News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

February 02, 2005

02/02/05 - Peace In Crisis As IRA Scraps Pledge

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BB 02/02/05 IRA Withdraws Weapons Commitment -V(2)
IO 02/02/05 Peace In Crisis As IRA Scraps Weapons Pledge
SM 02/02/05 Paisley Says Statement Treated With Contempt
SM 02/02/05 Timeline: Seven Years In Pursuit Of Peace
IE 02/02/05 Loyalist Slogan A Shock For New York Commuters
IE 02/02/05 LVF-UVF Turf War Threatens Peace
IE 02/02/05 Analysis: IMC Set To Report On Bank Job
UT 02/02/05 Teenagers Were Victims Of 'Padre Pio' Shootings
IO 02/02/05 Two Freed In Pub Brawl Murder Hunt
ND 02/02/05 Obit: James Winters, 72, Businessman & Boxing Promoter

NW 02/02/05 Medical Procedure Proving A Gift To Deaf Children–VO
NW 02/02/05 Musician Freddie White Returns To His Beloved Cobh –VO

Medical Procedure Proving A Gift To Deaf Children And Families - Marian Malone finds out how cochlear implants are helping one Co Limerick family

Musician Freddie White Returns To His Beloved Cobh - Maria Mullarkey pays a visit to Freddie White in Cobh


IRA withdraws all decommissioning proposals - Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, assesses the significance of a new hardline statement from the Provisional IRA

See BBC Video:

IRA Withdraws Weapons Commitment -V(2)

The IRA has withdrawn its offer to complete the decommissioning process.

In a statement passed to the An Phoblacht newspaper, the organisation said it had taken the offer to put its weapons beyond use off the table.

Last year, the IRA said it would complete the decommissioning process within weeks and move into what it called a new mode.

However, Wednesday's statement said the British and Irish governments had "tried its patience to the limit".

A Downing Street spokesman said they were not surprised by the statement.

"The fact remains that it was the IRA that did carry out the Northern Bank robbery and as the prime minister and the taoiseach said on Tuesday therefore it is the IRA that is the sole obstacle to moving forward," he said.

However, the spokesman made it clear the government does not interpret the statement as a threat to return to terrorism.

BBC correspondent Mark Simpson said the statement was "more of an IRA tantrum than anything more significant".

The IRA has denied any involvement in the £26.5m bank raid in Belfast last December.

Wednesday's statement said: "Our initiatives have been attacked, devalued and dismissed by pro-unionist and anti-republican elements, including the British government. The Irish government have lent themselves to this.

"At this time it appears that the two governments are intent on changing the basis of the peace process. They claim that 'the obstacle now to a lasting and durable settlement is the continuing paramilitary and criminal activity of the IRA'. We reject this."

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the statement proved the IRA never had any intention of decommissioning in a credible, transparent and verifiable way.

"They never had any intention of giving up their criminal empire," he said.

"The IRA had better realise that we will not be bullied or threatened and we will accept nothing less than the complete and utter end of all terror and criminal activity and the decommissioning of all their illegal weaponry in a transparent manner."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the statement was "evidence of a deepening crisis", one which he very much regretted.

"The two governments have opted for confrontation. They are engaging in the sterile politics of the blame game without any regard for the consequences," he said.

"This negative approach has effectively scuttled the enormous work done in persuading the IRA to undertake the unprecedented initiatives which they publicly outlined in December."

Senior Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael McGimpsey said the statement was "a thinly veiled threat".


"It is now up to those who support the democratic process, including the prime minister and taoiseach to stand shoulder to shoulder and face this threat down."

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said the statement offered nothing new from the IRA.


The IRA and Sinn Fein should never have been allowed to join the attempt of a peaceful government

Anon, UK

"Instead of facing up to the huge damage done to the peace process by the IRA Northern Bank raid, they are engaging in blatant sabre-rattling and wrecking the Agreement further," he said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that ongoing IRA activity was the "obstacle to a lasting and durable settlement in Northern Ireland".

He was speaking after meeting Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Downing Street to assess their political options in the wake of the 20 December raid.

Last November, the IRA agreed to allow a Protestant and a Catholic churchman to witness any future decommissioning of its weapons as part of proposals to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland.

However, the plan was abandoned after the Democratic Unionist Party demanded photographic proof of decommissioning, a demand deemed "unachievable" by republicans.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/02 23:40:10 GMT


Peace In Crisis As IRA Scraps Weapons Pledge

02/02/2005 - 22:47:22

The withdrawal of the offer of IRA decommissioning tonight plunged the Northern peace process into deep crisis.

In a hard-hitting statement, the terror group accused the Irish and British governments of withdrawing their commitments and trying its patience to the limit.

