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January 25, 2005

01/25/05 – Adams: Taoiseach Fails To Back Up Bank Raid Claim

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IO 01/25/05 Adams: Taoiseach Fails To Back Up Bank Raid Claim
IO 01/25/05 Lawyer Slams Lack Of Brits Co-Operation In Bombs Probe
IO 01/25/05 Victims' Relatives Slam Govt Response To Dublin Bombs
BT 01/25/05 Plan Isn't Joint Authority: SDLP
BT 01/25/05 Gardiner Opposes Trimble Over Assembly
BT 01/25/05 UPRG Sees Minister Over £70m
DJ 01/25/05 Prisoners Group Hit Out At DUP And BBC
BT 01/25/05 Gardai Quiz Sinn Fein TD Over Mast Sabotage
DJ 01/25/05 Donegal Boat Sinks In Norwegian Pier


Adams: Taoiseach Fails To Back Up Bank Raid Claim

25/01/2005 - 15:38:23

The Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams has said the Taoiseach has not been able to stand up the claim that the IRA raided the Northern Bank in Belfast.

He was speaking after almost two hours of talks with Mr Ahern in Government buildings.

Gerry Adams told reporters that the issue was put to the Taoiseach but he could not confirm PSNI claims that the IRA was responsible for the £26m (€37.4m) heist.

Mr Adams said: “We put it to the Taoiseach that profound difficulties have been confounded by the accusations that he made and we asked him to stand up to that accusation and he could not stand up to that accusation.”

He added: “There can be no intelligence or no evidence because we simply didn’t have any knowledge.”

Sinn Féin reaffirmed their commitment to power-sharing talks and said the peace process was more important than the bank heist.

But Mr Adams said the Government did not want to impose political sanctions against Sinn Féin.

He said: “Mr Ahern said he was opposed to sanctions or excluding any section of the community in Northern Ireland.”


Lawyer Slams Lack Of British Co-Operation In Bombs Probe

25/01/2005 - 10:27:53

A lawyer representing the families of three men killed in two loyalist bomb attacks in Dublin in the early 1970s has criticised the British government for failing to fully co-operate with the investigation into the bombings.

Speaking at the start of an Oireachtas committee hearing into the attacks, Cormac O'Dulachain, who represents the victims group Justice for the Forgotten, said the British government's actions raised questions about it commitments to the peace process and the overall rule of law.

"The question of the non-co-operation of the British government is a grave political issue, because it doesn't concern the actions of a government 30 years ago. It concerns the actions of this current British government. It concerns the obligations of the British government under the Good Friday Agreement and, ultimately, it does concern their current commitment to the rule of law," he said.

Today's public hearing before the Oireachtas justice committee was arranged to discuss the findings of an inquiry into the 1972 and 1973 Dublin bombings by Mr Justice Henry Barron.

Three men were killed in the bombings, which happened at Sackville Place, off O'Connell Street, within 50 days of each other.

The Ulster Defence Association is suspected of carrying out the attacks, but nobody has ever been brought to justice.


Victims' Relatives Slam Govt Response To Dublin Bombs

25/01/2005 - 11:28:48

Relatives of the men who died in two loyalist bombings in Dublin in the early 1970s have criticised the Government's response to the attacks.

Speaking at an Oireachtas committee hearing into the bombings today, Monica Duffy-Campbell, whose husband was one of the victims, said consecutive Governments had done nothing to investigate the incidents.

"They've never sought the truth about these bombings until now," she said. "They were happy to hide it, they were happy to keep it under the carpet."

Meanwhile, Rose Bradshaw-Brett, whose brother died in one of the attacks, attacked the current Taoiseach's attitude to the bombings.

She said Bertie Ahern's answer to Dáil questions on the matter was: "That's a long time ago. I'm sure the papers are shredded."

"Has he no feelings to think that he could just say that?" Ms Bradshaw-Brett asked.

Today's public hearing before the Oireachtas justice committee was arranged to discuss the findings of an inquiry into the 1972 and 1973 Dublin bombings by Mr Justice Henry Barron.

Three men were killed in the bombings, which happened at Sackville Place, off O'Connell Street, within 50 days of each other.

The Ulster Defence Association is suspected of carrying out the attacks, but nobody has ever been brought to justice.


Plan Isn't Joint Authority: SDLP

By Noel McAdam

25 January 2005

The SDLP has rejected claims that their plan for a revived Assembly working under Government-appointed civic leaders amounts to joint authority.

