**Posted by Seán

Times Online

The man behind the pub bombs in Birmingham that killed 21

By Sean O'Neill
November 18, 2004
The Times

Mick Murray was one of the ringleaders of the IRA unit that murdered
21 people in the Birmingham pub bombings 30 years ago.
Murray helped to choose the targets, the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in
the Town pubs. He was one of the bomb-makers, transported the bombs
to the city centre and handed them to the men who planted them.

Murray then botched the telephone warning that was supposed to allow
30 minutes for the pubs to be cleared. His warning, using the
codewords "Double X", came six minutes before the first explosion and
did not name either pub.

Murray, who was arrested in the aftermath of the bombings, admitted
being a member of the IRA. West Midlands Police never charged him
with murder, however, and he served 12 years in jail for conspiracy
to cause explosions.

On his release, he was welcomed back into the IRA and remained a
member until he died in 1999, without expressing remorse for the
bombings. Murray always argued against the decommissioning of the
IRA's arsenal. Today he is lauded as a republican hero and has been
praised by one Sinn Fein politician as "a brave freedom fighter".

The IRA never admitted planting the Birmingham bombs and, in the
immediate aftermath of the bombings, said that if its members had
been involved they would be court-martialled for a "violation of
operational policy".

The organisation's leaders at the time promised an internal inquiry
and said that they would make its results public.

That did not happen and some of the men who carried out the attacks
were not disciplined and continued to be involved in terrorism.

In 1974 "Big Mick" Murray was second in command of the Birmingham IRA
unit, which was commanded by a man known as Belfast Jimmy.

One associate said: "Mick was a hard man and, if anything, he was
more hardline when he came out of prison."

After his death, Larry O'Toole, a Sinn Fein councillor in Dublin,
described Murray as "a brave freedom fighter" and "a truly dedicated
Irish republican". A glowing tribute in An Phoblacht, the Sinn Fein
weekly newspaper, said that Murray had been "jailed for his
republican beliefs".

The newspaper said: "Captured in Birmingham in November 1974, he sat
in complete silence throughout his trial refusing to plead or take
part in the proceedings. He was described by the trial judge
as `having all the demeanour of a soldier' and commended for his
behaviour and manner.

"An Irish felon, he served the majority of his sentence in solitary
confinement and taking part in the blanket protest for political

"Excluded from England on his release, he immediately resumed his
place in the ranks of Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA)." The article
said that Murray had spent his life "pursuing and working to achieve
the freedom and independence of Ireland".

Murray had helped to make the Birmingham bombs at a house in
Bordesley Green, then transported them to the city centre. On a
signal from the planters, he was to telephone a 30-minute warning to
the Birmingham Post.

Later he told two of the Birmingham Six — the men wrongly convicted
of the murders — in prison: "Sorry to see you lads in here. Nothing
went right that night. The first telephone box was out of order." By
the time that Murray had delivered the warning, which omitted the
names of the pubs, it was 8.11pm.

The Mulberry Bush pub was packed when the first bomb exploded six
minutes later. The Tavern in the Town was also crowded when a device
detonated there minutes later.

Two other alleged bombers were named in 1990 by the Granada World in
Action programme, but their current whereabouts are not known. The
present identity of another man who may have been a police informant
is also unknown.

The man known as Belfast Jimmy, the unit's leader, is now in his 50s
and lives in a block of flats just north of Dublin city centre.
Approached there by The Times he refused to discuss the Birmingham
bombings. He said: "I know nothing about anything that happened in


The 21 people killed in Birmingham were among 304 deaths linked to
the Troubles during 1974. The month before the bombings five people
died in the bombing of a pub in Guildford, Surrey, and earlier the
same month two died when a bomb exploded in a pub in Woolwich, South
London. Those who died in Birmingham were

Michael Beasley, 30
Lynn Bennett, 18
Standley Bodman, 51
James Caddick, 40
Paul Davies, 20
Jane Davies, 17
Charles Harper Grey, 44
Maxine Hambleton, 18
Ann Hayes, 19
John Jones, 51
Neil Marsh, 17
Marilyn Nash, 22
Pamela Palmer, 19
Desmond Reilly, 21
Eugene Reilly, 23
Maureen Roberts, 20
John Rowlands, 46
Trevor Thrupp, 33
Stephen Walley, 24
Thomas Chaytor, 28
James Craig, 34


Fire bomb found in store

An incendiary device has been discovered at a leading chain store in Belfast city centre.

The device had partially ignited and burnt itself out.

Shoppers were cleared from the multi-storey Dunne Stores in High Street on Saturday afternoon.

Army technical experts were called in after the device was found.

Police confirmed it was an incendiary device.

Keyholders in the area were asked to return to their premises.


Soldier 'broke man's spine'

SATURDAY 20/11/2004 16:41:15 UTV
By:Press Association

A soldier appeared in court today charged with inflicting grievous
bodily harm.

Belfast Crown Court heard John Oliver Devoti, 20 allegedly beat a man
so hard during an incident in Belfast city centre last month that he
broke his spine.

The accused, whose address was given as Palace Barracks in Holywood,
Co Down, was remanded in custody until December 16.


IRA 'not stalemate problem'

Mr McGuinness said Agreement was an international treaty

The IRA is not the problem in the negotiations aimed at breaking the political stalemate, Sinn Fein chief negotiator has said.

Martin McGuinness said tensions within the Democratic Unionist Party were proving to be the problem.

Speaking on BBC's Inside Politics programme, he would not be drawn on the details of the IRA's contribution to the process.

Mr McGuinness said the British and Irish proposals were, broadly speaking, the government's best guess for a resolution.

And he said the challenge for the DUP leader Ian Paisley was to show confidence - and deliver his party before the election.

"There is considerable satisfaction, in my view, within the process, within the key negotiators in all of this that the IRA are not the problem at this particular time," he said.

"The problem at this particular time, is whether or not the Democratic Unionist Party are going to make up their minds as to whether or not they are going to do the business, and do the business now."

Another problem was whether the British and Irish Governments were "absolutely committed to the faithful implementation of an Agreement which after all is an international treaty", he said.

While the parties continue to consult and negotiate, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern warned time was running out.

The British and Irish Governments want an answer from Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams by the end of the month.

In Dundalk in County Louth, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin will address the party's councillors on Saturday.

The DUP assembly team will draw up their own detailed analysis of the outstanding issues.

Current negotiations

The party's executive will meet next Friday night.

The DUP wants to know the IRA is committed to the proposals outlined by the government.
Sinn Fein and the DUP are holding further meetings

Sinn Fein is demanding the proposals reflect more fully the Good Friday Agreement.

On Friday, the DUP's assembly team said significant progress had been made since September's intensive talks.

The British and Irish Governments put their proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein, the main unionist and nationalist parties in Northern Ireland, on Wednesday.

The plans followed two months of continuing negotiations aimed at exploring a way around the stumbling blocks faced at September's talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.

As the leaderships of Sinn Fein and the DUP briefed assembly members on Friday, Sinn Fein urged the DUP to talk directly to them about the governments' proposals.

The DUP's assembly team was briefed at Stormont on Friday by party leader Ian Paisley about the state of the current negotiations to restore devolution.

After the meeting which lasted more than two hours, the 33 assembly members said in a statement: "Members recognise that significant progress has been made in the days and weeks since Leeds Castle and that there is still work required."

'Future paramilitary activity'

Both parties still have concerns, but there is cautious optimism that a resolution is possible.

After two years of stalemate, Stormont remains suspended, but signs are emerging that it could be back in business within months.

More meetings are expected in Downing Street in the next few days.

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

But, 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.

Irish Independent

Border Fox set to walk free from jail next year

'BORDER Fox' Dessie O'Hare is expected to be released permanently from jail next year. He is currently out on temporary release and is due to return to Castlerea jail tomorrow.

But the move is being seen as another step in the Government's plan to set him free as a qualifying prisoner under the Good Friday Agreement.

O'Hare was sentenced to 40 years for leading the INLA gang which kidnapped Dublin dentist John O'Grady in 1987 and he was a prime suspect for an estimated 27 murders in a bloody 30-year career in terrorism.

One of the most wanted men on the island was given permission to leave Castlerea for five days last Wednesday.

It is the second time this year he has been out on temporary release. In July he was allowed out for a few days.

Last November he was granted his first taste of freedom for 16 years when he was allowed out for a weekend stay at Glencree Reconciliation Centre although he was later reprimanded for posing for photographs in the grounds.

Earlier last year, O'Hare was also carpeted by the prison authorities after he gave an interview to a newspaper.

O'Hare's prospects of freedom were boosted by the High Court ruling that he qualified under the Good Friday early release scheme and he has been waiting patientlywhile his case is being reviewed by the Release of Prisoners Commission.

