News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

December 12, 2004

News 12/12/04 - Migrants Escape Racist Attack

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

BB 12/12/04 Migrants Escape Racist Arson Attack
UT 12/12/04 Paisley On IRA Photos
BB 12/12/04 Churchman's Arms Move Call
SL 12/12/04 Blair Pictured Provo Consent
RT 12/12/04 Ahern Calls For IRA Statement On Criminality -A(2)
IO 12/12/04 Alliance Questions IRA Peace Commitment
SH 12/12/04 Picture This: Peace A Reality Even Without Photographs
SL 12/12/04 'Snap' Poll Backs Big Man
SL 12/12/04 Shinners In Megaphone Diplomacy After Talks Failure
IO 12/12/04 Council Considers McCabe Killers Controversy
SL 12/12/04 Bro Of Adair Crony Dies After UDA Beating
SL 12/12/04 Former Loyalist Prisoners Have Been "Forgotten"
SL 12/12/04 Garda's Omagh Mole Flees UK
SL 12/12/04 Armagh's Bandit Couontry - No Go!

25th anniversary of Haughey's election as Taoiseach - Stephen
Collins, The Sunday Tribune Political Editor, discusses how history
will view former Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey


Migrants Escape Arson Attack

Eight Portuguese nationals, including a child, have been rescued
from a flat in an arson attack in County Tyrone.

The blaze was spotted at the property in Irish Street in Dungannon
at about 0450 GMT on Sunday by a passing motorist who telephoned
the emergency services.

An electricity meter and bins had been set on fire.

A police spokesman said the attack was being treated as "racially

Immigrants from Portugal and the Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia
and Lithuania - have increasingly been coming to Northern Ireland
to work mainly in meat processing plants and on farms.

Local SDLP assembly member Tommy Gallagher condemned the attack.

"My first reaction is of relief - obviously there was a very great
danger to the families," he said.

"There is a worry that lives will be lost if this sort of attack
doesn't end soon."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/12 11:09:33 GMT

Members of the Chinese, Polish, Lithuanian, Ugandan, Pakistani,
Bangladeshi and Filipino communities have all been targeted in
Belfast, Derry, Lurgan and Portadown.

Attacks have been linked to loyalist paramilitary groups like the
Ulster Volunteer Force.

Far-right groups like the White Nationalist Party and the British
National Party have been blamed for stoking tensions.


Paisley On IRA Photos

Photographic evidence of IRA disarmament must take people through
the entire process, the Reverend Ian Paisley insisted today.

As the British and Irish governments prepared to resume efforts to
nail down a deal which could bring back Northern Ireland`s
Assembly, the Democratic Unionist leader spelt out his terms for
future weapons decommissioning.

He said in a radio interview broadcast in Northern Ireland that
previous IRA decommissioning had been a charade.

"If we hadn`t three charades of so-called decommissioning, we
wouldn`t have to be as strong on this matter," the North Antrim MP

"We must first of all have an independent observer and that
independent observer must be free to do what he likes as far as
having a notebook, as far having his own inventory, as far as
saying what time so many arms were destroyed.

"He must be absolutely free but, of course, that has never been
agreed by the IRA.

"Then he must be able to have photographs taken by the
(disarmament) commission, not by the IRA, on every step taken for
the destruction of those arms - photographs before they were
destroyed, photographs when they are destroying and photographs of
after they`re destroyed."

Tony Blair and Irish premier Bertie Ahern`s bid to revive
devolution stumbled last week over the issue of how IRA disarmament
would be carried out.

The two leaders revealed their formula envisaged photographs being
taken of the destruction of all the IRA`s weapons and two clergymen
witnessing the act.

The IRA said while it had no difficulty with Protestant and
Catholic church witnesses, Mr Paisley`s demand for photographs of
weapons decommissioning was never possible.

After talks with the head of the Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning, General John de Chastelain, Mr
Paisley accused the IRA of not even agreeing an inventory of all
its weapons or indicating whether the independent witnesses would
be free to describe what happened.

