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January 20, 2005

01/20/05 – US Will Allow Adams’ St. Patrick’s Visit

President Bush, Congressman King and Gerry Adams share a light moment after discussing the Irish Peace Process at the annual Speaker's St. Patrick's Day Lunch.
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Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

BT 01/20/05 US Will Allow St Pat's Visit From Adams
BT 01/20/05 Where Are The Colombia 3?
BT 01/20/05 New Terms For Talks With Adams
UT 01/20/05 Sinn Fein Funding Case
UT 01/20/05 Justice Oversight Commissioner's Report
IO 01/20/05 UDA Seeking €101.1m To End Illegal Activity
SM 01/20/05 Government's Talks With UDA Under Fire
BB 01/20/05 NI Raid 'Suspects' On Police List
BT 01/20/05 Bank Heist Pressure On Orde
EX 01/20/05 Ahern 'Won't Apologise To Sinn Féin'
BT 01/20/05 Orange Halls' Rates Policy Attacked
BT 01/20/05 Murphy Accused Of 'Giving Control To Criminals'
DR 01/20/05 Green Light For Scottish Bloody Sunday March
BT 01/20/05 Six-Month Sentence For Threat Man
BT 01/20/05 New Toilets For Rathlin

BB 01/20/05 AI Discusses Human Rights Under Bush -AO

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan and Chairman of the Atlantic Partnership Lord Powell discuss America's human rights record under George Bush.


US Will Allow St Pat's Visit From Adams

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
20 January 2005

The US government will not block Gerry Adams from attending the St Patrick's Day festivities in Washington, a senior government official familiar with Irish issues has said.

His comments follow an article in the New York Sun newspaper which suggested that the Bush administration may try to block Adams from entering the US because of the Northern Bank cash heist.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss is looking forward to St Patrick's week as the next possible chance for the US government to discuss the political situation with the political parties.

The official said that Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders will not be blocked from entering the US unless it can be shown that they were aware of the Northern Bank heist.

As he outlined in his inaugural speech yesterday, Bush is keen to be shown as a uniter in his second term and is very keen for any kind of foreign political settlement that can improve the US government's standing as a peacemaker.

The US is, therefore, unlikely to block Sinn Fein leaders from travelling, and suffer the anger of Irish Americans, without clear evidence of wrongdoing supplied by the British government.

The official said the removal of rights to enter the US is not determined by membership of any specific organisation but is usually based on past criminal record.

Mr Adams would most likely not be banned from the country because of his known links to the IRA and would only be stopped if it can shown that he was still involved in criminal activity, he said.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss was unavailable for comment on the Adams visa issue.


Where Are The Colombia 3?

Supporters plan appeal to US-based body

By Ben Lowry
20 January 2005

The whereabouts of the three republicans convicted of training terrorists in South America remained a mystery today, as their supporters "actively" consider an appeal to a pan-American body.

Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly have been on the run since last month, when they were sentenced to 17 years in prison in Colombia.

When asked today about the three fugitives, a spokesperson for Interpol, which operates in 182 member states, said the policing group does not comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances and with approval of the member country concerned.

In December, an appeal court judged that the three Irishmen had given advice to the Farc rebel group, who have been implicated in killing hundreds of civilians in car bombings.

The trio, who were arrested in 2001, had earlier been acquitted of the main charges against them.

The head of the Bring Them Home campaign, Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane, has insisted that she has no idea as to the whereabouts of the three fugitives.

She said today that there was no new information on Connolly, Monaghan or McCauley.

"We are currently exploring what court to take the case of the men to," she said.

The main appeal option is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington DC.

The commission, which seeks to "promote and protect human rights in the inter-American system", is an autonomous organ of the Organisation of American States.

The South Down MLA added: "We are actively considering the commission at present."

Any legal efforts to overturn the Colombian court decision to jail the men are expected to last several years.


New Terms For Talks With Adams

By Gene McKenna and Tom Brady
20 January 2005

:: IRA must agree to abandon crime
:: No early release of McCabe killers

Relations between the Government and Sinn Fein last night deteriorated to their lowest level since the murder of Det Gda Jerry McCabe as a result of the fallout from the Northern Bank robbery.

Ministers made it clear that new ground rules will apply when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern meets Sinn Fein leaders next week.

