online.ie: News

Republican Sinn Féin stages annual conference

2003-11-08 10:40:01+00

One of Ireland's most hard-line republican organisations, Republican Sinn Féin, staged their annual conference in Dublin today.

The party was formed in the mid-1980s after current Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams took his followers along a more political route.

Traditional Sinn Féin activists, committed to more direct tactics to bring about a united Ireland, broke away at that point to form a party of their own.

Republican Sinn Féin's reputed military wing is the Continuity IRA, which has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland - sometimes acting in concert with fellow hardliners in the Real IRA - since the mainstream IRA declared a ceasefire.

The link has, however, been repeatedly been denied by the Republican Sinn Féin leadership.

The highlight of the two-day weekend conference, being held in a Dublin hotel, will be tomorrow's presidential address by leader Ruairi O Bradaigh, ousted as head of Sinn Féin by Mr Adams at the time of the breakaway.

Today's sessions of the meeting were dealing with the issues of political policy, electoral strategy and republican prisoners.

Indymedia Ireland - Irish Penal Reform Trust Launches New eBulletin, Voices Rising

Irish Penal Reform Trust Launches New eBulletin, Voices Rising
by Rick Lines - Irish Penal Reform Trust Friday, Nov 7 2003, 3:18pm
address: Swanbrook House, Bloomfield Avenue, Dublin 4 phone: 01-668-0072 info@penal-reform.ie

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)is pleased to launch its new eBulletin, Voices Rising.

Voices Rising is produced monthly and highlights new and emerging issues related to prisons and issues affecting prisoners’ rights and human rights in Ireland. It also promotes IPRT events and highlight reports produced by our sister organisations in Ireland and internationally.

We hope that Voices Rising will be an important tool as we continue our efforts to promote the rights of people in prison in Ireland.

Subscriptions to Voices Rising are free.

To get on the mailing list, please send an email to mailto:info@penal-reform.ie

website http:/penal-reform.ie

related link: http://www.penal-reform.ie


Irish American Information Service

11/06/03 14:39 EST
Sinn Fein could take a third of Belfast's Assembly seats in this month's election, party leader Mr Gerry Adams claimed tonight.

As Sinn Fein's campaign picked up pace, the West Belfast MP told the launch of his party's Belfast campaign they could increase their number of Stormont seats in the city from five to eight.

He said: "We are standing right across Belfast. We have five MLAs at the moment. We want eight. That's a big, big job. We also want to see Paul Butler coming through in Lagan Valley, which just touches on a part of Belfast."

"We are fighting this as a city-wide campaign - South, North, East and West. Right across the city, we are going to see an extra person - Kathy Stanton in North Belfast to join Gerry Kelly. We are going to see Alex Maskey elected in South Belfast. We are going to see Joe O'Donnell increasing his vote in the east of the city and in West Belfast, our aim is to win five seats."

In the 2001 local government election Sinn Fein received 28.4 per cent of the city's vote, making it the largest single grouping on Belfast City Council with 14 seats.

The Ulster Unionists secured 18.3 per cent with 11 councillors, the Democratic Unionists got 18.1 per cent with 10 seats and the SDLP had nine councillors elected with 17.4 per cent.


Na Fianna Éireann - Irish Republican Youth Movement

The Life and Last Hours of Sean Heuston (Seán Mac Aodha)



Sinn Fein in court over BBC Poll ban

Go away and think about decision broadcaster told

The BBC was accused of censorship by Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey after a High Court judge told the broadcaster to go away and think about its decision to ban the party from news coverage.


A High Court judge last night advised the BBC to undertake “mature reflection” before adopting an “irreversible” position on its electoral coverage of Sinn Fein. Justice Kerr was speaking at High Court proceedings taken by Sinn Fein over bias allegations against the broadcaster.

Sinn Féin are furious that they received no coverage on the BBC news on Tuesday and have angrily rejected BBC claims that they were unable to give Sinn Féin coverage because they had already featured Martin McGuinness in their coverage of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

The purpose of last night’s proceedings was to secure an injunction against the BBC and receipt of an undertaking from the broadcaster that all of its subsequent election coverage will treat Sinn Féin equally with other parties.

Sinn Féin yesterday also renewed its demand that the broadcaster should be designated as a public authority to bring it under the scope of equality legislation.

Sinn Féin’s anger relates to the edition of Newsline 6.30 that was broadcast on Tuesday evening. An editorial decision to exclude any coverage of Sinn Féin from that day’s round-up of election coverage was branded "nothing short of political discrimination and censorship" by the party’s South Belfast representative, Alex Maskey.

"The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was interviewed at the close of nominations on Tuesday,” said Mr Maskey
"All of the other main parties received their allocation of time yet no contribution from Sinn Féin was screened. The BBC claimed that Martin McGuinness appearing at the Saville Tribunal was election coverage," said the former Mayor.

"Sinn Féin will not accept this situation. We suffered years of state-enforced censorship and, since then, years of informal bias by the BBC.

