Captain Bret's Celtic Tattoo Photos

Check out this huge page of Celtic tattoos I ran across. The page takes a long time to load, but the photos and tatts are beautiful.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The Shamrockshire Eagle: The Rising of 1803

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Be sure to visit THE SHAMROCKSHIRE EAGLE this week - lots of good links and history, as usual.



Tom Williams and Joe Cahill

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
20 January 2000


By Laura Friel

Liam Shannon of the National Graves Association and Honorary Sinn Féin Vice President Joe Cahill in front of a portrait of the late Tom Williams in the Felons' Club

When Tom and Joe shared their last days together in the condemned cell at Belfast's Crumlin Road Jail, they were both young men. Joe was the eldest at 21 years of age and Tom was just 19. Four other young men, held in two separate cells, were also facing the death penalty. All six were IRA Volunteers, members of the same unit caught during an operation, convicted for the shooting of a RUC officer and all expecting to die.

A local newspaper recorded the courtroom falling silent after the judgment, ``then the woman at the back of the court shouted and the men drew themselves up to attention, made a right turn and, waving their hands and shouting a few cries, were led away''. But by the time Joe entered the condemned cell, Tom was already making light of it. ``What do you think of this Joe, the great beds we're getting,'' remarked a grinning Tom.

But no amount of banter could dispel the gravity of what lay before them. The executions were scheduled to take place just 18 days after sentencing. An appeal might delay the procedure a few days more. The condemned prisoners settled into a routine of washing, eating and taking exercise, all under 24-hour surveillance by the prison guards. In the cell, Tom and Joe talked. They were not passing time. They were young men facing untimely death and in trying to square that circle, their conversations were immediate and intense.

In the upstairs function room of the Felons Club in Andersonstown, West Belfast, Joe Cahill meets us. Now 79 years of age, Joe is a veteran within the Republican Movement. At Sinn Féin's annual Ard Fheis last year, Joe's contribution was officially acknowledged by awarding him the title of honorary vice president. The honour had been announced amidst a roar of cheers from his comrades, but today that moment seems far away. It's a pensive Joe Cahill who stands to be photographed besides fellow Belfast National Graves campaigner Liam Shannon.

The two men stand beside a portrait of Tom Williams. Behind them, the National and Provincial flags are draped. For over 50 years, republicans have campaigned for the release of Tom Williams' remains. After his execution, as stipulated by the sentencing judge, Tom's body was buried in an unmarked grave within the prison walls. A political hostage, even in death.

It was 1995 before the British government finally agreed to release Tom's body and late last year the remains were removed for DNA examination. On the eve of Tom Williams' funeral, after so many years, there should be some cause for celebration but the faces of the two campaigners tell a different tale. For once, Joe Cahill looks his age. It's been a long and often arduous journey from sharing a condemned cell in Crumlin Road jail in 1942 to this moment.

``We talked about death,'' says Joe. Condemned to hang and unlikely to be reprieved, the two young comrades spoke about their impending ordeal in the language which had shaped their understanding of the world into which they had been born. It was a language of struggle, of collective discipline and individual defiance. It was born out of a political understanding of their predicament and a revolutionary vision for the future.

``It is beyond the powers of my humble intellect to describe the pride of my comrades in knowing that they are going to follow in the footsteps of those who have given their lives to Ireland and the Republic,'' wrote Tom Williams to the then IRA Chief of Staff, Hugh McAteer, about the six men facing execution . And in a message to Oglaigh na hÉireann, he wrote: ``The road to freedom is paved with suffering, hardships and torture; carry on my gallant and brave comrades until that certain day.''

But in the intimacy of their cell, Tom and Joe's conversations were less rhetorical and more immediate. ``We discussed the pending executions,'' says Joe, ``and the prospect of being buried in a prison grave. One day, we promised ourselves, the remains would be reinterred in the republican plot in Milltown cemetery. Tom was very clear, he would die a republican, he wished to be buried as such.''

To his uncle, Charlie Fay, Tom wrote: ``If it comes to the worst, as I'm sure it will, I will face my enemies with courage and spirit, which many gallant Irishmen have done this last 700 years... I am writing this letter to let you know that my heart was in the IRA.'' In Tom's mind there was no doubt. As he prepared himself for death he left those closest to him, his comrades, his family and his cell mate, in no doubt of his wishes either.

On 21 August, the verdict of the court was upheld on appeal and the date of execution was set for 2 September. The following day, the Irish News reported: ``A meeting of the Reprieve Committee, held in St Mary's Hall, Belfast, last night decided, in view of the dismissal of the appeal, to send telegrams... on behalf of 200,000 signatories.'' Telegrams were dispatched to Taoiseach Eamon de Valera and the British Home Secretary Herbert Morrison among others.

In 1940s Belfast, ``being a republican wasn't unusual but it wasn't popular'', recalls Joe. Republicans may not have always attracted the mass support they enjoy today but a court under British jurisdiction threatening to hang Irish Republicans was profoundly unpopular. A campaign to save the six men's lives attracted mass support.

On 30 August, the condemned men were visited by their solicitor. ``I've good news for everybody but Tom,'' he said. Five had been reprieved, only Tom was to be executed. The authorities still wanted their pound of flesh. Joe remembers the stunned silence that followed. It was broken by some of the bravest words ever heard by Joe. ``Don't grieve for me, remember, from day one this is how I wanted it. I wanted to die and I'm happy that you five are going to live.''

But Joe Cahill has grieved, not only for the loss of his comrade and friend but also for the many years of waiting to carry out Tom Williams' final wishes. ``He's always with me,'' says Joe, ``A priest who had been present when Tom was executed described his courage in the final moments of his life.'' Do not pray for Tom, Fr. Alexis had said, pray to him. And in moments of great stress, Joe has found himself doing just that. ``I've always been answered,'' says Joe. ``I'm happy that Tom's remains have finally been released from Crumlin Road Jail,'' says Joe. ``All my hopes and wishes would have been complete if Tom had been buried in the Republican plot. It was his wish. Everything would have come full circle.''

Along the Falls Road, the black flags are flying and everyone has a story to tell. An elderly man remembers a day at school when the classroom stopped for a minute's silence for a man who was being hanged in Belfast. ``Who was the man?'' he had asked his mother later that day. ``Tom Williams,'' came the reply.

A young woman tells of the factory where her mother worked. ``All the Catholic workers sang republican songs,'' she says. ``They were told to stop but my mother sang on.'' Someone else's aunt stood outside Crumlin Road jail in silent vigil during the execution.

In many small ways ordinary people, republican and nationalist, in the north and south of the border, have felt their lives touched by Tom Williams' death. His final wish to be buried in Milltown's Republican plot has not been realised. His wish to be remembered as a republican will continue to be carried in a thousand small voices and hundreds of faithful hearts.


**Tom Williams and Joe Cahill

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

20 January 2000

By Laura Friel

Outside St. Paul's Chapel, mourners pressed forward as Joe Cahill and Liam Shannon gently unfolded a Tricolour over the coffin carrying Tom Williams' remains. For many in the crowd it was a significant moment. Tom Williams was not only home but welcomed by those who knew and loved him best. At the behest of the family, this was not a republican funeral but in the event it was a funeral fit for a republican.

It had been shortly before 11am, Wednesday, 19 January, with crowds of people beginning to gather. Outside traffic came to a standstill as hundreds of mourners continued to arrive. By 11am, the chapel was full to capacity, many people standing along the aisles, filling every available space and still the crowd spilled out into the street and beyond.

And everyone was there. Family, friends, and comrades, young and old. Contemporaries of Tom Williams, now in their 60s and 70s years, a poignant reminder of the passage of time between Tom's execution and this day's funeral mass. Joe Cahill, Tom's cell mate and John Oliver, sentenced to death with Tom but later reprieved. Madge McConville, who had been arrested with Tom, Greta McGlone, Billy McKee, Eddie Keenan and perhaps least known, Nell Morgan, Tom's girlfriend at the time of his death.

Members of Belfast's National Graves Association, who campaigned so long and hard for Tom Williams' remains to be released from Crumlin Road jail, attended - Liam Shannon, Tony Curry, Ann Murray and Frank Glenholmes. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was accompanied by senior members of the party and local Councillors Tom Hartley, Ita Grey, Michael Brown, Michael Ferguson and Belfast Deputy Mayor Marie Moore.

Nationalists and republicans, too young to know Tom personally but who have grown up with the story of Tom Williams on their lips. School children who interrupted their studies to pay tribute to a brave Irish patriot and younger still, a woman comforts a crying toddler, beyond understanding now but one day she will listen to her mother recount this moment.

During the mass, Father Patrick O'Donnell from Clonard drew an analogy from the story of the prodigal son: ``He that was lost has been found. Tom has come home again to his people, his community.'' Fr. O'Donnell recalled the first mass said for Tom ``an hour and a half after his death in prison near to the place of his execution. His comrades were the congregation and the priest conducting the mass broke down and the mass was finished by another.''

