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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)
December 28, 2004
12/28/04 - Derry Families Feared The Worst
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
BB 12/28/04 Derry Families 'Feared The Worst' –A
BB 12/28/04 Search Of Hostages' Homes Ends
BB 12/28/04 Recipe For Deal Leaves Bitter Taste
UT 12/28/04 Call For Help To Find 'Disappeared'
Hear story at:
Families 'Feared The Worst' -A
Two Londonderry families have spoken of their relief after close
relatives escaped the devastation caused by an undersea earthquake.
The quake triggered sea surges killing up to 50,000 people across Asia.
The Page family had an anxious wait to hear whether a father, sister and
her husband had survived the disaster.
Stanley Page was working on an oil rig off the Andaman Islands just north
of where the earthquake struck.
The rig was hit by two massive waves. All the crew escaped injury. He was
able to contact his family to let them know he was safe.
But he was worried about his daughter, Katrina, and her new husband who
were on honeymoon in Sri Lanka when the tidal waves struck.
She just wants to get out of the paradise she saw on Christmas Day which
is now pure devastation
Speaking from their Londonderry home, Katrina's grandfather Tony said on
Tuesday that they feared the worst.
"Katrina rang to wish us a happy Christmas and said she had been lying on
a beach in Sri Lanka," Mr Page said.
"When we heard this on the news, we wondered if she was still on the
beach when that wave came in. We were devastated."
Later Katrina's husband contacted his family who contacted them to say
they were safe.
Meanwhile another Londonderry family were relieved to hear that their
sister, Kathleen Kilcullen, and her husband, Jim, excaped unhurt.
They were on holiday in Thailand. Kathleen spoke to her sister Ruby
McNaught by telephone on Monday night.
"There was a supermarket under the hotel and she said people were in
shopping and they just did not have a chance.
"When they were going into the hotel, the bodies were being lifted out.
She is just so traumatised.
"She just wants to get out of the paradise she saw on Christmas Day which
is now pure devastation."
One of the world's largest relief efforts is under way to help the
millions of victims of the Asia quake, which killed more than 50,000
In Ireland, the Third World charity, Concern, has increased its initial
commitment of 100,000 euro to 250,000 euro as an immediate response to
the humanitarian crisis in Asia.
David Gough, director of operations for Concern Northern Ireland said:
"The early indications from our assessment team and from other sources
show that the scale of the human tragedy in many Asian countries is still
"The immediate priority is to provide food and safe drinking water to the
poorest and most vulnerable. When these needs are met, the focus will
shift to rehabilitation and helping people to rebuild their lives."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/28 18:17:53 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Search Of Hostages' Homes Ends
Detectives investigating the £22m Northern Bank robbery have finished
searching the homes of two bank officials.
The two families had to spend Christmas away from their houses in
Poleglass and Loughinisland after they were preserved as crime scenes.
But on Tuesday, police called an end to their examination of the houses
which had been dusted down for clues about the gang who held the families
hostage and carried out the robbery.
The robbers stole millions from the vaults of the bank in Donegall Square
West on 20 December as the families of the two bank officials were held
The bank officials are Kevin McMullan from Downpatrick and Chris Warde
from Colinmill in Poleglass.
On Monday, detectives carried out a fresh search of the Warde family home
in the Poleglass area of Belfast.
On Christmas Eve, a search team took a number of items away for forensic
Meanwhile, police are still hunting for a handgun and ammunition stolen
from a police Land Rover on Christmas Eve.
The weaponry was taken from the vehicle in Cavendish Street, just off the
Falls Road, during one of several raids in the area.
The bank raid is thought to have been one of the UK's biggest cash
Four people were held hostage at a house in Poleglass on the outskirts of
Two people were held in County Down
A woman was held blindfolded for more than 24 hours
45 detectives are working on the case
Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams has complained to the government about raids
by police investigating the robbery.
Five officers were hurt in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, as residents
clashed with police when they raided the homes of a prominent republican.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said the possible involvement
of paramilitaries is a "key line of inquiry".
But the IRA has denied involvement in the robbery.
Meanwhile, Northern Bank bosses may withdraw all the bank's notes.
A bank spokesman said the recall plan was "under very, very serious
consideration" but stressed that no decision has been taken.
The unusual move would be an attempt to take out of circulation all of
the stolen notes, and render them worthless.
It would involve replacing about £30m of old banknotes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/28 16:06:22 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Recipe For Deal Leaves Bitter Taste
It was a year in which the most unlikely chefs almost cooked up a deal to
restore power-sharing devolution at Stormont. BBC Northern Ireland's
political editor Mark Devenport recalls how a recipe for a comprehensive
agreement proved unappetising.
Tony Blair once dismissed the notion of the DUP and Sinn Fein sharing
power as "pie in the sky".
But that was exactly the recipe he asked Paul Murphy, Jonathan Powell and
the rest of his team to prepare in 2004.
The cooks got surprisingly far without spoiling the broth.
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern tried to prepare a palatable deal
But the year ended with the DUP accusing Sinn Fein of taking an "a la
carte" approach, and Mr Blair and Bertie Ahern left without the pie they
had hoped to enjoy as their main course.
The year started with further evidence of the DUP's dominance of
unionism, when Jeffrey Donaldson and his two allies - Arlene Foster and
Norah Beare - completed their divorce from the Ulster Unionists by
defecting to their party's arch rivals.
The politicians spent the spring on a review of the Good Friday Agreement
which dealt with possible changes to the Stormont rules, and more private
contacts with senior officials in London and Dublin which dealt with
questions like paramilitarism and decommissioning.
