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December 14, 2004

12/14/04 - Hoax Alert At Holy Cross School

Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

BT 12/14/04 Hoax Alert At Holy Cross School
BT 12/14/04 Police Watchdog Criticises Pace Of Defortification
BT 12/14/04 Father Blames Loyalists For Brutal Assault On Girls
SF 12/14/04 Sinn Féin Slam Sectarian Attack On Young Girl
SF 12/14/04 Brún Calls For EU Support For PEACE II And IFI
BT 12/14/04 Chances Fading Of Deal By Christmas –A(2)
BT 12/14/04 Ahern Backs Down Over Photos 'Gaffe'
EX 12/14/04 Opin: Deadlock - Time For Clear Words And Leadership
BT 12/14/04 Viewpoint: Hopes For Deal Hinge On Transparency
BT 12/14/04 Devolution Blueprint 'Mis-Sold' Says SDLP
BT 12/14/04 Alliance Leader Hits At Blair On Talks
IO 12/14/04 Bail Granted To Alleged Dissident Republicans
NL 12/14/04 Hackers Target Apprentice Boys' Official Website
SF 12/14/04 Martin Ferris Addresses Liam Mellows Commemoration
BT 12/14/04 Annetta Kidnap Gang Suspect Quizzed
TS 12/14/04 Neeson Hosts New York Fundraiser For Belfast Lyric

NW 12/13/04 Philadelphia Craft Show With Irsh Craft Workers –VO
IA 12/11/04 Eamonn Dornan & Bernice Swift Interviews –AO

Philadelphia Craft Fair - Eoin Ryan reports from the Philadelphia
Craft Show where Irish craft workers were asked to participate

To Hear Eamonn Dornan (Ciaran Ferry's Attorney) and Bernice Swift
of the An Fhirrene organization on Irish Aires show last Saturday
night follow this link:


Hoax Alert At Holy Cross School

By Ashleigh Wallace
14 December 2004

A late night security alert at Holy Cross Primary School in north
Belfast has been declared a hoax.

The Army's bomb disposal unit was called to the Ardoyne around
11.30pm yesterday to examine a suspicious object found in the
grounds of the school.

The alert followed a telephoned bomb warning which was received by
a local newsroom last night.

The object was examined by the Army. A police spokeswoman said: "It
was later declared to be a hoax and a number of items were removed
for further examination."

Police investigating last night's incident have appealed for anyone
who noticed suspicious activity in the Ardoyne Road, Wheatfield or
Glenbryn areas of the city around 11pm to contact them at Antrim
Road on 028 9065 0222.

Information on last night's hoax bomb scare can also be passed on
by calling Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.


See the complete report at:

Police Watchdog Criticises Pace Of Defortification

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
14 December 2004

The PSNI is making painfully slow progress in transforming heavily
fortified police stations across the province, the Oversight
Commissioner warned today.

In his latest report former Canadian Mounted Police Chief Al
Hutchinson has also expressed concerns over the rate of recruitment
of Catholics to civilian posts.

This is the 12th report from the Oversight Commissioner on the
implementation of policing reform in Northern Ireland.

In the report he said that the progress and pace of policing reform
had been "both real and significant" but warned much work remains
to be done to implement the Patten Report.

He said: "The most important step still to be taken is for all
community and political representatives to ensure that Northern
Ireland's policing institutions receive their full and unequivocal

However, Mr Hutchinson listed a number of concerns in his 90-page
report, particularly over the rate of civilianisation of the force.

He said: "The pace of civilianisation, some five years after the
release of the Independent Commission's report, remains a concern
as does the representative nature of the future civilian workforce.

"In a time of increased public concern about crime and safety, it
is difficult to understand the PSNI's reluctance to forge ahead
with civilianisation as quickly as possible, given the large number
of police officers who continue to do jobs that could be performed
by civilians."

The Oversight Commissioner also noted the slow pace of de-
fortifying police stations.

"Although the PSNI has made some progress on making police stations
more normal and welcoming, this has been slow and seemingly

"The day-to-day reality that people are faced with in terms of
their community's police station is not so different from the past
- armoured gates and guard posts, high blast walls, bleak and dingy
receptions areas.

