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January 17, 2005

01/17/05 – SDLP Departed From GFA

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

SF 01/17/05 SDLP Have Fundamentally Departed From GFA –A
IC 01/17/05 Adams Selected To Fight For West
SM 01/17/05 Paisley Demands Blair 'Ultimatum To IRA/Sinn Fein'
BB 01/17/05 Ministers To Discuss Bank Raid
BT 01/17/05 Sinn Fein Under Fire Despite Veiled Threat Of Violence
IP 01/17/05 Opin: Bank Robbery - Is History Repeating Itself
SL 01/17/05 UUP & SDLP: The Battle For Your Vote
IC 01/17/05 Andytown Barracks 1887-2005 Rest In Pieces
BB 01/17/05 Work Begins To Dismantle Station
IO 01/17/05 PSNI Blunder Caused Collapse Of Case Against Orangeman
IC 01/17/05 Anger Over McDowell’s Remarks On New Paper
BB 01/17/05 Arrest Over Schoolboy's Murder –A(3)
SL 01/17/05 Exclusive: Inside Mad Dog's Den
SL 01/17/05 Adair: £6,000 For After Dinner Speech Contract
UT 01/17/05 Bewley's Wine Bar?

RT 01/17/05 Speed Indications Go Metric In Three Days –AO

Speed Indications Go Metric In Three Days - Paul Tanney went to find out whether the signs - or the drivers - will be ready


Durkan says no question of falling in behind DUP - SDLP leader Mark Durkan says the Government needs to refocus, and include more than the Sinn Féin and the DUP in talks

SDLP Have Fundamentally Departed From Good Friday Agreement -A

Published: 16 January, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has said that weekend remarks by senior SDLP members Eddie McGrady and Alaister McDonnell indicating support for the DUP exclusion model of voluntary coalition showed clearly that the SDLP had departed fundamentally from the politics of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McLaughlin said: " The Good Friday Agreement was based upon respect for democratic mandates and on the principle of inclusivity. The DUP has always been hostile to these principles and to the Agreement itself. That is why they proposed the notion of a voluntary coalition excluding the majority of nationalist opinion from the process.

" This idea runs completely contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and was rejected outright in the negotiations which took place late last year. It is ironic that the SDLP who at that time criticised aspects of the December proposals have now decided to abandon the Good Friday Agreement entirely and instead breathe life into the failed DUP agenda of exclusion and discrimination. This is a fundamental departure from the politics of the Good Friday Agreement and the politics of conflict resolution.

" Nationalists will be dismayed at this change in the SDLP approach and will note the warm welcome which the weekend words of Eddie McGrady and Alaister McDonnell have received from Ian Paisley. Nationalist opinion has consistently lined up with the peace process and with the Good Friday Agreement. That remains the focus of Sinn Féin. We will continue to fight for the Agreement and we will not abandon the principles which underpin it for the failed rejectionist agenda offered by the DUPs so called voluntary coalition." ENDS


Adams Selected To Fight For West

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was unanimously nominated by the party’s West Belfast constituency organisation on Saturday to stand again for the party in the Westminster elections, widely expected to take place in May.

Accepting the nomination the Sinn Féin leader described his “great sense of honour in representing Sinn Féin and the people of West Belfast.”

Speaking after the event Mr Adams told the Andersonstown News: “The year ahead of us is going to be one of the most challenging republicans and nationalists will have faced in a very long time. Apart from the Westminster elections, there will be elections to the local councils also in May.

“In addition there is the ongoing crisis within the peace process and the mounting evidence that the British and Irish governments are preparing the ground for launching a campaign of discrimination against this party.

“Unhappily, some people never appear to learn. The work of building peace has never been helped by following the agenda set by Paisley and unionism or by those in the British system who are still in the business of trying to defeat Irish republicanism.

“For our part, Sinn Féin will not be deflected in our determination to advance the peace process and pursue our objective of Irish unity and independence.”

Mr Adams said that Sinn Féin is the only all-Ireland political party which seeks to effectively represent the rights of all the people of Ireland.

“Today, Sinn Féin is better positioned and better organised than ever before to advance the equality agenda and achieve Irish national independence.

“This year is also the centenary year of Sinn Féin. The party was established 100 years ago this November. And in the course of the next year, including here in West Belfast, there will be events to mark this important development.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Paisley Demands Blair 'Ultimatum To IRA/ Sinn Fein'

By Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor, PA

Prime Minster Tony Blair’s Government should exclude Sinn Fein from talks on the future of Northern Ireland until republicans wind down the IRA, the Rev Ian Paisley said today.

