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December 07, 2004

News 12/07/04 - Ahern & Blair Resigned To Collapse of Peace Process

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 12/08/04 Ahern & Blair Resigned To Collapse Of Peace Plan –V(5)
BB 12/07/04 PMs To Publish Devolution Plan
CN 12/07/04 IRA Meets With Decommissioning Body
SF 12/07/04 SF Call For Peace Dividend With No Strings Attached
BB 12/07/04 Could Power-Sharing In Northern Ireland Work?
TH 12/08/04 Series Of Issues Must Be Overcome Before Deal Is Agreed
TH 12/08/04 Reasons To Welcome The Rev Paisley's Grim Return
TO 12/08/04 Deal, What Deal? People Believe Prosperity Will Deliver
IT 12/08/04 SF Accused Of 'Dishonesty' On McCabe Ruling
IT 12/08/04 Newry Man Is Convicted Of Being In IRA
SF 12/07/04 de Brún Welcomes Families Of Collusion To EU Parliament
SF 12/07/04 Relatives Search For "Justice, Truth & Closure"
SF 12/07/04 Families Disappointed Allister Did Not Answering Qustns
CD 12/07/04 Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
EX 12/07/04 Opin: Media Ignores Tribute To The Boys Of Kilmichael
IT 12/08/04 Health Depart Policy On Transsexuals Urged By Report
IT 12/08/04 Case Study: A Transsexual's Story
IT 12/08/04 Offer To Immigrants 'Impossible'
IT 12/08/04 47 Awarded Medals For 'Courage, Determination' –V

RT 12/08/04 AIB Report Points To Concealment Of Wrongdoing –VO(3)

AIB Report Points To Concealment Of Wrongdoing - Charlie Bird,
Chief News Correspondent, reports on the hardhitting report issued
today by the IFSRA on AIB overcharging

Charlie Bird says a whistleblower fingered people high up the AIB

Liam O'Reilly, Chief Executive of the IFSRA, says two different
types of overcharging were identified


Frantic efforts continue to agree Northern Ireland deal - Michael
Fisher reports on the continuing negotiations to restore devolved
government in Northern Ireland

Joe O'Brien reports that Mr Ahern said the papers would be
published if a deal is not reached

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, assesses the situation in the
political negotiations

Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, speculates on the
likelihood of an agreement before tomorrow

Set BBC Video at:

Taoiseach And Blair Resigned To Collapse Of Peace Plan –V(5)

Gerry Moriarty and Mark Brennock

The Taoiseach and British Prime Minister will travel to Belfast
this afternoon resigned to the collapse of their efforts to strike
a political deal in the North because of a deadlock over visual
proof of IRA decommissioning.

Mr Ahern had telephone conversations last night with Mr Blair and
another with the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, in an 11th-
hour attempt to avert the collapse of the proposed deal. Mr Blair
also spoke to the DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, by phone last

But late last night senior Dublin and London sources acknowledged
that, short of an unexpected compromise by either Mr Adams or Dr
Paisley today, the two leaders were resigned to travelling to
Belfast to devise a "soft landing" for the political process.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair believe that instead of signing off on a
deal, they will be publishing their blueprint, of about 25 pages,
to restore devolution. They are convinced that its proposals will
be accepted by the public as a fair and unprecedented agreement
that only collapsed because of a dispute over photographs.

The two leaders also hope the IRA may issue a statement today
supporting the political elements of their proposals.

In the Dáil yesterday, Mr Ahern warned that the opportunity to
strike a deal would "not come around again for some considerable

Late last night, however, a senior Dublin source and Mr Blair's
official spokesman said that after a "short breather", the
governments would again seek to find an accommodation between the
opposing positions of the DUP and Sinn Féin, which could mean a
resumption of negotiations in the new year.

Until that process was completed Dublin and London would defer
plans to table alternative proposals, such as calling fresh
Assembly elections or strengthening the North-South and British-
Irish dimension of the Belfast Agreement.

Mr Blair's spokesman said if the impasse revolved around
fundamental issues then the governments would have considered
publishing their so-called Plan B.

But because it was over a "narrow" issue that could be yet bridged,
the governments would relatively quickly resume their attempts to
find a compromise over visual verification of IRA disarmament.

"We will be able to publish all of the proposals (today) and show
the extent of the agreement we got on decommissioning, on ending
paramilitary activity, on commitments to power-sharing while
recognising that there is a gap, but that is a narrow gap on the
issue of photographs," the spokesman added.

Dublin and London said that people would be "surprised" at the
positive detail of the blueprint and at how much was achieved in
the talks since the Leeds Castle negotiations in September.

One Dublin source suggested that, if Dr Paisley had avoided making
his repeated remarks about "humiliating" republicans, the IRA might
have been prepared to make some compromise on the visual proof
issue, such as allowing Dr Paisley view photographs of
decommissioned weapons but prohibiting their publication.

The DUP last night indicated republicans should take the blame for
the failure of the negotiations as there was a requirement for
visual proof of IRA decommissioning in the blueprint.

Mr Adams said he and Sinn Féin chief negotiator Mr Martin
McGuinness met the IRA implicitly to urge it to accept the
political elements of the governments' package, but not the visual
verification clause.

It was also revealed that the IRA has contacted Gen John de
Chastelain's decommissioning body to discuss decommissioning.

Mr Adams said there was an unprecedented opportunity to forge a

He asked: "Is that going to be squandered because one party has set
out this impossible demand that one group should be humiliated?"

© The Irish Times


PMs To Publish Devolution Plan

The British and Irish prime ministers are due in Northern Ireland
to publish their proposals to restore devolution.

But there is little optimism they will be unveiling a deal which
could lead to a return to power-sharing.

Hopes of agreement faded on Tuesday after Gerry Adams said Sinn
Fein was ready to share power with the DUP, but the IRA would not
be humiliated.

Ian Paisley's DUP is sticking to its demands for photographic
evidence of IRA decommissioning.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are due to hold a news conference in
the province on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland's political institutions have been suspended since
October 2002 amid claims of IRA intelligence-gathering at the
Northern Ireland Office.

On Tuesday Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the prospect of
sharing power with the DUP was "not particularly attractive" but he
recognised the party's mandate.

He said he and Martin McGuinness had been to see the IRA and if the
IRA did take the initiative, it would be "hugely painful" for Irish
republicans and nationalists.

The DUP has so far, publicly, refused to say if it will accept the
governments' proposals.