"If the community is ever to view its police service in a different
light, then anything that the PSNI can do to put more police
officers on the streets, and make its buildings as normal and
inviting as possible should be done."

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Roy Toner responded: "The Police
Service is in the process of finalising its Estate Strategy which
will be brought to the Policing Board early in the New Year.

"The PSNI welcomes the report by the Oversight Commissioner."


Teenager (15) beaten unconscious by gang of men

Father Blames Loyalists For Brutal Assault On Girls

By Ashleigh Wallace
14 December 2004

The father of a teenage girl who was beaten unconscious in north
Belfast today said that he believed loyalists were behind the

Laura Cleary (15), a pupil at the Little Flower Secondary School,
spent the night in hospital after she and a friend were attacked by
several men on the Serpentine Road.

Speaking from his Voltaire Gardens home this morning, Laura's
father Martin said: "It takes a brave man to hit a 15-year-old

Mr Cleary claimed that his daughter was beaten unconscious by up to
three men who got out of a white car in the Whitewell area around

He said: "As far as I know, Laura and her friend were at the top of
Voltaire and a car kept driving up and down the road.

"The people in the car started shouting sectarian abuse at them and
as they walked along Serpentine Gardens, the car came back and
started chasing them."

Mr Cleary said the terrified girls hid behind a shop, but three men
got out of the car. He said a female remained in the car.

He added: "One of the fellas grabbed Laura and threw her on the
ground. He started banging her head off the ground and her friend
has told me she was also hit with sticks.

"She was hit about the ribs and she's badly bruised around the face
and neck."

Mr Cleary said Laura's friend was also assaulted but she managed to
get away.

Recalling last night's events, the father added: "When I ran up I
couldn't find Laura at first, I thought she'd been pulled into the

"She was lying unconscious and a woman had come out of one of the
houses and put a blanket round her to keep her warm."

Local SDLP councillor Pat Convery accused Laura's attackers of
"stooping to the lowest level".

Saying that his thoughts were with the family, Mr Convery said: "I
am concerned about the number of attacks taking place in north

Police investigations into the attack were continuing today and it
is understood a sectarian motive is one line of enquiry being

A police spokesman said: "We are appealing for anyone who was in
the Serpentine Road area and who either heard or observed any
suspicious activity to contact police in the Antrim Road on 9065

Both communities in the area have suffered from sectarian attacks.


Sinn Féin Slam Sectarian Attack On Young Girl

Published: 14 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Councillor for North Belfast, David Kennedy has slammed
the sectarian attack on a fifteen year old girl, which took place
around 10:30 pm tonight, on the Serpentine Road. The young girl who
was walking home with a friend was attacked by three men and a
women who were seen in the area in a car.

Speaking tonight Cllr Kennedy said:

"This attack was an act of cowardice. Those responsible picked a
very easy target and attacked two vulnerable teenage girls. The
girls were walking home tonight when a car stopped and those inside
got out and beat one of the girls unconcious. Her friend was lucky
enough to escape and call for help but she is also, as can only be
expected, very shaken.

"Tonight's attack however happened only yards from a PSNI camera
placed on the interface. If there is evidence on it it must be
produced and if not serious questions need to be asked.

"I am urging all nationalists, especially in North Belfast, to be
extremely vigilant. Many people will be out visiting friends or
enjoying Christmas occassions and unfortunately loyalist gangs are
exploiting this.

"I am also calling on those with influence within the loyalist and
unionist community, following now the third serious attack on young
nationalists in the space of a week, to help put an end these
attacks." ENDS


Bairbre De Brún Calls For EU Parliament Support For PEACE II And

Published: 14 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning urged the European
Parliament and the European Council to "continue their positive
signals and support for the Irish peace process". Ms de Brún was
speaking before the presentation of two reports to the European
Parliament. Votes will be taken both today and tomorrow to extend
funding for Peace II and the IFI.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Ms de Brún said:

"I wish to welcome the reports being presented this week to the EU
Parliament. It is important that all measures are processed
speedily and allow continued funding for peace building in the New
Year. We have all seen the negative consequences of gap funding
projects and measures.