The 48-year-old former terrorist gang leader, from Keady, Co Armagh, was transferred from Portlaoise jail in late 2002 to The Grove bungalow complex at Castlerea.

His fate over the next 12 months is likely to be partly determined by the outcome of the current North talks with the British and Irish governments, and the North parties.

Tom Brady
Security Editor

CAIN: Events: Birmingham Six: Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray. (1976) The Birmingham Framework: Six innocent men framed for the Birmingham Bombings

**Click on above link to read extracts from the book



'Birmingham Six' Man Speaks Out in TV Documentary

By Phil Hazlewood, PA
20 November 2004

A member of the Birmingham Six is to give a rare television interview on the 30th anniversary of the pub bombings that killed 21 people and left scores injured.

Billy Power will tell the BBC One programme tomorrow night about how he and five other Irish men became the victims of one of Britain’s most notorious miscarriages of justice after the bombings on November 21, 1974.

He was arrested soon after two explosions ripped through The Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush in Birmingham city centre.

Five of the six were on their way to the funeral of IRA bomber James McDade who blew himself up planting a bomb at a telephone exchange in Coventry a week earlier.

They boarded the train to Heysham at Birmingham New Street at 7.55pm on the night of the bombings, which put them near the scene just before the devices went off.

Forensic evidence – later shown to be flawed – suggested some of the six had been handling explosives. Billy Power was the first of the six to confess to police.

He tells the programme: “When I look back at the trial, we were Irish men in the dock at Lancaster Castle. The police had confessions, they had forensic evidence, they say we were guilty of it.

“There are times I’ve thought if I’d been on the jury, I would have convicted us as well. At the time there was, as it were, ‘overwhelming’ forensic evidence against us.

“We had passed through New Street station, practically the scene of the crime. Forensic experts were saying they’d found explosives on our hands.

“It was an open and shut case because we were going to the funeral of a dead IRA man who had planted a bomb the week before.

“The reality was that we were going to James McDade’s funeral. We knew nothing about the pub bombings. There was no explosives on our hands.”

The programme will also show three police officers who were among the first on the scene being reunited at the former Tavern in the Town pub – now The Yard of Ale – where 11 people lost their lives.

Mike Davey, who was shown in newspaper photographs at the time carrying a body from the pub wrapped in a makeshift blanket, said: “In many ways, it was rather sad because we had to recover the bodies and carry them out in blankets.

“It was quite traumatic because we were trying to be reverent to the people.”

Mr Davey was with his colleague John Plimmer in the Tavern just half-an hour-before it was blown up.

They had a quick half-pint while waiting to question an usherette at a nearby cinema who had witnessed a theft.

Mr Plimmer, now an author and media commentator on crime after rising to the rank of Detective Superintendent, wanted to stay for another pint but Mr Davey dissuaded him.

Maggie Adams, a young Wpc at the time, was one of the first officers at the scene at the nearby Mulberry Bush pub, at the foot of the Rotunda tower, opposite New Street station.

She recalled: “It sounds silly but I was wearing nylon stockings and a straight skirt, which is what police women wore those days, totally inappropriate for the circumstances.

“It was mayhem because it was like a building site. There were people running, screaming, flooding out. I just remember people walking about with seemingly dreadful injuries and not being aware they were injured.

“I guess it’s shock. I remember one guy who I thought was drunk. I said to him, ‘You need to go in the ambulance’. His hand was hanging off and he said, ‘No, I’m fine’.”

Maureen Mitchell – then Maureen Carlin – was badly injured in the Mulberry Bush pub and was given the last rites.

She has since campaigned on behalf of victims and worked to get a permanent memorial plaque set up in the grounds of Birmingham’s St Philip’s Cathedral.

“I don’t think I have let it dominate my life but it has been a big part of my life and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be – it was a big thing that happened. But I can understand that a lot of people want to put it behind them.”

A large nail went through Mrs Mithcell’s hip and she lost her spleen, had bowel and other major internal injuries.

“They actually told my parents that I’d got a 50/50 chance on the night that it happened, and a couple of days later I was given the last rites. Luckily I pulled through.”

Alex Stewart had just gone to the bar in the Tavern pub when the bomb went off. Several of his friends who were sitting in an area of the pub known as Scots Corner, including brothers Eugene and Desmond Reilly, were killed.

Mr Stewart has suffered from post traumatic stress ever since.

“It’s been 30 years yet it’s like yesterday,” he said. “I can frame it. I mean people turn round and say, ‘Oh you’ll get over it – no problem’.

“All I can say to them people is I wish it never happens to them because if it did then maybe they’d understand what a lot of people who suffered in them pubs are going through.”

The programme also features the recollections of former breakfast television presenter Nick Owen, who was then a reporter for BBC Birmingham and was sent to cover the story.

Labour MP Chris Mullin is also included. The former journalist, who claims to have spoken to the real bombers, helped in getting the Birmingham Six’s convictions quashed after making a groundbreaking World in Action documentary questioning the forensic evidence in the case.

30 Years On: The Birmingham Bombings, a BFC production for the BBC, is on BBC One (West Midlands only), Sunday November 21 at 11.05pm.

BBC History

21 November 1974: Birmingham pub blasts kill 19

Bombs have devastated two central Birmingham pubs, killing 19 people and injuring over 180.

Police have said they believe the Provisional IRA planted the devices in the Mulberry Bush and the nearby Tavern in the Town.

The explosions coincided with the return to Ireland of the body of James McDade, the IRA man who was killed in Coventry last week when the bomb he was planting blew up prematurely.

The two blasts were only seconds apart and happened at about 2030 GMT, when the bars were packed with mainly teenage drinkers.

Police attempted to clear both pubs, but the bombs went off only 12 minutes after a man with an Irish accent telephoned the Birmingham Post newspaper with a warning.

The first attack was in the Mulberry Bush, which is located on the ground-floor of the 17-storey Rotunda office block.

'Disastrous and appalling'

The second device exploded 50-yards (45.7 m) away in an underground bar, the Tavern in the Town.

Michael Willis, 18, was in the Tavern when the bomb went off.

"I was going to put a record on the juke box when there was an explosion.

"There were bodies everywhere and I had to clamber over them to get out - the screaming and groaning from the injured was terrifying," he said.

Many of the injured were ferried to nearby hospital in taxis and private cars, and dozens of ambulances from all over the West Midlands were called in.

Assistant Chief Constable for West Midlands Police Maurice Buck said the carnage caused by the bombs was "disastrous and appalling".

In Context

The final number of dead was 21.

Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power, and Johnny Walker were found guilty in 1975 of carrying out the bombings.

But the so-called Birmingham Six were released after 16 years in jail when their convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal in May 1991.

The real bombers have never been prosecuted.

Three detectives were charged with perjury and conspiracy in connection with the investigation, but their trial was halted in 1993 on the grounds of prejudicial media coverage.

Days before the 30th anniversary in 2004, the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, said the two bombings should not have happened and indicated an apology was imminent.


Loyalists Hold Pub Bombings Rally

Saturday, 20 November 2004
2:48am (UK)
By Phil Hazlewood, PA

Loyalist sympathisers opposed to the Irish peace process are holding an event today to mark the 30th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings.

But organisers from the British Ulster Alliance (BUA) insisted the meeting in the city to mark the deaths of 21 people on November 21 1974 would be peaceful and not political.

A spokesman for the group, which is against the Good Friday Agreement and the decommissioning of Loyalist weapons, refused to disclose where the rally was taking place.

News of the event has caused some consternation in Birmingham’s sizeable Irish community since it was announced on the BUA’s web site last month.

Members of the Irish Community Forum in Birmingham have expressed their concern about possible damage to community relations.

But a BUA spokesman, who declined to be named, told the Press Association the police were aware of the meeting and they did not want to intrude on the grief of those who lost loved ones in the bombings.

They had also pulled out of a planned wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to those who died in the grounds of St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham city centre.

He added: “This is causing concern within the Irish community. We can understand that...

“But we are saying, ’You have nothing to fear from us. We are not flying the flag and frightening anybody’.

“We recognise the contribution the Irish community has made to the whole being of Birmingham... This is about reconciliation.”

The spokesman, who said he was a former Loyalist prisoner who had served a five-year sentence for arms offences, said a minute’s silence would be held at the event.

The names of those who died would also be read out.

“It’s been made out to be a political event,” he went on. “It’s not. It’s an act of memorial by our existing members, long-term supporters and invited groups.”

Pat O’Neill, chairman of the Birmingham Irish Community Forum, said great strides had been made in the 30 years since the bombings in Birmingham.

Many Irish people in the city were unjustly blamed and suffered reprisals, including attacks on shops, people and property.

Mr O’Neill said: “It would be a shame if these people were to come along and destroy a very memorable occasion for people.

“They feel they need to do this. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they respect what’s going on.