"This latest incident proves the need for the speedy designation of the BBC as a public authority under the Section 75 Equality Duty. This is something Sinn Féin has demanded privately and publicly," said Cllr Maskey.

Responding to a series of detailed queries from the Andersonstown News, a BBC spokesperson issued the following statement: "The BBC applies strict editorial standards during an election campaign and maintains balanced representation across our airwaves."

In a second statement issued last night, the BBC said simply that it had adhered to ‘Producer Guidelines’ during Tuesday’s broadcast.
The High Court proceedings were adjourned last night and will resume this morning.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund

Asylum Application Denied By Judge Vandello

On November 4, 2003 Judge Vandello denied Ciaran Ferry political and religious asylum in the United States. Vandello's decision, ignoring the Good Friday Accords and ongoing peace process in Ireland, refused to recognize Ciaran's previous charges in the north of Ireland as politically motivated - which would entitle him to political and/or religious asylum under the political offense exception in immigration law.

An excerpt of Vandello's ruling follows:

"The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a precedent decision concerning a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. See Matter of McMullen, 19 I&N Dec. 90 (BIA 1984). The Board stated that the respondent, "by his active and effective membership" had participated in the persecution of others and was therefore barred from receiving asylum. The Board also categorized that respondent's crimes as "serious non-political crimes" and refused to apply the political offense exception. I find that the respondent's offense constitutes a serious non-political crime. I further find that having been convicted of this offense, he has participate in the persecution of others."

"I find that the respondent is a late filer and is barred from asylum for that reason. He has not shown changed circumstances nor extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay. He has a valid excuse for not filing (i.e., because he had a pending application for adjustment of status), but this excuse is not one that is recognized by the law."

"I further find that if the respondent were not barred from receiving relief, he has the ability to relocate to another part of the British Isles in order to avoid any problems he might face in Northern Ireland. He is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and a citizen of Great Britain. Even thought it may be inconveniuent to start a new life in another part of Britain, it is, nonetheless, a viable option."

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Full list of election candidates

Full list of election candidates

The full list of candidates to stand in the assembly election later this month has been released by the electoral office in Northern Ireland.
A total of 256 candidates have been nominated to contest the 108 seats across the 18 constituencies.

The Northern Ireland Assembly election is going ahead on 26 November, despite a failure by Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists to reach an agreement which would have led to the re-establishment of the power-sharing executive at Stormont.

Instead, a review of the workings of the Good Friday Agreement and a further round of talks is expected to begin after the election.

The names of the candidates are listed alphabetically.



John Hugh Anderson - Independent (Ind)
Roy Beggs - Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
George Dawson - Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
Stewart Dickson - Alliance Party (AP)
Andrew Robert Frew - Green Party (Green)
Alan Greer - Conservative (Con)
David Hilditch - DUP
Carolyn Howarth - Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
Roger Hutchinson - Ind
Robert Lindsay Mason - Ind
Roy McCune - UUP
Jack McKee - Ind
Oliver McMullan - Sinn Fein (SF)
Anne Monaghan - Women's Coalition (NIWC)
Sean Neeson - AP
Daniel O'Connor - Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
Ken Robinson - UUP
Tom Robinson - United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP)
Sammy Wilson - DUP



Robert Coulter - UUP
James Currie - UUP
Jayne Dunlop - AP
Sean Farren - SDLP
Gardiner Kane - Ind
Billy McCaughey - PUP
Philip McGuigan - SF
Declan O'Loan - SDLP
Ian Paisley Junior- DUP
Ian Paisley - DUP
Nathaniel Small - UKUP
Mervyn Storey - DUP



Norman Boyd - Anti-Agreement Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP)
Thomas Burns - SDLP
David Burnside - UUP
Wilson Clyde - DUP
Adrian Cochrane Watson -UUP
Joan Cosgrove - NIWC
Jason Docherty - Con
David Ford - AP
Paul Girvan - DUP
Donovan McClelland - SDLP
Martin Meehan - SF
John Smyth - DUP
Kenneth Wilkinson - PUP
Jim Wilson - UUP



Joseph Bell - Workers Party (WP)
Thomas Black - Socialist Party (SP)
Michael Copeland -UUP
Terence Dick - Con
Sir Reg Empey - UUP
David Ervine - PUP
Naomi Long - AP
John McBlain - Ind
Robin Newton - DUP
Joseph O'Donnell - SF
Peter Robinson - DUP
Jim Rodgers - UUP
Harry Toan - DUP
Leo Van Es - SDLP
George Weiss - Vote for Yourself Party(VFYP)



Fraser Agnew - United Unionist Coalition (UU Coal)
Eliz Byrne McCullough - NIWC
Fred Cobain - UUP
Pat Convery - SDLP
Marcella Delaney - WP
Nigel Dodds - DUP
Peter Emerson - Green
John Leo Gallagher - VFYP
Majorie Hawkins - AP
William Hutchinson - PUP
Gerry Kelly - SF
Alban Maginness - SDLP
Nelson McCausland - DUP
Raymond McCord - Ind
Frank McCoubrey - Ind
Cathy Stanton - SF



