Girl shot dead by Israeli troops

11 December 2004

troops shot dead a seven-year-old Palestinian girl in a Gaza refugee camp yesterday, medics said, after militants wounded four Israelis in a mortar attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.
The girl was killed by gunfire that struck Khan Younis in apparent retaliation for an earlier volley of mortars that hit the Gush Katif settlement bloc, Palestinian medics said.

A military source confirmed troops opened fire at Khan Younis, but said they aimed at Palestinian mortar crews. The army insists it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

Derry Journal

No Londonderry On New City Street Map

Friday 10th December 2004

A new city street map to be printed next year will have the name Derry attached to it instead of Londonderry.From next April, locals and visitors will be able to get their hands on a copy, the first of its kind to be printed since 1994

Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland has agreed to produce the map following discussions with senior officials from Derry City Council.

It will feature the new roads, streets and developments which have sprung up in a rapidly expanding Derry over the last decade.

John Meenan, Derry City Council's Chief Environmental Office, outlined details of the city street map at a meeting of local councillors on Tuesday.

He said the OSNI would begin to produce the Council's order of 5000 maps in April 2005

Welcoming the development, Sinn FÈin's Barney O'Hagan took the opportunity to insist the name on the map be Derry.

"The name that goes on the map is the name which we've already agreed in this Council," Colr. O'Hagan said.

"The official name is and should be Derry and we have strong legal opinion which suggests that is already the case. That will be proven in the courts before this map is drawn up."

The DUP's Joe Miller said he was opposed to Derry being put on the map. He said while the majority of people may want to call the city Derry, its official title is Londonderry.

In a bid to offer a compromise, Colr. Miller said he would, however, have no problem in accepting a Derry City Council area street map.

Ulster Unionist councillor, Mary Hamilton, also spoke out against printing Derry on the name of the map.

But, in what were the most tame discussions on the name change row yet, Colr. O'Hagan said his party would simply not support the publication of any street map if it was not called Derry.

High Court The High Court is set to rule sometime next year whether or not the name of the city switched from Londonderry to Derry when the Council's name changed in 1984

Colr. O'Hagan, who initially proposed the city's name change, said if the judge decides the city's name did not officially change the Council would continue to seek the switch.

The SDLP's Mary Bradley who earlier hailed the new city street map proposed that Council welcome the development of the map and that the name attached to it be Derry.

While unionists refused to vote in favour of the proposal it was carried with support from Sinn FÈin and the SDLP.

Derry Journal

Last West Bank Army Base To Go

Friday 10th December 2004

The last remaining British Army base on the West Bank of the Foyle, adjacent to the Masonic Hall in Bishop Street, will close in the very near future, THE JOURNAL has learned.

It is also envisaged that the police barracks at Rosemount will also close as part this week's failed peace deal.

Last night Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin confirmed that it was intended to close the British Army base first.

He said: "This is something we have been in negotiations with Tony Blair, his adviser and Hugh Orde about for some time. It has been agreed that the base at the Masonic Hall is to go soon and initially it was envisaged that it would be about 18 months down the line before Rosemount also closed. "However, we told both governments that this simply was not good enough and that we wanted the closure of both bases to take place as soon as possible. So we are confident that in the very near future the west bank of the Foyle will be a British Army free area."

The British Army have been installed at the Bishop Street base since the early 1970's and in 1996 one of the controversial masts was built there with local people claiming that it would enable the British Army to spy on a wide area of the city.

During the time in the base the British Army have come under various gun and bomb attacks from all the various Republican groups in the city.

Last week it was revealed that the man who owns a large part of the land the base is built on was hoping to build a tourist facility there once the base is handed back to him.

In 1989 Joe McLaughlin, who owned the Gate Bar beside the base, was informed by the British Secretary of State that his land was being taken over by the British army.

The area where the bar used to be was then incorporated into the British Army base.

Last year hopes were raised that the base was about to close when a lot of construction work was noticed around the site.

The appearance of a large crane sparked rumours that the watchtower was to be dismantled.

But an Army spokesman said that the crane was on the site to erect and gangway allowing troops to carry out maintenance work on the roof of the base.

Belfast Telegraph

Murphy hints at need for new election
Ulster may go back to polls to get the Assembly running

By Andrea Clements
11 December 2004

SECRETARY of State Paul Murphy has said that new elections may be needed to get the Assembly up and running.

He said his first priority will be talking with political parties in an attempt to achieve transparent decommissioning.

"If after six weeks the parties in the Assembly can't come up with a First and Deputy First Minister they will be required to go back to the people for another election.

"It's not something that the people of Northern Ireland particularly want as they have just elected an Assembly but it's an option parties and government can discuss in the months ahead," he said, speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics programme.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ian Paisley, speaking in Ballymena where he was given the freedom of the borough last night, said: "I am the only person now who can deliver this deal. My people are not going to be sold out."

Deputy DUP leader Peter Robinson believes that new arrangements agreed for devolution would function "successfully" if the issue of IRA decommissioning is resolved.

He said: "The lack of resolution on the issue of IRA decommissioning should not obscure the fact that the DUP made very significant advances during the recent talks process.

"The Ulster Unionist failures may wish to carp from the sidelines but the record speaks for itself.

"Just over a year ago people were saying that no one would negotiate with the DUP and there could be no renegotiation of the Belfast Agreement.

"Today it is clear that when the IRA come up to the mark on decommissioning there are arrangements in place which will allow devolution to function successfully."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has asked the Secretary of State for more information on the new proposals put forward by the British and Irish Governments.

He asked if any changes had been made to the joint declaration, "especially with regard to normalisation procedures, their extent and the timetable for introduction".

Mr Trimble said he welcomed the IRA statement, "particularly as it largely repeats the draft that the Government have included in the proposals."

But he added that the UUP regarded the request for photographs of IRA decommissioning as "reasonable".

He asked Mr Murphy to clarify his comments that "it has turned out that the IRA had a different view from everyone else".

He asked: "Does 'everyone else' include those republicans to whom he was speaking during the negotiations?"

And SDLP leader Mark Durkan has accused Sinn Fein of conceding to the DUP on the Good Friday Agreement.

He has challenged leader Gerry Adams to a public debate.

He said: "The prospect of IRA decommissioning and the DUP power-sharing is welcome.

"But the fact is that this so-called "comprehensive agreement" gives the DUP a veto over the appointment of nationalist ministers and the decisions of nationalist ministers.

"Instead of worrying about photos humiliating the IRA, Sinn Fein should have been worried about vetoes which will be used by the DUP time and time again to humiliate nationalist ministers and nationalist people."


**Here's someone willing to knock de Valera off his pedestal for the underhanded shite he did

Name one thing Paisley, Haughey and de Valera have in common

By Ryle Dwyer

IT has not been a good week for Irish politics with politicians seeking to embarrass each other rather than putting peace and the national interest first.

Sinn Féin were offering to decommission completely and allow General John de Chastelain and two clergymen - one from each side of the divide - to witness the process.

Ian Paisley’s demand for photographs of the process has nothing to do with verification. It was about triumphalism and humiliation.

If Paisley was looking for verification, surely he could be the Protestant clergyman to witness the process?

When the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed in 1984, Charlie Haughey sought to undermine it for purely selfish political reasons, and he sent Brian Lenihan to rouse American opposition to the agreement. Of all the things that Haughey did, trying to undermine the Anglo-Irish Agreement was the worst because he put his own political interests above the lives of Irish people.

Eamon de Valera did the same thing with disastrous consequences back in 1921. After selecting the delegation to negotiate a treaty with the British, he repudiated them even though they returned essentially with the terms he had sought. If he had the integrity to back the treaty, the civil war could have been avoided.

There are issues which should be above politics, especially questions of life and death. The controversy surrounding the possible early release of those who murdered Det Garda Jerry McCabe poses real problems. The attitude of the McCabe family is fully understandable, especially in the light of the contradictory messages from the Government, which had tried to exploit the issue for party gain, and now they are hoisted on their own petard.

The RUC widows have full sympathy with the McCabe family, but then maybe we should have more understanding of the attitude of these unionists all along. We demanded that the unionists should face hard reality in the name of peace, while we adopted the do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do attitude.

The war of independence began with the shooting of two policemen in Soloheadbeg, Co Tipperary. That also did not have sanction of the leadership of the movement at the time. In fact, the leadership was furious because Seán Treacy, Dan Breen and company acted without authority on the same day that Dáil Éireann was formed. They murdered Constables James McDonald, from Belmullet, Co Mayo, and Patrick O’Connell from Clonmoyle near Coachford, Co Cork.

