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January 29, 2005

01/29/05 – Gun Attack Linked to Loyalists

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

BB 01/29/05 Gun Attack Linked To Loyalist Feud
IO 01/29/05 Adams Denies 'Punishment Attack' Claims
BT 01/29/05 Opin: Thought For The Weekend: The Light Of Good Sense
BB 01/29/05 NI Process On 'Road To Nowhere'
BT 01/29/05 Some Day Upper Bann Will Be Ours: Sinn Fein
BT 01/29/05 Rathlin Islanders Get The Bigger Picture

NW 01/28/05 Waterford Man Brings Magic To TV Screens -VO
BB 01/28/05 Trimble On McAleese’s Apology –AO

Waterford Man Brings A Touch Magic To Irish TV Screens - Damien Tiernan catches up with Keith Barry in Waterford

BBC: Irish President Mary McAleese has apologised for comparing sectarianism in Northern Ireland with the hatred of jews in Nazi Germany. We speak to David Trimble.


Gun Attack 'Linked To Feud'

A gun attack on a taxi depot in north Belfast is being linked to a loyalist feud.

Staff were in the depot on the Ballysillan Road when shots were fired at the front of the building at about 0450 GMT on Saturday.

No-one was injured. Police said a number of men were seen driving off.

A short time later, a car was found burning at Brae Hill Park in the Oldpark area.

It is understood that a feud between the Loyalist Volunteer Force and the Ulster Volunteer Force has been simmering since before Christmas.

Since that time, people have been beaten and intimidated, and several taxis have been burnt out.

The latest attack, at Sunningdale Taxis on the corner of the Ballysillan Road and Ballysillan Park, is being blamed on the LVF.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds condemned the shooting.

"This vicious attack could easily have resulted in death or serious injury," he said.

Patrols stepped up

"It is bad enough that people's livelihoods, businesses and property are being destroyed. But someone will lose their life unless this all stops.

"The community want it stopped.

"I will continue to press government to ensure the police and security forces have whatever resources are needed at the present time to combat this violence."

There have been several calls for mediation between the two sides.

Police said they would continue to tackle paramilitary-linked organised crime in north Belfast.

Last week they more than doubled the numbers of officers patrolling the streets in response to the violence.

Police have appealed for witnesses to contact them at 028 9065 0222 or using Crimestoppers 0800 555111.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/29 14:52:23 GMT


Adams Denies 'Punishment Attack' Claims
2005-01-29 14:20:02+00

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today denied his party had the power to turn punishment attacks on and off at will.

Mr Adams dismissed claims by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that Sinn Féin controlled violence for political expedience.

In a forceful attack on Sinn Féin, Mr Ahern told the Dáil this week that attacks and punishment beatings were switched off for political reasons.

"I reject what the Taoiseach said," Mr Adams said.

"He knows, and we know him long enough and value his contribution, as I'm sure he values our contribution, no matter about the current difficulties, that Sinn Féin does not turn off and on these so-called punishment beatings or shootings."

Mr Adams went on to say much work was being done to end the attacks.

"He knows, or he should know, of the work done by Sinn Féin representatives on the ground.

"He knows our opposition to these. I actually think they are totally counterproductive, leaving aside any other issue of morality or any other matter, they're just totally counterproductive."

Mr Adams told BBC Radio Ulster that the Taoiseach had attacked his party to deflect scrutiny from the Government over the jailing of a former minister.

Former Irish justice minister Ray Burke was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this week for tax dodging. Burke was elevated to the front benches in 1997 as part of Mr Ahern's first Cabinet.

"What you saw for electoral reasons for party political reasons, on that particular day, to get them past the embarrassment caused by the imprisonment of a Cabinet minister, the reminder of all of the corruption of the brown envelope culture that permeated establishment politics for so long.

"Bertie played a blinder," Mr Adams added.


 Anglican Cannon Walter Lewis
Anglican Cannon Walter Lewis

Thought For The Weekend: The Light Of Good Sense

Canon Walter Lewis, rector, St Thomas' Parish Church, Belfast
29 January 2005

I look back on the high hopes many people had for political co-operation and stability just a few months ago. Speculation was replaced by realism:

Sinn Fein and the DUP would be in Government by June 2005. Before long, Sinn Fein would take their place on the Policing Board. And, a little further down the line, Gerry Kelly or Nigel Dodds would have responsibility for security. IRA weapons would have been decommissioned, and the DUP would be operating the Belfast Agreement. A new era of manifestly democratic politics would have begun. The ancient, and mutually destructive, divisions would have been superseded by political co-operation and trust.

This scenario was anticipated by people, made cautious by the many false political dawns, but who formed the view that Sinn Fein and the DUP were in this for real. The two parties were determined to make politics work for the benefit of everyone.

It now transpires, in the light of the welter of information about IRA involvement in the Northern Bank robbery, that many people were misled, as well as governments and churches.

Having read numerous newspaper reports on the robbery, a number of important points clearly emerge. There is no support for criminality in democratic society in Ireland, north or south. There is an awareness of the necessity of respect for the law if society is not to descend into fascism and chaos. The time has come when equivocation on the matter of criminality and the exercise of political power has run its course.

From the perspective of faith, it is often the case that good comes out of evil. The Northern Bank robbery was a profoundly evil and criminal act. Yet, it is a defining event from which good is emerging. The vast majority of people on this island are saying 'no' to this shocking crime, and have taken a stand for common decency.