“It’s remembering those people who were killed. As long as it’s that, there’s no objections as such and hopefully it will happen in a peaceful manner.”


Another Fine Mess

Mick Hall • 19 November 2004

If the leadership of the PRM agrees to it, as seems increasingly likely, not only will the senior members of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning oversee the destruction of PIRA weaponry, but also selected members of the Clergy, who due to their past associations, cannot but be regarded as tools of the British and Unionist Establishment...It is very difficult to understand what brought Mr Adams to this sorry impasse, as he is as aware as any that to allow your British enemy to gain access to Irish weaponry goes against hundreds of years of Irish Rebel custom and practice...Yet it seems Mr Adams is prepared to...allow the British State to oversee the destruction of the weaponry of the movement he leads and for what, a united socialist republic or indeed any kind of unified State for which the fought? No, simply the opportunity to participate in a Stormont Government from which the British State can pull the plug as and when they wish.




NI hostage 'phoned husband'

A Northern Ireland woman being held hostage in Afghanistan has telephoned her husband, the BBC understands.

Annetta Flanigan was abducted at gunpoint in Kabul on 28 October along with fellow United Nations workers Shqipe Habibi from Kosovo and Filipino Angelito Nayan.

Both the Foreign Office and her family in Richhill, County Armagh are sticking to their policy of making no comment about her situation.

However, it is understood Ms Flanigan was allowed on Thursday to contact her husband, a Spanish lawyer who is also in Afghanistan.

No details have been released about what she said in the phone call.

It was the second time that she had been allowed to make contact with her family since she was kidnapped.

Belfast Telegraph

Murder victim's family lose fight on probe

19 November 2004

The family of a nationalist councillor murdered 30 years ago lost a legal battle today to get an external police force to conduct a fresh investigation into his death.

Patrick Kelly (33) was murdered in July 1974, after locking up his pub in Trillick, Co Tyrone.

His body was found three weeks later in Lough Eyes near Lisbellaw, Co Fermanagh - with two 56lb weights strapped to it.

He had been shot a number of times. UDR soldiers were blamed for the murder, for which no one was ever charged.

His widow Teresa applied for a judicial review of the PSNI decision not to appoint an external force as she believed there was security force collusion in her husband's murder.

In the High Court today the Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr dismissed the application.

He said the new investigation was headed by Det Supt Hunter, a senior officer from an English force, and he would be assisted by PSNI officers, none of whom was in the police at the time of the murder nor had served in the area where Mr Kelly was murdered.

Sir Brian said there was ample reason for deep concern about the adequacy of investigations into the death of Mr Kelly to date.

"It would be wrong, however, to assume that because the investigations that have already taken place may prove in the final analysis to be pitifully insufficient, the present investigation will be similarly afflicted.

Outside the court, family solicitor Pat Fahy said: "The family remain of the view that the current investigation is not independent nor is it being properly carried out.

"It lacks independence because Supt Hunter has been seconded to the PSNI generally and not just for this investigation."


Fire bombs found in shops

Business owners in Belfast are being urged to remain vigilant after incendiary devices were found at two stores.

Shoppers were evacuated from the Big W store at the Yorkgate shopping complex in north Belfast on Friday morning after the device was found.

Another similar device was found at Marks and Spencer at Donegall Place in the city centre.

The Army removed a number of items from both shops for further examination.

Police said after the alerts had ended that both devices were "viable" and "primed to ignite".

'Be alert'

A police spokeswoman said: "Keyholders are urged to search premises and be alert."

"We would also urge shoppers to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to police," she added.

Friday's evacuations were the latest in a series of bomb alerts across Belfast.

On Thursday, alerts at the Big W store at Yorkgate and Matalan at Boucher Road were both declared to be hoaxes.

The dissident republican Real IRA admitted placing a fire bomb in a wallpaper shop in Belfast city centre on Wednesday.

Army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion at the shop in North Street.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland urged traders to be vigilant and to check premises before and after trading in the run-up to Christmas.

An Phoblacht

One day in November - Remembering the Past


Photo: British soldiers outside Jervis Street hospital after Bloody Sunday

On the morning of Sunday 21 November 1920, 84 years ago, the IRA carried out one of its most successful counter intelligence operations ever.

The IRA's success during the Tan War forced the British to draft in agents/assassins from England. The Cairo Gang, so-called because of their intelligence work in the Middle East, was established because of Sir Henry Wilson's demand that the IRA's Intelligence Department be eliminated. Living unobtrusively in boarding houses in Dublin, the British agents prepared a hit list of known republicans for assassination.

But the IRA's intelligence network was a step ahead. Frank Thornton obtained the names and addresses of all the senior British secret service men sent over to Dublin. An IRA agent in the DMP stationed at Donnybrook, Sergeant Mannix, was the source.

The operation had been carefully planned by many of the IRA's most senior activists, including Michael Collins, Dick McKee, Liam Tobin, Peadar Clancy, Tom Cullen, Frank Thornton and Oscar Traynor. The date picked was the day of a big GAA match between the Leinster Champions, Dublin, and Tipperary, and the large crowds in Dublin, it was felt, would afford easier movement for the Volunteers.

The operation began at 9am, when up to eight Volunteers entered 28 Pembroke Street. The first two secret service men to be shot were Major Dowling and Captain Leonard Price. Andy Coohey, Dublin Brigade, removed documents from their rooms before three more British officers in the house were executed, Captain Keenlyside, Colonel Woodcock and Colonel Montgomery.

As Keenlyside was about to be executed, a struggle ensued between his wife and Volunteer Mick O'Hanlon. The OC of the unit, Mick Flanagan, arrived, pushed Mrs Keenlyside out of the way and shot her husband.

Close by at 119 Morehampton Road, six Volunteers entered and took three men into the hallway to be shot: Lieutenant McLean, his brother-in-law John Caldow and TH Smith, the landlord and a known informer. McLean asked not to be shot in front of his wife; the Volunteers obliged and took the three to the top floor, where Volunteers Vinnie Byrne and Seán Doyle shot them. Caldow survived his injuries and soon afterwards left Ireland

At 92 Lower Baggot Street, Captain Newbury and his wife had blocked their bedroom door on hearing their front door crashing in. As Newbury tried to get out through his window he was shot dead by Volunteers Bill Stapleton and Joe Leonard.

Two of the key figures in the Cairo Gang, Colonel Peter Aimes and Captain George Bennett, were shot dead after Volunteers were given access to 38 Upper Mount Street by a sympathetic maid. After a short gun battle, both men lay dead.

Captain Fitzgerald, alias `Fitzpatrick', was shot dead at 28 Earlsfort Terrace. He was the son of a Tipperary man and had survived a previous execution attempt when the bullet only grazed his head. This time he was shot twice in the head.

Meanwhile, an IRA unit led by Tom Keogh entered 22 Lower Mount Street to execute Lieutenant Angliss, real name McMahon, and Lieutenant Peel. Angliss was shot as he reached for his gun. Peel, hearing the shots, managed to block his bedroom door and survived even though more then a dozen bullets were fired into his room. When members of Fianna Éireann on lookout reported that Auxiliaries were approaching the house, the unit of eleven Volunteers split up into two groups, the first leaving by the front door, the second leaving through the laneway at the back of the house.

In the laneway, Frank Teeling fell injured during a running gun battle with the Auxiliaries (he was the only Volunteer captured that day but was to escape later from Kilmainham Jail). Under pressure, Auxiliaries Garnin and Morris went for reinforcements. They did not get very far before being shot dead.

At 119 Baggot Street, Captain Bagally, whose involvement in military courts led to many a Volunteer's execution, was shot dead by a three-man IRA unit, one of whom was a future Fianna Fáil Taoiseach, Seán Lemass.

Captain McCormack and Captain Wilde were in the Gresham Hotel. The IRA unit gained access to these rooms by pretending to be British soldiers with important dispatches. When the officers opened their doors they were both shot.

In the Eastwood Hotel the IRA drew a blank because the target, a Colonel Jennings, had, along with Major Callaghan, spent the night in a local brothel.

Bloody Reprisals

The crown forces, having been beaten on their own ground, decided on revenge. One of the British Auxiliaries involved in this recalled that they tossed a coin over whether they would go on a killing spree in Croke Park or loot Sackville Street.

Despite the general unease in Dublin as news broke of the executions, the populace continued with its daily life. Approximately 10,000 spectators went to Croke Park to watch a friendly match between Dublin and Tipperary. However, within minutes of the start of the game, an airplane flew over the ground and a red flare was shot from the cockpit. Auxiliaries began raiding the ground while an officer on top of the wall fired a revolver shot. After a burst of gunfire, the crowd began to stampede away from the danger. Two football players, Michael Hogan and Jim Egan, were shot; Hogan died from his injuries. A young Wexford man who attempted to whisper an Act of Contrition into the dying Hogan's ear was also shot dead.

