Stand against race hate

Marchers took their protest to Belfast city centre

Up to 2,000 people have attended a rally in Belfast's city centre calling for an end to racism.

Marchers gathered outside the City Hall on Saturday to make a stand against race hate.

The event was organised by the Anti-Racism Network and the Chinese Welfare Association under the slogan 'No Excuses'.

Speakers from the Chinese, Muslim and gay communities called for the government to do more to stop attacks against them.

The organisers of Saturday's march said it was an opportunity for people to stand together to show their utter rejection of race hate.

They also wanted to reassure members of ethnic minorities that they had support and solidarity.

The main rally began at the University of Ulster's Art College and proceeded to City Hall.

'Racist attacks'

Feeder parades begin in west Belfast at Roden Street, and in the south of the city at Equality House, Shaftesbury Square.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has strongly endorsed the rally.

The commission's head of legal services, policy and research, Ciaran O Maolain, said: "Racism in Northern Ireland is not a new phenomenon, but the commission is especially concerned at the increase in racist attacks and other manifestations of intolerance in Belfast, Armagh, Dungannon, Ballymena and elsewhere.

"It is worrying that there have been only a handful of prosecutions for hate crimes which are happening at the rate of at least 300 per year."
Ciaran O Maolain
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

"The recent attacks on gay people in Derry are equally abhorrent."

He said he wanted to see policing resources directed at protecting minorities and bringing to justice those behind the recent attacks.

"It is worrying that there have been only a handful of prosecutions for hate crimes which are happening at the rate of at least 300 per year," Mr O Maolain said.

Figures released earlier this week, showed that more than five racist or homophobic attacks take place in Belfast every week.

'Hate crimes'

Attacks in north Belfast doubled between April and September this year, the city's District Policing Partnership was told.

Over the 183-day period there were 129 so-called hate crimes recorded throughout the city.

In the previous year, some 226 racial incidents were recorded across Northern Ireland, resulting to date in five known prosecutions.

In May, the Northern Ireland Affairs committee said police figures were underestimating "hate crime" levels by a "considerable margin" because victims were failing to report attacks.

Irish Independent

Children 'risk cancer from burning tyres'

CHILDREN face a real risk of developing cancers and other health defects from tyres being burnt on Halloween bonfires nationwide, Environment Minister Dick Roche warned yesterday.

Announcing an investigation into the way tyre retailers dispose of their tyres, the minister pleaded with parents to halt the practice of burning tyres on bonfires over the weekend. "The Halloween bonfire is a great Irish tradition going back to our very earliest time. However, this tradition does not give us licence to burn wastes which give off toxic smoke," said Mr Roche.

The uncontrolled burning of tyres produced dense smoke and toxic fumes, polluting air, water, soil and vegetation. Many of the toxic fumes released had the capacity to cause a genetic mutation that could lead to cancer in future generations, he warned.

"It is thought that the uncontrolled burning of tyres is eight times more likely to cause genetic mutation than the burning of plastic. In addition, water used to control these fires can cause pollutants to be washed into the ground and watercourses. "

"While tyres can be reused - on farmyards for example - there is no doubt huge numbers of tyres are either burnt, are disposed of inappropriately, or are left in unauthorised stockpiles, which can themselves pose a hazard to people and the environment," Mr Roche warned.

He also expressed concerns about an environmental levy some tyre retailers are imposing for the disposal of waste tyres. He is to raise the issue with the Director of Consumer Affairs.

Treacy Hogan
Environment Correspondent

Irish Independent

Both governments prepare to pull plug on DUP

THE Irish and British governments will pull the plug on efforts to create a power-sharing executive in the North unless the DUP agrees to it within the next month, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warned last night.

In his most forthright comments yet on the stalled process, following discussions in Rome with Britain's Tony Blair, he said the two governments would work together in partnership.

The move to re-impose direct rule would trigger the nuclear option in the talks which the British government has so far refused to introduce as a threat to unionists.

But Mr Ahern was at pains to praise the efforts of DUP leader Ian Paisley, whom he said was "constructive" and "very helpful" and said there were still problems with Sinn Fein too.

Analysing the internal struggle within the DUP, he said it was now going through the same process as both Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists had already faced in confronting difficult compromises.

Some members of the DUP wanted a deal now, some wanted it before the British election and some never wanted a deal, he said.

"We still have to get agreement, obviously you're not going to get 100pc from either of them, so both of them have to give.

"At this stage we're having more problems with the DUP," he admitted.

"Our perspective is that the Good Friday agreement is an indispensable reality," said Mr Ahern, arguing there would be no return to majoritarianism, a repeated concern of Sinn Fein, which would see unionists imposing a veto.

The North-South mechanisms within the peace process need strength and they're "not going to be diluted for anyone", he said.

"I don't think it's going to be after the election. It's not going to work. That's not my view or Tony Blair's view," he said.

Mr Blair left the signing ceremony for the EU's Constitutional Treaty in Rome early and did not speak to the media. The Taoiseach commented that Mr Blair was 'tired'.

"If we can't complete this phase, then we'll go for another phase, but it will be on the basis of partnership, there won't be any divergence," he said.

But Mr Ahern declined to elaborate on the precise route the two governments would take.

"We've a number of options, a number of scenarios that we'll decide on. We'll press on," he said.

Conor Sweeney
(in Rome)

Irish Independent


The extent of the flooding on The Quay in the town

FORTY families spent last night in temporary accommodation as floods continued to wreak devastation across the south and east of the country.

The army was called in to rescue residents from the Co Tipperary town of Clonmel yesterday, where a huge mopping up operation was underway after the River Suir burst its banks. Houses were also flooded in Carrick-On-Suir.

Met Eireann warned the flooding would worsen today, as several feet of water continues to pour through homes and businesses causing heartbreak and many millions of euros worth of damage.

In Cork city, traders last night demanded emergency Government flood relief and a freezing of commercial rates because of the huge losses sustained.

An emergency plan was implemented in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford with all civil defence personnel and emergency services on standby as flood concerns grew in the town.

Power lines were cut in Galway and Wexford, but electricity supply had been restored to some 3,000 subscribers yesterday. Motorists also had to navigate flooding across many roads, including New Line Road in Wexford, the Old Dun Laoghaire Road in Dublin and the main Dublin Road in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Ray Whelan rescuing Benny the dog on Old Bridge Street

A delay in the construction of a €30m flood relief scheme due to begin this year was blamed for the devastation caused by the floods yesterday in Clonmel.

Independent TD Seamus Healy estimated the floods have caused up to €4m worth of damage, with many victims not covered by insurance.

He said: "Here we are again in the same situation as we were in 2000, only this time it's worse. This scheme seems to be long fingered by the Government and look what that has done to Clonmel."

Town mayor Denis Dunne (FG) said: "We want that €30m scheme put in place now and don't understand the delay in the funding. It would help us significantly. People would at last feel safe in their homes." Forty families were evacuated from their homes as the waters spread across a three-mile area.

One hundred and fifty homes and business premises were worst affected, and thousands of acres of farmland lay under water as the rivers rose 20mm every hour.

Around 200 members of the emergency services worked throughout the day ferrying people in trucks, JCBs and even shopping trolleys.

The council also ran a shuttle and rescue service with 35 trucks and provided 3,000 sandbags, while the 12th Infantry Battalion members had 10 trucks in use and distributed another 2,000 sandbags.

Junior Minister Tom Parlon promised residents the scheme would get under construction early in the new year and would be finished over a four-year period. In 2000, €13.5m was granted in humanitarian aid, and Mr Parlon said the Government would look seriously at providing such aid again. A tearful Liz O'Brien, of Coleville Road, left her home at 3am with her two sons Shane (15) and Jonathon (22). She said her "whole world was devastated".

"We only refurbished our kitchen on Wednesday and it is ruined now. We can't get home insurance and no-one will buy our house," she said.

Cork city was last night facing property and stock damage totalling €20m after the worst River Lee floods since 1962.

Both Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork Business Association were seeking emergency meetings with Minister Tom Parlon and Cork City manager, Joe Gavin to discuss the crisis.

Major flood damage was also sustained by traders and householders in Fermoy, Bantry, Youghal, Macroom, Clonakilty and Castletownbere. Mallow saw virtually all of its Bridge Street shops under four foot of water from the River Blackwater.

Cork Business Association director, James O'Sullivan, warned it was a matter of commercial survival for many traders located in the city centre.

"The floods were absolutely disastrous - many of our members on Patrick Street and Oliver Plunkett Street had between two and three feet of water in their shops," he explained.

"Most simply didn't have the time to remove or protect their stock - and, unfortunately, shops were very heavily stocked because of the start of the Christmas shopping season," he added.