The big news story next day was not the establishment of the Dáil but the killings in Tipperary. Breen later wrote that his “only regret” was that there were only two policemen to kill that day. “Six would have created a bigger impression than a mere two,” he explained. “We felt bigger game was needed.” McDonnell was a widower with four or five children. “We must show our abhorrence of this inhuman act,” the parish priest, Monsignor Ryan, told the congregation in St Michael’s Church in Tipperary. “We must denounce it and the cowardly miscreants who are guilty of it - aye, and all who try to excuse or justify it.” Have we not as a nation sought to justify it since then?

“It used to be said ‘where Tipperary leads, Ireland follows,’ ” the monsignor continued. “God help poor Ireland if she follows this lead of blood! But let us give her the lead in our indignant denunciation of this crime against our Catholic civilisation, against Ireland, against Tipperary.”

People who question what happened at Soloheadbeg are now denounced as ‘revisionists’. Was Monsignor Ryan the first revisionist?

“It would be incorrect to say in the years before 1916 the RIC were unpopular,” wrote Seán Moylan, one of the heroes of the war of independence. “They were of the people, were inter-married among the people; they were generally men of exemplary lives, and of a high level of intelligence.” Many of the younger RIC men resigned in the following years, but the older men felt unable to do so because of their pensions. “It was a providential thing for the country that these older men remained at their posts,” Moylan added. “They were a moderating influence that kept within some bounds the irresponsibilities and criminalities of the Black and Tans.”

Would recognising their contribution have made Moylan a revisionist? The Government’s biggest problem over the demand for release of Gerry McCabe’s killers is the promise that John O’Donoghue made as minister for justice that they would not be released early in any circumstances.

THAT fits nicely into the hardline stand that he was taking on crime. Crime figured prominently in the 1997 general election campaign. O’Donoghue promised ‘zero tolerance’ on behalf of Fianna Fáil and rubbished the attitude of Minister for Justice Nora Owen, who was promising a policy of ‘no tolerance.’ At the time Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne denounced ‘zero tolerance’ as unworkable here. Some of O’Donoghue’s critics contended that the policy would overburden our prison system. They did not say which crimes, punishable by imprisonment, should be tolerated. “All laws must be obeyed,” Nora Owen contended. “We have no tolerance for crime.” She argued that there was a real difference between ‘no tolerance’ and the ‘zero tolerance’ being advocated by O’Donoghue, who later explained that he was thinking primarily of the drugs scene.

Whatever about the differences between FF and FG, there was a major difference of interpretation between O’Donoghue and the man who popularised zero tolerance - Bill Bratton, New York city police commissioner from 1994 to 1996.

Bratton’s approach of prosecuting even the smallest crime got international publicity when a grandmother was fined for depositing ‘noxious liquid’ in Central Park because she allowed her four-year-old grandson to relieve himself behind a bush. Ridiculous as the approach may have sounded, the policy had a dramatic impact. Subway crime fell by almost 80% and street crime by more than half. Murders were down 40% and burglary by a quarter. There were 30% fewer robberies and 40% fewer shootings in just two years.

Serious questions remain unanswered not only about the murder of Jerry McCabe, the last garda killed in the recent Troubles, but also about Garda Richard Fallon, the first garda murdered in those Troubles. These questions involve the allegation - first highlighted in the Dáil in 1971- that a ministerial driver helped the murderer to flee from Dublin. They also involve the arrest for questioning of a member of the family of a senior political figure.

The Fallon family have been seeking answers. Surely they deserve an explanation. Even though the minister for justice indicated that he would respond to them, he has not done so after well over a year.

Of course, when it comes to sensitivity, Michael McDowell is in a league of his own. No matter how much anyone might welcome an agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin, his insensitivity was breathtaking when he suggested that, in such an eventuality, going to tell Anne McCabe of the release of her husband’s killers would be “one of the happiest journeys I would have to make in my life”.

Sinn Féin News

RTÉ's stab at Joe Cahill: By Matt Treacy

While Richard English is by no means the worst contemporary commentator on modern republicanism, I felt that his contributions to the documentary about Joe Cahill (Hidden History, Joe Cahill; IRA Man, RTÉ 1, Tuesday) did not do justice to the reasons why people like Cahill disagreed with the leadership of the Republican Movement in the 1960s.

English claimed that Joe and others had little time for the Civil Rights Movement, whereas Eamonn McCann was more accurate when he described their attitude as being one of regarding the civil rights campaign as being bound to lead to a backlash, because of the nature of the northern state, and that the role of the IRA in that event was to be prepared militarily to resist that and take the initiative.

That is what happened but what we are now seeing is a rerun of the old theory favoured by the Officials that everything would have been grand if People's Democracy hadn't "provoked" the Paisleyites and B-Specials at Burntollet, and if the Provos hadn't undermined their strategy by splitting in 1969.

While the SDLP fly their "Sunningdale for Slow Learners" kite, Ed Moloney and others claim that the movement only came around to Goulding's position 25 years later. Both positions are probably more reflective of the sour grapes of certain people, but are none the less contemptible for all that. The true legacy of middle-class constitutionalism was the 50 years of subservience that followed partition. The true legacy of those who had subverted the movement in the 1960s was the burning houses on Bombay Street.

The film about Joe Cahill gave some flavour of the courage and ingenuity of those who had in short order to re-organise the Irish Republican Army in the midst of an onslaught from the Unionist state and paramilitaries and the collaboration of the 26-County state. One would be perhaps mistaken, however, for gaining the impression that the only people killed by the IRA were civilians, as there was no account of the manner in which the IRA successfully fought the crown forces over a period of more than 25 years.

Republicans were appalled by the instances where innocent civilians were killed as the result of IRA operations. They were also, unlike their enemies — as evidenced at this very moment in Iraq — prepared to acknowledge this and to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties, even at the cost of making it far more difficult to engage the enemy, which positioned itself as close as possible to, generally unwelcoming, civilian populations.

That moral or ethical aspect to the peace strategy has never really been discussed, least of all by republicans. However, it was and remains an important consideration. Some would argue that is a weakness for a movement engaged in armed struggle but we must always bear in mind that republicans have never waged armed struggle in isolation from or without the support of substantial sections of the population. People like Joe understood that, and that is why he and others were prepared to adapt to new means and new strategies.

Of course, there is no way of knowing whether any strategy will be successful, but as Joe himself said at the last Ard Fheis, the growing political strength of Sinn Féin and the centrality of the movement to politics in this country is proof that republicans and the republican demand for Irish freedom are at the centre of things.

While this film was interesting in many ways, I was left with the feeling that the makers had no real understanding of what Joe Cahill was all about, which is all the more reason why republicans need to be writing our own history.


Belfast Telegraph

Discovered: monkeys using tools

**Now, if they could just teach Ian to talk to Gerry ;-)



UDA ceasefire questioned

The validity of the UDA’s ceasefire has been brought into question by a North Belfast MLA after three loyalists stabbed a teenager with a claw hammer and a Stanley knife at the weekend.
The attempt on Darren McGarrity’s life (pictured on front) has prompted SDLP MLA Alban Maginness to question the seriousness of the UDA’s ceasefire claim.
18-year-old Darren was slashed with a Stanley blade and attacked with a claw hammer by Loyalists as he walked along the Antrim Road after using a bank link.
The deep lacerations on his upper back, neck and arms meant doctors at the Mater Hospital had to use 40 staples to close his wounds.
The attack took place on Saturday night after he had left the Chester Bar on the Antrim Road around 12.30am to get money from the nearby petrol station.
The attackers, who were disturbed by a passing car when they were attacking the young Catholic, told him he was a “lucky Fenian bastard.”
“In light of this incident and several others over the weekend, not least a UDA show of strength in court last week would make anyone seriously question their commitment,” Alban Maginness said.
“My view has always been that I am sceptical of the UDA’s ceasefire.
“I’m not convinced it’s a genuine ceasefire, and given this incident plus the court incident and others in North Belfast over the weekend, I’m still not convinced that the UDA are totally committed to this ceasefire.”
Darren’s mother Teresa McGarrity said she was horrified by the attack on her only son.
“When I head about it, I just went numb. But now I’m feeling hurt that someone would hurt my son.
“He’s a good, honest, hard worker and these people just don’t care who they hurt. I’m just grateful that Darren’s alive and that he’s here to tell the tale.”
The PSNI has said they are treating the attack on Darren’s life as sectarian and they said they were also investigating an attack on a young Nationalist in the grounds of Belfast Castle last Friday.
In this incident a young 20-year-old postman from Glengormley was approached by a gang of eight youths. They were carrying tree branches and holding glass bottles.
They said they were from the Ulster Political Research Group and the Ulster Volunteer Force according to the victim, who said he wanted to be known as Stephen.
“I had just left the Belfast Castle about 10.15pm on Friday when it happened.
“It was our Christmas party and I was waiting for my taxi when they came up to me and said ‘Up the Ra’. I just kept my head down and ignored them.
“But then they came up to me and I was circled. They asked me was I a Protestant and when I said it was none of their business, they cracked up and said I was getting done. That’s when they said they were from the UPRG and UVF. And then someone hit me in the eye with a bottle.”
The young man managed to get away but the gang chased him and caught up with him and attacked him. When he came to, he found himself in a garden and sought help.
Sinn Féin councillor Danny Lavery said it was time that Loyalists and unionist politicians worked together to stop the attacks.
“It is Sinn Féin's belief that both these attacks were sectarian and we are urging all Nationalists to be extremely vigilant in the coming weeks. Any one of these attacks could have been fatal.
“I am also calling on those with influence within the Loyalist and Unionist community to use whatever power they have to put an end to such attacks. They have to stop or someone could die.”
UPRG spokesman for North Belfast John Bunting rubbished claims that the attacks were the work of the UDA.
“I totally condemn these attacks wholeheartedly. If loyalists we involved I would totally condemn it.
“The people that did this are scumbags. They are undermining all the good work the UDA and UPRG are putting into this community.
“There is a serious problem in North Belfast with a knife culture and it seems that UDA is being landed with all the blame, whether its true or not.”


