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January 03, 2005

01/03/04 – Secret Plan To Let IRA Hunger Strikers Die

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

TO 01/03/05 Whitehall's Secret Plan To Let IRA Hunger Strikers Die
IT 01/04/05 Vital Documents On Executive Gone Missing
IT 01/04/05 Volatile Mood After Dublin & Monaghan Bombings
IT 01/04/05 Wilson Endorsed Continuing Contacts With Provisionals
IT 01/04/05 Whitehall Worried Of Airborne Attack By Provos
IT 01/04/05 Faulkner Tells Cosgrave Declaration Was 'Devalued'
TO 01/03/05 Callaghan Agreed Payout For Terrorist Suspect
IT 01/04/05 Priest Complained Irish Was Not Spoken By Gardai
BB 01/03/05 Family Tells Of Tsunami 'Relief'
IT 01/04/04 Body Of Cork Climber Found On Mountain – V


Whitehall's Secret Plan To Let The IRA Hunger Strikers Die

By Fran Yeoman

First documents to be released under the Freedom of Information Act
are revealed today

GOVERNMENT officials foresaw the H-block hunger strikes of 1981 and
had decided as early as December 1975 to let fasting prisoners die,
according to newly released Ministry of Defence files.

In his autobiography Before the Dawn, Gerry Adams referred to
Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister when ten republican
prisoners including Bobby Sands died, as "the architect of the
hunger strike deaths". However, it appears that her unyielding
stance had its roots in policy proposals conceived more than five
years earlier.

After the recommendations of the 1975 Gardiner report, "special
category status" awarded to paramilitary prisoners in Northern
Ireland jails was ended for those convicted after March 1, 1976. It
was essentially a return to this status, which gave inmates better
living conditions but also distinguished them from "ordinary"
prisoners, that the hunger strikers of 1981 were demanding.

There was an apparently longstanding determination that this would
not happen. On December 29, 1975, W. I. Davies, Director of Prisons
for Northern Ireland, filed a secret report to the Ministry of
Defence noting: "It was mainly by the use of hunger strikes that
prisoners won the privilege of special category status in 1972.
Having seen what an administrative and discipline disaster this has
proved to be, we should be resolute in our intention not to weaken
in our decisions for 1976."

He suggested that it should be made known to prisoners that they
would be allowed to die, and "that the administration will
withstand this pressure even after the death/s of prisoners".

The following month, a report by J. H. Parkes of the Northern
Ireland Office predicted hunger strikes as one form of opposition
to the ending of special category status and stated that force-
feeding would not take place except "on purely medical grounds. It
is important to recognise that this may well result in prisoners
being allowed to die; and prisoners should be made aware in good
time that we are quite prepared to contemplate this."

Another secret report received by the MoD in January 1976
recognised that the Government was in for "a bitter wrangle" over
the impending changes. "The campaign will undoubtedly be conducted
on one or possibly both sides at a certain level of nastiness and I
do not propose that we should be unduly sensitive in our treatment
of the subject," it said.

The papers released by the National Archives yesterday also
revealed that passports for travel between Northern Ireland and the
rest of the UK were proposed by six MPs including Ian Paisley as
the Government prepared to update its Prevention of Terrorism Act
in January 1976. The Act, which was first passed as a response to
the Birmingham bombings of November 1974, had to be renewed every
12 months to continue as law.

Mr Paisley, Enoch Powell, William Whitelaw and James Molyneaux,
leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, among others, gave notice of
an amendment that said: "No person shall be admitted to Great
Britain or Northern Ireland without production of a valid passport
or such other document of identification as the Secretary of State
shall provide for citizens of the UK."

The Wilson Government was opposed to such a measure. Private
briefing notes on the proposed amendment stated that it "imposes an
internal passport control on our own citizens within the UK. This
is a grave step to take in peacetime, even granted we are facing a
major terrorist threat."

The briefing observed that the police "are quite right to argue
that an identity card system for internal use would inevitably
create a great deal of paperwork which could only involve
distracting the police from productive efforts".


