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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 25, 2004
News 11/25/04 - Parties Given Revised Blueprints
News about Ireland & the Irish
BT 11/25/04 Parties To Get Revised Deal Blueprint - A (3)
BB 11/25/04 Adams Briefs SF Executive
BT 11/25/04 Premiers Will 'Shame' Parties If Deal Refused
IE 11/25/04 Jeffrey Donaldson Lashes US Senators' Letter
IC 11/25/04 Opin: Arise Now, Prime Minister Paisley
BT 11/25/04 Fishing Lured Loyalist Kingpin To Buy Home In South
IE 11/25/04 Bloody Sunday Tribunal Jury Gets Summation
BT 11/25/04 PSNI & OO Relations At All Time Low After 12th Defiance
BT 11/25/04 Under Fire PSNI May Withdraw CS Sprays
BT 11/25/04 PM Raises Hopes Of Removing Beef Ban
BT 11/25/04 Thatcher Must Face Questioning Over Guinea Coup Plot
IC 11/25/04 Missing 25,000 Voters In West Belfast
IC 11/25/04 Annie Demands Blair Apology For Maguire Seven
IC 11/25/04 RUC Man At The Centre Of Pearse Jordan Shooting Leaves
UT 11/25/04 Dublin Site Fetches 86 Million Euro
CI 11/25/04 Celebrate A Celtic Christmas With CTL In Plymouth
Morning Ireland: Dermot Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionist Party gives
his reaction to the latest bid to secure a political deal in
Morning Ireland: Danny Morrison, former Director of Publicity for
Sinn Féin and now a writer, says he cannot see the DUP agreeing to
a programme for government in Northern Ireland that involves Sinn
Morning Ireland: Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, assesses
yesterday's negotiations in London between the Irish and British
governments and delegations from the main parties in the North
Parties To Get Revised Deal Blueprint - A (3)
By Brian Walker, London Editor
25 November 2004
The British and Irish governments were due to make a prompt reply
to scores of requests for clarification on their blueprint for
restoring the Assembly, put to them yesterday by both Ian Paisley
and Gerry Adams.
Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness remained in London late last night
to be on hand for further talks with officials.
Mr Paisley had submitted over 40 points in a six page document
which had been analysed legally in advance, while the number of
queries raised by Sinn Fein was apparently even greater.
In a determined effort to keep up the pressure for a settlement,
Downing Street and Dublin were set to hand back the revised
blueprint to the two leaders possibly later today.
Mr Paisley and Mr Adams were reporting on the work in progress to
their party executives in Belfast and Dublin and would consult with
smaller groups later if the governments' document did not arrive
In spite of Mr Paisley's belief that "talk of deadlines is silly",
the prime ministers are signalling that the deadline for making a
settlement is about to be reached.
As the Taoiseach confirmed last night, he and Mr Blair will summon
the leaders back on Monday or Tuesday of next week, to "make the
judgment call" on whether a deal can be struck.
If the parties fail to agree, the prime ministers will publish
their proposals for a deal and identify the reasons for failure.
The complexities have now essentially boiled down to the DUP's
demand for photographic evidence over a major decommissioning act,
while the IRA and Sinn Fein insist the agreed "modalities" are
Furthermore, Ian Paisley is insisting that the republicans must
"jump first" and provide convincing evidence of decommissioning.
Adams Briefs SF Executive
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been updating his party's National
Executive in Dublin on the latest efforts to restore devolution.
It follows Wednesday's series of meetings in London. The two
governments are ready to publish their proposals if the parties do
not sign up to a deal.
Both prime ministers were involved in a series of meetings with the
political parties in London on Wednesday.
The DUP will brief its executive on the ongoing efforts on Friday
A delegation from the cross-community Alliance Party has also
travelled to Dublin for talks with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister
Dermot Ahern on Thursday.
Speaking after meeting Tony Blair at Downing Street on Wednesday,
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said officials would provide the
parties with written answers to their questions.
However, he added that the two governments could not go on
clarifying their proposals forever.
Earlier, DUP leader Ian Paisley handed Mr Blair his party's
response to the latest British and Irish proposals for the
restoration of devolution.
Afterwards Mr Ahern said, as far as the two governments were
concerned, there was a package on offer.
He said the governments were happy to clarify issues but they
wanted to bring the process to a close within days.
Expressing a certain amount of frustration, Mr Ahern suggested the
endless search for perfect deals was unrealistic.
"We don't see this running on for more than a matter of days," he
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "The talks have been serious,
they have been constructive. I think the parties will want to
reflect over the coming days.
"Time is getting short. I can see this going into next week, not
much beyond that."