James Barbour - SP
Esmond Birnie - UUP
Tom Ekin - AP
Carmel Hanna - SDLP
John Hiddleston - UUP
Roger Lomas - Con
Patrick Lynn - WP
Alex Maskey - SF
Alasdair McDonnell - SDLP
Michael McGimpsey - UUP
Monica McWilliams - NIWC
Thomas Morrow - PUP
Ruth Patterson - DUP
Geraldine Rice - AP
Mark Robinson - DUP
Lindsay Michelle Steven - VFYP
John Wright - Green



Gerry Adams - SF
Alex Attwood - SDLP
Kathryn Ayers - AP
Bairbre de Brun - SF
Diane Dodds - DUP
Michael Ferguson - SF
Joe Hendron - SDLP
David Thomas Kerr - Ulster Third Way
John Lowry - WP
John Leslie MacVicar - Ind
Fra McCann - SF
Chris McGimpsey - UUP
Sue Ramsey - SF
Hugh Smyth - PUP



Pauline Armitage - UKUP
Marion Baur - Socialist Environmental Alliance (SEA)
Yvonne Boyle - AP
Maurice Bradley - DUP
Francis Brolly - SF
Gregory Campbell - DUP
Michael Coyle - SDLP
John Dallat - SDLP
Boyd Douglas - UU Coal
Norman Hillis - UUP
David McClarty - UUP
Cliona O'Kane - SF
George Robinson - DUP
Edwin Stevenson - UUP



Frank Britton - SDLP
Linda Cleland - AP
Tom Elliot - UUP
Arlene Foster - UUP
Tommy Gallagher - SDLP
Michelle Gildernew - SF
Bert Johnston - DUP
Gerry McHugh - SF
Eithne McNulty - WC
Maurice Morrow - DUP
Robert Mulligan - UUP
Tom O'Reilly - SF



Mary Bradley - SDLP
Alan Martyn Castle - AP
Annie Courtney - Ind
Gerard Diver - SDLP
Mark Durkan - SDLP
Mary Hamilton - UUP
William Hay - DUP
Danny McBrearty - Ind
Eamonn McCann - SEA
Raymond McCartney - SF
Mitchel McLaughlin - SF
Mary Nelis - SF
Pat Ramsey - SDLP



Norah Beare - UUP
Billy Bell - UUP
Paul Butler - SF
Seamus Close - AP
Ivan Davis - Ind
Jeffrey Donaldson - UUP
Andrew Hunter - DUP
Joanne Johnston - Con
Jim Kirkpatrick - UUP
Patricia Lewsley - SDLP
Frances McCarthy - WP
Andrew Park - PUP
Edwin Poots - DUP



Billy Armstrong - UUP
Francis Donnelly - WP
Geraldine Dougan - SF
Cora Groogan - SF
Denis Haughey - SDLP
James Holmes - AP
William McCrea - DUP
Patsy McGlone - SDLP
Martin McGuinness - SF
Alan Millar - DUP
Francis Molloy - SF
Trevor Wilson - UUP



Paul Berry - DUP
Dominic Bradley - SDLP
Freda Donnelly - DUP
John Fee - SDLP
William Frazer - Ind
Davy Hyland - SF
Danny Kennedy - UUP
Jim Lennon - SDLP
Conor Murphy - SF
Pat O'Rawe - SF
Peter Whitcroft - AP



John Barry - Green
Eileen Bell - AP
Christopher Carter - Ind
Alan Chambers - Ind
Leslie Cree - UUP
Alex Easton - DUP
Stephen Farry - AP
Alan Sydney Field - Ind
Maria George - SF
Liam Logan - SDLP
Jane Morrice - NIWC
Robert McCartney - UKUP
Alan McFarland - UUP
Diana Peacocke - UUP
Julian Robertson - Con
David Rose - PUP
Tom Sheridan - UKUP
Peter Weir - DUP
Brian Wilson - Ind



Raymond Blaney - Green
PJ Bradley - SDLP
Willie Clark - SF
Malachi Curran - Ind
Jim Donaldson - UUP
Marian Fitzpatrick - SDLP
Eamonn McConvey - SF
Trudy Miller - NIWC
Dermot Nesbitt - UUP
Desmond O'Hagan - WP
Eamonn O'Neill - SDLP
Neil Powell - AP
Margaret Ritchie - SDLP
Catriona Ruane - SF
Jim Wells - DUP
Nelson Wharton - UKUP



Joe Boyle - SDLP
George Ennis - DUP
Dermot Kennedy - SF
Lord Kilclooney - UUP
Bob Little - UUP
Danny McCarthy - Ind
Kieran McCarthy - AP
David McNarry - UUP
Colin Neill - PUP
Philip Orr - Green
Iris Robinson - DUP
Jim Shannon - DUP
Cedric Wilson - NIUP



