.

Rosanna Flynn of the group said that she was not aware if the men were injured or had received medical attention.

A number of garda vans are parked on nearby Kevin Street. St Patrick's Close was earlier sealed off by gardaí.

So far, there does not seem to have been any attempt to remove the Afghan protestors, who are on the sixth day of a hunger strike.

Republicans to mark 25th Anniversary of Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O'Hara

Sinn Féin

Published: 19 May, 2006

Republicans throughout Ireland will this weekend mark the 25th Anniversary of the deaths on Hunger Strike of IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh and INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara.

A weekend of commemorative events will take place in South Armagh culminating in a parade on Sunday from Newry to Raymond McCreesh’s graveside in Camlough. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will address the commemoration.

In Derry a parade will make its way from the Bogside Inn to Patsy O’Hara’s former home in Bishop Street were a mural and plaque will be unveiled.

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy today urged people to attend the events.

Mr Murphy said:

“Raymond McCreesh was from my hometown of Camlough. This weekend Republicans from South Armagh and beyond will come together in Camlough for a weekend of events to remember Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara who died 25 years ago in the H-Blocks.

“In Derry Republican will gather to pay tribute to INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara.

“I would encourage people to attend the events and send out a clear message to those who still haven’t learnt the lessons of 1981 and still seek to try and criminalise the Republican struggle. The events of 1981 were a watershed moment for the Republican struggle and the sacrifices made by the men in Long Kesh and the women in Armagh Jail remain with us to this day.”

Main commemorative events this weekend

South Armagh

Hunger Strike exhibition in Shane O’Neills GAA Club Camlough all weekend.

Friday 19th

7pm - Unveiling of plaque and mural at Raymond McCreesh’s home

8pm - Lecture by former PoWs and DVD launch in Marquee, Shane O’Neills club

Sunday 21st

1pm - parade to commence from Edward Street car park Newry to make its way to Camlough

3pm - mass in Carrickcruppin Church followed by commemoration at Raymond McCreesh’s graveside. Main speaker Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams


Sunday 21st

Parade will leave the Bogside Inn at 2.30pm to parade to Patsy O’Hara’s former home at Bishop Street were a mural and plaque will be unveiled.


Friday 19th

7pm - Video launch and lecture involving former PoWs in Culturlann

Saturday 20th

1pm - Raymond McCreesh/Patsy O’Hara Cup, O’Donnells GAA pitch.

Sunday 21st

3pm - St Mary‘s college - ‘Talk Back’ - the legacy of the Hunger Strike. Involving Danny Morrison, former Hunger Strikers Bernard Fox and Pat Sheehan and former Armagh prisoner Mary McConville. Chaired by former Blanketman Fra McCann.

Black Flag Vigils will take place at 2pm across Belfast.


Friday 19th May

8.30pm - Vigil at the Tadhg an Astraa Monument in Cork City

7pm - Vigil Ballincolig


Sunday 21st May

Vigils 12 noon - Driminagh Road; Kylemore Roundabout and Dolphins Barn Bridge


Friday 19th May

5.30pm - Vigil Drogheda Bridge.

Saturday 20th May

1pm - Vigil Market Square Dundalk.

Relatives of UVF victim in fight for justice

Belfast Telegraph

19 May 2006

The family of an innocent victim of last summer's loyalist feud has called on Northern Ireland's politicians to throw support behind a campaign to bring the young man's killers to justice.

Nicola McIlvenny, whose 20-year-old cousin Craig McCausland was shot dead by the UVF last July, said she needed political help in asking whether the terror group "is operating with the absolute impunity it seems to have".

The young father's family met with Tory MP David Lidington, the shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on Monday in a bid to have the murder raised in the House of Commons.

"Mr Lidington said he was willing to raise the wider issue of the UVF's apparent ceasefire in the House to help us out," Ms McIlvenny said.

"Ideally what we want is Craig's killers to be brought before the courts and punished for what they have done. It's almost a year since he was killed and we feel that we're at a standstill.

"But we also need help in raising the wider issue of loyalist murders. We are calling for all politicians and influential people in Northern Ireland to help raise this issue and join our fight for justice."

The family launched the Justice for Craig campaign last year in the wake of the horrific murder. Craig was gunned down by the UVF on July 11 in his north Belfast home in front of his partner and her two young children. He left behind his own son Dean, then aged just two.

He was one of four men shot dead by the UVF last summer. His murder was thought to be a case of mistaken identity and police quickly confirmed that he had no paramilitary connections whatsoever.

Craig's mother Lorraine was viciously attacked by the UDA 18 years earlier and then beaten to death with a breeze block.

