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December 30, 2004

12/30/04 - PSNI Accused of Harassment

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

UT 12/30/04 Police Accused Of Harassment Campaign
BT 12/30/04 Paisley In Fresh Attack On Parties
BT 12/30/04 Killers In Preferential Treatment Claim
UT 12/30/04 Dozens Of Irish Citizens Unaccounted For
BT 12/30/04 Minister's Tribute To A 'Gentle Giant'
BT 12/30/04 Funds Boost For Island
IO 12/30/04 Film-Maker Bids To Prove De Valera's Cuban Roots


Police Accused Of Harassment Campaign

Republicans today bitterly accused the police investigating the £22
million Northern Bank raid of a campaign of harassment against their

The claims were made as police carried out a number of searches of
premises in the Dairy Farm business complex on the Stewartstown Road area
of the city today.

This followed searches yesterday at the Blackstaff complex on the
Springfield Road yesterday.

Sinn Fein Assembly member for West Belfast Michael Ferguson said
keyholders at the Dairy Farm centre had been ordered by police to turn up
at their premises.

"This morning the PSNI once again have launched a series of planned
attacks on properties throughout West Belfast.

These have included searches on business premises and on community
projects. This behaviour is completely unacceptable."

Mr Ferguson claimed police were acting at the behest of Ian Paisley`s
Democratic Unionists who had pointed the finger of suspicion at

Michael Ferguson

"It has become very obvious in recent days that the securocrats still are
holding the upper hand within the PSNI.

"Given the selective media briefing in advance of these operations and
the failure to uncover any evidence it is clear that the purpose of this
operation is not to find bank robbers but to attempt to derail republican
efforts to see the peace process put back on track," he added.

It was confirmed that nothing was recovered in connection with last
week`s robbery during yesterday`s searches of the Blackstaff centre.

A number of dvds were seized during the police operation but they had no
relation to the bank heist.

The spokeswoman added: "Police will continue to pursue every possible
line of inquiry in this investigation."

Meanwhile, the two families taken hostage by the gang behind the raid
were able to return to their homes yesterday, following a police forensic

Houses belonging to 24-year-old Chris Ward, in the Poleglass area of west
Belfast, and Kevin McMullan, in Loughinisland, Co Down, had been
preserved as crime scenes since last Monday when details of the raid on
the vaults of the Northern Bank in Belfast city centre first emerged.

Mr Ward and the McMullan family had to spend Christmas away from their
homes while the houses were dusted down for clues about the gang who held
them hostage and carried out the audacious robbery.

Police are still hunting for a handgun and ammunition which was stolen
from a police Land Rover on Christmas Eve during searches of republican

They were stolen from the vehicle in Cavendish Street, off the Falls Road
area of west Belfast.

The police raids on republican homes followed a denial by the IRA that
its members were involved.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has complained to the Government about
the police investigators` actions.


Paisley In Fresh Attack On Parties

DUP leader in New Year message

By Noel McAdam
30 December 2004

DUP leader Ian Paisley today pointed the finger at republicans over the
Northern Bank heist - and warned Northern Ireland faces "no easy road" in
the New Year.

The Northern Bank robbery "should awaken us to the sort of Ulster the
republican terrorists have planned for us," Mr Paisley warned.

He castigated the Government for helping to create a climate in which
criminals can thrive - and denounced the dispatch of two policemen on
foot to the robbery scene as a disgrace.

In his New Year message, Mr Paisley said: "The failure of the Government
and the police to stop lesser robbers has in fact only encouraged the
robbing of the Northern Bank in a record act of thievery."

The "cement of true democracy" had been rejected by the British and Irish
governments "and their capitulation to the IRA/ Sinn Fein terrorists is
now bringing forth a terrible harvest."

The "capitulating" to terrorism had created problems which were "becoming
more and more serious as each day passes.

"Sending two policemen to the scene on foot when the alarm was raised is
disgraceful. No wonder our Province is in such a state.