DUP leader Ian Paisley met Mr Ahern at the Irish embassy in London
and later met Mr Blair to give his response to British-Irish
proposals submitted to the parties last week.
Speaking after his meeting with Mr Blair, he said there had been
"The government must see to it that there is full decommissioning
and when I talk about that, that must be transparent, it must be
open," he said.
"That is not to convince you or me but the people of Northern
Ireland," he said.
Speaking after their meeting with Mr Ahern, the Sinn Fein
leadership said they were still hopeful of a resolution.
Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: "I have always argued that
if you take the long view, then you can see that clearly we are
making progress towards the achievement of a durable peace.
"We are a long way from never, never, never."
At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in
Kent in September, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern said the thorny issues of
IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be
But, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland
Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after
unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/25 12:07:24 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Premiers Will 'Shame' Parties If Deal Refused
Full details of proposals will be revealed for public inspection
25 November 2004
London Editor Brian Walker assesses what's at stake at the present
crucial stage of the talks to restore the Assembly
The British and Irish governments intend to appeal to public
opinion by publishing their final version of a political deal, if
the DUP and Sinn Fein fail to agree on it by early next week,
official sources in London and Dublin have confirmed.
Having replied at dizzying speed to scores of clarification points
sought by both Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams yesterday, the
governments were expected to hand over their revised blueprint
almost immediately, perhaps later today.
Tentative plans to hold a Hillsborough conference tomorrow have now
been abandoned, while behind-the-scenes negotiations were
continuing today and both leaders were consulting their party
Everyone is walking on eggs, praising the other's good faith,
insisting that real progress has speeded up since Leeds Castle,
talking up the chance of an eventual deal - and briefings have
almost, if not quite, gone beyond spin.
But there are real signs that the prime ministers are genuinely
running out of patience at last and are determined not to let the
parties stretch the talks out until a possible general election in
Despite Ian Paisley's view that "talk of deadlines is silly" (not
to mention discredited by endless slippage) the deadline has far
from disappeared, but survives, more convincingly perhaps, without
a firm date.
On present intentions, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will summon the
party leaders on Monday or Tuesday of next week to hear their
If no deal emerges, the premiers intend to publish their own final
version of a deal and "name and shame" the alleged defaulters.
Mr Ahern also hinted yesterday that he and Mr Blair may look for a
way of appealing to the voters over the heads of the parties.
At that point, the elastic deadline will finally have snapped and
the political process will move into uncharted waters.
Desperately tough questions lurk under the surface that illustrate
the pressure all sides are now exposed to.
Would the governments dare refuse a genuinely impressive IRA
disarmament offer if the DUP reject it? The question is certain to
preoccupy them already.
Would they be able to resist republican demands to allow the on-
the-runs to go home through the legal process, and speed up the
While Tony Blair is hiding his impatience by saying precisely
nothing, he is determined to resist giving the DUP an absolute
Would the governments try to impose a deal on the Assembly and defy
the DUP to wreck it? How would unionism respond?
The questions may be premature, but they're looming. Despite all
the difficulties, reaching a deal must seem far more attractive
than facing them.
Since yesterday's talks, a common view is emerging that most of the
onus now lies on Ian Paisley.
The DUP naturally dispute this. They could remind others that at
every previous decommissioning event, the IRA fell short of what
was asked of them.
The complexities seem to have narrowed to a straightforward crunch.
For the DUP, photographic or video evidence of a major arms
decommissioning act remains the sticking point.
Determined not be suckered as he believes David Trimble was, Ian
Paisley is insisting that the IRA jump first on decommissioning, a
timetable for ending criminality and dismantling structures, before
he moves politically.
There will be no "jumping together" this time.
That presents a real problem for both wings for the republican
movement which the governments were trying to crack overnight and
early today, while Gerry Adams and his fellow negotiators remained
on hand in London.
Moving to cover their flank in anticipation of a possible blame
game, a DUP source answered two Sinn Fein charges.
He denied that the party had ever intended to build a one-sided
veto into their Assembly reforms and doubted that Sinn Fein yet
understood them properly.
Nor are the DUP holding out for a five- month quarantine before
forming the Executive. A shorter period while Westminster passes
legislation to un-suspend the Assembly, would give the IRA enough
time to wind down criminality and begin dismantling their
Donaldson Lashes Senators' Letter
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST -- Jeffrey Donaldson, the MP who defected from the Ulster
Unionists to the Rev. Ian Paisley's DUP earlier this year, has
accused eight U.S. senators of "pushing propaganda" for Sinn Fein,
which he described as "a terrorist organization."
