The Shamrockshire Eagle

**I thought I had posted this already. I certainly meant to. It's excellent.

The Shamrockshire Eagle

McKevitt: Fair Trial or Frame-up?

32csm's Message Board

Marian Price speech at IRSP Hunger Strike/North West Volunteers commemoration

Posted on 28/8/2004 at 18:16:11 by Belfast 32CSM

32 County Sovereignty Movement: IRSP Hunger Strike/North West Volunteers commemoration 22nd August 2004. Marian Price.

A chairde agus comradaithe.

It is an honour to be speaking here today in memory of the Republican Socialist volunteers from this area who lost their lives in defence of the republic and the advancement of the republican ideal of a free, united and socialist Ireland. These men did not sit in backrooms telling others how to fight a war; they had the courage of their convictions and enough belief in their ideals to fight the war themselves and to die. There are some in the wider republican family who use events such as this to announce further ideological retreats from republicanism, some who use the sacrifices of others in the past to justify or sell what they are doing today. However we are not hypocrites. We remember these men with pride, secure in the knowledge that what they fought and died for will be achieved.

Republicans are again under extreme pressure, we have been here before. However there is a gradual realization that the republican community has been failed by its self appointed leaders and by the Good Friday Agreement. It is now up to we republicans to push forward with our republican alternative, we must not be elitist and must be conscious of the fact that Irish Freedom and liberation will not be won by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement nor the Irish Republican Socialist Party but by the Irish People themselves. It is our role to guide and encourage the people but first we must re-convince the wider republican community of the merits of true republicanism before we can hope to convince Irish Nationalism or Unionism.

The Sovereignty Movement would like, at this point, to thank the Republican Socialist Movement for the comradeship they have extended to us in the past number of years, particularly on the issue of prisoners and the Justice for Seamus Doherty Campaign.
No doubt there will be many occasions in the future when we will require your support and we thank you in advance for it. We also pledge our support to you in a spirit of solidarity and revolutionary republicanism. Both our organizations have been the subject of black propaganda and smear campaigns from the British, Free State and the pro-agreement establishments and from this we must conclude that we are doing something right, we have hit a nerve somewhere or perhaps pricked a few consciences.

Finally, it is important to remember when honouring fallen comrades, particularly the Hunger Strikers, not to project retrospectively attitudes or opinions that were not their own. No one can speak for the fallen or claim what it is they would have thought of any given political situation. All we can know for sure is what they died for, in the case of the INLA volunteers, the socialist republic envisaged by James Connolly. What we have in this country today are two dispensations which neither are nether socialist nor respect the integrity of the republic.

It was Connolly who penned these next few lines after the death of O Donovan Rossa and they are as relevant today as they were 90 years ago: “The burial of the remains of O Donovan Rossa in Irish Soil, ...must inevitably raise in the mind of every worker the question of his or her own mental attitude to the powers against which the departed hero was in revolt. That involves the question whether those who accept that which Rossa rejected have any right to take part in an honour paid to a man whose only title to honour lies in his continued rejection of that which they have accepted. It is a question each must answer for himself or herself. But neither can it be answered carelessly, nor evaded.”

The question we must ask ourselves here today comrades, is can we in all conscience accept less than what these men died for? That again is a question each must answer for themselves,

Go raibh maith agat.


**Too bad Scap didn't get what Jean did instead


Suzanne McGonagle
Irish News)

The family of Jean McConville, who was abducted and killed in by the
IRA in 1972 will mark the first anniversary of the discovery of her
body today. Suzanne McGonagle reports.

Relatives of Jean McConville will make a poignant return to the Co
Louth beach today (Friday) where their mother's remains were
discovered a year ago.

Family members will travel to Shelling Hill Beach close to
Carlingford to mark the first anniversary of the discovery of her
remains, almost 31 years after she was abducted from her west Belfast

Mrs McConville, a widowed mother-of-14, was taken from her Divis
Tower home and shot dead by the IRA in 1972.

Her remains were finally found in a scrubland area by a man walking
with children on August 27 last year, about a quarter of a mile from
Templetown Beach where gardai had excavated land during a number of
unsuccessful searches.

The find ended more than three decades of waiting for her surviving
children with the family finally able to lay their mother to rest
last November.

She was returned to the west Belfast streets from where she was
abducted for her funeral, before being buried alongside her husband
Arthur in Lisburn.

Last night Mrs McConville's son Michael said he would be visiting the
Co Louth beach today.

"We are going down to Shelling Hill beach to lay flowers. It is
important for us to mark the day, so we will go down to the beach
where she was found," he said.

Mr McConville said the weeks following the discovery had been the
most difficult time, but that the funeral had also helped him to deal
with his grief.

"The last year has been a lot better for us – you can come to terms
with it now," he said.

"The start of the year was difficult. It was hard to come to terms
with everything, but now it has become a bit easier.

"We know now that we have a place to go to, a place to go and visit
our mother after so many years of not knowing."

Mrs McConville's daughter Helen McKendry also described today as
the "most important anniversary" since her mother's disappearance.

She said she would not be visiting Shelling Hill, as it held too many
difficult memories for her, but would attend nearby Tem-pletown Beach
to erect a plaque in memory of her mother.

"Shelling Hill is a place I will never go back to," she said.

"I know that when we went to Templetown Beach in 1999, it just seemed
like heaven.

"Even when we walked away from there after the first and second digs
I always felt close to the place.

"Seamus (her husband) and I used to walk down to Shelling Beach but I
just never liked it. I thought of it as an evil place.

"We will probably head down to Templetown Beach – we hope to erect a
new plaque there, as some thug wrecked it earlier this year.

"To me this is the most important anniversary and will provide a bit
of closure. The day my mother was found was the best thing that
happened to me."

Mrs McKendry said she felt she had "come a long way" over the past
few years.

"Obviously you do get your down days, I do find that I fall into fits
of depression, but I always pick myself up and dust myself down," she

"I don't think my mum would want me to waste what years I have got

"The anniversary this week is not exactly closure, but the
anniversary does make it real to me.

"I have never been able to grieve for my mum in a proper sense. I was
denied that.

"My friends and family, who will be with me on the anniversary, say
they have seen a great change in me – 'the sparkle in your eyes has
come back' they say – but I don't know."

Jean McConville was one of nine people the IRA admitted kidnapping,
killing and secretly burying during the Troubles.

Despite a series of digs, the bodies of five victims have yet to be

August 28, 2004


**I hope the worthless bastards who did this get the same


The pig was "one of the family' in the Kyle household

Arsonists have killed a family's pet pig in County Antrim.

Fire crews and the police were called to a burning shed in Ballymena at about 2230 BST on Thursday.

They discovered the pot-bellied pig dead inside the shed at Sunningdale park in the Carniny area of the town.

The owner, Sean Kyle, said whoever started the fire would have seen and heard the pig, which belonged to his sons, Adam and Andrew.

"They have only had it nine months, but they got really attached to it. It was one of the family," he said.

He said those responsible for the fire "knew what they were doing".

The shed was destroyed in the attack

"The fact they never let the pig out before they set fire to it, they knew they were going to kill the pig.

"I think it takes a big man to sneak into a garden and set a shed on fire and kill a family pet."

He also said it was not the first time his home had been targeted by arsonists.

On Monday night a bin was pushed up against the back door and set alight.

The family have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Police have said Thursday night's fire was started maliciously.

They want anyone who saw anything suspicious to contact them.


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Every now and again peace groups and newspapers in "the south" fall in love with a unionist.

They once gave a "Man of the Year" award to Terence O’Neill. And Mr Trimble was hailed as a Great Deliverer of Peace when Dublin and London together helped to nudge the Nobel Peace Prize in his direction.

One of the Paisley people got a column all to herself in a fairly prominent Dublin newspaper, the Irish Times. And the Paisley family were feted on a family edition of RTE’s The Late Show.

Mr Jeffrey Donaldson seems to be the present object of special affection. One always has to ask, are these people specially honoured because of their political and other achievements and merits, or because they are against Sinn Féin? Or against the SDLP? Or against somebody?

It may not really matter because so few of the people so honoured manage to survive politically for long enough to return the compliment.

The forecast about the DUP seems to be coming true; that is, that there are people in the DUP who want power and would be prepared to go some lengths to get it, even to the length of sharing power with republicans and nationalists, provided the position of republicans and nationalists is kept firmly below that of the DUP. Or even of the unionists in general.

It is best to keep "them" out altogether, but if you have to let them in anywhere make sure it is in a secondary – or second-class – position. If they must have power let it be power which can be controlled. And taken away if needs be.

