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January 20, 2005

01/20/05 – Appeal to Stop Disbarment of Padragin Drinan

Padragin Drinan

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IM 01/20/05 Appeal To Stop Disbarment Of Rights Solicitor
SF 01/20/05 Speculation A Far Cry From Evidence
IO 01/20/05 Orde Will 'Quit If He's Wrong Over IRA Bank Raid'
BT 01/20/05 Saville Probe Contempt Man 'Is A Scapegoat'
BT 01/20/05 Council Switch Hints At May Election
SF 01/20/05 Sinn Féin Meps To Meet With Family Of Pat Finucane


Appeal To Stop Disbarment Of Rights Solicitor

by Shane OCurry - Pat Finucane Centre Thursday, Jan 20 2005, 3:43pm

Northern Irish Law Society Accused Of Political Bias In Move To Strike Padragin Drinan From Books

The Law Society of Northern Ireland are in the process of closing down the law practice of Padragin Drinan. She can no longer represent her clients and they are asking the High Court in Belfast to freeze her assets immediately.

The reasons given by Ms Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland for these actions depends on who is asking. She has told Padragin that it is because she failed to respond to letters from the society (Padragin maintains that she answered the questions fully in other correspondence). She has told others it is because Padragin had not amalgamated her practice with that of another solicitor. One person even got a call today saying, 'Watch what you're getting into, this is about financial irregularities". This is nonsense, as you need to be making money to be irregular with it, and a huge portion of Padragin's work is done 'pro bono' (for free).

Spearheading the appeal to defend Ms Nelson, one friend and colleague told this Indymedia reporter "Padragin has a long history of defending the dispossessed. She's a champion of the poor. She fights for those in society who have no voice. Immigrants, the residents groups, Dominic McGlinchey (raising his sons after their father's death), and above all she does what's right and speaks out against injustice no matter who is perpetrating that injustice".

She went on "What is needed at this moment is to get the word out to as many people as possible, unions, politicians and activist groups, and to ask them to contact Ms. Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland and ask her why Padragin is being persecuted. To ask her which of the three reasons given is the real reason Padragin's ability to practice has been taken away. Indeed what people should be asking is "is this not in fact punishment for the political orientation of her clientele? Is it not about the fact that she is trying to keep loyalists from again invading nationalist communities in the coming marching season?"

The spokeswoman promised that additional information would be forthcoming, but, until then, asked that concerned individuals and groups write to the address and email below and put the questions outlined above to Ms Bryson.

Padragin has taken cases that have made her enemies. The British and Irish Governments don't like her, not least because because of her stance against institutionalised sectarianism within the RUC/PSNI and the judicial system, and her challenge to the legality of the the 26 county racist citizenship referendum, by demonstrating that it disenfranchised the six counties and exposed the fact that people from the six counties who put themselves down as Irish could not get jobs in the civil service there. Anti-War activists will remember her as a legal observer on many a demonstration, including the march against Blair and Bush at Hillsborough and the various actions at Shannon.

In the North, she has also fallen out of favour with the GFA-supporting parties of every hue because her challenge to Orange marches in the nationalist community is seen as undermining deals to resurrect Stormont.

Unionist/loyalist political forces are naturally pissed off with her because of her association with issues impacting on the nationalist community, such as loyalist parades and sectarian attacks.

Readers are urged to contact Suzanne Bryson and tell her that they are aware of the witch-hunt against Padragin and want it to end.

Whether you agree with the politics of her clients or the orientation she appears to align herself with is of no consequence. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights to defend and enable lawyers to provide all citizens with legal defence.

Padraigin Drinan has, in the past, been subjected to numerous death threats and even attempts on her life. It is not inconceivable that the State, having decided that the tactic of rubbing out solicitors that they don't like - as they did in the still unresolved cases of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane - is too messy, and has therefore moved on to taking subtler and less politically costly measures, such as trying to discredit solicitors they consider too uppity and attempting to destroy their careers.