The senators have written to the British prime minister, Tony
Blair, urging him to put pressure on the DUP to share power with
They stated that they were encouraged by the progress made by Sinn
the negotiations and the apparent readiness of the IRA to engage in
a final act of decommissioning.
The senators, all Democrats, urged Blair to "give high priority to
persuading the DUP to enter into the government of Northern Ireland
and restore the democratic institutions on a permanent basis.
The eight expressed concern "that the refusal to date of the DUP to
share power with Sinn Fein is the principal obstacle preventing the
parties from reaching agreement."
They expressed hope that Blair would make clear to the DUP that
full implementation of the Belfast agreement was essential and that
if the DUP continued to refused to do so, the party would not be
allowed to block forward movement for the people of Northern
The letter was signed by Sens. Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Patrick
Leahy, Frank Lautenberg, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dick Durbin,
Charles Schumer and Jon Corzine.
Donaldson told a meeting of Ogra Fianna Fail, the main government
party's youth wing, in County Cavan on Friday that President Bush
had taken "a strong stand on the issue of terrorism."
It was "unfortunate" he said, that the eight senators were acting
on behalf of "an organization which . . . has been part of the
international terrorist community."
He added: "If the senators wish to have any credibility on the
political process in Northern Ireland, then the least they can do
is to inform themselves of the realities here. Given the background
of some of these people, they really should know better."
The DUP, said Donaldson, refuses to share power with Sinn Fein
because of its links with the IRA, which he described as being
"involved in paramilitarism and criminality."
Before the eight senators presumed to allocate blame between Sinn
Fein and the DUP, he said, they needed to ask themselves which was
worse: Declining to share power or being linked to the IRA?
The comments of the eight Democratic senators in their letter to
Blair, he said, "demonstrated an anti- DUP bias and a one-sided
analysis of the political situation in Northern Ireland."
Said Donaldson: "Despite the fact that they have played no part in
the current talks process, or spoken to anyone in the DUP, they
present opinions as facts and seems content to allocate blame for
the lack of agreement.
"They suggest that the obstacle preventing parties from reaching
agreement is the refusal of the DUP to share power with Sinn Fein
despite our policy and manifesto commitments making it quite clear
that we would do so in the event that they [Sinn Fein] are
committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
"It is clear from the attitude of politicians in the Republic of
Ireland that they do not believe that Sinn Fein are presently fit
to play any part in a southern administration, yet there is no
comment from the eight senators on this issue," he said.
This story appeared in the issue of November 24-30, 2004
Arise Now, Prime Minister Paisley
While Sinn Féin and the DUP are working out the shape of our future
politics, decommissioning as usual has been put at the head of
Britain's wish list.
Decommissioning is irrelevant. In no circumstances would any
sensible political party give any more concessions to people who
will invariably ask for more without giving anything in return.
These people go back into the mists of a long Irish history – the
Fomorians, people always asking fo' more.
Unless of course you can bring them along step by step. We make
this step forward if you agree to your step forward at the same
time. If not, no deal.
Next step only by strict agreement. And in every case, since
London's supporters in Ireland do not keep agreements, some
hardball means of making sure they do this time or pay penalties
for not doing.
The main problem is not decommissioning, it is the inability of
British union people to keep agreements.
No doubt the Sinn Féin people will be able to deal with all this
with the same courtesy and patience they have shown in face of
unionist inabilities to negotiate up to this.
It would be good if the SDLP were brought into the picture also,
they have something to offer and should not be left angry on the
sidelines. However, that is something the SDLP will have to work
out in its own way.
The future lives, homes, work, culture and welfare of so many
people depend upon patience and the willingness not only of
nationalist/republicans to work with unionists, but of
republicans/nationalists to work together for the good of us all.
We have seen how destructive the divisions among unionists have
been. We do not want to have divisions and hurts among any of us
which can be avoided.
However, there is an interesting factor which is not being talked
about. It is what one might call the Paisley Personal Question.
Ian Paisley has for decades, all his church and political life, had
an ambition to be leader of political life in Ireland's northeast.
To be prime minister when that was the term in use. Now First
Minister. In order to reach this position he helped to bring down
one prime minister after another. O'Neill, Clarke, Faulkner all
down in campaigns spearheaded by Ian Paisley. And it was no secret
that he was aiming to become prime minister himself.
Now in the twilight of his life he is within sight of that goal. In
a real sense it is there for the grasping. And it is not out of the
way to think that if he ends his life having achieved this goal he
will end his life happily. If he does not achieve it, he will be
the less happy for that - unfulfilled in a way.
