**Click on the above link, scroll all the way to the bottom and start reading articles in order from bottom to top (blog style). Seán has published this moving series from AN PHOBLACHT:

"Keep on marching, don't give up"
30 May 1981

This tribute to the detemination and spirit of republican resistance of the four dead H-Block hunger-strikers - IRA Volunteers Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, and Raymond McCreesh, and INLA Volunteer Patsy O'Hara - is written by Belfast republican Jim Gibney, who had the demanding, but privileged task of regularly visiting the former three in the H-Block prison hospital during their fast to the death for political prisoner status.

**Included is also the start of "Earlier history of hungerstriking as a tool for bringing about justice."

Indymedia Ireland

Irish Examiner

**Does this tell you who runs the show? Why bother with elections? Just make Blair and Bertie KING and QUEEN (or vice versa)


26 June 2004
By James Lyons

THE North’s Assembly could be facing dissolution if the feuding parties there don’t come to some decision in the coming months, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday.

Setting a September deadline for resolving the peace process, Mr Blair said the "point of decision" had come to see if the problems that led to the suspension of the Stormont Assembly could be resolved.

Mr Blair said the Government's had set aside several days for intensive negotiations with the parties, but said if those failed the search would start for an alternative. He signalled that the alternative could mean dissolution of Stormont.

Mr Blair said the four key issues the end of paramilitary activity, decommissioning, the institutions and policing were well known.

In a further sign of both governments' impatience with the political stalemate, Mr Ahern said parties could not continue with a series of discussions which produced little. "The question is whether we can come to a final understanding on these issues. We can't keep having discussions that do not lead us to ultimate conclusions," he said.

Irish Examiner

EU-US summit disrupted by protests

26/06/2004 - 2:36:33 PM

The EU-US summit is drawing to a close but the protests in Co Clare are just gaining momentum.

Ambush, a protest against the Bush administration in Iraq and his war policies, has gathered outside the 'Peace Camp' at the N18 is making its way to Shannon Airport.

Many detours have been put in place throughout the county, the main road to Shannon has been closed and several check points have been erected.

A press conference due to begin at 1.40pm was delayed as buses carrying about 300 journalists were unable to get past the traffic and protestors.

President Bush was due to leave directly after the press conference, but his flight from Shannon will now also be delayed.


Tension as Belfast march goes ahead
26/06/2004 - 16:19:06

Belfast was plunged into traffic chaos today as nationalists blocked off main roads in protest at a flashpoint loyalist parade.

With Catholic residents in the west of the city incensed by the authorities reversing their decision and letting Orangemen march through their district, central station and the major West Link route were brought to a halt.

Up to 300 protesters gathered on the Springfield Road amid tight security as the bitterly contested Whiterock procession passed off peacefully.

But the crowds were told Belfast had been gridlocked by others venting their anger at the Parades Commission ruling.

Sinn Féin Assemblyman Alex Maskey declared: “I urge all those who claim to represent the nationalist community to stand by this community which once again has been betrayed.

“The people in this city today have given the message that we will not be treated in this shameful manner.”

The Commission, which rules on all contentious marches in Northern Ireland, originally barred the Orange Order from walking along the Springfield Road.

It cited loyalist paramilitary emblems being displayed 12 months ago and a refusal to talk with residents as the reason for its decision.

But amid intense anger at the ban, and after talks with political and community representatives, the block was lifted.

Marchers were told they must ensure all terrorist flags were removed and a flute band which flouted the rules was told it could not parade.

Riot squad officers lined the route to keep back nationalists holding protest banners while Orangemen and band members came through a heavily fortified peace line.

No tunes were played and some banners were kept furled during the 10-minute procession.

Although some youths threw golf balls at the security forces as they moved out after the march, fears of major trouble proved unfounded.

Alisdair McDonnell, a nationalist SDLP Assembly member, accepted there appeared to be no loyalist provocation but insisted the tense stand-off was far from perfect.

He said: “I just hope that we can find a better method before this happens again.

“The conduct was fine and they (the loyalists) behaved, as far as I could see, reasonably well.

“But I saw a number of faces in the crowd that have little to do with Whiterock Orange Hall.”



Task Force slammed as Sectarian
Sandy Row scheme a ‘slap in the face’ for community workers

Nationalist representatives in South Belfast have reacted with fury to this week’s announcement of a special task force for the Village and Sandy Row.

The task force, made up of senior civil servants and headed by Belfast Regeneration Office, was announced this week by direct rule minister John Spellar and will examine social issues affecting the staunchly loyalist South Belfast districts.

However, nationalist political and community representatives have slammed the move as ‘sectarian’ and ‘a slap in the face’ for grassroots workers struggling to deal with social issues in other deprived areas.

South Belfast Assemblyman and former Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey described the decision as ‘sectarianism at the heart of government’.

“Obviously I would welcome any initiative which seeks to tackle the difficulties and problems in any deprived area in Belfast or anywhere else for that matter,” said the Sinn Féin man.

“However I am concerned that this initiative will actually set one community against another by excluding other areas of South Belfast, such as Donegall Pass, Lower Ormeau and the Markets - which were part of the original neighbourhood renewal scheme alongside Sandy Row and the Village.”

Lower Ormeau community worker and South Belfast Partnership Board member Michael Goodman said the government commitment amounted to nothing more than appeasement after the recent spate of attacks on nationalist residents at Whitehall Square in Sandy Row.

“What it is essentially is a reward for bad behaviour,” said the community worker. “The people in Sandy Row and the Village create problems and the government rewards them.

“This has happened because of Whitehall and the attacks on ethnic communities, that’s why it’s happened now. Someone is advising the Minister along these sectarian lines and he has bought it.”

And the community worker insisted the social and economic difficulties faced by people in Sandy Row and the Village were common across South Belfast.

“The DSD have made a very serious mistake and we are challenging them to produce the evidence to back up statements that these problems are particular to Sandy Row and the Village.

“These problems particularly apply to Taughmonagh, Lower Ormeau and the Markets and there is no justification for special treatment for these two areas alone.”

However South Belfast DUP Association Vice Chairman Christopher Stalford rejected claims that the move was sectarian.

“I don’t see how this could be viewed as sectarian, helping an area that is one of the most deprived in the country,” said Christopher.

“We hope this is a pilot scheme which eventually will be extended across the city to other areas that suffer from social deprivation. I welcome the task force.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Development said that although Protestant working class areas face a unique set of problems all areas will benefit from the scheme.

“It is Government’s aim to use the lessons learned from this pilot exercise to inform work in other areas experiencing problems of a similar nature,” said the spokesperson.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


DPP members call for PSNI vigilance at Ormeau parade

A South Belfast councillor has called on the PSNI to ensure there are no loyalist paramilitary trappings on display at an Orange Order march due to take place on the Ormeau Road tonight (Friday).

SDLP councillor Peter O’Reilly made the call as around 1,000 Orangemen and eight loyalist bands prepare to parade the Upper Ormeau Road and Rosetta, taking in the 21 streets surrounding Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge.

Nationalist residents have expressed concern at the size and nature of the mini-Twelfth parade. However, the Parades Commission has failed to put any restrictions on what is expected to be one of the biggest loyalist marches on the Ormeau Road in recent years.

Local SDLP councillor and District Policing Partnership member Peter O’Reilly said he was dismayed at the mass concentration of loyalist marches in Ballynafeigh.

“I am astonished at the intensity of these parades on the Ormeau Road,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

“They take many shapes and sizes but all of them remain disruptive and to many nationalists intimidatory.

“The PSNI have a duty to ensure there are absolutely no paramilitary trappings associated with any of the loyalist bands marching with Orangemen on Friday night.”

Orange Order Grand Master Dawson Bailey dismissed claims that the Orangemen and loyalist bands marching past Catholic Ballynafeigh and Rosetta homes would be intimidatory.

“People will be out celebrating their culture, history and heritage,” he said.
“I’m asking the local community to be tolerant, we don’t want any trouble or disruption. All we want to do is enjoy our mini-Twelfth.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Three arrested after entering Shannon exclusion zone
25/06/2004 - 15:39:46

Peace campaigner Ed Horgan was one of three people arrested today in Shannon where the Irish security operation for the US-EU summit was under way.

Gardaí confirmed three people were arrested on a boat at the Shannon Estuary, which is beside the airport where US President George W Bush will fly into later today.

The two men and one woman were taken to Foynes Garda Station in Limerick were they were being held for questioning.

Mr Horgan, a retired army commandant from Co Limerick, launched a court action against the Government last year for allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a refuelling stop for US planes bound for Iraq.

A Defence Forces spokesman said gardaí were on board the naval ships patrolling the exclusion zone in the estuary near Shannon Airport,


Parade ruling overturned
The march takes place on Saturday

The Parades Commission has reversed its decision to ban a contentious Orange Order parade in Belfast.

The body had originally barred Orangemen from walking down part of the Springfield Road during the annual Whiterock parade on Saturday.

