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January 10, 2005

01/10/05 - SF Will Not Allow Mandate To Be Lost

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

SF 01/10/05 Sinn Féin Will Not Allow Mandate To Be Set Aside –V
IT 01/11/05 Raiders 'Hostile' To SF – McGuinness
IT 01/11/05 Plan To 'Marginalise' Party, Says Ferris
RT 01/10/05 McGuinness Angered By Ahern's Remarks -V
IT 01/11/05 Indictment Of SF Not 'Electorally Motivated '
BT 01/10/05 'Pink Panther' PSNI
SM 01/10/05 Adair Is Helicoptered Home After Early Release -V
IT 01/11/05 Johnny Adair: A Jumble Of Opposites
BB 01/10/05 What Next For Johnny Adair?
IT 01/11/05 Inquiry To Focus On Sisters Of Mercy Residences
IT 01/11/05 €70m Redevelopment Plan For Curragh
IT 01/11/05 TG4 Soon To Broadcast From Belfast

RT 01/10/05 Weir Still Blocking Salmon, Kilkenny Anglers Say

Weir Still Blocking Salmon, Kilkenny Anglers Say - Damien Tiernan, South-East Correspondent, reports on the controversy over a new weir on the River Nore in Kilkenny


Questions and Answers - 10 January 2005 - 10 Jan 2005 8:28:29 PM
Mary Hanafin, Education Minister
Michael D Higgins, Labour Foreign Affairs Spokesman
Paul O'Brien, Concern Overseas Director
John Mooney, Star on Sunday Crime Correspondent
Muireann O Briain, Human Rights Lawyer
Has the Northern Bank robbery damaged the peace process? - Panel and audience respond

Sinn Féin Will Not Allow Mandate To Be Set Aside -V

Published: 10 January, 2005

Speaking in Belfast this morning Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has said now is not the time for the governments to throw in the towel on the talks and set to one side all that has been achieved in recent months.

Mr. McGuinness said: "Sinn Féin's priority for the last fifteen years has been to secure a peace process, transform politics on the island and advance the argument for Irish unity. We have invested huge time and resources in the peace process, as have others, and we will not allow unsubstantiated allegations to deflect us in our work.

"It is disappointing that people are prepared to accept the word of Hugh Orde despite the fact he has not produced one iota of evidence to suggest that republicans were behind this robbery. His political intervention was as a result of intelligence reports from faceless securocrats who have a less than honourable record in this country.

"The people on whose word these unsubstantiated allegations are being made are the same people who for years colluded with loyalist squads in their own interests, who forced an orange march down the Garvaghy Road, who eroded essential parts of the Good Friday Agreement and who today are still refusing to co-operate with inquiries such as that into the Dublin Monaghan bombings. Maybe it is the actions and integrity of these people that should be subjected to scrutiny.

"For almost a decade we have worked closely with Bertie Ahern, as leader of Fianna Fáil and as Taoiseach. We have done so with honesty and in a straightforward manner, at all times, including when things were difficult. I reject outright accusations of double-dealing and dishonesty and stand on our record.

"Sinn Féin is a major player in the peace process because over 340,000 people voted for us. We will not allow our mandate to be set-aside on anyone's behalf. Now is not the time for the governments to throw in the towel on the talks and set to one side all that has been achieved in recent months. I am not dismissing the difficulties that this robbery has caused because even before this incident there were difficulties created by the DUP's refusal to share power with Sinn Fein. Instead of responding to an agenda being set by those who oppose the peace process and who use every opportunity to undermine it, political leaders need to examine the facts, defend the Agreement and move on." ENDS


Raiders 'Hostile' To SF - McGuinness

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Mr Martin McGuinness, has stated that "whoever" was responsible for the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery has damaged both his party and the peace process.

Mr McGuinness continued to deny IRA involvement in the crime and also rounded on the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, for stating that the Sinn Féin leadership was aware that the IRA was planning the robbery even as it was in intense negotiations with the British and Irish governments.