In a further toughening of his demands following claims that the IRA carried out the £26.5 million Northern bank raid in Belfast last month, the Democratic Unionist leader said the Government must give republicans a clear ultimatum.

“IRA/Sinn Fein must decommission all its terrorist weaponry in a manner that it totally transparent and with immediate photographic evidence to back it up,” the North Antrim MP said.

“This means that IRA/Sinn Fein as a terrorist army ceases to exist.

“Further, the criminal structures of IRA/Sinn Fein must be totally dismantled and proof of this must be demonstrated, without question, over a substantial period of time and accepted to be so by the law abiding population of Ulster.

“Until action on these matters is taken, the British Government must declare categorically that IRA/Sinn Fein have put themselves outside the negotiations and can have no place whatsoever in the executive government of Northern Ireland.”


Ministers To Discuss Bank Raid

Millions of pounds were stolen from the bank on 20 December

The £26.5m Northern Bank raid is expected to be discussed by Secretary of State Paul Murphy and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern in Dublin.

They are expected to discuss what action the British and Irish Governments should take in the wake of the robbery in Belfast last month.

Mr Murphy is also to meet Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell on Monday.

Last week, Mr McDowell launched a strong attack on Sinn Fein after the PSNI blamed the IRA for the robbery.

On Saturday, the SDLP MP Eddie McGrady said his party should examine the possibility of entering a coalition without Sinn Fein at Stormont.

Mr McGrady said his party should consider its options, and that nationalist voters had been "betrayed" by the IRA.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there was no rift in his party over the political process.

Mr Durkan said they wanted to go as far as they possibly could with inclusion.

"We didn't create this debate... in this process when people are canvassing ideas you have to deal with them," he said.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said all parties had to "assume collective responsibility" for resolving the problems in the process.

"We are not going away. At whatever point unionists decide they are coming back to the table, they will find Sinn Fein with a strengthened mandate waiting on them," he said.

At the weekend, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said if the IRA had carried out the Northern Bank raid it would have been "unacceptable".

The Democratic Unionist Party has called for the removal of allowances and privileges at Westminster from Sinn Fein's four MPs.

It follows an assessment by the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde that the IRA was behind the raid on the bank head office in Belfast on 20 December.


Sinn Fein Under Fire Despite Veiled Threat Of Violence

By Brian Dowling
17 January 2005

Pressure intensified on Sinn Fein last night when Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern warned that the party had to decide whether or not it was totally committed to democratic politics.

And despite repeated denials by the Sinn Fein leadership that it was unaware of IRA plans to stage the recent Northern Bank robbery, Mr Ahern bluntly declared: "Sinn Fein cannot adopt the attitude that it is innocent in all of this."

Earlier, Sinn Fein MP and chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, had warned that the Irish and British governments would be moving "onto dangerous ground" if they attempted to discriminate against his party over the robbery.

His remarks were seen in some political circles as an implied threat that the IRA would resort to going back to a campaign of violence but the Government and other parties sought to play this down.

Insisting that he believed the IRA was not involved in the ?38m robbery, Mr McGuinness said: "If the IRA had been involved . . . there would have been a defining moment in Sinn Fein's leadership's work with the IRA. It would have been totally and absolutely unacceptable to me., However, the Foreign Affairs Minister refused to accept that there was no involvement by the IRA in the bank heist.

"There is nobody on either side of the border who believes that the robbery was caused by someone other than those people associated with the IRA in some shape or form," he said.

Mr Ahern said it was well known, particularly in Northern areas, that leading IRA members had been involved in criminal activity.

He repeated that the crucial issue was for Sinn Fein to decide whether they wished to become solely a political party and whether criminal activity by the IRA would stop.

"They must decide: are they up for full politics or are they not? We need an end to the criminal acts associated with the IRA. They need to state categorically, once and for all, there is to be an end of criminal acts associated with the activities of the IRA," the minister said.

However, he stressed that the efforts to restore devolved government in the North would continue. Today he will meet the Northern Secretary, Paul Murphy, in Dublin to assess the fall-out from the robbery.

"We need to protect the gains that we have already achieved, we need to examine new avenues and we can't ignore - and neither can Sinn Fein, or indeed the DUP - the principles of the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Ahern said yesterday.

He added: "What we achieved in the run up to the end of last year was extremely significant and we can't go back and do away with those gains. We need to look forward."

The Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, also said it was time for Sinn Fein to make a final decision on whether it wanted to engage fully in democratic politics like every other party.

Mr Rabbitte said that Sinn Fein had made political gains, North and South, but that parties in the Republic had "turned a blind eye" to some IRA activities in the belief that republicans were in transition and serious about an end to all paramilitary activity. They have not, he said, delivered on that.


Opin: Week In Review - The Northern Bank Heist- Is History Repeating Itself

By Roy McCann

One question dominated the headlines over the seasonal period; who stole £26.5m ($42m) from The Northern Bank head office in Belfast and triggered the biggest crisis in the peace process since the collapse of the IRA ceasefire in 1996?

One joke doing the rounds in nationalist areas is that the Northern Bank robbery couldn’t possibly have been the work of loyalists; otherwise, they'd have turned their guns on each other before the getaway van left the bank.

Similarly dismissed, along with the perpetually feuding loyalists, were dissident republicans, who despite a wave of firebomb attacks over the holidays have proven so inept at conducting armed struggle they make the Boy Scouts look dangerous.

Initially, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which is rapidly becoming a caricature of the Keystone Cops, declared that up to five organizations were capable of mounting such a daring robbery, then, with the impartiality of a Shankill Road Orangeman, they promptly raided the homes of two former IRA prisoners in North and West Belfast. During the searches, they tore wrapping from presents under Christmas trees and confiscated items from each household for analysis.

In scenes reminiscent of the Stormontgate fiasco, in which images of heavily armed PSNI officers raiding Sinn Fein government offices were beamed worldwide after allegations of IRA spying, the political nature of these raids was exposed by the presence of an alerted media in position to maximize focus on republican involvement.

Further raids in republican areas took place over the next few days. Incensed nationalists vented frustration on the unpopular invaders and several policemen were injured by stones and bottles thrown by the angry crowd. The search yielded no evidence; however, a police service revolver was later reported missing in the melee.

Despite a senior IRA source denying responsibility for the robbery, Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, in a blatant act of politicking blamed the IRA without offering any explanation or evidence to support his conclusion.

Orde’s allegations were like a match to a stick of dynamite. Unionists demanded the exclusion of Sinn Fein from the political process. The rabid anti-republican and 26- County Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, said he had no reason to doubt the Brit policeman’s accusation and claimed Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were not committed to peace.

Bertie Ahern decried republicans as untrustworthy and insinuated the ‘leadership” had advance knowledge of the robbery even while they engaged with himself and the British Prime Minister, a claim angrily refuted by McGuinness, who said the IRA had told him they didn’t do it and rejected any suggestions of “double dealing or dishonesty by Gerry Adams or myself,"

Later, on BBC Ulster’s ‘Talkback’ program, McGuinness alluded to the fact that many radicals in the nationalist community secretly wishing the IRA carried out the robbery are going to be disappointed. McGuinness went on to ask people to question whose purpose is served by this robbery and blamed ‘securocrats’ attempting to destabilize the peace process.

While the IRA possesses the manpower, intelligence and operational capabilities to carry out such a well organized heist, no one has postulated a credible theory as to why the army would countenance such an operation at a critical time in the peace process, especially when an IRA statement indicating a willingness to decommission and go into a new mode to advance the all-Ireland agenda and re-establishment of the political institutions was being constructed.

By completely ignoring the fundamental premise of justice, innocent until proven guilty, the rush to judgment by the North’s head cop indicates a political bias that may have more to do with embarrassing republicans and thwarting the growing popularity of Sinn Fein across the island of Ireland, particularly in this year, the centennial anniversary of the party when significant commemorative events are planned to coincide with a membership recruitment drive throughout all 32 counties.

The rapid acceptance of the unsubstantiated allegations made by a British policeman by politicians in the 26 counties indicates their apprehension to the growth of Sinn Fein as a viable 32 county political alternative to establishment parties.

Ironically, the bank robbery coincided with the release of secret government papers from 1974. The documents, detailing the rising apprehension of the southern government to the chaos in the north spiraling over to the south, illustrated the reluctance of the 26- county government to intervene in the conflict.

Coincidentally, 1974 was also the year that Kenneth and Keith Littlejohn were jailed for robbing £67,000 from a Dublin bank - the biggest to date at that time in Irish history.

During their trial the Littlejohn’s claimed they were working for the British Government against the IRA. They said they had been told to stage the robbery to discredit the republican organization, claims backed by former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, who admitted he had been given diplomatic reports from the British authorities in January 1973 about the UK's contact with the Littlejohn brothers.

