Indymedia Ireland

Appeal To Stop Disbarment Of Rights Solicitor

by Shane OCurry - Pat Finucane Centre Thursday, Jan 20 2005, 3:43pm

Northern Irish Law Society Accused Of Political Bias In Move To Strike Padraigin Drinan From Books

Photo by Melissa Thompson - appearing on Indymedia.ie

**Please see also Ms Thompson's interview with Pádraigín Drinan on www.tallgirlshorts.net/thewayofwomen

The Law Society of Northern Ireland are in the process of closing down the law practice of Padraigin Drinan. She can no longer represent her clients and they are asking the High Court in Belfast to freeze her assets immediately.

The reasons given by Ms Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland for these actions depends on who is asking. She has told Padraigin that it is because she failed to respond to letters from the society (Padraigin maintains that she answered the questions fully in other correspondence). She has told others it is because Padragin had not amalgamated her practice with that of another solicitor. One person even got a call today saying, 'Watch what you're getting into, this is about financial irregularities". This is nonsense, as you need to be making money to be irregular with it, and a huge portion of Padraigin's work is done 'pro bono' (for free).

Spearheading the appeal to defend Ms Drinan, one friend and colleague told this Indymedia reporter "Padraigin has a long history of defending the dispossessed. She's a champion of the poor. She fights for those in society who have no voice. Immigrants, the residents groups, Dominic McGlinchey (raising his sons after their father's death), and above all she does what's right and speaks out against injustice no matter who is perpetrating that injustice".

She went on "What is needed at this moment is to get the word out to as many people as possible, unions, politicians and activist groups, and to ask them to contact Ms. Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland and ask her why Padraigin is being persecuted. To ask her which of the three reasons given is the real reason Padraigin's ability to practice has been taken away. Indeed what people should be asking is "is this not in fact punishment for the political orientation of her clientele? Is it not about the fact that she is trying to keep loyalists from again invading nationalist communities in the coming marching season?"

The spokeswoman promised that additional information would be forthcoming, but, until then, asked that concerned individuals and groups write to the address and email below and put the questions outlined above to Ms Bryson.

Padraigin has taken cases that have made her enemies. The British and Irish Governments don't like her, not least because because of her stance against institutionalised sectarianism within the RUC/PSNI and the judicial system, and her challenge to the legality of the the 26 county racist citizenship referendum, by demonstrating that it disenfranchised the six counties and exposed the fact that people from the six counties who put themselves down as Irish could not get jobs in the civil service there. Anti-War activists will remember her as a legal observer on many a demonstration, including the march against Blair and Bush at Hillsborough and the various actions at Shannon.

In the North, she has also fallen out of favour with the GFA-supporting parties of every hue because her challenge to Orange marches in the nationalist community is seen as undermining deals to resurrect Stormont.

Unionist/loyalist political forces are naturally pissed off with her because of her association with issues impacting on the nationalist community, such as loyalist parades and sectarian attacks.

Readers are urged to contact Suzanne Bryson and tell her that they are aware of the witch-hunt against Padraigin and want it to end.

Whether you agree with the politics of her clients or the orientation she appears to align herself with is of no consequence. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights to defend and enable lawyers to provide all citizens with legal defence.

Padraigin Drinan has, in the past, been subjected to numerous death threats and even attempts on her life. It is not inconceivable that the State, having decided that the tactic of rubbing out solicitors that they don't like - as they did in the still unresolved cases of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane - is too messy, and has therefore moved on to taking subtler and less politically costly measures, such as trying to discredit solicitors they consider too uppity and attempting to destroy their careers.

The spokeswoman said "Padraigin Drinan may be the most important civil rights attorney practicing in the six counties today, please join in defending her and don't delay."

SUZANNE BRYSON - Deputy Secretary
Email: info@lawsoc-ni.org
Law Society of Northern Ireland
98 Victoria St
Belfast, Ireland BT1 3JZ

Derry Journal

Adding Insult To Injury

Friday 21st January 2005

Bloody Sunday was an offence against this community that has left a legacy of hurt and bitterness that still reverberates until this day.

When the new inquiry was established many people hoped that at last the relatives of the dead and injured and the wider Derry community could begin the healing process so vital if this community is to move on.

However, the decision this week to jail 'Ducksie' Doherty for refusing to talk to the Inquiry could lead to a serious loss of confidence in the Inquiry and subsequently its conclusions.

Mr. Doherty who is adamant that he was not present on Bloody Sunday, felt that he had no evidence to contribute to the Inquiry.

When the Inquiry persisted in asking him to give evidence he agreed to meet with them to see why they were so interested in speaking to him and discovered that they wanted to question him about allegations made by an informer.

Mr. Doherty decided that these allegations were not worth responding to and so he did not attend the Inquiry.

It is scandalous that the first person and very possibly the only person to see the inside of a prison cell because of Bloody Sunday is a Derry republican.

Many British soldiers went to the Inquiry but simply did not answer any questions put to them yet nothing was done about that.

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath hid behind a poor memory to avoid answering awkward questions yet nothing was done about that.

'Ducksie' Doherty did not co-operate because he had nothing to say and he is jailed.

The British government have the power to release Mr. Doherty and they should do so immediately. the Irish government for their part should do all in their power to lobby for Mr. Doherty's immediate release.

The continued imprisonment of Mr. Doherty is adding insult to injury and if the bloody Sunday inquiry wants to retain its credibility it should take steps to end this scandalous state of affairs.

Here is a photo of a mural from 2003 which I found while looking for a Sinn Féin logo pic. I'm including it for general interest. It was on a web page in Spanish http://www.galizacig.com/index.html.

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Irish Times

Majority wants talks with SF on North deal to continue

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A clear majority of voters believes that the Irish and British governments should continue to negotiate with Sinn Féin for a deal in the North rather than suspend negotiations until there is a verified end to IRA criminal activity, according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi opinion poll. Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent, reports

Some 62 per cent believe the governments should continue to negotiate with Sinn Féin, while 26 per cent believe negotiations should be suspended until the governments are satisfied that there is a verified end to criminal activity by the IRA.

Some 9 per cent don't know and 3 per cent have no opinion.

Less than half of voters - 47 per cent - believe that the IRA was responsible for the recent £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery. Just 19 per cent believe the IRA was not responsible, while 29 per cent say they don't know and 5 per cent expressed no opinion.

The level of belief that the IRA was responsible is relatively consistent among supporters of all parties except Sinn Féin. Just 15 per cent of Sinn Féin voters believe the IRA was responsible, 61 per cent believe that it was not, 22 per cent don't know and 2 per cent have no opinion.

The poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a national quota sample of 1,000 voters throughout all constituencies. It was conducted just before the IRA's official denial of involvement in the Northern Bank robbery.

The strong support for the continuation of political negotiations with Sinn Féin shows that the public takes a different view from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahern, who said last Monday that it was not "business as usual" with Sinn Féin and that the criminality issue had to be resolved before the Government re-entered negotiations with Sinn Féin similar to those which took place before Christmas.

However, there is support in all age groups, regions and social categories, and among supporters of all parties, for the continuation of negotiations with Sinn Féin rather than its suspension until the governments are satisfied that there has been a verified end to criminal activity by the IRA.

A greater number believe Sinn Féin is committed to working towards the ending of all paramilitary violence and criminal activity than believe it is not. Some 46 per cent believe that it is, 32 per cent that it is not, 18 per cent don't know and 4 per cent have no opinion.

The public is evenly divided on whether Sinn Féin would be acceptable or unacceptable to serve in the next government. Asked if Sinn Féin participation in a coalition would be acceptable or not if there were a general election tomorrow, 39 per cent said it would be acceptable, 39 per cent that it would not, 18 per cent don't know and 4 per cent have no opinion.

Sinn Féin participation is most palatable to the party's own voters, among whom 95 per cent see it as acceptable, just 1 per cent do not and 3 per cent have no opinion. Among supporters of other parties, it is most acceptable among Labour voters, where 44 per cent would accept it, 33 per cent would not, 21 per cent don't know and 2 per cent have no opinion.

A greater number of supporters of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party would find Sinn Féin participation in a coalition government unacceptable. Among Fianna Fáil voters, 36 per cent believe it would be acceptable, 41 per cent unacceptable, 20 per cent don't know and 3 per cent have no opinion.

Some 33 per cent of Fine Gael voters see it as acceptable, 55 per cent as unacceptable, 9 per cent don't know and 3 per cent have no opinion.

Among PD voters, just 18 per cent would find Sinn Féin participation in the next government acceptable, 68 per cent unacceptable, while 15 per cent don't know. Finally, among Green Party voters, 29 per cent would find it acceptable, 54 per cent unacceptable, while 10 per cent don't know.

© The Irish Times


MI6 ordered LSD tests on servicemen
Volunteers fed hallucinogen in mind control experiments

Rob Evans
Saturday January 22, 2005
The Guardian

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Fifty years ago, Eric Gow had a baffling and unexplained experience. As a 19-year-old sailor, he remembers going to a clandestine military establishment, where he was given something to drink in a sherry glass and experienced vivid hallucinations.

Other servicemen also remember tripping: one thought he was seeing tigers jumping out of a wall, while another recalls faces "with eyes running down their cheeks, Salvador Dalí-style".

Mr Gow and another serviceman had volunteered to take part in what they thought was research to find a cure for the common cold.

Mr Gow felt that the government had never explained what happened to him. But now he has received an official admission for the first time, confirmed last night, that the intelligence agency MI6 tested LSD on servicemen.

The Guardian has spoken to three servicemen who say that they were not warned that they were being fed a hallucinogen during experiments.