Mr O'Sullivan warned the city council against any attempt to fund flood repairs through increases in commercial rates, adding that Cork deserved emergency flood-relief support from the Government.

Meanwhile, a major rescue operation succeeded yesterday in refloating a damaged 2,200-tonne bulk carrier that had been driven by the storms onto rocks outside Kinsale harbour.

The MV Sea Brise was driven on to rocks at 5am on Thursday morning after gale-force winds and heavy seas left her dragging her anchor. The combination of two tugs and a high tide helped safely ease the 2,200 tonne vessel off the rocks.

Helen Bruce, Sarah Murphy and Ralph Riegel


Relatives to meet ombudsman

Relatives of two men shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries are to meet Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Gerard Cairns, 22, and his brother Rory, 18, were murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force in October 1993.

Gunmen burst into their home in Bleary, County Down, pushed past their 11-year-old sister and shot them.

The family will "discuss a number of concerns regarding both the horrific double murder and the subsequent RUC investigation", campaign group Relatives for Justice said.

The meeting is due to take place on Saturday.

The family will be accompanied by their legal representatives and by members of Relatives for Justice.


DUP reject power sharing on council

ePolitix News
29 Oct 2004

The Northern Ireland peace process has been put under renewed
pressure by the rejection of power sharing on a local authority by
the DUP.

Nationalists and republicans have said the Democratic Unionist's
decision not to share power on Castlereagh council demonstrated they
were not serious about restoring the devolved institutions.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein urged the British and Irish governments to
press the biggest unionist party to change its attitude.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said the move in Castlereagh,
where the party's deputy leader, Peter Robinson, is a member, showed
they were against power sharing everywhere.

McDonnell said: "Peter Robinson has made the DUP's position on power
sharing very clear, they are opposed to it wherever they are in a
position to cobble together a majority.

"The two governments now need to be just as clear with the DUP and
ask them how they square this position with their acceptance of the
fundamentals of the Good Friday agreement at Leeds Castle."


During the council debate, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson insisted
his party was not a supporter of power sharing.

The East Belfast MP said it should only be deployed in certain
conditions in a divided society but in this case, it was not suitable
for Castlereagh.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the situation illustrated
the need for the cross community safeguards and power sharing
requirements under the Good Friday agreement.

McLaughlin said: "The rejectionist demands of the DUP are now the
primary obstacle to a comprehensive agreement.

"The two governments need to understand there is no middle line
between the protection of the agreement and the destruction of the
agreement which the DUP seeks.

"It is the responsibility of the governments to defend the core
fundamentals and principles of the agreement and to make it clear
that they cannot be changed.

"If the DUP do not accept this reality then the pro-agreement
parties, including the two governments, need to move on. The DUP
cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change."


Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell hit back insisting unionists
were not going to be bullied into signing up to a political system which had "failed".

The East Londonderry MP said: "Nationalists and republicans must
realise that unionists will not be going back to the days of the
humiliation and failure of the Belfast Agreement.

"Unlike the weakness of the position of previous unionist
negotiators, the DUP will not be forced to abandon our manifesto
commitments of no terrorists in government and of holding to the
absolute necessity of ensuring that there is a system of government
that unionists as well as nationalists can support.

"The DUP wants to arrive at a settlement for all the people of
Northern Ireland. However, nationalists need to get real and accept
the inevitability of change."

Campbell again insisted on reforming the accountability of ministers
in the devolved institution, the sticking point in recent

An Phoblacht

Bobby Sands: the inspiration behind new GAA club

Cumann na Fuiseoige, the new GAA club which was launched in Twinbrook, West Belfast on Saturday 23 October, was inspired by Bobby Sands.

Scoil na Fuiseoige, built on the site of the first Twinbrook Residents Association office established by Bobby Sands, takes it's name from Sands' story — written while he was on the Blanket protest — of The Lark and The Freedom Fighter. Lark is the English word for fuiseog.

The lark, through Sands' writings, became one of the most potent symbols of the prison struggle through the years of the Blanket and No Wash protests and of course the 1981 Hunger Strike.

The lark, caged by a hunter, never lost its desire to be free and became synonymous with the POWs incarcerated in the H-Blocks and Armagh Prison and their willingness to endure so much hardship rather then be branded as criminals.

And Saturday's launch of the newly-formed GAA club was also an inspiring occasion.

Over 60 children, rigged out in the club's colours, were present as Micéal Greenan, President of the Ulster Council of the GAA, officially launched the club.

Also present was Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Gerry Adams, himself an avid GAA supporter.

Adams, in his speech, drew on the inspiration of Bobby Sands and drew comparisons with Sands' work for the people of Twinbrook and the work of the committee of Cumann na Fuiseoige, whose aim is to provide the children of the area with a much needed sporting facility.

Paddy McCotter, a member of the committee, chaired the proceedings. He told An Phoblacht: "in promoting Gaelic games we want to help keep local children active and give them a positive focus. We also want to give them a sense of identity and as you can see from the attendance we are getting a good response from children around here and from their parents."

An Phoblacht

Memorial dedicated to young IRA Volunteer

Photo: Michael Hughes' sister, Kate McCorry, unveiled the monument

A memorial was unveiled earlier this month to IRA Volunteer Michael Hughes, from Derrybeg, Newry, who was shot dead by the British Army 30 years ago. The very popular young man was just 16 years old when he died in extremely brutal and controversial conditions.

The Parade to the dedication of the monument, which was erected by the local Hughes/Grant/Watters Cumann with the support of the Derrybeg community, commenced at Newry Swimming Pool. Over 500 people, led by a colour party of republican ex-prisoners and accompanied by the Raymond McCreesh Band from Camloch and St Patrick's Band from Kilkeel, made their way through the Meadow Estate to the memorial, which is placed close to the Camloch Road, not far from where Michael Hughes was murdered.

Derrybeg Sinn Féin Councillor Marian Mathers chaired proceedings and wreaths were laid. Michael's sister, Kate McCorry, unveiled the beautiful monument to this fine young patriot, who on regular occasions before his killing had been informed by both RUC and British military personnel that he would be shot.

Pat Mathers played the Last Post and before the minute's silence was called reference was made to the memory of the two young children who lost their lives in the recent drowning tragedy.

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane give the main oration and talked of the recollection that many Derrybeg people and republican activists had of Michael Hughes, who had witnessed the vicious and brutal oppression of his people and had joined Óglaigh na hÉireann, where he showed a maturity beyond his years.

"We must not forget the pain that Michael's mother and family went through 30 years ago, a pain which is still evident today," said the Sinn Féin MLA, who also mentioned Michael's father Patrick, who tragically died, also as an IRA Volunteer on active service.

Caitríona said that no progress would have been made in the Peace Process if it had not been for the courageous efforts of IRA Volunteers, whose sacrifices had brought the situation to where the vision of the Ireland that people like Michael Hughes gave their lives for, that of a United Ireland, an Ireland of Equals, is now within reach.

Irish Echo Online - News

'Abduction' jet makes Shannon stops

By Paul Colgan

DUBLIN -- A U.S. military jet used in the transport of Al Qaeda suspects from locations in Europe and the Middle East has used Shannon airport on at least 13 occasions in the last four years, it's been confirmed.

The presence of the jet in Ireland has provoked outrage among anti-Iraq war activists and has led to the questioning of a government minister in the Dail.

The confirmation by Transport Minister Martin Cullen that the privately owned jet, which is on permanent lease to the U.S. Defense Department, requires no permission from the Irish government to land in Shannon has alarmed human rights observers. They fear that the jet is involved in illegal abductions and should not be allowed to operate with impunity in Ireland.

The Gulfstream jet, with the call-sign N379P, is known to have been involved in the "abduction" of two Egyptian suspects from Sweden in December 2001.

Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery had been granted asylum in Sweden but were taken on the Gulfstream jet from Bromma airport in Stockholm to Cairo, where they claimed to have been brutally interrogated. They were taken to Bromma by Swedish police in handcuffs and shackles before being handed over to American agents.

On boarding the flight, it was reported in a documentary by Swedish journalist Fredrik Laurin, they were chained to a harness, blindfolded and hooded.

The two men claimed to Swedish diplomats that they were subject to repeated torture by electrical shocks. Zery was released from custody in October 2003 after the Egyptian authorities failed to uncover any terrorist links. Agiza was found to be a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in Egypt in April.

The Swedish government has since called for an international investigation to probe the role played by U.S. agents in their apprehension.

It maintains that it received assurances from the U.S. that the two men would not be mistreated.

The jet was also reportedly used to ferry a Yemeni student, Jamil Gasim, in chains from Karachi in Pakistan to Amman, Jordan, two months before the Swedish incident -- one month after it had stopped in Shannon.

