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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 17, 2004
News 11/17/04 - Adams Cagey Over Prospects of Deal
News about Ireland & the Irish
IT 11/18/04 Adams Cagey Over Prospects Of Deal
IT 11/18/04 DUP Strikes Optimistic Note On New Proposals
SM 11/17/04 Dublin Bombings Inquiry Judge Attacks UK Government
SF 11/17/04 Brits Must Co-Operate With Collusion Inquiries
IT 11/18/04 Oireachtas To Report On Barron Inquiry In Three Months
BT 11/17/04 SDLP Quizzes Nelson Murder Probe
TO 11/17/04 SF Official Wants IRA Bombers To Issue An Apology
TO 11/17/04 Man Behind The Pub Bombs In Birmingham That Killed 21
EP 11/17/04 Trimble Calls For 'End To Drift' In Ulster
UT 11/17/04 Plea Over Human Rights Commission
IO 11/17/04 Maze Prison To Be Replaced By National Sports Stadium
IT 11/18/04 Move Against Chinese Leader Fails
IT 11/18/04 Dublin Woman Is US Judge
IT 11/18/04 Jury Urges Life-Jacket Use On All Vessels
IT 11/18/04 Woman Streaker Allowed To Return To Germany
IT 11/18/04 Memorial Service Honours Life Of Art Historian Hunt
SD 11/18/04 Pope Health Seen Stable, Eyes N. Ireland Trip
Adams Cagey Over Prospects Of Deal
Mr Gerry Adams has given no clue as to whether Sinn Féin will
sign up to the British/Irish proposals to restore the North's
power-sharing political institutions, saying his party has concerns
about them, but these concerns may be resolved. Mark Brennock,
Chief Political Correspondent, reports.
Mr Adams carefully left open the possibilities of accepting or
rejecting the proposals last night after four hours of talks with
the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and senior
Government officials. The talks, initially intended as an event at
which the governments' proposals would be presented to Sinn Féin,
was described as "negotiations" by Sinn Féin's leader in the
Northern Assembly, Mr Conor Murphy.
As the DUP leadership continued its meeting with Mr Blair in
Downing Street, Mr Adams emerged from the discussions with a
prepared statement saying that there were "issues of concern" for
his party in the joint proposals, and that "these proposals have to
be grounded in the Good Friday agreement".
But he went on: "Having said that, we do believe that if these
concerns are adequately dealt with that there could be the basis
for a comprehensive agreement and we are going to work this week to
The governments' proposals are believed to contain detailed
proposals on weapons decommissioning, the restoration of the power-
sharing institutions and the devolution of control over policing to
the North's Executive.
The Government gave no details of the talks last night, a
spokeswoman confining herself to saying the discussions had been
The issue of greatest sensitivity for the Republican movement is
that of weapons. The governments are believed to have proposed a
formula to ensure a "visual aspect" to decommissioning in order to
maximise unionist confidence that weapons have been put beyond use.
Mr Adams will lead a Sinn Féin delegation for talks today at
Downing Street with the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair.
"We have cleared our diaries," he said. They were working to the
deadline of the end of this month set by the Taoiseach, and "we are
going to try and make this work".
In response to questions, he repeated that there were concerns for
Sinn Féin - that there was "work to be done" - but said:
"We think they can be addressed. If they are properly addressed and
we can get all this forward movement grounded in the agreement then
we believe we can get comprehensive agreement." The SDLP leader, Mr
Mark Durkan, warned yesterday that the governments' proposal "isn't
as complete or as balanced as some people are claiming".
Mr Durkan, who was briefed on the proposals by the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahern, in Dublin yesterday morning, said he
believed too much was being conceded to the DUP on political
institutions. He warned that some proposals, such as a change in
the method of electing the First Minister and Deputy First
Minister, involved "a bigger political change than people are
presenting it as".
Meanwhile the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Northern
Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, met at Iveagh House to mark the
presentation of the governments' proposal to the parties.
Mr Ahern said the governments were seeking agreement within "days
rather than weeks". They were working to a deadline of the end of
the month, although "things might happen quicker than that. I hope
Mr Murphy said the people of Northern Ireland wanted a deal and the
© The Irish Times
DUP Strikes Optimistic Note On New Proposals
Senior DUP sources declared themselves optimistic last night that
the latest British-Irish proposals could see a new power-sharing
executive established at Stormont by next March, writes Frank
Millar, London Editor.
However the sources acknowledged that a final decision on the
London-Dublin blueprint would be down to a judgment call by the
party's leader, the Rev Ian Paisley.
Dr Paisley received the final proposals from the two governments at
a meeting with the British Prime Minister Mr Blair in 10 Downing
It is understood that preparations have been made by the DUP
leadership to put the proposals to a meeting of the party's
Assembly group, and then to a meeting of the DUP executive, at the
end of next week.
However, while DUP MPs were enjoying the apparent discomfort of
Sinn Féin and and the SDLP yesterday, the Sinn Féin chairman, Mr
Mitchel McLaughlin, declared the DUP was "not psychologically ready
to share power".