Party leader Ian Paisley has said the main stumbling block to any
deal remains the arms issue.

After Mr Adams' comments, the DUP issued a statement saying the
comprehensive agreement was "not an a la carte menu" and Sinn Fein
must clarify its position.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said an IRA representative had met the
head of the arms body and the contacts were continuing.

But he added: "There is one major difficulty and I don't see the
resolution in that quite frankly."

Intense talks

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said his delegation had a
"fairly detailed" meeting with Tony Blair at Downing Street.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he was looking forward to positive
developments this week.

There have been intensive negotiations between the two governments
and the political parties over the past few weeks.

The main issues which have been highlighted in the latest round of
intense talks include decommissioning, demilitarisation, policing
and future devolved institutions.

The negotiations have been conducted through a series of British
and Irish Government intermediaries because the DUP refused to hold
face-to-face talks with Sinn Fein.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/08 01:57:41 GMT


IRA Meets With Decommissioning Body

Dec 7 2004

An IRA representative has met the head of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning, General John de
Chastelain, it has been announced.

Irish premier Bertie Ahern told the Dublin parliament that the
talks were ongoing and that Gen de Chastelain was being a lot more
"stringent" this time round having experienced difficulties last

Mr Ahern admitted that the issue of transparency surrounding the
full decommissioning of all IRA arms may not be overcome.

"There is one major difficulty and I don't see the resolution in
that quite frankly," he said.

The Irish Premier said he expected to know whether there will be a
deal struck on the Northern Ireland peace process by this evening.

He told the Dublin parliament he hoped the agreement both the
British and the Irish governments were seeking could at last be
prised out and power-sharing restored.

"Later this evening we expect to be advised finally whether we have
agreement," he said. "If there is agreement we expect that this
will be revealed tomorrow."

Mr Ahern said the two governments alongside all the parties have
worked hard together to resolve and bring closure to all
outstanding issues.

He said that if the deal was accepted it would open the way to a
comprehensive partnership based on the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Ahern confirmed that in any event he would be meeting Prime
Minister Tony Blair in Belfast tomorrow.


Sinn Féin Call For Peace Dividend With No Strings Attached

Published: 7 December, 2004

Writing in the Irish News today Sinn Fein national Chairperson
Mitchel McLaughlin has said that the British government must take
responsibility for investing sufficient resources to underpin the
work of any new Executive to address the decades of under funding
and to address the legacy of British policy here by tackling

Mr McLaughlin said: "There has been serious under-investment by
successive British governments creating huge infrastructural
deficits in water, sewage and transport and severe crises within
health and education.

"We are a society emerging from conflict and are dealing with
partition and the resultant distortion of economic development on
the island as a whole.

"The British government must take responsibility for creating these
problems and invest sufficient resources with no strings attached.
Neither PPP/PFI nor Reform and Reinvestment Initiatives (RRI) are
substitutes. They will only result in further tax and rates
burdens. An immediate resource should be a shift from
military/security spending to economic and social development.

"The British government have agreed that a significant peace
dividend is required. I obviously welcome that. But the content and
terms suggested to us by Paul Murphy fall very short of what is

"Sinn Féin has also raised the issue of a Peace Dividend with the
Irish government. Such a commitment should be used to underpin and
advance the Human Rights and Equality agendas and the work of the
all-Ireland institutions and the issues facing the border
counties." ENDS

Full Text of Article

Headline figures can promote a 'feel-good' economic climate. But
behind these headlines is an economy in crisis. Half a million
people are 'economically inactive'. Many others are in the part-
time, low wage economy, levels of poverty are unacceptably high and
there is an over-dependence on the public and service sectors.

There has also been serious under-investment by successive British
governments creating huge infrastructural deficits in water, sewage
and transport and severe crises within health and education.

We are a society emerging from conflict and are dealing with
partition and the resultant distortion of economic development on
the island as a whole.

The British government must take responsibility for creating these
problems and invest sufficient resources with no strings attached.
Neither PPP/PFI nor Reform and Reinvestment Initiatives (RRI) are
substitutes. They will only result in further tax and rates
burdens. An immediate resource should be a shift from
military/security spending to economic and social development.

If the North was to reach Britain's average economic activity rate
it would require an extra 112,000 persons in employment. This is
equivalent to a net annual injection of £1.6bn into the economy.
The current situation with civil service job losses and new
entrants in the labour market will require an additional 142,000
jobs over the next ten years. This job creation programme alone
would cost £1bn.

Conflict resolution also requires concerted initiatives to support
communities directly caught up in the conflict, including ex-
combatants. Any peace dividend must promote equality and social
inclusion with realisable targets. Tangible differences must be
seen on the ground.

An all-Ireland economic development strategy is also important.
North and south should not be rivals but should work to a common
agenda. Island wide strategies would avoid duplication.

The Border is an artificial construct - an impediment to social and
economic development acknowledged by the EU INTERREG III programme.
The Border Corridor is characterised by low wages, relatively high
unemployment, poor roads, inadequate or non-existent public
transport, insufficient energy supply and ICT networks.

The spatial strategies/development plans in both jurisdictions on
the island recognise the need to develop the Border Corridor on a
collective basis. They explicitly state the centrality of community
regeneration and social inclusion initiatives (National Development
Plan & NI Structural Funds).

Both strategies share a 'Common Chapter' that makes specific
commitments to cross-border co-operation and integration of
services and infrastructure in Energy; Communications and
Electronic Commerce; Human Resource Development; Agriculture and
Rural Development; Tourism; Transport; Environment; Education and
Health It is essential that these commitments are not mere
aspirations, as many of them have been up to now. They need to be
acted upon and accelerated with a focus on real delivery within
definite timeframes. There are a number of initiatives that may be
regarded as flagship projects which have been slow but which are
essential elements of the peace dividend.

Health Services Co-operation. There has been little progress in
delivery of the Common Chapter commitments to co-operation between
health services.

Renewed commitment to the extension of the existing mechanisms for
co-operation is needed between the Western and Southern Health
Boards in the Six Counties and the North Western and North Eastern
Health Boards in the 26 Counties. In addition, there should no
further diminution of acute hospital services in the border region.

The Middletown Centre for Autism. This all-Ireland centre of
excellence has been slow in coming on stream. The real expectation
of families of children with autism has not been met.

