**Go here for background of the Peter McBride murder
OUTRAGE AT MOD’S PETER MCBRIDE MURDER COMMENTS
Jean McBride, mother of New Lodge teenager Peter McBride who was gunned down by the British army, has labelled comments by the Ministry of Defence that her son’s convicted murderers did not intend to kill him “a disgrace”.
The grieving mother was responding to comments made by the MoD in response to questions by the North Belfast News asking the current whereabouts of Irish Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright.
We put it to the MoD that disclosure of the location of the two former Scots guards who shot dead an unarmed man on the street was in the public interest.
However, the MoD response was that the army had a duty to its servicemen not to disclose their details.
“There are people serving who have convictions, though not as serious as murder and we have to look at things like the rehabilitation of offenders act.
“These guys presumably didn’t think they were going to go out and kill on that day. It doesn’t indicate that they are pathological killers. They committed murder, but in a particular set of circumstances,” said a spokesman.
But the comments were greeted with fury by Jean McBride who said it was impossible for any army official to know what was in the heads of the soldiers.
“Nobody in the British army could say they didn’t mean it because nobody knows. They told nothing but lies at the trial. This is a terrible disgrace,” she said.
“I would also ask the MoD how these murderers were put back in the army and rearmed when it is British law that no convicted murderer is ever allowed to hold a firearm.”
Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre, which is helping Jean McBride fight her case was equally scathing of the MoD.
"The MOD response goes to the heart of the scandal surrounding his case. It is not up to the MOD to second guess the court and attempt to minimise or explain away the murder committed on the streets of North Belfast on Sept 4 1992 when Peter McBride was shot in the back,” he said.
“This reference to a 'particular set of circumstances' is reminiscent of the 'exceptional circumstances' quoted by John Spellar on the Army Board as justification for the retention of murderers. The MOD still refuses to accept that the Court of Appeal held that there are no exceptional circumstances justifying the decision to allow Wright and Fisher to remain as serving soldiers.”
The furore came the week that Jean McBride travelled again to the court of appeal in Belfast to have the soldiers kicked out of the army after a court of appeal ruled last June by a 2-1 majority that the army was wrong not to discharge the soldiers. But the justices stopped short of ordering the British army to sack them.
Jean McBride has vowed to take her fight to the European Court at the end of the current review.
Journalist:: Andrea McKernon
JUDGE RULES IRISH MAN MAY STAY IN U.S.
LOS ANGELES - A judge ruled Friday that a man convicted of aiding in
the 1988 killings of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland
committed a "purely political" crime and should not be deported, a
U.S. government official said.
An immigration judge said the motive of Sean O'Cealleagh is not
grounds for his removal from the United States, said Virginia Kice,
spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"We believe the judge's decision is in error," she said.
Kice said O'Cealleagh was being held Friday at a San Pedro processing
facility and the government has 30 days to appeal.
An attorney for O'Cealleagh did not immediately return a telephone
call seeking comment.
O'Cealleagh, 35, of Westminster, was arrested Feb. 25 at Los Angeles
International Airport after returning from a family visit to Northern
Ireland. O'Cealleagh (pronounced O'Kelly) spells his name in
traditional Gaelic, but is identified as Sean Kelly in British legal
O'Cealleagh was one of three men given life sentences in 1990 for
their roles in the murder of the two British corporals. His lawyers
argued the conviction was politically motivated.
The plainclothes soldiers were pulled from their vehicle after being
discovered during a funeral for a slain Irish Republican Army member.
Photographs and TV footage showed Kelly to be among the group that
shoved the two victims into an IRA cab.
The soldiers were later shot to death in killings claimed by the IRA.
O'Cealleagh, who was convicted for aiding and abetting in the
murders, spent 8 1/2 years in prison and was freed in 1998 under the
Good Friday peace accord. He emigrated to the United States in 1999
and was granted permanent residency in 2001.
He has an American wife and a 3-year-old son.
REAL IRA SUED BY OMAGH FAMILIES
FBI spy to testify in historic civil case brought by relatives of dead
Saturday April 24, 2004
The families of the Omagh bomb victims made legal history yesterday as their civil action against the Real IRA opened in Belfast.
Seven of the families are suing the terror group that claimed responsibility for the bomb that killed 29 people and unborn twins in the Co Tyrone town in August 1998 because no one has been charged in direct connection with the atrocity.
The action names the Real IRA and five prominent members of the illegal group - four of whom are in prison in the Irish Republic.
Their barrister, Lord Brennan QC, told the high court in Belfast: "This is an historic case. It is the first time in British jurisdiction that a civil claim has been brought against a terrorist organisation and these individuals in respect of a terrorist outrage."
He said the families were seeking "exemplary damages not only for physical and psychological injuries but the loss of the life of a loved one - be that a wife, husband or children."
After the 65-minute hearing the judge set a date of January 17 next year to begin the full case.
Outside the court Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died, said the case was not about money but justice.
"At last, the tide is beginning to turn on terrorism in this country. Our civil action will go some way to washing it clean from our society which is tired and sickened with those that seek to murder and maim its children and loved ones.
"This is an important step in our civil legal action and a giant step down the road to justice.
"After a three-year battle we are now at court and on the way to trial. We promised our loved ones and supporters that we would not falter in pursuing this matter to the end. Now the end is clearly in our sights."
The court was told that the families were planning to call the controversial FBI spy who infiltrated the Real IRA and was the key witness in the trial of the group's leader, Michael McKevitt, who was sentenced to 20 years at Dublin's special criminal court last year for directing terrorism.
Lord Brennan applied to have David Rupert give his evidence via video link from the US where he is in hiding under a new identity.
At the Dublin trial where he appeared in person, Lord Brennan said there were "the most elaborate security measures which represented a great strain on security personnel and cost a great deal of money, but ... [were] required to protect the life of David Rupert". Mr Justice Higgins will rule later on the request.
Mr Gallagher said: "We would like to thank a brave man across the water in the USA who, despite grave risk to his own life, and armed only with the truth has unselfishly come forward and agreed to stand with us in our fight for justice."
The court heard that only McKevitt and his deputy at the time of the bombing, Liam Campbell, had entered defences denying any involvement. Referring to Campbell's defence, Lord Brennan said: "Surprisingly there is a specific added denial that the Omagh bombing involved the Real IRA."
The other defendants, Colm Murphy, Seamus McKenna and Seamus Daly, have entered no defences as yet.
Lord Brennan told the court: "The families are seeking not only aggravated but exemplary damages designed to reflect the gravity of the wrongdoing.
"That wrongdoing in this case was represented by the defendants being involved in extreme violence and showing utter disregard for human life in carrying out the bombing of Omagh."
Barristers for McKevitt and Campbell said their clients were not being permitted legal aid and the court heard that there could be a summary judgment without any defences being heard if legal aid was not forthcoming.
The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau last year seized ?750,000 (£500,000) in unpaid tax from Campbell and is now investigating McKevitt's financial affairs.
The judge said he would review the trial date in June to hear how their applications for aid were progressing.
WHY THE GUNS ARE OUT FOR SINN FEIN
Saturday April 24th 2004
In an effort to keep the peace, political parties have taken a soft approach to Sinn Fein. But with the party level with Labour in the polls, the kid gloves are coming off. Brian Dowling reports:
As she posed against the backdrop of the rolling waves at picturesque Inchydoney beach in west Cork, Liz O'Donnell seemed the most unlikely defender of the Shinners. Her "it's time to stop bashing Sinn Fein" intervention was so out of line with the lifeblood of the PDs that many political observers had to do a double-take just to be sure they heard correctly.
One can only imagine the initial reaction among the Sinn Fein hierarchy to the news that former minister, Liz O'Donnell had taken such a strong line against the growing momentum in the mainstream parties to finally take Sinn Fein to task.
If, however, Adams & Co thought that O'Donnell's broadside was the harbinger of a kinder, gentler approach to Sinn Fein they were quickly disabused.
In recent months the Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, has been steadily turning up the heat on Sinn Fein with increasingly strident attacks on the existence and activities of their soul mates in the Provisional IRA.
McDowell has never made any secret of his loathing for the Provos. Indeed, it was that very issue that formed the essential platform for his election bid in 2002 when as Attorney General he made an opening campaign speech that excoriated Sinn Fein. Now as Justice Minister he is in possession of all the intelligence reports and files, providing him with ample scope to launch attack after attack on the criminal and other activities of the Provisional IRA, such as racketeering on the Dublin docks.
For a while, some wise heads wondered whether his headlong cavalry charge was a solo run or whether it had the blessing of the Taoiseach. When Bertie Ahern recently declared that the Minister for Justice was correct about paramilitaries the answer was clear.
It also marked a significant change in the political landscape; the days of the softly, softly, catchee monkey approach are over. Sinn Fein can no longer expect the mainstream parties to sit by and watch its steady political growth while it is still tied into a private army. The local and European elections are the next battleground and the move to counter the growth of Sinn Fein is gathering pace.
Polls for the past year or so have shown a consistent upward curve in the Sinn Fein graph. The most recent poll, just last weekend, gave Sinn Fein 12% in the local elections, making it level with Labour. It's the kind of wake-up call that none of the major parties is going to ignore. Fianna Fail feel particularly vulnerable. If Sinn Fein doesn't exactly threaten the core vote of, say, Fine Gael and the PDs, it does open up uncomfortable horizons on future coalition partners.
Sinn Fein may have swapped the Armalite for a baseball bat with nails but that change is seen for what it is - even if a ballot paper is held in the other hand.