Mr McGuinness went further in his comments yesterday by denouncing in strong terms the organisation that staged the robbery.

Should PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde be able to substantiate his allegation that the IRA was behind the robbery, then Mr McGuinness's comments would be tantamount to Sinn Féin criticism of the IRA.

"Whoever carried out the robbery are also hostile to the Sinn Féin agenda and the peace process, and under no circumstances should any of those people get their way in the ongoing discussions which will have to take place if we are to resolve our political difficulties," said Mr McGuinness.

"Gerry Adams and I work on the basis that you can't tell lies within the peace process. If you tell lies you get caught out and then irreparable damage is done to the peace process."

Mr McGuinness said he was "both perplexed and indeed very angry" at Mr Ahern's comments on Sunday that the Sinn Féin leadership was aware of the planned robbery during the negotiations aimed at restoring devolution.

"We have always participated in our discussions on the basis of honesty and being very straightforward about what we were trying to do. I reject absolutely any suggestion whatsoever of dishonesty or double-dealing by Gerry Adams and myself," he added.

"I just cannot understand for the life of me, other than the explanation is more electoral than anything else, that [the Taoiseach] would say such a thing because it has no basis in fact," he added.

Mr Ahern, when referring to the Sinn Féin leadership, did not specifically name Mr McGuinness or the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams.

But Mr McGuinness said it was obvious that Mr Ahern's reference was to him, Mr Adams and the Sinn Féin policing spokesman, Mr Gerry Kelly, as they were the only three party negotiators who had face-to-face dealings with the Taoiseach.

"This Sinn Féin leadership will never give up on this peace process, no matter what obstacles are placed in our way, whether it be by bank robbers, by securocrats or by people in governments who have an eye to future elections," added Mr McGuinness.

Meanwhile, senior security sources last night said that about £18,000 in Northern Bank £100 notes that were yesterday recovered in the Craigavon area of Co Armagh were most likely not connected to the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

Two men were arrested and are being questioned in connection with the find.

One security source said it appeared likely the money was linked to some other robbery.

© The Irish Times


Plan To 'Marginalise' Party, Says Ferris

Anne Lucey

Police and politicians are blaming the Provisional IRA for the Northern Bank robbery as part of an effort to "marginalise and demonise Sinn Féin", one of the party's TDs has claimed.

Kerry deputy Mr Martin Ferris said people were coming to him "in a joking manner and saying 'Have you got some sterling'?"

However, he believed that "deep down people know there's another agenda out there and that agenda is to marginalise and demonise Sinn Féin."

Mr Ferris said he accepted the word of the IRA as delivered to Mr Martin McGuinness that the republican organisation was not responsible.

However, most people "assumed" what the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and the British government was saying was true.

Mr Ferris was speaking on Radio Kerry where he said it was very difficult for Sinn Féin to advance the peace process in the face of consistent resistance by the "securocrats" who feared Sinn Féin's electoral gains.

"We had brought the IRA, pre-Christmas, to a situation where they were prepared to put all their arms beyond use, where they were prepared to do nothing that was inconsistent with a comprehensive agreement and that has been massive," Mr Ferris said.

The harder Sinn Féin tried, the more stumbling blocks were put up by securocrats and the desire had been to humiliate republicans.

"I will not be part of the humiliation of republicans," he said.

© The Irish Times


6.1 News: Brendan Wright reports that a major row has developed between the Government and Sinn Féin

McGuinness Angered By Ahern's Remarks -V

10 January 2005 19:57

The Sinn Féin MP, Martin McGuinness, has said he is very angry and perplexed at remarks made by the Taoiseach.

Bertie Ahern said that leading members of Sinn Féin were probably aware of last month's Northern Bank robbery whilst the political talks were going on before Christmas.

Speaking in Belfast, Mr McGuinness said he and Gerry Adams had always dealt with the Taoiseach on the basis of honesty and respect and he strongly rejected any suggestion of double-dealing on the part of republicans.