The DUP leader said initially his party wanted video evidence of

The idea of photographs featured in the two governments` blueprint
for a deal, he said.

The 78-year-old also denied one photograph of a decommissioning
event was good enough and he dismissed claims his party was seeking
to humiliate the IRA by demanding visual evidence.

"They have issued atrocious photographs," Mr Paisley told BBC Radio
Ulster`s Sunday Sequence programme.

"They issue a calendar every year with a gunman on the front of it.

"Their deputy says Ian Paisley couldn`t humiliate him. So he is one
of their tough guys. Who are these soft guys who can be humiliated?

"Their sin catches up on them and there must be a proper repentance
and a turning of the man."

Mr Paisley said when he had recently called on the IRA to don a
sackcloth and ashes, he was using a Biblical term which demanded
sincerity in any repentance.

He also said Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was welcome to come to
his church in Belfast to hear him preach and to talk to him about

"If Mr Adams wants to hear me preach, he is welcome," the Free
Presbyterian Church Moderator said. "The doors of Martyrs` Memorial
Church are open to him. He can hear me preach at any time.

"If he came into this room and said `I would like to talk to you,
Ian, about sin and how you get rid of it, about what the Gospel
is`, I would talk to him.

"But that is not political. Negotiations on the future government
of the country is entirely different."


Churchman's Arms Move Call

Any arms move should be witnessed by four clergymen including
someone "who has lost a loved one", the Moderator of the
Presbyterian Church has said.

A "comprehensive agreement" between the DUP and Sinn Fein broke
down last week over the issue of IRA weapons being put beyond use.

Reverend Ken Newell said photographs of decommissioning were
desirable but not essential.

DUP leader Ian Paisley insisted though that he would not change
this demand.

Mr Newell told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence that more
clerical witnesses could provide a solution to the political

"From the unionist side anyhow, one of those clerical witnesses
should be a minister who has lost a loved one," he said.

"(Someone) who is very concerned that this whole thing is done with
credibility and will build confidence in the community.

"I think we have got to consider increasing the number of witnesses
to four, and put in there someone who has been a victim of the
Troubles that we have been through."

The British-Irish proposals said that decommissioning would be
witnessed by two clergymen.

The DUP has demanded that a photographic record is made of the IRA
decommissioning its weapons.

However, Sinn Fein said that the IRA would "not submit to a process
of humiliation".

On Sunday, Mr Paisley insisted that he would not move from his
demand for photographic evidence of decommissioning.

The DUP leader said he would not compromise on the issue after
"previous failed attempts".

"If we hadn't three charades of so-called decommissioning, we
wouldn't have to be as strong on this matter," the North Antrim MP

"We must first of all have an independent observer and that
independent observer must be free to do what he likes as far as
having a notebook, as far having his own inventory, as far as
saying what time so many arms were destroyed.

"He must be absolutely free but, of course, that has never been
agreed by the IRA.

"Then he must be able to have photographs taken by the
(disarmament) commission, not by the IRA, on every step taken for
the destruction of those arms - photographs before they were
destroyed, photographs when they are destroying and photographs of
after they're destroyed."

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

The DUP and Sinn Fein became the largest unionist and nationalist
parties after assembly elections in November 2003.

However, the two parties have never been able to reach a deal which
would allow a power-sharing executive to be formed, and Northern
Ireland continues to be governed by direct rule from Westminster.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish premier Bertie
Ahern published joint government proposals for power-sharing in

Mr Blair said that progress towards restoring devolution had been
"remarkable", but was not yet complete.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said on Saturday that he was
keeping his options open over future moves in the political

Mr Murphy said that recalling the Stormont assembly and holding
fresh elections have not been ruled out.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/12 10:53:16 GMT


Blair Pictured Provo Consent

By Alan Murray
12 December 2004

Tony Blair was expecting the IRA had to accept the DUP's demand for
photographic evidence of arms decommissioning right up to the end
of November.

Sunday Life has viewed Government responses to DUP queries about
the decommissioning wrangle, which state that the role of
independent witnesses would be to verify the photographs.