Fr. O'Donnell pointed out that Tom Williams had been baptised, taken his first holy communion and made his confirmation at St. Paul's. He said as he walked along Bombay Street, where Tom had lived with his Granny Fay, he often thought of Tom. ``When I see young lads playing football, I remember Tom was once one of these children playing here in this street.'' Fr. O'Donnell said Tom's Granny Fay had taught him to love his country - ``she was a strong Irish woman herself.''

As a teenager, a fire began to burn in Tom's young heart, said the priest. ``He was aware of the wrongs inflicted on his country and decided to right those wrongs.'' But Tom's ``greatest moment'' was at his condemnation to death. Fr. O'Donnell recounted the moment when five of the six men condemned to die were reprieved but Tom was still to be executed. ``Do not grieve for me,'' said Tom to his comrades. ``It is amazing so young a lad could at such a moment speak so well and from his heart.''

Fr. O'Donnell described a prayer card written by Tom to his family and friends just prior to his execution. ``Pray for the cause for which I am dying, God save Ireland.'' The mass was concelebrated by Monsignor Raymond Murray.

As tens of hundreds of mourners followed the Tricolour-draped coffin, hundreds of people lining the route from the chapel to Milltown cemetery further swelled the ranks of the cortege. It soon became clear that this would be remembered as one of the largest funerals ever to take place in West Belfast. More people waited at the cemetery gates as the funeral procession slowly made its way along the Falls Road.

Inside the graveyard, the final moments were reserved for Tom's comrades and friends, who carried his coffin from the hearse to its resting place at the grave of Tom's mother. A few hundred yards away, the republican plot reserved for Tom Williams for so many years remains empty but Belfast's nationalist community had ensured that the funeral of an Irish patriot did not pass unmarked.


Speaking shortly after the funeral of Tom Williams, National Graves Association spokesperson Liam Shannon said: ``Today's funeral and burial of Tom Williams is the end of a campaign which has spanned over 50 years. The National Graves Association has been at the forefront of this campaign and is proud that our efforts have contributed significantly to securing the reburial of Tom Williams in Milltown Cemetery.

``In addition to the funeral service today, the National Graves Association is organising a commemoration event this Sunday. The parade will leave Clonard Street at 1pm and proceed along the Falls Road to Milltown Cemetery. A number of people will speak at the commemoration, including Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and Joe Cahill, who was sentenced along with Tom Williams.

``This commemoration will be a dignified and fitting tribute to the important role which Tom Williams played in the struggle for a free and independent Ireland. It will afford republican communities across the island the chance to pay tribute to the life of Tom Williams. We would appeal to people across the island but particularly here in Belfast to mobilise in large numbers for Sunday.'' of the National Graves Association and Honorary Sinn Féin Vice President Joe Cahill in front of a portrait of the late Tom Williams in the Felons' Club

Joe Cahill

**older Sinn Féin release

Profile of Joe Cahill
Honorary Vice-President
of Sinn Féin

Irish Peace Attainable, Cahill Says. If he did not believe in an ever-fragile peace process, Joe Cahill says he simply would not be part of it.

If he did not believe in an ever-fragile peace process, Joe Cahill says he simply would not be part of it.

As honorary vice president of Sinn Fein, the political party that supports reunification of Ireland, Mr. Cahill remains as optimistic as he is unwavering in his enthusiasm for the never-ending cause of Irish freedom.

Internment without trial was introduced in 1971 in response to the growing civil rights movement and community unrest over continued human rights abuses further provoking popular street resistance and campaigns of civil disobedience. The brutal reaction of the Unionist government in the six counties resulted in the ultimate breach of civil rights - murder by the government - of peaceful protesters at what has become known as Bloody Sunday.

In an interview before addressing the Shamrock Shindig, a day-long celebration of Irish heritage held Saturday at the Clarion Hotel in Scranton, Mr. Cahill said most people back home are disappointed by recent developments.

"I'm very hopeful that the things that have gone wrong over the last few weeks will be rectified," he said.

Over the years Gerry's family has also been targeted by unionist forces. His brother-in-law was killed by the British Army; his brother was shot by the British; several family members have been imprisoned, and his wife and son narrowly escaped injury when a loyalist bomb attack was carried out at their home. To the present day Gerry's health continues to be adversely affected by the years of punishment inflicted during his internment and from his closest call with death, when his body was riddled by automatic rifle-fire in a loyalist death squad attack in downtown Belfast.

Born in Belfast in 1920, Mr. Cahill experienced first hand bitter anti-Catholic prejudices and terrible poverty.

"Ireland, even though it was under British rule at that time, was united," he said. "It was split up in 1921. I'm 80 years of age now, and I hope to see a united Ireland before I die."

Both his parents were Irish Republicans, prompting the young Cahill to get involved at an early age with na Fianna Eireann, the Irish Republican scouts.

At 18, he joined the IRA. In 1942, he was arrested along with five others after an operation against the Royal Ulster Constabulary resulted in the death of one of its members.

All six men were sentenced to death. Five of them, including Mr. Cahill, had their sentences commuted to life in prison, while the sixth volunteer, Tom Williams, was executed in Belfast Prison.

Mr. Cahill was released after serving seven years under an phased amnesty program that freed all IRA prisoners.While on Death Row, he made his peace with God and accepted his fate.

"I found that one of the things that helped me a lot was religion," he said. "I was going to be executed. I was going to another world, and it became quite easy then, once your mind was attuned to that."

Mr. Cahill married Annie Magee in 1956 and the couple had seven children. He again served time in prison for another incident, but continued his activity in the Republican and civil rights movement. During the 1970s, he served as commander of the provisional IRA in West Belfast.

In 1973, he was arrested off the Waterford Coast aboard the ship Claudia while attempting to bring weapons into Ireland. He served two years.He first came to the United States in 1970 and founded Irish Northern Aid.

"From then, I've taken a big interest in Irish-American support," he said. "We realize we cannot achieve our objective on our own. Sometime people 3,000 miles away from Ireland say 'What can I do?' Believe me, they can do a lot," he said. "In my experience, never in the history of America has there been support like there is today."


Shankill set to vote on Adair return

The people of the Shankill Road are to be asked to take a vote on whether “Mad Dog” Johnny Adair should return to the bosom of his former stomping ground.
Though the initiative is still under wraps it’s believed that the Shankill Mirror will conduct the poll when the marching season ends.
It follows months of discussion among residents of the Shankill and shows while some people are glad to see the back of the former C Coy leader, others would welcome him back with open arms.
Adair is due for release from Magaberry jail in January and as he walks out of the prison where he has spent his time off the wings and in the prison hospital for his own safety, the public will be wondering just where he will go next.
Despite any vote, Adair has hinted that he just wants to join his wife Gina and the family when he is released.
His son Jonathan, “Mad Pup”, is currently serving a jail term for drug dealing.
The last person to come home was 21-year-old Alan McCullough, but he was found in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Glengormley.
The Adair family minus dad who was in jail were dramatically evicted from their Boundary Way fortress by the North Belfast UDA in February 2003.
It happened at the height of the bitter loyalist feuding in the UDA that led to the murder of South East Antrim chief John “Grug” Gregg.
One UDA insider said he didn’t believe Adair would return to his Shankill heartland.
“If he wants to come back it’s up to himself, but the position of the UDA was made clear at Westland on the eleventh night. If he had any sense he’s stay away,” said the source.
But the widow of Adair’s former associate Jackie Coulter who was shot dead in August 2000 during the height of the UDA/UVF feud said she hoped Johnny would be coming home.
Agnes Coulter said many people would be glad to see Johnny back on the road.
“The ones in here now just do their own thing. I think the people could trust them after the death of Alan McCullough who was a lovely wee lad. People didn’t like that and the way he was found in that shallow grave,” she said.
“We’ll see what happens, but Johnny definitely has a lot of support. I understand they are going to set it up like a proper vote with a secret ballot. I’ll certainly be voting for Johnny’s return,” she said.
A spokesman for the Shankill Mirror said it could not comment on the speculation, but said there had been much interest in the issue of Adair’s impending release.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


I Once Knew a Boy...

Dolours Price • 17 July 2004

I have just read Geraldine Adams' piece on the disgraceful scenes in Ardoyne on July 12th. Fair play to her, her article hit the nail on the head. My own tongue-in-cheek piece reflected her view but certainly not with her very, and appropriate, political comment.

Perhaps my own experiences with Gerry Kelly as a comrade on a difficult mission in England and our subsequent imprisonment together leaves me somewhat emotionally vulnerable to the person. We went through a lot together. It causes me a great deal of pain to ridicule the boy I once knew to be stubborn, anti-establishment, arrogant as only those who are convinced of the rightness of their cause can be. A man-boy who endured the same rigours of hunger-strike and force-feeding as myself, my sister, Hugh Feeney and others on our failed mission.

>>>Read it


McGuinness: Cahill was 'great name in Irish nationalism'
24/07/2004 - 12:46:48

Veteran republican Joe Cahill will rank alongside some of the greatest names in Irish nationalism, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness claimed today.

The Mid-Ulster MP said Mr Cahill, who died yesterday after a year-long battle with asbestosis, would be regarded in the same light as nationalist icon Robert Emmet, 1916 rebel Padraig Pearse and IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands.