There’s an old saying that when you point a finger, there’s three pointing back at you. Perhaps Hugh Orde needs to look a little closer to home before he starts wagging in the direction of a determined and resilient Irish republican organization.


The Battle For Your Vote

These are nervous times for the SDLP and Ulster Unionist Party. They dominated Northern Ireland politics until recently, but with the General Election expected in May, both are fighting to avoid a Westminister "wipe out". Joe Oliver and Pauline Reynolds report.

17 January 2005

'We are staring into the abyss'

By Joe Oliver

SENIOR figures in the Ulster Unionist Party have spent the New Year trying to persuade wavering MPs, MLAs and local councillors not to re-ignite the frenzy of speculation over David Trimble's future.

Nerves are jangling in the party at the possibility of near "wipe out" in the coming General Election, which seems likely to be held in early May.

Trimble's backers argue that he has come through his period of turmoil, and finally established his authority as leader.

But there are still dark mutterings among the grassroots, as the party prepares for both the Westminster and local government elections in May - and possible political oblivion.

One MLA, a long-term Trimble loyalist, summed up the party's predicament when he admitted: "There has been a seismic shift in unionism, and we are still trying to get to grips with it.

"Make no mistake, we are staring into the abyss, and only by returning to honourable and principled policies can we avoid the fatal leap."

Another close ally of Mr Trimble insisted: "The last thing we need at this point is yet more speculation about when, and if, David will go.

"There is a very real danger these things become self-fulfilling prophecies, and that would be disastrous.

"People need to put the past where it belongs, and concentrate on restoring unionism to its traditional management."

But if the UUP is not exactly overjoyed at the looming date with the ballot box, the DUP's attitude couldn't be more different.

Bring it on, say the party's hierarchy, in the wake of a series of unprecedented election triumphs.

One internal document, drawn up by party strategists as Ian Paisley attempted to hammer out an unlikely agreement with Sinn Fein, confidently predicted they could relieve the UUP of up to 50 local council seats and, perhaps, three Westminster seats.

That would leave David Trimble's party with just two Westminster seats, devastating for a party that won 10 out of the 18 seats, in 1997.

The UUP has traditionally dominated the Ulster benches in the House of Commons - but now the party has just five MPs - David Trimble (Upper Bann) Roy Beggs (East Antrim), David Burnside (South Antrim), Martin Smyth (South Belfast) and Lady Sylvia Hermon (North Down).

The DUP has six - Ian Paisley (North Antrim), Peter Robinson (East Belfast), Nigel Dodds (North Belfast), Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry), Iris Robinson (Strangford) and Jeffrey Donaldson, who won Lagan Valley as a UUP man, but later defected to the DUP.

But having spent many hours pouring over the Assembly and European election results, the DUP believes it can now dominate the Westminster map.

They are targeting and pouring resources into three constituencies.

Target one is EAST ANTRIM.

The UUP's Roy Beggs has held it since the seat was created in 1983. But at the 2001 general election his majority over Sammy Wilson, who is now resident in the constituency, was slashed to a wafer-thin 128 votes.

Target two is UPPER BANN, where the DUP are confident they can take the most prized scalp of all, David Trimble's own seat.

The UUP leader held on with a greatly reduced majority at the last election, but as his opponent David Simpson pointed out, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

"We believe the boatman will be telling David to 'come in, your time is up'", said his rival, even though the former First Minister comfortably topped the Assembly poll ahead of Mr Simpson.

The third main target is SOUTH ANTRIM, held by Trimble critic David Burnside.

Unionist hardliner Burnside defeated the DUP's Willie McCrea in 2001, after McCrea had held the seat for less than nine months, having won it in the by-election caused by the death of veteran UUP man, Clifford Forsyth.

However, even the DUP concede that it will be a close-run thing.

SOUTH BELFAST could become another unionist battleground, but only if sitting MP Martin Smyth, a politician widely admired within DUP ranks, decides not to run.

In that situation, many in the DUP would like to see Diane Dodds in the fray, although by splitting the vote with the nominated UUP candidate, it could let in the SDLP.

The Ulster Unionists believe their safest seat is NORTH DOWN, where Lady Sylvia Hermon is the sitting MP.

She ousted the UKUP leader, Bob McCartney, with a majority of 7,324 in 2001, but was facilitated by the decision of the Alliance Party not to run.

It is not yet known if Mr McCartney will stand in 2005.

If the anti-Agreement stalwart does stand, it would create difficulties for DUP candidate, Peter Weir.