Ms McIlvenny continued: "Lorraine was just 23 when she was murdered. We thought that murder could never visit our family again. Craig was just 20 and he left behind a son the same age as he was when his mother was killed.

"No-one has been brought to justice for either murder. When is it going to stop? A line has to be drawn somewhere. Someone has to be held accountable for the numerous murders the UVF has been responsible for since 1994. It looks to me like they are operating with absolute impunity."

Ms McIlvenny said the full grief of losing Craig was only beginning to hit his family now.

"I think we've had a delayed reaction and it's really only hitting home now."

Politician's seamless move from UDA to UDR to RUC


(Steven McCaffery, Irish News)

After official files linked loyalists to security forces one man identified by the documents tells how he moved from the loyalist UDA, to the British army and then the RUC

The 'Subversion in the UDR' document paints a picture of large-scale collusion between security forces and loyalists but equally revealing is the official reaction to this revelation.

**See Pat Finucane Centre

Letters accompanying the document see a senior Ministry of Defence official write: "I wish I could say that its contents come as a surprise but I am afraid they do not."

When The Irish News initially revealed the contents of the 'Subversion' document, one section was withheld for legal reasons.

In it, the report's authors comment on the ease with which unionism, loyalism and the security forces can overlap in Northern Ireland.

"In many areas where officers and men have known each other all their lives through church or social or Orange Order activities, membership of a Protestant para-military group might not be considered at all unusual or worth reporting to higher authority," the report states.

"At least some UDR battalion commanders appear to be concerned at this problem. Some members of the UDR, who also belong to subversive groups, undoubtedly lead 'double lives' and even with the aid of intelligence it is occasionally difficult to persuade a CO that one of his men is a risk.

"Indicative, but not typical, is the case of a member of 1 [one] UDR, apparently a good citizen, the Deputy Chairman of a District Council, who had the following traces:

1. Subject was OC of Ballymena UDA
2. Subject had obtained ammunition for the UDA
3. Subject was suspected of illegal arms dealings, and of acquiring an SLR [semi-automatic rifle] and an SMG [sub-machine gun] in Scotland, and of selling them to the UDA.

"He was however described by his CO as 'a model soldier'."

The Irish News has now established that the politician in question is Clifford Davison.

Born in 1945, he became a well known architect in Ballymena and joined the town's Rural District Council in 1967.

After the reorganisation of local government in 1973, he stood as an independent candidate and became deputy mayor of Ballymena District Council.

More than 20 years ago he left Northern Ireland to run a nursing home in Scotland. A highly respected figure, married with three grown-up children, he has cycled around Britain and Ireland raising money for charity.

But after being identified in the 'subversion' document, he is now revisiting his security force role during the Troubles and addressing allegations that while he was deputy mayor and a UDR soldier, he was also 'Officer Commanding' (OC) of the UDA in Ballymena – supplying them with ammunition and weapons. Two of those statements are completely untrue.

"Never did I import anything from anywhere or was I involved in [dealing arms or ammunition]," he says.

"No, that's not true... I wouldn't even know how to go to Scotland to buy arms, I wouldn't even know who to speak to. It's amazing."

He confirms that in the 1970s he was in the UDA for two years and for approximately half that period was the group's OC in Ballymena.

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was not declared illegal until 1991/92, by which time it was the largest paramilitary group in the north and was responsible for 350 killings. It was established in Belfast in 1971 to oppose the nationalist clamour for political reform and to mobilise loyalists against the IRA.

Official records estimate that within a year it had "up to 6,000 members and 15,000 supporters" and was associated with mass intimidation and violence.

Mr Davison remembers the UDA in Ballymena as a loose organisation involved in low-level activity.

Recalling his decision to join it, he says: "I think at that stage the country was in a problem and perhaps the official bodies might not be able to resolve the situation.

"The country was in crisis so people felt they had to do something and there was nothing I could do that I thought was right, except do this.

"But then when the opportunity came along to serve in a formal situation like the UDR, that might help to resolve the problem, I took that opportunity, realising the direction that the UDA was going was perhaps not the right one.

"When I joined in the early stages it was really an unofficial organisation, there was no formal structure nothing like what it developed into 10 years later. And I was out before that happened."

The Ulster Workers Council strike in 1974 brought down the Sunningdale agreement with the help of the UDA – destroying the principles of power-sharing later revived in the Good Friday Agreement.

In Ballymena, he says of the UDA: "They supported the workers strike. And on two or three occasions we isolated some areas [as a] demonstration against direct rule, as happened all throughout Northern Ireland. We were not involved in anything illegal."

He says the group never carried arms during this period and he explains that he came to lead the grouping as an accident of his standing in the community.

"Well, let's put it this way, if I'm involved in something then I'm involved. I work hard for that organisation and at that time it was not an illegal organisation, we were not involved in anything against the law, apart from creating barricades and sealing parts of the town off."

