'Leave me alone,' says Omagh bomb accused as he strides to freedom
THE ONLY man to be jailed for the Omagh bombing was yesterday freed on bail, following the quashing of his conviction by the Court of Criminal Appeal last week.
Colm Murphy (52) celebrated with his first beer in almost three years after walking free from the Special Criminal Court shortly after 1pm.
He had signed a bail bond, lodging €50,000 in cash with the court and agreed to sign on daily at Dundalk garda station and not to apply for a passport. TV cameras and members of the press pursued Mr Murphy as he left the court and walked up Capel Street accompanied by his son and daughter.
Angrily brushing away the microphones and cameras, Murphy repeatedly said: "Leave me alone." When asked why he was refusing to give a comment, he said: "I'm not running away," before entering a pub.
Members of the public watched in astonishment, backing hurriedly out of the way, as the scrum proceeded up Capel Street, only ending when Murphy nipped into The Boar's Head pub. His daughter, Leonora, then read out a handwritten statement on behalf of the Murphy family, saying they were delighted to have their father home.
"Our hearts go out to the people of Omagh," she said. "It was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened." She said that it had also destroyed her father's life, adding: "A terrible miscarriage of justice has been done and we'll not stop until our father's name has been completely cleared."
In court she had signed a surety for €25,000, while Murphy's sister, Kathleen Tully, lodged €25,000 in cash before he was allowed to leave the court.
Murphy was jailed for 14 years by the Special Criminal Court in 2002 for his role in the Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people, including a mother pregnant with twins, and injured over 300 in 1998.
Murphy, a building contractor and publican, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to cause an explosion between August 13 and 16, 1998.
Last week the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial after finding the court of trial had failed to give proper regard to altered garda interview notes.
and Nicola Anderson
Church unity worshippers 'intimidated' by protest
27 Jan 2005
Protesters gathered outside the Church of Ireland's Rossorry parish
church last Friday as Catholics and Protestants inside joined in
The joint service at the Enniskillen church was one of three arranged
in Fermanagh to mark Christian Unity Week.
Father Brian D'Arcy, from the Graan, delivered a sermon on `God With
Us in our Suffering', examining the global impact of the tsunami.
But as worshippers approached the gates of the church, they were met
by a gathering of up to 40 protesters carrying placards and
conducting an open-air meeting of their own.
Some of the worshippers entering the church had found the protest
intimidating, Archdeacon Cecil Pringle, rector of Rossorry Church,
It was organised by Kilskeery and Bethel Free Presbyterian churches.
Congregation members handed out leaflets outlining the reasons for
their opposition to ecumenical gatherings.
These included the Church of Ireland's condemnation of Catholicism in
its 39 articles, as well as the Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican II
which sought to gather all Christians to the Catholic church.
The Rev. Ivan Foster, from Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church,
admitted the worshippers entering Rossorry Church were "mainly
dedicated ecumenists" and were unlikely to be interested in learning
more about why the protesters were opposing the meeting.
"The activities of Canon Pringle and this bringing of the priest Mr
D'Arcy in so blatantly in violation of Mr Pringle's stated doctrines
and his ordination oath - we feel that it needs to be highlighted,"
"It underscores that the present unity movement is one that is based
upon a deceit and a falsehood.
"If he said `I no longer believe Church of Ireland doctrine and I am
going to amalgamate myself with the Roman Catholic Church', there is
nobody who could protest about that. He's free to do that.
"It's the fact that Mr Pringle says that he believes the 39 articles
of the Church of Ireland."
Rev. Foster said Free Presbyterians were lambasted for all sorts of
things, but were not living in violation of what they stood for.
This charge could be laid against every minister who involved
themselves in the church unity movement, he said.
These ministers had consistently shied away from debating the issue,
Fr D'Arcy said he didn't want to comment about events outside a
different church, but added: "It's a struggle to find our God, no
matter what religion we believe in, and that is what we have to do.
He's the one God who loves us all."
Archdeacon Pringle said the outdoor protest, conducted with the aid
of a microphone mounted on a car, did not harm the ecumenical service
"Some of the people coming in found it quite intimidating," he said.
"I was surprised. It's the kind of thing that happened on a number of
occasions back in the late 60s and 70s.
"I found it just sad. I think sometimes we pray for Christians in
other countries who are hindered in worshipping. It's sad that
Christians coming to worship in Rossorry Church on Friday evening
were being hindered."
Responding to the protesters' criticisms of ecumenism, Archdeacon
Pringle said: "We have to remember that written Christian doctrine is
always set in the context of the history of the time in which it was
Worshippers read lessons and prayers based on the theme `Christ, the
one foundation of the Church', he said.
"If [the protesters] had come inside and shared in the worship, they
would have felt the warmth. It was a warm, inclusive and inspiring
act of worship," Archdeacon Pringle said.
"It was one of the most uplifting and spiritual experiences I've had
in a long time."
The sermon by Fr D'Arcy on `God with us in our suffering' was a
moving one, he said.
"It really was the most moving and inspiring theme, in a way which I
haven't heard for a long number of years," Archdeacon Pringle said.
**Still time to participate
Programme for Bloody Sunday Weekend 2005
Time for Truth
From Bogside to Basra
Each year the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration programme of events seeks to breathe life into the inscription on the monument to the victims of that day: “Their epitaph is in the ongoing struggle for democracy”. So while remembering the 14 local people murdered on Bloody Sunday and their families’ continuing struggle for truth and justice we also consider the consequences this act of state terrorism, continues to have on events right up to this day.
Had Lord Widgery in 1972 acknowledged the truth of what happened on Bloody Sunday, it may not of itself have fundamentally changed the nature of the British State or its role in Ireland. It would however have made it harder for that state to continue to sell the lie that its army was an impartial ‘peacekeeping’ force. In turn this would have made it more difficult for its soldiers to continue to literally get away with murder here and for the same unwritten institutional policy to be now claiming the lives of uncounted victims in Iraq.
So as this year’s programme creates space for a local assessment of ‘The Truth of Bloody Sunday’ in the wake of Lord Saville’s inquiry and we wait to see if he has the courage to tell that truth, we will not just reflect on our experience of British Army occupation here but use it to better understand the plight of the peoples of the Middle East.
‘From Bogside to Basra’ will discuss the illegal US/UK occupation of Iraq through the lens of Fallujah and Bloody Sunday. ‘An Fhirinne’ will remember the many victims of state collusion here, and it is appropriate that this year’s ‘Memorial Lecture’ will be delivered by Geraldine Finucane, wife of the murdered solicitor Pat Finucane. ‘Conflicts of Remembrance’ will explore the difficulty in finding ways to remember all the dead of a conflict when the truth of what it was is still disputed. ‘At a Crossroads’ will compare and contrast the prospects of building a just and lasting peace in Ireland and in Palestine. For the duration of the week’s events, Free Derry Wall will be painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag as an act of solidarity.
More generally these events create a space to come and reflect with others on the importance of democracy here and throughout the world and to stand shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity with the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and victims of injustice everywhere.
Truth-seeking in the cause of justice
Programme Film Strand
There is a crucial connection between justice and journalism. How can we build the solidarity needed to create justice if facts are distorted and the context that generates the facts is seldom if ever reported? And there is always the ultimate sanction of the powerful, where journalists who seek to report the full picture, themselves become a target.
All screenings 8pm at the Gasyard Centre (except Divine Intervention, see below), Admission Free
Saturday 29 January
(PANEL DISCUSSION) Holy Cross in Context: Communities in Conflict over Shared Space in North Belfast, Pilots Row 3.30 – 5.00pm.
Was the horror at Holy Cross School in 2001, as loyalists attacked the school, the result of a breakdown of relations between two communities? Or just naked sectarianism? What was the damage and were any lessons learned? Anne Cadwallader, author of "Holy Cross - The Untold Story", Tom Holland, republican community activist and Louanne Martin, who interviewed the children, try to answer these questions.
(FILM) Film Screenings, Pilots Row, 12noon – 5.00pm
‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (BBC Spotlight documentary on collusion); ‘Lifting a Dark Cloud’ (PFC produced documentary on Kathleen Thompson) & ‘Bloody Sunday: Massacre of the Innocents’ (Canada, documentary)
(PANEL DISCUSSION) At A Crossroads: Palestine & Ireland, Road Maps & Road Blocks to Peace, Calgach Centre, 7.30pm.
Speakers: Dr Jamal Zahalka and Mitchel McLaughlin.