The Government will insist that the IRA agrees to end all criminality before entering into any agreement with Sinn Fein.

And the offer of an early release for the IRA killers of Garda McCabe has been taken "off the table" by the Government.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell told the Irish Independent he had made it quite clear the killers would serve their full sentences. He also rejected the IRA denial of involvement in the ?38m Belfast robbery and said its two-line statement "cuts no ice" with him.

He pointed out that the Provisionals had issued a similar two-line statement denying responsibility for the murder of Gda McCabe but were subsequently forced to admit involvement after prominent members were convicted of killing the detective in the courts.

The Taoiseach will use next week's talks to demand assurances from Sinn Fein that the IRA will finally sign up to an end to all criminality - a key issue that helped to scupper the peace talks last month.

And he will tell Gerry Adams face to face his strong belief that the Provisionals carried out the robbery and its implications for progress in renewed talks.

Mr Adams yesterday raised the stakes in advance of the talks when he accused Mr Ahern of making "deeply offensive and insulting remarks" about the party leadership when he claimed senior Sinn Fein figures knew the IRA carried out the raid.

Mr Adams accused the Taoiseach of making remarks which he described as being "deeply damaging to our working relationship, which are wrong".

He added: "He's bound to know that we will be asking him to stand those up and to explain and produce the evidence for these comments."

Last night Fianna Fail junior minister Brendan Smith accused Mr Adams of having a "brass neck" in his criticisms of the Taoiseach.

The DUP and SDLP expressed deep scepticism about the IRA denial.

But Mr Adams said the process had reached a critical phase where there were signals from the British and Irish governments that they were going to engage in "bashing" Sinn Fein and would discriminate against the party.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the task now before them was to ensure those not committed to exclusively peaceful means did not hold up the peace process.

"I still want to find, if I can, a way forward that includes everybody but it has to be said that we cannot have a situation any longer where there are political parties associated to paramilitary groups - where they are committing either what we might call terrorist offences or ordinary criminality," he said in the House of Commons.


Sinn Fein Funding Case

The Secretary of State acted unlawfully when he cut Sinn Fein's political funding, the High Court in Belfast was told today.

The party lost £120,000 after the International Monitoring Commission said the IRA was involved in criminal activity.

But Michael Lavery, QC, argued that the IMC was not an appropriate body to take decisions which would lead to the taking away of rights from parties and individuals.

"At best it could be regarded as a body which would impose moral or political pressure to achieve some of the important aims of the Good Friday Agreement," said Mr Lavery at the opening of Sinn Fein`s application for a

judicial review of the funding cut.

Papers lodged in support of the application stated: "Sinn Fein is not the IRA and is publicly committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means."

Before the hearing began, Conor Murphy, leader of the Sinn Fein Assembly group, said: ""This is not about money but to ensure that our party`s rights are upheld."

Mr Lavery told Mr Justice Weatherup that the IMC`s immunity from legal action and its procedures - based on untried evidence and intelligence - could not form a basis for a deprivation of rights.

"Their findings were fundamental to the Secretary of State`s decision and because of these inherent flaws no decision can be based upon them which is compatible with the established rights of the applicant," he said.

"There must be a credible link between Sinn Fein and the activities in question. For such activities to be used to find that Sinn Fein is not committed to non-violence it would have to be shown the party had control over such activities or their perpetrators and could have prevented them or at the very least that they condoned them."

Mr Lavery submitted that the IMC had not shown any evidential connection between the alleged activities of the IRA and Sinn Fein and added: "It is not

sufficient for the IMC to conclude that violent or criminal activities were occurring.

"The activities in question must involve the use of violence for political ends."

At hearing.


Justice Oversight Commissioner's Report

Too much time is being taken over the setting up of community restorative justice schemes in Northern Ireland, a report claimed today.

By:Press Association

While Justice Oversight Commissioner Lord Clyde found the British Government was making solid progress in the overall reform of the criminal justice system, his report highlighted an unacceptable delay over the setting up of the schemes.

Restorative justice schemes are designed to help people who carry out low level crimes understand their impact by bringing them into contact with their victims.

Northern Ireland`s Independent Monitoring Commission, which monitors republican and loyalist ceasefires, has backed restorative justice but has warned care must be taken to ensure paramilitary groups do not use them as cover for exerting power over local communities.