It is unclear whether the jet has contained any suspects while passing through Shannon. However, concerns have been raised that as Shannon Airport is used regularly as a refueling point for U.S. military planes, the jet may have landed in the Republic while transferring suspects to Cuba. The plane is normally based at Dulles airport in Washington, D.C.

Premier Executive Transport Services, the Massachusetts private charter company that owns the jet, has an agreement with the U.S. military to land at its facilities around the world, including the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba, which houses hundreds of Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.

Minister Cullen said he had no evidence to suggest the aircraft was involved in "any illegal activity" in Shannon, but he would not be drawn on how he could be certain that the plane did not contain suspects. The Garda or Shannon airport police have never boarded the jet.

"There is no requirement under international or Irish law for aircraft coming into Ireland for refueling purposes, as this aircraft has done, to notify the Department of Transport in advance," said Cullen. "No notification to operate this aircraft was received by the Department of Transport."

Described by the CIA as "extraordinary renditions," the plane's operations are designed to transfer suspects to countries where they can be interrogated without the protection of Western law.

Defense Minister Willie O'Dea has said he will be monitoring the activities of the jet to ensure that illegally abducted prisoners are not passing through the airport.

However, he avoided commenting on calls for the jet to be inspected by the Garda, saying that was a matter for Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

Legal observers said the abduction and ferrying of terrorist suspects around the world is in breach of international conventions against torture and the European convention on human rights.

Asked earlier this year about the possibility that planes carrying Al Qaeda suspects may be passing through Shannon, McDowell said: "[Any] person who is on the soil of Ireland is entitled to the protection of our constitution. No person can be brought through the soil of Ireland in the custody of any other state except in accordance with international law."

McDowell said that he would "respond immediately" to any claims that suspects had been transmitted through Irish territory en route to Guantanamo in unlawful custody.

"It would cause me grave concern if I thought people were being smuggled through Irish territory in circumstances that amounted to unlawful detention in Irish law or in international law for that matter," he said.

This story appeared in the issue of October 27-November 2, 2004


Prison officers face discipline

Four prison officers face internal disciplinary charges for appearing on the BBC's Spotlight programme earlier this month.

The programme investigated events at the former women's prison at Maghaberry in County Antrim.

It looked at allegations of human rights abuses and inappropriate relationships between a number of prison officers and some inmates.

The four officers have been accused of a breach of confidentiality for appearing on the programme without the secretary of state's permission.

They have also been accused of divulging information gained while carrying out their official duties.

**From FENIAN VOICE, via IRA2 (see links)

Courtesy of Jay Dooling:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

October 29, 2004

Ciaran Ferry Update

As supporters and media filled the courtroom
yesterday, eagerly awaiting a decision on Ciaran
Ferry's habeas corpus petition, Judge Nottingham
determined that he would not make a public ruling
that day. Instead, he stated that he now plans to
rule in a week or so.

Judge Nottingham would not permit Ciaran's legal
team to present any evidence or witnesses, and
Ciaran was not able to speak on his behalf.
Ciaran's legal team had requested that they be
permitted a full evidentiary hearing, arguing that
Ciaran's conviction in a juryless Diplock court in
Northern Ireland could not be recognized
under U.S. jurisprudence. Judge Nottingham
indicated that he had already drafted his opinion
based on the written submissions and had no need to
hear witnesses or accept any further evidence.
Legal observers found this to be ominous and
believe that Judge Nottingham may rule that he has
no jurisdiction to question the Attorney General's
decision in this case.

Ciaran's counsel wanted to know what was the
government's position on releasing Ciaran. The
government representatives replied: "Mr. Ferry holds
the keys to his jail cell himself. If he wants to
return to the United Kingdom, he is free to do so
where he isn't under threat of bodily harm".

After the hearing, Ciaran's supporters stated that
they were confused and disappointed at the very brief 10
minute proceeding which the Judge allowed on oral
argument to discuss this case. Ciaran has been
waiting for a decision for over a year and a half
since the preliminary hearing on this matter.

Ciaran Ferry stated that he is in good spirits and
wanted to extend his appreciation to all of the
supporters who sent letters of support to him and
his family and to those who attended the hearing.

The courtroom was overcome with emotion when the
U.S. Marshall's permitted Ciaran to briefly hold his
3 year old daughter, Fiona, for the first time in
two years and to embrace his wife, Heaven. Ciaran
has been on no-contact restrictions since his
incarceration over two years ago.

Heaven believes that her family's situation is now
very precarious. "If Judge Nottingham does not
challenge the government's illegal actions in
denying my husband his due process rights, he will
force us to return with our 3 year old daugther to
Belfast where my husband is on a loyalist hit list".

Deanna Turner
Irish Deportees of America Committee



Adams: No dilution of Agreement

28/10/2004 - 23:00:46

Sinn Féin will not stomach any proposals to restore devolution which erode the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Adams warned tonight.

As British and Irish government officials continued to work on a formula aimed at bridging the gaps between unionists and nationalists over power sharing, the Sinn Féin leader again insisted his party wanted to achieve a comprehensive and holistic deal.

The West Belfast MP said: “We have made it clear that republicans are prepared to face up to the challenges which this presents.

“But Sinn Féin is not prepared to countenance any dilution or erosion of the Good Friday Agreement – that remains the objective of the DUP.”

Sinn Féin and the nationalist SDLP have clashed with the Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists over changes they want to the operation of the multi-party power-sharing government at Stormont.

The DUP has been pressing for mechanisms which would make power-sharing ministers more accountable for their decisions to cabinet colleagues and enable the Assembly to overturn unpopular decisions.

Nationalists have argued that what the DUP really wants is to exercise a veto over the work of other parties’ ministers.

They have also accused the DUP of trying to limit the scope of and stymie the work of cross-border institutions involving Stormont ministers and their Government counterparts.

Mr Adams said tonight the British and Irish governments had to understand in the current negotiations to restore power sharing that there was no middle line between the Good Friday Agreement and the anti-Agreement position of the Democratic Unionists.

“It is their responsibility to defend the core fundamentals and principles of the Agreement and to make it clear that they cannot be changed,” he argued.

“Therefore, if there is to be a deal then the two governments need to drive the process forward while making it clear that any deal must be within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

“If the DUP do not accept this reality, then the pro-Agreement majority, including the two governments, need to move on.

“The DUP cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change.”

Meanwhile, in a speech tonight to party colleagues in Bangor, North Down, DUP Assembly member George Dawson challenged claims that his party had shifted on to the policies once put forward by David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists.

The East Antrim MLA told colleagues: “The DUP is determined that the situation created by the Ulster Unionists is turned around.

“We are also seeing a remarkable turnaround of confidence amongst the unionist community since the defeatists and the defeated of the UUP were swept aside.

“Our policies have turned governments and other parties around. All that is to be welcomed.

“In recent days much has been made of our statement that the fundamentals of the Agreement, as outlined to us by the British government, are not in conflict with DUP policy.

“Our opponents have seized on this and cried U-turn. But what is the truth of the matter?

“Our opponents have strangely and conveniently forgotten that this was not always the government’s position.

“Once upon a time government, and the pro-Agreement parties’ stance was that we had to take the Agreement, the whole Agreement and nothing but the Agreement.

“Northern Ireland, it seemed, possess the only constitution in the world that was not able to be changed, they argued.

“That position has now noticeably changed. Now it is just the fundamentals that remain.”


