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December 10, 2004

News 12/10/04 - Human Rights Watchdogs Attacks Ministers

News about Ireland & the Irish

EP 12/10/04 Rights Watchdog Attacks 'Immoral' Ministers
BT 12/10/04 North Set For A Painful Peace Without Reconciliation
GU 12/10/04 Comment: Infantilising The Irish
BT 12/10/04 Smokescreen Over Photos Obscures Real North Issues
BT 12/10/04 Secret Pledge On Release Of Garda Killers -V(2)
BT 12/10/04 SF Pressed Dublin For Peace Dividend
BB 12/10/04 US Envoy To Join NI Talks
BT 12/10/04 MLAs Are To Keep Salaries
BT 12/10/04 Bomber Awaits Fate As Judges Reserve Their Decision
NL 12/10/04 Ex-Army Man Was 'Used By The UDA'
SF 12/10/04 Providing Civic Leadership - A Day Of Reflection
BB 12/10/04 Controversy Over 'War Dead'
DJ 12/10/04 Last West Bank Army Base To Go
IO 12/10/04 SF & Equality Body Disagree Over Discrimination
BB 12/10/04 Neeson In Bid To Revive Theatre


Rights Watchdog Attacks 'Immoral' Ministers

An "immoral" government has undermined human rights in Northern
Ireland and is threatening to do the same across the rest of the
UK, an official watchdog has warned.

Ministers are set to prevent "the real truth" about collusion
between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries from emerging,
the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights
Commission has said.

And in an interview with to mark "human rights day",
Professor Brice Dickson also warned that there had been an "over-
reaction" to the international terrorist threat that was
undermining traditional civil liberties.

As talks continue to reach a deal on restoring the Stormont power
sharing executive, Professor Dickson also accused ministers of
using the powers of his commission as a bargaining chip with which
to extract further concessions from republicans.

And the same "immoral" position is being taken by ministers on the
repeal of the anti-terrorism legislation that applies in Northern

Collusion Claims

The commission chief told this website that the government "seems
to be doing all that it can to obstruct inquiries into collusion".

He highlighted the Inquiries Bill, which was announced in the
Queen's Speech, as a sign that the government "is not too keen to
let the real truth be known in these situations".

"They appear to be allowing government ministers to prevent any
tribunal of inquiry that is set up from hearing important
information relevant to the handling of informers," said Professor

"That has the potential to completely undermine the effectiveness
of any investigation"

He added that if the government does not have something to hide
"then it should be as open and transparent as possible in these

"The current government, I hope, cannot be held responsible for the
mistakes of previous governments so I don't see why the current
government has to be so coy about bringing out into the open
systems failures in the past."

Bargaining Chip

The chief commissioner said that the British and Irish governments
had failed to give proper prominence to human rights issues in the
political talks held over recent months and years.

"They have allowed, it seems to us, the powers of the commission to
be used as one of the bargaining chips in the talks between the
political parties," he said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the two prime ministers don't make some
reference to the powers of the Human Rights Commission which they
see as something they can give to Sinn Fein in return for
concessions from the republican movement.

"The reality is that human rights should be above politics, and the
Human Rights Commission needs effective powers whatever the
political environment in which it is working."

Professor Dickson added that the government "has allowed human
rights to be politicised in Northern Ireland".

"That is very bad for the whole concept of human rights because
political parties will try to manipulate the concept of human
rights to suit their own political agendas," he told this website.

Anti-Terror Laws

There was also criticism of the continued existence of a range of
anti-terrorism laws that apply specifically to Ulster.

The Diplock court system, under which some defendants are tried
before a judge rather than jury, and extended powers of arrest were
singled out for criticism.

"They, too, have been allowed to remain in place as part of a part
of a potential bargaining chip for the talks that are ongoing,"
said the chief commissioner.

"If there is movement from, in particular, the republican
paramilitaries on certain issues then the government might be able
to relax some of the extra anti-terrorism measures.

"Apart from being immoral in itself, that ignores the fact that
there are very active loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland
who are able to wreak just as much havoc as republicans."

Traditional Respect

Professor Dickson also expressed concern about the impact on human
rights as the government seeks to tighten laws designed to deal
with the international terrorist threat.

He said Britain was "seeing an unfortunate tendency to set human
rights up against security as if they are bi-polar opposites".

"In fact providing security is an aspect of providing human rights
protection, because the first right that people have is the right
to be secure in their beds at night," he said.