After a meeting with Secretary of State Paul Murphy, the party urged the governments to press ahead and end the drift at next week's intergovernmental conference.

Leader Mark Durkan said even Sinn Fein now appeared to accept that the restoration of a power-sharing Executive is unlikely in the short term.

"Every party has conceded that there is not much chance of getting the inclusive executive for some time.

"But only the SDLP is proposing getting as much of the Agreement as we can now," he said.

"The Secretary of State warned that unionists saw our proposals as joint authority. Our response was clear.

"The people voted for the Agreement - and our proposals give everybody as much of the Agreement as we can get now. Our proposals are the only proposals consistent with the Agreement."

Mr Durkan, who was accompanied by deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell and South Down MP Eddie McGrady, also warned against any Government move to give the UDA £70m for retraining.

"The two governments need to say enough is enough to the paramilitaries.

"It is corrupt and corrosive when paramilitaries think that they can get advantages by having guns," he added.


Gardiner Opposes Trimble Over Assembly

By Chris Thornton

25 January 2005

An Ulster Unionist Assembly colleague of David Trimble has put himself in opposition to the UUP leader by calling for the Assembly to be reconstituted as a stand-alone body.

Samuel Gardiner, like Mr Trimble a UUP MLA for Upper Bann, says the Assembly should be decoupled from the Executive and allowed to scrutinise direct rule ministers.

Mr Trimble and other Ulster Unionist MPs have previously called for the Assembly to be closed down if Sinn Fein can't be excluded from a power-sharing government.

But Mr Gardiner said the restoration of the Assembly should be treated differently from the resumption of an Executive.

"There are clearly difficulties at the minute with restoring the Executive but there should be no difficulty whatever with restoring the Assembly operating in scrutiny mode, helping to frame policy and legislation, overseeing the workings of Government and holding the Government to account in a Public Accounts Committee," he said.

"Elected Assembly members have a right to discharge their mandate - a fresh mandate just over a year old. I have no patience with people who say we should walk away from this."


UPRG Sees Minister Over £70m

By Sarah Brett

25 January 2005

The Ulster Political Research Group representative in Londonderry was today heading up a delegation to meet MP John Spellar to discuss a £70m ACE style scheme for loyalist paramilitaries.

The meeting comes in the wake of controversial claims that the UDA is seeking £70m from the Government.

David Nicholl of the UPRG - which has links to the paramilitary group - was set to meet Mr Spellar today to request upwards of £70m for a five year employment and training scheme to offer paramilitaries a way out of criminality through gainful employment.

Plans envisage around 1,000 places throughout Northern Ireland employing paramilitaries for two years in a large range of occupations, in a scheme not unlike the old ACE scheme, the predecessor to New Deal.

A commission or board of prominent individuals from the unionist community would act as the sponsor/employer.

They would be responsible for all financial, legal and employment matters and in addition, identify commercial opportunities to replace or add to the scheme's activities.

The scheme would involve a formal training course followed by employment for two years in a spectrum of careers with scale salaries being paid commensurate with the type of job and responsibilities involved.

Entrants would also be offered adult literacy and numeracy help.

For younger entrants, the two years could be extended to enable a full trade apprenticeship to be undertaken.

Up to £18m will be required for each of the first two years of the scheme, with a 20% reduction each year thereafter.


Prisoners Group Hit Out At DUP And BBC

Tuesday 25th January 2005

Coiste na n-Iarchimi, the republican exprisoners group, have hit out at the DUP's Jim Allister and the BBC over a statement made last week about one of the Colombia 3.

Last week DUP MEP., Jim Allister alleged that Jim Monaghan, one of the men sentenced to prison in Colombia recently, worked for a group that received what he said was 'enormous amounts of money from the European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.'

Mr. Allister went on to say: "The notion that a man, who has been convicted of training the most violent narcoterrorists in South America should reap pecuniary benefit from the Peace programme is an insult to the people of Northern Ireland.

"Having said that, if proven to be the case, it will serve to underline the reasoning behind Unionist concerns about the impartiality of the programme."

However, the Chairman on Coiste Na n-Iarchimi, Raymond McCartney has hit back and said that Mr. Allister seems to know little about the Peace funding.

He said: "Coiste is an open and transparent organisation. We publish regular information about our funding and staffing. It is to the credit of our member groups that we have been able to attract funding from a variety of sources including the EU Peace programme.

"Jim Allister MEP appears to have a great interest in the Peace programme. What is surprising is that he seems to know so little concerning how it operates.