But of course there is an obstacle, namely his unwillingness to
share power with others. He has been unwilling to share power with
fellow unionists, fellow members of other churches, republicans,
So the PPQ (the Personal Paisley Question) is, which of these
ideals is going to win? Which is the more important to him? Will he
fulfil a long held ambition to become First Minister but in so
doing have to make some compromises towards sharing power? Or will
his aversion to sharing mean he will give up his ambition to be
First Minister? He cannot fulfil both ambitions, having first
minister-ship and having no-cooperation- ship.
We shall all be looking at this almost Shakespearean drama with
Now, if I were a betting man (one has to say that, it is the
formula for staving off the accusation of pandering to frivolity),
if I were a betting man I would be putting on hat and coat and
getting ready for a visit to Mr Sean Graham, who so far has not
announced odds on this question, but who, one imagines, might well
be interested in it as a potential source of innocent pleasure for
those who are betting men and betting women.
And I would present Mr Graham with my choice which without question
would be the following: Mr Ian Paisley the fundamentalist and
scourge of Rome, will in all probability go for his most ambitious
project of becoming First Minister. And in order to achieve this he
will make some honourable compromises, namely, share something, not
much mind you, but something.
And among our side bets would perhaps be the number and quality and
names of those of his DUP party who would be urging him to do so.
Sometimes I wonder if I am an optimist or a pessimist.
Fishing Lured Loyalist Terror Kingpin To Buy Home In South
By Eugene Moloney and Anita Guidera
25 November 2004
The secret life of a loyalist paramilitary and brutal drugs
overlord whose fanatical love of fishing led him to set up home in
a Sligo village emerged yesterday.
Loyalist Jim Johnston's involvement in several brutal killings was
long suspected by police in the North, but he always stayed one
step ahead of the law.
To loyalist rivals in Co Down, Red Hand Commando boss Johnston (45)
was a fearsome figure who controlled a share of the North's drugs
empire that brought him a millionaire lifestyle and who they
offended at their peril.
But in the seaside village of Enniscrone, Co Sligo, the
paramilitary boss was careful to conceal his brutal background.
He passed himself off as a businessman based in Britain who so
loved Enniscrone that he bought a cottage and adjoining schoolhouse
that once belonged to the Catholic Church.
With fishing tackle in hand, he gave no clue that he was the man
suspected of involvement in five murders, including the
assassination of rival drugs boss and LVF commander Stephen Warnock
It is suspected that Warnock's murder and a drugs-linked turf war
led to rivals shooting Johnston dead outside his luxury home in
Crawfordsburn last year.
Despite his senior terrorist position, Johnston was only ever
convicted of hijacking offences in the late 1980s.
The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) in the North, the equivalent of
the our CAB, sold off Johnston's home last night - part of assets
and cash valued at ?1.25m from his estate which have been
confiscated under the Proceeds From Crime Act.
Also being prepared for sale in the coming weeks is the ?¼m holiday
home bought by Johnston at Carrowcardin, a few miles from
Enniscrone, a year ago.
People in Enniscrone yesterday were shocked to learn of the
gruesome background of the fisherman who regularly visited.
One local man said: "Even though it isn't very far from anywhere
the property is still very isolated. It was obviously a hideaway
for him. He drove a four-wheel drive which was what it took to get
down the laneway to the house."
Johnston spent a lot of his weekends lovingly carrying out work on
the house. "People around here hardly spoke to him or even saw
him," one neighbour said. "We had absolutely no clue as to this
fella's past. It came as a real shock."
ARA chief Alan McQuillan insisted it was not just dead paramilitary
bosses he had in his sights.
"Most of the people we are pursuing are very much alive and
kicking," he said. "They cover the entire range of crime in
Northern Ireland: smuggling in south Armagh, drug dealing in the
north-west, and extortion in Belfast. Half the cases have
paramilitary links and another quarter involve organised crime," he
Bloody Sunday Tribunal Jury Gets Summation
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST -- The Bloody Sunday tribunal has begun its closing stages
with the lawyer who advises the three judges saying that, despite
long years of evidence, it is still unknown which soldiers fired
the fatal bullets.
The tribunal has to decide why none of the 14 victims was armed if,
as the soldiers say, they only fired at gunmen and bombers. The
soldiers' case is that armed IRA men were killed but their bodies
were taken away and buried in secret across the border.
At the start of a two-day summation, Christopher Clarke said
despite the inquiry costing an estimated £155 million, it was not
known which Parachute Regiment soldiers had carried out most of the
shootings in the 1972 incident.
"Even after many days of evidence, the answer to the first
question, 'Who shot them?' is not, on the soldiers' evidence, in
any way clear," he said while adding that Soldier F appeared to
have shot one of the dead, Michael Kelly, while Soldier G had shot
two others, Gerard McKinney and Gerard Donaghy.