Dr Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian MP who sits in the Israeli Knesset and Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, Sinn Fein Chairperson and senior negotiator, will discuss the Irish and Palestinian peace processes, state repression and violence. Dr Zahalka has been centrally involved in the struggle for truth and justice around Israel’s own ‘Bloody Sunday’ against the Palestinian people. As Palestinians living inside Israel came out onto the streets in support of their comrades staging of a second intifada in the occupied territories, the Israeli police force opened fire, shooting 13 people dead. Since that day in October 2000 Jamal Zahalka has been working closely with the families of the dead in their efforts to take a legal case against the Israeli police force and its government. Dr Zahalka will speak on life as a Palestinian living inside Israel, on Israel’s murderous occupation of Palestinian land and its ruthless response to Palestinian resistance through its intifada. He will also speak on the current situation and the future direction for the peace process following the tragic death of President Arafat and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the new leader of the Palestinian people.
Traditional Music Night, Solas Arts Centre, Great James Street.
Traditional music, Adm £3.00, BYO.
Bloody Sunday Fundraiser, Gasyard Centre, 9.00pm – 1.00am
Live music and DJs – Cruncher, Gary Og, Declan McLaughlin, Eileen Webster, DJ One-Shot, Eamonn McCann, Joe Mulheron, Paul McCartney and Robbie McVeigh. Adm £5.00, BYO.
Sunday 30 January
Memorial Service at the Bloody Sunday Monument, Rossville Street, 11.30am sharp.
(MARCH & RALLY) Bloody Sunday March and Rally, Creggan shops, 2.30pm.
Speakers from the Bloody Sunday Families, an Fhirinne, Guest International Speaker, Palestinian MP, Dr Jamal Zahalka, Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
Search on for potential lifesavers
By Fiona McIlwaine Biggins
29 January 2005
Ballymena is one of the latest towns across the province where potential lifesavers are being sought to take part in a new scheme which kicked off last month.
The Northern Ireland Public Access Defibrillation (NIPAD) project involves training people working and living in communities like Ballymena.
They will assist suspected cardiac victims, before an ambulance arrives, using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) - a device which gives an electric shock to try to get the heart back to normal rhythm.
Backed by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the volunteers include people from all backgrounds and professions, including PSNI officers who will be among those carrying defibrillators.
Assistant chief constable Roy Toner said the PSNI welcomed the opportunity to take part in the project: "Police officers in the pilot areas will use their training and mobility to contribute whenever possible towards the success of this scheme.
"We welcome the chance to work with others in the community to help save lives."
Heart disease is the biggest killer in Northern Ireland, with the majority of cases frequently occurring outside hospital. Evidence shows that the sooner defibrillation occurs after the individual collapses, the greater the chance of survival.
If you are interested in volunteering or for further details contact the Royal Victoria Hospital at www.med.qub.ac.uk
The programme is organised jointly by the Department of Cardiology and Public Health (Queen's University) and the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Firearm trade blasts new laws on guns
Sport of shooting may be adversely affected
By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
29 January 2005
New gun laws in Ulster came in for criticism today - from the firearms trade.
The Gun Trade Association (NI) warned the legislation could unfairly affect shooting as a sport - and threatens the Irish National Rifle team.
Association chairman David Robinson said team members from the Republic are to have their Northern Ireland firearms certificates effectively revoked by the legislation coming into force next week.
"There is a lot of legal confusion but if it is not sorted, the Irish National team will not be able to compete," he said.
A shooter in the Republic must possess a European Pass, a visitors certificate issued by the Firearms Licensing and Explosives Branch and their firearms certificate to travel into Northern Ireland to shoot.
With the new act coming into force from February, the organisation is also warning its provisions are too invasive, complicated and cumbersome.
Under the new legislation, police who issue firearms licences may contact an applicant's GP to check for stress or depression. Applicants must also provide the names of two referees who can vouch for them over a two-year period.
"Where is the public safety enhancement here in that applicants are not going to give names of people who will speak against them?" Mr Robinson asked.
An inspector with the firearms and explosives branch of the Police Service said, however: "The fundamental change is that it will be a re-granting rather than renewal system. Every five years we will be looking at every single person who possesses a firearm in Northern Ireland to see if it can still be justified.
"We will not be going to GPs as a matter of course but applicants have to agree to give us permission to do so on the forms they fill in."
The association claims there is discrimination on the grounds of age in aspects of the legislation, particularly against the young.
Mr Robinson said: "We would like a level playing field so that more people can be interested in the very great sport of shooting."
A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "The new legislation strikes a balance between public safety and the reasonable expectations of those who enjoy shooting as a sport or a leisure pastime.
"The requirement for an applicant for a firearm certificate to provide two referees, and to also gives permission for the police to approach his GP if they are concerned about a medical condition, reflect the position in Great Britain.
"In the event that an approach is made to the GP, it is the GP who decides what, if any, information is released to the police. Both of these requirements were recommended by Lord Cullen following his inquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary School in 1996.
"The requirement to hold a visitor's permit is a national requirement for all visitors wishing to shoot in any part of the UK. "
Adams denies 'punishment attack' claims
29/01/2005 - 14:07:55
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today denied his party had the power to turn punishment attacks on and off at will.
Mr Adams dismissed claims by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that Sinn Féin controlled violence for political expedience.
In a forceful attack on Sinn Féin, Mr Ahern told the Dáil this week that attacks and punishment beatings were switched off for political reasons.
“I reject what the Taoiseach said,” Mr Adams said.
“He knows, and we know him long enough and value his contribution, as I’m sure he values our contribution, no matter about the current difficulties, that Sinn Féin does not turn off and on these so-called punishment beatings or shootings.”
Mr Adams went on to say much work was being done to end the attacks.
“He knows, or he should know, of the work done by Sinn Féin representatives on the ground.
“He knows our opposition to these. I actually think they are totally counterproductive, leaving aside any other issue of morality or any other matter, they’re just totally counterproductive.”
Mr Adams told BBC Radio Ulster that the Taoiseach had attacked his party to deflect scrutiny from the Government over the jailing of a former minister.
Former Irish justice minister Ray Burke was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this week for tax dodging. Burke was elevated to the front benches in 1997 as part of Mr Ahern’s first Cabinet.
“What you saw for electoral reasons for party political reasons, on that particular day, to get them past the embarrassment caused by the imprisonment of a Cabinet minister, the reminder of all of the corruption of the brown envelope culture that permeated establishment politics for so long.
“Bertie played a blinder,” Mr Adams added.
Shots fired at Belfast taxi office
29/01/2005 - 14:06:18
Staff at a taxi depot in north Belfast narrowly escaped injury after gunmen fired shots at the office, police said today.
A car carrying a number of men pulled up outside the depot at around 4.50am this morning and fired several rounds at the front of the building.
No-one was injured in the attack.
The men were seen driving off after the shooting. A gold-coloured Proton car was found burning in the Brae Hill area of Old Park a short while later.
Witnesses are being urged to contact officers at Antrim Road police station.
Photo from bloodysundaytrust.org
'Bloody Sunday', 30 January 1972 - A Chronology of Events
This is a draft of some of the main events which took place in the lead up to, and in the wake of, 'Bloody Sunday', 30 January 1972. This list has been compiled from a number of sources.
Saturday 5 October 1968 (Start date of the current 'Troubles')
A civil rights march in Derry, which had been organised by members of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) and supported by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), was stopped by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) before it had properly begun. The marchers had proposed to walk from Duke Street in the Waterside area of Derry to the Diamond in the centre of the City. Present at the march were three British Labour Party Members of Parliament (MP), Gerry Fitt, then Republican Labour MP, several Stormont MPs, and members of the media including a television crew from RTE. Estimates of the number of people taking part in the march differ. Eamonn McCann (one of the organisers of the march) estimated that about 400 people lined up on the street with a further 200 watching from the pavements. The RUC broke-up the march by baton-charging the crowd and leaving many people injured including a number of MPs. The incidents were filmed and there was world-wide television coverage. The incidents in Derry had a profound effect on many people around the world but particularly on the Catholic population of Northern Ireland. Immediately after the march there were two days of serious rioting in Derry between the Catholic residents of the city and the RUC.
Wednesday 1 January 1969
Approximately 40 members of People's Democracy (PD) began a four-day march from Belfast across Northern Ireland to Derry. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and some nationalists in Derry had advised against the march. The march was modelled on Martin Luther King's Selma to Montgomery march. The first day involved a walk from Belfast to Antrim. [Over the next four days the number of people on the march grew to a few hundred. The march was confronted and attacked by Loyalist crowds on a number of occasions the most serious attack occurring on 4 January 1969.]
Saturday 4 January 1969
The fourth, and final, day of the People's Democracy (PD) march took the marchers from Claudy to Derry. Seven miles from its destination, the People's Democracy (PD) march was ambushed and attacked by a loyalist mob at Burntollet Bridge. The ambush had been planned in advance and around 200 loyalists, including off-duty members of the 'B-Specials', used sticks, iron bars, bottles and stones to attack the marchers, 13 of whom received hospital treatment. The marchers believed that the 80 Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, who accompanied the march, did little to protect them from the Loyalist crowd. As the march entered Derry it was again attached at Irish Street, a mainly Protestant area of the city. Finally the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) broke up the rally that was held in the centre of the city as the march arrived. This action, and the subsequent entry of the RUC into the Bogside area of the city, led to serious rioting.