One of the scientists involved at the time suggested that the experiments were stopped because it was feared that the acid could produce "suicidal tendencies".

MI6, known formally as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and responsible for spying operations abroad, carried out the tests in the cold war in an attempt to uncover a "truth drug" which would make prisoners talk against their will in interrogations.

It appears that MI6 feared that the Russians had discovered their own "brainwashing" chemical to control the minds of their enemies, fears triggered by pictures of American servicemen who had been captured during the Korean war confessing to their "crimes" and calling for a US surrender.

In 1949, a Hungarian dissident had also "confessed" robotically in a show trial without, it seemed, being in control of himself.

In parallel experiments, the CIA infamously tested LSD and other drugs on unwitting human subjects in a 20-year search to uncover mind-manipulation techniques. The trials were widely criticised when they came to light in the 1970s.

Mr Gow and another man say that while serving in the military they volunteered to take part in research. They were told to go to the Porton Down chemical warfare establishment in Wiltshire, where servicemen were regularly tested in experiments.

Mr Gow, then a radio operator in the Royal Navy, says that scientists gave him the liquid to drink in 1954, a decade before the effects of LSD were popularised by hippies.

Soon he could not add up three figures. The radiator started to go in and out "like a squeezebox", while shoe marks on the floor spun like a catherine wheel. He says he still seemed to be tripping that evening, when he and a colleague went dancing in nearby Salisbury, with wellies on. "I don't think we got a date that night," he said yesterday.

He added that the scientists had been "irresponsible", particularly as they had not kept the men under close supervision. Now a magistrate, he submitted an open government request to the Ministry of Defence seeking more details of the experiments.

The MoD replied that "much of the information concerning LSD involves research conducted at the behest of the Secret Intelligence Service ... We are more than happy to speak to them [SIS] on your behalf and will pursue the question of downgrading the security classification of certain documents to allow us to disclose them to you".

Last night, a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that in 1953 and 1954 Porton Down carried out SIS-commissioned tests of LSD on service personnel.

Don Webb says that in 1953, when he was a 19-year-old airman, scientists told him to take LSD several times in a week. He experienced "walls melting, cracks appearing in people's faces, you could see their skulls, eyes would run down cheeks, Salvador Dalí-style faces".

Alan Care, a lawyer representing Mr Gow and Mr Webb, has written to MI6 demanding more documents about the trials and is threatening legal action. Yesterday he said: "Clearly these men were duped and subjected to unethical LSD thought control experiments. MI6 should release all its documents about these trials - national secrets will not be compromised."

A senior Porton Down official described the LSD trials as "tentative and inadequately controlled", according to a document made public in the National Archives.

One scientist involved was believed to be the late Harry Cullumbine, who was in charge of human experiments at Porton Down in the 1950s.

Extracts from his unpublished autobiography were aired at the recent inquest into the death of the airman Ronald Maddison after nerve gas trials in 1953. According to the Wiltshire coroner, David Masters, Cullumbine wrote: "We stopped the trials ... when it was reported that in a few people it might produce suicidal tendencies."

Mr Masters told the inquest: "MI6 was eager to try it as a truth drug."

However, the quest came to nothing, because the scientists discovered that LSD was useless for manipulating the human mind.

Belfast Telegraph

Farm workers' wages to rise by 4.3%

By Michael Drake
22 January 2005

Northern Ireland's farm workers are in line to get a 4.3% wage rise.

The proposal from the Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland will, if ratified, come into operation early in April.

The board wants to increase existing minimum rates of pay for workers in all age groups by this amount.

For those aged 19 and over it will mean a wage of £207 for a five-day, 39-hour week.

This will equate to an hourly rate of £5.31 and an overtime payment of £7.96 per hour.

At the bottom end of the age scale those aged 15 and under will receive £103.50 a week.

The board will meet again next month to consider any objections to the proposal.

No other changes to working conditions are proposed.

The board, which was set up in 1977, comprises six members of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union, six members of the Ulster Farmers Union and three members who were appointed by the Department of Agriculture.

Belfast Telegraph

Eames praises prison's braille books

22 January 2005

The Church of Ireland has praised prisoners at Maghaberry Prison for their work producing Braille versions of the Church's Book of Common Prayer and Church Hymnal.

The two publications are among a series of titles designed and produced by the prison's Braille Unit, run by David Johnston.

Speaking during a recent visit to Maghaberry Prison, Archbishop Robin Eames, Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, said: "The prisoners working in the Braille Unit have developed unique skills in producing liturgical publications and educational material as well as other publications.

"The Braille editions of the Book of Common Prayer and the Church Hymnal are invaluable resources for our Braille users both in their worship and in helping them to engage in parish life.

"I wish to thank the prisoners and prison authorities for this wonderful gift to the Church."

Archbishop Eames also praised David Johnston: "David's devotion and expertise in managing the production of liturgical books has been outstanding."

Archbishop Eames added: "The importance of a resource such as the Braille Unit reaches far beyond the walls of Maghaberry Prison.

"It enriches the whole of society and I commend the prison authorities for providing prisoners with this opportunity to engage in such worthwhile work."

Maghaberry Prison Governor, Pat Maguire, said: "I am very pleased that this project and the others that the Braille Unit undertakes provide prisoners with an opportunity to do a valuable service for the local community.

"Prisoners at Maghaberry have transcribed not only text but music, graphs and drawings for blind and visually impaired readers.

"Prisoners can use the skills they learn in the Unit to help with their eventual resettlement into the community."

The Archbishop presented a cheque for £2,500 to HM Prison Maghaberry in recognition of their work on liturgical publications.

Belfast Telegraph

Principals in new move to tackle suicides crisis
Major campaign is launched to develop first prevention strategy

By Deborah McAleese
22 January 2005

A group of Co Down school principals have launched a major campaign to help tackle the rising number of suicides in the area.

They have enlisted the help of local politicians and the Down Lisburn Trust to try and develop Northern Ireland's first co-ordinated suicide prevention strategy.

Principals from 21 primary and secondary schools in the Ballynahinch area initiated the campaign amid major concern about the high number of suicides in the area and right across Northern Ireland.

According to figures, suicide is currently the greatest cause of death for young males under the age of 25.

It also accounts for 25% of all deaths of young people.

"Suicide is a very serious concern and we think there is a real need for a strategic plan for suicide prevention in Northern Ireland," said Mr Hugh McCann, principal of St Colman's High School in Ballynahinch.

"The schools in the area just want to get something done to tackle the problem and would like to encourage some joined-up thinking."

Down District Council has agreed to support the school principals in their campaign and plans to exert pressure on the Down Lisburn Trust to take a leading role in the development of a preventative strategy.

Ballynahinch councillor Anne McAleenan said that society needs to start treating the problem of suicide with "the seriousness it deserves."

"While this is a crisis that faces all of Northern Ireland Ballynahinch recently featured in a television programme as having the highest suicide rate in any rural area," she said."

"It is time to face up to the reality of the suicide problem and take steps to address it."

A spokeswoman for the Down Lisburn Trust said that the trust is actively working on a development strategy which is being headed by trust nurse lecturer Pat McGreevy who is basing a lot of his work on international experiences.

Belfast Telegraph

**When I think of Red Hand, I think of the murder of Daniel McColgan. When I think of Ireland, I think of the Tricolour. Zoe needs to grow a brain.

Backlash at Zoe Red Hand apology
Unionist fury over BBC's retraction

By Ben Lowry
22 January 2005

Blue Peter was facing a unionist backlash today after apologising for the use of the Red Hand of Ulster symbol by its ex-Miss Northern Ireland presenter Zoe Salmon.

A prominent nationalist politician also played down the controversy surrounding on-air comments by the former beauty queen, who suggested earlier this month that the symbol would make a good choice for a new airline tailfin design in a children's competition.

A week later, the 24-year-old model selected a design of a map of Ireland, covered in the Union Flag, as one of her favourites.

Head of Blue Peter Anne Gilchrist issued an apology to David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde University, who complained, comparing the Red Hand to the swastika.

Patsy McGlone, SDLP Assembly member for Mid Ulster, today said: "I would not have been that upset about the reference to the Red Hand on its own.

"The most offensive bit for me would be the Union Jack superimposed on the image of Ireland. Zoe Salmon should been more than aware of the sensitivity surrounding that."

UUP Assembly member Michael Copeland described the Blue Peter apology as "political correctness gone mad".

"The Red Hand symbol is as precious to all Ulstermen as the Lion is to Scotland and the Dragon to Wales.

"It appears in the symbolism of both the unionist and nationalist communities."

Former UUP Lord Mayor of Belfast Jim Rodgers said: "We must not allow the Red Hand to be surrendered to paramilitaries.

"If you read carefully what the head of Blue Peter has said, she points out that the Red Hand is the official symbol of Ulster which consists of nine counties.

"I understand that this programme, which has millions of viewers, got four complaints."

On the website Slugger O'Toole, which invites comment on Northern Ireland matters, the BBC apology came under fire from a wide range of contributors. Some pointed out that the Red Hand is used by Tyrone GAA.

One contributor wrote: "My mother wore a Red Hand on her Irish dancing costume back in the Forties."

In the letter of apology, Ms Gilchrist wrote: "We can assure you that the symbol was used in good faith and it certainly wasn't our intention to be provocative or promote sectarianism.

"The reason we chose to use the Red Hand was because it is the official symbol of the province of Ulster."

She added: "We take all complaints seriously and after we received yours we did some detailed investigation into it, the result of which is that we realise that the context in which we were referring to the Red Hand was inappropriate and mistaken.

