ic Derry - 'You'll Not Be Ministers Without Us'

'You'll Not Be Ministers Without Us' Feb 6 2004

SINN FEIN'S Chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness has sent out a blunt message to the DUP that they will not be in government here unless it is alongside his party.

Mr. McGuinness was speaking to the 'Journal' after the DUP presented their proposals for a way forward to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street yesterday.

The Sinn Fein negotiator said: "While we would not want to prejudge the DUP proposals before they are made public today it has to be made clear to them that if they are intended to subvert or destroy the Good Friday Agreement then they are a non starter.

"As we have made clear from the beginning of the review we will take a great interest in what the DUP have to say as they are the largest unionist party.

"But we have also made it clear that we will not countenance any renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr. McGuinness continued: "We are aware that there is a transition going on within the DUP and some of them have tasted power.

"But we also want to make it clear that the only way they are ever going to get back into government is alongside Sinn Fein."

The Sinn Fein chief continued: "It has been made clear by both governments and international opinion that the fundamentals of the Agreement are not up for changing.

"If people want to talk to the DUP about how best the Agreement can be delivered then we have no problem with that but we will be holding the governments, especially the British Government, to their commentary that the Agreement cannot be renegotiated."

Mr. McGuinness said his party was now the largest pro-Agreement party in the Assembly and that the 'rules had changed'.

He added: "There is absolutely no prospect of us agreeing to anything that falls short of the full implementation of the Agreement and we will be pressing the two governments to stand by what is an international treaty.

"At the beginning of the review the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowan, made it clear to all the parties and the British Government that the Good Friday Agreement is regarded as being part of the Irish constitution and so the Irish government have a duty to defend their own constitution."

Mr. McGuinness would not put a time limit for progress to be made in the review although he said it should be wrapped up within a month.

He added: "But the British Government have indicated that they see Easter as some sort of marker where we should have an idea of where we are.

"If at that time there is no indication that the DUP are prepared to make progress then the governments have a duty to move on over the heads of the DUP."

The Sinn Fein leader would not speculate on what might happen if there was still no progress by Easter but added that he was optimistic about the future and saw no point in speculating.

The DUP proposals were not made public but the party has said that they will do so today.

There has been speculation that they favour the devolution of power to the Assembly itself as opposed to the former position of power being devolved to the Executive.

It is also believed that they propose a committee system in the event that the Assembly cannot agree to form an Executive.

Guardian Unlimited

This covert experiment in injustice

Blunkett's proposals for secret trials will shame the country

Gareth Peirce
Wednesday February 4, 2004
The Guardian

In the course of 12 months, 13 years ago, more than 20 innocent Irish men and women were branded "terrorists" and convicted by English courts. That the evidence was false was known only to the accused and their accusers. For the accusers, even that clarity undoubtedly became blurred, since in their minds the means - twisting and coercing evidence - justified the ends: combating terrorism. Brutality, falsification, exaggeration of scientific evidence, concealment of prosecution evidence and of intelligence pointing in a different direction was the order of the day.

So is it possible that the Home Office is suffering from collective amnesia? What lessons should any home secretary have learnt from these terrible cases? David Blunkett, adopting the same dangerous justification of the means justifying the end, this week proposes trials based on evidence that will never see the light of day, the abolition of juries, substitution by judges, and a reversal of the burden of proof so that suspicion is enough.

The eventual revelation that so many innocent people had been buried alive in English jails was a shaming exercise for the country. Lessons, it was said then, must be learnt. And anyway, those were crude times, when investigators might have resorted to brutality.

Also in question was the ability of the judiciary to correct those injustices. But the judiciary - which Blunkett now proposes to substitute for juries where the issue is terrorism - for decades showed itself as seriously wanting. In the cases of the more than 20 innocent men and women, at least 30 senior judges had come to wrong and unjust conclusions, even where - as happened in the case of the Birmingham and Guildford appeals - they saw evidence that would have driven any jury to acquit. In the Birmingham appeal, for example, a master plan for fabrication of police interviews in the handwriting of the senior officer in charge of interrogation caused the court of appeal only to comment that they did not think that the officer had the brains to orchestrate a conspiracy.

For the Guildford defendants, extraordinary evidence was put before their appeal court. Members of the IRA who had, in fact, carried out the bombings for which the four young defendants had been convicted were prepared to provide compelling detail of their role. Instead of quashing the convictions, the court of appeal returned the four innocent defendants to prison for another 13 years.

There were only two honourable exceptions, seen as critical in guarding against future injustice. The court of appeal, considering the case of Judith Ward, by then imprisoned for more than 18 years, thundered that it would not permit "trial by ambush" in this country. What the prosecution knew, the defence should know.