In his third report on criminal justice reform in Northern Ireland, Lord Clyde said today that more effort had to be put into educating the public about the schemes.

"It is certainly desirable that efforts be made to achieve a greater understanding on the part of the public about the substance and the advantages of restorative justice and in particular community restorative justice," the report recommended.

"But that is only one element behind the difficulties which presently exist.

"Among other factors, the political situation and an element of mistrust may also be contributing to the slow rate of progress.

"The problem may require to be resolved by movement at all levels. All those involved may need to be flexible in their approach and ready to move forward.

"The schemes provide an opportunity for engagement with the community and should not be seen as a threat but a possible advantage for the whole system.

"It would be unfortunate if the present opportunity for dialogue was missed and the full range of possible methods for dealing with problems at a community level in a manner which is consistent with human rights and which supplements the work of statutory agencies was lost to Northern Ireland."

Among the other reforms which Lord Clyde`s 204-page report identified as still requiring progress were:

:: The need to simplify the language used in criminal courts for the benefit of people outside the legal system.
:: The changing of the name of the Direction of Public Prosecutions to the Public Prosecution Service.
:: The use of the Irish language in courts needs to be addressed.

The report also acknowledged the failure to re-establish an Assembly and transfer policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont had also delayed progress on a number of key issues.

These included the appointment of an Attorney General for Northern Ireland as well as the head of the Public Prosecution Service.

It was also envisaged that a devolved administration would address issues like judicial appointments and set up a Criminal Justice Board to advise ministers.

However the report noted in the absence of an Assembly, the Government was taking advantage of legislation at Westminster to address issues like judicial independence.


Knockenagh Avenue, Newtownabbey, 1996; UDA men - This mural depicting four armed men is a self-tribute to the Cloughfern Young Conquerors, a loyalist flute band sympathetic to the UDA.

UDA ‘Seeking €101.1m In Return For End To Illegal Activity’

20/01/2005 - 13:23:35

The Ulster Defence Association is reportedly demanding £70m (€101.1m) from the British government in return for an agreement to abandon all paramilitary and criminal activity.

Reports today said the loyalist group was seeking the money over a five-year period "to train its members in skills which equip them for a new life", and to help loyalist communities.

The demand was apparently made during talks between the organisation and British government officials aimed at securing an end to all UDA activity.

A British official confirmed that the two sides were discussing a programme of measures in return for an end to UDA activity, but said no deal had yet been agreed.

MPs and community workers in the North have described the demand for £70m (€101.1m) as obscene, saying legitimate groups already working in loyalist areas were being starved of government funding.


Government's Talks With UDA Under Fire

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

Talks between Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff and a loyalist group about abandoning terrorism and criminality for good were today under fire.

Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside expressed concern at reports that the Ulster Defence Association was seeking a £70 million package over five years from the Government for a scheme to train its members in skills which equip them for a new life.

Downing Street confirmed Mr Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell was meeting representatives of the UDA in the latest round of talks but insisted the cost of any scheme had not been agreed.

A spokesman was also adamant the loyalist group would have to give up paramilitarism and criminality if there was to be any progress.

“The discussions are at an early stage,” he said.

“However the line we are taking is the same as we are taking with Sinn Fein. All of this is dependent on an end to criminality and paramilitary activity.

“As for the programme itself, they may come to us with certain figures but no deal has been struck.

“We will certainly listen to what they have to say but I would stress the figure of £70 million is the figure they want.”

The UDA is Northern Ireland’s largest loyalist paramilitary organisation and has long been linked with criminality.

Last November, the Independent Monitoring Commission said in its second report on paramilitary ceasefires that the UDA was heavily involved in the drugs trade and other organised crime.

Two years ago the organisation was split in a bloody feud which resulted in the expulsion of one of its most infamous leaders Johnny Adair.

Since then, it has been trying to shed its image as a criminal organisation.

In November, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy gave the UDA another chance to prove itself by recognising the organisation’s ceasefire.

UDA leaders have also had meetings in Belfast with the head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, General John de Chastelain, who oversees paramilitary disarmament.

But while Mr Burnside today said he supported genuine moves away from paramilitarism, the Government needed to get its priorities right over spending taxpayers’ money.

The South Antrim MP said: “In principle, I am in favour of people moving away from terrorism.

“I am not against money going to communities which are trying to shed paramilitarism.