Newspapers and peace groups in "the south" see this as an advance. It is, however, the advance of people who are still determined that power will be strictly limited and able to be taken away at any time. Taking it away is provided for by devices such as hyping up the importance of the IRA, or the need for the IRA to disarm or disband, or disintegrate or disappear. If the DUP found it convenient they would probably change all these words to a simple other word, namely, dissemble; that is, pretend. In certain circumstances it would be enough if the IRA were said to disband, or disappear, or disintegrate or disarm, so that faces can be saved and power can be obtained. Young men – and the few DUP young women – will not refuse power if it can be had at the price of new formulas, new forms of words, new sayings which mean that IRA arms don't matter any more.

When power and money are at stake, you'd be surprised at the arrangements such people can make, and even at the real changes in attitude that can come about, like medieval magicians who knew when there was going to be an eclipse of the moon and told the people they were going to cause it.

People probably knew quite well what they were doing, but social needs told them they should go along with it. The great thing now will be to find a formula for the DUP to get power without losing face and, of course, for the rest of us to make sure we give them no more than they have already.

Giving anything to the DUP is a hazardous business. The only safe way to make any concessions is to have cast-iron guarantees and they have to pay severe penalties if they break them.

Because of one thing you can be absolutely certain – any unionist party really wanting to make an agreement with anyone else still has to bypass the idea deep-rooted in unionist minds that agreements made with "those people" don't have to be kept.

It's a matter of their culture. And there is our biggest problem. We have never in the whole course of the past 80 years found a single example either of unionist ability to keep agreements or their attempts to create the generosity which would make agreements work. There is no evidence at present that their future attitudes will be different. If their attitudes change we should be generous enough to reward them for it. If not, we shall be as wary as experience has taught us to be.

What if, in addition to this lack of integrity, you find two governments in London and Dublin willing to connive at it? Where is the use, then, in making agreements? You know that, as one of those rather notable English playwrights, Shakespeare, put it, "the appetite grows by what it feeds on"; that is, the more you give some people the more they demand. The only way to stop such an appetite destroying us all is to stop giving until they learn how to discipline their greed.

That is going to be where all the ingenuity and integrity and political intelligence of republicans and nationalists is going to be seen come September. How do you make not just agreements, but enforceable agreements, with people whose history is one of refusal and reneging?

In the 1960s we used to have a saying when dealing with such difficult people: "Our real virtue is to be found not in trusting the trustworthy, but in trusting those whom you have reason to believe are untrustworthy".

That requires patience, intelligence and courage. And integrity. Let us hope our friends in "the south" know when to praise such people, but when to stop doing it too.


The loss of Childhood Innocence

Patrick Maguire was just 13 when he and his family were arrested in connection with the Guildford pub bombings. As the 30th anniversary approaches he looks back on those dark days and blames his recent nervous breakdown on the Maguire Seven miscarriage of justice

Almost thirty years after he was wrongly convicted and jailed for being an IRA bomb maker at the age of 13, Patrick Maguire Junior suffered a nervous breakdown, a result he says of the loss of his youth.

Patrick is the youngest of the Maguire Seven, victims of one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in British history. Now 43-years-old, a grandfather of two and father of three, Patrick lives in London and says that following his breakdown he is now taking each day as it comes.

This year sees the 30th anniversary of the arrest of the family and subsequent imprisonment of the Maguire Seven. They were arrested on December 3, 1974 and charged with possession of the explosive nitroglycerine after five people were killed and 54 injured when two bombs exploded in Guildford, England, in October 1974. The Maguire Seven were arrested following an alleged remark made by Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four. Conlon, a cousin of Patrick, is alleged to have made a remark about learning to make bombs in his Aunt Annie’s kitchen. In 1989 the Guildford Four’s convictions for the pub bombings were quashed after the four had spent 15 years in prison. The collapse of the case against the Guildford Four also cast doubts on the convictions of the Maguire family. They were finally cleared by the Court of Appeal in June 1991.

The Maguire Seven were sentenced to various terms in prison. Despite a total lack of forensic evidence, Patrick’s mother and father, Anne and Patrick, were sentenced to 14 years. Sean Smyth, Anne’s brother, got 12 years as did Gerry Conlon’s father Guiseppe, and family friend Pat O’Neill. Sixteen-year-old Vincent Maguire, Patrick’s brother, was sentenced to five years and Patrick Junior was given a four-year term.

On January 23, 1980, Guiseppe Conlon died in prison. The rest of the Maguire Seven served full sentences, with Anne being the last to leave prison on February 22, 1985.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News this week, and recalling the events of 30 years ago, Patrick says that with the 30th anniversary of the bombings and the subsequent miscarriages of justice looming, his time spent in prison robbed him of his youth.

Before the family was arrested, he remembers everything being normal in the Maguire household, and with it being early December, as a young boy he couldn’t wait for Christmas to come.

“I had been to the youth club and was hanging about the street corner when I saw an unmarked police car take off towards our house,” said Patrick.

“I ran towards the house and when I got there I found that the door was locked. I was allowed into the house and as I passed the kitchen I could see that my mum was crying. The police told me they were looking for bombs.”

Patrick and his two brothers, John and Vincent, were bundled into the back of a police van and driven to Paddington Green Police Station. He recalls that the seriousness of what was happening didn’t impact on him.

“It was a bit of excitement, I suppose. In a childish sort of way I was excited,” recalled Patrick.

“I had done nothing wrong so to be in the police van was exciting and I remember laughing and thinking that I would be able to tell all my mates about it.

“We weren’t brought up in a political atmosphere. My dad’s favourite song was the Sash because he loved the tune; we had no real understanding of the Troubles,” he said.

At Paddington Green Station, officers took scrapings from under the schoolboy’s fingernails and questioned him relentlessly about bomb-making.
“The police asked me if I knew what a tricolour was and I said no. They asked me if there had been a string of people coming to the house or whether packages had been delivered,” said Patrick.

After hours of questioning, Patrick and his brothers were released on bail but his parents were held in custody.

“We went back home,” said Patrick. “Physically, people had been taken from our home and the atmosphere had also been taken from it.

“I think that when I woke up the next morning that is when I realised that my youth had left me,” he said.

Patrick was sent to stay with an aunt in South London and a few weeks later he was again taken in for questioning. He was dragged out of his bed at 5.30 in the morning.

“I was put into the car and this giant of an officer got in beside me. He told me that I had been messing them about and I was in a lot of trouble. All I got was abuse, he kept asking me where did the bombs come from, he was also threatening to beat me. I was frightened. He was telling me what he would do to my mum and dad,” said Patrick.

In February 1976, the family stood trial at the Old Bailey, Patrick again says that the seriousness of the situation was lost on him because he was so young.

“For me, those seven weeks of the trial meant that I didn’t have to go to school,” said Patrick.

“I remember the headmaster on my last day wishing me luck and saying that he hoped to see me soon.

“I thought that nothing would happen. During the first week of the trial I learned to tell the time, using the clock in the Old Bailey. I was fourteen and I didn’t know how to tell the time. I think that shows how carefree I was at that age. I had all the time in the world before this happened.

“It was very surreal when we were found guilty and I was given four years. I remember saying to my brother what do I tell them when I get to prison and he said tell them that you were convicted of handling nitroglycerine and tell them you are innocent.

“I also remember my dad turning to us and apologising on behalf of the British justice system.”

In the few minutes that members of the family had together after they were convicted, they said their goodbyes. Patrick senior gave Patrick junior his watch as a keepsake.

The young Patrick was taken to Ashford Maximum Security Prison where the inmates were aged in their late teens; the boyish excitement was long gone and now that he finally understood, he was terrified.

“My first night in a cell I didn’t get undressed. I fell asleep thinking that my mum would call me to wake me the next morning,” said Patrick.

The next morning he was taken to the hospital wing of the prison.

‘”I was put in the hospital for two weeks during which I was locked up for 23 hours a day. When I asked why I had been taken there they said that I was on suicide watch. I didn’t know what they meant, I had never heard of anyone taking their own life.”

Patrick says that after leaving the hospital wing he just tried to get on with prison life.
“I hadn’t done anything wrong yet I spent my fifteenth to my nineteenth birthdays in prison. I don’t celebrate birthdays any more because it reminds me of them,” he said.

Patrick’s experience in prison changed him beyond recognition from the innocent young boy taken from the family home at the age of 13.

“I hated people visiting me in jail. We would sit there drinking coffee and eating Mars Bars and I would tell lies about how everything was alright,” said Patrick.
“I had been into playing football and I was good at it. I was also into collecting toy soldiers before I went in and I resent that my innocence was taken away from me,” said Patrick.

“I have two boys of my own now. The youngest is ten and I relish his youth and innocence.

“I was 19 when I got out and I was well-wise and hardened. From I was 20 until I was about 30-years-old I was an angry young man. I tried to get a job but it was hard to explain where I had been for four years of my school years and youth, also I couldn’t take orders,” he added.

In January last year Patrick had a nervous breakdown. He says that years of pretending everything was all right finally caught up with him.

“I had a breakdown and spent about five or six months in The Priory [a noted rehab clinic]. I had been taking cocaine and I think in the end my life just caught up with me. I had been putting a brave face on things and I think when I hit the 40 mark things started to play on my mind.”