Vital Documents On Executive Gone Missing

Eamon Phoenix

Missing Stormont files: This week the Public Record Office of
Northern Ireland in Belfast released several hundred files relating
to 1974 under the 30 years rule.

One of the main series of files relates to the power-sharing
executive of January-May 1974.

These range over the Ulster Workers' Council strike, meetings
between the Stormont executive and the secretary of state, meetings
between the executive and the Irish government of Liam Cosgrave and
contacts between Brian Faulkner as chief minister and the Taoiseach
during that period.

However, the actual day-by-day minutes of the executive, recording
ministerial views and decisions, have mysteriously "gone missing".

A spokesman for the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has
confirmed the failure of his staff "so far" to locate these vital
documents. This is the first occasion in 20 years of covering the
Stormont cabinet files for this newspaper that I found such a
tranche of vital historical material to have been unaccounted for.
It is true that extracts of the minutes of a few executive meetings
have been copied in other secretariat files.

However, the views of particular ministers on such issues as Austin
Currie's (minister for housing) introduction of punitive levy on
"rents and rates strikers" or the late Basil McIvor's (minister for
education) proposals for integrated education are not currently

Senator Maurice Hayes, who served the executive as a senior civil
servant in 1974, believes that he may have a copy of the minutes in
his files.

He recalls the "funereal atmosphere and mixed feelings" which
shrouded the administration's downfall in May 1974.

"I remember going up to Sir David Holden, the head of the Northern
Ireland Civil Service and, I suppose, my boss to tell him of the
impending collapse of the executive. "He was, in his meticulous
way, correcting the draft minutes of the last executive meeting in
pencil. He heard my news without remark and went on with his task -
I had just thought he would like to know."

Meanwhile, the search for the missing files continues at Stormont.


'Volatile' Mood In Republic After Dublin And Monaghan Bombings

State papers: in brief

It would be a "psychological mistake" to charge the Republic with
belatedness in developing a complete abhorrence for terrorist
outrages only after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 17th,
1974, remarked the British ambassador in Dublin in a telegram sent
to the Foreign Office in London three days after the explosions.

Having now experienced what Northern Irish society had endured for
so long, the South was adopting a supportive posture toward British
security efforts. But the mood in the Republic was "volatile", and
it could be counter-productive to ram home the point that at last
the South had seen what violence was really like.

The general assumption in the press and among the public, Sir
Arthur Galsworthy went on, was that "loyalist extremists were
responsible". But this was not accompanied by any general "anti-
Northern Protestant reaction". Perhaps surprisingly and despite the
"predictable" IRA attempt to pin the atrocities on Britain
("British agents, the SAS etc"), it was the Provisionals themselves
who were attracting most of the opprobrium on account of their own
long- standing association with violence. This, Galsworthy
concluded, was both a "helpful" and a "healthy" response from a
British perspective. - Richard Bourke

Army nervous about joint action

The Army's reticence about co-operating with British security
forces arose, in part, out of nervousness about superior IRA
marksmanship along the Border, according to a British army officer
reporting to his government on a meeting in February 1974 with the
Chief of Staff, Maj- Gen O'Carroll. Despite recent successes in
fostering links between the Garda and the RUC, the Army appeared
comparatively stand-offish with its British counterparts.
Accordingly, the brigadier recorded his "depressing impression"
that Maj-Gen O'Carroll's men were not keen on closer contact with
the British army, while O'Carroll himself was "politely
unenthusiastic" about proposals for concerted action.

The brigadier suspected that the Irish forces were uneasy about the
possibility of public criticism should they be seen to be
collaborating with "the forces of occupation". But he further
surmised that while closer contact would lead the Army into sharper
conflict with the Provisionals, "they are not confident of their
ability to come out on top in a shooting match". - Richard Bourke

Skeleton in Britain's cupboard

The settlements out of court in respect of the civil actions taken
by people alleging brutality against the British authorities for
deep interrogation techniques employed against detainees in
Northern Ireland after August 1971 constituted a "skeleton in our
cupboard", according to a Foreign Office assessment of the adverse
publicity generated by the cases.