Mr McGuinness said: “I think the Irish republican Diaspora in Ireland and all over the world will be deeply saddened by the death of someone who they very much saw as a father figure.

“At this time our thoughts go out to his wife Annie and his children who I have visited this morning.

“Like Joe, Annie suffered incredible hardships while they devoted their adult lives to the struggle.

“For me Joe was as true and honest as the day was long. He was a man who was always committed to peace and played a pivotal role at key points for the republican movement, including the 1994 cessation.

“When people look back on his role, they will come to the conclusion that Joe Cahill was rock solid and he will stand alongside the likes of Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Padraig Pearse, Maire Drumm, Bobby Sands and Mairead Farrell.”

In the early 1970s Mr Cahill was identified by the British army as the IRA Chief of Staff.

In 1942 he was reprieved from a death sentence for the murder of a policeman in an ambush in west Belfast.

His colleague Tom Williams, however, was hung.

He was released from jail in the 1950s but in 1973 was imprisoned again by a court in Dublin for gun-running from Libya.

From the mid-1970s onwards he played a greater role in Sinn Féin, serving as its general secretary and treasurer and became a mentor to the future generation of leaders including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

In 1986 Cahill spoke in favour at the party’s annual conference of a motion to abandon Sinn Féin’s boycott of the Irish parliament.

The motion for Sinn Féin members to take their seats if elected to the Dáil was carried but led to a bitter split and the formation of the breakaway party, Republican Sinn Féin.

In 1994 as the IRA prepared for its cease-fire, US President Bill Clinton granted Mr Cahill a visa, enabling him to lobby key Irish American sympathisers behind the move.

In 2003 Mr Cahill received a standing ovation at Sinn Féin’s annual conference in Dublin when he told delegates: “We have won the war, now let us win the peace.”

For the last year, his illness had confined him mainly to his home and Mr McGuinness claimed today that Mr Cahill drew great satisfaction from watching Sinn Féin’s recent European election and local government election successes in the Republic of Ireland on television.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams also paid tribute to his mentor.

The west Belfast MP said: “Joe Cahill spent a lifetime in struggle.

“He was both a leader and a servant of the republican cause.

“He was an unapologetic physical force republican who fought when he felt that was the only option but he also significantly stood for peace and was a champion of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, travelling to the UN on many occasions on behalf of the party.”

Derry Journal

Irish Language Activists Welcome Move In Europe

By Michael Mcmonagle
Friday 23rd July 2004

Irish language activists in Derry have welcomed the announcement that the Irish government are to apply to have the Irish language recognised as a official working language by the European parliament.

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney congratulated everyone who was involved in the ST¡DAS campaign for their 'hard work and determination' on the issue.

Speaking this week Mr McCartney said, "Irish speakers throughout Ireland were very disappointed that the Irish government did not seek the status of official working language of the EU during the Irish Presidency. I am delighted that they are to do so now." "Irish language activists and speakers have tirelessly lobbied to ensure that the Irish language will no longer be treated as a second-class language within the EU," he said. Commenting on the timing of the announcement by the Irish government, Mr McCartney said, "It can not be purely coincidental that the Irish government announced its intention on the day in which Sinn FÈin's two new MEPs entered the European Parliament. The intention of our two MEPs to lobby within the Parliament for the adoption of the Language as a working language of the EU was widely known."

The announcement was also welcomed by Irish language activists from An Gaelaras in Great James' Street. The acting director of the centre, Donncha Mac Niallais, described the move as an 'historic step.'

"This will have far reaching implications for all those involved in the promotion and use of the Irish language," he said.

"If the application is successful, it will create job opportunities for translators and interpreters within the Irish sector and will raise the profile of the Irish language," he added.

"We would like to congratulate Stadas, the group who brought Irish speakers together from all over the Island to campaign for a reversal of the Irish government's original decision not to pursue the matter further. The success of their powerful and high profile campaign will be warmly welcomed both north and south of the border."


Family's shock at lenient sentence

Nichola Dickson had been strangled and stabbed

The parents of a woman stabbed to death by her boyfriend say they are shocked by the Attorney General's ruling that his sentence was not unduly lenient.

David Thomas McCord, 34, from Alford Park, Dundonald, murdered Nichola Dickson in Ballycarry in 2003.

He was sentenced to life in prison and told he must serve at least 11 years before he could be considered for parole.

Lord Goldsmith concluded the tariff was adequate within sentencing guidelines.

Nichola's parents said they were shocked by the decision.

The 26-year-old's body was found by her mother in a bedroom at the house on the Hillhead Road.

"We should all be working for more effective interventions to stop the levels of violence towards women that every year result in physical and emotional injury and leave families bereaved."
Hilary Sidwell
Women's Aid

Her father Philip said her life was worth more than 11 years.

"I think it's an affront to humanity, the sentence. What the guy got doesn't merit what he has actually done," he said.

"If you put the thing into perspective, he actually didn't murder Nichola as such, he slaughtered her - he butchered her - and the sentence doesn't reflect that at all."

The Women's Aid Federation said the courts seemed to be saying murdering a woman who was your partner provoked a punishment of less than 12 years.

Hilary Sidwell, Director of Northern Ireland Women's Aid Federation said: "The message to abusive men needs to be that violence towards women will not be tolerated and that offenders will be severely punished.

"Women have the right to proper safety and justice and we should all be working for more effective interventions to stop the levels of violence towards women that every year result in physical and emotional injury and leave families bereaved."

Ulster Unionist East Antrim MP Roy Beggs said he was disappointed by the Attorney General's decision.

"There is a wider issue here that involves the disparity in sentencing between Northern Ireland and England and Wales," he said.

"Home Secretary David Blunkett toughened up the law on statutory life sentence tariffs in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, yet typically the Northern Ireland Office, instead of extending the changes to Northern Ireland opted for a consultation process on whether to introduce the new standards.

"Therefore families like Nichola Dicksons' have been doubly hurt by the knowledge that had this crime taken place in another part of the United Kingdom, their daughter's murderer would face a longer sentence automatically, at the very least 15 years.

"This clear inequality must end now."


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


An Phoblacht

**Posted from An Phoblacht last November


By Martin Spain

Photo: Joe and Annie Cahill

Last Saturday night, republicans gathered at the City West Hotel in Dublin to honour a man rightly described by Martin McGuinness as a colossus of the struggle. Up to 900 friends, family and comrades attended the testimonial function for Joe Cahill, a stalwart of republicanism since the 1930s.

A host of musical talent entertained throughout the night, including Cormac Breathnach and Niall Ó Callanáin, Noel Hill and Liam O'Connor, Tony McMahon and Barney McKenna, Barry Kerr and friends, Terry 'Cruncher' O'Neill and Spirit of Freedom. Céilí dancing has long been a passion of Joe's and he was also treated to a performance by dancers from Derry's Glen Gallaigh Céilí Club, joined by under-16 world champion dancer Leanne Curran.

It wasn't long before Joe's exploits over the decades of struggle were aired, Marian Reynolds of Irish Northern Aid in particular reminding the audience of Joe's tremendous impact in the United States on behalf of the republican struggle. "Joe founded Irish Northern Aid," Marian reminded the crowd as she made a presentation on behalf of the US-based group. "It was a pleasure working with him over the years."

Martin McGuinness

The main address was delivered by Martin McGuinness, who said he was "delighted to be here" after what had been a hectic week, a reference to his attendance as a witness at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry. "A number of people asked me was it very stressful," he said. "I haven't talked to the lawyers for the soldiers since Thursday so I don't know how they feel."

He thanked each individual for their attendance in support of Joe, Annie and their family, adding that this testimonial night was important for the entire republican family. "This man is a towering colossus of our struggle over many many decades," he said.

"My first memory of Joe was seeing him on television in the Bogside when I was 20 years old. I saw what I took to be an elderly gentleman wearing a cloth cap. That image has always stuck with me. In the terrible circumstances of how the nationalist community of Belfast had to live, here was this man in a cloth cap, challenging the might of unionism and the British Government. Joe is an ordinary man who has done extraordinary things with his life, and he did it for his beliefs and for his community.

"He stood forth and, with the support of others, built a movement, joining with others across Ireland to take the battle to the British. He was not afraid of danger, nor was he in it for himself. Joe was never afraid to risk his liberty or his life in the struggle for Irish freedom.

"We have built a movement that now stands stronger than ever before, and that is because of people like Joe Cahill. The people I would have looked up to were Joe and Séamus Twomey, JB O'Hagan and John Joe McGirl, among others, people who gave leadership at a time of great crisis.

"We owe a lot to Joe, Annie and their family. It hasn't been an easy life for any of them, involving hardship, separation and uncertainty over where they would live.

"Joe travelled the world to advance the struggle. They recognised him as a freedom fighter. Without that massive contribution our struggle wouldn't have been as effective as it has been over the past 30 years."

McGuinness then moved on to talk of Joe's vital role in the strategy that has led republicans to today's political juncture, referring to the split of 1986. Faced with the obstacles created by the enemy, he said, republicans in the past had had a tendency to run at the wall. "We adopted a different approach. We would go under the wall, over the wall or around the wall, by any means possible. It was difficult for many older people to come to terms with this different approach to winning freedom. Without the support of people like Joe and JB at that crucial stage we wouldn't be where we are today.