The reality of Sinn Fein's past was brought into sharp focus within 48 hours of O'Donnell's remarks by the publication of the International Monitoring Commission (IMC). The IMC was established by the Irish and British Governments and given a remit to examine the extent of paramilitary activity on the ground in Northern Ireland. Its first report delivered this week set the tone for the growing hostility to Sinn Fein.
It found that senior members of Sinn Fein were still senior members of the IRA and, more crucially, they had a key role in influencing the presence or absence of violent activity or criminality. While it acknowledged that the leadership of Sinn Fein has made huge efforts to wean people away from violence, the message was clear - they haven't gone away, you know.
The IMC report was blunt and frank. The Provisional IRA was responsible for the abduction and savage beating of republican dissident Bobby Tohill in Belfast last February.
Once the report was published the major parties lost no time in seizing on its findings with the Taoiseach describing it as "disturbing". The pent-up frustration and anger at paramilitary activity found its escape valve.
The Sinn Fein leadership had anticipated that the report would do them no favours. The IMC, they argued, was nothing more than a puppet whose strings were pulled by Downing Street. This time, though, it was somewhat different. The stark statement about the Tohill incident laying the blame squarely at the door of the Provisional IRA closed off any wriggle room.
The public saw a very different Gerry Adams on RTE's Six One News hours after the report was published. This was a clearly agitated, finger wagging Adams finding it difficult to reconcile the gap between the talk of peace and the reality of paramilitary activity.
At one stage he found himself admitting that, yes the public did have a right to know whether senior members of Sinn Fein were also senior members of the IRA. Even though he claimed not to be aware of any such dual membership at present, his admission may prove useful for the IMC in the next phase of their work.
The Commission's report signalled an intention to tear off the balaclavas, so to speak, of paramilitary leaders, in a 'name-and-shame' regime.
If Adams found himself in unhappy territory that evening, even worse awaited one of his senior colleagues. Martin Ferris, the Kerry TD and former IRA gun-runner, tried the old 'we are victims' tactic on RTE's Morning Ireland the following day.
In a vivid series of exchanges the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, reduced him to ranting and incoherent gibberish.
O'Donoghue laid out a list of simple, clear questions about paramilitary activities and Ferris ran for cover. Ferris wanted to talk about anything other than his attitude to paramilitary activity.
The presenter Cathal Mac Coille tightened the screws and the real telling point came when Ferris found himself saying that if he lived in Belfast and he witnessed a group of masked men abducting another man from a pub he would not call the police.
The thought that any citizen would knowingly stand back and not make a phone call in the knowledge that another human being was facing a savage, if not fatal beating, was chilling.
That precisely was the message that O'Donoghue was hoping would be delivered to the electorate; for some in Sinn Fein the notion of an individual being beaten senseless by a group of masked men acting as judge, jury and executioners is acceptable.
For a long time the Government and opposition parties have given considerable leeway to Sinn Fein in the efforts to gradually bring them into the fold of mainstream democratic politics.
This was all premised on the notion that Sinn Fein wanted to make a complete transition and that the Provos were equally ready to completely forsake violence for good.
It is nearly 10 years since the first IRA ceasefire and patience is beginning to wear thin with the pace of progress. Virtually all the IRA prisoners have been released, Sinn Fein have held Ministerial posts in the short-lived power-sharing Executive and many other positive changes have been brought about, not least on policing.
There once was a time when Fianna Fail taunted John Bruton with the "John Unionist" tag because of his insistence that the IRA would have to go out of business.
Bertie Ahern has worked relentlessly since becoming Taoiseach in 1997 to nurture the peace process; he has delivered the Good Friday Agreement, the power-sharing Executive and even substantial IRA decommissioning.
Yet for all that, he too is now bedevilled by the same contradiction that Bruton tried to confront - unless the IRA goes out of business there will never be sustainable political progress.
In the interests of winning the peace Sinn Fein has been treated with kid gloves by successive governments and oppositions.
Those same parties are no longer willing to stand back and watch Sinn Fein continue to make major political inroads into their votes while at the same time, dodging the issue of on-going paramilitary activity.
Sinn Fein has struck a chord with a section of the electorate and look sets to make further, significant gains in the local elections. However, they can no longer expect the major parties to turn a blind eye or to heed Liz O'Donnell's advice.
© Irish Independent
MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE VICTIM FIGHTS AGAIN
A West Belfast man handed two life sentences by a non-jury
Diplock court is to testify in his own defence against extradition
from the US as his original trial is being replayed in a Los Angeles
Sean O Cealleagh (Sean Kelly) was released under the Good Friday
Agreement after serving eight years of a controversial sentence
for abetting the 1988 murder of two British soldiers.
He emigrated to the US where he was granted permanent residence
However, O Cealleagh was taken into custody as he returned from
Ireland where he had been attending the christening of his
He has been charged with "being inadmissible to the US because of
his conviction" according to the US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, a blanket ban on all Irish political prisoners
entering the U.S.
O Cealleagh's lawyers now plan to play video footage to an
immigration court from Irish and British television
documentaries, both of which present evidence that O Cealleagh
and two others convicted on the same charges were the victims of
a miscarriage of justice.
O Ceallagh came upon the scene where two British soldiers,
apparently spying on the republican funeral, came under attack
from angry mourners. His lawyers will tell the court their client
was a victim caught up in the turmoil and politics of the
conflict in the North of Ireland.
O Cealleagh, who did not testify at his trial in the north, is
expected to take the stand, along with his father Jim who has
flown to the US for that purpose.
The prosecution are currently making their case at the Los
Angeles court, where the immigration judge cleared the court of
the public and press at the prosecution's request.
Assistant US Attorney Richard Vinet told the court that US
national security and the relationship between law enforcement
agencies in the United States and Northern Ireland would be
harmed if the video evidence and the testimony by a PSNI police
officer were allowed in open court.
Judge Rose Peters barred the public and reporters from viewing
the alleged PSNI/RUC police video evidence.
According to prosecution documents, O'Cealleagh was videotaped by
a British army helicopter hovering over the scene, a French news
team and a British media crew, said Eamann McMenamin, a lawyer
from Belfast, who is working on O'Cealleagh's behalf.
The helicopter tape was of poor quality and British prosecutors
created a "compilation" tape using all three videos to gain O
Cealleagh's conviction, McMenamin said.
O Cealleagh was convicted of kidnapping, causing grievous bodily
harm and of aiding and abetting in the murders. He and two others
who became known as the "Casement Three" were sentenced to life
under the "common purpose" legal theory that was criticised by
human rights groups.
O Cealleagh said before the protective order was signed that he
was on the periphery of an angry crowd of mourners which set on
the soldiers after they drove at speed into the crowd and later
"I never touched any of the two corporals," said O Cealleagh, who
also said that he was never a member of the IRA.
IT HASN'T GONE AWAY YOU KNOW
Anthony McIntyre • 22 April 2004
The International Monitoring Commission has finally delivered its
report. Sceptics, who had long harboured the suspicion that clarity
would succumb to fudge and that, in keeping faith with the peace
process, the body would gloss over the issues it was tasked to
investigate, will have been pleasantly jolted out of their torpor-
induced resignation. On delivery day Harry McGee in the Examiner
described the finished product as a `no-holds-barred document', while
Stephen King of the UUP suggested that it should win a plain English
SCAPPATICCI ABANDONS APPEAL
A legal appeal by Freddie Scappaticci, the west Belfastman who denies he was
the IRA spy Stakeknife, has been abandoned.
Mr Scappaticci, 51, was not in the High Court for the brief hearing in
Belfast on Friday.
Last month, he had been due to appeal against the dismissal of his judicial
review when he lost a bid to force Security Minister Jane Kennedy to confirm he
was not the agent alleged to have supplied the army with high grade
That hearing was adjourned after a letter was handed into court.
The contents were not revealed and Mr Scappaticci's lawyer later declined to
reveal the reason for the adjournment.
Speaking at the hearing, the Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr said that in
view of the withdrawal, he would make an order formally dismissing the appeal.
Tribute to girl 'bursting with life, taken away so unjustly'
By Marie Foy
23 April 2004
THE heartbroken parents of murdered teenager Megan McAlorum were joined by hundreds of mourners today as they said a final farewell to their "little princess".
Relatives, friends and neighbours gathered at the family home at Glencolin Way in Belfast to escort the cortege on its way to St Oliver Plunkett church for Requiem Mass.
The church was packed to overflowing and a large crowd gathered outside to pay a final, sad farewell to the 16-year-old.
Speaking from an altar adorned with white flowers, Father Martin Magill said that the family had yesterday held a prayer service at the secluded hillside near Dunmurry where the young girl's body was found on Easter Monday.
"There we prayed that God would free that place of beauty from the evil which had touched it," he said.
Describing Megan as a "generous, kind, friendly" girl, Fr Magill told mourners that her life and death had touched many hearts.
"Megan McAlorum was bursting with life until her earthly life was taken away so unjustly from her on Easter Monday," he said.
"Megan's death was evil. Her death has brought such great pain, first and foremost to her family, but also to her friends and her community.
"With the help of God, may we all play our part in overcoming the power of evil so that we can all see and enjoy the goodness in humanity and the beauty of God's world."
And he stressed that, not only had Megan's family had to come to terms with her violent death, but they also had the agony of waiting for her body to be released for Christian burial.
"Since Easter Monday countless people have visited your home. Even more people attended a vigil in Megan's memory and yet more people in the wider community have been thinking and praying for you as a family. Megan's life and death touched many hearts," he said.