The November 30 paper, approved by both Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern, crucially states:

"We expect the photographs to cover the weapons and material
involved in the decommissioning events... and that the role of the
independent observers will be not only to verify the photographs,
but also to bear witness to the process of putting arms beyond use,
so that they can testify that the arms have, indeed, been

The paper confirms the aim of having two major acts of
decommissioning completed before the end of this month, and
indicates there should be only one IICD report published, following
the completion of decommissioning.

"We agree that it would be preferable for this report to avoid the
Christmas/New Year holiday period, and we will discuss this with
the IICD," it says.

The paper also says that the IICD should have charge of the
pictures, but adds that "the Government will ensure that the
photographs to be published will be made available to national and
local media organisations".

Both the IRA and senior Sinn Fein figures have repeatedly dismissed
reports that they had ever assented to the publishing of
photographs of arms decommissioning.

But in a document sent to the DUP five days earlier, addressing the
decommissioning issue, the Government says:

"We believe that the completion of IRA decommissioning in a short
timescale and with transparency, including published photographs,
constitutes a major step forward, for which the DUP deserves

The general thrust of the document supports the DUP's claim that
for weeks there had been a clear assumption by the two governments
that the photograph issue was agreed with the IRA.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has also challenged Sinn Fein's
account of the arrangements, and alleged agreement for the
photographing of decommissioned IRA weapons.


This Week: Seamus Mallon, SDLP MP and former Deputy First Minister,
gives his view on the prospects of a deal in Northern Ireland

This Week: The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, discusses the issues that
remain in the way of a final peace deal in Northern Ireland

Ahern Calls For IRA Statement On Criminality -A(2)

12 December 2004 14:28

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has called on the IRA to make a clear
statement on ending illegal activity.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Mr Ahern said that this remains a so-called
'red line' issue and that his party and the PDs were united on

Meanwhile, the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, has described the three
previous episodes of IRA decommissioning as a charade and said that
was why his party was insisting on photographic evidence in future.

In a BBC interview, Dr Paisley said there must first of all be an
independent observer, who must be free to do what he likes as far
as having a notebook, as far having his own inventory, as far as
saying what time so many arms were destroyed.

Earlier, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Sean
Brady, said that the blame game will not lead anywhere in the bid
for a final agreement in the Northern peace process.

Speaking on the BBC, the Primate said that trust must be built
between the two communities on the ground.

He also said that a vacuum would be very unhelpful in achieving a
deal between the parties.


Alliance Questions IRA Peace Commitment

12/12/2004 - 13:16:00

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair were today urged to secure a clear
commitment from the IRA it will end all paramilitary activity in
talks to revive power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

The leader of the cross-community Alliance Party, David Ford, was
concerned that in a plan released by the British and Irish leaders
on Wednesday there appeared to be no clear signal from the
Provisionals that all paramilitary activity would stop.

He said: "It is far from clear whether the IRA fully accept the
need to satisfy paragraph 13 of the Governments' joint declaration
of 2003.

"That made it clear that there must be an end to all paramilitary
activity, including organisation, intelligence activities and
street violence.

"At the Waterfront Hall, Mr Blair went to great lengths to assure
us all that this was the case, and he quoted from his 'Acts of
Completion' speech to set the tone.

"However, the proposed language of the IRA statement is well short
of this."

Efforts to revive power sharing and remove the gun from Northern
Ireland politics forever stalled this week over the issue of IRA


Picture This: Peace In Northern Ireland Could Be A Reality … Even
Without The Photographs

Ian Bell

IAN Paisley refuses to share power with Irish nationalists: there's
a surprise. The Provisional IRA refuses to countenance even the
appearance of a surrender to unionism: that's a shock. Democracy in
the north of Ireland has been postponed, yet again, because of a
piddling dispute over symbolic gestures: some things, it appears,
never change.