"I think the UK government has over-reacted to the international
terrorism threat."

And he warned: "One of the lessons from Northern Ireland is that
excessive anti-terrorism measures can themselves become part of the
problem that has to be solved, rather than part of the solution."

Controversial plans to introduce identity cards could also be a
concern, he said, but "so much depends on the detail of the
legislation that provides for them".

"The human rights commission view on this is that ID cards are
acceptable in principle but there needs to be adequate safeguards
in place to ensure that they are not abused."

Human Rights

There was further criticism of continuing human rights abuses in
Northern Ireland.

Professor Dickson said the commission had been "very vocal" in
condemning parties which urge respect for human rights while
remaining linked to organisations which engage in punishment
beatings and shootings.

He said that "for some parties to be calling for improvements in
the human rights situation... and on the other hand not to be doing
all they can to bring these punishment beatings and shootings to an
end is hypocrisy of the highest order".

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was created following
the Good Friday agreement in a bid to deal with such issues.

It has a statutory role to ensure that the human rights of everyone
in Northern Ireland are protected in law, policy and practice.

Since being established following the 1998 agreement, however, it
has come under fire from both unionist and nationalist communities.

Internal disagreements have also prompted resignations, with the
number of commissioners reduced from 13 to six as a result.

The government has said it intends to appoint a new chief
commissioner along with a full set of commission members.


North Set For A Painful Peace Without Reconciliation

10 December 2004

Northern Ireland politicians are currently absorbed in the blame
game, in the welter of recriminations that traditionally follows
the failure of peace process initiatives.

The IRA accuses Ian Paisley of seeking its humiliation rather than
any meaningful accommodation while he - never to be outdone when it
comes to anathematising - calls them "bloodthirsty monsters".

There will undoubtably be more hot and heavy rhetoric, despite
official appeals for a period of reflection - then the acrid smoke
will clear, and careful assessments will be made of how much damage
has been done to the process.

Already, it is possible to believe that the peace process remains
intact, and furthermore that Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are not
simply whistling in the dark when they say hugely important
advances have been made.

Even as the IRA flatly refused to allow photographs of
decommissioning, it was agreeing to the breath-taking proposition
of putting its entire armoury beyond use by the end of the year.

And even as Mr Paisley belligerently denounced those 'bloodthirsty
monsters', he still slipped in some discreet subordinate clauses
confirming he would sit in government with republicans if only they
got rid of their guns.

The two sides, in other words, are still shaping up for an eventual
deal in which they would together run Northern Ireland.

But in Belfast, shaping up often entails squaring up to each other,
and this they are doing at the moment.

It is not a pretty sight, but rather than reflect reality, it is
camouflaging the extraordinary fact that militant republicanism and
rejectionist unionism, Northern Ireland's polar opposites, are
doing business with each other.

This is huge stuff, but it is also a painful business, for it is
peace without reconciliation. There is genuine personal pain for
Ian Paisley, for example, who has sat in many homes where someone
has been killed or maimed by the IRA.

He has enormous baggage to cope with and overcome. On his religious
website, he thunders: "Romanists reject this light [the 'Word of
God']; blindness is their duty. Become a tree, a block, a stone, an
unreasoning beast, and you are a good Roman Catholic!"

But his political website has a markedly different tone, with
statements such as "a new settlement must be able to deliver
equality of opportunity to unionists as well as nationalists".

A west Belfast nationalist said wonderingly of this: "I could
nearly vote for them myself." He was only kidding, but there is a
lot less kidding around than there used to be, and much more

Mr Paisley used to kid himself that Catholics could be held down in
an inferior political status, while republicans used to kid
themselves that unionists and Protestants were only puppets of
Britain without a legitimate independent identity of their own.

There is considerable pain around for republicans too, since many
of them regard Mr Paisley himself as a monster who revelled in
division and has spent a political lifetime opposing partnership.
Many republicans have qualms about the IRA relinquishing its guns,
having long believed in the old republican slogan: "God made the
Catholics, the Armalite made them equal."

The IRA used to be the republican movement's cutting edge, but the
political wing, Sinn Fein, now provides an alternative form of

The IRA has had a good run with its guns - it is a full 10 years
since it first went on ceasefire, and only now is it prepared to
bid a final farewell to arms. Politics has delivered so much to
republicans that there is no question of a return to bombing and

But even so, disarmament is sending tremors through republican
areas, which helps to explain anxieties about the IRA being
humiliated by Mr Paisley.