Any publicity attaching to the ongoing proceedings seemed likely to
work against the British interest. Therefore, a Foreign Office
memorandum suggested adopting the "low-profile defensive approach"
to public relations surrounding the cases as advocated by the
Ministry of Defence. While accepting the charge of ill-treatment
against those subjected to deep interrogation, the British could at
least continue to refute allegations of torture or brutality.

A characterisation of this "defensive approach" was made available
to British agencies internationally in the form of a short
question-and- answer paper prepared by the MoD for distribution
through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A sample passage from
the paper reads: "Q: Does the Ministry of Defence now admit inhuman
treatment and torture? A: Certainly not". ... - Richard Bourke

Abortion in a united Ireland

An apparently innocent query to the Taoiseach, Mr Jack Lynch, about
the position of abortion in a united Ireland was seen as a "trap"
by a civil servant, according to State Papers in 1970.

The letter-writer from Blackrock, Co Dublin, had asked: "What is
the position regarding abortion now and in a united Ireland?"

In response, a civil servant wrote to the secretary of the Minister
for Justice: "The letter obviously is a trap. I assume - though it
is not certain - that the writer is opposed to divorce, and that
his point is 'where are we going to stop in our efforts to please
the North?' But he may be a 'unionist' who thinks he can back the
Government into a corner." - Alison Healy

Taxi drivers at pubs and pictures

Dublin taxi drivers were abandoning their vehicles to go to
"picture houses" and pubs during working hours, a memo from the
Garda Carriage Office claimed in 1962. The claim was made after
taxi and hackney drivers sought more taxi ranks for their cars.

At that time, there were 604 taxis on the streets of the capital.
The carriage inspector, Mr Edgar Devlin, recommended that there was
enough accommodation for taxis in the city centre. "It has been
found that taxi owners and drivers abuse the road space allotted to
them by leaving their vehicles locked and unattended for long
periods on stands during slack hours, The drivers of these vehicles
attend local picture houses and in some cases, frequent licensed
premises, thus depriving the use of the stand to other drivers." -
Alison Healy

Joyce cleaned up for President

Civil servants were careful to avoid embarrassing the President, Mr
Erskine Childers, and his wife when they visited Belgium in May
1974. The Department of Foreign Affairs was planning an evening of
theatre for the couple and their guests, and had asked the actress
Siobhán McKenna to stage the show. She was to read extracts from 11
works, including several pieces by James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.
When an explanatory list came to Ulysses, an official had carefully
noted that the extract was the final part of Molly Bloom's
soliloquy and he wrote "strictly non- pornographic" in brackets
after it. - Alison Healy

Adams's brother made protest

Mr Dominic Adams, a brother of the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry
Adams, protested to a civil representative in 1973 about the
removal of street lighting in west Belfast by the British army. Mr
Adams wrote to a community relations officer as follows: "We have
been asked by the people of the area to inform you of the attitude
of the British army who . . . have begun a campaign to return the
area to darkness. Their latest tactic is to remove the copper
plates of the lights."

He asked the official to approach the military with a view to
stopping this practice. A letter in the file from the headquarters
of the 39 Infantry Brigade confirmed that the British army had
extinguished some of the lights, but also blamed "yobbos" - Eamon

© The Irish Times


Wilson Endorsed Continuing Contacts With Provisionals

Richard Bourke

Britain's secret talks with paramilitaries: "Extremism", as it
was called, was in a state of flux during the autumn and winter of
1974, according to a series of top secret reports on the state of
Ulster paramilitarism compiled by the Northern Ireland secretary,
Merlyn Rees, for consideration by prime minister Harold Wilson.

The chairman of the Ulster Defence Association, Andy Tyrie, was
presented in one of the reports as being both "able" and
"determined", but as presiding over a divided organisation.

The Ulster Volunteer Force, on the other hand, had a single-minded
membership narrowly devoted to the one cause. Within this, there
were some prominent exceptions with a more developed political
awareness. But even these few, we learn, were "sadly naïve" and
lacked the skills to pursue a moderate path.

But the most precarious position was seemingly held by the
Provisional IRA, undecided between a ceasefire and a more refined
campaign of terror.

Sections of the Provisional leadership in Dublin clearly favoured a
dovish line, but they risked being badly "isolated" if they pushed
their base too far.

