News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

November 05, 2004

News 11/04/04 - Ardoyne Dossier Delivered Today

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 11/04/04 Ardoyne Dossier Is Handed To PSNI Boss
UT 11/04/04 PIRA 'Less Involved In Violence' –V
SF 11/04/04 IMC Report Based On Securocrat Information
UT 11/04/04 Derry Mayor's Plea Over Day Of Reflection
NL 11/04/04 Brush-Off For Bogside Art
JN 11/04/04 Adams in NY: Sinn Fein Leaders Speaks In Area
NL 11/04/04 Children 'Caught Up In Knife Culture'
NL 11/04/04 Trimble 'Blocking DUP Peace Deal'
BT 11/04/04 Trimble To Face Challenge For Westminster Election
BT 11/04/04 Racist And Homophobic Reports To Police Soar
NL 11/04/04 Money On The Heads Of Dog Killers
BT 11/04/04 SF Man Slams IRA Graffiti
NL 11/04/04 Shankill Cleans Up And Wins Award
BT 11/04/04 'Wee Tin Church' Is Dedicated

See 1 News: Emma O'Kelly, Education Correspondent, reports on the
initiative by TCD scientists which aims to learn more about the
genetic makeup of the Irish population


Ardoyne Dossier Is Handed To PSNI Boss

Policing of march under scrutiny

By Jonathan McCambridge
04 November 2004

The Policing Board will today deliver its long-awaited report on
the flashpoint Twelfth parade in the Ardyone which was marred by
serious rioting this summer.

The report will consider if PSNI officers breached human rights
through their operational decisions and use of physical force
during the contentious Orange parade.

Police came under fierce criticism for their handling of this
year's parade after they escorted 250 band supporters past angry
protesters in the Catholic area of north Belfast.

Twenty-five police officers and six soldiers were injured following
clashes with nationalists after Orangemen and their supporters were
allowed along the bitterly contested route at the Ardoyne shops.

At one stage a nationalist crowd attacked a group of soldiers and
stole military equipment, including flak jackets, an Army radio and
personal items from Land Rovers.

The Policing Board commissioned its Human Rights Advisors to look
at the police actions following serious concerns raised by
nationalist politicians and community representatives about the
security operation on the day.

Their report will be presented to Chief Constable Hugh Orde during
the Board's monthly meeting in Armagh today.

The Board's Human Rights Advisors have been given unrestricted
access to police video footage of the parades, as well as briefing
documents, operational orders and intelligence information.

During their research they met with several SDLP politicians,
solicitors and church figures. It is understood that Sinn Fein did
not respond to the Policing Board's request for a meeting.

It is believed that the report will consider the implications of a
court decision earlier this year which means that rulings from the
Parades Commission only apply to bands, not to their supporters or

This ruling means that police can only prevent the supporters of a
band from following a contentious route if they are deemed to
present a threat to peace.

The report will also analyse the police actions during the movement
of the 250 Orange supporters into the Ardoyne, the contentious part
of the route.

Other concerns addressed by the report will include communications
between the Parades Commission and the PSNI and the effectiveness
of joint operations between the police and Army.


Link to IMC Report:

See RTE Video at:

PIRA 'Less Involved In Violence' –V

The Provisional IRA has scaled down its involvement in violence but
has shown no signs of winding down its organisation, a report
claimed today.

By:Press Association

The four-member Independent Monitoring Commission, which assesses
republican and loyalist paramilitary activity, told the British and
Irish governments the number of so-called punishment attacks by the
Provisionals had reduced.

But loyalist paramilitaries, such as the Ulster Defence Association
and Ulster Volunteer Force, showed a greater capacity for violence,
with involvement in murders in the period between March and

With the Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists demanding an end to
all paramilitary activity by the Provisionals if Sinn Fein is to
join them in a future power sharing government at Stormont, the IMC
said: "Over the period covered by this report, so far as Northern
Ireland is concerned, we saw no signs of the PIRA winding down its

"It continued to recruit, though in small numbers, and to gather

The IMC noted the Provisional IRA had carried out no murders over
the period and had engaged in a lower level of so-called punishment
attacks and shootings.