The Parades Commission had imposed the ruling because of Ulster Volunteer Force paraphernalia on show during last year's march, and the refusal of the Orange Order to engage in dialogue with the residents.

However, on Friday the commission said its review considered a number of changes in the circumstances surrounding the parade which had been communicated to it in meetings with political and community representatives over the last two days.

The commission has now agreed to allow the parade strictly on the grounds that all paramilitary flags and emblems be removed including an Ulster Volunteer Force bannerette.

The Ballysillan Volunteers Flute Band, which it said broke last year's parades rules, would not be allowed to take part.

The commission heard from senior police officers, Sinn Fein and the nationalist Springfield Road residents' group earlier on Friday.

It also talked to the newly formed Parades Forum, which includes senior loyalists, unionist councillors and Orange Order representatives.

'Future parades'

In a statement, the commission said: "In the light of these changes to the circumstances surrounding the parade the Parades Commission has reviewed its determination.

"The Whiterock Parade will now be permitted to enter the Springfield Road, under specific and detailed conditions.

"Any breaches of the determination, or a failure to continue the engagement with residents which has now begun, will impact on future parades.

"The Parades Commission is hopeful that the Whiterock parade will pass off as peacefully in 2004 as it did last year."

Residents spokesman Sean Paul O'Hare criticised the commission's decision.

He said it was disgraceful that his group had not been officially told about the commission's decision.

Belfast's senior police commander, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, said he would work with local communities and their representatives to ensure the parade was peaceful and lawful.

"No-one wants to see a situation where a parade or protest descends into violence and disorder," he said.

"People get injured. Property gets damaged. Life can be put at risk. Whole communities who want nothing more than to get on with their lives are disrupted.

"It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do our best to avoid that."

Preliminary talks on Thursday between nationalist residents and the new forum broke up without agreement.

The Orangemen's route will now take the march from the Orange Hall on the Shankill - around neighbouring streets - then down Ainsworth Avenue, across to Workman Avenue and onto the Springfield Road.

The parade will now proceed up the Springfield Road, along the West Circular and back towards the Shankill.

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

Irish Examiner

Fury and fear as town is turned into a fortress

25 June 2004
By Mary Dundon, Political Reporter

SHANNON residents are furious at US President George W Bush for turning their town into a fortress and making them a target for a terrorist attack, the town's new mayor, Cllr Greg Duff, said yesterday.
Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Shannon Airport tonight when Mr Bush's plane touches down at 8.15pm.

More than 6,600 Irish security and American secret service personnel will be on duty in the biggest security operation ever undertaken in the State.

Despite his reservations about the EU-US summit visit, Labour councillor Mr Duff appealed to all protesters to be peaceful and not to allow the event be hijacked by anarchists. One group of protesters, Ambush 2004, arrived in Shannon last night but refused to discuss its arrangements with gardaí.

"If there is a threat to President Bush, there is an even bigger threat to the people of Shannon because we will be a real target for terrorist attacks for hosting him and afterwards for allowing US warplanes to continue to refuel at the airport," Mr Duff, who is a member of Shannon Residents against the Bush Visit, said.

Mr Bush is set to visit Turkey when he leaves Ireland tomorrow. Yesterday, two bombs exploded there, one killing four people on an Istanbul bus, the other blowing up near a hotel in the capital, Ankara, where Mr Bush is due to stay.

The people of Shannon are not dismissing the threat to Mr Bush in the aftermath of the bombings in Turkey, but most of them feel the security operation is excessive, Mr Duff said.

Every one of Shannon's 3,000 residents was visited by gardaí, and asked for details of their car registration and their likely whereabouts during Mr Bush's visit.

"Shannon people are really angry at this over-the-top security and many are afraid they may not be able to get family members to hospital on time if they are subjected to long delays or not allowed through security points without a pass," Mr Duff said.

Following the EU-US summit in Dromoland Castle tomorrow, there will be a brief press conference.

A major protest march from Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport is planned to coincide with Mr Bush's departure at 2.15pm.

Gardaí said last night they were "fully prepared" and hoped there would be no serious confrontations.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is expected to raise the maltreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay with Mr Bush in a bilateral meeting tomorrow morning.


No agreement in parade talks

The march takes place on Saturday

Talks between nationalist residents and a loyalist lobby group to try to break the deadlock over a contentious Orange Order parade in west Belfast have ended without agreement.

Nationalist residents of the Springfield Road held a series of preliminary talks with the newly formed the Parades Forum, which includes senior loyalists, unionist councillors and Orange Order representatives, on Thursday evening.

The talks follow a ruling by the Parades Commission to bar Orangemen from walking down the Springfield Road during the annual Whiterock parade on Saturday.

The commission is reviewing its decision.

A statement issued by the Parades Forum following the talks said: "We can confirm a range of exploratory meetings have taken place today to create a process of meaningful dialogue on an ongoing basis."

Residents spokesman Sean Paul O'Hare described the meeting as constructive.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has called for calm over the next few days and appealed to everyone to exercise restraint.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland is to meet Orange Order representatives on Friday to discuss security surrounding the parade.


The proposed route would have taken the march from the Orange Hall on the Shankill - around neighbouring streets - then down Ainsworth Avenue, across to Workman Avenue and onto the Springfield Road.

It is at this point the parade has been stopped, barring marchers from proceeding up the Springfield Road, along the West Circular and back towards the Shankill.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris McGimpsey said he hoped the talks between the forum and residents would resolve concerns.

The forum will also meet the Parades Commission in a bid to have the ruling on Saturday's parade overturned.

The Parades Commission had cited previous breaches of codes of conduct for the restriction.

Nationalist residents had threatened a protest along the route if the Orangemen had been allowed through.

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



**Click on the above link to see the Cormac funny


An Phoblacht

The Strand's deputy mayor of Belfast


Photo: Joe O'Donnell and Short Strand residents celebrate his election as Deputy Mayor of Belfast

The old and the new faces of the struggle for independence linked together through continuity of service were very much on display last Sunday afternoon in Belfast's Short Strand area.

The occasion was a party organised by the people of the Short Strand to celebrate the election of Joe O'Donnell, Sinn Féin councillor for the area, as Deputy Mayor of Belfast.

For the people of the district and indeed for myself, coming from the area, it was quite a remarkable occasion.

'Unbelievable', 'fantastic', 'great', 'never thought I'd see it in my lifetime' were just some of the comments from the residents as we watched the Deputy Mayor stroll confidently with the chain of office around his neck into the community centre.

The election of a Sinn Féin councillor for the area three years ago was a tremendous achievement for the people, coming as it did after many years of trying.

To follow this with the election to the second most important civic responsibility in Belfast was an additional boost for the people.

The changing nature of the political times was not just reflected in the election of a Deputy Mayor for Belfast; it was there in the crowd of well wishers, in the photographic display inside the community centre and in the memories of those who lived through the dark days of the war since 1969.

Families of fallen IRA Volunteers Thomas O'Donnell and Gerard Bell, whose brother Jim was also killed by loyalists, mingled with the Bennett family, whose mother, Marie, lost her life with four other women and two men when loyalists bombed the Strand bar in April 1975.

Inside the community centre the photographs on the walls recalled times of great upheaval in the district's history.

The partition of Ireland and the violence used by unionists to consolidate it was unleashed on the people of this parish, which included what we now call the Short Strand.

Between 1920 and 1922, 50 Catholics were killed in the parish which included Ballyhackamore, the Woodstock Road, St Anthony's and St Matthew's.

It was a state-sponsored campaign of terror aimed at driving the Catholic and nationalist people out of east Belfast. The toll was heavy but the people hung on by their fingertips to an area the state wanted them out of.

In doing so they laid a firm foundation for the IRA, which has been a part of the community since then.

This existence was reflected in the photographs which show the aftermath of the internment raids by the British Army in August 1971 and the stiff resistance put up by republicans to the raids.

Burning buses, hijacked lorries, British Army vehicles, burning factories where no Catholics or anyone from the Short Strand worked, and long haired youths were images in the black and white photos.

Some of those long haired youths now in their middle years looked on with pride and pleasure as the Strand's Deputy Mayor smiled and waved.

It was an occasion for others who couldn't attend because of other engagements — Dickey, Harry, Nora, Johnny and Maggie, some of the people who made a difference in the early days and in some cases still are.

Also in my mind were those no longer with us but who were pillars of the republican struggle in the district and who would have thoroughly enjoyed the day: Susie, Ceile, Teasie, Ella, Aunt Una and cousin Mary, Maggie, Nellie and Kido, Davey McConnell, and Geordie Devlin, who sold Republican News for years.

I thought of those comrades from my time who fell: Gerard, Joseph, Rab, Gerard Steele, Martin, (Min) Eddie, Joey, Jackie, Francis and Joey. Part of the community's loss of almost 50 people since 1969.

These are, in Joe's words, our "bridges to the past".

An Phoblacht

Relief as Springfield Road Orange march is re-routed

Photo: Banned paramilitary flags on last year's parade

Nationalist residents of the Springfield Road breathed a huge sigh of relief after the Parades Commission banned a controversial Orange Order parade from the area this Saturday.