Sidney Anderson - Ind
Kieran Corr - SDLP
Thomas French - WP
Samuel Gardiner - UUP
David Jones - Ind
Dolores Kelly - SDLP
Francis McQuaid - AP
Stephen Moutray - DUP
John O'Dowd - SF
Dara O'Hagan - SF
George Savage - UUP
David Simpson - DUP
David Trimble - UUP
Denis Watson - DUP



Steven Alexander - AP
Thomas Buchanan - DUP
Joe Byrne - SDLP
Kieran Deeny - Ind
Pat Doherty - SF
Derek Hussey - UUP
Barry McElduff - SF
Brian McMahon - SF
Eugene McMenamin - SDLP
Derek Reaney - DUP
Roy Reid - PUP
Bert Wilson - UUP

IOL: Adams joins McGuinness at Bloody Sunday inquiry

Adams joins McGuinness at Bloody Sunday inquiry
05/11/2003 - 09:16:06

Martin McGuinness has been accompanied by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams as he arrived at the Guildhall in Derry for day two of his evidence at the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

The self-confessed IRA commander was facing a tough grilling from lawyers representing the soldiers about his activities on the day that 13 unarmed civilians were shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment.

The Sinn Féin MP is under intense pressure from the Saville Inquiry to reveal the locations of IRA safe houses used on Bloody Sunday after being heavily criticised yesterday for refusing to disclose them.

He resisted all attempts by lawyers at the Inquiry yesterday to find out where Provisional guns were stored, claiming he was bound by a republican “code of honour”.

Mr McGuinness made his way to the Guildhall through the Bogside past murals depicting the events of January 30, 1972.

Outside the Guildhall Mr Adams said he was there in solidarity with the families and his party colleague Mr McGuinness.

He said: “It (Bloody Sunday) was a watershed event in our recent history, not least for the families.”

He added that there had been many attempts to make out that the victims were guilty but Mr McGuinness’s evidence should refute this.

During yesterday’s hearing Mr McGuinness refused to reveal details about IRA arms dumps, provoking a response from Inquiry chairman Lord Saville that he could be accused of having something to hide.

Mr Adams, commenting on yesterday’s events, spoke of “the total absurdity of questions about the whereabouts of IRA dumps when clearly the weapons that were used were British Army weapons.

“The weapons which killed people were in the hands of British soldiers.”

He added that there should be no confusion about who had done the killing on Bloody Sunday.

“Everyone in the free world knows what happened here. It’s up to the British state to own up.”

Mr Adams added that there was a duty on republicans to come forward and do what Mr McGuinness had done before the Inquiry.


BBC NEWS | World | Europe | French police hold Real IRA suspects

French police hold Real IRA suspects

French anti-terror police have arrested five people suspected of links with the Real IRA.
The five, all French nationals, are said to be from the Brittany area.

Some were detained in Brittany and the rest in Normandy in northern France, during raids early on Tuesday.

They were held after police discovered a cache of weapons and ammunition outside the ferry port of Dieppe.

They are suspected of involvement in a support network for the Irish group, police sources have told AFP.

The Real IRA killed 29 people at Omagh
A small group of Breton nationalists has previously been found to be backing Spanish Basque militant group ETA, but it is not known whether the suspects in this case are Breton nationalists.

Tuesday's raids are said to follow a joint investigation by the anti-terrorist division, counter-espionage officers and the intelligence service.

The suspects were being taken to Paris, where officers can hold them for 96 hours before freeing them or formally placing them under investigation.

The Real IRA has been blamed for a series of attacks since breaking away from the IRA.

The most serious was the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people and was the worst single atrocity in 30 years of violence.

Dissident republican paramilitaries are opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.


Na Fianna Éireann - Irish Republican Youth Movement

Please go and have a look at the beautiful new site for Na Fianna Éireann.

"Na Fianna Éireann is the only true Republican youth movement, which still holds the same principles as when it was founded in 1909 by Countess Markievicz. Those principles include the educating of young boys and girls towards a united Ireland, and to assist all branches of the Republican Movement."




Analysis: 2 And 3 Reasons To Be Cheerful

By Fr Des Wilson

Dealing with unionists, as some of our patient elected
representatives are doing at the moment, is difficult for a
number of reasons.

For one thing, unionists, as has been pointed out here a
number of times, do not keep their word. While you negotiate
in order to change that attutude, in the end they have to be
made to do what they have promised. Only strong government can
bring them to that point. The duty of the London government is
clear. It has to say that after the election those entitled to
take part in government will be invited to do so, and if they
refuse to take their governmental positions then the party
next in line will take those positions.

In this way, justice will be done, unionists will not be
forced to take seats in government which they do not want and
if after some time they decide to take their rightful places
then they can do so. Blair must be strong enough to say this
and Ahern must be courageous enough to insist on it.

What pressures can SF and SDLP put on London and Dublin to get
to this point? They can insist that Articles 2 and 3 of the
Irish Constitution be put back in place. This can be done -
and must be done - by a simple act; it would not need a new
referendum in the south. Also, the voters should take a case
to the European courts. We are entitled to an election, but if
you allow people an election and take away the effects of it
then you have denied their right to election. We have the
right not only to have an election but to have an effective
election, otherwise we have no election rights at all.