"In 1986 Joe showed that he was youthful in his mind. He was prepared to learn from the mistakes of the past. He gave his support and we benefited from it."

McGuinness then referred to the looming Assembly elections. "In these elections we may do well, he said. "We may do very very well. If we do it will be thanks to Joe Cahill.

"We love Joe Cahill very much. He is an icon of our struggle. And we love Annie Cahill very much for standing by him, and his children too. And we respect the Cahill family for their courage, determination and refusal to give up.

"We are very confident of our ability to win this struggle and we are determined to do that. Joe will be with us at all times and we will always remember his contribution to our key objective, an end to British rule in our country and the establishment of a 32-County republic."

Frances Black

Dublin singer Frances Black then took to the stage to pay a personal tribute. "I am absolutely and utterly honoured to be here tonight," she said. I first met Joe Cahill in the early 1980s, the Hunger Strike years." Frances recalled "amazing sessions" in her parents' home involving Joe and Annie, Joe's great friend the late Bob Smith, and his wife Bridie. She had lost contact with the Cahills until recent years, when she began travelling to Belfast to perform at the West Belfast Festival and had been the recipient of frequent hospitality in the Cahill home. "The thing I remember most about Joe is his stories," she said. "One afternoon in the house he told me the story of Tom Williams. Then Annie sang the ballad of Tom Williams. That was an unforgettable moment for me.

"Joe and Annie's dedication to and passion for the struggle has been an inspiration to us all."

As her personal tribute, Frances delivered a heartfelt rendition, unaccompanied, of Down By the Glenside, aka The Bold Fenian Men. There was a heedful silence throughout, everyone captivated, until she delivered particular emphasis to the lines, 'We may have brave men, But we'll never have better', and the room erupted in applause.

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams was in good form when he spoke briefly. Referring to McGuinness' address, he quipped "it's good to see these old IRA people paying tribute to each other".

He drew attention to the presence in the hall of Madge McConville, who had spirited away the weapons in the operation that saw the arrest of Tom Williams and Joe Cahill: "My wife said to me, 'aye, and she didn't decommission them."

He then called on Annie Cahill to sing the Ballad of Tom Williams, which was ably delivered, to great applause.

Joe Cahill

Joe Cahill then rose to speak. Despite recent ill health, he had plenty to say and took the time to say it all. This has been a very emotional night for me," he said. "I didn't anticipate that so many people would turn up. When I was listening to Martin, I had to take a look around to see who he was talking about. But I have had a long life. I have had a good life. I have had a lucky life, where many people have helped me."

He recalled an incident a number of years back when, being discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, he had looked out a window onto Cave Hill and thought back over the centuries of struggle, beginning with the discussions of the United Irishmen on that hill, and of their aim of changing the names of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter to Irish people. He recalled Thomas Francis Meaghar, who brought the Tricolour from the barricades of France to the Irish nation, with the Green and Orange sections standing for Catholic and Protestant, respectively, and the White in the middle for the truce between them.

Recalling his decades of involvement in the republican struggle, he said: "People always ask me, what keeps you going? I always think of Bobby Sands and 'that thing inside that says I'm right'. That's what drives me on. I know we're right. There was also no revenge in Bobby Sands' heart. His revenge 'will be the laughter of our children'.

"I think also of my comrade Tom Williams and the last days I spent with him in the condemned cell, and his letter to his comrades and the then Chief of Staff - 'The road to freedom will be hard, many's a hurdle will be difficult. Carry on my comrades until that certain day'.

"It was Tom's desire to be taken from Crumlin Road Prison and be buried in Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast. This is what determination and consistency in work does. I thought it wouldn't happen until we got rid of the British but people worked long and hard and we got Tom's remains out.

"I too have a dream. In 2005, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin. We may not have our freedom by then but we can pave the way by then. Hard work brings results.

"I would hope that by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, we will have seen the dreams of the United Irishmen. We will by then have seen the hand of Protestant and Catholic clenched together honouring the Tricolour. We will have seen that certain day that Tom Williams talked about, the day of freedom, and we will have had our revenge, the laughter of our children, as written about by Bobby Sands.

"This leadership of Sinn Féin will bring us to freedom. I am proud to serve under them and ask you to do everything in your power to give them your support."

Joe then turned his attention to the women in his life, recalling that in this regard he has been most fortunate. "I owe a terrible lot to Annie," he said. "Never once did she say don't or stop. She always encouraged me." He recalled how, in an interview with An Phoblacht earlier this year, he had expressed just one regret, the suffering of his family. "That was tough," he said. "I often thought of Annie struggling with our son Tom and the six girls, Maria, Stephanie, Nuala, Patricia, Áine, and the baby, Deirdre. They are a credit to her and I thank God for people like my mother and Annie."

Joe finished with a typically passionate flourish to spur his listeners on to greater efforts. "Whatever little you've done in the past, do that little bit more and by Christ we'll have our freedom."

This was a very special night and those who were lucky enough to be there will have come away inspired by the example of one man and his family but aware that we are all part of the republican family and we are all on the one road. Joe Cahill has played a major role in that shared journey of struggle but, to copy Joe in echoing Bobby Sands, we all have our part to play.


**Posted by Stasi


Published: 23 July, 2004

Irish republican Joe Cahill died in Belfast tonight after a short
illness. Joe was 84 years of age and was Vice President of Sinn Féin at
the time of his death. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams paid tribute to
Joe and extended his sympathy and solidarity to Annie and the Cahill
family - Tom, Maria, Stephanie, Nuala, Aine, Patricia and Deirdre.

Mr. Adams said:

"Joe Cahill spent a life time in struggle. He was both a leader and a
servant of the republican cause. In the difficult years of the 1930s and
1940s he and his contemporaries stood against the partition of Ireland
and for Irish unity and he was imprisoned on many occasions for his

"He was an unapologetic physical force republican who fought when he
felt that was the only option but he also significantly stood for peace
and was a champion of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, traveling to the US
on many occasions on behalf of the party.

"In many ways Joe was the father of this generation of republicans and
he had the capacity to relate both to young people and his
contemporaries. His contribution to Irish republicanism will ensure that
he will be remembered for many generations to come.

"Joe Cahill will be deeply missed by all those who knew him. I measc
laochra na nGael a raibh sé."


12:54am (UK)



Ian Graham
PA News

Veteran Republican Joe Cahill died in hospital late last night, Sinn Fein
announced today.

The father figure of the modern Republican movement, Cahill had been jailed
on a number of occasions and was sentenced to death in the 1940s for the
murder of a policeman. The his sentence commuted to life imprisonment after
the intervention of the then Pope.

Cahill, 84, was an honorary life vice-president of Sinn Fein.

He died in Belfast where he had been a leading light in the IRA for many
decades, named by the army in the early 1970s as the IRA's chief of staff.

He was released from jail in the early 1950s after serving only part of his
life sentence, but was put back behind bars in 1973 for gun running.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, paying tribute to Cahill said: "Joe Cahill
spent a lifetime in struggle. He was both a leader and a servant of the
Republican cause."

He said in the 1930s and 40s he was one of those who stood against the
partition of Ireland and for Irish unity, and was imprisoned on many
occasions for his beliefs.

Mr Adams added: "He was an unapologetic physical force republican who fought
when he felt that was the only option, but he also significantly stood for
peace and was a champion of the Sinn Fein peace strategy, travelling to the
US on many occasions on behalf of the party."

He said in many ways, Joe Cahill was "the father of this generation of
republicans" and would be deeply missed by all those who knew him.

Despite being a Catholic he worked for a period in the 1950s amongst the
overwhelmingly Protestant workforce in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in
East Belfast.

Last year he revealed that he was one of the former workers suing the
shipyard for contracting asbestosis.

His funeral, expected to be early next week, will be one of the biggest
republican gatherings for many years.



Epic struggle' to make prison drama

By Diarmaid Fleming
BBC Northern Ireland

A film about a protest by republican women prisoners in Armagh jail in the 1980s has been shown for the first time.

Making the film on a shoestring budget was a massive undertaking.

Silent Grace is set in Armagh women's prison between 1980 and 1981, during the republican prisoners' protests and hunger strikes both there and in the Maze Prison.

It tells the story of a young woman glue-sniffer arrested after one of her friends is shot speeding from a checkpoint in a stolen car.

The film is set in Armagh women's prison

Almost by accident, she finds herself housed with republican prisoners in Armagh jail, after she falsely claims in court to be a member of the IRA.

Arriving in prison, she receives a hostile reception from the other prisoners, viewed with deep suspicion as a potential informer.

But the film's main dramatic theme is the hunger strike, which begins in the prison, as the women join the protest started in the Maze prison for political status.

As the protest develops, the life or death drama brings the republican prisoners' leader and her cell-mate closer together.

Getting it made at all was an epic struggle.

The first Dublin screening was an emotional moment for writer, director and producer Maeve Murphy from Belfast.