Another of the deceased, Kevin McElhinney, was shot by Soldiers K,
L or M, he alleged, while two of the wounded, Damien Donaghy and
John Johnston, appeared to have been shot by either Soldiers A or
Clarke was critical of the planning by military chiefs on the days
before the civil rights march. He said the British Commander of
Land Forces, Gen. Robert Ford, had left the detailed planning for
the arrest operation to officers lower down the ranks.
The tribunal may want to consider whether Ford should have had
himself better informed as to whether the arrest operation that he
wanted was going to work, he said.
"The tribunal will wish to consider whether there was inadequate
planning as a result of which the operation which was carried out
was likely to be unsuccessful and indeed risky," Clarke said.
"If it were so to conclude, it would mean that the tragedy of
Bloody Sunday arose from an operation that was unlikely to achieve
its ends and carried out on the orders of someone who had no clear
idea of what the arrest force planned to do at the time he launched
The final report by Lord Saville and his fellow judges is expected
to be published by the summer of 2005.
This story appeared in the issue of November 24-30, 2004
PSNI And Orange Relations At 'All Time Low' After Twelfth Defiance
25 November 2004
Relations between the Orange Order and the PSNI are at an "all time
low" after a District Master was interviewed by police following a
Twelfth of July parade, it emerged today.
Over 300 people attended a public meeting of East Belfast District
Policing Partnership last night to protest angrily at the police
actions following the Ballymacarrett No 6 District LOL parade in
Furious Orangemen accused the police of operating a vendetta to
stop their parades in the east of the city and to stop them playing
District Master Raymond Spiers and two other senior officers have
been questioned about why the parade stopped at Middlepath Street
for almost an hour on the evening of the Twelfth.
It is also understood that they were also questioned about why The
Sash was played near the interface with Short Strand - in breach of
a Parades Commission ruling.
East Belfast Superintendent Nigel Richie told the meeting last
night that a file has now been passed to the Director of Public
After the meeting East Belfast DPP member Jim Rodgers said: "It is
now clear that relations between the PSNI and the Orange Order are
at an all time low."
Under Fire PSNI May Withdraw CS Sprays
Police considering alternatives to controversial gas
By Brian Hutton
25 November 2004
The PSNI is actively considering withdrawing from use highly
controversial CS gas sprays, it can be revealed today.
The toxic substance, sprayed on a person's face to incapacitate
them, is being used by police around ten times a month in Northern
Ireland, since it's recent reintroduction.
PSNI operational support officers, involved in research and
development, are currently exploring alternatives to the hand held
"Police are monitoring the wider alternatives to CS incapacitant
spray, as a matter of best practice," confirmed a spokesperson at
PSNI headquarters today.
Police would not release details about which products are being
However, one of Northern Ireland's top police officers,
Superintendent Richard Russell, remarked recently that
"alternatives (to CS gas) are coming on the market all the time".
Presenting his half yearly report to Derry's district policing
partnership, the commander suggested pepper or pava spray, used by
the Sussex police force in England, as well as in some European
countries, as a possible replacement.
The PSNI is looking for "something that is the same, but has
slightly different effects from CS gas" he remarked.
Already, one police officer has been suspended pending an internal
PSNI investigation following an incident involving CS gas in Derry
The Police Ombudsman revealed today that she is currently
investigating 38 incidents of CS spray use by the PSNI since August
Nuala O'Loan's office has also received 22 complaints from members
of the public about incidents involving its use.
A National Poisons Information Service report in the Emergency
Medicine Journal recently suggested symptoms of CS gas could be
more adverse than previously thought.
The research sparked calls for a thorough investigation into the
effects of the toxic substance.
PM Raises Hopes Of Removing Beef Ban
By Michael Drake
25 November 2004
Prime Minister Tony Blair has given Sinn Fein a glimmer of hope
regarding the lifting of the eight year export ban on Ulster beef.
Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew said a meeting
with Mr Blair gave her some hope regarding the ban.
"We have discussed this with him on a number of occasions as it is
essential to the survival and growth of farming here.
"Without saying too much, I believe Mr Blair has an appreciation we
are in a different situation to England, Scotland and Wales.
"He is aware we have a greater and more advanced system of
Mark Thatcher Must Face Questioning Over Guinea 'Coup Plot'
By Raymond Whitaker in Cape Town
25 November 2004
Sir Mark Thatcher suffered a legal setback yesterday at the start
of a series of court appearances over his alleged involvement in a
failed coup in the oil-rich state of Equatorial Guinea earlier this
The former Prime Minister's son, who is due to face charges under
South Africa's anti-mercenary laws today, must also submit to
questioning tomorrow by the central African state, which accuses
him of helping to finance the coup plot.