Efforts have been made to reduce the voters lists in this
coming election, so desperate are the London and Dublin
governments to produce their own results rather than the
results wished for by the voters. But even with all that the
elections should take place and when that is done the elected
representatives who believe in democratic processes should
make new electoral regulations which will ensure that it is
the voters' results and not the administration's results that
must be accepted.

In these ways the difficulty of unionists not keeping their
word can be overcome.

The second major difficulty is one which we have noticed
often. Unionists do not have negotiating skills. One reason
for this is that they never had to negotiate about anything.
Another is an attitude which tells them that if they even talk
to people they are losing. Whereas most business people and
many others realise that talking is a way of getting the best
available deal. It would be impossible for unionist business
people of this kind to negotiate about prices, for example.
They will state a price and fail to do the negotiating work
while others better able to negotiate will come in and take
the business. This has already happened - unionists have lost
more businesses than enough, and you have only to look at
Belfast's Royal Avenue to realise the extent of their business
failures. You walk from Tesco and Debenham at one end to Tony
O'Reilly at the other with scarcely an important local
commercial venture left to us in between.

In any case, unionists always had a London administration
paying for their indolence and mistakes. Ireland's northeast
has been so reduced that people cannot believe the depths to
which we have sunk by waste, inefficiency and loss of
productivity. What is wrong with the various institutions and
businesses is not just ingrowing dislike of other people but
an appalling failure to use resources. Unionists are no
business people, which is another way of saying they cannot
look after their own interests, let alone the interests of

Blair, as was pointed out for some years, is a disaster for
his own people as well as ours. His interest is to make sure
no more bombs explode in English cities and to keep his
political position. He wants to secure the future of his
Labour Party not by vital new policies but by pleasing the
power groups which are already there. That is what he is doing
in Britain, that is what he is doing in Ireland. And it is
dead policy.

If he can achieve this and at the same time render unionists
and republicans and nationalists as well as the Dublin
administration powerless over their own political future he
will have achieved his purposes in Ireland. He must not be
allowed to do this. Articles 2 and 3 must come back again and
we must assert that after more than 80 years of trying no
solution proposed by London can succeed. We have tried often

Now the time has come once again for all the Irish solutions
to be put on the table - accompanied only as an equal by the
London solution - and we then negotiate with the clear
understanding that there are sanctions for those parties which
refuse to negotiate in a mature way.

It will quickly appear that neither in the DUP nor the other
unionist parties is there a team which can negotiate in a
mature way. There is neither the tradition nor the practice
for it. However - and this is something people have yearned
for during all these years - once the London administration
stops its unquestioning support for them and Dublin insists on
principle rather than softness for a change, then contact with
competent and principled negotiators may induce both
politeness and negotiating skills in the unionist community.
It may even help to reveal such skills that have not been
given a chance to appear up to this time.

And meanwhile, if some intellectually competent unionists
would show impatience with their present leadership this would
help both them and the rest of us.

Belfast Telegraph

Jean McConville - What mum was really like

by Helen McKendry

--A daughter's memories of her mother


The Independent

Jean McConville,'disappeared' by the IRA in 1972, is brought home to rest

A mother who was abducted, shot and dumped in an unmarked grave is finally buried by her family
--By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent

02 November 2003

The second funeral of IRA victim Jean McConville took place in autumnal sunshine in west Belfast yesterday, with a poignant and dignified final farewell in a packed Falls Road Catholic church.

At St Paul's Church her six sons tenderly lifted her coffin and carried it inside, a priest at the church door sprinkling it with holy water as it entered.

Inside ushers handed out a leaflet which, as well as outlining the funeral mass, also appealed for information about other "disappeared" people who, like Mrs McConville, were killed and buried by the IRA in the 1970s.

As they settled into their seats the congregation listened to a sweetly sad Irish harp, watching as relatives of other people who went missing carried candles in procession to the altar.

The first funeral of Mrs McConville took place on a winter's night in December 1972, on a deserted Irish Sea beach. She had been snatched from her Falls Road home by a gang of IRA men and women, leaving nine terrified children behind.

Her children remember - they will never forget - that she was in hysterics when she was dragged away from them. A small woman, only 4ft 9ins tall, she could not put up much of a fight.

Mrs McConville's hysterics were ended with an IRA bullet to the head. She was taken, trussed in a carpet or whatever, in the boot of a car or the back of a van the 40 miles to her grave. Some of the IRA would have stood guard while others readied a hole in the sand and then tipped the slight figure into what would be her resting place for three decades.

Possibly someone said a few words over her; probably not. Perhaps some of the "active service unit" glanced at each other in search of reassurance that the cause of Ireland did really require the life of this 37-year-old widow to be ended, her children orphaned.

The unmarked grave where they left her was located in August, with some help from the IRA, after years of campaigning for information. Yesterday's second funeral, the proper one, was, in the words of Father Tom Toner, nearly 31 years late.