The film has received good reviews

"We're here and we've done it and it's just such an incredible pleasure and delight to finally have this film screened in Dublin - so it's brilliant," she told the audience at Dublin's UGC Cinema in Parnell Street before bursting into tears.

Backed by the Northern Ireland Film Commission and the Irish Film Board, the movie was shot on a shoestring budget in four weeks in Dublin's Kilmainham jail.

Murphy, who initially wrote a play on the prison protest, says that the film is not a historical account, but instead a drama to tell the human story.

"My intention as a filmmaker was to tell a story that would open people's hearts - I'm not a politician, historian or documentary maker," she says.

"My sole contribution to something like this is to be able to humanise a situation and humanise women who'd been demonised, and humanise men who'd been demonised as well - like in the character of the prison governor."

"I was looking at it from a prisoner's perspective which might be a little unfair on the director because I think it's a very brave tribute to the women."
Marie Gavaghan
Former prisoner

Irish Times film critic Michael Dwyer praises the film for its balance: "Silent Grace is a good film, a very interesting film.

"This film is probably more apolitical and more balanced than most of the films dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland over the last 30 or 40 years, and is more concerned with the human side of the drama," he says.

Perhaps the most discerning critics of the film would be former prisoners.

Marie Gavaghan served six years in Armagh on conspiracy charges in the 1970s.

And although she was released before the prison protests, she said the film should be seen as a dramatic rather than a historical account.

"I was looking at it from a prisoner's perspective which might be a little unfair on the director because I think it's a very brave tribute to the women," she says.

The movie was shot in Dublin's Kilmainham jail - now a museum

"In a lot of ways she's got it right, but there's an awful lot too that we'd actually include and we would put a different focus on it.

"But saying that I enjoyed the film because the humour's there," she says.

While making a film is a huge undertaking, that's not even half the battle.

It's an even bigger struggle getting an independent movie onto the big screen and into cinemas, in competition against the big budget Hollywood blockbusters, says Michael Dwyer.

"Distribution is a tough area, because even though there are more screens than there have been for decades, quite often the big films are playing on five and six screens in the same complex and they have the benefit of the really sophisticated Hollywood marketing machine, which is very well oiled.

"They have great resources financially available to them for advertising and publicity.

"Smaller films can't compete really in that area and they are just hoping really for 'word of mouth' and good reviews to find them their audience," says Dwyer.

Negotiations are under way to have the film released on video later this year.

This could turn out to be best avenue for independent movies like Silent Grace to reach a wider audience.


BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Linda's flight of fancy


A racing pigeon from Belfast, blown off course across the North Sea, has returned home safe and sound after spending a year and winning the affections of the public in Norway. BBC Northern Ireland rural affairs correspondent Martin Cassidy reports...

Linda ended up in Norway

As dusk settles across the Belfast skyline, Joe Neeson whistles and calls down his racing pigeons.

Joe doesn't count - he doesn't need to. After years looking after his tiny loft in the yard behind his west Belfast home, he knows every bird by name.

So when Joe scanned the roof above the loft on the day of Linda's first race, he knew there was a bird missing.

The young pigeon had been released more than 300 miles away in Penzance.

And as darkness fell, Joe knew that Linda was not coming home.

Seven hundred miles away across the North Sea, Linda was beginning what would be a year-long adventure.

The band on the pigeon's leg held the key to her identity

No-one knows for sure how Linda arrived at the petrol refinery at Mongstad - one of Europe's biggest ports.

It seems likely though that the exhausted pigeon "jumped ship" in the fading light as she flew across the North Sea.

Refinery workers found her cowering under clothes lockers and took pity on the bird which seemed close to death.

A Norwegian television crew was at the refinery to record a wildlife film, and journalist Hans Gunnar Skarstein realised that the band on the pigeon's leg held the key to her identity.

Back in Belfast, Joe Neeson was delighted to receive a call from Hans telling him that Linda was safe, if very weak and somewhat traumatised by her Norwegian adventure.

So Linda was coming home - or so Joe and Hans thought. They had not reckoned though for European bureaucracy.

Joe Neeson was eventually reunited with the prized bird

It would in fact be a year before Jonathan Guy's veterinary staff at Belfast Port intervened to get Linda back home and arrange quarantine in Northern Ireland.

"Tests were taken from Linda and thankfully the results have come back negative for the two main diseases that we would be concerned about, avian influenza and Newcastle disease," said Jonathan.

Now reunited with Joe, Linda is back on familiar territory, darting across the roof tops of Ballymurphy.

But this is a different bird to the apprehensive little pigeon which set out on her ill-fated first race.

Thanks to journalist Hans, Linda's plucky story was brought to an admiring Norwegian public.

Linda's celebrity status has been built through newspaper articles and on Norwegian radio.

And back in Belfast, Linda's life is becoming a constant round of photo calls.

At one stage during the quarantine, officials were considering a stunt double to satisfy the media clamour for celebrity pigeon access.

Free now though to fulfil her own engagements, Linda has no time to pick up her racing career.

And given her sense of direction - it's maybe better that Linda remains a home bird from now on!


Pigeon’s return is real tweet for owner

Linda, the most famous racing pigeon in the West, has returned home to Ballymurphy, safe and well, after travelling over 700 miles to Norway.
Linda, who suffered a near-death experience on her epic trip, left her Divismore Park home last June, and has only recently been returned to her owner Joe Neeson.
During her time in Scandinavia the three-year-old pigeon has earned herself celebrity status, but Joe says that the champagne lifestyle had to stop sometime and added that Linda won’t be getting the star treatment at home.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has worked across countries, in conjunction with a Norwegian Film Company, to ensure that Linda could be reunited with her owner and that her safe return was in line with appropriate animal health and welfare and biosecurity measures.
Linda was found near death on an oil refinery in Norway, and workers nursed her back to health.
The progress of the pigeon was filmed by a Norwegian film crew who were doing a fly-on-the-wall documentary and since then the bird has become famous in her adopted country.
Joe, who has been racing pigeons for the past 24 years, said that he never expected to see Linda again.
“Me and my son Joseph race the pigeons and the pigeon left home last June for a race in Penzance in Cornwall which is 310 miles away.
“She must have taken a wrong turn somewhere,” said Joe.
“I was contacted by people in Norway about a week later and when they told me where she was I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t expect to see her again.
“It took so long to get her back because there was a lot of red tape to go through.
“The workers told me that they had named her Linda because she looked like a Linda.
“She is back with my sixty other pigeons and won’t be getting any star treatment,” added Joe.
A DARD spokesman said that it is extremely rare for a racing pigeon to be found so far away.
“The pigeon’s owner was identified through its racing tags and there followed a lot of work to get the animal returned to its owner in line with appropriate animal welfare and import controls,” said the spokesman.
“Linda has undergone a period of home quarantine for 21 days, during which she has been tested for bird flu and Newcastle Disease with negative results. We are very pleased that Linda has been returned to her owner and that we have two satisfied customers on this occasion!”


Just call it a day - Editorial

After the first IMC report in April, we told the Commission in no uncertain terms where they could shove their paper.
This time round we’re not going to bother, because to be honest, anybody with half a brain knows that the body is a lame duck and it’s only a matter of time before it folds up its tent and becomes the latest in a long line of groups to disappear into oblivion deserving of not even a footnote in a reputable history book.
Unionists and the usual gallery of media lackeys who can be relied upon to spin the NIO line on such things, were conspicuous by their silence. We believe that’s because even they were embarrassed by the farrago of nonsense being churned out by the IMC, first in their ridiculous report on paramilitary activity, considerately released early at the request of the British government, and re-named The Bobby Tohill Report by some of those unlucky enough to have to wade through the whole thing, and now in this latest dog’s dinner.
By the IMC’s own admission, this report was compiled using statistics supplied by the British government. Does anyone really believe that the people of South Armagh, so long used to having helicopters land in their back gardens and playing fields, will accept for one moment the word of the British government when it comes to the question of overflights? Given that the IMC has an unlimited budget, couldn’t they have given some students a clipboard and paid them a few quid to spend a few days logging flights in and out of Crossmaglen, Bessbrook and Camlough so they can at least claim to have made at least an attempt to obtain some independent data of their own?
You don’t need a pencil and a clipboard to count the number of spy posts towering over us still. But the IMC remains singularly unconcerned about the issue. Nor does it speculate on why it is that all the best posts are kept for nationalists, while loyalist paramilitaries – by the IMC’s own admission responsible for the lion’s share of paramilitary violence – go about their business unruffled by the presence of towers or cameras.
Then there’s the question of British army levels here – twice what they are in Iraq. Again, the IMC can’t summon up the passion to get annoyed about that, the way they did so spectacularly in their first report about the Bobby Tohill incident, for instance, or about ex-prisoners and republicans on community groups.
The bad news for the IMC is that the damage is done, even if the will was there to undo the damage they have already wrought – which doesn’t seem to be the case anyway – it wouldn’t be possible. They are a laughing stock in the eyes of the nationalist community and the best thing they can do now is quit. The IMC is a discredited and pointless body, outside the ambit of the Good Friday Agreement, dreamed up by unionists, and obediently given life by the British government.
Even as the IMC was distributing its latest report to the media this week, the latest cover-up concerning the notorious Castlereagh facility was starting to come apart at the seams. Dozens of RIR members taken off ‘sensitive duties’; the personal details and pictures of scores of people (we’re going to take a wild guess and say nationalists), missing; a Secretary of State who says he hasn’t a clue where the missing documents could be but that he’s sure and certain they’re not in the hands of loyalist killers; the PSNI reacting to all this by yawning and going on a tea-break (John O’Hagan anyone?).
Now there’s something that the IMC might care to go to work on. But, you know what, we’re not going to hold our breath.



