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January 09, 2005

01/09/05 - What (If Anything) Did SF Know & When (If Ever) Did They Know & Was There Anything For Them to Know?

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

SB 01/09/05 Opin: No Deal While Robbery Suspicion Lingers
SL 01/09/05 Bank Raid May Scupper Orde's £25,000 Bonus
SL 01/09/05 Opin: Hugh's A Lost Boy? And It's All A Huge Joke!
EP 01/09/05 Sinn Fein Attacks IRA Robbery Claims
SL 01/09/05 IRA Not Behind Big Heist: Sinn Fein
BB 01/09/05 Blair Says NI Progress 'Possible'
SB 01/09/05 Ahern And Blair Suspect That SF Knew Of €37m Raid
SL 01/09/05 Unionists Urge SDLP To Drop SF & Reform Stormont
SL 01/09/05 Ulster Supremo To Face Bomb Grilling
SL 01/09/05 Adair: I'm For Bolton Says Mad Dog
SL 01/09/05 UDA Terror Boss Faces Leadership Crisis
SL 01/09/05 FAIR's Flying Picket Plan To Highlight Inquiry Call
SL 01/09/05 Punt Exchange Rate Still High 3 Years After Its Demise!
SL 01/09/05 G'day Copper! Sunshine State's To Recruit Ulster Cops
UT 01/09/05 Court Martial For British Soldier
UT 01/09/05 Stranded Ferry Is Refloated

TW 01/09/05 Was 2004 A Difficult Year For Bertie Ahern? –AO

Was 2004 A Difficult Year For Bertie Ahern? - An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern discusses the ups and downs of the last year and talks about his plans for the year ahead. (20 minutes)

(Poster’s Note: I don’t normally choose a “comment” as the lead story, but the one below by Vincent Browne (“No Deal While Robbery Suspicion Lingers”) is worth reading, in my opinion.

In the “Bank Raid May Scupper Orde’s Bonus Story is interesting too. It reveals his personal financial interest in ‘solving’ the case. In it, his UNIONIST critics call him "a master at presenting statistics" (a euphemism for calling him a LIAR) and a comment that they have "lost faith in his management". However, they apparently have an unquestioning faith in this deceitful, mis-manager in regards to his unsupported accusations made in the face of trying to save his own ASS (ah, I mean ‘assets’).

In the “Hugh’s A Lost Boy” article, another crack in the “PSNI Infallible Principle” seems to appear.

None of these articles appear to agree with SF’s point of view, but they do start to examine Orde’s ‘verdict’ a little closer. But that’s just my opinion. Jay)


No Deal While Robbery Suspicion Lingers

09 January 2005 By Vincent Browne

So what if the IRA was responsible for the stg£26.5 million (€37.5 million) robbery in Belfast on December 20? Did we really expect them to melt away and never do anything again?

Wasn't the breakthrough that the IRA's campaign of killing and devastation would stop - and had stopped? If all the IRA had ever done was to rob a few banks, would we not have been grateful?

Anyway, a robbery of €37.5 million, while staggering in terms of an actual robbery, is hardly that much in terms of fraud. It is certainly not as much as the banks here have stolen from the exchequer and customers over the years.

Remember the Dirt scandal? On its own, AIB took far more than this from the exchequer, and it was not dumped from the political process. Its directors and executives continue to be respected members of the establishment, perhaps even more respected because of the fraud.

There is also a civil case going through the courts at the moment involving possible insider trading and a sum of €85 million. Nobody is a bit bothered about it, aside from the parties directly involved.

That is the Fyffes v DCC case and, before we go any further, let me be clear that I am not saying there was fraud involved.

However, DCC did make a profit on shares, having sold them six weeks before the price of the shares collapsed, and at a time when DCC's chief executive was a director of Fyffes and, it is alleged, had access to inside knowledge on the commercial performance the company.

If Hugh Orde, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), were presented with the bare facts about this case, he might well have concluded there was a prima facie reason to believe that something odd had occurred.

And yet the Irish regulatory authorities did precisely nothing until the London Stock Exchange got involved and then there was a flurry of activity, a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions and then nothing at all.

Again let me emphasise that I am not saying that there was fraud in this instance, but I think it is odd that so little was done by the Irish authorities, given the facts of the case that were known to everyone with a vague interest in these matters at the time.

