**related links on site

Army spy site warns of "unit's terror link"

By Barry McCaffrey
Irish News, December 31, 2004

The British army is investigating a potential security blunder after it emerged that an official website used to recruit undercover agents is now controlled by a disaffected agent.

The Irish News has learned that the Intelligence Corps site has been bought by former army agent Samuel Rosenfeld, after the site's ownership was inadvertently allowed to lapse over Christmas.

The website is used as one of the main sources for recruiting soldiers and civilians to work as intelligence officers and undercover army agents.

However, potential recruits emailing the site now receive replies alleging that sub-units of the corps have been responsible for the "direction of terrorism".

Successful recruits to the Intelligence Corps are often university graduates, who are then trained at the famous Sandhurst college in England before being posted as secret agents throughout the world.

Ironically, the site warns that successful applicants will be responsible for "the security of information, personnel and equipment".

Potential recruits are advised to contact the Intelligence Corps by phoning its headquarters at Chicksands in Bedford-shire or by email.

But when the Irish News emailed the official website last night, it received the following reply:

"Dear potential recruit, thank you very much for contacting the Intelligence-corps.co.uk website.

"Firstly please be advised that the site is no longer owned or operated by the Intelligence Corps but by myself, a former intelligence agent (FRU/JSG).

"Whilst I commend you for wishing to join the Intelligence Corps, I feel it is my duty to inform you that the corps, through its sub-units, have been responsible for the murder of innocent civilians and the direction of terrorism."

The email then highlights controversial incidents involving the Force Research Unit (FRU), including the murder of Pat Finucane and the Stakeknife affair.

When contacted last night, Mr Rosenfeld refused to confirm that he now owns the website.

However, a source close to the website confirmed that it is no longer controlled by the British army.

So far more than a dozen people have emailed the site wanting to become intelligence officers," the source claimed.

"We emailed them back telling them if they want to do something good for their country they should join the RSPCA or the Salvation Army rather than the Intelligence Corps.

"We are not saying every soldier in the Intelligence Corps is bad, but the fact that groups like the FRU are operating without ground rules means that innocent people are being killed.

Potential recruits need to know they are getting themselves involved in the murder of innocent people."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman last night said an investigation would be carried out.


Smoking stubbed out by government

Many have called for a universal ban in Northern Ireland

A smoking ban in all Northern Ireland government departments has come into effect.

The ban sees smoking facilities removed and staff forbidden to light up on site.

Prisons will be exempt from the ban.

Since the end of March, smoking has been illegal in workplaces, including pubs and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland.

It was the first country in the world to introduce such a nationwide ban.

Many in Northern Ireland, particularly doctors and politicians, have called for a universal ban.

Earlier this year, it was revealed Northern Ireland could be the pilot area for a smoking ban in workplaces across the UK.

It is believed discussions have already taken place between ministers at Stormont and officials of the Department of Health in London.

The Civil Service in Northern Ireland has had a formal policy on smoking in the workplace since 1987.

This was revised in 1994, when the decision was taken that smoking would no longer be permitted in premises occupied by staff, except in designated smoking rooms or areas.


Amendment to citizenship rights implemented

01/01/2005 - 10:09:50

Changes in the Irish citizenship law, resulting from last June's referendum, are to be implemented from today.

The changes affect children born in Ireland on or after January 1 to parents who are not Irish citizens.

They will not be entitled to citizenship unless one of the parents has been officially resident in Ireland for at least three years preceding the child's birth.

The National Archives

New Document Releases - New Year's Openings 2005

"In 1974, Direct Rule ended and power sharing was tried for the very first time. It didn't take long to go pear shaped. '74 was the year it got so extreme that the government lost control to people they dubbed 'fascists' and seriously questioned whether to pull out of Northern Ireland altogether.

The inside story of 1974 has been kept secret for 30 years. But now at The National Archives in London all the documents from that dramatic year are finally available to the public."

Click here for info


Nuclear subs planned for Belfast

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News at the National Archives

Loyalists set up roadblocks as part of the strike

Harold Wilson wanted nuclear submarines to power Belfast during the 1974 Ulster Workers' Council strike.

Cabinet documents at the National Archives in Kew reveal the prime minister suggested the plan as the strike took hold.

The strike, organised by a coalition of loyalist groups, effectively rendered Northern Ireland ungovernable.

Officials scrapped the plan because submarines had neither the energy nor the right cable to connect to Belfast.

The strike began on 15 May 1974 as loyalist groups, supported by some unionist politicians, opposed their own community's involvement in a power-sharing deal with nationalists.

Loyalist paramilitaries became involved and blockaded key installations in the hope of bringing Northern Ireland to a standstill.

Power dropped to a bare minimum, petrol stations ran out of fuel and bakeries were blockaded.

Thousands more troops were sent into Northern Ireland to keep supplies moving - but as fast as they opened one route, another was closed.

State of emergency

Within four days the situation was so bad Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees declared a state of emergency and some areas saw panic buying.

"It is clear that we are in the position of 'responsibility without power'."
Harold Wilson

Ulster Unionist leader Brian Faulkner, who supported the power-sharing deal, told Harold Wilson the executive, which included nationalist politicians, might not survive if he did not act.

Chairing emergency Cabinet sessions in London, Harold Wilson asked for radical solutions to break the blockades.

In one session, he asked the defence secretary to report on whether they could use nuclear submarines to power Belfast.

The short answer was no.

Officials at the Ministry of Defence looked into the idea and worked out they could have a large submarine, without its nuclear missiles, ready to leave for Belfast within 48 hours.

Futile gesture

But calculations made by energy experts revealed it would be a futile, if symbolic, gesture.

While a vessel with the capacity of a Type 82 destroyer such as HMS Bristol could theoretically provide six megawatts of power, it would leave the authorities needing to find a further 354 megawatts from elsewhere.

Nuclear submarines would prove doubly useless: nobody knew how to plug them into the electricity supply in Northern Ireland: there just was not a cable available which would do the job.

In theory they could be plugged into the National Grid at one of the royal dockyards in England or Scotland - but that was of no help to Northern Ireland.

The idea was shelved and the strike took its hold, leading to the collapse of the Sunningdale Agreement.


Ministers encouraged IRA-UDA talks

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News at the National Archives

Talks: IRA members met UDA

Ministers encouraged links between rival paramilitaries at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Papers released after 30 years at the National Archives show ministers supported talks between the IRA and loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

The talks led nowhere, but officials hoped they would strengthen the hand of politically-minded figures.

Historians have recorded such contacts were explored, but official involvement has until now remained largely secret.

In one of the 1974 documents, the then Northern Ireland Secretary, Merlyn Rees, told Prime Minister Harold Wilson some unnamed leaders from the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA had met UDA members.

Andy Tyrie, the loyalist organisation's leader, had organised the talks without the knowledge of many of his supporters, said Mr Rees.

"A recent conference of the three groups, attended by over 60 of their members, produced indications from politically-inclined Provisional leaders (particularly the Belfast ones) that they wished to find an opportunity of halting the terrorist campaign," said Mr Rees.

He went on: "Senior members of the other two organisations indicated some understanding for the Provisionals' point of view and some willingness to collaborate in propounding solutions which might permit them to stop.

"There was a certain amount of camaraderie. There are to be further meetings."

'Modest unattributable support'

Mr Rees said the meetings were taking place in utmost secrecy, but the government was providing "modest unattributable support" through channels the documents does not explain.

"A substantial body of opinion within Sinn Fein favours the alternative of political actions - a reduction in the terrorist campaign, negotiation with extreme loyalist groups and, ultimately, ourselves."
Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees

These channels may have been clergymen who later helped broker the IRA's failed 1975 ceasefire.

Mr Rees said: "It is not clear how far the leadership of each group feels committed to a programme of discussion and compromise or how far each group can expect to be backed by its rank and file.

"The Officials are probably the most enthusiastic, the Provisionals less so, and the UDA merely willing to experiment.

"The existence of the programme certainly strengthens the hands of those in each group who wish to move away from terrorism and there is direct evidence of this in relation to the Provisionals."

The recent collapse of the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement amid the Ulster Workers' Council strike had demonstrated the power of loyalist paramilitaries to influence events in Northern Ireland.

At the same time, there were rumours some loyalists wanted to resurrect an idea to repartition Northern Ireland, creating a smaller but exclusively Protestant state.