He told the congregation: "In the history of our troubles there can be no more despicable act than the abduction, murder and casual disposal of the body of Jean McConville, and subsequent plight of her children. "It is our most shameful example of the moral corruption and degradation that violence generates in the human spirit."

The congregation broke into applause when the Rev Ruth Patterson, a Presbyterian minister who has been of huge help to the family, said they wanted a good send-off "not just because of what's happened to her but because she was our mum".

Many of the children have led disturbed and troubled lives: orphaned, institutionalised, subject to a whispering campaign that she was an informer. They believe she died because she helped a wounded British soldier. Many of their lives have been restless and unsettled.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, all the decades of trauma and distress have caused problems within the family itself, with one daughter, Helen, disagreeing with the others over the funeral arrangements. In the end she attended the service, but everyone knows the family's troubles are not over. Yesterday's burial was a huge step forward for this tortured family, but decades of trauma cannot be erased easily or quickly.

After the service the funeral processed slowly and sadly down the main Falls Road to Divis Flats, where the family home used to be. Once a hellish, overcrowded, violent ghetto, most of it has now been pulled down and replaced with decent housing.

Along the Falls Road knots of people, mostly women, stood in the cold in sympathy and solidarity. "It's disgraceful," said one old lady, her eyes filled with pity. "That's the way I felt, though I didn't know her." Another white-haired lady had travelled several miles across the city to stand at Divis. "I just wanted to be here," she said. "The whole circumstances of her death were so horrible, positively horrible. I couldn't let it go without coming across."

Today's Divis shows how much the Falls has changed. Where once the walls bore depictions of gunmen in balaclavas, now there are election pictures of smiling Sinn Fein candidates, including Gerry Adams, seeking votes.

When the cortège reached Divis it halted, the six McConville brothers who bore the coffin standing unmoving for a minute's silence close to the spot where their mother was taken from them.

They all looked straight ahead. Michael McConville brushed a tear from his eye. There was a touch on the shoulder from an undertaker, and they moved off again.

The coffin was then placed in a hearse so that Mrs McConville, after a proper funeral service, could be taken to a proper grave where hopefully she will know the peace that has eluded her family.

She may rest in peace: her children, after the years of torment, have yet to do so. But in a sense she has now come home to them, a homecoming that may help them rebuild their ravaged lives.


from a few months ago:

The Mirror
Sep 15 2003

By Jilly Beattie

HELEN McKendry will be 46 on Saturday. But for the past 30 years it is a day she has not properly celebrated. For Helen is the daughter of Jean McConville, a victim of a brutal IRA execution, one of the Disappeared.

Over the last three decades her birthday has come and gone without a card, a present or a precious hug from the mother she still desperately misses.

"I'm nearly 46," she said, "a mother and a grandmother myself, but deep inside I'm still a 15-year-old wee girl who wants her mummy back."

In less than a month Helen hopes she will finally be able to lay her mother to rest after DNA tests reveal the identity of remains found on a beach in Co Louth a fortnight ago.

In her heart Helen believes the skeleton with a bullet hole in the back of its skull is her mother's.

She prays every night she will soon have a graveside to visit, a headstone to care for.

But a funeral service for a corpse that has laid in scrubland for almost 31 years without the courtesy of a Christian burial, will not be enough to return the fractured McConville family back to normality.

Nothing will do that now.

And Helen firmly lays the blame for the family's break-up and years of misery, grief and loss, at the feet of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who was allegedly a senior member of the IRA in West Belfast when the mother-of-10 was murdered.

Wheezing loudly as she speaks from her home in the rolling Co Down hills, stress and heartache are etched on Helen's face.

But there is anger there too, anger that her mother was murdered, anger she was tortured, anger she was lied about, and seething, spewing anger that her vulnerable, frail mother was terrified in the final hours of her life.

"That's something I've never been able to come to terms with," Helen says, "the fact that Mum was frightened, that she was scared and knew she was going to die and leave us orphans.

"The only comfort I've ever had in all of this is that we were her final thought. But it still makes me cry to think that seconds before she was killed, Mum was worrying about what would happen to us all when she was dead. She didn't even have the comfort to know we'd be all right. And we weren't.

"I don't really blame the person who pulled the trigger and murdered my mother.

"I blame the likes of Gerry Adams, the people who knew what the IRA nutting squads were doing, the people who couldn't not have known what was going on their own doorsteps.

"When Adams came to our house in Poleglass in 1995, I asked him to tell me where my mother's body was buried.

"But he couldn't look me in the eye. He spoke to my husband Seamus and claimed he knew nothing about her whereabouts.

"He tried to look at me but he couldn't, and I knew then why. But there'll come a time when Gerry Adams will have to see my pain and he's just going to have to live with that.

"I'll make sure he'll never forget the name Jean McConville no matter how hard he tries.

"As a family we've lost so much. And even when we get our mother's remains back, we've still lost because no one will ever be charged for her murder, no one will have to pay for what they did to her and to us.

"We had to agree that no one would face prosecution as long as we got the bodies back. We had to give the IRA that and it makes me sick that they bargained even then when they knew we'd nothing left to give."