Equally authoritatively came the voice of Lord Devlin, who saw with a clear eye that juries - constitutionally the arbiters of fact - could not find a substitute in the judiciary. When judges attempted, as happened in appeal after appeal, to consider fresh evidence as if they were a jury, they were committing a constitutional sin in addition to the fact that they then went on to demonstrate grotesque incomprehension of the evidence on which they were commenting.

Those voicing concerns about these new proposals should be aware that they are the second part of an experiment that has been ongoing for the past two years, largely without protest. A number of men, all foreign nationals, have been locked up indefinitely without trial on the basis of the suspicion only of the home secretary that they have links with terrorism.

The suggestion that I and other lawyers are representing them is in itself a travesty; neither they nor we know the evidence against them. We know only that it is claimed to be in large part based upon "intelligence", and this is why - it is argued - the men cannot be prosecuted in a trial with mandatory safeguards before the only tribunal of fact allowed to consider criminal offences in this country: a jury.

What is "intelligence" and why does it ask to be heard in secret? In particular, what is likely to be the source of intelligence that relates to refugees from regimes known to practice torture as their interrogative method of choice? Defence lawyers who represent members of Muslim refugee communities in this country know, on the basis of almost daily reports, that the security services have been pressing for information through methods likely to produce unreliable testimony - offering regularised immigration status as the carrot, and return to the countries from which those individuals have fled as the stick.

Exposed to scrutiny, the falsity of informant evidence can be exploded. But secure in the knowledge that neither the identity nor the content of the information will ever be known to the accused or to the public, not only the informant but the accuser remains safe in the security of secrecy. As far as the regimes are concerned from which those refugees have fled, we know with sickening certainty, that there is now two-way traffic between our intelligence services and theirs to exchange "intelligence".

While our government publicly sheds crocodile tears for the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, it has emerged only recently that British intelligence agents have been there, and in Afghanistan's Bagram airbase, interrogating those detainees. This country has been wholly complicit in obtaining the product of sustained interrogation in the absence of any safeguards of due process. Then, very deliberately, it has been putting it to use in our own secret hearings. So far these have been confined to foreign nationals, and have stirred scarcely a breath of protest. Now the home secretary says he wishes to extend secret hearings to all those accused of the mere suspicion of terrorism, even though short of evidence that could be proved beyond reasonable doubt in a public trial before a jury.

We should not be deceived. What is happening in Guantanamo; what is happening in the secret hearings with foreign nationals already taking place in this country; and what is proposed for the future, is in the nature of an ongoing experiment. This is the pooling of access to internationally condemned methods of investigation. Since their utilisation will be covert, the overt experiment is into how willing the public of this country and those concerned in the passage of legislation are to allow basic safeguards to be jettisoned without protest. The lack of protest over the imprisonment of innocent men and women in 1974 is a badge of shame for this country. The confidence with which this home secretary can express so unchecked an appetite for further powers that violate every international minimum norm is in itself a further badge of shame that hardly needs legislation to compound it. For this time, unlike those convicted in 1974, the men and women detained or convicted now will never have the possibility of knowing, let alone undoing, the false testimony that has buried them alive.

· Gareth Peirce is a solicitor representing detainees under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Man accused of IRA spy plot criticises police

Man accused of IRA spy plot criticises police

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Friday February 6, 2004
The Guardian

The collapse of Northern Ireland's devolved assembly was caused by a Special Branch "act of political subversion", a court heard yesterday.
Denis Donaldson, Sinn Féin's head of administration at Stormont, appeared before Belfast magistrates with Ciaran Kearney, a research officer for a west Belfast community group, and William Mackessy, a former Stormont porter.

At a preliminary inquiry, all three were charged with possessing documents useful to terrorists after a police raid on Stormont in October 2002. The raid led to claims of an IRA spy ring inside Stormont and the suspension of the administration.

But a charge originating from the Northern Ireland Office of possessing documents of a confidential or restricted nature was dropped yesterday by the prosecution.

Mr Kearney said most of the charges against him had been scrapped: "Special Branch collapsed the power-sharing executive and have endangered the Good Friday agreement. They have not been made accountable for that act of political subversion." A date for trial will be set later this year.