Fr Magill said Megan had been a lively young teenager who loved to dress up. She had loved life, her job and children, and had been looking forward to starting a childcare course.
Megan's partially clothed body was found about a mile from her home, with head injuries. She was last seen alive at the Hunting Lodge bar on the Stewartstown Road at midnight the previous night. She died a week before her new nephew Adrian was born.
Singers and musicians from St Genevieve's High School, which Megan had recently left, provided music and her friends led Prayers of the Faithful.
Other pupils from the school, some weeping openly, formed a guard of honour as the white flowerladen coffin was carried from the church on its last journey.
The poignant procession was led by Megan's parents, Margaret and Frank, and their six other children. The grieving mother has said the family will not be destroyed by the tragedy.
Following the service, burial was due to take place at the City Cemetery.
Two men have been charged in connection with the killing. One of them, aged 16, faces a murder charge.
TARGETING OF SF MEMBERS 'IGNORED'
--Sharon O'Neill - Irish News
Sinn Féin has criticised the ceasefire monitoring body for not including ball bearing attacks on the homes of party members in its report on paramilitary activity this week.
Republicans have already vented their anger over the assessment of IRA activity by the International Monitoring Commission (IMC).
In its first report the IMC backed the police's view that the alleged attempted abduction of dissident republican Bobby Tohill in February was a Provisional IRA operation.
The report also said the IRA had been involved in recent training and alleged that senior Sinn Féin members were also high-ranking Provisionals.
Sinn Féin West Belfast assembly member Fra McCann criticised the IMC yesterday for not examining a spate of attacks on its party members, including high-profile figures.
He was speaking after ball bearings were fired at the living room window of his west Belfast home.
"The window had only been replaced after a similar attack a number of weeks ago," he said.
"This attack is the latest in a long line of such incidents at the homes of republicans throughout west Belfast.
"Whoever is carrying out these attacks has accurate and up-to-date information regarding the addresses of Sinn Féin elected representatives.
"I note that the IMC in their report made no reference whatsoever to the wave of attacks on the homes of Sinn Féin elected representatives.
"Given the suspicions around the involvement of the PSNI in supplying information to the attackers, this is not surprising.
"Those behind these attacks and those who supply them with the information on the addresses of republicans need to know that these sorts of attacks will not stop Sinn Féin representing our communities."
The IMC last night declined to comment on Mr McCann's statement.
However, Ulster Unionist East Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers said: "You couldn't expect the IMC to go into every single incident that has taken place but I condemn without reservation those responsible for the alleged ball-bearing attack. It is disgraceful.
"Accusing the PSNI of supplying information is totally disgraceful and should be immediately withdrawn.
"This (Mr McCann's comments) is not surprising coming from Sinn Féin/IRA representatives who repeatedly accuse the security forces of giving out information to loyalist paramilitaries.
"It is time this so-called political party grew up and lived in the real world."
"Welcome to Electric Acorn, Ireland's premier online literary publication. Each season we seek to bring you the best in unpublished contemporary Irish writing submitted from the Dublin Writers Workshop sessions and from our virtual members. We hope you enjoy your visit."
Horror attack - Postal worker’s ear needed 32 stitches after vicious beating
Community workers from Little America have urged people living in the Glandore streets to be aware of the number of sectarian assaults taking place in the area after a young man almost lost his ear after two men brutally beat him to the ground with bricks and bottles.
The 29-year-old from Little America was walking home from his friend’s house in Glanleam Drive around 1am last Saturday night when two men in their 20s rushed at him shouting “Fenian Bastard.”
They hit him about the head knocking him unconscious before making off, leaving the Catholic postal worker for dead on the ground.
When he awoke his ear was practically severed and his skull was cracked open. In the hospital surgeons managed to save his ear with 32 stitches
and were able to close the wound on his head with seven staples and stitches.
“When I was in hospital I thought that they had bitten my ear, but I was told that it was done with a sharp brick.
“After the first blow everything is just a blur, but I know that I was able to get up and stagger to my friend’s house to get help.”
Recovering in his home, the victim said that he was taking time off work to get over the shock of his assault.
He is cut, bruised and shaken and will carry the scar of the attack for the rest of his life.
The PSNI has labelled the attack as sectarian and said that several days earlier, on April 13, four houses had been attacked and windows broken in Glandore Avenue.
“There is a history of rival factions clashing in this area. They do have a problem with youths and that has always been the case,” a PSNI spokesperson said.
According to Little America Community Development Officer Michael Cunningham an eight strong gang who came from the lower Protestant end of Glandore Avenue carried out the attack on April 13, Easter Tuesday.
“There have been three attacks in the last week and because of that we are putting out a leaflet urging vigilance. We want residents in Glandore to increase their awareness that these things are happening and regularly.
“There were several attacks over Easter and from the victims’ accounts it seems that there is a gang definitely from the bottom end hovering about, waiting for nationalists to come out.
“I have liaised with other interface coordinators in recent weeks and it has emerged that Glandore is the most active. It is hard to know if the attacks are structured or if they are sporadic. But it’s clear that they are consistent, violent and sectarian.”
DUP councillor for Castle Ian Crozier said he condemned the sectarian attack but pointed out that it would wrong to paint the area as a flashpoint.
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Danny Lavery said he was becoming increasingly worried about the nature of the attacks.
“These attacks seem to be unprovoked and every time carried by Loyalists coming from Skegoneill. This attack on this man was a senseless sectarian attack on a Nationalist and it must be condemned by all quarters. I would be calling on nationalists in the area to be extremely careful when walking home or getting a taxi late at night.”
Journalist:: Áine McEntee
23 April 2004
McGuinness Angers Church by Standing Up for Gay Rights
By David Quinn
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, a practising Catholic, has been
attacked by a leading churchman after openly expressing his support
for gay marriage and adoption, as well as abortion under certain
Mr McGuinness, who is interviewed in this week's Irish Catholic, also
denies there is any antagonism in Sinn Fein towards the Catholic
He dismisses Catholic Church opposition to gay marriage, reiterated
in a Vatican document issued last year and says he backs his party's
support for gay marriage and adoption on the grounds that we "live in
a new age of equality".
Mr McGuinness also says he personally supports abortion in cases of
rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is at risk.
Mr McGuinness has been attacked over his remarks by one of the
Church's leading academics. Fr Brendan Purcell, a lecturer in
philosophy at UCD, rounded on Mr McGuinness saying it
is "unacceptable and inconsistent for a Catholic politician to so
drastically detach his politics from the teachings of his Church
in this way".
Father Purcell said: "A person's religious beliefs shouldn't be all
but irrelevant to his politics. A Catholic politician is not bound to
legislate Church teaching, but where your Church teaches that
something is a basic human right, for example the right to life, or
the right of a child to have a mother and father, you can't simply
jettison these teachings from your political life."
He added: "Church/State separation doesn't mean that Catholic beliefs
concerning human rights must not be allowed to influence how
politicians vote. Why should religious beliefs be barred from the
public arena in this way when so many other beliefs, including the
belief in equality, are not?"
In the interview, Mr McGuinness says that both he and Gerry Adams
gain "solace" from attending Mass and that this is respected by other
members of the party.
"I go to Mass every Sunday and I haven't found antagonism in Sinn
Fein to the Church. Sure, people have different views, and different
beliefs in all walks of life and all political parties, but no one
has ever questioned my religion within the party or that I go to
"Gerry Adams, like me, regards himself as a Catholic, and finds
solace in going to Mass as I do. No, I find respect for my faith
within the party as I respect the right of other people to believe
what they want."
Defending his party's backing for gay marriage and gay adoption, he
says: "We undoubtedly live in a new age of equality when people are
becoming increasingly conscious of their rights. We need to ensure
that people are treated with dignity and respect.
"What we need to do is to be compassionate with all these situations.
I am sure that there are many people within the Catholic Church --
perhaps more at priest level than in the hierarchy -- who have
compassionate views on all these things."
Turning to abortion, he says that Sinn Fein is "absolutely opposed to
abortion as a means of birth control".
"Personally, I am opposed to abortion as a means of birth control but
there are difficult situations which occur that society must face up
He says that these include "rape, incest, life-threatening
circumstances facing the mother and ectopic pregnancy".
---Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin
April 22, 2004
RSF HAS NO MILITARY WING
"Republican Sinn Féin has continuously said that it has no military wing nor are we the political wing of any other organisation. We now repeat that statement."
"What are the sources of the so – called 'Independent Monitoring Commission' for its information?
Evidently they are British 'securocrats' and similar bodies in the 26 County state. These Dublin sources are those who ten years ago circulated to the media, news of the existence of a bogus group named the 'IRNA' (Irish Republican National Army) of which nothing more has been heard. Such sources are heavily biased and are not to be trusted."
Community reponse to Commission report
Community organisations throughout Belfast were last night preparing to convene an urgent meeting at the offices of Falls Community Council in order to agree an organised response following widespread fury within the nationalist community at this week’s Independent Monitoring Commission’s (IMC) report.
In a move that sent shockwaves of suspicion and anger throughout the nationalist community, the IMC report – published on Tuesday – resurrected the spectre of Douglas Hurd’s failed “political vetting” policy, first introduced in 1985 to withhold public funds from community organisations at the discretion of security officials in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
In his capacity as Secretary of State, Hurd told the Westminster parliament on June 27, 1985, that public funding would thereafter be withheld from “community groups” which have “sufficiently close links with paramilitary organisations … (which) …would have the effect of improving their standing and furthering the aims of paramilitary organisations”.