During his time in the Priory Patrick started to write and draw, he says that he owes his recovery to his friend, Father Reg Danklin. He has now written a book about his experiences entitled My Father’s Watch and is hoping to have it published soon.

“My dad died a couple of years ago and I regret that my bond with my father was broken for so long, that is why I try to spend so much time with my own sons.

“I wrote the book because I want my kids to understand what happened to me.

“I’m not angry any more. Christ, I was so angry with the system.
“What I would love to see now is Tony Blair writing a letter to the family saying that he is sorry for what happened.

“I wish someone would say sorry but I don’t expect that will ever happen.

“I am still in recovery now and I’m on a lot of medication so I am just taking each day as it comes.”


An Phoblacht

Scottish independence closer than ever - Emergence of new pro-independence parties the key

ALAN McCOMBES, National Policy Co-ordinator for the Scottish Socialist Party, replies to MICK DERRIG's article in last week's paper which argued that devolution has successfully defused the campaign for Scottish independence.

Mick Derrig's article on the state of Scottish politics missed out some vital ingredients, which in turn renders his analysis one-sided and superficial.

It is true that the SNP has suffered a decline in both membership and electoral support in the past few years. But it is a mistake to draw from that the sweeping conclusion that "the dream of independence has been successfully defused by Tony Blair".

While the SNP's fortunes have declined, there has been a corresponding rise in smaller pro-independence supporting parties, principally the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Green Party.

Between them, these parties won 13 MSPs in 2003 — up from just two in 1999. Their support among the electorate rose from 6% in 1999 to 15% in 2003.

In the 1997 General Election that swept Blair to power, one in five Scottish voters backed pro-independence parties. That figure is now one in three.

Mick Derrig says that Westminster neutered the Scottish Parliament by introducing a voting system that denies the SNP an overall majority. But the architects of devolution failed to foresee the emergence of the new pro-independence parties.

There are plans to launch by the end of this year 'Independence Convention' through which pro-independence parties and individuals can co-operate in accelerating the drive towards independence, while maintaining their distinct ideological positions.

There has been a dramatic long-term shifting of the sands in Scotland's relations with the UK. In 1979, just 38% of Scots rejected any sense of a British identity.

By 2002, that figure had risen to 77%.

Against that background, there is at least a strong possibility that the three pro-independence parties, plus independent MSPs who are anti-Union, will form an outright majority within the Scottish Parliament after the next election in 2007.

Mick Derrig is also on shaky ground when he attributes the SNP's decline to disillusionment over the cost of the new Holyrood Parliament building.

Newspapers such as the Tory-unionist Scotsman have indeed tried to use the spiralling costs of the building as evidence that Scots "don't deserve the power that they have, never mind deserve to be entrusted with full sovereignty".

But most people are well aware that it was the Westminster Government, backed by the pro-Union parties in Scotland, which took the key decisions that led to the Holyrood fiasco.

According to a recent poll carried out by the respected Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, 66% of Scots want more power to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. The poll also found that fewer than 5% want a return to direct rule from Westminster.

Yes, there is disappointment at the failure of the Scottish Parliament to make a real difference; but that is dwarfed by the contempt felt towards a Westminster government which is up to its neck in blood and lies.

The SNP's failure to capitalise on anti-Westminster sentiment has little to do with the Holyrood project and plenty to do with the party's increasingly bland, boring, pro-establishment image.

Even the SNP's own leadership contestants have acknowledged that fact over the past weeks of campaigning.

Far from proving Tony Blair "totally and utterly correct", the shift of hundreds of thousands of Scottish voters from the SNP — and from Labour — towards new, radical, leftist, pro-independence parties, means that the long term future of the United Kingdom is more precarious than the New Labour establishment could ever have anticipated prior to the setting up of the Scottish Parliament.

An Phoblacht

Travellers and us

It is quite clear that there is a huge gap in understanding of what life is like for Travellers, writes JIM GIBNEY

It comes as a shock when you think you know something about something and you suddenly realise you know very little.

That's how I felt a few weeks ago sitting in a lecture theatre in St Mary's University on Belfast's Falls Road.

The occasion was the Royal Victoria Hospital's annual lecture in West Belfast's Féile an Phobal.

The lecture theme was Health and Travellers. What made me sit up and take notice was the following basic facts, of which I was completely unaware and I assume most people are the same.

Did you know that there are only 1,600 to 1,700 Travellers in the North?

Did you know that there are only 31,000 Travellers in Ireland as a whole?

Did you know that there only 10,000 Travellers in all of Britain, which has a population of 58 million?

Did you know that there are only 10,000 Travellers in the US, which has a population of 290 million?

Did you know that all of them have an Irish connection?

Did you know that Travellers have their own language, called Gammon?

Did you know that Travellers were only recognised as an ethnic group as recently as 1997. And that before that it was perfectly legal not to serve a Traveller or employ one in a shop?

Did you know that life expectancy among Travellers is 11-15 years below that of the settled community?

Did you know that the suicide rate among Travellers is very high?

Did you know as I write, that 1,100 families are living on the side of Irish roads with no electricity and running water?

And did you know 90% of Travellers in Ireland can't read or write?

This information was provided to the meeting by Mark Donahue of the Belfast Travellers' Education and Development Group.

Why am I shocked at these statistics? In addition to not knowing them myself, I am shocked that a small, indeed a minuscule community of Irish people, should find themselves in the situation they are in.

Does it not beggar belief that two governments, Irish and British, who run this country, with all the resources at their disposal, cannot provide Travellers with a lifestyle which, at a minimum, is on an equal power with settled people?

No it doesn't, according to Patricia McKeown of UNISON, who spoke at the meeting. She said what these statistics reveal is the deep-seated racism in Irish society at all levels when it came to dealing with Travellers.

The panel of speakers at the meeting included Travellers from Ireland and Britain as well as people who work in a professional capacity with Travellers in terms of their health and accommodation.

Poor health, bad accommodation and an unhealthy environment are all linked when assessing the health of Travellers.

In addition to these difficulties, doctors can and do refuse to accept Travellers as patients.

There is also a lack of understanding in the medical profession of the traditions and culture of Travellers. This ignorance creates many hidden medical problems.

One of the speakers, a Traveller from Pavée Point in Dublin, called for Travellers to get more involved in helping to shape the health services they need.

She is one of a number of Travellers who is a primary care worker. She said it was important for women to speak out about the health needs of Travellers.

She expressed concern that the level of immunisation for children is low, as is the use of hospitals by Travellers.

She also called on the education authorities to facilitate children of Travellers to move from primary to secondary school and beyond. She urged the parents of children to play their part in ensuring their children are educated to an advanced level.

A number of Travellers made the point that "once a Traveller always a Traveller. Travelling is in the blood, even for those who have chosen to live a settled life in a house."

It is quite clear from my experience at the meeting that there is a huge gap in understanding of what life is like for Travellers.

It would help the settled and Travelling community if there were more meetings like that I attended. It would certainly help overcome the prejudice there is among the settled community about Travellers.

An Phoblacht

Irish establishment recruits for British Army

BY Mícheál MacDonnacha

EARLIER this month, a quite shameful ceremony took place in a cemetery in Westport, County Mayo, when the Fianna Fáil Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, and the British Ambassador, Stewart Eldon, presided over a commemoration for a Mayo-born British soldier who won a Victoria Cross during the so-called Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The events of 1857 were, of course, much more than a mutiny by the Indian members of the British Army. It was essentially the first phase in the long struggle for Indian independence. It was suppressed with the utmost brutality. One of the favoured British methods of dealing with the 'mutineers' was to tie them to the mouths of cannons and blow them to pieces. All of this was glossed over by the Minister, the British ambassador, the 26-County military officers and the pathetic clowns known as 're-enactors' who donned red coats and paraded under the Union Jack.

Minister Smith equated Cornelius Coughlan VC with those who fought in the Black and Tan War, the Civil War and Lance Corporal Malone from Ballyfermot in Dublin, who was killed last year in Iraq as a member of the British Army of occupation. The British ambassador must have been amazed that a Fianna Fáil Minister could so degrade his country and its history. But, then again, maybe not.

Many in the Irish establishment have grasped the opportunity of the Peace Process not to open a new phase in Anglo-Irish relations based on mutual respect but to revert to the posture of West British toadying, to which the privileged classes in Ireland were always so prone. And if the glorification of Coughlan and Malone leads more working-class Irish youths to join the British Army, that does not worry the likes of Smith. That this same British Army still occupies part of Ireland worries them even less.

Writing in the Sunday Business Post on 15 August, Tom McGurk dealt comprehensively with the shame of the Mayo commemoration itself so I won't cover the same ground. Instead, I would like, in the pages of An Phoblacht, to commemorate others, not on the basis that they happened to be Irish and are therefore worthy of commemoration no matter what cause they served. I think it is time we commemorated some English and Scottish people because of the cause they served — that is, opposition to imperialist wars.