He adds: "I was in the UDA when I joined the UDR, I was only in the UDR a short period when I had a conversation with the senior officers and I decided the UDA were not for me and the UDR was."

He describes this encounter as an "informal discussion", adding: "They knew at that stage I was a member of the UDA. I mean I think it was pretty obvious because most of the community knew. I don't think it was a secret because it wasn't an illegal organisation."

But he says that when a new UDR commander arrived, "I was asked to a meeting to inform me that my services were no longer required".

"I was really annoyed, because I know I had already been promoted and I was in line for further promotion," he says.

His UDR career was ended without explanation after a year of service but between six and nine months later he joined the RUC.

"I left it for a little while because I was so annoyed, then I made an approach to the RUC and I said would I be accepted to serve as RUC, knowing that I had been dismissed from the UDR. They came back and said not a problem."

He adds: "If there had been any questions of me gun-running from Scotland I certainly would not have been made a member of the RUC."

But were the RUC aware of his UDA connections?

"Of course they were [but] I had no connection at that stage, that was all severed."

He said his UDA-past was dealt with in an "informal discussion" before he "signed on the dotted line" and started a five-year period in the RUC reserve in Ballymena.

He confirms that at no point was he questioned by the UDR or the police about the allegations that military intelligence had made against him.

He says he, therefore, missed the chance to counteract "false information".

But the episode also raises questions of the security forces – why did they suspect one of their men of such a crime yet never question him?

In May 1974 a loyalist gang touring the greater Ballymena area shot dead Catholic brothers Sean and Brendan Byrne at their bar outside the town, which had remained open despite the strike.

Witnesses blamed around 30 drunken and hooded UVF and UDA men who were seen in two minibuses.

Mr Davison had no part in the event but remembers the tragedy.

"My memories of that were it was UVF, nothing to do with UDA Ballymena. It seemed to be a freelance group of UVF people who were touring the countryside.

"These people suddenly appeared. They just seemed to be on a rampage."

He recalls how tragedy touched members of the security forces.

John Lamont was a fellow member of the RUC Reserve in Ballymena when he was shot dead by an IRA gunman as he carried out a midnight patrol in the town.

"Here was a man trying to do his duty to keep law and order, walking down the street and all of a sudden his life was taken."

He had also known constable Robert Millar, who along with constable Samuel Donaldson, was killed in an IRA booby-trap in 1970. They were the first RUC officers to be killed by the IRA.

Throughout the 1970s he says he was motivated by a desire to defend Northern Ireland, adding: "Well I felt the country needed help and indeed I can tell you on the first occasion that the army moved into Derry I actually rang the local police station and asked was there anything I could do to help.

"I just felt that was my duty. My country was in a state of collapse and I just felt that it was my duty. For the same reasons as I joined the RUC."

But what would he say to nationalists who feared such an easy progression from loyalist street politics to the mainstream security forces?

"I would say basically the rule of law had broken down and at that time I was in support of whatever rules of law there were. Now if that happened to be against what the nationalist community saw, well then so be it but that was the rule of law."

But the UDA set out to challenge the state and its reform plans?

"I think the majority of people in Northern Ireland at that time felt that way. Otherwise the Workers Strike wouldn't have succeeded."

Did he think Catholics in Ballymena feared the UDA?

"No more than any Protestant living in a republican area would be in fear."

During 10 years in local government Mr Davison was an independent councillor who served on the governing body of a Catholic school.

He knew DUP leader Ian Paisley through constituency work but says they never discussed politics.

Looking back on the 1970s, Mr Davison says he is "as shocked as anyone" that the charges of arms selling were never put to him but he doubts whether his UDA link should ever have been an issue.

"I would say that the majority of people who may have been UDA supporters, perhaps members as well, saw the only legal way they could contribute was to join the UDR. For what other purpose would they do it?" he asks.

He challenges nationalists who raise UDA concerns: "Very well known republican sympathisers, have actually served in government.

"How does the Protestant side reconcile that? People who, it has been claimed, have actually committed murder – and now they are in government? I mean is that right?"

He adds: "It's very difficult for some people to sit round a table knowing somebody sitting on the other side has been responsible for horrendous crimes. Very difficult."

Mr Davison confirms he is referring to Sinn Féin leaders such as Martin McGuinness, with confirmed IRA links, and says he has concerns over the Good Friday Agreement.

"I would hope that maybe as we get older and a new generation comes forward, that people can be identified who have not been involved in criminal activity and those things can be behind us."

But what of nationalists concerned that it was possible to move from the loyalist UDA, to the UDR and then the police?