And if the authorities were so lax in that instance, isn't it likely they have been lax in other instances as well?

This contextualising of the Northern Bank robbery is, of course, irrelevant to the political ramifications of Friday's statement by Orde that he believes the IRA was responsible for the robbery. The ramifications will certainly mean that, for the remainder of 2005, there is no prospect of a deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

If, by the end of 2005, there is no further evidence that it was the IRA that did the robbery, then attitudes might soften.

However if, in the meantime, someone connected with the IRA is charged with the robbery, then everything remains on hold for years, or at least until the case goes to trial.

If there is then a conviction, there will be an impasse for a few more years.

There are several other significant issues. If the IRA did it, either Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew about it in advance, or they did not.

I believed at the outset, having had some insight into how the IRA operates, that it was unthinkable that the IRA would have done this without authorisation from its leadership.

But I have changed my mind on that because of the assertion by Gerry Kelly that the action was wrong. It would be unthinkable for someone like Kelly to so characterise an IRA action if he had known in advance of the action and had approved it. For him to do that would destroy his credibility within the movement.

So I assume that Kelly did not know about it and that neither did Adams nor McGuinness.

It is pretty bad if they did know about it, but worse if they did not know about it.

For the assumption has been all along that Adams and McGuinness have a key influence on the IRA. That has been an assurance underpinning the peace process.

If that is not the case, it is very serious. If you believe the IRA did the bank job, you might also conclude that there is a faction within the IRA out of the control of the leadership, and so out of control as to engage in an action that scuttles the peace process for a long time.

That is, unless those who carried out the robbery had no expectation that the haul would be as large as it was.

If they expected to get a few hundred thousand pounds - or even less than a hundred thousand - they might have got away with it, and public and political attention might not have focused on it. But the meticulousness of the planning, the number of people supposedly involved and the execution of the operation suggested that they would have expected a very big return on their planning and execution.

Orde's confident claim that this would transpire to have been the theft of merely waste paper because of Northern Bank's withdrawal of new notes and their replacement with differently-coloured currency is a joke.

Whoever carried out this robbery, particularly if it was the IRA, is well capable of circumventing any such clumsy ploy and would have thought this through in advance.

Unless there is a major blunder on the part of those who conducted this operation, the vast bulk of the currency will be used and never traced.

However, the possibility of a blunder remains and, if the IRA is found to be behind the robbery, that will have serious implications.

One further consequence: there is no chance of a coalition deal between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin after the 2007 elections unless it is established that the IRA did not conduct the robbery.


Paying the price

Bank Raid May Scupper Orde's £25,000 Bonus

Exclusive by Alan Murray
09 January 2005

THE IRA may have 'robbed' Chief Constable Hugh Orde of a massive £25,000 bonus!

For the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery could hit Mr Orde heavily in his own pocket, if the Policing Board decide not to award him all or part of a 15pc "performance related" bonus.

DUP board member Sammy Wilson last night warned the Northern heist "represented a massive rise in serious crime", and would "weigh heavily" when Mr Orde's bonus was being considered.

Senior Ulster Unionist, Lord Maginnis said he would also question awarding the bonus, adding he had "lost faith" in Mr Orde's management.

Mr Orde, who confirmed on Friday that police believe the IRA carried out the robbery, receives a basic salary of £164,799, plus a housing allowance of £5,463 and private health care.

He receives no further monies for the rental of a former NIO property in North Down, where he now lives.

It is up to the Policing Board whether Mr Orde is awarded a performance bonus of up to 15pc of his salary.

In its third annual report, published in September, the Policing Board identified four "overarching" aims for 2004 to 2007, including the crime reduction and the fear of crime.

The board will meet, in April, to consider police performance.

Sammy Wilson said the public would expect the board to hold Mr Orde to account, when considering whether a bonus should be paid.

"I say this without any personal malice, but the Chief Constable was happy to be judged against the criteria laid down in the policing plan, and that included a reduction in crime levels and a lessening of the public's fear of crime," said the DUP MLA.

"The Northern Bank robbery represents a massive rise in serious crime, and must be taken into account.

"It was the second major intelligence failure of 2004, in relation to the IRA, and people are concerned that there will be more failures.

"Members of the Policing Board are partly responsible for this, because they demanded the clearing out of the Special Branch of experienced officers, and now we have insufficient intelligence gatherers and analysts in the top echelons.

