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January 12, 2005

01/12/05 – Govt Defends Handling of Ferry Incident

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IE 01/12/05 Homeland Agency Defends Handling Of Ferry Incident
BB 01/12/05 SF 'Knew Nothing Of Raid Plans' -V
WT 01/12/05 Ulster MP Urges Bush To Bar Adams
BT 01/12/05 DUP Calls To Freeze Sinn Fein Assets
PI 01/12/05 Adams Says To Prepare To Resist Discrimination
CN 01/12/05 John Hume Wants IRA Info Released


Homeland Agency Defends Handling Of Ferry Incident

By Ray O'Hanlon

The overnight detention of former IRA man Ciaran Ferry was correct procedure, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Ferry was taken off a plane at Newark Airport four days before Christmas by Port Authority police and officers of the Transportation Security Administration as he was about to be deported from the U.S.

Ferry was under escort by federal officers from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the time. But his name was on a no-fly list operated by the TSA.

The Belfast man spent a night in Hudson County Correctional Center before being deported the next day.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that the system of intercepting people whose names were on the list was based on the principle of being better sure than sorry.

"It's a system that works," the DHS spokesman said.

He said that the public wanted to know that there was a process in place that examined plane passengers who were considered potentially undesirable or dangerous. It was better, he said, to cause inconvenience to one person, and in this also case a group of federal officers, rather than a whole planeload of passengers.

"We don't broadcast or publicize removals and it's easier to resolve matters locally, the spokesman said in regard to the apparent mix-up that resulted in Ferry being taken from his plane minutes before takeoff.

Asked if the agents escorting Ferry were armed, the spokesman said that the department did not discuss operational specifics such as whether agents carried weapons.


BBC video at:

SF 'Knew Nothing Of Raid Plans' -V

Sinn Fein's leadership did not have any prior knowledge of last month's £26.5m bank raid in Belfast, Martin McGuinness has said.

He said he took grave exception to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's claims that he and Gerry Adams knew anything about it.

"I would be a very disillusioned Irish republican if someone told me they were going to put a process I have put my life and soul into at risk," he said.

Mr McGuinness has already said he believed the IRA's denial of the raid.

Bertie Ahern said on Sunday he was convinced republicans were aware of the plan during intensive political talks in December.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said on Friday that he believed the IRA was behind the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said the chief constable would not have made the claims without evidence.

He said progress was possible in the Northern Ireland process but the IRA must stop all violence.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy told the Commons on Tuesday the impact of the bank raid on the political process was "deeply damaging".

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 two bank officials were held hostage.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/12 17:56:13 GMT


Ulster MP Urges Bush To Bar Adams

Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- An Ulster Unionist member of Parliament has called on U.S. President Bush to revoke the visa of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

David Burnside issued a statement calling for the action to be taken after the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it believed the Provisional Irish Republican Army was responsible for the theft of 26 million pounds ($48.8 million) from the Northern Bank in Belfast last month.

Adams is president of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.

"I call upon President Bush to take swift action and revoke Gerry Adams' visa so that he can no longer be allowed to make trips to the United States," Burnside said.

"One aspect of the War on Terror is to prevent international terrorist groups from having the funds to carry out their inhumane terror campaigns. In one felled swoop, the IRA have robbed 26 million pounds from a major bank in Northern Ireland and should be prevented from carrying out their fundraising activities in America."


DUP Calls To Freeze Sinn Fein Assets

By Chris Thornton
12 January 2005

A senior DUP member called today for Sinn Fein's assets to be frozen as part of a raft of sanctions he wants imposed in the wake of the Northern Bank robbery.

Because the IRA has been blamed for the robbery, Ian Paisley junior said Sinn Fein's funding should be locked down on both sides of the border, followed by "a thorough forensic examination" of their accounts.

Sinn Fein has repeatedly denied IRA involvement in the robbery, but Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the PSNI investigation has pointed to the Provos.