Public Transport. A Border Region Public Transport Taskforce should
set targets for improved bus services throughout the region, and
across the border, by the end of 2005; increased funding for the
Rural Transport Initiative; an action plan for the strategic
extension of the rail network within the Border region should be
brought forward as a matter of urgency.

Economic Development. The north is much closer to the south in
terms of unemployment, economic activity and participation rates.
Any economic development strategy must deal with removing the
barriers to north/south business development and trade. Invest NI
and IDA Ireland must work together to harmonise investment regimes,
sectoral development strategies and the geographical share out of
inward investment. In the border region InterTradeIreland should
bring together a taskforce to develop strategic flagship projects.

All-Ireland Travel Pass for the Elderly. This simple measure is
another example of an expectation thwarted by a sluggish approach.
Both governments should ensure that delivery is achieved in early

The British government have now agreed with us that a significant
peace dividend is necessary. I obviously welcome that. But the
content and terms suggested to us by Paul Murphy fall very short of
what is required.

Sinn Féin has also raised the issue of a Peace Dividend with the
Irish government. Such a commitment should be used to underpin and
advance the Human Rights and Equality agendas and the work of the
all-Ireland institutions and the issues facing the border counties

Sinn Fein will ensure that any peace dividend is significant enough
to make a real impact, particularly on the human rights and
equality agendas. Having brought the British government to this
position, we will continue to press them to ensure that any
financial package is significant and falls within the parameters
outlined in this article.


Could Power-Sharing In Northern Ireland Work?

Prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are expected to
announce joint plans for power-sharing in Northern Ireland on

They had hoped to unveil a deal to restore a power-sharing
government to Stormont but a row over evidence of IRA
decommissioning halted plans.

The main Unioinst party, the DUP, demanded to see photographic
evidence that weapons have been decommissioned but Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams refused. He said the party agreed to accept the current
deal but the IRA would not allow itself to be "humiliated".

Will a compromised be reached? Could a power-sharing government in
Northern Ireland be efffective? Send us your comments using the

This debate has just been published. A list of your comments will
appear here shortly.


Series Of Issues Must Be Overcome Before Deal Is Agreed

Michael Settle, Chief UK Political Correspondent December 08 2004

The sticking points to a deal: Decommissioning

This has been the pivotal issue throughout all the talks up to the
1998 Good Friday Agreement and beyond.

Slowly, the republicans have moved, but not far enough for the
unionists. At first Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, insisted
the very fact the guns were silent should be enough for the
unionists. But it was not. Then came the phrase "putting weapons
beyond use". Again, the unionists insisted the IRA's arsenal had to
be destroyed in total, not just in part. When some weapons were
destroyed under the eye of the decommissioning commissioners, the
unionists wanted to know what had been destroyed. Sinn Fein has now
said it is prepared to see the destruction of all IRA weapons but
the unionists have insisted on transparency, or photographic
evidence. However, this is a step too far for republicans as it
would – in their eyes – smack of public humiliation, enabling
unionists to gloat.

Of course, it has been repeatedly pointed out that even if the IRA
gave up all its weapons in full public view, it could easily
acquire new ones.


Republicans have wanted the removal of army watchtowers and all
British troops in Northern Ireland. Certainly, on the latter point,
the British government, given its international obligations, is
only too pleased to reduce numbers to the pre-troubles garrison
level of 5000 from the current 11,000. But from a unionist
viewpoint, while the IRA still maintains its arsenals, a heavy army
presence must remain.


The Leeds Castle talks in September covered the future transfer of
policing and justice powers from ministers in Whitehall to locally-
elected politicians in Northern Ireland. This is Sinn Fein's price
for pledging its support for the Police Service of Northern
Ireland. Only last week, Mr Adams had a ground-breaking meeting
with Hugh Orde, the chief constable.

In principle, unionists do not object to devolving policing and
justice, but Ian Paisley's DUP insist the circumstances must be
right. It is thought part of the British and Irish governments'
deal is coming up with a precise timetable for the transfer of
powers and the structure of any new policing and justice


While the bombs have disappeared, the day-to-day violence of
punishment beatings by loyalist and republican thugs goes on. This
has continued to sour the atmosphere between unionist and
republican politicians. However, the British and Irish governments
have an understanding with senior republicans that the IRA will end
activities like punishment beatings, targeting and procuring
weapons. Once republican terrorists stop all paramilitarism, the
pressure will be intense on the loyalists to follow suit.


The DUP ideally wants to scrap the 12-minister coalition executive,
handing power to the 108 assembly members to work on a committee
system, whose chairmen would act as ministers. But this is
unacceptable to Sinn Fein.


Reasons To Welcome The Rev Paisley's Grim Return

Iain MacWhirter December 08 2004

Imagine the late Yasser Arafat sitting down with the Israeli
leader, Ariel Sharon, to agree terms for a power-sharing
administration in Jerusalem. The pair would sooner have met in
hell; they probably will. But until recently that would have seemed
only marginally more improbable than the unionist demagogue Ian
Paisley agreeing to enter government with former IRA men Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness. But he has – in principle, at least.

It may not seem as if progress has been made. The Northern Ireland
peace process now follows an almost ritualised course. Talks are
convened after some rumoured concession by the IRA; Tony Blair
feels the hand of history on his shoulder; an American president
telephones the parties involved – this time George W Bush; hard-
faced men come and go in Downing Street; and then everyone stays up
all night for days before going home empty-handed.

You wonder why they bother. It's hardly surprising that the media
has become bored with these break-throughs through which nothing
seems to break. But there is a kind of inverse law of anti-climax
in this peace process: the less that is formally agreed, the more
actually seems to be achieved. As the endless talking continues,
the war is dying of boredom.

One of the Sinn Fein leaders once said that "the measure of our
victory will be the laughter of our children", which struck me as
an elegant way of saying that their time had passed. The ancient
communal passions are spent, and now only need to be laid to rest
before the men of violence are. The IRA ceasefire has been in
place, more or less, since 1994, and there is no going back.

No-one seriously believes that the IRA has decommissioned all its
weaponry, but, equally, no-one close to the movement believes that
it has either the will or the means to resume the armed struggle.
There is a remarkable consensus among those who have been involved
in these apparently fruitless talks over the past decade, that the
war really is over. Ian Paisley may be the last person to recognise
it, but peace has triumphed.

Most observers believe it is only a matter of time before Paisley
sits blinking in the TV lights alongside former members of the
Irish Republican Army together as a devolved government. Tony Blair
and the Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, believe it is a runner,
which is why they are today jointly publishing in Belfast their
latest plan for restoring devolution to Northern Ireland.

