Assets of killer's associate probed

(Sharon O'Neill, Irish News)

The latest target of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) is a close business associate of ousted UDA figure John White. The Irish News can reveal that the man at the centre of the agency's new probe – Albert Baxter – is also the father of a partner of White.

White, a convicted killer, was among a group of loyalists who fled the north early last year after an internal UDA feud that claimed several lives.

ARA investigators yesterday (Thursday) raided a number of premises in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, in a case referred to the agency by the PSNI.

It is the first time the ARA – the performance of which has come under scrutiny – has named individuals in an action.

It said it had been granted a series of orders in Belfast's High Court resulting in the freezing of assets in Northern Ireland, England and Spain valued "conservatively" in excess of £320,000.

In its civil action, the agency argued that three individuals – Albert Baxter, wife Jessica Baxter and son Paul Baxter – were in possession of the proceeds of crime including the illegal importation of fireworks from China, sale of counterfeit goods and smuggled cigarettes.

An interim receiver appointed on behalf of the High Court took control of:

* four companies, three of them registered in Northern Ireland: Kanash Ltd, which was at the centre of a controversy over the importation of dangerous fireworks in the 1990s; Global Christmas Ltd and Cedar Hill Trading Ltd. The fourth company, Global Fireworks Ltd, was registered in Leeds
* an apartment and a house in the Carrickfergus area
* three BMW cars
* a business in the Canary Islands.

NIO security minister Ian Pearson said: "The international dimension of this case sends out the clearest message to those who feed off the entire community in Northern Ireland that no matter where they attempt to hide their ill-gotten gains, the Assets Recovery Agency will find them."

Before being forced into exile, White – an ally of jailed loyalist Johnny Adair – had lived in a luxury house in Carrickfergus.

However, the ARA faced a barrage of demands to explain how the loyalist was allowed after he fled to sell the house, thought to be worth around £350,000.

The agency has refused to disclose whether White is under investigation.

In a separate case, it froze assets last month valued at around £300,000, believed to be the profits of robberies and burglaries of the elderly.

Now in operation for more than a year, the ARA seized more than £3 million worth of assets during its first 12 months, but critics claim that the figure represents only a small fraction of the estimated £250 million to £500 million amassed by criminals each year.

October 23, 2004

This article appeared first in the October 22, 2004 edition of the Irish News.


11-year-old Dublin boy missing

07:45 Saturday October 23rd 2004

Gardai in Tallaght have appealed for information on the whereabouts of an 11-year-old boy missing since yesterday

Paul McDermot is described as being of small build, 4 feet 11 inches tall with a pale complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.

When last seen he was wearing a navy blue Gala tracksuit top and Nike runners

Anyone with information is asked to call Tallaght Garda Station on 01- 6666000

Irish Examiner

Ahern makes al-Jazeera appeal

23 October 2004

By Harry McGee, Political Editor
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern last night made a direct appeal on al-Jazeera television calling on the captors of Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan to release her immediately.
The influential Arab television network broadcast a statement from the Taoiseach in which he described how the Irish Government and people had been deeply shocked by Ms Hassan’s kidnapping in Iraq.

In his statement, Mr Ahern stressed that Ms Hassan (whose maiden name is Fitzsimons) was born in Ireland and is an Irish citizen.

He also pointed out that she was a woman who had lived and worked in Iraq for 32 years and who was committed and attached to that country.

Government sources have not ruled out the possibility of Mr Ahern giving a live interview on al-Jazeera this weekend.

Mr Ahern’s intervention came hours after the station showed new footage of Ms Hassan in captivity was shown.

The head of Care International was seen making an emotional appeal to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asking him to withdraw British troops from Iraq.

The video has led to growing pessimism in British and Irish government circles that the crisis will be easily resolved. It appears more likely that her kidnappers are motivated by ideological reasons rather than the prospect of a ransom payment.

In his statement, which was read out in Arabic on al-Jazeera, the Taoiseach said: “(Ms Hassan) is a person who has selflessly worked for the benefit of her Iraqi fellow citizens and fought for the rights of the Iraqi people for many years.

“Taking Margaret from her family is a cruel and shocking act. To harm her in any way would be unthinkable. I call on her captors, on behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, to release her immediately.

Belfast Telegraph

Harrowing footage shows Hassan pleading for her life

By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
23 October 2004

Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped British aid worker, appeared in a new and harrowing video yesterday, weeping and asking Tony Blair to save her life by halting the deployment of British troops from southern Iraq alongside American forces.

Her distraught husband said afterwards that the Prime Minister "will have her death on his hands" if she is murdered. Tahseen Ali Hassan, who stressed that his wife considered herself an Iraqi, has been deeply concerned by the British government repeatedly stating it was trying to secure her release.

He said: "Margaret is now paying the price. Once they started talking in London about how they were going to rescue her, the kidnappers knew they could use her to apply pressure. I hold Tony Blair responsible for what is happening now. He used her kidnapping for propaganda. He can now cancel sending these troops, but is he going to?"

Mrs Hassan was seen begging to be spared the fate of Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage who was beheaded. The timing of the release of the video was undoubtedly calculated by Mrs Hassan's captors to gain maximum exposure in the Western media. It comes the day after the Government agreed to a request from the US to deploy 850 troops south-west of Baghdad.

Mrs Hassan looked terrified and often broke down in tears as she spoke. "Please help me, please help me. This might be my last hours," she said in a faltering voice. "Please help me. Please, the British people, ask Tony Blair to take the troops out of Iraq, and not to bring them to Baghdad. That's why people like Mr Bigley and myself are being caught, and maybe we will die like Mr Bigley.Please, please, I beg you."

Mrs Hassan's friends and colleagues initially thought she might have been kidnapped by a commercial gang, and that she would gain her freedom after the discreet payment of a ransom. There are now fears that she may have fallen into the hands of an extremist Sunni group, possibly with links to the Jordanian militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Mrs Hassan, who has Irish, Iraqi and British citizenship, was born in Dublin. She has lived in Iraq for 30 years, and was the country director for Care International. The charity, which stayed in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s and the two Gulf wars, has suspended operations.

Last night her husband, a retired economist, said: "I now have nothing but the worst fears. I have been telling myself that they will not kill a woman, but I am no longer sure. I am so afraid, and I am so sad.

"I feel very angry about Tony Blair. Margaret and I have tried to make sure even before the kidnapping that she was not considered British because there is so much hatred against America and Britainover here because of the invasion."

Colonel Tim Collins, who came to prominence with a rousing speech on the eve of the Iraq war, meanwhile said that the Black Watch should not be sent to help the US, but be back home training other units. "They are about to embark and they are on their third term of duty in 18 months and that is overstretch by any definition."

Asked if the Black Watch could expect to be home by Christmas, as Mr Blair promised, Col Collins said: "It will all be over by Christmas has a certain echo to it. Putting timescales on military operations is not a sensible thing to do; it is disingenuous. These things take as long as they take."

Broadcasters divided over use of video

The latest harrowing video footage of the hostage victim Margaret Hassan has divided opinion among British broadcasters over whether screening of the images plays into the hands of the kidnappers.

Executives at the BBC made the decision not to broadcast the video, showing only stills from it on the Six O'clock News. Roger Mosey, head of television news, said: "Her distress is so obvious, it's awful to watch and we didn't think there was any merit in showing it."

However, Sky News and ITV News took a different view, with both opting to screen the less harrowing parts of the video. David Mannion, editor in chief of ITV news, said: "We always place them in context and we run only the minimum required to convey the necessary information."

A spokeswoman for Sky News said: "We are acutely aware that there is a delicate line to be trod between censorship and giving air-time to terrorist propaganda."

Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund

Terrorist Hunt Leads To Irish Immigrants:
Former Paramilitaries Are Threatened With Deportation After 9/11 Attacks

By Mary Fitzgerald
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, October 9, 2004; Page A06


When Ciaran Ferry walked out the rusting gates of Northern Ireland's most notorious jail four years ago, he never expected to see the inside of a prison cell again.

Ferry, a member of the paramilitary Irish Republican Army, had served just over a third of his 22-year sentence for conspiracy to commit murder and arms offenses. Along with more than 400 other paramilitary prisoners, the 28-year-old was granted early release from the Maze prison as part of the Good Friday peace accord, the U.S.-brokered political agreement that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

Ferry and his new wife, Heaven, an American who had written to him during his incarceration, decided to settle in the United States after police told them his name had been discovered on the hit list of a rival paramilitary group. On an immigration form filled out when he arrived, Ferry ticked the 'no' box in the section asking if he had ever been convicted of a crime.

Ferry's past caught up with him when he attended a green card interview in January 2003. Arrested by immigration officers, he has spent the past 21 months in two Colorado prisons fighting deportation. His legal team argues that he is a law-abiding family man who would face threats and harassment if forced to return to Northern Ireland.