In that event, according to Merlyn Rees, they could lose out to the
angry teenage element in the movement, or "the International
Socialist/Trotskyist influences which are again beginning to make
themselves felt in Belfast".

Responding to one of Rees's briefings on the Provisionals, Wilson
conceded that the movement appeared too divided to advance a
negotiating position with credibility or "gold backing". He
nonetheless endorsed continuing contacts with the IRA.

As Wilson's private secretary put it in a November 13th letter,
"The prime minister is content that officials should continue these
very secret contacts on a non-attributable basis" through two
specific channels which the government had established.

The uncertain balance of power at the top of the Provisional
movement was the result of an ongoing reassessment of strategy
inaugurated after the arrest of high profile militants the previous

The Belfast brigade commander, Brendan Hughes, had been among those
arrested. During the swoop, hand-written instructions setting out
the Provisionals' response to an anticipated "emergency" were also

The instructions included plans for occupying areas of Belfast
identified on large coloured maps of the city. They also set out
orders to raze key strategic points that could not, for logistical
reasons, be held. In addition, the instructions contained a notice
to the civilian population, "thought to be in the hand-writing of
Hughes", as one official commented.

The notice was designed to explain what it termed the "harsh
measures" the Provisionals might have to adopt in the face of an
"armed offensive against the Catholic working class".

But however seriously the Provisionals' contingency planning was to
be taken in the spring of 1974, the British assumed that the
movement's military capacity had been significantly reduced by the
following autumn.

Of course, the bombing campaigns in Birmingham, Guildford and
London, ensured a high profile for Provisional republicanism. Yet
despite this, Harold Wilson could refer to the "clear evidence of
discontent within the IRA" regarding current strategy and tactics.

But, Wilson went on, if certain senior members within the
organisation wanted a change of course, there remained
"intransigent elements within the PIRA leadership" determined to
wreak havoc on a more widespread basis.

Nonetheless, hoping for the best, the British government paid close
attention to the freelance talks that were staged between members
of the Provisional leadership and Protestant church leaders, in
Feakle, Co Clare, in December 1974.

Ruairí Ó Bradaigh, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Maire Drumm, Jimmy Drumm,
Seamus Loughran, Billy McKee, Seamus Twomey and Kevin Mallon were
all reported to have attended the discussions, at least for a time.
But it was left to Dáithí Ó Conaill to deliver the response of the
Provisional army council to the peace plan put forward by the

One element of that response, the demand for the establishment of a
national convention to discuss the creation of a nine county Ulster
within a newly confederated Ireland "did not mean a thing" remarked
Ó Conaill, according to a report of his own assessment of the IRA

The British government, he is alleged to have advised, could shrug
this off with the assurance that the matter was "out of our hands".

While the Provisional army council was insufficiently cohesive to
present a common front to the British government, it nonetheless
delivered a "total and complete" ceasefire intended to last from
December 22nd, to January 2nd, 1975.

Soon after, a truce between the Provisionals and the British army
was established, but there was little hope that the ceasefire would

Even so, towards the close of 1974, the British government was
happy to engage in dialogue with the Provisionals, expecting this
to fragment the movement further.

All the British had to do was promise "withdrawal" and keep them

But an intriguing minute in a top secret planning document from
December 1974 gives the game away without fully spelling out how
the deception was to be done.

"At the last meeting," the passage reads, "the home secretary [ Roy
Jenkins] said that when this discussion was taken up again he would
try to explain what he meant by withdrawal".

© The Irish Times


Whitehall Worried By Possibility Of Airborne Attack By Provisionals

Richard Bourke

Security fears: Confidential correspondence from the head of the
defence secretariat at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall,
London, draws attention to growing fears of an impending airborne
attack from the Provisional IRA.

A letter in January 1974 from Tony Stephens at the MoD refers to
the urgent desire on the part of the general officer commanding in
Northern Ireland to prohibit overflying at low altitudes by civil
aircraft "because of the threat of attacks from the air by the

Worries about an air attack started after the Provisional leader,
Séamus Twomey, had successfully escaped from Mountjoy prison by
helicopter on October 31st, 1973.