First, let's remember the Levellers. They were English soldiers in Cromwell's army. Sick of his tyranny, they refused to come to Ireland to fight in his savage war of conquest. In May 1649, three of them — Thompson, Perkins and Church — were shot dead in Burford Churchyard for refusing to obey orders. They were real friends of Ireland.

Throughout history, progressive people in England have linked their opposition to imperialism and war to their support for Irish liberty. In 1831, an anonymous scribe penned these lines in a satirical poem called The Tory Profession of Faith;

I believe that the poor should be slaves of the rich

I believe that the Irish should die in a ditch

I believe that the East should be ruled by the sword

I believe it was made but to profit the Board.

(India 1831 - Iraq 2004?)

Scottish socialist John Maclean suffered five terms of imprisonment because of his opposition to the Great War. He wrote a pamphlet in support of Ireland during the Tan war entitled The Irish Tragedy — Scotland's Disgrace, in which he said: "To any right-thinking person, Britain's retention of Ireland is the world's most startling instance of 'dictatorship by terrorists'." His health destroyed in prison, Maclean died aged 44 in 1923.

Finally, from the same period, we should recall the socialist writer and activist Richard Fox, better known as RM Fox. A Londoner, he was one of the many English opponents of imperialist war jailed during 1914-'18. He was also a great friend of Ireland and married a republican woman from Dublin, Patricia Lynch. He was a biographer of James Connolly and described his own life in his book, Smoky Crusade. Watching the release of the republican prisoners from Arbour Hill in 1932, Fox wrote:

"As I stood by the prison railings and watched these men come out, it seemed as if there emerged a ghostly procession of prisoners who through the ages had suffered not for any special privileges for themselves, but to extend the bounds of freedom for humanity. I thought of the Suffrage prisoners, of the anti-War prisoners, as well as of these prisoners for National freedom."

There are some in Ireland today who choose to cover up the crimes of the British government and pretend that British soldiers are worthy of commemoration equal to — or better — than Irish revolutionaries. They try to mask the reality that those who died — and still die — in the ranks of the imperialist British Army, whatever their nationality, were and are either dupes, economic conscripts or mercenaries. There have always been English people who recognised this. People like RM Fox, who wrote the following in Brixton Prison:

"It's the centre of the Empire where the sun can never set,

But the alleys where it never shines are with us even yet.

For it is England! England! England! That the purse-proud rulers cry,

While the luckless, landless labourers go marching off to die.

For the lying politicians and the profiteering knaves,

Still rule the lives of Britons though Britannia rules the waves.

And the England that they boast of is a kingdom full of slaves

Where they reap the golden harvest while the soldiers fill the graves."

- England by RM Fox, Brixton Prison, 1918.

An Phoblacht

SAS ran Loughgall shoot-to-kill ambush - Orde admits RUC "abdicated responsibility"


PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has admitted to the family of one of the victims of the 1987 Loughgall massacre that the then RUC "abdicated their responsibility" for the operation to the British Army SAS. He also shocked relatives of IRA Volunteer Patrick Kelly, one of the nine shoot-to-kill victims, that he would have done exactly the same.

In May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found that the men who died had their right to life violated, and awarded each of the families £10,000 in compensation.

The families of the eight IRA Volunteers killed in the ambush have always said that the men were intentionally gunned down without any warning or attempt to effect arrests. Orde's admission that he would have acted the same in handing over control to the SAS death squad "will be of serious concern to the families of those who died and to human rights groups around the world", says Mairéad Kelly, sister of Patrick.

On 8 May 1987, an Active Service Unit from the East Tyrone Brigade of Óglaigh na hÉireann set out to attack the RUC barracks in Loughgall, County Armagh. Before that terrible night was over, eight IRA Volunteers and a passing civilian — Anthony Hughes — lay dead, the latest victims of Britain's 'unofficial' shoot-to-kill policy.

Hughes' brother, who had been travelling with him in the same car, was shot 14 times and left seriously wounded. Although he survived his injuries, he never recovered from the experience. His carer says he remains too unwell to take his case for compensation to the European Court.

The deaths of IRA Volunteers Patrick Kelly, Séamus Donnelly, Michael Gormley, Declan Arthurs, Eugene Kelly, Patrick McKearney, Gerard O'Callaghan and James Lynagh was the single biggest loss the IRA had suffered since the Tan war.

Relatives of the dead have always known that their loved ones were assassinated by the SAS, which had been lying in wait for the IRA's arrival — but the SAS's leading role in the operation had never before been officially confirmed.

Seventeen years later, representatives of the families of the Loughgall dead this week met with PSNI boss Hugh Orde to discuss the highly controversial circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.

It was the first time that any PSNI or RUC chief had agreed to meet with family members, despite repeated past requests.

On Monday 23 August, two representatives of the Loughgall Truth and Justice Campaign met with Orde at PSNI headquarters in East Belfast. The meeting lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

During that time, Orde acknowledged that the RUC had been in possession of "specific intelligence" relating to the IRA operation in advance of the attack, and also confirmed to campaign representatives for the first time that the SAS had been in charge of the incident.

Previous to this, the leading role of the SAS had never been officially acknowledged in connection with the Loughgall killings.

The PSNI boss then shocked those present when he added that he would have taken the same action.

"Hugh Orde informed us quite clearly that the RUC had, as he put it, 'abdicated their responsibility' to the British Army," says campaign Director Mairéad Kelly, whose brother Patrick was one of the Volunteers killed. "In other words, RUC chief Jack Herman couldn't deal with it, so he passed it on to the British Army.

"Before this, the role of the SAS has never been acknowledged.

"The RUC had prior knowledge of the attack. Emergency legislation was in place. The men involved could have been arrested. When we mentioned this to Hugh Orde, he claimed that any arrests would only have 'delayed' the attack. But in my opinion, a 'delay' is prevention.

"What is even more worrying is Orde's statement that he would have taken the same decision. This remark will be of serious concern to the families of those who died and to human rights groups around the world.

"What was the point of the British Government having laws in place if the RUC could simply bring in British soldiers to kill people?"

Kelly says that during their meeting this week, Orde suggested that the Loughgall case could now be part of a PSNI review of more than 2,000 unsolved killings, which he has since publically confirmed will include some British state killings.

"However," she says, "we would not accept a PSNI investigation and I doubt that the European Court will accept it either.

"We do not believe that PSNI officers could objectively investigate the actions of former colleagues. There is even the chance that those who were actually involved in Loughgall, and are now serving members of the PSNI, could be charged with investigating themselves.

"But at least now we have a positive direction to take. Hugh Orde has told us he will go to the British GOC on our behalf and ask them to meet with us. For now, I will take him at his word.

"In the meantime, we will continue to request a meeting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair."


Cop Tours

PSNI officers are now giving mural tours of North Belfast

This is the moment when a group of Canadian tourists on a taxi tour of North Belfast captured the PSNI giving their very own tour of republican sites in Ardoyne to three young women.

The picture shows the PSNI with three female passengers, who emerged from the back of the Land Rover and proceeded to take pictures of republican murals before getting back into the back of the vehicle and moving on to the next stop.

The PSNI officers giving the tour laughed and joked with their passengers – waiting for them to take pictures in front of the Sinn Féin offices in Berwick Road.

A taxi driver, who was giving a group of Canadian tourists a tour of West and North Belfast at the time, said he was amazed to see the PSNI acting as tour guides in Ardoyne. However, he was delighted that the Canadians were quick off the mark, capturing the moment with their cameras from inside his vehicle.

“I have been giving these tours now for a number of years and would say very little could shock me,” said the taxi driver.

“But to see the PSNI giving a lesson in history to these young women in the middle of Ardoyne is a new one on me.

“They were very animated, laughing and joking and giving the girls a quick lesson in Irish history – PSNI-style, of course.

“I would have been interested to hear just what their version of events was.

“They waited while the women posed for a few pictures and then off they all went off in the Land Rover.

“The Canadians who I had with me even asked me how much the PSNI charge for a tour. I told them you just have to be in the know.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI last night said that it is not the policy of the PSNI to take members of the public on tours in police vehicles.

“In the past, however, we have assisted visiting officers from foreign police forces and members of the media who wish to observe the work of the PSNI.”

• It’s your tax money, so if you would like a tour of Ardoyne courtesy of the PSNI, then phone Oldpark PSNI station on 90 650222.

Journalist:: Allison Morris


Streets awash as the heavens open

Raw sewage coated the streets of West Belfast this week as torrential downpours played havoc with the city’s overworked and inefficient drainage system.

Most areas were affected to some extent, with the Poleglass, Dunmurry, Lenadoon and Finaghy Road North areas receiving the worst of the flooding as man-hole covers failed to hold the flood waters beneath the streets, bursting open and expelling excrement and waste along with a disgusting stench.

