Finucane inquiry 'may be announced'

Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries

The government could announce an inquiry into the 1989 murder of Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane within days, Sinn Fein has said.

It is understood the prime minister's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, is expected to speak to Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine on Saturday.

On Thursday, loyalist Ken Barrett was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court to life for Mr Finucane's murder. The government handed its proposal for an inquiry to Sinn Fein the same day.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said his party supported the Finucane family's demand for a full public inquiry and suggested the government speak to the family.

There are concerns about the terms of reference for the inquiry - concerns which fall into the category of national security.

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

The killing was one of the most controversial of the 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly because of the allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and members of the security forces.

First person charged

Ken Barrett admitted the killing of Mr Finucane in the kitchen of his family home in north Belfast in February 1989.

However, the 41-year-old could be freed within months under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Barrett entered the guilty plea at the beginning of his trial in the Crown Court in Belfast on Monday, having denied the murder at previous hearings.

He was the first person to be charged with the solicitor's murder.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Weir described the "cruel and callous" murder as a "terrorist killing carefully planned and mercilessly executed".

The Finucane family said they were not particularly interested in convictions, and that Barrett's guilty plea served to conceal the truth that could only emerge at a public inquiry.

Sinn Féin

Responsibility now on governments to move forward

Published: 18 September, 2004

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking following the conclusion of talks at Leeds Castle said "some progress had been made across a range of issues but the DUP had not engaged, they had not negotiated". He said the responsibility now falls to the two governments for the delivery of fundamental rights and entitlements.

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Féin came to Leeds Castle seeking a comprehensive agreement on all of the outstanding issues. We knew it would be a huge challenge particularly given the anti-agreement agenda of the DUP and their refusal to talk to us. We did some good work with the two governments and made some progress across a range of issues.

"However the DUP have not engaged, they have not negotiated, they have not moved. If the DUP remain unwilling to accept equality, if they remain incapable of sharing power and the all-Ireland shape of the agreement, then there is an onus on the two governments and the British government in particular, to move immediately on the human rights, equality, policing and demilitarisation agendas.

"The British government must advance and accelerate the agenda of change set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

"Sinn Féin is not giving up on this. We want an agreement with unionism, including the DUP. But such an accommodation must be on the basis of equality, inclusivity and mutual respect. We remain engaged and determined to achieve progress. We have arranged to talk to the two governments over the coming days." ENDS


NI talks end without deal

Negotiations aimed at restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland have ended without a deal being reached, Tony Blair has said.

However, the British prime minister said he believed the issue of ending paramilitary activity and putting weapons beyond use could be resolved.

Both Mr Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern said nothing must upset the "fundamental equilibrium" of the Good Friday Agreement.

The British and Irish governments put forward a paper at the talks on Saturday which they regarded as an "acceptable compromise" to the DUP's demands for changes to the Good Friday Agreement.

It is understood progress had been made on a form of words which would see an end to IRA activity and the completion of decommissioning by Christmas, but the parties had not actually seen a text.

Discussions between the parties are to continue next week, led by Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen.

Speaking at the close of talks at Leeds Castle in Kent, Mr Blair said: "We believe what is now on offer is reasonable in its substance and historic in meaning.

"We are determined to move ahead."

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said there was a "real prospect of securing acts of completion that we had been seeking over the past three years".

"We have made progress on key issues of paramilitarism, arms decommissioning and policing. We hope to secure a fully comprehensive agreement," he said.

"It is only the parties themselves who can agree changes to the institutions. "

BBC NI political correspondent Gareth Gordon said the sticking point appeared to be DUP demands for changes to the Agreement and the running of Stormont, particularly the issue of accountability of ministers.

"The issues now appear to be not guns, but government, not paramilitarism but politics," he said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said there had been an effort to get a comprehensive agreement.

But he said the problem was "essentially about elements of political unionism and their failure or reticence to embrace a process of change".

"This is about the DUP refusing to share power with nationalists."
Caitriona Ruane
Sinn Fein

"One party did not negotiate, one party did not talk to the rest of us, so therein you have some sense of where all of this is."

DUP leader Ian Paisley said a "golden opportunity" had been made available to realise a stable and entirely peaceful future for the province.

"We have never been closer to solving the problems that have plagued us for decades," he said.

"The decommissioning of IRA weapons and dismantling of the structures of terrorism is the ultimate outcome of the discussions."

UUP leader David Trimble said there was disappointment that a deal had not been reached.

However, he said "significant progress" had been made, raising hopes that the weapons and paramilitary issues could be finally resolved.

"We will be exploring whether the parties that have put forward ideas are doing so in a genuine desire to see the arrangements improve or whether they are doing so out of a desire to wreck the arrangements," he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the political parties intended to continue with negotiations next week.

"Progress has been made, positive but not conclusive, there are still issues that are outstanding," he said.

The talks, which began on Thursday, were seen as the most important since the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The discussions were aimed at resolving issues surrounding the deadlock over the IRA's continued existence and power-sharing at Stormont.

The British and Irish prime ministers were working to break down differences between the two main participants, Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein led by Gerry Adams.

A meeting also took place on Saturday between the DUP and the Ulster Unionists, at the request of the UUP. The UUP had previously rejected calls for meetings from the DUP.

'Majority rule'

Earlier, Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein said the DUP would have to come into the "real world".

"This isn't about accountability. This is about the DUP refusing to share power with nationalists," she told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

Alban Maginness of the SDLP said the DUP were "trying to establish majority rule by the back door".

The agenda at Leeds Castle included issues such as the continued existence of the IRA, decommissioning, policing and undertakings from unionists to make the institutions work.

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


End of the IRA offered to Unionists in peace deal

By Thomas Harding, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 18/09/2004)
Daily Telegraph

An offer that could lead to the IRA's demise was made by republicans
as part of a deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland,
political sources said yesterday.

Talks to find a solution to the province's two-year political impasse
continued last night.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, offered to decommission most of
the IRA's arsenal and a form of guarantee to end all paramilitary
activity was put on the table.

Before the summit at Leeds Castle in Kent started Mr Adams prepared
republicans for an end to the IRA by saying that the terrorist group
had to be removed as an "excuse" for Unionists refusing to share
power with Sinn Fein.

More pressure was put on republicans yesterday after Albert Reynolds,
the former Irish premier, told a conference in Belfast that the IRA,
which was responsible for more than half of the 3,600 deaths in the
Troubles, should become "a commemorative organisation".

Tony Blair tried to put pressure on Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist
Party to accept Sinn Fein's offer and agree to go into power sharing
with Mr Adams.

If he succeeds, Mr Blair would have achieved something unthinkable a
few months ago because the DUP refused to share government with a
party tied to terrorists.

But the DUP might agree to a series of steps towards restoring
devolution, which collapsed amid allegations of IRA spying two years
ago, at some point next year, possibly after the next general

The hardline Unionists are thought to want to wait until the
Independent Monitoring Commission, a watchdog of paramilitaries,
provides at least two reports, scheduled for next month and in March.
If the commission gives the IRA a clean bill of health, the DUP might
agree to power sharing.

But Sinn Fein has refused to be "sanctioned" by the commission
believing that any minor transgression by elements within the IRA
could lead to the party being thrown out of Stormont.

Negotiations continued at a "slow" pace yesterday with offers being
made verbally and nothing as yet committed to paper.

Mitchell Reiss, President George W Bush's envoy to Northern Ireland,
has also put pressure on both parties to do a deal. DUP politicians
hinted that some progress had been made but there were
still "significant stone boulders in the way".

Ian Paisley junior said: "It took three years to get something to
work that collapsed [the Good Friday Agreement]. So it's going to
take more than three days for another deal that will last."

If no deal is struck between the DUP and Sinn Fein it is possible
that Mr Blair might still make an announcement on substantial troop
reductions in return for an IRA announcement on its future.



This month saw the anniversary of the IRA ceasefire and on October 13 it will also be ten years on from the Combined Loyalist Military Command announced a halt to loyalist paramilitary “operational hostilities”. A decade on from both historical announcements Ulster Political Research Group members Sammy Duddy and John Bunting explain why they believe that ten years of peace has brought little benefit to the Protestant community in North Belfast

Shortly after the IRA announced its ceasefire in 1994, the Combined Loyalist Military Command, which represented the core loyalist paramilitaries, followed with a halt to what it called “operational hostilities” in a statement read out to the world’s press by Gusty Spence.

