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November 17, 2004

News 11/17/04 - Calls For EU To Help Annetta Flanigan

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 11/17/04 Nicholson Calls On EU To Help Annetta Flanigan
KE 11/17/04 Flanigan's Kidnappers Are Thieves Not Taliban
NL 11/17/04 Annetta Flanigan: End Our Torment
NL 11/17/04 Callous Murder Highlights Plight Of Annetta
CN 11/17/04 Tributes To Iraq's 'Mama Margaret' -V (2)
DT 11/17/04 Hassan Service Held In Kenmare, County Kerry
IO 11/17/04 SF 'Could Back Plans For Block Vote'
UT 11/17/04 NI Parties To See Devolution Proposals
BT 11/17/04 Historic Ceremony Honours PSNI
NL 11/17/04 The Price Of Progress 'Not Without Pain'
BT 11/17/04 Court Told Of Loyalist Attacks On Home
IO 11/17/04 PSNI Arrest Man Over Attack On SDLP Councillor
BT 11/17/04 Language School Opposition 'Sectarian'
SF 11/17/04 Adams Welcomes Belfast Hills National Trust Move


Nicholson Calls On EU To Help Annetta

By Simon Taylor and David Stringer
17 November 2004

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has asked the European Parliament
to work for the release of Annetta Flanigan, the Northern Ireland
aid worker taken hostage in Afghanistan.

In a speech at the opening of the European Parliament in
Strasbourg, Mr Nicholson said: "On 28th October, three UN aid
workers were kidnapped in Afghanistan. One is from the Philippines,
another from Kosovo and the third, Annetta Flanigan is from my
constituency of Northern Ireland."

The UUP MEP urged the Parliament to give the issue its "utmost
attention" and to raise the matter immediately with the Council and
the European Commission.

"One can only imagine the trauma they and their families are going
through," Mr Nicholson told MEPs, saying that those holding the
three aid workers hostage had threatened to break off contact.

He quoted the words of Mrs Flanigan, who, he said, had only gone to
Afghanistan to help the people there.

Negotiations aimed at securing the release of the three hostages
stalled earlier this week over ransom demands.

The hostage-takers, who are thought to be linked to the Taliban,
have asked for the release of 26 prisoners.

The three UN officials had been helping organise the Presidential
elections in October.

DUP MEP Jim Allister joined in expressing his horror at the
kidnapping of Annetta Flanigan.

Meanwhile Mrs Flanigan's family have pleaded for their daughter's

Mrs Flanigan has British and Irish nationality and had been working
for a joint UN and Afghan commission when she and her companions
were snatched from a marked UN car in a busy street.


Asia ; Afghan Kidnappers Are Thieves Not Taliban Claims Official

  21 minutes Ago

Asia News, Three UN workers kidnapped in Afghanistan are in the
hands of criminals, not the Taliban-linked militants who have
threatened to kill them, an Afghan official said today.

Annetta Flanigan, from Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland, Philippine
diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo were seized at
gunpoint on October 28 in Kabul after helping organise the
country's presidential election.

A little-known rebel group called Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of
Muslims, today repeated its demand for the release of jailed
comrades in return for sparing their lives.

But a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, which is leading
the search for the trio, said it believed that the group was "not
holding the hostages."

"The kidnappers are armed robbers, not Jaish- al Muslimeen,"
Latfullah Mashal said. "We can say they are thieves."

Mashal said authorities believed that Jaish- al Muslimeen had paid
the real kidnappers for a video recording of the hostages, which it
used to bolster its claim of responsibility and stir fear that the
group was copying the brutal tactics of Iraqi insurgents.

The spokesman said he had no information on any negotiations
between the Afghan government and the kidnappers, whom he didn't
identify further.

However, Afghan officials have that talks through intermediaries
are snagged on £1.6 million ransom demands.

Security forces were continuing to monitor traffic in the Kabul
area to prevent the kidnappers from moving the hostages to a more
remote area, Mashal said.

"We don't have a specific clue on where they are being kept," he
said. "We are trying our best to secure their release."

Syed Khaled, a spokesman for Jaish-al Muslimeen, insisted on today
that its leaders were meeting to discuss what to do with the

"The council will decide whether to hand over the hostages to the
military men who decide their final fate," Khaled said in a phone


Annetta Flaniganl: End Our Torment

By Karen Quinn
Wednesday 17th November 2004

The family of Ulster hostage Annetta Flanigan last night begged her
captors to free her as a video was released apparently showing the
murder of Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan in Iraq.