But to the Department of Homeland Security, Ferry and several other former Irish paramilitaries facing deportation are convicted terrorists who lied about their criminal pasts to enter the United States. The issue has galvanized Irish American groups, many of whom believe the Bush administration is unfairly hounding people such as Ferry to demonstrate progress in the war on terrorism.

Their supporters contend that many of those now targeted by the Department of Homeland Security lived openly in this country for years before anti-terrorism laws were introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"I think we're in a predicament, given the changes in the law since 9/11 and all that transpired out of 9/11," said Malachy McAllister, a former member of the paramilitary Irish National Liberation Army who served three years in prison in Northern Ireland for his involvement in a plot to kill two police officers. He fled to Canada and then the United States in the mid-1990s, after loyalist paramilitaries shot up his home in Belfast. Now living in New Jersey, McAllister will find out later this year whether his petition for asylum has been successful.

Irish paramilitaries have sought refuge in the United States for decades, long before the period of violence known as "the Troubles" erupted in the late 1960s. Some have slipped into the country undetected and live quietly as illegal immigrants. Others have married American citizens. A handful have been granted political asylum.

The current debate hinges on the role paramilitaries played in Northern Ireland's protracted conflict between loyalists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom and republicans fighting for a united, independent Ireland. Those facing deportation, for the most part former republican paramilitaries, justify their failure to declare previous convictions by insisting that they were soldiers in a war, not terrorists; political prisoners, not criminals -- the latter a distinction that can strengthen claims for asylum. Some contend they were unfairly convicted.

Immigration authorities, however, say it is up to the government to decide whether a conviction was criminal or political.

"The whole thing boils down to the ideological argument of whether they were political prisoners or terrorists. And 'terrorism' is a word that is full of subjectivity," said Karen McElrath, an associate professor of sociology at Queen's University in Northern Ireland and author of a book on the subject.

There is no doubt in Heaven Ferry's mind about how to categorize her husband.

"What Ciaran did was not terrorist-related," she said. "He was released from jail under a political agreement -- that makes it very obviously political. This is a guy who came here wanting peace, wanting a new quiet life with his family, and they go after him? They're just too afraid to go after the real terrorists."

The government cannot afford to make such distinctions, countered Robert S. Leiken, of the Immigration and National Security Programs at the Nixon Center, a Washington-based foreign policy research group.

"We have to say that we are opposed to terrorism of any shape or form. Terrorism overrides every other consideration now. The government's first concern is not going to be pleasing the Irish American lobby; it's going to be national security," he said.

In an attempt to bolster the credibility of their case, many of those fighting deportation refer to the decision in 2000 by then Attorney General Janet Reno to drop deportation proceedings against nine IRA members, several of whom had been convicted of crimes including murder, hijacking and bombing offenses, in a move the Clinton administration said would advance the peace process in Northern Ireland. In a statement, however, the Department of Homeland Security said that decision had no bearing on current cases.

"This order applied only to these specific individuals and did not create a precedent for other individuals with similar convictions," according to the statement released by the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau.

Some noted with particular interest one deportation ruling in California earlier this year, believing it could affect future cases. Immigration judge Rose Peters ordered that Sean O'Cealleagh, jailed for his part in the 1988 murder of two British army corporals in Northern Ireland, be allowed to remain permanently in the United States after deciding that his conviction was "purely political."

In a move criticized by loyalist politicians in Northern Ireland, she also described those released early under the Good Friday Agreement as former political prisoners, a qualification not contained in the accord itself.

Others, however, consider that ruling unique, given the current political climate in the United States. They acknowledge that although the argument that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter may have worked in the past, attitudes have hardened in the past three years.

"The fallout from the 9/11 attacks has had a real impact on cases similar to mine," said McAllister. "The word 'terrorism' is bandied about a lot these days, but we're different. Any crimes we were involved in were politically motivated."

McAllister's deportation battle has attracted interest from several members of Congress, many of whom backed a private bill, introduced by Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D-N.J.), to allow McAllister and his family to stay in the United States.

"I think this is simply a way of trying to balance the rounding up of Arab men with others so they can say we're going after all terrorists and not differentiating on a country-to-country basis," said Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.)

"Malachy and the others gave up violence years ago and represent no threat to the security of the United States. If they are putting these old battles behind them in Ireland, why are we conjuring them up over here in the guise of fighting terrorism?" Engel asked.

The Department of Homeland Security rejected claims that former Irish paramilitaries are being singled out after the Sept. 11 attacks. "The statistics and basic facts do not bear that out whatsoever," said Dean Boyd, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Our efforts are designed to strictly enforce the law. The law states that those with prior convictions for certain types of crimes overseas are not allowed entry to the U.S. That is a law that has been around pre-9/11," Boyd said.

In a joint letter released last November, representatives of a dozen Irish American groups accused the Bush administration of reneging on a 2000 Republican platform pledge that called for "a review of issues of deportation and extradition arising prior to the [Good Friday] accord."

Pressed on the issue in a recent interview with Irish America magazine, President Bush defended current legislation as "appropriate and important to the United States' national security."

"My administration has taken great care to ensure that individuals are not unfairly or arbitrarily classified as terrorists or otherwise unfairly denied admission, and will continue to uphold high standards of accuracy and fairness," Bush said.

Those assurances do nothing for Heaven Ferry as she struggles to explain her husband's absence to their 3-year-old daughter, Fiona. "It just doesn't make sense," she said. "How is America safer without Ciaran Ferry? Are we really safer now that he hasn't held his daughter in a year and a half?"

Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund · P.O. Box 740071 · Arvada, Colorado · 80006-0071

Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund


IMPORTANT UPDATE: We have just received notice that Ciaran's hearing, originally scheduled for 10/21/04, has has been rescheduled. The new hearing date is Thursday, 10/28/04 at 10:00AM.



A hearing has finally been scheduled regarding the petition for Habeas Corpus by Judge Nottingham in the US District Court in Denver, Colorado.

THIS WEEK! Thursday, 28 October at 10 a.m.

Please RSVP at: info@irishdeportees.com

or call #248-661-6989 to let us know you are attending or for further information.

Please help spread the word and get as many supporters to the hearing as possible.

If you can't attend, please issue letters of support and email them to: info@irishdeportees.com

Ciaran Ferry Legal Defense Fund · P.O. Box 740071 · Arvada, Colorado · 80006-0071




IRA bomb suspect 'arrested on holiday'

22/10/2004 - 12:05:05

A suspected bomber accused of a fatal IRA attack on the British army’s Northern Ireland headquarters was holidaying in Spain when he was arrested, a court heard today.

A suspected bomber accused of a fatal IRA attack on the British army’s Northern Ireland headquarters was holidaying in Spain when he was arrested, a court heard today.

Michael Rogan, 44, one of the so-called On-The-Runs, has been extradited to face charges of causing explosions at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, Co Antrim, eight years ago.

One soldier, Warrant Officer James Bradwell, 43, was killed and 31 others injured in the blast.

Rogan has also been charged with two counts of collecting information likely to be useful to terrorists by possessing private health records of prison officers and members of the security forces between April 1994 and February 1995.

As he was brought into the dock at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court, a police sergeant confirmed he had replied “not guilty” to all three charges.

But the officer who travelled to Spain and brought Rogan back to Northern Ireland yesterday said he could connect him with the offences.

Defence solicitor Peter Madden insisted his client would be fighting the case and criticised what he described as inaccurate press reports.

“The object is to try and influence the public in a way by publishing untruths about this defendant and the charges he faces,” the lawyer said.

“The defendant was on a week’s holiday in Tenerife and to say he had been living in Spain for some time (is not true).”

Rogan, a kitchen designer, originally from north Belfast, gave his address as Culnaraith, Omeath, Co Louth.

Wanted ever since he failed to return to court in November 1997, he was arrested in Playa de Las Americas on the Spanish island last week.

He agreed to be extradited following an appearance at the National Criminal Court in Madrid as part of an anti-terrorist collaboration between the authorities in Spain and the UK.

But Mr Madden criticised Rogan’s detention for 10 days, claiming his client was unable to contact his family or legal representatives.

“I didn’t know where he was,” he said.

“There’s a letter of protest from the Irish Government to the Spanish authorities in relation to that.”

Rogan was remanded in custody to appear again for a preliminary inquiry at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on November 19.


Weeping Hassan in plea for life

Margaret Hassan pleads for the British to withdraw from Iraq

New footage of hostage Margaret Hassan apparently weeping as she pleads with Britain to save her life has been broadcast on al-Jazeera TV station.

Mrs Hassan begs Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw British forces from Iraq to save her from the same fate as murdered British captive Ken Bigley.

She is shown saying: "Please, please I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don't want to die like Bigley."

Mrs Hassan, seized on Tuesday, heads Care International operations in Iraq.

"Tell Mr Blair to take the troops out of Iraq and not bring them here to Baghdad."
Video appeal by Margaret Hassan

Mrs Hassan, who has dual British and Iraqi nationality and is married to an Iraqi, adds: "Please help me. This might be my last hour.