JEAN McConville was just 37 when she was abducted from her home by a 12-strong IRA gang on December 7, 1972.

A tiny woman, prone to ill-heath and still mourning the death of four children and her beloved husband, Arthur, she committed a "crime" that identified her as a traitor and deserving of a bullet in the head.

During one of the nightly gun battles between the IRA and the Army in West Belfast a British soldier was shot by a sniper.

He slumped against the door of Jean's first-floor flat in Divis, bleeding heavily and crying, "God help me". Jean shooed her frightened children to the back of the flat and slowly opened the door.

For a few brief minutes she gently held the soldier and told him he would be all right before his patrol gathered him up and vanished.

But in that moment of humanity, Jean McConville set in motion a series of events that grew into the most shameful chapter in Northern Ireland's troubled history.

Helen explained: "My brother Archie shouted at mum. He said someone would get her for helping that soldier. He was angry and frightened. Mum was only 5ft 2in, but she slapped Archie hard. She told him, 'Don't you dare talk to me like that. That boy has a mother just like you. He might be a soldier, but he's still a human being and if you were hurt, I'd want someone to help you.'

"She was really cross. We were shocked by her reaction because she rarely raised her voice or hit us."

But Archie had been right. Someone had witnessed Jean's compassion and the family woke the next morning to find their house daubed in graffiti. Neighbours refused to talk to them and rumours spread that Jean McConville, a Protestant who had married a Catholic, was a tout and a whore with an eye for British soldiers.

Helen said: "It said 'Brit lover' and other things about my mother. She didn't seem to be worried.

"She just made us clean it off with scrubbing brushes and soapy water."

The words were washed away but Helen's fear remained and she believed her mother would be tarred and feathered in a public display of humiliation to teach her a lesson.

She said: "I'd seen it done before and I was sure mum would be next, but I never thought for one minute anyone would kill her and I'm sure she didn't either.

"She was upset but I never saw my mother frightened If she was, she kept it from us."

But on December 6, as Jean played bingo in the Cullingtree Road Youth and Social Club, she was told Helen had been knocked down. Panicked, she was bundled into a waiting car thinking she was being taken to hospital. But instead she was driven to a derelict house by the IRA where she was beaten and interrogated before being abandoned.

The following day, still bruised and in pain from her ordeal, she was dragged from her bath in front of four of her screaming children by eight men and four women and was never seen again.

A week later three of her four rings and her purse were returned to Helen in a clear message that said her mother was not coming back.

Helen said: "I probably knew it then but I couldn't accept it. Her purse had a few shillings in it and a couple of receipts. I was given her wedding, engagement and eternity rings, but the wee signet ring one of the kids had got her was missing. It still is.

"The fella just said, 'I was told to give you these,' and walked away, that was all we were offered as way of an explanation. No one deserved to die for helping an other human being. But people had lost their humanity in those days, Northern Ireland had gone mad, everyone seemed to be out of their minds.

"Only my mother seemed to make sense of what was right and wrong and she couldn't have left someone dying on her doorstep, soldier or not, it just wasn't in her.

"She got a bullet in the back of her head for helping that soldier. She deserved a medal.

"I would love to meet that soldier, the man my mother helped, just to tell him it's OK and not to worry. But I don't even know if he's alive.

I'M proud of mum to this day and I miss her terribly. I don't think I'll ever have a day when I don't miss her. When she was taken I was 15 and just getting to know her as a friend, as well as her daughter.

"I still talk to her now and feel her watching over us. I know she wants me to have a life, live a life, get on with living. But I also knows she understands that I couldn't rest until I knew where she was.

"Templetown Beach, near where these remains were found, is the one place I get comfort and feel closest to her.

"It's a beautiful place and I often imagine my mother sitting there watching the children playing on the sand and in the water.

"For me, it's the most peaceful place on earth, lovely and calm and it sounds funny, but a beautiful place to be buried.

"My eldest granddaughter, Tiegan, calls it Granny Jean's beach and she's very confused that her granny has been taken away now. It's difficult to explain to a child.

"I'm determined my children will be the last generation to suffer at the hands of the IRA and what they did to the families of the Disappeared.

"We were robbed of a mother and a friend, a grandmother and great granny.

"And we were robbed of our futures too, our true potential, of a life that we were all meant to have.

"But even when mum is buried this will not be over because I still have questions, I still want to know why.

"I want Gerry Adams to explain to me how he feels about the Disappeared. I want him to tell me why. I want to hear him try to justify it to me.

"Even now, as we wait to hear whether it is her or not, we're being quietly bullied by these people.

"We've been told that it would be inadvisable for us to have a big funeral for my mother. Well, we won't be cowed down by them, they can't hurt us any more than we've already been hurt.

"I want thousands of people at mum's funeral. I want the roads to be black with people, people who knew her, people who didn't, people who never want this sort of thing to happen again.

"I want the world to know what happened to Jean McConville, I want the people responsible to squirm - and I want Gerry Adams to see that I'm not frightened any longer, not of him, not of anyone."