Dr Paisley emerged from an hour of talks with Mr Blair, at Downing
Street offering a firm "no comment" while acknowledging receipt of
the document, understood to contain the London/Dublin formulae for
the resumption of power-sharing government in Belfast by February
or March of next year, and an ongoing process of political and
security changes leading to all-round acts of completion, to be
finished by early 2006.
When asked what the document contained, Dr Paisley's deputy, Mr
Peter Robinson, replied: "Words."
However, as the DUP delegation departed to consider the fine print
of the British/Irish proposals, and to frame their response ahead
of next week's deadline, the Sinn Féin chairman was suggesting that
a "conflicted" DUP was not ready to reach agreement.
In a statement issued in London ahead of his party leader Mr Gerry
Adams's meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin - and the emergence of
Sinn Féin and SDLP "concerns" about the British/Irish draft - Mr
McLaughlin said failure to restore the Stormont Executive should
lead to a period of power-sharing by the British and Irish
The Sinn Féin chairman's statement opened with a significant claim
in respect of both governments.
He said: "It has been acknowledged by both governments that at the
Leeds Castle talks and in our efforts since, republicans are
serious about achieving agreement. Both governments have stated on
a number of occasions that the offer on the table from republicans
meets the requirements for a resolution to the arms issue."
One Whitehall source last night suggested this was "a hard
interpretation" of Mr Blair's comments following the Leeds Castle
talks in September, although when pressed he said he would "not
Mr McLaughlin said: "I believe it is now time for the governments
to accept that the DUP is not psychologically ready to share power
with the pro-agreement parties."
Dublin Bombings Inquiry Judge Attacks UK Government
By Senan Hogan, PA
A report into a series of Dublin car bombings more than 30 years
ago which killed three people and injured 185 has sharply
criticised the British Government for its lack of co-operation, it
The Barron Report into the atrocities in the early 1970s was
published by an Irish Government committee.
Mr Justice Henry Barron said in the 142-page document that he was
"surprised and disappointed" by the lack of co-operation from the
Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
The judge said the inquiry team sent six letters over a 15-month
period to the NIO and "not only has no information been forthcoming
(but) the NIO has not yet begun the process of searching for
The judge said the British Government also frustrated its efforts
to obtain official files and police statements.
In contrast, the inquiry said it received full co-operation from
the Irish government as well as from the Garda Siochana and army.
Mr Justice Barron said that while suspicions linger of British
security force collusion in the December 1972 attacks, he could
find no "firm evidence" of this.
He also found no proof of British involvement in the January 1973
bombings nor was there evidence to support garda intelligence that
loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Volunteer Force were involved.
The report also inquired into a car bomb in Co Cavan, bomb attacks
in Monaghan and murders in Donegal all in the early 1970s.
Labour Party justice spokesman Joe Costello said: "Victims'
families have waited over 30 years for this report. The sad reality
is there was nil co-operation from British authorities."
The Dail's Justice Committee has set up a special sub-committee to
consider Justice Barron's findings and it will report back in three
Justice committee chairman Deputy Sean Ardagh added: "We can only
try, and try and try again."
The families of victims of the bombings have called for a full
public inquiry and for the British Government to be legally
compelled to co-operate.
The Justice for the Forgotten group said it was "very let down" by
the report and demanded more answers.
Monica Duffy Campbell, who lost her husband Tommy in one attack,
said: "As long as I have breath in my body and Tommy is in the
grave, I will fight for justice."
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern thanked Justice Barron for the report and
said he hoped it "helps the healing process for relatives and
victims of these atrocities, who for many years have been
British Must Be Compelled To Co-Operate With Collusion Inquiries -
Published: 17 November, 2004
Commenting on the second Barron Report published today Sinn Féin
Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said the British government must
be forced to co-operate with inquiries on collusion. He said the
British government was abusing its special relationship with the
Irish government in order to avoid international accountability for
its actions in Ireland. He said:
"The British government has again refused to co-operate with an
inquiry established by the Oireachtas. It is abusing its special
relationship with the Irish Government in order to avoid
international accountability for the actions of its armed forces in
Ireland. The Irish Government should not stand for this and should
bring the issue of collusion before the court of world opinion.
"This report once more highlights the devastating results of
British terror in Ireland. From the beginning of the conflict in
1969 the British governmentÂs forces carried out attacks in the 26
Counties directly and through their loyalist paramilitary
surrogates. The December 1972 bombing of Dublin was clearly
designed to swing public opinion and the Oireachtas towards
repressive measures. The Government of the time allowed British
terror to succeed when it passed draconian amendments to the
Offences Against the State Act. The co- ordinated bombing of Clones,
Pettigoe and Belturbet, where two teenagers died, were part of the
same effort to change policy in this State.
"The British government failed to co-operate with the first Barron
Report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. They refused
the invitation of the Oireachtas Committee which held hearings on
that report. They have failed to act on the call of that Committee,
unanimously backed by the Oireachtas, to establish a form of
inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. They have failed to
have a resolution to this effect passed in the Houses of Parliament
as recommended by the Oireachtas Committee.