The annual Whiterock parade was banned by the Parades Commission from crossing the West Belfast peaceline onto the nationalist Springfield Road, to the relief of nationalists who have, over the years, been put under siege by hundreds of crown forces personnel.

However, in a typical reaction to the banning order, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and the Orange Order have warned that the decision could "threaten law and order and raise community tensions in Belfast".

The decision was branded as an act of sheer madness by the Orange Order and led Ian Paisley to demand a meeting with Tony Blair to discuss the issue.

The Springfield Residents Group called for "level heads" during the coming days and again said they would be prepared to meet the Orange Order to find a compromise.

Seán Murray, a spokesperson for the Springfield Residents Action Group, said "re-routing Saturday's parade was the only right decision that the Parades Commission could have made.

"Year after year we have presented the commission with overwhelming evidence that this parade was sectarian and triumphalist in nature."

Murray added that the Springfield residents have repeatedly offered to meet with the Orange Order to discuss the parade but have been totally ignored.

"We have repeatedly suggested a compromise based on the five-point plan we put to the Orange Order and community groups on the unionist side.

"The plan would have facilitated the Orange Order but every one of those compromises was turned down by parade organisers. Those offers are still on the table for the Orange Order and all they have to do is come and talk to us," said Murray.

One of the reasons cited by the Parades Commission in their determination was that they had little faith that the Orange Order would control those taking part.

The commission also highlighted the fact that while community leaders on both sides were engaged in talks to defuse tensions, the Orange Order had refused to engage in talks with anyone, including the commission itself.

"In the present case, the Commission is not aware of any meaningful engagement having taken place, this despite the hard work across the community to initiate such contacts."

The commission found that the Orange Order had broken assurances given prior to last year's parade that sensitivity would be shown over flags and bannerettes to be displayed while marching through the nationalist area.

And referring to a banner in memory of UVF man Brian Robinson, who was shot dead by the British Army minutes after killing Catholic Patrick McKenna, the Parades Commission said it "does not consider the carrying of a bannerette with a painted image of an Orangeman's face with the words 'Late BRO B Robinson UVF killed 2 September 1989' as a sensitive gesture to the residents of the Springfield Road".

Last year, Shankill Butcher Eddie McIllwane was photographed carrying the bannerette dedicated to Robinson.

Residents have consistently protested about the Orange March, which is the only Loyal Order march in West Belfast that parades along a nationalist area.

Provocative and triumphalist displays of sectarianism have accompanied the march throughout the years and in 2000 a masked UDA colour party was photographed as Orange stewards ushered it into the main body of the parade as members of the RUC looked on.

In 2002, serious trouble erupted along the Springfield Road after the parade. PSNI squads who refused to withdraw from the area were harassing residents, some of whom were prevented from returning to their homes, when the trouble started.

The PSNI fired plastic bullets, injuring a number of people.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has appealed to people on all sides to ensure that this weekends re-routed parade passes off without incident.

He warned that much of the commentary made by unionist political

representatives in the days since the decision was taken "will not benefit efforts to ensure that the march passes off peacefully, and is in contrast to earlier statements from prominent unionist politicians committing themselves to working for a peaceful summer in the city".

An Phoblacht


Photo: Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey (left) with members' of the segregated prisoners' families

Irish people have a long history of struggles to improve jail conditions. In the context of the peace process and promise of the Good Friday Agreement, the harassment and intimidation of prisoners and their families seems out of step, almost unthinkable.

In a small room in West Belfast, the families, mothers and wives, brother and sisters of five remand prisoners currently being held in a segregated unit in Maghaberry Jail described the inhumane conditions and vindictive harassment presently being endured by both the prisoners and their visitors. It is an alarmingly familiar tale.

Four of the prisoners are on remand in connection with the Tohill incident. Regardless of the status of the incident itself, which has been dismissed as little more than a pub brawl, the actions of the PSNI Chief Constable, British Government and IMC have ensured its politicisation.

It appears the prison authorities have needed little encouragement to target a number of segregated remand prisoners for the kind of vindictive and punitive measures reminiscent of the treatment of republican prisoners in the past.

Roe House is a segregated unit within Maghaberry which accommodates 30 Catholic inmates, a number of which are remand prisoners. According to their families, the five remand prisoners are currently enduring 22- to 23-hour lock-up every day.

Until recently, the six-foot by four-foot cells were occupied by two prisoners. Each cell contains a toilet and small handbasin. Meals are taken inside the cell and dishes are washed in the hand basin. A number of prisoners are refusing to shave, cut their hair and wash using the cell facilities while they are forced to use the same sink for washing their plates, bowls and cups.

In the short time allocated outside the cell, prisoners are forced to choose between taking exercise, spending time in the yard, or showering.

"Prisoners using the gym can't take a shower afterwards. They have to wait until the following day. Time outside the cell for taking exercise or washing or collecting a meal isn't allocated separately. Sometimes prisoners taking a shower are forced to miss a meal," says one relative.

"Each prisoner is allowed ten minutes out of the cell to use the telephone," says another relative. "That ten minutes is timed from the moment the prisoner leaves the cell. If the telephone is out of order on the landing they have to run to the next, or if there is a queue to use the phone or their families don't pick up the phone immediately they lose out."

"It's ridiculous. These men are on remand, they are innocent until proven guilty, but the authorities are denying the prisoners proper access to their families by the vindictive enforcement of petty regulations."

In September 2003, the British Government accepted the Steele Review, which accepted segregation on a voluntary basis within Maghaberry Jail and set out in an explanatory publication the conditions to which segregated prisoners are subject.

In the publication, 'Compact for separated prisoners', the prison authorities outlined access to facilities like the gym, education, craftwork and religious observance but the prisoners' experience is very different from that guaranteed in the pamphlet. Relatives of the prisoners are currently considering taking a legal case against the prison authorities to challenge this disparity.

As in the past, harassment of prisoners is often accompanied by the harassment of their families, most particularly over the issue of visits. Currently, to secure a visit the prisoner must inform his family, by telephone, of a number that has been allocated to him.

"This number is changed every couple of weeks and without it family members can't book a visit," explains a relative. "Once you have the number you can telephone the jail and arrange a visit but it must be arranged before 10am on the day of the visit."

"It sounds simple enough but it's almost impossible to get through and even when the telephone is answered you can be kept waiting, or told to ring elsewhere or the telephone is just put down. I've spent hours, the day before and again on the day, on the telephone without being able to get through. And then the visit is lost."

But even when relatives are successful in securing a visit, it doesn't necessarily mean the visit will actually take place. The prison authorities have recently introduced sniffer dogs as part of the pre-visit search routine imposed on the families.

Following an initial search, relatives describe a long corridor marked out with black tape. At each point along the route the visitor must stand and if the dog shows any interest at all the visit is withdrawn.

"Families have been so desperate they have even asked to be searched again so that any suggestion that they are carrying drugs can be eliminated but the authorities just refuse. One day the sniffer dog stopped a six-year-old child. Another day it was a 69-year-old woman," said a relative.

Another relative described a dog described by the prison as a 'trainee' jumping about and frightening the children. "These are fair sized dogs, mostly Labradors and not everyone is comfortable about being confronted by these animals. The dog became so out of control that we were told just to go ahead," she said.

If a child needs to use a toilet during a visit an adult must accompany them and both are then subjected to an additional sniffer dog search. "If the dog reacts at all the visit is stopped and we don't even get the opportunity to say goodbye. It's very distressing for the children."

During visits the rigorous imposition of petty regulations often leads to the visit abruptly being brought to an end. Prisoners are required to remain seated. "Visits have been stopped because a father stood up to retrieve his young child. Another was stopped because a prisoner greeted relatives of another prisoner at an adjourning table," said a relative.

If a prisoner complains about a visit being aborted the riot squad are immediately summoned. "The warden presses a button and six or seven officers in masked and in full riot gear take the prisoner away. Prisoners are repeatedly sent to punishment cells on any excuse. It a terrible experience for children to witness their father being dragged away," said a relative.

The five remand prisoners have been subjected to repeated strip searching. "They are sometimes strip searched two or three times on the way to a visit and again afterwards. The searches take place within a few yards of each other. The prisoner is often strip searched by one warden in view of a second and then handed on to the second warden who conducts another strip search," said a relative. "It's just harassment."

Relatives report that in less than four months they have witnessed the health and appearance of the prisoners on remand deteriorate. "They're all very pale and losing weight, we're very concerned about their health."

Speaking in support of the families, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey said that conditions in the unit are clearly unacceptable and harassment around family contact and visits despicable.

"There are 30 prisoners in the segregated unit and currently they are being subjected to around 6,000 searches a month; this includes cell searches and strip-searches. Cells are sometimes searched repeatedly on the same day," said Maskey.

"The five remand prisoners who are currently being targeted for harassment are Liam Rainey, Gerard McCrory, Harry Fitzsimmons, Thomas Tolan and 'Packy' Leonard. The families of these prisoners are becoming increasingly concerned for their health and wellbeing and have decided to highlight the conditions under which they are presently being held. The difficulties experienced by relatives in maintaining meaningful contact must also be urgently addressed.