An ancient Chinese proverb expresses the mind of the ordinary people:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

From the prevailing morass of darkness in the political realm, the light of good sense and right living in ordinary people is shining ever more brightly.

It is the light of Jesus - Messiah, Saviour - reigning among us, exposing the perverted and corrupting nature of evil, and affirming the place of truth, justice, goodness and peace.


NI Process On 'Road To Nowhere'

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

"So who is at Chequers today, then?" a gentleman on a horse enquired of the gentlemen of the fourth estate gathered on the side of a muddy country lane just outside the prime minister's country residence.

The scene appeared a world away from abductions in west Belfast and Loughinisland and bank employees being forced by armed men to empty their own vault.

Nevertheless, news of the country's biggest bank robbery had reached this part of rural Buckinghamshire.

"Ah, Gerry Adams" the horseman responded when told who the visitor was, "I hear Bertie Ahern gave him a bit of a roasting the other day". And with that he cantered off.

Chequers has, it seems, played a bigger part in the Northern Ireland process than has been previously documented. Asked whether he had visited the country residence before, Martin McGuinness replied with a smile "oh yes, many times".

But this occasion promised to be different from some of the convivial chats Sinn Fein's chief negotiator had previously enjoyed with Tony Blair and Jonathan Powell.

Before heading in, Gerry Adams said that if the prime minister wanted a row he would give him a row. However, in the event, according to both sides, there was no angry confrontation.

Nevertheless, there are profound disagreements between the two sides. The government believes the IRA robbed the Northern Bank. Sinn Fein is adhering to the IRA denial. Gerry Adams says he wants to concentrate on the consequences.

But it's hard to know how two sides who don't agree where they are can reach agreement on where they are going.

Gerry Adams said Tony Blair did not raise the topic of sanctions at Chequers. However, there appear to be growing indications that some action against republicans will be taken.


The Independent Monitoring Commission could produce an ad hoc report on the Northern Bank raid fairly soon.

Moreover, there seems to be a desire in some political circles for any punishment of Sinn Fein, whether it is the withdrawal of Westminster allowances or not, to be announced before the general election campaign begins in earnest.

Although he will vehemently oppose any sanctions, Gerry Adams appears more concerned about the bigger picture.

He implies that in talks with the British Government in late December he was hopeful of advancing his all Ireland agenda, perhaps in return for delivering some of the IRA concessions then on offer. This now seems highly unlikely.

The Sinn Fein president wasn't prepared to respond in detail to any of the options that have been floated for a "Plan B" such as setting up an assembly without an executive and/or scrutiny committees keeping an eye on direct rule ministers.

He did not threaten to boycott such bodies, but indicated in general terms that he did not believe they were in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

The British and Irish Governments have spelled out their "stark" messages to Sinn Fein on paramilitarism and criminality.

But it is hard to see how they can put flesh on the bones of their talk about seeking "another way" forward.

Having got lost for a short time in the Chiltern hills en route to Chequers I began to form the image in my mind of Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern as two motorists whose map reading skills have temporarily deserted them.

They can wind down their windows and ask the locals for directions, but they are liable to be told "if I was you, I wouldn't start from here".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/29 11:08:58 GMT


Some Day Upper Bann Will Be Ours: Sinn Fein

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent
29 January 2005

Sinn Fein forecast today that it will eventually take the Westminster seat held by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

The prediction came as the party selected their Assembly group leader, John O'Dowd, to fight Upper Bann at the next General Election.

The party also said they expect to get a seat on Banbridge Council when local government elections are held on May 5.

Michael Tallon, the party's director of elections in Upper Bann, said the constituency is "clearly a key area of growth for Sinn Fein".

"Make no mistake, with continued hard work and dedication this seat will one day belong to Sinn Fein - a seat that until recent years would have been considered untouchable."

Sinn Fein passed the SDLP in Upper Bann at the last General Election, but still lag significantly behind both unionist parties.

The unionist vote in the constituency was nearly double the nationalist vote in 2001.

Mr Trimble has a majority of more than 2,000 votes, but will face a strong challenge from the DUP. The contest is expected to be held on the same day as the council elections.

Mr O'Dowd said he expects "an unprecedented breakthrough onto Banbridge District Council".


Rathlin Islanders Get The Bigger Picture

29 January 2005

The 60 or so residents on Rathlin Island can now go to the cinema.

For the first time ever, the tiny island now has a picture house thanks to a charity grant.

The Awards For All initiative has led to the formation of the Rathlin Community Film Club.

Funding has allowed the purchase of film equipment enabling cinema-like screenings in the local hall.

Members of the community are encouraged to select particular film favourites they would like to see on the big screen, varying from black and white classics, to contemporary, encompassing all genres.

So far the Film Club has received praise from both the Northern Ireland Film Commission and Belfast Film Festival.

The first film selected and screened in December was 'The Edge of the World' by renowned director Michael Powell.

Filmed in 1937, it movingly depicts life on the remote Shetland Isle of Foula, and had particular relevance for the Rathlin audience.

'The Edge of the World' was followed by the ultimate rural classic 'Whiskey Galore' and a special showing of 'Shrek 2' for the younger islanders.

The RCFC is part of the 'Arts on Rathlin' cultural initiative funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Islanders are busy with the ongoing 'Rathlin Crafts' Programme, with continuous alternate crafts weekends in ceramics and silversmithing.

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

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