"Please help me. The British people, tell Mr Blair to take the troops out of Iraq and not bring them here to Baghdad.

"That's why people like myself and Mr Bigley have been caught."

The video shows her obviously distressed and putting her head in her hands.

No responsibility claimed

An editor at al-Jazeera said the network had received the tape on Friday but refused to give details of how or where.

He said the tape contained only Mrs Hassan's statement and did not show any claim of responsibility or clue to the identity of her kidnappers.

She was kidnapped at around 0730 (0430 GMT) on Tuesday on her way to work in Baghdad.

Numerous appeals have been made from within Iraq for Mrs Hassan, who was born in Dublin, to be freed unharmed.

Interviews with her Iraqi husband have been shown at length on the two most watched stations, al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya.

Both stations also broadcast interviews with her fellow aid workers, stressing her many years of humanitarian work in Iraq.

An appeal from the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has been shown repeatedly.

Irish Independent

Finucane family will boycott probe

THE family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has angrily denounced British government plans to hold an official inquiry at least partially in camera, warning that they will boycott it.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine, and his sons Michael and John, met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Government Buildings yesterday to press their concerns.

They said afterwards that Mr Ahern had fully backed their position and outlined his own view that anything short of a full public inquiry would fall short of previous guarantees.

A British inquiry in the absence of total transparency would be "meaningless", warned Michael Finucane who added that there was now ample evidence of British intelligence involvement in the 1989 loyalist murder of his father.

Irish Independent

Christy Moore 'frightened' by detention at Holyhead

SINGER-songwriter Christy Moore spoke yesterday of his "threatening" and "frightening" experience at the hands of British port authorities who detained both him and his driver at Holyhead under anti-terrorism laws.

Moore was stopped and interviewed for two hours under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 en route to playing four concerts in London and the English midlands.

In a statement, Moore said he was questioned about his song lyrics, asked personal questions about his family and friends and given no explanation as to why he was being held. The Foreign Affairs Department confirmed last night it had contacted British authorities about the incident on Monday, but declined to comment further.

Moore was carrying no photographic identification at the time, and said neither the van in which he was travelling, nor instrument cases or equipment, were checked by the authorities.

"I found the whole experience threatening," he said last night. "At no time was I given any explanation as to why I was being held and interrogated in this manner. "I found the whole affair quite frightening. But the feeling I am left with a few days later is one of sadness as I thought this kind of behaviour towards Irish people travelling to the UK was a thing of the past."

John Swift, secretary of the Musicians Union of Ireland, said he was shocked and outraged by Moore's detention.

Paul Melia

An Phoblacht


Photo: The late Máire Drumm

Terence MacSwiney dies on hunger strike

On 25 October 1920, 84 years ago, Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in Brixton jail.

MacSwiney was born in Cork City in 1879; he studied philosophy at the Royal University and obtained his degree in 1907. Caught in the zeitgeist of the time, MacSwiney became involved in the Republican Movement. He helped form the Cork unit of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and published a weekly paper called Fianna Fáil (soldiers of destiny) in 1914. The paper was suppressed after only eleven issues.

MacSwiney was interned under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) in Reading and Wakefield Jails from April to December 1916. Then, in February 1917, he was deported from Ireland and interned in Shrewsbury and Bromyard Internment camps until June 1917. In November 1917, he was arrested in Cork for wearing an IRA uniform and was imprisoned in Cork Jail, where he went on a three-day hunger strike before his release. MacSwiney was re-arrested (under the so-called Cat and Mouse Act) in Dublin in March 1918 and was imprisoned in Belfast and Dundalk Jails until September, when he was released, only to be re-arrested and imprisoned to Lincoln Jail.

He was elected in 1918 to the first Dáil Éireann as the representative of Mid-Cork, while his friend and comrade Tomás MacCurtain was elected Lord Mayor of Cork. As a TD, he seconded Cathal Brugha's motion on the swearing of allegiance to the Irish Republic and the Dáil by all deputies and Volunteers on 20 August 1919.

On 20 March 1920, Tomás MacCurtain was murdered in his home by disguised members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. MacSwiney, as Deputy Mayor, was then elected Lord Mayor of Cork. Throughout this time he had continued in his work with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and had risen to be commander of the Cork No 1 Brigade of the IRA.

On 12 August 1920, MacSwiney and four other Cork IRA leaders, including Cork No 2 Commander Liam Lynch, were captured by crown forces. Failing to recognise the others they had captured, they released them but held on to MacSwiney. On 16 August, MacSwiney was sentenced to two years before a military court. He had no intention of submitting to a legal system he believed to be unjust and without authority. When he was asked if he wished to address the court, he said:

"I have decided that I shall be free alive or dead within the month, as I will take no food or drink for the period of my sentence."

The British whisked MacSwiney away to Brixton prison in London, thinking that they could control the publicity his hunger strike would generate if he was out of Ireland. They were mistaken. MacSwiney's hunger strike gained worldwide attention. The British Government was threatened with a boycott of British goods by North America and four countries in South America appealed to the Pope to intervene. Protests were held in Germany and France as well. As the pressure mounted on the British Government to release him, MacSwiney said:

"I am confident that my death will do more to smash the British Empire than my release."

As days went by, with MacSwiney somehow remaining alive, journalists in England began to speculate that Father Dominic, who was attending MacSwiney, must be smuggling food into him in his voluminous black beard. The government even had the contents of the basin MacSwiney used to clean his teeth sent to a lab for analysis.

At 5:40 am on 25 October 1920, Terence MacSwiney's body, after 75 days without food, finally gave out and he died. His last words to a priest by his side were:

"I want you to bear witness that I die as a soldier of the Irish Republic."

Irish Volunteers, wearing uniforms which were prohibited by English law, escorted his coffin through London as thousands of Irish exiles lined the streets. The young Ho Chi Minh, then a dishwasher in London, said of MacSwiney's death:

"A nation which has such citizens will never surrender."

They attempted to land MacSwiney's body in Dublin to take it overland to Cork for burial, but General Macready, fearing the reaction from the people, sent a force of Black and Tans to meet the boat. After a scuffle on the docks, in which MacSwiney's sister Annie clung to the coffin, the body was snatched away and loaded back onto the boat.

Terence MacSwiney was buried in Cork on 29 October 1920.

Máire Drumm killed in hospital bed

On 28 October 1976, 28 years ago, Sinn Féin Vice President Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed.

Máire Drumm (née McAteer), was born in the townland of Killeen, South Armagh, on 22 October 1919 to a staunchly republican family. Máire's mother had been active in the Tan War and the Civil War.

In 1940, Máire joined Sinn Féin in Dublin. In 1942, she moved to Belfast, which became her adopted city and she continued her republican activities. Every weekend, Máire would carry food parcels to the republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and it was here that she met Jimmy Drumm, who she married in 1946.

When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 1950s, Jimmy was again interned without trial from '57 to '61.

Máire became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. She worked tirelessly to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from their homes by unionist/loyalist pogroms.

During her work as a Civil Rights activist, Máire emerged as one of the Republican Movement's most gifted leaders and organisers. Máire was the first to warn that the British troops sent in as "peace keepers" were a force of occupation. Máire was a dynamic and inspirational speaker. Once, when addressing a rally in Derry after the shooting of two men from the city, Máire said:

"The people of Derry are up off their bended knees. For Christ sake stay up. People should not shout up the IRA, they should join the IRA."

In 1972, Máire became Vice President of Sinn Féin. Due to their dedication to the republican struggle, Máire's family was continuously harassed by the RUC, British Army and by loyalist intimidation. The British Army even constructed an observation post facing their home in Andersonstown. At one point, her husband and son were interned at the same time. Her husband, Jimmy became known as the most jailed republican in the Six Counties. Máire was also jailed twice for 'seditious' speeches, once along with her daughter.

In 1976, her eyesight began to fail and she was admitted for a cataract operation to the Mater Hospital, Belfast. On 28 October 1976, as Máire lay in her hospital bed, loyalist killers wearing doctors white coats walked into her room and shot her dead.

Máire Drumm, freedom fighter and voice of the people, was buried in Milltown Cemetery. One of her most famous quotes was:

"We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don't, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country will haunt us forever."

An Phoblacht

No sound of the siren

Photo: Policing Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan

MARY NELIS takes the Policing Ombudsman to task for contradictory findings following complaints made after PSNI raids.

There was no sound of the siren when they came on that morning, only the roar of jeep engines and the noise of the battering ram, the sledgehammers demolishing the doors of the small family homes in Derry and Belfast. Nothing new there. Such raids have been part and parcel of the life of the nationalist community for over 30 years and they have followed a pattern of terror and intimidation by a police force whose political and sectarian agenda permitted such Fenian bashing.

But that was in the bad old days, before the 'New beginning to Policing', which saw the name of the sectarian RUC changed to the PSNI. and the appointment of a Policing Board, District Policing Partnerships and a Policing Ombudsman, who turned out to be a woman, and whose role would be to investigate complaints made against the 'new' Police.