The casualties included Jeannie Boyle, who had gone to the match with her fiancé and was due to be married five days later, and John Scott, who was 14 and so mutilated that it was initially thought that he had been savagely bayoneted. The youngest victims were aged ten and 11.

Not content with this savage attack on an innocent crowd, crown forces then took their vengeance out on three men they had arrested the previous day and were holding in Dublin Castle, Dick McKee, Peadar Clancy and Conor Clune. Their bodies were released later, with the statement that they had died 'while trying to escape' from Dublin Castle. McKee and Clancy were senior officers in the Dublin IRA, Clune was an uninvolved civilian. The British version of the deaths claimed that, due to lack of accommodation, the three men had been held in a guardroom which contained arms and ammunition. When the men seized these items, they were shot while 'trying to escape'. To back up this statement, fake photographs were taken of the guardroom, with known Auxiliaries posing as civilians and the prisoners supposedly making a dash for windows with iron bars.

When the families saw the bodies of the three men they knew this to be a lie. Their bodies were covered in deep bayonet wounds and their faces were beaten to a pulp.

The execution of 13 British agents in one day decimated the crown forces' hold on the capital. The traditional British method of defeating republican revolutionaries with spies and informers had been dealt a tenacious blow and the people, horrified by the savagery of the mindless reprisals, increased their support for the IRA to rid Ireland of the colonial forces.

An Phoblacht

Call for full Citizenship Rights for ex-prisoners

Photo: Raymond McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle and former political prisoner Raymond McCartney on Tuesday attended a conference in Dublin Castle involving republican and loyalist former prisoners. The conference was organised to discuss the difficulties faced by former political prisoners and promote the need for dialogue.

"Today's conference is a welcome development and is necessary given the ongoing discrimination being experienced by many former political prisoners across the island as they strive to build a life for themselves and their families," said McCartney.

"We are still dealing with the legacy of criminalisation with the result that former prisoners and their families are being denied basic rights or find their rights seriously impeded.

"These include in areas such as employment, adoption, insurance, education and training. Restoration of full citizenship rights, ensuring that ex political prisoners have the same rights as all other citizens is essential and needs to happen immediately. This is a key element in any process of conflict resolution.

"The republican ex-prisoner community plays a central role in the political, social and cultural fabric of our communities. We have also played a positive role in the developments within the peace process over the past ten years. This work will continue in the time ahead and today's conference will, of course, enhance all of that."

An Phoblacht

The ceasefire that never was 'reinstated'


Nationalists have reacted sceptically to a declaration by the notoriously sectarian UDA that it is prepared to move away from violence and reinstate its ceasefire. The announcement came during a number of British Remembrance Sunday parades across the Six Counties.

In Rathcoole, around 2,000 loyalists, accompanied by a contingent of masked and paramilitary uniformed members of the UDA, were addressed by the leader of the Ulster Political Research Group, Tommy Kirkham. A similar gathering was addressed by Andre Shoukri in Tigers' Bay.

The UDA was now prepared to move into a process, said Kirkham, reading a prepared UDA statement. "Our commitment to that process will be to work towards a day when there is no longer a need for a UDA and a UFF," said Kirkham.

The UDA would desist from all violent activity to pursue a strategy of "community development, job creation, social inclusion and community politics", said Kirkham.

The UDA announced it would support unionist politicians in the aim of securing a lasting peace and that it has made a commitment to the British Government to enter into a process that "will see the eradication of all paramilitary activity".

Fighting shy of announcing any intention to engage in actual decommissioning, the UDA said it would engage with the decommissioning commission but with the added caveat that it must be confident that there is no longer a threat to the loyalist community from a republican group.

Kirkham said that the UDA hoped to persuade people that the organisation could change. "We recognise the need for change. We will be more effective in our new role but will remain protectors of our community."

The UDA's announcement followed an earlier meeting with the British Government and the decision by the British Secretary of State to despecify the UDA's ceasefire. Announcing the decision on Friday, Paul Murphy admitted he was taking a gamble but said he was persuaded that the UDA was serious about seeking a new beginning.

But the decision to recognise the UDA's ceasefire was made despite the fact that increasing racist attacks against ethnic minority groups have been added to ongoing sectarian attacks against the nationalist community and the continuing link of unionist paramilitaries with illegal drug trafficking.

"My decision was reached only after the most careful consideration and is based on a number of facts in line with the legislation," reassured Murphy. The British minister declared himself persuaded by recent discussion with the UPRG that the UDA was now prepared to "go down a different road".

News that the deal between the British Government and UDA also involved a £3 million cash injection left many to wonder if this amounted to a British payoff to loyal gunmen. NIO Security Minister Ian Pearson was left to deny that any money had been promised to the UDA. "The British Government does not fund paramilitaries," insisted Pearson, and clearly the Minister almost believed it himself.

Apparently, the cash is headed for those community development projects in which the UDA have conveniently just declared an interest. After all, loyalist areas have 'lost out' in terms of funding and support since the peace process, said Pearson. "I think there's a really important issue in working class loyalist areas. When it comes down to it, with some justification, they feel they have lost out when it comes to funds," said Pearson.

Curiously, Pearson's comments could be construed as reminiscent of a strategy pursued by another British Labour Party Minister a century earlier. Aneurin Bevan advised the British Labour government of his day to "stuff their mouths with gold" as a means of overcoming the medical profession's reluctance to co-operate with the newly formed National Health Service. But I suppose the parallel ends there.

"Everything is changing," said a senior loyalist source. "The [British] Government has realised that it needed to bring the UDA in from the cold if the peace process is going to work.

"The UDA want to be involved in the process but part of the problem was the [British] Government's refusal to recognise its ceasefire," he said. Of course, the other part of the problem was that there was no recognisable ceasefire.

While UUP Assembly member Fred Cobain welcomed the initiative as a opportunity for the UDA to "prove their bona fides", not surprisingly it was greeted with a degree of scepticism by nationalist politicians and community leaders.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said it would be a welcome development if it marked an end to the UDA's campaign of sectarian and racist attacks and intimidation.

"The only test against which the UDA will be judged will be a genuine end to its campaign of attack and intimidation against the ethnic and nationalist sections of our community," said Kelly.

Mark Durkan of the SDLP said that nationalists and ethnic minorities on the ground "certainly don't recognise a ceasefire and nor do many unionists".

"The fact is that in many parts of the north, the UDA still causes terror with intimidation and hate crimes. People will judge the UDA not on what the secretary of state says but on what the UDA does, and stops doing, in our communities," said Durkan.

Fr Dan Whyte, whose church and parishioners have been repeatedly threatened and attacked by the UDA, said nationalists would be sceptical of the British Government's decision to recognise the UDA ceasefire. "I think that is inevitable," he said.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin will not accept deal outside Agreement

Published: 19 November, 2004

Responding to remarks made by Mark Durkan alleging that Sinn Féin will accept less than the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"The SDLP record in defence of the Good Friday Agreement is abysmal. The SDLP have already collapsed on policing, acquiesced to the British government on suspension legislation, they have supported the IMC and sanctions against the Sinn Féin electorate, and proposed that government departments should be run by British appointed quangos all of which are entirely outside the terms of the Agreement.

"Sinn Féin will not countenance any deal which is not firmly rooted in the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement. Nationalists know that the Sinn Féin negotiation team will be resolute in defending their rights and entitlements and in defending the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS


Children's champion demands end to paramilitary torture

19/11/2004 - 15:39:26

Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children made a powerful plea today for communities to reject the paramilitary torture of children.

Speaking at a Belfast conference, Nigel Williams said the rule of terror which left children and young people tortured, scarred, dying and in fear of their lives had to end.

He said he was horrified at the terror visited upon children and young people by the so-called paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

“Every year almost 50 children and young people in Northern Ireland are dragged away by hooded cowards, who then beat or shoot them. Quite simply, this has to stop now,” he said.

Mr Williams was speaking at the Building Bridges – Healing Communities through Early Childhood Education Working Forum conference.

He said: “Today, at a gathering when we are considering so much of the positive work in Northern Ireland, I am calling on all communities, community groups and other organisations to tell those who instil terror that the torture, maiming, mutilation and killing of children and young people has to stop.”

Mr Williams went on: “We cannot move forward in our society where children and young people are so terrified of so-called paramilitary groups that they consider suicide, or actually do take their own lives.

“These terrorists are killing children and young people.”

He urged everyone listening to, or reading, his words to imagine what it must be like for a teenager – no matter what their apparent bravado – to be dragged away by men in masks holding guns or improvised implements of torture.

“I want you to imagine what it must be like to have the barrel of a gun pressed against your knee and then the trigger pulled.

“I want you to imagine what it is like to have a baseball bat or hurling stick smashed into your ankle or knee until the bone shatters.

