**Sorry to be so late anymore--working is interfering with my blogging :P


--Irish News

Republican Sinn Féin yesterday (Sunday) called on people to join the
Continuity IRA, provoking strong criticism from unionists.

Speaking at the annual Easter Rising commemorations in Milltown
Cemetery, Fergal Moore recalled the words of republican Maire Drumm
who had said the slogan 'up the IRA' should be replaced with 'join
the IRA'.

Mr Moore echoed her calls by adding: "Join the Continuity IRA".

Ulster Unionist vice president Jim Rodgers, who is chairman of
Belfast's district policing partnership, urged police to investigate
the recruit- ment call.

"The last thing we need are people, especially young people, being
encouraged to join illegal organisations," he said.

"If we are to move forward in Northern Ireland we need to stop this.

"So many young people have heard this sort of message before and
spent their lives behind bars in prison."

April 14, 2004


Irish Independent


CONVICTED terrorist Michael McKevitt has been granted compassionate temporary release from Portlaoise prison to tend his terminally-ill mother.

The former Real IRA chief of staff left the jail yesterday afternoon. No date has been set for his return.

It is understood that Mrs McKevitt's health has been in decline for some years.

McKevitt is serving a 20-year sentence for directing terrorist activities and was jailed in August last year. Prisoners are allowed out on a 'word of honour' bond which is considered a very low risk for the authorities.

Brendan Farrelly



April 14

848 - In Dublin, the tricolor national flag of Ireland is presented to the public for the first time by Thomas Francis Meagher and the Young Ireland Party

1922 - Led by Rory O'Connor, forces against the Anglo-Irish Treaty seize the Four Courts in Dublin. The provisional government later attacks the garrison, which starts the civil war


The News Letter

Supporting Mixed Marriage In Ulster
--By Joanne Lowry

Wednesday 7th April 2004

WHEN Philomena McQuillan met her husband Ronnie in 1979, they were just like any other couple, except for one thing - they came from two different religious backgrounds.

Meeting at a time when the Troubles were at their height, it was difficult for Catholic and Protestant friends to mix, let alone form a relationship.

But despite a few hiccups along the way, the couple, like many others across the Province, broke down the barriers and found love across the divide.

Now working as an administrator for NIMMA - Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association - Philomena, along with other NIMMA members, has the personal experience to help other couples who are going through the highs and lows of a mixed relationship.

"I think in terms of the acceptance of mixed marriages and relationships in Northern Ireland, things have definitely improved, in some areas at least, and certainly NIMMA has had a lot to do with that," said Philomena.

"Some people do still run into difficulties with family members or clergy.

"Someone in the family might be a member of an Orange Lodge or GAA club, and they struggle to accept your partner.

"Our families were quite supportive, to be honest any problems we had existed within our own partnership.

"While we were going together I was under the impression our children would be brought up Roman Catholic, so it was something I had to think about when we started to discuss things."

In the end, Ronnie and Philomena were married in the Presbyterian church although their first daughter, now 17, was baptised in the Roman Catholic church.

"At the end of the day, it's the love between two people that matters, not religious differences. It is the Christian identity that matters, denomination is not important.

"There is only one Bible, only one Christ - we weren't that different really."

The couple's second daughter was christened in the Presbyterian church, while their son was christened in the Methodist church.

"I think the children struggled with identity issues as they weren't brought up to be Catholic or Protestant.

"They were happy to go to any church when they were younger but, as you get older, church can often become less interesting for young people.

"They would come home from school and ask 'What am I?' and I told them they were Christian, but in a society which relies so much on labelling people it can be very difficult.

"We were lucky because we had an integrated school on our doorstep, so that's where we sent the children."

NIMMA was set up in 1974 following a meeting at Corrymeela Centre for Reconciliation in Ballycastle, which was attended by couples living in or planning a mixed marriage, as well as several supportive clergy.

Since then the organisation has spent time working with the clergy and influencing community attitudes, as well as the rules of the four main churches.

Acting as a Province-wide support group providing advice and information, NIMMA is celebrating its 30th anniversary and earlier this year, held a special service of thanksgiving in St George's Church in Belfast.

Philomena said one of the aims of the service was to promote awareness of NIMMA.

"We are still here 30 years on, promoting the acceptance of mixed marriages in Northern Ireland and providing practical information and support," she added.

"Being in a mixed marriage is a very enriching experience and a great opportunity for your children to learn and grow."


The Blanket

Is There A Republican Alternative To The Good Friday Agreement?

Gerry Ruddy • 8 April 2004

In asking this question I am conscious that the probable response to the same question by Sinn Fein (P) would be that the GFA was the Republican response to the continuing military stalemate. The leadership of the Provisional Republican Movement had waged a guerrilla war and forged the most effective guerrilla army certainly in Western Europe for 25 years with no discernable advancement. Their leadership calculated that there was more to be gained by taking the political road rather than the military road. There are probably many complex reasons why they came to this conclusion and this could include some or all of the following: the collapse of Soviet style communism leaving the USA as the only superpower, the peace processes in South Africa and the Middle East, war wariness, the steady loss of volunteers, particularly in Tyrone, the recognition of the futility of violence, a better understanding of the position of the unionist population, the higher body count of the loyalists coming into the nineties, personal ambition, disquiet at the increase in sectarianism, and the increasing effectiveness of British intelligence operations.

**Click on above link to finish reading


Belfast Telegraph

Anger over sectarian attack on youth
--By Larry Deeney

13 April 2004

A UNIONIST councillor today demanded action after a Catholic youth was assaulted by a Protestant mob in Derry.