The pain is not confined to Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionist party
circles. Between them, these parties get more than half the vote,
which effectively means they dominate the landscape and together
will control a new administration. They are the election winners,
and the unforgiving mathematics mean that the winners take all.

David Trimble's Ulster Unionists and the moderate nationalist
Social Democratic and Labour Party has been sidelined and looks
like taking a pasting in the general election.

This leaves more than 40pc of voters, most of them centrists of one
hue or another, looking on and feeling helpless as their future is
negotiated by the two extreme factions.

The whole peace process is supposed to be suffused by the politics
of inclusion, but there are many who feel excluded - there is pain
here, too. Those who perhaps naively hope for a more settled, more
normal, Northern Ireland are clearly in for further pain, even
after a DUP-Sinn Fein deal is eventually hammered out.

A deal is expected to install Ian Paisley as first minister with
Martin McGuinness as his deputy, an incredible combination.

When a deal is done, there will be no handshakes between them and
absolutely no hugging. For a start, DUP people do not, as a matter
of principle, talk to republicans, so it will be a question of icy
memos and harassed officials scurrying to convey messages from one
office to another.

There will be so many unresolved issues - policing, for one - and
decades of bad blood between the two sides that, even if the war is
over, a permanent state of recrimination will exist between them.

They are prepared to go into government because each wants power
and each knows it is only attainable in combination. But their
coalition is going to be as fractious as this negotiation - forget
cordial collegiality, this will be gladiatorial government. Some
say that such an administration would stand little chance of
uniting a divided Northern Ireland; others shrug that it never has
been a united entity, and is never likely to become one.

It is still uncertain when the breakthrough could come. The two
prime ministers will try to prevent any unravelling - Bertie Ahern
has already recovered from a moment of gloom to say that maybe it
could be done by Christmas.

Some of those in recent touch with Tony Blair, meanwhile, calculate
that he is anxious for a diplomatic triumph to balance his less
pacific activities in Iraq. The prize would not just be political
but historic - he would go down as the man who persuaded the IRA to
voluntarily abandon its weapons.

It has been a long, hard struggle to get to this point, and the
pain is not over yet. Yet few ever imagined what is now on offer -
disarmed republicans and a power-sharing Paisley working side by
side, in peace if not in harmony.


Comment: Infantilising The Irish

It wasn't a tantrum that broke the peace process

Malachi O'Doherty
Friday December 10, 2004
The Guardian

Isn't it an awful pity that the Irish are so moody and difficult
but at least it gives the British a chance to demonstrate how
mature they are. The latest breakdown in the peace process is over
an IRA refusal to be humiliated by having its decommissioned arms
photographed. Anyone who believes that to be the crunch issue must
think that the IRA is incapable of swallowing its pride, even to
advance its own political interests.

The eagerness of the government to take this excuse seriously is an
indication that many subterranean attitudes are working through the
negotiations. There is the fantasy that Northern Ireland's two most
successful parties - Sinn Fein and the DUP - are driven by childish
moodswings: they aren't.

Both parties made gains by aborting the deal in the way they have
done, but most media debate overlooks that, and accepts that the
thing turns on Paisley's insult and the IRA's wounded pride. Yet no
British politician could scupper an important deal on such a
trivial point and be trusted not to have a more insidious motive.
The peace process is being prolonged by the government and media
failure to treat the Northern Irish leaders as politicians who know
what they want.

English journalists are happy to imagine that the Northern Irish
are different and difficult, and that they can credit themselves
with great anthropological sensitivity by demonstrating how well
they understand them. On these pages David Aaronovitch accused the
Provos of castration anxiety and Jonathan Freedland fell for folksy
Provo nonsense about having to go out of business because the men
were getting fatter. The DUP and Sinn Fein are arch political
pragmatists, who would never let pride or self-respect get in their

So if the deal didn't break over pride, what did it break over?
What was probably worrying Sinn Fein was that if it entered an
executive with the DUP, its political profile would be eclipsed and
the unionist majority would belittle it where it matters.

But the excuse suits the DUP too. They could have chosen to break
on the weaknesses in the IRA text, but that would have made them
look as if they had walked into the sort of trap that Trimble had
faced before, and their pitch to the electorate is that they are
not as soft and impressionable as they argue Trimble was.

There are weaknesses in the IRA text. The promise of an order to
IRA volunteers to avoid action which "might" threaten the deal is
not only compromised by that subjunctive but is also preceded by a
clause which suggests that IRA members should be allowed to defend
themselves - and how would they do that but with guns?