"The treatment of prisoners, both remand and sentenced, with respect and dignity is a basic human right and must be adhered to by those in authority," said Maskey.

An Phoblacht


Photo: Gery Adams at Bodenstown with EU candidate David Cullinane and new MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald

Standing on the shoulders of giants was a recurring theme at this year's Bodenstown commemoration, which took place last Sunday. For the first time in a long time, republican Joe Cahill could not attend the celebrations, due to illness, and both Deirdre Whelan, who chaired the proceedings, and main speaker Gerry Adams, marked his absence. Annie Cahill was there, however, and laid the first wreath of the ceremony.

Basking in the sunshine and the afterglow of election success, the crowd of thousands listened while tribute was paid to Theobald Wolfe Tone and to the many republicans since who have struggled to achieve Irish unity. Newly-elected MEPs Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brún also spoke briefly about Sinn Féin's latest electoral breakthrough.

In his main address, the Sinn Féin leader gave an update on the Peace Process and spoke about the party's success in the local government and EU elections.

In the battle of the bands, the much sought after Feargal Caraher Memorial Trophy went to the Glaswegian Seán McIlvenna Republican Flute Band.

What follows is the text of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams' speech.

I'd like to start off by welcoming everybody here today for the annual Bodenstown commemoration.

This is one of the highlights of our calendar, a chance for us to gather together and look at our progress over the year, while honouring a republican hero, Theobald Wolfe Tone.

Tone said during his trial in 1798:

'From my earliest youth, I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain, as the curse of the Irish nation; and felt convinced, that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy.'

We are proud to be Irish republicans in the tradition of Tone and we assert here at this graveside that neither the people of Ireland nor Britain can be truly free or happy while British jurisdiction remains in any part of Ireland.

Our primary political objectives, therefore, remain an end to partition, an end to the Union, the construction of a new national democracy, a new republic, on the island of Ireland, and reconciliation between orange and green.

Building Political Strength

Key to achieving this is the hard, tedious, difficult work of building political strength. By building that strength we will build the capacity to move both the British Government and the unionists and to influence the political agenda in this state.

Last November, Sinn Féin took another step forward in achieving our goals. This party became the largest pro-Agreement party in the North, a significant achievement for a party which, for over three decades, was demonised, marginalised and whose members and families have been the targets of assassination.

Last weekend, Sinn Féin broke the mould of Irish politics by electing Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brún to the European Parliament and by electing councillors right across the southern state.

The front page of An Phoblacht sums it up - 342,000 votes, 2 MEPs, 232 Councillors, 24 MLAs, 5 TDs and 4 MPs.

Taking Risks

We have come a long way from the Ard Fheis 21 years ago when I said: 'If Sinn Féin stands on the sidelines, separate from and isolated from the people, we cannot hope to attract support for what looks like a vague utopian image of some perfect Éire Nua of the future. The solution is for Sinn Féin to get among the people in the basic ways that people accept — this means new approaches and difficult and perhaps risky political positions have to be faced up to by us.'

We have developed those new approaches. We have taken difficult and risky decisions.

We have demonstrated time and time again a preparedness to go on the political offensive, to take initiatives and go toe to toe with our political opponents in the battle of ideas, as well as in the hard job of building workable political partnerships.

Peace Process

A year and a half ago, the British Government suspended the political institutions in the North at the behest of unionism.

Irish republicans have made serious and repeated efforts to work with the two governments and unionists to find a way to resolve this crisis in the process.

Sinn Féin is again engaged in detailed and intense discussions with the two governments. These have been ongoing for some months, including during the recent election campaign, and have now reached a new intensity of dialogue.

Our objective is clear — to restore the political institutions and end the crisis in the process.

Consequently, Sinn Féin is pressing for a comprehensive and holistic package, which deals with all of the outstanding matters in a way that is definitive and conclusive.

In our negotiations with the governments, and in our efforts to achieve a package of measures that will secure progress, we have focused on a number of key issues. These include the need for full participation in the political institutions; the issues of policing and justice, including the transfer of powers to the Assembly; the issue of armed groups and arms; and the issues of human rights, equality and sectarianism.

There are also matters that are clearly the responsibility of the two governments, as well as issues for the Review.

Sinn Féin is committed to playing a full and productive role in resolving these matters.

This means more challenges ahead for Irish republicans.

This means republicans facing up to these challenges, sure in our belief in our republican analysis and confident in our peace strategy.

The reality is that if the political will exists — and republicans have that political will — then we can all collectively make progress. Consequently, the intense efforts to agree a package must continue until there is an agreement or until we have exhausted all possibilities of agreement.

The decision by the governments to put off intensive negotiations until September means that they have bought into the time frame set down by the DUP. Once again, the governments are allowing unionism to set the pace in the process. This is unacceptable.

There is no reason why the effort to resolve this should be put off for the summer and we will put this directly to the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach when we meet next Friday.

A Can-do Party

For our part, we will use our vote wisely. We will not rest on our laurels. Sinn Féin is a can-do party. 342,000 people across this island accept that and gave us their vote.

These votes are not second-class.

Our voters will not be treated as second-class citizens.

Each and every citizen who voted for Sinn Féin is entitled to respect and equality of treatment, exactly the same as every other citizen, and this party will be the guarantor of that. No one has the right to question the democratic credentials of Sinn Féin or our voters. We will work not only for those who voted for us, we will work also for those who did not vote for us.

We also expect the very highest standards from our representatives. We must take our example from the first MP of our generation — Bobby Sands MP and our first TD Kieran Doherty.

We cannot expect to emulate their sacrifices but their integrity, generosity, comradeship and dedication, along with that of Councillor Eddie Fullerton, Cllr John Davey, Cllr Bernard O'Hagan, Sheena Campbell, Vice President Maire Drumm and the many other members of this party and family members and friends who were killed, are the role models for us today.

Remember that our mandate and the rights of our electorate were won on the sacrifices of others and their families.

And remember also that while elections are about numbers, and seats, our interest, Sinn Féin's electoral interest, is in building the political strength necessary to bring about change.

A Real Left Alternative

The motto of the United Irish Movement, founded by Wolfe Tone, was one word — Equality. Inequality has thrived in this state as successive governments pursued right-wing policies with vigour.

The reality is, at a time of great wealth the establishment wasn't listening to people. It heard people. But it chose to ignore them.

The opposition parties have been no better. Labour and Fine Gael are already signalling that once again they are considering an alternative coalition government.

Labour has made this mistake before. Three times in the last 60 years Fine Gael was periodically rescued from terminal decline by being put into government by Labour.

People don't want more of the same. If Labour is interested in alternative politics it should work with others to build a real left alternative, instead of concerning itself with getting Ministerial seats. Little wonder it has been said that the Labour Party went into the GPO with James Connolly in 1916 and never came out again.

A radical agenda to end inequality and advance the Peace Process and Irish unity is urgently required. Let me also point up the need for us to support efforts to revive the Irish language.

I believe that there are people in every political party who support all or some of these objectives.

There are good people in every political party on this island and many more outside of the political parties. I believe that everyone who is committed to ending inequality needs to come together in a broad, even at this point, informal alliance for change. This must include not merely political parties but community groups, voluntary organisations, trade unions, rural organisations, campaigning groups and human rights bodies.

A Lot of Work to do

Last week's election was not just about seats for us.

Our success in the future will be judged by the amount of change we bring about. Already there are rumours and speculation that the government is going to change some of its policies. If that is the case then we have already begun to make an impact. This is our time. Sinn Féin doesn't have all the answers but we have commitment. We have idealism. And we have strategies.

We also have a lot of work to do. We have to open our party up to women comrades and to people who will bring their own life experiences and values. I particularly want to commend Ógra Sinn Féin for their dedicated work and enormous contribution.

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin. We have a year of education, of re-popularising the republican struggle, a year of analysing and learning the lessons of a century in struggle.

We will be launching Coiste Chomóradh an Chéid, The Centenary Committee, to organise and plan these celebrations.

And then in the same period we will have to reflect on how best to remember and celebrate in 2006 the 25th anniversary of Hunger Strikes.

We also intend to relaunch An Phoblacht and I want to mark that up as one of the priorities for activists in the time ahead.

Moving the struggle forward

Let me commend all of our workers and let me thank especially all of those who vote for us. On your behalf I also thank every one of our candidates and their families.

There will be difficult times ahead. We must rise to the challenges before us.

Irish republicans have demonstrated time and time again our capacity to overcome adversity and advance our struggle for freedom and justice against enormous odds.

It is not enough to sloganise. We are not verbalised republicans or rhetorical revolutionaries. We are deadly serious about turning the vision of 1798 and 1916 into a reality.

I believe this generation of Irish republicans will do just that.

It will not be easy. But our responsibility as activists is to make republicanism relevant in our time. This is our time.