The search for justice

It is six years since Ardoyne man Brian Service was
murdered by the UDA as he walked home along Alliance Avenue. His parents David and Ann tell the North Belfast News of their ongoing struggle to come to terms with Brian’s death, and their hunger for justice

This weekend marks the sixth anniversary of the death of North Belfast man Brian Service, a Catholic who was brutally murdered by two masked UDA men as he walked home along Alliance Avenue.
His parents Ann and David Service didn’t know until the following day and when they did receive the terrible news, their world fell apart.
The Good Friday Agreement had been signed just months beforehand, the IRA and UDA had called ceasefires and the North of Ireland was, seemingly, entering a new era without ‘hostilities’.
Speaking to the North Belfast News on the eve of their son’s sixth anniversary, which falls on October 31, Ann and David reveal how angry they are at the PSNI for failing their son’s memory by not finding and bringing Brian’s killers to justice.
“It is like Brian is the forgotten victim,” Ann Service said.
“The PSNI did him an injustice by not bringing his killers to court at the time, even though they told us they knew who they were, and now they are doing him another injustice by closing the case and not actively trying to bring his killer to book,” Ann Service said.
“It makes you feel worthless. It makes Brian’s life seem worthless and that’s something that I and my husband find very hard to take. I don’t want a pound of flesh, I just want justice.”
Ann and David had three children. David is the eldest, Brian was in the middle and Martin is the youngest. They have seven grandchildren.
On the night before Halloween, Friday October 30, Brian had been visiting his brother David’s home.
After drinking a few cans of beer and watching TV he decided to walk home.
“Brian left our house about midnight,” his brother David recalled to the authors of Ardoyne: The Untold Truth.
“I left him to the door and we had a few words together. He wasn’t fearful leaving the house. Because of the so-called ceasefires at the time everybody was in a more relaxed way of thinking and he just decided to walk home that night.
“Brian was dead within twenty minutes of leaving the house. The thing I’ll always have to live with is he was dead and I didn’t know.
“That was a massive shock to me and my whole family. My mother phoned about 7.45am and you don’t expect to hear bad news.
“It was one almighty scream down the phone. ‘Your brother is dead, he was shot last night’.”
When the news spread of Brian’s murder, Ann and David’s house was inundated with relatives, neighbours, politicians and members of the clergy.
Those days are fuzzy for them, it seemed that the number of people arriving would never end.
The community was in shock. No one could believe that those days were back.
A vigil was held on the very spot where Brian died.
But then, according to Ann who was 59 at the time and Davy who was 64, it all went very quiet.
“I had heard that that happens. It’s when everyone goes away that you realise. The grief we felt was terrible and all consuming.
“The police called round a couple of times, maybe twice I think about the case, but that was it.
“They said they knew who did it but they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute. That was it. We couldn’t believe it,” Ann Service said.
“I think after a while we started to feel angry then. Who was going to bring my son’s killers to justice? Where were the police and our MLAs helping us in our quest?
“We were supposed to be part of a changing process, one that we voted for, and you’re supposed to be looking towards the future, but how could we with this injustice hanging over our heads? The questions went on and on.
“I think we felt forgotten and Brian’s death meant nothing, except as a test posed by loyalists to see if the Ardoyne community would react and take up arms.
“He was the first in Ardoyne after the Good Friday Agreement was signed and we felt very bitter.”
Since then, although Brian’s killers still haven’t felt the weight of the law, Ann and David said somehow this year they found living a little bit easier.
“The pain gets a little easier to bear.
“It has taken six years and being on anti-depressants to get to this stage where I feel that I can laugh again without feeling guilty,” Ann said.
“Before I felt that I couldn’t do that. I was so depressed.
“Now when Davy jokes around I can laugh back. It’s a relief to be able to do that.”
The joy of seven grandchildren, three of which were born after Brian’s death, has helped that process.
“New life into the family is always something to celebrate. It was wonderful when David’s wife had a little girl first and then Martin’s wife had twins, a boy and girl. We were delighted and still are.”
Brian’s death profoundly affected the Service family in may ways, not least of which their faith in God.
Both Ann and David have since lost their faith in after Brian was murdered.
“We haven’t lost faith in the church, but we have lost faith in God,” Ann said.
“We don’t go to mass anymore because to do so would be false. Religion is a very personal matter, but it has been hard to believe.
“I hope there is a God, I really do,” Ann added.
“Because even though we’re having trouble believing there is, that means someday we will see our son Brian in heaven. We’ll be together again.”


Journalist:: Áine McEntee


Relatives for Justice

235a Falls Road, Belfast, County Antrim, BT12 4PE; Tel: (+44) 028
90220100; Fax: (+44) 028 90220101;

email: info@relativesforjustice.com; web: www.relativesforjustice.com

Plastic Bullet Alternative Kills Boston student

Chairperson of Relatives For Justice Clara Reilly has released the
following statement:

"It is with great regret that the United Campaign Against Plastic
Bullets and Relatives for Justice have learned of the death of Boston
student Victoria Snelgrove who was 21 years old.

"Ms Snelgrove was killed by a "less lethal weapon", a pepper spray
projectile which hit her in the eye last Friday 22 October.

"As families who have been bereaved as a result of our own "less
lethal" weapons – plastic bullets- our thoughts are with the family
at this terrible time.

"We also must notify all in our own society that one of the planned
alternatives to plastic bullets is this type of projectile. The NIO
plan to have this introduced at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Discriminating Energy Projectile or DIP is a projectile hosting
pepper spray or CS gas, which explodes on impact with the victim and
sends out the chemicals. Exactly this type of weapon killed Ms

"Under the stewardship of their Chief of Police, one time Patten
Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole, Boston Police have shelved the weapon
from their armoury following the tragic events last Friday, as have
another large US city police department, Seattle. It is to her credit
that Ms O'Toole along with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, immediately
accepted full responsibility for the killing of Victoria Snelgrove,
an important and vital act we have never witnessed in this

"Millions of pounds are currently being invested by the British
Government in the development of this weapon to put it on our
streets. We are calling on the NIO to immediately end this practice,
following events in Boston.

"Today we have written a letter of solidarity to the Snelgrove family
and a letter to Ms Kathleen O'Toole, supporting her decision to
shelve the weapon in question."


freeciaranferry.com forum


"Habeas Corpus hearing October 28

Just got back from Ciarán's hearing. Kind of disappointing, but not too
surprising. Basically, Ciarán's attorneys had filed a petition of Habeas
Corpus, which, if I understand correctly, means, turn him loose or give
satisfactory reasons why not. The judge promised a ruling on that petition
within a week to ten days. Ciarán's attorneys and those representing the
government had filed documents with the court giving reasons for their
positions on the petition, namely that the government thinks Ciarán should
remain in custody until he is deported, and Ciarán's attorney's maintaining
that he should be released to live with his family until the case is

We don't know what those arguments were, as the judge told the attorneys not
to repeat what they had already said in their briefs and he could read them
there. The government attorneys did say that they believe Ciarán should be
deported at the earliest opportunity, maintaining that he can continue his
appeal process from the U.K. If he wishes. Apparently, that appeal is being
heard in the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but no date or schedule
has been set on it. "


An Phoblacht

Outrage over SDLP attack on new GAA club

Sinn Féin Lagan Valley Councillor Paul Butler says people in Twinbrook are outraged by an attack on the new GAA Club in the area by the SDLP's Patricia Lewsley.

Lewsley was reported in the Irish News on Wednesday as saying that the club logo is "inappropriate".

"I can tell Patricia Lewsley that the only thing 'inappropriate' is her unwarranted and unwanted attack, both on the memory and legacy of Bobby Sands and on the work being done by this club in providing a vital service and outlet to the young people of Twinbrook," said Butler.

"Over the past number of months a group of people in the Twinbrook area have been working flat out to get the necessary funds together and the necessary personnel in place to launch a local GAA club. Finally, last weekend all that good work came to fruition with the launch of Cumann na Fuiseoige GAC.

"Many may have expected elected representatives like Patricia Lewsley to be grateful to these people for their endless hours of unpaid work in bringing the project to this stage. However, instead of congratulating the club or offering it support, she has instead descended to the politics of Maggie Thatcher and attacked the new club logo, as it bears the image of the lark and the 'H' in tribute to one of the best known people from the area, Bobby Sands MP. The people of Twinbrook are rightly proud of the association the area has with Bobby Sands.

Belfast Telegraph

Provo bomb quote tops poll in US

From Sean O'Driscoll in New York
27 October 2004

It has become one of the great clichés of the presidential election, yet nobody seems to know that they are quoting the IRA.

"Terrorists only have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky all the time."

It's a phrase the American public has heard so many times this year it's like an election year mantra.

It comes from the IRA's Brighton bombing statement 20 years ago this month, in which it lamented not killing Margaret Thatcher.

"Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always."

The phrase re-emerged on a huge scale after 9/11, as terrorism experts were drafted in to conference after conference to explain why America needed to be better prepared for terrorist attack.

It was gradually picked up by the Bush administration and spread across the political spectrum.

President Bush used it in the first debate with John Kerry, when advocated a renewal of the Patriot Act:

"The enemy only has to get lucky once, we must be right 100% of the time," he said, paraphrasing the IRA's spokesman, P O'Neill.

It is also a favourite of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who used it many, many times this year.

In February he admitted he had no idea where it came from.

"This is a poor quote from somebody, and I forgot who said it, but somebody once said that "a defender has to be right every time, and an attacker, a terrorist, only has to be lucky once in a while."

In early August, he told reporters covering a visit by the Danish defence minister that terrorists "only have to be lucky once or twice and they can kill 2,000 or 3,000 people. The defender has to be lucky all the time."

In early June, as keynote speaker at the International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual Pacific security conference, (known widely as the Shangri-La Conference), Mr Rumsfeld told delegates that constant vigilance was required whereas "a terrorist needs only to be lucky once or twice."