There is no formal deal. But the notion that the man who likes to
say NO! and Sinn Fein leaders could find agreement is no longer
laughable. All that lies between these implacable foes today is a
simple photograph. Paisley is holding out for graphic evidence that
the IRA has indeed decommissioned its arms – destroyed them, mind,
not just put them "beyond use". He wants them to "repent" for their

For their part, the IRA argue that publishing photographs would
amount to a humiliating admission of defeat. However, they haven't
entirely ruled it out, and have offered to allow prominent Catholic
and Protestant churchmen to accompany the retired Canadian general,
John de Chastelain, at the third and final act of arms destruction.
An act which, according to Gerry Adams, will mean the end of
"physical force republicanism". Sinn Fein are confident that this
Christmas, the war really could be over.

The IRA will never surrender, though, and it will never repent.
Which makes it all the more extraordinary that the DUP was prepared
to go as far as it has. Ian Paisley has promised that he would be
prepared to "bite his lip" and accept the Anglo-Irish plan being
published today, even though the IRA will not announce any formal
surrender or defeat. That is an astonishing move for a man whose
very face is frozen in a permanent rictus of "No Surrender!"

Paisley's granite frame has blocked power-sharing between the
Catholic minority in the north and the Protestant majority for over
thirty years. He led the Ulster Workers Council strike of 1974
which destroyed the Sunningdale agreement of Edward Heath. Paisley
opposed the Anglo-Irish accords of the 1980s, rejected the Good
Friday agreement in 1998 and always dismissed the IRA ceasefire as
a sham.

But even this die-hard rejectionist has found there is simply
nowhere else to go. Clearly failing in health, Paisley is looking
to posterity. The irony is that he can only secure his place in
history by rejecting the very hardline unionism that he has fought
for all his life.

It's a measure of how obsessed have we have become with the David
Blunkett affair and reality-TV politics – I'm a home secretary get
me out of here! – that there's been so little coverage of the
latest developments in the Northern Irish peace process. In the
past, Labour home secretaries had rather more strenuous duties than
conducting improbable liaisons with right-wing publishers. Like
running one of the longest-running terrorist wars in the the
western world. A real war against terror, mind – not the phoney one
we are supposed to be fighting today.

The IRA were – and are – one of the toughest and most enduring
terror organisations in the history of paramilitary organisations.
They nearly blew up Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet in the
Brighton bomb in 1984. As recently as 1996 they destroyed large
parts of the British financial service industry in the Canary Wharf
bomb. They spawned their opposite in the vicious and blood-thirsty
cliques like the UVF and the UDA.

Even now there are some 15,000 British troops in Northern Ireland
maintaining order. Only a decade or so ago the voices of Martin
McGuinness and Gerry Adams were not allowed to be broadcast on BBC
news programmes. Now they have offices in Westminster.

We have incredibly short memories. Never in the 30 years of war
against the IRA did we see identity cards being introduced, or hear
proposals for jury-less trials on the British mainland. Internment
without trial was a disaster in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, yet
the government is imposing it here. Surely, if the anti-terrorism
measures being introduced by David Blunkett are so necessary, we
should have had them long before now. The IRA killed women and
children, destroyed city centres in Birmingham and Manchester and
assassinated members of the royal family, like Lord Mountbatten.
But only now, with a terrorist threat that is much less clear and
much less present, we are seeing a sustained assault on the
liberties we have enjoyed for centuries as citizens of Britain.

The lesson is that terrorism cannot be defeated by military means
alone. The IRA were effectively contained by the British Army, and
there is no doubt that military pressure on the Republicans
persuaded them that victory, on their terms, was impossible. But
without the Good Friday agreement, there would have been no peace
and security.

It may be slow, and sometimes the negotiations are mind-numbing,
but the relentless process of persuasion and talking has brought
the end to one of the bitterest civil wars Europe has seen. As
citizens, we are a lot safer as a result of this process, even
though – for its own purposes – the government is trying to scare
the wits out of us with a new and faceless terror.


December 08, 2004

Deal, What Deal? People Believe Prosperity Will Deliver Peace

By Paul Bew

The collapse of a hoped-for breakthrough will leave politicians
even more desperate to strike a deal - because time is running out
to win over Ulster's increasingly alienated population

NEGOTIATIONS to bring about the mother of all peace deals in
Northern Ireland are again in trouble, against a backdrop of
popular indifference, despite the enormous investment of time by
the British and Irish prime ministers.

Commentators focused exclusively on the issue of the photographs
required by the Rev Ian Paisley of IRA decommissioning. There is
even a suggestion that somehow it was a mere technical error behind
the scenes that has allowed this issue to loom so large, when so
much else is apparently sorted.

The problems in this process, however, go much deeper. The
photographs, or lack of them, are merely a symbol of a wider
difficulty. So far the dynamic needed to push through a successful
deal has not been there.

In part this is because the DUP leadership has coldly calculated
that the only way to sell a deal to a sceptical Protestant
community is if the Provisional IRA is humiliated. This may shock
some but the DUP believes that David Trimble's statesmanship in the
past simply set him up for betrayal by the two governments last

The DUP has also made this calculation because positive pro-
agreement people-power, of the sort that helped to bring about the
Good Friday agreement, is conspicuous by its absence. As these
negotiations reached their climax the public reacted with polite

Recent changes in the physical and cultural life could not be more
striking. In the 1970s Belfast's "shopping experience" was, in a
joke going round at the time, on a level with that of Bucharest,
but without the consumer goods.

Eating out was little better. People of a certain age can still
exchange anecdotes about the Skandia, a restaurant behind Belfast's
City Hall. It did not have a liquor licence but valiantly stayed
open throughout the worst of the 1970s in a city centre that by 7pm
was deserted, ringed with security, forbidding and under siege.

That has now all changed. Since the Good Friday agreement brought
sustained loyalist and republican ceasefires, Belfast's shops,
restaurants and nightlife have flourished.

Even more gratifying is the rebuilding and renovation in Belfast.
It has revealed a wonderful Victorian architectural legacy behind
the drab and neglected exterior of the 1970s and 1980s. Memories
may still remain of the horror of the loyalist bomb at McGurk's bar
or the old Anderson McCauley's department store, where the IRA shot
its young doorman. But they are just memories. The Oxford Street
bus station, a scene of carnage caused by the Bloody Friday attack,
no longer exists — it is merely part of the plaza surrounding
Belfast's elegant Waterfront Hall, a venue for events and concerts,
and a five-star hotel.