Journalist:: Staff Reporter


SF accused of giving DUP veto over nationalist ministers

10/12/2004 - 11:36:45

The SDLP has accused Sinn Féin of giving the Democratic Unionist Party a veto over the decisions of nationalist ministers as part of the deal to restore power-sharing.

The party claimed Sinn Féin had compromised the interests of Irish nationalists by focusing on protecting the self-image of the IRA in the negotiations that led to the deal.

Sinn Féin has rejected the charge, saying it had worked hard in the negotiations to defend the joint and equal nature of the first and deputy first minister and the North-South bodies.

Ballad of Claudy

Ballad of Claudy

* James Simmons

The Sperrins surround it, the Faughan flows by
At each end of Main Street the hills and the sky
The small town of Claudy at ease in the sun
Last July in the morning, a new day begun

How peaceful and pretty, if the moment could stop
McIlhenny is straightening things in his shop
His wife is outside serving petrol and then
A child takes a cloth to a big window-pane

And McCloskey is taking the weight off his feet
McClelland and Miller are sweeping the street
Delivering milk at the Beaufort Hotel
Young Temple's enjoying his first job quite well

And Mrs. McLaughlin is scrubbing her floor
Artie Hone's crossing the street to a door
Mrs. Brown, looking around for her cat
Goes off up an entry, what's strange about that

Not much, but before she comes back to the road
The strange car parked outside her house will explode
And all of the people I've mentioned outside
Will be waiting to die or already have died

An explosion too loud for your eardrums to bear
Young children squealing like pigs in the square
All faces chalk-white or streaked with bright red
And the glass, and the dust, and the terrible dead

For an old lady's legs are blown off, and the head
Of a man's hanging open, and still he's not dead
He is shrieking for mercy while his son stands and stares
And stares, and then suddenly - quick - disappears

And Christ, little Katherine Aiken is dead
Mrs. McLaughlin is pierced through the head
Meanwhile to Dungiven the killers have gone
And they're finding it hard to get through on the phone

The Sperrins surround it, the Faughan flows by
At each end of Main Street the hills and the sky
The small town of Claudy at ease in the sun
Last July in the morning, a new day begun


[1999:] 517. July 31, 1972 Elizabeth McElhinney, L/Derry, Civilian, Catholic, 59, married
From Main Street, Claudy, she was one of nine fatalities caused by a car bomb attack on the hitherto largely peaceful village. Six were killed on the day of the attack while three others were fatally wounded and died in the days following the explosions. A number of others were seriously injured. It is believed the IRA were behind the attack although it has always denied any part in the bombing.

Counsel for the Ministry of Home Affairs told the inquest that a car bomb exploded without warning outside McElhinney's public house on Main Street at 10.20 a.m. Elizabeth McElhinney, who was serving petrol at a pump in the street, died instantly, together with Joseph McCluskey and a nine-year-old girl, Kathryn Eakin. Rose McLaughlin, Patrick Connolly and Arthur Hone were fatally injured in the explosion.

A police sergeant and other officers discovered a second bomb in the back of a minivan at the post office. As they tried to clear the area many people moved towards the Beaufort Hotel, where a third device had been left in another minivan. Counsel said that 15 minutes after the first bomb went off a woman went into Dungiven RUC station and said she had been asked to tell police three bombs had been left in Claudy. Counsel said that by the time RUC headquarters in Derry received the warning the first bomb had already exploded. By the time the message was relayed to Claudy, the second bomb had been discovered.

A third device instantly killed David Miller, James McClelland and William Temple. An RUC detective-chief inspector told the inquest that his inquiries revealed the bombers had tried to make a telephone call from Dungiven but a callbox there was out of order because of bomb damage to the Claudy and Dungiven exchanges.

The officer said a warning was given by the bombers to shop assistants in Dungiven but, again because of damage to the telephone exchanges, one of them had to go personally to Dungiven RUC Station to deliver the warning. The policeman added: 'By this time the warning was too late, for the first bomb had exploded and the other two bombs went off as the warning was being passed by the Dungiven police.' Other witnesses told of seeing smoke belching from Claudy and of hearing screaming. A doctor said he rushed to the scene to treat those injured and suffering from shock. The coroner said: 'This was sheer, unadulterated, cold, calculated, fiendish murder.' The bombs were left on the same day as the army launched Operation Motorman to remove no-go areas in Derry.

Sean MacStiofain, who was IRA chief of staff at the time, wrote in his book 'A Revolutionary in Ireland': 'I turned on RTE. The news was appalling. A terrible tragedy had struck the small town of Claudy in Co. Derry. Three car bombs had exploded there. Six people had been killed outright. Over 30 were injured, and three subsequently died. My heart and everything I had inside me just seemed to tighten up in a knot and sink slowly to the bottom of my stomach. "Holy Mother of God," I thought. "Who is responsible for this?" He said that when he investigated, the IRA operations staff and local units adamantly denied any knowledge of the bombings. He said the denials were 'carefully investigated and subsequently borne out in a court of inquiry'.

The poet James Simmons wrote of events in the village that day in his work 'Claudy'. [See above.]

518. July 31, 1972 Joseph McCluskey, L/Derry, Civilian, Catholic, 39 From Faughan View Park, Claudy.

519. July 31, 1972 Kathryn Eakin, L/Derry, Civilian, Protestant, 9
She lived at Main Street in Claudy. In a newspaper interview 20 years after the deaths, her mother said: 'Kathryn would have been 28 this year. Every time I go to a wedding I think it could have been hers. She was cleaning windows outside our shop. The bang went off and I started screaming. Then her granda came over and said, "I was with her at the end," but I didn't understand. I just kept saying, "The end of what?" I'd never be bitter to Catholics. I grew up with them. But I'll never forgive the bombers for the hours and days and years I should have had with my daughter."

520. July 31, 1972 David Miller, L/Derry, Civilian, Protestant, 60
From Ivan Crescent in Claudy, he was killed when the third and final device exploded in the village.

521. July 31, 1972 William Temple, L/Derry, Civilian, Protestant, 16, milkman's helper
From Donemana, Co. Tyrone, he was in Claudy because he had got up at 4.30 a.m. that morning to do a milk round which included the village. [...]

525. August 3, 1972 Rose McLaughlin, L/Derry, Civilian, Catholic, 52, married, 8 children
From Main Street, Claudy, she died from injuries received in explosions in the town on July 31, 1972. [...]

532. August 8, 1972 Patrick Joseph Connolly, L/Derry, Civilian, Catholic, 15
He was the eighth person to die as a result of the IRA's bomb attack on Claudy, eight days earlier. He was caught in the first explosion at approximately 10.20 a.m. when a device exploded in a car left outside McElhinney's public house in the village. The schoolboy's injuries were caused by flying metal and he was flown to Altnagelvin Hospital. Business in the bomb-damaged village came to a standstill during the 15-year-old's funeral. He was buried in an adjoining cemetery after requiem mass in St Patrick's Church. [...]

539. August 13, 1972 Arthur Hone, L/Derry, Civilian, Catholic, 38, married, 2 children, insurance representative
From Claudy Brae, Claudy, he was the ninth and last victim to die following the bomb attack in the village on July 31. The two priests who concelebrated his funeral mass at St Patrick's Church in Claudy were his uncles. Addressing the mourners, one of them condemned what he described as the savagery of the bombing and the total disregard shown for human life. He also expressed a hope that a new community spirit would stem from the common suffering in the village. Arthur Hone's children were aged six and four.

On the 20th anniversary of the bombing, his widow told the Belfast Telegraph: 'Only the children keep me going. My daughter is getting married next month. It's a happy day but she'll miss her daddy to give her away.' (David McKittrick et al, Lost Lives 240 ff.)