In a joint statement with the families of two other UN workers
being held in Afghanistan, the Co Armagh family made a direct
appeal to her captors.

"We understand that, after 25 years of strife and uncertainty, some
people in Afghanistan may do desperate things. But the Afghan
people are honourable," they said.

"We dearly hope that the people holding Annetta, Angelito and
Shqipe will demonstrate that honour at this holy time and place
them somewhere safe where they can be found and restored to us.

The Flanigan family's part of the statement added a message to
Annetta, saying: "Everybody is praying for you and hoping that you
will be home soon."

Negotiations on the fate of the three UN workers have snagged over
ransom demands, officials said yesterday just hours before a video
was released showing the apparent murder of Dublin-born aid worker
Margaret Hassan.

The Taliban-linked kidnappers said they were debating whether to
"get rid" of the hostages.

The latest in a string of deadlines set by the militants passed on
Monday with no resolution of their public demand for the release of
26 jailed comrades.

Ms Flanigan, Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi
of Kosovo were seized at gunpoint in Kabul on October 28 after
helping organise the country's landmark presidential election.
Officials and diplomats say they have been communicating with the
kidnappers through intermediaries and that more than one group
appears to be involved.

Two Afghan government officials said yesterday that talks were
bogged down over demands for a ransom that one put at £1.6 million.

"The government has bargained with the mediators to try to bring
the ransom down. The worry is whether the money is going to really
bring a result or if it will end up in the wrong hands," one
official said.

Jaish-al Muslimeen, a littleknown Taliban offshoot which claims to
be holding the hostages, has said the 26 men it wants freed are in
US custody, but the American military says it will release no one
and has received no list issued by the militants.

The militants' purported leader, Mohammed Akbar Agha, said his
group was meeting about the hostages' fate.

"There are some of our members who have hardline views on the issue
but there are others who have moderate views," Agha said in a phone
call from an undisclosed location. Agha insisted his group was not
seeking a ransom, and claimed Afghan authorities had concocted that
allegation to save face because of their failure to resolve the

Jawed Ludin, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said the
government was "extremely concerned" that the crisis had dragged
into a third week, but was " hopeful" the hostages would be
released. He declined to give details.

A week ago, at least two of the hostages phoned home to say they
were all right, but there has been no evidence of their condition


Callous Murder Highlights Plight Of Annetta

Wednesday 17th November 2004

The brutal murder of Margaret Hassan throws into stark focus the
terrible predicament of Armagh woman Annetta Flanigan.

Mrs Hassan, who was born in Dublin and had dedicated most of her
adult life to helping the people of Iraq, was cold-bloodedly shot
in the head in front of a video camera and the footage released to
a shocked world.

Even in a country which has witnessed so much horror and depravity,
the weeks of torment and the callousness of this poor woman's death
has caused outrage and disgust across the world. Our hearts go out
to her family, which has shown great dignity and courage throughout
this ordeal.

Those same expressions can equally be applied to the Flanigan
family, which has broken its silence for the first time to appeal
to her kidnappers to show mercy.

In a joint statement with the loved ones of Annetta's fellow-
hostages, Kosovan Shqipe Hebibi and Filipino Angelito Nayanshe,
they pleaded for their release to mark the Muslim festival of Eid.

Negotiations with the Islamic militant group which seized the three
UN representatives in Afghanistan three weeks ago have stalled on
the payment of a ransom.

The fact that money and not a blind political ideology is the
driving force of this gang offers hope that a way to secure their
release can be found.

In their appeal, the Flanigan family included a message directly to
Annetta: "Everybody is praying for you and hoping that you will be
home soon."

It is a sentiment that everyone in Northern Ireland can heartily


See CNN Video at: .
smil .


Tributes To Iraq's 'Mama Margaret' -V (2)

Woman with 'spine of steel' was devoted to Iraq

Wednesday, November 17, 2004 Posted: 6:32 AM EST (1132 GMT)

LONDON, England -- Dublin-born and raised in Britain, Margaret
Hassan dedicated much of her life to improving the lives of
ordinary people of Iraq.

The Daily Telegraph described her as "Iraq's Mother Teresa" and
said the "slender woman with a spine of steel" was a tireless
advocate on behalf of Iraqis.

The woman, now believed to have been shot dead by Muslim
kidnappers, married an Iraqi and her devotion to the country and
its culture was such that she converted to Islam and took on dual
British and Iraqi citizenship.