Bloody year: 220 killed in 1974

Documents at the National Archives show British officials knew of the plot and feared it would lead to a bloodbath, although they were certain it would fail if attempted.

What however remains uncertain is how the IRA, which is also thought to have known about this plan, then came to be drawn into discussions with loyalists.

One theory is that an independently-minded republican took it upon himself to contact the UDA believing repartition would be good for both groups.

In one of the more bizarre episodes of the Troubles, these contacts led to a number of UDA men visiting Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi, then an enthusiastic supporter of the IRA, in November 1974.

Senior republicans also held meetings with Protestant churchmen during 1974, talks which paved the way for the IRA's abortive 1975 ceasefire.

The IRA reorganised itself for a "long war" and republicans began putting more effort into Sinn Fein's political campaigning. It was the seeds of this more complex republican strategy that officials saw in the meeting with the UDA.

Key figures in Belfast

"A substantial body of opinion within Sinn Fein favours the alternative of political actions - a reduction in the terrorist campaign; pressure for the ending of detention (which is a change in tactics); negotiation with extreme loyalist groups and, ultimately, ourselves," Mr Rees told the prime minister.

"Unfortunately there is little evidence that its members have realised their present lack of electoral appeal," he added.

As for the loyalists, Mr Rees believed some members of the Ulster Volunteer Force were interested in taking a normal political path but "they are sadly naïve and ill-equipped to do so".

"Our policy should be to continue to keep ourselves well informed with discreet encouragement but not direct involvement," he said.


Loyalist strike dismissed as last fling

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News at the National Archives

Year of violence: 1974 was one of the worst years of the Troubles

Strike: Loyalist-led protests blockaded Northern Ireland

Ministers dismissed a strike which wrecked a 1974 power-sharing deal in Northern Ireland as the "last fling" of loyalist extremists.

The Ulster Workers' Council strike in May 1974 led to the collapse of the Sunningdale agreement.

But documents released by the National Archives, reveal how the government underestimated the threat.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson considered pulling out of Northern Ireland even though it would lead to bloodshed.

The strike came after months of ferocious political opposition from some unionists to the Sunningdale Agreement.

This deal created a power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists and created a role for Dublin in Northern Ireland's administration.

Strike begins

On 15 May the Ulster Workers' Council, a loose coalition of loyalist and hardline unionist groups announced a general strike.

The strike, which lasted for two weeks, would later be enforced by blockades run by loyalist paramilitaries.

Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees telephoned Mr Wilson to tell him not to worry.


He declared the strike was the "last fling by the Protestants" and the power-sharing strategy was "closer to success than ever".

Within days, the minister's mood had darkened and he flew to Chequers for emergency talks with the prime minister.

Troops alone were not enough to break the blockades which were fast bringing Northern Ireland to a halt.

Wilson asked the minister what radical measures could be taken to smash the strike.

Could the police be used to stage something similar to Operation Motorman, the 1972 move which broke the IRA's barricades of parts of Londonderry.

"The Royal Ulster Constabulary are much more wobbly - very wobbly," said the minister.

"Well they are their people," replied the prime minister.

Cabinet meetings

On 24 May Harold Wilson held an emergency Cabinet session to discuss the crisis.

He was now convinced the strike was intent on "destroying the constitution" and without firm action power-sharing would collapse.

But at the same time, officials appeared at a loss as to how to restore order.

The Army believed it could not run power stations without their managers, and nobody thought managers could be found from elsewhere.

Four days later the strike broke Sunningdale when the unionist members of the power-sharing executive quit. The Assembly was suspended and direct rule from London resumed.

'Armageddon-type situation'

Papers detailing the aftermath of the strike reveal that Wilson was accused by more than one side of having given in too readily to force.

In talks with the Irish premier, Liam Cosgrove, Mr Wilson defended his actions, saying "no army in the world however numerous could have broken a strike of that kind".

But, in a briefing on the aftermath of the strike, one official told the prime minister that Sunningdale's collapse had indeed strengthened the hand of extremists.

Setting out scenarios for a way forward, the unnamed official warned that should a majority of hardline loyalists be elected to a future assembly, they would probably directly challenge London's authority over Northern Ireland.

But if events drifted, Northern Ireland could witness a civil war leading to a redrawing of the border and mass refugee movements as communities are forcibly moved.

A document still secret, but referred to in other papers, resurrects an idea from earlier in the Troubles of a complete pull-out from Northern Ireland.

Such actions would however be an "Armageddon-type situation" with "humiliation and bloodshed" on all sides, warned an official. In time, it would suck the Irish Republic into a border war and prompt the United Nations to prevent sectarian massacres between Catholics and Protestants.

Wilson was clearly depressed by the failure of power-sharing.

He said: "It is clear that we are in the position of 'responsibility without power'."


IRA and UDA 'held secret talks'

Talks: IRA members met with UDA

Secret talks between the UDA and the Provisional and Official IRA 30 years ago have been revealed in confidential Cabinet papers.

They have been made available under the 30 year rule.

They also reveal an offer from brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to host peace talks.

There was also a plan to provide power during the Ulster Workers Strike of 1974 from a nuclear submarine in Belfast Lough.

It came from the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The Cabinet papers reveal that the contacts between the terrorist groups were instigated by the then Ulster Defence Association chairman Andy Tyrie.

They eventually led to a conference attended by more than 60 people at which there was a certain amount of camaraderie.

It was held at a house in north Down called Laneside.

'Meeting expenses'

The papers say that some of the leaders were clearly anxious to have what was described as "a meaningful relationship" with one another.

One document said they undoubtedly saw this as a means of getting their organisations off the hook of having to continue a campaign of violence.

Another document said that though the government could not become involved in direct financing or control of any political party formed by any of the groups, it could allow the use of charitable fund money for specific educational and meeting expenses.

It was the year of the failed power-sharing executive and the Ulster Workers' strike.

At one point, the papers indicate a fleet of nuclear submarines could have been brought to Belfast within 48 hours to provide an emergency power supply.

But it never happened and nor did any peace talks - which the papers show the unlikely figure of Idi Amin had offered to host in Uganda.


Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit!

-- Happy New Year!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This coming year, let your light shine in the world's darkness, and may all good things find you in 2005



Notes 'legitimately in circulation'


Belfast Telegraph

Rubbish searched in bank heist hunt
Police sift through refuse at council site

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
31 December 2004

Police hunting the Northern Bank robbery gang have searched a Belfast City Council depot in west Belfast, it emerged today.

Refuse at the recycling site at Kennedy Way was searched yesterday by officers as they step up their hunt for the gang responsible for the £22m heist - the world's largest cash bank robbery.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein have accused the police of a campaign of intimidation following searches of commercial premises in the west of the city.

Police yesterday searched the Dairy Farm complex on the Stewartstown Road following operations the day before at the Blackstaff industrial complex on the Springfield Road.

A police spokeswoman said officers would continue to "pursue every possible line of inquiry" as part of their investigation.

But Sinn Fein MLA Michael Ferguson criticised the raids, which he described as "completely unacceptable".

He said: "Given the failure to uncover any evidence it is clear that the purpose of this operation is not to find bank robbers but to attempt to derail republican efforts to see the peace process put back on track.

"The operations against the republican and nationalist community over Christmas in Belfast demonstrate once again the distance which we still have to travel in order to see a proper democratically accountable policing service delivered.

"There have been searches at business premises and at community projects. This behaviour is completely unacceptable."

Police have refused to comment on specific raids, but sources have indicated that the search at the council depot on Kennedy Way was to look for items which may have been discarded following last week's robbery.

It was not revealed if any items were removed from the depot.

An armed gang stole £22m from the vaults of the Northern Bank's cash centre in Donegall Square West after they took the families of two bank officials hostage.

Belfast Telegraph

Fire bomb blitz putting lives at risk, says PSNI
Retailers told to keep checking premises after latest incident

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
31 December 2004

Police today warned that someone could be killed if a spate of fire bomb attacks on shops across Northern Ireland continues.

Retailers and shoppers have been issued with a New Year warning after the latest potentially lethal device was found in Co Down.

The package was discovered in the Menary's store in the Marcus Street area of Newry yesterday afternoon.

The shop was evacuated and the area cordoned off.

Army bomb experts who defused the device said it was crude but could have exploded.