Sinn Fein backs Claudy inquiry

Nine people were killed in the no-warning bomb

Sinn Fein councillors in Limavady have backed a proposal for a judicial inquiry into the 1972 Claudy bombing.

Nine people, including a nine-year-old girl, were killed in the explosion at the County Londonderry village. But the bombers were never caught.

At Thursday's council meeting, Sinn Fein Mayor Anne Brolly seconded the proposal by Boyd Douglas of the Unionist Coalition.

Mrs Brolly said she fully supported the motion.

"I felt that what happened in Claudy was a grievous wrong," she said.

"If we can get at the truth and bring succour to the families in Claudy, then I certainly wanted to support the motion and I think it was wholeheartedly and unanimously supported in the council chamber."

In December 2002, the police said a priest was involved in the Claudy bombing.

It also emerged that both the Catholic Church's cardinal at the time, William Conway, and the then Secretary of State, William Whitelaw, met to discuss the matter.

However, a politician who was a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office at the time of the Claudy bombing said he knew nothing of an alleged cover-up over the involvement of a Catholic priest in the attack


Controversy over 'war dead'

Sinn Fein said there would be no speeches at the event

A Sinn Fein 'remembrance' ceremony for all who have suffered in war has been condemned by the DUP.

Sinn Fein has called for every member of the community to attend a Day of Reflection on Friday.

Derry Mayor Gearoid OhEara, SF, said the event would commemorate everyone who lost their lives as the result of war.

But DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the ceremony would merely "deepen sores".

The Day of Reflection coincides with International Human Rights Day.

Mr OhEara said it was an effort to overcome the potentially contentious issue of remembrance.

"Hopefully this will go some way towards communal healing, personal healing and reconciliation."
Gearoid OhEara
Sinn Fein

He said he believed the event offered every member of the community the opportunity to remember "all those who have lost their lives as a result of war and conflict from and within the city and district" regardless of background".

"I am very conscious of the importance of remembrance to the people of this city and would like to point out that this event is not intended to replace any of the existing commemorations that take place," he said.

He said there would be no speeches, statements or opinions at the event.

"Some people are saying it is too soon, but over 90 percent think it is a good idea and we should proceed with it. Hopefully this will go some way towards communal healing, personal healing and reconciliation," he said.

However, Mr Campbell said the event would not bring about healing.

"Today's events will deepen sores that may have been healing because people who are genuine, relatives of genuine innocent victims people who did nothing other than to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, are being put on a par with people who killed their relatives but happened to die as a consequence of their actions," he said.

"That is not the way of bringing about healing into our divided society."

'Controversial' events

Sinn Fein's participation in remembrance events has been controversial.

During his term as Belfast's first republican lord mayor in 2002, Alex Maskey held a Remembrance function for the Royal British Legion and laid a wreath during a commemoration service for those killed during the First World War's Battle of the Somme.

As part of Friday's events, the council chairs of Magherafelt and Fermanagh - Patsy Groogan and Gerry McHugh - will hold civic ceremonies.

Tree planting ceremonies will take place in Omagh and Strabane.


Dissident republicans claim attack on border police station

Impartial Reporter
9 Dec 2004

The Real IRA has claimed responsibility for a gun attack on Belleek
PSNI station on Saturday evening. The dissident republican group made
the claim in a call to the Derry Journal newsroom on Monday, police

Shots were heard near the police station at around 6.30pm and shortly
afterwards a car was found burning on the nearby border crossing at
Cliff Road.
Firefighters from Ballyshannon were called to the scene but the car
was gutted by the blaze, which is believed by police to have been
deliberately set. The station was unmanned at the time.

On Monday, police carried out a search operation of the area close to
the station and discovered a number of strike marks on the exterior
wall and the Sanger.

Chief Inspector John Maxwell said a number of casings were found
during the follow-up searches and are being examined by forensic
"Shortly after six, a car drove up and fired a number of rounds from
an automatic weapon at the police station, which fortunately was
unmanned at the time," he said.

"They drove up the road and abandoned the car at the border. It was
extensively burnt out, we believe on purpose.

"In an area that has civilians around it, at 6pm on a Saturday
evening, to fire shots at a police station is a totally reckless act
and does nothing for the local community," he said.

"What the rationale behind this is I do not know, but there have been
isolated incidents since the ceasefires.

"The police are there trying to help the community and this is the
negative reaction from a small minority of terrorists."

The burnt-out car is believed to have been a white Vauxhall Astra.
Detectives are keen to hear from anyone who saw the vehicle before
the incident or when it was making its getaway.

Police are also linking the incident to a "rather mixed-up" call made
to a Belfast newsroom on Sunday, the day after the attack.

The caller, who had a Fermanagh accent and claimed to represent
Oglaigh na hEireann, said there was going to be a gun attack on
Belleek police station using an assault rifle.

SDLP MLA Tommy Gallagher condemned the attack and pointed out that
there were no police officers in the station at the time.

He said: "There was a number of people in the area who heard the
gunfire on Saturday night. It seems to have been directed at the
barracks but fortunately there were no injuries or anything of that

"If there's any support for this kind of action any more it's from a
very small number of people.

"The vast majority of people have invested their desires and hopes in
the political process and some day that will turn out to be the right
path for all of us."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Enniskillen at
028 6632 2823, or the confidential Crimestoppers number at freephone
0800 555111.



Military base set to close

A military base in County Tyrone is to be closed, the police have said.

The decision to close the base in Clogher was announced by Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton on Tuesday.

A Ministry of Defence statement said the base was being closed to ensure military resources were being used effectively and efficiently.

However, it stressed the move would not affect the Army's ability to support the police when required.

The closure of the facility is expected to take about six months to complete.

Ulster Unionist Party assembly member Tom Elliot said: "It is a huge mistake to close down the base because it leaves our border area vulnerable."

Sinn Fein Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew said the decision was "long overdue".

"The British government and particularly the NIO have frustrated progress on demilitarisation," she said.

An Phoblacht

Send Christmas greetings to a republican POW

Castlerea Prison,


Co Roscommon

• Kevin Walsh

• Pearse McAuley

• Michael O'Neill

• Gerry Sheehy

• Seán Kind

• Michael Nugent

• Walter Nagle

• Kieran Kiely

Portlaoise Prison, Portlaoise, Co Laois

• Niall Binéad

• Kenneth O'Donohue


• Michael Dickson,

JVA Oldenburg


Str 400, 26133




• Ciaran Ferry

PO Box 16700,

Jefferson County Jail,


Colorado 80402-6700


Maghaberry Prison,

Roe House,

Old Road, Ballinderry Upper,


BT28 2PT

Co Antrim.

• Patrick Leonard

• Michael Rogan

• Arthur McGuigan

• R O'Donnell

Ash House, HMYOC, Hospital Road,

Belfast BT8 8 NA

• Bernadette McKee


Original copy of 1916 Proclamation sold for €390,000

09/12/2004 - 09:04:11

An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence sold for a record €390,000 at auction in Dublin last night.

The document, which was discovered in a cupboard in a family home, is one of only 20 copies of the proclamation known to exist.

It was expected to sell for more than €150,000, but ended up securing more than double that, setting a new record for an original copy of the proclamation.

The document was purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder whose identity and nationality were not revealed.

An Phoblacht

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Exclusive IRA statement

An Phoblacht today prints in full a statement from the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

It is clear from this statement that the IRA was prepared to move in an unprecedented way to liberate the peace process and in a way that deals with the genuine concerns of all reasonable people.

It would be unthinkable that this offer would be rejected or lost because of the impossible demands being made by a unionist leadership locked into the failed psychology of the past.

The London and Dublin governments have a big choice to make. Do they face up to the challenge of pressing ahead with the peace process or do they join Ian Paisley in his demand for a process of humiliation?

Full text of IRA Statement

"More than ten years ago, an IRA cessation publicly heralded the onset of the Irish peace process. Since then, the IRA has, time and again, demonstrated its commitment to sustaining and developing that process through a series of very significant and substantive initiatives.

In the context of the work to conclude a comprehensive agreement, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann decided:

- to support a comprehensive agreement by moving into a new mode which reflects our determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society;

- all IRA Volunteers be given specific instructions not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger that new agreement;

- the IRA leadership also decided that we will, in this context, conclude the process to completely and verifiably put all our arms beyond use;

- we instructed our representative to agree with the IICD the completion of this process, speedily, and if possible by the end of December;

- to further enhance public confidence we agreed to the presence of two clergymen as observers during this process.

The IRA leadership decided to contribute in this way to a comprehensive agreement to resolve all outstanding issues, including those of concern within unionism. For his part, Ian Paisley demanded that our contribution be photographed, and reduced to an act of humiliation.

This was never possible. Knowing this, he made this demand publicly as the excuse for his rejection of an overall agreement to create a political context with the potential to remove the causes of conflict. As the IRA leadership has said before, this is a context in which Irish republicans and unionists can, as equals, pursue our respective political objectives peacefully.