Hassan, 59, worked in the Middle Eastern country for 30 years and
for the last 12 years she worked for CARE International as Iraq
country director.

She was described by those who knew her as outspoken, tough and

"Despite her slim frame she could intimidate a large American
soldier as easily as a petty Iraqi bureaucrat," London's Times
newspaper reported Wednesday.

Hassan's friend, freelance journalist Felicity Arbuthnot, described
her as "a very tough lady frightened of nothing."

"To do something like this to a woman who has given all her adult
life to Iraq and to a woman is incomprehensible," she told BBC
radio Wednesday. "It reflects the distortion that has happened to
the country as a result of the invasion."

Asked whether Hassan had felt angry with Britain for backing the
invasion, Arbuthnot said: "She was absolutely incandescent."

In two wars, Hassan remained in Baghdad when the bombs fell. She
was a vocal opponent of the international sanctions imposed on Iraq
after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and she traveled widely
before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to warn that
such a conflict would bring a "humanitarian catastrophe" on the

Hassan declined to leave her post 12 months previously when car
bomb attacks began to strike humanitarian organizations, leading
most aid groups to abandon Baghdad.

When abductions became widespread in and around the city, she
continued to rise early each morning to go to the west Baghdad
office of CARE, where her abductors found her at 7:30 a.m. one

After she was kidnapped, her husband Ashen Ali Hassan pleaded with
her kidnappers to let her go, saying: "They should know that my
wife has worked almost all her life for the Iraqi people and
considers herself an Iraqi.

"My wife is apolitical, she is a humanitarian worker and I ask you
to release her."

Hassan came to Iraq in the 1970s after meeting her husband, an
employee of Iraqi Airways, in London. She joked about marrying into
a strict Muslim family, friends told The Washington Post, but was
especially close to her father-in-law, a doctor.

One Iraqi friend told the Post that her first job in Iraq was
reading the news in English on state television. She then spent a
number of years working at the Baghdad office of the British
Council, a cultural center attached to the British Embassy.

Hassan began working for CARE soon after it began operations in
Iraq in 1991.

At the time she was taken hostage she was in charge of a staff of
60 Iraqis running nutrition, health and water programs throughout
the country. But her kidnapping led the aid operation to withdraw
from the country, considering it had become too dangerous.

When war broke out, she was determined to stay in Iraq to continue
her work despite the danger. As the conflict engulfed the country,
she led a team working to provide essential aid to hospitals and
help restore vital power and water supplies.

Her team coped with the problem of looters and chaos in the streets
and fought for a return to food rationing.

After she was taken hostage on October 19, protesters gathered
outside CARE's Baghdad headquarters, carrying pictures of her and
banners which called for the release of "Mama Margaret."

Nasrat al-Asadi, a teacher at an Iraqi school for the deaf, brought
about 30 pupils to the demonstration and told the UK's Press
Association: "They all love her. She helped them with hearing aids
besides reconstructing the institute."

Hassan's abduction resulted in a wave of sympathy across the
Islamic world, with many Web sites filled with messages deploring
her kidnapping.

Her courageous leadership through such troubled times was
"remarkable," one colleague told PA.

Following a meeting in Jordan in March last year, William Deane,
chairman of CARE Australia, said: "Margaret's decision -- indeed
her determination -- to remain in Iraq and carry out emergency work
throughout the conflict was typical of a truly remarkable woman."

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O'Connor, said: "Margaret is a martyr for goodness, truth
and generosity. She dedicated her life to others. She will always
be remembered for this."

CARE International is one of the world's largest independent global
relief and development organizations. The non-political aid
organization has its headquarters in Belgium and operates in more
than 72 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle
East and eastern Europe.

It has 11 offices in Europe, Australia, North America, and Japan
and supports projects that benefit about 30 million people a year.
Ninety per cent of CARE's 10,000 staff worldwide work in their home
countries. Its programs receive support from many governments and
institutions including the United Nations, the World Bank, the
European Union and the British government.

The charity said that its emergency relief work in Iraq during and
after the war benefited more than 12 million Iraqi citizens.

It said that more than 21 million Iraqis -- the majority of the
population -- are served by water systems funded by CARE
International and over two million people directly benefit from
water plants and pumping stations refurbished with the charity's


Hassan Service Held In Kenmare, County Kerry

From correspondents in Dublin
November 17, 2004

IRISH-born British aid worker Margaret Hassan, who is believed to
have been killed by her captors in Iraq, was remembered tonight
(AEDT) in a special mass in the Roman Catholic church in Kenmare in
the southwest of Ireland.