Some eight years later and just 18 months ago, the UPRG was set up in the aftermath of a bloody loyalist feud between the UDA and UVF in 2000, which would claim seven lives and saw a mass exodus from the Shankill Road.
Since its inception the matter of political cohesion for the UPRG has been hit with issues like parades, allegations of UDA drug trafficking, extortion and murder as well the British government not recognising the UDA ‘ceasefire’.
As a result of these issues and others, the North Belfast branch believe they are at a crossroads, both politically and at grass roots level.

In Sammy Duddy’s mind, the problem is not one of support levels draining away, but rather an increase in the desire for civil rebellion against what protestants see as a ‘strangulation’ of their communities in North Belfast.
According to the UPRG representative, the general perception remains that Sinn Féin has a goal to completely eradicate all vestiges of protestantism in North Belfast.

And according to John Bunting, membership to the UDA is on the increase, at a significant pace in North Belfast, with recent events in Ardoyne and Torrens, he believes behind the surge.

“Ten years after the IRA’s ceasefire, protestants admit to feeling no sense of relief in their entrenched areas,” said Sammy Duddy.

“Indeed, many have noticed very little change in their well-being. Granted loyalist and republican death-squad activity would appear to be a thing of the past and bombing incidents have been replaced by grass-root politics, but generally there is always the fear that a return to the ‘bad old days’ could easily be set in motion by the activities of dissident republicans.”

Shore Road based UPRG members Sammy Duddy and John Bunting both agree there is a common assumption that catholics numerically outweigh the number of protestants in North Belfast, despite the last census showing the balance as 51.86 per cent protestant and 44.93 per cent catholic in the Parliamentary constituency of North Belfast.

But this protestant majority is not reflected in feelings on the ground the two UPRG men say.

“Instead, they feel as if they are being walked all over,” John Bunting said.

He believes that the demographic shift outwards of families from core Nationalist bases such as Ardoyne and Cliftonville into previous Loyalist bastions, proves that protestant and loyalist families are being shunted into the surrounding hinterlands.

“The slow strangulation of protestant areas has increased over the past ten years,” John Bunting said.

“Torrens is the most recent example where the patience and forbearance of the few remaining protestants finally evaporated, and the triumphalist Tricolour was promptly hoisted in a public declaration of intent.

“That show was not missed by concerned protestants who were witnessing the gradual takeover of yet another area.

“Ask any protestant what they think of Sinn Féin and prepare yourself for an eye-opener. They say, ‘Sinn Féin is seen as the IRA in suits. They couldn’t beat the protestants in a military fashion so they altered their agenda and are now trying to defeat us politically and geographically’.

“There is no level playing field. The protestant population is being squeezed on a daily basis,” Sammy Duddy added.

“Sinn Féin has been laying down markers and earmarking protestant areas for eventual takeover. While all this is going on in an insidious manner, our ‘protectors’, the British Government, woo Sinn Féin and bend over backwards to appease them. This creates fear and suspicion in the protestant community and creates difficulties for community workers.”

There is general concern, Sammy explained that Torrens, Dunmore and other future new-build areas have already been requisitioned for catholics.

“No attempts have been made by our political representatives to address this problem. This ‘head in the sand’ attitude of our politicians has not gone unnoticed.

“When protestant churches are being taken over by catholics and turned into Irish learning classes and trauma centres it causes alarm bells to ring in the protestant community. “When did you ever hear of a catholic chapel being handed over to protestants?”

As community workers in the area, which covers the Shore Road, York Road, Ballysillan, and Westland and the men say that they find themselves in multiple job roles.

“It is like we are doing the work of our elected politicians and not getting paid to do it,” said Sammy Duddy.
“People round here traditionally vote for either the Officials [the UUP] or the DUP, but when there’s trouble and we’re called out in the middle of the night, you can bet they’re not around to calm things down.

“When all those people were moving out of Torrens, Nigel Dodds only turned up on the day they left. What was the point in that?”

As they call it, the UPRG see themselves as playing a significant active role in trying to progress the ordinary day lives of protestant families.

But when it comes to election time, they say it’s hard to change patterns of a lifetime.

“Over the years people were afraid to vote against the DUP and the UUP. That’s when they had a bit of clout.

“If you were working in the shipyards, there was no way you were going to vote against them. If you did, you’d be out of a job.

“Nowadays, people come to us for help and we do the very best that we can. But that isn’t reflected when you look at last year’s election figures. The DUP are the biggest party here, but where are they?

“We’re the only ones here working on the ground.”

Membership to the UDA is on the increase says John Bunting and points to the UDA’s show of strength on the Westland Road on the eleventh night as an example.

“The UDA is getting bigger and stronger all the time, and particularly up here,” John Bunting said.
“But it’s getting bigger for all the wrong reasons. We need to educate our children and tell them there is another way, a political way and not paramilitary.

“Education in this way is crucial. When we’re on interfaces and there is an incident, say someone’s just stoned a catholic’s house, and you ask them why they did it, and they say ‘Just because they’re a Taig’, you just shake your head. It’s all wrong, and we need to change it.

“Education of our youth is the most important task facing us today, I believe, and the worst thing is that we’re getting ignored by the British Government for funding.

“It has been said that there is too much hatred on both sides and people have long memories. Yet one of the aims of the Peace Process was to take this on board. To date there has been no inclination to grasp the nettle and that hatred is being allowed to fester and infect our children.”

Asked about the future of the UPRG, both men say they would like to see a viable and vibrant political party by at least 2008.

It appears that a slowly, slowly option is being considered – at a conference of the UPRG last weekend, members agreed that they were not ready to field more candidates in the projected May 2005 local council elections.
“We are still in a period of transition,” said Sammy Duddy.

“We have three councillors and they will be standing next year but there’s not enough time to put more people on the ticket. At that conference it was clear that some wanted to go political and others wanted to remain at community level. So a decision will have to be made about that.

“The thing is, we recognise that we don’t tend to get the votes. It’s like people expect us to defend them at times of crisis, but when it comes to elections we don’t get their votes. Unfortunately we’re not like Sinn Féin. We’ve some way to go yet on that one.

“Nevertheless the republican dream of a United Ireland is as far away as it was in the ‘60s. The South of Ireland certainly doesn’t espouse to it, many northern Catholics would refuse to consider it and the Protestant majority would forcibly resist it. The myth remains a myth.”

The UPRG: a brief history

The Ulster Political Research Group was formed 18 months ago to represent the interests of the Ulster Defence Association at a political level.

The political face of the group was created after Gary McMichael’s UDP was given a vote of no confidence shortly after the Good Friday Agreement and two loyalist feuds later ripped through loyalist North Belfast. Since its inception the UPRG has gained three seats in local elections under an Independent banner – Frank McCoubrey who represents the Shankill area for Belfast City Council, Frankie Gallagher in Castlereagh Borough Council and Tommy Kirkham who sits on Newtownabbey Borough Council in the Macedon ward.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Derry Journal

Para 'Smock' No Longer For Sale

Friday 17th September 2004

The uniform allegedly worn by a Para who opened fire in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday is no longer for sale on the Internet, the 'Journal' can reveal.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the "smock" a camouflaged outer garment traditionally worn by the Parachute Regiment was on sale on the world wide web for £350.

The individual selling the item claimed it was owned by a soldier known to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry by the cipher "Soldier S".

In his evidence to the Saville hearings in mid-May 2003, "Soldier S" admitted firing 12 shots at a "gunman" in the vicinity of the Rossville Flats.

He also told the London hearings that Bloody Sunday was a "tragedy for everyone."

The "smock" - when on sale on the popular online auction site - was, according to its seller, "a very rare chance to own a piece of history."

The sale blurb read: "This is an original 1959 pattern Denison para smock that was owned by a member of the Parachute Regiment that was involved in Bloody Sunday in Derry 1972.

"Smock is in good condition with a few holes on the woollen cuffs."

It went on to claim that the "smock" was "used by soldiers in the inquiry."

The 'advertisement' also included up-to-date photographs of the "smock" as well as images of Paratroopers, in uniform, rounding up people in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday.

Before its "disappearance" from the website, there had been no bids for the item.

Throughout the week, the 'Journal' made a number of unsuccessful attempts to contact both the internet seller and the online auctioneers.

The families of those gunned down in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday say they are "relieved" the item is no longer for sale.

John Kelly, whose teenage brother was shot dead on Rossville Street, told the 'Journal':

"Whatever the reason for its disappearance, I'm happy.

"Whether it's no longer for sale because we highlighted the matter in the press or, perhaps, the person selling it decided to take it off for totally unrelated reasons - I don't care. I'm just comforted by the fact that it's no longer there."