"We'd like to apologise for any upset or concern we have caused."

IRA 'must be brought to heel': Paisley

22/01/2005 - 08:43:19

The IRA must be brought to heel for the Northern Bank Robbery before any new peace talks, Ian Paisley has warned.

The Democratic Unionist leader emerged from meeting Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde yesterday more convinced than ever that the Provisionals pulled off the £26.5m (€38m) heist.

Mr Paisley insisted that a fresh attempt to broker a power-sharing agreement with Sinn Féin was off until cast-iron guarantees are given that all paramilitary guns and crime operations are scrapped for good.

He declared: “There was a golden opportunity which they refused. Maybe they saw the gold of the Northern Bank was more precious than the gold of the Assembly.”

He added: “The position is that we cannot (now) deal with IRA/Sinn Féin until they decommission their weapons and give up criminality.

“There’s no chance of a deal until the IRA are brought to heel and made amenable to the law. Seeing is believing that they are going, all criminality must cease, and the people of Northern Ireland must be convinced that they have ceased.

“That will take more than one month to convince us. I would say it will take many months.”

The raid, on December 20, the biggest of its kind in British history, came just after a major push to revive the devolved administration at Stormont came agonisingly close to success.

London and Dublin believed they had a deal that would see unionists and republicans run an Executive together at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

But the plan was derailed at the eleventh hour amid IRA resistance to DUP demands requiring photographic proof they had destroyed all their weapons.

Even though republicans have categorically rejected Mr Orde’s view that the Provos cleared the vaults at the Northern’s Belfast HQ, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and have accepted his assessment.

Their fury was compounded by the belief that the robbery was being planned at the same time the political negotiations involving Sinn Féin leaders were at a critical stage.


Two arrested after ammunition find

22/01/2005 - 08:53:33

Two people, believed to be prominently connected with the Real IRA, were arrested last night in the Dublin area.

Both are being held under Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act.

They are being detained separately at the Bridewell and Terenure garda stations.

A quantity of ammunition and other paramilitary paraphernalia was recovered.


'My patients are miles away'

The healthcare needs of rural communities are not being properly met, says a report by the British Medical Association.

It highlights a lack of public transport and too much centralisation of services.

Dr Eugene Deeny is a GP in Belleek, a small village in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

He is one of three GPs serving 4,000 patients in a practice area which is 18 miles wide and 10 miles long.

Dr Deeny said many health care policies had been developed to serve people who lived in towns - and often did not work for people in rural areas.

He said the biggest problem for his patients was the fact that they could not easily access health care services.

Dr Deeny said that not only was it difficult for some patients living miles from the practice to get to their GP, they then also had problems getting to the hospital which is 25 miles in Enniskillen if they needed follow up care.

And he said patients who needed specialist cardiac or cancer services could face a 230-mile round trip to Belfast.

The problem was compounded by the fact that many of the most needy patients were elderly.

However, some young families also had problems, as often they only had one car, and that had to be used to work.

"Public transport is even less accessible to people now than it was years ago," said Dr Deeny.

"We have very poor roads between the rural areas and our main hospitals, and taxi services are few and fair between, and expensive.

"Some of our patients are very much dependent on family or neighbours to run them in to the surgery.

"And because the A&E unit at Enniskillen is so far away we tend to see a lot more injuries as patients turn up to the surgery, rather than the hospital."

The difficulty of accessing health services also meant that some people put off consulting a doctor longer than was advisable, said Dr Deeny.

Specialist clinics needed

Dr Deeny said the local surgeries were very good, as was the district nursing service.

Not only was there a perception that working in rural areas left doctors professionally isolated, there were logistical problems such as finding work for partners, and schools for children.

In addition medical schools did little to promote rural practice as a positive option, he said.

Dr Deeny said there was also a pressing need to develop more specialist services, such as chiropody, physiotherapy and dentistry.

This could be done by establishing consultant outreach clinics at local surgeries, he said.

He also called for better use of modern technology, such as video counselling.

"This would allow patients to be seen in doctor's surgeries, but consult a specialist at a local hospital at the same time."

But, despite the problems of being a rural doctor, Dr Deeny said he did not regret practising in an isolated area.

"You have to make sacrifices. For instance, you have to be prepared to travel for shopping, leisure and entertainment," he said.

"But it is very rewarding. There is a more relaxed pace of life.

"I know my patients very well, and can offer continuity of care."

Sinn Féin


Sinn Féin demands release of Martin Doherty

Published: 21 January, 2005

Senior Sinn Féin Representatives Martin McGuinness MP and Mitchel McLaughlin MLA this afternoon visited Derry Republican Martin Doherty in Maghaberry prison. Martin Doherty was arrested earlier this week on foot of a warrant issued after he failed to appear before the Saville Tribunal.

Speaking from outside Maghaberry prison Martin McGuinness said:

" People in Derry and beyond are outraged at the arrest and detention of Martin Doherty. How dare the British government who murdered 13 innocent people on Bloody Sunday and spent the decades since concealing the truth jail a local republican as a result of their criminal actions.

" Paul Murphy has the power to release Martin Doherty today. I am calling on him to do that now."

Mr McLaughlin said:

" It is important for people to show solidarity with Martin Doherty and his family at this time. It is of course ironic that Martin Doherty, the only man jailed as a result of the British actions on Bloody Sunday, will as it stands spend the anniversary of the massacre incarcerated in a British prison.

" It is unacceptable and in the coming days and weeks republicans will mount a campaign to demand Martin Doherty's freedom and an end to the British policy of evasion and concealment." ENDS

An Phoblacht

Marie Wright

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There's a story told about Marie Wright by her friends and comrades. It's an account of a single incident that happened after Marie had been released from her first term of imprisonment in 1987 and before she was jailed again two years later.

A neighbour who had witnessed Marie being stopped and harassed by an RUC foot patrol came out of her house to protest. "Leave that girl alone," the woman had said, "she's done her time".

Marie's reaction marked her out as the kind of person and republican she was. It concerned Marie that anyone, even a well-meaning neighbour, might imagine that she had already 'done her bit'. For Marie, participation in the struggle for Irish freedom and justice was an ongoing commitment.

Marie was born in Belfast on 20 October 1960 and as a child attended St Comgall's and Holy Child schools before moving onto St Genevieve's. Growing up in West Belfast throughout the turbulent late 1960s and early '70s, with the campaign for civil rights and later resistance to Internment and British occupation, gave Marie a front-seat ticket in the living history of the current phase of the struggle.

But Marie wasn't the kind of person to be content to sit and watch the world go by and it wasn't long before she found a way to play her part by joining Cumann na gCailíní and later Cumann na mBan. By the 1980s, as resistance to Britain's criminalisation policy was at its height and republican POWs on protest in the jails began a hunger strike, Marie was a determined and dedicated republican.

In 1983, Marie was arrested and instead of her planned first holiday trip to Spain, found herself in Armagh Women's jail. Charged with possession of explosives, Marie served four years of a seven-year sentence.

The regime at Armagh Jail was as daunting as its bleak 18th Century façade. But even at the tender age of 23, Marie, like many of her fellow POWs, was more than able for the challenge. Marie viewed imprisonment as just another arena of struggle and, undeterred by the difficulties life and the struggle placed in her path, she set about the tasks of challenging strip-searching and defending the right of political prisoners to be segregated away from criminals.

On release in 1987, Marie immediately reported back for IRA active service and just two years later was captured again. During her arrest in 1989, Marie was badly beaten by a covert RUC unit. Sentenced to 24 years, Marie's second term of imprisonment was at Maghaberry, where she was soon appointed as the Officer Commanding (OC) of women IRA prisoners.

As OC, Marie's formidable leadership talents were soon challenging the British authorities daily. But where her opponents found her tough and confrontational, her comrades experienced those same qualities as unflinching commitment to their needs and welfare. Marie was that rare individual who could combine steely determination with a giving and affectionate heart. Her fellow POWs deemed invaluable Marie's friendship and constant support.

Marie's and her comrades' resolve was particularly tested in March 1992, when they were subjected to an eight-hour ordeal at the hands of riot clad prison officers. During the brutal attack, women POWs were beaten, (one so severely that she was subsequently taken to Lagan Valley Hospital) held down by gangs of male wardens and forcibly strip-searched.

All 21 women prisoners sustained cuts, bruising and strain injuries. The incident gained international attention and was widely condemned. As campaigners against strip-searching pointed out, nothing of any significance was ever found during strip-searches, leading many people to deduce that the practice was a punitive measure designed to undermine the prisoners' morale.

It did not succeed and with Marie's guidance and support, the women of Maghaberry were soon putting the pressure on the prison authorities, running successful campaigns against sexist discrimination and the right to access education and training within the jail.

In an interview with An Phoblacht in October 1998, Marie highlighted the importance of what she termed "the battle for education" for women POWs. Marie was one of the first republican women to be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and had completed an Open University exam on the morning of her release.

"The whole ethos of women republicans in jail was about getting education," Marie said. "The attitude from the prison education department was difficult, they tried to block and frustrate everything we came up with."

But the women's determination eventually triumphed. A civil action challenging discrimination against women within the jail system forced the NIO to concede and granted women prisoners equal access to academic and vocational education.

"Jail teaches you there is nothing you can't do," said Marie, "especially as women and as part of an ongoing struggle".

Republicans throughout Ireland mourned the untimely death of Marie Wright on 19 December last. Since her release from prison in 1998, Marie had worked tirelessly, throwing her energy into the Peace Process, community politics and election work. The National Graves Association and the Bring Them Home Campaign were the focus of Marie's commitment in recent years. She also helped organise the Tírghrá commemoration, in which the families and friends of fallen comrades came together to remember and to celebrate. She also continued to serve as a Volunteer in the IRA.