The phrase has also been all over Congress, each speaker presenting it like it was a unique insight.

Just last week, Michigan Republican congressman, Pete Hoekstra, urged the passing of the 9/11 Intelligence Reform Act:

"We have to be right 100% of the time when dealing with terrorists. They only have to be lucky once."

It's also a favourite of the acting CIA chief, John McLaughlin, who told CNN in July: "We can be excellent one thousand times, all they have to do is be lucky once."

Also getting an honorable mention is deputy attorney general, Larry D Thompson.

Speaking at Georgetown University's Conference on Security, Technology and Privacy in April 2003, he noted: "We have to be lucky every time to succeed. The terrorists only have to get lucky once."

International conferences have brought the phrase to an international audience of diplomats and security officials.

On September 9, Indonesia condemned the killing of eight people in a bomb blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said the attack was a reminder that constant vigilance was required.

"Terrorists only have to be lucky once. We have to be lucky all the time," he added.


Report given to governments

The Independent Monitoring Commission's second report is due

A ceasefire watchdog has been delivering its second report on continuing paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland to the British and Irish Governments on Thursday.

The four commissioners - Lord Alderdice, John Grieve, Joe Brosnan and Richard Kerr - met in Belfast last week to finalise their report.

According to one source, the Independent Monitoring Commission's report will show a "reasonably significant reduction" in IRA activity, including paramilitary shootings and assaults.

The report was set to be given to the British Government on Wednesday, but this was delayed until Thursday.

Both the Northern Ireland Office and Irish Government are expected to take a few days to study its findings before making them public.

A significant part of the latest document is expected to concentrate on organised crime, including a number of robberies in recent months.

The police have linked republicans to these, but it is not clear if the commission will go any further.

Thefts being linked to republicans include the armed robbery of £1m worth of goods from a wholesale store on the outskirts of Belfast in May.

Meanwhile, the head of the decommissioning body, General John de Chastelain, has returned to Belfast, despite a lack of certainty about the outcome of the present round of negotiations.

Senior members of the DUP and Sinn Fein have been in London on Tuesday amid efforts to try to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and party colleague Martin McGuinness were understood to be in talks with British and Irish Government officials, while DUP leader Ian Paisley and his deputy Peter Robinson were involved in separate talks.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday that the next few weeks in the political process would be critical.

The institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended two years ago amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in Kent last month, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said the thorny issues of IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be resolved.

However, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved institutions.

The sticking points in the political process have included the method of electing a first and deputy first minister, a date when the assembly can control policing, and whether or not 30 assembly members can challenge ministerial decisions.

Lavery's Other Painting

Lady Lavery

Peter Symes

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The most striking feature of the legal tender notes of the Irish Free State and the early issues of the Central Bank of Ireland is the portrait of Lady Lavery. While the portrait of Lady Lavery is well known, it was never intended that her image should be recognized on the Irish notes that circulated from 1928 until the late 1970s. The original intent was that the vignette on the notes should depict a typical Irish Cailín (Girl). However, the intention was lost and history records that an American lady adorns the notes. How did this happen?

In 1921 the Irish Free State was established. After several years it was decided to reform the currency issued in Ireland as, until that time, banknotes were issued by the commercial banks—as they are today in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These notes were not legal tender, they were simply promises to pay by the banks. In 1927 it was decided to introduce legal tender notes and to reform the notes issued by the banks, which were to become ‘The Consolidated Banknotes’. (The Consolidated Banknotes became known as the ‘Ploughman’ notes, because of the ploughman illustrated on the front of the notes.) The committee chosen to advise on the design of both the Legal Tender Notes and the Consolidated Banknotes was Thomas Bodkin, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Dermod O’Brien, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy, and Lucius O’Callaghan, a former Director of the National Gallery.

In late 1927 the ‘Note Committee’ petitioned Sir John Lavery to provide a portrait of an archetypical Irish Cailín to adorn the notes. The choice of Sir John Lavery (1856 – 1941) to provide the portrait was no accident. Born in Belfast, by the 1920s Lavery had become the greatest contemporary portrait painter in Ireland. He had studied in Glasgow, London and Paris, and worked throughout the continent and in England. His works had been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Louvre, and other European galleries. In 1921 he was elected to the Royal Academy and in the late 1920s he was at the height of his success.

As the pre-eminent Irish portrait artist, he was well known to members of the ‘Note Committee’. Indeed, in August 1927, Lavery had written to Thomas Bodkin, indicating a desire to donate thirty of his works to the National Portrait Gallery in Dublin. Shortly after this communication, the ‘Note Committee’ approached Lavery to paint the Cailín. In a letter to Bodkin dated 30 December 1927, Lavery states that the Committee asked ‘that I should design a head for them, preferably I take it, one of my wife’ to be used on the new Irish currency. Lady Lavery had written to Bodkin a few days earlier, evidently in reply to his proposal, in the following terms:

‘I really feel that you are too kind and generous when you suggest that my humble head should figure on the note, and you know I said from the first that I thought it wildly improbable, unlikely, impractical, unpopular, impossible that any committee would fall in with such a suggestion. Indeed apart from anything else I think a classic head, some Queen of Ireland, Maeve, perhaps would be best, someone robust and noble and fitted for coinage reproduction ...’

(Interestingly, when Lady Lavery’s image was finally removed from the notes, Queen Maeve, or Medb, was depicted on the one-pound note.)

Hazel, Lady Lavery (1880 – 1935) was Sir John’s second wife, his first wife having died shortly after giving birth to their daughter. Lady Lavery was the daughter of an American industrialist, Edward Jenner Martyn of Chicago, and her marriage to Lavery was also her second marriage, being the widow of Dr. Edward Livingstone Trudeau of New York. Lavery often acknowledged the contribution of his wife to his career. She mixed easily in the upper echelons of society and Lavery believed that many of his commissions were due to his wife. She was known to chat with the subjects of her husband’s portraits during their sittings.

In preparing the portrait for the note, it was Lavery’s intention to produce a painting of Cathleen ni Houlihan, the legendary heroine who had been made popular by William Butler Yeats. Interestingly, Lavery was known to have in his possession at his death a portrait by Sean Keating, a young Irish artist, which was titled ‘Cathleen ni Houlihan’. It is possible that ownership of this painting predated his commission by the Note Committee and this work may have influenced his portrait.

Lavery worked on his portrait over Christmas 1927 and evidently sent a photograph of the painting to the Note Committee. However, he was unhappy with the portrait and commenced alterations. Lady Lavery wote to Thomas Bodkin at the end of February:

‘... John greatly improved the “note” head and altered the size by reducing the drapery around the head and making it less clumsy about the chin: he also accentuated certain things about the face, and had it rephotographed. They received instructions from him to use their latest photograph and to reproduce the alterations he had made in their final design ...”

The final portrait shows ‘Cathleen ni Houlihan’ leaning on a Cláirseach (Irish harp), supporting her chin in her hand. She is dressed in simple Irish clothing, with the lakes and mountains of Ireland in the background. According to Kenneth McConkey, in his book Sir John Lavery, the portrait is not typical of Lavery’s work. McConkey states ‘... it lacks the active paint surface which characterises the immediacy of his style. Its colours are dull and muted and in general terms, the work has something of a mural like quality ... These stylistic devices obviously made it easier for the work to be photographed and then engraved’. The original portrait of Lady Lavery, which is a mirror image of the portraits on the notes, is today in the possession of the Central Bank of Ireland.

As it transpires, there are two portraits of ‘Cathleen ni Houlihan’ that appear on the banknotes. Sir John’s complete half-length portrait, with Lady Lavery supporting her chin in her hand, appears on the 10-, 20-, 50- and 100-pound notes. A smaller portrait of Lady Lavery’s head and shoulders, without her hand on her chin, appears on the 10-shilling, 1- and 5-pound notes. It is believed that the smaller portrait was adapted from Lavery’s lager portrait by Mr. John Harrison, the chief portrait engraver of Waterlow and Sons Limited, the manufacturers of the notes.

It is intriguing that the portrait on the Irish banknotes is now universally acknowledged as ‘Lady Lavery’ whenever the notes are discussed. The depiction of an American on an Irish note is a far cry from the object of the Currency Commission, which requested an archetypical Irish girl, and perhaps further still from the Irish heroine, Cathleen ni Houlihan, that Sir John Lavery intended to depict. However, from the correspondence to Thomas Bodkin by Lavery and his wife, it is possible to deduce that Bodkin always desired Lady Lavery’s image on the notes, despite the official request for the Cailín.