“If you can even imagine the terror or pain you will know this has to stop,” he said.


IRA leader too ill to testify

Soldiers shot 13 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

The Official IRA leader on Bloody Sunday will be unable to give evidence to the Saville Inquiry due to illness.

Johnny White was expected to appear as the final witness when the tribunal resumes in Derry on Monday, but has been ill for the past few weeks.

He had been expected to say that the only Official IRA fire in the Bogside that day was a single round, 15 minutes before soldiers moved in.

He would have said the fire came a couple of shots after Jackie Duddy was killed at Rossville Flats.

The inquiry has been examining the events of 30 January 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by soldiers during a civil rights march in Londonderry. Another man died later from his injuries.

Counsel to the inquiry, Christopher Clarke, QC, is due to begin his closing speech on Monday and that is expected to last two days.

Evidence from politicians

His speech is intended to constitute an overview of the issues for the tribunal to decide; an overview of the evidence and an indication of a range of conclusions the tribunal might reach.

Only when Mr Clarke has finished that stage of the tribunal, will the three inquiry judges sit down to write their report.

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the inquiry began their work in March 2000, and since then, more than 900 witnesses have given evidence to the tribunal.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

The inquiry has so far cost £130m. The final cost will be in the region of £150m.



Dublin men convicted of IRA membership

18/11/2004 - 13:07:43

Two Dublin Sinn Féin members were convicted at the Special Criminal Court today on charges of IRA membership.

The court heard during an eight-day trial that gardaí found a list of TDs, including three former Ministers for Justice, at the home of one of the men, Niall Binead.

Niall Binead, also known as Niall Bennett (aged 35), of Faughart Road, Crumlin, Dublin, and Kenneth Donohoe (aged 26), of Sundale Avenue, Mountain View, Tallaght, Dublin, were both convicted of membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on October 10, 2002.

The two were remanded in custody for sentencing on November 30 next. Convicting the men, Mr Justice Diarmuid O' Donovan, presiding, said that the court did not doubt Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly's evidence that he believed that each of the accused was a member of the IRA.

Det Chief Supt Kelly is the head of the Special Detective Unit.

The judge said that the documentation found during searches of the accuseds' homes, when taken in conjunction with the chief superintendent's evidence, and the fact that the accused had refused to answer material questions when interviewed by the gardaí was supportive that the men were both IRA members.

The court was told that the two men were arrested after gardaí arrested five men following suspicious activity around a number of vehicles in Corke Abbey, Bray on October 10, 2002.

Inside a transit van gardaí found four men as well as a sledgehammer, a pick axe handle, radios and a black balaclava. In a Nissan Almera car with false number plates they found a blue flashing beacon, a Long Kesh baseball cap, a stun gun , a canister of CS gas and a roll of masking tape.

The transit van was traced to its owner, who is a Sinn Féin member and who had made it available for election purposes on the night in question. Donohoe was arrested later that month and Binead was arrested in December of that year.

During the trial the court that a document - a cigarette paper - was found in a small briefcase at Binead's home. The document contained the names of the late Jim Mitchell, Des O' Malley and John O' Donoghue as well as the names of other politicians.

Detective Sergeant Joe Devine said that the document was headed: "Politicians". It listed Jim Mitchell, Fine Gael; Des O' Malley, Progressive Democrats; John O' Donoghue, Fianna Fáil; and said "drinking in Rathgar".

It went on to list :"Jim Mc Daid, Donegal, Fianna Fáil and Brendan 'Rambo' Mc Gahon, Fine Gael", adding:"backing horses in Paddy Powers just off Grafton St., Lemon St, just off Bewleys café".


McGuinness: Power-sharing talks at defining moment

18/11/2004 - 18:51:25

Northern Ireland’s politicians and the Irish and British governments are approaching a defining moment in the political process, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness claimed tonight.

As his party leadership prepared to brief rank and file members over the coming days on efforts to revive the Northern Ireland Assembly and power sharing, the Mid Ulster MP said British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were listening to republican concerns about the two governments’ plans to bring back devolution.

He said: “I think we are involved now in the most critical discussion process we have had for many years.

“There is a mighty responsibility on both governments and on Sinn Féin to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is defended.

“But there is also a mighty responsibility on the DUP to come to all of this responsibly.

“The reality is we have reached a critical point, which is hopefully a defining point.

“Whether there is agreement or not, there is a huge responsibility on the two governments to ensure that the type of change envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement is implemented, particularly the all-Ireland agenda and those sections on people’s rights and entitlements.

“We are trying to get an agreement which the DUP is a part of and the next seven to ten days will tell the tale.”

Sinn Féin and the DUP have both expressed concerns about the proposals Mr Blair and Mr Ahern put to them yesterday for restoring power sharing and resolving the issues of paramilitary disarmament and the IRA’s future.

Mr McGuinness tonight said the negotiations were very much a work in progress.

He confirmed that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will brief the party’s national officers’ board in Dublin tomorrow and would also meet Sinn Féin’s TDs and senior activists.

Mr Adams was due to join Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin for a briefing of the party’s Stormont Assembly group in Belfast tomorrow evening.

Mr McLaughlin was also pencilled in to brief Sinn Féin’s elected representatives, including councillors from across Ireland, at a conference in County Louth on Saturday.

“The fact is, we are nearly there,” he said.

“This is a defining moment. There will either be an agreement where hopefully we can all move in a positive spirit to ensure that people’s rights and entitlements are honoured or there will be no agreement, which will still be a defining moment for the two governments and their commitment to the Agreement if the DUP is not prepared to be a part of this process.”

Sinn Féin tonight was accused, however, of making a strategic error in the negotiations by the nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Noting that there was a proposal that the Northern Ireland Assembly could vote for the entire power sharing executive in the future, on a cross-community vote requiring a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists, replacing the vote for First and Deputy First Ministers, Mr Durkan berated Sinn Féin.

“Mitchel McLaughlin has publicly confirmed that Sinn Fein is up for this,” the Foyle Assembly member said.

“That was their stance at Leeds Castle too.

“Sinn Féin clearly has not understood what this means.

“It gives the DUP the ability to veto the executive if it contains anybody that they do not like.

“It gives the DUP the ability to politically vet nationalist ministers. No longer will nationalist parties have the last say in who they appoint as ministers. The DUP will.

“And let’s be clear: this is a veto the DUP will use. The DUP will not pass up a veto opportunity any more than Sinn Féin will pass up a photo-opportunity.”


Fallujans pay the price of liberation

By Dr Muhamad Ayash al-Kubaisi
Thursday 18 November 2004, 11:09 Makka Time, 8:09 GMT

When a nation's identity, existence and dignity is put at risk, the sacrifice required is far more than the lives of a group of fighters, and that is why Falluja has chosen to carry the flag of resistance in Iraq, in the clear knowledge it may be wiped out.

Fallujans and Iraqis have witnessed the boots of US marines stepping on the heads of Iraqi prisoners, not to frighten them but to tell Iraqis and the rest of the world that they owe the superpower obedience and gratitude.

The fighters in Falluja are fully conscious of the balance of power, they know only too well that one bomb from their enemy's arsenal is enough to render their beautiful city a ruin.

But the inhabitants of this great city wanted to send a message to decision makers in the US that coexisting with the occupiers is not possible.

They wanted to tell US officials that it is easier for Fallujans to sacrifice their lives than to shake hands with occupiers; it is easier for them to see their houses razed to the ground than see an occupying soldier enjoy them.

This clear message has been delivered by the people and fighters of Falluja. The occupiers must understand it or the ghost of Falluja will chase them everywhere in Iraq, and they will end up with two options:

Stubbornly remain in Iraq, losing their credibility and wasting more resources which could result in a worldwide alliance against them to bring such a prodigal power - the US - to heel, or leave Iraq.

If they leave, Falluja would have paid the price of liberating the nation and saving the world from a potential danger.

"The wide-scale resistance operations in Iraq prove the issue can no longer be consigned to a 'restive city' or 'rebellious region' - it is obviously a popular uprising by people refusing military occupation of their homeland"

Crucially, the US should not get the impression that it has performed a successful pre-emptive strike.

The Iraqi resistance is fully cognizant of the nature of the fight, and appears to be acting according to a carefully crafted plan.

The indications coming from Falluja point to the fact the resistance is continuing, which will prevent the US from enjoying the taste of success in Falluja.

The Iraqi resistance realises that it is very dangerous if the US administration thinks its excessive use of power is achieving its goals.

This can be seen throughout the mounting resistance operations across the country from Talafar in the north to al-Qaem in the west and Buhruz in the east.

Last week, Iraq's third largest city, Mosul, the capital of al-Anbar governorate (Iraq's largest governorate), Ramadi, and vital positions in Baghdad fell to the Iraqi resistance. What does that tell us?