Mr Paisley said the Government should apply "immediate and specific measures" that would be seen to punish Sinn Fein for the crime."

He also wants parliamentary and local government perks halted for all Sinn Fein members, a complete ban on official contact with the party and the Sinn Fein barred from Stormont.

"Measures that indicate the severity of public sanction against those criminals and those associated with them deserve urgent consideration," he said.

Mr Paisley, a Policing Board member, said his package should be applied "until they return the stolen cash".


Adams Tells Party To Prepare To Resist Discrimination By Two Governments

Wednesday, January 12

Gerry Adams has given notice to Sinn Fein that the party must prepare to resist any campaign of discrimination by the two governments against its electorate. Speaking to An Phoblact the Sinn Féin President said:

“The process was in considerable difficulties following the DUP rejection of the comprehensive agreement in December. At that time there was an unprecedented opportunity to resolve all of the outstanding issues and see the Good Friday Agreement implemented. This foundered on an unachievable demand from Ian Paisley supported by the two governments. Despite this Sinn Féin continued to search for a way forward with the governments.

Then the Northern Bank robbery was seized upon by opponents of the process on the one hand and by opponents of Sinn Fein on the other to prevent any further progress.

The British government now appears to be considering a return to the failed policy of discrimination against Sinn Féin, and the Irish government for its own reasons appears to be in support of this.

Sinn Féin rejects any attack on our democratic and electoral mandate.

I have spoken to senior officials in both governments and made this very clear to them.

Despite all of our reservations and concerns as republicans Sinn Féin has been prepared to work with the British government in the common interest of building a lasting peace. That remains our focus and intention. However we will not acquiesce to the undermining of the rights and entitlements of our electorate.

We are also seriously concerned about the Taoiseach’s decision to attack Sinn Féin. His allegation that our leadership was aware in advance of the Northern Bank robbery creates difficulties in the working relationship between the Irish government and Sinn Fein.

I reject these accusations totally and I am disappointed that the Taoiseach didn’t raise any concerns he might have with me directly.

It is important that we all avoid knee-jerk reactions. The Sinn Féin leadership is currently assessing all of this, the implications of any attack on our mandate and our future role in the process.

Unless wiser counsel prevails short-sighted decisions by the governments could have profound implications.

In this context we are seeking meetings with the British and Irish governments next week.”


John Hume Wants IRA Info Released

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - The British and Irish governments should publish as much of their evidence as possible on the IRA's alleged robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast, a respected Catholic political leader said Wednesday.

John Hume, former leader of Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, said the public needs to know more about why both governments have pinned responsibility on the outlawed Irish Republican Army.

"Obviously, there may well be some information so sensitive that it cannot be revealed, but the more the public know the better," Hume said.

The governments' firm verdict of IRA involvement in the elaborate Dec. 20 raid - when a hostage-taking gang stole 26.5 million pounds (about $60 million Cdn), the biggest such robbery in history - has dashed efforts to revive a joint Catholic-Protestant administration in Northern Ireland involving Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party.

Both governments had spent the past year seeking to broker a new power-sharing deal as envisaged in Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord. But the effort required the IRA to halt all activities, including robberies and other crime, and the IRA refused. All sides now agree that the power-sharing talks are unlikely to get anywhere until 2006 at least.

Hume, who was a trailblazer in Northern Ireland's peace process by opening negotiations with Sinn Fein more than a decade ago, noted Sinn Fein's denial of IRA involvement in the robbery.

"However, their denials have not always been true in the past," Hume said. "The two governments should give the public as much information as they can on why they believe the IRA was responsible. That way the public will be able to draw their own conclusions on who is telling the truth."

Meanwhile, the 45-member detective team hunting the robbers announced that Northern Bank does not have a full record of the serial numbers of the newly printed currency stolen, an embarrassing admission that will make it harder to prevent that money from being laundered.

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005

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