"The increasing incendiary attacks on business premises is also alarming,
together with the deluge of other criminal acts, including robberies and
rapes of the elderly and attacks on children."

With negotiations aimed at a restoration of devolved government in
abeyance, Mr Paisley said he believed a fair deal could be won.

"There is no easy road for this Province in the New Year. It is only with
dedication, determination and democratic means that a fair deal can be
won for all the people of this Province," he said.

The anti-Agreement party leader also rounded on what he termed the "so-
called peace parties" for refusing to acknowledge the ballot box.

"Sinn Fein, together with the official unionists and the SDLP, refuse to
accept the change in voting by the majority of unionists ... Elections
are only to be heeded when they give the answer these parties want."


Killers In Preferential Treatment Claim

By Ben Lowry
30 December 2004

Alliance have accused the Government of granting meetings to killers in
priority over their victims.

Young Alliance chairman, Ian Parsley, wrote to the Northern Ireland
Office last month complaining that a request for a meeting with Secretary
of State Paul Murphy did not receive "the courtesy of a reply".

In his letter, written before receiving an offer of a meeting with
Political Development Minister John Spellar, Mr Parsley claimed
"convicted killers and other criminals are given meetings with the
Secretary of State immediately on request".

Mr Parsley, who will be standing for Alliance in North Down at next
year's council elections, cited recent meeting with UDA representatives
and asked whether "a murder conviction is a prerequisite to preferential
treatment by the NIO".

An NIO spokesman said: "In the course of advancing the political process,
the Secretary of State has met groups that give political analysis to
paramilitary organisations, and who assure the Government that they are
serious about committing themselves to a political path and an end to

Such meetings were a means of testing that commitment and the Government
would continue to encourage that process at every opportunity.

Speaking after the offer of a meeting with Mr Spellar, Mr Parsley said:
"It is disappointing we have had to wait so long and that the meeting is
not with Mr Murphy. Nevertheless, we are glad of the opportunity to put
our view direct to the NIO."


Dozens Of Irish Citizens Unaccounted For

Dozens of Irish people remain unaccounted for in the aftermath of the
earthquake disaster in South East Asia, the Republic's Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern said last night.

By:Press Association

Many had made contact with relatives over the last 24 hours, he said, but
the whereabouts of dozens of the 700 Irish citizens who were in the
region at the time were still unknown.

"We have had some successful contacts today but there are still quite a
number of other people that we have not had contact with," he said.

"Our people on the ground in Sri Lanka and Phuket particularly are
checking out as much as they can all of the hospitals and other areas
where perhaps people might be."

The Republic`s Foreign Affairs Department was now working with phone
companies Vodafone and O2 to identify the last location in which people
had used their mobile phones.

Mr Ahern said his Department was not confident of the exact numbers of
Irish people in the region. He said it would take another few days or
even weeks to locate the Irish citizens as many of the countries affected
had not required visas for travel.

"You are talking about dozens perhaps unaccounted for, not missing,
unaccounted for, and what we are trying to do is home in on those," he

"There are a number of cases that we are worried about and we just have
to wait and see if there is subsequent contact, because again the
telecommunications are not great out there."

Officials have been expressing particular concern about two Irish women
missing from the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi.

The two Dublin women were named in Thailand as 27-year-old Eilish
Finnegan and Lucy Coyle. The Foreign Affairs Department said it was
"fully aware" of the cases and they were a top priority.

One witness today said about 180 bodies had been taken from the island
over the last 24 hours and described the scene as chaotic.

The Department pointed out that the telecommunications system was down in
many areas and people may be safe but unable to contact home.

The Department stressed that no-one has been classed as missing, although
between ten and 20 families had contacted officials to say they had had
no communication with their loved ones.

The Irish ambassador to Thailand and Malaysia, Dan Mulhall, said his
staff had been searching hospitals. Mr Mulhall today located three young
Irish men from Clontarf and Portmarnock in Dublin in hospital with minor
injuries and arranged for them to be airlifted from the region.