Mr. Kelly said that, in spite of this most recent development, "it is still amazing the depths some people will stoop to to make money.

"I find it astonishing that a genuine effort was made to make money out of the massacre of our loved ones."

Mr. Kelly said he did "take some heart from the fact" that, up to the time of its removal from the website, no-one had entered any bids for the item.

He concluded by urging the online auctioneers to "closely scrutinise" all future items offered for sale on its site.


17 September 2004


The guilty plea and sentencing of Ken Barrett has never been our main
concern. We have continually asked for the truth.

Barrett's plea of guilty means that much of that truth remains

The Stevens investigation, no matter how thorough, and any
prosecutions arising out of it, including that of Barrett, will never
come close to establishing the truth.

We can only get the truth if we are involved in the process.

The truth can only be established when we have the entitlement to
question the relevant witnesses and scrutinise the relevant

We have had no input into Barrett's prosecution and trial. We have
seen none of the evidence nor would we ever have had the opportunity
to challenge that evidence even if the trial had proceeded.

Prosecutions are controlled by the Director of Public Prosecutions
and we are entirely excluded from that process. The Government, of
course, is fully aware of this, which is why it is continuing with
prosecutions and trials against our wishes.

It is outrageous that the Government is continuing its pretence that
our concerns and that of the public can be satisfied by prosecutions
and trials.

The Government has run out of excuses for delaying the establishment
of a public inquiry into Pat's murder.

It is now time for the Government to comply with its promise at
Weston Park and its personal commitment to Judge Cory and indeed its
international obligations.

Our campaign to seek the truth will continue and we will not be
discouraged or disheartened by a callous government continuing its
own campaign of delay, cover-up and spin. ENDS


Immediate Release

Public inquiry must be held into Finucane killing

Joint Statement from Amnesty International, British Irish Rights
Watch, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and Human
Rights First Four leading human rights organizations - who sent
observers this week to the trial of Kenneth Barrett - today called
urgently on the UK government to immediately implement Judge Peter
Cory's recommendation for a public inquiry into the 1989 murder of
Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane. The conviction and sentencing today
of Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, for the murder of
Patrick Finucane has removed any purported justification on the part
of the authorities to further delay a public inquiry. "Our observers
of the trial this week were able to confirm that Kenneth Barrett's
guilty plea led to no significant information being made public
during the court case; criminal proceedings have clearly been
insufficient in getting at the full truth of the Finucane case".
There must be no further delay in immediately proceeding to hold a
public inquiry into the allegations of state collusion into, and
subsequent cover-up of, Patrick Finucane's killing. The four
organizations who sent observers further noted Judge Cory's finding
that: "[t]his may be one of the rare situations where a public
inquiry will be of greater benefit to a community than prosecutions."
A spokesperson for the organizations said: "Successive governments
have aided and abetted the cover-up in this most sinister of murders,
which involved collusion by several agents and agencies of the state,
including the police and the army. The time has come to submit the
murder of Patrick Finucane to the independent scrutiny it demands.
There is no longer any excuse for prevarication, and we expect the
Prime Minister to announce a public inquiry immediately." In the
past, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on human
rights defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of
judges and lawyers, as well as international and local human rights
organizations, including the International Federation of Human
Rights, Human Rights Watch and the Pat Finucane Centre have called on
the UK government to proceed to an inquiry without delay.
The inquiry should focus on collusion by state agents with loyalist
paramilitaries in Patrick Finucane's killing, on reports that his
death was the result of state policy, and on allegations that
different government authorities played a part in the subsequent
cover-up of collusion in his killing. For further information from
the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ) contact Maggie
Beirne (Director) 0044(0) 7703486949 or Maggie O'Conor (Legal
adviser) 028 90961122


Andersonstown News Group
17 September 2004

`Barrett Plea was to protect UDA boss'

The protection of a loyalist godfather and his Special Branch cohorts
was the reason Pat Finucane's killer Ken Barrett pleaded guilty to
his murder this week, according to loyalist sources.

They say Barrett, who was sentenced today for murder, but who could
be out within months will go into hiding for life to avoid
being "whacked" by his former UFF associates.

He is currently in isolation for his own safety in Maghaberry jail
In December 2001 special branch agent and UDA quartermaster Billy
Stobie was shot dead outside his Forthriver home by the UFF.

Stobie had been acquitted of the murder of Pat Finucane amid
recriminations from the Finucane family that the British government
was attempting to stall a public inquiry into his killing.

It's believed that the then head of the UDA in West Belfast would be
a central figure should there be any inquiry into the killing of Pat

Some 20 more files on individuals in the British security services
were passed onto the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) 20 months
ago, but no action has been taken to prosecute or drop the action.

That will put off any inquiry indefinitely, aiding the stalling
tactic of the British, say the Finucane family.

The North Belfast solicitor was shot dead in his Fortwilliam home in
February 1989 in front of his wife and children.

Last year, retired Canadian Judge Peter Corey recommended a public
inquiry into his killing to expose the murky world of the British
army's Force Research Unit (FRU), RUC Special Branch and collusion
with loyalist death squads. Supporters of the Finucane family claim
the securocrats' resistance to a public inquiry is because any proper
probe would lift the lid the whole way to the top.

According to the Stevens III investigation the leader of the team who
targeted Finucane in 1989 was "one Eric McKee", so-called "military
commander" of the UFF.

But it was the West Belfast head, not McKee, who had suggested they
attack Finucane said the Metropolitan Commissioner's probe.

McKee was reported to have said, around six weeks before the
killing: "I have been told by someone ... 'Get Finucane. He is the
brains behind the IRA. Forget about [Gerry] Adams'."

That someone is believed to have been a member of special branch.
Barrett told BBC Panorama in secretly recorded meetings that the West
Belfast UDA man, who had suggested the murder, had been primed by a
Special Branch contact from the RUC.

Barrett said he himself had been introduced by the UDA's head man in
the west of the city to an officer who told him Pat Finucane was a
member of the IRA.

One senior UDA source told the North Belfast News it was "obvious to
everyone" this week's guilty plea was brokered with the security

"Barrett would have loved to have made a big story out of the whole
thing, but he knows this is the way it has to be.

"The only one left is the then head of the UDA in West Belfast,
that's who is being protected. I don't think we'll see Ken Barrett


Irish American Information Service


09/17/04 13:20 EST

An IRA pledge to make its biggest weapons disarmament has been drafted as the Northern Ireland peace talks enter a decisive final phase, sources said tonight.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the political parties were ready to work into the night at Leeds Castle, Kent, in an attempt to broker a deal to restore power-sharing in Belfast.

With Mr Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists insisting the paramilitary organisation must be abolished before they will revive the Stormont administration, the two Premiers have heaped pressure on Sinn Fein chiefs Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness to deliver.

The IRA has already carried out three substantial acts of decommissioning, but international disarmament chief General John de Chastelain has been ordered not to reveal what guns and bomb making equipment he witnessed being destroyed.

But the DUP is insistent upon visual proof of weapons destruction and a timetable setting out when the IRA will be stood down.

It is understood a statement has been drawn up and is being studied to see if it goes far enough.

"There's a form of words floating around," one talks insider said.

"These are words from P O'Neill (IRA signature name) that have been given to Mr Blair and Mr Ahern and relayed to the DUP."

Although both republicans and unionists believe progress has been made, the Saturday lunchtime deadline, when they must vacate Leeds Castle for a wedding, was looming.

All parties were told to cancel plans to be driven away from the idyllic venue before late tonight, at the earliest.

Both Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have warned there will be no further round of negotiations.

The Prime Minister was said to be showing the strain as tensions inside the negotiations rose.

"He looks tired, even though he's such a pro," one source said.

Dublin officials also stressed they would stick with it while hopes of a breakthrough remained.

Mr Ahern's spokeswoman said: "The Taoiseach has said he's willing to work long into the night, as long as it takes."

Earlier Sinn Fein chairman Mr Mitchell McLaughlin confirmed some progress had been made.

He said: "I agree that the deal could be done. We are engaged in a process of talks that has actively intensified."

But before republicans make a move they want assurances that the Stormont Executive and Assembly will be protected.

Any attempt to totally restructure the political institutions will be fiercely resisted, the Sinn Fein chairman said.

Nevertheless, he added: "We will not be found wanting if the DUP are ready to discuss. Our view for some time is we will do business with the DUP, representing in our view a more cohesive unionism."

Mr Robinson also spoke of movement on some of the outstanding issues which have bedevilled Northern Ireland politics.