Carolyn McDonnell, who was stranded along with her young son James in her Laurelbank home, had to spend the morning indoors as she waited for the Water Service to arrive to pump away the floodwaters that had reached her front door.

“I like it here, I like the house and I’m only round the corner from my mum,” said Carolyn who has only recently moved into her Poleglass home. “But I couldn’t live with this, they can suck the water up time and time again but we need a long-term solution.

“The Housing Executive just said it’s not their problem and advised me to get house insurance.”

“James can’t get out to play, and even in light rain that whole corner floods. I need this fixed before winter, before it floods all the time.”

And Carolyn’s next-door neighbour, Rosaleen Walsh, is only too familiar with the severe flooding that has affected her and her daughter, who suffers severe learning disabilities, for many years.

“I’ve been living in Laurelbank for 20 years, and every time it rains heavily this is what happens. The last time we had the Water Service out they gave us those sandbags and said there was nothing they could do about it.

“I’ve been ringing the Water Service and Lisburn Council and they keep passing me on from one to the other, and then they send that big thing out that sucks the water away, and then when it rains heavily again, it all builds up once again.

“A few years ago a fella came out with that suction machine and he said that we’d need a couple more drains. All the water is coming from the top of the street and there are no drains all the way down. There’s only one drain in that corner and it just keeps overflowing,” said Mrs Walsh.

“My daughter Patricia is in the care centre at the Dairy Farm and it’s affected her getting there many’s a time. When the bus came this morning we had to take her out the back and she didn’t know what was happening.”

Children on their summer holidays splashed in the deep ponds created by the flooding on some of West Belfast’s main roads, excited by the novelty of the firemen and fire engines attending the scenes, and unaware of the severe health dangers presented to them by floating sewage and uncovered manholes in their streets.

Fire officers from the Cadogan Fire Station on the Lisburn Road pumped out drains during the first of many call-outs to clear flooded main roads and help ease the ensuing traffic congestion, taking half an hour to clear the huge rivers of water resulting from the failure of storm drains to cope with the downpours.

Upset and angered by the damage caused to their homes by the overnight rainfall, senior residents of the Lenadoon area spoke with frustration and disgust at how their problems were being dealt with.

“I’ve lived here for five years,” said 60-year-old Brendan Gough, who has recently spent over £1,000 of his savings on decorating his home and laying new wooden floors. “The place is just destroyed, all this flooring is going to have to come up now because there’s sewage underneath it.

“The Housing Executive, the Council, the Water Service – no one will take it on as their problem, they’re all passing the buck. The manhole lifted with the pressure of the water and whatever gunge was in there came back into here, there was even toilet paper floating in the hall this morning.

“They offered to lift the floor, but who’ll pay to have it laid again? The Fire Brigade had to come out this morning because the electric box was in the hall and the water was just lapping at the doors. The electric’s back on again now, but wait until the heating is back on and then there’ll be the smell.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said, “If tenants have water ingression or damage to their Housing Executive property the Housing Executive will attend these homes and willingly help residents with the clean-up. However, damage caused by a main drain or sewage system overflow is the responsibility of the DoE and they should be contacted to deal with the problem.”

The Housing Executive also said that the insurance of personal property is crucial but that currently only 23 per cent of their tenants have opted to insure their homes against loss.

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development’s Water Service said, “Emergency procedures were implemented and staff, contractors and additional customer services staff were mobilised by the Rivers Agency, Water Service and Roads Service to deal with the flooding problems in the worst-affected areas in West and South Belfast.

“Gully-cleaning machines, jetters and squads cleared floods and placed sandbags.”

But with the Met Office issuing a severe weather warning across the whole of the North for the tail end of the week, further flooding looks likely as Belfast’s drainage system struggles to cope with the continuing downpours. Residents who have suffered from the flooding this week can only hope for the best and brace themselves for more misery.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


'Suffer in Silence' Victims backed

Councillor to tackle health chiefs over private bill

A leading local public representative took the plight of elderly people who “suffer in silence” to Stormont this week after vowing to force local health chiefs to cover the cost of her recent hip replacement surgery.

Castlereagh councillor and elderly rights campaigner Rosaleen Hughes this week stepped up her campaign for better treatment for the elderly by promising to send a £7,000 bill for hip replacement surgery to Stormont Health Minister Angela Smith.

The highly regarded councillor underwent vital surgery to replace a hip at a private clinic in South Belfast in June this year.

The SDLP councillor’s decision to go private came after months of agonising pain and discomfort while waiting for the operation on the National Health Service.

In April consultants at the Musgrave Park Hospital told the councillor she would have to wait up to 18 months for the essential surgery.

But the pain and distress of her debilitating condition became too much for the courageous councillor and she was forced to go private in order to receive prompt relief from the exhausting cycle of pain and pills.

“I intend sending the bill to the Minister for Health,” said the councillor.

“I am very fortunate that I was able to go private but not everybody will be able to do that. I spent my life working, paying insurance and making contributions, and I don’t think I should have had to wait for 18 months for treatment or been forced to pay for it. Nobody should have to wait that long.

“What I want to do is highlight the plight of the elderly and others who suffer in silence. They have to struggle through pain and sleepless nights as their predicament grows worse and nobody does anything. I want to take a stand and make the valid points and my priority is to those poor people lying at home in pain at the minute.”

Engage with Age project Development Worker with Stephen Gourley said he was aware that many elderly people experience difficulties with the health service.

“We try to support any older people we come into contact with,” said Stephen.

“We try to encourage people to come along to the various consultations that are being held by the local health trust in order to have their voice heard.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health refused to comment on the Castlereagh councillor’s case.

The spokesperson did say that reducing waiting lists was a priority for the department.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Crime Captial

Shocking new statistics confirm South Belfast’s reputation as the most dangerous place in city

Soaring South Belfast crime rates revealed at this week’s meeting of Belfast’s District Policing Partnership have cemented the area’s reputation as the official crime capital of Northern Ireland.

Between April and June burglaries rose by 26 per cent, domestic burglary by 16 per cent and vehicle crime by 15 per cent in comparison to the same period last year.

These spiralling crime figures come against a backdrop of a frightening 611 assaults being recorded in South Belfast between April and June, 47 racial incidents, 20 sectarian incidents and 31 crimes against pensioners.

Politicians and DPP members expressed shock at the spiralling South Belfast crime figures and have called for action to be taken.

Time for PSNI to tackle ‘real crime’ says DUP

A dramatic rise in the number of crimes being committed in South Belfast has prompted a senior member of the District Policing Partnership to call on the PSNI to start “concentrating on real crime rather than trivialities”.

DPP chairperson and DUP councillor Ruth Patterson said the latest South Belfast crime statistics make frightening reading and will leave the community ill-at-ease.

Between April and June 2004 burglaries in the south of the city went up by 26 per cent, domestic burglaries rose by 16 per cent and vehicle crime increased by 7 per cent in comparison to the same period last year.

This worrying crime increase comes against a backdrop of 611 assaults being recorded in South Belfast between April and June, 47 racial incidents, 20 sectarian incidents and 31 crimes against pensioners.

Dismayed at the figure,s Ruth Patterson is insisting on the PSNI getting its priorities in order.

“The PSNI need to concentrate on real crime rather than trivialities like drivers who have no tax discs in their car windows,” said Ruth Patterson.

“These new crime statistics for South Belfast are very worrying, especially when compared to other parts of the city that are not half as bad,” said Ms Pattterson.

Laganbank SDLP councillor and DPP member Peter O’Reilly believes South Belfast’s reputation as a dumping ground for criminals adds to escalating crime rates.

“Criminals and paramilitary exiles are being dumped here left, right and centre and it is these people who are responsible for increased crime rates,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

“There isn’t another area in the north that has as many doss houses and hostels as South Belfast.”

South Belfast’s crime figures for April to June 2004 cement the area’s reputation as the official crime capital of Northern Ireland. Figures for the past year show a colossal 15,267 crimes were recorded in the south of the city, compared to the Northern Ireland average of 6,882.

This shocking statistic translates into a frightening 41 crimes occurring every day, made even more worrying by the PSNI’s lowly clear up rates.

South Belfast residents are three times more likely to be the victims of a serious crime than people living in West and East Belfast, and 33 per cent more likely to encounter criminality than residents of North Belfast.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


1979: Soldiers die in Warrenpoint massacre

At least 18 soldiers have been killed in two booby-trap bomb attacks at Warrenpoint, South Down, close to the border with the Irish Republic.

It is the highest death toll suffered by the army in a single incident since it arrived in Northern Ireland to restore order a decade ago. The IRA are believed to be behind the attack.

It came only hours after the Queen's cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bomb attack in Donegal Bay in the Irish Republic.

The dead at Warrenpoint included the most senior Army officer killed in Northern Ireland to date, the commanding Officer of the Queen's Own Highlanders, Lieutenant-Colonel David Blair.