The North's Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, last week said he thought the IRA was responsible for the heist at the Northern Bank in which £26m was stolen.


Indictment Of SF Not 'Electorally Motivated '

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Suggestions from Sinn Féin that the Taoiseach's comments on the Northern Bank raid were "electorally motivated" have been "absolutely" rejected by Mr Ahern's spokeswoman.

"I reject absolutely any assertion by Sinn Féin that the Taoiseach's comments in relation to this issue were electorally motivated," Mr Ahern's spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

"The Taoiseach has always treated the Northern Ireland peace process as one of his greatest priorities. He has devoted endless hours to this issue and has always acted honestly and honourably in his dealings with all parties."

The Government privately rejects the charge that Mr Ahern had linked Sinn Féin to the raid on the basis only of the evidence of the Chief Constable of the PSNI, Mr Hugh Orde.

Information linking the IRA to the North's biggest robbery had come equally from Garda sources.

Mr Ahern discussed the crisis in a 35-minute telephone conversation at the weekend with the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair.

Mr Ahern's spokeswoman said: "His only motivation is the security and safety of all communities in Northern Ireland. Over the coming period the Taoiseach will continue to reflect on how we can carry things forward in current circumstances."

Though Mr Ahern has not withdrawn his allegation that Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness knew of the planned raid, he, nevertheless, appears keen to avoid a long-running war of words with Sinn Féin about the robbery.

His spokeswoman could not explain why police on either side of the Border should not interview Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness, because prior knowledge of the raid would make them guilty of conspiracy.

The Taoiseach will meet Mr Blair in early February, some days after he returns from leading a major Irish trade mission to China, which begins next Sunday.

"The trust between parties has been badly sundered, but everybody knows that we are all going to have to sit down with SF again in the future if this process is to be put back together," one informed source said.

© The Irish Times


'Pink Panther' PSNI

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
10 January 2005

The Independent Orange Order has sounded a grim warning over the state of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a weekend meeting, Grand Master George Dawson said the effectiveness of the PSNI had been reduced to that of Inspector Closeau by the Patten reforms.

Mr Dawson, also a DUP Assembly member, said: "The Patten recommendations have condemned Northern Ireland to a police service with all the effectiveness of the fictional comedy character Inspector Clouseau. Except that we are not living a comedy, we are living a policing tragedy."


Former loyalist leader Adair released from NI prison - Declan McBennett reports on the release of the former UDA leader Johnny Adair

'Mad Dog' Adair Is Helicoptered Home After Early Release

John Innes

LOYALIST terrorist Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair was released from prison in Northern Ireland yesterday and immediately flown to the north of England by military helicopter.

On learning of his undercover release, senior loyalists said former paramilitary associates bent on killing him would be unable to resist an assassination attempt if he ever sets foot in Northern Ireland again.

Adair’s release date had been set for Thursday but it was decided to let him out early and to get him out of the province as quickly as possible.

One security source said: "If his enemies - and there are any number of them - had known exactly when he was getting out and what route he was planning to use, they would have tried to kill him without doubt."

Adair, 39, had been held in near-solitary confinement for his own safety at the high- security Maghaberry Jail near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

He travelled to Bolton to be reunited with his wife Gina as she recovers from cancer. Amid deepening fears in the town that his presence could trigger rising crime levels, police spoke to Adair to warn him against establishing underworld connections.

One senior loyalist, who suspected Adair may have agreed to inform on their operations in return for protection, predicted he will gather his cash and head for Spain.

He said: "If Johnny has done the deal everyone assumes, he will not even stay in England for long. He’ll be out of the country if he has any sense."

Bolton Chief Superintendent Dave Lea pledged to use intelligence networks to protect the public against any surge in racketeering.

"We welcome anyone to Bolton or Greater Manchester if their intention is to lead a responsible law-abiding life," he said.

"However, should people engage in anti-social behaviour or choose not to abide by the law we will tackle them using all available legislation."