"Sinn Féin is calling upon fellow MEPs to support the proposal for
extended funding for the PEACE II Programme and the International
Fund for Ireland for a further two years.

"Many people recognise the importance of the PEACE Programme to a
continuing process of conflict resolution in Ireland. Such funding
is vitally important if we are to help promote national
reconciliation, social inclusion and peace building. A positive
signal from the European Union at this stage of the peace process
would be an important recognition of its support for the efforts of
those who work at the coalface of conflict resolution.

"It is also important to stress that PEACE funding should be
distributed on the basis of need. Peace funding cannot be allocated
on the basis of religious or political affiliation. It must be and
can only be allocated on the basis of need.

"Both myself and my colleague Mary Lou McDonald MEP, urge the
European Parliament to play its part in helping to consolidate the
Irish peace process at this important time, resulting in an
immediate and positive impact upon people and projects at the
coalface of peace building in Ireland." ENDS


DUP agrees to meeting after apology from Taoiseach - Ian Paisley Jr
of the DUP gives his party's view on the latest developments in the
Northern Ireland peace process

Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs, discusses the issues
standing in the way of an agreement in the North

Chances Fading Of Deal By Christmas –A(2)

DUP and Sinn Fein still stuck on arms issue

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
14 December 2004

The prospect of a pre-Christmas agreement to restore devolution
faded today as the governments fought to rescue a deal.

As DUP leader Ian Paisley prepared to meet Tony Blair in Downing
Street this afternoon, it appeared efforts to revive the talks are
likely to continue right up until Christmas.

But both the DUP and Sinn Fein have stuck fast to their attitudes
over photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning - Mr Paisley
insisting it is a necessity, Gerry Adams arguing it is "dead and

The immediate chances of putting negotiations between the DUP and
Sinn Fein back on track, however, appeared to rest on a statement
from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tomorrow.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot
Ahern are also due to chair meetings in Hillsborough tomorrow to
assess the prospects for progress.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference has also been
brought forward a day to tomorrow, with Mr Blair and Mr Ahern then
due to discuss the situation at a European Council meeting in
Brussels on Thursday.

But it remained unclear today whether the DUP will attend
tomorrow's talks after the party broke off contact with the Irish
Government yesterday over comments by Mr Ahern that the proposals
for photographic evidence were "unworkable".

Despite the boycott, however, Mr Paisley then accepted a phone call
from Mr Ahern who explained his phrasing had been unfortunate and
he had been expounding the Sinn Fein position.

Although Mr Ahern was said to have proffered a full apology, the
DUP said it would wait to hear Mr Ahern's statement tomorrow before
finally deciding whether to join the meeting.

The ramifications of the Progressive Democrats' insistence on
republican clarification on criminality, and the fallout of the row
over the planned release of the killers of Garda Gerry McCabe also
appeared to make it more likely that detailed talks will be
'parked' at least until the New Year.

Further evidence of potential unravelling came as SDLP leader, Mark
Durkan, due to meet Mr Ahern later today, warned too many issues
had been left out of the Governments' Comprehensive Agreement

Mr Durkan said: "People have been told there is a fixed timetable
and the reality is there isn't.

"The focus on this issue of photographs means other issues, such as
the automatic exclusion of power which could be used and which is a
fundamental departure from the Agreement have not been resolved."

Mr Durkan said while Sinn Fein had said the IRA would be humiliated
by a photograph, they had not been humiliated by conceding a
unionist veto in the Executive.

And Ulster Unionists have warned that proposals to allow Northern
Ireland MPs speaking rights in the Dail should be a "potential


Ahern Backs Down Over Photos 'Gaffe'

By Brian Walker, London Editor
14 December 2004

Ian Paisley was due at Downing Street this afternoon following
Gerry Adams's talks with the Prime Minister yesterday in what
appeared to be last-ditch efforts to break the deadlock over
decommissioning photographs.