The ambush had been carefully planned. The first bomb, weighing half-a-ton, was planted under some hay on a flat-bed lorry beside a dual carriageway 44 miles (71km) from Belfast on the Irish border.

It exploded killing six soldiers of the Second Battalion Parachute Regiment as they travelled past in a four-ton lorry at the back of a three-vehicle army convoy.

The surviving troops in the other two vehicles were immediately deployed to cordon off the area and call for reinforcements.

Members of the Queen's Own Highlanders, who flew to the scene by helicopter, arrived from Bessbrook base in County Armagh.

Twenty minutes after the first explosion, as the helicopter took off carrying some of the injured, the second device was detonated.

Twelve more soldiers - two Highlanders and ten Paras - were killed.

At least one witness reported hearing heavy automatic fire from across the narrow canal, which formed part of the border, after the second explosion. The soldiers returned the fire. A civilian was later found dead nearby.

The British have strict orders not to pursue their attackers into the Irish Republic to avoid causing any diplomatic disputes.


Bail granted in dissident case

Three Belfast men charged in connection with the alleged false imprisonment of a dissident republican have been released on bail.

Gerard McCrory, 32, of Dermot Hill Road, Harry Fitzsimmons, 35, of St James Gardens and Thomas Tolan, 32, of Ballymurphy Parade were each granted bail totalling £9,000 in the High Court on Friday.

A fourth co-accused Liam Rainey, 30, of New Barnsley Crescent was granted High Court bail on Wednesday.

All four are accused of beating and unlawfully imprisoning Bobby Tohill on the 20 February.

They are also accused of having items, including metal cudgels, pepper spray, disposable clothing and a van in circumstances likely to be of use to terrorists.

They were charged after a van was rammed and stopped by police near Belfast city centre. The police discovered Mr Tohill in the back of the van.

The incident caused a political row after Chief Constable Hugh Orde insisted it had been a planned IRA operation.

However, charges of IRA membership against the accused were subsequently dropped.

'Evidence evaporating'

On Friday, Lord Justice Nicholson said he was granting bail until the preliminary enquiry into the case on 22 September.

He said the magistrate who heard the case then would see the main evidence against the four, which was CCTV footage, and it would be" a matter for him" as to whether to grant bail then.

Lord Justice Nicholson added that this was a "notorious case" in which no witnesses in the bar from which the injured party was allegedly abducted had come forward and Mr Tohill himself said the four accused did not assault him.

He said the court could only deal with the cases in the way in which they were presented and he saw no reason not to grant bail.

The judge added that the Crown would have to "face the reality that the chances of any conviction on the basis of the evidence was evaporating".

The four applicants were instructed to report to police three times a week, to have no contact with Mr Tohill or their co-accused and to obey a curfew.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Tears flow as families flee

**Keep reading


Ten families from a Protestant housing estate in north Belfast have fled their homes, claiming they are victims of a campaign of sectarian violence.

The BBC's Ireland correspondent, Mark Simpson, who watched the families leave, has been examining the background to the exodus.

It all started eight years ago when a bicycle was thrown through a living room window.

The simmering sectarian tensions came to the boil and the area has never been the same since.

On Thursday, the fears turned to tears, as a group of Protestants - including four generations of one family - packed their belongings and left.

Elizabeth Ferguson was distraught at leaving her home
Elizabeth Ferguson was distraught at leaving her home
No-one was more upset than mother-of-two Elizabeth Ferguson.

As she sobbed, the local MP Nigel Dodds arrived and gave her a hug.

It is unusual to see touchy-feely politics on public display. In north Belfast, it is much easier to spot the hatred.

You don't have to look hard to find vicious sectarian graffiti, vandalised homes, cars sprayed with paint and smashed bottles.

People have lost count of the number of petrol-bomb attacks, burglaries and physical assaults - by both sides.

Catholics and Protestants breathe the same air, and sometimes go to the same shops, but most other things are segregated.

This is what life is like on the so-called peaceline - different schools, different pubs, different football jerseys and, of course, different churches.


The Torrens estate is not the worst part of north Belfast, but it comes close.

It is hard to believe but the houses are only 20 years old; some badly need a visit from a painter and decorator, the others are fit only for a bull-dozer.

Vacant houses in Torrens area
Many of the houses in Torrens area now lie vacant
No wonder the last 10 Protestant families moved out.

But were they forced out? Or did they simply want newly-built houses somewhere else?

The Protestants say they have been intimidated out by Catholics determined to take over the houses on the Torrens estate.

Not true, say their Catholic neighbours across the divide.

One local republican told me: "The reality is the estate became too small to be viable. These people have chosen - admittedly under very difficult circumstances - to live elsewhere."

Chill factor

It is difficult to find anyone in north Belfast whom you might regard as neutral.

The few I spoke to, said there was definitely fault on both sides.

There is no going back for this family, like many others
There is no going back for this family, like many others
But as in most fights, the smallest always comes off worst.

In this case it was the Protestants who left, but in other parts of the city, where Catholics have been in the minority they have been squeezed out.

And the problem is not unique to Belfast. Catholics have been made to feel unwelcome in places like Carrickfergus, Larne and Bushmills.

Protestants on the west bank of Londonderry have been complaining for years about a violent chill-factor in what is a predominantly nationalist city.

These are just some examples; people in both communities could list many others.

One of the political buzz phrases in Northern Ireland is power-sharing, but on the streets it is still very much a case of majority-rule.


Random Ramblings from a Republican

The aftermath of the 1981 Hungerstrike: An article of some sort of closure.


News Letter

Plea To Meet Son's Killer

By Anne Palmer
Thursday 26th August 2004

John Maxwell, the father of a teenager blown up in the IRA bomb which killed Lord Mountbatten, is today making a public appeal to meet his son's killer.

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, the IRA explosion - for which IRA man Thomas McMahon was convicted - claimed the lives of 15-yearold boatboy Paul Maxwell, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his nephew 14-year-old Nicholas Knatchbull and Lady Brabourne.

In November, 1979, McMahon, then aged 31, was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing.

He was freed under the Good Friday Agreement after serving 18 years.

Since McMahon's release, Mr Maxwell has tried to make contact with him several times.

"I would like to meet him," Mr Maxwell said.

"I would have to play it by ear. It could be potentially positive or on the other hand it could be a complete disaster, depending on how we interacted.

"But I would like to give it a try. The best that I could hope for if I met him would be that we shared a common humanity, that could lead to a kind of understanding for me.

"Nothing will ever take away the pain of what happened, but it might enable me to feel a bit easier about it.

"McMahon has served some of his time, but I don't know how I'd feel if no-one was ever caught."

Mr Maxwell, who heard the explosion, found his son's body in the bottom of a boat that had been brought into the harbour.

At first, he thought Paul was still alive because his body was still warm, but the dreadful truth soon became apparent.

Remembering the Assassination of Lord Mountbatten -- The Wild Geese Today

'13 Gone But Not Forgotten,
We Got 18 and Mountbatten'

By Joe McGowan

Belfast Telegraph

Father in emotional plea to attackers

Little Emma died at Christmastime last year, along with Christopher Shaw

By Jonathan McCambridge
26 August 2004

The father of an eight-year-old girl killed by a car on the Springfield Road has made a personal appeal to those who are attacking a house formerly owned by the man charged with her death to stop.

Joseph Caughey said the actions of arsonists who attacked a house at Highfield Drive in west Belfast could lead to more children being "needlessly killed".

Yesterday it was revealed that arsonists had attacked the house bought by Thomas Shaw (23), for his young family.

Mr Shaw said he believes the house may have been attacked because it was formerly owned by a man charged with causing the death of two children and injuring a third after they were knocked down on the junction between the Springfield and Falls Roads in December.

Mr Shaw said he has no connection with the previous owner of the house and has appealed to be left in peace.

Joseph Caughey lost his eight-year-old daughter Emma Lynch in the collision which also cost the life of 11-year-old Christopher Shaw.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I just want the people who are doing this to stop.

"I don't know why this is happening. I'm not even interested to know, but I want to make a personal appeal for this to stop before two other children are needlessly killed."

Belfast Telegraph

Mark Thatcher faces jail over alleged link to African coup plot

By Basildon Peta and Kim Sengupta
26 August 2004

Thatcher was arrested and charged in South Africa yesterday over his alleged involvement in a plot to topple the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

The son of the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher is accused of funding an attempted coup by mercenaries to overthrow the ruler of the African nation and replace him with an exiled opposition leader, in return for lucrative oil contracts.

Sir Mark, 51, who was in his pyjamas when police burst into his £2m home in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia, denied the accusations.

His court appearance was delayed after he was robbed of his mobile telephone, jacket and shoes while in custody in a crowded police cell. Police officials said he was uninjured and they hoped to recover his property.

After being released on bail of £175,000 but confined to house arrest until 8 September, Sir Mark, a businessman, said: "I have no involvement in an alleged coup in Equatorial Guinea and I reject all suggestions to the contrary."

