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January 23, 2005

01/23/05 – Adams Says Ahern Has To Explain Comments

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

UT 01/23/05 Adams Says Ahern Will Have To Explain Comments
SM 01/23/05 Republicans Stage Police Station Protest
BT 01/23/05 IRA Timed Raid To Be A 'Spectacular' Show Of Strength
SL 01/23/05 Adair's Secret Scots Summit
SL 01/23/05 UDA Heavyweight Squares Up To Christian Fighter For Charity
SL 01/23/05 Spooked By Adair's Release Shoukri's Angry Exchange May Lead To Loss Of Privileges
SL 01/23/05 Crusading Father's Bid To Meet Blair Over Son's Murder
SL 01/23/05 Critics Voice Lack Of Faith In 'Blair Babe' With Links To Secret Sect
SL 01/23/05 Dual-Language Sign Sparks A War Of Words
SL 01/23/05 Bomber's Flight From Dead Man's Pals


Gerry Adams & Bertie Ahern
Gerry Adams & Bertie Ahern

Adams Says Ahern Will Have To Explain Comments

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said Bertie Ahern will have to explain his comments on the Northern Bank robbery, when the two meet this week.

Writing in the Village Magazine this weekend, Mr Adams said the accusation that Sinn Fein`s leadership had prior knowledge of the robbery was `wrong`.

He said:“By far the most damaging aspect of all of this has been the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery.

"His accusation is completely without foundation. It is wrong. When the Taoiseach sits down with us this week he will have to explain his comments.”

Mr. Adams added: “At the beginning of this phase the governments spoke to us of the need to establish whether the DUP wanted to do a deal; whether they wanted ‘cover’, ‘a fig leaf’ to facilitate their involvement.

"We put it to them and we received a commitment from them, that if it became clear the DUP wasn`t up for a deal, if they didn`t want `cover` or a `fig leaf`, as the governments hoped they would, then the governments would proceed with all those aspects of the Agreement that they were capable of implementing.

“The detail of all of this cannot be revealed at this time but when it is people of goodwill will be in no doubt as to the good faith engagement by our leadership.

“I was already firmly of the view that the issue of IRA arms and alleged activities, by that organization, was being used as an excuse to prevent progress.

"So Martin McGuinness and I and others were up for creating the conditions in which these issues could be resolved. There was also a very clear need to get the DUP to accept the changed political landscape, which the Good Friday Agreement involves and there was the question of Sinn Fein reviewing our attitude to the PSNI, if a proper context was agreed.

"These were big challenges for us. We also had to make a sustained effort to keep both governments tied to the Good Friday Agreement given their past breaches of that Agreement.

"When the effort to get a comprehensive agreement failed Sinn Féin and the British government proceeded to explore how the governments could deliver on the commitment they made to us. This continued in the week leading up to Christmas. The Irish government was less than enthusiastic. No one should be in any doubt of the depth of the difficulties in the process at that time.

"It was in the course of this work that the Northern Bank was robbed. Then came the accusation, subsequently denied by the IRA, that it was involved.

"This triggered a relentless campaign of vilification against Sinn Fein."


Andersonstown RUC Station
Andersonstown RUC Station

Republicans Stage Police Station Protest

By Gary Kelly, PA

Republican protesters burst through the security gates of one of the most attacked police stations in Northern Ireland today.

A crowd of 100 Sinn Fein supporters held a protest outside Andersonstown Police Station in west Belfast which closed its doors today in preparation for demolition next month.

As a senior police officer prepared to stage a press conference to cover the closure, a number of protesters made their way through the security gates but did not gain access to the station.

They left peacefully after making a token protest.

Chief Inspector Peter Farrar said police did not plan to take any action following the breaching of the security cordon.

He said: “Every police station is a public building and we aim to serve the public and that’s all members of the public. Our only purpose within west Belfast is to make west Belfast safer.

Mr Farrar said the closure of Andersonstown, which was established in 1887, was the end of an era for policing in the area.