What does Blair get out of the myth of Irish moodiness? It confirms
his own maturity and statesmanship; he looks like the long-
suffering decent chap - a nice contrast to the other current images
of him.

Malachi O'Doherty is editor of Fortnight magazine and author of I
Was A Teenage Catholic


Smokescreen Over Photos Obscures Real North Issues

10 December 2004

After the smokescreen created by the row over photographic evidence
of arms decommissioning began to subside yesterday, it was clear
that the problems confronting the Irish and British governments in
the coming weeks are more wide-ranging than what could be presented
by a single issue.

Shortly after the text of most of what was on the negotiating table
was revealed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister Tony
Blair at the Waterfront in Belfast on Wednesday afternoon, the gaps
in the proposed deal began to emerge.

As the Irish Independent reported yesterday, the republican
movement was having difficulty in accepting more than the DUP
demand for photographs. It was disclosed that a key phrase of the
IRA statement to have been published in the event of a deal and put
out by the two governments, had not yet been accepted by

The IRA over the past few months had refused to sign up to the
section that recognised "the need to uphold and not to endanger
anyone's personal rights and safety".

This phrase was a vital component of any deal because it meant that
for the first time a peace agreement would exclude the IRA from
taking part in punishment beatings, kneecappings, exilings and
generally holding a grip of terror over entire communities in the

After the Good Friday Agreement, it was generally thought that all
paramilitary and criminal activity was included in the declaration
that the war was over. But it was a con job and the cessation
referred only to the attacks on members of the British Army and the
then RUC.

Shooting somebody in the knee and incapacitating the person for
life was not deemed to be a breach of the agreement, once the
victim was deemed by the Provisionals to be a local criminal, or
public nuisance, or was unfortunate enough to have ended up in a
row with an IRA member or supporter.

This time the two governments were determined to include all of
these activities in any deal as well as paramilitary behaviour such
as gathering intelligence, recruitment and training.

Republican negotiators knew that the key phrase brought all of
these issues together and, according to sources, had baulked over
the past few months at giving their approval to its inclusion.

Significantly, in the statement issued yesterday morning through
'An Phoblacht', the IRA leadership did not include the phrase
either, although it did point out that all IRA "volunteers" had
been given specific instructions not to engage in any activity that
might endanger a new agreement.

Those involved in drafting the statement that the governments
wanted the IRA to issue in the event of a deal reportedly "sweated
over every word" and said the language used in each sentence was
vital to avoid the omissions of previous deals.

The actual IRA statement yesterday also pointed out that its
leadership had instructed its representative to agree the
completion of the process of putting all arms beyond use with the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and if
possible to do so by the end of December.

But it did not mention, as emerged on Wednesday night, that the IRA
representative had not engaged the head of the commission, General
John de Chastelain, in the crucial details of what was left in its
terror arsenal and how and when it was to be put beyond use

The frustration of General de Chastelain at the failure of the IRA
to discuss the modalities of decommissioning was also highlighted
by Rev Ian Paisley, who said the general had told him the IRA
representative would not discuss any matter in relation in
inventories, independent witnesses or photographs.

And at his press conference in Belfast, Gerry Adams emphasised that
while he was happy that the governments' overall document was an
accurate reflection of the fundamentals of the agreement, issues
relating to the IRA were a matter for the IRA.

And he added: "In the context of a comprehensive agreement, the IRA
leadership will resolve these issues."

The truth is that there had not been any agreement on either the
finer points of decommissioning, signing up to the declaration
about not endangering anyone's personal rights and safety or a
timescale on Sinn Fein's commitment to new policing arrangements.

However, none of that was revealed at the governments' conference.
After this morning's disclosure of an unpublished side document, it
remains to be seen how much more has yet to be told.


Political row over alleged peace deal guarantee - Leader of the
Seanad Mary O'Rourke and Independent Senator Shane Ross give their
reaction to the proposed NI deal

Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, details apparent
discrepancies in statements on the future of IRA activity

Revealed: Secret Pledge On Release Of Garda Killers -V(2)

By Tom Brady
10 December 2004

A side deal to the Northern Ireland negotiations, which has not
been published by the Irish and British governments, contains three
key concessions to the IRA and Sinn Fein.

Details of the secret document emerged last night as the
governments prepared for a fresh rounds of talks with the political
parties in an effort to salvage the proposed agreement for the
restoration of power-sharing government at Stormont.