‘76 per cent of voters off register are nationalist’

Sinn Féin said that over 76 per cent of the people who have dropped off the electoral register in North Belfast, due to the new voting legislation, are nationalist.
Figures released this week have shown a shocking decline in the number of people who are registered to vote in the north of the city.
And as a result of the new voter registration process, the constituency has seen a drop of 2241 in those eligible to vote from the figures released in September 2003.
The extent of the problem in the whole of the North was illustrated by the publication of figures which show that a total of 28,000 people have disappeared from the electoral register, despite a high-profile advertisement campaign.
The introduction of the Electoral Fraud Act in 2002 meant that the old system of one registration form per household was replaced with one registration form being needed per individual.
North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness expressed his concern about the drop in the North of the city.
“This is a disappointing return by the electors in North Belfast,” he said. “To go down by 2,000 votes is a very worrying development and it is incumbent on all political parties and the community at large to register.”
Drawing attention to the fact that a Westminster election could be called at any time he also raised the issue of there being an assembly election if the current review process broke down.
Claims by Denis Stanley that the Electoral office did everything they could to contact people were questioned by the MLA.
“The Electoral Office were clearly overburdened by having the dual function of preparation for the assembly election and having to deal with the electoral register, it could be registration was not as effective as it should be”.
North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA, Gerry Kelly echoed the call for people to make sure they were registered, but also slammed the government on legislation which “is both discriminatory and fundamentally flawed.
“Democracy demands that more people who are entitled to vote should be facilitated in taking up that right”.
Making clear that the new legislation was at fault for the decrease in voters the Sinn Féin MLA said that the confusing legislation was a result of unionist and SDLP demands, and the government have “once again discriminated against the electorate in the North of Ireland”.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | DUP reveals Assembly plans

DUP reveals Assembly plans

The Democratic Unionist Party has unveiled its blueprint containing proposals for the Stormont Assembly.

The party said the assembly could get up and running in the short term, before the outstanding questions of IRA arms and paramilitary activity are resolved.

However, Ian Paisley's party repeated its insistence that there could be no place for republicans in a power-sharing executive until the IRA went out of business.

The DUP unveiled its proposals in Belfast on Friday, a day after presenting them to Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.

Earlier this week, parties elected to the assembly last November began a review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement at Stormont.

The DUP proposed a Corporate Assembly in order to kick-start the democratic process.

This plan - similar to the way the Welsh Assembly ran early on - would involve all 108 assembly members becoming involved in running the Northern Ireland government.

The party said decisions could be made either on the floor of the assembly or by committee.

It said that non-controversial issues could even be decided by a simple majority, but other contentious matters would have to win the backing of a majority of both unionists and nationalists - or 70% of the assembly as a whole.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of the DUP said the initiative showed that his party had a positive agenda to offer.

"The Democratic Unionist Party is dedicated to trying to find a way forward by the restoration of devolved government and finding a system of devolution that will actually work," he said.

"The DUP is not the stumbling block to getting devolved government going in Northern Ireland,.

"The fault clearly lies with those who continue to be wedded to violence whilst playing the pretence of democracy."

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said nationalists were likely to regard the plans as a "second-rate alternative to the Good Friday Agreement".

He said they would be "especially suspicious of anything which they think might smack of majority rule".

He said government sources had told him the proposals were positive and significant, but had added that the reaction of the other parties would be crucial.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein say the Agreement cannot be renegotiated and that the review should be short.

The Ulster Unionists say it should deal with the problem which led to suspension in the first place - paramilitary violence - while the DUP want a wholesale renegotiation.

When the 1998 Agreement was signed it contained a commitment that a conference should be held four years later to review and report on its operation.

But Stormont has been suspended four times and replaced with direct rule for the past 14 months.


ic NorthernIreland - Republic's Bomb Files Vanished

Northern Ireland News

Republic's Bomb Files Vanished Feb 4 2004

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern came under fire last night after it was revealed that security files on the worst single day of violence in the Troubles had ''vanished''.

Asked to explain why the data on the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings were missing from the Department of Justice, Mr Ahern said he did not know how or where it had happened.

"The fact of the matter is that a significant amount of detailed files did totally go missing and have not been retrieved. I cannot explain that,'' he told the Republic's parliament.

Justice Henry Barron, who conducted an inquiry into the atrocities, had no other way of accessing the information.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte told the Dail it was ''extraordinary'' that the government could just put its hands up and say the files were missing.

Mr Ahern said he would not take any action until the joint parliamentary committee, currently considering Justice Barron's report, produces its own findings next month.

The judge yesterday stuck to his conclusion that the government of the day had lacked concern about the bombings and had not investigated the atrocities fully.

He told the Irish Parliamentary Justice Committee: "One of the matters which we were never able to get a full view on was whether there was a policy that gardai could not go North to question suspects,'' he said.

While the report indicates that there was a high level of collusion in Northern Ireland at the time, he said it was only concerned with whether there was any proof of collusion in relation to the bombings.

The Dublin bombs on May 17, 1974, killed 27 people. The Monaghan bomb on the same day killed seven people.