In February 2004, Marie was diagnosed with leukaemia and endured a rigorous regime of treatment before her death just before Christmas. The courage and unassuming selflessness that had characterised her commitment to the struggle remained with her to the end. Just a few days before her own death, her thoughts were with the Colombia Three, having learnt of the lengthy sentences imposed arbitrarily on the Irishmen by the regime.

"To do justice to the life and memory of a special friend in words is not something that comes easy. When that friend was also a comrade with whom you shared and experienced involvement in a struggle that entailed sacrifice and the giving up of many of the everyday things that make up ordinary life, then that task seems almost too daunting to fulfil," said Maura McCrory, delivering the Oration at Marie's funeral.

"For all of us who knew and loved her, Marie's death is an immeasurable loss. Her life is a treasured experience and our lives are all the better for having shared even a small part with her," said Maura.

Family Notice

Volunteer Marie Wright. The mother, brothers , sisters and family circle of the late Marie Wright, RIP, wish to sincerely thank all those who sympathised with us in our recent sad bereavement. We wish to thank all our family and friends who helped Marie through her illness, her friends Mary, Chris and Shauneen whose constant help and support during her many stays in hospital were invaluable and greatly appreciated. A special thank you is due to consultants Cuthbert, Jones and McMillan, and to all the medical, nursing and ancillary staff of Ward 10 North BCH. The level of care afforted to Marie was overwhelming. We will be eternally grateful to the medical staff of the Intensive Care Unit, Wards 2, 4 and 8 of the Bridgewater suite, the physios, Occupational Therapist, Dieticians, McMillan nurses, District nurses, carers, Dr Gilligan and the GPs from the Grosvenor Road surgery, Coopers Chemist and all those who cared for Marie through her illness. Thanks to our Neighbours of "The Loney", Edenmore and Kenard. To all those who helped in many practical ways we extend our thanks. We wish to thank all those who expressed sympathy by sending Mass Cards, floral tributes and who came to our home, they are far too many to name individually but we will never forget you. A special word of thanks to Siobhán for always being there for Marie, to Ginny and to her friends in the Falls Women's Centre whose help and support both during Marie's illness and following her death was immeasurable. We thank all Marie's friends who travelled from all parts of Ireland to sympathise with us. We wish to thank the singers, and Healy's for their sensitive handling of the funeral arrangements. Special thanks are extended to Monsignor Raymond Murry for the beautiful requiem Mass, Fr Owens for his kind words and Fr Eastwood. We thank the Felon's Club and the caterers for the refreshments they provided after the funeral, they were very much appreciated. We thank her friends and comrades in Óglaigh na hÉireann, Sinn Féin and the wider Republican Movement for the dignified funeral and touching tributes paid to Marie. Marie's family is sincerely grateful for all the support received during this difficult time and hope that this acknowledgement will be accepted as a token of our heartfelt thanks. The holy sacrifice of the Mass will be offered for your intentions. Go raibh maith agaibh. Marie's month's mind will be celebrated in St Agnes Church at 10am Thursday 20 January.

An Phoblacht

Henry Fegan

Henry Fegan, a committed and fearless Volunteer of Oglaigh na hEireann, died on 10 December. Henry, born in the summer of 1933, was the eldest of four children. His early years were spent in High Street, Bessbrook and he attended the nearby primary school on the edge of the village. While he was known to his friends and comrades affectionately as" wee" Henry, to his enemies he was seen as a big threat. Henry was born to rebel. The relative luxuries of life meant absolutely nothing to him. His lifestyle, during the war, is testimony to the true revolutionary spirit of Henry Fegan.

Although he first joined the Republican Movement in the 1950s it was in the early 1970s that Henry really came into his own. On 9 August 1971 Henry watched from a neighbour's house the British Army perform a search and arrest operation against him. As someone who was highly skilled in field craft he was always one step ahead. Henry was so adept at emptying and reloading a bolt-action rifle that he earned the title of "Automatic Henry".

Despite having to go on the run, Henry made many incursions north across the border. He was acutely aware of the nature of the struggle and in particular how to manage his younger and less experienced comrades. On one occasion, while being chased by the British Army along the border, Henry and his two comrades took cover from the helicopter under a bridge. In an instant, Henry started to shout " Jesus, Jesus" as he held on to his side.

The two young fellows panicked thinking he was shot, but before they could give him assistance Henry declared, " I think I've broken xxxxxx's flask" and burst out laughing. His sense of humour allayed the young fellows' fears.

Over 30 years on the run guaranteed a life of hardship, particularly to a man who remained steadfast and loyal to the cause of building a new and better Ireland. His only luxury was the love and affection his family and comrades bestowed upon him. To say he would have given you the shirt of his back is no exaggeration. On one occasion his mother arrived up to his house in Dundalk with a few bits and pieces for him. She wasn't amused to see some other young fellow wearing the brand new shirt she had bought for Henry the week before. But, that was Henry.

Henry's house was an open house and many people will be forever in his debt.

Many comrades could write a book about their experiences with him. His passing away is a loss not only to his family and comrades but to the country and people he loved so well. He is now back home and at peace.

At the graveside in St Malachy's, Carrickcruppen, Councillor Brendan Lewis gave a moving oration to a very large attendance. He outlined Henry's key role in making South Armagh a very unsafe place for the British Army. Henry will be remembered for the part he played in the struggle and his strength and commitment will always serve as an inspiration to all who knew him.

Níl rud ar bith níos tabhactaigh ná saoirse.

An Phoblacht

The Soloheadbeg ambush - Remembering the Past

On 21 January 1919, 86 years ago, the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the IRA fired the opening salvo of the Tan War in Soloheadbeg.

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Information had reached the Third Brigade in December 1918 that explosives were being transported in their area and they began preparations to seize these much needed munitions. Lar Breen, a brother of Dan, was sent to work in a local quarry to gather intelligence. He confirmed that a delivery was expected around 16 January but the exact date and route couldn't be confirmed. The Volunteers organised a small tin hut as a base for their attack on the convoy; there they sent out spotters and waited day after day for word that the convoy was on its way.

Those involved on the day of the operation were four officers of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade IRA; Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Seán Hogan (then only 17) and Séamus Robinson. They were joined by five other Volunteers: Tadhg Crowe, Mick McCormack, Paddy O'Dwyer (Hollyford), Michael Ryan (Donohill) and Seán O'Meara (Tipperary) — the latter two being cycle scouts.

Robinson, who participated in the 1916 Rising, was the organiser and Treacy, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood since 1911, was the logistics expert.

In their planning, Treacy and the others were unsure of the size of the police contingent which would be guarding the gelignite and made preparations for various contingencies, including a guard of up to 12 RIC men. Tadhg Crowe was to guard the policemen when they were captured, while Paddy Dwyer was the lookout who was to follow the convoy from Tipperary Town.

Finally, after five days of surveillance, Paddy Dwyer saw the explosives, 160 pounds of gelignite, being loaded on a cart and heading off with a guard of two RIC men. He cycled ahead and watched as they took the long route to the Soloheadbeg quarry. He took the short route and informed the anxious Volunteers of the convoy's size and movements. The horse was being led by two workmen, Edward Godfrey and Patrick Flynn, while the two policemen, Constables Patrick MacDonnell and James O'Connell, walked behind with their carbines slung over their shoulders.

As they passed Cranitch's Field near the quarry, the RIC men were twice called on to surrender by the masked IRA Volunteers who had positioned themselves on the side of the road in a ditch. When the RIC men shouldered their carbines and took up firing positions Seán Treacy, followed by Breen and Robinson, opened fire with .22 automatic Mauser rifles and an automatic Colt.

Leaving the two RIC men dead on the road, the IRA men hurried to take the horse and cart out of the area. They left the two civilians alone but had they searched Patrick MacDonnell they would have found 30 electric detonators in his pocket. The IRA men then hid the gelignite by the side of the Dundrum-Tipperary Road. The horse and cart and two sticks of gelignite were dropped at another location to throw the crown forces off the scent. One week later, with massive searches continuing in the area and the risk of the munitions being discovered at any time, Tom Carew (who was later to be made IO of the 3rd Brigade) decided to move the hoard to a safe arms dump. With his brother he procured two carts laden with timber and drove out to where the IRA men had left the boxes of gelignite. They loaded these onto the driver's seat and drove away. On the way to where they would dump the gelignite they were stopped by the RIC. The RIC questioned the cool headed Carew for 20 minutes but suspected nothing. Eventually they let him go, warning him that he shouldn't be driving around with no lights on as it was dangerous.

The Volunteers who had taken part in the raid then went on the run. GHQ was anxious that those involved would go to the US until the situation calmed down, but the Volunteers refused. Seán Treacy said "any fool can shoot a peeler and run away to America''. Instead, he asked that a Proclamation directing all British troops to leave Ireland be issued. Condemnation for the killings was swift and from every quarter, even from some local republicans.

It wasn't until April 1921 that Dáil Éireann, at Erskine Childers' bidding, formally declared hostilities against Britain.

Tipperary was declared a "special military area" and all fairs and markets were banned. Military reinforcements were rushed in and a major hunt was on for the IRA men. A reward of £1,000 was increased to £10,000, but to no avail. The men remained on the run and they all saw regular action in the subsequent war, some making the supreme sacrifice for Ireland's freedom.