So, let us move the struggle forward. Let us keep building our strength. And let us keep our eye on the prize.

The prize of freedom.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

Irish American Information Service

06/24/04 06:52 EST

Campaigners in Ireland have urged members of the public to come out in their thousands to protest at the visit of US President George W Bush to the country tomorrow to attend an EU-US summit.

The Stop Bush Campaign, organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Peace and Neutrality Alliance and the NGO Peace Alliance, held a press conference today on the eve of the President's visit. Mr Bush arrives in Ireland tomorrow night and leaves on Saturday afternoon.

Green Party leader Mr Trevor Sargent said: "If the President of the US is the most powerful office in the world, then George W. Bush, by his actions and attitudes, is the most dangerous man in the world. I urge all law-abiding people who believe in peace to protest loudly at the actions of the Bush administration."

Labour's Mr Ruairí Quinn said that Mr Bush should not be allowed to come to Ireland for "photo opportunities" to support his re-election campaign. He said that the meeting should have been held in Brussels.

Mr Brendan Butler of the NGO Peace Alliance and Richard Boyd Barrett of the IAWM stressed that the protests would be family-friendly and peaceful.

A petition opposing the war in Iraq, organised by Hot Press and the IAWM, is being handed to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, today at Government Buildings. It has collected 20,000 signatures in six days.

A Stop Bush demonstration takes place at 7 p.m. local-time tomorrow at Parnell Square and in various cities around the country. Protests are also due to take place in and around Shannon Airport, where Air Force One touches down tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said today that Ireland must use its presidency of the EU to urge President Bush to end his country's human rights abuses.

In an open letter to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, the human rights group said the US "war on terror" was breaking international humanitarian law.

"With clear evidence of torture by US forces, and no limit on how high up the chain of command responsibility lies, the EU's silence has been shameful and deafening," Amnesty's Irish section director, Mr Sean Love, said.

He urged the Taoiseach to use his position as President of the European Council to tell Mr Bush that international law must be obeyed.

"The summit is the ideal time to confront President Bush with the strength of international opinion on the horrors of the detention centres in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan, and the other secret US locations," the letter says.

Mr Bush should not leave Ireland without a clear message that the EU expects its single most important partner to abide by the absolute ban on torture laid down in international law, it continues.

The leter points out that the EU's new constitution approved by EU leaders in Brussels six days ago affirms the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as the bedrock of the European Union.

"Surely now is the moment for the EU to back up its concern with robust calls on President Bush to ensure that the US opens the doors of its detention facilities not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and other undisclosed locations elsewhere to United Nations human rights experts and independent international human rights monitors."

Ireland's deputy premier, Ms Mary Harney, told the Irish Parliament yesterday that the Government had concerns about a number of aspects of US foreign policy would be "made clear" when Mr Bush visits.


Unionists take top council posts

An Irish Government official was to attend the council meeting

Two unionists have been elected to the top posts in a County Antrim council despite claims of discrimination from Sinn Fein.

An Irish Government official was due to attend Thursday's mayoral elections at Lisburn City Council after nationalist and republican councillors claimed they were being excluded from positions of authority.

The planned visit had been strongly opposed by unionist councillors.

However, Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler said the official had backed out from attending the meeting, and said the party felt a "sense of betrayal" about the move.

Sinn Fein said they had been offered a meeting with the Irish representative after the council's annual general meeting, but that was "not good enough".

At the meeting, the Democratic Unionist Party's Cecil Calvert was elected unopposed as the city's new mayor, with Sinn Fein abstaining from the vote.

He is the first DUP mayor for the area in 22 years.

Ulster Unionist William Gardiner Watson was elected as the deputy mayor, after defeating Paul Butler by 21 votes to seven.

Last year, none of Lisburn City Council's seven nationalist councillors was appointed as a committee chair or vice chair, mayor or deputy mayor, a decision which was criticised by the Irish Government.

Earlier on Thursday, Edwin Poots of the Democratic Unionist Party had questioned the intention of the Irish Government to send an observer to the meeting.

"It is unwarranted, unwelcome and unprecedented interference from the Dublin Government in the internal affairs of Lisburn City Council," he said.

But Sinn Fein's Paul Butler said that the council was not being inclusive.

"We are being treated as second class councillors."
Paul Butler
Sinn Fein

"A system of political apartheid was put in place where ourselves and other non-unionists were excluded," he said.

"A lot of the outside bodies that the councillors are appointed to - nationalists are not on any of them. "

But unionists said that everyone got a fair deal when the committee chair and mayoral jobs were handed out.

Mr Poots said Mr Butler had turned down the offer of vice-chair of the Strategic Policy Committee last year.

He added: "Non-unionists have held the mayorship of Lisburn for four years in the past 10."



In 1972 Kevin Carson was remanded to Armagh before being moved to C-wing in Crumlin Road jail – the same wing where Tom Williams had previously been held. However, it wasn’t long before Kevin found himself moved to the camp at Long Kesh.

Along with the Andersonstown News Kevin returned to the cage where he had spent his youth, imprisoned at the age of 21. The emotional trip back behind the wire where Kevin had once been incarcerated brought the memories of his life in the Long Kesh Camp flooding back.

The debate is ongoing about what to do with the former Long Kesh site, with the idea of a multi-purpose sports stadium being flighted, while republicans are eager for at least part of the site to be kept as a museum. However, moving through the old camp has convinced Kevin that at least part of the former prison should be kept for future generations.

“At first I was moved to Cage 6, that was an internee hut and I was sentenced, but it was also used as a reception cage for new prisoners coming in,” recalls Kevin.

“After that I spent time in Cage 11, it was where the political minds were housed, people like Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands.

“There were a lot of very educated people in there and they were keen to pass down their knowledge to the younger men.

“There were a lot of younger prisoners who were involved in the struggle but didn’t know what the history of the conflict was, here we learnt about Irish history and politics, world politics and the Irish language.”

Most of the internment camp is now gone; what is left is fast succumbing to the ravages of time. Weeds and young trees sprout through the tarmac and the crumbling Nissen huts are also feeling the effects of years of battling with the elements.

To Kevin’s amazement and delight, Cage 17, where he spent the majority of his sentence, is still standing and in salvageable condition. To see it again brought vivid memories flooding back of the time a young Kevin Carson spent here in the mid-70s.

“When I moved to Cage 17 things improved dramatically, we had political status and as such set up an infrastructure with education and cleaning duties assigned on a rota.

“We also had a home industry making wallets, belts, bible covers and other leather goods.”

Kevin recalls seeing the new H-blocks going up.

“We knew that they were building a new prison and suspected they wanted to move us to a new and more rigid regime, but no one could ever have predicted what the building of the blocks would mean.”

As prisoners-of-war held in a camp, republicans saw it as their duty to try and escape, exploiting every opportunity.

There were numerous escape attempts all over the camp, and Cage 17 was no different.

“The tunnelling process was a complicated one,” recalls Kevin.

“I was never involved in the actual digging as I was too big. It was always the smaller men who did that, and for them it was perilous.

“The rest of us would have taken other duties, like disposing of the soil and creating diversions so the screws wouldn’t hear the noise from the digging.
“The soil underneath Long Kesh was a reddish sand and getting rid of it was a real challenge in a grey camp.

“In the end we put it into sandbags and filled the gap between the inner and outer wall of the huts.

“The ground was also very wet and in the morning when the tunnel was opened it had almost always filled with water This would be scooped out in buckets and then strained through cloth to get rid of the red soil before we flushed it down the toilet.”

Morale in the camps was high, and Kevin remembers there being a lot of humour as the men tried to make the best of the situation they found themselves in.

“When new prisoners came in we would always have a bit of banter with them, we would tell them to get their towels for the swimmers, or tell them the screws would go out and put bets on for them if they asked.

“I remember once during the World Cup and all the men were in the end hut. It served as a canteen and was the only hut with a TV.

“We had caught two seagulls using bread and string and in the middle of the match we knocked off the power and let the birds go in the cage.

“It was utter pandemonium as every one tried to get out with these huge birds flying about their heads. I can tell you I was on cleaning duty for a long time after that.”

With the consultation process on the future of the entire 360-acre Long Kesh site underway, Kevin – who’s also curator of the Roddy’s Museum – has very strong feelings about what the future of at least a portion of the site should be.

“Long Kesh is an extremely important part of our modern Irish history, there are children today who have no idea about the Kesh, the H-Blocks or the protests that went on there. In other parts of the world where there have been conflict situations places have been kept as world heritage sites to help promote reconciliation, it is only right that something similar happen here. I have heard the anti-voices, in particular those who say the place should be completely flattened.

“Of course, the Nazis said that about Auschwitz, but remembering the past – the good and the bad – is an important part of building our future.”


We Say
Parades Commission decision the only sensible option left

With some justification, this newspaper has chided the Parades Commission for failing to get tough with the Orange Order who play fast and loose with Commission restrictions on their outings.

For some time, nationalists have been forced to grin and bear the sectarian showboating of kick-the-Pope-bands whose loyalty is to the lowest-priced lager rather than to the victor of some long-forgotten skirmish between rival royals.