Solicitors acting on behalf of leading local community activist John Leathem say they intend to continue to fight for justice, despite the negative response of the Police Ombudsman’s office.
John Leathem lodged three complaints with the Ombudsman in relation to events that occurred at an Orange march along the Springfield Road on July 12, 2002.
It was during this period that John Leathem was arrested by the PSNI and held in the back of a Land Rover.
The community activist claims he was dragged along by his jacket and subjected to an unprovoked assault in which his glasses were broken and was then thrown into the back of the police land rover.
Whilst detained in the rear of the Land Rover, John Leathem says a male officer verbally abused him.
John had also complained to the Ombudsman’s office that while being held in the Land Rover a female officer accused him of being the instigator of the riot.
However, despite a two-year investigation that resulted in a file being submitted by the Ombudsman’s office to the DPP for consideration, Nuala O’Loan's office informed John this week that they would be taking no further action.
“I am angry at the way this matter has been dealt with. It has taken over two years and yet at the end I was given a conflicting report and told no action would be taken.
“I have instructed my solicitors to pursue this matter and have no intention of letting this be swept under the carpet.”
Solicitor Kevin Winters, who is acting on behalf of John Leathem, said the inconsistencies that have arisen from the Ombudsman’s office would form part of the ongoing case.
“As far as we are concerned John’s case continues,” says Kevin.
“We have very serious concerns about the inconsistencies that have arisen from the Ombudsman’s investigation.
“In June of this year John received a letter saying a file had been sent to the DPP. Despite the Ombudsman feeling that the case was serious enough to warrant this action, John was this month informed that they intended to take no further action,” added Kevin.
“We have asked for a copy of a statement written by a senior member of the PSNI that praises John Leathem over his handing of riotous situations.
“This has so far been refused. However, we intend to fully pursue this and the Ombudsman’s office continuing to refuse this could form the basis of a later case.
“Also John Leathem has lodged a claim against the PSNI for assault and we expect this to reach court early next year.
“We are deeply disappointed with the Police Ombudsman’s response to this matter, but as far as we are concerned John’s case goes on and we fully intend to take this further,” said Kevin.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

An Phoblacht

Teenage girl harassed at Maghaberry

Families of segregated prisoners at Maghaberry jail expressed anger after a 17-year-old female visitor was humiliated by prison officers last week as she went to visit her father, a remand prisoner.

As she was being searched on entering the prison, a searcher physically lifted the teenager's skirt. When challenged, the searcher said she thought the girl was wearing trousers.

After proceeding to the visiting area, the search dog, which is supposed to be kept at a distance, made physical contact with the girl before sitting down beside her. According to the family, when the girl's aunt complained a male prison warder began singing "Who let the dogs out".

To intensify the family's distress, they were then instructed that the visit would be designated 'closed' because the dog had made physical contact with the young woman. Closed visits have a perspex screen between prisoner and visitors to prevent physical contact.

Families of prisoners have consistently said that the search dog is used in an arbitrary way to harass certain visitors. Spokesperson for the families, Maura McCorry, demanded action to address their concerns.

"This is only one in a long line of unacceptable incidents and families are outraged about it," she said. "The concerns arising from the treatment of prisoners and their families must be fully and properly addressed by the NIO and prison authorities."

An Phoblacht

PSNI fire live rounds in Kilrea

In Kilrea, County Derry, up to 60 loyalists, armed with cudgels, baseball bats, golf clubs and blackthorn sticks, took over the Diamond area in the middle of the Derry village on Saturday evening 10 July, and replaced four Union flags which had previously been taken down by a group of youngsters.

The loyalists congregated into the early hours of Sunday morning. When a group of nationalist youths returning home from a local nightclub arrived in the village, the loyalists verbally abused them before a well known Orangeman beat one youth around the head with a blackthorn stick.

The loyalists then attacked other nationalists in the Bank Square area before the PSNI's DMSU squads arrived and fired five shots into the air. The PSNI then turned on the nationalist crowd and forced them away from the Diamond and into Maghera and Dromore Streets.

"It doesn't take ten carloads of well known loyalists to put up four flags," said Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard. "No one in Kilrea objects to the erecting of these four flags, as they are usually taken down on the 12th night, but people seriously object to the sectarian provocation directed at them by a gang of loyalists whose only intention was to create trouble in Kilrea that night".

Leonard said the PSNI had collaborated with the gang. "The PSNI sent in armed members of the DMSU, who behaved in a gung ho fashion, firing five shots into the air before harassing nationalist residents, while totally ignoring the behaviour of the loyalist gang. Four local residents have lodged complaints with the Police Ombudsman's Office in relation to the firing of live rounds and the attitude of the PSNI in their dealing with the situation."

Also in Kilrea, a young Catholic man was attacked after two carloads of loyalists, armed with golf clubs and with their faces hidden behind scarves, roamed the Bank Square area on the night of Monday 12 July looking for nationalists to attack. Although the man in question was not seriously injured, he was very shocked by the ordeal.

A number of women complained to Councillor Leanard that PSNI members had called them 'Fenian scum' and pointed their fingers at them, imitating firing a gun.

"Where is the so-called new beginning to policing we have been promised when PSNI men can blatantly harass nationalists and know they can get away with it?" he asked. "We will be making official complaints about the actions of the PSNI to the Ombudsman's office."

An Phoblacht

UDA show of strength exposes PSNI

The PSNI have been severely criticised for allowing a UDA gun gang to fire a volley of shots from a makeshift stage erected on Westland Road in North Belfast on 11 July.

Masked and armed members of the UDA staged the show of strength on a platform bedecked with unionist paramilitary paraphernalia. A masked UDA man read out a statement stating that it would take the war to republicans if they attacked loyalists while other loyalists fired a volley of shots form automatic weapons and handguns.

A PSNI spokesperson said they had closed the street after they were informed that a street party was taking place and had no prior knowledge of the incident. "This is a community issue which should be addressed using a multi-agency approach."

North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor, Danny Lavery, said the PSNI statement was farcical and sickening, given the fact that the stage the gunmen fired from was erected in broad daylight and decorated with illegal UDA flags and banners.

"The statement from the PSNI is completely unacceptable," he said. "Are the guns that were fired that night a community issue or is the fact that the same loyalist guns have killed countless people also a community issue?

"This is a clear example of the double standards and duplicity that highlight starkly the methods the PSNI use to deal with unionist paramilitaries and nationalist residents. Those nationalist residents who were protesting peacefully on the Crumlin Road on the 12fth were hemmed in by a massive militaristic operation and then beaten into Ardoyne while loyalist gunmen still have a free hand to do what they like when they wish."

An Phoblacht

British in stolen files cover-up
COLLUSION: Details of 400 republicans believed to be in loyalist hands

The British Government is attempting to suppress information relating to the theft of secret British military files from the Castlereagh PSNI Barracks in East Belfast, says Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly.

A breach of security at the PSNI base, which houses operatives from Britain's Military Intelligence units, has resulted in a document thought to contain the details of up to 400 republicans going missing.

It is believed that the information is now in the hands of loyalist death squads.

A British soldier, serving with the notoriously sectarian Royal Irish Regiment, (RIR) was questioned by the PSNI about the theft but was released without charge on Monday 12 July. Some 28 RIR soldiers are believed to have been suspended around the same time as a result of the incident. The RIR have of late been drafted into nationalist areas to staff observation posts, such as at Divis Tower in West Belfast, and engage in other activities that provide opportunity to gather details on local residents.

The discovery that the document was missing is directly linked to an internal security breach at the base, as reported in An Phoblacht last week, when the British Army asked the PSNI to investigate an incident in a section of the building used by undercover British Army operatives.

At the time, the PSNI said the incident was not a break-in and did not involve PSNI security but refused to comment when asked if any documents were missing.

Some media have, however, reported that the missing document is "a British Army bible of leading republicans across the North and that it might have fallen into the hands of unionist paramilitaries".

Gerry Kelly says British securocrats are suppressing media reporting of the incident. He revealed that the British have contacted media outlets to tell them that the theft "is not a story".

Although NIO Security Minister Ian Pearson confirmed at a meeting with Sinn Féin on Wednesday 21 July that a document was missing, he refused to give the party delegation any more information.

"He stonewalled us," said Gerry Kelly, "and told us that the PSNI view was that no one was in any immediate danger in relation to the missing document.

"Compare the British attitude to this breach of security to the way they hyped the story around the alleged break in at Castlereagh in 2002 and you can see clearly how the securocrats are attempting to undermine the Peace Process."