Shortly after the escape, Twomey declared to the Hamburg-based news
magazine, Der Spiegel, that "very soon we shall also fight from the
air". Reference to an IRA plan to resort to such tactics
"including", in the words of an MoD memorandum, "the possibility of
training pilots", was duly carried by other newspapers.

Given Twomey's record, "we must expect the Provisionals to mount
attacks of maximum ferocity", wrote the MoD.

© The Irish Times


Faulkner Tells Cosgrave Declaration On North's Status Was

Meeting between two Irish leaders: Unionists saw a Council of
Ireland as a halfway house to unity, and it could only be sold on a
positive assurance about status, writes Eamon Phoenix.

At their first face-to-face meeting following the establishment of
the power-sharing Executive in January 1974, the Northern Ireland
chief minister, Brian Faulkner, warned the Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave
of his political difficulties over the question of the South's
recognition of the status of Northern Ireland, the proposed Council
of Ireland and security.

Mr Faulkner said the value of the Taoiseach's declaration on the
status of the North at Sunningdale a month earlier had been
"devalued" by subsequent events.

This is revealed in the minutes of the meeting between the two
heads of government at Baldonnell aerodrome on January 16th, 1974,
released today in Belfast.

Mr Faulkner welcomed this early meeting. His only reluctance to
bring forward such a meeting was because of the difficult political
situation in the North.

"It was very important that both of them should be able to take
their own people along with them in implementing the Sunningdale

Mr Faulkner then outlined his position within his party.

Following the Sunningdale conference, his opponents in the Unionist
Party had insisted in calling an early meeting of the Ulster
Unionist Council. The council had a very obsolete constitution,
including a sizeable block vote from the delegates nominated by the
Orange Order. It was, of course, ridiculous to have had such a
meeting within three weeks of the Sunningdale conference and four
days of the appointment of the Executive.

Nevertheless, it had gone forward on this basis, and the resolution
negating the concept of the Council of Ireland had been carried by
53 votes. Had the meeting taken place even a month later the result
may well have been different.

Under the UUP constitution it was not for the council itself to
determine policy, but the outcome of the vote was such that Mr
Faulkner felt he had to resign to avoid a totally anomalous
situation. If he had remained his position could have become
increasingly weak and humiliating.

As it was, he was able to maintain very substantial party
support...Of 20 members of his Assembly party, 18 were solid in
support, and the Assembly majority as such was safe.

Immediately after the Sunningdale conference, there was reason to
feel things were going well. His own estimate would be at that time
that 80 per cent of the Catholic community and about 60 per cent of
the Protestant community were in support of the Sunningdale

Unfortunately, that situation had been progressively eroded over
two weeks for two reasons. The most important reason was the
development about the status of Northern Ireland.

On his return from Sunningdale, he had been able to persuade his
supporters to accept with some reluctance that the declaration by
the two governments really meant an acceptance of the
constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Mr Faulkner went on to
say that this had been damaged by a newspaper interview by Mr
Cosgrave, followed by the Kevin Boland case before the Dublin High

"It had to be said that the publication of the defence (by Dublin)
had robbed him of all credibility on the question of status."

It had to be accepted that in unionist circles there was very
little enthusiasm for the idea of a Council of Ireland as such, but
more reasonable people were prepared to accept it if it could be
the means of allowing the minority community to identify with the
institutions of government. It was on this basis that he had been
attempting to sell the Sunningdale package.

Unionists saw a Council of Ireland as a halfway house to unity, or
a form of all-Ireland parliament. Therefore, the proposal could
only be sold on the basis of a positive assurance about status.

The other reason for the erosion of support was the fiasco of
picking up 15 suspected terrorists and releasing 14 of them
virtually at once. This had created a very bad impression. (This
referred to the arrest in Dundalk and Monaghan on January 3rd,
1974, of 16 IRA suspects by the Garda. All but one of them were
released within two days, creating much criticism in the Northern
unionist press.)

"The major question, however, was that of status.He must make it
clear that there was no hope of proceeding to the formal conference
and ratifying the Sunningdale agreement, including the Council of
Ireland, unless the status issue could be cleared up. It could also
be necessary to see real action on the anti-terrorist front."