He refused, however, to indicate whether the advancement was around paramilitary violence and decommissioning, switching policing powers from Westminster to Belfast, or how the Stormont regime operated.

"Progress has been made in some areas. There are other areas where there has been no progress whatsoever. I'm not indicating how much progress we are making in any specific areas."

Mr Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionists, urged the IRA to make a new and detailed statement on weapons without delay.

He said: "There have been rumors that the spokesman of that private army, one P O'Neill, may be about to say something. In which case the sooner we hear it and the clearer the message the better."

For others involved, there were signs of a possible breakthrough.

Mr Mark Durkan, leader of the nationalist SDLP claimed resistance to a settlement was weakening.

He said: "I don't think we have the full combination code yet. But I think we are potentially getting to a click on some of the issues that we haven't concluded on before."


Four held as bomb equipment seized

Three men and a woman have been arrested in Belfast under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Police said a large amount of ammunition and bomb making equipment had been seized during planned searches in the north and west of the city on Friday.

Cannabis plants, together with cultivation and manufacturing equipment, was also found.

The operation follows a recent threat issued by the Continuity IRA that a bomb would be left at a police station somewhere in Belfast.

Date: Thursday, September 16, 2004

Please protest the offensive use of eBay for profit by a British Army
participant in the Bloody Sunday mass murder.

Please send an e-mail or letter to eBay to protest the auction yesterday
of a British Army jacket worn by “Soldier 5” on Bloody Sunday. There is
a Sample Letter and steps to contact eBay listed below the Belfast
Telegraph story.

Please note eBay Customer Assistance is very difficult to negotiate but
we have listed the easiest steps we have found.

The Irish Freedom Committee®

'Bloody Sunday Jacket' On Ebay

Relatives sickened by sale bid

By Ciaran O'Neill
15 September 2004

Relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday today said they were
sickened by an attempt to sell a jacket allegedly worn by a soldier
involved in the 1972 shootings.

The smock jacket was today on sale on the Internet auction site
eBay for £350.

The anonymous seller claims that the jacket was worn by a soldier,
identified as Soldier S at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, who fired 12
shots during the civil rights demonstration.

The auction is due to end on Sunday but no bids have yet been made
for the jacket, which allegedly dates from 1959.

However, John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among the 13 people
shot dead on Bloody Sunday, today called on eBay to remove the
jacket from sale.

"It is disgusting that someone should try and make money out of
what happened on Bloody Sunday," said Mr Kelly.

"This is totally insensitive and an insult to the memory of our
loved ones."

No one from eBay was available to comment.

In his evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry last year, Soldier S
said that statements he had made about gunfire and bombs being
aimed at soldiers were untrue.

The soldier, who was an 18-year-old private in 1972, also said he
had no recollection of what caused him to fire 12 shots in four
bursts of three at 30-second intervals.

The former paratrooper had told the 1972 Widgery Tribunal into the
shootings that he came under fire as soon as he dismounted from his

But asked last year whether his statement to the military police on
the night of Bloody Sunday that he saw a gunman open fire at
paratroopers with about six shots from a ground- floor window of
the Rossville flats in Derry could be relied upon, Soldier S
replied: "No".

He also admitted there were "a lot of inaccuracies" in the original
statements he gave to military police.

He told the inquiry that he later went on to join the SAS and was
seriously injured in a firefight in the Middle East in 1974-5.

If you are an eBay Member go here and sign in to leave feedback.
Registration is free. SAMPLE LETTER below to copy and paste.

To submit Feedback:
1. Go to http://pages.ebay.com/help/contact_inline/index.html
2. Click “Ask about biding or buying”.
3. Then click “Bidding or buying”
4. Then click “The problem you’re having isn’t listed”
5. On the new page, click “Email”
6. Copy and paste sample letter into body area. Leave your email
address and eBay ID if you have one for a response.

Or write to eBay Headquarters at:
eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, California 95125
SAMPLE LETTER – Copy and Paste:

eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, California 95125

To whom it may concern;

I am outraged to learn that eBay has allowed a participant in a mass
murder to sell memorabilia associated with his role the deaths of 14
innocent civilians on your website. I refer to the item 'Bloody Sunday
Jacket', posted by eBay for auction yesterday, and listed as being worn
by British Army “Soldier 5” during the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry,
1972. “Soldier 5” has admitted to firing 12 rounds at civilians that

During a recent tribunal in Ireland, this same soldier admitted that the
British Army fired indiscriminately at civilians with no provocation,
killing 13 instantly and a 14th who died later.

I note that in your Terms of Use regarding the sale of “Offensive
Materials” it is stated that “eBay may... out of respect for the
families of murder victims, remove listings of items closely associated
with individuals notorious for committing murderous acts within the last
100 years, such as personal belongings of such criminals.”

I strenuously object to the use of eBay to allow profiteering by
participants in the mass murder of innocent civilians, and I urge you to
remove this highly offensive item immediately.

Thank you;


© The Irish Freedom Committee® NewsList - IFC Updates



In an exclusive interview with the North Belfast News the Loyalist political group the UPRG has said that membership of the UDA is getting stronger by the day.

Discussing the last ten years and the future of loyalism in North Belfast UPRG members John Bunting and Sammy Duddy said communities were at melting point.

With families having recently left their homes in the Loyalist stronghold of Torrens, the men said that protestant people felt as if they were being slowly squeezed out of all existence.

“They feel as if they are being slowly taken over by nationalists,” John Bunting said.

“This may not actually be the case, but it is what people are feeling on the ground.”

In a wide-ranging interview the men declared their faith in the peace process.

They also queried why the British Government was reluctant to engage with them, but that a meeting with the President of Ireland and her husband could be organised “anytime they wanted”.

The two men confirmed that membership to the UDA was on the increase.

“In North Belfast the UDA is getting bigger and stronger. And that is because they feel under threat. It’s a feeling of slow strangulation,” John Bunting claimed.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Finucane detective fears revenge

16/09/2004 15:31:07 UTV

A detective who helped catch the killer of Pat Finucane today feared
he could be targeted in a revenge attack.
By:Press Association

Former detective sergeant Johnston Brown said Ken Barrett, jailed for
22 years for murdering the Belfast solicitor, had threatened to kill
him and his police colleague Trevor McIlwrath.

Mr Brown, who was in Belfast Crown Court to see Barrett sentenced,
said: "I have got a life sentence because this man told me and Trevor
McIlwrath that if this ever went wrong for him, that if he ever ended
up in jail, that he would come after us and put two in our face.

"When you look at what happened to Pat Finucane, that`s what he done
to him, put bullets in his face. So I will be looking over my
shoulder for the rest of my life."

Barrett, 41, had confessed to Mr Brown, his police handler, in
October 1991 in the back of a car after falling out with the Ulster
Defence Association.

Barrett was caught after the officers secretly recorded him making a
confession. He declared: "I whacked a few people... People say, `How
do you sleep, Ken?` I say, `I sleep fine`."

But he was not charged after becoming an informer for the
intelligence services.

The covert recording of the conversation disappeared, but Mr Brown
made a statement saying that Barrett told him: "I killed Mr Finucane
so quickly that he still had a fork in his hand as he was lying on
the floor."

Speaking outside Belfast Crown Court, Mr Brown said the conviction
was a good day for the people of Northern Ireland but condemned the
provision of the Good Friday Agreement that allowed for the early
release of paramilitary prisoners.

Barrett himself is expected to be on the streets again within months.

The former detective said: "We shouldn`t take Ken Barrett`s case in
isolation. There are a lot of Ken Barretts out there, a lot of
criminals, murderers, who are allowed to walk free who should never
have been allowed to walk free."

Describing Barrett as a "cold fish", Mr Brown said he was satisfied
he had pulled the trigger to kill Mr Finucane, who was gunned down in
front of his wife and three children at Sunday lunch in February 1989.

Mr McIlwrath, who was also in court to see the conviction,
said: "When he described those events that night in the back of the
car he was reliving the events of killing Pat Finucane."

Mr Brown said: "That`s why the tape isn`t there. That`s why it`s
away. Any one member of the public listening to his account of the
crime would have been satisfied."

He was not surprised that Barrett had expressed no remorse for
killing Mr Finucane.

He said: "You`re looking at a Freddy Kruger here. This guy is never
going to lie down."



Cops spend over £1m on 120,000 plastic bullets in the last two years

The PSNI has bought a staggering 120,000 plastic bullets with the full approval of the Policing Board since the start of 2002, the Andersonstown News has learned.