"The Chief Constable was responsible for some of those decisions in regard to deployment and strategy, and that is a policy that is coming back to haunt him.

"He will have to live with the consequences and it could affect his pay," the DUP MLA warned.

Lord Maginnis, the former Unionist Party security spokesman, said he would question the awarding of a bonus to the Chief Constable, given recent events.

"The Chief Constable is a master at presenting statistics, so I have no doubt, he will produce material suggesting he is entitled to some bonus," said the former MP.

"But there are those of us who have lost faith in his management, who would suggest that the best he might hope for is a second chance to earn a bonus.

"I think that is the best he should expect."

While it was only one robbery, the impact of the raid on public confidence in the PSNI has been huge.

Police intelligence failed to detect that it was being planned.

And there have criticism that uniformed officers failed to respond quickly enough to a report of suspicious activity around bank, on the evening of the robbery.

Members of the Policing Board will want to probe both aspects of the case behind closed doors with the Chief Constable in a fortnight's time.


Hugh's A Lost Boy?

And It's All A Huge Joke!

By Lynda Gilby
09 January 2005

OH, COME ON. You don't really believe in Father Christmas, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny, do you?

So you won't believe then, that Chief Constable Hugh Orde's statement that the Provos carried out the £26m Northern Bank heist, has scuppered our chances of devolution being restored.

For you and I know damn well, don't we, that the peace process was dead in the water, anyway.

We know that both the DUP and Sinn Fein would have nit-picked some sticking point, or other, to prevent firstly, Martin McGuinness becoming Deputy First Minister or secondly, the IRA handing over every last pea-shooter.

Hugh Orde's statement has merely handed the DUP a much larger fig leaf than the decommissioning photographs nonsense gave them.

And that statement has only formalised what you and I, and every lamp post peed upon by the dogs in the street, already knew.

But, what an extraordinary statement for any high-ranking police officer to make.

In essence, it said:

"We know whodunit, but we can't prove it."

And hanging unspoken in the air was: "And we doubt, we ever will."

It looks very much as though the trail has gone cold, despite Orde's protestations.

But should prosecutions ever result, you can just imagine what capital defence counsel would make, claiming Orde's statement had prejudiced a fair trial for the defendants.

The wounded republican cries of witch hunt, would reverberate around this island.

Thankfully, when you live in the interesting times we live in, the only thing you can do is to regard the whole affair as a huge joke... in very bad taste.


Sinn Fein Attacks IRA Robbery Claims

Sinn Fein dismisses IRA involvement

Sinn Fein has accused the Police Service of Northern Ireland of a dirty tricks campaign to smear republicans involved in the search for peace.

Following top level claims that the IRA was behind the £22 million Belfast bank robbery, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin attacked the "politically motivated accusations from NIO securocrats".

His comments came after PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde said republican paramilitaries had conducted the biggest ever cash grab in Britain's history.

Speaking on Friday Ulster secretary Paul Murphy said the alleged IRA bank raid was "deeply damaging" to the peace process.


But McLaughlin claimed the allegations of IRA involvement were a clear attempt to divert attention from the DUP's failure to back a return to power sharing government in Northern Ireland.

"There is no doubt that the process has been in difficulty since December, when the DUP refused to sign up for power sharing government and this situation has been worsened as a result of Hugh Orde's politically motivated accusations," he claimed.

"There is also no doubt that there are those within the NIO who are seeking to exploit this difficulty to bring about the exclusion of Sinn Fein and ensure that the comprehensive deal will not be achieved."

McLaughlin went on to claim that the IRA has "made clear that it did not carry out this robbery".

"Hugh Orde went to the media yesterday, not on the basis of facts or evidence, but on the basis of reports from securocrats who have been working to undermine the peace process for years now," he added.

"The objective of all of this is to subvert efforts to build on what has been achieved and to halt the process of change."


IRA Not Behind Big Heist: Sinn Fein

09 January 2005

SINN Fein yesterday repeated its insistence that the IRA did not rob the Northern Bank, and called on the British and Irish governments to push on with peace talks.

Following an emergency meeting of the party's ruling executive in Dublin - called in the wake of Chief Constable Hugh Orde's damning verdict on the heist - the party's leaders said they remained committed to the peace process.