Saturday 11 January 1969
A Civil Rights march held in Newry ended in violence and there were also disturbances in Derry. In Newry youths attacked the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and overturned and burnt several of their vehicles.
Friday 18 April 1969
In a by-election to the Westminster parliament Bernadette Devlin, standing as a Unity candidate in Mid-Ulster, was elected and, at 21 years of age, became the youngest woman ever to be elected as Member of Parliament. Devlin was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and a leading member of People's Democracy.
Friday 25 April 1969
Following a bombing campaign by Loyalist extremists, 500 additional British troops are sent to Northern Ireland.
Monday 28 April 1969
As he was unable to regain the confidence of the Unionist party Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, resigned to be replaced later by James Chichester-Clark.
Tuesday 12 August 1969
As the Apprentice Boys parade passed close to the Bogside area serious rioting erupted. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), using armoured cars and water cannons, entered the Bogside, in an attempt to end the rioting. The RUC were closely followed by a loyalist crowd. The residents of the Bogside forced the police and the loyalists back out of the area. The RUC used CS gas to again enter the Bogside area. [What was to become known as the 'Battle of the Bogside' lasted for two days.]
Wednesday 13 August 1969
Serious rioting spread across Northern Ireland from Derry to other Catholic areas stretching the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The rioting deteriorated into sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants and many people, the majority being Catholics, were forced from their homes.
Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), made a television address in which he announced that 'field hospitals' would be set up in border areas. He went on to say that: "... the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont governments. It is clear also that the Irish government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse."
Thursday 14 August 1969
After two days of continuous battle, and with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) exhausted, the Stormont government asked the British government for permission to allow British troops to be deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland. Late in the afternoon troops entered the centre of Derry. [At this stage British Troops did not enter the area of the Bogside and the Creggan. There was a tacit understanding between the British Army and the Derry Citizens Defence Association (DCDA) that if the RUC and the army remained outside these areas there would be an end to the rioting. This effectively saw the setting up of the 'no-go areas' where the normal rule of law did not operate.]
John Gallagher, a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Special Constabulary ('B-Specials') during street disturbances on the Cathedral Road in Armagh. [John Gallagher was recorded, by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as the first 'official' victim of 'the Troubles'.]
In Belfast vicious sectarian riots erupted and continued the following day. Many people were killed and injured, and many families were forced to move from their homes. British troops took up duties on the streets of west Belfast.
Sunday 29 March 1970
There were serious disturbances in Derry following a march to commemoration the Easter Rising. The British Army later established a cordon around parts of the Bogside.
Tuesday 2 March 1971
Harry Tuzo, then a Lieutenant-General, replaced Vernon Erskine-Crum, who had been appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the British Army in Northern Ireland on 4 February 1971, but who had suffered a heart attack. [Erskine-Crum died on 17 March 1971.]
Saturday 20 March 1971
James Chichester-Clark resigned as Northern Ireland Prime Minister in protest at what he viewed as a limited security response by the British government.
Tuesday 23 March 1971
Brian Faulkner succeeds as Northern Ireland Prime Minister after defeating William Craig in a Unionist Party leadership election. [Faulkner's tenure of office was to prove very short.]
Thursday 8 July 1971
During rioting in Derry, two Catholic men, Seamus Cusack (27) and Desmond Beattie (19), were shot dead by the British Army in disputed circumstances. The Army claimed the men were armed but local people maintained that they did not have any weapons at any time. The rioting intensified following their deaths. [The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) withdrew from Stormont on 16 July 1971 because no inquiry was announced into the killings.]
Monday 9 August 1971
Introduction of Internment. In a series of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested and taken to makeshift camps. There was an immediate upsurge of violence and 17 people were killed during the next 48 hours. Of these 10 were Catholic civilians who were shot dead by the British Army. Hugh Mullan (38) was the first Catholic priest to be killed in the conflict when he was shot dead by the British Army as he was giving the last rites to a wounded man. Winston Donnell (22) became the first Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) solider to die in 'the Troubles' when he was shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Clady, County Tyrone. [There were more arrests in the following days and months. Internment was to continue until 5 December 1975. During that time 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic / Republican, while 107 were Protestant / Loyalist. Internment had been proposed by Unionist politicians as the solution to the security situation in Northern Ireland but was to lead to a very high level of violence over the next few years and to increased support for the IRA.]
Monday 6 September 1971
Beginning of an Anti-Internment week throughout County Derry organised by the Social Demcoratic and Labour Party (SDLP). All Catholic schools closed to enable staff and students to give their support. Early in the evening as crowds were dispersing towards Free Derry, rioting began. During a lull in the rioting a 14 year old girl was shot in the back of the head by the British Army and killed. Rioting escalated and continued through the night.
Thursday 4 November 1971
At 5.00am in the morning, the British Army again moved in large numbers into the Catholic areas of Derry; Bogside, Creggan and Shantallow, breaking their way into homes, and taking a further 17 men away for internment. The following day, Derry was at a standstill with factory workers going on strike, and schools and shops etc., closing. Rioting began again on the streets of Derry.
Friday 26 November 1971
General Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, is believed to have issued orders to Andrew MacLellan, commander 8 Infantry Brigade (who was in overall command of the troops on 'Bloody Sunday'), that he should try, "so far as possible, to recreate the state of law in the Creggan and Bogside as and when he could" (Insight, The Times, 23 April 1972).
Tuesday 18 January 1972 Brian Faulkner, the then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, banned all parades and marches in Northern Ireland until the end of the year.
Saturday 22 January 1972
An anti-internment march was held at Magilligan strand, County Derry, with several thousand people taking part. As the march neared the internment camp it was stopped by members of the Green Jackets and the Parachute Regiment of the British Army, who used barbed wire to close off the beach. When it appeared that the marchers were going to go around the wire, the army then fired rubber bullets and CS gas at close range into the crowd. A number of witnesses claimed that the paratroopers (who had been bused from Belfast to police the march) severely beat a number of protesters and had to be physically restrained by their own officers. John Hume accused the soldiers of "beating, brutalising and terrorising the demonstrators".
Monday 24 January 1972
Frank Lagan, then Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) notified Andrew MacLellan, then Commander 8 Infantry Brigade, of his contact with the Civil Rights Association, and informed him of their intention to hold a non-violent demonstration protesting against Internment on 30 January 9172. He also asked that the march be allowed to take place without military intervention. MacLellan agreed to recommend this approach to General Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland. However Ford had placed Derek Wilford, Commander of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, in charge of the proposed arrest operation. [The broad decision to carry out arrests were probably discussed by the Northern Ireland Committee of the British Cabinet. Edward Heath, then British Prime Minister, confirmed on 19 April 1972 that the plan was known to British government Ministers.]
Tuesday 25 January 1972
General Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, put Andrew MacLellan, Commander 8 Infantry Brigade, in overall command of the operation to contain the march planned for 30 January 1972.
Thursday 27 January 1972
Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, Peter Gilgun (26) and David Montgomery (20), were shot dead in an attack on their patrol car in the Creggan Road, Derry. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) association in Derry announced that it was going to hold a public religious rally at the same place, on the same date and at the same time, as the civil rights march planned for 30 January 1972.
Friday 28 January 1972
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), in an effort to avoid a repeat of the violence at Milligan Strand on 22 January 1972, placed "special emphasis on the necessity for a peaceful incident-free day" at the next NICRA march on 30 January 1972 (Irish News, 28 January 1972). [According to a Channel 4 documentary Secret History: Bloody Sunday, broadcast on 22 January 1992, Ivan Cooper, then a Member of Parliament at Stormont, who was involved in the organisation of the march, had obtained assurances from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that its members would withdraw from the area during the march.]
Sunday 30 January 1972
'Bloody Sunday' refers to the shooting dead by the British Army of 13 civilans (and the wounding of another 14 people, one of whom later died) during a Civil Rights march in Derry. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) march against internment was meant to start at 2.00pm from the Creggan. The march left late (2.50pm approximately) from Central Drive in the Creggan Estate and took an indirect route towards the Bogside area of the city. People joined the march along its entire route. At approximately 3.25pm the march passed the 'Bogside Inn' and turned up Westland Street before going down William Street. Estimates of the number of marchers at this point vary. Some observers put the number as high as 20,000 whereas the Widgery Report estimated the number at between 3,000 and 5,000. Around 3.45pm most of the marchers followed the organisers instructions and turned right into Rossville Street to hold a meeting at 'Free Derry Corner'. However a section of the crowd continued along William Street to the British Army barricade. A riot developed. (Confrontations between the Catholic youth of Derry and the British Army had become a common feature of life in the city and many observers reported that the rioting was not particularly intense.)