The spokeswoman said "Padragin Drinan may be the most important civil rights attorney practicing in the six counties today, please join in defending her and don't delay."

SUZANNE BRYSON - Deputy Secretary
Law Society of Northern Ireland
98 Victoria St
Belfast, Ireland BT1 3JZ


Gerry Kelly

Speculation A Far Cry From Evidence

Published: 20 January, 2005

Sinn Féin Policing Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly commenting on today's Policing Board meeting has said that speculation is a far cry from evidence.

Mr Kelly said:

"Today has been dominated by more speculation, more spin and more innuendo and also by a total lack of evidence.

"Remarks by Alex Attwood in particular represent the worst kind of political opportunism.

"If Hugh Orde has evidence he should produce it.

"If Alex Attwood has evidence now, let him produce it.

"Producing speculation and spin is a far cry from producing evidence." ENDS


Orde Will 'Quit If He's Wrong Over IRA Bank Raid'

20/01/2005 - 17:33:59

Hugh Orde will quit as Northern Ireland Chief Constable if his assessment of the IRA’s £26.5m (€38m) Belfast bank robbery is wrong, it was revealed tonight.

With top-level republicans now among the chief suspects, Mr Orde has admitted his career is on the line.

In a briefing to the authority holding him to account, the police chief admitted the huge stakes involved in the hunt for the gang behind the Northern Bank heist.

A Policing Board source said: “He went so far as to say if he got this one wrong his position would be untenable.”

But he was so convincing that both nationalist SDLP and Democratic Unionist representatives emerged from the two-hour meeting more assured than ever that the Provisionals carried out the raid.

DUP member Sammy Wilson said: “The one thing that was clear from the briefing given was that this would not have been done by people who were low-level operatives, nor indeed would they have taken the risk if it had not been sanctioned from higher up.”

Although officers raided the homes of prominent Belfast republicans in the aftermath of the December 20 robbery, no arrests have been made.

But sources involved in today’s meeting, who expressed surprise at the level of information Mr Orde was prepared to share, insisted his team of 45 detectives and 15 forensic experts were on the right trail.

One insider also disclosed that the chief constable gave an insight into the seniority of the people he believes carried out one of the world’s biggest-ever bank robberies.

“He didn’t actually name names but he might as well have and it goes higher than any of those whose homes were searched,” the source said.

Mr Orde’s public assessment that the Provisionals robbed the Northern’s cash distribution centre in Belfast in an audacious operation that involved taking two families hostage, shattered political attempts to restore the Stormont power-sharing administration.

Sinn Féin leaders were outraged and the IRA has issued statements denying any involvement.

But after today’s meeting SDLP representative Alex Attwood insisted: “I have no doubt whatsoever that his attribution in relation to this matter is correct and that this inquiry is proceeding properly.”

He added: “I believe that senior members of the republican movement, both those on the IRA side and those who position themselves as political representatives, the share of information was across that range of people.”

Detectives have established around 1,000 lines of inquiry, but have yet to make any arrests.

Mr Orde stressed, however, that his force did not need any extra resources in what has become the biggest investigation on their books.

Although any evidence collected was not disclosed to the board, he confirmed there had been significant cross-border co-operation before he went public by blaming the IRA.

“He said they hadn’t depended on their own intelligence, but material from the Irish Republic,” one source said.

“It was all fairly amicable, but at one stage he got so agitated by all the furore over him blaming the IRA that he said: ‘You’d think the PSNI robbed the Northern Bank’.”

Mr Orde left without making any comment, but board chairman Sir Desmond Rea said the briefing given by the chief constable and his assistant Sam Kinkaid had gone into significant detail.

He said: “Members I believe will leave the meeting much more informed.

“They will very much adopt the position that the Police Service of Northern Ireland should have the space to get on with the investigation.”

Senior Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly insisted nothing new had emerged to put the IRA in the frame for the robbery.

The North Belfast MLA said: “Speculation is no substitute for evidence.

“All this just adds to the idea that it (the blame) comes from the same source and all we had today was a publicity platform based on a meeting by the Policing Board.”