The 51-year-old businessman appeared confident as he arrived at the
high court in Cape Town for his first legal hurdle, an appeal
against an order to answer Equatorial Guinea's questions under
But at the end of the 90-minute ruling, a full bench of three
judges rejected his counsel's arguments and dismissed his
application to have the Equatorial Guinea subpoena set aside. Costs
were also awarded against him. Sir Mark said on the steps of the
court: "They did reaffirm my right to silence, but it was a long
judgment and we will have to study it." Last night his lawyer, Alan
Bruce-Brand, said no decision had been taken on whether to appeal.
Yesterday's judgment adds to Sir Mark's proliferating legal
problems since his arrest in August by South Africa's elite
Scorpions task force. He was freed from house arrest after his
mother, Baroness Thatcher, stood £180,000 bail for him, but his
passport has been impounded, he is confined to the Cape Peninsula
area and has to report daily to a police station.
The forthcoming issue of Vanity Fair magazine carries an interview
in which Sir Mark says: "I will never be able to do business again.
Who will deal with me? Thank God my father is not alive to see
Today he is to appear at a magistrates' court in the Cape Town
suburb of Wynberg to answer charges under the country's Foreign
Military Assis- tance Act, which carry a maximum penalty of 15
years' jail. Last week three South Africans admitted their
involvement in the coup plot and were spared prison sentences in
return for agreeing to testify against him.
One is Crause Steyl, a former pilot in the apartheid-era special
forces with whom the Briton invested £160,000 to buy helicopters.
Mr Steyl said that he was fully aware they were to be used in the
attempted coup, but Sir Mark has said he believed they were for an
air ambulance venture in Sudan.
Sir Mark may also have to fight extradition attempts by Equatorial
Guinea, which has charged him in absentia. He has been linked to
the coup plot by Nick du Toit, who is on trial in Equatorial Guinea
with eight other former members of South Africa's special forces. A
verdict is due tomorrow on charges that they were the advance guard
for a planeload of mercenaries led by Simon Mann, a former SAS
officer and friend of Sir Mark who has been jailed in Zimbabwe for
illegal arms purchases.
Under South African law, 42 questions set by Equatorial Guinea
investigators, mostly concerning his dealings with Mr du Toit and
Mr Mann, would be put to Sir Mark by a local magistrate in an open
Missing 25,000 Voters
The Andersonstown News can reveal that up to 25,000 voters could be
shaved off the latest West Belfast electoral register due for
publication next Wednesday.
The finding comes after the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley
wrote to West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams, in response to a letter from
the Sinn Féin President inquiring into voter registration in his
"Reminder letters and registration forms were sent in early
November to a total of 12,658 individuals in Belfast West whose
names appeared on 1 September Register but had failed to return
completed forms by 19 October," wrote Denis Stanley. "Blank
registration forms were also sent to a further 5,249 homes where
there were no electors registered at 1 September."
With the new electoral register scheduled for publication next
Wednesday the Andersonstown News has learned that a massive
registration campaign – spearheaded by key community activists – is
already gearing up for action.
The news comes amid speculation that the British government is
planning to change the registration laws in order to address
widespread concerns about the shortfall in the electoral register.
The Andersonstown News has learned that up to 25,000 voters could
be shaved off the new electoral register for West Belfast which is
due to be published next Wednesday (December 2).
The astonishing revelations are contained in a letter written by
the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley and sent to West Belfast
MP Gerry Adams last week.
News of the potential shortfall comes amidst media reports that the
British government is considering changes to the electoral
registration process following widespread concerns over the drop in
the voting register.
That drop – disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters – was
provoked by new registration policies and restrictive ID methods
introduced as part of the Electoral Fraud Act.
In his letter, dated November 13, Denis Stanley stated that,
"reminder letters and registration forms were sent in early
November to a total of 12,658 individuals in Belfast West whose
names appeared on 1 September Register but had failed to return
completed forms by 19 October.
"Blank registration forms were also sent to a further 5,249 homes
where there were no electors registered at 1 September.
"During the course of this year's annual canvass, query letters
have been sent to 2,166 electors who had returned incomplete or
incorrectly completed forms.
"Of these 438 queries remained outstanding on Monday 15 November,"
wrote Denis Stanley.
When the figures are totalled for both individuals and households,
seasoned electoral observers calculate a possible shortfall in the
West Belfast register of 25,000 voters.