Painting fetches double at auction

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Sir John Lavery's The Goose Girls was unknown

A previously unknown painting by Northern Ireland-born painter Sir John Lavery has fetched twice its estimated price at auction.

Auctioneer Christie's announced in July that The Goose Girls was discovered during a routine valuation at a cottage in Scotland.

The work belonged to an unnamed woman in her 60s, and was brought into the family by her grandfather.

It was sold to a UK-based bidder for £386,050 at auction at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on Thursday.

Art experts had no idea that the medium-sized oil painting even existed before this.

Lavery, a leading member of the influential Glasgow Boys artists group, painted the canvas in 1885 on his return to Glasgow from Grez-sur-Loing in France.

Common theme

The painting's theme of the fairy-tale goose girl was common at the time.

Six years ago, Lavery's early-period painting, The Birds At Grez, was auctioned for £1.2m, and The Goose Girls dates from the same period.

It went on show at the auctioneer's annual Scottish sale, alongside works including a rare watercolour by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which was also unveiled to the public for the first time.

Works by the Scottish Colourists, including another rediscovered work by George Leslie Hunter and pieces by contemporary artist Jack Vettriano, were also being auctioned.

Bernard Williams, director of Christie's Scotland, said: "We are thrilled because it made more than we expected and our expectations were initially quite high and it sold to the person we expected would probably buy it."


Honour for 'heroic teenager'

Jordan drowned after falling from a pier

A County Down teenager who tried in vain to save his friend from drowning is to receive a prestigious bravery award.

David Hackett, 14, will be honoured for his attempts to rescue Jordan Murdock in Killough in January this year.

The boys had been playing on the pier when Jordan fell into the sea.

David jumped in after him and managed to grab hold of him several times, but the boys were driven apart by the waves and Jordan drowned.

David was pulled to safety by his family.

The award is being made by the Royal Humane Society.

The society has described him as "a remarkable friend and hero".

In March, Jordan's parents presented a new lifeboat for the area in his memory.

Jordan had moved to Killough with his family from south Belfast last year.

Coastguards said the search for the teenager, which involved all the emergency services, community volunteers and divers, was the biggest ever of its kind in Northern Ireland.


West is lowest for race hate attacks

West Belfast residents received a boost ahead of this Saturday’s anti-racism rally in the city centre with the news that new figures reveal that incidents of race hate crime in the west of the city are the lowest in Belfast – with just one recorded racial attack over a three-month period.

Four homophobic attacks were also reported over the same three-month period from April to June of this year – again drastically lower than in the rest of the city.

The figures were revealed during a recent meeting of the West Belfast DPP.
In South Belfast, over 70 incidents of race hate were reported over the same three-month period.

David Carlin of the Anti-racist Network welcomed the figures.

“It is positive to see that in West Belfast the number of racist and homophobic attacks remain low in comparison with the rest of the city and the North as a whole.

“Again, while this is positive, it is worth remembering that attacks can happen at any time or place.

“It is good to see that the message that is being promoted by the local branch of the Anti-Racist Network is getting through.

“There is a lot of positive work being done and this shows that when a local community takes collective action the result is a positive one.”

The ARN has planned a mass rally this Saturday in Belfast city centre, the West Belfast feeder march will assemble in Roden Street on Saturday at 1pm.

David Carlin added: “We would encourage as many people as possible to attend, to send a clear visual message out from the west of the city that racism will not be tolerated in any of its forms.”

Journalist:: Allison Morris


Armed men kidnap Irish woman in Afghan capital

28/10/2004 - 12:22:04

An Irish woman was among three foreign election workers kidnapped by armed men in the Afghan capital, Kabul, today.

They were seized as they drove in a white UN 4X4 vehicle, the United Nations and Afghan officials said.

An election official said the victims were all women and were believed to include one Irish citizen and one Croatian.

UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva confirmed the abductions but declined to identify the victims or give their nationalities.

The motive for the attack was not clear, but Taliban rebels have in the past kidnapped Westerners, and the US embassy had issued a warning earlier this month that abductions might be attempted surrounding the October 9 presidential vote.

Abdul Hadi Qasemi, an Afghan working for UN security, said the three were stopped and abducted by five gunmen. He said the driver of the UN car was also missing.

UN security staff later ringed the white vehicle, found on a dusty street near an office of the joint UN-Afghan electoral body set up to oversee the presidential vote.

The car, clearly marked with the world body’s initials, had its doors locked and there was no sign of any struggle.

Police said officers manning checkpoints around the city and in neighbouring provinces were alerted to check the identity of any foreigners passing their posts.

Two Nato helicopter gunships were circling over the city.

The three were driven away in a dark-coloured 4X4 vehicle in the direction of Paghman, a district in the west of Kabul province that is considered rife with banditry, said Abdul Jamil, head of the city police’s criminal department.

Police said officers manning checkpoints around the city and in neighbouring districts including Paghman were alerted to check the identity of any foreigners passing their posts.

Nato armed vehicles were stationed on street corners in the city’s upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district, where many aid workers and diplomats live.

Afghan security forces were stopping cars and questioning the passengers.

Sinn Féin

DUP should come clean on loyalist links

Published: 28 October, 2004

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Philip McGuigan, has called upon the DUP to come clean on their links with the Ulster Defence Association. His comments follow the withdrawal yesterday of a Westminster motion by a British Labour MP, which named a DUP member who was involved in intelligence gathering for a UDA Commander in Lisburn.

Mr McGuigan said:

"The UDA and the DUP have always had a good relationship, especially in parts of my own constituency, such as Ballymoney and Ballymena. If this motion had gone through the British Parliament it would have only confirmed what the dogs in the street already know, and that is that the DUP and the UDA subscribe to the same sectarian program of intimidation, bigotry and supremacism.

"Earlier this month DUP MLA, Mervyn Storey, enjoyed the pleasure of sharing a stage with representatives of both the UDA and UVF to celebrate 'Ulster Day' in Ballymena. It reminded me of the image of William McCrea sharing a stage with, and therefore giving credibility to, Billy Wright and the LVF in Portadown. There is clearly common ground here, and I'm sure the backstage conversations weren't about loyalist decommissioning either.

"One of the DUP's most recent recruits in Ballymoney was convicted of the murder of a nationalist political activist and had apparently 'repented' before joining the Democratic Unionists. Well, he may have been 'born again' but nationalists in the Six Counties weren't born yesterday. The DUP, UDA, LVF and Ulster Resistance all come from the same Unionist Militant pool, and always have done.

"Its time that the DUP, in the interests of conflict resolution, told the truth about their loyalist family ties and started tackling the gangster culture that loyalists have spawned in working-class Unionist areas."


£1m for Conway Mill

Conway Mill, one of Belfast’s last surviving flax mills, is to receive almost one million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund which marks its 10th birthday next week.

The huge £950,000 windfall, which will help to restore Conway Mill on the Falls Road to its former glory, will see the Mill get a long overdue facelift.

Originally established in the 1840s, Conway Mill (right) operated until the 1970s and at the height of the flax spinning industry was one of 15 such complexes in the Falls area alone.

Now currently hosting 57 business and community organisations, the Mill is already a very important economic and heritage asset to West Belfast, but its refurbishment will enhance its contribution to the community and ensure that it remains open to members of the public, while creating a number of new jobs and establishing a permanent display allowing visitors to explore the history of the complex and to connect with the life of its workers.

Moya Hinds, Development Co-ordinator of Conway Mill, said that for more than 160 years the mill complex has played an important role in the economic and social life of West Belfast.

“Today it’s a vibrant community, economic, cultural and social centre. The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help to conserve this valuable piece of history for future generations, as well as providing a catalyst for regeneration in the area.”

The grant was announced at an event in Belfast’s Linen Hall Library last night to celebrate the fund’s first decade in existence in which it has awarded more than £88m to protect and conserve the North’s heritage and to help build a better future. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Manager in the North, Kevin Baird, said, “It may seem unusual to give gifts on your birthday, but we’re delighted to be able to award nearly £2m to two projects [the historic Bridge Street area of Lisburn also received £1m funding] which will transform their local communities.”

“Belfast was the capital of the linen industry in Europe and buildings like Conway Mill are among our few remaining links to that important stage in the development of the city. Conway Mill has always been about people – from those who laboured in it during the 19th century to the determined members of the local community who have drawn up an ambitious plan to secure its future. Thanks to the restoration, many more people – including tourists – will be able to share in the history.

“These two projects are testament to the fact that lottery money is making a real difference,” continued Kevin, “not just in restoring our heritage, but in creating new opportunities and building a great future for many communities.”

Conway Mill consists of two multi-storey buildings, one of which is the original 1840s structure. The second was constructed in the early years of the 20th century at a time when, according to the census, one third of households in the Falls area had the mother as the main breadwinner, due to the availability of work in the mills.