The organisation also appeared to have suspended action against
people in republican areas it believed were guilty of anti-social

The IMC also said the IRA appear to be involved in criminal
activity and linked the organisation to a robbery in Dunmurry on
the outskirts of Belfast in May and to smuggling.

However the commission noted that in the Irish Republic, the
organisation appeared to have closed down some of its organised
crime activity and there was no real evidence of violent
paramilitary activity on the ground.

Just days after Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy held talks
with the political representatives of loyalism, the IMC claimed the
levels of violence in loyalist organisations were higher.

The Ulster Volunteer Force remained "an active and violent
organisation" and was linked to two of the four paramilitary
murders which had occurred since the end of February to September.

The organisation was also blamed for bomb attacks against members
of the nationalist community and had been involved in a feud with
members of the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force which has since

Individual UVF members were also responsible for a series of
violent racial attacks in Belfast, the IMC said.

The commission did not believe, however, these were sanctioned by
the leadership.

The UVF also remained involved in organised crime.

"We note the UVF ended its feud with the LVF following the LVF
decision to stand down its members responsible for that feud," the
report said.

"We also note that the senior UVF members have restated their
commitment to the loyalist ceasefire statement of October 1994.

"Nevertheless, we conclude that the UVF remains a ruthless
organisation retaining a capacity for more widespread violence and,
as the feud with the LVF showed, if it judged the circumstances
appropriate we believe that it would engage in it."

The Ulster Defence Association was not involved in any murders over
the six month period covered by the latest IMC report but did carry
out a number of so-called punishment shootings and attacks.

The organisation was blamed for a vicious sectarian attack against
three Catholic men in August and it was also reported that it
remained heavily engaged in criminal activity.

The UDA is believed to be involved in the drugs trade.

The commissioners noted that the UDA leadership, like the IRA,
tried to avoid disorder during the summer marching season in
sectarian flashpoint areas.

Like the Provisionals, the organisation did take preparatory steps
to defend their areas from attack.

"We also believe that the UDA has not so far agreed to the free
return to Northern Ireland of any of those it has exiled," the
commission said.

"The UDA remains heavily involved in many kinds of organised crime
and remains an active organisation capable of more widespread
violence, with the will to commit it if judged appropriate."

The Real IRA, which was responsible for Northern Ireland`s worst
atrocity - the Omagh bomb - , remained a very dangerous group in
the eyes of the IMC.

The report claimed the hard-line republican terror group had two
distinct factions and was responsible for a series of letter bomb
attacks and threats against people involved in Northern Ireland`s
new policing arrangements, prison officers and senior politicians.

The Real IRA was also behind at least one local exiling and
launched a gun attack on one police station in September.

The organisation was also involved in smuggling and other non
terrorist crime and was also trying to improve its intelligence
gathering, bomb making and access to weaponry.

"We conclude that RIRA remains a considerable threat," the
commission said.

"We believe it will continue to be active, even if its capabilities
do not always match its aspirations."

The Irish National Liberation Army remained in the commission`s
view a significant terrorist group which was highly volatile.

The organisation was linked to a combined robbery and kidnapping in
July and had carried out a number of paramilitary style beatings
and shootings.

The Loyalist Volunteer Force, the report noted, had been involved
in a bitter feud in east Belfast with members of the Ulster
Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando.

Following mediation, the LVF had stood down its east Belfast unit
but continued to recruit.

The IMC did not believe the organisation wanted to resume its
campaign of violence but it remained involved in virtually every
form of organised crime.

"We conclude that the LVF is less active that it has been, with the
exception of organised crime, that it does not presently show an
inclination to be involved at significant levels of violence.

"But it retains the capacity to do so should the intention change."

The Continuity IRA had also remained active in Northern Ireland
over the six months examined by the commission.

During that time it had targeted on and off-duty members of the
security forces and was behind an unsuccessful bomb attack.

The CIRA was also responsible for a series of hoaxes in and around
Belfast and the planting of an attempted improvised incendiary
device on August 31.

"CIRA seeks to improve its engineering capacity and access to
weapons and to establish new active service units and it continues
to attract new members," the report said.

"Its relative lack of operational success reflects its capacity,
not the absence of intent.