We restate our commitment to the peace process. But we will not submit to a process of humiliation.

We commend our Volunteers and the wider republican base for their patience and discipline in these testing times. Our commitment, like theirs, to our republican objectives is undiminished.

We thank those who have made genuine contributions to the efforts to find solutions to ongoing problems. While acknowledging these efforts, we reiterate our view that progress cannot be made by pandering to the demands of those who are against change.

The search for a just and lasting peace is a challenging one. The IRA leadership has risen to that challenge. The British Government and the leaders of unionism must do likewise."

P O'Neill

Irish Republican Publicity Bureau


Omagh defence pulls out of case

Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years

Lawyers for the defence in a multi-million pound civil action by families of the Omagh victims have pulled out of the case.

Frank O'Donoghue, the QC representing Michael McKevitt, told the court there was no way the defence could be funded.

Last week, McKevitt - the Real IRA leader - lost a legal aid battle to defend the multi-million pound claim.

Lawyers for the families said that nothing would prevent them pursuing their historic civil action to trial.

McKevitt had been granted the money for the High Court case, but it was set aside after the Legal Services Commission ruled he had not told the truth in his application.

McKevitt, Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy are being sued for £14m by the Omagh Victims' Civil Action Group.

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured when the Real IRA detonated a car bomb in Omagh on 15 August 1998.

'No convictions for murder'

Mr O'Donoghue applied to the court to "come off record", the legal term for ending any connection with a client.

The application was granted. Lawyers for the four other men named as defendants in the case had earlier ended their representation.

Richard Devall from lawyers H2O, who are representing the families, said: "No comment is made concerning the apparent decision of Michael McKevitt's legal representatives to come off the court record.

"Whatever actions the defendants may choose to take, nothing will prevent the families successfully pursuing their historic civil action through to trial."

A legal source said the only possibility of any of the defendants being legally represented was if the judge decided that an issue which might arise during a preliminary hearing - or at the actual trial - would require legal representation in order to ensure a fair trial.

There will be no convictions for murder because it is not a criminal case, but the families could be awarded damages against the men they accuse.

At last week's hearing, Mr Justice Girvan said the decision to withhold the estimated £1m for McKevitt's defence was based on good reasons and was not wrong in law.

In August 2003, McKevitt, 54, was jailed for 20 years in the Republic of Ireland after being found guilty of directing terrorism and membership of an illegal organisation.


IRA says willing to disarm fully this month--but no photos

SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2004 04:19 PST
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) --

The Irish Republican Army declared for the first time Thursday that it's willing to get rid of its entire weapons stockpile within weeks -- but it won't allow anybody to photograph the disarmament.

The outlawed IRA made its new offer of speedy disarmament a day after the British and Irish governments published a detailed plan designed to revive a Catholic-Protestant administration, the intended cornerstone of the province's Good Friday peace accord of 1998.

The two diametrically opposed forces that would have to share power -- the British Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Irish Catholics of Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party -- agree they are close to a historic pact.

But just as the IRA's longtime refusal to disarm has wrecked previous power-sharing pacts, its refusal to permit photos of its disarmament has become the deal-breaker this time.

All sides agreed Thursday that the IRA's latest commitments represent a stunning advance from 1997, when the underground organization halted its 27-year campaign against British rule, which left 1,800 dead and tens of thousands injured.

At that time, IRA activists plastered walls with the defiant slogan "Not a bullet, not an ounce." This meant the IRA would cling to its massive arsenal -- largely supplied by Libya in the mid-1980s and hidden in underground bunkers -- as its most valuable negotiating card.

In Thursday's statement, the IRA confirmed British and Irish claims that it was ready to play its ace -- but also that its new slogan has effectively become: Not a photo.

The IRA's seven-man command said it has conditionally agreed to lead disarmament officials to all of its remaining weapons bunkers "speedily and, if possible, by the end of December."

It will allow two clergymen -- one a Catholic priest approved by Sinn Fein, the other a Protestant nominated by the Democratic Unionists -- to act as independent observers, another new commitment.

In other significant pledges, the IRA moved closer to demands for the group to fade away as part of a new power-sharing deal.

It said it would instruct its membership -- estimated at less than 1,000 people organized in small units -- "not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger that new agreement."

But the IRA said it must reject one section in the Anglo-Irish plans published Wednesday:

* That the IRA should permit an internationally respected photographer to record the entire disarmament process;

* For these photos to be shown to leading Protestant politicians confidentially once Northern Ireland's legislature convened in January;

* And for the photos to be published in March on the same day that lawmakers elected a new administration led jointly by the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein.

The IRA said Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley "demanded that our contribution be photographed, and reduced to an act of humiliation. This was never possible."

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said Protestants instead must accept as sufficient the IRA's offer of independent witnesses.

"The photographs have been ruled out and we should just accept that as (being) a bridge too far," McLaughlin said.

But the Democratic Unionists declared its readiness for a protracted standoff if the IRA doesn't budge on permitting photos.

"If there is going to be an impasse over decommissioning, then it could go on for a long time," said Democratic Unionist negotiator Jeffrey Donaldson. "Republicans are going to have to revise their position."

The British and Irish governments agreed that IRA disarmament must be sufficiently "transparent" for the public, particularly the Protestant majority, to support power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

Britain's governor for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, said he understood Sinn Fein-IRA worries that Paisley could use photos to rub the movement's nose in surrender claims.

"At the same time," Murphy said, "unless we are able to give confidence to people throughout the whole of Northern Ireland that decommissioning has happened, then this simply isn't going to work."

Belfast Telegraph

Paisley is urged to test IRA on peace
Adams asks for talks with DUP leader

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
09 December 2004

Gerry Adams today acclaimed the IRA's latest statement as a "mighty declaration for peace".

But the Sinn Fein president warned the political process had reached a "defining moment" - against a backdrop of the risk of an increasingly polarised society.

And he challenged DUP leader Ian Paisley: "Test the IRA. Try to out the IRA - but talk to republicans."

The West Belfast MP said there was huge trauma and concern within republicanism as people tried to reach a sense of what the IRA statement means.

"There are people out there who have fought against the British, who are proud, rightly, of having fought the British, who have resisted attempts to criminalise, humiliate and totally and utterly obliterate them who are reading this and don't like what they are reading", he said. Mr Adams told the Press conference that there had been feedback from grass roots to the party's Dublin headquarters and offices across Northern Ireland.

But he said that what would define the present moment was the response of the British and Irish Governments and political unionism to the IRA statement.

"Some may say I am naive but I would appeal to Ian Paisley as the leader of unionism to come and talk to me about all this," he said.

"I would appeal to the two Governments and to the people out there to see how huge a statement this is. This is a declaration of intent, not of war or of further conflict but to deal with all the big issues that are presently presenting problems. It is a mighty declaration for peace and should not be dismissed."

Mr Adams said he accepted that the DUP, in accepting the equality agenda, the infrastructure of the Good Friday Agreement, the All-Ireland and power-sharing arrangements had also taken a huge step.

Mr Adams said he believed the current situation could be fixed but that the process should not be parked because of the run-in to the Westminster and local government elections.

Sinn Féin News

9 December, 2004

IRA statement

An Phoblacht today prints in full a statement from the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

It is clear from this statement that the IRA was prepared to move in an unprecedented way to liberate the peace process and in a way that deals with the genuine concerns of all reasonable people.

It would be unthinkable that this offer would be rejected or lost because of the impossible demands being made by a unionist leadership locked into the failed psychology of the past.

The London and Dublin governments have a big choice to make. Do they face up to the challenge of pressing ahead with the peace process or do they join Ian Paisley in his demand for a process of humiliation?

Full text of IRA Statement

"More than ten years ago, an IRA cessation publicly heralded the onset of the Irish peace process. Since then, the IRA has, time and again, demonstrated its commitment to sustaining and developing that process through a series of very significant and substantive initiatives.

In the context of the work to conclude a comprehensive agreement, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann decided:

- to support a comprehensive agreement by moving into a new mode which reflects our determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society;

- all IRA Volunteers be given specific instructions not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger that new agreement;

- the IRA leadership also decided that we will, in this context, conclude the process to completely and verifiably put all our arms beyond use;

- we instructed our representative to agree with the IICD the completion of this process, speedily, and if possible by the end of December;

- to further enhance public confidence we agreed to the presence of two clergymen as observers during this process.

The IRA leadership decided to contribute in this way to a comprehensive agreement to resolve all outstanding issues, including those of concern within unionism. For his part, Ian Paisley demanded that our contribution be photographed, and reduced to an act of humiliation.

This was never possible. Knowing this, he made this demand publicly as the excuse for his rejection of an overall agreement to create a political context with the potential to remove the causes of conflict. As the IRA leadership has said before, this is a context in which Irish republicans and unionists can, as equals, pursue our respective political objectives peacefully.