“However there are a lot of ordinary people, victims of violence who have been bereaved because their loved ones were killed in the Prison Service, in the RUC, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the RIR, who do not receive much from the Government.

“I believe they should get more money.

“Jonathan Powell should also spend as much time recommending to the Prime Minister what penalties should be imposed against those involved in criminal operations like the Northern Bank heist.

“More funds should also be given to the Assets Recovery Agency to take on republican and loyalist gangs who have generated millions of pounds through criminal empires built around the drugs trade, smuggling, the black market.

“I think the Government also needs to remember hospitals and schools are also crying out for taxpayers’ money.”

The UDA was formed in 1971 to bring together loyalist vigilante groups and at its peak boasted 40,000 members in 1972.

It remained legal until 1991, while the Ulster Freedom Fighters, a cover name for its paramilitary activities, carried out a campaign of sectarian violence against the Catholic and nationalist community.

In 1974, it played a key role in the Ulster Workers Council Strike, which brought down the power sharing executive involving unionists and moderate nationalists at Stormont.

Twenty years later, the UDA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and other groups declared a ceasefire through the Combined Loyalist Military Command in a bid to help talks on a new political solution to Northern Ireland’s problems.

However, the break-up of the Combined Loyalist Military Command left loyalism more volatile and in August 2000, the UFF’s west Belfast brigadier Johnny Adair, who had benefited from the early prison release scheme under the Good Friday Agreement, was sent back to jail because of a bloody feud with the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Adair was to fall out with former comrades in the UDA leadership after his release in 2002, when a bitter power struggle erupted within the organisation.

The feud culminated in the death of South and East Antrim UDA brigadier John Gregg in Belfast as he returned from a Glasgow Rangers match and the dramatic expulsion of Adair’s supporters from their stronghold in the city’s lower Shankill Road.

Johnny Adair returned to prison but was released last week, with former colleagues still vowing they will exact revenge.

He was flown by helicopter to Manchester for his own safety, where he has been reunited with his wife Gina and family in Bolton.


Chief Constable Hugh Orde has blamed the IRA for the raid

NI Raid 'Suspects' On Police List

Northern Ireland police chief Hugh Orde has been updating the Policing Board on the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

The IRA has twice denied it was behind last month's robbery in Belfast but Mr Orde's assessment has not changed.

The BBC understands that the police believe the robbery was planned and carried out by the IRA in Belfast.

Police have a list of suspected IRA figures they believe were involved, names which have been included in security briefings given to government.

'Intelligence information'

The chief constable's meeting with the policing board, which monitors the activities of the police service, took place behind closed doors on Thursday.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan has learned that the police assessment is based both on intelligence information and on evidence that has emerged since the robbery.

He said that the police believe that the raid on the bank's head office in Belfast on 20 December was carried out under the direction of one of the IRA's most senior leaders in the city.

It is also suggested that they had help from elsewhere in the IRA organisation.

This week, the IMC (Independent Monitoring Commission), which reports on paramilitary activity, has been meeting in Belfast to consider what it should do.

Its next report is not due until April but an earlier assesment is expected.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/20 13:09:29 GMT


Bank Heist Pressure On Orde

By Jonathan McCambridge
20 January 2005

The Chief Constable was today facing pressure to reveal intelligence information on the Northern Bank robbery to the Policing Board.

Hugh Orde and Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid were facing a barrage of tough questions about the world's biggest cash bank robbery as they updated the board in Belfast.

In particular the officers were due to be grilled about what intelligence they had prior to the robbery and about the seniority of IRA members involved.

However, police sources have indicated that Mr Orde is not willing to reveal intelligence information and was expected to restrict himself to giving an update on their investigation.

It is understood serious concerns were to be raised about the ability of the police to catch the armed gang who carried out the heist.

Speaking before the meeting, DUP board member Sammy Wilson said: "The first thing we have got to ask the Chief Constable is did they have any prior intelligence that this robbery was about to take place?

"We want to know why the police weren't able to pick up any indication that this was going to happen.

"They didn't appear to have any information that a major crime was planned involving a lot of terrorists."

The Chief Constable was also facing questions about a report of suspicious activity made by a traffic warden outside the bank on the night of the robbery.

Mr Wilson said: "One of the things that will be asked is how did the police react to these calls? Did they simply look around and see nothing or did they make contact with the bank?"