Appearances and reality are not, however, always the same thing
where Northern Ireland is concerned. The province has a habit of
surprising the world, and of surprising itself. In the depths of
the Troubles, no-one foresaw the Good Friday agreement. When the
killing was at its worst, no-one imagined that ordinary people on
both sides of the divide would ever vote for such a deal. Show me
the British or Irish politician who knew, 20 years ago, that
Belfast would once again become a fast-growing city in a fast-
growing region and I'll show you a liar.

Before Paisley and the Provos began their ritual dance around the
issue of the photographically-documented destruction of weaponry
last week, something astonishing was going on. It can be
encapsulated easily: everything else was settled. As Tony Blair and
the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, made plain in Belfast on
Wednesday, even the parties' statements – effectively declarations
of intent – were ready for publication. On Thursday, in a
communiqué released through An Phoblacht, the IRA itself said it
had been ready to disarm completely had a deal been achieved.

There was only one sticking point: a few snaps and their use,
humiliating or triumphant. The fact remains that the once
preposterous notion of Gerry Adams sharing power with Paisley was
within touching distance of reality. Here's the point: it still is.

How do implacable foes get so close to accommodation? A simple
answer is that they are politicians, first and last. Paisley has to
calculate what matters to him most: a career built on decades spent
wrecking any hope of reconciliation, or the chance to be Northern
Ireland's First Minister. Adams and the IRA, for their part, have
to work out what price they will pay for peace and democracy after
a bloody war that could neither be lost or ever won. Paisley's
entire political credo is contained in the word "No".
Republicanism, meanwhile, now understands the perils of nihilism.
Its name is Omagh.

There has been a lot of patient diplomacy going on, of course,
between London, Dublin and Belfast, in order to bring Sinn Fein and
the Democratic Unionist Party to the point where a deal sounded
plausible, far less real. Horses have been traded left, right and
centre over issues such as policing, devolved institutions and
guns. Suspicions have had to be allayed on all sides. Yet driving
the negotiations at every stage was a human factor: Northern
Ireland has changed. Opinions towards last week's failure may have
divided along the usual sectarian lines, but the mood of the
province has been altering steadily since Good Friday, since
(perversely) Omagh, and since the arrival of peace and prosperity.

The people of the north, most of them, are anything but fools. They
have a healthy scepticism towards the posturing of their
politicians, even as they retain their loyalties towards their
communities. Two incidents among them stick in my mind. One was the
usual journalist and cab driver tale. In parts of Northern Ireland,
and particularly in Belfast and Derry, few taxi operators are
without affiliations. In the bad times, for their own security,
they did not stray far from their own parts of a given town, but
often did their bit for whichever cause they favoured. This cabbie
was a talkative nationalist who didn't mind sharing his views with
an outsider, whether the outsider wanted to hear them or not.

We were driving from Stormont to the Europa hotel after a chilly
afternoon watching David Trimble struggling to avoid being caught
in the same camera shot with Adams and Martin McGuinness. The two
Sinn Fein men had come a long way, I said to the driver. That's not
the half of it, he replied. Had I heard about the money and the
expenses they would be making from this new assembly? Had no-one
told me about the big houses these fellahs had got for themselves?
I said I understood that this little Belfast working man was a
staunch republican. "That's my point," he said. "That, sir, is my
point about politicians."

Then there was Portadown. I had walked with the Orange marchers all
the way to Drumcree church, where the army and police were waiting
behind steel barriers. It isn't a thing you do twice. If it is
possible to taste hatred, you could have licked its flavour from
the very air that day. Afterwards, nevertheless, I found myself in
an unmistakably Protestant pub, where one drinker was being ribbed
for having been raised in the Church of Ireland ("next best thing
to being an RC"). This was, predominantly, a DUP town. So would
they all vote for Dr Paisley? The friendly woman behind the bar
almost spat on the floor. "That old man has been using us for
years," she said.

People vote for the parties available to them, and they vote
according to their hopes and fears. During the campaign over the
Good Friday referendum it was hard to find many people in Northern
Ireland, of whatever persuasion, who truly believed the thing would
work. Those who voted yes did so because they believed it couldn't
make matters worse and might – though they doubted it – improve
things. Those who cast a negative vote had no such aspirations. Yet
by a crashing majority the cautious optimists won. That, now, is
the reality of Northern Ireland.