Economic progress has been equally significant. More than 200,000
jobs created in the past 20 years make Ulster the UK's fastest
growing region. Unemployment is now close to the national average
and has long been half the level of many EU states.

The result of all this is that the Government could be forgiven for
believing that the reconstruction of Northern Ireland has led to
complacency about the urgency of completing the peace process and
restoring developed institutions. They may be right. The mood in
Belfast is very different from 1998 when the agreement was
negotiated and the referendum supporting it passed by 71 per cent.
In 1998 many believed that a political accommodation was the only
route to peace and prosperity. There were even some hopes of

Today the new deal is presented even by its most important
advocates as a sectarian carve-up. Many ordinary people see their
elected politicians as self-serving and perhaps less effective at
promoting their interests than direct rule by politicans chosen by

Two thirds of Protestants and 50 per cent of Catholics are frankly
indifferent to the Stormont Assembly.

The Government understands that if it wants to secure the revival
of the Good Friday agreement, and thus an assured closure to the
Troubles, it is relying on the will of the political classes and
not enthusiasm among the population at large.

Today the two prime ministers will insist that an agreement is
still possible before too long. Let us hope that they are right.

Paul Bew is Professor of Irish Politics at Queen's University,


SF Accused Of 'Dishonesty' On McCabe Ruling

Michael O'Regan

A Supreme Court decision on the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe
had been the subject of "gross and deliberately dishonest
misrepresentation by senior Sinn Féin figures in recent days", the
Minister for Justice claimed in the Dáil last night.

Mr McDowell said the Government had consistently maintained that
the prisoners did not qualify for release under the Belfast

"The Government has contested the contrary view the whole way
through the courts, to the Supreme Court, and won there. If they
had so qualified, they would still not be in jail," he added.

Mr McDowell said the Government's requirements for acts of
completion by the IRA were: independently verified decommissioning
of all weapons, a complete and total end to paramilitarism and
unambiguous ends to all forms of IRA criminality.

He said that total decommissioning would have to be verified by the
independent commission and the ending of criminal activity would
have to be verified by the independent monitoring commission.

"The Government formed a view that if, but only if, all these
pieces fell into place, it would consider the release of these four
men," said Mr McDowell.

"Their release would not be considered under the agreement but
under the Offences Against the State Act, subject to conditions,
and in the context only of a comprehensive and final settlement and
bedding down of political stability in Northern Ireland." The
Government, he said, would prefer to see those prisoners serve
their full sentence and had not chosen to deal with the issues as a
matter of choice in the current political talks. "It was an issue
raised by Sinn Féin," he added.

Mr McDowell repeated that the Taoiseach and himself had stated that
only in the context of acts of completion being achieved, leading
to nothing less than the definitive end of the Northern question,
could the question of the prisoners come into prospect.

The Minister was replying, on the adjournment, to the Fine Gael
spokesman on justice, Mr Jim O'Keeffe, who said that the Minister
should make it clear that the killers never came within the terms
of the Belfast Agreement for early release.

"The position was also made absolutely clear by the High Court and
the Supreme Court where it was stated that the Government's power
to release is a 'quentessentially executive function', and that the
decision 'that the applicants would not be entitled to
consideration for release under the agreement was a policy choice
which was entirely within the discretion of the executive to

© The Irish Times


Newry Man Is Convicted Of Being In IRA

A Northern Ireland man arrested after gardaí discovered a bomb-
making operation near the Border last year was convicted by the
Special Criminal Court yesterday of membership of an illegal

The court convicted Eamonn Matthews (25), Dublin Road, Killeen,
Newry, Co Down, of membership of an illegal organisation styling
itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann,
otherwise the IRA, on June 13th last year. The court cleared Mr
Paul Kelly (40), Cedarwood Park, Dundalk, Co Louth.

The court was told the two men were arrested after a major Garda
operation in north Co Louth against dissident republicans,
involving the Emergency Response Unit and the National Surveillance

The court heard that gardaí found two men, not the two accused,
making home-made explosives at a farm shed at Thornfield, Co Louth.
They also found traces of home-made explosives at another farm
several miles away, where they found a grinder with traces of

Matthews had been seen the previous day driving a jeep and going to
a local firm where he rented a cement-mixer.

Chief Supt Michael Finnegan told the court he believed Mr Kelly and
Matthews were members of an unlawful organisation on June 13th,

Mr Justice O'Donovan, presiding, said there should be evidence that
supported or corroborated the superintendent's belief before the
court could convict either of them.

The judge said Mr Kelly was entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

In Matthews's case, the superintendent's belief was supported and
corroborated by Matthews's failure to answer material questions,
his association with the cement-mixer used to manufacture the
explosive and his association with established IRA members and
persons convicted of subversive crime.

The court remanded Matthews in custody for sentencing today.

© The Irish Times


Bairbre de Brún Welcomes Families Of British State Collusion To The
European Parliament

Published: 7 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún this morning welcomed the relatives
of over 50 people murdered as a result of British state collusion
with unionist death squads, to the European Parliament in Brussels.
Ms de Brún stressed the importance of facilitating this first ever
visit by those affected by collusion saying that the families of
the bereaved were 'entitled to have their voices and personal
testimonies heard in the European Parliament'.

Relatives from the An Fhírinne campaign group travelled to the
European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the consistent policy
of collusion between British Intelligence agents, the RUC and
unionist death squads over the past 30 years. They were invited to
a hearing organised by the EUL/NGL group in the European Parliament
to discuss the issue. The meeting was chaired by Francis Wurtz,
President of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL)
group. Approximately 70 people attended the event.

Speaking from Brussels, Ms de Brún said:

"I am pleased to welcome those most affected by the policy of
British state collusion with unionist death squads to the European

Today's hearing provided the families with an opportunity to have
their voices heard. Some of those present at today's hearing were
both shocked and saddened by the personal testimonies from family
members, and were anxious to see what could be done here in
Brussels to assist the families.

"Those present at the hearing were informed that the British
Government policy of employing unionist death squads was sanctioned
at the highest political levels. The same British agencies which
executed this policy remain in place today.

"The families demand closure and peace of mind. Sinn Féin has
pledged its support to the families in their search for truth and
justice. We are mindful that many other families have suffered and
lost loved ones, as a result of the conflict in the six counties.