All was changed, utterly changed. No longer would 20,000 complaints against the police result only in nine recommendations for prosecution, or so the public were told, and the SDLP urged the nationalist community not only to support the new beginning, but also to join the utterly changed PSNI.

Some people would say at the setting up of the PSNI, that the old hat with new feathers is still the same old hat but others wanted to give them fair wind. It was a case of by their actions we will know and it was not long before the actions of the new beginners to policing engaged in a series of house raids in Belfast and Derry and the spectre of the RUC could be seen by the large crowd of people who gathered outside the home of a young couple and their children.

Family traumatised

The Derry family were awakened at 7 o'clock in the morning, by the noise of the sledgehammer, which effectively left their front door lying in the hallway.

The young Mother was confronted in the bedroom by five heavily-armed men in boiler suits, shouting 'nobody move'. She could hear her children, aged four and two years old, screaming in the next room but was physically prevented from reaching them. The mother knew that her daughter was totally traumatised, but neither she nor her partner was allowed to go to the aid of the child.

Her husband was led out handcuffed and she was told he was being taken to an interrogation centre at Lisburn.

When she was eventually permitted to leave her bedroom and go to her children, she found her daughter sitting on the floor with her hands over her ears screaming. It was clear to the mother that the child was in shock. The wee girl kept asking her 'are we going to die'? The house at this time was full of police in boiler suits and uniforms, who kept shouting at the woman every time she tried to get out of the bedroom with the children. Some time later she was told she could take the children downstairs. She was not permitted to use the phone to summon help and when her mother arrived, having been summoned by neighbours, she was refused entry to the house. The woman was still in her nightwear and was not allowed into her bedroom to dress and when she needed to use the toilet, the door was left ajar, so that those outside could see in.

Her husband, in the meantime, was being driven to Lisburn Barracks in an unmarked car, which he believes was doing speeds up to 110mph. He was detained for questioning, which the police informed him was based on 'reliable intelligence', this was later found to be without foundation. Over the next day he found out that the 'reliable intelligence' questioning, apart from allegations of involvement with the IRA, related to the football shirt he was wearing, who does the shopping in the home and other mundane matters. He was fingerprinted and had DNA samples taken and was eventually released some 38 hours after his arrest, without charge.

'The new beginners to policing' removed some thousand items from the couple's home, including all the arrested person's shoes, baseball hats, mobile phones, his car, all videos, including children's, computer discs, personal diaries, bank cards, telephone directory, cushions, shower rug and other items too numerous to mention. When they departed some seven hours later, the couple's home was left in such a state that it could not be lived in and they had to move to other accommodation. It took a squad of cleaners a week to undo the damage.

At the same time, the offices of many voluntary organisations, including The Bloody Sunday Trust, were also searched and even when keys were available, doors were busted in. Confidential documents were seized, as well as computers, files and all papers, including letters, notebooks, etc. It was all too familiar, and stirred up memories of the RUC raid on the offices of the Well Woman Centre some nine years ago, when confidential documents were read and files explored.

Stun grenades in family home

In Belfast, 'the new beginners to policing', in another house raid, threw stun grenades into the house where young children were sleeping. Guns were put to the occupants' heads, including teenage children, and the houses again were virtually wrecked.

But mindful that they were being told that things had changed, the families involved in the house raids complained to the Ombudsman in respect of the sledgehammering of doors, the abusive nature of those conducting the raid, the illegal manner in which the occupants were virtual prisoners in their home during the search, the treatment of the children, and whether any such child protection guidelines if in place, had been adhered to and the fact that a huge section of the media had been briefed by someone about the raids and were carrying headlines stating that those arrested were IRA people, involved in the Castlereagh security breach.

In the matter of the arrest of the man in Derry, the couple's solicitor requested the Ombudsman investigate the reasonableness of the grounds for the arrest and whether holding a person for 38 hours was justified.

The Community and Voluntary organisations also requested the Ombudsman to investigate the police access and use of confidential information, specifically in relation to counselling and emotional support services.

The Ombudsman's response to all of the complaints was brief and to the point. It stated that the Police Ombudsman does not have the power to deal with issues which amount to 'direction and control' of the police. In other words, they can seize property, destroy houses, detain persons, terrorise children, seize and read confidential files, permit the home and personal details of persons to be carried on public television and print media, thus endangering their safety.


No such problems of 'Direction and Control' stood in the way of the Ombudsman this week, when she recommended that eight of the 'new beginners' should be disciplined for their conduct during a raid on the Belfast home of the London Times journalist Liam Clarke. That raid commenced at 8.30pm and the Ombudsman was highly critical of officers who, during the search, restricted the movements of Clarke and his wife, did not allow them out of the premises or phone to make arrangements for the care of their daughter, who was sleeping at a neighbour's house. The PSNI also in this case removed documents, computers, and material. The Ombudsman also upheld the complaint by the Clarke family that the PSNI did not secure the safety of the family, resulting in them having to move house.

She also upheld a complaint by the Sunday Times that the forcing of the door of their offices in Belfast and the subsequent search was illegal .The breaking of the door of the London Times' office produced media frenzy and resulted in questions being asked of Tony Blair in the British House of Commons.

The contrast between the findings of the Ombudsman in respect of the Clarke complaint and her findings in respect of the complaints by the other whose homes were raided calls into question the impartiality and indeed, independence of the office.

Perhaps in the eyes of the Ombudsman, journalists are a protected species, especially if you work for the Sunday Times and have the ear of important people within the Securocrats. Mind you, not all journalists are given such consideration or protection. It is three years since the murder of Marty O'Hagan who was investigating allegations of collusion between unionist paramilitaries and the RUC. No one has been apprehended.

Clarke was alleged to be in possession of classified information, obtained from the bugging operations of the Securocrats. There is speculation that the intelligence operators at MI5 and MI6 became concerned that having tried to get the dirt on Martin McGuinness and failed, Clarke may have got the dirt on others and may have had in his possession material of interest to the intelligence services. In the murky world of the British Intelligence operations in Ireland, the public may never know.

What we do know is the outcome of complaints made as a result of house searches, one in the Bogside and the other in an exclusive area of Belfast. In detail, the manner in which they were carried out was almost identical. Yet the findings of the Ombudsman as a result of complaints against the PSNI could not have been more different. In the search of the home in the Bogside, she states she does not have the power in matters of direction and operational control of the Police. But many of the complaints by Clark and the Sunday Times, upheld by Nuala O'Loan, appear to be precisely matters of direction and control. But each time that the office weighs in behind the State, as in the Clarke case and the raid on the Sinn Féin Offices in Stormont, which the world knows was politically motivated, has increased suspicion among the public that her power has been seriously compromised.

An Phoblacht

Cold, hungry and in fear - Irish children today


Damp houses, cold children living in fear, with communities struggling to respond to the challenges of deprivation and a lack of resources while the state fails to act. These were just some of the findings of three reports published in the last week.

The three studies demonstrated not just the reality of poverty and deprivation for thousands of Irish families and the communities they live in, but also the appalling gaps in how effective government policy is in dealing with the economically marginalised in Irish society.


The How are our Kids? survey is one of the first ever studies of child-related issues in Ireland and covers the communities of Dublin's West Tallaght area. The survey found that nine out of ten children experience fear of anti-social behaviour or crime and that more than one in four live in cold, damp houses.

The report also found huge inequalities in the provision of education, with 27% of children leaving school with no qualifications, while 34% finished at Junior Cert level.

The second study, Housing Problems and Irish Children, was conducted by Simon Brooke of Trinity College's Children's Research Centre and uses data from the census, the Quarterly National Household Survey, other CSO data and Dublin City Council's tenant profile.

The Trinity study found that in 2002, over 50,000 Irish children lived in overcrowded, rundown and damp housing, double the number in this position in 1991.

Another first was the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice's Family Budget Survey. They costed 700 goods and services to estimate the true cost of running a home. They found substantial gaps between the level of social welfare payments and the actual minimum cost of running a home in Ireland today.

The costs included only covered basic needs and didn't allow for any spending on alcohol, tobacco, household pets, savings, insurance or unexpected illness.


An Phoblacht spoke to Seán Crowe, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin and spokesperson on social and family affairs, about the West Tallaght report and the other surveys. The Tallaght communities make up a substantial part of his constituency and early this week he was at a public meeting attended by over 200 people that launched the report.

Crowe said that people accept the findings but are rightfully angry at the labelling of the area. "Communities have got on with their lives and have adapted to their economic reality, despite the infrastructural deficits in the area", said Crowe.

Examples of this include organising community meetings with Dublin Bus and the Gardaí that led to a reduction in the number of attacks on local bus services. Then there was the massive community response to tackle drug related problems in the area, as well as the work of estate management groups.