It shows that resistance in Iraq is Iraqi, and not dominated by "foreign fighters" or the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi group as the US had claimed before the strike on Falluja.

A group of non-Iraqi fighters crossing the borders to fight the US in Iraq for whatever reason cannot achieve that, and the US is fully aware of that from a military point of view.

The widespread resistance operations in Iraq prove the issue can no longer be consigned to a 'restive city' or 'rebellious region' - it is obviously a popular uprising by people refusing military occupation of their homeland.

This gives us confidence that the blood of our brothers in Falluja has not been shed in vain. Rather, it is the price paid for a noble aim: The liberation of Iraq.

Dr al-Kubaisi represents Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars outside the country. He is a university professor in Islamic Sharia. He was born and lived in Falluja until before the invasion of Iraq. This article, written exclusively for Aljazeera.net, was translated from Arabic.



Samson: Irish-only dog is among stolen
--String of pedigree dogs go missing in Poleglass area

A spate of pedigree dog thefts in the Poleglass area has left a six-year-old boy devastated after his Rottweiler puppy was stolen from his back yard.

Callum McVicker (6), a primary three pupil at Bunscoil Phobail Feirste, says he is very sad that his dog Samson – which only answers commands in Irish – has been stolen. Callum’s mother Ellen says her son has started to wake in the night from dreams that he can hear his stolen pup barking at the back door.

“The reason I want to report this theft is because Callum asked me to, because he thinks it might help us be able to get Samson back,” said Ellen. “When I called up to report that he’d been stolen, the dog warden told me that, in the same day five boxers and a bull staff terrier had been reported stolen in the same area.

“And I read in the paper last week about another dog that had been reported stolen as well,” says Ellen.

“Samson had been put out in the yard after he’d had his dinner, and when we went out to call him a few minutes later, he was gone and the bar on the back gate had been wrenched up.

“It’s obvious that he’s been stolen and it seems like there is a spate of pedigree dog thefts in the area.”

Samson was a present from Ellen to her children – she spent 18 months saving towards the considerable cost of the pure-bred dog.

“I’m a single mother-of-four and it took me a year-and-a-half to save to buy Samson, and the kids and I just love him. It’s so upsetting that a member of our family has been taken away.”

Samson is black and tan in colour, just six months old, with a brown undercoat, four tan paws and has been chipped.

Stephen Philpott, Chief Executive of the USPCA, said, “The theft of pedigree dogs in the Poleglass area is a source of great concern to the USPCA and considerable anguish to the families concerned.

“During USPCA/ISPCA raids on puppy farms in the Republic of Ireland in 2004, it was clear the background of many of the animals used for breeding could not be established, leading us to the conclusion that the dogs could have been obtained illegally.

“However, without a means of identifying the animals it was impossible to confirm our suspicions. We scan every stray, abandoned or rescued dog entering our shelters and have reunited many dogs and their owners thanks to micro-chipping.

“I would appeal to all pet owners to have their animals micro-chipped, it is a painless and permanent means of identifying lost or stolen dogs. It costs little when compared with the monetary value of the animal, and owners in receipt of benefit or pension can have this carried out through several subsidised schemes.”

If you have any information of the whereabouts of the missing dogs or require information regarding micro-chipping call the National Animal Helpline on 028 9081 4242.”

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan



Give peace a chance? Give my head peace!

A unionist politician, Mr David Trimble, is quoted as saying last week: "For us unionism is not the same as thing as Protestantism... we accept difference... other points of view... sectarianism is not in our blood..."

Why should he say such a thing?

Well, the unionist hold on Ireland's northeast is politically weak. The difference in numbers between those described as Catholic and those described as Protestant is becoming less. Or to put it another way, the union with Britain will need more Catholics to accept it if it is to remain.

Another unionist politician, Terence O’Neill, saw this coming in the mid-sixties. So he tried to attract Catholics to agree to the British union. He set up a number of meetings with what he considered important – but powerless – Catholic people: nuns in convents, southern politicians, schoolchildren and so forth. The aim was to broaden the base of unionism by including some Catholics.

Minimum political change, maximum tugging at vulnerable heartstrings.
Some Catholics cooperated with this plan of O’Neill. Three of them applied for membership of the Unionist Party. If O’Neill was serious the party should welcome Catholics into it.

The three were JJ Campbell, a lecturer who later became a professor at Queen’s; B McK McGuigan, a successful solicitor and conservative Catholic; and a Mr O’Hara, a successful hotelier from Bangor, Co Down. Their application for membership of the Unionist Party was rejected. O’Neill was not as serious as he said he was.

But broadening the base of unionism by attracting Catholics into unionist politics was essential if the union was to survive with any trace of democratic process. The Catholic population from the sixties onward was not emigrating as much as it had in the past, their educational and other attainments were setting them on the way to managing most sectors of public life provided the London administration did not use armed force to prevent it.

It did, of course, use armed force to prevent it. Organisations like the UDA were among its many weapons for the purpose.

Now, if the quotation from their Mr Trimble is accurate, some unionists are now on the same course as O’Neill, offering sops to Catholics in order to win their adherence to the union.

One has seen the same procedure in football circles in order to increase the numbers of people going to the games – football controllers call for an end to sectarianism and verbal crassness, thus attracting, they hope, people of different religious backgrounds and also women and children. The profit motive is sometimes useful in both sport and politics and we should not undervalue it as an instrument for good.

The tactic of their Mr Trimble, however, is not only an old one, it is probably a too-late one.

The unionist family have chosen Mr Paisley as their preferred leader and he is against cooperation with Catholics. With the beautiful irony of money politics, this is the same man who refused cooperation with Catholics in the sixties and brought down one prime minister after another until he convinced the unionist family that negative politics was right.

They still believe it.

Is there any possibility that the resurrected O’Neill policy of attracting Catholics into the UUP will make the UUP strong enough to fight off Paisley and to secure the British union?

Well, the Alliance Party tried it and failed. The Alliance Party saw the unionist refusal and insult of Campbell, McGuigan and O’Hara in the sixties and they created a new unionist party into which Catholics would be admitted. In time the Alliance Party seemed to be supported by more Catholics than others.

And it proved to be a party of indecisive leadership.

A unionist family which tends towards Paisley also tends towards exclusion of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, Filipinos, Nigerians, and the talent of the world in general. You need expert leadership to get out of that morass. The Alliance did not have it.

It will be some time before the first batch of unionist Catholics apply openly for membership of the UUP. There is not as much goodwill towards unionists now as there was in the sixties. The goodwill towards unionists at that time was strong, as a reading of the news of the time shows. But a lot of that has been scattered, not only by Paisley, but by their Mr Trimble as well.

So now we see an interesting situation evolving in various parts. In Donegal, Protestant spokespersons are saying how much they want to be part of the community and remarking that one reason for the increase of the Protestant population in Donegal is that some are crossing the border to live there.
Times and fortunes have changed.

The unionist family is declaring that one of its many armed wings, the UDA, is getting its situation recognised as a ceasefire.

And their Mr Trimble is making the first tentative steps towards inviting Catholics to join the UUP as a counter to the dominance of Paisley's DUP and as an insurance against the small swing of voters which would be enough to put the British union in danger.

Quite interesting. And relatively harmless as long as one sees the reasons for the gestures and the emptiness of ceasefires.

So how soon can we expect some of our prominent clerics to tell us that Catholics should be joining the UUP? "Give peace a chance," they will be saying. Give our heads peace would be more like it.


‘Credible and effective’ public inquiry is still the Finucane family’s priority

Informed sources last night revealed that the family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane used a private meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair a fortnight ago to “bluntly restate their desire to participate in any credible and effective public inquiry” into the controversial affair.

And the source says that Mr Finucane’s family are refusing to be sidelined, despite growing concerns over the British government’s attitude to establishing an inquiry.

The disclosures come just days after the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) publicised the composition and remit of inquiries into three other controversial killings – those of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright.

Mr Finucane was assassinated in front of his wife and young family on February 12, 1989, after a UDA death-squad – armed by British Intelligence, and directed by Special Branch and the British Army’s notorious Force Research Unit (FRU) – burst into his North Belfast home.

Due to the sinister element of state collusion, Canadian Judge Peter Cory independently reviewed Mr Finucane’s case, along with the cases of Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill, who was kicked to death beside an RUC Land Rover; Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson, who was murdered by a loyalist booby-trap bomb; and leading loyalist Billy Wright who was shot dead by the INLA inside Long Kesh prison.

In each of the cases, Judge Cory recommended an independent inquiry when he submitted a final report to the British government in October 2003.
The Finucane family have consistently re-stated their demand for a credible and effective public inquiry to which they could lend support and, on this basis, Judge Cory’s recommendation was welcomed.

However, after a delay of several months Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, was forced to launch High Court proceedings over the NIO’s subsequent refusal to publish Judge Cory’s report.