"There are people who do not want to contemplate or admit that the
British Government were complicit in state sanctioned murder. It is
important as we continue to move through a period of conflict
resolution that the voices of all of those who suffered in any way
are heard. The families of those murdered at the hands of the
British state deserve to have their voices heard also." ENDS


Relatives Of Collusion Victims Address MEPs On Their Search For
"Justice, Truth And Closure"

Published: 7 December, 2004

Spokesperson for the An Fhírinne campaign group, Jim Clinton has
said that he was pleased with the response and warm welcome that
the group received from MEPs and others in the European Parliament
this morning.

Mr Clinton was speaking after he addressed a hearing organised by
the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL) group. The
event entitled "Peace must be built on truth" aimed to highlight
the issue of Britishstate collusion with unionist death squads over
the past 30 years.

Speaking from the European Parliament, Mr Clinton said:

"The families are very pleased that they have been given the
opportunity to address the European Parliament in Brussels. Many of
the families foundit difficult to speak about the death of their
loved ones today, but feltthat it was necessary that their stories
be told to as wide a group ofpeople as possible, so that they may
understand the role played by theBritish state in collusion with
unionist paramilitaries in the murder oftheir relatives.

"We have met with a number of people in the European Parliament who
have been sympathetic to our plight, and have pledged their support
to us in our search for justice, truth and closure. The messages of
support have heartened us, and we will continue to fight to expose
the nature and extent of British collusion with unionist death

"On behalf of the families, I want to thank Sinn Féin for
facilitating today's hearing, and in particular Bairbre de Brún MEP
and Mary Lou McDonald MEP. I also wish to thank the European United
Left/Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL) group in the European Parliament
for allowing our voices to be heard throughout Europe". ENDS


Collusion Families Disappointed That Allister Departed Before He
Could Answer Questions

Published: 7 December, 2004

Responding to a statement from the DUP MEP Jim Allister regarding
the appearance of the collusion families today in Brussels, Sinn
Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said that it was unfortunate that Mr
Allister chose to depart before the large delegation of families

Ms McDonald said: " Jim Allister and his 5 person rent a mob staged
a short protest outside the venue for this mornings meeting.
However he departed well before the families arrived. This was most
unfortunate as many of the families were looking forward to
discussing their cases with Mr Allister particularly those who have
relatives murdered with weapons imported by Ulster Resistance.

" It has to be remembered that one of the vehicles used to rearm
the unionist paramilitaries was Ulster Resistance. It was DUP
leader and at the time sitting MEP Ian Paisley who set up Ulster
Resistance. We can all remember well the images of the DUP
hierarchy with their red berets in the Ulster Hall.

" Many of victims were wondering why Mr Allister chose to depart
before their arrival. It would be my belief that the DUP dalliance
with Ulster Resistance provided a very real motivation for his
hasty departure.

" It may well be that the DUP have been successful in hiding their
involvement in Ulster Resistance from the rest of the European
Parliament up until now. But the families and the victims of the
British policy of state sanctioned murder have every right to tell
their story and were never going to be silenced by Jim Allister or
his right wing allies." ENDS


December 7, 2004

Red Hand Defenders (RHD)

The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) is a paramilitary group comprised of
loyalist extremists who seek to maintain Northern Ireland's status
as part of the United Kingdom. The group emerged in 1998, using
violence to undermine Irish republican pressure for a united
Ireland. Like other loyalist groups, the RHD actively opposes the
Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its fellow travelers. The RHD has
targeted nationalist civilians, republican politicians, and police
personnel across Northern Ireland. The group's small membership of
about 20 dissident hardliners comes from organizations who share a
similar ideology.

Two other loyalist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defense
Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) share
close ties with the RHD. The RHD label, in fact, is often
considered a cover name for these two older organizations.
Moreover, police have expressed skepticism over the RHD's very
existence, telling reporters in 2002, "The title Red Hand Defenders
has been widely used to claim murders on all sides and is not
thought to represent any real organization."

The group known as the Red Hand Defenders first came to prominence
during the Drumcree crisis in July 1998, when the Protestant Orange
Order was banned from marching along its annual parade route in
Portadown, Northern Ireland. The RHD title was first used when the
group claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman, Frank
O'Reilly, during the ensuing violent protests. In the months
following the standoff over Drumcree, the group emerged as a
growing threat to Northern Ireland's civilian population, refusing
to agree to a cease-fire.

The RHD's acts of terror include arson, bombing and murder. It has
concentrated on "soft" civilian targets including homes, churches,
pubs and hotels. In August 2001, they claimed responsibility for
an attempted pipe-bomb attack on the office of Sinn Fein Member of
Parliament Martin McGuinness. Just days later, the group attempted
a car bomb attack in a street packed with visitors in the town of
Ballycastle during a fair. Both operations were foiled by the

The RHD has also killed several Catholic citizens in sectarian
attacks, which the group justifies as avenging "crimes against the
loyalist community." Most of the group's victims tend to be
Catholic because the virtually all of its favored nationalist
targets fall into that religious category. But it should be
stressed that the motives of the RHD and its affiliates extend
beyond religious bigotry, into the political spectrum.

The RHD dealt a serious blow to the Northern Ireland peace process
in March 1999, with the car bomb murder of Rosemary Nelson, a
prominent lawyer who had acted for several leading republicans.
The month prior to her murder, Nelson had been part of a delegation
that met Prime Minister Tony Blair in order to resolve issues
surrounding the standoff between nationalists/republicans and
unionists/loyalists. Nelson's murder was also significant because
she was the first prominent victim of a sectarian attack since the
passage of the Good Friday Agreement.

In September 2001, the group claimed to have killed a prominent
Catholic journalist named Martin O'Hagen in the town of Lurgan,
southwest of Belfast. O'Hagen had recently spoken on television
about alleged secret ties between Northern Ireland security forces
and Protestant terrorist groups, which may have motivated the RHD
to act. O'Hagen's murder spawned a police investigation that led
then Northern Ireland secretary, John Reid, to rule that members of
the UDA and the LVF broke their cease-fires under the cover name of
Red Hand Defenders. This ruling however, was seen by most as the
end of a false pretense, since violence never stopped in the first
place. The RHD possibly killed two other Catholic civilians in
unrelated murders in December 2001. And in January 2002, the group
issued death threats against Catholic teachers and postal workers.
RHD violence was also coupled with consistent warnings from the
group that their campaign would escalate and that they considered
"all nationalist people as hostile and legitimate targets."