"It is well known that the Littlejohn brothers were British agents
who carried out actions in this State designed to place the blame
on republicans and to provoke a repressive response. They were
convicted and their links with members of the Garda Special Branch
were also exposed at the time. This was only the tip of the iceberg
of British covert action in the 26 Counties in the period covered
by this report of Judge Barron. The British must come clean."ENDS
Oireachtas To Report On Barron Inquiry In Three Months
The Oireachtas inquiry into the findings of the Barron inquiry,
which will hear from the relatives of those killed in the 1972/1973
bombings and the injured, will report within three months. Mark
Hennessy, Political Correspondent, reports.
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and
Women's Rights has set up a special sub- committee to further probe
the report presented by Mr Justice Henry Barron.
Chaired by Fianna Fáil Dublin South Central TD Mr Seán Ardagh, the
sub-committee will also include Labour TD Mr Joe Costello, Fianna
Fáil TD Ms Máire Hoctor, Mr Finian McGrath (Independent), Mr Gerard
Murphy (Fine Gael), Mr Sean Ó Fearghaíl (Fianna Fáil) and Senator
Tony Kett (Fianna Fáil).
Submissions from the public and all interested parties and
individuals have now been sought. The sub- committee intends to hold
a series of public hearings at the end of January.
The sub-committee would not respond to the complaints levelled
against the British side by Mr Justice Barron because, Mr Ardagh
said, they had to adopt a quasi-judicial role and not seen to
favour any side.
Three people died and 185 people were injured in the three
atrocities which occurred on November 26th, 1972, December 1st,
1972, and January 20th, 1973.
"I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the victims and
relatives of those events," said Mr Ardagh. Some of the relatives
attended last evening's press conference.
However, Fine Gael TD Mr Jim O'Keeffe, who is not a member of the
sub-committee, sharply criticised the lack of co-operation shown by
the Northern Ireland Office and the Police Service of Northern
"It is clear that the work is incomplete. It is quite clear that
efforts to secure documentation from the British were not fully
"I don't think that we will ever get to the full answer to this
question without co-operation from the British authorities," Mr
O'Keeffe told a Leinster House press conference.
Demanding the intervention of the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, with the
British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, Mr O'Keeffe said: "It is
only by direction from the top that lacuna will be filled."
Asked if there is any point to a further inquiry by the Oireachtas,
Fianna Fáil Limerick TD Mr Peter Power said the sub-committee's
first hearings into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings had given a forum
for those left voiceless for decades.
Relatives of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings had been given the
opportunity to grieve in public which "should not be
"That was a very important part of the last report."
Independent TD Mr Finian McGrath, who was one of those to serve on
the first inquiry, said it is very important that it should focus
its attention on the victims of the bombings, the injured and their
Meanwhile, it has been learned that a commission of investigation
into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings - one of the recommendations of
the Oireachtas inquiry in its last report - is to be set up
In a letter to Mr O'Keeffe the Taoiseach this week said that "the
preparatory work" for such a body is under way. Under recent
legislation, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr
McDowell, can seek tenders from barristers and solicitors seeking
to become involved in such work.
In his letter, however, Mr Ahern did not say if the new rules would
apply. "Issues relevant to the establishment and operation of the
commission will be discussed with the commission when appointed.
"I am not in a position at this time to say what procedures will
apply in relation to the appointment of staff, including legal
staff. It is the Government's intention that commissions of
investigations will operate in a timely, efficient and cost-
effective way," he said.
© The Irish Times
SDLP Quizzes Nelson Murder Probe
By Chris Thornton
17 November 2004
The Government has been questioned over why the Army has been freed
from scrutiny over the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson.
SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood queried why the inquiry into
Mrs Nelson's 1999 killing had not been given powers to examine any
role soldiers may have had in the build-up to her death.
The terms of reference for the inquiry were announced yesterday,
allowing the examining to tribunal to look at whether "any wrongful
act or omission by or within the RUC or Northern Ireland Office
facilitated her death or obstructed the investigation of it".
Campaigners for an investigation into Mrs Nelson's death have
raised questions about Army movements on the day of her murder, and
one former RIR soldier was questioned in connection with her death.
The terms of reference for inquiries into the deaths of LVF leader
Billy Wright and Portadown man Robert Hamill also announced by
Secretary of State Paul Murphy, along with the names of the three-
person panels who will examine the killings.
The Nelson inquiry will be led by former High Court judge Sir
Lord MacLean of the Court of Session of Scotland will head the
inquiry into the murder of Wright.
Sir Edwin Jowitt, a retired member of the High Court of England and
Wales, will lead the inquiry into the murder of Mr Hamill, a
Catholic man kicked
Sinn Fein Official Wants IRA Bombers To Issue An Apology
By Sean O'Neill and David Charter
THE 30th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings should be
marked by an IRA apology for the deaths of the 21 victims, a senior
Sinn Fein official told The Times yesterday.
The IRA has never admitted responsibility for the bombs that ripped
through the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs on the
night of November 21, 1974. There was a vague telephone warning,
but both pubs were crowded when the devices exploded. Nearly 200
people were injured.
The bombings led to the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism
Act described by Roy Jenkins, then the Home Secretary, as
"draconian" and the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six.
The possibility of an admission of responsibility and an apology
has been discussed in recent weeks by leading republicans involved
in the peace process. "This process does require that people step
forward and accept responsibility," a senior source said.
"Republicans view truth recovery as one of the essential elements
of conflict resolution and it applies across the board." Asked if
an apology would now be appropriate, he said: "The straightforward
answer is 'yes'."