At approximately 3.55pm, away from the riot and also out of sight of the meeting, soldiers (believed to be a machine-gun platoon of Paratroopers) in a derelict building in William Street opened fire (shooting 5 rounds) and injured Damien Donaghy (15) and John Johnston (59). Both were treated for injuries and were taken to hospital (Johnston died on 16 June 1972). [The most recent information (see, for example, Pringle, P. and Jacobson, P.; 2000) suggests that an Official IRA member then fired a single shot in response at the soldiers in the derelict building. This incident happened prior to the main shooting and also out of sight of Rossville Street.]
Also around this time (about 3.55pm) as the riot in William Street was breaking up, Paratroopers requested permission to begin an arrest operation. By about 4.05pm most people had moved to 'Free Derry Corner' to attend the meeting.
4.07pm (approximately) An order was given for a 'sub unit' (Support Company) of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment to move into William Street to begin an arrest operation directed at any remaining rioters. The order authorising the arrest operation specifically stated that the soldiers were "not to conduct running battle down Rossville Street" (Official Brigade Log). The soldiers of Support Company were under the command of Ted Loden, then a Major in the Parachute Regiment (and were the only soldiers to fire at the crowd from street level).
At approximately 4.10pm soldiers of the Support Company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment began to open fire on people in the area of Rossville Street Flats. By about 4.40pm the shooting ended with 13 people dead and a further 14 injured from gunshots. The shooting took place in four main places: the car park (courtyard) of Rossville Flats; the forecourt of Rossville Flats (between the Flats and Joseph Place); at the rubble and wire barricade on Rossville Street (between Rossville Flats and Glenfada Park); and in the area around Glenfada Park (between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park). According to British Army evidence 21 soldiers fired their weapons on 'Bloody Sunday' and shot 108 rounds in total.
[Most of the basic facts are agreed, however what remains in dispute is whether or not the soldiers came under fire as they entered the area of Rossville Flats. The soldiers claimed to have come under sustained attack by gunfire and nail-bomb. None of the eyewitness accounts saw any gun or bomb being used by those who had been shot dead or wounded. No soldiers were injured in the operation, no guns or bombs were recovered at the scene of the killing.]
Monday 31 January 1972
Reginald Maudling, then British Home Secretary, made a statement to the House of Commons on the events of 'Bloody Sunday': "The Army returned the fire directed at them with aimed shots and inflicted a number of casualties on those who were attacking them with firearms and with bombs". Maudling then went on to announce an inquiry into the circumstances of the march.
Tuesday 1 February 1972
Edward Heath, then British Prime Minister, announced the appointment of Lord Widgery, then Lord Chief Justice, to undertake an inquiry into the 13 deaths on 'Bloody Sunday'. The response of the people of Derry to this choice of candidate, was for the most part one of scepticism and a lack of confidence in his ability to be objective. Indeed a number of groups in Derry initially called for non-participation in the tribunal but many were persuaded later to given evidence to the inquiry.
There was an Opposition adjournment debate in the House of Commons on the subject of 'Bloody Sunday'. During the debate the then Minister of State for Defence gave an official version of events and went on to say: "We must also recognise that the IRA is waging a war, not only of bullets and bombs but of words.... If the IRA is allowed to win this war I shudder to think what will be the future of the people living in Northern Ireland."
The Ministry of Defence also issued a detailed account of the British Army's version of events during 'Bloody Sunday' which stated that: "Throughout the fighting that ensued, the Army fired only at identified targets - at attacking gunmen and bombers. At all times the soldiers obeyed their standing instructions to fire only in self-defence or in defence of others threatened."
Wednesday 2 February 1972
The funerals of 11 of the dead took place in the Creggan in Derry. Tens of thousands attended the funeral including clergy, politicians from North and South, and thousands of friends and neighbours. Throughout the rest of Ireland prayer services were held to coincide with the time of the funerals. In Dublin over 90 per cent of workers stopped work in respect of those who had died, and approximately 100,000 people turned out to march to the British Embassy. They carried 13 coffins and black flags. Later a crowd attacked the Embassy with stones and bottles, then petrol bombs, and the building was burnt to the ground.
Monday 14 February 1972
Lord Widgery arrived in Coleraine, where the 'Bloody Sunday' Tribunal was to be based and held a preliminary hearing. During this initial hearing Widgery announced that the tribunal would be "essentially a fact-finding exercise" and then when on to narrow the terms of reference for the tribunal.
Monday 21 February 1972
The first session of the Widgery Tribunal was held in Coleraine, County Derry. A total of 17 sessions were held between the 21 February 1972 and the 14 March 1972. 114 witnesses gave evidence. A further three sessions were held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the 16, 17 and 20 March.
Tuesday 22 February 1972
The Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) exploded a bomb at Aldershot military barracks, the headquarters of the Parachute Regiment, killing seven people who were mainly ancilliary staff. [This bomb was thought to be an attempted retaliation against the regiment who had carried out the 'Bloody Sunday' killings.]
Friday 24 March 1972
The Stormont Parliament was prorogued, and Direct Rule from Westminster was imposed on Northern Ireland, much to the outrage of Brian Faulkner and Unionist politicians.
Monday 10 April 1972
Lord Widgery submitted the report of his findings to Reginald Maudling, the then Home Secretary.
Tuesday 18 April 1972
The Widgery Report on 'Bloody Sunday', Report of the Tribunal appointed to inquire into the events on Sunday, 30th January 1972, (HC 220) was published. [The findings of this report caused outrage among the people of Derry and is often referred to by them as the "Widgery Whitewash".]
Wednesday 19 April 1972
Edward Heath, then British Prime Minister, confirmed that the plan to conduct an arrest operation, in the event of a riot during the march on 30 January 1972, was known to British government Ministers in advance.
Sunday 23 April 1972
The Sunday Times Insight Team published their account of the events of 'Bloody Sunday'.
Friday 16 June 1972
John Johnson (59) who had been shot twice on 'Bloody Sunday' died. His family was convinced that he died prematurely and that his death was a result of the injuries he received and the trauma he underwent on that day.
Tuesday 4 July 1972
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) forwarded a file on about the killings on 'Bloody Sunday' to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland. The Attorney General made a statement about this file on 1 August 1972
Tuesday 1 August 1972
The Attorney General published in Hansard an answer, in response to a Parliamentary Question, about the file sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) on the matter of 'Bloody Sunday'. The conclusion was that there would be no prosecution of any member of the security forces as a result of the killings on 30 January 1972. Charges in respect of riotous behaviour against some civilians were also dropped.
Monday 1 January 1973
Lieutenant Colonel Wilford, the Commanding Officer of the First Parachute Regiment on 'Bloody Sunday', was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List.
x August 1973
The inquest into the deaths on 'Bloody Sunday' (30 January 1972) was held.
Tuesday 21 August 1973
Major Hubert O'Neill, then Coroner of the inquest into the deaths on 'Bloody Sunday' issued a statement: "This Sunday became known as Bloody Sunday and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder. It was murder."
Thursday 5 December 1991
The Channel 4 television Secret History series broadcast a programme about 'Bloody Sunday'
Around the twentieth anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday', relatives and friends of those who had been killed made fresh appeals for an independent inquiry into events on that day. The Prime Minister, John Major, refused to allow such an inquiry.
Tuesday 29 December 1992
John Major, then British Prime Minister, wrote a letter to John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which stated that: "The Government made clear in 1974 that those who were killed on 'Bloody Sunday' should be regarded as innocent of any allegation that they were shot whilst handling firearms or explosives. I hope that the families of those who died will accept that assurance."
Saturday 29 June 1996
Relatives of those who had been killed on 'Bloody Sunday' wrote to Prince Charles. In their letter, they asked him, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Parachute Regiment, to condemn the soldiers' actions, and to apologise for the deaths of their relatives. However, the reply to this letter, which came from the Princes private secretary, merely stated that it was "necessary to move on, rather than dwell on past tragedies".
New evidence came to light that soldiers were actually shooting from the top of the Derry walls, as well as ground level. In a new book published by Don Mullan (Eyewitness Bloody Sunday: The Truth) evidence was provided which showed that at least three of the victims of 'Bloody Sunday' were shot from the Derry walls. This evidence was available to the tribunal in 1972 but was ignored by the Widgery Tribunal.
Thursday 29 January 1998
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced that there would be a new inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday'. The Irish government published its report of the new evidence on the events of 'Bloody Sunday'.
Garda chief to join Ahern for Blair meeting
29 January 2005
By Harry McGee, Political Editor
GARDA Commissioner Noel Conroy will accompany Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when he meets British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday.
It is the first time that a garda officer has accompanied the Taoiseach to such a high-level meeting and it indicates the Government’s determination to maintain political pressure on Sinn Féin, as bitter recriminations continue about who was to blame for the Northern Bank robbery.