Adair ran the Ulster Defence Association’s West Belfast Brigade - a unit responsible for dozens of murders.

Even after he was convicted of directing terrorism in 1995, the shaven-headed, heavily tattooed paramilitary continued to strike fear into the hearts of Catholics.

But with two-thirds of his 16-year sentence completed, he was released days earlier than expected when prison authorities agreed to a temporary parole move.

It was the third time he has been freed. Under the Good Friday Agreement and again in May 2002 he strutted through the prison gates to a triumphant reception from hundreds of waiting loyalists.

This time, however, there was no fanfare as he was slipped out of the country unnoticed.

Prison chiefs were not prepared to take any risks with a man whom former comrades have pledged to kill.

They blame him for igniting a vicious feud that claimed several lives, including that of a rival UDA commander, John Gregg.


Johnny Adair: A Jumble Of Opposites

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Johnny Adair vies with his murdered hero Billy Wright for the title of Ulster's best-known loyalist hard man.

His swaggering figure, vicious anti-Catholic past and strident anti-authoritarian stance make him appear stereotypical. But he is more a curious jumble of opposites.

The uncompromising loyalist paramilitary is said to be massively egotistical and a confusion of outside influences ranging from his trademark reversed baseball cap to his Mickey Mouse tattoo, pierced nipples, shaved head and Tina Turner anthem Simply The Best. He revels in his "mad dog" nickname, and once referred to his young son as "mad pup".

He is heavily muscled despite being short, and he claims his impressive physique is due to a fitness regime he followed in prison and is not the result of steroid-taking which his opponents claim.

He is linked with about 20 sectarian murders of Catholics in the early 1990s, including the gun attack on Sean Graham's bookies on Belfast's Ormeau Road in which five were shot dead.

He was the first person to be convicted of the charge of directing terrorism - a crime many said was tailor-made to arrest him. He was sentenced to 15 years in 1995.

His mouth has landed him in serious trouble. Private boasts about paramilitary involvement to the former RUC were once secretly taped and he was arrested and jailed.

Freed under the terms of the Belfast Agreement in 1999, he was sensationally rearrested under orders of the then Northern secretary, Mr Peter Mandelson, who suspended his out-on-licence status.

He was re-released only to be returned again to prison by Mr Paul Murphy, again on suspicion of breaching the terms of his licence.

Murals in his Lower Shankill heartland depicting Billy Wright, Princess Diana and dead Catholics were said to have been completed on his orders.

The Maghaberry prison cell where he was held in virtual solitary confinement was decorated with a poster which read: "Kill 'em all. Let God sort 'em out".

© The Irish Times


What Next For Johnny Adair?

Mark Simpson
BBC News Ireland correspondent

The 'Mad Dog' has left with his tail between his legs

For once in his life, Johnny Adair has gone quietly.

No bold statements about what he is going to do next, no sinister muscle-flexing for the cameras and no raucous scenes of celebration outside the jail.

Instead, Adair slipped out of Maghaberry prison on Monday morning while no-one was watching.

He was whisked away by the authorities to a military helicopter which took him straight to Manchester, where he travelled on to be with his family in Bolton.

So is this the last we'll hear of Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair?

Those who know him say Adair will think carefully before daring to come back to Northern Ireland.

One key loyalist figure in Belfast said: "He still has a lot of sleepers here. These are people who will let him know what the score is, what would happen if he came back.

"He'll stay in Bolton for a while, take soundings, then work out in his own head what he's going to do.

In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake to come back - with the emphasis on grave

Unnamed loyalist commentator

Loyalist leader freed

"In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake to come back - with the emphasis on grave.

"But Johnny always likes to do his own thing."

It's clear the authorities would prefer him to stay in England. Hence, the VIP treatment on his release from prison.

The danger is that his release could re-ignite tensions within Northern Ireland's largest loyalist paramilitary group, the UDA.

In theory, the UDA is on ceasefire; in practice, they'd probably jump at the chance to kill Johnny Adair.