The document centres on issues which are regarded as highly
sensitive for the governments and includes:

* Agreement to sanction the early release of the killers of Det-Gda
Jerry McCabe if the IRA signs up to an end to all paramilitary and
criminal activity.

* An effective amnesty for the group of on-the-run (OTR) terrorists
who include two men on the wanted list for the McCabe murder.

* A fast-tracking of reform of the Seanad to include a guarantee
that some politicians from the Northern Assembly would
automatically become members.

None of those items was mentioned in the extensive documentation
published by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister Tony Blair
in Belfast on Wednesday. But all are regarded as crucial to the
success of the governments in securing the approval of Sinn Fein
for the deal.

The Taoiseach last week insisted that the deal could not become a
reality without a commitment to release the killers. This is the
first time that the commitment has been included officially in a
peace deal.

Growing political opposition on the Government benches to an early
release for the four IRA men became evident last night with Junior
Health and Children Minister Tim O'Malley and Progressive Democrats
senator John Minihan both declaring their opposition to the
proposed move.

Mr O'Malley said last night he had made it clear at a meeting of
his parliamentary party yesterday evening that he had always been
against the suggestion.

He said two years ago this had not been on the negotiating table
and he could not understand why it had become so important to Sinn
Fein in the meantime.

Senator Minihan said he had made his opposition to an early release
known a couple of years ago and he had not deviated from that

Their remarks followed the disclosure that Limerick Fianna Fail TD
Peter Power had told the Taoiseach he was considering resigning
over the issue.

The anger on the Government benches and among the gardai will be
exacerbated by the deal proposed for the OTRs who include two men
whose fingerprints were found inside a car used by the IRA gang in
their getaway after the shooting in Adare in June 1996.

The two fled overseas and one is currently working in Nicaragua
while the other is based in northern France and Spain.

Under the deal both will be able to return home and be granted an
effective amnesty.

* The early release of the killers of Det Garda McCabe is "firmly
off the table" until there is a full and final settlement in the
North, the PDs said last night. Following a meeting of the
parliamentary party, they said it would not be re-visited until
such time as there was a comprehensive agreement.


SF Pressed Dublin For Peace Dividend

By Noel McAdam
10 December 2004

The Irish Government had also been urged to inject a massive peace
dividend as part of the devolution deal, it has emerged.

The cash boost would have been designed to develop cross-border
bodies and the border counties.

The DUP and Sinn Fein had joined forces to press London for a £1
billion cash payoff, arising from savings in security costs.

But Sinn Fein also raised the issue of a peace dividend with

In a statement which would have been released officially in the
event of agreement, Sinn Fein said: "Such a commitment should be
used to underpin and advance the work of the all-Ireland
institutions and border counties."

Party sources have also indicated the potential amount on offer
from British coffers was believed to amount to less than had been

Gerry Adams said he welcomed the acceptance by the British
Government of the need for a peace dividend.

"Sinn Fein has been lobbying for this for some time, however, we
are disappointed by the amount to be made available," he said.

"We believe that a significantly greater amount is needed, as well
as (an) increase in the annual budget provided to the north.

"We look forward to working with the DUP in developing joint
strategies to secure greater financial commitments."

Former Alliance Party leader Sean Neeson warned the failure to
reach a deal would impact economically - with water charges and
cutbacks for schools and colleges.

The East Antrim MLA also urged both the DUP and Sinn Fein to engage
in direct talks.

"Megaphone diplomacy doesn't work, and we need to see both DUP and
Sinn Fein negotiating at the table. Precedents have already been
established at local councils and in Assembly committees, so there
is no excuse for no direct talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

"There are simply too many major issues - cutbacks in education and
water charges, for example - where local politicians need to make
an impact as soon as possible."


US Envoy To Join NI Talks

The United States envoy Mitchell Reiss is due to take part in next
week's political talks aimed at reviving the political process.

Mr Reiss said on Friday that he was disappointed the DUP and Sinn
Fein could not reach agreement.

He said he would be at Hillsborough Castle next week for a new
round of discussions.

"It's unfortunate that we could not get complete agreement and it's
easy to focus on the negative," he said.

"But let's not forget the big picture is that there has been
enormous movement," he added.

The Democratic Unionists rejected a deal aimed at restoring
devolution because the IRA would not allow a photographic record of

The IRA said it would "not submit to a process of humiliation".