As with other ambushes of the time the sole purpose of the ambush in Soloheadbeg was the capture of explosives. An order curtailing military style operations from the IRA GHQ meant no major operation occurred for a few months after Soloheadbeg. The official newspaper of the Volunteers, An tÓglach, took a different line, stating ten days after Soloheadbeg that Volunteers could use "all legitimate methods of warfare against the soldiers and policemen of the English usurper, and to slay them if necessary to overcome their resistance''.

The gelignite lay where Carew had hidden it by a stream in Golden Garden until November 1919, when it was retrieved and distributed as follows; one case to HQ South Tipperary Brigade, one case to Tipperary Town Battalion and one to the Rosegreen area. The first use made of it was in an attack on Drumbane Hall in January 1920, almost a year to the day from its capture at Soloheadbeg.

An Phoblacht

History repeats itself


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Photo: Keith and Kenneth Littlejohn

In 1973, two self-proclaimed British spies, Keith and Kenneth Littlejohn, were convicted and jailed for a £67,000 armed robbery at a Dublin bank - it was at that time the biggest robbery to date in Irish history.

During their trial the brothers said they were working for the British Government against the IRA. They said they had been told to stage the robbery to discredit the republican organisation and force the Irish Government to introduce tougher measures against its members.

The Littlejohns had been recruited in 1972 by John Wyman of MI6, who handled a number of agents in the Six Counties and paid them substantial sums of taxpayers' money to infiltrate the IRA and to act as agent provocateurs, organising and conducting bank robberies and bomb attacks in the South.

The most recent allegations against the IRA in relation to the Northern Bank robbery can be seen in this context of a long line of dirty tricks and politically motivated smear tactics by the British. They are the latest in a litany of accusations from the British Government and unionism during the Peace Process, used as political cover to either collapse the Good Friday Agreement institutions or as a reason not to restore them.

Whenever progress has looked likely, whenever it looked as though there was no get-out clause for unionists, suddenly a major 'scandal' would be revealed very publicly - think the Castlereagh break-in, the Stormont raid and the Northern Bank robbery.

The accusations against the IRA would be very loud, but the subsequent admissions that they were false, that there was no evidence, that the people arrested were innocent, were very quiet.

Several incidents in the last few years reveal a very worrying trend.

February 1998: On 9 February 1998, a known drug dealer was shot dead in South Belfast.

Almost immediately, the RUC started briefing the media that it was the IRA who had shot him. The next day, a senior UDA figure was killed in Dunmurray, on the outskirts on West Belfast. Again, the RUC pointed the finger of blame at the IRA. A short time later, three men were arrested in Twinbrook.

Within days, the RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan was telling British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam that the IRA was responsible for the attacks.

The IRA said that its cessation of military operations remained intact. As the multi-party talks were preparing to move to Dublin Castle for three days of discussions on Strand Two, David Trimble led demands for Sinn Féin to be expelled from the talks.

The Sinn Féin delegation challenged the British to present the evidence and, of course, they couldn't do so. Inside Dublin Castle Martin McGuinness told journalists "we intend fighting this every step of the way. Our mandate comes from the people, not from the RUC." But despite the fact that there was no information to substantiate the British accusation, they indicted Sinn Féin, who were then expelled from the talks.

Mo Mowlam, writing about these events in her autobiography in 2002 said: "I accepted and agreed with the RUC Chief Constable's assessment that the IRA authorised and were responsible for the murders. At first the Irish were wobbly, fortunately the information they were getting from their security people was the same as mine. And in the end we issued a joint statement concluding the IRA was involved."

An interesting and important postscript to this crisis came with the release several months later of the three men whose arrest and alleged links to the IRA had been used to justify Sinn Féin's expulsion. The releases did not get the same coverage as the arrests.

February 2000: The UUP imposed a deadline for IRA decommissioning and David Trimble threatened to resign. On 12 February the Assembly was unilaterally suspended by Peter Mandelson. At St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington, Trimble said he would return to the Assembly without prior decommissioning. The Assembly was restored on 20 May.

August 2001: The international arms decommissioning body, headed by General John de Chastelain, said the IRA had put forward a plan to put its weapons "beyond use". The UUP wasn't happy and once again the Assembly was suspended, this time by John Reid, for 24 hours on Saturday 11 August.

September 2001: Two days before the deadline for solving the political crisis, the IRA released a statement saying that it was "intensifying" its engagement with the decommissioning body. Once again, the UUP refused to accept the contribution being made by the group. On the 21st, Reid again announced a 24-hour suspension.

April 2002: Even though the IRA was on cessation and republicans vehemently denied involvement, Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan accused the IRA of masterminding a break-in at Special Branch offices in the top security Castlereagh complex in East Belfast. Nine people were arrested in connection with the burglary. Eight were later freed without charge and the ninth was charged with an unrelated matter. Nevertheless, David Trimble insisted the British Government must press for sanctions against Sinn Féin.

October 2002: Sinn Féin's offices at Stormont were publicly raided and allegations were made that republicans were involved in a massive spy ring. The computer discs carried by the PSNI out of the offices, a shot shown around the world, were later returned to the party. Sinn Féin's head of administration at Stormont, and three others, were remanded in custody. David Trimble threatened to take all his ministers out of office if Sinn Féin was not dealt with. On the 14th, Reid announced a new suspension.

A woman arrested was later released without charge. Subsequently, the serious charges of spying and 'holding documents which could be of use to terrorists', against the other three people arrested were dropped.

January 2005: PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde claimed the IRA was responsible for the 20 December Northern Bank robbery. Even after a second statement from the leadership of the IRA denying involvement, Orde, the DUP, the SDLP and the 26-County Government continued to claim, without a shred of evidence, that the IRA was responsible.

Belfast Telegraph

Plea for PM's wife to help Belfast solicitor

By David Gordon
21 January 2005

Campaigners seeking to overturn disciplinary action against a Belfast lawyer are appealing to Cherie Blair for support.

Well-known solicitor Padraigin Drinan has been barred from running a legal practice on her own after an inquiry by the Law Society.

Ms Drinan's clients have included nationalist residents' groups, ethnic minority bodies and the Rape Crisis Centre.

A campaign against the barring order is being planned by Tracey Morris, who was represented by Ms Drinan in child custody proceedings.

Ms Morris today confirmed that contact is being made with the barrister wife of the Prime Minister.

She said: "We are writing to Cherie Blair asking for her support.

"We also want as many people as possible to picket the Law Society offices.

"We are calling on all the organisations and people she has helped to come forward."

"This woman has done so much for so many people and it's now time for them to support her."

It is believed the case stemmed from alleged administrative shortcomings.

Ms Drinan's practice had no comment to make.

A spokesman for the Law Society said complaints had been substantiated by an independent disciplinary tribunal in May last year.

An order barring her from running a practice by herself was deferred until this month, he said.

The Society spokesman said the tribunal had taken into account a "previous history of proven complaints".

He added: "The tribunal formed the view that the respondent was not functioning at any acceptable level as a single practitioner and that in the interest of the public and the respondent herself, they are ordering that she is restricted from practising on her own account."

He added that Ms Drinan is not inhibited from practising as an employed solicitor.

Irish Echo

Activist groups move to block Thatcher

By Ray O'Hanlon

With the fate of Belfast man Ciaran Ferry fresh in their minds, Irish-American activists this week were closely watching the increasingly bizarre situation surrounding Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher last week reached a plea bargain agreement with South African prosecutors in which he admitted to being an unwitting participant in an alleged plot to topple the government of the oil-rich West Africa state of Equatorial Guinea.

"Irish-Americans feel that if there is to be a fair and balanced policy, Mark Thatcher should not be allowed to enter the U.S. having pleaded guilty to involvement in the Equatorial Guinea coup attempt," Father Sean McManus of the Washington, D.C.-based Irish National Caucus said.

According to British newspaper reports, Thatcher was this week back in London with his mother, now Baroness Thatcher.

He had earlier flown from Cape Town to Frankfurt, Germany, from where he was hoping to rejoin his American wife, Diane, and the couple's two children, who are living in Dallas, Texas.

But his U.S. visa was found to have expired. Reports indicate that Thatcher is now to secure a renewal. This could take some weeks and the fact that Thatcher now carries a criminal conviction could stymie his trans-Atlantic travel plans.

The INC's McManus said that the Equatorial Guinea coup attempt "surely comes" under the heading of international terrorism.

"If Irish persons have been banned from entering the U.S. for far lesser reasons, then surely this would-be mercenary should be banned too," he said in reference to Thatcher. "If you harbor a terrorist you are a terrorist is the Bush doctrine. President Bush should apply it to Thatcher and bar him entry to the U.S."

McManus accused the president of already applying a double standard by funding former British army officer Tim Spicer with a $293 million private security contract in Iraq."

"He must not now compound his error by giving safe harbor to Thatcher, a buddy of Spicer," McManus said.

Spicer, who commanded the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast when unarmed teenager Peter McBride was shot dead in 1992 by soldiers under his command, has been linked in reports to the investigation of the coup plot.

"News that Mark 'Scratcher' Thatcher has pleaded guilty in South Africa over his part in an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea will again raise questions about the mercenary network linked to Tim Spicer, former Scots Guards officer in Belfast and friend of the Pentagon," the Pat Finucane Center in Northern Ireland said in its reaction to the Thatcher plea.

"Both Thatcher and Spicer belonged to a gang of English white guys out to plunder Africa, white man's burden and all that," McManus said.

Spicer, he said, was now "plundering the American taxpayer to the tune of $293 million."

Andy Somers, national president of the Irish American Unity Conference, said that his organization would be looking for equality of treatment for Ciaran Ferry should Mark Thatcher be allowed enter the U.S.