"In Ireland, north and south, CIRA has attempted to step up its
activities and we believe has engaged in recruitment, training and
operational planning.

"We conclude that CIRA has increased its level of activity, remains
capable of making effective attacks, albeit sporadically, and is a
dangerous organisation which intends to continue to engage in acts
of terrorism and other crime."

The Independent Monitoring Commission comprises Richard Kerr, a
former deputy director of the United States Central Intelligence
Agency, John Grieve, the former head of the Metropolitan Police`s
Anti-Terrorist Unit, Joe Brosnan, a retired Irish civil servant and
Lord Alderdice, the former Speaker of the Northern Ireland


IMC Report Based On Securocrat Information

Published: 4 November, 2004

Commenting as the latest report by the IMC is published, Sinn Féin
Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said, 'parties cannot
on one hand claim to support the Good Friday Agreement and on the
other pander to the IMC and allow it to exert a negative influence
over the process'.

Mr Kelly said:

" Reports produced by the IMC are based solely on material provided
by the securocrats within the Special Branch, MI5 and British
Military Intelligence. All of these organisations are opposed to
the peace process and opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.
Previous reports have already been exposed as riddled with
inaccuracies. Given these facts the IMC has no credibility within
the broad nationalist and republican community and the contents of
this latest report are of little interest to it.

" The focus of Sinn Féin at this time is to see the Good Friday
Agreement implemented. We will not allow the IMC or anyone else to
subvert that Agreement. The IMC operates entirely outside the terms
of the Agreement. Parties cannot on one hand claim to support the
Good Friday Agreement and on the other pander to the IMC and allow
it to exert a negative influence over the process." ENDS


Mayor's Plea Over Day Of Reflection

People of Derry were today invited by their mayor to take part in a
special day of reflection which could include those uncomfortable
with Remembrance Day.

By:Press Association

Sinn Fein mayor Gearoid O hEara said that he was conscious that
remembrance events should not be turned into a political football.

But he hoped that

Derry first-ever day of reflection would be an event that everyone
could feel comfortable with.

"On the night I was elected mayor I announced my intention to
attempt to deal in a new and imaginative way with the potentially
contentious issue of remembrance," he said.

"In attempting to do this I have been in contact with hundreds of
individuals and dozens of organisations in the city and beyond as
to how we might go about achieving this objective.

"I have been heartened by the response of these people and am
confident that this council can lead the way in creating an act of
civic remembrance that will create the space for people to remember
all those `who have died as a result of war and conflict in and
from the city and district`."

Republicans have often felt uncomfortable about Remembrance Day
events but in recent years Sinn Fein mayors in Northern Ireland
have tried to come up with ways to remember the dead of two world

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Alex Maskey travelled to the Somme to
remember the war dead and staged his own acts of remembrance during
his term of office.

Mr O hEara said the day of reflection would be a civic remembrance
act which would consist of the erection of a plaque incorporating
Derry City Council`s logo.

It would also be dedicated to the "memory of all those who have
lost their lives as a result of war and conflict from and in the
city and district".

He confirmed: "There will be no speeches or statements, no opinions
offered on the nature of the wars and conflicts in which people
fell and no judgements made on the circumstances of their deaths.

"Each was someone`s loved one and each had a connection with this
city and district. For us, that will be enough."

The mayor said he fully appreciated and understood that remembrance
was a very personal and voluntary act.

He stressed: "I am not seeking to take anyone to a place they are
not yet comfortable going to.

"Remembrance is too personal and too sensitive an issue to become a
political football.

"It cannot be forced and should never be faked.

"As mayor I am also conscious of the many victims of conflict and
war and their loved ones left behind who are either overlooked by
the existing exclusive acts of remembrance or who are uncomfortable
with aspects of them.

"I would also like to state that this event is not intended to
replace any of the existing commemorations that take place in the
district and which mean so much to those who organise and attend


Brush-Off For Bogside Art

By Liz Kennedy
Thursday 4th November 2004

Londonderry mural art, which is alleged to be politically biased,
has been banned from the Berlin Parliament, it has emerged.

The Bogside Artists whose most famous gable-end visual image
includes a young gasmasked petrol bomber was invited to display its
work in the Berlin Parliamentary gallery.