“There are mixed emotions when any police station closes. Police officers worked here for over 100 years so there are many happy memories and some tragic and sad memories.

“Society has changed and policing has changed across Northern Ireland so we are trying to keep up with society by making sure what we are doing is the most effective and progressive way of policing in west Belfast,” he added.

Work has already begun to dismantle the base, with the communications mast and other equipment removed ahead of today’s closure.

Three other stations in the area, Grosvenor Road, Woodbourne and New Barnsley, will remain open to provide policing in the west of the city.

Outside the station, Sinn Fein Assembly member for the area, Michael Ferguson, said no tears would be shed by republicans over the closure.

“Let’s not forget the base that the Special Branch watched while they sent their agent Michael Stone into Milltown to murder mourners at a funeral,” he claimed.

“It is also the paramilitary base where they tortured people and planned the raids on our constituents’ homes, so hopefully this will be the first of many acts of demilitarisation.”

The station played a prominent role 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.

The station closure was recommended by the local district commander in 2003 and endorsed by the Northern Ireland Policing Board last month.

Once its demolition is complete, the site will be put up for sale.


IRA Timed Raid To Be A 'Spectacular' Show Of Strength

By Jim Cusack
23 January 2005

The IRA's Northern Bank raid was a 'spectacular' in the same mode as the huge 1996 Canary Wharf bomb in London - but with no loss of life.

Senior police on both sides of the Border now believe the raid was timed and carried out to show both the British and Irish governments that the IRA retains the ability to carry out major attacks.

Despite this, the Government appears to be preparing to let Gerry Adams off the hook, by encouraging the US administration to allow him into the White House for St Patrick's Day.

According to diplomatic sources, the Department of Foreign Affairs has been trying to ensure that Mr Adams is not blocked from the annual celebration for fear the whole event might be cancelled.

Foreign Affairs diplomats have been quietly urging that Sinn Fein should not be excluded from any political developments in the North and that there is a need to "maintain the framework" of the "peace process".

The White House party could, however, be placed in jeopardy if the Unionist parties decide to boycott an affair where Sinn Fein is allowed in.

Intelligence sources say that as a result of a debate at the top of the IRA and Sinn Fein, it was decided the IRA could not carry out a major bomb attack because it would inevitably be compared with the Madrid bombings and the September 11 attacks in the United States.

These sources also believe that it was a rerun of the February 1996 Canary Wharf bomb, as that only occurred after the IRA decided that the political process in the North had 'stalled'. The Northern Bank raid took place less than a week after the negotiations with the DUP failed.

In the four years before its 1994 ceasefire and between 1996 and 1997, the IRA carried out a series of 'spectaculars' in England in which massive bombs wreaked destruction in the City of London, Brent Shopping Centre in Manchester and at Canary Wharf.

Security at police stations and army bases in the North is now being stepped up after further intelligence has reached the PSNI that the IRA is planning further events.

It has also been learned that the IRA gang which raided the Northern Bank included a heavily armed back-up squad which was capable of overpowering and, if necessary, killing police or soldiers who happened on the raid.

The presence of this armed back-up group, which might have involved three or four teams in four-wheel drive vehicles, gave the raiders the confidence to spend almost two hours at the bank and make two separate deliveries to a secret location in west Belfast.

Information on the raid has grown in recent weeks and is known to both governments.

Mr Ahern made his views clear two weeks ago, saying his information was that the leadership of Sinn Fein was aware of the IRA planning for the robbery during the period of intense negotiations with the DUP.

The Taoiseach's information comes from both Garda and Defence Forces intelligence reports, compiled independent of the PSNI and based on intelligence-gathering from agents in the IRA.


 Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair
Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair

Adair's Secret Scots Summit

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
23 January 2005

Exiled terror chief Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair has held a secret meeting with a top UDA man to discuss his possible return to Ulster.

Senior security sources told Sunday Life Adair - along with sidekick Gary 'Smickers' Smith - travelled to Scotland to attend the terror summit.