SDLP Board member Alex Attwood added: "I want him to confirm that the PSNI and Gardai are sharing all information and intelligence in relation to this raid.

"Given it is the assessment of both intelligence communities North and South, it is very important they maximise the sharing of information.

"The second question is, is it the assessment of the PSNI that the people involved in this raid are senior members of the IRA?

"Can the police provide further information about the suggestion that this was a forensically and absolutely clean operation?"

Meanwhile, detectives investigating the robbery revealed yesterday that 1,000 lines of inquiry were being examined, some with the aid of international experts.

New CCTV footage from inside the Northern's Belfast cash distribution centre showed a bank supervisor, whose family was held hostage, leaving with a sports bag filled with nearly £1.5m in notes for a rendezvous with one of the raiders.


Adams Ahern
Gerry Adams and Bertie Ahern

Ahern 'Won't Apologise To Sinn Féin'

By Harry McGee and Cormac O'Keeffe

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has no intention of apologising to Sinn Féin "under any circumstances" for contending its leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank raid, Justice Minister McDowell said yesterday.

As detectives revealed they have up to 1,000 lines of inquiry in their investigations, the Justice Minister robustly rejected the IRA's latest denial of having any involvement in the December 20 robbery.

Mr Michael McDowell was responding to furious criticisms of the Taoiseach by Gerry Adams yesterday, during which the Sinn Féin leader called on Mr Ahern to withdraw his "offensive" accusations.

Mr McDowell said: "The announcement of P O'Neill on the non-involvement of the IRA in the Northern Bank incident cuts no ice with me at all."

He said that next week's meeting with Sinn Féin was not to reopen negotiations but to "get over to them the gravity of what they have done to the peace process".

Earlier Mr Adams, in another outspoken attack on the Taoiseach, said Mr Ahern's public announcement that the Sinn Féin leadership knew about the raid beforehand had inflicted "profound damage on the political process".

"What the Taoiseach has accused me and Martin McGuinness of doing is being involved in a conspiracy, to be involved in the prior knowledge of the largest bank robbery in the history of these islands. That is what he has accused us of being involved in and I find that highly offensive."

The Taoiseach, who is continuing his visit to China, said he did not wish to comment further.

His official spokesperson said: "He has told Sinn Féin he will meet them, and he will do that on Tuesday."

A meeting scheduled for tomorrow between Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern and Sinn Féin was cancelled yesterday following the death of Mr Ahern's brother-in-law.

Speaking in Belfast yesterday, Mr Adams said he would ask the Taoiseach to explain why he made the claims that Sinn Féin leaders knew that the IRA were planning the €32 million robbery in Belfast.

Detectives last night said they are not prepared to make any rash arrests despite establishing an extensive line of inquiry. Detectives also released new CCTV footage showing one of two bank employees carrying cash out of the Northern Bank's headquarters on the night of the heist.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons was told yesterday that the cost of running what has been described as the phantom Stormont Assembly since its suspension in October 2002 stood at £53.5m (€76.7m) at the end of last year.

Ulster Unionist MP Sylvia Hermon said there was no moral justification for spending £2m per month on the Assembly.


Orange Halls' Rates Policy Attacked

20 January 2005

North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA, Philip McGuigan, has slammed the government for allowing Orange halls to be made exempt from paying rates.

Mr McGuigan said: "The decision by the British Prime Minister to write to the Grand Orange Lodge and tell them of their forthcoming exemption from rates bills has left many people dumbfounded.

"To give this sectarian institution a major boost like this has left many in the nationalist community very angry. Why have cross-community centres not been given a rebate?

"Why indeed does an Association like the GAA, which offers social facilities to tens of thousands of people across the north, not get a similar reward for the great service it provides for communities throughout North Antrim and indeed the entire Six Counties?

"The British Government is following in the footsteps of the old Stormont regime by resurrecting the de-rating of Orange halls. I would only welcome Orange halls being de-rated if it was done on an equal basis."


Murphy Accused Of 'Giving Control To Criminals'

By Noel McAdam
20 January 2005

A leading Ulster Unionist today accused Secretary of State Paul Murphy of giving criminals control over devolution, as the row over Sinn Fein's insistence the IRA is incapable of crime raged on.