Sinn Fein national chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said there was deep anger over attempts to criminalise republicans.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Chief Constable told members of the Policing Board that he believed the IRA was responsible for stealing £26.5 million in the Northern Bank heist, before Christmas.

His statement led unionists to call on the Government to exclude Sinn Fein, and press ahead with efforts to restore devolution without them.

But Mr McLaughlin claimed the process had been in difficulty since the DUP refused to sign up to a deal in December, and had merely been worsened by Mr Orde's statement.

Said Mr McLaughlin: "There is no doubt that there are those within the NIO, who are seeking to exploit this difficulty to bring about the exclusion of Sinn Fein and ensure that the comprehensive deal will not be achieved.

"The IRA has made clear that it did not carry out this robbery.

"Hugh Orde went to the media, not on the basis of facts or evidence, but on the basis of reports from securocrats, who have been working to undermine the peace process for years now.

"Sinn Fein's priority is to advance the peace process and to defend the rights of those who vote for us.

"We remain in contact with both governments and remain determined to continue to advance the agenda for change."

Sinn Fein has been adamant that the IRA was not behind the heist.

However, sources have suggested that the unit responsible may have been 'stood down' from the organisation in the weeks before the robbery, to technically clear the Provos of involvement.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Paul Murphy is due to make a statement to Parliament later this week, when there will also be a debate on power-sharing, in the province.

But both the British and Irish governments have admitted this latest controversy is a massive body-blow to efforts to revive devolution.

Mr Murphy has conceded that there was virtually no chance of a return of power-sharing in the next six months.


Blair Says NI Progress 'Possible'

Progress is possible in the Northern Ireland process but the IRA must stop all violence, Tony Blair has said.

The prime minister was speaking after PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said he believed the IRA was behind December's £26.5m Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

Sinn Fein has rejected the claim. The DUP is calling on the government to move ahead without republicans.

Mr Blair said there must be "a definitive end to all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity".

He told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme: "There cannot be a proper comprehensive deal for peace in Northern Ireland unless the IRA clearly and definitively give up not just terrorist acts of violence, but criminal acts of violence."

Mr Blair said the chief constable would not have made these claims without evidence.

He said unionists were "entirely justified" to refuse to share power with Sinn Fein, "unless there is a definitive end to all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity by one of the parties that is associated with a paramilitary group".

The prime minister added: "I still think it's possible for us to make progress, but it can't be 99% giving up violence, and it certainly can't be 80% giving up violence - it has got to be 100%.

"I said that almost two years ago, and I mean it.

"If people understand that, we can make progress very quickly but there has got to be no ambiguity about it."

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley will meet Mr Blair next week when he will call on the government to form a devolved administration without republicans.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said on Saturday that the political process had been in difficulty since before Christmas and had been worsened by Mr Orde's comments.

Speaking after an emergency party meeting in Dublin, he said: "The IRA has made clear that it did not carry out this robbery.

"Hugh Orde went to the media yesterday, not on the basis of facts or evidence, but on the basis of reports from securocrats who have been working to undermine the peace process for years now.

"The objective of all of this is to subvert efforts to build on what has been achieved and to halt the process of change."

He said Sinn Fein remained in contact with the British and Irish Governments.

"The governments know how much was achieved before Christmas and that the priority must be to get the comprehensive deal across the line," he added.

The bank raid is thought to have been one of the UK's biggest cash robberies.

The robbers stole millions from the vaults of the bank on 20 December as the families of the two bank officials were held hostage.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/09 12:11:50 GMT


Ahern And Blair Suspect That Sinn Fein Knew Of €37m Raid

09 January 2005
By Pat Leahy and Paul T Colgan

Relations between the Government and Sinn Féin are at a new low this weekend after the statement from PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde that the Provisional IRA was responsible for the €37.5million Northern Bank raid.

It is understood that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern now believes the Sinn Féin leadership knew and approved of the raid in advance. That is also the belief of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

“It's one of two things: either they [Sinn Féin] don't know what's going on and therefore they can't deliver the IRA; or they do and they're treating us with contempt,” said a senior government source.

When pressed, the source conceded that the belief in government buildings in Dublin was that the Sinn Féin leadership, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, did know and approved of the robbery. The Sinn Féin leadership angrily denied that charge.