We understand the meeting was held in the village of Campbelltown.

Sources said the leading UDA figure was hidden in a fishing boat that travelled across from Co Down.

Adair is believed to have made the journey by car from Bolton, just two days after his release from Maghaberry Prison.

It is not clear who arranged the meeting, or if any of the UDA's six brigadiers were in attendance.

But sources say the discussion lasted for around two hours, before Adair returned to his new home in the north west of England.

This latest development comes after Adair denied reports he'd been in contact with east Belfast UDA leader Jim Gray, in a bid to end his bloody feud with the terror group.

Speaking to Sunday Life last night, the ousted terror boss refused to confirm if he had made the journey to Scotland.

Said Adair: "It would be very unprofessional of me to tell Sunday Life who I have met, or where I have been since my release.

"I'm not saying anything about this supposed meeting in Campbelltown, because I have to protect my security and the security of anyone I may be meeting.

"If there was a meeting like this, I would expect it to be a lot 'tighter', and would be surprised if the Press had got wind of it.

"There have been reports in the past about people I will be meeting, and they haven't been a million miles away from the truth, but I can't elaborate, for obvious reasons.

"I can't comment on this story or my future plans, because my priority right now is to give 100 per cent attention to my wife, who is very ill."

The Shankill loyalist also denied reports he had abandoned plans to make a secret visit to Belfast last Thursday, at the last minute.

Added Adair: "They said I was in the Shankill, north Belfast and in the Woodvale area, but I'm still in Bolton.

"I'm not going to say if I was planning to go to Belfast last week . . . why would I want everyone knowing what I'm doing? People can speculate all they want, but the only person who knows what I'm doing next is Johnny Adair."


Andre Shoukri
UDA's North Belfast 'brigadier' Andre Shoukri

Knockout Event

UDA Heavyweight Squares Up To Christian Fighter For Charity

23 January 2005

It's the most anticipated big fight night ever in north Belfast.

And, for a change, loyalist paramilitaries will be throwing their weight around for good reasons.

Even the UDA's North Belfast 'brigadier' Andre Shoukri has agreed to put his reputation, and his pride, on the line, and risk a knockout blow for charity.

Already £7,000 been raised for the Children's Hospice, through ticket sales for a boxing extravaganza at the Ballysillan Leisure Centre, on February 25, which will feature 24 fighters, including some paramilitaries, in a dozen bouts.

But without doubt, it is Shoukri versus Christian crusader, Michael Cousins, that tops the bill.

Not surprisingly, many want to see whether the UDA's sharp-suited top man will be dumped on his pants by the Elim Church Sunday school teacher, who had a reputation as a ferocious street fighter.

Local legend has it that in the days before he became a born-again Christian, Michael floored two paratroopers, who picked on a much smaller opponent during a football match.

In between sparring at Stormont last week with Tony Blair's top political adviser, Jonathan Powell, Shoukri told Sunday Life why he was putting his reputation on the line.

"It's all change up here," claimed the 27-year-old.

"Bad things that were being done have been stopped.

"We're getting the ear-ache from Johnny Adair about him coming back to face people, but we're not bothered about him.

"The evening in Ballysillan Leisure Centre is all about raising money for charity.

"Men have been in the gym putting their efforts into getting fit, and I've been doing my training."

Tipping the scales at just under 16 stone, Shoukri looks lean and fit, but he's guarded about how he'll approach the three-round contest.

Will punters see the Shoukri shuffle or will it be 'slugger Shoukri'?

"No, I'm not going there," he said.

"I'm not saying anything about how I'll approach this bout. Michael is a formidable opponent. He's probably the most dangerous street fighter in Belfast.

"He has floored loads of people in street fights, and he has a reputation that is well documented before he became a Christian."

Did he think people would cheer if he was dumped on his pants?

"Well it's a boxing match, and that's what people come to see. But I respect Michael, and we'll put on a good show. It's to raise money for a children's charity, and we'll give people entertainment."