The restoration programme will link the newly refurbished buildings via a glass walkway. The original engine and boiler rooms are also included in the project. It is hoped that at least one of the floors will retain its open-plan format to preserve the context of the original workplace and allow space for exhibitions and theatre projects.

Speaking at Conway Mill yesterday, Frank Murphy, a former worker at the Mill, reminisced about his time there and said how delighted he was that the Mill was to be restored.

“It was tough, and the people who worked here had to be tough, because most of the time they were hungry, but the craic was great and that’s what kept you going.

“I worked here for about six years, from I left school when I was 14, and I got paid two pounds and two shillings,” said Frank. “And in those days, when it was chilly outside, it was like Bermuda in here. It had to be between 70 and 90 degrees and you had to have the humidity as well, otherwise the yarn wouldn’t have come through properly.”

“And it would be nice to have it restored but still used as it is used, for arts and crafts and having meetings, and it’s important for the community, to give them something to be proud of and to remember the times gone by.”

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan


Justice for Michael
Father reveals son took his own life after sexual abuse

Local father Jim McComb has revealed that his son Michael took his own life in May because he was tormented by the memory of being raped at the age of 12.

Jim says that it is time for the truth to be told about his son’s death and the pain he had to endure as a result of the attack. The McComb family are now hoping to get justice for their dead son. After Michael’s death his broken-hearted girlfriend Fiona Barnes subsequently took her own life.
Tragically, Jim and Mary McComb have lost two children in the past two years.

Their daughter Debbie (15) was killed by death drivers in March 2002.

My son took his own life because he was abused

A grieving local father has revealed that his son was driven to take his own life because he was tormented with the memory of being raped as a 12-year-old boy.

Jim McComb’s son Michael (18) took his own life in May, unable to cope with his depression any longer. Michael’s girlfriend, Fiona Barnes, who was also 18, took her own life two months later, unable to live without Michael.
Now Michael’s heartbroken father Jim says he wants the truth about his son’s death to be told.

Jim and his wife Mary, from Glenalina Park in Ballymurphy, have been tragically robbed of two children in the past two years. Before Michael took his own life, their daughter Debbie (15) was killed by death drivers on the Upper Springfield Road in March 2002.

Jim says that Michael suffered the sexual attack at the hands of a West Belfast man in 1998 and that his son began to self-harm shortly after the attack.

“Michael self-harmed, he had no happy life since the age of 12. He cut himself from his legs to his throat,” said a distraught Jim.

“We tried, but we got no help from social workers.

“He calmed down when he was 16 and he met Fiona and they became engaged,” he added.

Jim revealed that Michael told him about the attack when his son was 15.

The teenager was in hospital at the time after another self-harming incident. Jim says that he immediately contacted Social Services and soon after a complaint was made to the PSNI.

“In 2001 when he was 15 years old, we went to New Barnsley police station and we were told that there was no child care unit there but they would be in contact with us,” said Jim.

“They never got back to us after it was reported in 2001 and then shortly after Debbie was killed,” added Jim.

On Easter Sunday this year, Michael saw the man who had attacked him. Jim says that his son then became very depressed.

“On Easter Sunday night last year he went out and came face-to-face with his abuser,” said Jim.

“That night he told me that he had had enough. Michael went to the police and made a statement. He said that he was afraid that this man would do this to someone else.

“I was interviewed and so was Michael,” he added.

Jim says that his son became more depressed as the weeks wore on after the complaint was made.

He says his son was increasingly frustrated and angry that the case was not being investigated more quickly.

“Me and Michael’s mother are here now to fight Michael and Fiona’s corner and we want justice for them,” said Jim.

“Michael was not mentally ill, he had been sexually abused.

“He was given no help.

“There have been whispers going around about Michael’s death and people don’t know the full facts, but they know the full facts now.

“This man may as well have put the noose around my son’s neck,” he added.
A man was arrested and questioned in connection with the allegations and a file is currently being considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A complaint has also been lodged with the Police Ombudsman in connection with the PSNI investigation into the case.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus


150 deaths a year to suicide

West and North Belfast are critically under-funded and under-resourced in suicide prevention despite the growing number of incidences of suicides in the area.

Figures show that in West and North Belfast there are on average 150 deaths each year due to suicide, the majority of these being young men under the age of 35.

In the year 2002 there were 79 suicides in the Eastern Health and Social Services Board – 35 per cent of these were in West and North Belfast.

Last week alone in West Belfast there were three suicides.

Political leaders and community representatives are demanding that the issue be addressed urgently.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams led a delegation of political, community and statutory representatives who met with Minister Angela Smith on October 13 to discuss incidences of suicide and self-harm. Further meetings to address the issue are planned for the coming weeks.

Various factors have been suggested as contributing to suicide locally, including the impact of the conflict, deprivation and poverty, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug misuse and high levels of unemployment.

Problems with current resources include the fact that there is no regional suicide prevention strategy for the North.

Proposals to tackle the problems were raised at the recent meeting and include establishing a local community crisis centre that is community-driven and which works in conjunction with the statutory services. It is also hoped that local projects can work in conjunction with the National Suicide Task Force in the Republic to share experiences and best practice models.

The Lenadoon Counselling Project based in West Belfast provides counselling on a wide range of issues, including suicide.

Michael Doherty, Manager of Lenadoon Community Forum, which runs the counselling service, says that a lack of funding for the project will have an impact on the local community.

For over six years the Lenadoon Community Counselling Project have been providing one-to-one counselling and has been facilitating a number of support groups to deal with mental health needs, and to cater for the families of those who have been bereaved through suicide.

“At present we are seeing about 95 clients a week and we have a waiting list of over 130,” revealed Michael.

“Roughly 70 to 80 per cent of our clients are coming from medical professionals – GP referrals, health visitors and social workers.

“The majority of the funding that we have has been one-year funding and we are constantly applying for funding. We have no mainstream funding whatsoever.

“The government’s Executive Programme funds two part-time counselling posts and they will end in March. The Survivors and Victims Fund funds a part-time counsellor and a part-time administrator, and this funding ends in May. The North and West Trust funds a co-ordinator part-time and session counsellors. Most of our other funding comes from charitable trusts.

“By April next year when most of our funding runs out our services will be drastically reduced,’’ he added.

Patricia McQuillan, Co- ordinator of the Lenadoon Counselling Project, said that despite the waiting list the project has never turned anyone away.
“We believe in early intervention and research has shown that people in the community often do not seek early intervention,” said Patricia.

“One third of our clients are now male which says a lot about our project,” she added,

The Sinn Féin President and West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams, praised those providing community support and pastoral care to those at risk of self-harm and families bereaved through suicide.

“Within our community, there are people working tirelessly to help to prevent others taking their own lives,” said Mr Adams.

“There is no lack of goodwill or compassion, but the skills and resources are needed to sustain this intense work at ground level with families and individuals at risk. This work is about saving lives and supporting survivors within our community. That is why I recently met with Angela Smith, the Minister for Health, and asked for increased, sustainable funding and community-based resources in West and North Belfast to prevent suicide and promote mental health.

“I hope that very soon we will agree how that can be done and start doing it,” he added.

The Lenadoon Counselling Project can be contacted on 02890 600641.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist jailed for threat to kill policeman
Adair ally boasted of his links to 'C' Company

By Maureen Coleman
27 October 2004

A leading loyalist who was an ally of former UDA boss Johnny Adair has received a three month jail sentence for threatening to kill a police officer during a hospital fracas.

Thomas Potts, (36), of Dover Street in the Lower Shankill, will serve the jail term alongside a sentence previously imposed for blackmail.

Potts denied the threat to kill charge, telling a Belfast court it was a "complete fabrication".

The court was told that earlier in the day that the threat was made, Potts had acted as "peace-maker".

However, he later became aggressive and threatened to kill a police officer, boasting of his links with 'C' Company.

Giving evidence before the court, a police constable said that on the morning of September 8, 2001, police were called to a house where there was a disturbance.

A man in a distressed state had climbed onto the roof. Potts, a well-known community worker in the area, was called to the scene to intervene.

The police were asked to pull back, while Potts managed to coax the man down from the roof.

The man was then arrested and brought to the Mater Hospital where he was cautioned for a number of offences.

The police constable said that Potts then arrived on the scene, swearing and shouting.

He described Potts' behaviour at the time as "aggresive".

Under cross-examination, the police constable denied claims by Potts' solicitor that the statements given by himself and two other officers had been fabricated.

In his testimony, Potts admitted he was in an "agitated" state when he got to the hospital because he had been told that the man arrested earlier had been assaulted by police.