This week, almost twenty years later and with the lesson of public funding being withheld from Sinn Fein, the IMC report recommends that “no organisation, statutory, commercial or voluntary, should tolerate links with paramilitary groups or give legitimacy to them”.
“In particular, societies and other similar organisations should make every effort to satisfy themselves that none of their members are linked to paramilitary groups.”
The IMC states that “this whole issue” will be examined in future reports.
Leading community workers in West Belfast yesterday were said to be “furious” and “suspicious” over this development.
And last night it emerged that a broad meeting of community organisations from throughout the city is being convened to focus on this issue in the Falls Community Council’s offices on Monday afternoon at 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, the SDLP has warmly welcomed the IMC report.
“The SDLP welcomes the IMC report. The report sets out the truth.
It details the facts,” said leader Mark Durkan.
“Paramilitary activity means beating people up. It means ripping people off.
“It even helped bring our democratic institutions of government down,” he said.
Blasting the SDLP position, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy accused the party of “supporting the British government in discriminating against the majority of nationalists in the six counties who now vote for Sinn Fein.
"The fact is that the IMC is the mouthpiece of the securocrats who have time and again sought to damage this process.
“The body is not independent and it has no credibility within the broad nationalist and republican community which is angered by the content of the IMC Report,” said Mr Murphy.
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
WHAT THEY LEFT OUT
Communications between Bobby Tohill’s lawyers, those of his alleged abductors, and the IMC calling into question the PSNI version of events failed to warrant a single mention in Tuesday’s 41-page report. That glaring omission could open up the possibility of further legal proceedings, reveals Jarlath Kearney
The public credibility of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) has been hit an early blow after the public release of the organisation’s first report.
The report, which was made public on Tuesday (despite being leaked beforehand through certain sections of the media), recommended that the British and Irish governments should implement punitive sanctions against Sinn Féin over alleged IRA activity.
The establishment of the IMC was announced last September and it was formally constituted on January 7, 2004.
With the broad nationalist community now digesting the detail and implications of the IMC publication, a comprehensive analysis by the Andersonstown News concludes that the report is shoddy in its conclusions, questionable in its recommendations, sweeping in its generalisations, and riddled with a farrago of glaring inconsistencies.
Specifically, the report ‘frontloads’ an alleged abduction incident involving dissident republican Bobby Tohill at Kelly’s Cellars, Belfast, on February 20, 2004. But the Andersonstown News can now reveal that, during the past six weeks, separate communications have been instigated by both the legal representatives of Bobby Tohill and the legal representatives of the four men charged in relation to his alleged abduction, with the IMC’s Belfast-based Secretariat.
Astonishingly, however, these highly significant communications – which we understand on the one hand called into question the PSNI version of events, and on the other hand called into question the standing of any IMC investigation prior to a trial – fail to merit a single reference of any kind whatsoever in the IMC report.
An informed legal source yesterday told the Andersonstown News that this failure by the IMC could now potentially open up further legal proceedings by interested parties.
A judicial review on Monday seeking an injunction to stop publication of the IMC report by legal representatives on behalf of those accused in relation to the Bobby Tohill affair was rejected at the High Court.
It is believed that the IMC relied, inter alia, upon information from the PSNI in forming its report, and specifically on the Bobby Tohill incident.
The Andersonstown News has established that the PSNI’s controversial REMIT team, headquartered at North Queen Street barracks – a unit already linked to several high profile ‘politically sensitive’ cases – is now controlling the investigation into the Tohill affair.
Any up-to-date information supplied by the PSNI to the IMC about the Tohill investigation would, therefore, have had the direct involvement of REMIT.
Although released on Tuesday, the 41-page IMC report – which was brought forward and produced on-demand for the British and Irish governments – had been submitted to both governments on Wednesday, April 14.
The IMC publication purportedly details recent alleged activity by paramilitary organisations and, on that basis, recommends that public funding be withheld from Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP).
Crucially, the IMC was – in a little known parliamentary manoeuvre last December – provided with “immunity from suit and legal process” under legislation that was introduced by the British government through an Order in Council.
The practical legal standing of this apparent ‘immunity’ has yet to be adjudicated upon by the courts, although a written judgement from Monday’s judicial review hearing is now awaited.
Nevertheless, the Andersonstown News can reveal that the IMC, in a sworn affidavit last week, formally refused to waive this ‘immunity’ in relation to the report published on Tuesday.
Bolstered by this perceived ‘immunity’, the IMC used a press conference on Tuesday afternoon – from which the Andersonstown News was excluded, a spokeswoman said she had “no explanation” why – to raise the prospect that the organisation will, in future, publicly identify political figures whom it alleges have “responsibility” for paramilitary organisations.
Yet, bizarrely, later that day in a radio interview, the IMC said it was refusing to identify a single source cited in its report, on the grounds that identifying individuals could jeopardise their safety.
Although the IMC report was initially scheduled for publication in July, both governments called on the IMC to bring its report forward by three months, preceding June’s European elections.
The IMC report fails to mention why the organisation bowed to this political demand made by British and Irish politicians in both governments.
The IMC report says that the organisation has relied upon a range of “official and unofficial sources” in coming to its conclusions – including journalists.
Once again, however, the IMC report fails to provide any detail in terms of the nature, frequency or content of these communications.
In its analysis of the various paramilitary organisations, the IMC report falls at the first fence.
For instance, in referring to the LVF, the IMC specifically points out that, “it handed over some weapons to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in December 1998”.
Yet the IMC completely ignores the IRA’s three acts of putting arms beyond use – all of which have occurred since December 1998 - and the most recent of which, just last November, was characterised by the IICD as “very substantial”.
Elsewhere in the report, in language that can at best be regarded as uncertain, the IMC report states that, “one murder may be attributable to PIRA since 1 January 2003” (our italics). In this statement, the IMC actively chooses to imply culpability about an unidentified incident that it is clearly not prepared to rely upon as verifiable fact.
So, if it is not a verifiable fact, interested observers are asking, why is such a speculative and unsubstantiated comment included in the IMC report?
Despite such semantics in relation to the IRA, the IMC actively chooses to lump mention of murders committed by loyalists, such as those of John Allen by the UVF, James McMahon in Lisburn by the UDA and Andrew Cully by the UVF, together into one single sentence.
And, yet, in a decision that is neither proportionate nor consistent, the Bobby Tohill affair, involving an alleged abduction – not a murder – gets a chapter all of its own and is spread across a page and a half.
Numerous other inconsistencies are apparent in the report.
Despite noting that “charges of membership of a proscribed organisation were withdrawn at first remand” against the four men accused in relation to the Bobby Tohill affair, the IMC report fails to state why this occurred.
By making a single phone call yesterday, the Andersonstown News confirmed that this charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence.
This is significant because first remand hearings have the lowest threshold of proof when bringing charges in judicial proceedings.
The IMC report continues by saying that, “the cases of the arrested people are sub judice. In no circumstances should they be prejudiced”.
Despite this fact – and despite the lack of evidence in relation to the membership charge – the IMC nevertheless, relying on its “official and unofficial sources”, states that “the operation was one planned and undertaken by the Provisional IRA”.
And the IMC report openly ignores any reference to the IRA leadership’s statement denying that any action was ordered in relation to Bobby Tohill.
In yet another amazing inconsistency, despite stating that it “completely rejects” the term punishment beating “which both lends spurious respectability to these attacks and underplays their violence”, the IMC goes on to repeatedly use this precise term – without any qualification – throughout its report.
In relation to the UDA the IMC report notes the “autonomous” nature of local brigades and understands that recent UVF actions “were not sanctioned by the leadership”.
Yet, on the basis of an “indicative pattern” – not a hard fact – the IMC report extrapolates that IRA actions have taken place under “effective direction by the leadership”.
Incongruously, the report later states – in apparent conflict with the earlier statements about the UDA and UVF – the IMC’s conviction that “the leadership of the paramilitary groups is directing rather than seeking to prevent the activities set out in earlier Sections of the report”.
In dealing with Sinn Fein and the PUP, the IMC takes a subtle – but, crucially, qualitatively different - approach, highlighting that “there might not have been a PIRA ceasefire in the first place without influence from the leadership of Sinn Fein”, whilst actively choosing to illustrate its satisfaction that the PUP “exerted a positive influence in achieving the loyalist ceasefires”. The difference between the two observations is stark.
In terms of defining a relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA in order to bolster the case for sanctions, the IMC says that, “it is difficult to be precise”.
However, in the very next sentence the IMC actively chooses to present the situation as it believes “can reasonably be summarised”, asserting an unsubstantiated and unidentified linkage between senior Sinn Féin figures and senior IRA members.
Whilst attempting to play up this alleged linkage, even the IMC report is forced to note that Sinn Fein “is not in a position actually to determine what policies or operational strategies PIRA will adopt”.
Nevertheless, it recommends financial sanctions against Sinn Féin and implies that if the Assembly was sitting, that recommendations would have been made to eject Sinn Fein ministers from office.
Despite the publication of Judge Cory’s reports two weeks ago outlining the detailed and long-standing role played by Special Branch, MI5, and FRU in directing and resourcing loyalist murder gangs, the IMC report fails to make a single mention of the relationship between loyalists and their handlers in various branches of the Crown forces – either historically or currently.
Observers have also noted the contrast between the British Government’s decision not to proceed with a Public Inquiry, recommended by Judge Cory into Pat Finucane’s murder, allegedly due to ongoing judicial proceedings, with the decision a fortnight later to publish detailed material about the Bobby Tohill affair even before the PSNI has submitted its file on the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney
UDA ACCUSED OVER NI GUN ATTACK
A Catholic family targeted during a suspected sectarian gun attack only moved into their home two weeks ago.