Sir Mark, who inherited the baronetcy of his late father, Sir Denis, last year, could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

A police spokesman, Sipho Ngwema, said: "We have evidence, credible evidence, and information that he was involved in the attempted coup."

Equatorial Guinea's Justice Minister, Ruben Mangue, played down suggestions that the west African country may seek to extradite him. He told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "Let's first give an opportunity to the South African authorities and the legal system to handle the situation."

Sir Mark's lawyer, Peter Hodes, said his client had been arrested on suspicion of providing financing for a helicopter linked to the alleged coup plot. "He will plead not guilty," he said.

Sir Mark's arrest came as trials take place in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe over the alleged plot to overthrow the regime of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The plotters allegedly wanted to exploit the country's large oil reserves by installing the opposition leader Severo Moto, who is in exile in Spain

Simon Mann, an Old Etonian former SAS officer, and heir to the Watney brewing empire, is appearing in court in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, alongside 66 South Africans, after being arrested while allegedly on their way to Equatorial Guinea to join an organised uprising.

Nick du Toit, a former South African special forces soldier and arms dealer, is among 19 others charged in the Equatorial Guinea capital, Malabo, for their alleged involvement in the coup attempt. Mr du Toit, who faces the death penalty if convicted, has told the court he met Sir Mark in the run-up to the coup attempt. He said the British businessman was interested in purchasing military hardware but was not involved in the plot. He was also allegedly keen to buy military helicopters for a mining deal with Sudan.

Mr Mann had Christmas lunch with Sir Mark and his wife, Diane, last year when Baroness Thatcher, 78, was there. The former prime minister, who is in frail health, is on holiday in the United States and did not comment on her son's arrest.

Other names linked with the alleged plot include Ely Calil, a London-based oil trader who made his fortune in Nigerian oil but was questioned by police in 2002 in connection with commission paid by the French oil company Elf Aquitaine to Sani Abacha, the former dictator of Nigeria. Mr Calil is a former financial adviser to Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced former Tory deputy chairman. Lord Archer allegedly paid Mr Mann £80,000 but he denies knowledge of any coup plot.

While in Chikurubi prison, outside Harare, Mr Mann wrote a letter seeking help from Sir Mark, one of his neighbours in Cape Town and also David Hart, a businessman who advised Lady Thatcher during the miners' strike. Representing both the men in a PR role is Lord Bell, who formerly acted for Lady Thatcher. Lord Bell's organisation said neither Sir Mark nor Mr Hart had any knowledge of the alleged coup plot.

Source: Independent


Loyalist murder charge dropped

The case was heard at Belfast Magistrate's Court

A murder charge against a leading loyalist has been dropped.

Ihab Shoukri, 30, from Alliance Road, Belfast, was accused of murdering a man at the height of a feud within rival factions of the Ulster Defence Association last year.

Alan McCullough's body was found in a shallow grave in Mallusk in June, 2003.

The 21-year-old was a former member of the UDA.

Belfast Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday that scientific tests on fibres, fingerprints and DNA samples had proved negative.

Mr Shoukri still faces a charge of membership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters.



Reynolds admits dramatic role in ceasefire

25/08/2004 - 20:11:42

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds held secret talks with loyalists in their Belfast heartland 10 years ago to secure their ceasefire, he said tonight.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds held secret talks with loyalists in their Belfast heartland 10 years ago to secure their ceasefire, he said tonight.

As former US President Bill Clinton prepared to make another triumphant return to Belfast on his book tour, Mr Reynolds confirmed he set foot on the city’s Shankill Road while he was Taoiseach and months before the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

Mr Reynolds told a television interview broadcast in Northern Ireland: “In the run up to the (IRA) ceasefire I had a copy of the statement to be used by the Republican Movement on August 31 at 11am.

“I also had prior agreement with the Combined Loyalist (Military) Command to a complete loyalist ceasefire but it would not come into operation until the IRA ceasefire had at least passed six weeks.”

The Ulster Defence Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando announced a joint ceasefire through their umbrella body, the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) on October 16 1994.

Their statement came six weeks after the Provisional IRA announced its cessation.

At a dramatic press conference, former UVF leader Gusty Spence read a statement expressing “abject and true remorse” to the victims of loyalist violence.

But months before the CLMC ceasefire, Mr Spence took part in a clandestine meeting with the then Taoiseach in the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin to give loyalists an input into the peace process.

Mr Reynolds revealed when he embarked on efforts to secure the ceasefires in Northern Ireland he was advised at first not to engage loyalist leaders.

He told Ulster Television: “I was told by everybody it was a waste of time. There was no point in talking to them. I spoke to Gusty Spence on the phone. They came down to a Dublin hotel, a well known hotel and I went to the Shankill Road and between all of us we worked it out.”

The former Fianna Fáil leader, who along with former British Prime Minister John Major published the Downing Street Declaration in 1993, said his Shankill Road meeting involved Mr Spence and David Ervine of the Progressive Unionists.

Mr Reynolds also said paragraph five of the declaration, offering assurances to unionists that the Irish state would address anything which threatened their way of life, was crafted during the Shankill Road meeting.

The loyalist leadership, he said, was true to its word in delivering a combined ceasefire exactly six weeks after the IRA’s.

However, within three years the Combined Loyalist Military Command broke up, a faction within the UVF split to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force and a series of bitter, bloody feuds involving members of the UDA flared.

Mr Reynolds said he was “disappointed” by the break up of the CLMC and the divisions and criminality currently within loyalism.

“Now you would not know who to contact,” he lamented. “There appears to be a lot of criminality which has come into it.”

The former Taoiseach, who controversially praised republican Joe Cahill following his recent death for his role in the peace process, described Gusty Spence as an “honourable man”.

His revelations came on the eve of another visit to Belfast by former US President Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Mr Clinton, who met Bertie Ahern in Dublin tonight, will sign copies of his memoirs in a Belfast city centre bookstore.

However he is also meeting political leaders in the province in a bid to persuade them to reach agreement at next month’s crucial talks to restore the power sharing executive and Assembly.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will chair three days of intensive negotiations at Leeds Castle in Maidstone from September 16.

Hillary Clinton is also due to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster in Derry tomorrow where she will deliver a lecture in memory of veteran US Democratic Congressman Tip O’Neill.


Sinn Féin man quizzed over 15-year-old murder

25/08/2004 - 19:55:00

Detectives today questioned a Sinn Féin member about a 15-year-old murder.

The man was arrested at his home in north Belfast and held for several hours.

Although he was later released without charge, police tonight said a report has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Officers from the force’s major investigation team interviewed him about a man’s murder in Belfast at the height of the Troubles.

The victim, a civilian, was killed in the late 1980s, security sources confirmed. His identity was being withheld until relatives were informed of the development.

As Sinn Féin hit out at the arrest, the party activist quizzed by detectives consulted lawyers.

He is understood to be a republican activist who has been involved in community work for years but never stood as an election candidate.

Eoin O’Broin, Sinn Féin’s north Belfast councillor, claimed earlier that heavily armed PSNI officers raided the home.

“The man has been arrested and taken to the police interrogation centre in Antrim,” he said. “This man has been the target for PSNI Special Branch operations over the past two years.”

National Post


Elliott Sylvester
Canadian Press
August 25, 2004

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - The son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, an ex-race car driver whose business career has been dogged by accusations of questionable arms deals and shady ventures, was charged Wednesday with helping finance a foiled coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Thatcher, 51, was arrested at his Cape Town home and taken before Wynberg Magistrate's Court to be charged with violating the country's Foreign Military Assistance Act.

"We have evidence, credible evidence, and information that he was involved in the attempted coup," said Sipho Ngwema, a police spokesman. "We refuse that South Africa be a springboard for coups in Africa and elsewhere."

Authorities in several African countries announced in March that they had foiled an attempt to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, who is widely accused of torture and other abuses while ruling a country that has become the continent's third-biggest oil producer.

Magistrate Awie Kotze placed Thatcher under house arrest and gave him until Sept. 8 to post a $390,000 Cdn bail. Thatcher, who nervously tapped a pen in his palm during the proceeding, smiled and said, "Thank you," before he was led away to be driven home.

Outside court, Thatcher's lawyers said he was arrested on suspicion of providing financing for a helicopter linked to the coup plot.

"Mr. Thatcher is not guilty of any allegations," lawyer Alan Bruce-Brand told reporters. "He has nothing to hide and is already co-operating with authorities."

There was no immediate reaction from Thatcher's mother.

Thatcher and his twin sister, Carol, are the only children of Lady Thatcher and the late Denis Thatcher.

His sister expressed shock over the arrest, but declined to comment on the case, saying she didn't know anything about the allegations.

"Mark is in a legal process in South Africa. I haven't spoken to him and I haven't spoken to my mother. So until we've done that I can't say anything more," she said in London.

She said she was most worried about how the charges would affect her 79-year-old mother. "She is in America. I haven't spoken to her. I don't know her reaction and I care about her," she said.