Dissident republicans have been linked to fire bombings which destroyed several stores across the province.

Sixteen devices have now been discovered in Lisburn, Newry, Antrim, Londonderry, Newtownabbey and Ballymena.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said the coming week would be busy for shopkeepers because of the New Year sales.

He again urged business owners to check their premises for suspicious devices on a daily basis.

He said: "We are calling for everyone's co-operation to help defeat the individuals trying to inflict this on our community.

"It is not just buildings and property that feel the effect of these devices. The livelihoods of business owners and their staff are affected. The general public, as consumers, also feel the effects.

"Vigilance is the key. Look out for anything suspicious. If you see something that looks as if it is out of place, or even just raises concern, contact police."

He added: "An incendiary device has the potential to destroy property, and take human life. Its purpose is to cause widespread damage.

"Devices can be left in garments, soft furnishings, and upholstery, anywhere that can catch fire easily.

"I am also appealing to members of the public to help, if you are out shopping, and you see something that looks out of place, tell a member of staff who can call the police."

Irish Echo

Did cop give Omagh tip-off?

By Anne Cadwallader

The Aug. 15 Real IRA bombing in Omagh claimed 29 lives.

BELFAST -- In a new twist to the continuing saga of the police inquiry into the Omagh bombing, it's been revealed that the chief suspect for making an anonymous call to police shortly before the attack is another police officer. The former special branch officer is to be questioned on whether he was the source of an anonymous tip about paramilitary activity in Omagh, just days before the devastating bombing.

The phone call, taken by a detective in Omagh, was made on Aug. 4, 1998, 11 days before the Real IRA bombing, in which 29 people were killed. The information passed over in the call was never passed on to police on the ground. The suspect officer is to be asked if he made the call, and if he did, why?

He has already been questioned about other matters unconnected with the Omagh investigation, and although not suspended he has been relieved of special branch duties. The source of the telephone call has never been traced.

The male caller, speaking to a detective constable, named two men who he claimed would be bringing four dismantled AK 47 rifles and two rocket launchers across the Irish border.

The caller told police they belonged to the Continuity IRA, another dissident republican group, and that they would be used in an attack on police in Omagh on Aug. 15.

At the time, the police officer who took the call believed it to be genuine and briefed the senior detective on duty before traveling to Enniskillen, where he passed the information to special branch officers.

They, however, allegedly told him there was nothing new in the information and that the two men named were ordinary criminals. The call and the text of the information was never registered on the database set up for the police investigation.

It wasn't until two years later, during an internal review of the inquiry by the RUC, that officers in Omagh became aware it had been made.

More than ix years after the atrocity, and with nobody yet charged with the murders, the disclosure that officers are to question one of their own men for allegedly making an anonymous telephone call predicting the attack is leading to renewed pressure for a public inquiry.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was among the dead, said he was stunned by the revelation.

"It's devastating," he said. "That call was always a concern to the families and we are still awaiting answers. It seems to me to be the final straw in a long line of discrepancies."

Godfrey Wilson, whose daughter Lorraine, 15, died in the car bombing, said: "This investigation has been going on for over six years, a crazy length of time. How much longer do we have to wait to get justice?"

The trial of County Armagh man Sean Hoey, 34, who is facing charges involving explosives, and members of the Real IRA, which carried out the bombing, has yet to begin. One of the charges against Hoey involves possession of a timer power unit between March 1997 and Aug. 16, 1998, the day after the Omagh bombing.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission chief, Brice Dickson, has been refused a meeting with police to discuss their investigation. Relatives have hit out at the decision to turn down Dickson's request for talks.

"The investigation team should be willing to meet with anyone who is looking for justice and who wants to safeguard the rights of innocent victims," Wilson said. "It seems to me that a cat and mouse game is being played out and it is taking a terrible toll on people's emotions."

This story appeared in the issue of December 29, 2004- January 4, 2005


Campaign's legal bid for Colombia Three

(Marie Louise McCrory, Irish News)

Supporters of the so-called Colombia Three – believed to be on the run after being given 17-year jail sentences – were looking at a number of "extraordinary" legal avenues to try to secure the men's freedom.

Caitriona Ruane of the 'Bring Them Home' campaign said it was exploring a range of international legal options to clear the men.

The Sinn Féin assembly member was speaking after returning from Colombia, where she met the three Irish men's lawyers.

Niall Connolly (38) from Dublin, Martin McCauley (41) from Lurgan in Co Armagh and James Monaghan (58) from Co Donegal were arrested at Bogota International Airport in August 2001.

They were convicted of travelling on false passports but acquitted of training Farc guerrillas and released after being fined.

However, they were told not to leave Colombia while an appeal by the country's attorney general was heard and earlier this month the trio were each sentenced to at least 17 years in prison on the Farc charge.

The men have since been missing and are suspected of being on the run. It is thought they may have left Colombia.

Speaking last night (Wednesday), Ms Ruane said she did not know the whereabouts of the three.

"I don't know where they are," she said.

"I have had no contact with them."

Ms Ruane said the campaign was exploring a number of legal avenues.

"We went out to look at all the legal options and meet with the lawyers," she said.

"We have exhausted domestic legal remedies. We are looking at international legal options such as the Inter-America Commission based in Washington, which is the equivalent of the European Court of Human Rights.

"We are also looking at some legal options through the United Nations."

Meanwhile, Ms Ruane said she stood by criticisms of the human rights record of Colombian attorney general Luis Camilo Osorio.

She said Mr Osorio had released a statement in which he said he would investigate anyone who may have helped the three men leave the country.

"This latest statement is an attempt to bully and intimidate and the 'Bring Them Home' (campaign) will not be bullied and intimidated," Ms Ruane said.

December 31, 2004


Republicans ‘harassed’ in police probe
31 December 2004

By Gary Kelly
REPUBLICANS have accused the police investigating the £22 million Northern Bank raid of a campaign of harassment against their community.
The claims were made as police carried out a number of searches of premises in the Dairy Farm business complex on the Stewartstown Road area of the city yesterday. This followed searches on Wednesday at the Blackstaff complex on the Springfield Road.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for west Belfast Michael Ferguson said keyholders at the Dairy Farm centre had been ordered by police to turn up at their premises.

“This morning the PSNI once again have launched a series of planned attacks on properties throughout west Belfast. These have included searches on business premises and on community projects. This behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

Mr Ferguson claimed police were acting at the behest of Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist, who had pointed the finger of suspicion at republicans.

“It has become very obvious in recent days that the securocrats still are holding the upper hand within the PSNI. Given the selective media briefing in advance of these operations and the failure to uncover any evidence it is clear that the purpose of this operation is not to find bank robbers but to attempt to derail republican efforts to see the peace process put back on track,” he added.

It was confirmed that nothing was recovered in connection with the robbery during yesterday’s searches of the Blackstaff centre.

A number of dvds were seized during the police operation, but they had no relation to the bank heist.

The spokeswoman added: “Police will continue to pursue every possible line of inquiry in this investigation.”

Meanwhile, the families taken hostage by the gang behind the raid were able to return to their homes yesterday, following a police forensic examination.

Houses belonging to 24-year-old Chris Ward, in the Poleglass area of west Belfast, and Kevin McMullan, in Loughinisland, Co Down, had been preserved as crime scenes since last Monday when details of the raid first emerged.


SF urges influential unionists to promote power-sharing

31/12/2004 - 08:41:58

Sinn Féin has called on church leaders and others who have influence with unionists to promote the Good Friday Agreement in 2005.

In a new year statement, party spokesman Martin McGuinness expressed disappointment with the DUP's demand for photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning, which has caused a deal to restore power-sharing in the North to be put on hold.

He described the demand as a pretence and a ploy to delay the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McGuinness accused the DUP of refusing to begin sharing power with republicans and participating in the cross-border institutions established under the agreement.

He said the big challenge for the Irish and British governments in 2005 was to insist that the 1998 peace deal be implemented, over the heads of the DUP if necessary.


Northern Bank raid notes used

31/12/2004 - 12:20:42

Two bank notes from the £22m (€31m) haul stolen from the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast earlier this month have been discovered at an ice rink near the city.

The notes, which had serial numbers matching those released by the bank, were passed at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl some time between 10am and 3pm yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Castlereagh Borough Council said the ice rink had handed the notes over to the police.