The IRA issued a statement in the wake of the robbery denying responsibility and Adams and McGuinness have repeatedly said that they accept the denials. However, the statement was not issued under the name of P O'Neill, the usual imprimatur of an official IRA statement.

Sinn Féin and the IRA accused elements within the British security forces of attempting to wreck the peace Business Post that his party remained in close contact with the Irish government and that government officials were “saying different things to us than are appearing in the media'‘.

Sinn Féin's Ard Chomhairle met in Dublin yesterday to discuss the fallout from Orde's statement. They angrily denied his claims and continued to state their belief in IRA denials of involvement.

A senior IRA source was reported as denying responsibility for the robbery. However, it has been noted that the statement was not issued under the name of P O'Neill, the usual imprimatur of an official IRA statement.

Both Sinn Féin and the IRA accused elements within the British security forces of attempting to wreck the peace process, while Adams accused the British and Irish governments of making “outlandish'‘ claims about his party. McGuinness called on Blair

to stand up to those in the Northern Ireland Office who, he said, were determined to scupper the North's political process. “Myself and Gerry Adams have had detailed discussions in the past with Tony Blair about the securocrats in the NIO,” he told The Sunday Business Post. “The buck stops with him.”

A republican source raised questions about government briefings against Sinn Féin, claiming they were attempts to curb the party's vote in the Republic.

“If they believe this then, logically, the gardai should be looking for the arrest of senior members of Sinn Féin,” he said. “If that isn't done, a lot of people will suspect we're seeing the political parties in the south using this issue to cause us damage.”

Bertie Ahern is reported to be furious. He is due to speak to Blair this weekend and officials will attempt to set up a meeting in the coming weeks.

Government sources, however, were pessimistic about the prospects of progress in the North for the foreseeable future.

“It's pretty bad. All confidence and trust is gone,” said one source.

Another angry government aide accused Sinn Féin of lying throughout the autumn talks between the two governments and the Northern parties.


Yourselves alone

Unionists Urge SDLP To Drop Shinners And Reform Stormont With Them

By Alan Murray
09 January 2005

UNIONISTS will begin moves tomorrow aimed at getting a Stormont administration up and running - without Sinn Fein.

And pressure is mounting on the SDLP to go it alone, following the Chief Constable's damning verdict that the IRA carried out the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

All 84 non-Sinn Fein members of the assembly will be invited to Stormont, in a fortnight's time, to discuss how the three main constitutional parties can form a ruling coalition, without the IRA's political wing.

Strangford MLA, David McNarry, will launch the initiative at a meeting of the UUP's Assembly group, tomorrow.

But initial SDLP reaction to the proposal has been cautious.

One senior SDLP figure, who didn't want to be named, said that creating a new administration at Stormont, without Sinn Fein, would pose difficulties for his party.

"It would be difficult for us to be seen to be marching to the tune played by the DUP," said the MLA.

"We believe in inclusivity, and the DUP has not exactly embraced that concept.

"The Unionist Party has only embraced it, when it has been forced to.

"So, currently there is a healthy caution within the SDLP about proposals to abandon the long-held concept of inclusivity," added the MLA.

Mr McNarry is aware that the SDLP is reluctant to go it alone, but argued: "Constitutional politicians have got to show solidarity and determination, to restore government here. We must proceed without violent republicans, and those, who aren't identified by the Chief Constable as being involved in crime and violence, should be allowed to move on, and form an administration."

He has suggested January 21 as the possible date for a meeting, in Stormont, of the 84 non-Sinn Fein MLAs.

The date he has pencilled in for the meeting, is the day following the briefing the Chief Constable will deliver to the entire policing board, about the Northern Bank robbery.

DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, yesterday urged SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, to change his party's policy, and join unionists in a powersharing arrangement, at Stormont, without Sinn Fein.

Senior DUP colleague, Nigel Dodds, added yesterday: "It is time that the SDLP awakened to the reality of the new political situation. They now have a crucial role to play, in whether we make progress, or go backwards politically.

"Are they going to accept a stagnant political agenda, which sees them blackmailed by the IRA in perpetuity, with their constituents denied the opportunity of responsive devolved local government for their entire lifetimes?"