"That may be their opinion but we see it in the situation that the current governing body for Northern Ireland is the UK government and that is the legal and constitutional position. Now can I be criticised for supporting the current legal situation?"

Mr Davison has rejected all allegations of criminal activity levelled against him in the 'subversion' document.

But his experience has confirmed that one of the document's central themes – that at the height of the Troubles it was all too easy to move from the ranks of loyalism into the ranks of the army and police.

May 19, 2006

This article appeared first in the May 15, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

'Facts Wrong On Hunger Strike' - Joe O'Neill

Donegal Democrat

**Via Séan on Indymedia.ie

Thursday 18th May 2006

Speaking at a meeting of Republican Sinn Féin in Bundoran this week, Joe O'Neill said the leadership of Provisional Sinn Féin had sold out the ideals of the 10 hunger strikers who died in 1981 "with one stroke of a pen."

"Political Status. That's what they died for and that's what Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness destroyed in one act," Mr O'Neill said.

Mr O'Neill knew two of the hunger strikers, Martin Hurson, one of the youngest and Francis Hughes "one of the greatest guerilla war fighters of all time" personally and knew the families of all the other men who died.

As the 25th anniversary commemorations for the republican prisoners who died on hunger strike passed Mr O'Neill said, "I would like to point out the lies and the spin that Provisional Sinn Féin and the news media are putting on the hunger strikers of 1981," he told the meeting.

"Daithí O'Connell, and not Jim Gibney was the man who who first proposed that Bobby Sands should fight for the Westminster seat in Fermanagh/South TirEoghan," he said.

"At a meeting in Clones around that time, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh had a very hard time getting Bobby Sands nominated because Gerry Adams and company did not want him to run. They weren't sure he would be elected by the people."

According to Joe O'Neill "In the lead up to nomination day, Noel McGuire had not withdrawn his nomination and Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison wanted Sands to withdraw his. They phoned across the border to Ó Brádaigh and Daithi O'Connell who were both wanted by the English authorities in the six occupied counties but they said 'no' Bobby Sands was not to be withdrawn," Joe O'Neill explained.

"And we all know who was right in the end," he added.

Mr O'Neill said he hoped the media would realise, once and for all, that newspapers, documentary makers and so-called historical books had their facts wrong, especially now on the 25th anniversary of Bobby Sands' death.

Mr O'Neill also said that Provisional Sinn Féin tried to dissuade republicans from fighting election in the 26 counties. He pointed to the fact four more Sinn Féin members were elected that year, including Joe Rice in Kerry, John Joe McGirl for Sligo/Leitrim, Gareth O'Hanlon in Monaghan and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in Longford --"all on republican policy," Joe O'Neill said.

"The difference between the elections of the 1950s and 1981 was the earlier elections were held in support of the fight for Irish freedom while Provisional Sinn Féin used the fight for Irish freedom to support them getting elected."

Moving on to the Peace Process, Mr O'Neill said, "The three biggest betrayals in the last century was 1921, 1986 and 1998 when the British wanted to talk and were prepared to pay anything to end the war in England. Since 1998, the English have paid wads of money to rehabilitate Provos, for Sinn Féin offices, Stormont wages and expenses so yes, the British paid off Provos."

Joe O'Neill also criticised the Good Friday Agreement as "the day of betrayal of the hunger strikers and what they died for".

"That day Provisional Sinn Féin threw away political status and signed away the rights of Irish men and women to fight for Irish freedom," Mr O'Neill said, "Margaret Thatcher could not break the spirit of the hunger strikers but, Adams and McGuinness did it with one stroke of a pen," he concluded.

Hume wants All-Ireland sex register

Derry Journal

19 May 2006

SEX OFFENDERS in the north can slip the net by moving South and this is causing difficulties in both areas.

SDLP Councillor Seana Hume has called for greater co-operation between police north and south in dealing with sex offenders claiming such a move also needs to be backed up by an all-Ireland register and multi-agency action.
Welcoming news that a memorandum of understanding will soon lead to enhanced collaboration between the PSNI and An Garda Siochána, she said: "Better policing co-operation is an obvious and very welcome first step, but it only addresses a small part of the problem. Sex offenders, particularly those who target children, are currently able to evade controls simply by driving a few miles. People who are barred from work involving children on one side of the border can apply for jobs on the other side with little fear of being detected.
"We also need to standardise our approach to those on the register. People on the register are risk-managed in the north but not in the south.
"So we need close co-operation between all the agencies with responsibility for protection of children. The cornerstone of that co-operation should be an All-Ireland Sex Offenders' Register accessible to all appropriate agencies, backed up by an All-Ireland Multi-Agency Forum where we could discuss all such issues and exchange ideas on practical measures for advancing child protection throughout the island of Ireland."