PHONE: 07801 729 412 OR E-MAIL irpwa@hotmail.com
Date: 31-10-2003.

Republican Prisoners and their families put at risk due to prison strike.

The practice of 'work to rule' adopted by prison officers could potentially result in a serious incident if not addressed immediately. Republican prisoners are currently enduring almost total lock up due to the practice adopted by the Prison Officers Association. The action taken by the POA will undoubtedly leave republican prisoners and their families vulnerable to attack in visiting areas due to a lack of adequate staffing cover. Republican prisoners believe that they and their families are being used as pawns in a larger game between the POA and the British government. It is no secret that the POA felt that they had had been sold down the river by the British governments decision to implement a policy of segregation. POA representative Finlay Spratt did however state that although unhappy at the decision their job was to implement any policy that the British government deemed necessary. The POA must accept that they are government employees and that their political opinions should not influence their work. There is a feeling amongst republican prisoners that the actions of the POA are intended to provoke a reaction similar to that of the loyalist inmates and their supporters on the outside.

Republican prisoners have stated that they will not be provoked by the actions of the POA into making a potentially serious situation any worse. The republican prisoners have already endured weeks on protest at the denial of their basic human rights and any attempt to further erode these rights is intolerable.

The IRPWA call on all agencies involved in the forming of the Steele report to assist in bringing this situation to a speedy conclusion.

It is the understanding of the IRPWA that if the POA go ahead with their proposed strike on the 5th of November, the prison will be jointly run by the RUC/PSNI and the management of the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Again this is an intolerable situation with the antipathy between republicans and the RUC/PSNI a matter of record.

The IRPWA believe that the British government cannot let the political agenda of the POA dictate the pace of the reforms called for in the Steele report and we will resist the attempts of the POA to use republican prisoners and their families as political footballs.

In any dispute between the POA and the British government the basic human rights of all prisoners and their families must be protected.

Statement ends

An Phoblacht: IRA honoured its commitments

30 October, 2003

IRA honoured its commitments

In a statement received on Wednesday evening by An Phoblacht, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann has described the sequence of events to which the army and others agreed. It makes clear that it honoured its commitments while others did not - a clear reference to David Trimble and the Ulster Unionists - and points out that there was no credible explanation proferred.

Responding to the statement, Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly said the IRA had outlined its view of the events that unfolded the previous week.

"There is a lot of anger amongst nationalists and republicans that once again it was republicans who delivered on their part of an agreement and once again others did not," he said.

"The IRA played a key part in this agreement. They issued a statement, they engaged with the IICD and they put a large quantity of arms beyond use.

"It is remarkable that given the manner in which this agreement wasn't followed through on, that these comments are so measured. I believe that this is in line with the ongoing commitment of the IRA leadership to the Peace Process."

The full text of the IRA statement reads:

"After protracted and detailed discussions, the leadership of the IRA recently made decisions to take initiatives with the objective of facilitating political progress.

These decisions were made after the UUP and the two governments had agreed to make their contributions as part of an agreed sequence. We had sight of their stated positions and they had sight of ours.

Our initiatives, in line with our stated position, related to our commitment to resolve the issue of arms and our view of remarks by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. It was part of an agreement and an agreed sequence, which involved:

o The announcement of an election;

o A statement by Gerry Adams;

o A statement from the IRA leadership;

o An act of putting arms beyond use;

o A report by the IICD;

o A statement by David Trimble;

o A joint statement by the two governments.

As part of this we met with the IICD with a view to implementing a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity.

We, in line with that, carried out a further act of putting arms beyond use under the agreed scheme. This involved the largest amount of arms to date.

The political process these initiatives were designed to facilitate has been halted without a credible explanation from those who stopped it.

The leadership of the IRA honoured our commitments. Others have not fulfilled theirs. This is totally unacceptable. When we give our word we keep it. We expect others to do the same. Until they do so there can be little prospect of progress on the issues they profess concern about.

P O'Neill,

Irish Republican Publicity, Bureau,


Sinn Féin: Sinn Féin Assembly Election Party Political Broadcast

**Follow the link to open or save the broadcast. You will need a Real Player (link on site).

Sinn Féin Assembly Election Party Political Broadcast

Released: 30 October, 2003

File type: RealVideo

Sinn Féin launches Party Political Broadcast on the web

As the only all-Ireland party in the election, Sinn Féin is calling on voters to back its strategy in the negotiations, its demand for equality and its campaign for Irish Unity.

The broadcast details the huge risks which republicans have taken for peace, the commitments secured from the British government on policing, criminal justice, equality, human rights and demilitarisation and the dialogue with Ulster Unionists, which is ongoing. It also commits the party to continue the work undertaken by Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brún in the Executive and Alex Maskey‚s work in reaching out to Unionism.

It calls on the electorate to strengthen Sinn Féin's negotiating hand in the crucial talks, which will follow the elections, by voting Sinn Féin.

Narrating the broadcast is party candidate for South Down Caitriona Ruane.

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