Mr Conroy will travel to Downing Street to attend one of two meetings between the two governments. The commissioner and PSNI chief constable Huge Orde will brief Mr Ahern and Mr Blair, as well as Justice Minister Michael McDowell and Northern Secretary Paul Murphy, on the robbery, as well as other criminal and paramilitary activities alleged to have been carried out by the IRA.
A second meeting between Mr Ahern and Mr Blair will assess the outcomes of the meetings that they have held in recent days with the leaders of Northern political parties, including Sinn Féin.
The focus on the Provisional movement following the robbery is unlikely to relent. Members of the International Monitoring Commission will meet Mr Ahern on Monday ahead of a likely announcement that it may proceed with a special inquiry looking into who was responsible for the robbery. The body’s next report is not due to be published until the end of March, but such a once-off investigation may result in the publication of an earlier interim report.
Meanwhile in London yesterday, Gerry Adams challenged the Irish and British Governments to declare the Good Friday Agreement dead if they are preparing alternatives to power-sharing government in the North.
Mr Adams denied that Mr Blair had issued the party with a stark warning yesterday, saying that the debate on who was to blame for the robbery was quickly disposed of, before the meeting had proceeded to wider substantive issues.
“The spin going into today’s meeting was there was going to be a row but there wasn’t,” he said. “We were not going to be lectured and we weren’t lectured.
“We have no apologies to make as Sinn Féin is opposed to criminality of any kind,” he said.
But Mr Murphy, speaking after the meeting, said Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness had been told unless criminal activity by the IRA ended there would be no inclusive executive.
McAleese 'sorry' over Nazi remark
Mary McAleese has been criticised by unionists
Mary McAleese has said she is "deeply sorry" for the offence her remarks comparing Nazi hatred with Northern Ireland have caused.
The Irish president said Protestant children were taught to hate Catholics in the same way Nazis despised Jews.
She said she was devastated by the reaction which her remarks generated and acknowledged she had been "clumsy".
Mrs McAleese made the comments before attending ceremonies marking 60 years since Auschwitz was liberated.
President McAleese said the anti-semitism that existed for decades had been built upon by the Nazis.
"They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things," she said.
However, the president clarified her remarks on Friday.
She said she was "personally absolutely devastated" by the furore, that her critics had been "absolutely right" and acknowledged she had been clumsy and had hurt people.
"I was trying to make a point about the job that we in our time have to do, in a sense to vindicate the dreadful, dreadful, awful consequences of Auschwitz, the things that we have to do to prevent sectarianism and racism in our own time," she said.
"I said that people in Northern Ireland who taught their children for example, to hate for example Catholics, and I should have gone on to say, and Protestants, because the truth of the matter is that, of course, sectarianism is a shared problem.
"The fact that she used the word Catholic suggests that people on the other side were Protestant," said Gordon
Linney, Archdeacon of Dublin.
She said some people had accused her of making a connection between Protestantism and Nazism.
"That's a dreadful assertion and indeed if anybody took that from it I should have to say that I would be very, very, very deeply sorry indeed.
"I was trying to make a point and I made it very clumsily indeed. I am the first to put my hands up and say I made it very clumsily indeed."
The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr said her original comments had been irrational and insulting.
Responding, Mr Paisley Jnr said: "So much for bridge-building Mary.
"Her comments are completely irrational and are designed to insult the integrity of the Protestant community and damn an entire generation of Protestant people."
Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael McGimpsey said he accepted President McAleese's apology.
He said the matter should now be closed.
"I called for a clarification and I called for an apology and she has taken both of those steps and it seems to me, as far as I'm concerned, having done that it would be crass of me not to accept that she has done what was called for," he said.
"So as I say in my opinion therefore we will try and put this matter behind us and let the thing rest," he said.
The former Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Dublin, Gordon Linney, also criticised her comments.
"Frankly, I was shocked and saddened because... of her choice of words," he said.
Mark Durkan said the president had a "record of bridge building"
However, President McAleese's remarks have been defended by senior Catholic clergyman, Monsignor Denis Faul.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the Holocaust could teach everyone "lessons about the danger of unchecked prejudice and unchallenged persecution".
Meanwhile, the Orange Order has cancelled a meeting with Mrs McAleese.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland said it would not take up her invitation to come to Dublin in March, to discuss the concerns of Orangemen in the Republic.
Sinn Féin hold first meeting of Aontú and set out priorities for cross border integration
Published: 28 January, 2005
The official launch of Aontu, the Sinn Féin strategy group for cross border integration took place in the Clinton Centre, Enniskillen today. It is one of the party's major initiatives to advance the all-Ireland agenda and advance preparations for Irish reunification.
Aontu was set up by the party leadership to bring forward and implement plans for the integration of services, developments and infrastructure throughout the border region.
Today's meeting, hosted by Sinn Féin spokesperson on All-Ireland Integration, Barry McElduff, pulled together almost 40 representatives from the three cross-border corridor groups,the North West Region Border group, the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) and the Eastern Region Border group along with Sinn Féin councillors from Sligo and Donegal where the party has been denied access to the corridor groups. Local Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew along with party chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA also addressed the meeting.
Mr. McLaughlin described the launch as a ''very valuable exercise" saying the party's work on the various border groups and bodies was a perfect "strategic fit into our overall objectives" as republicans. He dismissed the work of the "so-called constitutional nationalists" on the various bodies of being "fine on rhetoric but miserable on action". "Sinn Féin is and will be the potent driving force in all of this," he said. "It is part of our project to achieve unity and sovereignty as well as to make the lives of those who live along the border better."
During the plenary session of the meeting many of the representatives present told of the practical difficulties people sffered as a result of the border. Michelle Gildernew spoke of the problems faced by working parents in accessing childcare services when taxation issues arose, with Revenue on one side of the border not recognising payments for services on the other. Gerry McHugh spoke of the problems faced by the farming community on the northern side of the border who receive grants in euro but are forced to transfer them to sterling accounts at a significant loss. Currency harmonisation was a key feature of many of the contibutions.
The poor provision of health services and the "appalling" lack of public transport were also highlighted.
Telecommunications and the issue of mobile phones and roaming charges in particular were also raised. One representative complained that is was "ridiculous" that using mobiles along the border often meant you were being charged to be told you were leaving or entering Ireland.
Cllr. Padraig MacLochlainn from Donegal for him "this was the most important work he could be involved in" and urged his fellow councillors to make it their priority." ENDS
Adams challenges London and Dublin over peace process
The British and Irish governments should declare the Good Friday Agreement dead if they have an alternative solution to power-sharing in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams said tonight.
By: Press Association
As the political fallout continued over last month`s £26.5 million Northern Bank raid, Sinn Fein president Mr Adams insisted inclusive government involving unionists, nationalists and republicans was the only way forward for the country.
And following claims that Sinn Fein was given a stark message by Tony Blair in Chequers today that all IRA criminal activity must end, Mr Adams insisted there was no lecture from the Prime Minister during their first meeting since the robbery.
The West Belfast MP said: "The two governments say they are committed to the Agreement and I cannot see how they can go forward with anything less than it.
"Certainly there has been no discussion between us and either of the governments about such proposals.
"But if the governments want to go with something else, then they should stand up and say the Agreement is finished and we can all negotiate."
Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde`s confirmation earlier this month that his officers believe the IRA carried out the Northern Bank heist torpedoed any hopes London and Dublin might have had of resurrecting their bid to restore devolution before the General Election.
Mr Adams said tonight the Prime Minister had put forward his view that the IRA was responsible for the robbery but had produced no evidence.
"The spin going into today`s meeting was that there was going to be a row but there wasn`t," he said. "We were not going to be lectured and we weren`t lectured.
"We have no apologies to make as Sinn Fein is opposed to criminality of any kind."
Last month, Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern felt they had come agonisingly close to bringing back power-sharing, with an historic deal involving Sinn Fein and the Reverend Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists stumbling over demands for photographic evidence of future IRA disarmament.
The bank raid, however, prompted the DUP and others to urge London to look at alternative ways to bring devolution to Northern Ireland which would freeze Sinn Fein out of government.
After today`s meeting, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness had been told unless criminal activity by the IRA ended there would be no inclusive executive.
"The IRA has to give all criminality up," he told the Press Association. "Unless that happens, I cannot see a situation where we can restore an executive."
And in a further warning to republicans, Mr Murphy said the Government would continue to explore other means of getting the Assembly functioning in the absence of devolution.
The DUP and cross community Alliance Party believe one of those ways is to have a voluntary coalition involving the nationalist SDLP.
But the SDLP has instead proposed the recall of the Assembly and the appointment of commissioners drawn from business, trade unions and the voluntary sector to run government departments until full blown devolution returns.