Alice Strover, chairwoman of the committee for cultural affairs of
the House of Representatives, said: "We invited the artists and
their work to Berlin to remind people that a political conflict is
still awaiting a sustainable solution that will ensure long-term
peace in the region."

However, she said that the invitation had been revoked on the
grounds of the artists' perceived political partiality by Herr
Walter Pomper, president of the Parliament.

"The original offer was put in front of the Berlin President, but
he felt that it was inappropriate to display art depicted from only
one political perspective," she said.

"An essential consideration for this decision was that the exhibits
chosen present the conflict in Northern Ireland from one political
perspective. Such partiality from the point of view of the artists
is completely legitimate, but cannot be sponsored under the
auspices of the highest constitutional organ of the state of

The Bogside Artists have acknowledged that whenever they are taken
seriously they "are seen as political activists."

They view themselves, according to spokesman Tom Kelly, as "three
men who are simply engaged in documenting our history in a way we
think appropriate".

According to Ms Strover, it was not in any way considered
appropriate in a German political context.


Sinn Fein Leaders Speaks In Area

The Journal News
(Original publication: November 4, 2004)

MONTVALE, N.J. — About 50 people got an update last night on the
Northern Ireland peace process from Sinn Fein President Gerry

Adams' visit to the Porter House restaurant and bar, just south of
the Rockland County line, was organized by the Rockland County
Ancient Order of Hiberians.

Adams told the crowd that both the British and Irish governments
needed to help kick- start the negotiations between Sinn Fein and
the Democrat Unionist Party since the DUP has refused to come to
the table.

"We have to put it to the two governments," Adams said. The DUP is
"trying to delay or dilute the nature of the (Good Friday)

The 1998 agreement calls for power-sharing between supporters and
opponents of British rule. Sinn Fein, a political party allied with
the Irish Republican Army, supports an end to British rule in
Northern Ireland and the reunification of the province with the
Irish Republic. The DUP supports British rule.

Adams asked the crowd to help campaign for the rights of Irish

"What we are about is building strength for our objectives," he
said. "Because in the end we are going to see a free Ireland."

Ray Sullivan of Sloatsburg said he came to show his support.

"We are very proud to be Americans," he said. "But we would like to
see a united Ireland. England has no right to be there. What right
do they have occupying another country?"

Larry Dolan of Pearl River agreed.

"I am strictly here to see Gerry Adams and to back him in his quest
for peace in Ireland," he said.

Adams spoke at Irish-American Cultural Center on Convent Road in
Blauvelt two years ago. In 1995, he marched in the St. Patrick's
Day parade in Pearl River.


Children 'Caught Up In Knife Culture'

By Gemma Murray
Thursday 4th November 2004

Schoolchildren have become embroiled in a "knife culture" in north
Belfast which could spiral out of control, it was claimed

Representatives from republican and loyalist areas have held
meetings in a bid to stamp out growing tensions before a life is

Community workers from both sides said loyalist and republican
paramilitaries were blamed for the attacks, but they were not
sanctioned by either organisation.

In September, loyalist paramilitaries were blamed for the stabbing
of a teenager in north Belfast.

The victim, an 18-year-old Roman Catholic, was walking along Floral
Park in the Whitewell Road area at about midnight when he was

The previous week, two Protestant bandsmen were stabbed in the
stomach and head at the bottom of Whitewell Road as they made their
way home after a parade in Sandy Row. Republicans were blamed for
the attack.

Ulster Political Research Group representative John Montgomery,
from White City, said: "What we have is people going out on a
Friday and Saturday full of drink or drugs and seeing someone they
think is vulnerable.

"Some of these young ones, although there are also men involved,
are carrying knives which are 12 inches long.

"They are buying them in shops and taking them out as personal
protection weapons. This is getting out of hand.

"All it takes is for someone to get stabbed or threatened on our
side and tensions are raised - and vice versa.

"The result of tension is young ones arming themselves with knives
and planning to strike out before they are attacked."

Sinn Fein councillor for the Whitewell area, Danny Lavery, welcomed
the cross-community initiative.