Relatives of the victims and survivors of the bombings will attend
a memorial service at the Anglican cathedral in Birmingham on
Sunday. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev
Vincent Nichols, will deliver a sermon on the importance of
reconciliation and forgiveness.
The Dean of Birmingham, the Very Rev Gordon Mursell, said: "It
would make a huge difference to the families and relatives if the
people responsible felt able to accept responsibility and ask
Last month, the IRA issued a "statement of regret" for the murder
of Bernard Teggart, a 15-year-old Belfast boy with a mental age of
8, who was shot in 1973 because terrorists believed that he was a
police informer. In July 2002 it offered apologies to all "non-
combatants" killed during the Troubles and spoke of its "past
mistakes". But there is resistance in republican circles to making
an apology for the bombings.
The republicans and the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party
were due to be handed proposals from the British and Irish
governments yesterday at talks aimed at breaking the political
But with the DUP still refusing to enter direct negotiations with
Sinn Fein before full IRA decommissioning, a deal seems unlikely.
Mitchel McLaughlin, one of Sinn Fein's negotiating team, said that
if the DUP was not prepared to share power in a devolved executive
the two governments should run the province jointly.
However, Tony Blair told MPs: "I hope over the next few days it
may be a little longer on the republican side there is an end to
violence and on the Unionist side, if that is so, there is an
acceptance that power-sharing is possible."
The Man Behind The Pub Bombs In Birmingham That Killed 21
By Sean O'Neill
Mick Murray was one of the ringleaders of the IRA unit that
murdered 21 people in the Birmingham pub bombings 30 years ago.
Murray helped to choose the targets, the Mulberry Bush and Tavern
in the Town pubs. He was one of the bomb- makers, transported the
bombs to the city centre and handed them to the men who planted
Murray then botched the telephone warning that was supposed to
allow 30 minutes for the pubs to be cleared. His warning, using the
codewords "Double X", came six minutes before the first explosion
and did not name either pub.
Murray, who was arrested in the aftermath of the bombings, admitted
being a member of the IRA. West Midlands Police never charged him
with murder, however, and he served 12 years in jail for conspiracy
to cause explosions.
On his release, he was welcomed back into the IRA and remained a
member until he died in 1999, without expressing remorse for the
bombings. Murray always argued against the decommissioning of the
IRA's arsenal. Today he is lauded as a republican hero and has been
praised by one Sinn Fein politician as "a brave freedom fighter".
The IRA never admitted planting the Birmingham bombs and, in the
immediate aftermath of the bombings, said that if its members had
been involved they would be court-martialled for a "violation of
The organisation's leaders at the time promised an internal inquiry
and said that they would make its results public.
That did not happen and some of the men who carried out the attacks
were not disciplined and continued to be involved in terrorism.
In 1974 "Big Mick" Murray was second in command of the Birmingham
IRA unit, which was commanded by a man known as Belfast Jimmy.
One associate said: "Mick was a hard man and, if anything, he was
more hardline when he came out of prison."
After his death, Larry O'Toole, a Sinn Fein councillor in Dublin,
described Murray as "a brave freedom fighter" and "a truly
dedicated Irish republican". A glowing tribute in An Phoblacht, the
Sinn Fein weekly newspaper, said that Murray had been "jailed for
his republican beliefs".
The newspaper said: "Captured in Birmingham in November 1974, he
sat in complete silence throughout his trial refusing to plead or
take part in the proceedings. He was described by the trial judge
as 'having all the demeanour of a soldier' and commended for his
behaviour and manner.
"An Irish felon, he served the majority of his sentence in solitary
confinement and taking part in the blanket protest for political
"Excluded from England on his release, he immediately resumed his
place in the ranks of Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA)." The article
said that Murray had spent his life "pursuing and working to
achieve the freedom and independence of Ireland".
Murray had helped to make the Birmingham bombs at a house in
Bordesley Green, then transported them to the city centre. On a
signal from the planters, he was to telephone a 30-minute warning
to the Birmingham Post.
Later he told two of the Birmingham Six the men wrongly convicted
of the murders in prison: "Sorry to see you lads in here. Nothing
went right that night. The first telephone box was out of order."
By the time that Murray had delivered the warning, which omitted
the names of the pubs, it was 8.11pm.
The Mulberry Bush pub was packed when the first bomb exploded six
minutes later. The Tavern in the Town was also crowded when a
device detonated there minutes later.
Two other alleged bombers were named in 1990 by the Granada World
in Action programme, but their current whereabouts are not known.
The present identity of another man who may have been a police
informant is also unknown.
The man known as Belfast Jimmy, the unit's leader, is now in his
50s and lives in a block of flats just north of Dublin city centre.
Approached there by The Times he refused to discuss the Birmingham
bombings. He said: "I know nothing about anything that happened in
Trimble Calls For 'End To Drift' In Ulster
David Trimble has called on the prime minister to "end the drift"
in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Ahead of a Downing Street meeting between Tony Blair and DUP leader
Ian Paisley on Wednesday, the Ulster Unionist leader slammed the
delay in restoring devolution.