It has also been proposed that Stormont committees could be reconvened to scrutinise the work of Northern Ireland Office ministers.
Mr Murphy said these proposals would be considered at more meetings between the two governments and the parties over the coming weeks.
He also confirmed he would take part in talks next Tuesday involving the Prime Minister, Mr Ahern and Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern.
"There are a lot of ideas which have been discussed and may well be talking about these over the next couple of weeks," he said.
Maskey brands Unionist reaction to President McAleese's comments as hysterical
Published: 28 January, 2005
Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA, Alex Maskey, has described as "hysterical" the reaction of unionist politicians to the comments of President Mary McAleese.
Mr Maskey said,
"No-one has done more than President Mary McAleese to build bridges between unionism and nationalism and between our tragic past and a new future. But Unionism is in total denial about the history of this state. The most senior leaders of Unionism routinely practised and encouraged institutionalised anti-catholic discrimination. Unionist leaders to this day refuse to acknowledge that discrimination ever happened.
"There are, of course, many people, including many unionists, working to overcome these out-dated attitudes but the leadership of Unionism, particularly of the DUP brand, needs to face up to the fact that its has, both past and present, promoted the anti-catholic bigotry and prejudice which has characterised the 6 county state since its creation". ENDS
Irish government failed to communicate EU Constitution to the Irish people - SF
Thursday, January 27
Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today accused the Irish government of failing to properly communicate the content and ramifications of the EU Constitution to the Irish people. Ms McDonald said that 'the government had been more concerned with concluding negotiations on the EU Constitution than communicating its content to the people'.
Ms McDonald made her comments after a European survey revealed that nearly 50% of Irish people were not even aware of the existence of the EU Constitution. The survey was carried out by 'EU Barometer'.
Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:
"During Ireland's Presidency of the European Union, Sinn Féin consistently called upon the Irish government to effectively communicate the content and ramifications of the proposed EU Constitution to the people. The results of this survey show that nearly 50% of Irish people are not even aware of the existence of the EU Constitution.
"Considering agreement on the EU Constitution was reached during Ireland's stewardship of the European Union, then clearly this represents a monumental failure on the part of the government. It became increasingly clear during that period that the government was more concerned with concluding negotiations on the EU Constitution than communicating its content to the people.
"The government has a duty to inform citizens in a non-partisan manner regarding fundamental changes which may effect them. It is not good enough for the government to only communicate the contents of this far-reaching document in the period leading up to the referendum on the issue. By that stage it will be much too late."
Prison officers injured halting drug smugglers
28/01/2005 - 17:13:00
Three prison officers were injured today as they tried to stop drugs being smuggled into a Northern Ireland jail.
A female warder’s wrist was broken during trouble at visiting hours in the high security Maghaberry complex near Lisburn, Co Antrim.
Forty-two Diazepam tablets were later seized, the Prison Service confirmed.
As police launched an investigation, a Maghaberry spokesman hit out at those behind the violence.
He said: “As well as the harm caused by drugs and the bullying and intimidation associated with them, it is disappointing that some people continue to abuse the visits system which is designed to enable prisoners and their families maintain close contact.”
The attacks came after staff spotted two visitors allegedly passing the narcotics to a prisoner.
As they tried to stop the visit, a nearby inmate became abusive.
He punched one female officer in the face, leaving her needing hospital treatment, the Prison Service said.
A second woman guarding the room suffered a suspected broken wrist and a male officer was left with facial bruises.
Three visitors angered that their appointments were delayed because of assaults had to be removed after threatening staff.
“This type of incident serves to highlight the problems posed by drugs being smuggled in prison,” the spokesman added.
“Maghaberry has made a lot of progress in recent months to create an atmosphere in the visiting room where children and families, in particular, can enjoy their visits in a safe environment free from intimidation and violence.
“The staff involved are to be commended for their actions in preventing drugs being smuggled into the prison.”
Firebomb removed from Newry shop
FRIDAY 28/01/2005 08:41:04
Army bomb disposal experts have removed a firebomb from a shop in
Newry near the border with the Irish Republic.
Shopkeepers in the city were advised to return to their premises
after the device was found in a store in Hill Street.
The discovery came a day after police warned dissident republicans
may be planning a new wave of firebomb attacks across Northern
Shopowners in Londonderry, Ballymena and Coleraine were urged to
intensify security checks after a hardware and agricultural store was
destroyed in a weekend attack in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
Linton and Robinson`s premises had to be demolished after a massive
blaze ripped through the building on Saturday.
Superintendent Tony Weston, who heads the Operational Command Unit in
the PSNI`s Rural Region, said after the Strabane attack police feared
the terrorists could strike again.
Mr Weston said: "These devices put lives and property at risk and
cause unnecessary disruption to all.
"We would advise business owners and managers to review security
measures and check premises thoroughly both during and after trading.
"An extra few minutes could make a difference."
Incendiary devices were planted in shops throughout the province last
month in a bid to cause mayhem during Christmas trading.
Derry Pro-Life Group Defend Image
Tuesday 25th January 2005
A Derry Pro-life group last night defended their decision to use an image of the Virgin Mary holding the bodies of aborted foetuses to promote their anti-abortion campaign in the city.
Bernadette Doyle, spokesperson for the Sacred Heart of Jesus Prolife group in Derry, was responding followings complaints made to the 'Journal' office about leaflets which were being handed out in the city which showed an image of Mary holding the bodies of aborted foetuses.
"We use quite a few Sacred images that Jesus and our Blessed Mother have given in our fight against the murder of the unborn," she said.
"The image of 'Mary, Patron of the Aborted' is particularly welcomed our group because it was given by Our Lady herself through two Irish visionaries.
"Although not sanctioned by the church, they are under complete obedience to the Magestirium of the Church and 100% obedient to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul.
"The message at the back of Our Lady's picture stating that the Church will be held responsible for the deaths of these babies through silence and not doing more to oppose abortion, is very much the truth.
"The Church are the people, and we will all be held accountable by God for the defence of our unborn brothers and sisters.
"Our Holy Father himself has given us a stern warning: 'Woe to you who do not defend life.' He has also described the work carried out by pro-lifers as the 'most important work on earth.'
"We are called to defend the unborn child, and we will have to give an account of what we have done to fight against this evil.
"The woman who complained said these photos were like something you would see on a 'heavy metal' album.
"Look at the visions Our Lady give to the three children of Fatima. The visions of Hell and the fires of Purgatory are a lot worse than anything you'll see on the cover of a heavy metal album.
"Our Lady decided to give these images to children, so if she decided to give these to children that's up to her."
Ms. Doyle paid tribute to the great devotion there is in Ireland to Our Lady under the banner: 'Mary Patron of the Aborted.'
"We have an enormous demand for this picture," she continued.
"And we have a great response to her message which was to fight this evil with prayer and love. "Part of the message Our Lady gave was to place the picture in places where it will be seen. "'Do this for me, my children,' she asked. That is what we are doing, praying for mothers, fathers and doctors and all involved in the murder of the unborn. "I would invite the lady who criticised the picture who says she is a pro-lifer to respond to our Holy Father's call to defend life and come along and join us."
Anyone who wants to obtain a picture of Our Lady, patron of the Aborted and the messages about abortion is asked to contact our group on 71370635/71308695 or the Sacred Heart house of Prayer on 02886766377.
'Explain Yourselves' - Dissidents Told
Friday 28th January 2005
Republican firebombers have been challenged to explain why they burnt down a business outlet in jobs-starved Strabane.
The call was made by the Sinn Fein chairman of Strabane District Council, Councillor Jarlath McNulty, after police confirmed that they believe an arson attack at the Linton and Robinson store was caused by an incendiary device.
Councillor McNulty said: "If it transpires that this fire to the Dock Street premises was caused by an incendiary then those behind it need to explain the rationale behind it to the people of this area.
"There is definitely no support within the local nationalist /republican community for such an attack and indeed there would be widespread anger that jobs are being put at risk as a result of it."
The council's Employment Task Force had been proactively working to maintain and create jobs and the Strabane 2000 group was striving to regenerate the town centre to make it a more attractive proposition for the shopping public and inward investors, he said.
"Attacks like this are extremely damaging to these efforts," the Sinn FÈin council chairman warned.
Colr. McNulty said: "Regardless of the problems in the peace process, and no matter how intractable they may seem at present, such attacks show the need to speedily replace the present political vacuum with genuine political dialogue and progress.
It is the only way forward."
DLP West Tyrone MLA Eugene McMenamin described the incendiary attack on Linton & Robinson's hardware and agricultural stores as a "cruel blow to a town struggling to make a better future for all its people."
The family-run business, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, was practically synonymous with Strabane and had recently invested hundreds of thousands of pounds renovating its department store.