Comment: Sectarianism: it's not both sides

Derry Journal

19 May 2006

SINCE THE horrific murder of Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen last week much attention has been paid to the County Antrim town and indeed some surprise has been expressed that such sectarianism still exists.
Hopes have been expressed that the death might serve some good in that it appears to have brought a section of the town's population together in sympathy and mourning. No one could fail to be moved by the sight of young teenagers in both Celtic and Rangers tops mourning together.
But once again the perceived wisdom and experts have been trundled out to tell us how sectarianism must be tackled and that it is a problem besetting 'both sides.'
The PSNI certainly subscribe to this view with the comments of Terry Shevlin of that organisation how sectarianism in Ballymena is 'a two way street'. Who does he think he is kidding?
The Community Relations Council was on telling us how sectarianism exists on 'both sides' and how everyone had a responsibility to tackle this cancer in our society.
At least a presenter on Radio Foyle challenged this assertion and asked does it really exist on both sides.
For too long in our society sectarianism has been seen as a cancer on both sides and therefore any solution that did not tackle both sides was a non starter.
But in many ways this attitude has allowed sectarianism to fester and the tragic results of that were all too clear in Ballymena.
Certainly there are elements of sectarianism in the nationalist community. The conflict at interface areas is evidence enough of that. But that problem is being tackled by the local community who have even mounted patrols to help stamp out sectarian attacks on the Fountain Estate.
Nationalists have never exhibited the same deep sectarian hatred as loyalists seem to do and maybe it is time that instead of hiding behind this myth that 'both sides' are to blame politicians and groups focussed their attention on where the problem really lies.
Unfortunately it has to be said deep rooted sectarianism is a feature of the unionist community to a far greater extent than anything found in the nationalist community.
Can anyone say where the nationalist equivalent of Ballymena is? Can anyone say where the nationalist equivalent of Portadown is?
Would ordinary nationalists have allowed anything remotely resembling the Harryville protest outside a Catholic Church to go on? No chance.
Would the disgraceful scenes at Carnmoney Cemetery happen in a nationalist area? Again the answer has to be no.
There is no town in the North where ordinary unionists/Protestants can say that they cannot enter certain parts of the town centre on fear of their lives. We have been told stories about Derry city centre but a walk through the town on any given afternoon will reveal uniforms from almost every school in the city equally represented.
There is nowhere in the North where ordinary Protestants are stamped and battered to death simply because of their religion as happened to Michael McIlveen or Robert Hamill in Portadown.
And even amidst the outpouring of grief in Ballymena this week we still had reports of mourners cars being attacked by loyalists near the cemetery and a Sinn Fein councillor being prevented from attending the funeral because the PSNI told her she was not safe to drive across the town.
Sectarianism is alive and well and living in places like Ballymena and Portadown and many another place in the North and unfortunately it is ordinary nationalists who are at the receiving of these often murderous attacks.
It is no good mouthing pious platitudes about sectarianism being a plague on both sides when the reality is so much different and until everyone starts recognising the true nature of sectarianism it will never be tackled.
Ian Paisley deserves some credit for his reaction to the McIlveen tragedy - by all accounts he was supportive of the family. But the real acid test for the DUP leader will be in what he will do about one of his councillors in Ballymena who when commenting on the McIlveen case said that Catholics don't get into Heaven anyway.
I doubt he will do anything.
Is it any wonder that there are a section of people running about in our society who look upon Catholic lives as being less valuable than Protestant lives if this is the attitude from their civic leaders.
There is an aspect of sectarianism that is never talked about and therefore never addressed by all the bodies and groups set up supposedly to bring 'both communities together' and that is the religious underpinning of unionist hostility to nationalists.
Unionists have severe problems with Catholicism in itself and there is simply no equivalent on the nationalist side of this phenomenon.
A little example may suffice. A leading unionists in this city was engaged in a friendly conversation with a nationalist and both seemed to be getting on great.
But as they parted the unionist told the nationalists that they could never be friends. The nationalists wondered why not as they had been getting on great and was told 'But you believe in transubstantiation and so we could never be friends."
The nationalist to be fair hardy knew what transubstantiation was never mind why it would be a hurdle to friendship.
But this underlying attitude of anti-Catholicism feeds into the unionist psyche and leads to the sectarianism that manifests itself on the streets of Ballymena and Portadown.
Unionist political leaders and Protestant church leaders have to address the causes of sectarianism within their community and stop pretending that there is nothing they can do because it affects 'both sides.'
Until it is recognised that sectarianism is a malaise that primarily affects the unionist community nothing serious will ever be done to tackle the problem.
Unfortunately this does not look like it is going to happen for some time to come.