In many cases, outrageous breaches of Parades Commission restrictions have resulted in no more than a slap on the wrist for bandsmen who get their kicks from dressing up like paramilitary thugs, complete with dark glasses, combat gear, berets and — lest there be any confusion — banners pledging allegiance to the outlawed UVF and UFF.

By turning a blind eye to the coat-dragging and provocative behaviour of loyalist bandsmen, the Parades Commission may have thought it was opting for the lesser of two evils. Better to have a parade proceed in peace past nationalist homes than for the PSNI to enforce the letter of the law.

The reality is, however, that the loyalist credo is to take a mile when a yard is proffered.

Thus, rather than trying to seek dialogue with their nationalist neighbours, the Orange Order who have breached the Parades Commission rules return to their annual stomping ground each year with an even more belligerent attitude.

There was no contrition from loyalists for the decision to allow a sectarian serial killer to lead the Billy Boys along the Springfield Road last year. Instead, the bandsmen had the audacity, once again, to refuse to speak to the long-suffering nationalists of the Springfield Road... as if they had committed some unspeakable offence.

It was high time for the Parades Commission to adopt the same stance at Springfield which it has adopted at Garvaghy. Orangemen who won't speak to their neighbours don't deserve to be allowed to hem them into their homes in the name of Ulster culture.

Ian Paisley and David Trimble have announced that they are making the Orange right to march past Catholic homes on the Springfield Road their number one priority as the Twelfth approaches. May we respectfully suggest that, to use an Ulsterism, they catch themselves on.

All eyes on Lisburn City Council
All eyes will be on Lisburn City Council today as it holds it AGM.
If Tuesday’s monthy meeting is anything to go by then we can expect a heated exchange if – as expected – unionists carve up the Mayor and deputy Mayor posts as well as the chairs of committees between them. This is what happened during last year’s AGM. Since then the controversial AGM has been raised at both the Dail and Westminister and with their two MEPs Sinn Féin have promised to raise the Council’s ‘equality’ practices in Europe.

A representative of the Irish government will also be in attendance today to monitor what passes for Council business in the last Council in the North which is refusing to work the D’Hondt system, whereby posts are handed out in relation to proportionality.

Besides the Irish government official, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, will also be in the public gallery. During his term in office two years ago the South Belfast MLA opened the Mayor’s Parlour to all communities and was seen as someone who extended the hand of friendship to groups and individuals from throughout the city. This is something that Lisburn City Council should learn from.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP don’t expect any change today with the UUP and the DUP – ahead of next year’s local government election – expected to take the top posts again. During their campaign to win city status Lisburn Council asked all political parties to back it with its slogan: ‘Lisburn, A City For Everyone’.
This is clearly not the case.


Showroom down at Lisburn
All eyes on new City Council’s AGM today

A representative from the Irish government will be in attendance at Lisburn Council today to monitor what is expected to be a highly controversial AGM.

During Tuesday night’s monthly Council meeting angry unionists passed a motion branding the criticism from Fermanagh Council as “unwarranted and unwelcome”. Fermanagh Council passed a motion last month saying that it was “disappointed at the decision by Lisburn Council to exclude nationalists and non-unionists from the positions of chairs, vice-chairs of council committees and membership of outside bodies”.

This followed last year’s AGM when unionists divided the positions of Mayor, deputy Mayor as well as the chairs and vice-chairs between them. In recent months the controversial decision has been raised in both the Dail and Westminister.

The SDLP have intimated that in the unlikely situation that they are offered any committee chairs today, they would not accept them until the D’Hondt system is fully established, with the main posts in the council going to parties in relation to proportionality. And yesterday Sinn Féin revealed that they will be sending their own high-powered team of observers to this afternoon’s meeting consisting of former Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey, current chair of Omagh District Council Seán Clarke and former Mayor of Armagh Council Pat O’Rawe.

Following Tuesday’s stormy council meeting Sinn Féin leader on Lisburn Paul Butler said he expects unionists to once more “carve up” the top positions between themselves.

“We welcomed the motion by Fermanagh District Council,” he said. “Lisburn is living in the Dark Ages and is going against the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. However, our campaign to expose Lisburn will not stop. Now that we have two MEPs we will now be raising the matter of Lisburn Council in Europe.”

With Sinn Féin holding four seats, the SDLP three and Alliance three – out of 30 seats on the Council – the opposition parties on Lisburn are claiming that unionist policies have effectively disenfranchised a third of the electorate – 17,000 voters. And speaking about today’s meeting Lisburn SDLP Councillor Peter O’Hagan said he didn’t expect the AGM would be “any worse or any better” than last year.

“But what I would urge is that in the next year that we address the problem full-on and plan for proportionality, so that next year’s local government elections take place in a neutral atmosphere.

“What happened in Lisburn last year has been noted in this land and further afield.”

Journalist:: Anthony Neeson



• IMC has never visited West Belfast • Member hadn’t read the GFA before appointment
• They accept criticism over their handling of the Bobby Tohill assault affair

Richard Kerr, a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), admitted this week that the body has never visited West Belfast.

Mr Kerr, a former Deputy Director of the CIA, made the startling admission during a wide-ranging interview with the Andersonstown News, due to be published in next Monday’s edition (June 28).

During the remarkably frank interview, Mr Kerr said that he had never read the Good Friday Agreement before taking up his appointment and he accepted that the IMC is outside of the Agreement.

He revealed that he had signed the Official Secrets Act before taking up his position and he confirmed that he accesses “national security information”.
Mr Kerr also indicated that the IMC does not receive raw intelligence, but rather it receives reports and analysis – which members then assess.

According to Mr Kerr it is “a fair point” to criticise the IMC for devoting one full chapter of its first report to the Bobby Tohill affair and only one sentence to the killings of three people by loyalists.

During the interview, he accepted that the British and Irish governments “can use” the IMC in terms of the timing of reports.

And the leading international Intelligence figure admitted that the IMC had made mistakes – particularly in relation to a lack of careful language – and he conceded that he expects the body to make more mistakes in the future, due to the complexity of the issues being dealt with.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney



West Belfast MP comes face-to-face with Stevens

The Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, last night told the Andersonstown News that his meeting with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, John Stevens, has refocused attention on the issue of collusion.

Mr Adams met Mr Stevens in London earlier this week.

Mr Stevens has been responsible for conducting three investigations into issues of collusion, and particularly the Pat Finucane assassination, over the past 15 years.

“First of all I received an invitation from a mutual friend who told me that John Stevens was interested in talking to me,” said Mr Adams.

“I sought advice from the Finucane family and we had the meeting in a hotel in London.

“I put it to him that his investigation was being used as an excuse to delay the inquiry that the Finucane family are seeking into Pat’s killing.

“I told him that 15 years is enough time to sort all of this out.

“Interestingly, he said that the Barrett case could come into court in September, but he couldn’t give any assurances regarding other prosecutions.”

Mr Adams said that the prospect of a head of steam building to the autumn forms the context in which Paul Murphy has been travelling to South Africa – purportedly finding out about truth processes.

“I gave John Stevens my view that this is such a big issue that the British government are seeking to find some way of closing it down – that’s why I see Paul Murphy off defending the breach of a promise to the Finucane family of an inquiry.

“There is no reason why a public inquiry of the kind the Finucane family want could not proceed alongside other proceedings.

“But the British government now know there is a head of steam building around this issue and that, by the autumn at least, Paul Murphy is faced with a decision.

“Our view that this went to the top of British establishment and we told John Stevens that this is such a huge issue that he nearly needed to be bringing it to a conclusion in terms of the peace process and, particularly for those families at the bottom of the hierarchy of victims, to start a process of closure.”

During the meeting, Mr Adams said that he raised a variety of examples where direct collusion or active involvement from state forces has led to killings.

These included the assassination of Sinn Féin Vice-President Maura Drumm by loyalists and the killing of schoolboy Patrick Rooney by the RUC.

“We are now able to go into meet the British government on Friday and raise this on an ongoing basis.

“We already raised the issue with 10 Downing Street before meeting John Stevens and pressed them in relation to Pat Finucane and the fact that Judge Cory’s recommendations in relation to the killings of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright haven’t, according to press reports, been acted upon.

“We gave John Stevens the Sinn Féin perspective that there was, in reality, an administrative policy whereby the state and its agencies co-opted and sometimes organised unionist death-squads to kill citizens.”

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney



Seething loyalist who threatened Andytown News reporter claims parade is set to erupt

A burly loyalist threatened an Andersonstown News reporter at a protest yesterday over the Parades Commission decision to ban an Orange parade from the Springfield Road this Saturday.

And the roly-poly thug went on to warn that loyalists were “prepared for anything” ahead of the banned parade, which many fear may end in violence.

Around 150 loyalists caused teatime traffic chaos when they blocked the Springfield Road in torrential rain yesterday carrying placards blasting the Parades Commission.

But a spokesman for nationalist residents said he remained hopeful that the weekend would pass off peacefully.