Maintaining momentum

The government has said it intends to maintain the momentum after
the failure to reach a deal.

Renewed talks between the governments and the parties are scheduled
for next week.

The secretary of state and the Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot
Ahern, are planning to hold meetings with all the parties to try to
assess the way forward.

The two prime ministers are also expected to meet next week to
agree their joint strategy.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in
October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the
Northern Ireland Office.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/10 11:35:22 GMT


MLAs Are To Keep Salaries

£600 per week stays despite deal failure

By Noel McAdam
10 December 2004

Assembly members are to retain their £600 per week salaries despite
the collapse of the devolution deal, it was confirmed today.

The Government said it had "no plans" to alter the present £31,817
pay levels as the focus remains on reaching a deal.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy will keep the issue "under review",
however, as talks involving Sinn Fein and the DUP resume next week.

Earlier this year he warned of "consequences" if a deal was not
agreed and said the on-going situation could not continue
indefinitely. The issue was all about the credibility of the

His words were taken as a potential threat to cut Assembly members'
pay - already just 70% of the total - even further, stopping short
of full disbandment of the Assembly.

But the Government believes it came close this week to restoring
the Assembly - at least in shadow form - in the near future.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "There are no plans to
change the current position but the Secretary of State will keep it
under review."

After the election last November, Assembly members' salaries were
increased from 50% to 70% of the total. The 108 Stormont
representatives have also been given more than £2m in office costs
and other allowances including travel and subsistence.

By the end of last month, a year after the last elections, MLAs had
received an overall wages total of £3.3m.

A Government source said: "If you look at the level of success in
the document, a lot of that very important work was down to the
MLAs across a range of parties.

"The fact is we came very close indeed to getting the MLAs back to
the job they are supposed to be doing."

Apart from involvement in the talks, MLAs continue to carry out
constituency work.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ian Paisley was expected to insist that
photographic evidence of decommissioning remains essential in a
speech he is due to give at receiving the Freedom of Ballymena.

DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson has also revealed that the party
warned the Government against any firm deadline for the talks:
"they should just have kept on working at it".

The DUP also spurned the latest overture from Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams for direct talks be tween the parties.

Negotiations are expected to resume next Wednesday.


Omagh Bomber Awaits Fate As Judges Reserve Their Decision In Appeal

10 December 2004

Judgment was reserved yesterday in the appeal by the only man
convicted in connection with the Omagh bombing.

Colm Murphy (51) from Ravensdale, Co Lough is claiming his 14-year
prison sentence is unsafe and unsound.

He was convicted in January 2002 of conspiring to cause the
explosion in the Tyrone town, which killed 29 people and injured
more than 300 in August 1998.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin, senior counsel for the
state Peter Charleton rejected allegations from Murphy's lawyers
that his right to silence had been flagrantly disregarded when it
was used as part of the corroborative evidence against him in the
original trial. On the third day of the three-judge appeal hearing,
Mr Charleton said Murphy had provided his version of events through
his lawyers, but had not taken to the stand to subject it to cross-

Murphy had denied making any admission during police interviews in
February 1999 about lending his mobile phone to known republicans,
knowing it would be used for moving bombs.

Mr Charleton said the officers who conducted the interviews had
been challenged on the stand by Murphy's defence team.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, presiding, asked Mr Charleton how the
court should view the perjured evidence of two gardai.

Detectives Liam Donnelly and John Fahy were found to have altered a
page of Murphy's statement and to have lied about doing so in
court. Mr Charleton acknowledged neither officer had provided an
explanation for what they did.

But he said the falsified Murphy interview statements had been
disclosed during the trial and the defence had fallen far short of
showing any wider police conspiracy.

"If it happened later on, it would definitely be a case for a
retrial," he said.

The Special Criminal Court had reacted by increasing the burden of
proof on the prosecution.

"We have to be even more careful than usual as regards the
credibility of witnesses," he said.

Mr Charleton said there were telephone records which showed
Murphy's mobile phone, and one he had borrowed from his foreman
(Terence Morgan), being used on the date of the Omagh bombing.

Murphy's phone was also active two weeks earlier in Banbridge, Co
Down, where there was an explosion which injured 38 people.

Michael O'Higgins, SC, representing Murphy, said the original trial
judges had not considered the evidence he had presented. He added
that the State had conceded that if the Garda interviewing system
during the investigation had become contaminated, the entire
conviction was unsafe.