Mr Faulkner said he was well aware of the political and other
difficulties which faced Mr Cosgrave. They must equally appreciate
the gravity of the difficulties he faced. The future of the
Executive was dependent upon their ability to carry people along
with them. He was in no doubt that his Assembly party would not
agree to go forward to the formal stage of a conference until the
status issue had been cleared up.

On security, Faulkner welcomed the statement by the Irish justice
minister, Paddy Cooney. "He had always made it clear that he
believed in the determination of Mr Cosgrave and his colleagues to
grapple with this problem."

In reply, Mr Cosgrave said he had stated in his Sunday Press
interview that there could be no change in the status of Northern
Ireland until the people there desired such a change.

Regarding the Boland case, his attorney-general (Declan Costello)
was confident of winning the case. They had been "overtaken by the
court action (by Mr Boland) which was deliberately designed to
embarrass them".

Mr Faulkner said there could be no question of proceeding to
ratification while the issue of status was "in the air".

Turning to security, Mr Cosgrave said he and his colleagues had
been looking intensively at the problem. All the chief
superintendents of Border areas had been called in for discussion,
and they had identified a number of "blackspots" - Crossmaglen,
Belcoo-Blacklion and Belleek-Garrison. His government had decided
to put more police into these very difficult Border areas.

© The Irish Times


Callaghan Agreed Payout For Terrorist Suspect

By John Crossland

THE British Government was embarrassed into paying an estimated
£17,000 compensation to an escaped IRA terrorist who claimed that
the Royal Ulster Constabulary's so-called "deep interrogation"
techniques to which he was subjected involved torture methods after
lawyers concluded that the interrogation techniques had no defence
in law.

In a memorandum sent to James Callaghan, the new Prime Minister, in
April 1976, Roy Mason, the Defence Secretary, raised the case of
Francis McGuigan, who topped the list of the most-wanted
provisionals (IRA members). McGuigan had escaped from Long Kesh to
the Irish Republic in 1972 and was believed to be running the
terror campaign in South Armagh.

Mr Mason told the Prime Minister: "As you will recall, 14 of those
detained and subjected to 'deep interrogation' by the RUC in 1971
have brought High Court actions against the Ministry of Defence,
the Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs and Brian Faulkner
(the former Northern Ireland Prime Minister).

"All these actions allege wrongful arrest and detention, trespass
and assault, brutality and torture. Our legal advice is that there
is no defence in law to claims for damages in respect of deep
interrogation procedures and that it is in our interests to settle
out of the court."

He told Mr Callaghan that so far 11 cases had been settled for sums
ranging from £10,000 to £16,000 and three remained unresolved. One
was McGuigan's.

Mr Mason said: "Reports suggest he may be organising provisional
operations in South Armagh. There is, however, insufficient
evidence to support a successful prosecution if he was to return to

"The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I would find it
embarrassing to have to offer compensation to an escaped detainee.
If he is as active as reports suggest, it would not only be
embarrassing but repugnant, too.

"On the other hand . . . assuming proof of his allegations he is
certain to recover substantial damages, since we have no rebutting
evidence to offer. In addition, the issue of conspiracy may be
opened up and former ministers, officers and officials subpoenaed
to give evidence. While the outcome of this issue is less certain
it would at least cause considerable embarrassment to HMG, since
conspiracy is a crime as well as a civil wrong."

Mr Callaghan replied: "With the greatest reluctance I agree that we
have no option but to go through with the out-of-court offer."

The file also reveals the divisions within the Government as Merlyn
Rees, the Northern Ireland Secretary, tried to formulate
legislation to cut the spiralling compensation bill for victims of
terrorism, then running at £8 million for personal injuries and £46
million for damage to property.

The MoD had even prepared "defensive PR material" if news of the
deals leaked out. The MoD minutes said that some exceptionally high
payments had been made to rich members of the Ulster community.


Priest Complained Irish Was Not Spoken By Gardai

Alison Healy

Irish language: Allegations that gardaí did not speak Irish when
Eamon de Valera visited Clear Island in 1966 gave rise to a major
Garda investigation, according to documents released by the
National Archives.