Michael Cousins disputes that he is the odds-on favourite.

"I've trained at boxing, but never actually took part in a bout," he said.

"There's a lot of interest in the church in this, and I would argue that I was tricked into it.

"I agreed to do charity work, and was then told it was boxing, and only then who I was fighting," the 36-year-old Tigers Bay man admitted.

Suzanne Irvine, community fund-raiser with the Hospice charity, praised the promoter, local barber Sam Arthur, and the Elim church for their efforts organising the event, which will provide much-needed funds to help care for terminally ill kids.

"The Hospice provides a vital lifeline to children and their families across Northern Ireland - greatly improving their quality of life. It costs £1.5m annually to run the services, and we do not receive any government funding," she said.

Meanwhile, Shoukri is already thinking of a possible follow-up charity fund-raisers - against the UVF.

"Maybe the UVF could put up the men, but we'll look at that after this one. I think we could fill the Leisure Centre again."


Ihab Shoukri
Ihab Shoukri

Prison spat!

Spooked By Adair's Release Shoukri's Angry Exchange May Lead To Loss Of Privileges

23 January 2005

Top loyalist, Ihab Shoukri, was involved in a behind-bars bust-up - less than 24 hours after going back to jail.

Shoukri, who opted to swap his home in Bangor, for a Maghaberry prison cell, was involved in an angry exchange with a nationalist prisoner, during which he is believed to have spat in the man's face.

He squared up to Anthony Wilson - currently on remand in connection with a horrific car-theft, during which a 16-month-old baby was thrown from a stolen car.

Wilson strenuously protests his innocence of the car-theft charges.

But, now Shoukri faces losing HIS prison privileges, after it was claimed he spat in Wilson's face.

Said a jailhouse source: "Shoukri was on edge the moment he came back into the prison.

"He's like a ticking bomb waiting to go off.

"The incident could have turned really ugly, but there was no shortage of people about to stop it kicking off."

Shoukri's decision, to go back to Maghaberry, came on the same day that ousted UDA terror boss, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, was spirited out of the Co Antrim prison.

The brother of UDA north Belfast 'brigadier', Andre Shoukri, declined to oppose a crown bid to revoke his bail, while he awaits trial of charges of UFF membership.

His lawyer told the High Court, in Belfast: "He finds the position he is living in intolerable, and it is having an affect on his health."

Under the terms of his bail, Shoukri had been ordered to stay out of Belfast, and banned from associating with terrorists - including his brother, Andre.

Some loyalist sources have suggested that Adair's release frightened the 30-year-old, and made up his mind that he would be safer behind bars.

Loyalist sources in east Belfast have said that he has been involved in a falling out with rival loyalists, in the north Down area.

Said one source: "Shoukri has been very badly spooked - the only time you see people that bad, is when they have had a gun put to their head."

Unemployed Wilson (22), from the Short Strand area of Belfast, was remanded in custody last month, after being accused of withholding information about the car theft.

Cruel thieves, who stole a family car from a supermarket car park, hurled a 16-month-old baby from the vehicle, as they sped off.

A Prison Service spokeswoman, last week, said: "There was an incident in 'visits' on January 11, during which a prisoner is alleged to have spat at another prisoner.

"He has been charged under prison rules.

"An adjudication hearing has been opened, but adjourned."


Raymond McCord

Crusading Father's Bid To Meet Blair Over Son's Murder

23 January 2005

Lawyers acting for north Belfast man Raymond McCord have asked for a meeting with Tony Blair, to raise concerns about alleged political interference in the hunt for his son's UVF killers.

Mr McCord claims information provided to him raises serious questions about the alleged interference in the investigation of the 1997 killing of his son, Raymond, jnr.

The 22-year-old was found battered to death at a quarry on the outskirts of Belfast, after he was persuaded to go to a meeting with a number of UVF men.

The man who ordered the murder is widely believed to have been a major RUC informer within the ranks of the UVF for most of the 1990s.