Activities like these highlight, according to Crowe, the central and local Government failures in the area. He said that local people had highlighted the policy of local authorities using West Tallaght in the past as a dumping ground for problem households and it was this that prompted communities to form estate management groups, because the council were "not doing their work".

Then there was the simple act of phoning the local police station, which was not possible in Tallaght because local people can't through because of dilapidated equipment.


Most important, according to Crowe, is the need to learn and move on from this report. "There are many other Tallaght Wests, and is it too much to expect that in a time of plenty there would be greater resources to tackle inequality?

"We are sick of short-term solutions. We need a long-term strategy of investment. We need a template. It's not rocket science and society can respond by investing the resources now."

Crowe proposes, in the context of the How Are Our Kids? Report, the need for breakfast clubs for schoolchildren as well as homework clubs, more funds for the Breaking the Cycle initiative, as well as smaller classrooms for children from disadvantaged areas.

One incredible example of the current lack of funding and state inefficiencies is a local playground that is closed for two days a week as there is not enough matching funding to hire playground supervisors. It is, according to Crowe, "like waving lollipops over children's heads".


Addressing the Vincentian Partnership study into the standard of living, Crowe said that this study should be used by new Finance minister Brian Cowen as a clear case for increased social welfare payments in the coming budget.

"Minister Cowen has a clear transparent study of the real costs of living in Ireland today," said Crowe. "This study looks at the barest minimum cost of day to day living and the costs involved are substantially above the welfare payments provided by the government safety net."

Another budget without the needed investment in Ireland's economically marginalised and deprived communities in the aftermath of these reports will prove conclusively that the new cabinet is on the same track as the old one of not caring about Ireland's underprivileged communities.

The 'How Are Our kids?' survey

90% - Percentage of children who fear crime or anti-social behaviour

25% - Percentage of children who live in houses without proper heating

33% Percentage of parents who say they live in unsatisfactory environments for bringing up children

27% - Proportion of children who had ceased their education without formal qualifications

34% - Proportion of children who finished at Junior Cert level.

33% - Percentage of children who are being bullied at school
Children's Research Centre Housing Report

100% - The increase in the number of children living in overcrowded, damp and rundown housing between 1991 and 2002

50,000 - The number of children living in such housing

243,000 - The number of children at risk of living in substandard housing
Vincentian Partnership family budget survey

€259.29 - The minimum weekly living costs needed for a lone parent with two children

€235.67 - the one-parent family payment these families actually have to live on

Not included - Mortgage, funeral; childcare costs
The recommendations

How Are Our Kids?

Provision of adequate heating in all houses.

More designated play spaces

Provision of extra-curricular opportunities for children.

Provision of pre-school places.

Adult education and training programmes

A "fresh start" approach to help parents living in a stressful environment.

Mentoring of children

Child Research Centre

Local Authorities should establish dedicated maintenance funds

Current minimum standards for local authorities should be raised

Local authority enforcement should be significantly improved

National Children's Strategy should be removed to include housing as a basic need

Family Budget Survey

Benchmarking social welfare payments and minimum wages against acceptable rates

Increased Welfare payments

Affordable and accessible childcare

Long-term insurance schemes for the elderly

An Phoblacht

UDA 'Orange line' threat exposes fascist agenda


"For years the UDA has engaged in sectarianism and racism and now it is imposing physical apartheid," said Sinn Féin's Joe O'Donnell, responding to a UDA statement that unionist paramilitaries had drawn an "orange line" around Protestant areas, beyond which Catholics would not be permitted.

O'Donnell, Belfast's deputy mayor, lives in the nationalist Short Strand, a Catholic enclave in a predominantly unionist area of Belfast. Two years ago, the area endured months of violent attack after it was besieged by unionist paramilitaries.

"The UDA's orange line is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate Catholics," said the Short Strand councillor. "This is Nazism at its most base."

Issuing sectarian threats might seem a strange way to mark the anniversary of the so-called loyalist ceasefire but then, as everyone knows, when it comes to threats and violence against Irish Catholics, members of the Chinese and Asian community and other ethnic groups, there has never been a loyalist ceasefire.

The UDA and other unionist paramilitary groups like to imagine their violence in terms of defending the Protestant community. But the question is, defending them against what? If the UDA is defending Ulster Protestants from the 'contamination' of those of a different religion or racial origin living next door, then they are nothing more than fascists and it's about time the unionist politicians, both the UUP and DUP, stopped pandering to their racist agenda.

Issued under the auspices of the UPRG, the UDA statement said: "We have declared an Orange line around all Protestant areas, whilst we realise that one community is growing faster than the other, we cannot allow another garden, another house or another street to be attacked."

During recent years, unionist paramilitaries, particularly the UDA, have been involved in racist attacks against members of minority communities, primarily Chinese, Asian and African. In traditional unionist paramilitary style, individuals have been brutally beaten and homes have been targeted and attacked, forcing terrorised families to flee. These attacks have been accompanied by the appearance of nazi-style graffiti, often with reference to fascist groups in England.

It is the general practice in the North of Ireland to distinguish between racist and sectarian violence, despite the fact that to be Catholic in the North is to be identified as Irish and nationalist. When a racist bigot within the UDA targets a Catholic family, who can seriously differentiate the motivation? And yet anti-Irish Catholic violence is often dressed up as something less appaling, even at times 'understandable'.

Any suggestion that ethnic minorities bring violence against them upon themselves would be immediately recognised as so disgusting that anyone peddling such racist nonsense would rightly attract universal condemnation. But such innuendos are routinely attached to violence against Catholics in the Six Counties, even when it is carried out by the same appaling racists that are attacking the Chinese, Asian and African communities.

We have only to recall the outrageous response of many state agencies, civic society and the media to unionist paramilitary violence and abuse of the children of Holy Cross. Rather than condemning outright the blockade of a Catholic primary school and the vile targeting of children, some as young as four years of age, the media and other agencies attempted to explain away the unionist violence of Glenbryn.

During the Holy Cross blockade, unionist violence was explained away in terms of social deprivation as if poverty and unemployment could justify throwing pipe bombs at little girls because they were pupils at a Catholic school. Even the head of the Human Rights Commission, Brice Dickson, characterised the outrageous scenes of grown men and women attacking children and their parents on the way to school as a question of "competing rights". It was a serious lapse of judgement that would later almost destroy the HRC.

Catholic encroachment is routinely used as a justification for unionist paramilitary violence and this is reflected in the UDA statement. "We realise that one community is growing faster then the other," says the UDA. This is an admission unionist paramilitaries rarely concede.

More often, a Catholic family moving into a predominantly Protestant area is depicted as a republican conspiracy to "drive Protestants out" rather than the result of the acute housing shortage experienced by the nationalist community. A situation itself largely engineered by unionist paramilitaries who have traditionally corralled the nationalist community into overcrowded ghettoes through the threat of sectarian intimidation.

The UDA statement's suggestion that Catholics can't be tolerated within predominantly unionist areas because they're all uncontrollable vandals is racist nonsense. "We cannot allow another garden, another house or another street to be attacked," Such a statement is the corollary of suggesting black people can't move into an area because there would be more muggings. Both are outrageous racist stereotypes.

But predictably, the local unionist politician, Nigel Dodds a senior member of the DUP, failed to condemn the UDA statement. Clearly aware of its racist and sectarian overtones, Dodds said he wanted to study the statement further before commenting. "I welcome that there are discussions going on within loyalism on the way forward," said Dodds.

This isn't the first time the UDA has attempted to draw an Orange line (after all it was the basis of partition). Ten years ago, the UDA produced a doomsday scenario that advocated the ethnic cleansing of Catholic populations as a means of securing four out of the six counties.

The scenario had been developed from the academic writings of a professor at Queens University, Liam Kennedy. In an essay 'Two Ulsters- a case for re-partition', Kennedy had argued that two of the six counties would become so overwhelmingly Catholic that they would have to be conceded to the south.

The UDA's doomsday plan further suggested that ethnic cleansing would be accompanied by mass hostage taking in which captured Catholics in the east could be used as "bargaining chips".

"If all Roman Catholics could be rounded up the process could be finished within one to two weeks." Mass expulsion and hostage taking was to be accompanied by "nullification", a euphemism for mass slaughter.

"Roman Catholics stranded behind loyalist lines would be either expelled, nullified or interned." The document considered these options, declaring expulsion as "reducing the demands on food but giving enemy forces extra men". On the other hand "nullification", while "difficult", resolved food shortages without swelling the ranks of the opposition.

Clearly, fascist doctrine and ideology have been part of the UDA psyche for a very long time. In 1994, when the UDA plan appeared in the media, far from condemning it, unionist politicians welcomed the "battle plan" as "a very valuable return to reality".

"While some will no doubt denounce and ridicule their plan, nevertheless it shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity," said DUP spokesperson Sammy Wilson.

An Phoblacht

Attacks follow UDA declaration of "Orange Line"

In the days after the UDA released a statement on Thursday 14 October declaring they had drawn an "Orange Line" around all Protestant areas throughout the Six Counties, a series of sectarian attacks were launched by loyalists against the nationalist community.