The fact that the notes were passed would appear to indicate that the thieves behind the heist are trying to get rid of the cash quickly.

Many of the notes were brand new and the serial numbers have been given to police investigating the daring raid, during which the families of two bank officials were held hostage.

The rest of the haul was in used Northern Bank notes, which may also be difficult to launder.

The bank is considering withdrawing all its notes from circulation and replacing them with new currency in an effort to frustrate the thieves.

The PSNI apparently believes republicans were responsible for the robbery and has carried out a number of searches of homes and other properties in republican areas of Belfast.

However, detectives are believed to have recovered nothing connected to the raid during the searches, which have been criticised by Sinn Féin.

The IRA has denied any involvement in the theft.


New Year efforts must focus on peace: Murphy

31/12/2004 - 07:51:18

The year ahead poses many challenges for the peace process, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said today.

In his New Year message, Mr Murphy reflected on the progress made in recent political talks but expressed disappointment that devolved government had not returned to Stormont.

“Yet I am encouraged by the huge steps we have taken towards getting the Assembly and its institutions back up and running.

“I firmly believe that in the New Year we must channel all our efforts into taking those final few steps together to return power to locally-elected politicians,” he said.

Last month’s talks failed to reach agreement after Ian Paisley’s DUP demanded photographic evidence of IRA disarmament.

Republicans have refused to take this step, claiming the DUP is calling for an act of humiliation.

Mr Murphy also reflected on the Asian tsunami that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

“This season is traditionally a time of hope, thanksgiving and reflection. But it is also a painful time for those who have lost loved ones. Sadly, this Christmas has also seen a global humanitarian disaster of almost unimaginable proportions.

“At this time, as we remember our own victims in Northern Ireland, it is very moving to witness the generosity of the community here as it reaches out to those who are suffering across the world.

“It is that generosity of spirit, that instinctive ability to reach out and respond to those in need that gives me real cause for hope as we continue to strive to heal the wounds of our own community.”

Mr Murphy said the British government would continue to support all those who have been affected by violence in Northern Ireland.

“I remain committed to the complex and difficult process of searching for a sensitive and meaningful way of dealing with the past.

“In the wider context, we still face the challenge of tackling organised criminality in the community. It is vital that we continue in our efforts to frustrate, disrupt and bring to justice those involved.”

He condemned the racist attacks that have become an increasing feature of life in the North.

“As a government we are determined to tackle racism, sectarianism, and hostility based on sexual orientation or disability in Northern Ireland. We owe it to everyone to ensure that we continue to build a strong and diverse community for future generations to enjoy.”

Irish News - Irish Independent

SF criticises police in bank raid probes

SINN Fein has accused the police investigating the £22m Northern Bank raid of a campaign of harassment.

The claims were made as police carried out a number of searches of premises in a business complex on the Stewartstown Road area of Belfast. This followed searches yesterday at the Blackstaff complex on the Springfield Road.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Michael Ferguson said keyholders had been ordered by police to turn up at their premises.

"This morning the PSNI once again have launched a series of planned attacks on properties throughout West Belfast. These have included searches on business premises and on community projects. This behaviour is completely unacceptable."

"Given the selective media briefing in advance of these operations and the failure to uncover any evidence it is clear that the purpose of this operation is not to find bank robbers but to attempt to derail republican efforts to see the peace process put back on track," he added.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has complained about the police investigators' actions. Meanwhile, the two families taken hostage by the raid gang were able to return to their homes yesterday, following a police forensic examination.

Houses belonging to 24-year-old Chris Ward, in the Poleglass area of west Belfast, and Kevin McMullan, in Loughinisland, Co Down, had been preserved as crime scenes since last Monday when details of the raid on the vaults of the Northern Bank in Belfast emerged.

British Army experts defused a firebomb yesterday that had been hidden in a clothes shop in Newry. IRA dissidents opposed to the cease-fire have planted 16 devices and destroyed several businesses, including a new hardware superstore outside Belfast two weeks ago.

Gary Kelly


**Seen as a comment on a recent article about the RIRA:

inside job
by ared dred Thursday, Dec 23 2004, 2:04pm

And more inside than you think. Belfast is one of the most heavily secured cities in the world. More cameras, Brits, armed cops, observation posts, security checkpoints.

They knew all the staff details, where they lived. All the Bank details. 20 armed men???

Chief of London's Flying Squad (the Sweeney)
"It was [spin] virtually a military operation".

Who has that sort of manpower and intel?

The Provos? The UDA?

Nah, the Brits/RUC.


Film-maker bids to prove de Valera's Cuban roots

30/12/2004 - 11:16:17

A film-maker from Havana is on a mission to prove that former president and Taoiseach Eamon de Valera was half Cuban.

The history books tell us that De Valera’s father, Juan, was a Spanish merchant who settled in New York.

But Ishmael Ortega, 55, a teacher at Havana Film School, believes Juan was a penniless sculptor and music teacher who emigrated to Manhattan from Cuba.

He married Kate Coll from Limerick who gave birth to Eamon in 1882.

However Juan died when Eamon was two and Kate sent him to live with his grandmother Elizabeth in Knockmore, Co Limerick.

Mr Ortega, who is researching a film on the subject which may be commissioned by RTE, said he believes the De Valera surname comes from the Valera clan in rural Cuba.

He said: “I’ve been to the Mantanza province where this Valera name is common and I’ve met members of the Valera family.

“They look remarkably like Eamon De Valera. They are tall and slim with oval-shaped faces.”

Mr Ortega, who is a friend of Irish movie director Jim Sheridan, says his documentary film may be taken up by RTE in the near future.

Mr Ortega said Eamon de Valera, who died in 1975, aged 92, once tried to track down his family’s coat of arms in Spain, but was unsuccessful.

He said: “There was no record of his family name in Spain.”

Dublin historian Micheal MacAonghusa believes that Mr Ortega’s theory is "quite possible" as the precise background of De Valera’s father was always a mystery.

He said that Cuba was under Spanish rule until 1895 so all Cuban nationals would have been classed as Spanish subjects at the time.

He said: “The whole thing about his father is very shadowy. A Spanish-speaking Cuban living in New York at the turn of the 19th-century could be mistaken as a Spaniard because Cuba was actually a colony of Spain until 1895. To say that his father was Cuban is quite possible.”

Mr MacAonghusa added that De Valera was always sympathetic to the Cuban struggle for independence.

He added: “De Valera always kept in touch with what was happening in Cuba. He wanted Ireland to be autonomous, and free from imperialist threat.

De Valera’s indelible political legacy survives today in the present government with his grandchildren. Síle De Valera is Education and Science junior minister and Eamon O’Cuiv is Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Another grandson, arts worker Ruairi O’Cuiv, said he would welcome any new research into his grandfather’s life.

He said: “I’m pleased to think that I may be connected to Cuba. I’d be delighted if anybody turns up comprehensive factual research regarding my ancestors.”

A founding father of Fianna Fáil in 1926 and the Irish State, De Valera had an incalculable influence on modern Ireland.

He was jailed for opposing conscription during the First World War, but was elected as MP for East Clare while still in prison.

He stubbornly defended Ireland’s neutral stance during the Second World War and clashed with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill over the airwaves.

He served two terms as president to complete a lengthy political career.

As island nations, Ireland and Cuba have always enjoyed very friendly links despite the US embargo of Castro’s nation.

Ireland is one of the few countries in the EU to have diplomatic links with Cuba and currently has a non-resident ambassador in Mexico looking after consular affairs in Cuba.

Cuba is soon expected to return the gesture by accrediting its London ambassador to Dublin.

In 1995, Ireland voted for a Cuban resolution at the UN General Assembly, which demanded an end to the US blockade of the island.

Cuba also supported Ireland in its successful bid to become a member of the UN Security Council two years ago.

And more Irish visitors have been jetting to Cuba in recent years thanks to weekly Aeroflot flights between Shannon and Havana.

There is also an ’O’Reilly Street’ in the island’s capital, which celebrates the links between Ireland and Cuba.

A wall plaque with an inscription in Gaelic, Spanish and English says: “Two island peoples in the same sea of struggle and hope – Cuba and Ireland.”

Every year hundreds of students travel to Cuba to pick oranges or labour on building sites and TDs and senators in the Irish-Cuban Friendship Group have visited Cuba to represent the EU parliament.