"There has been a consensus reached among community representatives
that this growing knife culture needs addressed with a degree of

"If there are stabbings taking place, that is bad enough. But if
these attacks occur in interface areas they can significantly
heighten tensions."

Mr Montgomery said he has taken three knives off teenagers in the
White City area in recent weeks. He said community workers in
nationalist areas had been doing the same.

"Both sides are now working together to stop the attacks - but
there needs to be education in schools because that is the age
group that needs to be helped."

A police spokesman said there have been a number of incidents where
knives have been used.


Trimble 'Blocking DUP Peace Deal'

By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent
Thursday 4th November 2004

The DUP last night accused Ulster Unionists of trying to obstruct
its bid to achieve a better peace deal for unionism.

Another round of bitter unionist infighting erupted as the DUP
responded to an attack from UUP leader David Trimble.

He had accused Ian Paisley's party of tactical inadequacies in
talks which have let the IRA off-the-hook.

But the DUP hit back with MLA Ian Paisley Jnr suggesting Mr Trimble
had been the tactically inept negotiator.

He said the DUP faced a tough task in clawing back the ground lost
by the UUP leader during and after the Belfast Agreement

He claimed the UUP was now interfering in the talks process in an
effort to disrupt the DUP's search for a new peace deal.

Mr Paisley Jnr said: "Ulster Unionist representatives are engaged
in the most appalling behaviour to ensure that unionists do not get
a better deal.

"They are determined to obstruct us in the task of repairing the
damage caused by the UUP.

"Clearly, David Trimble would rather have no deal than see the DUP
get a better deal for unionists."

The MLA's outburst was a reaction to Mr Trimble's claim that the
DUP was merely berating republicans in the media and not fronting
up to them in talks.

This was no way to negotiate, he said, and "the DUP have let
republicans away in the smoke".

In the run-up to the Leeds Castle talks, the emphasis was firmly on
decommissioning, the UUP leader said.

Since those talks, the arms issue has been in the background, he

The DUP had passed up a golden opportunity to put republicans to
the test on arms, Mr Trimble added, by raising secondary issues
such Ministerial accountability which had muddied the waters.

But Mr Paisley Jnr said: "David Trimble's track record on
negotiations is one of failure and retreat. During his tenure as
chief unionist negotiator, he delivered for republicans at every
opportunity, whilst consistently weakening the unionist position.

"David Trimble must answer the question 'why did the UUP never
concentrate on ending paramilitarism?' It never seemed to be top of
its list of priorities when he and his party permitted Sinn Fein
into government on four separate occasions.

"The UUP happily opened the door to Sinn Fein/IRA in government at
a time when decommissioning had yet to commence. They bestowed upon
Sinn Fein/IRA a veneer of legitimacy when terrorist activity,
gunrunning, targeting, training and criminal activity continued

Mr Paisley Jnr counter-claimed to Mr Trimble that "as a result of
the clarity and certainty of DUP policy, the spotlight in this
process is very much on Sinn Fein/IRA and the necessity to achieve
complete decommissioning in a manner that is credible, verifiable
and transparent".

He added: "We are determined to ensure that the representatives of
armed and active terrorism are never again able to enter government
in Northern Ireland.

"Unlike Mr Trimble, the DUP will not be diluting its requirement to
have a complete end to all IRA activity, whether terrorist or

Mr Trimble reiterated his views again last night after a meeting
with Irish premier Bertie Ahern.


Trimble To Face Challenge For Westminster Election

By Noel McAdam
04 November 2004

David Trimble was today facing an internal challenge to his party's
nomination to fight the next Westminster election.

But constituency association insiders predicted Mr Trimble would
comfortably see off the challenge from Craigavon businessman Robert
Oliver at the selection meeting tonight.

Mr Oliver stood as a leadership candidate against Mr Trimble
earlier this year - but, along with fellow contender David Hoey -
was soundly defeated.

The Upper Bann selection meeting could, however, face a delay
because of a number of potentially tricky procedural issues.

Sources said today there would be questions raised over whether
members of local branches which have folded can vote.

There are also concerns over notifications for the meeting and a
spate of resignations in recent months, sources said.

But there were indications that the selection votes, also to decide
on the field of candidates for the next local government elections,
will go ahead.