Even Paisley, for all his bluster, understands as much. In one
sense, his arguments over photographs of destroyed IRA weapons are
a blind. In reality, he has already conceded more to nationalism
than the great betrayer, David Trimble, ever conceded. Even as he
refuses to allow Sinn Fein into government, Paisley faces three
questions he will not be able to evade easily.

One is this: why has he not demanded photographic evidence that
loyalist gangs have also destroyed their weapons? The most
meaningful gesture of all would be simultaneous, public disarmament
on both sides. As things stand, the DUP statement released by Blair
and Ahern merely urges "paramilitary groups within the unionist
community" to "engage positively" with the official decommissioning
process. Having demanded that republicans don "sackcloth and ashes"
in penitence for past actions, Paisley seems not to expect as much
from some of those whose votes took him to power.

Then there is the issue of official decommissioning itself. Is
Paisley saying that he doubts the integrity of the independent
officials involved? Or does he just want photographs for party
political purposes, in order to trumpet a personal victory over
armed republicanism? Given his history, you wouldn't put it past

Finally, there is – an ugly phrase – transparency of verification.
The IRA has made it perfectly clear that it will never surrender
publicly, as Paisley demands. But the "reverend doctor" also knows
full well that another deal is available. Independent witnesses,
clergymen nominated by either side, are available and willing to
report on the reality of decommissioning. As Mitchel McLaughlin,
Sinn Fein's chairman, put it last week: "Let's move on to this
question of whether unionists who need further reassurance will
accept the word of their own witnesses."

Paisley realises, better than anyone, that the argument over the
IRA's "surrender" will never be won. Clearly, that is the main
reason why he has picked a fight over some pictures. Intransigence
has served him well for a very long time. The threat of armed
republicanism has meanwhile retreated to the point of invisibility.
But if that is the reality, what remains of Ian Paisley's well-
honed appeal to paranoia?

Photographs, in any case, are not the real issue. The obstacle for
the Provos is the publication of filmed evidence and the ensuing
"humiliation" of their cause. That being so, the IRA, if it is as
smart as I think it is, should destroy the weapons, photograph the
process, and hand the images over to the Dublin government for
safe-keeping. Let Paisley then view them privately, whenever he
wishes. After all, the fake minister's word will surely be good
enough for the people of a province who long ago deserved better
than the likes of him.


'Snap' Poll Backs Big Man

12 December 2004

A snap poll conducted on Belfast's Shankill Road has shown an
overwhelming "Yes" to the DUP's demand that photographs be taken of
the IRA decommissioning.

More than 90pc of those questioned on Friday said photographic
evidence was essential - while just 5pc said it wasn't necessary.

The poll was taken by the Shankill Mirror.

Jimmy Creighton, of the Shankill Mirror, admitted the poll wasn't a
scientific assessment of the electorate's view.

But he claimed it was probably an accurate indication of how people
on the Shankill were thinking.

Said Mr Creighton: "Some people actually said that photographic
evidence wasn't enough for them, and they would want more proof,
because they didn't trust the IRA.

"But the overall view, indeed the overwhelming view, of the 170
people questioned, was that photographic proof was essential."


Shinners In Megaphone Diplomacy After Talks Failure

by Stephen Breen
12 December 2004

Republican leaders took to the streets just minutes after it
emerged that there would be no historic deal to restore power-
sharing in Ulster.

Sunday Life has learned that senior Provos toured republican
strongholds across Northern Ireland in a bid to reassure its
members about the future of the troubled peace process.

Top IRA men used loudspeakers from car windows to rally their
supporters and to tell its members to attend crunch meetings to
discuss the row with the DUP over decommissioning.

The loudspeakers - traditionally used during elections - were also
used by republicans to place the blame for the collapse of the deal
on DUP leader Ian Paisley.

The development comes after it emerged that high-profile republican
leaders, such as Bobby Storey, were set to embark on a series of
meetings this week to inform the IRA's rank-and-file about the way
forward for the peace process.