A threatened DUP boycott of talks with Bertie Ahern, after he
called their demand for photographs of IRA decommissioning
unworkable, seemed to subside last night after the Taoiseach
hastily rang Ian Paisley to apologise.

Mr Ahern made his apparent gaffe when declaring, alongside Gerry
Adams yesterday morning, that:

"The Government's position on decommissioning is that we were happy
with John de Chastelain. Then there was the issue of further
witnesses - we were happy with that. We tried the issue of
photographs. That's not workable so we have to try and find some
other way."

Following talks in Downing Street with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Mr Adams appealed to Mr Paisley not to let the opportunity
to restore power-sharing government slip.

"The photographs are dead and gone and buried in Ballymena," Mr
Adams said in a reference to Mr Paisley's constituency.

"I don't think there is any possibility of resurrecting that

Mr Adams acknowledged that the Democratic Unionists had moved a
long way in the talks which ended last week and urged Mr Paisley
not to lose the progress that had been made.

"It would be a sin if this opportunity was let slip," he said.

"I think he has the opportunity to be the leader of unionism who
brings us into a new era."

In a nine-minute call to Mr Paisley, Mr Ahern "apologised for any
confusion that this might have caused and reassured the Rev Paisley
that the Irish Government had not abandoned the proposals of last
week," said the Taoiseach's office.

On first hearing Mr Ahern's remarks, Ian Paisley had fumed: "We
have cut off all connection with the southern Government.

"From day one until now Mr Ahern never opposed photographs.
Suddenly he meets two IRA/Sinn Feiners and he comes out and says it
is not workable.

"So anything the IRA says is not workable he will bow to." But by
early evening the DUP had declared themselves "satisfied" with the

The DUP will apparently meet the Republic's Foreign Minister Dermot
Ahern at Stormont as planned, after the Taoiseach confirms no
change over photographs in a Dail debate tomorrow.

Calling last Thursday's IRA statement "a mighty piece of work," Mr
Adams said: "To observe the mice nibbling at the package must make
most ordinary people despair.

"Matters could still be resolved but the difficulties are
compounded by the fact that Ian Paisley will not talk to me."

Referring to Mr Paisley's offer to talk to him about sin, Mr Adams
said he would be prepared to talk to the DUP leader if there was an

"We are trying to brainstorm and find a way forward, Ian Paisley
should do the same."

Downing Street described a notably difficult day as "the two
parties testing how far they were prepared to go".


Opin: North Deadlock - Time For Clear Words And Leadership

NOT for the first time, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been left with
egg on his face over his tendency not to use joined-up language
when speaking on major issues.

For a while yesterday it seemed he was helping to unravel the
historic deal to restore power sharing and bring peace to the

With seemingly minor problems conspiring to undo the dramatic
progress made towards a final solution, the governments are taking
two steps back for every step forward and a deal before Christmas
now seems unlikely.

In his latest gaffe, the Taoiseach had to explain to DUP leader Ian
Paisley that he had left out key words in a statement that conceded
the use of photographs to verify IRA decommissioning was no longer
an option.

The words omitted were dynamite. The views were those of Sinn Féin
and not of the Government.

No sooner had Mr Paisley threatened to sever connections with the
Government than Mr Ahern was on the phone to avert a crisis. In the
event however the DUP, while accepting the Taoiseach's apology, had
indeed severed those links.

In another apparent U-turn, Mr Ahern is now giving more weight than
he originally attached to PD demands for an IRA commitment to end
criminality as part of the agreement. Undeniably, his leadership
has been undermined by the charge that the PD tail was wagging the
FF dog.

In yet another bizarre twist in the North saga, Sinn Féin leader
Gerry Adams has refused to speak the words necessary to give
credence to an IRA pledge to end paramilitarism with all that

The Adams claim that no republican activist was a criminal is
ludicrous beyond belief. He stretches credulity to the limit by
arguing that criminal behaviour was inconsistent with being an IRA

For over three decades, criminality in the guise of political
activism has gone hand in glove with republicanism. How can the
outlandish Adams claim be squared with shooting a garda while
holding up a post office van?