Cuban icon, Che Guevara, whose grandmother was Anna Lynch from Co Galway, led the revolutionary struggle in the early 1960s.

Che visited Ireland just once: He flew into Shannon on a stop-over flight from Prague in March 1965.

His daughter, Alieda, visited Ireland in 2002 to research her Irish roots and attended the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Cashel, Co Tipperary.



**Thinking of putting a separate 'Firebomb' section in to keep track of all this shite

Firebomb defused in Newry
30/12/2004 - 17:51:24

British army bomb experts tonight dealt with a firebomb found in a store in Newry, Co Down.

They were called out earlier after the device was discovered in a clothes shop in Marcus Street.

The area was sealed off and it was later confirmed that the object found this afternoon was a crude but viable incendiary device.

Police in Newry have warned key holders of businesses in the city to thoroughly check premises.

It was the latest in a series of incendiary devices planted in towns and cities throughout Northern Ireland.

Dissident republicans are suspected by police to be responsible for the bombing campaign.

Last night an incendiary bomb was defused by army bomb experts at the Sainsbury supermarket at Sprucefield outside Lisburn, Co Antrim.

In the run-up to Christmas, the neighbouring B&Q DIY store wasextensively damaged by fire when a device went off.

Earlier this week a firebomb was found in the pocket of an item of sportswear in a sports shop in Old Creamery Retail Park in Monaghan Street, Newry. This was also defused by army technical officers.

On Sunday it was reported that the Real IRA intended to step up its violence to try to disrupt the peace process.

In recent weeks there have been firebomb attacks in Belfast, Newry,Ballymena, Newtownabbey and Lisburn.

Police chiefs tonight warned shopkeepers to remain vigilant in the coming week which would be extra busy because of the annual sales.

A total of 16 incendiaries have been found in Lisburn, Foyle, Newry, Belfast and Ballymena.

Some were discovered just in time and were dealt with by the army, but businesses have been very severely damaged by these devices.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland has praised shopkeepers for their efforts to thwart such attacks, but urged caution over the coming days.

“An incendiary device has the potential to destroy property, and take human life. Its purpose is to cause widespread damage. Devices can be left in garments, soft furnishings, and upholstery, anywhere that can catch fire easily.

“I am also appealing to members of the public to help,” said Mr McCausland. “If you are out shopping, and you see something that looks out of place, tell a member of staff who can call the police.”


Suspicious object found in shop

30 December, 2004, 16:15 GMT

Army technical officers are examining a suspicious object found at a shop in County Down.

The package was discovered in the Menary's store in the Marcus Street area of Newry at about 1340 GMT on Thursday.

The shop was evacuated and the area was cordoned off.

Police advised key holders in the city to check their premises.

Dissident republicans have been linked to fire bombings which destroyed several stores across the province.

Devices have been discovered in Lisburn, Newry, Antrim, Derry, Newtownabbey and Ballymena.

On Wednesday, shop owners across Northern Ireland were urged to thoroughly check their premises after an incendiary device was found in a supermarket near Lisburn.


**When I went to get this on BT, the article had been withdrawn...

Saga of Ulster's final DPP is resolved

By Jonathan McCambridge
30 December 2004

Northern Ireland's final District Policing Partnership has finally
been established - following a long-running row over its religious

Eight independent members have now been appointed to Dungannon and
South Tyrone DPP - two years after DPPs were set up in the rest of
the province.

The delay had followed a bitter dispute when the Policing Board
rejected the original list of independent candidates because it did
not contain enough Catholics and was said to be "unrepresentative" of
the area.

However, eight independent members have now been unveiled to sit
alongside the nine political members of the partnership.

The independent members are:

* Francis Callaghan (56) is a manager with Northern Ireland Housing
Executive and is from Fivemiletown.

* Christine Baxter (42) is a staff nurse with the a local NHS trust
and is from Fivemiletown.

* Beth Badger (37) is a former assistant insurance manager and is
from Newmills.

* Kathleen Loughran (53) works for a charity and comes from

* Susan Ingram (68) is a retired home safety manager with the Royal
Society for the Prevention of Accidents and is from Dungannon.

* Sarah Thompson (60) is a manager with a home care provider and is
from Dungannon.

* Bernadette McGirr (50) is a healthcare insurance sales adviser and
is from Clogher.

* Evelyn Frew (43) is a retired civil servant and comes from

Policing Board chairman Professor Desmond Rea said: "Now the DPP
jigsaw is complete as all District Council areas now have a DPP.

"While it has been a long process I have no doubt that the community,
right across the borough, has a DPP that will serve it well."


At last, Whitehall declares opening time
Many believe 'need to know' culture lives on in public sector

Rob Evans
Thursday December 30, 2004
The Guardian

Government in Britain is supposed to change substantially on Saturday when the Freedom of Information Act finally comes into force. The old culture of "need to know" is to be replaced by the right to know.

Ministers are promising that officials will assume that the public is entitled to know what is going on within government.

Lord Falconer, the minister in charge of freedom of information, emphasises that the act is not solely for the media and researchers to prise secrets out of Downing Street but will give ordinary members of the public a greater chance to get information from the public sector.

But many are sceptical that officials' secretive habits, and this government's reliance on spin and control, will melt away.

Whitehall has taken a long time to get to this position. A freedom of information act was first promised by Labour in 1974, but nothing happened. The Blair government eventually passed the act in 2000, then delayed its introduction for five years.

More than 50 other countries have passed such legislation before now, the first being Sweden in 1766.

Almost every organisation funded by the taxpayer is subject to the act. It covers 100,000 public bodies, including local councils, Whitehall departments, quangos, schools, local NHS trusts, and GPs.

Anyone can make a request, regardless of age, where they live or nationality. They merely have to send in a written request, specifying what they want to see.

Records will not be released automatically; officials can refuse access if they believe the information falls within one of 23 exemptions. These range from national security to disclosures that could obstruct the police in pursuit of criminals.

A potential problem for applicants is delay. Public bodies have not been given extra money to deal with requests. The public is entitled under the act to receive a response within 20 working days, but it seems inevitable that applicants will have to wait longer.

There is also concern that, even though the public authorities have had five years to prepare, they will not be ready.

Friends of the Earth tested the system by submitting requests to 122 local authorities under environmental openness provisions which have been in existence for over 10 years.

It wanted copies of contracts placed with waste firms. Nearly 50 of the councils failed to respond. Another 20 claimed to be still dealing with request three months after they should have replied. Thirty-one councils released the requested information.

Even the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which is in charge of freedom of information, took four months to respond properly to a request from the Guardian for documents relating to the committee overseeing introduction of the act.

RTE News

Tsunami disaster death toll climbs to 120,000

30 December 2004 15:59

The death toll from last weekend's tsunami in the Indian Ocean now stands at more than 120,000.

Indonesia has said there have been fresh aftershocks in the northwestern Sumatran province of Aceh, where the death toll from the weekend tsunami now stands at 80,000.

Sri Lanka, which was also badly hit, has raised its toll by almost 3,000 people to over 27,000.

There is growing concern that relief agencies are unable to reach some of the remoter districts throughout the eastern Indian Ocean area which bore the brunt of the tidal waves caused by the underwater earthquake.

Local officials are reporting that many survivors are becoming ill with respiratory problems, diarrhoea, skin irritations and cuts.

Panic follows wave warning

An Indian minister has said a government warning of a new tidal wave was issued without much thought.

The warning sparked fresh scenes of panic in southern India and Sri Lanka, and caused thousands of people to flee coastal areas, although no tidal surge materialised.

India's junior minister for science and technology, Kapil Sibal, said he had forwarded a message received from a US-based company to the Home Ministry mentioning the possibility of a fresh quake.

Thousands missing

Thousands of European tourists are still missing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said around 20 Irish people remain unaccounted for in the region.

So far, there have been no confirmed deaths among Irish visitors.

The Swedish government is unable to account for 1,500 of its citizens. A national day of mourning will be held in Sweden on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph

Dáil deal a UUP crime, says Robinson

By Noel McAdam
30 December 2004

The DUP today challenged Ulster Unionists to "come clean" on the controversy over speaking rights for Northern Ireland MPs in Dublin.

As the war of words between the rival parties continued, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said UUP negotiator Sir Reg Empey had stayed silent on the issue two years ago.