Expressing anger at the revelations, local Sinn Féin Councillor
Gerard O'Neill – who also experienced trouble with his electoral
registration form last month – said the figures "quite clearly
demonstrate that a problem exists in relation to the registration
of people in working-class areas of high deprivation, particularly
in terms of the resources given to an area like West Belfast".
"I am very angry and concerned about these revelations. The
Electoral Office has a responsibility to ensure the maximum number
of people is assisted to secure their democratic franchise, but if
this success rate related to a commercial business – it would fold.
"The Electoral Office has failed and very serious questions are now
being asked about the manner in which the process of registration
is being managed.
"I experienced basic problems with my form last month when I was
told it hadn't arrived even though I had sent it in, but because I
am a councillor, I was able to take the matter up publicly. How
many other residents in West Belfast are going to be faced with a
similar disenfranchisement but won't be able to pursue the matter
the way I did?" asked Councillor O'Neill.
Since the 2001 Westminster election, the electoral register for
West Belfast has already dropped by over 12,000 voters.
Next week's fresh register is expected to confirm that negative and
dramatic trend. In anticipation of that likelihood, key community
activists are already gearing up for a massive registration
campaign throughout the constituency.
Â Read next Thursday's Andersonstown News for more details
Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney
Annie Demands Blair Apology
Appeal made on eve of 30th anniversary of arrest and wrongful
As the 30th anniversary of the arrest of the Maguire Seven
approaches this week Annie Maguire has called on the British Prime
Minister to apologise publicly to her family for their false
Members of the family were arrested on 3 December 1974 and charged
with the possession of the explosive nitroglycerine. The Maguire
Seven were arrested following an alleged remark made by Gerry
Conlon from the Guildford Four during his own arrest. Conlon, a
nephew of Annie and also a victim of a miscarriage of justice, is
alleged to have made a remark about learning to make bombs in his
Aunt Annie's kitchen when being grilled about the Guildford pub
The seven were sentenced to various terms in prison, despite a lack
of forensic evidence. Annie and her husband Patrick were sentenced
to 14 years. Sean Smyth, Annie's brother received 12 years as did
Gerry Conlon's father Guiseppe and family friend Pat O'Neill.
Sixteen-year-old Vincent Maguire was sentenced to five years and
Patrick Junior, who was 13 at the time, was given a four year term.
On 23 January 1980, Guiseppe Conlon died in prison, the rest of the
Maguire Seven served full sentences with Annie being the last to
leave prison on 22 February 1985. The Maguire Seven finally had
their convictions quashed in June 1991 after the Guildford Four's
convictions were also quashed. However no apology was ever made to
the Maguire family by the British government.
Now on the eve of the 30th anniversary of their arrest Annie – who
hails from Abyssinia Street in the Falls – says that the time spent
in prison robbed her family of precious years together, something
they can neither forgive nor forget.
"The day I was sentenced my life finished. I had no husband or no
children and I believed that my life was over. I died at that
point," said Annie.
"The time in jail completely destroyed my family and to this day we
are affected by it.
"My kids were made orphans and all I ever wanted was to get that
time back with my kids.
"Nobody has ever said sorry and I want Tony Blair to apologise for
what the British government did to my family," she added.
The 69-year-old says that she hopes that one day an apology will be
"I will never give up hope that one day they will say sorry and if
I don't see it in my lifetime then I hope that my children will see
the day when an apology is made to the Maguire family."
Annie says that the family are closely knit, living just streets
apart in London.
"Every day for me is a bonus and I have seven grandchildren and
four great grandchildren and every minute that I spend with them is
a bonus. Although sometimes when I watch the grandchildren playing
I get flashbacks and think that when their parents were the same
age they were in jail or had no parents to look after them.
"The memories of that time never go away," she added.
Journalist:: Anthony Neeson
RUC Man At The Centre Of Pearse Jordan Shooting Leaves The North
The Andersonstown News has learned that the RUC member – known as
Sergeant A – who was responsible for the shooting dead of local man
Pearse Jordan in 1992, is no longer resident in the North.
And the fact that Sergeant A no longer lives within the
jurisdiction creates a real possibility that he will never have to
testify at any kind of legal proceedings related to Mr Jordan's
Pearse Jordan was shot dead in a controversial shoot-to-kill
operation on this day (November 25) 12 years ago.
The 22-year-old was driving down the Falls Road when two vehicles
carrying an elite RUC unit rammed his car near the entrance to St
At that point, eyewitnesses reported that Pearse – who was unarmed
– stumbled from his car in a daze before the RUC opened fire,
shooting him three times in the back from close range.
Although the IRA later stated that Pearse was a Volunteer in the
organisation, no incriminating evidence of any kind was recovered
either at the scene of the shooting or in the car he was driving.