Loyalist protesters blocked the Springfield Road yesterday as unionist politicians warned that violent scenes could accompany Saturday’s parade.

The protest, which included about 150 protesters from the Shankill and Springmartin areas, formed a white line picket along the Springfield Road before blocking the road at the West Circular roundabout causing traffic chaos.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News, the protesters said they were “prepared for anything” ahead of this Saturday’s parade.

“This road doesn’t belong to them [nationalists], we have the right to walk along it if we want,” said a protester.

“We want to live in peace and don’t want trouble on Saturday, but we think there will be.

“Sinn Féin told them not to start any trouble last year because of the elections but there will be rioting this summer, no matter what.”

As the protesters blocked the road one loyalist threatened this Andersonstown News journalist and photographer – right under the noses of the PSNI.

“There are people over there who want to come and rip you two apart and I’m not going to stop them. If you don’t f**k off from here now you’ll know all about it.”

Since the announcement by the Parades Commission that Saturday’s parade would not be allowed to pass Workman Avenue and along the nationalist stretch of the Springfield Road there has been angry reaction from unionist politicians.

On Wednesday morning a delegation of unionists led by UUP councillor Chris McGimpsey handed in a letter of protest to the Parades Commission.
Chris McGimpsey said they were handing in a letter to formally request a review of the decision.

"We believe it is wrongheaded, could potentially erode what community relations have been built up on the Springfield Road and is a decision which may well kick us off into a very hot summer," he said.

"We think it is a very poor decision and we will be demanding it be reviewed and rescinded."

Earlier in the week DUP leader Ian Paisley called the decision "disastrous and unacceptable" and said it could heighten tensions.

Mr Paisley said: "Anything could happen on Saturday."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said: “The Ulster Unionist Party would call on everyone involved who has influence to hold their nerve and do all they can to reduce the heat in their community.”

Despite this, nationalist residents said they still hoped the parade will pass off peacefully.

Sean Paul O’Hare said: “We would call on unionist political leaders to use their influence to diffuse tensions rather than provoke them. And we would say to the Orange Order it is still not too late to enter into dialogue, the door is still open.

“Nationalist residents do not want trouble, they want the parade to pass off peacefully and without incident.”

Journalist:: Allison Morris


Irish Examiner

Reports highlights child trafficking

23/06/2004 - 12:39:27 PM

Ten per cent of unaccompanied children coming to Ireland are believed to be the victims of child trafficking, according to a report published today by the International Organisation for Migration.

The report said research had indicated that around 10% of unaccompanied minors arriving in Ireland were smuggled into the state illegally.

The children, aged between three and 17, come mainly from the Balkans, Romania and west Africa.

Pauline Conroy, the author of the report, said it clearly indicated the existence of child trafficking into Ireland.

The Shamrockshire Eagle

**When you're fully awake and feel like actually thinking, go to the SHAMROCKSHIRE EAGLE and read the latest:

Analogies Allowable and Disallowable

Analogies are always tempting. They can however prevent us from seeing what's really going on by becoming a Procrustean bed, to which the corpus of facts can be fitted only by lopping off inconvenient parts. . .

Irish Examiner

Ex-paramilitary prisoners may get legal protection

23 June 2004
By Dan McGinn

FORMER paramilitary prisoners could be offered greater protection from discrimination under the North’s single Equality Bill.

The British government asked various interest groups, in a 196-page consultation paper, whether there should be specific protections for former IRA, other republican and loyalist prisoners from discrimination and inequality.

The document, launched yesterday by Northern Ireland Office minister John Spellar at Stormont, also asked whether victims of the Troubles, pregnant women and mothers, Irish language, Ulster Scots and non-English speakers should also be specifically identified in the bill.

It is envisaged that the Equality Bill, which was the brainchild of Stormont ministers during devolution and harmonises all equality legislation, will tackle inequality in the jobs market, workplace and in the delivery of goods and services.

Ex-prisoners have often complained that the requirement to declare past convictions in job applications has resulted in discrimination against them.

Yesterday’s document suggested the concerns of victims and survivors of the Troubles could be specifically addressed in the bill following the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s recommendation that they be included in the non-discrimination clause of its draft Bill of Rights.

The British government has already decided that discrimination against people on the basis of disability, race, religion, age, political opinion, marriage, gender, sex change, sexual orientation and disability will be covered in the new bill.

The consultation will last until November 12.

Seminars are also being organised across the province to enable various interest groups to consider the proposals.

As he announced plans for the consultation, Mr Spellar insisted that the proposals were not set in stone.

“This consultation document does not provide definitive proposals; no decisions on the content of the bill will be taken in advance of the type of comprehensive and inclusive consultation process we are embarking on today.

“We have come a very long way since the introduction of equal pay legislation in 1970 and we have learned a great deal along the way,” he said.

“The single Equality Bill now gives us the opportunity to harness all that experience, and will serve the people of Northern Ireland for many years to come.”

It is believed that it may take until 2007 before the legislation will finally become law in the


Finucane inquiry 'blocked'

Sir John Stevens met Mr Adams for the first time in London

The British Government is using an investigation into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane to block an inquiry into the killing, Sinn Fein has claimed.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams made the claim during a meeting in London on Tuesday with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens.

It was Mr Adams' first meeting with the police commissioner.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said they discussed the Stevens investigation into the killing of Pat Finucane and the wider issue of collusion.

The hour-long meeting took place in a London hotel on Tuesday.

Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries, the UDA, at his home in Belfast in 1989.

Sir John investigated the killing and concluded that there had been collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

In April, the government confirmed that the retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder.

Finucane family want the government to hold a public inquiry

However, the Secretary of State Paul Murphy said that couldn't happen now because of a case before the courts and the continuing Stevens investigation.

A Shankill loyalist Ken Barrett is charged with Mr Finucane's murder.

After the meeting, Mr Adams said he had told the police commissioner that the British Government was using his inquiry, and the trial of the Belfast loyalist Ken Barrett, as excuses to obstruct the establishment of a public inquiry into the Finucane killing.

"The institutional use of collusion for over 30 years has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, the maiming of thousands more and the terrorising of an entire community," he said.

"The Pat Finucane case is at the heart of all of this.


"That is why the British system is so determined to block a public inquiry."

SDLP Justice Spokesperson Alban Maginness said the meeting was an important step forward in the debate on policing.

"I think it is significant that Sinn Fein has realised that in seeking the truth on the murder of Pat Finucane, engagement is likely to achieve more than boycotting," he said.

The Finucane family has taken a legal challenge aimed at forcing the British Government to set up a public inquiry into the murder.

Mr Adams has met members of the Stevens investigating team before but this was his first meeting with the metropolitan police commissioner.

Fenian Voice

International observers denounce "pervasive" loyalist paramilitary
presence at 2003 Orange Order parades

Report on 2003 marching season documents UDA leader's participation
at head of July 12, 2003 Ardoyne parade, paramilitary bands and flags
at other Belfast parades through nationalist areas

June 20, 2004 Contact: Sean Cahill, 917-972-4965 (U.S.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ipec@ipecobservers.org

New York City – On the eve of the 2004 Orange marching season in
Northern Ireland, two U.S.-based international observer groups
blasted what they described as the "pervasive" presence of loyalist
paramilitaries at several contested Orange Order parades in June and
July 2003. Marching and Disorder, the report on last year's marching
season released today by the Irish Parades Emergency Committee and
the Brehon Law Society, provides photographic evidence that the North
Belfast commander of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) marched at
the front of the July 12th, 2003 Orange parade through Ardoyne. The
report also documents the promotion of loyalist paramilitaries at
other parades and the impact of intense militarization and sectarian
violence on communities.

Marching and Disorder is now available at www.ipecobservers.org.
Copies of the report are being provided to key members of the U.S.,
British and Irish governments, as well as to the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, the Parades Commission, the Police Ombudsman, and
political parties.

William John Borland* and other supporters of the UDA led off the
evening march in Ardoyne, many chanting "U-F-F!"—the initials of the
Ulster Freedom Fighters, a cover name for the UDA. (Videotapes and
photographs are available upon request.) British soldiers and police
in riot gear escorted Borland and his supporters through the
nationalist, mostly Catholic community, which had been sealed off and
shut down for several hours in anticipation of the march. These UFF
supporters also sang the Sash, a song proscribed by Parades
Commission guidelines for marches through nationalist/Catholic areas
due to its sectarian nature. Marching and Disorder also documents the
promotion of outlawed loyalist paramilitary groups by bands and
Orangemen marching in parades in Springfield Road, Short Strand, and
elsewhere in Belfast.

"Last July 12th, hundreds of British soldiers and police in riot gear
escorted the head of the North Belfast UDA through Ardoyne, with the
help of dogs, water cannons and machine guns, past hundreds of
residents who had been under military lockdown for hours," said Sean
Cahill, a spokesperson for the international observers who has
traveled to the north every summer since 1996 as a human rights
observer. "This is deeply disturbing, particularly because in the
days and weeks leading up to the two marches through Ardoyne on July
12th, loyalist paramilitaries made repeated death threats against
Catholics and against individual residents of Ardoyne. The British
security forces' actions last July 12th certainly violated the Good
Friday Agreement's promise of freedom from sectarian harassment."