We restate our commitment to the peace process. But we will not submit to a process of humiliation.

We commend our Volunteers and the wider republican base for their patience and discipline in these testing times. Our commitment, like theirs, to our republican objectives is undiminished.

We thank those who have made genuine contributions to the efforts to find solutions to ongoing problems. While acknowledging these efforts, we reiterate our view that progress cannot be made by pandering to the demands of those who are against change.

The search for a just and lasting peace is a challenging one. The IRA leadership has risen to that challenge. The British Government and the leaders of unionism must do likewise."

P O'Neill

Irish Republican Publicity Bureau


What two sides had laid on the table

Thursday December 9, 2004
The Guardian

The British and Irish governments yesterday attempted to push negotiations in Northern Ireland forward by publishing documents that would have been released if a deal had been reached.

The joint document gives terms of the agreement, and the timetable. It includes draft statements from the IRA, Sinn Féin, DUP, and the decommissioning body, the IICD. This latter text, how it would verify destruction of weapons, was the point of dispute.

Dublin also issued statements that would have been released by Sinn Féin. One was headed: A Defining Point in the Peace Process.

It said: "For the first time in the history of this state, all of the political parties are willing to work together in agreed political structures and arrangements. This is truly a watershed moment in the history of this island."


The document makes it clear that a deal was nearly reached: "A basis for agreement has now been reached on the key issues ... the need to bring all forms of paramilitary activity to an end; the need to decommission all paramilitary weapons; the need for a clear commitment on all sides to the stability of the political institutions; and for the achievement of support for policing from all sides of the community.

"All of these issues have been addressed satisfactorily. There is now a basis on which we can look forward to the early restoration of the Assembly, with the prospect of stable and inclusive power-sharing government in Northern Ireland and the full operation of the North-South and East-West arrangements."


"We are confident steps will now be taken to provide for an immediate, full and permanent cessation of all paramilitary activity by the IRA," the document says, describing the potential deal as "monumental".

Political institutions

The document outlines the "earliest possible" resumption of devolution next year.

· This month the government would have created a "shadow assembly" to revive devolution. "This shadow period will take effect on the completion of IRA decommissioning, at the beginning of January."

· In February suspension of proper assembly would end.

IRA statement

"The IRA is determined to support this comprehensive agreement. This creates the conditions for the IRA to move into a new mode that reflects its determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society brought to a successful conclusion.

"Consistent with this and recognising the need to uphold and not to endanger anyone's personal rights and safety, all IRA volunteers have given specific instructions not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger the new agreement.

"We have also made it clear that the IRA leadership will, in this new context, conclude the process to completely and verifiably put all its arms beyond use. Accordingly the IRA leadership has agreed with the IICD to complete this process in a way which further enhances public confidence and to conclude this by the end of December."

DUP statement

"Following confirmation ... that IRA paramilitary activity of all kinds has ended we will operate and participate in all the new arrangements

"... We urge paramilitary groups within the Unionist community, in the light of moves by the Provisional IRA, to engage positively with the IICD to remove all illegal weapons from our society and to end all paramilitary and criminal activity. The DUP is a devolutionist party and wants policing and justice powers devolved just as soon as conditions permit. Inter-community conflict still exists and people are being displaced from and attacked in their homes and districts, particularly along the boundary of interface areas. We want action to tackle all sectarianism, racism and intolerance and seek agreements for a bill of rights in Northern Ireland."


Belfast sighs as peace deal slips away again
Talk on the streets is still partisan, but sense of political detachment grows

Owen Bowcott in Belfast
Thursday December 9, 2004
The Guardian

Plastic Father Christmases may festoon Belfast's many lampposts, but there was little sign yesterday of the season of goodwill. News of the peace process faltering yet again surprised few, and reinforced a sense of political detachment.

On the Belmont Road in east Belfast supporters of the Democratic Unionist party backed the insistence the IRA provide photographic proof of decommissioning.

"It's all gone on for too long," said William McMahon, manager of the Stormont Inn. "At the end of it all, we need peace. But the Rev Ian Paisley is right. Those pictures are important, especially where the IRA is concerned. You remember your man [referring to Gerry Adams] saying that they haven't gone away."

Belfast's centre, where cafes, bars and restaurants thrive, is visible proof of the transformation of Northern Ireland. That success has ensured that any prospect of a return to paramilitary violence seems increasingly improbable. After 30 years of violence the sense of relief cements a cross-community consensus that the pursuit of politics should replace murder.

But though the economy is changing rapidly, the cranes of Harland and Wolff are still an overbearing presence in east Belfast. Twenty thousand men once worked there, now its down to 200.

"To me, it's exactly the same as it was years back," said Margaret Johnson, who normally votes for David Trimble's Ulster Unionist party."We have to have some evidence. We have seen this exercise before. On one occasion it was a couple of rifles disposed of, and we took their word for it. Maybe the whole public needs to go and watch the arms being destroyed."

Another shopper expressed dismay. "I'm so switched off about it I don't even watch the news any more," said George Roberts, a retired transport manager.

"We have got peace, and it's happy days. I'm so fed up with the politicians. But you do need to see proof of the guns being blown up. I wouldn't take the IRA's word for it. What those people have been involved in for 30 years ... I wouldn't trust them. Pictures would be fine."

A war memorial, prominent in black marble, stands next to the UUP offices in Belmont Road, a role call of those Protestants and Unionists who gave their lives for King and Country in world war one. "Pass not this stone in sorrow but in pride," the inscription reads, "And may you live as nobly as they died."

The weight of history bears down heavily on east Belfast. For some people, however, the world has moved on. "They are still fighting those old party politics," said Jim Agnew, originally from the South. "Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley represent such a small minority of opinion. The Republican movement has moved so far in such a relatively short space of time, some credit should be given.

"It should be enough for the officials in the decommissioning commission to authorise the disposal of weapons. There should be some trust. I don't want to carry on living in the 18th century."

Another woman, who declined to give her name but said she was a UUP voter, expressed dismay. "I think the IRA are being humiliated," she said. "We don't need photos to prove it. It's time to move on."

Less than a mile away, in the staunchly Republican Short Strand, on the east bank of the Lagan, the mood was unforgiving. Mr Paisley and his talk of the IRA needing to wear "sackcloth and ashes" had stirred up sectarian differences, the resident said. "It's just Paisley trying to humiliate us," insisted a local man who would not be identified.

"It's just Paisley wanting to be the lord of Northern Ireland. The Devil always looks after his own. That's why he is still alive. What do pictures prove anyway? They can always be doctored."

Opposite, the almost deserted Mount Pottinger police station still bristles with radio antennae. On a gable end a mural depicting British troops leaving the province is fading. Outside the Sinn Fein office a black plaque commemorates IRA volunteers killed as long ago as the 1916 uprising. The inscription reads: "And all others who died as a result of British occupation of our country."

Tethering an inflatable Santa Clause in her front garden, a local woman declared: "I don't care. It's so boring now. The IRA have done well, but I don't think they should give them the pictures."

A couple of window cleaners nearby thought the IRA had given too much. "I think Sinn Fein has moved too far too fast," said one of them. "I've got friends on both sides of the divide but I still think you have to keep a few weapons. The Republicans are bending over too far."

Across the river, on the waterfront where high rise buildings mark regeneration under the peace process, there was gloom that the deal had not been done. "I just wish they could have made an agreement," a woman shopper shrugged. "In an ideal world, I suppose, they would have compromised." But, even for her, compromise seems far fetched.


Ulster: the deal that almost was

Owen Bowcott in Belfast
Thursday December 9, 2004
The Guardian

The British and Irish governments offered a tantalising glimpse of how close Northern Ireland's politicians came to restoring power sharing and ending all paramilitary activity as they yesterday released the text of a proposed final agreement to put devolution back on track.

An extraordinarily detailed document set out the basis of the agreement, illustrating how little now separates the province's politicians, and how consensus had been reached on a number of previously contentious points.

However, in a joint press conference in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Tony Blair and the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, conceded that the vexed issue of whether or not photographs should be produced of the disposal of IRA arms forestalled a deal.

It emerged yesterday that a proposed compromise deal on photographs suggested that pictures would have been taken but not published until next March when a new Northern Ireland executive had been established. The relevant paragraph stated: "The IRA representative has told us that the IRA will have photgraphs of the weapons and material involved taken."

The fact that the documents also contained an expected IRA statement suggests that until recently there was a belief that a deal had been reached.

It said: "All IRA volunteers have been given specific instructions not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger the new agreement." The IRA, it added, would "move into a new mode that reflects its determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society".

The progress that has been made was welcomed by both governments at the joint conference. "To have agreed all these [other] matters is very considerable progress," Mr Blair said. "But there's one issue that remains, the transparency of the decommissioning process and how it should be done."