He was once a self-styled hero within the UDA, infamous for his brutality and hatred of Catholics.

Loyalist terror groups are notorious for many things - especially feuds - and the combination of Adair's huge ego and a UDA power-struggle was always going to be a lethal cocktail.

So it proved in early 2003 when internal relations exploded and a bloody feud broke out.

Adair had been released from a second spell in prison the previous year and had vowed to tread the path of peace. In the end, he went in the other direction, the direction he knows best.

The Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy received a security briefing that he was involved in directing terrorism, drugs, extortion and distributing weapons. Adair was put back behind bars in January 2003.

The next month, just when many people thought the UDA feud might be drawing to a close, two more men were murdered - one of them a high-ranking member of the UDA, John Gregg.

Adair's supporters were blamed.

On the day of Gregg's funeral, around 20 of Adair's closest followers - including his wife Gina and their four children - fled their homes and boarded a boat for Scotland.

Many of them later settled in Greater Manchester and came to be nicknamed the Bolton wanderers.

As for Adair, his Shankill Road power base crumbled overnight. His paramilitary wall murals were daubed with paint and Mad Dog was re-written as Sad Dog.

From that day on, it was always likely that Adair would go to England rather than risk returning to the Shankill.

He is still talking tough. He told Belfast's Sunday Life newspaper he was not worried about the possibility of UDA attacks.

He said: "The UDA sent out wee lads to kill me in the past.

"Any threat they make against me, I just take with a pinch of salt."

The bottom line, however, is that he is now in Bolton rather than Belfast.

As ever with Adair, it is better to judge him by his actions rather than his words.


Inquiry To Focus On Sisters Of Mercy Residences

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse resumes it public hearings this morning when its investigation committee begins an inquiry into residential institutions run by the Sisters of Mercy.

Today and tomorrow it will hear evidence from representatives of the congregation on the Our Lady of Succour industrial school, at Newtownforbes, Co Longford.

In March, the committee will begin its inquiry into the Goldenbridge orphanage, also run by the Sisters of Mercy and which was the subject of the ground breaking Dear Daughter programme broadcast on RTÉ television in 1996.

The Newtownforbes industrial school was at the centre of controversy in February 2003 when an advertisement was placed in newspapers asking people to come forward who had knowledge of the institution through professional, social or other contact, including those "who consider that their experience of life in the institution was positive".

The Aislinn group, which represents victims of abuse in residential institutions, accused the commission of inviting evidence from people who were "treated as pets" in the institutions while failing "to invite victims who encountered negative experiences to come forward".

Within 20 years of being established in 1831 the Sisters of Mercy had convents in all 26 dioceses in Ireland and were involved with orphanages from early on.

When the Industrial Schools Bill was passed in 1868, they changed designation of eight of these orphanages to such schools, and opened two more.

By 1884 they were running 27 industrial schools involving 2,246 children.

In 1941 that figure was 2,522. In 1971 they were running 16 industrial schools with 576 children- 241 boys and 335 girls. In 1977 care of the children was transferred to health boards, with the last being transferred in 2003.

At a preliminary hearing of the commission's investigation committee last July, Sister Breege O'Neill, congregational leader of the Sisters of Mercy, said there were "between 100 and 150 children" in each school, being cared for by four or five people, two to three of whom were sisters, working "seven days a week, 24 hours a day".

The congregation accepted fully its responsibility for abuse that occurred in its institutions, but other agencies had a responsibility as well, she said.

© The Irish Times


€70m Redevelopment Plan For Curragh

Niamh O'Donoghue

The Curragh racecourse, the home of the Irish Derby, is to receive a major facelift in a €70 million redevelopment.

The new-look Curragh will cater for 50,000 additional spectators and the current stand is to be demolished and replaced by a three-tier grandstand.

Plans have been submitted to Kildare County Council for the development, which will include a new 72-bedroom hotel.

Mr Paul Hensey, manager of the Curragh racecourse, said yesterday that the course would be undergoing a major transformation. "It's going to essentially create a new racecourse," he said.