The Ulster Freedom Fighters condemned these threats in January
2002, calling on the RHD to disband. In issuing this statement,
the UFF denied having any connections to the RHD, claiming that RHD
actions were deliberately damaging to loyalists: "We will not
tolerate any longer the damage that you are doing to the loyalist
cause and to the reputation of the UFF." The next day, the RHD
agreed to this call and claimed to have officially stood down.
Just three months later however, the supposedly disbanded group
claimed responsibility for a nail-bomb attack on the home of a
prominent republican.

In February 2003, the RHD distanced itself from the UDA when it
claimed responsibility for the murder of a senior UDA member, John
Gregg, who is best known for his attempt to assassinate Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams in the 1980s. It is believed that Johnny Adair,
a UDA brigadier recently expelled from the organization, tipped off
an RHD gunman who killed Gregg in a taxi ambush. Adair's hunger
for power in the loyalist movement caused a feud in September 2002,
when Adair allegedly encouraged assassinations of his fellow UDA
men. Gregg's murder marked the zenith of violent tensions between
Adair's group and the UDA. The RHD's motive for killing Gregg may
have arisen from the UFF's opposition to the group. Regardless,
RHD involvement signified an assertion of independence from the
organization's roots in the UDA. It also revealed a lack of
cohesion in the loyalist movement.

In 2003, the RHD is thought to have continued with sporadic
shootings of Catholics and bombing attacks on public establishments
such as bars. Although one known member was arrested in June 2001
for a mock bomb threat, several other RHD members are still at
large and the organization has claimed responsibility for attacks
as recently as September 2004.

Despite divisions in the loyalist movement that suggest weak
leadership and organizational structure, those operating under the
RHD title still present a threat to Northern Irish nationalists and
the ongoing peace process. As for the RHD's future, their
operations will most likely continue to be limited to small-scale
terrorism in Northern Ireland. Given their region-specific
philosophy, there is no indication that the group will pursue
attacks elsewhere.


:: "LVF link to Red Hand Terrorists," BBC News, March 16, 1999.

:: "Northern Ireland's Red Hand Defenders claim journalist
killing," Agence France Presse, Sept. 29, 2001.

:: "The downfall of Mad Dog Adair," Observer, Oct. 5, 2003.

:: "UFF condemns death threats," BBC News, Jan. 15, 2002.

:: Bowcott, Owen and Cowan, Rosie "Pretence ends as minister calls
UDA's bluff: Loyalist groups used Red Hand Defenders as murder
cover," The Guardian, Oct. 13, 2001.

:: Jimmy Burns, "N Ireland car bomb killing deals blow to peace
process," Financial Times, March 16, 1999.

:: Liam Clarke, "Republican held over taxi driver murder," Sunday
Times, April 21, 2002.

:: Jim Cusack, "Red Hand Defenders could pose threat to North's
civilian population …" The Irish Times, Nov. 2, 1998.

:: Dixon, Paul, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace,
Ireland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.

:: Martin Fletcher, "RUC officer dies from Drumcree riot wounds,"
The Times, Oct. 7, 1998.

:: Gavin Jennings, "Sinn Fein outrage as Red Hand Defenders claim
latest attacks," Belfast News Letter, Aug. 23, 2001.

:: Vincent Kearney, "Nationalists escalate Drumcree campaign,"
Sunday Times, Jan. 31, 1999.

:: Garry Kelly,"Loyalist terror group warns Red Hand Defenders,"
Press Association, Jan. 15, 2002.

:: Jackie Mckeown, "Loyalists 'behind Lammas blast bid," Belfast
News Letter, Aug. 29, 2001.

:: Sharon O'Neill ,"Republicans threatened by Red Hand Defenders,"
Irish News, April 27, 2002.

:: Christopher Walker, "Ceasefire confusion after bomb attacks,"
The Times, Aug. 30, 2001.

For more information concerning this and other terrorism related
issues, please contact


Opin: Media Ignores Tribute To The Boys Of Kilmichael

THE 84th anniversary of the Kilmichael ambush, one of the major
engagements of the War of Independence, was commemorated on Sunday,
November 28, in the presence of 1,000 people at the ambush site.

This ambush, in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920,
in Dublin, delivered an important message to the British government
that the IRA were capable of defending the writ of Dáil Éireann.

The significance of the ambush can best be judged by the efforts of
pro-British propagandists over the eight decades since to defame
Gen Tom Barry and his West Cork flying column.

Meda Ryan, author of a recently published biography of Barry,
delivered a most informative oration on the ambush in the course of
which she rebutted the claims made by the then Queens University
Belfast historian, Peter Harte, in his book.

Ms Ryan - whose uncle, Pat O'Donovan, was one of the Boys of
Kilmichael - had interviewed most of those engaged in the ambush.

The attendance at the ceremonies exceeded that of the delegates at
the annual gatherings of our political parties, yet the national
media consistently ignore this occasion; no wonder circulation
figures for the print media are not what they should be.

I compliment the commemoration committee for the dignity, order and
respect evident throughout the proceedings. It is a special
occasion that will endure with or without the national media. Like
the committee that commemorates them, they were above politics;
they were soldiers and patriots of the Irish nation.

John J Hassett


Health Department Policy On Transsexuals Urged By Report

Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Correspondent

The Department of Health should develop a policy to deal with
transsexuals, according to the Equality Authority.

The recommendation comes in a report on access to health services
for transsexual people. Other recommendations include consultation
with transsexual people and the appropriate professional bodies.

Transsexuals are people who suffer from a medical condition where
they feel they were born in the opposite sex to the one they
appear, from their physical make-up, to be in.

The condition occurs in about one person in every 30,000, and many
seek treatment through surgery to align their genitals with the sex
they feel themselves to be, combined with hormone and other
therapies to allow as much transition as possible to the other sex.

According to the report, in Ireland policy and practice in relation
to the treatment of transsexual people is undeveloped.

Most health boards do accept applications from transsexuals under
the Treatment Abroad Scheme, and also stated to the authors that
they offer psychiatric help.

However, the report states that it is not clear what policy
framework or standards of care inform this support.

It also states that policy is undeveloped within professional
bodies. The Irish College of Psychiatrists has no formal policy on
the issue, it says.

The report recommends that the relevant professional bodies should
develop more detailed policies and standards of care, and that the
establishment of a network of GPs qualified in the area, and able
to refer people on, should be considered.