(The author of this article is from Derry city)

Parades move 'disappoints' Hain


NI Secretary Peter Hain has said he is "extremely disappointed" by a decision to overturn the appointment of two Orangemen to the Parades Commission.

The High Court ruled the appointments of David Burrows and fellow Orangeman Don McKay, who resigned from the body this week, were unlawful.

It said the appointments did not ensure membership of the body represented both sides of the community.

Mr Hain said he would take legal advice over the judgement.

"The appointments to the Parades Commission were made in good faith and the new commission has been very successful at beginning to build trust and confidence," Mr Hain added.

However, delivering his ruling, Mr Justice Morgan said he found the failure of the appointment panel members to recognise a potential conflict of interest "inexplicable".

He also said the case caused him to doubt whether the appointment panel members understood the nature of the task in which they were engaged.

The judge said there was no reason why Mr Burrows could not apply again.

He added: "I wish to make it clear that this judgement should not operate as any prohibition on the reappointment of Mr Burrows should the secretary of state so decide."

"I think what we have now is a completely contaminated commission - starting again with a clean slate would be a good idea."
Brendan MacCionnaith
Garvaghy Road Residents Association

Joe Duffy, a resident of the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, went to the High Court last week seeking to overturn the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay.

Garvaghy Road Residents Association spokesman Brendan MacCionnaith said on Friday that the case raised questions about the judgement of Parades Commission chairman Roger Poole.

Mr MacCionnaith said there was a conflict of interest in having any member of the Orange Order or any member of a residents' group opposed to Orange parades on the commission.

He said they would meet over the weekend to consider their formal response and whether to take further action.

DUP assembly member and Independent Orange Order Grand Master George Dawson also called into question the judgement of the commission's chairman Mr Poole.

"Mr Poole backed their appointment and is on record praising the role they have played in the commission," he said.


Both Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay were members of the Portadown Lodge of the Orange Order which has been at the centre of the decade-long dispute surrounding what has become known as the Drumcree parade.

Mr MacKay resigned from the commission earlier this week after it emerged he had listed DUP MP David Simpson and SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly as referees on his application form without asking their permission.

SDLP Upper Bann assembly member Ms Kelly said the ruling confirmed that the appointments procedure used had failed to provide membership representative of the community.

"This whole debacle has been the NIO's fault and the ruling shows they acted unlawfully," she said.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael Copeland said the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay had "redressed the apparent imbalance in the previous membership".

"These latest revelations may be the final nails in the coffin of the Parades Commission, although it must be pointed out that the failings in the appointments process cannot be laid at the door of Mr Burrows, Mr McKay nor indeed the Parades Commission itself.

"The responsibility for this shambles properly resides within the Northern Ireland Office and the ultimate responsibility must indeed rest with the secretary of state," he said.

The Parades Commission was set up in by the government in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

David Trimble and 'THE COMMITTEE' - explained

Red Action

Reproduced from RA Vol 3, Issue 5, February/March 1999


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSensational claims in 'The Committee - political assasination in Northern Ireland,' that the murder of political opponents were ordered by prominent members of the Unionist establishment led to the book being banned. With the current crisis in the peace process, Lee Stephens highlights the 'inextricable links' between David Trimble and the accused.

David Trimble knew King Rat. They were on speaking terms. Maybe not bosom buddies but certainly closer than in December 1992 when in the House of Commons Trimble described him 'as a gentleman known as Billy Wright... who... 1 am told is a gangster.' The LVF leader was one of Trimbles' Portadown constituents, and so the intimate tete a tete witnessed by the BBC's Peter Taylor in the midst of the 1996 Drumcree standoff might have been considered by many typical of a social encounter between a high profile powerful politician and an unemployed working class man with limited formal education.

Except that while one was assured and confident and the other eager to please and uncomfortable, it was Trimble who was sweating.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWright was named in McPhilemy's book as a prominent member of 'The Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee' who with others, including a senior Ulster Bank executive; a Presbyterian minister; a prominent solicitor, a staff member at Queen's University and an Ulster Independence Committee member conspired to with RUC/UDR 'inner force' connivance to murder their political opponents. Those listed above were six of the two dozen committee members named by McPhilemy, and Nobel Peace prize winner David Trimble has a direct political connection with all of them. When David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, the world held it's breath, as he proceeded to address his audience with perhaps the most ungracious acceptance speech in the prize's history. Trimble's speech was a concerted attack upon the Republican Movement and a return to the largely irrelevant issue of decommissioning as part of the Unionist's attempt to wreck the peace process from within.

For some time now the Unionist/Loyalist side in the process has required the input of their political equivalent to South Africa's F.W. De Klerk. Someone who recognises that the "jig is up" and who is prepared to negotiate the best possible deal available to that community. Instead they have their own P.W. Botha in the shape of Trimble, stalling and filibustering the entire peace process in order to maintain the status quo.