Kelly added that if people's personal details are in this document and are believed to be in the hands of the UDA, then the least the British Government needs to do is inform those people without delay.

News Letter

**God knows what she'd support if she didn't stand accused of having a nationalist bias. . .and I wish Dempster would study parallelism.

I'm Not Biased Insists O'Loan

By Stephen Dempster
Thursday 22nd July 2004

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan last night admitted she has a major problem in her job because she does not have the trust of rank and file PSNI officers.

Denying accusations that she had a nationalist bias,

she supported officers' right to fire plastic baton rounds

and carry CS spray,

and declaring the need for Special Branch.

Mrs O'Loan was speaking at a House of Commons meeting of the Northern Ireland Select Affairs Committee which is investigating her office.

During the evidence session, she was questioned by DUP MP Gregory Campbell who suggested she cannot win over officers or unionists because she is married to an SDLP councillor, Declan O'Loan.

The Ombudsman replied: "I am not a tool of any political party."

Meanwhile, there was speculation last night that the Prime Minister will shuffle his Cabinet today or tomorrow, with moves possibly afoot at the Northern Ireland Office. Mr Blair is expected to make ministerial changes ahead of the summer break.


Sinn Féin to oppose EU as military superpower

22 July 2004
By Dan McGinn

SINN FÉIN will resist any move to turn the European Union into a military or economic superpower, the European Commission was warned yesterday.
The party’s first Irish MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, invoked the memory of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in her maiden speech to the parliament as she warned that her party would also oppose any attempt to turn the EU into a superstate.

Sands was one of 10 republicans who starved themselves to death in 1981 in a bitter dispute over prison conditions with then-British Prime minister Margaret Thatcher and was elected as Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP during the hunger strike.

Ms McDonald, who represents Dublin, told MEPs: “As Irish republicans, following in the tradition of Bobby Sands MP, we are committed to the politics of equality, justice and freedom.

“We bring Sinn Féin’s agenda for change, for Irish unity and independence to this forum. Sinn Féin believes that the enlarged EU must adopt a new set of priorities.

“We oppose attempts to turn the EU into a superstate or a military and economic superpower.

“We support EU reform which gives power back to the people, the elimination of poverty, support for public services, revitalised rural economies, reform and strengthening of the United Nations.

“This, we believe, is the new direction for Europe. This is the EU that we will work towards.”

Sinn Féin secured seats on both sides of the Irish Border in June’s election, with West Belfast MLA Bairbre de Brun becoming an MEP in Northern Ireland.In the South, North-West candidate Pearse Doherty also came close to capturing a seat.

The party’s two MEPs will link up with the European United Left/Nordic Green Alliance in the European Parliament.

The group has drawn MEPs from the French, Italian, Greek and Portuguese communist parties as well as socialists in Denmark and Latvia.

During a debate on Ireland’s recent presidency of the EU, Ms McDonald wished the Dutch Government well as it took over the reins.

She told the debate that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s Government had much to contend with during its presidency.


Kelly: Ardoyne clash could have been second Bloody Sunday

22/07/2004 - 11:23:06

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly has claimed that he and other republicans prevented a potential repeat of the Bloody Sunday killings in the Ardoyne area of Belfast earlier this month.

Mr Kelly said that if he and his colleagues had not prevented local nationalists from attacking the British army, people might have been shot.

Republicans have been widely praised for attempting to restrain nationalist rioters after the PSNI allowed 500 loyalists to march through the Ardoyne area on July 12.

British military sources have revealed that soldiers were close to opening fire at one stage after being cornered by the rioters.

One soldier is said to have cocked his rifle during the clashes.


PSNI 'must uphold parades rulings'

The police must uphold both the letter and the spirit of Parades Commission determinations until new legislation is passed, Mark Durkan has said.

The SDLP leader was speaking ahead of a meeting with the parades body on Thursday.

It will also hold a meeting with the Irish Government on the marching issue.

It follows violence after a loyalist parade in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on 12 July.

On Wednesday, a senior police officer said the powers of the Parades Commission should be strengthened to avoid a repeat of violent clashes on the Twelfth of July.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton said concerns about the commission's powers had been raised with the secretary of state, Paul Murphy.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Mr Durkan said: "The deputy chief constable, Paul Leighton, has now backed our call for new legislation strengthening the powers of the Parades Commission.

"That is welcome, but it is not enough. The police also have to make clear that until that new legislation is passed, they will uphold both the letter and the spirit of Parades Commission determinations. Only then will they be seen to uphold the commission, and not undermine it."

Mr Durkan said the party would be stressing "that the secretary of state cannot wash his hands of the current crisis".

"He has to affirm the work of the commission, instead of allowing the NIO brief against it. He also has to make clear that the Parades Commission is not going. Rather, new legislation to strengthen its powers over supporters is coming."

He said at the Dublin meeting the party would be seeking the Irish Government's support for its position on parades.

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

Irish American Information Service

07/21/04 11:07 EST

Twenty-eight British soldiers have been removed from sensitive duties after a document disappeared from high security police complex in Belfast, it was claimed tonight.

Members of the Royal Irish Regiment were withdrawn from security duties at the Castlereagh complex and transferred to Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down.

Their duties included manning observation posts in nationalist areas such as Divis Tower in west Belfast.

A security source said: "Some of the soldiers still aren`t cleared and are still in these observation towers. Since this document when missing, 28 have been taken out of there pending a large investigation."

The claims follow the launch earlier this month of a police investigation into the disappearance of a security document from a room at Castlereagh.

It has been alleged that the stolen document contains the names of up to 400 possible paramilitary suspects and may have fallen into the hands of the Ulster Defence Association.

According to the source, B Company of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment recently took over Op Faction based at Castlereagh.

The source said that last month the counter intelligence company of Joint Support Group Northern Ireland carried out a security inspection of Royal Irish members involved in Op Faction.

The security review found that some of the soldiers had not been cleared to the required level and asked why they were permitted to work in Castlereagh and on observation towers.

The source said: "Due to operational cutbacks, the Royal Irish wouldn`t have had the manpower if they didn`t have these people in here."

An Army spokesman said: "The Royal Irish home service is an integral part of the British Army and is required to conform to the same stringent operational requirements as any other unit. It is essential to the role of the security forces in supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, after a meeting with Sinn Fein today, security minister Ian Pearson confirmed that the document had gone missing from Castlereagh.

He added: "I have confirmed with senior officers in PSNI that there are no indications that material has fallen into the hands of paramilitaries. The police take extremely seriously their duty of care where they have assessed that anyone is in danger. They have demonstrated in the past the lengths that they will go to warn people in these circumstances."

Responding to reports that 28 members of the RIR were withdrawn from duty as part of the investigation into the missing dossier from Castlereagh, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly has demanded that the British come clean on this rapidly developing collusion scandal.

Mr Kelly said: "This morning when I met Ian Pearson he refused to answer questions on the involvement or not of the RIR in the missing dossier. It has now emerged that 28 RIR members have been withdrawn from duty as a result of the inquiry. My understanding is that this particular RIR unit were involved in both Castereagh and in manning observation posts in nationalist areas including Divis Tower."

"Given the history of the RIR involvement in collusion with loyalist death squads people will now be in little doubt about the whereabouts of the missing dossier. Is Ian Pearson seriously saying that he was not aware of this when questioned by me this morning."

"The behaviour of the British government has been a disgrace. They have sought to cover-up what is rapidly becoming a major collusion scandal. It is now time for them to come clean. It is also time for them to start informing those people whose details are missing presumed in the hands of loyalists."

"This event has all of the ingredients of a collusion scandal. Missing documents, the involvement of the RIR and a high level attempt at cover-up by the British system," Kelly said.



Letter to Billy

by Danny Morrison
Andersonstown News
July 21, 2004

Last Friday, former UVF killer, Billy Hutchinson of the Progressive
UnionistParty, and North and West Belfast Parades Commission, said
that he didn't understand nationalist objections to loyalist marchers
coming through nationalist areas and that he was prepared to talk.
Danny Morrison replies.

Billy, working backwards, the Brits occupied Iveagh Elementary
School, next to the Pigeon Club, on a Monday, and we welcomed them.
Our barricades on Broadway and surrounding streets had been erected
on the Saturday. Bombay Street had been burnt down on the Friday.
Throughout Thursday night and into its early, scary hours, hundreds
of Catholic homes had been petrol-bombed and seven people shot dead,
including nine-year-old Patrick Rooney by the RUC.

Some say it all began in August 1968 when the civil rights movement
was asking for trouble by 'illegally' marching from Coalisland to
Dungannon, a march few knew about. Others, that it started on October
5th 1968 when the RUC were caught by the world's press baton-charging
the civil rights marchers in Duke Street, Derry.

Billy Love, try, try to imagine it. It was decades in the making: all
that humiliation; industry located in unionist areas; priority
housing for government supporters; jobs for their boys; extra votes
for their businessmen; the boat to England, Australia and the USA for
our ones.