IOL: 'Spy ring' accused condemns PSNI special branch

'Spy ring' accused condemns PSNI special branch
05/02/2004 - 12:48:34

A man arrested as part of a PSNI investigation into an alleged IRA spy plot at government offices in Belfast today accused the North's Special Branch of threatening the Good Friday Agreement.

As Ciaran Kearney, 32, claimed in court that charges against him of possessing secret papers had been withdrawn, he hit out at how the investigation was carried out.

Kearney said: “The Special Branch fantasy of a Stormont spy ring is finally disproven.”

Kearney, the research officer for a west Belfast community organisation, appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court with two other men, including a senior Sinn Féin official, for a preliminary inquiry into the case which led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland power-sharing administration nearly 18 months ago.

Kearney insisted he was innocent and vowed to defend himself against the allegations made against him.

Many of the charges put to him 18 months ago by detectives have now been scrapped, he told the court.

“Most of all, the allegation that I possessed documents of a secret, confidential and restrictive nature originating from the Northern Ireland Office has been withdrawn without explanation,” he told the court.

However he still faces charges of having documents likely to be useful to terrorists, including personal details of former members of the British armed forces, and individuals thought to be involved in loyalist political and paramilitary activity.

Kearney, of Commedagh Drive, west Belfast, was arrested in October 2002 with his father-in-law Denis Donaldson, 53, Sinn Féin administration chief at Stormont, and William Mackessy, who worked at NIO offices.

All three men, who were arrested after police launched a high-profile raid on Sinn Féin’s Stormont offices, have been out on bail but appeared in court today to hear the charges against them.

Donaldson, of Aitnamona Crescent in the city, is also accused of possessing documents useful to terrorists.

These include military vehicle registrations and information about police and troop deployment contained in incident briefs.

He also allegedly had a floor plan of offices at Castle Buildings, Stormont used by the NIO and details on suspected loyalist political or paramilitary activists.

Personal details of a former judge, two members of the forces and a police officer were also allegedly in his possession when police arrested him in October 2002.

Mackessy is accused of collecting information between February 19 2001 and October 5 2002, including the military vehicle registration details and security force operational movements, together with maps of the NIO offices and personal details on the former judge.

Mackessy and Donaldson declined to comment when asked in court, but Kearney vented his anger at the way the raids had affected him personally and the wider peace process.

He said: “The clock cannot be turned back. My family has been victimised and the political process has been damaged. Special Branch carry the blame for that.

“Special Branch collapsed the power-sharing executive and have endangered the Good Friday Agreement.

“They have not yet been made accountable for that act of political subversion.”

All three men were returned for trial in Belfast Crown Court at a later date.


A Benchmark for Policing? The Police Ombudsman speaks to the Andersonstown News

Andersonstown News reporter Jarlath Kearney speaks to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, about her role in one of the most high-profile jobs in the North and asks what she plans to do, both inside and outside of the PSNI, about the deep-rooted problems which still exist in relation to policing

Formidable, but not intimidating. Formal, but not overbearing. Self-assured, but not arrogant. Politicised, but not (openly) political.

Nuala O’Loan – the Police Ombudsman – has become a controversial and high-profile figure in the North’s policing world.

Since taking the newly-formed position three years ago, she has become a necessary port of call for many maligned and abused complainants seeking justice in the face of alleged misconduct by the RUC and PSNI.

On top of that she contends with a defensive police force, an interested and well-connected press, and an insidious and persistent campaign from powerful interests who want her office banjaxed or neutured (or preferably both at the same time).

The north of Ireland is a very small place in which to do a very big job.
And as Police Ombudsman, it is Nuala O’Loan’s responsibility to “provide an independent, impartial police complaints system for the people and the police under the Police (N.I.) Act 1998 and 2000”.

Whilst acknowledging the view that her office will be judged both by its results – as well as by the ongoing actions of PSNI members on the ground – Mrs O’Loan firmly argues that change is happening within the PSNI.
“What I have found is that, in doing investigations, we are finding police officers who are prepared to give evidence against their colleagues. We’re not meeting a thick blue wall any more.

“No good, positive police officer wants those who are criminals in their ranks. Nor do they want those who hold the public in contempt in their ranks and therefore they see that there is a value in the organisation and in the service that we operate.”

With a joint ‘gold group’ established between the PSNI and the Ombudsman’s Office, Mrs O’Loan says that investigations are now being expedited in a more efficient manner.
“Sometimes, without any malice intended, there can be delays,” she says.
“What we are trying to do is speed up the bits [of investigations] that are within our control and the police are working with us and co-operating with us on that.