An analysis of Trimble's political background reveals however that he is pursuing a political line that in his own terms is at least a consistent one. In February 1988, as a law lecturer at Queens University and before commencing his parliamentary career, William David Trimble penned a pamphlet entitled, "What Choice For Ulster". In it Trimble argued that the Anglo Irish Agreement had signalled Britain's intention to withdraw the birthrights of the "Ulster British" and he presented the case for an 'Independent Ulster' as an alternative. Indeed his stated view's on the subject have become the 'blue print' for the most extreme elements of the loyalist community, whose object is to regain exclusive control of the government of the six counties. The establishment of a pro-Independent Ulster bloc in the loyalist community also mirrored the sharp increase in loyalist paramilitary terror attacks carried out against the nationalist community in general and republicans in particular.

This group who saw the Anglo-Irish Accord of 1985 as the final straw in Britain's attempt to sell their birthrights to Dublin, once organised, became increasingly influential in every area of Unionist and Loyalist life. They promoted the idea of a 'Doomsday Scenario' where Ulster would be sold out by the British and that it would therefore be up to the Ulster (Protestant) people to go it alone. Their aim was in effect to create a "junta in waiting" ready to assume leadership of the 'Ulster Nation' when the need arose. In the short term their aim was to deal with the "enemy within,' nationalism and republicanism. Their first step was to reorganise the forces of reaction, the loyalist death squads, the RUC and the UDR, into a co-operative unit which colluded and implemented a military campaign of terror against the Catholic Community. According to James Sands, former member of the 'committee' and chief source of Sean McPhilemy's book: "Before then, Ulster people on the loyalist side were never really organised. There was wee small groups in various towns done their own thing But because of the signing of the agreement in 1985, which brought a lot of middle upper classes into Ulster Loyalism, that these men have, these people have seen that there is a British withdrawal, gradual, but still a withdrawal. And from a business point of view, they want to look after themselves. They don 't want to be left high and dry with the British withdrawal. And they're putting their business expertise, their business knowledge to the good of Ulster.'

So hiding behind the cloak of respectability, some of Northern Ireland's most prominent businessmen, politicians, policemen, lawyers and clergy became directly involved in the loyalist assassination campaign. Their involvement was to provide the loyalists with the money, arms and political direction that they had previously lacked. Loyalist assassins like Billy "King Rat" Wright and Robin "The Jackal" Jackson and their gangs were the hired guns of The Committee, whose access to detailed official files and information, as well as their ability to provide the hands-on involvement of RUC units in death squad murders, was to make them seem virtually untouchable. The conspiracy however goes much deeper than simply providing loyalist nutters with gear and security files. According to McPhilemy's book, the conspiracy goes to the very heart of the Unionist Establishment and involves a secret "inner force" within the RUC, which in turn is run by a core leadership known as the Inner Circle. The Inner Force within the RUC is organised from a divisional level right down to a station by station "cell" structure. McPhilemy also contends that the overall commander of this secret grouping is the ex- Head of RUC Special Branch.

As a result of similar allegations made by McPhilemy in a Channel Four documentary broadcast October 2 1991, a Presbyterian Minister appeared on Right to Reply three days later to refute unfair inferences he believed were contained in the programme. He was accompanied by his MP David Trimble who forcefully and repeatedly insisted thereafter that it was all a 'hoax and republican propaganda.' (When the Sunday Express repeated the hoax accusations outside of Parliament it would eventually cost them a cool £500,000 in damages and costs as a result of losing a libel action brought by McPhilemy in 1996)

That the loyalist assassins became better armed and better informed during the late 1980's and early 1990's cannot be denied. There have always been claims made by the nationalist community that there has been widespread collusion between the state forces and the death squads throughout the present period of conflict. You only have to look at the long list of RUC and UDR/RIR personnel convicted of loyalist terrorist offences to put paid to the lie that the forces of law and order are policing the six counties impartially. Father Raymond Murray's book, The SAS In Ireland, documents the collusion with, and direction of, the loyalist death squads by the British Army's most elite units.