A South African man and his Catholic friend were caught in a terrifying situation after they were stopped and interrogated by a baton wielding gang of loyalists in the KIlfennan area of the Waterside in the early hours of Sunday 17 October.

Speaking to the Derry Journal, the Catholic man said he and his friend, who has been working in Derry for a number of months, were stopped by about ten loyalists carrying bats and sticks as they walked home to the Cityside after attending a party in the Waterside.

The gang confronted the pair asking them if they were "Prods or Taigs".

The Catholic man says he was absolutely terrified and tried to reason with the gang but it wasn't until the South African man told them they were visitors to the city that they were released unharmed.

This latest incident comes after a series of sectarian attacks on Catholic taxi drivers over the past few weeks.

Members of a Protestant youth club from County Armagh were attacked in East Belfast on Saturday night after they were mistaken for Catholics.

The group was attacked by loyalists as they sat in their minibus outside the Dundonald Ice Bowl.

While none of the teenagers was seriously injured, one was hurt when the loyalists threw bricks through the bus's windows. When some of the youth group members left the bus they were set upon by the gang.

Meanwhile, a nationalist family in North Belfast had a lucky escape after their Somerdale Park home came under stone and petrol-bomb attack.

Two adults and four children were in the house when loyalists threw a brick and petrol bomb at the house just before 11pm on Sunday night.

A brick was hurled through the front window and a petrol bomb shattered an outside pane of the double glazed window before bouncing into the garden, where it caused scorch damage.

Michael McLaughlin said his 13-year-old son, who was in the room, had a lucky escape.

McLaughlin said the street, off the Crumlin Road, was not an interface but loyalist youths regularly used a lane at the end of the street as a short cut between the loyalist Glenbryn and Glencairn areas.

"Attacks by loyalists have been going on here periodically for four or five years, but this is the first time petrol bombs have been used," he said.


Human rights body denied

A leading human rights group is being prevented from monitoring the treatment of female prisoners in a Castlereagh based young offenders’ centre it was claimed this week.

Representatives of the Human Rights Commission have been denied access to Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre since female prisoners were transferred there from Mourne House at Maghaberry prison in June.

Prison chiefs were left reeling after a Human Rights Commission report published this week revealed the shocking extent of abuse and neglect of vulnerable female prisoners at the shamed County Antrim prison prior to June.

Last night, one of the authors of The Hurt Inside report, Dr Linda Moore, said she has no faith that women prisoners will receive adequate care at the all-male Hydebank facility.

“We have no confidence that the move to Hydebank Wood will end the problems of women’s imprisonment,” said Dr Moore. “Indeed, we have already stated that the situation there for women is entirely inappropriate and fails to meet the Prison Inspectorate’s expectations that women in custody should be held in a discrete, women-only setting.

“A body like ourselves that can go in and carry out our own inspections is currently unable to get in and verify the situation. The Prison Service tell us things are going well but we have heard there are problems particularly relating to the fact that Hydebank is a male young offenders’ centre.”

Castlereagh councillor Brian Hanvey backed the call for human rights activists to be allowed access to women prisoners in Hydebank.

“Above all else, it’s important to make the public confident that every effort is being made to ensure that the human rights of these individuals are being observed,” said the SDLP man.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Prison Service said access to Hydebank has been denied to allow prisoners and staff a “settling in period”.

“What we said to the Human Rights Commission is that they are only just finished their report into Mourne House,” said the spokesperson. “Structured research is intrusive and they need to come back to us in the new year.

“Brice Dickson from the Human Rights Commission is going into Hydebank in the coming weeks and Kit Chivers, the Criminal Justice Inspector for Northern Ireland, will visit before Christmas and produce a report.

“Also, there is nothing stopping Linda Moore from making a visit arrangement with an individual prisoner.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Belfast Telegraph

Irish language station to reach 90% of houses

21 October 2004

Irish language TV station TG4 will be capable of being beamed into nine out of ten Ulster households next Spring, North Antrim Sinn Fein Assemblyman Philip McGuigan has said.

Welcoming the move he said the development was confirmed in writing by minister Angela Smith.

Mr McGuigan said: "While I welcome the announcement that coverage of TG4 is to be extended to 90% 'in the very near future' its implementation is long overdue."

The plan to broadcast TG4 from transmitters inside Northern Ireland goes back to the Belfast Agreement, which called on the British Government to work to explore the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifis na Gaeilige in Northern Ireland.

Mr McGuigan said: "In the six years since the Agreement was signed coverage of TG4 has only risen from 30% to 54% of the households in the six counties. 90% of households should be receiving TG4 in the Spring of next year."

But he added: "If BBC can be accessed by 100% of people in the six counties, then so should TG4.

"It is also imperative that the poor quality RTÉ that some citizens receive in the North, particularly in parts of north Antrim, is rectified.

"There is a particular onus on the Irish government to ensure Irish citizens in all 32 counties of this island receive their national TV station."

Irish Examiner

IRA ready to stand down by March

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

THE Provisional IRA will stand down by March next year if a historic breakthrough is achieved in the peace process, according to high-level sources in the Republican movement.

The IRA will formally declare it is being disbanded before, or during, March 2005 if the staged process that will flow from an agreement proceeds smoothly.

But in that scenario, according to the sources, the IRA’s formidable intelligence-gathering units will not be fully disbanded. While they will be stood down militarily, they will be redeployed and absorbed into the Sinn Féin party. The sources indicated that the former IRA personnel will form part of an expanded political intelligence-gathering unit, which will focus its efforts on political expansion in the South.

If a breakthrough is achieved in the next 10 days, the formal disbandment of the IRA would be the last act of a sequence of carefully choreographed events. The first would be a substantial act of ‘visible’ decommissioning by the IRA to kick-start the process, followed by a series of other symbolic acts designed to build confidence and trust on both sides.

An agreement would necessarily involve painful concessions by all parties. Two of the most contentious issues surrounding the Republican movement are the status of so-called ‘On the Run’ (OTR) IRA suspects and the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

The Irish Examiner understands that concessions on OTRs could be offered in an annex to the agreement, becoming the responsibility of the Government rather than the parties, thus allowing unionists to distance themselves from any amnesty.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil in May this year that the release of the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe would only be considered in the context of an end to all paramilitary activity.

Despite optimistic notes sounded by Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern and Northern Secretary Paul Murphy in recent days, problems remain. Yesterday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams expressed concern that concessions sought by the DUP would tamper with the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement.

Writing in the Irish Voice yesterday, Mr Adams said: “If ministers Ahern and Murphy have said there is going to be a breakthrough then clearly the logic of their position is that this must be coming from the DUP. I see no evidence of that, though it is possible.”

** I posted some of these stories earlier, but Blogger didn't get them.


We Say
Nightmare goes on

The grim reality of suicide has again cast a dark shadow over the community this week. The latest tragedy involves Emmanuel McCann, the younger brother of Sinn Féin councillor Fra, who took his own life at his Springfield Road home.

It’s thought that the death of Mr McCann brings to three the number of suicides in West Belfast in the past week. It is hard to be sure of the numbers given the unique sensitivity of the issue, and we can be sure that the official numbers downplay the real statistics. But one thing’s for sure, suicide is cutting a swathe through our brightest and best.

If there can be any good news in the midst of such seeming despair, it is that at last the community seems to be mobilising to address the crisis.

Community workers have formed powerful and effective alliances with grieving relatives who are determined that the suffering must stop, and their work will pay dividends, sooner rather than later we hope. The local MP, Gerry Adams, just last week sat down with Stormont minister Angela Smith in a key meeting designed to draw down the British government commitment and resources needed in the battle to come.

Tragically, Fra McCann was part of the Sinn Féin delegation at that meeting. The veteran councillor is a popular and respected member of the community – and as someone who has toiled away at the coal face for the betterment of his constituents and neighbours, he knows more than most the need for an urgent and professional response to end the hurt.

That he should lose his younger brother just days after that Stormont meeting is not only a cruel irony, but heartbreaking evidence of how wide and deep the pool of grief has become. It is not the first time that the McCann family has been touched by tragedy; it is not even the first time that the family has been touched by suicide. To Fra and his grieving family, the Andersonstown News extends its heartfelt condolences.


Christy Moore was 'held under UK anti-terrorism laws'

21/10/2004 - 15:57:31

Singer Christy Moore has revealed he was held for two hours on Monday by British police at Holyhead under anti-terrorism legislation.

He had travelled there by ferry on his way to a series of concerts in the UK.

In a statement through his publicist this afternoon, Christy Moore describes the incident as threatening and frightening.

Mr Moore has said he and his driver were questioned in separate rooms but his van was not searched nor his instrument cases or equipment.

He has said he found the whole experience threatening he faced questions about lyrics in his songs, the contents of his briefcase and personal questions about his family and children back home.

The singer has said at no time did he get an explanation as to why he was being held.