“I think the police reaction, for example, to the Sean Brown case does show significant movement if you compare it to the reaction to the Omagh report.
“This time there is simply an acceptance that it wasn’t done, that there were massive failings in this investigation. So I would see that as a significant step forward.”

The key working analysis which seems to filter throughout the staff at every level in the Ombudsman’s Office is revealing.
Essentially, this analysis appears to anchor many of the real problems with regard to the RUC and PSNI in either bad historical practices, few or outdated policies, or routine failures to properly train officers up to contemporary professional standards.

“What we have seen is that we have made a significant number of recommendations out of investigations that we have carried out, and they have been recommendations around police training and police policies and that sort of thing, and there have been significant changes to training and to policy on foot of those recommendations.

“I think the end result of that is that officers are thinking in terms of the new policies and the new recommendations rather than perhaps in the way they might have performed in the past.
“It is against the Code of Ethics that we measure their behaviour at the present time, so that it says things about the way an officer goes out and investigates and the way he must behave. Those are the standards that we are measuring them against now.

“In the historic cases, in the older cases which predate the introduction of the Code of Ethics, yes, we measure them against different things, but now we have got a different benchmark,” she says.

When pushed to specify where improvements are still required in the PSNI, Nuala O’Loan admits that she “remains concerned about aspects of policing”.
But she is cagey when it comes to identifying those concerns because “with the best respect, I don’t want to do things in the media”.
“There are areas where further change is required. That’s quite clear, the Oversight Commissioner has said that too, so nobody could be surprised at that.”

Mrs O’Loan’s caution seems predetermined by a need to protect her office from any unnecessary political flak and bullying.

This tactical approach may be understandable. But the Ombudsman’s reluctance, to date, to publicly identify a partisan political dimension or a sinister political pattern – alongside bad practices and failed policies – when examining the failures of the RUC and PSNI, is still perceived as a weakness in some quarters.
With allegations of collusion between state forces and, specifically, loyalist paramilitaries now forming the backdrop to many of her investigations, Mrs O’Loan says she believes that her office has the necessary powers to take action over the issue.

“Collusion is a word we use to describe a thousand things.

“There is no criminal offence called ‘collusion’.

“I think there are sufficient existing criminal offences. I think the issue is not that there is no criminal offence.

“I don’t think it is a lack of definition. If any police officer is involved in anything unlawful, then by definition he commits a criminal offence and by definition he could be prosecuted for it.

“The issue is getting the evidence and part of the problem is that people need to come forward with the evidence and people can be very, very afraid.
“In the investigation into the murder of Sean Brown I think that one of the reasons people didn’t co-operate was that these people had come into Bellaghy and murdered Sean Brown. Would they come back?”

In terms of how PSNI officers – either serving or retired – co-operate with her investigations, Mrs O’Loan says that she is bound by constitutional laws.
“The officer who has perverted the course of justice I can pursue. I can pursue for any criminal offence.
“What I can’t do is make them give me evidence. But we have constitutional laws that protect people from a compulsion to give evidence and in those circumstances I don’t think it is for me to change constitutions.
“It is frustrating. There are officers who do co-operate with our investigations despite the fact that they are retired.

“There are other officers who decline to do so and it is not for me to speculate on why they might decline to do so, simply to note the fact.”
When dealing with the controversial issue of Special Branch, the Ombudsman largely concentrates her criticisms on Special Branch methods rather than Special Branch motivations.

Nuala O’Loan’s focus is, once again, on system failure – specifically, Special Branch’s reluctance to share information with criminal investigators.
“Traditionally, for example, Special Branch officers were not trained in detection. They were just simply recipients of information and sorting and analysing that information.
“The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) has imposed on them huge requirements to act in a different way.
“There is a RIPA inspector who does inspect the PSNI compliance with those issues, and those are issues that we are aware of and would look at from time to time.

“I think that Special Branch was predicated on a basis that you don’t share information, you just don’t share it – to protect the life of sources and that sort of thing.

“Those are legitimate concerns. The trouble is there have to be policies and processes that ensure that when information should be shared, it is shared,” she said.

“I think that what I would say to you is that systemic change is inevitably slow and it takes time and it takes training and I don’t think it is by any means finished or complete.”

Acknowledging that she is “sometimes surprised” by the extent of “press awareness” in certain cases, Mrs O’Loan concludes: “There are particular cases in which there is a high level of press awareness of issues and we have several of those cases under investigation. I think once we get to the end of those investigations it might be possible to draw some conclusions in trend terms.”

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

Belfast Telegraph

New SF man backs Orange event
By Kim Kelly

NORTHERN Ireland's newest Sinn Fein politician - who was a former member of the Orange Order - has supported a request for funding from Coleraine Orange Lodge to stage a three-day cultural event to mark the Battle of the Somme.