Robin Jackson was one of those so directed. A seasoned 'terrorist' in the true sense and meaning of the word. He was recruited by British Army Intelligence in 1974. They facilitated his activities and, according to McPhilemy's sources, "...trained him in the assassin 's art. '' The former British Intelligence officer, Captain Fred Holroyd, who was himself based in Portadown between 1973 and 1975 has no doubt that Robin Jackson was a "licensed killer" for the "security services." Jackson and Wright were in effect the Committee's hired help, contracted to carry out operations on it's behalf. Jackson's career as a hit-man for the RUC and Army made him an obvious choice to carry out the Committee's "dirty work." Both men enjoyed co-operation from their police and army counterparts and immunity from prosecution. Indeed, not only did they escape prosecution, they could also rely upon the direct involvement of RUC officers in certain operations. In one example, McPhilemy alleges that two on-duty RUC officers belonging to the 'Inner Force' acting on instructions from the Committee, selected a victim by checking the license plate of his car through the RUC computer in order to establish whether he was a Catholic. The two officers then arranged to meet Billy Wright and guide him into the lover's lane where he and his girlfriend had parked the car. This murder, of the young Catholic man, Denis Carville, was a so-called 'revenge attack' for the IRA killing of UDR soldier, Colin McCullough at the same spot. As Jim Sands stated: "They wanted someone who was in the same situation, a young man sitting with his girlfriend in the car. " In light of the sectarian murder of a constituent by Billy Wright, the comment by the local MP for the area, that "some idiot had taken the law into his own hands' was both bizarre and politically loaded. That MP was David Trimble.

Another of the Committee's victims was the leading nationalist defence solicitor in the north of Ireland. Patrick Finucane. The RUC, in particular, deemed that Finucane was basically "a Provo" because he was prepared to act as legal counsel to members of the republican movement. Thus, in February, 1989, Pat Finucane also became a victim of the Committee. Following the C4 screening of The Committee a prominent loyalist solicitor launched proceedings of criminal libel against McPhilemy in December 1992. He sued McPhilemy, claiming that because he could be recognised from the programmes description, he was in a fact being set up for assassination 'and had been placed in a similar position to Pat Finucane.' Precisely because he was personally present in the Finagh Orange Hall in January 1989 when the murder of Finucane was commissioned, this typical display of "chutzpah" according to McPhilemy, drew particular admiration from his loyalist co-conspirators. The claim that he was indeed recognisable was supported by two sponsors: another solicitor, and David Trimble who swore an affidavit stating that he was in "absolutely no doubt" that his friend and had been the solicitor identified. The fellow solicitor, who backed up Trimble, happens to be in legal practice with, according to information supplied to McPhilemy by an informer in 1991, yet a another member of 'The Committee.' It also turns out, that this is the same partner ship that looks after Trimble's legal affairs.

Sometimes in the past evidence of collusion was dismissed as being carried out by rogue elements among the security forces. But, as Sean McPhilemy points out the conspiracy is deep and wide. As well as a former Asst. Chief Constable and the ex-head of RUC Special Branch, McPhilemy names five other senior RUC officers with links to 'The Committee,' plus two Army Majors still serving in the UDR/RIR. Unionist councillors, Presbyterian Ministers, Queen's University academics and a number of solicitors, lawyers and businessmen are also alleged to be full participants in the conspiracy. Unsurprisingly, their influence within the constituency of unionism is pervasive.

In particular the political hand of 'the Committee' can be seen especially around the issue of Drumcree where it has been their political influence, in their own heartland of Portadown, that has been the driving force behind the intransigent position adopted by the local Orangemen. It may have been as a result of the influence of 'the Committee,' along with a mistrust of the local RUC's ability to maintain order, that convinced British direct ruler, Mo Mowlam to call in the Parachute Regiment to bolster the lines at Drumcree last year.Trimble is after all the MP whose constituency takes in Drumcree and the town of Portadown. Portadown is the town at the heart of the Committee's "murder triangle" and Drumcree has become a symbol for the most sectarian Orange elements. Anyone who crossed such individuals may well be taking their own life into their hands - if, that is, they genuinely disagreed politically with The Committee. Trimble's own political background would suggest however that any differences that might exist between him and the members of the Committee is as likely to be one of emphasis and presentation, rather than the ultimate objective. Trimble is, after all, a published exponent of the Committee's preference for an Independent Ulster. In addition when a member of the faculty staff at Queens University in the late '80's, both he and another faculty member sat on the executive of the extreme loyalist Ulster Clubs. The latter would later join the Committee. And when another fellow executive, and uncompromising Loyalist was shot dead by the IRA in1988, his brother a leading Bank executive, and ex RUC officer, responded by draw ing together the Loyalist coalition that would become the The Committee.

In 1991, the former RUC officer, apparently for his own amusement posed as "driver" for the extremely shadowy Ulster Resistance when escorting a Channel Four reporter to an interview.

On the way, the researcher became aware that the driver was being waved through RUC road blocks by officers who appeared deferential towards him. Laughing, the driver turned to the researcher and said: "It makes you wonder who runs this place, doesn't it?"

By his stance on decommissioning, and the tenor of his Oslo acceptance speech, Trimble made it clear that if he wasn't exactly speaking for the people 'who run the place,' he was certainly still speaking to them.

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