Speaking during a session of prime minister's questions in the
Commons, Trimble said voters were increasingly confused as to what
was taking so long following the Leeds Castle summit held in
"I welcome the meetings today on Northern Ireland," Trimble said.
"But does the prime minister appreciate the puzzlement of people
there that now, 12 months after the election and over two months
since he declared at Leeds Castle that he'd virtually got the
issues sorted, nothing has actually happened?
"So will the prime minister this time, please, get a grip and end
the drift that someone, somewhere wants to prolong?"
Although Trimble's UUP is no longer the largest unionist party in
Ulster, Blair paid tribute to his role in the process and tried to
appease the concerns.
With Paisley's opposition to the Good Friday agreement providing
the major stumbling block to restoring the Stormont assembly, the
prime minister said he hoped the talks would produce a breakthrough
"I hope that the talks that we are having today will be
productive," he said.
"We are, and at slightly greater length than I anticipated, trying
to resolve the outstanding issues.
"But I think he would acknowledge that provided that it is
absolutely clear, and it has to be, that paramilitary violence is
ended once and for all in all its forms, then there is no reason
why the unionist community should not sit in an executive with
parties, including republican parties, in order to govern Northern
Ireland in a devolved way.
"I hope very much that it in the next few days, maybe a little
longer than that but in the next few days, that we will be able to
make progress that on the republican side there is a complete end
to violence and on the unionist side an acceptance that, if that is
so, there should be a return to power sharing."
However on the Republican side, where Irish premier Bertie Ahern
was holding talks with Sinn Fein and the SDLP on Wednesday, Gerry
Adams has played down reports that the IRA is set to accept a role
for bishops in inspecting acts of weapons decommissioning.
The Sinn Fein president did not deny that the move to ease the
concerns of unionists over continuing terrorist activity could take
place, but said no agreement had been reached.
"Every negotiation, particularly as it comes to a crucial point is
rife with rumour and speculation," he said.
"This one is no different, though the reporting of speculation as
fact is irresponsible journalism.
"None of the issues involved in the current effort to find a
breakthrough have been agreed or closed on."
But Sinn Fein could back plans for the Northern Ireland assembly's
rules on electing a power-sharing government to be changed in an
amendment to the Good Friday deal.
Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the idea of electing the
entire executive in a block vote was "a proposal that is not going
to cause Sinn Fein too much heartache".
At present the rules state first and deputy first ministers must be
jointly elected by the assembly, but the DUP is refusing to vote
for a Sinn Fein politician to have the deputy's role.
Wednesday's developments came as the Northern Ireland secretary
published the first annual report the Independent Monitoring
The commission was set up by the British and Irish governments in
January 2004 to report on activity by paramilitary groups and the
normalisation of official security measures in Ulster.
Paul Murphy was also continuing the search for a peace deal during
a visit to the Republic of Ireland.
His agenda on Wednesday included talks with Irish foreign minister
And in a written statement to parliament on the publication of the
IMC report, Murphy defended its role in the peace process.
"The IMC continues to fulfil an important and valuable role in
Northern Ireland and I am grateful to the commissioners for their
dedication and efforts to date," he said.
Plea Over Human Rights Commission
The British Government was today challenged to better equip
Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Catriona Ruane issued the call after
commissioners said they would raise the treatment of women
prisoners at a meeting of the United Nations Committee Against
Torture examining the Government`s human rights record.
Chief commissioner Professor Brice Dickson confirmed: "The
commission is drawing the attention of the United Nations to a
number of important issues including the regime for women prisoners
in Northern Ireland.
"The last official assessment by the Prisons Inspectorate, in 2002,
was highly critical of these conditions and we will be asking the
UN Committee to recommend that the Human Rights Commission be given
the right to enter places of detention.
"We believe the Government should also be asked to provide a
timescale for the provision of in-cell sanitation for women
prisoners and improvements in staffing and healthcare."
Professor Dickson confirmed the commission would also urged the
committee, which is holding hearings in Geneva, Switzerland
tomorrow and Friday, that all allegations of collusion between the
security forces and paramilitaries should be thoroughly
He said they would press for the state of emergency in Northern
Ireland to be discontinued, with the ending of the use of the
British Army in routine policing and the remaining elements of
counter-terrorist legislation peculiar to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland`s Human Rights Commission would also demand that:
:: Everything must be done to prevent paramilitary punishment
attacks including support for community-based restorative justice
projects, and efforts to secure wider confidence in the police and
criminal justice system.
:: Recent legislation providing for `anti- social behaviour orders`
(ASBOs) should not be applied in ways that increase the risk of
:: The use of prisons for holding immigration detainees, including
asylum applicants should be ended.
Ms Ruane, who is her party`s equality, human rights and women`s
issues spokesperson, said it was unacceptable that six years on
from the Good Friday Agreement the commission hadn`t the
appropriate powers to tackle some issues.
The South Down MLA accused the Government of obstructing the
commission from addressing these issues by denying it certain
"Issues such as state collusion, the continuing use of non-jury
courts, plastic bullets and repressive legislation should have been
relegated to the dustbin as a result of the Good Friday Agreement,"
"Yet the British Government is eroding individual and collective
rights by maintaining them.