He is currently facing serious criminal charges for an unrelated alleged assault.

Mr McCord told Sunday Life that a briefing from detectives last week confirmed a number of suspicions he had about the UVF gang behind his son's murder - and raised questions about political interference with the original police probe.

He said: "My solicitor has now written to Tony Blair asking for a meeting to raise these issues. Not only do you have a paid police informer - an agent of the state - instigating murder, but you have political interference."

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is supervising an investigation into Mr McCord's murder.

It is the largest inquiry her office has mounted since the Omagh bomb police probe was examined.

A team of investigators has been poring over Special Branch files to establish the extent of the RUC's agent network within the heavily compromised north and west Belfast UVF.

Her report, which may be completed by late summer, is expected to raise major questions about the involvement of the RUC's top UVF informer in north Belfast in the McCord murder, as well as at least one other killing, that of a Catholic woman.

Added Mr McCord: "What I have now learned has vindicated my actions in going to the Ombudsman.

"But I am even more shocked at the probability of political interference in the initial investigation.

"I think I deserve an answer to that from Tony Blair."


Ruth Kelly
Ruth Kelly MP for Bolton West

Order, order!

Critics Voice Lack Of Faith In 'Blair Babe' With Links To Secret Sect

By Stephen Gordon
23 January 2005

High-flying Ulster-born cabinet minister, Ruth Kelly, is coming under increasing pressure in Westminster, over her devout religious views.

Critics turned the heat on Tony Blair last week over his choice of the 36-year-old mum-of-four as Education Secretary.

Mrs Kelly - whose family was driven out of Belfast by loyalist thugs in 1970s - has been branded a religious "zealot" by some critics.

The youngest ever woman cabinet minister is under fire, over her involvement with the secretive Catholic group, Opus Dei.

Mrs Kelly last week broke her silence on the controversy, saying: "I have a private spiritual life, and I have a faith... I don't think it is relevant to my job."

Anthony Howard, the veteran political pundit, launched an attack on Mr Blair in The Times, for giving Mrs Kelly the education portfolio.

Writing in The Times, the commentator said it was the wrong department for a devout Catholic, who is firmly opposed to abortion, contraception and stem-cell research.

Mr Howard wrote: "Placing so zealous a militant Catholic there has to raise questions about Blair's judgment".

He also claimed that "zealotry and fervour is what Opus Dei is all about".

Mrs Kelly's department controls a £1b research budget, a portion of which goes towards stem-cell research.

And scientists have expressed concerns that she could follow the USA's lead, and halt public funding for stem-cell research.

Mr Howard believes the issue will create a dilemma for the ambitious and highly principled young minister.

Some MPs also fear her conservatism could also cloud her judgment on issues concerning sex education.

A two-page Daily Mail report, headlined "Sister Ruth" also shone the spotlight on Mrs Kelly's ultra-conservative beliefs, and asked if parents should be worried that a member of the "mysterious" Opus Dei sect has been entrusted with their children.

The Mail's Geoffrey Levvy reported that because of Mrs Kelly's "refusal to countenance contraception" she had declined to work in either the Department of Health or International Development, which promotes efforts to stop the spread of Aids in the Third World.

There are only 500 members of Opus Dei ('The Work of God') in Britain, and the Bolton MP is known to attend their monthly meetings, but she has refused to say exactly what her association with the group is.

The group itself will only say she has an association with them.

Opus Dei was founded in Spain in the 1920s, by Father Josemaria Escriva, who died in 1975, and claims 80,000 members world wide.

While in the past it has been treated with suspicion by Church leaders, including the late Cardinal Basil Hume, its founder was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002, and the group has recently been asked to take on its first parish, in north London.

The movement has recently been thrust into the spotlight, because it features in the best selling, sinister thriller, The Da Vinci Code.

And there has much publicity around claims that men in Opus Dei group wear a spike garter called a 'celice' for up to one hour a day, to remind themselves of the world's ills.