And the PSNI has also spent upwards of half a million pounds “training” its officers to fire the lethal weapon during the same 30-month period – even though the British government gave a public commitment to withdraw plastic bullets by the end of 2003.

Anti-plastic bullet campaigners last night declared their “outrage and shock” at the news. In protest at the development, campaigners from across the North will this morning gather for a symbolic ‘Money-To-Burn’ event outside the headquarters of the Policing Board.

The shocking facts were disclosed in correspondence with Relatives for Justice (RFJ) written by PSNI Chief Superintendent Sheamus Hamill, Head of Operational Support.

In his letter last month, Chief Supt Hamill accounted for the massive stockpile of plastic bullets by stating that 80,000 “batons rounds” were fired “in a controlled training environment” since the start of 2002. Due to the apparent disposal of plastic bullets after a 15-month use-by date, he said that the current stock of plastic bullets “is 34,732 rounds”.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News last night, Kathleen Duffy – whose 15-year-old son Seamus was killed by an RUC plastic bullet in 1989 – said she was “shocked” by the revelation.

“I thought I could no longer be shocked. I believed that people were being truthful when they said they wanted a new beginning to policing,” she said.

“On March 13 last year NIO Minister Jane Kennedy said, ‘the Government is very aware of the sensitivities surrounding the use of baton rounds. Our objective is that… the baton round would no longer be used after the end of 2003’.

“Not only was this promise broken but the ‘new’ PSNI have, under the watch of the supposedly accountable and open mechanism of the Policing Board, purchased over 120,000 plastic bullets since 2002.

“When one considers that each bullet costs £7, alongside the training and other costs associated with the plastic bullet, this is over £1million in public money.”

Reminding people that no one has ever been held accountable for killing Seamus, Kathleen Duffy expressed her feelings of “betrayal” that the PSNI – with the approval of the Policing Board – continues to buy huge stocks of plastic bullets.

“Like all of the other victims, no-one was held accountable for the killing of my son. The only justice I hoped to see was that in a new era of policing, plastic bullets would no longer be used and no more families would face the heartbreak and pain my family has endured.

“Purchasing these plastic bullets displays an intent and commitment to the use of plastic bullets. Everybody on the Police Board must take responsibility for this,” said Kathleen.

Since plastic bullets were introduced, 17 adults and children have been shot dead and hundreds more injured by the RUC and British Army. There have, of course, been a number of other instances where plastic bullets have maimed or caused premature death – such as the tragic case of 38-year-old Dominic Marron who was shot in the head in 1981, but died last month due to permanent damage caused by the attack. Today’s protest at the Policing Board Headquarters, Waterfront Tower, Clarendon Dock will take place at 12 noon.

Families from across the North will be joined by representatives of the Pat Finucane Centre, Relatives for Justice and the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets, to hand in a letter outlining their outrage to the Policing Board.

They will also highlight their concern over the purchase of the plastic bullets using public funds, by organising the ‘Money-to-Burn’ event.

Journalist:: Jim Maguire

Sinn Féin

Plastic Bullets have no place in policing

Published: 16 September, 2004

Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast and party spokesperson on Policing and Justice, Gerry Kelly has said that Plastic Bullets have no place in modern policing. This comes on the day that Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre are holding a protest to highlight the purchase of 120, 000 these lethal weapons by the Policing Board.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

"The Policing Board have bankrolled the purchase of Plastic Bullets for the past three years. What we have seen is that the policing board have continued to sanction the use of these lethal weapons with the purchase of 50,000 plastic bullets in 2002, another 50,000 in 2003 and 20,000 in 2004 so far. The SDLP, because of their position on the Board, need to provide clarity on their position in regards to these purchases.

"The issue here is very clear. These deadly weapons, that have been responsible for over 17 deaths and countless other injuries, need to be withdrawn immediately. Plastic Bullets have no place in modern policing and are certainly not part of the Patten recommendations. The purchase of 120,000 plastic bullets since 2002 only serves to highlight how far we have to go to fully implement Patten.

"We will be demanding that it is addressed in the talks this week at the Leeds Castle talks with the British Prime Minister."


Finucane killer gets 22 years

Ken Barrett was secretly filmed by BBC Panorama

A loyalist who confessed in court to murdering Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane has been sentenced to 22 years imprisonment.

Ken Barrett admitted the killing of Mr Finucane in the kitchen of his family home in north Belfast in February 1989.

However, the 41-year-old could be freed within months under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Barrett entered the guilty plea at the beginning of his trial in the Crown Court in Belfast on Monday, having denied the murder at previous hearings.

He was the first person to be charged with the solicitor's murder.

"I have searched in vain for any semblance of genuine remorse in your various accounts of your participation in this crime contained in the court papers and have found, on the contrary, only boastful expressions of self satisfaction."
Mr Justice Weir

Mr Justice Weir acknowledged he could be freed much sooner.

He described the "cruel and callous" murder as a "terrorist killing carefully planned and mercilessly executed".

The judge said he was "not unaware" that Barrett could apply for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement but this was "entirely outside the control of the Criminal Courts".

However, he said his decision concerning a minimum term "must of necessity be made without reference to how, if at all" the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement would effect his release date.

He added: "I have no doubt that an object of this brutal crime was to intimidate and thereby deter other members of the legal profession from carrying out their duty to represent without fear or favour all those, including terrorists such as you, who come to them for professional advice and assistance.

"It is greatly to the credit of the profession that it has not allowed itself to be intimidated or deterred by this or other outrages carried out for the same purpose."

Mr Justice Weir said he regretted he could find very few mitigating factors other than Barrett's late guilty plea.

However, he added: "I have searched in vain for any semblance of genuine remorse in your various accounts of your participation in this crime contained in the court papers and have found, on the contrary, only boastful expressions of self satisfaction."

Barrett was given concurrent jail terms of between five and 20 years for his 11 other paramilitary crimes.

Legal challenge

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

The killing was one of the most controversial of the 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly because of the allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and members of the security forces.

Barrett also admitted other charges which included the attempted murder of Mr Finucane's wife Geraldine, stealing Army-owned weapons and membership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries

A legal challenge over the government's failure to set up a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder was adjourned in June.

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine is challenging the government's decision to delay a public inquiry, which was recommended by retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory.

Mr Cory was appointed by the British and Irish Governments in 2001 to examine allegations of collusion surrounding some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles.

However, the government decided to postpone a decision on establishing an inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder until all criminal proceedings are exhausted.

Sinn Fein has claimed that the British Government is using an investigation into the murder to block any such inquiry.


Unionists must make power-sharing pledge - Adams

16/09/2004 - 10:30:52

Unionist demands for the IRA to be wound up can be met as soon as they give a pledge to share power in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams stressed today.

The Sinn Féin president led his negotiating team into crucial peace talks at Leeds Castle, Kent, carrying a 5ft long bugging device uncovered at the party’s headquarters in Belfast.

Mr Adams predicted a deal with Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists was inevitable, whether or not the breakthrough came during the discussions being chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

But, with the DUP clamouring for the IRA to be disbanded first, Mr Adams made clear that the power-sharing Executive, suspended two years ago amid allegations of republican spying, must be protected.

He said: “I did set out the context I thought it was possible to resolve that concern unionists are so loud about, and that context is a process of sustainable change.

“We want to do business with Ian Paisley. We would be quite pleased to vote for Ian Paisley as First Minister, but in the context of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Even though Mr Adams and his chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, insisted they had come to do business, they vented their anger over the surveillance equipment allegedly planted by the security services.

“This is an offering to the mighty god of British intelligence,” said Mr Adams.

“We brought it here to return to Mr Blair. We think it’s the height of hypocrisy and bad faith at any time, but especially when we are talking to the British government, that its agents should be tapping our conversations.”

During the intense three-day talks, London and Dublin want all sides to complete on the outstanding issues which have plagued the six-year-old Good Friday Agreement.

A total end to all terrorist violence, IRA disarmament, more reforms to Northern Ireland’s peace process, and a further military scale down across the North are all on the table.

Even though Mr Paisley and his number two, Peter Robinson, want major reforms to the Belfast accord, they were warned by Mr Adams this will not be tolerated.

“There can be no change,” he declared.

“The DUP is the only anti-Agreement party here, and it has to be realistic about what can be done.”

Amid reports of further punishment beatings by republican terrorists on both sides of the Irish border, Mr Adams insisted his party was totally opposed to the brutal form of street justice.

“At the lowest level they are counter productive. They do not work.”

David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionists and former First Minister in the Stormont administration, stressed the issue of IRA arms needed to be top of the agenda.