Ex-Army Man Was 'Used By The UDA'

Friday 10th December 2004

A former squadie who turned to the loyalist UDA terror group for
solace and ended up being used by them was jailed for six years

Belfast Crown Court heard that 30-year-old former soldier Mark John
Pilling, from Heron Way in Londonderry, felt a need to be accepted
and at first fronted a UDAorganised community group, before finally
joining their ranks in August 2001.

In all, the father of two who moved to Northern Ireland 10 years
ago with his Ulster-born wife, admitted a catalogue of terrorist
offences, including conspiracy to murder, intimidation, possessing
guns and explosives and UDA membership.

Jailing Pilling, who intends returning to England on his release,
Mr Justice Deeny told him, "you seem to have got involved with the
UDA out of a desire to be wanted, or out of companionship, however
strange that may strike an outsider".

Mr Justice Deeny added later, it appeared that, once involved with
the loyalist terror group, he "may have been used or were used by
more sinister people".

However, the judge said he accepted the prosecution view that
Pilling played only "a minor or peripheral role" in many of the

which included the intimidationof a drug dealer and that of a
grandfather accused of child abuse.

"You were neither a planner in these offences nor did you handle
any firearms, but were an assistant," said Mr Justice Deeny, who
added he also accepted the Crown view that the intention "was to
frighten" the victims.

Defence QC Eilish McDermot said the prosecution case against a
"remorseful" Pilling was that of an assister in removing evidence
and not one of him being "a shooter or planner of events".

Ms McDermot revealed that Pilling served four years in the Army,
but could not work because of growing mental and emotional problems
stemming from childhood trauma, and turned to unpaid community

She added that Pilling felt "wanted" by the advice group, "which
appears to have been run by this organisation, and he was, as it
were, its public face" before he became a member of the UDA for
just over a year.

Ms McDermot said when Pilling initially began taking part in the
community work he "felt good about it - to be wanted".


Providing Civic Leadership - A Day Of Reflection

Published: 10 December, 2004

are not uniform across any of these council areas but are guided
and shaped by the engagement that each has had with the people they
represent as first citizens. It is built upon engagement with many
representatives and organisations representing many of those who
have suffered as a result of wars and conflict. It is still very
much a work in progress.

"Together the mayors and chairs from Derry City, Fermanagh,
Magherfelt, Omagh and Strabane have worked hard to progress an
event to mark 'a day of reflection' today, December 10th, to mark
International Human Rights Day.

"But that is not say that we are naïve of the difficulties such an
undertaking faces. Nonetheless I want to stress A Day of Reflection
is not in any way intended as a replacement of existing
commemorative events. Instead it is about something entirely new.
It is in recognition of the need to validate and recognise the
experiences of all equally, and together." ENDS


Controversy Over 'War Dead'

A Sinn Fein 'remembrance' ceremony for all who have suffered in war
has been condemned by the DUP.

Sinn Fein has called for every member of the community to attend a
Day of Reflection on Friday.

Londonderry Mayor Gearoid OhEara, SF, said the event would
commemorate everyone who lost their lives as the result of war.

But DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the ceremony would merely "deepen

The Day of Reflection coincides with International Human Rights

Mr OhEara said it was an effort to overcome the potentially
contentious issue of remembrance.

He said he believed the event offered every member of the community
the opportunity to remember "all those who have lost their lives as
a result of war and conflict from and within the city and district"
regardless of background".

"I am very conscious of the importance of remembrance to the people
of this city and would like to point out that this event is not
intended to replace any of the existing commemorations that take
place," he said.

He said there would be no speeches, statements or opinions at the

"Some people are saying it is too soon, but over 90 percent think
it is a good idea and we should proceed with it. Hopefully this
will go some way towards communal healing, personal healing and
reconciliation," he said.

However, Mr Campbell said the event would not bring about healing.

"Today's events will deepen sores that may have been healing
because people who are genuine, relatives of genuine innocent
victims people who did nothing other than to be in the wrong place
at the wrong time, are being put on a par with people who killed
their relatives but happened to die as a consequence of their
actions," he said.

"That is not the way of bringing about healing into our divided

'Controversial' events

Sinn Fein's participation in remembrance events has been

During his term as Belfast's first republican lord mayor in 2002,
Alex Maskey held a Remembrance function for the Royal British
Legion and laid a wreath during a commemoration service for those
killed during the First World War's Battle of the Somme.