For the last 12 years Pearse's parents, Hugh and Teresa, have
continuously battled with their legal team at Madden and Finucane
to secure justice in the case.
However, as with many shoot-to-kill cases, there has not been an
inquest yet into Pearse Jordan's killing.
Legal sources close to the Jordan family have indicated that the
key reason behind the delays is a policy decision by the British
government to constantly obstruct proceedings and challenge almost
every direction issued by the courts in the case.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, Hugh Jordan pledged
to "carry on and get justice in whatever way we can".
"We don't have any other choice," he said.
"The RUC/PSNI, the DPP, the courts and the British government
generally have been consistently getting these cases strung out.
"Ironically the length of time since the incident could also be
used by the Crown in their favour at any future hearings.
"Potentially, as well as witnesses not being available, they could
use the delays they encounter in order to try and question the
credibility of independent eyewitnesses."
Arguing that the British government has taken a policy decision to
obstruct even basic hearings into killings carried out in its name,
such as the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, Hugh called for
justice in the cases.
"These cases all have similarities. It is British policy to string
out the cases as long as possible in the hope that detail can be
distorted or the search for truth diverted.
"The police have routinely withheld key evidence from coroner's
courts and then when they have been forced by the courts to hand it
over they have given assurances they will comply, only to go back
and constantly challenge such rulings in the courts.
"The reality is I would prefer that the European courts were able
to impartially consider all these cases and issues, because there
is no possibility of British justice in this type of case," said
Earlier this year there were two key decisions in the case
regarding Judicial Review proceedings taken by solicitors for the
The Jordan family have welcomed the potential impact of some of the
recommendations arising out of these proceedings, particularly the
fact that following any inquest the Department of the Director of
Public Prosecutions (DPP) should re- examine its decision not to
prosecute the RUC members involved in the killing, specifically
Any inquest will also be allowed to examine the planning of the
operation in which Pearse Jordan was killed, as well as reaching
conclusion on the nature of the death.
However given that Sergeant A is apparently no longer resident in
the North, there are very serious question marks as to whether he
could even be compelled to attend an inquest, never mind face
subsequent charges from the DPP.
Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney
Dublin Site Fetches 86 Million Euro
An 11-acre site in Dublin has set a new record for a public land
sale, fetching a massive 86 million euro.
The land at `The Grange` on the Stillorgan Road has been bought by
the Glenkerrin Group, headed by leading developer Ray Grehan.
Planning permission has been given for 478 residential units, an
86-bed nursing home as well as a number of retail outlets.
Celebrate A Celtic Christmas In Plymouth
Last year, Cherish the Ladies' concert at Plymouth State University
was snowed out. Fans of Irish music will have a second chance to
enjoy the band when they return to the Silver Cultural Arts Center
Over the past 16 years, Cherish the Ladies (their name is also the
name of a time-honored Irish traditional jig) have grown from a
one-time concert concept to an Irish traditional music sensation,
literally the most successful and sought-after Irish-American group
in Celtic music history.
Organized by folklorist/musician Mick Moloney and sponsored by the
Ethnic Folk Arts Center and the National Endowment for the Arts,
Cherish the Ladies began as a concert series featuring the
brightest lights in Irish traditional music. Though initially the
group won recognition as the first and only all-women traditional
Irish band, they soon established themselves as musicians and
performers without peer and have won many thousands of listeners
and fans of their music.
With their unique blend of virtuosi instrumental talents, beautiful
vocals, captivating arrangements and stunning step dancing, this
powerhouse group combines all the facets of Irish traditional
culture and puts it forth in a humorous and entertaining package.
In recent years Cherish the Ladies has performed all over North and
South America, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Their collaboration with The Boston Pops on The Celtic Album won
them a Grammy nomination and the Irish Voice Newspaper named them
Group of the Year. Their latest albums are "On Christmas Night" and
"The Girls Won't Leave the Boys Alone," featuring guest artists The
Clancy Brothers, Pete Seeger, Tommy Makem and Hothouse Flowers.
Their newest album, "Across the Waves," has just been released.
Members of the group include: Joanie Madden, Mary Coogan, Heidi
Talbot, Mirella Murray and Robin Dillon. They will take part in a
pre-performance discussion at 6 p.m. and a post-show reception.
Their appearance is part of the Silver Concert Series and will
begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday in Silver Cultural Arts Center on Main
Street in Plymouth. Ticket prices are $26-$23 adults, $25-$22
seniors and $20-$17 youths. Tickets are available at the SCAC box
office, Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m., or by calling
The concert is sponsored by the Pemigewasset National Bank and
Bridgewater Power Company.