By no stretch of the imagination was there any connection whatever
between that callous killing and any cause for Irish freedom. Yet
the simple words that would commit the IRA to ending such
criminality stick in the republican craw.

Clutching at the prospect of peace at any price, the early release
of the killers is understood to have been agreed by the Government
as early as October 2003, when a deal looked imminent. Realpolitik
had superseded a pledge to the McCabe family that the killers would
not qualify for early release.

Three obstacles now stand in the way of a Christmas deal: the
timing of IRA decommissioning; the irreconcilable differences over
publication of the photographs; and the IRA refusal to commit to
ending all forms of criminality.

If, as Mr Adams claims, the IRA is committed to ending
paramilitarism, why then are they refusing to state criminality
will end for once and for all?

It beggars belief that the simple wording of such a commitment is
not acceptable to the republican movement. Along with the rest of
the people on this island, the IRA must be prepared to live under
the rule of law.

If the deal on the table is worth the paper it is written on,
republicans will have to make a clean break with the past. That
means putting an end to every form of criminality, including
punishment beatings, knee capping, bank robberies, intimidation and
other crimes.

With the tantalising prize of power sharing within reach, the
Taoiseach must make clearer statements and give more decisive
leadership on issues that could delay or even derail the chance of
lasting peace in the troubled North.


Viewpoint: Hopes For Deal Hinge On Transparency

BUILDING TRUST: IRA must sever all criminal links and move into
'retired' mode

14 December 2004

Time is fast running out for the deal that faltered last week and
refuses to respond to the governments' attempts at revival. Bertie
Ahern almost dealt it a death blow when he dismissed photographs of
decommissioning as "unworkable" and only an abject apology to Ian
Paisley for appearing to retreat from last week's understanding has
kept hope alive.

The DUP will be waiting for the Taoiseach's statement to the Dail,
clarifying matters, before resuming the search for agreement. But
already the slim chance of sufficient trust being established
between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams for them to share power in a
restored devolved executive is disappearing.

Even in the Republic, there seems to be a new realisation, at long
last, of the implications of an unreformed Sinn Fein, still linked
to the IRA, striking a deal in Northern Ireland. If that unlikely
event were to happen, by some accident, the south could also find
itself with a party with a mandate for sitting in government, while
the imperative of decommissioning and a new mode for the IRA had
not been finalised.

As comments by increasing numbers of politicians and commentators
in the Republic indicate, this would be as unacceptable there as it
is here. The clumsy, insensitive way in which the prospective
release of the killers of Garda Gerry McCabe was signalled to the
Dail, as a means of appeasing Sinn Fein, has alerted everyone to
the danger of diluting the democratic process, for whatever reason.

Gerry Adams himself underlined this point after his meeting in
Dublin yesterday, when he rejected complaints that the IRA's
statement in response to last week's failure left out a vital
pledge to respect people's rights and safety. To the Irish
government, the promise "to uphold and not to endanger anyone's
rights and safety" is an essential part of the deal, but Mr Adams
insisted that it was enough for the IRA to desist from any
activities which would jeopardise the agreement.

He went on: "You cannot be a criminal and a republican activist.
You cannot be involved in criminality and involved in republican
activism." To him, it may have been a natural defence of the IRA's
actions, over 30 years, but to the rest of the world it is a
blatant refusal to face facts.

As everyone knows, north and south, and as the Independent
Monitoring Commission has demonstrated, the IRA - like loyalist
paramilitaries - has been involved in all kinds of criminality,
from punishment shootings to racketeering. Unless all these
activities stop, and it moves into the "retired" mode that was
foreseen in last week's near agreement, there is no prospect of
politicians who have no military wing regarding Sinn Fein as a
suitable partner in government.

With only 17 days to go until the IRA is due to decommission
completely, there is a lot of ground to be covered if the deal is
to be closed. Only utter transparency, from Sinn Fein and the IRA,
can save it now.


Devolution Blueprint 'Mis-Sold' Says SDLP

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
14 December 2004

The SDLP today accused the British and Irish Governments of leaving
"messing space" in their blueprint document to restore devolution.