Supporters of Mr Oliver have argued he would stand a better chance
of defeating the DUP's David Simpson in the House of Commons race -
expected next year.

At the last Westminster battle in 2001, Mr Simpson was just over
2,000 votes behind Mr Trimble - 15,037 to 17,095.

During the leadership face-off in March, Mr Oliver gained 17.6% and
Mr Hoey 21.6% of the votes of around 800 delegates at the Ulster
Unionist Party annual meeting.

Treasurer in Mr Trimble's own Upper Bann constituency association,
Mr Oliver was instrumental in a vote of no confidence against his
party leader last year, which also proved abortive.


Racist And Homophobic Reports To Police Soar

04 November 2004

A total of 299 racial incidents and 53 homophobic incidents were
reported to police between April and September this year.

This compares with 180 racial incidents and 36 homophobic incidents
for the same period last year.

Not all amount to crimes and they can range from verbal abuse and
graffiti to damage to property and physical assault.

Police believe the figures are higher because of a combination of
factors, including victims now being more prepared to come forward.
Police believe this shows a growing confidence in the criminal
justice system and in the Police Service.

The figures were released as Assistant Chief Constable Judith
Gillespie gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Select Affairs
Committee at Westminster about race hate crime.

Speaking after the hearing she said: "The Police Service has put
considerable effort, both locally and corporately, to encourage
incident reporting and we believe this effort is being rewarded.

"We would encourage people in communities to take the next step in
this process which involves providing information to the police
about who is responsible for these attacks."

A new Police Service policy has been developed which aims to:

:: record, respond and investigate all reported incidents in a
consistent, robust, proactive and effective manner;

:: appoint specialist Minority Liaison Officers in every Police
District Command Unit;

:: ensure that every investigation is appropriately supervised;

:: ensure that every victim is offered the services of a Police
Service Minority Liaison Officer and provided with information
relating to local statutory and voluntary support agencies;

:: take appropriate steps to identify and protect repeat victims.

Figures for last year show there were 453 racial incidents, 267 of
which were identified and recorded as crimes. A total of 45 of
these were cleared. The number of homophobic incidents was 71, of
which 45 were recorded as crimes. Eight were cleared.


Money On The Heads Of Dog Killers

By Mary Lafferty
Thursday 4th November 2004

Thousands of animal lovers across Northern Ireland have pledged
money for information on the callous thugs who burned a dog to
death on a Hallowe'en bonfire.

Among the big-hearted animal lovers is Lisburn solicitor Jim
McFarland, who is offering a £1,000 reward for information about
those responsible.

Mr McFarland, himself a dog owner, said he was horrified to hear of
the barbaric incident which took place at the Glebe, Sion Mills.

"This incident plumbed new depths in animal cruelty.

"I think that members of the public who were present at that
bonfire have a very good idea of who carried out this atrocity.

"There will be many people there who already feel bad about it and
it is their duty to go to the police and to inform the police who
did it," he said.

Residents in Glebe tried to rescue the dog, a Labrador- Collie
cross-breed, but were beaten back by flames.

Two youths were arrested and questioned about the incident
yesterday, but were released without charge.

The dog's owner, Mary Wilson, said she was devastated at the death
of her pet dog and grateful for the support of the public.

"I don't know what kind of people could do this. I hate to think of
the pain and horror of Darkie before she died.

"Hopefully an reward will bring someone forward so we can catch the
people responsible."

The incident, which happened on Sunday, was witnessed by up to 70
children who were attending a Hallowe'en party at a nearby
community centre.

Parents and children had turned up to watch the bonfire totally
unaware of the horrific scene that was to unfold.

Residents say many of the children were left distressed and are
hoping the reward will motivate someone to come forward.

Calling for a review of the animal welfare laws, DUP MLA George
Robinson expressed his horror at the growth in animal cruelty.

He said: "This sickening, barbaric act has plunged animal cruelty
cases to a new low in which I and all right thinking people find
difficult to comprehend in today's society.

"The Welfare Of Animals Act must be reviewed and strengthened to
enable the courts to dish out robust punishment to those who
continually abuse, mistreat and kill animals."