But Lady Sylvia knows that her own vote could be hit this time round too, as Alliance will also be in the frame.

The DUP gamble in talking up the elections could, of course, backfire.

One lifelong UUP member choose his words carefully when he explained: "Where there's life there's hope, and that's the position we have to start from.

"We probably could lose two Westminster seats."

"But," he added optimistically, "we could gain from the DUP, with Reg Empey in East Belfast, and we can take Fermanagh and South Tyrone."

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew took the Fermanagh seat with a majority of just 53 last time, over the UUP's James Cooper. "Remember, the DUP was always the party that said 'no' and then changed its mind?we can only hope the electorate remember that, when they have their say in May," added the hopeful Ulster Unionist.

The SDLP's a charisma-free zone

By Pauline Reynolds

SINN Fein's slump in credibility after the multi-million pound Northern Bank raid will not damage its performance in the Westminster election, predicts one political pundit.

Dr Brian Feeney believes the party will continue to race ahead in its battle with the SDLP, increasing its representation from four to at least five MPs.

He says the £26.5m robbery - which has been blamed on the IRA - will have no bearing on the ballot box.

In the 2001 Westminster election, Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP to become the leading voice of nationalism.

And that looks unlikely to change.

Dr Feeney believes the electorate will be influenced by one simple thing - local people dealing with local issues.

And that's what Sinn Fein has in abundance.

"It's not the Northern Bank raid, and it's not matters like Stormontgate, which affect how people vote," said the political author and observer.

"They want support at grassroots level, and they want to know personally who they're voting for, and what they're doing for their communities - that's exactly what Sinn Fein offers.

"The problem with the SDLP is that it has become a charisma-free zone.

"And it's even having trouble finding candidates for the forthcoming local elections, so what chance will it have at Westminster?

"Three months is a long time in politics and by the time the May General Election arrives, the Northern Bank raid will be forgotten.

"From past experience, it looks like it will all blow over."

There are key battlegrounds for the republican/nationalist vote in the forthcoming Westminster election.

Dr Feeney is convinced that Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin will just about snatch the seat in FOYLE, previously held by John Hume, and now contested by Mark Durkan.

"It will be a close one, as I suspect Durkan will get a lot of unionist votes," he said.

"But I think Sinn Fein will really go for this seat, in an attempt to oust the party leader."

Foyle has a large Catholic majority, and John Hume holds a comfortable majority of 12,000 over McLaughlin

SOUTH DOWN is another key seat. Veteran SDLP vote puller, Eddie McGrady, will face a challenge from Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane.

He has held the Westminster seat for 18 years, and took a majority of 14,000 in the 2001 election, over Sinn Fein's Mick Murphy.

But Sinn Fein has been building support in this constituency, with their share of the vote rising from 15pc in the 1998 Assembly election to 26pc, last year.

However, McGrady is likely to retain his seat.

With Ruane's involvement with the Colombian Three, and her staunch nationalist background, many unionists are expected to vote for McGrady, just to help keep her out.

To win this seat, she'll need to bridge a gap of 3,915 votes, which stood between her party and the SDLP in the 2003 Assembly elections.

And there's been another interesting development, this time in FERMANAGH/ SOUTH TYRONE, with the DUP considering an Ulster Unionist candidate's call for an electoral pact.

Danny Kennedy, MLA, has suggested they combine forces to "unseat or deny republicans access to Westminster."

The only constituency where a pact could have any significant force against Sinn Fein is in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew just about wrestled the seat from the UUP's James Cooper, by 53 votes, in 2001.

However, a single unionist candidate could conceivably steal this, depending on the turnout, and whether the SDLP stand against Gildernew.

Another area which should turn into a lively political battleground is NEWRY AND ARMAGH.

With the retirement of Seamus Mallon, the SDLP has selected Assembly member, Dominic Bradley, to defend his Westminster seat from an expected battering by Sinn Fein.

The last election was closely contested by the two parties, with Mallon's majority over Sinn Fein falling from 43pc in the 1997 election to 37pc in 2001.

Only 3,500 votes split the parties.

Sinn Fein dominated last year's Assembly election in this area, finishing 7,000 votes ahead of the SDLP.

There's not likely to be much change in the outcome of the other three nationalist constituencies, WEST BELFAST, WEST TYRONE and MID ULSTER, where Gerry Adams, Pat Doherty and Martin McGuinness look to be safe bets.

Overall, Dr Feeney believes the SDLP has a lot of ground to make up, after its battering in the Assembly and European elections.