Said a republican source: "People in areas, such as Ardoyne, were
surprised to see top IRA men driving around in cars with
loudspeakers talking about the collapse of the deal.

"They were in the cars just minutes after Blair and Ahern finished
their Press conference at the Waterfront Hall and spent a couple of
hours touring round their areas.

"They also used the loudhailers to tell their rank-and-file to
attend meetings about the way forward and to outline the republican
analysis on the current crisis in the peace process.

"People in republican strongholds should expect to see the boys out
in the streets again in the New Year with their loudspeakers."


Council Considers McCabe Killers Controversy
2004-12-12 14:50:02+00

The Mayor of Limerick will chair a specially-convened meeting of
the city council tomorrow to discuss the controversy over the
possible early release of the killers of Detective Garda Jerry

Councillor Michael Hourigan called the special meeting amid
overwhelming opposition in Limerick to the contentious proposal
that the slain garda's killers could be released under the Good
Friday Agreement.

Cllr Hourigan said it was vital that the 17 members of Limerick
City Council should have an opportunity to air their views on the
issue as feelings in the city were running so high.

"There is overwhelming opposition to this proposal in Limerick.
Personally, I feel these men should serve their full term and
should not be entitled to early release," Cllr Hourigan said today.

He said he was "hopeful" the city council would unanimously back a
motion expressing opposition to the early release of Detective
Garda McCabe's killers.

But it's understood at least one member of the city council may not
be prepared to support such a motion on the grounds that it would
be contrary to efforts to achieve a lasting peace in Northern

The specially-convened meeting of councillors will take place at
3pm tomorrow at Limerick City Hall.


Bro Of Adair Crony Dies After UDA Beating

12 December 2004

The brother of Johnny Adair's right-hand man has died - just a
month after receiving a vicious beating from loyalist terrorists.

Stanley Smith (44), brother of notorious loyalist Gary 'Smickers'
Smith, suffered a heart attack last week.

The Woodvale man - an ex-UDA prisoner - was attacked by his former
comrades just days before the terror group declared its new

Loyalist sources claimed Smith was targeted due to a "domestic
dispute". But it's understood he was on a hit-list because of his
brother's close relationship with Adair.

'Smickers' Smith fled Ulster last year on his release from jail.
He'd been caged for making a hoax bomb call during the Holy Cross

Last night, sources claimed Smith was "furious" over the beating
dished out to his brother.

Said one: "Big Smickers is in a bad way - he's convinced the heart
attack was a direct result of the beating he received.

"Smickers is in England now, but he's already been asking
supporters back home if they know who was responsible for the

"His brother was also a senior loyalist in his time, and Smickers
thinks the only reason he was attacked was because of who he was."

No one from the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG)
would comment on the death.

Last year, Smickers Smith told Sunday Life he would "stand
alongside" Adair if the former 'C' company boss returned to the
Shankill after his release from Maghaberry in 2005.

Adair is due to be freed in four weeks' time.

Smith said: "If the wee man decided to go back to the Shankill,
then I will be standing alongside him - 110 per cent. People say
Johnny and I have a death-wish by returning to the Shankill.

"But the scum who control the UDA now are nothing but cowards, who
were never involved in the fight against republicans.

"I'm happy in Bolton now, and I have my friends around me.

"But there will be a day when I will return home, and the people
who forced us out know this."


Put Our Records Straight

12 December 2004

Former Loyalist Prisoners Have Been "Forgotten" in moves to strike
a lasting peace deal in Ulster, it was claimed yesterday.

Frankie Gallagher - a leading member of the Ulster Political
Research Group (UPRG) - said unionist politicians would eventually
have to face up to the problem.

Mr Gallagher, one of the UDA-linked delegation that recently held
talks with Secretary of State Paul Murphy, insisted loyalists were
committed to peace.

But he said many former prisoners and their families felt isolated
from the process and condemned to long-term unemployment and

Sinn Fein has already ensured freedom for Garda Gerry McCabe's
killers as part of the proposed peace package.