Mr Robinson also appealed to anyone who suspects lack of proper
care or cruelty to report their concerns immediately to the police
or animal welfare organisations.

USPCA director Stephen Philpott said that such attacks were not

"Unfortunately at times like Hallowe'en, when some sort of social
responsibility gets diminished right across the board, people carry
out these acts and think they are funny," he said.


SF Man Slams IRA Graffiti

04 November 2004

Ballymena Sinn Fein representative Michael Agnew has condemned pro-
IRA graffiti in the town.

Mr Agnew said: "The recent erection of graffiti on the Cushendall
Road, Dunfane and Dunclug serves no purpose and only lowers the
tone of the areas in which it appears.

"People in the north of the town take great pride in their
communities and not only does such behaviour justifiably anger
local residents, but it is also damaging to the environment.

"Young people who are involved in this need to ask themselves what
purpose does it serve and how does it benefit anybody?

Mr Agnew added: "Those who subscribe to the republican ideal know
that this serves no purpose in the present period of conflict
resolution, and that young nationalists should be focussing on
bringing a sense of pride and self-respect back to their
communities, especially in areas of social need."


Shankill Cleans Up And Wins Award

By Stephen Dempster
Thursday 4th November 2004

A clean-up campaign in the Greater Shankill area, which has removed
27 sectarian and paramilitary murals, is to receive a prestigious
national award at Westminster today.

West Belfast Councillor Frank McCoubrey and representatives of the
council will this morning attend a ceremony in London to accept the
UK Green Apple Environmental Award, on behalf of various agencies,
community workers and the people of the area involved in the
Greater Shankill Clean-Up scheme.

As well as the council, the Northern Ireland Office, Department of
Environment, Housing Executive and Roads Service are among those
who came together in a bid to change the appearance of the

Murals displaying violent images have been removed, painted
kerbstones replaced and many flags taken down.

Independent Unionist Mr McCoubrey said the clean-up had brought a
very noticeable and positive change to the Shankill.

He said: "The whole idea began after the second loyalist feud
(involving Johnny Adair and the UDA).

"The community was suffering and was swamped by these negative
images. We knew that taking away many of the murals and toning
things down could improve people's quality of life and outsiders
perception of the area."

Mr McCoubrey explained that due to tensions between the Lower and
Upper Shankill, involving the UDA and UVF, he and PUP Councillor
Hugh Smyth had worked together to get the two groups on- board for
the changes.

Recalling a News Letter picture which depicted the Lower
Shankill/Peter's Hill area bedecked in loyalist flags and looking
"scruffy", Mr McCoubrey noted that the same view was now "a lot
cleaner and more welcoming".

He also said it was not difficult to get paramilitaries or local
people to back the project.

"They understood what we were trying to do. Some people were unsure
because they were afraid what this meant," he said.

"But since they have seen the change I cannot see the murals and
graffiti coming back. It makes a real difference to the overall
feeling in the community."

It is hoped the project may now be used as a blueprint for similar
schemes in other areas.


'Wee Tin Church' Is Dedicated

By Alf McCreary
04 November 2004

The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, has
dedicated a church in Belfast which has been used by Protestants
and Catholics for well over a century and was known as "the wee tin

St Matthias's Church has stood in the parish of St Teresa in west
Belfast since 1892, and the bishop told the congregation at
yesterday's dedication service that it had been used for 77 years
by the Church of Ireland.

He said: "For well over a century this has been a sacred spot, but
because of the unrest in the 1920s many Church of Ireland residents
scattered to different parts, but they returned Sunday after Sunday
to worship here, always welcomed with open arms and hearts by the
people of the Glen Road."

By 1969, however, the dwindling numbers of Church of Ireland
members could no longer sustain their church.

In what the bishop described as "a true spirit of ecumenism" they
then offered it to the Catholic Church and on February 24, 1970,
Mass was celebrated in St Matthias' for the first time.

Bishop Walsh said: "This encapsulates in many ways the story of our
city, and it is a telling story with a strong message for our own

He said that the Pope had declared the year from October 2004 as
"The Year of the Eucharist", and that accordingly yesterday's
ceremony had a particular significance.

Jay Dooling (
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