While Thatcher's family is in Dallas, Ferry's wife, Heaven, and the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Fiona, are in Colorado.

A onetime IRA member, Ferry was deported from the U.S. just before Christmas after spending two years in a Denver prison.

"We could put Mark Thatcher in a Denver jail for a couple of years while we sort things out," Somers said. "Plotting to overthrow the government of a country is a very violent crime. We feel very strongly about this."

In return for his release, Thatcher paid a fine to the South African authorities and agreed to help in their investigation of the coup plot.

This story appeared in the issue of January 19-25, 2005


Men charged over pipe bomb find

21/01/2005 - 19:17:30

Two Dublin men were charged at the Special Criminal Court this evening in connection with the discovery of a pipe bomb under a van in north Dublin yesterday.

Daniel Mc Faul (aged 20), of Croftwood Crescent and Christopher McCarthy (aged 27), of The Vale, Woodfarm Acres, Palmerstown were each charged with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Belcamp Crescent on Thursday.

They were also each charged with membership of an illegal organisation on the same date.

The court heard evidence from members of the Special Detective Unit that the two men were arrested at the Darndale Link Road just before 1am yesterday.

Both men were remanded in custody until next Wednesday when a bail application is expected to be heard.

Belfast Telegraph

Fianna fail prepare to stand in Derry

By Brian Hutton
21 January 2005

A senior minister in the Republic's Fianna Fail government is to launch a recruitment drive in Derry as it emerged the party hopes to stand in local elections, it can be revealed today.

The party recently lifted its ban on full membership to those living outside the Republic and are now actively seeking new recruits in Northern Ireland.

The Derry-based Eamonn de Valera Cumann, the only Fianna Fail association in Northern Ireland, is now seeking full official status, which will allow it to stand candidates in elections.

The Cumann currently has a "friends of Fianna Fail" status, according to its chairman, Kevin Downey, but the scrapping of the membership ban signals the party's intention to take on Sinn Fein and the SDLP at the polls.

A senior party figure has agreed to address a meeting of Derry members in the coming months as part of their efforts to firmly establish the party in the city, said the solicitor.

"The noises we are hearing from Dublin are very positive. But as far as the leadership is concerned, they are only noises at the moment," he said.

"They are mindful of all the issues with the peace process at the moment.

"Realistically we would be looking to stand candidates in the local and Assembly elections next time around."

Mr Downey, a former director of elections for the SDLP, claims the Derry Cumann has up to 50 members at present, who when fully signed up to the party, will have voting rights at the ard feiseanna (annual conferences).

Previous suggestions of a Fianna Fail/SDLP pact to counter the growth of Sinn Fein is no longer seen as an attractive option, according to the solicitor.

It is believed that the Republic's Finance minister, Brian Cowan, is among the leadership figures who are backing attempts to organise in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

Almost 50% of police stations facing closure

By Jonathan McCambridge
21 January 2005

The dilapidated state of Northern Ireland's police buildings was revealed today, with 13 operational stations more than 100 years old.

Another 54 of the province's 135 stations are now over 50 years old, it has also been revealed.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton unveiled the force's £200m Estate Strategy for the next five years today which will see almost half of current operational stations earmarked for possible closure.

The plan, which was presented today to the Policing Board's finance and general purposes committee, also includes plans for new police stations in Ballymoney, Cookstown, Craigavon, Downpatrick, Omagh and Musgrave Street in Belfast.

There will also be a commitment in the plan to reduce fortifications at stations and make them more user friendly to the public.

It has long been known that senior officers want to reduce the number of police buildings.

Mr Leighton said the Estates Strategy would inevitably lead to the closure of some stations.

He said that a review list of 61 stations had been drawn up with decisions to be taken on their future in consultation with local communities.

The strategy has been influenced by proposed cuts in the PSNI annual budget in coming years and the cost of staffing and securing a number of part-time stations which are seldom open.

It has also been influenced by a reduction in the number of officers and the proposed reduction of the number of local council areas.

Senior officers believe that the closure of stations will free up officers to take part in other duties.

Mr Leighton said: "The strategy is part of our continuing drive to use all of our resources, whether that means officers, staff, equipment and buildings in the most effective and efficient way.

"It will help us develop an estate which is fit for purpose."

There are currently 135 police stations and 56 other police establishments in Northern Ireland.

Fifty-seven of those stations are open 24 hours, 71 are limited opening and seven are designated lock and leave.

Thirteen of the buildings are more than 100 years old and 54 are more than 50 years old.

Belfast Telegraph

'UDA will not intimidate me'
Alan McCullough was murdered by the UDA

By Jonathan McCambridge and Judi Madden
21 January 2005

A former church deaconess today vowed she would not be intimidated by the UDA who she claims has threatened to kill her.

Ruth Petticrew, who runs a Christian ministry in the Shankill, said she was being targeted because she has given pastoral care to the family of UDA murder victim Alan McCullough.

McCullough, a former Johnny Adair ally, was shot and dumped on a remote hillside in retaliation for the murder of UDA boss John 'Grug' Gregg in June 2003.

The campaign against Ms Petticrew reached its height this week when a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of her car parked in her east Belfast home.

She also claimed that figures in the north Belfast UDA had verbally made a death threat against her.

She said: "I have been working in the Shankill for 14 years, then I was the deaconess in Townsend Presbyterian Church.

"It was through this that I got to know the family of Alan McCullough; he was in the Sunday School here when he was just a little lad."

Ms Petticrew said her involvement with the McCullough family stepped up after Alan was murdered. She said it was at the same time that the UDA started a campaign of intimidation against her.

However, the campaign took a more sinister turn last November when she said personal threats were delivered against here.

"I was intimidated and death threats were made verbally by elements of the UDA. Three things were said, that my car was going to be destroyed, my property damaged and my life would be taken.

"These guys mean business. They crossed boundaries to come into east Belfast and do this.

"I will not be intimidated by these men. I have worked in this community for 14 years and I will not be put off by these tactics."

A police spokeswoman said they were appealing for information about a petrol bomb attack on a car at Tweskard Lodge in east Belfast on Monday at 1am.

The Secretary of State moved recently to officially recognise the UDA ceasefire.



Police to build six new stations

The aim is to make police stations less forbidding

The police service in Northern Ireland has announced that it is planning to build six new police stations.

They will be located in Ballymoney, Cookstown, Craigavon, Downpatrick and Omagh, as well as Musgrave Street in Belfast city centre.

The stations form part of the police service's estate strategy for the next five years.

Police said the extensive station improvement and maintenance programme would cost about £200m.

No final decisions

The aim is to deliver on the requirement of the Patten report that police buildings should be less forbidding, more user-friendly for the general public and more congenial for officers and support staff to work in.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton said that the strategy would involve a review of the number and viability of police stations.

This would lead inevitably to recommendations on station closures, he said.

However, he stressed that no final decisions had been taken on the 61 stations on the strategy's review list.

He gave the assurance that where closure recommendations were made, local commanders would embark on a process of consultation with their communities on proposals and on the best way to deliver services locally.

Fit for purpose

There are 135 police stations and 56 other police establishments, including headquarters locations and training units.

Thirteen stations are more than 100 years old and 54 are more than 50 years old.

Meanwhile, police in west Belfast have announced that Andersonstown police station will be demolished in mid-February.

The station will close permanently on Sunday.

Police said Andersonstown police station, established in 1887, was no longer fit for purpose.

Grosvenor Road, Woodbourne and New Barnsley police stations will continue to provide a full policing service to the people of west Belfast, police said.


**There is NO excuse for this. When a priest is involved in sex abuse, he needs put in prison along with those who would shelter him.

Priest allowed to continue working after sex case settlement

21/01/2005 - 12:02:19

The Bishop of Derry has confirmed that he allowed a priest to continue working in his diocese despite the fact that the man made an out-of-court settlement to an alleged sex abuse victim.

The priest was accused of making sexual advances towards an 18-year-old man after he visited a parochial house for counselling on sex abuse.

In a statement today, Dr Seamus Hegarty confirmed he was aware of the allegations against the priest and had allowed him to continue working in the Derry diocese.

The priest agreed to pay a five-figure sum to the alleged victim in an out-of-court settlement last October, with no admission of liability.


Leisurely wait for Nationalists
North Belfast Catholics could wait at least six years for leisure centre

It has emerged that the creation of a new leisure centre in nationalist North Belfast may be delayed until at least 2011.