He compared the peace process to climbing a mountain. "Just when you think you have reached the peak, you realise you have a another way to go. On the other hand I look back and see the vast expanse of territory we have climbed. That extra bit which we have to go, once would have looked unattainable ... is now indeed attainable."

There was an "inevitability" about the peace process, he said. "I can't see it going backwards. This is a transformed landscape in which we operate."

The documents released yesterday, Proposals by the British and Irish governments for a comprehensive agreement, included statements that would have been published by the IRA and the Democratic Unionist party, as well as a timetable for the destruction of republican arms by the end of the year and the establishment of a new power-sharing executive at Stormont. The province's two largest parties, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, had sorted out how power sharing would work, approved Sinn Fein's joining the Policing Board, acknowledged that weapons must be destroyed, and accepted there should be an end to all paramilitary activity.

Just how deep the divisions are over the issue of verification became apparent, however, during the day as recriminations multiplied. For Sinn Fein, photographic evidence would have provided a humiliating symbol of surrender. Without the pictures, the DUP insisted, public trust in the process could not be ensured.

In a separate press conference, the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, said: "We did not ask for just one photograph but a complete record of the decommissioning process." The breakdown in negotiations was not merely over the issue of photographs, he maintained.

The disputed status of some of the documents published yesterday runs the risk of sparking fresh arguments.

More meetings are planned next week between the party leaders, the Northern Ireland secretary, Paul Murphy, and Dermot Ahern, the Republic's minister for foreign affairs.

$inn Féin New$

December 8, 2004

Ahern admits British Inquiries Bill must be changed: By Joanne Corcoran

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has admitted that the British Government's new Inquiries Bill, which will have an impact on how inquiries, like the one into Patrick Finucane's death, will be held, is inadequate and must be changed.

Ahern made his admission in the Dáil during questioning by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

The British Government introduced the legislation on 26 November. The Finucane family immediately rejected the bill, pointing out that it did not comply with the recommendations made by Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who looked into six controversial deaths from the conflict, including Pat's.

The family also accused the British Government of making a complete departure from the promises made at Weston Park, where both Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern agreed to follow through on any recommendations made with regard to inquiries.

The family says that Clause 17 of the Bill is a wholesale departure from the Weston Park Agreement and the Cory Recommendations, in that an inquiry established under this draft legislation will not have all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry, since it gives the Minister the power to determine when the inquiry sits in private and what material is to be withheld.

The new legislation also allows the government to withhold transcripts from any inquiry from the public for 30 years.

Speaking in the Dáil last Tuesday, Ó Caoláin pressed the Taoiseach on the commitment he gave at Weston Park and asked him whether he had raised the issue of the Inquiries Bill with Tony Blair.

"Is the Taoiseach aware that the central tenet of the Inquiries Bill is to afford the British Government the power to determine when the inquiry sits in private and what material is to be held?" Ó Caoláin asked. "Does the Taoiseach not agree that this is a mockery of any inquiry process?

The Cavan/Monaghan TD also asked Ahern whether he was aware that the Finucane family had stated that they would not co-operate with any inquiry established under the new British legislation.

Responding, Ahern said that he had met Pat Finucane's widow Geraldine and her family recently, and he had arranged for the British Prime Minister to meet the Finucane family.

"I also discussed the issue with a senior representative of the British Government, Lord Falconer, and told him that Geraldine Finucane would not agree if the legislation fell short," Ahern said. "I reminded Lord Falconer of the commitment made at Weston Park to set up the Cory inquiry into the six cases, which led to a wider inquiry."

Saying he would continue to support Geraldine Finucane, because "right is on her side", he added that if the British Government's Inquiries legislation was inadequate, "as it currently is, we must try to have changes made to it and we have continued to lobby for this.

"If the legislation comes before the House of Commons, we will use whatever influence we have to work with those who can try to change it," he said.

$inn Féin New$

**Damn! Now they are charging to read the news.

December 8, 2004

Gerry Adams responds to British and Irish governments comprehensive agreement

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern published their joint proposals aimed at breaking the impasse in the Peace Process at a press conference in Belfast this afternoon. But Ian Paisley's DUP is still refusing to agree to the deal insisting on his demand for the IRA to submit to a process of humiliation.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking at a press conference in Belfast this evening said that the proposals was a good deal which reflects accurately the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement, including its power-sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions. He said that the only obstacle is the DUP's unrealisable demand for the humiliation of Irish republicans.

Mr. Adams said: "Firstly, let me begin by repeating Sinn Féin's response to the comprehensive agreement as presented to us by the the governments This is a good deal which reflects accurately the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement, including its power-sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions. We have, in addition, made progress across a range of other important issues.

"In relation to the issues which the IRA is responsible for, we made it clear throughout the recent discussions that these were a matter for the IRA. However, I am confident that in the context of a comprehensive agreement that the IRA leadership will resolve these issues. This is a huge contribution which should liberate the entire process. All of the issues of substance have been resolved.

"I have listened to the remarks of the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister this afternoon. I believe that their comments have caused some confusion. Let me clarify them. The issue of photographs was first raised in the week before Leeds Castle. We were told by two governments that this was a DUP demand. We told the two governments that in our view this was not achievable. We were shocked on November 17th when this demand appeared in their joint proposals. We made clear from the beginning that this was not a runner.

"The only obstacle which we face is the DUP's unrealisable demand for the humiliation of Irish republicans.

"I welcome the assertion from Tony Blair that the DUP has agreed to this package, although I have not heard him saying this publicly.

"No one should be in any doubt that a mighty piece of work has been done. We must not lose this."

Earlier today Tony Blair said: "I think there is an inevitability about this process which is locked in. I can't see this process going backward but I do know that it's going to require extra effort to finish the journey. This is a transformed landscape in which we operate today but it won't be properly transformed until we have the devolved institutions back up and working again."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern added: "Today is truly different - I don't think it, I know it. We had obviously wished to be able to present the proposals in the context of full agreement before we came here - but that is not possible. We are not quite at that point of total success. Our work must therefore continue to secure agreement and closure and what - by any standards - is a huge, impressive, indeed a landmark package."

A PDF file of the two government's proposals is available at www.nio.gov.uk/media-detail.htm?newsID=10614

Articles may not be reproduced without the consent of the Sinn Féin News. For further information, please contact editor@sinnfeinnews.com


Old Bailey bomber ashamed of Sinn Fein

(by Suzanne Breen, the Village)

A well-dressed, articulate, middle-aged woman, Marian Price wouldn't
look out of place on a Sinn Féin negotiating team meeting Tony Blair
or Bertie Ahern.

But she'd face jail and hunger-strike all over again rather than take
part:"I would be ashamed to be on any delegation to Downing Street
given what's on the table. The only reason for going there should be
to negotiate the freedom of our country.

"If I went to agree to British rule, restoring Stormont, or signing
up to a partitionist police force, I'd hope at least to have the
decency to hang my head in shame."

The last time Price visited London was to blow it up. With her sister
Dolours and Gerry Kelly, now a Sinn Féin negotiator, she was part of
an 11-strong IRA unit which in March 1973 planted bombs at the Old
Bailey, New Scotland Yard, Whitehall, and the British Forces
Broadcasting Office.

They were arrested attempting to fly home from Heathrow Airport. A
200-day hunger-strike and force-feeding regime made the sisters
household names. "I did what I believed in," Price says. "Nothing
Provisional IRA or Sinn Féin leaders do can denigrate that.

"But I'm very angry when I see so much has been sacrificed for so
little.All these lives have been lost - IRA volunteers, civilians,
policemen, British soldiers - and for what? If this is what they're
settling for, we all could have joined the SDLP back then."

Price (50) came from a staunch republican family in west Belfast. She
believes IRA membership is too often explained away as an emotional
response to events: "I made an ideological choice to join. It wasn't
a reaction to Bloody Sunday, internment or anything else."

Her childhood ambition was to be a nurse. She left school with a
string of 'O' and 'A' levels and secured one of only five places on a
course at the Royal Victoria Hospital. She denies there was a huge
contradiction between IRA membership and nursing.

"One day, a wounded British soldier was brought into casualty. He was
wearing a dirty vest. He looked frightened. I felt very sorry for
him. That night, I told my comrades and one joked that I should have
finished him off.

"I asked why on earth I'd do that. He was no longer a soldier, he'd
been taken out of the battlefield. He was a patient now, I'd have no
difficulty looking after him."

The bombing mission was the Provisional IRA's first to England. The
idea and planning came from the sisters. Price travelled on the
Dublin-Liverpool ferry with one of the four car bombs which was then
driven to London.

Did she never consider the morality of planting bombs in densely
populated areas?: "The warnings given were twice as long as in
Belfast. That was a conscious decision because we knew the English
lacked experience of evacuation. We didn't want civilian casualties,
from a moral or pragmatic viewpoint."