The Upper Bann MP walked out of the power-sharing experiment in October 2002 amid claims that the IRA was spying inside the British government’s Belfast offices.

He said: “The priority should be to focus on what caused suspension in the first place, what caused the Assembly to collapse two years ago.

“The (British) government’s focus today should be on republicans to see whether republicans are now finally going to do what they should have done if they were going to fully implement the Agreement, namely to completely decommission and operate by exclusively peaceful and democratic means, which essentially means with no private army.”

Mr Trimble, who pulled the plug on an attempt to break the political impasse nearly 12 months ago because the Provos refused to reveal what guns have been destroyed, demanded more from the man overseeing disarmament.

“Gen de Chastelain must free himself from his vow of silence by the IRA to allow him to confirm the percentage of weapons that have already been decommissioned, and then tell us the length of time that will be needed to destroy the remainder of the weapons,” he said.

But the UUP chief also confirmed he would resist any attempt by the rival DUP to split the First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s office in the Stormont Executive.

Mr Paisley’s party, along with Sinn Féin, would take the two top posts in the cabinet as the biggest parties in Northern Ireland.

Although the DUP may press for changes to the current system, Mr Trimble described this as a cornerstone that cannot be undone.

Security was tight as the parties gathered at the stunning Leeds Castle, once home to the monarchy with history stretching back as far as the 8th century.

With Mr Blair and Mr Ahern arriving later today, Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Murphy and Foreign Minister Mr Cowen were taking charge of the first round of talks.

As Mark Durkan took his nationalist SDLP in, he said it was time for the terrorists and political parties to make their minds up.

Along with achieving rock-solid devolution, he called for guarantees that “in future people won’t have anything more to hear about the IRA or fear from the IRA”.

David Ford, leader of the centre-ground Alliance Party, urged against a quick fix that would solve nothing in the long run.

But he refused to even consider what could happen if the talks fail, calling for all sides to do their bit.

Mr Ford said: “If that’s the case, we can move forward from today. We shouldn’t be discussing Plan B.”


Security high after police station bomb threat

16/09/2004 - 08:29:02

A major security operation continued in Belfast today after dissident republicans threatened to bomb a police station.

As crucial political talks were getting under way at Leeds Castle in Kent, extra police were on the streets of the city.

Vehicle checkpoints were set up on major roads after a caller claiming to be from the Continuity IRA telephoned a Belfast newsroom, stating that a large bomb was being moved in the city.

The target was said to be an unidentified police station.

A British army bomb disposal expert this morning set off a series of controlled explosions on a suspect car in north Belfast.

It followed what proved to be a hoax call about a bomb in an abandoned vehicle in the New Lodge Road area, but was a reflection of the heightened security and that police were taking no risks.

Police said the dissident threat was being treated seriously because of the Leeds Castle talks and after a gun attack by the Real IRA last week on Strand Road police station in Derry.

Up to 30 shots were fired at construction workers carrying out maintenance at the station last Thursday.

Police appealed to anyone in the Belfast area to report any suspicious activity.


Inmates sue over 'slopping out'

Leading Real IRA figures are among up to 800 prisoners suing the Irish Government because they do not have flushable toilets in their cells.

The Irish Department of Justice has said it will vigorously contest the claims, which could cost millions of euros.

The prisoners and 35 prison officers are claiming they suffered trauma because of slopping out - a system where inmates are given chamber pots and plastic containers for toilet use which they have to empty in the morning.

Prisoners involved in the action include former Real IRA Director of Operations Liam Campbell, its Munster Chief of Staff James Bowman, Republican Sinn Fein Vice President Des Long and convicted drug dealer Patrick Holland.

The Limerick-based solicitor representing the group, John Devane, said prisoners were entitled to dignity, and should not have to slop-out.

'Human rights breach'

The claims follow a Scottish legal ruling in April where a prisoner was awarded £2,400.

Robert Napier, a remand prisoner at Barlinnie Jail in Glasgow, had claimed that the practice breached his human rights.

He raised a legal challenge in 2001 under the European Convention on Human Rights, in which he sought £5,000.

Napier said the conditions had aggravated his eczema and resulted in a "diminishment of his human dignity".

In his judgement, Lord Bonomy found that slopping out violated articles three and eight of the convention and the common law "duty of care".

On the violation of article three, the judge said: "I am entirely satisfied that the petitioner was exposed to conditions of detention which taken together, were such as to damage his human rights, his human dignity and to arise in him feelings of anxiety, anguish, inferiority and humiliation."



CIRA Issues Bomb Warning

15 Sept 2004

Vehicle checkpoints were being set up on major roads after a caller
claiming to be from the Continuity IRA telephoned a Belfast newsroom,
stating that a large bomb was being moved in the city.

The target was said to be an unidentified police station.


**More links on actual story

US vigilantes convicted in Kabul

The three Americans were arrested in a Kabul house in July

Three Americans have been jailed for up to 10 years for torturing Afghans and running a private jail in Kabul.

Jonathan Idema and Brent Bennett were sentenced to 10 years in jail and Edward Caraballo eight years.

Idema, who the US calls a bounty hunter, said his work had been approved by Afghan and US authorities. He told the court the FBI was setting him up.

Four Afghans working with the Americans were also found guilty and sentenced to between one and five years in jail.

Idema said after the trial: "I apologise that we tried to save these people... We should have let the Taleban murder every... one of them."

The judge said the defendants, who were arrested in Kabul in July, had the right to appeal.

A lawyer for Idema, John Edwards Tiffany, said an appeal would be launched.


Lawyers for the American defendants had called for the charges to be thrown out, arguing that the Afghan legal system was not fit to try them.

The defendants denied charges of kidnapping, torture and illegal entry into Afghanistan.

Jonathan Idema

The BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says the verdict was a sensational end to what has often been a sensational trial.

He says Idema, who claimed to have tracked down one hiding place of Osama Bin Laden, had failed to prove his actions had been sanctioned by Washington.

Idema had taken the stand on Wednesday and was applauded from the public gallery as he swore "in the name of Allah to tell the truth and nothing but the truth".

He said he had been given a passport by an unnamed American agency and had a visa similar to those owned by US special forces.

He did not elaborate on his allegations against the FBI.

The trial has been marred by scenes of chaos, and repeated objections from the defence. Little strong evidence has been presented.

Wednesday's proceedings were reportedly the most orderly yet.

The prosecutor, Mohammed Naim Dawarty, accused the defendants of opening private cells, abducting and torturing Afghan people and seizing their property.

He said their activities "have created distress of the people of Afghanistan, the government and the United States".

Plea rejected

Defence lawyer Robert Fogelnest had called for an end to the trial because the Afghan legal system was unfit to carry it out.

"Justice was not served today. I blame the US government... and the Afghan legal system."
John Edwards Tiffany,
defence lawyer

Judge Abdul Baset Bakhtyari rejected the plea, saying: "Come to the point if you have any arguments."

The judge did allow the defence to show a video of the men apparently being greeted upon arrival in Afghanistan by several Afghan officials, including the Kabul police chief.

"It's ridiculous to claim they entered illegally under these circumstances," Mr Fogelnest said.

The video also showed one of the Afghans detained by the men confessing to plotting to kill senior Afghan leaders and bomb the US military base in Bagram, north of Kabul.

During his trial, Idema alleged that hundreds of videos, photos and documents were removed by FBI officers after his arrest in Kabul.

He said the documents would prove that "while we were not in the United States army, we were working for the United States army".

The Pentagon denies any ties with the men.

The three defendants were arrested when Afghan security forces raided a house in Kabul being used as a private jail and containing eight Afghan prisoners.


Bomb threat sparks city alert

A major security operation is underway in Belfast, after dissident republicans claimed a bomb would be left at an unidentified police station.

It is understood the alert began after a phone call was received by a media outlet on Wednesday.

The police said the threat was being taken seriously following a gun attack on a police station in Londonderry last week and the potential for groups to exploit the imminent political talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.

The police operation involves vehicle checks on arterial routes in and out of the city.


Nablus, Jenin raids kill Palestinians

15 September 2004, 14:38 Makka Time, 11:38 GMT

Troops have ordered all Nablus residents out of their homes

Ten Palestinians, among them five resistance fighters and an 11-year old girl, have been killed in Israeli attacks in the West Bank towns of Nablus and Jenin.

Clashes with Israeli occupation troops raiding the northern West Bank town of Nablus, also left up to 30 people injured. A 14-year old Palestinian boy is in a serious condition after being shot in the head.