And while the Nelson, Hamill and Wright inquiries are now being established under the terms of existing legislation – namely the 1998 Police Act and the 1953 Prison Act – the British government have refused to use any existing legislation for the Finucane inquiry, not even the 1921 Tribunal Act which was used in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Instead the British government have stated that due to “national security interests” the Finucane inquiry must be set up under new legislation.
This new legislation is essentially designed to permit lesser – not greater – transparency.

And it could mean that the British government will be able to withhold sensitive and embarrassing details about the Finucane affair, even before an inquiry gets a chance to consider them.

Human rights groups have already expressed significant concerns over the implications of the British government’s latest attempts to gag any inquiry.
Despite this, the Finucane family maintain that, having waited 15 years for the British government to establish an inquiry, they are not willing to be sidelined at this stage.

During the past month, the Finucane family have been involved in an intensive round of meetings with representatives from the SDLP, Sinn Féin, the British government, the Irish government and a range of independent organisations.

The purpose of the meetings has been to focus attention on the family’s key concerns over the proposed new British legislation and any resulting inquiry.
Speaking last night, an informed source stressed the Finucane family’s desire to secure “a credible and effective inquiry”.

“This is not just an issue about bringing closure to the personal grief of the Finucane family. Given the nature of Pat Finucane’s murder – which serves as an exemplar of the British policy of state collusion – the need for an inquiry that the family, and the wider community, can support should not be underestimated.

“All along the Finucane family’s approach has been reasonable and consistent. Getting to the bottom of a scandal such as the murder of Pat Finucane isn’t just about one case. It is about ensuring that a state policy of collusion can never be allowed to happen again by putting new safeguards, recommendations and principles in place.”

The source disclosed that during a meeting in Downing Street on November 2, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was arrogant and abrasive and refused point-blank to answer key questions from the Finucane family.

And it is now thought that Tony Blair’s personal attitude during the November 2 meeting – taken together with the British government’s general attitude to the establishment of an inquiry – has created significant worries for the Finucane family.

“On the one hand the British government say they want to get to the truth of this issue in an inquiry. Yet on the other hand, they say that they will adjudicate all of the contentious issues that may arise.

“The other question is, why is new legislation required at all? So much has already been made public that it is difficult to see how gagging material could achieve anything, unless there is worse yet to come. The question that has been uppermost in many minds is, what is it that the British government wants to hide?

“There are some in the British administration who may believe the Finucane family can be treated like second-class citizens and made to accept a second-rate inquiry. This will not be allowed to happen.

“The Finucane family are very serious about getting an independent, public inquiry – as recommended by Judge Cory – that they can have confidence in and can fully contribute to,” added our source.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

Belfast Telegraph

It's make or break in bid to save deal
Parties ponder response to rescue paper

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
18 November 2004

London and Dublin were braced for hard bargaining today as Sinn Fein and the DUP planned their responses to the governments' devolution rescue package.

Sinn Fein was urging the Government to alter significant elements of its blueprint to restore a power-sharing government.

And without moves towards resolution, republicans were urging consideration of a "more assertive, more pro-active 'plan B' scenario".

The DUP, meanwhile, indicated that its definitive response to the British and Irish governments' proposals was not imminent.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson said the party was considering and consulting on the detail of the proposals - but might issue a "holding statement" later today.

Negotiations on a deal which could lead to a new power-sharing administration early next year were entering their most delicate stage - with the governments hoping for answers within a week.

Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were due to meet Tony Blair in Downing Street today.

The party also said the DUP had been "brought onto the territory" of power-sharing - but the danger was that Government attempts to bring the DUP "further along the road" would mean veering from "the pathway of the Agreement".

Sinn Fein chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin, said: "There is still work to be done but there is progress.

"The question is whether the Government in their anxiety to bring the DUP further onto that ground is moving away from the pathway of the Agreement. But we are big enough and strong enough to ensure that doesn't happen."

The Foyle Assembly member said: "We have a number of issues that will have to be addressed to our satisfaction. We have a general problem with some of the positions that have been outlined in the governments' proposals.

"These include the very significant issue of the power-sharing structures of the Agreement.

"We have significant technical and independent constitutional legal advice available to our negotiating panel, but I cannot get into the detail of the text.

"The template is the Good Friday Agreement. But if agreement cannot be reached we will be putting it to the Government that there is a more assertive. pro-active 'plan B' scenario."

It is understood that the governments' proposals do not include a firm date for the devolution of policing and justice - a key Sinn Fein demand.

They are also thought to include plans to upgrade the British-Irish machinery to give it more equal status to the North-South bodies.


Real IRA admits fire bomb

Dissident republicans have admitted placing a fire bomb in a wallpaper shop in Belfast city centre.

Army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion at the shop in North Street on Wednesday night.

The remains of the device were removed for further examination.

The Real IRA admitted on Thursday that it planted the device.

It used a recognised codeword in a call to a Londonderry newspaper.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland urged traders to be vigilant and to check premises before and after trading in the run-up to Christmas.

'Extra vigilant'

The Lord Mayor of Belfast said the incident was "deplorable" and urged the public to defy bombers.

Alliance Party Lord Mayor Tom Ekin said: "It is clearly an attempt to destabilise the commercial life of the city centre especially as we head towards Christmas and it has also been timed to coincide with what is a delicate stage in the current negotiations involving the political parties.

"This does not in any way further the cause of those behind the planting of incendiary devices.

"I would urge all city centre businesses to be vigilant but I would also say to people not to be deterred by such incidents because the city centre is still a good place to shop."

Michael O'Hagan, manager of the Castle Court shopping centre in Belfast city centre, said that the incident had caused quite a lot of concern.

He said: "We take it very seriously. We have our own in-house security, best practice procedures.

"It is about all the retailers being extra vigilant between now and the run-up to Christmas."

"We are refocusing on all aspects of what we would have been used to several years ago."

Mr O'Hagan said that the city centre retailers worked very closely with the police on security procedures.

He said that he did not think the alert would affect business in the city centre and assured shoppers that all security procedures were being followed.


1974 pub bombings 'were wrong'

Two pubs were destroyed in the 1974 bombings

The 1974 Birmingham pub bombings were wrong and should not have happened, Sinn Fein has admitted.

A party spokesman said on Thursday that if there were issues relating to the IRA still to be addressed over the bombings, then this should happen

The statement comes days before the 30th anniversary of the two bombings which killed 21 people and injured 182.

The BBC's Ireland correspondent Denis Murray said the statement "did not say in so many words that the IRA will apologise but it effectively confirms that this will happen".

On 21 November, 1974, the Mulberry Bush pub at the foot of the city's Rotunda tower and the nearby Tavern in the Town, were both destroyed within minutes of each other.

Six men imprisoned for the attacks had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal in March 1991.

The Birmingham Six - Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker - were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975.


The IRA has apologised in recent years for a number of murders it carried out in the 1970s.

In October, it issued a "statement of regret" for killing 15-year-old Bernard Teggart in Belfast in 1973.

Last year, the IRA apologised for the grief caused to the families of the nine so-called Disappeared who were murdered and secretly buried during the 1970s.

In July 2002, the IRA apologised to all civilian victims of its campaign of violence.

In a statement in the republican newspaper An Phoblacht (Republican News), it also offered "sincere apologies" to the families of those killed on Bloody Friday, when nine people were killed as 21 bombs exploded across Belfast on 21 July 1972.


Rewards for UDA thugs are misdirected

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

There's one conclusion you can draw about the attitude of the British
administration in the north to the UDA – it's consistent. The UDA has
always been the NIO's favourite paramilitary organisation. Perhaps
that's understandable since it was created and artificially sustained
by British intelligence and RUC Special Branch since 1971 as a
classic 'counter-gang'. Despite the fact that the UDA carried out the
most appalling torture murders of the Troubles, it was kept legal
until 1992 by which time its members had killed nearly 400 people,
the vast majority of whom were innocent Catholics.

A revealing memo to Prime Minister Ted Heath in November 1972 from a
senior Ministry of Defence official explained that 'an important
function (sic) of the UDA is to channel into a constructive and
disciplined direction Protestant energies which might otherwise
become disruptive'. The UDA had murdered 71 people that year.
Sickening, eh? The official went on to point out helpfully that since
the UDA was not illegal, membership of the paramilitary group would
not 'automatically' disbar a man from membership of the UDR. Well we
know that to our cost.

Several years later when the then EEC decided to distribute its
butter and meat mountains to the poor and the NIO was looking for
charity organisations to hand out the stuff because they would know
the needy in their districts, they naturally turned to groups like
the St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army and, yes, you've
guessed it, their paramilitaries of choice, the UDA. Beggars belief
doesn't it?