Yet there were casualties. Two bombs were defused but those at the
Old Bailey and Whitehall exploded, injuring 200 people, mainly with
flying glass. Price expresses regret but says the injuries "weren't

"I've never had a sleepless night over anything I've done as an IRA
volunteer. Bombs are weapons of war. Western states have used them
far more brutally than we ever did.

"George Bush and Tony Blair send other people's sons out to die
without ever venturing onto the battlefield themselves. They drop far
bigger bombs from B52s on women and children and they don't give any
warnings at all." Price is an atheist: "When I look around the world,
I think if there's a God, he's a bad God."

After her arrest at Heathrow, she was interrogated for five days. "I
was stripped in the police station and given a grey blanket to wear.
I was embarrassed because there were a lot of policemen about and I
was sexually innocent.

"They used no physical violence but I wasn't let sleep once. The
lights were kept on in my cell and the police were there at all
times. If I started to doze off, they clapped their hands."

She remained remarkably unfazed: "I remember a detective saying to
me, 'I bet your mother will be proud of you' and I thought 'yes, she
will be very proud of me'. My father was on a bombing mission to
England in the forties, so it was a family tradition."

The sisters were charged and moved to Brixton prison. They were strip-
searched daily and locked 23-hours a day in cells where again the
lights were permanently on.

As a 19-year-old facing potential life imprisonment in England,
wasn't she depressed?:"It never entered my head. I'd known what I
believed in and the risks involved.

"My mother, her sisters, and my granny had been in Cumann na mBan. My
Aunt Bridie was badly injured lifting an IRA arms dump in the 30s. It
exploded and she lost her hands and sight. She was 26.

"When we were growing up, it was never a case of 'poor Bridie'. We
were just proud of her sacrifice. She came home from hospital to a
wee house with an outside toilet, no social worker, no disability
allowance, and no counselling. She just got on with it."

Price claims that during their 1973 trial, the bombers learned they
had been compromised by a high-placed informer in Belfast who knew
all the details but didn't take part in the operation.

"It emerged in court that customs at Liverpool realised one of the
cars had false number plates. They phoned Scotland Yard but were told
to wave it through.

"The authorities allowed the bombs to happen. They had details of the
operation in advance that could only have come from a senior figure
in Belfast. We learned that photos of Dolours and I had been
circulated at airports and ports across Britain nine hours before the
bombs exploded," says Price.

She claims that during the trial they agreed it would be less
damaging for the IRA if they appeared "young, stupid and
incompetent", rather than publicly exposing an informer. She claims
to know the identity of the alleged informer whom, she says, remains
in a leadership position.

The Price sisters, Gerry Kelly and Hugh Feeney went on hunger-strike
in Brixton prison in November 1973 as part of a campaign to be
repatriated to serve their sentences in Northern Ireland.

"Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with
sheets you can't struggle," says Price. "You clench your teeth to try
to keep your mouth closed but they push a metal spring device around
your jaw to prise it open.

"They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your mouth.
Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your head
back. You can't move.

"They throw whatever they like into the food mixer - orange juice,
soup, or cartons of cream if they want to beef up the calories. They
take jugs of this gruel from the food mixer and pour it into a funnel
attached to the tube.

"The force-feeding takes 15 minutes but it feels like forever. You're
in control of nothing. You're terrified the food will go down the
wrong way and you won't be able to let them know because you can't
speak or move. You're frightened you'll choke to death."

Price was force-fed 400 times over six months. "I knew nothing about
force-feeding beforehand," says Price. "I thought it was like when
you hold a baby's nose and put a spoon in its mouth. Ignorance was

After the sisters went on hunger-strike, the British Home Office
dispatched eminent psychiatrist Peter Scott to examine them. "He said
he'd been sent to certify us so we could be force-fed. He left saying
we knew exactly what we were doing and the problem was we were too
sane," Price says.

They built a good rapport with Dr Ian Blythe, the prison doctor: "He
called us 'my girls'. As the hunger-strike went on, he arm-wrestled
with us, pretending it was a game but really testing us to see how
much we were weakening."

Dolours was first to be force fed, three weeks into the hunger-
strike. "I met her in the exercise yard afterwards. She was in a
terrible state. She said it she couldn't go through that again. I
told her she didn't have to, she could come off the hunger-strike
immediately, but I'd stay on.

"She said we'd come off together or not at all. She was much braver
than me because she was so much more afraid of force-feeding yet she
didn't give in." Two days later, Marian was force-fed.

While Dolours endured the procedure once a day, Marian suffered it
twice daily because she vomited so often afterwards. "I always threw
up when they pulled the tube out of my stomach. It was vile. I would
be exhausted afterwards but you couldn't even lie in bed in your cell
in privacy because the screws came in with you.

"Sometimes when they arrived to force feed me, I would struggle;
other times I didn't have the energy to fight. The low point was
having no control over your weight. But not for one minute did I
think of giving up. They were never, ever going to break me."

One day, a doctor put the tube into Price's lung, not her stomach,
and water flooded in. "I felt like I was drowning. I passed out. They
carried me back to my cell. The doctors were standing over me when I
came round. If had been food, not water in the tube, it would have
killed me. The medical and prison staff told the authorities they
wouldn't force feed me again."

A fortnight after that incident in May 1974, the hunger-strike ended
and a deal was reached. The sisters were moved to Armagh prison the
following March.

The British Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, was loathed by republicans
for his treatment of the hunger-strikers. Price says she doesn't hate
him: "He was caught up in the politics of the situation. He followed
orders. I once asked the psychiatrist Peter Scott who knew him to
invite him to Brixton to visit us. He said he wouldn't come because
if he met us, he'd want to send us home."

Price was freed after five years in Armagh jail, suffering from
anorexia and tuberculosis. Ten-and-a-half stone when she was
arrested, she left prison half that weight.

On release from jail, she says she was in no physical or mental state
to rejoin the IRA and had no interest in a Sinn Féin career: "I like
politics but not politicians. To be a politician, you must be a liar
and a hypocrite."

Still, she was initially positive about Sinn Féin's rise, believing
it would strengthen the IRA campaign: "I remember watching TV as Sinn
Féin swept down the stairs in Belfast City Hall with Tricolour
ribbons and champagne after an election victory.

"My father was disgusted. He pointed to Gerry Adams and said, 'I've
been around longer than you, that boy will sell you out'. I told him
to give Sinn Féin a chance. I was wrong."

From 1994, Price had "serious concerns" about the leadership's
political direction but "loyalty to the movement" kept her quiet.
Eventually, she spoke at one 'republican family' meeting in west
Belfast, expressing doubts. A senior IRA member visited her home: "He
told me what I was saying wasn't appreciated and he'd shot people for

She claims the republican movement underwent a
transformation: "People began to make financial gain from the
movement. Those who had never worked a day in their lives, now had
better homes, cars, and holidays than their neighbours.

"It used to be what you could do for the movement, now it's what the
movement can do for you. In the past, to be a republican brought
financial hardship. But that was okay because to be a republican was
to be something special. You knew you were right."

Price says that while the peace process has secured "a measure of
equality" for Catholics, a British withdrawal and the ending of
partition is further away than ever.

Five years ago, she joined the 32 County Sovereignty Movement which
security sources say is the Real IRA's political wing, a claim the
group denies. She says her military days are over but she won't
condemn others "for doing what I did myself".

She claims 'armed struggle' is morally justified "while the British
occupy part of this country". The Real IRA has proved itself
incapable of waging a sustained campaign against the state and lacks
popular support. Physical force republicanism has never been weaker
in recent decades.

Price refuses to recognise 'armed struggle' is now
pointless: "Sometimes it's necessary to do something just to let it
be known there are people out there who don't accept the status quo.

"Being a minority of a minority is nothing new for republicans. You
don't join for an easy life or to be popular. As a child, I remember
50 people at an Easter parade on the Falls Road."

Despite everything, she has no regrets: "Disappointments maybe. I'm
disappointed in Gerry Kelly. I expected more of him but I'd never
detract from the physical bravery he showed. Gerry Adams and I were
once friends. We certainly aren't now. He may have difficulty
admitting his IRA past but I'm very, very proud of mine."

December 7, 2004



Arrest in Omagh bomb inquiry

Twenty nine people died in the Real IRA attack

A County Tyrone man has been arrested in connection with the 1998 Omagh bomb.

Detectives from Dungannon arrested the 44-year-old on Wednesday.

He is being questioned about serious terrorist crime linked to the bomb.

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.

It was the single worst atrocity in 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

To date, only one person, Colm Murphy, has been jailed for having a role in the bomb. In January 2002 the Special Criminal Court in Dublin sentenced the Dundalk-based builder and publican to 14 years in jail.

Murphy and four others; Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna, Michael McKevitt, and Liam Campbell are being sued by the Omagh Victims Civil Action Group.

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