"Sinn Fein raised these and issues such as the need for accountable
and representative policing and criminal justice systems with the
United Nations during its last hearing and only last week we met
with the Council of Europe`s Human Rights Commissioner to voice our
concerns across similar matters.
"Sinn Fein has consistently called on the British Government to
provide the Human Rights Commission with the proper range of powers
it requires to fulfil its remit to protect and promote human rights
in an effective way.
"This failure has plagued the commission since its inception. The
danger is that any incoming commission will inherit many of the
Ms Ruane echoed Human Rights Commission concerns about its
inability to address the situation of women prisoners held at
Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre.
She asked: "How can a Human Rights Commission protect human rights
in such circumstances when access is blocked by the Prison Service
and it has no power in its own right to overturn such decisions?
"Without these basic powers any incoming Human Rights Commission
will be undermined before it begins."
Maze Prison To Be Replaced By National Sports Stadium
Northern Ireland's new national sports stadium will be part of a
£1bn (Â1.42bn) development planned for the site of the old Maze
Prison, it emerged today.
Apart from the 30,000 seat showpiece arena, an international
exhibition centre for showjumping events and rock concerts is also
One of the jail's controversial H-Blocks, where 10 republican
hunger strikers died in 1981, is to be retained as well.
The 360-acre site near Lisburn in the Co Antrim countryside is
bigger than Belfast's commercial centre.
Plans are due to be put before Stormont Minister Ian Pearson early
With blue-chip companies also being lined up for a section of the
vast estate, strategists believe the economic boost from a project
that could take 20 years to complete will be enormous.
"There's the potential for 5,000 jobs," one said.
The proposals have been drawn up by a panel appointed to transform
the notorious jail, where republican and loyalist terrorists were
held since internment in the early 1970s until its closure in
Key elements of their vision include:
:: a 40-acre sports zone, including a stadium to be used by
football, rugby and Gaelic associations.
:: an international conflict transformation centre.
:: a rural excellence and equestrian zone, with showgrounds and
:: an office, hotel and leisure village.
:: an industrial estate to attract significant inward investment.
:: artwork and sculptures throughout the site.
Transport networks would also be overhauled under the scheme, with
new routes and a motorway link built. Work on this section, at a
cost in excess of £20m, could begin as soon as the plan is agreed.
Although British government money is expected to be used, it would
recoup some of its investment by selling off land set aside for
Sources believe the whole project will cost £1bn (Â1.42bn) over the
next two decades.
The most ambitious part of the package is a new stadium to host
major outdoor sporting events.
Panel members believe their plans are more attractive than rival
schemes suggested for Belfast's Lough shoreline and the city's
With London lobbying for the 2012 Olympics, the facilities could be
fully built at least three years earlier to take advantage of a
"It could form part of the training area for athletes coming over
for the Games," an insider said.
"There won't be enough room around London so Northern Ireland will
be in there if this is up in time."
The six-member group, nominated by Northern Ireland's four main
political parties and chaired by Ulster Unionist David Campbell,
has been working on their blueprint since their appointment in
With Democratic Unionist Edwin Poots and former Sinn Féin
councillor-turned newspaper executive Mairtin O'Muilleoir also on
the board, much of the political wrangling centred on the future
use of the prison building itself.
Republican demands for it to be entirely retained as a museum were
resisted, while unionists have accepted partial retention of the
One of the eight H-Blocks where paramilitaries were kept at the
height of the conflict would be retained under the proposals.
It will be used to hold the public inquiry into the jailhouse
murder of loyalist terror chief Billy Wright.
Conservationists from the Environment and Heritage Service also
urged the panel to keep part of the prison during 60 submissions
studied by the group.
"They wanted it listed after looking at the architectural and
historical significance," one source disclosed.
The structures that escape demolition would be kept neutral to
avoid turning them into a shrine, sources stressed.
They would be located close to a special conflict transformation
centre studying peace processes both in Ulster and the Middle East.
Experts in the field from places like Harvard University in the
United States could be brought in to develop the project.
With its tourism potential a key part of the plans, the panel have
suggested new hotels and restaurants for an on-site leisure
They expect huge numbers of visitors to both the stadium and a
rural excellence zone, which could hold international exhibitions
and major concerts.
"This could be an alternative venue, perhaps even bigger than
Belfast's Odyssey Arena, if an alternative market can be
Mr Pearson, as the Direct Rule Minister responsible for the
project, is expected to give his verdict before Christmas.
Move Against Chinese Leader Fails
An attempt to have the Chinese deputy prime minister arrested to
face charges of torture failed in the District Court yesterday.
Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Correspondent, reports.
An application was brought on behalf of Mr Ming Zhao, a Falun Gong
practitioner, to have a warrant issued for Mr Huang Ju's arrest. Mr
Ju is currently in Ireland on an official visit. He is due to leave
Mr Zhao's counsel, Mr Bill Shipsey SC, told the court that the
application was being brought by Mr Zhao as a "common informer".
The crime of which he claimed to have knowledge was that of
torture, prohibited under the 2000 Criminal Justice (UN Convention
on the Prevention of Torture) Act, which incorporated the UN
Convention into Irish law.
Under this Act, the Irish authorities could prosecute a person
accused of torture anywhere in the world as if it had taken place
in Ireland, he said.