Ulster Supremo To Face Bomb Grilling

Exclusive by Alan Murray
09 January 2005

SECRETARY of State, Paul Murphy, will be pressed tomorrow night to 'come clean' and divulge MI5's knowledge of the Real IRA's plans to bomb Omagh.

Mr Murphy will meet with representatives of the Omagh Support Group, who want answers to controversies surrounding the 1998 attack.

Many relatives of the 29 people, who died in the bomb, now believe that the Garda and MI5 had prior knowledge that the Real IRA planned to explode a large bomb in Northern Ireland, on the weekend of the attack.

But, they suspect information was withheld from the RUC, to protect an informant.

Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, says the meeting with Mr Murphy will be another opportunity to try to prise information from the Government, and press for a cross border public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bombing.

Michael's 21-year-old son, Aidan, was among the victims.

He has also written to the chairman of the Policing Board, Sir Desmond Rea, and the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, about the revelation that a serving Special Branch officer is to be quizzed over an anonymous phonecall on August 4 - 11 days before the bombing - warning that Omagh would be attacked.

Mr Gallagher said the revelation opened up questions about whether the caller, who rang a CID officer, at Omagh, had come across vital intelligence information.

"The longer the passage of time, the more the questions mount up... really serious fundamental questions," Mr Gallagher said.

The Ombudsman's Office told Sunday Life, that Michael Gallagher's request for a further investigation into the RUC's handling of the case, was being considered.

In his letter, Mr Gallagher asked Nuala O'Loan "to look again at this most sinister and disturbing matter".

He has also asked the policing board chairman to assure the families of the Omagh victims, that all matters relevant to the anonymous call are thoroughly investigated.

The PSNI declined to reveal if the serving Special Branch officer has yet been interviewed.

In a brief statement, the PSNI said the investigation remained "a live inquiry" and it would be inappropriate to comment.

Michael Gallagher said every revelation about Omagh reinforced the need for a public inquiry into why the bombing wasn't prevented.

"Only a public inquiry could help us discover what the Garda and MI5 knew of the Real IRA's plans."


I'm For Bolton Says Mad Dog

Adair to be with sick wife on release, but doesn't rule out Ulster return

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
09 January 2005

OUSTED UDA chief, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, last night told Sunday Life he was chomping at the bit to get out of jail, this week, and be-reunited with cancer-stricken wife.

Adair, who is due to walk free on Thursday, says he's heading straight for Bolton, but he hasn't ruled out returning to Belfast, in the future, to confront his enemies.

Said the ex-terror boss: "I have been locked up on my own for two years, and I can't wait to get out - I'm heading for Bolton.

"The prison authorities never gave me parole, when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and it was touch-and-go there for a while with Gina, and that's why she is my main priority.

"I have also been warned by Special Branch, that the UDA is intending to kill me on the day I will be going to Bolton, but every plan they make always seems to end up in the hands of the police.

"The UDA sent wee lads out to kill me in the past, and any threat they make against me, I just take it with a pinch of salt."

Adair also revealed that he had been offered lucrative book deals, during his time in Maghaberry.

The Shankill Road man said: "I have been offered the chance to write a book about my life by an American writer, but I will just have to wait and see what happens.

"I have had a lot of time to think while I was in prison, and after spending quality time with my family, I will decide what to do next."

During his latest two-year stretch, the infamous Shankill loyalist has consistently vowed to return to his old stomping ground, following his release from Maghaberry prison.

Adair laughed off ill-informed news reports, last week, that he had already been transferred to England, and had been banned by prison bosses from speaking to the media.

"How can I already be in England and banned from speaking to the media, when I'm speaking to Sunday Life from Maghaberry?" he said.

Although Adair's empire in the Shankill crumbled, following the murder of UDA brigadier, John Gregg, he still has die-hard supporters in mid-Ulster, Scotland and England.

Fears are growing that Adair could return in 2005 to confront the UDA leaders, who exiled his family and close associates.

The Shankill man is well-known for his volatile nature, and with hoax-bomber Gary 'Smickers' Smith by his side, it is impossible to predict what the top loyalist's next move will be.

A spokesman for the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) told Sunday Life Adair was still the UDA's "number one" target.

"The government asked us what we were going to do when Adair was released, and we turned it round by asking them what they were going to do about it," added the spokesman.

"I think the government sees the UDA's position with Adair as housekeeping, because in spite of the ceasefire, he is still the number one target.