More than 15 Irish citizens were treated in hospital in Thailand and most
were discharged.

The Department is continuing to operate its helpline on 01-4082308, and
has appealed to those whose relatives have contacted them to inform the

"We want to concentrate on those cases that we know have in fact been
unaccounted for," Mr Ahern told RTE radio.

Irish holidaymakers told of the "horrific" scenes as they arrived back at
Dublin airport.

The Thai government is providing free flights from the area.

"There are quite a lot of European flights where Irish people are coming
back on and are being facilitated by our Department officials," Mr Ahern

Mr Ahern said the Thai authorities were putting together a website for
relatives to view photographs of the dead in an attempt to identify

The Irish government has doubled its donation to the disaster fund to €2
million (£1.4m) after the scale of the tragedy became apparent.

Irish aid agencies are appealing to the public for financial

The Irish Red Cross said it has already received thousands of euro in
donations and Unicef Ireland has pledged €150,000 (£100,000) to the
relief effort.

An emergency team from the aid organisation Concern is leaving Dublin for
Sri Lanka today.

Meanwhile, a Church of Ireland clergyman has vowed to continue raising
money for the victims of the earthquake.

Canon Tom Haskins, Vicar of St Ann`s and St Stephen`s in Dublin, will be
sitting outside his church on New Year`s Day.

His pre-Christmas "sit out" raised €16,000 (£11,400) for homeless

The Foreign Affairs Department is still advising Irish citizens against
travel to the Maldives, eastern parts of Sri Lanka and the west coast of

Other people due to holiday in other tourist resorts in the region in the
coming days should check with their travel operator.


Minister's Tribute To A 'Gentle Giant'

By Brendan McDaid
30 December 2004

A 22-year-old man who killed himself after knocking down and killing a
three-year-old, was today described as a "gentle giant" by his minister.

The funeral service for mechanic Johnny Montgomery, from Whitecross in Co
Donegal, was due to be held at St Eunan's Church of Ireland Cathedral in
Raphoe this afternoon.

Mr Montgomery's parents, Robert and Patricia, who yesterday attended the
funeral of Strabane toddler Adam Mullen, were expected to lead hundreds
of cross-border mourners.

Little Adam was killed and his mother Queenie left badly injured after
being struck by a car driven by the Donegal man on Boxing Day at Allen
Park in Donemana, Tyrone.

Mr Montgomery was found dead three hours after the incident at a quarry
in Donemana. Police said they do not suspect foul play in his death.

The Dean of St Eunan's Cathedral, the Very Rev John Hay, described the
two deaths as a "tragedy among friends".

He said: "Jonathan was a gentle giant and a member of the local boy'
scouts who had achieved the chief scout award.

"He had a good relationship with Adam's parents and with the children. He
never missed giving them sweets and they looked forward to his visits.

"That relationship has withstood this tragedy. The families have cried
together and comforted each other."

Ms Allen, meanwhile, was yesterday discharged from hospital in a
wheelchair and neckbrace to attend her son's funeral in Strabane.

Adam's small blue coffin was followed by hundreds of mourners as it
passed through the town before the service at St Mary's Church in


Funds Boost For Island

30 December 2004

Plans for the redevelopment of an historic island in Lough Neagh to allow
day-trippers to visit its round tower by ferry have been boosted.

Antrim Borough Council has funded the scheme to the tune of £5,000 per
year for the next three years towards the cost of developing and
operating Ram's Island on the eastern side of the lough as a tourist


Film-Maker Bids To Prove De Valera's Cuban Roots

30/12/2004 - 11:16:17

A film-maker from Havana is on a mission to prove that former president
and Taoiseach Eamon de Valera was half Cuban.

The history books tell us that De Valera's father, Juan, was a Spanish
merchant who settled in New York.

But Ishmael Ortega, 55, a teacher at Havana Film School, believes Juan
was a penniless sculptor and music teacher who emigrated to Manhattan
from Cuba.