For the eighth year in a row, Irish Parades Emergency Committee and
Brehon Law Society observers will again observe contested Orange
marches in Northern Ireland this summer. A report on the 2002
marching season, Parading Paramilitarism, also documents paramilitary
participation in Orange marches through nationalist communities.

"Loyalist paramilitary presence was pervasive at several parades last
summer in Short Strand, Ardoyne and Springfield Road," Cahill
said. "This violates Parades Commission guidelines, public order
legislation, and both the spirit and letter of the Good Friday

"The impact of intense militarization in order to facilitate Orange
Order parades has an incalculable negative effect on the residents of
these communities," Cahill said. "Such deployments disrupt the life
of the community—in Ardoyne people were unable to attend Mass, shops
were closed, and movement was restricted. A 12-foot-high mobile wall
erected on the back of army trucks through a large stretch of Ardoyne
effectively silenced any attempted nonviolent protest by nationalist
residents against the sectarian and paramilitary march through their
neighborhood," Cahill continued.

"Such massive military and police deployments reinforce the belief
that an abnormally large and intimidating military and police
presence is needed to protect the parade participants from their
nationalist neighbors," Cahill concluded. "The use of excessive
military force stigmatizes the nationalist community. Both the
unionist and nationalist communities are pushed further away from
dialogue and mediation and the consensus needed if there is to be
demilitarization of society as a whole."

* Borland, who was convicted and served time in jail for his role in
a UDA extortion plot, was publicly revealed to be the leader of the
North Belfast UDA in September 2003. See Ciaran McGuigan, "Brigadier
Bonzer Exposed," Sunday Life, September 7, 2003. Andre Shoukri is
said to have regained control of the group after his release from
prison in March 2004. See Joe Oliver, "Shoukri is seeing psychics,"
The People, June 6, 2004.

Saoirse Online Newsroom


Des Long
Vice President Republican Sinn Féin
17 June 2004

The closing off of a large tract of County Clare in advance of the visit of US President George Bush is akin to the imposition of martial law and must be resisted by the people of Ireland, the vice-president of Republican Sinn Féin said today.

Des Long from Shannon Banks in Corbally said that the measures being taken by the police will disrupt the everyday business of most people in the county.

"It is tantamount to treating ordinary citizens of the 26 Counties as some how suspect at the behest of the American security services," said Mr. Long. "What the police are proposing is a perversion of democracy and a curtailment of free association guaranteed by and enshrined in the Constitution.

"We view such developments very seriously because they represent a further diminution of basic civil liberties and an erosion of fundamental rights of free association and free movement.

"We have always opposed the use of Shannon Airport for military purposes and we did so during the first Gulf War and in the war in Afghanistan and during the invasion of Iraq.

"We also object to the presence of armed American military services in Shannon and condemn the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners by the American military using Shannon as a transit airport.

"The Irish politicians and police should cease pandering to the American paranoia about so called world terrorism and resist all these attempts to generate hysteria and havoc. Instead the visit should be treated as routinely as that of any other head of state."



I.P.E.C. is...
The Irish Parades Emergency Committee (IPEC)
was formed in 1997 as an
independent human rights monitoring organization in response to the
increasing violence surrounding Orange Order parades in nationalist
neighborhoods of Northern Ireland. The committee has, for the past
seven years, trained and coordinated international observers to serve
as independent witnesses. IPEC is based in New York City but observer
teams have included people from England, France, Italy, Germany,
Switzerland, Guatemala, and the Republic of Ireland as well as the
United States.

The report for the 2003 marching season titled "Marching and
is now available on the website listed above.

Yahoo! News - World Photos - AP

**This is what Bush's U.S. policy has brought about in Iraq


By Robert H. Reid
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Islamic militants Tuesday beheaded a South Korean who pleaded in a heart-wrenching videotape that "I don't want to die" after his government refused to pull its troops from Iraq (live links in actual article). He was the third foreign hostage decapitated in the Middle East in little over a month.

Hours later, the United States launched an airstrike in Fallujah on what the U.S. military said was a safehouse used by followers of the country's most-wanted terrorist: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad movement was believed behind the beheading of the hostage, Kim Sun-il.

Fallujah residents said the strike hit a parking lot. Three people were killed and nine wounded, said Dr. Loai Ali Zeidan at Fallujah Hospital. It was the second attack against the terror network in three days, the U.S. military said.

Elsewhere, two American soldiers were killed Tuesday and another was wounded in an attack on a convoy near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The dean of the University of Mosul law school was murdered in another attack against the country's intellectual elite. Gunmen also killed two Iraqi women working as translators for British forces in Basra, Iraqi officials said.

The Arabic language satellite television channel broadcast a videotape of a terrified Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kim's shoulders were heaving, his mouth open and moving as if he were gulping air and sobbing. Five hooded and armed men stood behind him, one with a big knife slipped in his belt.

One of the masked men read a statement addressed to the Korean people: "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America."

The video as broadcast did not show Kim being executed. Al-Jazeera said the tape contained pictures of Kim, 33, being slaughtered but the channel decided not to air it because it could be "highly distressing to our audience."

After news of Kim's death broke, South Korean television showed Kim's distraught family weeping and rocking back and forth with grief at their home in the southeastern port city of Busan.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, addressing the nation on television Wednesday, strongly condemned terrorism and rejected the kidnappers' claim that the 3,000 new troops his government is sending would hurt Iraqis.

"The South Korean plan to send troops to Iraq is not to engage in hostilities against Iraqis or other Arab people but to help reconstruction and restoration in Iraq," Roh said.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry confirmed Kim's death but did not say he was beheaded. However, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, said the body of an Asian male was found west of Baghdad on Tuesday evening.

"It appears that the body had been thrown from a vehicle," Kimmitt said in a statement. "The man had been beheaded, and the head was recovered with the body."

American troops found Kim's body between Baghdad and Fallujah about 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said. The body was identified by a photograph sent by e-mail to the South Korean embassy.

Kim, who spoke Arabic, worked for Gana General Trading Co., a South Korean company supplying the U.S. military in Iraq. He was believed kidnapped several weeks ago.

In a video released by his captors Sunday, Kim begged his government to end its involvement in Iraq.

"Korean soldiers, please get out of here," he screamed in English. "I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I know that your life is important, but my life is important."

The kidnappers gave South Korea (news - web sites) 24 hours to meet their demand that Korean forces stay out of Iraq or "we will send you the head of this Korean."

The grisly killing was reminiscent of the decapitation of American businessman Nicholas Berg, who was beheaded last month on a videotape posted on an al-Qaida-linked Web site by the same group that claimed responsibility for Kim's death.

In Saudi Arabia, American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, was beheaded by al-Qaida militants who had threatened to kill him if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. An al-Qaida group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed photographs of Johnson's severed head.

Although Kim's kidnappers initially set a deadline of sundown Monday for Seoul to meet its demands, they postponed the execution as South Korean diplomats and intermediaries sought negotiations.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, in a dispatch from Baghdad, quoted an "informed source" as saying that negotiations collapsed over the South Korean government's refusal to drop its plan to send troops.

"As a condition for starting negotiations for Kim's release, the kidnappers demanded that South Korea announce that it would retract its troop dispatch plan," the source was quoted as saying. "This was a condition the South Korean government could not accept. As the talks bogged down, the kidnappers apparently resorted to an extreme measure."

After Kim's death was confirmed, South Korea convened its National Security Council before dawn to discuss the government's reaction, said Shin, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. Later, the government reaffirmed plans to keep its 600 troops in Iraq and send 3,000 more by August.

But the government ordered all its nonessential South Korean civilians to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

President Bush (news - web sites) condemned the beheading as "barbaric" and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send the troops to Iraq. South Korea will be the third-largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.

"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the president said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) said no cause could justify the "heartless" murder of the South Korean hostage.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, said they would hand legal custody of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and an undetermined number of former regime figures to the interim government as soon as Iraqi courts issue warrants for their arrest and request the transfer.

However, the United States will retain physical custody of Saddam and the prisoners, while giving Iraqi prosecutors and defense lawyers access to them, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A car bomb exploded in a Baghdad residential neighborhood near the international airport Tuesday, killing three people, including a 3-year-old girl, and wounding six other Iraqis, said Maj. Phil Smith, a U.S. military spokesman.

The recent abductions and attacks appear aimed at undermining the interim Iraqi government set to take power June 30, when the U.S.-led occupation formally ends.

Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said that by week's end, all Iraqi government ministries would be under full Iraqi control.

The coalition official who briefed reporters about the prisoner custody issue said the Americans will keep Saddam and others under U.S. guard even after the June 30 handover because the Iraqi government does not yet have capacity to hold such prisoners, the official said.

U.S. troops captured Saddam in December near his hometown of Tikrit.

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