The North Belfast News has learned that the council does not intend to commence construction of a new leisure facility until 2009 and even then it may take years to complete and broker the deal.
The council is renovating two existing leisure centres at the Grove and Falls at the moment.
Falls is nearing completion at a cost of £7.2 million and Grove has got off the starting blocks with some preliminary work carried out last week. Its projected costs are nearing £11 million.
A leisure facility for does not exist in nationalist North Belfast and according to the council; early consultation has shown that Girdwood Army Barracks and its 20 acres and the Waterworks are both popular options to locate the new facility.
However, with reference to Girdwood, the chance to put the new leisure centre there, may hinge on whether politicians broker a deal in the near future and finally take their places on a power sharing executive.
North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said he had hoped that work would commence earlier.
“It has been agreed in principle that a leisure centre will be in North Belfast, which will be particularly accessible to catholics. This must be implemented as soon as possible,” Alban Maginness said.
“Political will will determine this matter, not the narrow view of council officers.
“I am optimistic that the Girdwood site will come on stream reasonably soon. Therefore in terms of a facility, it is my belief that money will become available, if and when a site becomes available.
“There are no serious obstacles here to block an expeditious implementation of a plan to a build a leisure centre in North Belfast. If there is political will in the council then this leisure centre will become a reality in the future.
“It is my strong view that 2011 is speculative, and I would guess it would have no real substance. It is up to all of us to ensure that the council fulfils its obligations to the people of North Belfast.”
As part of the talks surrounding Leeds Castle in 2003 and resulting Joint Declaration the British Government laid out plans for the demilitarisation of Girdwood Barracks as part of its ‘normalisation policy’.
This paper revealed in the run up to Christmas that had the DUP entrusted their support to the package of proposals, Girdwood Barracks would have closed in a matter of weeks.
According to the council early consultation has indicated that Girdwood Barracks would be a popular choice. However, a spokesperson for Belfast City Council’s leisure services said it was impossible to develop plans at the moment because “circumstances could change”.
“The timescale for North Belfast is 2009, and we are due to start construction in 2009.
“We did some initial city wide consultation on a North Belfast facility and the two frontrunners were the Waterworks and in behind the Mater Hospital, at Girdwood. Neither of these sites are ideal at the moment, but we feel circumstances could change. We will be doing more consultation as the situation develops, but we are not working towards an early decision on the site. Nothing is happening in the short term on that.”
North Belfast Sinn Féin councillor Carál Ní Chuilín said she was angered by the council’s “politically overt statement”.
“I don’t think we should be waiting on a political deal in order to move on this issue,” Carál Ní Chuilín said.
“This is a very politically overt statement the council has made and I don’t believe that it appropriate that the council’s decision is being coloured by the current political deadlock.
“We should be considering all the options and making decisions now. It’s a very bleak picture for nationalists in North Belfast if they are being told the political situation has to be settled before they get a long overdue leisure facility.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee


Watery grave
Roads Service in no hurry to repair gaping hole in barrier that leaves motorists at risk

By Joe Nawaz

Local people say motorists using Annadale Embankment are dicing with death as damaged protective railing surrounding the river remains unrepaired and a line of red tape is all that is keeping drivers from the icy water.

Residents living in and around Annadale Embankment say they fear for the safety of motorists after the Roads Service’s delay in replacing a large section of the embankments railing.

A series of car crashes at the accident hotspot have exposed a gap of up to twenty feet in the embankment barrier, leaving future accident victims in real danger.

The damage has been flagged up with flimsy red tape and witches’ hats. According to locals, the spot has been in a state of disrepair for well over a week.

And with recent unpredictable weather conditions that have seen Belfast experience its heaviest snowfall for years, concern is running high amongst motorists and residents in the area.

One local commented: "It’s only a matter of time before someone else has an accident.

“I’ve seen some horrible crashes round here in the past, but with the railing missing, there’s nothing to stop a driver losing control and going over."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Regional Development said that the Roads Service was aware of the problem but there could be a delay of up to three weeks before anything could be done.

"The railings have been the subject of car crashes, causing them to be damaged, we are looking at the situation now and will have it repaired by February 15."


Omagh bomb conviction overturned

The only man jailed over the 1998 Omagh bombing faces a retrial after winning his appeal against the conviction.

Colm Murphy, 51, from Dundalk, County Louth, jailed for 14 years in 2002, said his conviction for conspiring to cause the explosion was unsafe.

At Dublin's Court of Criminal Appeal, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted a retrial on two grounds relating to the evidence of detectives at his trial.

The Real IRA blast in the County Tyrone town killed 29 people and unborn twins.

Presumption of innocence

During the original trial, two gardai detectives were accused by a trial judge of consistent perjury in relation to interview notes.

On Friday, the judge said Mr Murphy's appeal against the garda approach to interview notes used at his trial, and evidence given by two detectives in relation to them, was to be allowed.

Mr Justice Kearns added that Mr Murphy's appeal against reference to his previous convictions at his original trial was also being allowed.

He said this represented an invasion of his presumption of innocence.

Mr Murphy had appealed against his conviction on 45 grounds, only two of which were accepted.

He was remanded in custody until he can meet bail conditions.

Mr Justice Kearns imposed a requirement of a 50,000 euro (about £35,000) cash deposit and two independent sureties of 35,000 euro (about £21,000).

He also ordered that Murphy surrender his passport, report daily to Dundalk Garda station and to provide the address at which he will be residing.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the explosion, expressed "total shock" at the news.

"All the promises made at than time from the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the prime minister, nothing seems to have come of that," he said.

He added that the relatives of the dead would keep on working to hold those responsible for the bomb to account.

"It seems to me now that's the number of deaths the people in this country are willing to accept - 31 innocent people including two unborn children, and not one person being held to account for that."

In separate court proceedings, two detective gardai, Liam Donnelly and John Fahy, who are accused of perjury relating to their evidence during Mr Murphy's trial, were served with books of evidence at Dublin District Court on Friday morning.

They are both based in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.

It is understood a trial date will be set within the next eight weeks.

Belfast Telegraph

Where are the Colombia 3?
Supporters plan appeal to US-based body

By Ben Lowry
20 January 2005

The whereabouts of the three republicans convicted of training terrorists in South America remained a mystery today, as their supporters "actively" consider an appeal to a pan-American body.

Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly have been on the run since last month, when they were sentenced to 17 years in prison in Colombia.

When asked today about the three fugitives, a spokesperson for Interpol, which operates in 182 member states, said the policing group does not comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances and with approval of the member country concerned.

In December, an appeal court judged that the three Irishmen had given advice to the Farc rebel group, who have been implicated in killing hundreds of civilians in car bombings.

The trio, who were arrested in 2001, had earlier been acquitted of the main charges against them.

The head of the Bring Them Home campaign, Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane, has insisted that she has no idea as to the whereabouts of the three fugitives.

She said today that there was no new information on Connolly, Monaghan or McCauley.

"We are currently exploring what court to take the case of the men to," she said.

The main appeal option is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington DC.

The commission, which seeks to "promote and protect human rights in the inter-American system", is an autonomous organ of the Organisation of American States.

The South Down MLA added: "We are actively considering the commission at present."

Any legal efforts to overturn the Colombian court decision to jail the men are expected to last several years.

Belfast Telegraph

US will allow St Pat's visit from Adams

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
20 January 2005

The US government will not block Gerry Adams from attending the St Patrick's Day festivities in Washington, a senior government official familiar with Irish issues has said.

His comments follow an article in the New York Sun newspaper which suggested that the Bush administration may try to block Adams from entering the US because of the Northern Bank cash heist.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss is looking forward to St Patrick's week as the next possible chance for the US government to discuss the political situation with the political parties.

The official said that Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders will not be blocked from entering the US unless it can be shown that they were aware of the Northern Bank heist.

As he outlined in his inaugural speech yesterday, Bush is keen to be shown as a uniter in his second term and is very keen for any kind of foreign political settlement that can improve the US government's standing as a peacemaker.

The US is, therefore, unlikely to block Sinn Fein leaders from travelling, and suffer the anger of Irish Americans, without clear evidence of wrongdoing supplied by the British government.

The official said the removal of rights to enter the US is not determined by membership of any specific organisation but is usually based on past criminal record.

Mr Adams would most likely not be banned from the country because of his known links to the IRA and would only be stopped if it can shown that he was still involved in criminal activity, he said.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss was unavailable for comment on the Adams visa issue.


Ruling due in Omagh bomb appeal

Colm Murphy was sentenced to 14 years in jail

An Irish court is due to rule in an appeal by the only person convicted in connection with the Omagh bombing.

Colm Murphy, 51, from Dundalk, County Louth, is claiming his 14-year prison sentence is unsafe and unsound.

He was convicted in January 2002 of conspiring to cause an explosion. The blast in the County Tyrone town killed 29 people in August 1998.

Two gardai involved in Murphy's case have been charged with perjury and are due at Dublin District Court.

The Omagh bombing, which was later admitted by the dissident republican Real IRA, was the worst single atrocity in 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

Twenty-nine people died in Omagh bombing in August 1998

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin reserved its judgement in Murphy's case last month, but is due to rule on Friday.

During the hearing, a legal team for the Irish state said admissions by Murphy to gardai were "powerfully supported and corroborated by telephone evidence".

The prosecution argued that there was no legal basis for claiming that alleged wrongdoing by one member of an investigation team invalidated an entire inquiry.

The Court of Criminal Appeal now has a number of options which include approving the verdict, ordering a re-trial or an acquittal.


Los Angeles Times

**If you can get past the schmaltzy service-to-country remarks Sen. Boxer makes, the rest of her grilling of Condi Rice is rather interesting

Boxer, Rice Exchange Pointed Words

Following is a transcript of Sen. Barbara Boxer's remarks and Condoleezza Rice's response at Rice's confirmation hearing as provided by Federal News Service.

SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Rice, for agreeing to stay as long as it takes, because some of us do have a lot of questions.

And, Senator Lugar, you are a very fair chairman, and I wanted to say to the new members also welcome -- and you'll enjoy this committee, because we have such a great chairman and such a terrific ranking member, and we really do a lot of things in a bipartisan way, unlike other committees. And I think you're going to enjoy your time here.

Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence. And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade. This thing is a disaster, a true natural disaster and a human disaster of great proportions, and I hope that the State Department will take a huge lead under your leadership in helping those folks in the long range.

Well, Mr. Chairman, again I thank you. I am -- Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said, Martin Luther King, quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.

Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word "Iraq." You said very little really about it, and only in the questioning have we been able to get into some areas. Perhaps you agree with President Bush, who said all that's been resolved. I'm quoting today's Post: "Bush said in an interview last week with the Washington Post that the '04 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he made in Iraq." But today's Washington Post/ABC poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation, to 40 percent who approve -- and only 44 percent said the war was worth fighting.