His attack came after Sir Reg accused the DUP of "acquiescence" to the proposal which he warned could lead to an "embryonic united Ireland".

And his senior party colleague Michael McGimpsey said concessions - including the potential release of the killers of Garda Gerry McCabe - had happened "on Ian Paisley's watch".

Mr Robinson said the plan referred to a committee of the Dail, which will meet twice a year and to which Northern Ireland MPs will be invited but have no voting rights.

He said when the proposal was first published in March 2002, Mr Empey and other UUP members never uttered a word "because the UUP was party to it.

"He needs to say why he did not warn the people of Northern Ireland about this constitutional crisis in 2002 when he and his party held the reins of unionism. Tell us Reg, why you only raise your voice now, two years later, and try to incriminate others for the crime the UUP committed?"

The East Belfast MP also said UU leader David Trimble had yet to respond to his challenge to release the full text of the aborted deal last year on policing.

"This issue will not go away. You better face the music," he said.

But Mr McGimpsey countered: "The concessions happened on Dr Paisley's watch and what is worse Dr Paisley has sat idly by and allowed these concessions.

"The DUP have been shown up as weak and cowardly negotiators. If they knew about the release of Jerry McCabe's killers, why did they not try to prevent it from happening?"

Belfast Telegraph

Paisley in fresh attack on parties
DUP leader in New Year message

By Noel McAdam
30 December 2004

DUP leader Ian Paisley today pointed the finger at republicans over the Northern Bank heist - and warned Northern Ireland faces "no easy road" in the New Year.

The Northern Bank robbery "should awaken us to the sort of Ulster the republican terrorists have planned for us," Mr Paisley warned.

He castigated the Government for helping to create a climate in which criminals can thrive - and denounced the dispatch of two policemen on foot to the robbery scene as a disgrace.

In his New Year message, Mr Paisley said: "The failure of the Government and the police to stop lesser robbers has in fact only encouraged the robbing of the Northern Bank in a record act of thievery."

The "cement of true democracy" had been rejected by the British and Irish governments "and their capitulation to the IRA/ Sinn Fein terrorists is now bringing forth a terrible harvest."

The "capitulating" to terrorism had created problems which were "becoming more and more serious as each day passes.

"Sending two policemen to the scene on foot when the alarm was raised is disgraceful. No wonder our Province is in such a state.

"The increasing incendiary attacks on business premises is also alarming, together with the deluge of other criminal acts, including robberies and rapes of the elderly and attacks on children."

With negotiations aimed at a restoration of devolved government in abeyance, Mr Paisley said he believed a fair deal could be won.

"There is no easy road for this Province in the New Year. It is only with dedication, determination and democratic means that a fair deal can be won for all the people of this Province," he said.

The anti-Agreement party leader also rounded on what he termed the "so-called peace parties" for refusing to acknowledge the ballot box.

"Sinn Fein, together with the official unionists and the SDLP, refuse to accept the change in voting by the majority of unionists ... Elections are only to be heeded when they give the answer these parties want."

Belfast Telegraph

West Belfast target in bank heist probe
More premises are searched

By Jonathan McCambridge
30 December 2004

Police have carried out further searches in west Belfast as they hunt for the gang which stole £22m from the Northern Bank.

It is understood that officers searched commercial premises in the Blackstaff industrial area off the Springfield Road yesterday.

This is the latest in a series of police searches in north and west Belfast following the largest cash bank robbery in history.

Witnesses said a number of police Land Rovers were involved in the searches.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that searches had been carried out.

She said: "Police, as part of the ongoing investigation into the Northern Bank robbery, carried out a search of commercial premises in west Belfast.

"Nothing relating to the robbery was recovered during the search.

"Police will continue to pursue every possible line of inquiry as part of their investigation."

Police are hunting the gang which stole millions from the vaults of the Northern Bank cash centre in Donegall Square West on December 20 as the families of the two bank officials were held hostage.

The bank officials are Kevin McMullan from Downpatrick and Chris Ward from Colinmill in Poleglass.

On Monday, detectives carried out a fresh search of the Ward family home in the Poleglass area of Belfast.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said the possible involvement of paramilitaries is a "key line of inquiry".

But the IRA has denied involvement in the robbery.

Belfast Telegraph

Ulster shopkeepers on fire bomb alert

By Jonathan McCambridge
30 December 2004

Shopkeepers across Northern Ireland were today warned about a new fire bombing campaign following the discovery of the latest device in a super- market.

Army bomb experts defused the incendiary device in Sainsbury's at the Sprucefield complex near Lisburn yesterday.

Dissident republicans have been linked to fire bombings which have destroyed several stores across the province.

Senior police have warned all retailers to check their premises, whether they are open or not.

Police sources fear that a number of potentially lethal fire bombs may have already been left in retail outlets but not yet discovered.

In recent weeks devices have been discovered in Lisburn, Newry, Antrim, Londonderry, Newtownabbey and Ballymena.

A number ignited, causing major damage.

Yesterday's device in Sprucefield was discovered and made safe by the Army without any damage.

This is the second fire bomb alert at Sprucefield after the B&Q store was extensively damaged.

Police originally issued an urgent appeal to retailers in Lisburn to carefully search their premises and report anything suspicious.

However, they later widened their appeal across Northern Ireland.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said premises should be checked every day, open or not.

He said: "We have seen a number of incidents over the past month where stores have been fully or partially destroyed.

"These devices have tended to ignite overnight after the shops have been closed.

"There has been no warning for any of these devices and luckily no-one has been injured.

"Shopkeepers should call police immediately if anything suspicious is found."


**This article sums up pretty well something that I believe, which is that if you are going to fight a war, you should target your enemy and not set out to punish, maim, mutilate and kill your own people or disable your own resources.

Dissidents have no 'war' mandate

(Editorial, Irish News)

The recent upsurge in arson attacks on businesses continued yesterday
(Monday) when an incendiary device was discovered at a sports store
in Newry.

Thankfully this device was dealt with and did not lead to damage to
property or to a potential loss of jobs.
Like many towns and cities in Ireland, Newry can ill afford to lose

Whether it is the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA or some other
republican group that is carrying out these attacks, it is time they
realised that they are conducting a 'war' against ordinary people.

These groups have no mandate and it is time they ceased their
potentially lethal activities before one of their 'attacks' once
again kills people they claim to be trying to liberate.

December 30, 2004


Car driven into youth club

A youth centre in County Antrim has been badly damaged in a fire after a car was driven into the front of the building and set alight.

It happened in Newtownabbey at about 2345 GMT on Wednesday.

A number of items were recovered from the building on the Rathcoole housing estate and taken away for forensic examination.

Investigating officers are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

Irish Echo

Ferry deported, but not before airport fiasco

By Ray O'Hanlon

In a final, Kafkaesque twist to his longrunning battle against deportation from the U.S., Belfast man Ciaran Ferry was prevented from leaving the country last week by law enforcement officials. And this even as he was in the process of being deported under armed federal escort.

Ferry's flight fiasco began after he reached a deal with federal prosecutors.

The former IRA man agreed to end his appeal against deportation if he was able to get a flight back to Ireland in time for Christmas.

Ferry's journey back east began smoothly enough. Escorted by U.S. marshals, he was placed on a plane out of Denver bound for Newark in New Jersey. The flight landed at Newark where Ferry was to be transferred to a Continental Airlines flight to Dublin. However, the wheels came off the flight plan at this point.

According to Ferry attorney Eamonn Dornan, airport security officials boarded the plan and ordered Ferry's removal.

"Ciaran was under armed escort by U.S. marshals, but the security officials said he couldn't fly because his name was on the no-fly list," Dornan said.

The presence of the federal officers did not assuage the officers, described by Dornan as being from the New York/New Jersey Port Authority. Ferry was taken from the plane and confined for the night at the Hudson County jail. Federal agents managed to sort out the situation the next day and Ferry finally flew to Ireland on Wednesday night, Dec. 23. He was freed upon arrival in Dublin and was able to spend Christmas with his family in Belfast.

Meanwhile, Ferry's wife, Heaven, who is a U.S. citizen, and the couple's American-born daughter, Fiona, spent Christmas in Colorado with family members. They are both expected to join Ferry in Ireland in the new year.

Last month, a Colorado judge denied Ferry's habeas corpus plea, which had been before the court for 19 months.