The then President of Ireland visited the island off Baltimore in
Co Cork on July 23rd to open a new Irish college.

Some 27 gardaí were on duty at the event. Two weeks later, the
island priest, Father Tomás Ó Murchú, wrote a letter of complaint
in Irish to the Minister for Justice, Mr Brian Lenihan. The "bad
conduct" of the gardaí was "a source of scandal and shame", Father
Ó Murchú wrote.

"They had not as much as one word of Irish between them, nor did
they speak it while they were there. Not only that, but they were
actually opposing Irish and poking fun at those who were speaking

The priest described the gardaí as "bad-mannered, ignorant goats"
and a "repugnant group" who had spoiled the day of celebration for
the islanders."Adding insult to injury, they told the locals 'you
are only speaking Irish for today'," Father Ó Murchú wrote. "And
the following was the slogan they were proclaiming throughout the
island: 'We have no Irish and we do not want any Irish'. The Garda
Depot must be rotten."

He claimed that the gardaí had listened to a match on the radio
while President de Valera was speaking at the opening of the
college. He also claimed that a number of them had been found
asleep in an old van outside his house at 6 a.m. when they were
supposed to be on duty, guarding the president.

Father Ó Murchú demanded that Mr Lenihan should order a public
inquiry into the events, adding: "And you will come here to
apologise publicly to the people of the island for the insult
inflicted on them."

Suggesting that the Minister should send the letter to the Garda
Depot, he wrote: "Before you do anything, you had better translate
it into English for them, because apparently it is unlikely they
will understand Irish."

The letter led to a major two-month Garda investigation.

Some 29 people were interviewed, including 27 gardaí. All the
gardaí denied "poking fun" at Irish-speakers. Then, during a Garda
interview with Father Ó Murchú on September 26th, the priest
withdrew almost all his allegations and apologised for describing
the gardaí in an offensive manner.

The priest said he still felt that the gardaí did not make as much
use of the Irish language as he would have liked, but he would be
happy with an undertaking that Irish-speaking gardaí would be sent
to any similar event in the future. Two months after the complaint
was made, the Garda Commissioner received a report along with 29
statements from a Chief Supt J. Collins. The report stated that
Father Ó Murchú's letter was "grossly abusive" in parts, while
other parts were "seriously at variance with the facts". It pointed
out that the priest had withdrawn "these offensive and non-factual
passages and is liberally and genuinely apologetic".

The Garda Commissioner decided that no further action was
necessary, and the case was closed.

© The Irish Times


Family Tells Of Tsunami 'Relief'

A candlelit vigil at Phuket

A family from Londonderry have spoken of their relief at surviving
the Indian Ocean tsunami.

John Chambers, his wife and two daughters were in a hotel in the
Thai resort of Phuket when the massive waves struck on Boxing Day.

The hotel is located on a hillside and was not damaged.

Mr Chambers said: "There were a lot of people walking around the
hotel who had been injured and whose relatives had been hurt in the
tidal waves.

"But, luckily, we stayed in the hotel that morning."

The family arrived back at their Drumahoe home on Sunday after
their three week holiday in Thailand.

Mr Chambers said: "We also saw people injured being brought ashore
on boats, one woman was given the kiss of life on the hotel jetty,

"The part of the resort worst affected was cordoned off and nobody
was allowed through so thankfully we didn't see the full extent of
the devastation."

Response 'overwhelming'

Meanwhile, the effort to bring aid to the devastated areas of
south-east Asia is well under way and the people of Northern
Ireland are playing their part.

Rab Mollan is organising collections of clothes and blankets

As well as making huge cash donations, people are now giving
blankets and children's clothes to those desperately in need.

The Church Mission Society of Ireland is organising the first of a
number of relief flights to Thailand on Wednesday.

One collection point at St Mary's parochial hall in Comber has
already seen a steady stream of donations.

Rab Mollan, from the society, said: "This collection will go on as
long as it is needed.

"This is only the beginning, I think it will go on for weeks.

"It is going to change with time because we are in direct contact
with the churches in those countries. They are telling us at the
moment what they need."