Saville Probe Contempt Man 'Is A Scapegoat'

Sinn Fein calls for prisoner's release.

By Sarah Brett
20 January 2005

Sinn Fein today called on Secretary of State Paul Murphy to secure the release of a Londonderry man jailed for contempt of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Martin 'Ducksie' Doherty was arrested yesterday morning at his Derry home after ignoring a subpoena to give evidence to the Saville tribunal.

Mr Doherty, who is known to the inquiry as PIRA 9 but has since waived his right to anonymity, refused to co-operate on the grounds that he was not on the march of January 30, 1972, when 13 people were shot dead by British Paratroopers.

Two weeks ago, the High Court in Belfast sentenced him to a three-month jail term.

His predicament has sparked outrage among republicans and the Bloody Sunday families who today demanded immediate intervention from Paul Murphy.

Speaking at a protest in Guildhall Square yesterday, Sinn Fein councillor and former hunger striker Raymond McCartney, said: "Mr Doherty is the only person who has been jailed over the events of Bloody Sunday and I believe he is being scapegoated by a vindictive British judicial system.

"Bloody Sunday was a huge injustice visited upon the people of Derry by the British Government and now they have committed another injustice upon Martin Doherty over the issue.

"I am calling on British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to use his powers and release Martin Doherty immediately and I am also calling on Dermot Ahern, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, to also use his influence to secure Mr Doherty's release."

The inquiry revealed yesterday that a Derry man, known as Witness X, is set to give evidence in the coming months.

Police allege that Witness X admitted to firing two magazines from a carbine rifle in a joint operation between the provisional and the official IRA on Bloody Sunday.

Witness X, a man in his early 50s who lives and works in the city, has dismissed this as total fabrication.

He has told the inquiry that he would prefer not to testify in Derry because his job takes him into loyalist areas.

It is understood the PSNI offered to let him testify from Maydown police station via video link to the inquiry, but he has declined.


Council Switch Hints At May Election

By Chris Thornton
20 January 2005

The Government today announced plans to move the date of Northern Ireland's local government elections - giving the clearest indication yet that the General Election will be held on May 5.

The move came as reports surfaced that independent Assembly member Kieran Deeny, a Tyrone GP, will challenge Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty for the West Tyrone seat. Dr Deeny is due to make an announcement on Monday.

NIO Minister John Spellar said the council election will be moved to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, but it now coincides with the favourite date for the expected General Election.

The last General Election, held in 2001, also coincided with Northern Ireland's council vote.

Politicians and electoral officials had been concerned that if the General Election is held on May 5, it would drive down turnout for the council election here due on May 18, and had lobbied ministers for the move.

The Government insists that no date has been decided for the General Election, but ministers have not previously lined up Northern Ireland's council elections with the rest of the UK.

The move will also change the council vote to a Thursday from a Wednesday. Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley has preferred a Wednesday vote to allow two weekdays for counting the transfer votes.

Mr Spellar said a shift to the first Thursday in May for the council elections will be permanent.

"The Government discussed this step in advance with both the Chief Electoral Officer of Northern Ireland and the Electoral Commission," Mr Spellar said.

Dr Deeny's entry into the West Tyrone race, where Sinn Fein vice-president Pat Doherty holds a majority of 5,000, could put pressure on other parties to stand aside.


Sinn Féin Meps To Meet With Family Of Pat Finucane

Published: 20 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún (6 Counties) and Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin) will tomorrow meet with the family of Pat Finucane at the offices of Madden and Finucane Solicitors in Belfast.

Speaking today Bairbre de Brún said that the purpose of the meeting was to "receive an update from the family on recent aspects of the case" Ms McDonald said that the meeting was an opportunity to ascertain "what we, as MEPs can do to assist the family in their search for the truth".

Both Ms de Brún and Ms McDonald will be available to speak to the media directly after meeting with the Finucane family at 2.15pm, outside the offices of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, Castle Street Belfast. ENDS

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

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