Former RUC officer and SDLP defector Billy Leonard surprised his colleagues at Coleraine Council last night when he voted in favour of donating nearly £5,000 to LOL 87 for the event which will include a parade and exhibition.

Dr Leonard, a one-time Protestant lay preacher, who was a member of the Orange Order in his teens, stunned his SDLP colleagues last month when he joined Sinn Fein.

He became the first member of Sinn Fein to hold a seat on the predominantly Unionist Coleraine Council and has largely been shunned by his council colleagues.

His fellow Coleraine councillors are continuing to call for his resignation, accusing him of deceiving his electorate.

However, at the time of his defection Dr Leonard stated that he would continue to work for all members of his constituency regardless of political affiliation.

He said that Sinn Fein party leaders were aware of his past and he was committed to working within the politics of 2004.

At last night's meeting of Coleraine Council's Leisure and Environment Committee, Dr Leonard said he welcomed the inclusiveness of the proposed Orange Order cultural event and gave it his full support.

The event, to be held in May, will bring the Somme Heritage Society's Exhibition to Coleraine and is designed to educate children about the 36th Ulster Division regiment's role in the 1916 battle.

A display will be set up for school visits.

Belfast Telegraph

Final farewell to tragic schoolboy Jordan

By Claire Regan
05 February 2004

Jordan Murdock who was swept out to see last month

TEENAGER Jordan Murdock, who drowned in the Irish Sea, was a good young man with "a love of life and a mischievous smile", hundreds of mourners heard at his funeral today.

The 14-year-old's devastated family said a final farewell to him this morning as he was finally laid to rest in the Co Down village of Killough where he was swept out to sea on January 11.

Hundreds of mourners packed into St Joseph's Church for Requiem Mass where Fr Kieran Whiteford paid tribute to the teenager.

He also spoke of the heartbreak for Jordan's parents, Paul McGeown and Carrie Murdock, their agonising wait for news and their relief when Jordan's body was found three weeks after he fell off a pier.

"When Jordan was lost in the sea everyone in this small village of Killough was profoundly shocked," he told mourners.

"A massive rescue operation swung into motion immediately and people prayed.

"In the cold January days, hope of finding Jordan alive quickly ebbed away and we prayed for the recovery of his body, and for Paul and Carrie and their family. Twenty-one very long days of waiting, searching, praying passed for Carrie and Paul and the people of this parish until Jordan's body was found last Sunday.

"That day, in spite of the tragedy and the tears there was a joy in the faces of our people."

Fr Whiteford said the tragedy marked the first accidental drowning in Killough Bay in living memory.

"Jordan, by all accounts, was a good young man. He was a bright pupil, good at football and Gaelic, lively, adventurous, with a love of life and sometimes had a mischievous smile.

"Of course, we know only too well that you cannot put an old head on young shoulders and with a simple sense of boyish adventure, a 14-year-old boy, Jordan Murdock, was attracted to the sea, on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. He went near to the water's edge with friends and he slipped into the water and the water took his life."

Among those expected to attend today's funeral were many of the hundreds of the volunteers who searched the coastline for Jordan's body after he disappeared.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Funeral for sea victim

Funeral for sea victim

Hundreds of mourners paid their last respects

A County Down teenager who drowned after being swept out to sea last month had a love of life, a priest has told mourners at his funeral.

Father Kieran Whiteford was speaking during Requiem Mass for Jordan Murdock, 14, who fell into the sea at Killough pier on 11 January and was pulled under water by the current.

Hundreds of volunteers combed the shoreline for any trace of the teenager in the subsequent weeks.

His body was found off the County Down coast on Sunday.


On Thursday, shops closed in the village as a mark of respect as hundreds of mourners attended the teenager's funeral.

His coffin was carried at various points on the journey to St Joseph's Church by family members and some of those who had taken part in the search.

Coastguard and lifeboat personnel were among those assembled outside the church and several coaches also brought friends and family from Belfast.

Jordan drowned after falling from a pier

Father Whiteford told mourners that Jordan had been a bright pupil, that he was adventurous and had a love of life. He said the community was profoundly shocked at the tragedy.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh said Mass in the church and praised the efforts of all those who had taken part in the search for Jordan.

A woman walking her dog found the teenager's body last weekend, near an old sewage pipe a short distance from where the teenager had disappeared.

At the time Jordan's aunt, Mary Murdock, said the family had endured a "heartbreaking three weeks", but were glad Jordan had been returned to them.


IOL: NI murder victims' relatives protest collusion

NI murder victims' relatives protest collusion
04/02/2004 - 06:09:37

Relatives of people murdered in the North amid claims of security force collusion were picketing military intelligence headquarters in London today.