Ferry had argued that his detention violated due process and his right to equal protection. He said he was denied his rights because he was prevented from having a green-card hearing following his marriage to Heaven.

Ferry has been jailed since Jan. 30, 2003. He was detained when he turned up for the green-card interview with his wife.

Ferry was first held at the Federal Corrections Institution in Englewood, Colo. He was transferred at the end of February to the maximum-security wing of Denver County Jail. In September 2003 he was moved to the Jefferson County Jail in Denver. Hudson County turned out to be Ferry's fourth place of confinement in less than two years.

Ferry, through his lawyers, argued that he was treated in an arbitrary fashion by the Department of Homeland Security. He also disputed the government's position that he posed a threat to U.S. security. He was supported in this contention by 12 members of Congress, who wrote to the DHS on his behalf.

However, in his habeas corpus decision, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham ruled that while Ferry had been lawfully admitted to the U.S. under the visa-waiver program, he had, under the rules of the program, effectively waived his rights to legally fight deportation on any basis other than a plea for political asylum.

In his ruling, Nottingham noted that such a plea for asylum had been separately denied by U.S. immigration authorities. Nottingham, in denying habeas corpus, stated that Ferry was "subject to removal" from the U.S.

That decision was still in appeal before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals when Ferry decided to end a legal battle, which had the potential to go on for years.

When he appeared for his green-card interview, Ferry was questioned about a prison term he served in Northern Ireland for IRA-related activities in the early 1990s.

Ferry was arrested in Belfast in 1993 after two guns and ammunition were found in a car in which he was a passenger. He was sentenced to 22 years but was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement.

Ferry, when he first entered the U.S., did not reveal that he had been in prison. He did, however, admit to IRA membership on his subsequent green-card application.

This story appeared in the issue of December 29, 2004- January 4, 2005


Incendiary defused in shop

Shop owners in Northern Ireland have been urged to thoroughly check their premises after an incendiary device was found in a supermarket.

Army technical officers defused the device left in Sainsbury's at the Sprucefield complex near Lisburn.

Dissident republicans have been linked to fire bombings which destroyed several stores across the province.

Devices have been discovered in Lisburn, Newry, Antrim, Londonderry, Newtownabbey and Ballymena.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said on Wednesday that it was lucky that no-one had been injured in the attacks.

"We have seen a number of incidents over the past month where stores have been fully or partially destroyed by incendiary devices," he said.

"These have tended to ignite overnight when the shops have been closed."



Govt set to ban alcohol advertisements on daytime television

29/12/2004 - 08:05:53

The Government is reportedly expected to ban the broadcast of alcohol advertisements on daytime television under new legislation aimed at controlling the promotion of alcoholic drinks.

Reports this morning said Junior Health Minister Sean Power had indicated that such a ban would be part of the legislation, which is expected to be published next year.

Mr Power did not say what hours the ban would apply to, but campaigners have been calling for a 9pm watershed.

The minister also reportedly indicated that the new legislation would include a ban on the sponsorship of sporting events by alcohol companies, but did not say when this was likely to take effect.

He also suggested that health warnings like those on cigarettes may be introduced for alcohol products as part of the legislation, which is designed to tackle the growing problems of underage and binge drinking.


Heart pioneer dies aged 88

Professor Frank Pantridge pioneered the portable defibrillator

A Northern Ireland-born heart expert whose pioneering techniques saved countless lives has died at the age of 88.

Professor Frank Pantridge, best known for developing the portable defibrillator, died on Sunday.

He developed the device in 1965 while working at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Defibrillators provide a controlled electric shock to the chests of patients to restore the heart to its normal rhythm.

Professor Pantridge's invention operated from car batteries, and variants of this are used across the world.

Before this, defibrillators could only be operated from the mains electricity supply in hospitals.

Dubbed "the father of emergency medicine", Mr Pantridge installed his first portable defibrillator in an ambulance.

This pre-hospital coronary care unit was known as the Pantridge Plan, and his name was printed on many defibrillators.

A 1985 survey found that early pre-hospital treatment among patients under 65 reduced deaths by 38%.

In 1990, then-Health Secretary Kenneth Clarke allocated £38m to equip all front-line ambulances in England with defibrillators.

Many portable defibrillators bear Professor Pantridge's name
The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast issued a statement paying tribute to Professor Pantridge.

It said: "It was thanks to him that in the late 1960s, Belfast was often described as the safest place in the world to have a heart attack."

Andrew Dougal of the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association, said Mr Pantridge's achievements would continue to inspire those working in the battle against heart disease.

"It is important that we follow through with the work which he started 40 years ago," he said.

Around 270,000 people suffer a heart attack in the UK each year, with about a third dying from cardiac arrest before reaching hospital.

Cardiac arrests usually occur because of a heart attack, when the heart is starved of oxygen. The heart either quivers - known as fibrillation - or stops beating altogether.

Seven out of 10 cardiac arrests happened outside hospital, but only 2 to 3% of these cases survive.

A patient's chances of survival drop by up to 10% for every minute that passes, meaning that having a defibrillator close at hand could make all the difference.


Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A01

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers.

The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records.

This Gulfstream V turbojet is believed to be used to transport suspected terrorists to other countries for interrogation -- a practice called rendition. (Special To The Washington Post)

Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation.

The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.

As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism of the practice has grown. Human rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture.

The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a presidential directive dating to the Clinton administration, which the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed. The CIA declined to comment for this article.

"Our policymakers would never confront the issue," said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who has been involved with renditions and supports the practice. "We would say, 'Where do you want us to take these people?' The mind-set of the bureaucracy was, 'Let someone else do the dirty work.' "

The story of the Gulfstream V offers a rare glimpse into the CIA's secret operations, a world that current and former CIA officers said should not have been so easy to document.

Not only have the plane's movements been tracked around the world, but the on-paper officers of Premier Executive Transport Services are also connected to a larger roster of false identities.

Each of the officers of Premier Executive is linked in public records to one of five post office box numbers in Arlington, Oakton, Chevy Chase and the District. A total of 325 names are registered to the five post office boxes.

An extensive database search of a sample of 44 of those names turned up none of the information that usually emerges in such a search: no previous addresses, no past or current telephone numbers, no business or corporate records. In addition, although most names were attached to dates of birth in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, all were given Social Security numbers between 1998 and 2003.

The Washington Post showed its research to the CIA, including a chart connecting Premier Executive's officers, the post office boxes, the 325 names, the recent Social Security numbers and an entity called Executive Support OFC. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

According to former CIA operatives experienced in using "proprietary," or front, companies, the CIA likely used, or intended to use, some of the 325 names to hide other activities, the nature of which could not be learned. The former operatives also noted that the agency devotes more effort to producing cover identities for its operatives in the field, which are supposed to stand up under scrutiny, than to hiding its ownership of a plane.

The CIA's plane secret began to unravel less than six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On Oct. 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with the News in Islamabad, broke a story asserting that Pakistani intelligence officers had handed over to U.S. authorities a Yemeni microbiologist, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

The report noted that an aircraft bearing tail number N379P, and parked in a remote area of a little-used terminal at the Karachi airport, had whisked Mohammed away about 2:40 a.m. Oct. 23. The tail number was also obtained by The Post's correspondent in Pakistan but not published.

The News article ricocheted among spy-hunters and Web bloggers as a curiosity for those interested in divining the mechanics of the new U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

At 7:54:04 p.m. Oct. 26, the News article was posted on FreeRepublic.com, which bills itself as "a conservative news forum."

Thirteen minutes later, a chat-room participant posted the plane's registered owners: Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., of 339 Washington St., Dedham, Mass.

"Sounds like a nice generic name," one blogger wrote in response. "Kind of like Air America" -- a reference to the CIA's secret civilian airlines that flew supplies, food and personnel into Southeast Asia, including Laos, during the Vietnam War.

Eight weeks later, on Dec. 18, 2001, American-accented men wearing hoods and working with special Swedish security police brought two Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked at night at Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Swedish officials and airport personnel interviewed by Swedish television's "Cold Facts" program. The account was confirmed independently by The Post. The plane's tail number: N379P.

Wearing red overalls and bound with handcuffs and leg irons, the men, who had applied for political asylum in Sweden, were flown to Cairo, according to Swedish officials and documents. Ahmed Agiza was convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of terrorism-related charges; Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say they were tortured while in Egyptian custody. Sweden has opened an investigation into the decision to allow them to be rendered.