The badly shaken victims, a man and his three children, are believed to have been put into a staunchly Protestant estate in Ballynahinch, Co Down by a private landlord.
But the youngsters, aged 15, eight and six, woke in terror when gunmen opened fire on the property overnight.
At least two bullets hit the house, one shattering a living room window and showering the 34-year-old father in glass.
He sprinted upstairs and barricaded his family into a bedroom before phoning the police.
The loyalist Ulster Defence Association has been blamed for opening fire at Calbert Way.
But sources in the area were stunned that the family, who are believed to be from the greater Belfast area, were allowed to put themselves in such danger.
One said: ``They just moved in two weeks ago, but why on earth did anyone put Catholics in there?
``It`s the most singly loyalist estate in south Down. There`s 200 homes and 200 Protestants.
``One guy was run out of that area just because he used to go with a Catholic.
``This family have got themselves caught up in a situation where they have been offered a house by someone who should have known a lot better.``
Although they escaped injury, their ordeal has left them suffering from severe shock.
A living room wall, a hall door and a window were all damaged in the attack.
Jim Wells, a Democratic Unionist Assembly member for the area, hit out at the attack.
He said: ``This was hooligan activity that was meant to intimidate rather than injure.
``But had a child been downstairs we could have been dealing with serious injury or death.``
Margaret Ritchie, a nationalist SDLP MLA for South Down, claimed it was sheer luck that no one was killed.
``How could anyone have taken the lives of three kids into their own hands?`` she asked.
``How much lower will these thugs stoop. This is a disgraceful and despicable incident and no cause in Ireland could explain or justify it.``
Hours after the gun attack army explosives experts defused a pipe bomb in north Belfast.
Sinn Fein claimed the device, filled with shotgun pellets, was discovered outside the home of a nationalist family in the Whitewell area of the city.
Although no one was injured, Danny Lavery, one of the republican party`s councillors, claimed it was a sectarian attack.
He added: ``At a time when unionists are attacking Sinn Fein over spurious allegations of IRA violence they appear to have little to say about serious attacks by unionist paramilitaries against nationalist families.``
THURSDAY 22/04/2004 08:48:32 UTV
Four arrested in NI security operation
Four men were arrested and a suspected sniper's rifle seized during
a major security operation against dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.
Army bomb experts were called in to examine the bolt action weapon
discovered when police stopped cars in south Armagh last night.
Checks are being carried out on the gun to establish if it is
similar to the Barrett rifle used to deadly effect by the notorious
IRA marksman who prowled the area at the height of the violence.
One informed source insisted terrorists only used the type of weapon
recovered for sniper duties.
He said: ``This is used for targets as opposed to combat.``
The arrests were made when officers from Newry halted a number of
vehicles on the Camlough Road.
A firearm was recovered from one of them, a police spokeswoman
Security sources disclosed that the operation was made against
suspected rogue republican paramilitaries opposed to the Good Friday
Agreement who operate in the area. The Continuity IRA, a splinter
organisation who carried out several bombings and shootings in a bid
to derail the peace process, may have been involved, one said.
Officers from the police service`s serious and organised crime team
were heavily involved in the detention.
Police chiefs were also attempting to establish if the rifle
recovered was the same as the lethal weapon used to murder members
of the security forces in the so-called bandit country.
Only one Barrett gun was thought to have ever been found, although
rumours have persisted that a second of the astonishingly accurate
weapons was still in circulation.
``They called it whispering death because you just didn`t hear it,``
said one source familiar with the campaign mounted by the
The arrests came just a day after a damning report into the levels
of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland.
Even though the Independent Monitoring Commission`s dossier focused
on the Provisional IRA and loyalist terrorists, it also backed the
view that dissident republicans remain active with lethal
It is understood police were refusing to remove the rifle from the
car until military explosives experts had carried out intensive
One source said: ``The last thing needed would be for people to pull
this out and something go wrong. Meticulous forensic work will also
have to be done.``
REVIEW TALKS TO RESUME ON TUESDAY
04/21/04 14:53 EST
Talks in the review of the Good Friday Agreement are to begin again next Tuesday, the Northern Ireland secretary has said.
Paul Murphy confirmed the date after he held talks with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen to discuss a report into paramilitary violence today.
He said the governments would be writing to all the political parties in the next few days.
The meeting in London came a day after Mr Murphy's announcement that financial sanctions would be imposed on Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party after the publishing of the Independent Monitoring Commission's report yesterday.
Mr Murphy and Mr Cowen met at a session of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
Mr Cowen said: "We all know where everything is at. We have to get into a dialogue, get into a political discourse, which will address these issues. We are all committed to making this process work. There is a problem with one side of the community about whether paramilitary activity can be brought to an end and whether we can see partnership government put in place to everyone's satisfaction."
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he believed the report's findings would benefit his party on the ground in the North.
Speaking in Dublin today, he said he had been in contact with Irish Premier Bertie Ahern's officials about a urgent meeting to discuss this latest development in the peace process.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan also met British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street today and described the talks as "good."
The SDLP leader described the International Monitoring Commission and Cory reports as a "watershed in the [peace] process".
Following an an hour of talks in Downing Street with Mr Blair, Mr Durkan told journalists: "We made the point to him that . . . . those people who were in denial about collusion on the one hand or ongoing paramilitary activity on the other, can no longer escape in denial and evasion in the way that they have in the past. So the road markings of truth are starting to be painted into this process again and it is about time."
"Those road markings have to stay there very clearly if we are going to move forward on a moral basis to making sure that we achieve an end of paramilitarism, that we achieve a basis for moving forward politically on a credible and clear and consistent way."
Mr Durkan said the kind of sanctions threatened yesterday in the IMC report against politicians with alleged links to paramilitaries would "not have an impact in any real sense on the people they are meant to act upon".
He added: "There is a danger of a vacuum if people decide that because the IMC report spelt out a lot of truths yesterday that it was a bad day for the process. I don't think that a day when truths were told and spelt out is a bad day for this process."
Mr Durkan said he had pressed Mr Blair on calls for a public inquiry into the loyalist murder more than 15 years ago of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane.
Mr Durkan said: "If the Prime Minister thought that Cory and the Finucane case was off his desk, he knows now that it certainly isn't off his desk ... We are not letting up until he and his Government deliver on the full and clear promise that they gave us that if Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into the Finucane case, there would be a public inquiry."
He said reports by retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory and the Independent Monitoring Commission had brought truth back into the process.
Mr Durkan said financial sanctions resulting from the IMC report would not impact on those they were designed to, or impress those they were supposed to impress.
Irish Echo editorial: IMC's political judgments
The speed in which the Independent Monitoring Commission has reported on alleged IRA activity could not contrast more sharply with the reticence shown by the British government in implementing a public inquiry following the Cory Report into the murder of, among others, Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane.
The report by the IMC on paramilitary activity will have serious ramifications for the Northern peace process -- and probably destroys any chance of short-term resolution to the current impasse. It will be used by unionists to block any moves toward a restoration of power sharing on anything but their own terms. Its timing, brought forward by several months at the behest of the British government, has scuppered any hope of an immediate breakthrough. Throughout the report the IMC stresses its own independence yet demonstrably failed to exercise this very independence when asked to report two months in advance of its original deadline.
Sinn Fein is now firmly in the political dog house over claims that the
IRA is involved in racketeering, punishment beatings and abductions. While republicans surely must get their house in order if they wish to sustain their involvement in a devolved Northern government, the report does little more than strengthen the hand of those who seek to prevent change.
Most worryingly, however, the IMC appears to have overstepped its mark with what are overtly political judgments. It calls on all parties in the North to support the criminal-justice system and policing regime -- despite whatever reservations they may have about the speed of reform. This is clearly aimed at Sinn Fein, the majority nationalist party in the North. It has come under considerable pressure from the British, Irish and U.S. establishments for its continued refusal to endorse the North's new policing bodies.
While much attention has been placed on what the Commission had to say about alleged IRA activity, in particular its contention that republicans were behind the abduction of Bobby Tohill, little has been made of its findings regarding loyalist violence.
The UDA and the UVF have engaged in scores of attacks on Catholics in the six years since the signing of the Good Friday agreement. More recently UVF members have turned their attentions to ethnic minorities living in Belfast engaging in a series of racially motivated attacks.
It seems loyalists, despite the recommendation by the IMC that the
Progressive Unionist Party be fined for UVF misdemeanours, will escape the type of scathing criticism that is already being directed at Sinn Fein.
Nationalists, meanwhile, will only have the Police Service of Northern Ireland to rely on to protect them from loyalist aggression -- a police force that most of them still find unacceptable.
The IMC report may be viewed on line HERE
Subject: RUC/PSNI HARRASMENT OF PRISONERS' WELFARE ACTIVISTS
Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Marian Price and Martin Mulholland have issued a statement condemning anRUC/PSNI British colonial police force attack earlier today on a group of prisoners' welfare activists in Derry.
Today's statement said:
"(We) utterly condemn the continuing harassment of (prisoners' welfare) activists in Derry.
"On Tuesday 20th April three (prisoners' welfare activists) were walking down Shipquay Street when they were approached by several members of the PSNI/RUC. Three armed policemen got out of a Landover and grabbed the men by the arms, while undercover members of Special Branch, from two unmarked cars got out and surrounded the men. They were asked their names and other details, including details of (prisoners' welfare) activities. Two of the men approached had been arrested a few weeks ago in the Waterside area along with another man, and brought to Antrim Interrogation Centre, but were subsequently released without charge. They recognised several of the RUC/PSNI personnel from this incident and were surprised that they required their details again. These security force members didn't even search the men so they obviously didn't suspect them of any wrong-doing.