"But the UDA cannot legislate for what Adair is going to do, because nobody knows how the man's mind works.

"We will just have to wait and see."


Terror Boss Faces Leadership Crisis

Gray under pressure from inner council

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
09 January 2005

VETERAN UDA boss, Jim Gray, is facing a leadership crisis in his own heartland, Sunday Life can reveal.

The east Belfast 'brigadier' is coming under pressure from the paramilitary group's 'inner council', who are embarrassed by a new wave of UDA-linked crime.

A senior security source said there was growing anger among the rank and file in east Belfast, that the local UDA leadership has failed to halt "out of control" criminal hoods from running amok in recent weeks.

The UDA thugs have been blamed for smashing up a number of businesses, in the east of the city.

Sources say one local business in particular has been targeted in a sustained campaign of intimidation, which has left staff terrified.

The incidents began just a number of weeks after other UDA leaders vowed to combat criminality and gangsterism, within their ranks.

The incidents were not 'sanctioned', and have caused deep anger in the terror group's 'inner council'.

Sunday Life has been reliably informed that the events in east Belfast have led to the UDA's inner council vowing to find out exactly what is going on, and why the local leadership has been unable to stop UDA criminal activity in the area.

We understand Gray's comrades are "seriously considering" removing him from his long-standing position as a 'brigadier'.

Said the source: "Many people in the UDA want him removed. There is real tension at the minute.

"The recent attacks in east Belfast were not sanctioned, and have seriously embarrassed the UDA, especially after its recent ceasefire announcement, when it promised to confront the issue of criminality.

"The attacks occurred on businesses which have provided employment to people in east Belfast, and now some of the workers are refusing to return to work.

"The UDA leadership has promised to tackle criminality, but when this sort of activity continues in east Belfast, it makes a mockery of their pledge."

No-one from the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) was available to comment on the claims.


FAIR's Dublin 'Flying Picket' Plan To Highlight Inquiry Call

By Chris Anderson
09 January 2005

A CO Armagh victims' group is to stage a series of 'flying pickets' in Dublin to protest at the delay in setting up an inquiry into the IRA murder of two RUC officers.

The Markethill-based FAIR group said it was now almost 13 months since retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory recommended an inquiry into the double murder of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

FAIR spokesman William Frazer said the Irish government had been quick to call for inquiries into alleged collusion in Northern Ireland, but had been slow to respond to demands for a probe into alleged Garda collusion, in the Breen and Buchanan murders.

He said FAIR's flying pickets had selected a number of "targets", but refused to provide exact details to Sunday Life.

However, it is understood Leinster House, the Justice Department, the GPO in O'Connell Street and Garda HQ in Phoenix Park are on the hit-list.

It's believed Bertie Ahern's constituency office in Drumcondra will also be targeted.

"They will be designed to have the maximum effect. We will simply arrive in Dublin and begin the protest," said Mr Frazer.

Officers Breen and Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush, near the south Armagh village of Jonesboro in April 1989.

They had been returning to Newry after meeting senior Garda counterparts, in Dundalk.

The Irish Justice Department has consistently denied it is deliberately delaying any inquiry into allegations of Garda/IRA collusion.


Punt Exchange Rate Still High Three Years After Its Demise!

09 January 2005

THREE years after the Irish Republic swapped the punt for the euro, hundreds of people are still turning up at the Central Bank HQ in Dublin with stashes of old notes and coins.

Up to 130 people a day visit the Central Bank with stockpiles of old currency (pictured right).

"The old money is still coming in, with the numbers turning up tending to peak during school holidays, or during big shopping periods like the sales or Christmas," a bank spokeswoman said.

The Dame Street HQ of the bank is the only place in the country where people can still cash their stash of old currency.

The commercial banks stopped exchanging old notes and coins two years ago.

"There's still about IR£310 million worth of old money outstanding. That breaks down about two to one, notes to coins.

"About IR£10m in old money has been exchanged during 2004, though we don't expect we will ever see most of the rest of it again.

"But there are still a lot of people finding hoards of old money," the spokeswoman added.

People are even bringing in old pre-decimalisation pounds, shillings and pence, dating back to before February 15, 1971.

"The number of people coming generally varies between 50 and 100 a day. On a very quiet day, it might drop to 20 or 30, but on other days it might rise to 130," she said.