A 12-strong gang yelled sectarian abuse as they kicked the teenager about the head and body, after he had been knocked to the ground.

The victim and his brother had just left a shop at Rossdowney Road - just a few hundred yards from their home in the Kilfennan area - when they were attacked by the mob.

SDLP councillor, Gerard Diver, said he was worried that parts of the Waterside were becoming sectarian no-go areas, due to a series of similar assaults.

DUP councillor and deputy mayor, Mildred Garfield, said crowds of youths regularly gathered outside the shop at Rossdowney Road, where the youth was attacked.

And she appealed for parents to keep their children away from the area.

Police said when they arrived shortly after the attack on Sunday a crowd of 20 boys and girls had congregated at the shop.

"To think that somebody in the group must have known this young fellow - it's deplorable," Ms Garfield said.

"It is terrible to think that this young fellow can't even go to the shop around the corner.

"A very large crowd regularly seems to assemble outside this shop and I would appeal to parents to make sure their children are not among the people gathering there.

"And I would also appeal to the PSNI to keep an eye on the area so that this kind of incident cannot happen again."

The victim was treated at Altnagelvin Hospital for bruising to his face.

Councillor Diver said given that the teenager was attacked by a gang of 12 others it was fortunate he was not more seriously injured.

"It is not even just the physical injuries that this young man has sustained - the psychological trauma is also a cause for concern," he said.



**At first, I thought they were talking about loyalists

14/04/2004 17:11:22 UTV

Electoral chiefs in Northern Ireland were plunged into a row tonight
over rules banning ''idiots and lunatics'' from voting.
By:Press Association

An Assembly member demanded the offensive reference to mental
disabilities should be removed from official guidelines.

SDLP representative Patsy McGlone said: ``It`s incredible that
something so insulting to these people and their families should

Mr McGlone learned of the phrasing as he probed an alleged refusal to
put a constituent with Down`s syndrome on the electoral roll.

According to a fact sheet produced by the Electoral Commission anyone
with mental disabilities cannot vote at a general election, under
common law, if they are incapable of making a reasoned judgment on
polling day.

The guidelines then further clarifies this with the words ``idiots``
and ``lunatics``.

No one from the Commission`s offices in Belfast was available for

But it is understood the body regards the wording used in 120-year-
old legislation as inappropriate.

Senior officials are believed to favour allowing as many people to
vote as possible.

A guide produced for electoral administrators says people with mental
disorders - but not living in a mental hospital or special
establishment - can be included in the register.

It adds: ``The eligibility of someone who has a profound disability
might, however, in certain cases be called into question because
under the common law so-called `idiots` cannot vote.

``So-called `lunatics` on the other hand can vote, though only in
their lucid intervals, and so could not be excluded from the register
on this ground.``

Mr McGlone said: ``Even if this is antiquated legislation, it`s not

``This is way out of line to refer to anyone with mental health
difficulties in this way.``


Irish Independent

Poll 'could rewrite' Good Friday pact
Irish Independent
14 April 2004

THE Human Rights Commission is to consider claims that the proposed
citizenship referendum might amount to a rewriting of the Good Friday
Agreement, it was confirmed yesterday.

The parallel HRC in Northern Ireland will also consider the issue,
after the DUP suggested failure by the Government to consult other
parties to the Good Friday Agreement was a unilateral renegotiation.

The DUP is anxious to secure changes to the Agreement to make it more
amenable to unionists, but has been told by London and Dublin its
fundamentals are not open to renegotiation. The DUP has accused the
Government of flouting rights of other signatories in amending the
changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution.

These changes dropped the territorial claim on Northern Ireland, but
said it was the birthright of anyone born on the island of Ireland to
seek citizenship of the Republic. Passage of the proposed
Constitutional amendment here on June 11 would water down those
provisions - allowing the entitlement to be abridged by legislation
in the south.

The Government appears in a legal difficulty when defending a charge
that it can alter the Good Friday Agreement to suit itself. The
Government insists it made changes sought by the unionists, and that
it is now clarifying "aspirational" phrases in the articles.

The president of the Republic's Human Rights Commission, Dr Maurice
Manning, has written to Justice Minister Michael McDowell of his
concern at the proposals.

Senan Molony
Political Correspondent


Belfast Telegraph

--By Larry Deeney
14 April 2004

A BITTER war of words erupted today between loyalists and republicans
in Londonderry.

Firstly, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin warned republicans
that they may be being targeted, after alleged sightings of a
prominent loyalist in the Bogside area.

The Ulster Political Research Group - a body with links to the UDA -
agreed loyalists had been in nationalist areas of the city but
claimed they were only there to take part in cross- community work.

A UPRG spokesman said loyalists would now withdraw from cross-
community work in nationalist areas because Sinn Fein had endangered
their lives by highlighting their presence.

"How many more people from loyalist areas have been targeted in this
way that we do not know about?," he said.

"Consequently UPRG would advise all loyalists who are visiting other
parts of the city to be very careful about their personal safety and
despite republican assertions that there are no 'no-go' areas in the
city, there are in fact different rules being applied to Protestants,
who might engage in cross-community contact, either for work or
because of their own personal relationships."

A Sinn Fein spokesman said the loyalist figure spotted in the Bogside
had "definitely not been involved in cross- community work".

"That's a very poor explanation. The person seen is well known and is
not involved in cross-community work.

"Any Protestant involved in cross-community work in the city can be
assured that they are not under threat and they should carry on their
work as normal," he added.


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