As part of Friday's events, the council chairs of Magherafelt and
Fermanagh - Patsy Groogan and Gerry McHugh - will hold civic

Tree planting ceremonies will take place in Omagh and Strabane.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/10 09:33:05 GMT


Last West Bank Army Base To Go

Friday 10th December 2004

The last remaining British Army base on the West Bank of the Foyle,
adjacent to the Masonic Hall in Bishop Street, will close in the
very near future, THE JOURNAL has learned.

It is also envisaged that the police barracks at Rosemount will
also close as part this week's failed peace deal.

Last night Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin confirmed that it was
intended to close the British Army base first.

He said: "This is something we have been in negotiations with Tony
Blair, his adviser and Hugh Orde about for some time. It has been
agreed that the base at the Masonic Hall is to go soon and
initially it was envisaged that it would be about 18 months down
the line before Rosemount also closed. "However, we told both
governments that this simply was not good enough and that we wanted
the closure of both bases to take place as soon as possible. So we
are confident that in the very near future the west bank of the
Foyle will be a British Army free area."

The British Army have been installed at the Bishop Street base
since the early 1970's and in 1996 one of the controversial masts
was built there with local people claiming that it would enable the
British Army to spy on a wide area of the city.

During the time in the base the British Army have come under
various gun and bomb attacks from all the various Republican groups
in the city.

Last week it was revealed that the man who owns a large part of the
land the base is built on was hoping to build a tourist facility
there once the base is handed back to him.

In 1989 Joe McLaughlin, who owned the Gate Bar beside the base, was
informed by the British Secretary of State that his land was being
taken over by the British army.

The area where the bar used to be was then incorporated into the
British Army base.

Last year hopes were raised that the base was about to close when a
lot of construction work was noticed around the site.

The appearance of a large crane sparked rumours that the watchtower
was to be dismantled.

But an Army spokesman said that the crane was on the site to erect
and gangway allowing troops to carry out maintenance work on the
roof of the base.


SF And Equality Body Disagree Over Workplace Discrimination

10/12/2004 - 14:12:18

Sinn Féin has clashed with the Equality Commission in the North
over the disputed existence of anti-Catholic discrimination in the

The commission has described the Catholic-Protestant balance in the
Northern workforce as "very fair", but Sinn Féin has claimed that
this is demonstrably untrue.

The equality body said the Catholic share of the workforce had
increased by almost 6% since 1990.

However, Sinn Féin said the annual increase of around 1% was
miniscule and disproportionate to the economically-active

It said Harland and Wolff, for example, employed 12 Catholics and
235 Protestants, while the Shorts Aerospace workforce was 15%
Catholic and 85% Protestant.


Neeson In Bid To Revive Theatre

Hollywood film star Liam Neeson has held a dinner party in New York
to promote Belfast's Lyric Theatre.

The Ballymena-born actor said that the theatre on Ridgeway Street
was in a "very dilapidated condition".

Lyric chairman David Johnston has said that rebuilding the theatre,
at a cost of £8m is the only answer.

Mr Neeson said that the idea was to get a bunch of "healthy,
wealthy Irish Americans" in one room and ask them to help with

Belisha beacon

The Oscar-nominated actor, whose films include Schindler's List,
Michael Collins and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, said: "The Lyric
is too important to the cultural and social life of Northern
Ireland for this building to crumble and fall apart.

"It gave me a start professionally. Mary O'Malley, the founder of
the theatre, gave me my future.

"In those days, in the mid-70s, when I was there, we were doing a
play every four weeks.

"Belfast was not a pretty town to be living in.

"There was serious trouble, as you know, but this theatre was like
a Belisha beacon of light and hope six nights a week, doing
everything from Shakespeare to Yeats to O'Casey with a group of
actors and actresses that affected me very deeply and still do."

The Lyric began 50 years ago but the doors opened at its present
site on the Stranmillis embankment overlooking the River Lagan in

As well as Liam Neeson, it also launched the careers of Adrian
Dunbar and Stephen Rea and playwrights such as Martin Lynch and
Gary Mitchell.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland before the event at New York's
SoHo House, Mr Neeson said that his spirit belonged to the Glens of

And he said that there was one figure from his childhood that he
would love to portray on the big screen - Ian Paisley.

He said that the DUP leader and preacher was a "very dynamic,
extraordinary figure".

Neeson used to listen to his sermons on a Friday night in

He said: "What an orator. He was from that old school of bible-
thumping righteousness. But it was so dramatic. I found him very

"I'd love to get a chance to play him some time."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/10 07:02:00 GMT

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