Up to 100 campaigners who believe British agencies plotted with loyalist terrorists to kill in Ulster also plan to protest at Conservative Party offices as well as MI5.

Victims’ representatives organised the demonstration to coincide with the start of new political talks in Belfast to break the deadlocked peace process.

Group spokesman Mark Sykes said: “The families are determined that the truth surrounding the murder of our loved ones will not continue to be suppressed by the culture of concealment which operates at the heart of the British Government.”

Organisers travelled to London after staging a picket at Stormont, where all sides have gathered to begin a major review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Sykes, who was wounded in a 1992 Ulster Freedom Fighters gun attack on a south Belfast betting shop which left five Catholics dead, warned the authorities that relatives were determined to keep fighting.

“It is important that the British government realise that the victims of collusion will not rest until the truth comes out,” he said.

“The issue of collusion and the legacy it has left needs to be on the agenda of the British government and those parties in the review.”


BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | NI prepares for peace deal review

NI prepares for peace deal review

The agreement review gets underway at Stormont

A review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement aimed at kick-starting Northern Ireland's political process is to begin on Tuesday.

The British and Irish governments and the political parties will read opening statements at a round table meeting.

The parties differ about what form the review - expected to run until Easter - should take, with the DUP saying it will not negotiate with Sinn Fein.

Northern Ireland's political forums have been suspended since October 2002.

The main trigger was allegations of IRA intelligence gathering in the Stormont government.

When the 1998 agreement was signed it contained a commitment that a conference should be held four years later to review and report on its operation.


But Stormont has been suspended four times and replaced with direct rule for the past 14 months.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein say the agreement cannot be renegotiated and that the review should be short.

The Ulster Unionists say it should deal with the problem which lead to suspension in the first place - paramilitary violence - while the DUP want a wholesale renegotiation.

They will be at the table to join the other parties in reading an opening statement, but say they will only meet parties other than Sinn Fein and the two governments.

Paul Murphy and Brian Cowen are to chair the review

This is a problem for the co-chairmen, the Secretary of State Paul Murphy and the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen.

The DUP and Sinn Fein emerged as the two largest parties after last November's Assembly elections.

The government is talking about the possibility of holding another election if there is no progress.

Meanwhile, the US president's new special envoy to Northern Ireland is set to closely monitor the progress of the review.

Mitchell Reiss is due to hold talks with representatives of the political parties later on Tuesday, after meeting Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy on Monday.

Later in the week he will travel to London and Dublin to meet the two governments.


Irish Examiner

01/02/2004 - 4:11:05 PM

Unionist blueprint would allow Sinn Féin a say

Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have drafted secret proposals that could let Sinn Féin join new power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland before the IRA disbands, it emerged today.

Although the DUP is committed to stopping republicans wielding real influence until the Provisionals are stood down, it has produced a blueprint which would see all parties working in a fresh form of devolution.

With a major review of the Good Friday Agreement beginning this week, the party will put its ideas to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street on Thursday before unveiling them in Belfast the next day.

Central to the proposals is a recommendation that power should rest with the 108-member Stormont Assembly as a whole rather than the 12 ministers who governed before the power-sharing regime collapsed nearly 18 months ago.

A DUP source said: “There are political realities in Northern Ireland we may not like but we have to respect.

“Were power to be devolved to the Assembly then obviously Sinn Féin is one of a number of parties in that Assembly.”

This would see Gerry Adams’ party having a say on how to run Northern Ireland, based on a weighted majority.

It is understood one idea would see the Assembly decide that power should be exercised through the departmental committee structures.

But the proposals would also stop Sinn Féin from operating key ministerial portfolios like the Education and Health briefs it ran before devolution was suspended in October 2002 amid claims of an IRA spy-plot inside the government.

The party’s strategy will be studied closely during the review which starts on Tuesday.

London and Dublin face a huge task in sorting out the political mess which the Northern Ireland peace process was plunged into following last November’s Assembly elections.

With the DUP and Sinn Féin eclipsing the more moderate Ulster Unionists and the SDLP at the ballot box all hopes of a quick return to power-sharing looked doomed.

The two governments insist the 1998 Agreement is not up for renegotiation and are hoping that problems can be ironed out swiftly.

But the likelihood is that the talks will drag on to Easter at least as all sides attempt to hammer out concessions.

The DUP will be hoping to secure big changes to the Good Friday accord, including its demand that Assembly numbers should be cut back.

Yet it still wants to see authority rest with this very body as a whole rather than in the hands of a few.

“We are looking at giving power back to the Assembly as a whole,” a party strategist said.