'Lowest of the low' Mr. McMenamin said: "As yet, no group has come forward to claim responsibility. Whoever they are, words of condemnation will doubtless mean absolutely nothing to the people who caused this destruction."
Branding those responsible as "the lowest of the low," the SDLP MLA who is also a member of Strabane District Policing Partnership, said: "Extra resources need to be put in place to prevent another attack. The police should make every effort to apprehend these people."
Also hitting out at the firebombers, West Tyrone UUP Assembly Member, Derek Hussey, said: "The community in Strabane has been striving towards the creation of a town environment that will attract business into the area and enhance the overall social well being of the entire district.
"Linton and Robinson's have shown their commitment to this regeneration effort in a positive way through the recent major refurbishment of their premises and are deserving of praise and support for their efforts."
North West On Fire Bomb Alert
Friday 28th January 2005
Retail businesses in the North West are on red alert amid police warnings of a renewed dissident republican fire bombing campaign.
The warning comes after the Linton and Robinson hardware and machinery outlet in Strabane was destroyed by an incendiary device last weekend.
Police have said that businesses in Derry, Strabane, Coleraine and Ballymena should review their security in a bid to thwart similar attacks.
Superintendent Tony Weston, Head of Rural Region's Operational Command Unit, also appealed to the shopping public to remain vigilant.
Supt. Weston condemned those behind the incendiary attack in Strabane and expressed concern that further attacks may also be planned.
"These devices put lives and property at risk and cause unnecessary disruption to all," he said.
"They damage the image of the town as a potential investment location, and their actions can easily result in job losses for local residents." "I would urge anyone with information about this fire to contact police on 02871 367 337 or alternatively, to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If the community work with the police it is the best chance we have of putting an end to these attacks," the local divisional commander added.
Damage estimated in excess of £1 million was caused in the arson attack which gutted the Strabane business in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Manager, Gareth Linton, said the family-run firm had temporarily redeployed staff at their main department store in Abercorn Square which is currently undergoing renovation. However, the destruction of the Dock Street outlet would sadly result in jobs being lost.
Mr. Linton said the firm had been trading for 50 years and having to break the news of the fire to his father, who helped found the business, had been heartbreaking. However, they intend to rebuild the premises.
"Talking about criminality? Pasted all around town last night..."
Police find new footage of heist van
By Jonathan McCambridge
28 January 2005
Detectives have found CCTV footage of what they believe is the white van used in the Northern Bank robbery driving south towards the border, it can be revealed today.
The breakthrough came this week as detectives scoured hours of footage taken from a camera filming a roundabout at Sprucefield off the M1 motorway.
It is understood the footage was recorded shortly before 9pm on the day of the robbery and shows a white van driving through a roundabout near the retail centre.
It is believed the van, a Ford Transit box van with a rear-loading platform, may then have travelled further south in the direction of the border.
The van, used to carry off £26.5m from the bank's headquarters, has not been found.
This is the first sighting of the vehicle since police released grainy CCTV footage recorded immediately after the robbery showing the vehicle winding its way through traffic in Belfast.
One police source said the latest footage was recorded in the dark but detectives are confident it is the same vehicle.
The new footage means detectives will be able to establish a more accurate picture of the movements of the robbers in the hours following the robbery.
A team of detectives have spent thousands of hours viewing CCTV pictures from all over Northern Ireland.
They have made it their priority to try and identify the movements of the van after the robbery and what subsequently happened to it.
Police have also said that the possibility that the van was the same one which had been stolen several weeks before in Gwent, Wales, was a "strong line of inquiry".
Chief Constable Hugh Orde has publicly blamed the IRA for the robbery - an accusation which has twice been denied by the organisation.
Police and girl (3) in blaze drama
By Nevin Farrell
28 January 2005
Four police officers who braved a fire in an attempt to rescue a three-year-old girl from a blazing house this morning have been taken to hospital along with the child who was eventually plucked to safety by firefighters.
The girl and four officers have gone to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment for the effects of breathing smoke.
The alarm was raised shortly after 9.30am when a fire started at Brookfield Gardens in Ahoghill.
A PSNI spokesman revealed that the police officers were beaten back by flames.
On the arrival of the fire brigade, firefighters managed to rescue the little girl.
Omagh bomb accused freed on bail
Colm Murphy was originally sentenced to 14 years in jail
The only man brought to trial over the 1998 Omagh bombing has been freed on bail after winning an appeal against his conviction.
Colm Murphy, 51, from Dundalk, County Louth, was jailed for 14 years in 2002 for conspiracy to cause an explosion.
However, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin set aside the conviction last week and ordered a retrial.
On Friday, the court said it had no objections to freeing him. The husband of a victim argued against it.
Laurence Rush, whose wife Libby died in the atrocity, made the passionate appeal to the three appeal judges at the court.
The judges varied Mr Murphy's bail conditions to allow him to be freed.
He had to pay bail totalling 50,000 euro (£34,600) to secure his freedom.
The court granted two independent sureties of 25,000 euro (£17,300) and he had to surrender his passport as well as sign on daily at Dundalk Garda Station and reside at a named address in Mount Pleasant, Dundalk.
The Omagh bomb was admitted by the dissident republican Real IRA.
It killed 29 people and unborn twins and was the worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Mr Murphy's retrial has been ordered on two grounds relating to the evidence of detectives at his trial.
Blair warns Sinn Fein on violence
Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams met Mr Blair at Chequers
Tony Blair has warned Sinn Fein it will be "locked out" of Northern Ireland devolution unless the IRA gives up crime and violence.
The prime minister made the point at a meeting with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Chequers.
It was the first meeting between the men since police blamed the IRA for a £26m bank robbery in Belfast in December - a charge the IRA has denied.
However, Mr Blair said he accepted the chief constable's view on the raid.
After Friday's meeting, a spokesman for Number Ten said: "Mr Blair and the taoiseach will be briefed further on the robbery and the investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable and the garda commissioner when they meet next Tuesday in Downing Street.
"The prime minister told Sinn Fein that such activity was incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.
"He said that while he still wanted to find a way forward which included Sinn Fein, it was his duty as prime minister to underline in the starkest terms that that would not be possible if paramilitary and criminal activity continued to be carried out by the IRA.
"A complete and verifiable end to all such activity by the IRA would be essential if progress towards such an inclusive agreement were to be possible."
Mr Adams emerged from the meeting, saying that both sides agreed that the peace process was "in profound difficulties".
He said there had been plenty of "straight talking but there had been no row."
It is understood that there are no further plans at the moment for a meeting between Mr Blair and the Sinn Fein leadership.
Earlier, Mr Adams told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was confident the peace process could be put back on track.
"I wouldn't be here in London, I wouldn't be going to meet the British prime minister, if I didn't have both the hope and conviction that it can be sorted out. In the meantime, we are going to have to weather this particular storm."
He said he did not believe the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank raid and he urged Mr Blair not to "get carried away with the spin of the moment".
"Tony Blair has made a huge investment in this process. He has shown leadership. This is not the time to be put off because there are difficulties. These difficulties can be overcome if there is the will to do it."
Secretary of State Paul Murphy said: "We know, as a government, that the IRA carried out this raid.
"Our view is that until that issue is resolved amongst the IRA - the whole question of criminality and giving it up - unless paramilitary activity ceases, then we simply will not be able to go on the way we have in the past."
Colm Murphy to be released on bail
28/01/2005 - 08:06:45
The man whose conviction for conspiring to cause the Omagh bombing was quashed is due to be released on bail today.
Fifty-two-year-old Colm Murphy, originally from Co Armagh, but with an address at Ravensdale in Dundalk, received a 14-year sentence in January 2002, after he was convicted in the Special Criminal Court of allowing his mobile phone to be used by the bombers.
Last week, the Appeals Court found that his presumption of innocence had been breached as his past convictions were taken into consideration.
It was also found that the court had failed to take an appropriate approach to the alteration of interview notes by two members of the Gardaí.
A retrial has been ordered, but no date has yet been set.
Parents could replace 11-plus
Families better judges, insists Minister
By Claire Regan
28 January 2005
Ministers today side-stepped the growing controversy on a replacement for the 11-plus by putting new admission arrangements out to public consultation.
Education Minister Barry Gardiner this morning published a document inviting comments on new admission criteria for post-primary schools which could be used after 2008 when the much-hated existing Transfer Test will be abolished.
Launching the document this morning, Mr Gardiner made it clear that informed parental choice will go ahead as the main way in which children will be filtered through from primary school.
Despite this definite decision, based on recommendations of the Costello report, the Department has prolonged the long-running drama over the future of transfer arrangements by putting the issue out to public consultation until June.
The document is certain to infuriate grammar schools as well as the DUP and UUP, who have campaigned vigorously for secondary schools to continue to be able to select their pupils on the basis of academic ability.
In a household survey in 2002, 64% of respondents also agreed that academic selection should stay.