However, on the Tuesday - the 12th August, 1969 - during an
Apprentice Boys march through Derry, some bandsmen, or their
supporters, threw pennies from the city walls towards nationalists
below in the Bogside, to remind them of their 'poverty' and second-
class citizenship.

Rioting erupted and nationalist youths, having witnessed the invasion
of their area by the RUC some months earlier when Sammy Devenny was
badly beaten in his own home, and later died, were this time well-
prepared. The 'Battle of the Bogside' - three days of fierce rioting -
began. The RUC repeatedly fired CS gas into the Rossville Flats but
couldn't suppress the uprising, coverage of which was now, again,
assuming international proportions. Effete, from fifty years of
supremacy, the RUC was so quickly exhausted that the Ulster Unionist
government at Stormont mobilised the Protestant paramilitary B-

Fears that fresh RUC forces were also to be sent to Derry led to a
series of nationalist protests across the North.

It was after one such demonstration outside Hastings Street barracks
in Divis Street that the B-Specials, the RUC in armoured cars and
loyalist supporters invaded this deprived area, burning houses,
shooting up homes and killing civilians.

The British army were then hurriedly deployed to replace the
discredited RUC and act as 'peacekeepers' - though they quickly came
to be viewed by nationalists as an instrument of unionist and British
rule. Meanwhile, behind the barricades, the IRA was reorganising.

Billy, history can be disputed but not personal experience. It was
thirty-five years ago, I was sixteen, and as far as my generation is
concerned, the real touch paper for the explosion of the conflict was
a loyalist march through a nationalist area.

Which is why loyalists marching past Ardoyne last week (after the
Agreement you voted for, negotiations, a peace process, an IRA
ceasefire), marching in the circumstances that they did, in
collaboration with the British secretary of state and the PSNI,
justifies for many people the resumption of an armed struggle, if it
means that nothing really has changed.

I believe that there is nothing to be further gained by armed
struggle but you and mainstream unionist leaders need to tell not me,
but others, that that is not the case. We switch on the news and we
hear that nationalists, according to unionists, are 'intolerant' and
are out to 'destroy Protestant culture.'

What is it about the culture of the Twelfth, and other Orange
celebrations, Billy, that we object? To tell the truth, I view the
celebration of the victory of Protestant William of Orange over
Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 as a bit
pathetic, but not a real problem. No problem either, Billy, with
painting your own pavements red, white and blue; nor loudly playing
Oswald Mosley's greatest hits, in your own areas.

I am not a Papist but burning effigies of the Pope on top of Eleventh
Night bonfires is hardly a statement of non-sectarianism. Burning
effigies of Sinn Fein representatives also sends out - how can I
phrase it? - a KKK passion for burning people to death? Then there is
the erecting of paramilitary flags outside Catholic homes; the
erecting of arches in mixed communities; and loudly banging Lambeg
drums whilst passing Catholic areas.

Then, Billy, there's the bonfires, where hooded UVF paramilitaries,
amongst others, strut around with guns and have a shoot-off. To the
side, Catholic homes are petrol-bombed or shot up.

All of which brings us to Ardoyne.

I do not live there and so cannot speak for that community. The
Parades Commission said it would allow the Orange lodges to go
quietly down the road early in the morning. I cannot see me objecting
to that provided I don't hear anything, it passes quickly, the road
is reopened, and nobody bangs on my window offering me, a ninety-year-
old Catholic, or a widow of ten, a fight.

About the return route this year the Commission said, "only Lodge
members and the notified marshals may process on foot", passed
Ardoyne shops. It also said that it expected the unionist
community, "to ensure that no grouping of followers assembles in a
way that would suggest to Ardoyne residents that a second unnotified
parade might be taking place."

Loyalists protested against this ruling. Their supporters blocked
Ligoniel Road, preventing nationalists getting to their homes. Three
weeks ago David Trimble and loyalist paramilitary spokespersons
warned that the parade decision (which loyalist threats successfully
overturned) in relation to a march on the Springfield Road could
create a "serious and dangerous situation" and "may well kick us off
into a very hot summer."

Imagine being penned in all day, Billy. That evening, the three
Orange lodges, as agreed, pass by. Then, less than five minutes
later, the PSNI - suspiciously, vintage 1969 - disingenuously claim
that they have "fully policed the Parades Commission's
determination", that the return leg of the march is 'over' and it is
now a 'new situation'.

Under laughable 'Public Order' considerations they allow five hundred
drunk and semi-drunk loyalists, including known paramilitaries, to
swan past Ardoyne cheering and jeering, singing The Sash and boasting
about who they "gave the message to", that is, shot dead.

Why, Billy, it was like throwing pennies at the Bogsiders.

So, yes, there is a lot to discuss, about your culture, history, but
a lot about our experiences.

32 CSM

Is this cool or wat!!!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The MI5 Building

**Click on 32 CSM link to see larger view

micheailin's (non-java) Irish Links

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Paul Dunne, over at the Shamrockshire Eagle gave me the heads-up about the javascript links generated by Blogrolling.com, and it's true that you cannot see the links without being java-enabled. In addition, for some reason I cannot see the links this week from work even though I can see the page. Sooo, I have made another page of regular HTML links. It's not quite as handy, but it works without java. Just click here.

Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Fáilte! Thank you for your interest in our 2004 Raffle! We have some incredible prizes up for grabs this year, there's something for everyone.

We'd like to thank everyone who donated prizes for this raffle (please see prize list for individual donors), and our good friends Stephen and Darlene McCabe, who took time out of a trip home to Belfast to pick up a whole suitcase worth of prizes (including several of the amazing Long Kesh items) and bring them all the way back to Colorado.

We also must add that this raffle would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of the Irish American Unity Conference. Thank you all!

Please note that all items (excluding the antique Long Kesh handicrafts) are brand new, with original packaging. They may have been temporarily removed from packaging to be photographed.

Tickets are $5 each or 6 tickets for $25

Drawing Date TBA.
Winner Need Not Be Present To Win


Loyalists blamed for gun attack

A County Armagh man whose home was targeted by gunmen has blamed loyalist paramilitaries for the attack.

William Doak was at home with his wife and three-year-old daughter when a shotgun was fired at their house in the Parkmore area of Craigavon at about 2245 BST on Tuesday.

Mr Doak says he has been targeted in the past but has no idea why his family has been singled out.

The police say they are not treating the incident as sectarian.

Windows at the front and back of the house were smashed in the attack.

DUP councillor Robert Smith said there had been at least three serious attacks in the area this year.

"This madness must stop and I would plead with these people to stop what they are doing before someone is either seriously hurt or indeed someone or some child loses their life," he said.

"We can't go about firing guns and shooting up people's homes without a consequence of someone possibly getting seriously hurt or killed."


Cars destroyed in showroom bomb attack

21/07/2004 - 08:29:41

A number of cars were burned out in an overnight firebomb attack in Northern Ireland.

An incendiary device ignited at a car dealership on the Glen Road in Maghera, Co Derry, shortly before 2am.

British army bomb disposal experts called to the showroom discovered another hoax device at the entrance to the premises.

Several items were taken away for further forensic examination.

The PSNI have appealed for information about the incident.

Derry Journal

Fullerton Murder Inquiry To Be Reopened

Tuesday 20th July 2004

Chief Superintendent Noel White is to reopen the inquiry into the death of Sinn Fein Councillor Eddie Fullerton in 1991, according to reports at the weekend.

Detective Garda Noel McMahon, one of two Gardai branded "corrupt and liars" by Justice Frederick Morris, was a key figure in the original investigation.

As a result, Supt. Noel White has been asked by Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy to reopen the Fullerton files.

Clr. Fullerton was shot dead at his home on May 25th, 1991 by what was believed to be a UDA gang from Derry. However, new information provided by an eyewitness and first published in Ireland on Sunday last year, pointed to British security force involvement and a failure by the Gardai to follow up this and other leads.

The role of Det. Garda McMahon, who was involved in the removal of confidential files from Mr Fullerton's home within days of the attack and who was running an alleged informer ring believed to have vital information about the murder, will now come within the terms of the new inquiry headed by Chief Superintendent White.

According to the weekend report in Ireland on Sunday, he has also been asked to make contact with the witness, based in Northern Ireland, who claims that he saw an unmarked RUC car pick up Mr Fullerton's killers at a remote location near the Donegal-Derry border within half an hour of the shooting.

The witness, who does not want his identity revealed, claimed he saw a three man gang jumping into the police car close to where the burntout car used in the attack on Mr Fullerton was dumped in Derry.

The witness told a senior Garda officer who visited his home how he had seen the three men in khaki-type clothes. His description matched that of other witnesses who saw the men who entered Mr Fullerton's home and shot him a number of times as he came out of his bedroom.

The witness was never asked to make a signed statement by the Gardai or the RUC officer investigating the murder.

Mr Fullerton's son, Albert, has claimed that files belonging to his father were removed from the family home by Det McMahon and others.

It was also reported that pressure is mounting to reopen other cases involving Supt Lennon, including the conviction and sentencing to ten years imprisonment he helped secure against Andrew Gillespie and his son, Drew, in relation to a 1,000 lb cache of explosives found near Ballybofey in August 1993.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?