Good Riddance

Andytown Barracks 1887-2005 Rest In Pieces - Local Fortress Comes Tumbling Down At Last.


Onlookers and residents gathered yesterday, many with cameras, to witness the first stages of the demolition of Andersonstown PSNI barracks.

The historic process began with the removal of the huge telecommunications mast and will result in the building’s permanent closure next Sunday and its total demolition the following month.

With the Falls Road cordoned off around the barracks, contractors under heavy PSNI supervision spent the day dismantling the mast, piece by piece.

The removal of the barracks, which for decades has cast a long shadow over the West Belfast landscape, has been applauded by local residents and politicians alike, with talk already beginning on redevelopment plans for the controversial site.

SDLP MLA for West Belfast, Alex Attwood, stressed the role of the Policing Board in the demolition.

"Only six weeks ago the Board decided to close Andersonstown and quickly the police have moved to vacate the site,” he said. "In one swoop, the Board and the police have done more to normalise policing than others who have spent months negotiating and normalised nothing."

But Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Michael Ferguson, dismissed any notion that the Policing Board had had any impact.

Referring to the recent development of the ‘super-barracks’ on the Springfield Road, he said that it had "always been the intention" to demolish the now obsolete Andersonstown Road site.

And the Assembly member reflected on the negative memories that the barracks had for the local community.

"It was always the place from which the British army and RUC launched attacks on the community. There were tortures carried out in that place, and it was from there that they raided and wrecked people’s homes in the area. We can now look forward to a more positive usage for that site."

Andersonstown PSNI station has been operating limited opening hours since July last year while policing has been based at other stations in the area for over 18 months. The district is now covered by, Grosvenor Road, Woodbourne and New Barnsley PSNI stations.

Andersonstown PSNI station was established in 1887 to replace Hannahstown in the Lisburn district.

The station has been part of the West Belfast district from 1897.

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz


Work Begins To Dismantle Station

Work is under way to dismantle one of the most frequently bombed police stations in Northern Ireland.

A communications mast at Andersonstown police station is being removed, ahead of its closure on 23 January.

Demolition of the west Belfast station will begin in mid February, and then the site will be put up for sale.

Its closure was endorsed by the Policing Board in December 2004, following a recommendation by the local district commander last June.

The station has operated limited opening hours since July 2004 and all community policing has been based at other stations in the area for more than 18 months.

The district police commander, Chief Superintendent David Boultwood, said policing had "changed dramatically" since the building was established.

"Andersonstown police station is no longer fit for purpose and its closure next weekend will assist us in consolidating our resources," he said.

"This consolidation will assist in the provision of a more efficient, effective and accountable police service to the people of west Belfast."

The station has been prominent during 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In May 1983, a 1,000lb IRA car bomb exploded causing an estimated £1m of damage at the station.

In 2001, an 11-week-old girl was injured after the car she was travelling in was hit by shrapnel during an attack on the station by the dissident republican Real IRA.

SDLP West Belfast MLA and Policing Board member Alex Attwood said the move towards closing it was further proof of the power of the board.

"Only six weeks ago the board decided to close Andersonstown and quickly the police have moved to vacate the site," he said.

"In one swoop, the board and the police have done more to normalise policing than others who have spent months negotiating and normalised nothing."

He said the site now needed a "landmark building representing the future".

Grosvenor Road, Woodbourne and New Barnsley police stations will continue to provide a service to the people of west Belfast.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/17 07:35:31 GMT


PSNI Blunder Caused Collapse Of Case Against Senior Orangeman

17/01/2005 - 11:23:09

A PSNI paperwork blunder led to the collapse of public order case against a senior Orangeman, according to a report by the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan.

The PSNI had recommended that charges be levelled against the man after a controversial Orange Order march through the so-called "peaceline" in west Belfast in 2003.

The marchers had ignored a Parades Commission ruling banning them from flying paramilitary regalia and playing sectarian music.

In her report into the matter, Ms O'Loan said a combination of human error and computer mistakes had caused the case against the Orangeman to collapse.

She called for procedural improvements to ensure there is no repeat of the blunder, but did not recommend disciplinary action and said there was no evidence of any criminal activity by the police.


Anger Over McDowell’s Remarks On New Paper

A senior figure in the Andersonstown News Group has hit back robustly following controversial remarks made last week by Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell about the Group’s new paper, Daily Ireland which launches on 1 February.

In a statement posted on the Department of Justice official website on Thursday night last, Minister McDowell accused some journalists of pandering to the IRA and attacked Daily Ireland.

NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley reacted angrily to the statement. He said it was an outrage that the Minister “should be guilty of mutilating his language to such an extent that the lives of journalists could be put at risk.”

The attack by Minister McDowell has been rebuffed by Andersonstown News Group Managing Director Mairtín Ó Muilleoir.

“I met our lawyers on Friday afternoon to discuss this attack on our reputation and our standing in the community. I have informed Irish government representatives of my outrage that this statement should have been made. I have also written to Minister Michael McDowell to seek a meeting with him in regard to his scurrilous and dangerous comments about our new national daily newspaper Daily Ireland.

“The Andersonstown News Group, which is behind the Daily Ireland project, is well known for its nationalist views and as a business success story. As an Investor in People company, audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the publisher of national and local titles, we stand on our record of community service and of consummate probity in all our business affairs.

“Daily Ireland will be assertively pro-United Ireland, anti-violence domestically and internationally, and pro-peace process. That combination has led to attacks from extremists North and South. It has also led to a series of death threats against our newspaper group from loyalist paramilitaries.

“The Minister’s statement increases the risk to our staff as they go about their work but the Minister must know that we will publish this newspaper.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Man arrested in Holohan investigation - Supt Kevin Donohue spoke to reporters, but gave little additional detail

Sinead Crowley reports from Midleton on the arrest last night of a 20-year-old

Paul Reynolds, Crime Correspondent, outlines the few details the gardaí have been prepared to release about the young man arrested last night

Arrest Over Schoolboy's Murder –A(3)

A man has been arrested over the murder of the Cork schoolboy Robert Holohan.

Gardai said the 20-year-old was detained in the Midleton area on Sunday night.

On Saturday, thousands of people attended the funeral of the 11-year-old, whose body was discovered near Inch Strand in east Cork.

The Midleton boy had died from asphyxiation. Gardai said that there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Among the mourners at his funeral were political figures and volunteers who took part in the search for the child.

Robert's body was found in dense woodland about seven miles from where he went missing. Detectives began a murder inquiry as they try to piece together when and where he died.

Gardai are continuing to search the area where his body was found.

Hundreds lined the main street of Midletown as Robert's body was brought from the family home to the Holy Rosary Church in the town.

The church was filled to capacity while thousands more gathered outside.

Father Billy O'Donovan, said 4 January, the day Robert disappeared, would live long in the nation's memory.

He told the congregation that the schoolboy's parents, Mark and Najella, had the support of the country.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/17 07:30:48 GMT


Exclusive: Inside Mad Dog's Den

UP AGAINST THE WALL, JOHNNY: Adair builds shrine to terror in his bolt-hole in Bolton...

By Stephen Breen
17 January 2005

FREED ex-terror chief Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair last night taunted his bitter UDA enemies from his new Bolton home, declaring: "He who laughs last, laughs the longest."

In his first interview since his release last week, the former UFF godfather claimed his freedom had sent UDA leaders' heads "spinning".

But even as he was baiting his former comrades, Manchester police arrived at the door of his terraced home to warn that loyalists were planning to kill him in the coming weeks.

Adair told Sunday Life: "The last two years have been the worst of my life, but I'm a free man again, and that's the main thing.

"I will always be the same Johnny Adair - and they (the UDA leadership) know it.

"The mystery of not knowing what a man can do, can drive another man paranoid and crazy."

During the two-hour interview, Adair talked about:

:: How Nazis from Germany travelled to Bolton to support him, after his release from prison.

:: His vicious feud with the UDA.

:: His plans for the future.

The feared loyalist was reunited with wife Gina and family last Monday, at his new home in the north west of England.

It took Adair just one second to dismiss the latest threat to his life - delivered to his door by local police - and continue his verbal attack on the UDA leadership, calling them "pimps", "rapists" and "gangsters".

But he added: "I am going to spend some quality time with my family, before deciding on my next move.

"I know I have said that I intend to return home, and this still remains my plan.

"But I'm not going to tell Sunday Life what I will be doing, or where I will be going.

"I have only been here for just under a week, and I have already received two death threats (delivered) from the police, but I'm going to get on with it and just keep my head down."

The arrival of the notorious loyalist, in the Horwich area of Bolton, has understandably alarmed his new neighbours.

But he claimed: "The people of Bolton have nothing to fear from Johnny Adair."

He also dismissed a report that his former associate, John White, had been in contact with him since his arrival in the Lancashire town.