Mr Moore has said he found the whole affair frightening and the feeling he is left with now some days later is one of sadness because he thought this kind of behaviour toward Irish people heading towards the UK was a thing of the past.

He said both he and his driver have given full statements to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Ambassador in London.



Flames, then Gas

Jim McCann, Coiste na nIarchimí, has been on the trail of what the British used on the helpless men after the burning of the Kesh...

This month not only marks the 30th anniversary of the burning of the Long Kesh cages, an event marked in a series of articles and features in the Andersonstown News, but it also marks the 30th anniversary of the use of CR gas on unprotected and exhausted Republican POWs on the morning after the blaze.

On December 17, 1998, Labour MP Ken Livingstone asked a question in the British House of Commons about the reason and under what circumstances the British army had used CR gas. In a written response to Mr Livingstone on January 11, 1999, the then minister for the armed forces, John Spellar, said that “The British army has never used CR gas, operationally.” This can be checked in Hansard. Jan. 11 1999: Column 11.

In a subsequent question, Mr Livingstone asked Mr Spellar: “For what reasons was CR gas selected from the available riot control gases to be stockpiled for the counter-terrorist capability?”

Mr Spellar answered: “CR gas was selected some decades ago as a potential counter-terrorist response capability and there are no surviving records of this decision. However, stocks of CR gas continue to be held as tests have confirmed it to be effective as a potential counter-terrorist response capability.”

So where and when did they test CR gas to know that it had proved so effective? It is hard to believe that they found this out testing it on mice or rabbits. A more realistic, and in terms of the British Army, desirable ‘testing ground’ would have been the cages of Long Kesh on October 16, 1974, after the burning of Long Kesh, on unprotected republican POWs. Which is exactly what happened.

Within a few weeks of the use of CR gas by British soldiers, a team of Ministry of Defence (MoD) technicians took blood samples from a large number of sentenced republican prisoners and loyalist internees in Long Kesh. This has been confirmed by two loyalist ex-prisoners who we contacted through their own support group (EPIC) on the Shankill Road, Belfast.

I was speaking to Steve Wright of the Omega Foundation, a Manchester-based human rights research body used by, amongst others, Amnesty International, the European Parliament and Belfast-based Relatives for Justice, about the use of CR gas on that day and the subsequent taking of blood samples. He put me in contact with a scientist who is expert in the field of riot control.

I told this scientist about the British taking blood samples of both republicans and loyalists. He informed me that “had the tests been part of a British government study into the effects of the gas, the testing of those not intentionally exposed to it (ie the loyalist prisoners) as a ‘control group’ would have been standard procedure. No samples were taken from republican internees at the bottom end of the camp.

The results of the blood samples have never been published. I contacted the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS), who told me that they had no records of any blood samples being taken.

In 1977 all remaining stocks of CR gas were tranferred to the Chemical and Biological Defence Sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency at Porton Down, the home of the British biological warfare facility. Why would they deny even their own military forces this “effective counter-terrorist response capability?” Recently I found out that the British government in the 1960s supplied the US government with the details of their new weapon, more than likely with a view to selling either the weapon itself or the technology to produce it. At any rate, the US government declined the offer, because as they pointed out to the British, “not enough is known about the carcinogenic or mutagenic effects it might have.” No sale.

As John Spellar himself pointed out in his letter to Ken Livingstone: “Tests have confirmed CR to be effective as a potential counter-terrorist response capability.” So why aren’t they selling it? They sell, or attempt to sell, everything else they develop from tanks, landmines, airplanes, bio-weapons, tactical manuals and military advisors. I am sure that there are plenty of governments in the world who would like to possess this “effective counter-terrorist response capability”.

In the year 2000 alone, the British arms industry, including the MoD, sold £3 billion pounds worth of weapons to countries all over the world. It appears that they have no moral dilemma in selling weapons of mass destruction (is there any other?) to the worse despots and dictatorships anywhere, but it appears they draw the line when it comes to CR gas.

I contacted a Professor of Chemistry who works in a reputable European polytechnic on continental Europe and asked for his opinion. I informed him that I had absolutely no background in chemistry except for the fact that 30 years ago, I, along with hundreds of others, was subjected to copious amounts of both CS and CR gas in Long Kesh. He obtained the formulae for both CR gas and CS gas to compare them. In his qualified opinion “the human sensitivity to CR gas is TEN TIMES higher than CS gas.” He isn’t totally surprised that it is kept in Porton Down.

So, who is going to believe that the British army used republican POWs as guinea pigs to test a possibly lethal biological weapon?

At present, the MoD in Porton Down is the subject of a court case because of their testing of Sarin nerve gas and other types of ‘riot control capabilities’ on what is believed to be hundreds of British soldiers in the early 1950s. One of the soldiers, Ronald Maddison, was told he had volunteered to test, amongst other things, a new flu vaccine. But he was actually testing the effects of Sarin gas. Within a few hours Ronald Maddison died. If this is the way the MoD treat their own, then the health and safety of Irish republican POWs should pose no problem for the British armed forces.

In July 2000, Mr Spellar was asked again about the use of CR gas in the Maze Prison (Long Kesh), in one of a number of questions put to him by Labour MP Kevin Mc Namara. Once again Mr Spellar denied that CR had been used, stating that “some 200 hand-held spray devices containing CR were held at HMP Maze at that time.” This was a fact that he didn’t mention in his written answer to Ken Livingstone two years earlier. He also denied that there was any record of blood samples having been taken.

The fighting on the football pitch was intense. A British soldier captured on the pitch had his life saved by the intervention of the Camp OC, Davy Morely (RIP) and Volunteer Frank Fitzsimmons (RIP). The British army were present, captured republicans were present and CR gas was present. It was not ‘hand-held spray’, as stated by Mr Spellar, but the real stuff, delivered in clusters from helicopters.

Gerry Adams refers to the use of CR gas in his book, ‘Cage Eleven’. Joe Doherty refers to the use of CR gas in an article in ‘An Glor Gafa’ in winter 1994. I myself wrote about my own experience of CR gas in my book, ‘...And the Gates Flew Open’ in September 1998. And Father Denis Faul and Brian Brady wrote about it in their booklet ‘The Burning of Long Kesh’, page 11, published about six weeks after the fire, in which they state that they sent a telegram to the International Red Cross to investigate the use of CR gas as well as the brutality of the British army to unprotected prisoners. Both priests were permitted to enter the prison a few days after the event to say Mass.

We are greatly interested in finding out the nature of the poison that the British army put into our bodies thirty years ago. The curtain of secrecy that the British government has draped over its use is virtually impossible to penetrate. Yet, somewhere on the shelves of one or more government departments are kept the results of blood tests carried out on republican POWs and others.

CR gas was developed by the MoD to be a last-resort deterrent, before the use of live ammunition. In terms of its actual use, CR gas was fired from a helicopter that swept low over the men below. It was fired in clusters, which scattered in mid air, this was meant to spread the gas over a larger area. CS gas, as everyone of age in the North of Ireland knows, was one large canister; while the effect of it was very hard on people at its epicentre, it was relatively easy to escape the more potent effects of the stuff. And while the use of water was widely used to relieve the painful effects of CS gas on the eyes and throat, the use of water to offset the effects of CR gas only made it much worse (source: Hansard), and this it was designed to do.

The firing of CR gas in clusters had the effect of creating epicentres over a wider area, thus making escape from the more potent effects of the gas almost impossible. My recollection is that the small cylinder that contained CR gas was of a grey colour and had CR gas and MoD clearly marked on the side of it. We had never experienced anything like it. John Spellar was right when he said it was totally effective. Gerry Adams’ memory of its effect was that he felt as though he was drowning. Gerry talks about the use of CR gas the night before the riot and during the fire of Long Kesh. We have heard from other internees and they also remember CR being used at the bottom end of the camp. I myself vividly remember that when it was used the fighting was nearly over. This was contrary to the ‘official rules of use’. The British army had managed to outflank us. Large numbers of British soldiers had been able to cut us off on one of the two football pitches that at that time were in the centre of the sentenced end of Long Kesh. They had effectively broken us up into three or four groups, the largest group probably being on the football pitch that ran from Compound 11 to Compound 13. The British army actually piled unconscious prisoners three and four deep along the top end of the pitch. I remember being right up at the gate of the pitch that led to the top cages when the gas was used. When I came round, I was about 100 feet or so from where I dropped and my face was scraped from being dragged face down across the all-weather football pitch. I was so disorientated that when we were running the gauntlet of soldiers and being struck with batons every step of the way, I can’t remember feeling a thing. I can, however, remember the next morning, as like many of my comrades I was aching and my back and legs were black and blue.

Anyone with an ounce of sense could see that we were on our last legs as a result of the copious amounts of CS gas and rubber bullets. I believe that the use of CR gas was a planned operation, purely to test its effects on human beings. Another possible reason the British army used CR was to test equipment and men under ‘battlefield’ conditions.