He said that the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána had been
informed of the evidence against Mr Ju at the weekend. The
Commissioner told Mr Zhao's solicitor that a special investigator
had been appointed to look into it, but that the investigation had
not yet begun.
Mr Ju had engaged in a conspiracy to commit torture against Mr
Zhao, who had been tortured in China at the hands of the
authorities, Mr Shipsey said.
He explained that Mr Zhao had obtained refugee status in Ireland on
the basis of having been tortured in China. His case was the
subject of reports from the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN
Rapporteur on Human Rights.
Mr Zhao claimed to have come to Ireland in March 1999 to study at
Trinity College. He returned home that Christmas, when he was
arrested. His passport was confiscated, hence he could not return
Later, at a "reeducation camp", he was beaten, tortured with
electrodes and forced to sit and stand for long periods. He was
also subjected to lectures and videos about the evils of Falun
The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr
Cowan and the then UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Mary
Robinson intervened on his behalf. He attributed his release in
2002 to this, he said.
Since Falun Gong was outlawed in 1999, many members are said to
have been killed.
Mr Ju had made public statements supporting the policy of
persecution, Mr Zhao argued. He was a member of the Politbureau of
the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and was
therefore one of the top officials in the government directing it.
After a short adjournment, Judge Dunne said that he saw from the
evidence the Chinese government had conceded detention, but not
He said he was not making any judgement on the prima facie
evidence, nor on the identity of the accused. The question of
diplomatic immunity also had still to be addressed, he said.
As the information had been laid before the Garda Commissioner
before going to court, the justice said he felt that the Garda
investigation should continue and he refused the application.
© The Irish Times
Dublin Woman Is US Judge
A Dublin-born attorney has said she is both excited and relieved
after President Bush nominated her as a federal judge in Washington
DC, writes Sean O'Driscoll in New York.
Ms Jennifer M. Anderson (45), from Killester in north Dublin city,
is set to serve a 15-year term as a Superior Court judge if her
nomination is approved by the Senate.
She is currently chief of the homicide and major crimes section of
the US attorney's office in Washington. In the late 1990s she was a
special prosecutor in the civil rights division of the Justice
"The new position will be interesting. I've been doing my current
job for 14 years, so it's really going to be a change," she said
yesterday. Her family emigrated when she was eight years old after
her father answered an advert for factory workers placed in an
Irish newspaper. "He didn't tell my mother that he had applied but
she came around to the idea," she said.
Ms Anderson, a former student at St Bridget's primary school in
Killester, said that her parents, who live in Baltimore, Maryland,
were more excited about the appointment than she was.
She was one of three people shortlisted for the position.
© The Irish Times
Jury Urges Life-Jacket Use On All Vessels
Life-jackets should be worn by people on all vessels, and not
just on boats below a certain size, a jury in a double lake tragedy
has recommended. Liam Horan reports.
The call came in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, yesterday after the
jury found that a Swiss couple, Walter and Ruth Borner, died from
hypothermia due to immersion in the cold waters of Lough Ree this
Neither was wearing a life-jacket, though life-jackets were found
on board their boat, Winkelried.
The popular Swiss couple, who were described by friends as "icons
of the river Shannon", died in August.
The body of Mrs Borner (61) was discovered on August 9th, prompting
a massive search involving over 60 divers for her husband, whose
body was found by tourists on a passing cruiser on August 13th.
Mr Borner (71), a keen photographer, assembled what is thought to
be an unrivalled collection of photo slides of the Shannon taken
over the past 30 years.
Every spring, he would hold a slide-show for people interested in
the river, selecting his best 100 photos from the 500 or more
slides he taken in the previous year.
A former marketing executive with Swissair, he was one of the
managing editors of The Shell Guide to the River Shannon.
Although the Borners did not die of drowning, the jury recommended
that "legislation be introduced as a matter of urgency by the
Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources that it
should be mandatory that life-jackets be worn by everybody on all
vessels at all times, and that it should be policed sufficiently."
The jury called for resources to be given to the Garda Water Unit
to police the new law, and also recommended that "all vessels be
checked on a regular basis and passed safe for use on waterways."
Mr Gary Delaney, an expert on Global Positioning Systems (GPS),
told the court that GPS records from the boat showed two
significant events on August 8th, the day the Borners took their
boat out from its berth at Portaneena, Athlone.
The boat did two figures of eight which were consistent with a
searching pattern. No conclusive evidence was given to the court,
but some time later the boat drifted up the lake at a speed which
would suggest no one was at the helm.
The Borners were seen leaving Portaneena on the afternoon on August
8th, with Mr Borner at the helm and Mrs Borner casting off the side
of the boat.
Mr Eric Williams, Coosan Point, Athlone, knew the Borners well and
saw them setting off on their fateful final journey. Describing Mr
Borner driving, and Mrs Borner casting, he said: "They were very
systematic about this."
An insurance report on the boat last year showed it to be in good
order, but suggested a bathing ladder could be added to the side of
Coroner Mr Desmond O'Connor thanked volunteer divers from Athlone,
Longford, Roscommon, Mullingar, Banagher and Lough Ree Sub-Aqua
Clubs, who assisted in the five-day search for Mr Borner.