“We aim to put proposals forward that are reasonable, but we are not moving from our bottom line that there can be no armed group in government.”

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Missing boy's body found

Missing boy's body found

Jordan was swept into the sea earlier this month

Searchers in County Down have found the body of the missing teenager, Jordan Murdock, who was swept out to sea earlier this month. The 14-year-old fell into the water off Killough Pier on 11 January.

The schoolboy was pulled under the water by strong currents as his family watched helplessly from the shore.

A woman walking her dog made the discovery shortly before 1100 GMT on Sunday near an old sewage pipe, a short distance from where the teenager had disappeared.

Jordan's aunt, Mary Murdock, said the family had endured a "heartbreaking three weeks".

"I just can't describe how they have been feeling these past three weeks. They have been walking up and down the beach, out with binoculars, searching constantly," she said.

"It is so heartbreaking but now we have got him back."

Hundreds of volunteers combed the shoreline for any trace of the teenager in the days and weeks following the tragedy.

Mary Murdock said it was a relief her nephew's remains had been found

Teams of divers and walkers were involved in the efforts and spotter planes scoured the area.

Search co-ordinator Mick Mooney said the body was discovered only a short distance from where the teenager went missing.

"Some people had the notion that he may have been swept out on the day," he said.

"But certainly on the advice that we were taking from local people and the Boyne River Rescue team - who the community have great regard for - he never left this village.

"We were convinced ourselves that he was in there and we were determined to carry on until we got the body.

"Thankfully we did, it was retrieved approximately 200 yards from where Jordan had been swept into the water."

Later on Sunday, the search team issued a statement thanking all of those who took part in the operation and said the town would never forget those who helped the family and the community in their hour of need.

Jordan, who moved to Killough with his family from south Belfast last year, is expected to be buried in the village.

Twelve-year-old David Hackett, who jumped into the water to try to rescue Jordan, was pulled to safety by his family.

Sunday Business Post

**If "lawfully killing" someone means shooting-to-kill, without warning, an unarmed woman with her hands in the air...

Farrell was 'lawfully killed' by SAS - Gibraltar papers
01/02/04 00:00

By Paul T Colgan

British papers relating to the killing of Mairead Farrell by the SAS in Gibraltar state that she was lawfully killed, despite a ruling by the European Court that overturned the findings of the original inquest into her death.

IRA members Farrell, Sean Savage and Danny McCann were killed by undercover SAS men in Gibraltar in March 1988. All three were unarmed. According to Farrell's official death certificate, lodged in the Gibraltar coroner's office, Farrell was "killed lawfully."

The European Court ruled in 1995 that the British government had been in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that "excessive force" had been used in the killings. It ruled that the British government had failed to uphold "the standard expected of a democratic government," and said there was "no justification for such use of force". The British government was ordered to pay £40,000 in damages to the families of the deceased.

The coroner's office in Gibraltar has refused to release a copy of the death certificate to The Sunday Business Post. However, a copy of the document was supplied by a source in Gibraltar.

Savage was shot at least 16 times. Farrell was killed with five bullets and the certificate shows that she died as a result of gunshots to the heart and the liver.

The three had been under surveillance for days before being shot down on Winston Churchill Avenue in the British colony.

Witnesses reported that the three had been killed without warning and that Farrell and McCann had their hands in the air. The British government instigated an immediate cover-up of the killings, falsely claiming that the three were attempting to detonate a car bomb and that a gunfight had ensued.

A subsequent documentary by Thames Television that exposed the cover-up, Death on the Rock, was also subjected to intense pressure from the Tory government of the time. A smear campaign was conducted against the journalists and witnesses involved in its production. The campaign was waged most vociferously by the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers.

An inquiry carried out by a former Conservative Party minister later found the documentary to be accurate.

British deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine rejected the ruling of the European Court in 1995, saying: "We shall do absolutely nothing at all . . .we will not be swayed or deterred in any way by this ludicrous decision."

CAIN: Events: Bloody Sunday: Menu Page

Bloody Sunday Trust- Dedicated to Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Healing

Remembering Bloody Sunday

The LarkSpirit web page from 2000:

Bloody Sunday
January 30, 1972

"On January 30, 1972, soldiers from the British Army's 1st Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilian demonstrators in the Bogside, Derry, Ireland, near the Rossville flats, killing 13 and wounding a number of others. One wounded man later died from illness attributed to that shooting.
The march, which was called to protest internment, was "illegal" according to British government authorities. Internment without trial was introduced by the British government on August 9, 1971.

The British-government-appointed Widgery Tribunal found soldiers were not guilty of shooting dead the 13 civilians in cold blood."

Click on above link for more.

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