He married Kate Coll from Limerick who gave birth to Eamon in 1882.

However Juan died when Eamon was two and Kate sent him to live with his
grandmother Elizabeth in Knockmore, Co Limerick.

Mr Ortega, who is researching a film on the subject which may be
commissioned by RTE, said he believes the De Valera surname comes from
the Valera clan in rural Cuba.

He said: "I've been to the Mantanza province where this Valera name is
common and I've met members of the Valera family.

"They look remarkably like Eamon De Valera. They are tall and slim with
oval-shaped faces."

Mr Ortega, who is a friend of Irish movie director Jim Sheridan, says his
documentary film may be taken up by RTE in the near future.

Mr Ortega said Eamon de Valera, who died in 1975, aged 92, once tried to
track down his family's coat of arms in Spain, but was unsuccessful.

He said: "There was no record of his family name in Spain."

Dublin historian Micheal MacAonghusa believes that Mr Ortega's theory is
"quite possible" as the precise background of De Valera's father was
always a mystery.

He said that Cuba was under Spanish rule until 1895 so all Cuban
nationals would have been classed as Spanish subjects at the time.

He said: "The whole thing about his father is very shadowy. A Spanish-
speaking Cuban living in New York at the turn of the 19th-century could
be mistaken as a Spaniard because Cuba was actually a colony of Spain
until 1895. To say that his father was Cuban is quite possible."

Mr MacAonghusa added that De Valera was always sympathetic to the Cuban
struggle for independence.

He added: "De Valera always kept in touch with what was happening in
Cuba. He wanted Ireland to be autonomous, and free from imperialist

De Valera's indelible political legacy survives today in the present
government with his grandchildren. Síle De Valera is Education and
Science junior minister and Eamon O'Cuiv is Minister for Community, Rural
and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Another grandson, arts worker Ruairi O'Cuiv, said he would welcome any
new research into his grandfather's life.

He said: "I'm pleased to think that I may be connected to Cuba. I'd be
delighted if anybody turns up comprehensive factual research regarding my

A founding father of Fianna Fáil in 1926 and the Irish State, De Valera
had an incalculable influence on modern Ireland.

He was jailed for opposing conscription during the First World War, but
was elected as MP for East Clare while still in prison.

He stubbornly defended Ireland's neutral stance during the Second World
War and clashed with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill over the

He served two terms as president to complete a lengthy political career.

As island nations, Ireland and Cuba have always enjoyed very friendly
links despite the US embargo of Castro's nation.

Ireland is one of the few countries in the EU to have diplomatic links
with Cuba and currently has a non-resident ambassador in Mexico looking
after consular affairs in Cuba.

Cuba is soon expected to return the gesture by accrediting its London
ambassador to Dublin.

In 1995, Ireland voted for a Cuban resolution at the UN General Assembly,
which demanded an end to the US blockade of the island.

Cuba also supported Ireland in its successful bid to become a member of
the UN Security Council two years ago.

And more Irish visitors have been jetting to Cuba in recent years thanks
to weekly Aeroflot flights between Shannon and Havana.

There is also an 'O'Reilly Street' in the island's capital, which
celebrates the links between Ireland and Cuba.

A wall plaque with an inscription in Gaelic, Spanish and English says:
"Two island peoples in the same sea of struggle and hope – Cuba and

Every year hundreds of students travel to Cuba to pick oranges or labour
on building sites and TDs and senators in the Irish-Cuban Friendship
Group have visited Cuba to represent the EU parliament.

Cuban icon, Che Guevara, whose grandmother was Anna Lynch from Co Galway,
led the revolutionary struggle in the early 1960s.

Che visited Ireland just once: He flew into Shannon on a stop-over flight
from Prague in March 1965.

His daughter, Alieda, visited Ireland in 2002 to research her Irish roots
and attended the St Patrick's Day Parade in Cashel, Co Tipperary.

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
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