Police raided Thatcher's home in the upscale suburb of Constantia shortly after 7 a.m. local time and investigators searched his records and computers.

Hours later, he was driven away in a police vehicle. But his court appearance was delayed when he was robbed of his shoes, jacket and cellphone in a crowded holding cell, according to a court official who witnessed the attack. Police recovered the items.

Equatorial Guinea put 19 people on trial Monday in the alleged plot. One other defendant died in custody under suspicious circumstances. Seventy suspected mercenaries are on trial separately in Zimbabwe.

Equatorial Guinea's justice minister, Ruben Mangue, sidestepped questions about seeking Thatcher's extradition. "Let's first give an opportunity to the South African authorities and the South African legal system to handle the situation," he told BBC radio.

The alleged ringleader of the plot, former British special forces soldier Simon Mann, was among those arrested March 7 in Zimbabwe, where authorities said they stopped a planeload of mercenaries going to Equatorial Guinea. The men maintain they were headed to security jobs at a mining operation in Congo.

At the trial, one of the defendants testified Wednesday that Thatcher met Mann in July 2003. Nick du Toit, a South African arms dealer, said Thatcher expressed interest in buying military helicopters for a mining enterprise in Sudan, but described the meeting as a "normal business deal" unrelated to the alleged coup plot.

Thatcher studied accounting but then pursued an undistinguished career in motor racing. In January 1982, he was lost for six days during an auto rally across the Sahara Desert, causing his mother to weep in public for the first time.

He started his own company and moved to Texas in April 1984 after a lengthy controversy over reports that he represented a British construction firm that won a $785 million contract in Oman while his mother was there on a trade-boosting trip in 1981.

Thatcher also was scrutinized by Britain's Parliament in 1994 over news reports that he was involved in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Iraq while his mother was prime minister. In one case, the Sunday Times reported that Thatcher made $20 million in commissions on a $33 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, but it said there was nothing illegal about the deal.

Thatcher moved to South Africa two years ago after business troubles in the United States.

While living in Dallas, he settled a civil racketeering lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. He also faced charges from the Internal Revenue Service over his role with a Dallas-based home security company that went bankrupt.

© The Canadian Press 2004

Today in Irish History

On this day 25 August

1803 - The British capture Robert Emmet

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Irish Nationalist Emblem
An 1880s emblem for Irish nationalism, calling itself a Fenian Collar, and demanding "Ireland for the Irish", includes a portrait of Irish patriot Robert Emmet.


Sinn Féin member arrested

25/08/2004 - 13:49:01

Detectives in Northern Ireland were today questioning a Sinn Féin member as part of an ongoing inquiry.

The man, from north Belfast, was arrested by anti-terrorist officers at his house, the party said.

Sinn Féin councillor Eoin O’Broin said: “Heavily-armed PSNI members accompanied by Special Branch personnel raided the home.

“The man has been arrested and taken to the police interrogation centre in Antrim.

“This man has been the target for PSNI Special Branch operations over the past two years.”

The republican party refused to give further details until legal discussions were completed.

Although police were also tight-lipped, it is understood the operation does not relate to inquiries into security breaches at Stormont government offices or the Castlereagh police complex in east Belfast.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “A man has been arrested this morning in north Belfast this morning in connection with an ongoing police investigation.”


Irish American Information Service

08/24/04 10:28 EST

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Mr Martin McGuinness has called for direct dialogue between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Mr McGuinness made the call in a statement to mark the tenth anniversary of the IRA ceasefire. He said republicans had sought to engage with their opponents and to develop ways to overcome difficulties and differences with their adversaries.

"The challenge now is to continue the forward movement and not allow the advance we have made to be undermined by complacency, intransigence or lack of imagination," he said.

He said Sinn Féin’s objective in the all-party discussions next month was to see the political institutions re-established on a stable basis, the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and completion on a range of other issues, including demilitarisation, equality and human rights.

The former Stormont minister for education said the peace process was faced with "deep difficulties" but said it was the responsibility of politicians to work towards a resolution.

He said Sinn Féin believed "completely" in the need to build relationships with unionism and acknowledged the results of the November election and the European elections had brought about a new political reality.

Mr McGuinness said: "Sinn Féin and the DUP are now the main political parties in the north. The new reality must bring with it a new political realism. It certainly places a huge responsibility on the two governments, the DUP and Sinn Féin to act responsibly to find a way forward."

The best way to do this, he said, was through direct dialogue, including between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Sinn Féin's objective was clear, he said; - to restore the political institutions and end the crisis in the process.

The Mid-Ulster MP said discussions needed to focus on a number of key issues. These included: -full participation in stable political institutions;

-the resolution of outstanding matters on policing and justice, including, critically the transfer of powers away from London;

-armed groups and arms;

-and human rights, equality and sectarianism.

Mr. McGuinness also said there were also matters which were the responsibility of the two governments across the human rights, equality and demilitarization agendas.

"Progress on many of these issues has been obstructed and blocked by elements in the Northern Ireland Office which, despite the peace process, has adhered to a pro-Unionist and securocratic agenda. This was dramatically evident in the events around disputed loyalist parades over recent weeks which undoubtedly damaged our political project but which had the potential to do much greater damage. The British government needs to bring its system in Ireland under control."

He said Sinn Fein was committed to playing a full and productive role in resolving all of the outstanding issues, including issues of concern to unionists.

Sinn Fein recognized that this meant "more challenges ahead" for Irish republicans," said McGuinness.

He said Unionism must come at the discussions in the same "sprit of generosity and with a willingness to listen to, and deal with, the issues of concern to the nationalist and republican community".

Sinn Fein believed, he said, that was possible to achieve a comprehensive package, which deals with all of the outstanding matters in a way that was "definitive and conclusive".

"The enormous progress which we have achieved over the past 10 years is proof positive that an approach based on inclusivity; equality and mutual respect does work. It requires hard work and, at times, even harder decisions. But that is the nature of peace making," said McGuinness.

"The challenge for all of us in the time ahead is to build on that work and ensure that progress continues. Our history on this island, and our relationship with our closest neighbor, has been difficult and at times destructive. Sinn Fein wants to find a lasting peace between republicanism and unionism on this island and between Britain and Ireland. To do so we must put the failures of the past behind us. We must face into renewed discussions with an energy which matches our duty, as elected representatives, to find agreement and a better future for all our people. We must see the outstanding matters, not as obstacles to progress, but as difficulties which can be overcome. That is the challenge to all of us in political leadership as we face into renewed discussion in September. It is a mammoth task but it has to be done sometime. Why not now? I am confident that if we apply our collective energy, experience and talent that we can be successful," McGuinness concluded.


SF police minister to be blocked

Mr Robinson said a convicted terrorist would not be acceptable

Sinn Fein members with terrorist convictions will be blocked from holding the portfolio of policing and justice, the DUP has said.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson reiterated the party's election promise following a meeting with the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, on Tuesday.

Intensive negotiations involving the British and Irish Governments and the political parties are to take place next month in an attempt to restore devolution.

Mr Robinson said he hoped a deal could be achieved at the talks.

The political institutions in the province were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

"What they are saying is they would be quite happy with Bairbre de Brun as minister for policing."
David Trimble
Ulster Unionist leader

"It would not be acceptable to the unionist community to have someone who is a convicted terrorist as someone who is a minister for policing and justice," Mr Robinson said.

"I think the essential element for policing and justice powers to be devolved is that the community has confidence in the way they are being exercised and in the people who exercise those powers. That is critical."

The DUP position appears to rule out Sinn Fein assembly members such as Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly or Raymond McCartney as a policing and justice minister in any future executive.

However, it seems to rule in the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, and assembly members Mitchell McLaughlin and Pat Doherty.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said he was taken aback by the DUP stance.

Speaking after a meeting with Paul Murphy, Mr Trimble said he found it unbelievable that the DUP would consider any Sinn Fein member for the post.

"No other party can dictate to either Sinn Fein or any other party who they should put forward."
Conor Murphy
Sinn Fein MLA

"I am surprised the DUP has said that because what they are saying is they would be quite happy with Bairbre de Brun as minister for policing.

"I think that would not be the position of the unionist electorate at all."

Sinn Fein assembly member Conor Murphy insists that when the time comes to select a minister for policing and justice, the DUP will not be dictating candidates.

"Parties decide who they want to put forward," he said.

"No other party can dictate to either Sinn Fein or any other party who they should put forward."

Mr Robinson led a DUP delegation to the talks at Hillsborough Castle that included MPs Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson.

They also raised the issue of the police full-time reserve with Mr Murphy.

In January, the chief constable said phasing out the full-time police reserve in Northern Ireland would be subject to a further security review.

Hugh Orde said the service would not be left short staffed by plans to end the contracts of 1,600 officers by April next year.

The abolition of the full-time reserve was a recommendation of the Patten Report on police reform in Northern Ireland.

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