A month later, in January 2002, a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V landed at Jakarta's military airport. According to Indonesian officials, the plane carried away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian traveling on a Pakistani passport and suspected of being an al Qaeda operative who had worked with shoe bomber suspect Richard C. Reid. Without a hearing, he was flown to Egypt. His status and whereabouts are unknown. The plane's tail number was not noted, but the CIA is believed to have only one of the expensive jets.

Over the past year, the Gulfstream V's flights have been tracked by plane spotters standing at the end of runways with high-powered binoculars and cameras to record the flights of military and private aircraft.

These hobbyists list their findings on specialized Web pages. According to them, since October 2001 the plane has landed in Islamabad; Karachi; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Baghdad; Kuwait City; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rabat, Morocco. It has stopped frequently at Dulles International Airport, at Jordan's military airport in Amman and at airports in Frankfurt, Germany; Glasglow, Scotland, and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Premier Executive Transport Services was incorporated in Delaware by the Prentice-Hall Corporation System Inc. on Jan. 10, 1994. On Jan. 23, 1996, Dean Plakias, a lawyer with Hill & Plakias in Dedham, filed incorporation papers with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts listing the company's president as Bryan P. Dyess.

According to public documents, Premier Executive ordered a new Gulfstream V in 1998. It was delivered in November 1999 with tail number N581GA, and reregistered for unknown reasons on March 2000 with a new tail number, N379P. It began flights in June 2000, and changed the tail number again in December 2003.

Plakias did not return several telephone messages seeking comment. He told the Boston Globe recently that he simply filed the required paperwork. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the affairs of the client business, mainly for reasons I don't know," he told the Globe. Asked whether the company exists, Plakias responded: "Millions of companies are set up in Massachusetts that are just paper companies."

A lawyer in Washington, whose name is listed on a 1996 IRS form on record at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office in Massachusetts -- and whose name is whited out on some copies of the forms -- hung up the phone last week when asked about the company.

Three weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the plane, complete with a new tail number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Ore., according to FAA records. Its registered agent in Portland, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls.

Like the officers at Premier Executive, Bayard's sole listed corporate officer, Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone history. Unlike Premier's officers, Bayard's name does not appear in any other public records.

Researchers Margot Williams and Julie Tate contributed to this report. Williams has since left The Washington Post.


British Military Intelligence Website Hijacked

27 December 2004

A. writes:

The British Army Intelligence Corps website and name has been taken over by a former British agent. He now owns the lot. All emails have been going to the former agent, and he now has the power to do what he wishes with the web site.


If you click the link and go to Careers, click on Officer and scroll down to send an email. The email address now goes to him at a private domain, officer@intelligencecorps.co.uk.

Whois for intelligencecorps.co.uk:

Domain Name:

Domains by Proxy, Inc.
Trading As: Domains by Proxy, Inc.

Registrant's Address:
15111 N Hayden Rd.
Suite 160 PMB353

Registrant's Agent:
Global Registration Services Ltd [Tag = GRS]
URL: http://www.globalregistrationservices.com

Relevant Dates:
Registered on: 23-Dec-2004
Renewal Date: 23-Dec-2006
Last updated: 23-Dec-2004

Registration Status:
Registration request being processed

Name servers listed in order:

WHOIS database last updated at 11:30:01 27-Dec-2004

(c) Nominet UK 1996 - 2004

For further information and terms of use please see http://www.nic.uk/whois

Whois for the domain service:

Special Domain Services, Inc.
14455 N Hayden Rd
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Registered through: WWDomains.com
Created on: 30-Mar-98
Expires on: 29-Mar-12
Last Updated on: 12-Oct-04

Administrative Contact:
Domain Services, Inc., Special dns@wildwestdomains.com
14455 N Hayden Rd
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
480-624-2500 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Domain Services, Inc., Special dns@wildwestdomains.com
14455 N Hayden Rd
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
480-624-2500 Fax --

Domain servers in listed order:

WWDomains is Wild West Domains:


The firm sells domain names and provides cloaking services to those who want to hide their identity.

Belfast Telegraph

Former PSNI chief for Iraq

29 December 2004

FORMER PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White has been appointed as a senior policing specialist on Iraq.

The European Union has appointed Mr White, who recently retired from the PSNI, to its six-man Iraqi expert team.

He is expected to advise the EU how it can aid the criminal justice system in the war-torn country.

The 50-year-old has already spent more than six months in Iraq assist- ing the development of Iraq's new police service.

Belfast Telegraph

Racist row follows chanting at match
Black player target of abuse by football fans

By Staff Reporter
29 December 2004

A ROW was brewing today over racism in Northern Ireland sport after reports of a black player being the target of abuse at a Co Antrim football match.

Fans reported an outbreak of racist chanting at the game between Ballymena United and Coleraine at Ballymena Showgrounds on Monday.

After the game there were also reports of attacks at Catholic-owned premises in the Co Antrim town.

Ballymena chairman Robert Cupples said he was unaware of the incidents but that if evidence was brought to them and culprits identified he said they could be banned.

Fans at the match, which was attended by some 2,500 making it the biggest crowd of the season at Ballymena, said the racist outrage involved a small but vociferous section of home fans making monkey sounds when Coleraine's South African-born 18-year-old, Bryce Moon, came on as a substitute in the 59th minute.

One spectator said: "The fans making the racist chants were a disgrace. It was only a small minority but this sort of thing should not be tolerated as it gives every decent fan a bad name. This is the last thing the Irish League needs."

Coleraine Football Club secretary Freddie Monahan condemned the chanting but said it was a problem for Ballymena to deal with.

He said Moon is a great player who joined Coleraine at the start of the season and lives in the area.

"He is very well liked and never gets any trouble in Coleraine. We signed him through an educational scheme and as well as playing football he is getting an education here.

"The player knew nothing about the chanting and he wouldn't want to comment on it," said Mr Monahan.

A police spokesman said they had not received any reports regarding the racist chants.

Ballymena United chairman Robert Cupples said last night he was unaware of racist chants or sectarian attacks outside the ground.

"If they did happen I would deplore them. I didn't hear any racist chants or hear anyone talking about it. No Coleraine official mentioned it nor did the referee or linesmen and I was talking to them after the game.

"If we can identify who was involved we could deal with them and ban them but we have never had any racist chanting before."

"If the police let us know who was involved we will take action. We don't want any of this stuff, not even bad language," he added.

A separate controversy flared over alleged sectarian attacks involving Ballymena United fans leaving the ground.

A police spokesman confirmed they received reports around 5.15pm on Monday that a section of the crowd coming from the football match was damaging cars in the Broughshane Street area and that a shop window was broken in William Street.

The spokesman said they received a report that a group of between ten and 15 youths wearing scarves and hoods had broken the shop window.

An eye-witness said the group of youths was wearing Ballymena United scarves and that they chanted sectarian remarks outside a snooker hall in Broughshane Street.

Belfast Telegraph

Thieves take flight with exotic parrots

By Ashleigh Wallace
29 December 2004

EIGHT parrots have been stolen from a pet shop in the Balloo area of Bangor, police today revealed.

A member of staff at the pet shop was walking to work at about 8.30am yesterday when it was noticed that lights in the premises were on.

The employee then discovered eight parrots were missing. All eight birds were young.

A police spokesman said: "These birds are quite distinctive and the public are being advised to treat them with caution if unusual sources are selling them."

Anyone with information on the break-in or who may know the whereabouts of the birds is asked to call the PSNI in Bangor on 91454444, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Animal Magic store manager, Sam Kirkpatrick, said he believed the robbers knew what they were looking for.

"It seems to me that they knew which birds to go for," he said.

"These were all birds that were hand-tamed."

The brightly coloured birds stolen were four African Grey Parrots, two Moluccan cockatoos with peach plumage, and two blue and green Amazon parrots.

DUP North Down MLA Alex Easton described the theft as "unacceptable" and said that the Balloo area was being subjected to increasing criminality.

"Once again the Balloo area has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, on this occasion the theft of eight parrots from the pet store," he said.

"I will ensure these matters are addressed at the District Policing Partnership, including the Christmas Day assault that left a man hospitalised.

"Again I appeal for the PSNI to be given every assistance by the community to address this problem."

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