Leader Mark Durkan, who was meeting Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at
teatime in Dublin, warned the Governments had "mis-sold" their
proposals released last week.

"We were told everything would be nailed down," the former Deputy
First Minister said. "But this so-called comprehensive package is
anything but comprehensive."

And he also hit out at the "deliberate misdirection" of the focus
on photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning for distracting
from other issues still left unresolved - including Ministerial

The SDLP supports the two Governments' "compromise" proposal on
photographs, which would delay public viewing of the evidence until
the day before the new Executive would meet.

Mr Durkan also said he did not accept the Premiers' statement last
week that the review of the Good Friday Agreement had been
concluded and there was concern over legislative changes and a
potential veto which he said had been conceded by Sinn Fein.

"They have not been negotiating in the national interest. They have
not been negotiating in the interests of nationalists in the North.
They have been negotiating in the interests of the IRA.

"Their deal-breaker relates to a gang of bank-robbing Garda killers
(the Gerry McCabe case)."

The Foyle Assembly member, who was also briefing the political
parties in the Republic today, said he wanted the public debate on
the Governments' proposals, which they had called for.

He said: "People have been told there is a fixed timetable and the
reality is there isn't. The focus on this issue of photographs
means other issues, such as the automatic exclusion of power which
could be used and which is a fundamental departure from the
Agreement have not been resolved."

Mr Durkan said while Sinn Fein had said the IRA would be humiliated
by a photograph, they had not been humiliated by conceding a
unionist veto in the Executive.

"There seems to be confusion which doesn't inspire the rest of us
with a lot of confidence," he said.


Alliance Leader Hits At Blair On Talks

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
14 December 2004

Tony Blair came under fire from the Alliance Party today ahead of
renewed talks to attempt to revive devolution.

Leader David Ford said detailed study of annexes in the
comphrensive agreement paper from the two Governments showed a
number of worrying gaps.

In particular, he said, it was far from clear whether the IRA fully
accepted the need to satisfy paragraph 13 of the Governments' joint
declaration of 2003 requiring "acts of completion".

"Two years ago, the Prime Minister called for acts of completion.
It appears that neither the DUP nor the British Government have
actually focused on this over months of negotiation," he said

The South Antrim Assembly man said both had been sidetracked on the
issue of pictures of decommissioning.

"Of course, decommissioning is important as an act of good faith,
but the total end to all paramilitary violence is the prize that
Alliance seeks," he said.

"I don't think the people of Northern Ireland will be satisfied
with the draft IRA statement that appears to satisfy the Prime
Minister. It is time that Mr Blair stuck to the principles of his
own Joint Declaration.

"We have always said that it is up to the IRA, not unionists, to
choose their words, but it is vital that their words must be clear
and unambiguous."

Mr Ford said paragraph 13 made clear there must be an end to all
paramilitary activity including intelligence activities and street
violence."However, the proposed language of the IRA statement is
well short of this," he said.


Bail Granted To Alleged Dissident Republicans

13/12/2004 - 15:17:58

The Special Criminal Court today granted bail to two men arrested
during a garda investigation into the activities of dissident

The two men were arrested by Special Branch detectives at
Edgeworthstown, Co Longford last week.

Adrian Kirwan (aged 25), a native of Ballymun in Dublin, with an
address at Ardilaun Green, Ballymahon Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
and Colum Wiggins (aged 24), a native of Belfast with an address at
Derrynamasher, Annagry, Letterkenny, Co Donegal were each charged
with membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish
Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA
on December 5.

Today Detective Superintendent Diarmuid O'Sullivan of the Special
Detective Unit opposed bail and said that he believed the two men
would continue to be involved in an illegal organisation if freed
on bail.

The Detective Superintendent told the court that gardaí found eight
electronic timing devices in a car driven by Kirwan with Wiggins as
a passenger when it was stopped and searched at Edgeworthstown.

But Mr Justice Diarmuid O'Donovan, presiding, said that the two
accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence and there was
nothing to suggest they would not turn up for their trial if given

The court granted bail to each of the two men on their own bonds of
€100 each, an independent surety of €5,000 each and on the
condition that each of them sign on daily at a garda station.