Put simply, the British administration here has laboured consistently
for 30 years to promote a criminal conspiracy into a position of
authority and respect in the most impoverished Protestant
communities. Their failure over the last 30 years has also been
consistent. The so-called 'function' of the UDA the civil servant
described to Ted Heath was and remains a civil service fantasy. When
John Reid met the UDA's leaders three years ago after the summer of
mayhem they had organised, his statements were almost verbatim those
of our present proconsul. Perhaps the same officials wrote them?

What has been the net effect of the last 30 years of NIO policies
promoting the UDA? Let's leave aside for the moment the obvious
effects on the murder rate of the failure to pursue the UDA with
anything like a fraction of the energy devoted to any manifestation
of republicanism. Let's leave to another time the fact that the
British supplied the UDA with modern weaponry in the 1980s and tried
to direct them to murder republicans instead of ordinary Fenians.

Let's stay with the 'important function' the British invented the UDA
for. The single most evident result has been the opposite of their
aim: the debasement, demoralisation and destruction of the
communities the NIO allowed the UDA to batten on and dominate. Even
in the last few years the administration here stood by and allowed
the Adair-dominated UDA to wreck the efforts the PUP had made to
establish a viable political structure in working-class loyalist
districts. The result? The loss of the hard-won PUP position in the
assembly and now the boosting and rewarding of those who destroyed

The whole approach is based on the belief that the loyalist working
class is the mirror image of the nationalist/republican working-
class. It isn't and never has been. Loyalists support the state: it's
their state. They supported the police, their police. They have their
own native regiment of foot. They have their own politicians. When
local UDA gangsters stand for election even the members of their own
criminal organisation don't vote for them. The most the UDA has ever
got was 2% of the vote. If they do vote they prefer the DUP. Yet the
NIO political wizards persist in stabbing local representatives of
unionist parties and community groups in the back by rewarding the
UDA drug-dealers and racketeers in their midst as if they represented
someone or something other than thuggery and gangsterism.

Will it be any different this time? Of course not. After the next
outburst of mayhem does anyone believe the UDA leaders the proconsul
snuggled up to will be arrested for being UDA leaders? There's you
thinking it was an illegal organisation. More seriously, what does
any parent say now to a teenage son who proposes to join the UDA?
Didn't the proconsul tell him they're into 'job creation, social
inclusion and community politics'? It's like putting Dracula in
charge of a blood bank. It's an utter betrayal of local unionist
elected representatives. After all, they're the people unionists in
those districts vote for. Isn't it extraordinary that they're so meek
about it? Maybe it's because they've been accustomed to thinking the
British administration here is 'their' government.

November 18, 2004

Irish Echo Online - News

Pentagon circles the wagons around 'Spicer' deal

By Ray O'Hanlon

The U.S. Department of Defense is standing behind its decision to award a major security contract in Iraq to a company run by a controversial former British army officer.

The decision apparently removes all impediments to a $293 million payday for Tim Spicer, commander of the Scots Guards at a time when the regiment became embroiled in a controversial killing in Belfast.

The Department of The Army has written to five U.S. senators stating that the decision to award the contract to Aegis Defense Services last May was a "well founded" one.

The army's endorsement of the contract follows a separate decision by the Government Accountability Office to deny an appeal by a rival U.S. company for the contract, one of the largest tendered by the U.S. government for private security work in Iraq.

It was that protest, brought by Texas-based Dyncorp, that put the Aegis contract on hold and resulted in an investigation and legal determination by the GAO, the congressional and federal government financial and legal watchdog formerly known as the General Accounting Office.

The GAO denied Dyncorp because it did not have "standing" in the matter.

This was due to the fact that another unnamed company was considered the closest alternative to Aegis in the bidding process.

"We have very strict rules. To raise a challenge you must have standing," said Dan Gordon, who heads the GAO's bid protest unit.

Gordon said that the GAO had "in no way, shape or form" belittled the problems expressed by individuals and groups with Aegis and its head man.

However, the GAO was required to decide on the issue within strict and more limited legal parameters, Gordon indicated

"We simply never reached those issues," he said in relation to questions raised against the head of Aegis, former British army Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, who commanded the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast when teenager Peter McBride was shot dead in September 1992.

McBride was shot in the back and his death remains one of the most controversial of the Troubles.

In addition to the Pentagon, President Bush has also been urged to cancel the Aegis contract because of the controversy swirling around Spicer, not just in relation to Northern Ireland but also due to later business ventures around the world involving so-called "private military companies," a term widely viewed as merely a sanitized way of describing mercenaries.

The Iraq contract allows Aegis to supply "security services, anti-terrorism support and analyses, movement escort services, and close personal protection services" in Iraq.

But it was the specific role of Tim Spicer in the deal that prompted the concern of members of Congress, including five U.S. senators.

The five -- Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy, Chris Dodd and John Kerry -- wrote Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last August calling on him to investigate the granting of the contract to Aegis. In the letter, the senators pointed to Spicer's record in Northern Ireland and allegations of his involvement in illicit arms deals in Africa.

The letter to Rumsfeld stated that the U.S. government required that all contractors be "responsible bidders" with a "satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics"

The senators asked Rumsfeld to disclose whether the government adequately considered Spicer's human rights abuses, or his vigorous defense of them, as part of Aegis's record and past performance rating when awarding the contract.

"It would be unfortunate if, in our effort to set an example of open government and democratic principles abroad, we undermined those principles through awarding contracts to an individual with a history of supporting excessive use of force against a civilian population," Sen. Clinton said separately.

The response to the senators' letter came last week, not from Rumsfeld, but from Sandra Sieber, director of the U.S. Army Contracting Agency.

Sieber wrote that beyond the GAO's decision denying the Dyncorp protest, it was "significant" that the British Ministry of Defense was apprised of the decision to award the contract to Aegis and "did not object or advise" against the action.

Sieber noted that neither Aegis or Spicer are on the U.S. General Services Administration list of parties excluded from federal contracting. She said that the contracting officer responsible for selecting Aegis had not been aware of human rights allegations against Spicer and Aegis at the time the contract decision was made.

"However, our post-award review of the facts surrounding these matters did not establish that Mr. Spicer's advocacy on behalf of his former soldiers had any bearing on his or Aegis's record of integrity and business ethics," Sieber wrote.

Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus described the army's response to the senators' letter as "outrageous."

McManus, who has waged a campaign to have the contract scuttled, said that the decision put President Bush in the position of actually defending terrorism.

The president, he said, was funding an ex-British army officer who in Northern Ireland had "terrorized the McBride family and continues to terrorize them."

--This story appeared in the issue of November 17-23, 2004


Belfast Telegraph

Language school opposition 'sectarian'

17 November 2004

Sinn Fein have slammed a DUP councillor's opposition to an Irish language school in Ballymena as blatantly sectarian.

North Antrim Sinn Fein Assembly member Philip McGuigan, was reacting to comments by the leader of the DUP council group in Ballymena, Roy Gillespie.

Mr Gillespie said there were enough primary school places in the town and he would fight the plans "tooth and nail".

He added: "This move to set up an Irish-speaking school would be divisive. I wouldn't like to think the North-Eastern Education Board would be involved in funding something like this in any way."

But Philip McGuigan said: "Cllr Gillespie's comments about the school being divisive have no foundation in reality.

"Most people will find Mr Gillespie's comments on creating division ironic given his party's appalling record on creating and maintaining division within the council area.

"Roy Gillespie's opposition to both the GAA and the Irish Language sector are based on an anti-Irish agenda and are blatantly sectarian."

Belfast Telegraph

Court told of loyalist attacks on home

17 November 2004

A community spokesman whose home was attacked by loyalists was told that his windows could be fitted with laminated glass but it would not stop a bullet, the High Court has heard.

"The new glass would only ensure that the windows would not shatter and the glass would not shower anyone in the room," said a lawyer for Paddy Murray, chairman of the Rathenraw Residents' Association in Antrim.

Mr Murray, whose life has been threatened, is seeking a judicial review of the Secetary of State's decision refusing to admit him to the Key Persons Protection Scheme, which would entitle him to a raft of home security measures.

Mr Justice Girvan asked at yesterday's hearing: "Does he want bullet-proof glass?"

Barrister Dessie Hutton replied: "He is not a security expert and does not know the capability of the people who have threatened him."

The offer to replace the windows was made by the Housing Executive, which owns Mr Murray's home.

The Executive also offered to replace his glass-panelled front door with a solid door and five-piece mortice lock.

Mr Hutton said Mr Murray enjoyed the right to life under the human rights legislation and it was clear the Secretary of State had not taken adequate measures in response to the threat to his life.

"Instead, the Minister relied on the offer by the Housing Executive which has only limited expertise in the security field," added the lawyer.

Mr Murray was in court yesterday with his wife Patricia, who was at the centre of a security alert two months ago after a warning that bomb had been placed under her car.

Last June the family home was pipe-bombed.

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