Of the two years he spent on his own in the women's wing at Maghaberry, he said: "It was the worst two years of my life, and I just counted down the days until I could be reunited with my family again.

"While I was in jail, my wife was diagnosed with cancer and criminals were trying to kill my family, but I couldn't do anything about it because I was behind bars.

"However, thoughts of being reunited with my family kept me going.

"I was offered the chance to stay in areas all around Northern Ireland, but my priority all along was to be with my family.

"I am a free man again. I haven't had time to think about the future yet, but I will."

Adair, who, as a youth, played in a skinhead rock band, appeared flattered that a group of German neo-Nazis had travelled over to Bolton wearing Johnny Adair T-shirts.

"I don't know what their political beliefs are," he claimed.

"But I'm not going to turn anyone away from my door, if they are here to support me.

"These Germans have a great interest in the history of Northern Ireland, and they are great supporters of loyalism . . . and of Johnny Adair," he said.

He added that he was angry at reports he was set to inform Special Branch about the activities of the UDA's so-called 'inner council' leaders during the Troubles, in a bid to set up a new life for himself in Spain.

He said mockingly: "How on earth can I do this, when the current UDA leadership have never been directly involved in the war against republicans during the conflict?

"How can you inform on nothing?

"They can put a bomb outside people's homes in the Shankill, but I don't ever recall them placing a bomb outside any Sinn Fein office.

"These people have done more damage to their own community, and I still believe they were planted by British Intelligence to 'divide and conquer'."

The UDA leadership blame Adair for the murder of top loyalist John 'Grug' Gregg, claim he ran a drug dealing criminal empire, and split the group through his ambition to take it over.

Adair, however, remains defiant, even taunting the UDA over the IRA's £26.5m Northern heist.

"I'm glad the IRA is robbing banks instead of placing massive car bombs in Belfast city centre.

"It just goes to show you how the Provos steal millions. . . while the criminals in the UDA can only steal about £26 from a local post office!" he said


£6,000 For After Dinner Speech Contract

By Stephen Breen

17 January 2005

JOHNNY Adair revealed he has been offered a £6,000 contract by the 'Max Clifford' of the underworld.

Adair says he is yet to give an answer to controversial agent, Stephen Richards, who thinks Mad Dog can earn big money as a hardman celebrity who "would eat Vinnie Jones for breakfast".

Richards - whose motto is "making crime pay" - wants to secure the Shankill loyalist, as one of his many infamous clients.

"Someone like Johnny Adair has a fascinating story to tell, and we have been interested in talking to him for some time," said Richards.

"People like Johnny Adair would eat Vinnie Jones for breakfast, and I'm sure his story would be of great interest to many people."

The crime author, who also acts as an agent for graveyard killer, Michael Stone, is the promoter of a website -

And, just days after Adair's release from Maghaberry Prison, he was boasting on the site that the notorious loyalist is now available for hire.

The website claims the ex-UFF man is available for "films, event launches, parties, after dinner speaking, anti-terrorist security advice and political questioning".

But Adair told Sunday Life: "Richards wrote to me in jail, offering me £6,000, to sign a contract with him.

"But I've never met him, and I haven't given his offer much thought."

Richards previously provoked outrage in England, when he released a video of psycho jailbird, Charles Bronson, taking a prison officer hostage.

He told Sunday Life he had already received requests about Adair.

Said Richards: "Now that Johnny has been released from prison, we can hopefully get to meet him properly, about Crimebiz.

"One of our main aims would be to get Johnny, Michael Stone and Brighton bomber, Patrick Magee, on the same platform during 2005."

However, Belfast Lord Mayor, Tom Ekin, was "disgusted" over the plans.

He said: "I am appalled someone like Johnny Adair could gain from the crimes he has committed against the decent people of Northern Ireland.

"If he does profit from his criminality, and the time he spent as a terrorist leader, then maybe this is a matter for the Assets Recovery Agency."

Crimebiz's clients include gangster Freddie Foreman, drugs smuggler Howard Marks and great train robber, Bruce Reynolds.


Bewley's Wine Bar?

The former Bewley's Cafe in Grafton Street could be redeveloped as a wine bar café, according to reports this morning.

The owners of a leading restaurant and pub chain are understood to be at an advanced stage of negotiations with the Campbell Bewley group about the venture.

The business duo leading the bid own the Café Bar Deli restaurant chain, as well as Dublin`s Rí Rá nightclub and the Savoy club in Cork.

Bewley`s is insisting on retaining a front-of-house retail store in the proposed new café.

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