Both men also gave an undertaking to the court not to associate
with people they know to have been convicted of subversive crime.

The court remanded the two men until February 1 next yaer.


Hackers Target Apprentice Boys' Official Website

Tuesday 14th December 2004

Computer hackers have targeted the official website of the
Apprentice Boys of Derry.

A message on the website yesterday, however, reassured the loyal
order's members that no important internet files have been

The Apprentice Boys are investigating tighter internet security
packages and appealed to the hackers to stop.

A message on the ABOD website warns: "To anyone who thinks it's
clever to hack into sites it isn't.

"You are not being particularly clever or smart and you are doing
nothing that anyone with an ounce of web browsing couldn't do.

"Now, if you really want to do something clever, stop hacking
legitimate community sites, all you are doing is hampering like-
minded individuals sharing thoughts and opinions.

"If you have something sensible to say, join the forums and post a
message accordingly."


Martin Ferris Addresses Liam Mellows Commemoration

Published: 14 December, 2004

Hundreds of people attended Sunday's annual Liam Mellows
Commemoration held in Castletown, County Wexford where Sinn Féin TD
Martin Ferris paid tribute to Liam Mellows whom he described as a
"Giant of Irish Republican history".

On June 25th, 1922 Liam Mellows, Rory O'Connor, Joseph McKelvey and
Dick Barrett, along with other comrades, took over the Four Courts
in Dublin. Two days later, they were forced to surrender having
been bombarded by Free State forces using a British gunboat, from
the river Liffey.

Mellows aged 27, who had been elected as a Sinn Féin TD for both
Meath and Galway, was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail. Six months
later, following the assasination of Sean Hales, on the morning of
December 8th 1922, Liam Mellows was taken from his prison cell,
along with Rory O'Connor, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey. All four
were shot dead, as reprisals, on the orders of the Free State
government. Liam Mellows is buried in Castletown, Co. Wexford on
his specific request, as it was here that he spent much of his
youth, living with his grandmother.

Martin Ferris reminded the attendance at Sunday's Commemoration,
that throughout the long history of Irish Republicanism, the
political establishment have never been for the Republic and have
attempted to criminalise the struggle for Irish freedom at every
single stage. "Whether it was the United Irishmen in 1798, Robert
Emmet in 1803, the Fenians in 1867, or the IRA from 1916 onwards.
At every single stage in the history of the struggle for Irish
freedom the ruling establishment has attempted to put down and to
criminalise the Republican struggle."

Referring to the ongoing negotiations Martin Ferris said:

"Sinn Féin is not giving up on this process. The IRA have made a
declaration of peaceful intent which should be pursued and
ultimatums from Ian Paisley or anyone else will not advance the
process. If the DUP are serious about reaching a deal then they
should have the courage of their convictions and sit face to face
with Sinn Féin and not attempt to humiliate a community that will
not be humiliated."

Speaking afterwards Wexford Sinn Féin Councillor John Dwyer echoed
those sentiments and referred to the incessant outrageous attacks
on Sinn Féin by the present Minister for Justice remarking that:
"In the case of Michael McDowell it is certainly true to say that
he is carrying on an ignoble family tradition of antipathy to Irish

"As we commemorate one of the great heroes of Irish Republicanism,
it is sadly ironic that the Emergency Powers bill under which Liam
Mellows and his comrades were executed was seconded by the present
Minister for Justice's Grandfather, Eoin McNeill.

"The Minister's grand-uncle, Hugo McNeill, was the officer in
charge of the firing squad that executed Liam Mellows. A 20-strong
firing party carried out these executions, ten standing, ten
kneeling. When the firing subsided murmuring was heard from one of
the men lying on the ground. It was Joe McKelvey, badly injured.
Hugo McNeill fired two shots into McKelvey, one to the chest, and
one to the head.

"Eoin McNeill, the Minister's grandfather, had signed a
countermanding order forbidding military action by Volunteers in
1916, causing great confusion and weakening the Rising. At the Sinn
Féin Ard Fheis in 1917 Countess Markiewicz, referring to McNeill
was to declare, "The Proclamation had to be reprinted at Liberty
Hall on Sunday to take his name off it."