But one former member, Christopher Howse, hit out at the "vilification" of Opus Dei in the media.

Mr Howse, an assistant editor at the Daily Telegraph, who left Opus Dei in 1988, said: "I have never since met a group who are kinder, more patient, or less motivated by personal ambition."

He said Mrs Kelly should be judged on her politics rather her religious views, and said multi-cultural tolerance should at least extend to "a voluntary association of committed Catholics".


Dual-Language Sign Sparks A War Of Words

23 January 2005

A row has erupted over a bilingual sign on one of the only streets in Downpatrick without any HOUSES!

The DUP has called on Down District Council to explain why the dual-language sign has been erected in Pound Lane ('Lana an Phoba').

Local DUP MLA, Jim Wells, said he was "mystified" by the appearance of the sign in a street that's home to the town's hospital, clinic, GP centre and an old people's residence.

"I have no knowledge of this request coming to the appropriate council committee for approval. It seems strange, if there are no houses in the street," said Mr Wells.

He added the DUP always opposed the erection of bilingual signs for "a foreign language".

And he claimed the language was now seen as "Sinn Fein's language".

However, Down Sinn Fein councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe dismissed the jibes.

"The Irish language is not a 'Sinn Fein language'. It is the national language of Ireland and is recognised as such by the EU," he said.

"What are they trying to say - that everyone who spoke the language before Sinn Fein came along were Sinn Feiners? It's nonsense.

"The language was kept alive by enthusiasts, teachers, solicitors and non-republicans. It was then given a big boost by the influx of fluent speakers from the prisons."

He pointed out that all councillors are notified when a request is made for a bilingual street sign to be erected.

"That has always been the policy of the council, and I have no doubt it was followed on this occasion," he added.

A spokeswoman for the council also rejected Mr Wells' claims that the signs had been erected without consultation, and the necessary support of two-thirds of the people on the electoral register for the area.

"Ten people from St John's Home live on the street, and are on the electoral register to vote.

"As in any case where a request is made for the erection of dual street signs, we ask individuals, in confidence, for their opinion. The sign was erected as a result," she said.


Bomber's Flight From Dead Man's Pals

Ex-Provo's partner is a sister of murder-accused

23 January 2005

A leading south Down republican has fled his home following a series of rows with pals of a man murdered in a frenzied knife and hammer attack.

Senior security sources told Sunday Life Terry 'Pee Wee' McCullough - a convicted IRA bomber - has moved to the Republic, after being involved in clashes over the killing of Patrick 'Tiger' Crane (pictured right).

Mr Crane's body was found in the grounds of St Colmcille's Primary School, Downpatrick, by a caretaker in March 2000.

The 38-year-old had been battered beyond recognition, suffered stab wounds, and had his head smashed with a hammer.

It is understood McCullough, who was jailed for 16 years in 1977, left his home after the local IRA leadership refused to intervene in the rows.

It's believed the Provo bomber, who's originally from the Markets area of Belfast, has since cut all ties with the IRA.

McCullough's partner is a sister of Mark 'Sparky' Haugh, who was charged with Mr Crane's murder last July.

His trial is due to begin later this year.

Said a source: "McCullough was being taunted about his relationship with someone whose brother was facing the Crane murder charge, and he didn't like it.

"The killing shocked people in Downpatrick. Since last year's arrest, feelings have been running very high between Haugh's friends and friends of Mr Crane.

"After the Provos refused to get involved in the arguments, the only option left open to McCullough was to leave Downpatrick."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe confirmed that the ex-prisoner had fled his home.

He added: "Both the Crane family and Mr McCullough are good friends of mine. I can confirm Mr McCullough has left his home.

"I don't know the reasons behind it, but I understand he was looking to find some work in Dundalk, because he couldn't get any up here.

"I also know there was some friction between him and friends of Patrick Crane, and this ill-feeling still exists.

"It is up to Mr McCullough what he does, and his decision to leave is nothing to do with the republican movement."

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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