The DUP produced a glossy document called Devolution Now.
It floated a number of options, and confirmed that the party would take
part in an all inclusive executive with Sinn Fein provided IRA activity
ended and all IRA arms were destroyed.
Negotiations broke off both for the marching season and in order to allow
the politicians to campaign for the European election in June. QUICK
Northern Ireland conflict
This contest marked a changing of the guard as the veterans Ian Paisley
and John Hume both retired as MEPs.
The DUP barrister Jim Allister overcame a long break from active politics
to emulate his party leader by topping the poll.
But the Belfast Mayor Martin Morgan could not turn the tide for the SDLP,
losing John Hume's seat to Sinn Fein.
The former Health Minister, Bairbre De Brun, took one of the party's two
European seats across the island as a whole.
In mid-September the British and Irish governments did their best to
inject momentum into the negotiations by hiring, at great expense, the
magnificent Leeds Castle in Kent for a series of intensive talks.
These were proximity discussions, as the DUP continued to refuse to enter
direct dialogue with Sinn Fein.
Ian Paisley refused to talk directly to Sinn Fein
Ian Paisley, who underwent hospital tests during the summer, had to
travel overland to Kent on his doctor's orders.
It was a fairytale setting without a fairytale ending, as the talks
failed to produce a deal.
However the two prime ministers assured onlookers that a solution to the
questions of IRA arms and activity lay within their grasp.
The Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, had an uncomfortable Labour Party
conference, unable to deliver his keynote speech in Brighton due to an
ill-timed but short-lived illness.
But soon Bertie Ahern was pointing to another deadline - the November
anniversary of the 2003 assembly election.
Like so many previous deadlines this one came and went.
However, the discussions undeniably moved up a gear with both the DUP and
Sinn Fein starting to talk up a potential "peace dividend".
In early December, the two governments prepared to make a "judgement
call" on the talks.
Considerable progress had been made, yet it foundered on the old
stumbling block of decommissioning.
The IRA was prepared to complete its disarmament by the New Year, and to
allow two clergymen to act as independent witnesses, but not to provide
the photographic proof the DUP demanded.
It claimed the photos were an attempt to humiliate republicans.
The DUP argued they were the vital evidence needed to convince their
At the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern made the
best of a bad job.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams discussed lending its support to the police
They argued that the areas of agreement between the parties far
outweighed the single point of contention.
But without the photographs, the two prime ministers' proposals looked as
stable as a house of cards.
By the end of the year the shape of an eventual deal appeared clear.
It would encompass an end to IRA activity, the DUP pledging to share
power and Sinn Fein lending its support to the police.
But the bitter recriminations between the parties made the prospect of a
return to devolution look distant.
Most commentators believed the politicians would have to fight another
election - this time the Westminster poll expected in May 2005 - and get
through another marching season before they could return to the table.
Then in late 2005, perhaps, the British and Irish chefs would be back at
work, kneading the dough required to bake Mr Blair's "pie in the sky".
Call For Help To Find 'Disappeared'
The British and Irish Governments were today urged to do more to help
locate the burial sites of people abducted and murdered by the IRA during
Nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan confirmed he had written to both
governments urging them to reassure relatives the commission tasked with
locating their loves ones` remains would continue its work.
The Foyle Assembly member said: "Although many think that enormous
efforts have been made to find the bodies of the disappeared, in fact
this has not always happened.
"In one case the dig to find the body of one of the disappeared lasted
just six hours.
"The families are also concerned that not enough has been done to find
new technologies that would make it easier to locate their loved ones`
"They also fear that the work of the international commission to find the
bodies of the disappeared is winding up.
"And they are angry that the IRA has not provided accurate information on
where the bodies are buried. They are convinced that with greater will on
all sides, the bodies can be found and given a proper Christian burial."
In October 2003, the IRA apologised for the grief suffered by the
families of the disappeared in Northern Ireland.
However, despite receiving information from the Provisionals, the
Commission for the Recovery of Victims` Remains has managed to locate
only some of the bodies of the disappeared.
In August 2003 the corpse of 37-year-old mother of ten, Jean McConville,
was discovered after a series of extensive searches of Shelling Hill
Beach in Co Louth.
She was abducted and murdered by the IRA after she went to the aid of a
British soldier wounded outside her front door in 1974.
In 1999, investigators recovered the bodies of Eamon Molloy from north
Belfast in a coffin in a Co Louth graveyard, and John McClory and Brian
McKinney from west Belfast, whose remains were found after weeks of
digging in a bog in Co Monaghan.
The body of 17-year-old Columba McVeigh from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, who
was kidnapped in 1975, has not been recovered despite searches in Co
The commission has also carried out digs for the bodies of Danny McIlhone
from Belfast at Ballynultagh in Co Wicklow, Kevin McKee and Seamus
Wright, also from Belfast, in Coghallstown near Navan in Co Meath and
Brendan Megraw, from Belfast, at Oristown near Kells in Co Meath.
In May 2002, searches in Co Monaghan for the body of missing 57-year-old
Co Armagh man Charlie Armstrong proved unsuccessful.
Mr Durkan said today the governments had to reassure relatives that the
commission was still operating and would meet them.
He added: "The families need to know from the two governments and from
Sinn Fein that finding these bodies will be a priority in the coming
"Being able to give a relative a Christian burial is the most basic of
rights. Yet for years the families have been denied this right.
"This year, we must all hope that their rights will be respected and the
bodies will at last be found."
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04