"This is the tradition that our Minister for Justice inherits and
may perhaps even explain some of his own motivation. But the legacy
of Liam Mellows, and of all the Irish men and women who have given
their lives for Irish freedom is that the Irish Republican struggle
will never be criminalised.

"If the present Taoiseach wishes to examine his new found
Socialism, he should remember Liam Mellows and remember those who
attempted to criminalise him and those who executed him. Liam
Mellows was a true Irish Republican and a true Socialist. His words
from Mountjoy Jail in 1922 ring just as true today: "the commercial
interest so-called money and gombeen men are on the side of the
Treaty, because that Treaty means Imperialism and England. We are
back to Tone -and it is just as well - relying on that great body,
'the men of no property'. The 'stake in the country' people were
never with the Republic." ENDS


Annetta Kidnap Gang Suspect Quizzed

Pakistan officials hold ex-Taliban chief

By Mary Fitzgerald
14 December 2004

Pakistani authorities were today continuing to question the leader
of the Taliban splinter group suspected of kidnapping Ulster woman
Annetta Flanigan and two UN colleagues in Afghanistan.

Ms Flanigan, from Richhill, Co Armagh, was released unharmed along
with her UN co-workers Shqipe Hebibi and Angelito Nayan last month
- nearly four weeks after armed militants abducted them at gunpoint
in Kabul.

Afghan officials have so far remained tight-lipped about the
circumstances of the trio's release, denying that any deal to free
prisoners or pay a ransom had been struck with their kidnappers.

Syed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander who founded Jaish-al
Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, was captured in the southern
Pakistani city of Karachi last week.

"We have arrested the mastermind of the kidnapping of the UN
workers in Afghanistan," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

Afghan and US officials had sought Pakistan's help to track down
Agha after he used a mobile phone to contact media outlets to claim
responsibility for the abduction.

Agha last month told reporters that he would free the three
hostages if Afghan authorities bowed to the group's demand for the
release of 26 prisoners.

Pakistani officials said they initially kept Agha's arrest secret
because they hoped he could provide leads on other suspects.

Meanwhile, Ms Flanigan has kept a low profile since her return to
Northern Ireland earlier this month.

The 43-year-old lawyer flew into Belfast with her Spanish husband
Jose on December 5 before making her way to the family home in

Ms Flanigan has so far declined any media interviews.


Neeson Hosts New York Fundraiser For Belfast Lyric

Ruth Gillespie

Hollywood star Liam Neeson has hosted a party in New York to
promote Belfast's troubled Lyric Theatre, which is facing closure
due to a shortage of funds from Arts Council Northern Ireland.

The Lyric, which is one of two producing venues in Ulster,
submitted an application to ACNI's lottery building fund last
summer, seeking support towards the £12 million required to build a
new venue.

As the existing building can no longer meet with health and safety
requirements and new legislation regarding disability access,
theatre staff warned at the time the theatre could be forced to
close in two years. However, ACNI allocated just £2 million to the
project - a mere 17% of the overall target needed.

Neeson, whose films include Schindler's List, Michael Collins and
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, said: "The Lyric is too important to
the cultural and social life of Northern Ireland for this building
to crumble and fall apart. It gave me a start professionally. Mary
O'Malley, the founder of the theatre, gave me my future.

"In those days, in the mid-seventies, when I was there, we were
doing a play every four weeks. Belfast was not a pretty town to be
living in. There was serious trouble but this theatre was like a
Belisha beacon of light and hope six nights a week, doing
everything from Shakespeare to Yeats to O'Casey with a group of
actors and actresses who affected me very deeply and still do."

The Lyric opened 50 years ago but moved to its present site in
1968. As well as Neeson, it also launched the careers of actors
Adrian Dunbar and Stephen Rea and playwrights Gary Mitchell and
Martin Lynch.

Neeson said he hoped that by getting a group of "healthy, wealthy,
Irish Americans" in one room he could encourage them to raise funds
for the theatre.

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