"The questioning was carried out to such a degree and in such an aggressive manner that passers by and members of staff from a nearby bank came out and asked the men if they needed any assistance or if any one could be contacted on their behalves. After the questioning the police returned to their vehicles and proceeded to follow the men around the town, laughing and making jokes.
"(We) demand that this be exposed for what it is; the total
harassment of (prisoners' welfare activists) and of anyone who voices opposition to the Good Friday Agreement. Not only can these men no longer feel free to walk the streets at night, for fear of arrest and detention for a number of days, but they are now also unable to walk down a main shopping thoroughfare, during the day, without being interrogated!
"These events are the latest in a long line of incidents in the Derry area over the last few months which have seen our members stopped on average around six or seven times, as well as having their homes raided and doors kicked in. It was an attempt to embarrass and humiliate our members by singling them out in the busiest street in Derry. It only confirms what (we have) always ascertained that policing in the North
of Ireland is completely unchanged and that "a policing force for everyone" is nothing more than a facade, and that it has not seen an end to the harassment of those who dare to express alternative opinions."
To view full text of Independent Monitoring Commission report click here:
IMC REPORT LEADS TO SANCTIONS, TALKS CANCELLATION
British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy has ordered a cut in state
funding for Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party
following the publication today of the report by the
International Monitoring Commission.
In its first report, the IMC -- a new body set up for the purpose
by the two governments -- called for financial sanctions to be
imposed on the parties, accusing them of being linked to active
paramilitary organisations in the North of Ireland.
On the alleged kidnapping of republican dissident Bobby Tohill,
the IMC declared that this was an operation "planned and
undertaken by the Provisional IRA", although this had been denied
by the IRA leadership.
The report lists a dozen murders carried out by loyalist
paramilitaries since the beginning of last year, five of them by
the UDA. Most are drug related or a product of internal
feuding, but include the sectarian killing of Lisburn Catholic
Republicans view the IMC as little more than a tool of the two
governments, set up outside the terms of the 1998 Goood Friday
Agreement in order to undermine that agreement.
As the political atmosphere soured in advance of today's
publication, It was announced last night that intensive talks in
London aimed at restoring momentum to the peace process have been
Paul Murphy told the British parliament today that the penalties
have yet to be finalised, and Sinn Fein and the PUP have until
next Tuesday to appeal his order cutting their block grant.
He declared: "I am persuaded that it would be right to remove for
a period the entitlement to the block financial assistance paid
to Assembly parties in respect of both Sinn Fein and the
Progressive Unionist Party."
On the basis of their participation in the Assembly, some 120,000
pounds is paid by the British exchequer annually to Sinn Fein,
while 27,000 pounds is given to the smaller PUP.
Murphy also said it was possible that the salaries of Assembly
members could be cut if further reports by the IMC were equally
negative, and that the parties could also be excluded from any
The Dublin government said it accepted the "disturbing"
conclusions of the report that senior members of Sinn Fein are
operating at the highest echelons of the IRA and that the IRA
remains involved in "paramilitary and criminal activity".
In a statement, it said: "The transition to exclusively
democratic means must be completed. We want this to happen once
and for all, and as soon as possible.
The Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, suggested action
on prisoner releases would be better than proposed financial
penalties directed at the political parties. The SDLP described
the proposed fines as "petty cash" to Sinn Fein and a "risible"
Sinn Fein Assembly member for West Belfast Bairbre de Brun said
that her party 'did not accept the IMC and would politically
fight the governments on this report and the sanctions it
She said: "It is complete nonsense that a so called independent
body confirms what he PSNI [police] are saying on the basis of a
briefing from the PSNI.
"The IMC has no credibility with the broad nationalist
electorate. It is a disgrace that the Irish government has
signed up to the establishment of this body in the first place.
"There is of course nothing in the report of the IMC about the
role of the British government in collusion, the continuing
suspension of the political institutions or the continuing
failure to demilitarise or deliver on policing, justice and human
SInn Fein has vowed to fight the sanction at technical, legal,
and political levels.
Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said Sinn Fein was a party
which had been censored for 25 years.
"It didn't stop our politics and if the British government are
foolish enough to think that by imposing financial penalties -
and they are really imposing those financial penalties on our
constituency in terms of the service they are entitled to - then
Sinn Fein will defeat that as we defeated the policies of
exclusion and censorship."
The attempt to use the artificial mechanism of the IMC would not
succeed any more than previous attempts to exclude Sinn Fein, he
Today's IMC report comes as three days of proximity talks,
planned for London next week, involving all the Six Counties
parties and British and Irish officials were postponed.
It is unclear if the talks will proceed before the European
elections in June.
Republicans have accused the British government of acting
deceptively over the talks. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said
the talks cancellation was "unacceptable" and was "an example of
the ad hoc and almost casual attitude of London and Dublin
towards the process."
THE MONITORING COMMISSION REPORT: THE REPORT'S FOUR AUTHORS
The four members of the IMC who compiled today's report are:
20 April 2004
THE former Assembly Speaker is the commission's specialist on Northern Ireland's internal politics.
The 48-year-old was leader of the Alliance Party between 1987 and 1998 and was elevated to the House of Lords in 1996. He was on the party's negotiating team during the build-up to the Good Friday Agreement.
He is also a practicing psychiatrist and an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
Along with John Grieve, he serves on the IMC sub-committee that will deal with breaches of the Agreement that fall within Northern Ireland's internal political system.
THE former head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist unit was a member of the Metropolitan Police for 36 years.
The 57-year-old joined the Met in 1966, first serving in Clapham. As a detective, he worked on the Flying Squad, Robbery Squad and Murder Squad.
He introduced Asset Seizure Investigation in the United Kingdom.
He was also Scotland Yard's first Director of Intelligence and ran the Anti-Terrorism Squad during the period when the Real IRA embarked on a bombing campaign in London between 1996 and 1998.
Mr Grieve retired in May 2002 and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Portsmouth University and Honorary Professor at Buckingham Chiltern University College.
Along with Lord Alderdice, he was appointed to the IMC by the British Government.
DICK Kerr (68), was a member of America's Central Intelligence Agency for more than 30 years, eventually becoming America's chief spy in the early 1990s.
After joining the CIA in 1960, he worked as a Soviet military analyst during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962-63. A Soviet specialist, he later served in senior posts in the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, including the office that provides daily intelligence briefings for the President.
He was the CIA's Deputy Director from 1989 until 1992, and served briefly as the acting Director of the agency before he retired from the organisation in 1992. He is currently a member of corporate boards in the private sector.
He was appointed to the IMC by the US government.
A FORMER senior civil servant in the Republic's Department of Justice, Joe Brosan was part of the Irish Government team that discussed the North-South and British-Irish relations during the early stages of the talks process.
A trained barrister, he held senior posts in the Department of Justice's Garda and Security divisions as well as working on law reform. He became Secretary General of the Department in February 1991.
In 1993 he became the senior aide to Padraig Flynn, the Irish member of the European Commission. He retired from the Irish civil service in 1999 and became a consultant on public and European affairs. He was appointed to the IMC by the Irish Government.
DE BRÚN - IMC HAVE NO CREDIBILITY
--Published: 20 April, 2004
Responding to the Report of the IMC and the British Government response to it, Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast Bairbre de Brún said that her party 'did not accept the IMC and would politically fight the governments on this report and the sanctions it imposes'.
Ms de Brún said:
"Sinn Féin has a substantial electoral mandate across Ireland. The British government does not have one vote in Ireland. We will not accept any proposal which discriminates against our party or our voters.
"Our firm intention is to politically fight the governments on this report and the sanctions it proposes.
"The IMC is not an independent body, it operates outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and is the tool of the two governments. The IMC Report is a proxy report for the securocrats who have done so much to damage the process up until now.
"It is complete nonsense that a so called independent body confirms what the PSNI are saying on the basis of a briefing from the PSNI.
"The IMC has no credibility with the broad nationalist electorate. It is a disgrace that the Irish government has signed up to the establishment of this body in the first place.
"There is of course nothing in the report of the IMC about the role of the British government in collusion, the continuing suspension of the political institutions or the continuing failure to demilitarise or deliver on policing, justice and human rights commitments." ENDS
PUP IN FAVOUR OF RODDY MCCORLEY BRIDGE NAME
A senior member of the loyalist PUP has backed calls from
republicans to name the new bridge on the main Belfast to Derry road
after hanged United Irishman Roddy McCorley.
PUP representative for North Antrim Billy McCaughey said many
Protestants in the area supported naming the bridge at Toome after
McCorley, a Presbyterian who was hanged there in 1798.
"I believe that cross-community support existed to have the new
Toome Bridge named after Roddy McCorley," he said.
He said that with the right approach, agreement could have been
reached, but added: "I don't think Sinn Féin were the right people
to do the approaching".
"The area Roddy McCorley came from (Dramaul, near Randalstown) is a
solidly unionist area but they would mainly be Presbyterians who
would support a radical tradition.
"They maybe wouldn't beat the drum about that era of their history
but scratch the surface deep enough and they would identify with
it," he said.
At the weekend Sinn Féin erected unofficial signs on the bridge
naming it after 'Rodai Mac Corlai', but these were later removed by
Mr McCaughey said the dispute over the naming of the new bridge at
Toome represented a "missed opportunity".