The Health Service Executive and health service providers should
also review their policies and practices to ensure that there is no
discrimination under the Equal Status Acts, according to the

It also recommends effective information exchanges, and provision
for the information needs of the families and friends of
transsexual people.

© The Irish Times


Case Study: A Transsexual's Story

Lynda Sheridan was born a boy but always played with girls. She was
six before she realised she was physically different from her

She suffered from a medical condition known as gender dysphoria,
where her physical appearance and her gender identity were
different. "I always described myself as a woman with a physical
condition rather than as a man with a mental problem," she said.

"The condition is critical if not treated. There are very high
levels of suicide both before treatment and after, if there is no
follow-up both for the person and their family."

Lynda said she was happy to be involved in the launch of the
Equality Authority's report, Access to Health Services for
Transsexual People. It had been a nightmare for her after she
discovered she was basically different from the girls she played
with. "At puberty it got worse."

But she was lucky in one respect. One girl, who had been her close
friend throughout her childhood, understood. They hung around
together as girls.

Eventually they decided they would like to have children, and they
married. They had two daughters, though Lynda continued to live
much of her life as a woman. "We were ahead of our time. She was a
very intelligent, very loving person," she said of her wife,
Carmel, who died six years ago.

"My life collapsed," said Lynda. "If it was not for my two
daughters, I would not have survived."

She then had gender realignment treatment, including the surgery
that has made her biologically a woman. She remains close to her
daughters and to the six grandchildren she now has.

"I told my daughters I never expected them to call me mother, as
long as they respected me as a woman. They do. When I was a man, I
was the best dad in the world, probably because I was a woman.

"I'm so lucky. So many don't ever meet a soul mate. Yet I always
felt I was living a lie, and I didn't like that. I loved Carmel, I
loved my girls, I loved my life, but I never felt fulfilled as an
individual. When I had the surgery, for the first time in my life I
felt honest."

Carol Coulter

© The Irish Times


Offer To Immigrants 'Impossible'

Marie O'Halloran

Free travel could not be offered just to Irish people returning
from Britain, but would have to be given on a Europe-wide basis,
the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

Defending the State's funding of Irish emigrant services in
Britain, Mr Ahern said the Government had considered free travel a
few years ago.

"This cannot be given in isolation just to Irish people abroad. It
must be extended on a Europe-wide basis. We examined this in some
detail regarding people in Britain and Northern Ireland but it was
impossible," he said.

But the Labour leader, Mr Pat Rabbitte, said "the notion of EU
citizens over 65 with senior citizen status, coming here for free
travel, is simply not realistic."

"This is a modest demand from the people concerned that there is no
impediment in the way of the pre-1953 pensioners receiving it." Mr
Rabbitte had raised the funding of services for Irish residents in
Britain, following another RTÉ PrimeTime report on the issue. He
referred to the estimated 700,000 people "we shipped out of this
country in the 1950s and 1960s".

© The Irish Times


Tory Islanders honoured for saving reality TV crew - Tom
MacSweeney, Marine Correspondent, reports from the ceremony at
Dublin Castle

47 Awarded Medals For 'Courage, Determination' -V

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

The courage of three women footballers who rescued a mother and
her two children off Westport Quay, Co Mayo, was acknowledged

Mary Gill, Helen Mulhall and Ann Heraty, members of Westport United
Ladies' Football Club, received bronze medals for marine gallantry
arising from the rescue of two children who went into the water in
their buggy on July 29th, 2002.

Mr John Walsh, who was working on his boat nearby and assisted at
the scene, received a ministerial letter of appreciation. They were
among 47 winners who received awards for their "courage,
determination and perseverance" from the Minister of State for the
Marine, Mr Pat "The Cope" Gallagher, at an awards ceremony in
Dublin Castle yesterday.

The Marine Gold Medal for Meritorious Service was awarded for the
first time to the four Air Corps crew, Capt Dave O'Flaherty, Capt
Mick Baker, Sgt Paddy Mooney and Cpl Niall Byrne, who died off
Tramore, Co Waterford, five years ago when returning from a rescue
mission in thick fog.

The award comes just two months after the defence wing's last
search-and-rescue unit based in Sligo was disbanded by the
Government. The citation said the Air Corps carried out 1,140
missions and saved 878 lives, besides providing air ambulance and
island relief missions, over 41 years.

The award was accepted by the GoC Air Corps, Brig Gen Ralph James.
A separate bronze medal was presented to Cpl Ciarán Smith of the
Air Corps for the rescue of a man at Portstewart on the Antrim
coast on May 24th, 2003. His pilot, Comdt Shane Bonner, and crew
were recognised with a ministerial letter.

The quick reaction of Seán Kinsella (14), Dublin, who rescued a man
in difficulty at Ardamine, near Courtown, Co Wexford, on August
10th, 2002, was recognised with a bronze medal.

An Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew under the command of Capt
Robert Goodbody risked severe weather conditions, including force-
11 north-westerly winds, to rescue a critically injured crewman
from the tanker, Princess Eva, off the Donegal coast on January
28th, 2003. Capt Goodbody and his crew received a bronze medal.

A bronze medal was also given to Mr Tony Youlten, who lives in a
boat on Lough Corrib, for his response in rescuing 14 students from
the water when their canoes were swamped in bad weather on July
30th, 2001.

The rescue of the 11 crew from the schooner, Carrie, off Tory
Island, Co Donegal, on June 13th, 2003, was recognised with a
ministerial letter of appreciation issued to Irish Coast Guard
members Séamus Doohan and Liam Rodgers, islander Peter Rodgers, and
other members of the Tory community.

Irish Coast Guard winchman Neville Murphy's efforts to rescue a
German woman, who sustained injuries in a cliff fall in west Cork
in September 2002, earned him a bronze medal.

The crew of the Polish naval helicopter under command of pilot
Waldemar Domanski flew out in "atrocious" weather conditions to
evacuate a trainee from the sail training vessel, Asgard II, during
a Tall Ships race from Latvia to Germany in August 2003.

These efforts were recognised with a bronze medal for winchman
Dariusz Symanski of the Polish Naval Service, who broke his arm
against the mast when attempting to board the vessel, and a letter
of appreciation for the helicopter crew.

The Minister recognised the contribution of former chief marine
surveyor Capt James Kelly, former assistant surveyor Séamus
McLoughlin and retired garda Frank Nolan of Irish Water.

© The Irish Times

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