Coiste na n-Iarchimi, Madden and Finucane, Relatives for Justice and Sinn Féin are currently trying to find out the exact nature of the effects of CR gas. We are becoming greatly concerned at the numbers of men who were in Long Kesh at that time and have susequently either died or contacted some sort of carcinogenic condition: leukaemia or other terminal illness. We are at present aware of some 50 to 60 men who have either died or have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Relative to the numbers involved, this constitutes something in the region of 12 per cent to 15 per cent of the men directly affected. There is no reason to believe that this figure will not rise in the future. In a way it reminds me of asbestosis. Nobody ever died suddenly from asbestosis, but years later they are still dying. Nor have I heard of anyone dying suddenly from the effects of Agent Orange, but they still are dying. They are dying from coming into contact with the chemicals or substances that were introduced to their bodies many years before.

When starting this research five years ago, I did not set out to prove that CR causes cancer. Since the men who have either died or been diagnosed with cancer are my friends and comrades, I sincerely hope that it doesn’t, but I don’t know. Given the nature of the political control that a government, any government, can impose on people and information in relation to internal security, I realised from the outset that to prove a direct link between CR gas and cancer would be virtually, if not totally, impossible. Personally, my fear is that it is connected and must be investigated by an independent body given a free hand to prove or disprove my fears.

Irrespective of whether or not there is a link between CR gas and cancer, a serious breach of both civil and human rights was perpetrated against men on October 15 and 16 1974. Our primary concern is the health and future health of the ex-prisoners who were subject to its use. The professor of chemistry informs us that, while not comparing CR gas with Agent Orange, he was reminded that, “The ingredients of Agent Orange were not as carcinogenic nor mutagenic as the impurities they created.”

Belfast solicitors Madden and Finucane, on my behalf, wrote to the NIPS and requested a copy of my medical records for the period 1973 until 1979. These records were sent to Madden and Finucane, except my records for 1974, which were missing. No reason for this was given. I sustained more injuries on October 16, 1974, than all the other years of my incarceration combined.

In the course of this research I met with an ex-member of the prison administration who had joined the prison staff after the fire of Long Kesh. We were talking about our experiences in the prison. I told him of my experiences during the fire. I mentioned about my dealings with the NIPS and of their denial of blood samples being taken. He explained to me that “it was common knowledge in the prison that a large number of files went missing.” The identity of whoever removed them isn’t known.

Given that Long Kesh/Maze Prison was, according to the then Secretary of State Merlyn Rees, “the largest concentration camp in Western Europe”, then I think it is fair to say that either the MoD or one of its security branches must be aware of the whereabouts of these files. Consequently, when the NIPS informed me that they had “no records of blood samples being taken”, I believe what they really mean is that they haven’t got them any more.


Ahern 'will back Finucane's decision on inquiry'

21/10/2004 - 16:56:16

The Taoiseach today pledged to support the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, should they not back a limited inquiry into his killing, it was claimed today.

The Taoiseach today pledged to support the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, should they not back a limited inquiry into his killing, it was claimed today.

Mr Finucane’s widow and her two sons told Bertie Ahern this afternoon that they would not co-operate with anything other than a full public inquiry.

The British government is due to publish proposals next month on an inquiry into the 1989 murder – as recommended by Canadian judge Peter Cory.

But Northern Secretary Paul Murphy has already said that parts of the inquiry may be held in private to protect matters of British national security.

If this happens, Michael Finucane warned his family would withdraw and that “the Irish Government has said it will support that position if and when it arises”.

Speaking after an hour-long meeting with the Taoiseach at Government Buildings, Mr Finucane said that the Taoiseach believes “a proper government inquiry is the only mechanism that will address the killing”.

The dead solicitor’s son added that he believed the views of the Government had been “conveyed forcefully” to the British government on the matter.

The Finucane family will also be meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 2 to discuss the inquiry.

Mr Finucane said it was clear that his father’s killing went to the very heart of the British establishment.

He said: “The Army are involved, the police are involved, MI5 are involved.

“The British establishment is very keen to keep it secret and suppressed and this is why new legislation is being brought in.”


Inquiry into CS spray use

CS spray was used to quell disturbances in Derry

A police officer has been suspended while the use of CS spray in Derry is investigated, the PSNI has said.

The spray was used early on Saturday during disturbances in the city centre.

The PSNI said the spray was a "valuable police instrument" and its use is now automatically referred to the Police Ombudsman.

It said the officer had been suspended as part of an internal police investigation.

The police used CS spray during two separate weekend disturbances in the city centre.

The police said it was used in Victoria car park after a man was attacked by up to 30 youths, and a few hours later in Waterloo Place to break up a fight.

'Graduated response'

In keeping with police policy, both incidents were referred to the Police Ombudsman.

However, the PSNI is also carrying out its own investigation which has resulted in one officer being suspended while further inquiries are carried out.

The police have not said which incident the officer was involved in.

In a statement on Thursday, the PSNI said it continued "to work proactively to ensure as wide an understanding as possible of CS spray.

"It is an important and valuable police instrument when used as part of a graduated response to individual violence."

CS spray has been used on eight separate occasions in Derry since its introduction in August.

It has been used elsewhere in Northern Ireland 11 times.


New drive to clean up NI taxi industry

21/10/2004 - 11:00:03

A new drive to clear up the licensing of Northern Ireland’s cab drivers was launched today.

From the start of next month all licensed taxis will be required to display taxi licence plates, making them easier for the public to recognise.

“If it’s not on it, then don’t get in it” is the message DoE Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland is sending out to every taxi user in the North.

Brendan Magee, DVLNI chief executive, said the new plating scheme would have a number of benefits.

“It will help the travelling public identify legal taxis, it will help enforcement against illegal operators and it will help support the legitimate trade, but most importantly, it will mean that those who use cabs will be safer because they will be travelling in a legitimate taxi,” he said.

He said that under the current scheme it can be difficult to tell the licensed and unlicensed taxi apart the only true identification was a PSV disc on the windscreen.

The new system will involve large plates fixed on the front and rear of the vehicle and smaller plates inside the vehicle.

The plates will have a distinctive colour to identify the different types of taxi being licensed.

:: Belfast public hire – yellow.
:: Public hire outside Belfast – white.
:: Private hire – green.
:: Bus taxi – blue.

Even wedding and funeral care will have to display a plate but only internally.

Taxi plating is being introduced in advance of a wider review of the taxi industry in Northern Ireland.

**my apologies to the chimp


Come and listen to my story 'bout a boy name Bush.
His IQ was zero and his head was up his tush.
He drank like a fish while he was drivin' all about.
But that didn't matter 'cuz his daddy bailed him out.

DUI, that is.
Criminal record.

Well, the first thing you know little Georgie goes to Yale.
He can't spell his name but they never let him fail.
He spends all his time hangin' out with student folk.
And that's when he learns how to snort a line of coke.

Blow, that is.
White gold.
Nose candy.

The next thing you know there's a war in Vietnam.
Kin folks say, "George, stay at home with Mom."
Let the common people get maimed and scarred.
We'll buy you a spot in the Texas Air Guard.

Cushy, that is.
Country clubs.
Nose candy.

Twenty years later George gets a little bored.
He trades in the booze, says that Jesus is his Lord.
He said, "Now the White House is the place I wanna be."
So he called his daddy's friends and they called the GOP.

Gun owners, that is.
Jesse Helms.

Come November 7, the election ran late.
Kin folks said "Jeb, give the boy your state!"
"Don't let those colored folks get into the polls."
So they put up barricades so they couldn't punch their holes.

Chads, that is.
Duval County.

Before the votes were counted five Supremes stepped in.
Told all the voters "Hey, we want George to win."
"Stop counting votes!" was their solemn invocation.
And that's how George finally got his coronation.

Rigged, that is.
No moral authority.

Y'all go vote now. Ya hear?

Belfast Telegraph

Integrated schools 'key to improved relations'

By Kathryn Torney
20 October 2004

Community relations in Northern Ireland could be improved if there were more integrated schools, it was claimed today.

That was the main finding of a report on young people's views of sectarianism launched today.

The Voices Behind the Statistics report, co-authored by Shirley Ewart from the University of Ulster and Dirk Schubotz from Queen's University, questioned young people from different religious backgrounds across Northern Ireland.

The report is the result of a joint project undertaken by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) and ARK (The Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive).

During the scheme sixth-form students from 11 schools across Northern Ireland were consulted on their experiences of sectarianism and their ideas about how community relations could be improved.

Dirk Schubotz said: "The project with NCB created an ideal platform to get in touch and consult with young people in schools.

"The results of Voices Behind the Statistics gave important impulses for the 2004 Young Life and Times survey, which we have just concluded."

Many of the young people felt the need to compromise and integrate more in order for community relations in the province to improve.

One young person said: "I would like to hope that there will be a lot more cross-community projects available within schools and that there will be more integrated schools opened to give young people a chance to mix."

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