But he denied that he was aggressive and that he threatened to kill an officer.

"At no time did I make a threat to kill," he said.

Resident Magistrate Sarah Creanor said she was inclined to believe the police evidence.

Ms Creanor sentenced Potts to three months imprisonment to run concurrently with his present charge.


Hassan makes appeal in new video

The Arabic television station Al-Jazeera has broadcast a second video of kidnapped aid worker Margaret Hassan.

The station showed footage of Mrs Hassan asking for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

She also urged Care International, the aid agency she works for, to close its office in Baghdad, and appealed for Iraqi women prisoners to be freed.

Mrs Hassan, who is being held by an unknown group, was seized last week while at her Baghdad office.

Mrs Hassan, 59, was born in Britain but has lived and worked in Iraq for 30 years and is married to an Iraqi.

She holds British, Irish and Iraqi citizenship.

Three demands

In the video broadcast on Wednesday, a confused-looking Mrs Hassan, wearing a black top, was shown in a dimly-lit room.

Close to tears, she spoke directly into the camera to repeat her message of a video issued last week, asking British Prime Minister Tony Blair to pull UK forces out of Iraq.

"Please don't bring the soldiers to Baghdad," the Associated Press news agency reported her as saying.

"Please, on top of that, please release the women prisoners from prisons."

Mrs Hassan also asked that Care International close its Baghdad office, presenters on Al-Jazeera said.

The British Foreign Office said it would consider very carefully what, if any, response to make to the video.

The plea to Mr Blair came as hundreds of soldiers of 1st Battalion the Black Watch were being redeployed from the British-controlled zone of southern Iraq to positions close to Baghdad.

The request to free women prisoners echoes the demand made by the kidnappers of British hostage Ken Bigley in September.

Mr Bigley was killed earlier this month after several weeks in captivity.


Tory MP in Omagh claim

Twenty nine people died in the Real IRA attack

A Conservative MP has used parliamentary privilege to name a man wanted for questioning about the Omagh bombing.

It is claimed the man passed a warning to the Gardai before the attack was carried out.

During Northern Ireland Question Time, Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson claimed the Irish authorities had refused to hand the man over to police in Northern Ireland.

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured in the car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998.

Mr Robertson said in the Commons on Wednesday: "Can you explain why the Irish Republic refused to hand over Paddy Dixon who was wanted in connection with questioning with the Omagh bombing?

"Can you also tell me if Paddy Dixon has been relocated to the United Kingdom, because recently he was stopped in Cardiff by the authorities?

Worst atrocity

"He was found to have a great deal of cash on him. Why were the Police Service of Northern Ireland not alerted to the fact that he was in Great Britain?"

Northern Ireland Office Minister Ian Pearson replied: "There is a good strong level of co-operation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana on a wide level of issues, certainly including dealing with paramilitarities and dealing with the issue of organised criminal activity.

"As far as the individual concerned that you mentioned, I will look into that issue and get back to you."

The Omagh bomb was the single worst atrocity in 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

**This is the best news of all!

Family's joy as crash girl out of coma

By Deborah McAleese
27 October 2004

A five-year-old girl critically injured earlier this month by a hit-and-run driver has delighted her family and medical staff with her brave battle back to health.

Oonagh O'Reilly's family and friends were celebrating today at her "miraculous" recovery after she spent two weeks in a coma suffering from serious internal injuries.

When Oonagh was initially admitted to hospital her parents were told the first 24 hours were crucial as doctors treated her for head injuries, shattered ribs, pierced lungs and blood in her liver.

She had been playing in Norglen Road near her Monagh Drive home in west Belfast when she was struck by a blue van, which failed to stop, on October 5.

But she has now delighted her family and surprised medical staff with how well and quickly she is recovering.

For her mother Veronica, who was left distraught after the accident, when Oonagh first opened her eyes it signalled the end of a "complete nightmare".

It was initially feared that Oonagh may have suffered brain damage but today she is back to her old self again and chatting with staff in the children's ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital, where she is still in traction.

She is expected to get out of traction on Monday and will then have to undertake intensive courses of physiotherapy.

At the time of the accident Oonagh's father Stephen said where she had been knocked down is a very busy area and the driver may not even have realised he had hit her.

Nobody has been arrested for the hit-and-run incident. Forensic tests have been carried out on a van which was seized by the PSNI after the incident.

Belfast Telegraph

Weapons supremo back but no sign of move

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
27 October 2004

Decommissioning supremo General John de Chastelain has returned to Northern Ireland as attempts go on to secure a deal to restore devolution.

His arrival back in Belfast did not appear to have boosted expectations of further disarmament, however.

Instead increasing uncertainty appears to have clouded the likelihood of a comprehensive resolution in the near future.

DUP sources are playing down the prospect of any imminent IRA decommissioning 'event' despite a flurry of speculation.

"They won't do anything this side of a deal being arrived at. Why would they?"

Meanwhile, the Government was today studying the detail of the latest report from the International Monitoring Commission, as Sinn Fein again called the body's credibility into question.

The four commissioners - Lord Alderdice, John Grieve, Joe Brosnan and Richard Kerr - delivered their latest tome to the Government today and are due to travel to Dublin tomorrow.

Government officials are likely to spend a few days studying the report which will then be made public.

Sinn Fein today criticised the Commission as an "echo-chamber" for the "securocrats" and said it had no credibility among nationalists.

West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said: "The information contained in these reports comes solely from the Special Branch, British Military Intelligence and MI5. We all know the anti-peace process and anti-republican agenda that these faceless organisations pursue. The IMC operates completely outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement."

The criticism comes after the Commission admitted its last report wrongly identified a Bangor man, Michael O'Hare, as a UDA murder victim. The Commission is to explain the error following publication of the new report.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ian Paisley and deputy Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have met officials in London for separate talks.


UDA figures to meet Murphy

Senior members of the UDA leadership will be part of a loyalist delegation due to hold talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary in the next few days.

The BBC understands that the Ulster Political Research Group will meet Paul Murphy early next week.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan said the planned talks were significant because of who will be involved.

The Ulster Political Research Group gives analysis to the loyalist paramilitary UDA, and the delegation that is due to meet Mr Murphy will include both political and paramilitary figures.

It is understood several of the UDA's most senior leaders will be involved, both from Belfast and Londonderry.

The timing of the talks is significant, coming as efforts continue to piece together a political deal, but there are risks for the government.

The UDA is a "specified" organisation, meaning that its ceasefire is not recognised, and the Independent Monitoring Commission is about to report on continuing republican and loyalist paramilitary activity.

The Northern Ireland Office has confirmed that Mr Murphy will meet both the Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Political Research Group next week, but a spokesman said they had no details on delegations at this time.

Other sources have confirmed to the BBC that senior paramilitary figures will be involved in the talks.


Belfast Telegraph

RIRA man in legal challenge

26 October 2004

Imprisoned Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt will be prevented from mounting a defence against a multi-million pounds claim by the Omagh bomb victims unless he is granted free legal aid, the High Court in Belfast heard today.

McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the Republic for belonging to the RIRA and directing terrorism, is being sued for £14m along with four others suspected of carrying out the massacre.

He was initially granted legal aid but it was later withdrawn because the Legal Services Commission ruled he was effectively a "man of straw" and defending the civil case was considered futile and an unreasonable expenditure of public money.

Opening McKevitt's application for a judicial review, Frank O'Donoghue, QC, said the decision was incompatible with his client's right to a fair trial under the Human Rights Convention.

"His defence would be ineffective without legal representation," said Mr O'Donoghue in contrasting the failure to fund McKevitt's case with the Government's grant of £800,000 towards the legal costs of the those claiming against him.

He also submitted that the committee which made the decision was not legally empowered to do so and there was procedural unfairness and impropriety in the process by which the decision reached.

The application is being heard by Mr Justice Girvan.

Belfast Telegraph

Renegade terror group planning raids

By Tom Brady
26 October 2004

A group of Dublin-based 'young guns' linked to the Continuity IRA is planning to embark on a series of armed robberies and other paramilitary fund raisers.

Senior Garda officers are concerned that the group could be built up into a new dissident republican force and are planning to crack down on the fledgling units.

Their emergence coincides with the sidelining of the former Continuity leadership in the South. These have been mainly drawn from the Limerick area and under their command the renegade organisation has been badly hit by garda infiltration and intelligence gathering.

Several members of the new group have already come to the attention of the Garda Special Branch, whose detectives have stepped up monitoring of their movements and have built up a dossier on their known haunts.

According to anti-terrorist officers, the power base within the CIRA has switched significantly again to the far side of the Border and is heavily influenced by a number of key figures operating in counties Fermanagh and Armagh.

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