The occupation forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, surrounded a building in the town where wanted resistance fighters were believed to have been hiding, Aljazeera's correspondent in Nablus reported.

The building came under heavy artillery fire, Hasan al-Titi added.

The young girl, Mariam al-Nakhlah, was hit by gunfire when she went out of her house as an ambulance arrived, medics and relatives said.

"She was watching the ambulances taking away the bodies when soldiers posted on the roof of a house shot at her, hitting her in the face," the girl's grandmother, Muyasar al-Nakhlah, said.

Among the dead were members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Medics could not immediately access the area to identify the bodies. However, Israeli military sources revealed the names of some of the dead as Nadir al-Aswad, Hani al-Aqqad and Mulham Abu Jamila.

Israeli occupation forces began demolishing the building following the attack.

Raid continuing

Israeli bulldozers have frequently
demolished Palestinian homes

According to Aljazeera's correspondent, the Israeli military raid is continuing and residents of the town have been ordered out of their homes while their residences are searched.

Israeli snipers are stationed on rooftops and at windows of buildings surrounding the site where the activists were killed.

Aljazeera's media crew has been prevented from approaching the site, al-Titi said.

An Israeli occupation army spokesman declined to comment on casualties, but confirmed that "operations" were underway in the city, according to an Israeli newspaper.

The town has now been closed off.


Meanwhile, four Palestinians were killed when an Israeli special force attacked a mechanical workshop in an industrial zone outside the West Bank town of Jenin.

Their identities' were not immediately known.

The assault by Israeli special forces backed by helicopters brought to 10 the toll in back-to-back military raids in Jenin and Nablus in the bloodiest day in the West Bank in months.

Aljazeera + Agencies


**Hot Flash!

DUP 'not prepared for deal'

Leeds Castle in Kent is the venue for this week's talks

Sinn Fein is not convinced the DUP is prepared to make a deal at intensive political talks, a senior party member has warned.

Northern Ireland's political parties are heading to Leeds Castle in Kent for talks beginning on Thursday.

Sinn Fein Chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the governments and the DUP needed "to face up to the challenges if we are to have a successful outcome".

Mr McLaughlin said his party was willing to enhance the Good Friday Agreement but would not accept the undermining of core principles.

"We are concerned that the governments may be tempted to make significant concessions to the DUP's anti-Agreement agenda and, in particular, their attempts to undermine the core principle of power-sharing and the all-Ireland architecture of the Agreement," he said.

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

This week's discussions, being chaired by the British and Irish prime ministers, are aimed at resolving issues surrounding the deadlock over the IRA's continued existence and power-sharing at Stormont.

Speaking in Belfast before travelling to England, Mr McLaughlin said the British and Irish Governments had not done the "hard work that was required".

Mr McLaughlin cited the failure of the governments to agree an independent judicial inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

He said collusion was of crucial importance and Sinn Fein wanted a date for this inquiry as part of "acts of completion".

Mr McLaughlin said that if a complete deal was not reached at Leeds Castle, the governments should still address potential obstacles for future progress.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said he hoped the talks would be the "last lap" in the political negotiations.

Mr Trimble said he was certain it was possible to reach a deal on restoring devolution, but it depended on others living up to their commitments.

He said republicans were "perfectly capable" of saying they were going to disarm completely.

"They are perfectly capable of saying: 'We are going to end all paramilitary activity and ensure that what exists are operating peacefully and democratically'," he said.

"I know no reason why they should not say that.

"They need to tell people why they have been stringing out the process for the last two years, why they have been frustrating the operation of the political process and we have to ask the government: 'Why have you been allowing them to do this?"

Mr Trimble said the main issues included paramilitarism, but also what the government intended to do about the situation.

He conceded that huge progress had been made in the last few years, adding: "I hope we are in the last lap.

"But it really depends on whether other parties and the government are prepared to face up to their responsibilities."

Sinn Féin

New warning of Loyalist threat to Ballymena repesentative

Published: 15 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Ballymena representative Michael Agnew has said that he has been warned that his life is in danger from Loyalists. Speaking of the threat Mr Agnew said:

"Loyalists have targeted not just myself but nationalists living throughout the Ballymena and wider North Antrim area. Given the number of attacks in recent months I take this threat seriously. I would urge nationalist throughout the area to extremely vigilant.

"Nationalists are angry that unionist politicians do not seem to be taking these attacks seriously. Nationalists do not believe that unionists are doing enough to stop number of attacks directed at the nationalists coming from within the unionist community.

"It is time that unionists political leaders worked along with other civic, community and church leaders to address the very high levels of attacks, intimidation and threats coming from paramilitaries operating in communities that they represent. Enough is enough, these attacks and threats have to stop." ENDS


**Only the PISSNI could say a crime is not suspected

'Intimidated' man found dead
A shed was destroyed an attack in August

A man whose home had been attacked by arsonists has been found dead in County Antrim.

Sean Kyle, 36, spoke out publicly after a pet pig was killed in an arson attack at his home in the Sunningdale Park area of Ballymena last month.

Mr Kyle also said he had been warned by police after threats were made against him in an anonymous telephone call to the Samaritans.

Police have said they do not suspect a crime in connection with his death.

Mr Kyle's body was found in Broughshane, on the outskirts of Ballymena, on Tuesday.

Bin set alight

In a statement, the police said: "We are investigating the death of a man on behalf of the coroner. A crime is not suspected."

Last month, Mr Kyle hit out at those behind an arson attack at a shed at the back of his house which killed his sons' pot bellied pig.

Mr Kyle said the arsonists knew the pig would have been in the shed.

Earlier in the week, a bin was pushed up against the back door and set alight.

Mr Kyle had said he would not be intimidated out of his house.

He had two sons Adam, 10, and seven-year-old Andrew.


Family escape bomb attack

Pat Ramsey said he would not be intimidated

The family of an SDLP assembly member has escaped injury in a petrol bomb attack in Derry.

Two devices were thrown at Pat Ramsey's home in Meenan Drive in the city at about 2300 BST on Tuesday.

Mr Ramsey was not at home when the attack happened but his wife and children were in the house.

One of the bombs exploded outside his youngest daughter's bedroom window.

It is the latest in a series of attacks against Mr Ramsey's home and office.

However, he said he would not give way to intimidation.

Mr Ramsey, the nationalist SDLP leader on Derry City Council, said "lethal weapons" had been aimed at his family.

"Those behind this ugly campaign will not break down Pat Ramsey's resolve."
Mark Durkan
SDLP leader

"Two petrol bombs hit the house just under my child's bedroom. It is thanks to my neighbours, who rushed out with water in any container available, that no one was injured.

"I would like to acknowledge their brave actions and thank them from my heart."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the attacks on Mr Ramsey were "a futile attempt to intimidate him" but were also "torture for his family".

"As well as bringing stress to his family, they bring anxiety and disruption for his neighbours," he said.

"Those behind this ugly campaign will not break down Pat Ramsey's resolve. They are only showing their own political and moral bankruptcy.

"We may not know who they are, but we know exactly what they are."

Last month, Mr Ramsey's three-year old daughter was overcome by fumes after two hooded men ran into his Derry office and sprayed a substance into the air.

In June, a suspect device was discovered in the front garden of Mr Ramsey's home in the Bogside area of the city. It was later declared a hoax.

Mr Ramsey also said he was the target of a device thrown at his neighbour's house in February. It was later declared a hoax.

Belfast Telegraph

RIRA in threat to school bus drivers
Special needs kids' transport changed

By Brian Hutton
14 September 2004

Bus drivers taking special needs children to school from an Army base in Co Londonderry have come under direct threat from the Real IRA, it has emerged.

Two drivers, employed by the Western Education and Library Board, have now refused to collect two young children from the Ballykelly Army base for fear of their lives.

Alternative arrangements have already been put in place to safely transport the children to and from a local special needs school.

An outraged Bertie Faulkner, vice-chairman of the WELB, said they were forced into the move after a RIRA gun attack on civilian workers at Strand Road police station in Derry last week.

"The first thing that is paramount is the safety of employees and children, so these threats have to be taken seriously," he said.

"It's obscene that this should happen. It is outrageous when we are in a situation where we are trying to take the peace process forward.

"Whoever the organisation is behind this, I would ask them to withdraw their threats."

Mr Faulkner said it had been a long time since such an incident has disrupted children's lives.

"There were incidents in the bad old days in the past 30 years but it has been a long time since there was anything like this," he said.

"Education has been an oasis for everybody during the past 30 years of trouble. Children should not be subjected to this."