Mr McCaughey said Sinn Féin had "betrayed and sullied the
illustrious memory of Roddy McCorley by their antics".
"He was not a sectarian nationalist, as are a majority of Sinn Féin
members." Yesterday afternoon a security alert caused massive traffic
disruption close to the bridge.
Traffic was diverted around Toome from 2pm after a suspicious object
was found at the new bridge.
British army bomb experts were called to the scene to deal with the
device which they described as "viable".
Police said a number of items had been removed for further
examination. The new bridge was later reopened to traffic.
April 16, 2004
SCHOOLKIDS' ROLE IN BOGSIDE 'PEACE' MURAL
Tuesday 20th April 2004
School kids from across Derry will play a key role in the Bogside Artists' final wall mural on Rossville Street.
The artists - Tom and Willie Kelly and Kevin Hasson - say the "Peace Mural", to be completed this summer, is probably their most important work to date.
It will be the final mural in the series that has come to be known as "The People's Gallery" located in the vicinity of Free Derry Corner.
The final image in the series, say the artists, "won't be just for the Bogside or even Derry - but for people everywhere."
Tom Kelly told the 'Journal': "We are resolved to make the creation of this mural a 'social' event. In other words, we would like to see as many youth leaders, teachers, students etc, to address the problems involved in creating such a mural.
"We would be happy to receive any sketches, paintings or ideas on the subject, although we cannot promise that any ideas we receive will be used. After all, this is not a competition.
"Think of it as a salutary exercise that would enable participants to focus on peace in our city and the obstacles that prevent it.
"Think of it as a way of heightening consciousness of the fact that Derry is our home. The resultant image should, therefore, be positive and effective and hold out hope for all of us for a peaceful future."
The artists' say they can, on request, visit schools, youth clubs or community associations to host a workshop in relation to the peace mural and its design.
"Ten of the best designs will be included in an exhibition that will complement the unveiling of the peace mural this summer," said Tom Kelly.
The new peace mural is the culmination of a "vision" which commenced in 1994, the creation of the mural known world-wide as "The Gasmask."
In all, there are now nine murals along the length of Rossville Street - a unique visual record of more than 30 years of social conflict.
Indeed, Derry City Council has pledged to spotlight each of the murals in a bid to boost its already impressive tourism credentials.
Tom Kelly says that, when spotlit and viewed from the city walls, the murals will "be nothing less than spectacular."
Turning again to the peace mural, Tom Kelly says: "This image will say all that we, as individuals, have been trying to say in one way or another for years.
"it will be a beacon, a lighthouse radiating hope for a better future for ourselves and our children, a glorious statement from the people of the Bogside calling for an end to armed conflict for good.
"As such, it will speak not only for Bogsiders but every right thinking person in the city."
Further information on the Bogside Artists is available on their website at http://www.bogsideartists.com.
JEAN MCBRIDE IN THIRD LEGAL BID
20/04/2004 12:13:48 UTV
The mother of a Belfast man murdered by two soldiers in 1992 vowed
today to keep on fighting until his killers are thrown out of the
Mrs Jean McBride was speaking outside the High Court before the start
of her third legal bid to force the Ministry of Defence to get rid of
Scots Guards Mark Wright and James Fisher.
They were convicted of murdering 18 year-old Peter McBride near his
home in the New Lodge area of Belfast in 1992. But they served only
three years of a life sentence and were immediately re-instated in
Mrs McBride said: "I think it is a disgrace that this has carried on
so long. Everybody except the Army Board thinks they should be put
"They`ve even promoted Fisher to the rank of corporal and I think
that is rubbing salt in my wounds.
"I will never give up the fight to have the two soldiers discharged.
If I am not here then my three daughters will carry on the battle.
"If they tell me there is nowhere else to go other than the European
Court then that`s where I will go to get justice."
Last June the Court of Appeal ruled by a 2-1 majority that the army
was wrong not to discharge the soldiers. But Lord Justices Nicholson
and McCollum stopped short of ordering the army to do so.
Instead, they made a legal declaration that the reasons given by the
Army Board for retaining the soldiers did not amount of exceptional
circumstances - the only reason they could be kept on.
But in September it was revealed that the Army Board had decided
not "to revisit the question of the employment of the Guardsmen." In court today Seamus Treacy, QC, for Mrs McBride, said: "Peter
McBride was murdered on 4th September, 1992. Almost fourteen years
later the two men who were convicted of murdering him still served in
the armed forces of the United Kingdom with the full support of the
military and political establishment in circumstances where it is
clear that many others convicted of much lesser offences have been
Mr Treacy said Queen`s Regulations laid down that a soldier was to be
discharged if he was sentenced to imprisonment, detention or any
other form of custody.
He said 2005 soldiers were discharged under the regulations and 28
were retained - a percentage of 1.4.
Mr Treacy referred to Lord Justice McCollum`s judgement in which he
"One would expect that soldiers who have misused the lethal weaponry
with which they are equipped in order to take away a life without
justification should be regarded as quite unfitted for further army
NI GRANTS WITHHELD AMID PARAMILITARY CLAIMS
2.02PM, Tue Apr 20 2004
Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party are to have Government grants withheld because of alleged IRA and loyalist paramilitary activity.
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy revealed the move in response to a new report on terrorist violence which also accused senior members of the republican party of being leading figures in the Provisionals.
Mr Murphy said the commission had recommended taking action on the salaries of Assembly Members and party funding against Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party.
He said: "I am persuaded that it would be right to remove for a period the entitlement to the block financial assistance paid to Assembly parties in respect of both Sinn Fein and the PUP and I propose to do so next Wednesday." Sinn Fein has vowed to resist any proposal for their Assembly members' salaries to be deducted.
Last year, the Independent Monitoring Commission was set up to observe terrorist ceasefires and whether all sides are honouring commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.
But the IMC is said to have agreed with Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh Orde's verdict that the Provisionals plotted the kidnapping of dissident republican Bobby Tohill.
It was his abduction from a Belfast city centre pub in February and the political fall-out which ensued that persuaded the IMC to rush forward its first report.
Although the IRA denied it had authorised any attack on Tohill, who was rescued by police, Mr Orde's assessment left unionists demanding sanctions against Sinn Fein.
As power-sharing does not exist in Northern Ireland at present, it is believed the commission has looked at the possibility of fining Sinn Fein and the PUP over IRA and UVF activity.
Sinn Fein has always pooled its members' salaries into a fund which goes towards the party and paying all its staff. The party has 24 MLAs and Assembly salaries are worth around £31,000 each.
Following the release of the IMC report, the British and Irish governments are planning intensive all-party talks in London later this month to deal with paramilitarism and other problems in the peace process.
REPUBLICANS BATTLE IN COUNTY DOWN
Sinn Fein has suffered fresh defections from the party in County Down following "reorganisation" within the party structure in the area.
Martin Cunningham, a councillor and Sinn Fein member since 1972, resigned last year following the selection of human rights activist Catriona Ruane as a candidate in last November's assembly election.
That move came as part of the constituency was brought under the control of South Armagh, raising tension with local activists.
Cunningham says he stepped aside as candidate in favour of a female candidate, who he was led to believe would be Bairbre de Brun. However, he was critical of the choice of Ruane, who joined the party relatively recently.
"An unknown person who does not even live in the constituency was imposed on the people despite the misgivings of the local cumann and many in the constituency," he said in a recent interview.
"Consequent to her imposition, the party has saw fit to ignore,
marginalise and, without any consultation, decommission the local party structures, which have worked hard for years to build the profile and status of the party in this area.
"It is a violation of democracy and I cannot sit lightly with a
party that allows a few individuals to violate party principles
and procedures. These particular individuals seem to be well
versed in the British methods of divide and conquer."
He accused Sinn Fein of abandoning republican principles and threatening violence against dissidents like the Ba'ath party of Saddam Hussein. He accused the Sinn Fein leadership of "dictatorship", "censorship", and of losing contact with the party roots.
"The leadership is inebriated with its own success," he said.
"In its bid to top the poll and overcome the SDLP it has in fact
become the SDLP.
"When I read Eamonn McCann recently saying Sinn Fein was now a unionist party I felt that had I read this a year ago it would have seemed like blasphemy.
"But now it is true. Anybody who disagrees with the party is sent on their way - quite a few republicans have gone and what have they been replaced with? It is not a democratic party."
Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin has offered to meet with Mr
Cunningham to discuss his criticisms.
But last week three more activists in the area were understood to have resigned from the party. They include Hugh Gerard Carville, one of the 1981 hunger strikers and two other prominent republican activists in the area, Michael McClelland and John Smyth.
The Laughter of Our Children
If you break a nation's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again. It will listen to no reformer, to no philosopher, to no preacher, until the demand of the Nationalist is granted. It will attend to no business, however vital, except the business of unification and liberation - Christopher Hitchens
Anthony McIntyre • 18 April 2004
The Easter Monday Commemoration in Derry was a larger event than I had anticipated. Perhaps because its organisers are the 32 County Sovereignty Movement I usually half-expect that the public interpret this to mean that no more than 32 should turn up at the group's rallies. Bodies strategically squeezed by the peace process live an anorexic existence, forever faltering on the edge of abyssal isolation. Competing with those who have been funded by the prosperous and the powerful to turn their face against republicanism and divest themselves of any radicalism is an uphill battle. In the case of the 32CSM, there are few votes for war. People register with their feet and usually stomp away in the opposite direction. The movement is numbers repellent.
In any event, myself, my daughter Fírinne and friend Shando arrived in the afternoon . . .