"First of all, exprisoners are a target group for the programme. Relevant funders are therefore fulfiling their obligations in granting funding to our network.

"It is widely recognised that the application process for Peace II was not easy. Nevertheless, our member groups proved capable of designing relevant projects which met the criteria. Our groups are regularly audited and found to be using the funding appropriately."

He added: "One of the rules of the peace programme concerns the fact that funding is only given for the northern 12 counties of Ireland - Rule 12. "This should have alerted Mr. Allister to the fact that our Dublin group - Tar Isteach - was funded by F¡S rather than the Peace programme.

"Therefore, his press release is founded on a completely false premise. Furthermore, Mr. Monaghan had left Tar Isteach's employment before he left Ireland.

"All this information was ventilated in public at his trial; where I also presented evidence that he was in Ireland on specific dates that the prosecution alleged he was in Colombia.

"It is regrettable that Mr. Allister does not check his facts before issuing such a negatively toned statement. It appears that Mr. Allister is not interested in the creation of an inclusive society which has been an important contribution of the Peace programme and is one that we in the Coiste are at any rate committed to."

Mr. McCartney then turned his attention to the BBC and he said: "We finally have an issue about the fact that the BBC asked us to participate in a debate with Mr. Allister the morning his statement was issued and then pulled the issue when they learned that his information was incorrect.

"The BBC should not be in the business of protecting Mr. Allister when he makes false claims. They should have allowed us to defend ourselves against his scurrilous attack in public."

Yesterday a spokesperson for the BBC said: "Good Morning Ulster considered the story and for sound editorial reasons decided not to proceed."


Gardai Quiz Sinn Fein TD Over Mast Sabotage

By Anne Lucey
25 January 2005

Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris has been interviewed by gardai investigating the sabotage of a controversial mobile phone mast near Fenit in Co Kerry.

Mr Ferris, Kerry North TD and former chairman of the now disbanded anti-mast action committee (AMAC), said he was interviewed by two detectives in the Sinn Fein office in Tralee.

"They said they were going to talk to members of AMAC and me as the former chairman. I said I took exception to this. The committee was democratically elected at a meeting of around 150 people," Mr Ferris said.

The committee had "legitimately campaigned" against the mast and he found it "disgusting" that the gardai found it necessary to question the committee. The knock-on effect was intimidation, Mr Ferris said.

Det Sgt John Brennan of Tralee gardai said that up to 100 people had been interviewed. Gardai were keeping "an open mind", Det Sgt Brennan said.

The Meteor Mobile Communications mast was granted permission after the telecommunications company appealed a refusal by Kerry County Council to An Bord Pleanala.

There had been widespread protest and a campaign against the mast located between Tralee and Fenit which overlooks the coastline. A large number of objections were received by Kerry County Council.

The committee's campaign was directed at trying to influence Kerry County Council and An Bord Pleanala and ended after the appeals board granted permission early in September, Mr Ferris said.

Although there was huge disappointment at the decision, a High Court challenge was ruled out as this would have been too expensive. Mr Ferris said the mast had been imposed on people against their wishes but did not condone anybody taking the law into their own hands.


Donegal Boat Sinks In Norwegian Pier

Tuesday 25th January 2005

Donegal fishermen gave a huge and collective sigh of relief after a trawler from the port of Killybegs sank at a pier in Norway yesterday morning.

One of the crew almost drowned as he tried to get the pumps going, after the boat mysteriously went down in 15 short minutes. The matter is now under investigation but the main talking point has been the lucky escape of the crew.

All 11 crewmembers managed to escape before the 60-metre MV Paula, flooded and sank alongside a pier in Malloy, near Bergen in Norway, just after 7a.m. yesterday morning.

Most of that crew are expected to arrive back in Killybegs today, but the skipper Tom Doyle, two engineers and a son of the proprietor will remain in the Scandinavian port.

The boat is understood to be just over 10 years old and had landed at the port on Sunday night to dispatch its load of mackerel the following morning.

The trawler, which according to reports is worth up to 15 million euro, sank 15 minutes after an alarm on board the vessel went off.

The boat was sitting at the bottom of the pier, but still visible from the surface yesterday afternoon.

Owner Mick Doyle was putting a brave face on things when he spoke with the yesterday and said that while there were many issues that would have to be dealt with, not least for his crew, their safety being paramount.

He admitted that the news came like a bolt out of the blue and when his skipper Tom Doyle rang him that morning, he expected to be told that they had commenced unloading their catch.

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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