Hassan's sister Geraldine Riney lives in the area.

Local curate Father Edmund Corridan said that since Hassan's
abduction last month in Baghdad, a candle had been lit each day in
Kenmare church and she had been prayed for in all church

"We had been hoping and praying she would be released," Father
Corridan said. "The town is very upset. It has been most
distressing for everyone."

"She was such a dedicated worker on behalf of the Iraqi people," he
added. "She could have stayed out of it but she deliberately
continued with her work. She is an indescribable loss."

Al-Jazeera television said today it had received a video showing
"an armed man shooting at a blind-folded woman, who appears to be
Margaret Hassan".

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was believed the woman
killed in the video was Mrs Hassan, 59, head of CARE
International's Iraq operations, who was seized in Baghdad on
October 19 while on her way to work.

Mrs Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi, held British, Irish and
Iraqi citizenship.

Her body has yet to be found.



SF 'Could Back Plans For Block Vote'
2004-11-17 10:30:03+00

Sinn Féin could back plans for the Northern Ireland Assembly to
vote in future for the North's entire power- sharing government, a
senior negotiator signalled today.

In a significant move in the run-up to the Irish and British
government proposals to revive power sharing, Sinn Féin chairman
Mitchel McLaughlin said his party could live with the alternative
to the current system of joint electing First and Deputy First

However the Foyle Assembly member said he believed the Rev Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionists could find the proposal hard to

"We have been interested by some responses to the DUP's argument
about the joint election of First and Deputy First Ministers and
the proposal that the entire executive be elected in a block vote
instead," said Mr McLaughlin.

"In some ways I think that alternative could be an even worse
position for the DUP because instead of having to vote for one Sinn
Féin minister, they would be voting for three.

"It could be a hard proposal for them to sell but I have to say, if
this is in the package being put forward by the British and Irish
Governments, it's a proposal that is not going to cause Sinn Féin
too much heartache."

Mr McLaughlin was commenting as British Prime Minister Tony Blair
and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were today due to discuss plans to
revive power sharing with unionists and nationalists at crucial
peace process meetings in London and Dublin.

There was speculation Mr Blair may present the two governments'
proposals to the DUP at a meeting in Downing Street and Mr Ahern
give them to Sinn Féin at a meeting in Government Buildings in

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern was also due to meet Mark Durkan's
nationalist SDLP.

Irish and British officials have been working on a package of
proposals to break the political deadlock at Stormont covering
power sharing, disarmament, the future of paramilitaries and

However they will have to overcome significant gaps between Mr
Paisley's DUP and nationalist parties on power sharing to succeed.

The DUP, in particular, has been pressing for an end to the joint
election of First and Deputy First Ministers and for power-sharing
ministers to be made more accountable to their cabinet colleagues
and the Assembly as a whole.

Mr McLaughlin again warned Sinn Féin would oppose any proposal
which gave the DUP a veto over the work of other parties' ministers
in a future executive or diluted the power and status of the First
and Deputy First Ministers.

The Sinn Féin chairman also dismissed reports that the IRA was
considering allowing Catholic and Protestant clergymen to witness
future disarmament acts.

"At the end of the day whatever scheme emerged will be agreed by
General John de Chastelain (the head of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning) and the IRA's
interlocutor," he said.

"Political parties will have no input into that.

"The aspect of whether or not there will be a public dimension to
that will be discussed with the international body.

"I would urge people not to deal with this unhelpful speculation as
fact because there is a danger that they can be spun down the line
as broken pledges."


NI Parties To See Devolution Proposals

The British Government is due to present proposals to Sinn Fein and
the DUP today aimed at restoring devolution as soon as possible.

By:Press Association

One of the proposals under consideration is the suggestion that
Catholic and Protestant churchmen could be present at any future
act of IRA decommissioning.

It is understood that republican leadership would agree to them
being present provided that disarmament was part of an overall
package to restore and guarantee power sharing government in
Northern Ireland.

London and Dublin are looking for a decision before the end of the
month and sources in Belfast have confirmed that one of the
proposals under consideration is that two churchmen, one from
either side of the community would be present if there was to be
another act of decommissioning.

But it was made clear that this would have to be in the context of
an overall deal, hammered out by all sides. Unionists have
described the proposed moves as a step forward.

The Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist Party has been pushing
hard for transparency in any disarmament process.