Oxfam Northern Ireland said the public's response had been

The charity's chief executive in Northern Ireland Brian Scott said
the money would go towards the provision of clean water:

"People can survive without food for days, but not without clean

"That is what Oxfam specialises in and that is the urgent need at

"This is a most unprecedented event both in terms of scale and the
fact that this is spread over such a huge geographical area is
probably unique."

Honorary Indian Consul to Northern Ireland, Lord Diljit Rana, has
established a fund to help the thousands of children affected by
the earthquake.

Lord Rana, who is due to fly to India on Tuesday to offer help,
said: "This appeal will be focused on the tens of thousands of
children who have been affected by this global disaster.

"Simply, we aim to be a force for good, delivering long-term
support and love on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland".


Body of man found on Kerry mountain - Paschal Sheehy, Southern
Editor, reports as the body of a man in his 40s is recovered on

Body Of Cork Climber Found On Mountain - V

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent

An Irish climber lost his life yesterday when he fell more than
100 metres while climbing in Co Kerry.

Hopes are also fading for a 22-year-old Swedish man missing in the
MacGillycuddy's Reeks for the past six days. The search has now
been abandoned.

It is understood that Mr Gerry O'Connor, who was in his late 40s
and from Cloghroe near Blarney, Co Cork, was climbing alone on
Binnchaorach Ridge between Carrauntoohil and Binnchaorach mountain
when he fell shortly before lunchtime yesterday. He was seen
falling by three other climbers at Brother O'Shea's Gully, and they
raised the alarm.

Members of Kerry Mountain Rescue, who had been searching the
MacGillycuddy's Reeks for missing Swedish climber Mr Olos Jansen,
diverted to Brother O'Shea's Gully where they found the body of Mr

According to the rescue spokesman, Mr Gerry Christie, the recovery
of the dead man's body was hampered by extremely strong winds and
wet underfoot conditions on very rough and difficult terrain.

Kerry Mountain Rescue had to stretcher Mr O'Connor's body down 2km
of steep descent from approximately 750 metres at Brother O'Shea's
Gully to Ardnalocha, some 350 metres above sea level.

His body was last night due to be removed to Kerry General Hospital
in Tralee for a post-mortem examination. Mr O'Connor, a former
manager of the Blarney Park Hotel, is survived by his wife and
three sons.

Meanwhile Kerry Mountain Rescue last night announced it was calling
off its search for Mr Jansen after four days of extensive searching
involving some 4,300 manhours and mountain rescue teams from all
over the country.

Some 200 personnel had combed the MacGillycuddy's Reeks on Sunday,
backed up by seven sniffer dogs, an Irish Marine Emergency Services
helicopter, Killarney Water Rescue, Civil Defence and local people
without finding any trace of Mr Jansen.

"The search is now formally stood down. We will continue,
informally to try and account for the disappearance of the missing
walker as circumstances permit in the future. At present there is
no firm outcome. There is a strong possibility that he has suffered
a fatal mishap," said Mr Christie in a statement.

The Swede, who got married on December 21st, left Kilgarvan where
he had been staying with his wife, Marian, on Tuesday, December
28th, and was dropped off 5km south of Mangerton mountain for a
two-day hike.

A former serviceman with the Swedish Army who served in Kosovo, he
intended camping out Tuesday and Wednesday nights on the mountain
before returning to Kilgarvan Thursday afternoon.

Mr Jansen's last communication with his wife was a text message at
7 p.m. last Tuesday from the top of Mangerton mountain. It read:
"Heavy winds, occasional snow, going well and enjoying my dinner."

He also texted a grid reference for Carrauntoohil saying that was
where he was headed. He accessed his voicemail at 2.45 a.m. on
Wednesday, but that was the last evidence that he was alive. The
alarm was raised on Thursday evening after he failed to return, and
a major search operation was launched at first light on Friday.

The search for Mr Jansen and the recovery of Mr O'Connor's body
brought the number of call-outs for Kerry Mountain Rescue over the
Christmas period to three and followed the rescue of a young
climber last Tuesday.

© The Irish Times

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

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