Making the announcement this morning, Mr Gardiner said: "School admissions arrangements should work for the benefit of children. Based on the principle of informed parental choice, the arrangements should be as simple as possible for parents to use.
"They should help parents make the best decisions about the most appropriate school for their child.
"The consultation paper is being published at this early date because parents need to understand the likely changes and be able to plan well ahead for their children's future.
"From September 2010 therefore, pupils will transfer to post-primary schools on the basis of informed parental choice."
The consultation document seeks comment on the overall processes which could be put in place. It describes the arrangements for giving information to parents, including the Pupil Profile.
"Parents know their children best and it is both right and responsible to take the key decisions about their children's schooling," the minister added.
Loyalist feud victim's brother defies threats
By Maureen Coleman
28 January 2005
The brother of a loyalist feud victim today said he would not be intimidated by a UDA death threat.
Kenny McCullough, whose brother Alan was murdered in the summer of 2003, said he was being targeted because he had spoken out against threats to kill a former church deaconess.
Ruth Petticrew, who runs a Christian ministry in the Shankill area, claimed she was threatened by the UDA because she had given pastoral care to the McCullough family.
Last week Mr McCullough publicly condemned a petrol bomb attack on her car.
He was later contacted by the PSNI, who told him of a threat by the UDA on his life.
Speaking at his Shankill home Mr McCullough said he did not believe the threat had been sanctioned by the UDA leadership, but by sections within the terror group.
And he said the threat - the latest in a series - would not intimidate him or his family.
"What these people want is for me and my family to withdraw any statements we have made against the people who are charged with Alan's murder, but we will not be intimidated," he said.
"I'm absolutely disgusted with the latest threat. For the last two years myself and my family have not been able to grieve properly for Alan.
"I don't think the leadership of the UDA is behind this threat, but sections within the group. I would appeal to them to leave my family alone."
MLA argues the case for a North Belfast stadium
Last week it was announced that the British Government has short listed three locations for the site of a £55m multi-sports stadium.
They are the Maze Prison site, the North Foreshore of Belfast Lough and the Titanic Quarter in East Belfast.
Nine other sites for the proposed 30,000-seat stadium were rejected due to planning or transport difficulties.
Sports Minister Angela Smith said no decision would be taken until a detailed economic appraisal and business case had been completed.
Many pundits have said that the Maze site remains the favourite as it is understood that the Titanic Quarter would be too expensive – possibly costing up to £60m to buy, while much of the reclaimed North Foreshore at Belfast Lough is contaminated.
North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness believes that North Foreshore should be top of the list.
“There has been a lot of talk lately about a brand new state-of-the-art stadium and there is no doubt that we do need an up-to-date facility that can be shared right across the community.
“Sport is a huge element in the life of this community and our sportsmen and sportswomen deserve the best, which clearly we do not have at the moment.
“Both Windsor Park and Casement Park have been updated and well improved, but to do justice to soccer, rugby and gaelic football we really need a 21st century facility.
“Neither sport could on their own afford a new stadium, or get the full benefit of a brand new site. And of course there are plenty of other sports that would benefit enormously from being able to host national and international matches and events.
“But in all the debate and discussion on this issue, our own local potential site the North Foreshore is rarely given much prominence. And why not? The North Foreshore is a huge expanse of reclaimed land, owned by BCC and readily available for development and is ideally suited to such a use.
“The site is large enough to accommodate a ‘super stadium’, never mind an ordinary one. It is effectively a ‘green field’ site and it has easy access to the M2 and M3, with quick access to the airport and the ferries – making it more central than other options. It is for example more central than the much-vaunted Maze site.
“We need to continue investing in Belfast in order to consolidate the gains made in the last number of years and to guarantee its continued growth.
“All of us in the North of the city realise how badly starved this area is of real investment and the citing of the stadium would be a major boost for this part of Belfast.
“It would be a very powerful message to the rest of the business world that North Belfast is a good place in which to invest. The prestigious stadium would be a living symbol of the regeneration of North Belfast.
“The stadium and its complex of complementary leisure facilities such as a hotel and restaurants would be a wonderful demonstration of the government’s confidence in our area.
“Let’s hope therefore that there will be a careful consideration by government of the North Foreshore site as it is ideally suited for that purpose and as a community we deserve some good news and good fortune for a change.”
Journalist:: Áine McEntee
Warm homes can save lives in North Belfast
Sinn Féin councillor David Kennedy has thrown his support behind a campaign to heat up homes in North Belfast provided by the Eaga partnership.
In the coming weeks the Eaga Partnership will be concentrating its efforts in the North Belfast area and are hoping to make people aware that they could qualify for the scheme, which would see their homes receiving a free central heating system.
The Eaga partnership has already installed free central heating in almost 6,000 homes since they arrived in the North in 2001, and in that time they have insulated a staggering 20,000 homes.
“As winter begins to bite we want to take this opportunity to let the people in North Belfast know that there’s help at hand to heat your home,” Cllr David Kennedy said.
“This is a valuable scheme run by the DSD and managed by Eaga partnership which has numerous advantages both on the financial side and environmentally.
“Nobody can deny that this will save the householder money and reduce the amount of pollution coming from inefficient heating methods. I would encourage anyone who is thinks they may be entitled to apply for the Warm Homes scheme to call the free number or contact their local Sinn Fein office to find out more about the scheme.”
Eaga Director Pat McAuley said their Warm Homes Scheme offers a host of insulation measures including cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, draught proofing of windows and doors and a hot water tank jacket as well other items to help heat the home.
“You may find that you qualify for the free scheme regardless if you privately rent or own your own home.
“Other conditions which would guarantee a free service from Eaga include if you have a child under the age of 16, suffer an illness or disability or are 60 or older and are in receipt of a specified benefit. On top of that, private sector householders who are 60 or over and are in receipt of either rate rebate, housing benefit, pension credit or income-based job seekers allowance are eligible for the heating system.”
To receive further details on the Warms Homes Scheme from Eaga, please telephone 0800 181 667.
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
Gassed to death
Widow demands public admission over why CR gas was used in Long Kesh
The widow of a former republican POW who was gassed by the British in Long Kesh prison has demanded that Tony Blair publicly admit what was done.
Paul ‘Winker’ Watson died an agonising and premature death last September. He was just 52.
His wife Carol said it was time the British admitted and explained why the army deployed the toxic CR gas in 1974 on the prisoners. She said it was particularly poignant on the commemoration of the liberation of the Jews from Auschwitz concentration camp.
But a spokesman for the British Prime Minister said Carol Watson could write, and added: “It’s really hard for me to find out any information about this. I’m sure if she wrote a letter someone would have a look at it. I do not deal with that side of things. You should call the MoD.”
The MoD has refused to comment and the NIO, responsible for prisons has said it is a matter for the MoD.
Paul ‘Winker’ Watson was just six days off his 53rd birthday when he died after a brave battle with cancer.
He is one of an estimated 50 to 60 ex-POWs who suffer or who have died from cancer related deaths in the years since the deadly gas poisoning.
They have all died premature deaths – some in terrible agony.
Despite relating the horrific accounts of the night of October 16 that year, the POWs, including loyalist prisoners were simply not believed.
But this week in papers released under a new freedom of information act, the truth has finally come out.
The British administration ordered the gassing of prisoners when they burnt their Nissen huts in protest at the camp conditions.
Among those in the camp were Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin press officer Richard McAuley. All the men describe the choking effects of the gas named CR gas or Dibenzoxazepine – ten times more irritant than tear gas.
Carol Watson said the British were “no better than the Nazis”.
“The way the Jews were treated was exactly what the British did to Irishmen on their own soil that night in Long Kesh,” she said.
Her husband, who comes from the Oldpark, was convinced that the cancer he battled that assaulted him in almost every organ of his body was the result of being gassed with the poison gas that was fired from helicopters over the football pitches in the compounds.
“Paul was diagnosed three years before his death. The cancer started in his stomach. They removed his stomach, his spleen and part of his gullet. That was just the start.”
It was the beginning of a long fight and an inevitable end for Winker Watson.
He endured terrible agony and years of chemotherapy until the cancer spread into his bones.
“He fought so hard to stay alive. He always looked after his health. He never smoked in his life and rarely drank. He would rather walk and play golf. When he was diagnosed with cancer the first thing the doctors asked was did he work with chemicals. He never had. And the second thing they asked was how many cigs a day he smoked. He had never put a cigarette near his mouth.”
The release of the papers brings to new heights the battle to have the British admit they gassed prisoners, some interned without trial.
“It’s hard to believe that so many men who were there in 1974 on that night have died or have developed cancer. They were all young and fit then.
“They played Gaelic every day and did weights every day. I just want Tony Blair to say what these papers say about the gassing of Irishmen they considered second class citizens.”
Journalist:: Andrea McKernon