One woman turned up, having found an IR£100 note that was being used as a bookmark.

Another woman found a bundle of old notes stuffed down the neck of a table lamp while she was replacing a lightbulb that had just blown.

"She was a widow, and thought her husband had probably hidden the money there years ago," explained the spokeswoman.

"We've had people who found money in old handbags or coats, and in the garden shed.

"People digging in their garden have found buried jam jars or tins full of cash. You would wonder why someone would ever bury money like that, but they did."

A lot of the outstanding money is thought to have gone abroad in tourists' pockets down the years, either by mistake or as souvenirs.

The bank will continue to accept all Irish coins indefinitely.

It will immediately exchange IR£500. Where the amount is greater than IR£500, the value will be forwarded by cheque.

All coins must be separated by denomination and presented in coin bags.


G'day Copper!

Sunshine State's Bid To Recruit Ulster Cops

By John Hunter
09 January 2005

ULSTER cops, past and present, are being tempted by offers to swap these rain sodden shores for a new life in sun-kissed South Australia.

For South Australia police chiefs are offering visas, removal costs and housing, in a bid to lure hundreds of trained officers to the state by next June.

And, if you're a trained Ulster officer, either currently serving with the PSNI, or retired early from the RUC, you're a wanted man or woman

The South Australia police are currently recruiting hundreds of experienced officers from all over the UK.

And they're interested in poaching from Garda ranks, too.

Their innovative scheme aims to boost the force's own personnel, while saving on cadet-training costs by blatantly taking advantage of prestigious - and expensive - UK police education schemes.

In return, they offer a relatively easy-going policing system in South Australia - four times Britain's size, but with a population under 1.5 million.

Much of the population is centred in the major city of Adelaide.

"Officers and their families will enjoy a Mediterranean-style climate, a relaxed blend of beach, country and city lifestyle, and a first-class family environment," say recruiting adverts issued by SA Police Commissioner, Mal Hyde.

He's already ensured, that all the required visa and immigration procedures will be approved automatically by the federal government, for all experienced cops selected to serve.

The first training "conversion course", starts in March.

Commissioner Hyde expects a satisfactory level of applications from across the UK.

Starting salaries for a constable run to around £23,000; housing in non-city areas seems reasonably comparable with Northern Ireland.

The cost of living is roughly the same as here, but the quality of life markedly better.

Despite the generally law-abiding population, all officers carry sidearms.

But, because of those sunny, sunny days, they wear big Stetson-type hats.

The local wine is also first-class.


Court Martial For British Soldier

A British soldier is facing a court martial tomorrow over the alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians.

The soldier from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is accused of the ill treatment of Iraqis in May 2003.

The alleged abuse came to light after pictures, which appeared to show a number of POWs being abused, were spotted by staff at a photo developers in Tamworth, in Staffordshire.

Evidence about the alleged assaults and indecent assaults of the Iraqis will be heard at a court martial taking place at a British Army base in Hohne, in Germany, tomorrow.

Three other soldiers from the regiment are also expected to face a further court martial in Osnabruck, in Germany, in connection with the abuse allegations later this week.

All the charges relate to incidents which took place at a food storage warehouse near Basra where Iraqi civilians were being temporarily detained.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced last year that the soldiers would face a public court martial over the alleged abuse.

The first court martial is expected to conclude on Tuesday lunchtime.

The second case will start at a Military Court Centre in Osnabruck on January 12.


Stranded Ferry Is Refloated

A ferry forced aground by hurricane-force winds was refloated today after more than 30 hours at sea.

By:Press Association

Two tugs managed to pull the European Highlander, which had travelled from Larne with 100 people on board, off the rocks at Cairnryan in south west Scotland with the help of the high tide.

The operation to refloat the P&O ferry from its stricken position just yards from the shore took less than half an hour and was watched by more than 50 onlookers.

An onboard sound of an announcement bell signalled that the 43 passengers and 57 crew were aware of their successful rescue.

A spokeswoman for P&O said the passengers had spent a comfortable night on board.

She said: "There was plenty of nourishment and refreshment available. Now they are just waiting to make their onward journeys."

And she said P&O will be compensating all passengers, but the amount is not yet agreed.

She said: "We will be contacting all passengers involved over the next couple of days and looking at some sort of compensation."

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