Independent councillor Brian Brown, who lives in Ballykelly, was "astonished and appalled" by the threats.

"This shows you the mentality of the people in the RIRA. Are they now stooping to the level of the people who carried out the atrocity in Beslan?

"How they think it is justifiable to stop children going to school is beyond me."

"I thought these type of things had gone away," he added.


Irish Political Status Committee

Press Release — Irish Political Status Committee
Re: Aidan Hulme Refused Parcel

14 September 2004

Republican prisoner Aidan Hulme — currently serving a sentence at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire — has been refused a parcel sent him by well-wishers at the Ohio State University in the USA. Aidan was recently transferred from HMP Long Lartin to Full Sutton prison pending an appeal against conviction.

The parcel — which contained nothing more dangerous than writing materials, drawing sheets, envelopes etc — arrived from the USA last week.

Aidan was informed of it's arrival — but that it would be kept in his 'personal belongings.' He is not allowed to have it, or use what is in it. No explanation was given.

The IPSC see this as yet another petty restriction without rhyme or reason — and seems to target republican prisoners in particular. We are now in the process of taking this matter up with the Irish embassy here in London, the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) and await their findings.

Meanwhile messages of solidarity and support can be sent to Aidan at Full Sutton prison:



Sinn Fein 'finds second bug'

Sinn Fein has put on display another bug it claims was found in one of its offices in west Belfast.

According to the party, the listening device was found in a floor at Connolly House in Andersonstown on Monday night.

Last week, Sinn Fein put on display another bug which it said had been found at the Belfast home of a woman who works for party president Gerry Adams.

It comes as Northern Ireland political parties finalise their positions for this week's intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.

It is understood the latest device was found while work was being carried out at Connolly House.

Mr Adams said the discovery highlighted the "hypocrisy of the British system" and blamed what he called "securocrats".

Political institutions

The party has been at the centre of bugging allegations a number of times before.

Mr Adams said in December 1999 that one was planted in a car used to transport himself and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness during the Mitchell Review.

In April 2003, the Times newspaper published what were said to be transcripts of secretly recorded telephone conversations between Mr McGuinness and senior government officials.

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

The talks at Leeds Castle are aimed at finding a way to restore devolution to Northern Ireland.

Times Online


By Sean O’Neill
September 14, 2004

A police informer has admitted the 1989 murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane

A POLICE informer admitted yesterday that he killed a leading Belfast solicitor in one of the most controversial murders of the Northern Ireland Troubles, but is likely to be freed from jail within months.

Kenneth Barrett, 41, admitted murdering Pat Finucane in front of his wife and children 15 years ago and being a member of the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

Finucane’s murder was carried out with the collusion of the security forces in the province, Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, concluded last year after a marathon inquiry.

Barrett, who had been living in hiding in England after being exposed as an informer, will be sentenced to life imprisonment at Belfast Crown Court on Friday.

But under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, he can apply to the Sentence Review Commission and will be released if it is satisfied that he is no longer an active terrorist and poses no danger to the public. Barrett, who also pleaded guilty to a range of other terrorist offences, has spent more than 16 months in prison on remand and is unlikely to serve more than two years.

Finucane, 38, was a member of a staunchly republican Belfast family and a solicitor who listed many IRA men — including Bobby Sands, the hunger striker and MP — among his clients. Less than a month before he was shot dead, Douglas Hogg, then a junior Home Office Minister, told the House of Commons that there were a number of solicitors in Northern Ireland who were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”.

On the night of Sunday, February 12, 1989, a UFF hit squad drove to the Finucane family home in Belfast. The family’s relatives have alleged that police roadblocks which had been in place in the area just an hour before the shooting had been taken away shortly before the gunmen arrived.

The Ulster Defence Association — the parent organisation of the UFF — announced the following day that it had carried out “the execution of Pat Finucane the PIRA officer, not the solicitor”.

Barrett had been expected to deny the murder and argue in his defence that confessions he made about the killing had been obtained through entrapment. But when the charges of murdering Finucane and other terrorist offences were put to him, Barrett, standing with his hands behind his back, pleaded guilty.

Gordon Kerr, QC, for the prosecution, told the court — which sits without a jury — that Finucane had been in the kitchen of his home with his wife and three children when the two gunmen burst in. A post-mortem examination revealed that Finucane was shot six times in the head, three times in the neck and three in the body.

His wife, Geraldine, received an ankle wound. Forensic scientists concluded that a 9mm pistol and a .357 Magnum revolver were used in the shooting. The pistol had been stolen from an army barracks in 1987 with a number of other weapons. A hijacked Ford Sierra car used by the gunmen was found abandoned later the same evening close to the Shankill Road.

In 1991 Barrett contacted a Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch officer describing himself as the former military commander of the UFF in west Belfast and offered an account of the Finucane murder.

Mr Kerr said that Barrett had claimed that he and another gunman went into the house and said to the solicitor: “We are Provos — we are here for your car.”

Barrett said that Finucane replied: “You are not Provos — you are here to take me out.” The gunmen then shot Finucane in the body “to get him down”.

Mr Kerr continued with Barrett’s account: “He fell lying face up and I straddled over him and fired quite a number of shots into his head. I killed him so quickly that he still had a fork in his hand.”

Mr Kerr said that Barrett was treated as “an intelligence source” and not pursued over his involvement in the Finucane murder until after the third Stevens inquiry began in 1999. When he was arrested then, Barrett responded to questions with silence or by saying he knew nothing.

In June 2001 Barrett was secretly filmed talking to a reporter from the BBC’s Panorama programme and spoke of the Finucane murder being “initiated by police officers”.

Quoting from a transcript of the meeting, Mr Kerr said that Barrett had told the BBC man: “Everyone who went to Castlereagh (an RUC holding centre) was being told the same thing . . . encouraged to target Mr Finucane.”

Before the programme was broadcast, in June 2002, Barrett had been moved into a witness protection programme. But, Mr Kerr added, it was decided to “start covert operations that would implicate him in the murder and other serious terrorist offences”.

Two officers, posing as drug smugglers, befriended Barrett, who was given a job as their driver. In recorded conversations Barrett told the officers that the solicitor’s murder “wasn’t the first I’ve done” and that it had received so much publicity because “he was a republican solicitor”.

Mr Kerr said Barrett was again arrested and questioned in May last year but refused to answer any questions.

Loyalist terrorist sources have denied Barrett’s claim that he was one of the gunmen who shot Finucane. They allege that his role was limited to driving.

Sir John Stevens’s report concluded that Brian Nelson, a UDA intelligence officer and army agent, had supplied the gunmen with a photograph of Finucane and shown them where he lived.

William Stobie, another loyalist informer, is said to have told his Special Branch handlers that the killing of a senior IRA figure was imminent. Stobie was murdered by his former loyalist colleagues in December 2001.

Michael Finucane, the dead man’s son, said that Barrett’s guilty plea should clear the way for a public inquiry into his father’s murder. He said: “The only prosecution has now been held, so when can the public inquiry be held? That’s the only question the British Government has to answer.”

Mr Finucane said he was concerned less with the roles of the individuals who killed his father than with the system that allowed it to occur.

Peter Cory, a retired Canadian judge asked by the Government to look into the case, recommended a public inquiry after concluding that military and police intelligence had known of the plot to kill Finucane but failed to stop it.


February 1989 Patrick Finucane shot dead at his home in north Belfast by two gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

January 1992 Brian Nelson, a former UDA intelligence officer, is revealed as an Army agent who tipped off his handlers about a plan to murder Mr Finucane. The revelation adds to allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalists in Mr Finucane’s murder

June 1999 A former UDA quartermaster and self-confessed police informer, Billy Stobie, is charged over the case. He admits supplying the guns, but denies murder

November 2001 Stobie walks free after the main witness against him, a former journalist suffering from acute anxiety, refuses to testify

December 2001 Stobie shot dead by his former colleagues outside his home in north Belfast. Fearing he may be next, Barrett is spirited out of Northern Ireland by detectives under Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, investigating collusion

April 2002 A retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, is appointed to investigate six of the Troubles’ most controversial murder cases, including that of Mr Finucane

April 2003 Brian Nelson dies of lung cancer under a false name in Wales. Days later, Sir John Stevens confirms collusion in murder of Mr Finucane

April 2004 Judge Cory also concludes there was collusion and recommends a public inquiry into the killing. The Government refuses, saying it cannot hold an inquiry while criminal proceedings are taking place

September 2004 Barrett pleads guilty, putting fresh pressure on Government to set up a tribunal

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