Mr Hensey emphasised that there would be no disruption to race meetings during construction except for a few weeks in late 2007 and early 2008.

The idea behind the development is to ensure that the racecourse upholds its high racing standards while at the same time becoming more viable all year round by attracting weddings, conferences and other events.

"We have tentatively put in an opening date for spring 2008, but it really depends on the planning process," Mr Hensey said.

As part of the plan, the road which runs behind the grandstand will be incorporated into the development and a new road will be constructed around the facility. A new roundabout will also be built.

A donation of €15 million from the Aga Khan has enabled the Turf Club to buy the Stand House Hotel, which will be incorporated into the new enclosure. It will be kept open throughout the refurbishment but will eventually be replaced by a new hotel overlooking the racecourse.

Mr Dennis Egan, speaking on behalf of the Turf Club, pointed out that the club had some resources of its own but said that it hoped to receive grant-aid from Horse Racing Ireland.

"It's very much dependent on whether we get planning permission. We might be in a position to begin work in 2006 if we get permission next year, but the new road will have to be in place first."

Mr Hensey pointed out that there would be no alterations to the racetrack.

"That is sacrosanct. We have decided not to move anything. The racetrack has one of the best surfaces in the world. It is one of the fairest in the world. It's a big gallop and it suits most horses," he said.

The Turf Club submitted the plans for the new hotel on December 21st and a second application for the road on December 23rd.

It is currently preparing separate plans for the new grandstand.

© The Irish Times


TG4 Soon To Broadcast From Belfast

Jamie Smyth, Technology Reporter, in Belfast

The British and Irish governments plan to begin broadcasting TG4 from Belfast in the spring to extend the reach of the Irish-language channel to Northern Ireland's 167,000 Irish speakers.

The broadcasting deal is one of the last remaining provisions contained within the Belfast Agreement to be implemented by the two governments.

As part of that agreement in 1998, both governments agreed to "explore urgently the scope for achieving more widespread availability of Teilifís na Gaeilge in Northern Ireland".

The proposed international agreement between the British and Irish governments will enable TG4 to be broadcast from an analogue transmitter on Divis mountain, which overlooks Belfast, enabling all parts of the city and most of Northern Ireland to receive TG4 on standard television sets.

The communication company NTL has been awarded the contract to operate the Northern Ireland service and a planning application for the transmitter has recently been submitted for approval.

Both governments have agreed a suitable analogue channel on which TG4 can broadcast and have agreed to finance set-up costs of €130,000 and annual running costs of €23,000.

A spokesman for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahern, said yesterday the Minister hoped to be in a position to announce the official start-up date shortly and sign the necessary international agreement with the Northern Ireland Office.

Up until now, people living in many areas of the city have been unable to receive TG4, despite the recent strengthening of the RTÉ transmitter signal at Clermont Cairn, near Dundalk.

Irish-language lobby groups such as the Ultach Trust have argued for several years for the extension of TG4 to Northern Ireland. In the 2001 census in Northern Ireland, 167,000 people said they had a knowledge of the Irish language, suggesting there is an audience for the channel.

Mr Aodhán Mac Póilín, director of the Ultach Trust, said he welcomed the extension of TG4 to Northern Ireland, which would open the doors for all communities to watch the channel. He said it was not something that would be forced on communities but would be an "opt in" opportunity for people to watch the channel.

TG4's deputy chief executive, Mr Pádhraic Ó Ciardha, said the channel was looking forward to extending its service in Northern Ireland on a number of platforms, including satellite and cable.

It is understood that TG4 and RTÉ are also involved in detailed negotiations with British broadcasters and international firms that hold the copyright for overseas programming to enable both channels to be broadcast on the Sky satellite platform in Northern Ireland. Up until now both channels have failed to persuade copyright holders to allow them to broadcast in Northern Ireland without paying extra copyright fees. But it is hoped these negotiations could soon be concluded.

© The Irish Times

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005

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