So in your statement it takes you to page three to mention the word "Iraq." Then you mention it in the context of elections -- which is fine -- but you never even mention indirectly the 1,366 American troops that have died, or the 10,372 who have been wounded -- many mentally, as a report that I read over the weekend that maybe a third will come home and need help because of what they saw -- it's been so traumatic to them. And 25 percent of those dead are from my home state. And this from a war that was based on what everyone now says, including your own administration, were falsehoods about WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. And I've had tens of thousands of people from all over the country say that they disagree -- although they respect the president -- they disagree that this administration and the people in it shouldn't be held accountable. I don't know if you saw the movie, "The Fog of War" -- war is a nightmare, you know that. Colin Powell I think was the most eloquent I've heard on it, because he's seen it himself -- he's been there and done it. And I don't want to have you in a circumstance where you're writing something years later about the fog of war. And I'm fearful if we don't see some changes here we're going to have trouble.

And I think the way we should start is by trying to set the record straight on some of the things you said going into this war. Now, since 9/11 we've been engaged in a just fight against terror. And I, like Senator Feingold and everyone here who was in the Senate at the time, voted to go after Osama bin Laden and to go after the Taliban, and to defeat al Qaeda. And you say they have left territory -- that's not true. Your own documents show that al Qaeda has expanded from 45 countries in '01 to more than 60 countries today.

Well, with you in the lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you a paragraph that best expresses my views, and ask my staff if they would hold this up -- and I believe the views of millions of Californians and Americans. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote: "What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure bin Laden has long predicted was the U.S.'s long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shi'a fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a defensive jihad that has galvanized jihad- minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terror." This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of professionalized terrorists.

That's your own administration's CIA. NIC chairman Robert Hutchings said Iraq is, quote, "a magnet for international terrorist activity."

And this was not the case in '01. And I have great proof of it, including a State Department document that lists every country -- could you hold that up? -- in which al Qaeda operated prior to 9/11. And you can see the countries; no mention of Iraq. And this booklet was signed off on by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was put out by George Bush's State Department, and he signed it. There was no al Qaeda activity there -- no cells.

Now, the war was sold to the American people, as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said, like a "new product." Those were his words. Remember, he said, "You don't roll out a new product in the summer." Now, you rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, as you made your case with the president.

And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

Now, I don't want the families of those 1,366 troops that were killed or the 10,372 that were wounded to believe for a minute that their lives and their bodies were given in vain, because when your commander-in-chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is the most noble thing you can do to answer that call.

I am giving their families, as we all are here, all the support they want and need. But I also will not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

Now, perhaps the most well-known statement you've made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America with the image of, quote, quoting you, "a mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped. And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts.

As the nominee for secretary of State, you must answer to the American people, and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve.

So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.

In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."

Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when in fact the president said it.

And here's the real kicker. On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, "made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear-weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: "The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year."

So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people.

If it served your purpose to downplay the threat of nuclear weapons, you said, "No one said he's going to have it in a year." But then later, when you thought that perhaps you were on more solid ground with the American people because at the time the war was probably popular, or more popular, you'd say, "We thought he was going to have a weapon within a year."

And this is -- the question is, this is a pattern here of what I see from you on this issue, on the issue of the aluminum tubes, on the issue of whether al Qaeda was actually involved in Iraq, which you've said many times. And in my rounds -- I don't have any questions on

this round, because I'm just laying this out; I do have questions on further rounds about similar contradictions. It's very troubling.

You know, if you were rolling out a new product like a can opener, who would care about what we said? But this product is a war, and people are dead and dying, and people are now saying they're not going to go back because of what they experienced there. And it's very serious.

And as much as I want to look ahead -- and we will work together on a myriad of issues -- it's hard for me to let go of this war, because people are still dying. And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.

And you don't seem to be willing to, A, admit a mistake, or give any indication of what you're going to do to forcefully involve others. As a matter of fact, you've said more misstatements; that the territory of the terrorists has been shrinking when your own administration says it's now expanded to 60 countries. So I am deeply troubled.

MS. RICE: Senator, may I respond?

SEN. LUGAR: Yes, let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement. That's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes of time.

SEN. BOXER: I'm sorry, I lost track of time.

SEN. LUGAR: But clearly you ought to have the right to respond. Then, at that point, we're going to have a recess. But will you please give your response?

MS. RICE: Yes. Senator, I am more than aware of the stakes that we face in Iraq, and I was more than aware of the stakes of going to war in Iraq. I mourn and honor -- I mourn the dead and honor their service, because we have asked American men and women in uniform to do the hardest thing, which is to go and defend freedom and give others an opportunity to build a free society, which will make us safer.

Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

The fact is that we did face a very difficult intelligence challenge in trying to understand what Saddam Hussein had in terms of weapons of mass destruction. We knew something about him. We knew that he had -- we had gone to war with him twice in the past, in 1991 and in 1998.

We knew that he continued to shoot at American aircraft in the no-fly zone as we tried to enforce the resolutions of U.N. Security -- that the U.N. Security Council had passed. We knew that he continued to threaten his neighbors. We knew that he was an implacable enemy of the United States who did cavort with terrorists.

We knew that he was the world's most dangerous man in the world's most dangerous region. And we knew that in terms of weapons of mass destruction, he had sought them before, tried to build them before, that he had an undetected biological weapons program that we didn't learn of until 1995, that he was closer to a nuclear weapon in 1991 than anybody thought. And we knew, most importantly, that he had used weapons of mass destruction.

That was the context that frankly made us awfully suspicious when he refused to account for his weapons-of-mass-destruction programs despite repeated Security Council resolutions and despite the fact that he was given one last chance to comply with Resolution 1441.

Now, there were lots of data points about his weapons-of-mass- destruction programs. Some were right and some were not. But what

was right was that there was an unbreakable link between Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. That is something that Charlie Duelfer, in his report of the Iraq survey group, has made very clear, that Saddam Hussein intended to continue his weapons-of-mass- destruction activities, that he had laboratories that were run by his security services. I could go on and on.

But Senator Boxer, we went to war not because of aluminum tubes. We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who threatened his neighbors, who threatened our interests, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators. And it was high time to get rid of him, and I'm glad that we're rid of him.

Now, as to the statement about territory and the terrorist groups, I was referring to the fact that the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden, which once trained openly in Afghanistan, which once ran with impunity in places like Pakistan, can no longer count on hospitable territory from which to carry out their activities.

In the places where they are, they're being sought and run down and arrested and pursued in ways that they never were before. So we can have a semantic discussion about what it means to take or lose territory, but I don't think it's a matter of misstatement to say that the loss of Afghanistan, the loss of the northwest frontier of Pakistan, the loss of running with impunity in places like Saudi Arabia, the fact that now intelligence networks and law enforcement networks pursue them worldwide, means that they have lost territory where they can operate with impunity.

SEN. BOXER: Mr. Chairman, I'm going to take 30 seconds, with your permission. First of all, Charles Duelfer said, and I quote -- here it is; I ask unanimous consent to place in the record Charlie Duelfer's report --

SEN. LUGAR: It will be placed in the record.

SEN. BOXER: -- in which he says, "Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to '91, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years."

Here's the point. You and I could sit here and go back and forth and present our arguments, and maybe somebody watching a debate would pick one or the other, depending on their own views. But I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in the facts. So when I ask you these questions, I'm going to show you your words, not my words.

And, if I might say, again you said you're aware of the stakes in Iraq; we sent our beautiful people -- and thank you, thank you so much for your comments about them -- to defend freedom. You sent them in there because of weapons of mass destruction. Later, the mission changed when there were none. I have your quotes on it. I have the president's quotes on it.

And everybody admits it but you that that was the reason for the war. And then, once we're in there, now it moves to a different mission, which is great. We all want to give democracy and freedom everywhere we can possibly do it. But let's not rewrite history. It's too soon to do that.

MS. RICE: Senator Boxer, I would refer you to the president's speech before the American Enterprise Institute in February, prior to the war, in which he talked about the fact that, yes, there was the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but he also talked to the strategic threat that Saddam Hussein was to the region.

Saddam Hussein was a threat, yes, because he was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And, yes, we thought that he had stockpiles which he did not have. We had problems with the intelligence. We are all, as a collective polity of the United States, trying to deal with ways to get better intelligence.

But it wasn't just weapons of mass destruction. He was also a place -- his territory was a place where terrorists were welcomed, where he paid suicide bombers to bomb Israel, where he had used Scuds against Israel in the past.

And so we knew what his intentions were in the region; where he had attacked his neighbors before and, in fact, tried to annex Kuwait; where we had gone to war against him twice in the past. It was the total picture, Senator, not just weapons of mass destruction, that caused us to decide that, post-September 11th, it was finally time to deal with Saddam Hussein.

SEN. BOXER: Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.

But, again, I just feel you quote President Bush when it suits you but you contradicted him when he said, "Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." You go on television nine months later and said, "Nobody ever said it was" --

MS. RICE: Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty. No one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war.

SEN. BOXER: Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you'll --

MS. RICE: Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.

SEN. BOXER: I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said. You contradicted the president and you contradicted yourself.

MS. RICE: Senator, I'm happy to continue the discussion, but I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly.

SEN. LUGAR: Let me intervene at this point. Now we've had four hours of good hearing, and we thank all members for their constancy. We're going to recess, and I'm going to suggest we come back at 2:30. Is that convenient for you, Dr. Rice?

MS. RICE: Perfect.

SEN. LUGAR: Very well. We recess until 2:30.

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