The East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: "If churchmen were
present it would represent some progress towards what we wanted to

But he insisted: "We need to have credible and viable
decommissioning and there needs to be a visual aspect to it if we
are to give confidence to the community.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Doctor Robin Eames,
head of the Church of Ireland, said: "There has been talk of this
nature for some time but I have no comment to make."

A Sinn Fein spokesman described the claims as speculation and
refused to comment further. He said: "We have consistently refused
to comment in any way on the detail of discussions with the

"In particular we have refused to get involved in any speculation
that has existed around the issue of arms."

Ulster unionist negotiator Michael McGimpsey said the proposal was
a step in the right direction. "Where the process failed this time
last year was on the basis of transparency and a timetable for
complete disarmament.

"The question now is who the churchmen are and what is their
expertise and whether they are able to report what has been
decommissioned and the nature of the decommissioning process."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "The approach of using clergy as
witnesses has been mooted before and may take us forward now but
the reality is that previous acts of IRA decommissioning haven`t
been done in a way that maximise confidence."


Historic Ceremony Honours PSNI

By Brian Walker, London Editor
17 November 2004

An historic ceremony took place in the House of Commons yesterday
that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

The chairman and secretary of the Police Federation representing
the PSNI rank and file were the principal guests at a reception co-
sponsored by senior MPs representing all the local parties, except
Sinn Fein.

Words passed the lips of former SDLP leader John Hume that he
wouldn't have uttered for 30 years: "I want to pay tribute to the
work of the police.

"For the first time in our history, the Police Service has the
support of all sections of the community.

"The atmosphere in our streets has been totally transformed. We owe
them a great debt of gratitude for it."

On hand to applaud were just about everyone who is or was anybody
connected with the police down the years.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy, flanked by three predecessors,
Lords Mason, King and Mayhew, Chief Constable Hugh Orde and
representatives of the Garda with the Irish Ambassador, the
chairman of the Police Authority and the Police Ombudsman and
dozens of MPs and peers.

Mr Orde told of 5,000 new applicants for 272 places a year and
crime down by 14,000 cases or 10% in a year.

He said burglary in North Down, where he lives, was down by 47%.

DUP MP Peter Robinson promptly invited him to come and live in East

Apologising for the absence of Ian Paisley who was preparing for
today's important encounter with Tony Blair, the DUP deputy leader
said he had "high hopes that the present gaps and difficulties
would be overcome".

David Burnside in the unusual role of deputising for David Trimble,
recalled the sacrifices of the RUC, including its Catholic members.

Tilting at Denis Bradley, the vice-chairman of the Policing Board,
the Federation chairman Irwin Montgomery said that hints that the
continuation of police support was conditional on a political deal
were unhelpful.

"My earnest desire is to see the day when policing is taken off the
political agenda," he said.

Sweeping reforms like the rundown of the police Reserve and 50:50
recruitment seem to be gaining acceptance.

The ceremony was meaningful as well as moving, and allowed
Parliament to show its approval of the significant steps taken by
the PSNI.


The Price Of Progress 'Not Without Pain'

By Gemma Murray Security Correspondent
Wednesday 17th November 2004

Police Federation chairman Irwin Montgomery has told MPs Ian
Paisley, David Trimble and John Hume that the same change which
faced the police now faces Ulster politics.

Speaking at a reception in the House of Commons, Mr Irwin said the
price of progress has not been without pain.

"For any organisation change management is always the ultimate
challenge. The same need to change also faces our politicians. I
hope that they can make the same progress as this police service
has. It would be in everyone's interest."

Mr Irwin said whatever happens politically he wants everyone to
note the police service has proved itself "adaptable and

"We are at a more hopeful phase in progressing towards a stable
society with a devolved administration than at any time past in
recent months.

"The federation, through its membership, will play its part as we
have done over the previous decades in improving the quality of
life of our community."

The core principle of policing was to enjoy policing with consent,
said Mr Montgomery. He said: "At ground level, where police
officers day and daily have engagement with the public on an
individual basis, I believe, we have that consent.

"Where we don't have that unanimous endorsement is at party
political level. And even when it is forthcoming, there have been
hints in certain quarters that its continuation is conditional upon
there being a resolution to the current political negotiations.
From a federation perspective, I consider such hints unhelpful to

"But of course this kind of competitive political bargaining has
nothing to do with the federation, although the consequences of
political failure always bring us community problems."