Click on above link to read the document ÉIRE NUA : A Plan for a Permanent Peace in a New Ireland. If you click on the 'Documents' tab, you will also find SAOL NUA as well as other historical documents and articles.
GROUP WITH REAL IRA LINKS TO OPEN CENTRE
Monday 19th April 2004
The News Letter
A POLITICAL group linked to the Real IRA are to open a centre in Derry.
Only days after the 32 County Sovereignty Movement angered relatives
of those murdered in the Omagh bomb atrocity by staging an illegal
Easter commemoration march in Londonderry, it was revealed yesterday
that they are to open an advice centre in the city's Bogside.
As well as being responsible for Northern Ireland's worst terrorist
atrocity in 1998 in Omagh the dissident RIRA were also blamed for
the booby-trap murder of Protestant construction worker David
Caldwell in the Waterside.
A spokesman for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement confirmed
yesterday that their centre, which will be shared with the Irish
Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, who look after the
interests of Real IRA prisoners, will be open within the next couple
He said: "Such is our support in this city that we consider it
appropriate to invest the resources into a centre which can act as
an office for the 32 CSM to continue its political development work
on the ground, as well as a focal point for the families of
The group indicated that they were delighted at the turn-out at
their Easter rally in the Creggan, where the guest speaker was Old
Bailey bomber Marian Price.
* Nationalist sources in Londonderry yesterday said that an INLA
gang, brought in from outside the city, were responsible for the
assault of a 17-year-old youth in Galliagh over the weekend.
The victim is recovering in hospital after being beaten with sticks,
with nails protruding, and baseball bats.
IRISH FREEDOM COMMITTEE® NEWSLIST
Subject: PRISONERS' ILL MOTHER REFUSED VISIT
Date: Monday, April 19, 2004
The Irish Freedom Committee has learned that yesterday Sunday April
18th the mother of republican prisoner JOHN JAMES CONNOLLY was refused a
visit to see her son, when the sniffer dog in the visitors' holding
center sat down at Mrs. Connolly's feet. Mrs. Connolly is in ill
health and must travel over 200 miles to have a visit with her son.
Quite understandably this ordeal has severely upset her son John
Connolly who witnessed his ill mother being manhandled by guards and
physically removed from the visiting area and told to leave without
a visit despite her pleas to "please just let me see my son".
The three other women Mrs. Connolly had traveled with, who were to
have a visit with their brother CONOR CASEY, were also refused their
visit when they protested the treatment being given to Mrs. Connolly.
This mass refusal of groups of particular visitors has been used by
Maghaberry prison before, and indicates an unwritten prison policy
in the use of sniffer dogs of "guilt by association" – all of a group
of visitors traveling together in an instance where a dog sits down
have been considered "guilty" as well and have been refused their visits
Sniffer dogs are ostensibly used by their prison handlers to sniff
out drugs on the person of a visitor—although it is well known that no
Republican prisoner, nor anyone visiting them, has ever been found
with drugs in their possession. In reality sniffer dogs are often used
as a form of psychological intimidation of Republican family members,
including small children. In many instances the same visitors to
particular Republican prisoners have been repeatedly refused a visit
when the dog handler openly yanked on the dog's lead, forcing it to
sit down, canceling the visit for all members of the family group.
We ask our supporters and Members to please stay vigilant as the
weekend incident may indicate an escalation in harassment to family visitors
of Republican prisoners at Maghaberry, in the weeks to come. This
incident follows a steady increase of harassment of Republican prisoners by
Maghaberry prison guards in recent weeks, and it is seen as no
accident that the mother of John James Connolly, the Republican prisoners'
spokesman at Maghaberry, was singled out for this abusive and
degrading treatment. The last incident of a group of family members being
refused a visit was over a year ago, the interim respite due in no small
part to firm and outspoken protest by prisoners' welfare representatives on
UTV REPLY TO SF OVER LISBURN AD
Sinn Féin councillors in Lisburn have reacted angrily to a UTV decision to continue showing an advertisement for Lisburn which uses the slogan “Lisburn A City For Everyone.”
Sinn Féin’s leader on Lisburn City Council, Paul Butler, had written to UTV expressing his concerns about the advertisements commissioned by Lisburn City Council and asked the television company to withdraw the advertisements.
Councillor Butler said that the exclusion of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance from holding senior positions in the Council is an act of blatant discrimination.
“There appears to be no willingness by unionists in Lisburn to share power with nationalists and others,” said Councillor Butler.
“Lisburn Council are using ratepayers’ money to pay for these advertisements yet Catholics and non-Unionist political representatives on Lisburn Council are being discriminated against,” said Councillor Butler.
In response to Councillor Butler’s request, UTV Director of Television Alan Bremner replied: “Whilst I fully understand the position that you are taking, it is essentially a matter which is for Lisburn City Council to decide upon.
“We do not feel that there is a need to change any aspect of the commercial or to remove it. “The decision to purchase airtime on TV is a matter for the Council and its officers.”
Councillor Butler says that he won’t stop there and that he now intends to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency.
“I intend to make a complaint on the grounds that Lisburn Council is discriminatory and Lisburn is not a City For Everyone.
“I don’t object to advertisements telling people to come to Lisburn City but I do object when they promote Lisburn as a city for everyone when it is clearly not.”
NEW HOMES TO BE BUILT ON NOTORIOUS TORTURE CENTRE
The SDLP has welcomed news that the site of the infamous Springfield barracks is to be given over to social housing.
SDLP policing spokesperson Alex Attwood welcomed the news, saying: “The SDLP pressed for the closing down of the Springfield Road police station. It is a real measure of the change in the whole policing situation that police lands are being returned to community use.
“Andersonstown barracks is next. New houses and new community facilities will stand as permanent testimony to what can be achieved by a positive, engaged approach to the new realities of policing.”
The Policing Board announced this week that it had sold the substantial plot of land to the North and West Housing Association.
Springfield barracks was closed in September 2002, but the Policing Board’s Finance and General Purposes Committee were required to approve the conveyancing of the land before the sale could be completed.
The committee announced this week that the land would now be sold for social housing.
However, Sinn Féin councillor Tom Hartley says he is concerned that the area will be starved of facilities.
“It is important that a portion of the site is given over to the community. There is a need for new homes in the Springfield area, but there also need to be facilities to cater for the increase in the population.
“Ideally part of the site should be used for the benefit of the local community.
“In a densely populated area where play parks and green spaces are at a premium, this is an opportunity to bring something positive to the area that should not be allowed to pass,” added Cllr Hartley.
LETTER BOMBS SENT TO ROBINSON AND ATTWOOD
19/04/2004 - 6:05:01 PM
A bomb has been sent to the Belfast offices of Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Peter Robinson, he revealed tonight.
A parcel believed to be packed with explosives and ball-bearings was opened by his daughter as she dealt with mail. It failed to detonate.
A second parcel-type device was also delivered to the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in the city’s Clarendon Docks area.
It is believed to have been addressed to Alex Attwood - one of the nationalist SDLP representatives on the body which holds Chief Constable Hugh Orde to account - and was described as primitive by security sources.
A Board spokeswoman said: “I cannot confirm or deny who it was sent to.”
British army experts were called in to defuse the parcel bomb at Mr Robinson’s headquarters.
Although the East Belfast MP was unclear about who had targeted him, he hit out at the bombers for launching an indiscriminate attack.
He said: “It’s particularly despicable because anybody who sends that kind of device would know that it would not be opened by the member of parliament himself but by a member of his staff.
“For someone to attempt to kill a member of staff because they disagree with me indicates the kind of mind we are dealing with.”
The alert began when Mr Robinson’s daughter Rebecca, who works for him and his wife and fellow DUP MP Iris, was sorting through post at the constituency offices on Belmont Avenue today.
When she opened a jiffy-type bag and discovered suspicious contents, Mr Robinson’s bodyguard urged her to take it out and leave it in a nearby entry.
Police and military explosives personnel were called to the scene and spent several hours dealing with the package.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman confirmed that a viable device had been dealt with at Belmont Avenue. With dissident republican terrorists the most likely grouping behind the attack, Mr Robinson remained defiant. He declared: “Clearly it will not change by one iota any position I have been adopting.
For Immediate Release
19 April 2004
Mc Bride family renew legal challenge over killer soldiers
PAT FINUCANE CENTER
The family of murdered Belfast teenager Peter Mc Bride return to
Belfast High Court tomorrow morning (Tuesday 20.4.2004) to
judicially review the refusal of the Ministry of Defence to dismiss
two soldiers, Mark Wright and James Fisher, who were convicted of
the 1992 murder. In June 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled that there
were no exceptional circumstances justifying retention of the two.
According to internal British Army regulations soldiers sentenced in
a civilian court must be dismissed unless there are `exceptional
reasons' for not doing so.
The refusal to dismiss the convicted murderers of the teenager has
caused widespread anger in Ireland and abroad and has led to a
boycott of NIO Minister John Spellar who was involved in the
decision to retain the Guardsmen. Recently the Mc Bride family
raised the case at a meeting with German consular officials. Wright
and Fisher had been based in Gemany.
For further info contact 07989323418 or see the PFC
ALL-PARTY DISCUSSIONS POSTPONED
04/19/04 14:49 EST
Political talks planned for London next week involving all the Northern Ireland parties have been postponed.
British Government sources said today that they still hoped to hold the discussions before the European elections in June. They added that more work was required.
It had been planned that three days of proximity talks involving Northern Ireland's politicians would be hosted by the British and Irish premiers.
The discussions were due to follow the publication tomorrow of the Independent Monitoring Commission's first report on allegations of continuing paramilitary activity.