Sir Reg Empey said Mr Murphy was guilty of handing the keys of Stormont to criminals "and saying to hell with the rest of us".

And his party colleague Michael McGimpsey demanding a "robust response" from the Government, said there could be no more "kid glove" operations around the IRA.

Their attacks came as an SDLP Assembly member asked why Gerry Adams would believe Taoiseach Bertie Ahern would lie over his assertion the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank raid.

Tommy Gallagher said the IRA's "addiction to stealing and luxury lifestyles" had been the major obstacle to implementing the Good Friday Agreement long before the bank heist.

The controversy continued as a High Court judicial review was due to begin into Mr Murphy's imposition of fines on Sinn Fein following last year's report of the International Monitoring Commission.

Speaking before the case, Sinn Fein Assembly chief whip Conor Murphy said: "Mr Murphy is again indicating he is again exploring ways in which to discriminate against the Sinn Féin electorate so this hearing is all the more important."

The Newry and Armagh MLA said Mr Murphy was a British Minister with no mandate in Ireland who had hidden behind "securocrats".

Sir Reg said the comments of Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin that the murder of Jean McConville was not a crime were a throwback to the views expressed by republicans at the time of the Civil War.

"All this makes the remarks of Mr Murphy in the Commons all the more disturbing, declaring that the institutions of devolution could not be restored unless there was a break with criminality. This means criminals now control the keys to Stormont and to hell with the rest of us."

Mr McGimpsey said: "It's clear Sinn Fein are living in dread and fear of saying something that will offend the IRA.

"I hear Sinn Fein shouting, 'Where's the proof?' They weren't shouting 'Where's the proof?' when the police fingered the UDA for murdering Danny McColgan."


Green Light For Bloody Sunday March

Jan 20 2005

A MARCH in Scotland to commemorate Bloody Sunday is set to go ahead amid tight security.

Dozens of extra police officers will be drafted in to keep order as hundreds of republican marchers parade through Glasgow city centre on Saturday.

The march is expected to cause widespread disruption to traffic as it winds its way through several main shopping areas. The procession comes in the wake of First Minister Jack McConnell's call for a cut in the number of contentious marches.

The Friends of Ireland, who also organise the annual James Connolly parade in Edinburgh, expect 1000 marchers to take part.

Last night, organiser Jim Slaven said they would have their own stewards to deal with any trouble.

He said: 'We expect the march to pass off peacefully and find it absurd that anyone would find it in any way provocative.

'Our own stewards will work alongside and co-operate fully with the police covering the march.'

It emerged yesterday there will be immediate action next week after the release of a report on how parades in Scotland are authorised.

Former Strathclyde chief constable Sir John Orr's long-awaited review is tipped to make it easier for councils to limit marches.

McConnell has already signalled his wish for a cut in the number of loyalist and republican parades in the west of Scotland.

His spokeswoman said yesterday: 'The report will have a number of recommendations, which we will be able to respond to, in part, immediately.'


Six-Month Sentence For Threat Man

By Andrea Clements
20 January 2005

A 20-year-old Dunmurry man who was said to be under paramilitary threat for his behaviour has been given a six-month custodial sentence at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Connor George Paul McWilliams, of Mosside Road, is already serving a nine-month sentence for burglary due to finish in March.

In court yesterday he faced four charges of taking and driving away a motor vehicle and two charges of burglary.

The court heard McWilliams had entered a house at Viewfort Park in Dunmurry on June 14, 2004.

He admitted to stealing car keys and taking an Alfa Romeo car. He was also convicted of a charge of criminal damage worth £2,000 to security gates at the house. The car was later found in Poleglass and was considered a write-off.

The other burglary charge related to a house at Old Forge Manor in Belfast on July 31 last year where he took a handbag, wallet and car keys. He admitted taking away a Volkswagen Golf car.

McWilliams' solicitor said he had a long history of convictions "due to an unsettled life influenced by drugs". He said McWilliams had been "under paramilitary threat due to his behaviour" but he understands it is "no longer a problem".


New Toilets For Rathlin

20 January 2005

Moyle District Council has agreed to spend £37,000 on land at Rathlin Island foreshore for a proposed new public toilet block.

However, at a recent meeting, councillor Michael Molloy questioned whether the amount was too much.

However, Councillor Madeline Black added: "I think we should go ahead with the scheme because it is very important for tourism."

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

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