Earlier, it was revealed the Police Federation has asked thousands
of former and serving officers - who are suing the Chief Constable
for post-traumatic stress disorder - to make a monthly payment to
pay costs towards their cases.

The federation, which represents 10,000 rank and file officers, has
until now supported all the costs of the multi-million pound legal
action from their voluntary fund.

But the federation has now told claimants in a letter that they
will not be able to support their cases unless they contribute £25
each month.

A federation spokesman denied that the organisation was facing a
financial crisis and said they were "protecting members' interests
by acting prudently".


Court Told Of Loyalist Attacks On Home

17 November 2004

A community spokesman whose home was attacked by loyalists was told
that his windows could be fitted with laminated glass but it would
not stop a bullet, the High Court has heard.

"The new glass would only ensure that the windows would not shatter
and the glass would not shower anyone in the room," said a lawyer
for Paddy Murray, chairman of the Rathenraw Residents' Association
in Antrim.

Mr Murray, whose life has been threatened, is seeking a judicial
review of the Secetary of State's decision refusing to admit him to
the Key Persons Protection Scheme, which would entitle him to a
raft of home security measures.

Mr Justice Girvan asked at yesterday's hearing: "Does he want
bullet-proof glass?"

Barrister Dessie Hutton replied: "He is not a security expert and
does not know the capability of the people who have threatened

The offer to replace the windows was made by the Housing Executive,
which owns Mr Murray's home.

The Executive also offered to replace his glass-panelled front door
with a solid door and five-piece mortice lock.

Mr Hutton said Mr Murray enjoyed the right to life under the human
rights legislation and it was clear the Secretary of State had not
taken adequate measures in response to the threat to his life.

"Instead, the Minister relied on the offer by the Housing Executive
which has only limited expertise in the security field," added the

Mr Murray was in court yesterday with his wife Patricia, who was at
the centre of a security alert two months ago after a warning that
bomb had been placed under her car.

Last June the family home was pipe-bombed.

At hearing.


PSNI Arrest Man Over Attack On SDLP Councillor

17/11/2004 - 08:17:27

A 20-year old man has been arrested in connection with an attack on
the home of SDLP councillor Danny O'Connor in County Antrim.

The man was charged with criminal damage.

Police believe he was one of a gang of four who poured tar over a
car belonging to O'Connor's mother's car on Monday.

The councillor fired four warning shots at the group with a
legally-held handgun during the incident.

The O'Connor family have been subjected to a number of attacks by
loyalist paramilitaries in the past.


Language School Opposition 'Sectarian'

17 November 2004

Sinn Fein have slammed a DUP councillor's opposition to an Irish
language school in Ballymena as blatantly sectarian.

North Antrim Sinn Fein Assembly member Philip McGuigan, was
reacting to comments by the leader of the DUP council group in
Ballymena, Roy Gillespie.

Mr Gillespie said there were enough primary school places in the
town and he would fight the plans "tooth and nail".

He added: "This move to set up an Irish- speaking school would be
divisive. I wouldn't like to think the North- Eastern Education
Board would be involved in funding something like this in any way."

But Philip McGuigan said: "Cllr Gillespie's comments about the
school being divisive have no foundation in reality.

"Most people will find Mr Gillespie's comments on creating division
ironic given his party's appalling record on creating and
maintaining division within the council area.

"Roy Gillespie's opposition to both the GAA and the Irish Language
sector are based on an anti-Irish agenda and are blatantly


Adams Welcomes Belfast Hills National Trust Move

Published: 16 November, 2004

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams this morning attended a
ceremony to mark the National Trust taking possession of the Divis
and Black Mountain areas.

Mr Adams said:

?This is a good day for all the people of Belfast. Sinn Féin has
supported the National Trust to raise the funds to secure this
valuable site.

" We done so because the Belfast Hills is the heritage off all the
people of Belfast and will be our gift to future generations. It is
up to all of us to conserve the hills, to create an accessible
piece of countryside, to enhance the site as a reserve against the
urban sprawl of Belfast.

" Sinn Féin supports the purchase of Divis and surrounding lands as
a step in saving the Belfast Hills. We now need to end the
quarrying at the Black Mountain. We need the Department of the
Environment to work with all the land owners to designate the Hills
as a regional park.

" I congratulate the National Trust on their work to date and look
forward to working with them in future to ensure that the potential
of this site is realised. I would hope that we are now another step
closer to the opening up of all the Belfast Hills from Colin
Mountain to Carnmoney Hill for the people of Belfast." ENDS

Jay Dooling (
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