© The Irish Times
Woman Streaker Allowed To Return To Germany
A 35-year-old German woman found streaking through a seaside
resort in north Wexford after airlines reportedly refused to fly
her home has been granted permission to leave the country.
Gardaí were called to Riverchapel, near Courtown Harbour on
Thursday night last where they arrested the woman found streaking
naked through the streets in a drunken condition.
Ms Claudia Bruckman, from Dusseldorf, had no passport or money,
Gorey District Court was told.
She had been charged with public indecency and with public
drunkenness and damage to a mattress in a holding cell at Gorey
Ms Bruckman told the court she had been in Wexford to visit a
friend, but that it didn't work out. She said she had been on the
road all night and couldn't help herself.
Meanwhile the German Embassy was telephoned for assistance, but as
no official personnel were available before the ending of the
court, she was remanded in custody to Mountjoy Prison to appear
before Arklow District Court yesterday.
When the case was called yesterday the court was told that contact
had been made with the German Embassy and arrangements were in
place to fly Ms Bruckman back to Germany later that day.
© The Irish Times
Memorial Service Honours Life Of Art Historian Hunt
A special memorial service in honour of an Irish art historian is
due to take place in Limerick tomorrow. Kathryn Hayes reports.
The founding director of the Limerick Hunt Museum, John Hunt, died
The 47-year-old father of three was the driving force behind the
museum which houses the Hunt Collection - a collection of more than
2,000 works of art and antiquities ranging in date from the
Neolithic to the 20th century.
This year, it was declared Irish Museum of the Year by President
Mr Hunt and his sister, Ms Trudy Hunt, remained on the board of the
museum until earlier this year when they stepped aside for the
duration of an investigation into allegations that some of
collection may have been looted by Nazis. However, nothing has
emerged to date to substantiate these claims.
John Hunt was also a well-known arts critic and journalist for many
He was visual arts critic for the RTÉ Radio arts shows The Arts
Show and Rattlebag , and arts correspondent for Lyric FM.
As a print journalist, he worked with Circa, and the Evening Echo.
He also served on a number of boards, including, Island Theatre
Company and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in Annamakerrig.
In 2001, Mr Hunt was awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Hibernian
Academy in recognition of his unique and special contribution to
the world of Irish arts.
In 1997 he and his sister were awarded the Freedom of the City of
A special memorial service celebrating John Hunt's life will take
place at St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick tomorrow at 5 p.m.
The service has been organised by the Hunt Museum and the Hunt
© The Irish Times
Pope Health Seen Stable, Eyes N. Ireland Trip
By Philip Pullella
6:42 a.m. November 17, 2004
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul's health has stabilised recently, so
much so that the Pontiff has expressed a desire to make at least
two major trips abroad next year, including one to Northern
The 84-year-old Pope and his aides have come to terms with the
rigours and limits of Parkinson's disease. Although it has taken
its toll over the past 10 years, it seems to have steadied
recently, making planning, albeit tentative, easier.
Interviews with aides and recent visitors to the Pope and
observations by reporters paint a picture of a papacy that
certainly is scaled down but hardly gasping its final breath.
As proof of this, the Vatican is actively entertaining at least two
high-profile trips next year one to Ireland and Northern Ireland
and the other to the Pope's native Poland.
Irish Church leaders and politicians at a Rome conference last week
said they found the Pope, now in the 27th year of his reign, much
more alert and in good spirits than they expected.
"I have to say that I found him in very good form, very alert and
we talked about a number of issues, including the Middle East,"
said Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern.
"I reminded him that the government and the people of Ireland would
very much welcome a visit," he said.
Although the Pope was officially non- committal, one prelate told
Reuters the Pontiff told him: "God willing, I will come."
The Vatican and the Irish Church see a stop in Northern Ireland, a
region blighted by sectarianism, as the natural completion of his
first and only trip to Ireland, in 1979.
Sectarian violence prevented him from visiting Northern Ireland
then but a fragile peace process now makes it possible.
A TROUBLED LAND
He would become the first Pope to venture into a province where for
generations the Protestant majority persecuted the Catholic
minority and derided the Pope.
British diplomatic sources said London, which would have to mount a
big security operation, was willing to give the green light for a
stop in Armagh, most likely in late spring.
Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp recently visited the Vatican
and later said the Pope had told him he would visit in mid-June,
As tentative as they may be now, the travel plans illustrate aides
are confident they can manage the latest phase of the papacy.
The Pope is a pale shadow of his former robust self. Parkinson's
has made it difficult for him to read more than a few paragraphs at
a time but he still has the stamina to preside at long liturgical
ceremonies and other events.
The solution adapted is for him to read the start of his speech, an
aide reads the bulk of it, and the Pope concludes it. What seemed
an ominous foreboding only a year ago is now accepted as routine.
Crippling arthritis has consigned the former mountain climber and
jogger to a wheeled chair but he still receives visitors every day
and appears in public at least twice a week.
To an outsider, the rigidity of his facial muscles make him look
distant, severe, out of touch and maybe even not in charge.
But Ahern, Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and other recent
visitors say they found him surprisingly alert.
As if to comment on Sampaio's surprise, the Pope, with the timing
of the former actor he once was, quipped last week at the end of
their talks: "You see. I can still speak Portuguese."