They have also demanded that both governments should erase the
prison records of thousands of IRA volunteers.

Said Mr Gallagher: "We don't talk about erasure - we call it a
barrier to citizenship.

"But it's been hard for us to get to that level of debate.

"The difficulty is that our politicians - unionist politicians -
are not prepared to sit down and discuss it with us.

"We believe there should be a resolution of the issues facing many
loyalists, who only took up the gun in defence of their country and
as a reaction to IRA violence.

"In normal circumstances, they would never have ended up with a

"Now, their records bar them and many members of their families
from all but low-paid or low-skilled jobs - if any job at all.

"They simply cannot play an active role in the overall citizenship
within Northern Ireland.

"They are barred from public bodies - they can't even adopt a

Mr Gallagher, a councillor in Castlereagh, is also heavily involved
in the Prisoners Aid Network Group (PANE).

He added: "Prisoner issues are anathema to unionist politicians,
but it is something they are going to have to address as we move


Garda's Omagh Mole Flees UK

12 December 2004

A car thief, wanted for questioning about the Omagh bombing, has
skipped the UK, relatives of the victims have been told.

Dubliner, Paddy Dixon, was allowed to escape the clutches of the
Police Service's Omagh investigation team - in spite of being
resident in Britain, earlier this year.

It's believed Dixon was detained by Customs and Excise officials,
at Cardiff airport, in July, carrying a large sum of cash in a

But, despite being questioned for three hours, he was released -
without the Police Service being told.

Now angry relatives have been told that Dixon - a Garda informant -
has fled abroad.

Michael Gallagher, the spokesman for the Omagh relatives support
group, said he was "extremely disappointed" to learn that Dixon was
now living outside the UK.

He said: "We suspect he was in the UK jurisdiction for some time -
indeed for the greater part of this year.

"But now, we're given to understand that he's probably left the

"Dixon could have told the PSNI who in the Real IRA asked him to
steal a Vauxhall car for use in a bombing, two weeks before the
Omagh attack, but now he's beyond the reaches of the police here."

Efforts by the Omagh bomb investigation team to meet and interview
Dixon through the Garda and the Irish Department of Justice were
thwarted - in spite of several attempts by Chief Superintendent,
Norman Baxter, the officer in charge of the investigation.


No Go!

by Stephen Breen
12 December 2004

Ulster debt collectors are refusing to enter south Armagh's 'bandit
country' because of fears for their safety.

We spoke to one angry debt-chaser, who told us many of his
colleagues have been unable to serve repossession orders because of
a lack of police presence along the border.

The collector claimed police numbers prevented his team from going
after some of the most notorious fuel smugglers and tax dodgers in

And he claimed the only time his staff were able to deliver
repossession orders was when they were accompanied by the Army.

At present, cops based in Newtownhamilton and Crossmaglen are not
permitted to patrol on foot.

The only time officers leave their stations is when they are flown
out by helicopter.

According to the collector, many gangsters in the area owe huge
amounts, simply because creditors can't enforce payment.

He told us: "'Bandit country' is still a no-go area for collectors,
because we have very little or no support when implementing
repossession orders.

"There are very dangerous men running around south Armagh who owe
all sorts of money - yet nothing is being done about it.

"It is very dangerous for a debt collector to go into the border
villages without any support - these boys would have no hesitation
in giving you a good hiding.

"There are clearly not enough police officers on the ground in
these places. But, if we get a deal from the peace process in the
future, then maybe things will change.

"Maybe the Assets Recovery Agency would be better in carrying out
some of our work, because most of the people who owe cash are just

Local UUP Assemblyman, Danny Kennedy, said: "Some of these tax
dodgers and criminals are running around without a care in the

"They know that debt collectors will not call to their properties
without police support - and they also know there is a real problem
with police manpower in these areas.

"The sooner more of these people are brought to book, the better."

A police spokesman said: "We will do all we can to assist debt
collectors who believe they may be in danger when issuing
repossession orders."


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Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

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