It confirmed that it was taking its proposals to get rid of its weapons off the table.

The move follows both governments blaming the IRA for carrying out the £26.5m (€38.4m) bank raid on the Northern Bank in Belfast.

The IRA rejected claims that it had continued to engage in paramilitary activity and was responsible for the Northern Bank heist.

But it did not threaten a return to full scale violence.

It stated: “The IRA has demonstrated our commitment to the peace process again and again.

“We wanted to succeed. We have played a key role in achieving the progress achieved so far.

“We are prepared, as part of a genuine and collective effort to do so again if and when the conditions are created for this.”

A Downing Street spokesman said tonight they were not surprised by the IRA statement.

“The fact remains that it was the IRA that did carry out the Northern Bank robbery and as the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach said yesterday therefore it is the IRA that is the sole obstacle to moving forward.”

But Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams blamed the two governments in provoking the IRA’s response.

“The IRA statement is obviously a direct consequence of the retrograde stance of the two governments. It is evidence of a deepening crisis and I regret that very much.

“The two government have opted for confrontation. They are engaging in the sterile politics of the blame game without any regard for the consequences.

“This negative approach has effectively scuttled the enormous work done in persuading the IRA to undertake the unprecedented initiatives which they publicly outlined in December.

“All of this good work has now been undermined,” he added.


DUP Leader The Rev Ian Paisley Said The IRA Statement Would Be Treated With Contempt By All Right Thinking People.


Not for the first time, the IRA has withdrawn its cooperation on decommissioning. This will be another attempt to bargain with the Government in order to take the pressure of them.

“The Northern Bank heist confirmed that the IRA never put an offer on the table that they intended to keep.

“The IRA had never any intention of decommissioning in a credible, transparent and verifiable way.

“They never had any intention of giving up their criminal empire. That is why they walked away from the table last year.”

Senior Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey called on both governments to make progress without republicans.

“It is now eight years since Republicans agreed to commit to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. The people of Northern Ireland are still waiting for them to do so.

“The IRA are attempting to throw down the gauntlet to both governments with this statement. It is a crude, thinly veiled threat.

“It is now up to those who support the democratic process, including the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, to stand shoulder to shoulder and face this threat down,” he added.

SDLP Deputy Leader Alasdair McDonnell described the IRA statement as a “cynical tactic”.

“We cannot allow the peace process to be held hostage to intransigence of the IRA or the DUP. There is an onus on the governments to ensure that as much of the Agreement as possible is implemented now.

“We cannot allow the IRA to stand in the way of change and progress for all of us,” he added.


Timeline: Seven Years In Pursuit Of Peace

By PA News Reporter

The statement tonight by the IRA is a new blow to the peace process. Here are the key events since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

RIL 1998. The Good Friday Agreement is signed.

DECEMBER 1999. Power is finally passed to Belfast from Westminster and the power-sharing executive meets for the first time after 20 months of wrangle and delay.

FEBRUARY 2000. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson signs an order suspending the devolved Assembly after a failure to reach a deal on IRA decommissioning.

MAY 2000. Devolution restored after Ulster Unionist leader and First Minister David Trimble secures his party’s backing to return to government without IRA decommissioning but following a promise from the republicans to begin a process that would “completely and verifiably” put its weapons beyond use.

JULY 2001. Mr Trimble resigns as First Minister over the continuing arms impasse. A month later General John de Chastelain, head of the international arms decommissioning body, says the IRA has put forward a plan to put its weapons beyond use.

AUGUST 2001. With no sign of the IRA about to decommission, and no hint unionists will accept anything less, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid suspends devolution. It is restored 24 hours later, resetting the clock for a deal by six weeks.

SEPTEMBER 2001. Dr Reid announces second technical suspension, saying it will be the last. The following month the IRA says it had started a process of putting arms beyond use and General de Chastelain says he has witnessed “significant” disposal.

NOVEMBER 2001. Devolution up and running again.

RIL 2002. IRA says it has put a second tranche of its arsenal beyond use.

OCTOBER 4, 2002. Sinn Fein’s offices at Stormont raided amid major police investigation of alleged IRA intelligence-gathering at the heart of government. Mr Trimble warns the Assembly may not survive if action is not taken by the Government against Sinn Fein.

OCTOBER 14. 2002. Dr Reid announces suspension of devolution and reintroduction of direct rule.

MAY 2003. Prime Minister Tony Blair announces postponement of Assembly elections until the autumn because of lack of clarity over IRA’s arms position.

NOVEMBER 2003. Assembly elections take place. The DUP and Sinn Fein come out on top as the largest parties in unionism and nationalism.

JANUARY 2004. A Trimble critic, Lagan Valley MP and MLA Jeffrey Donaldson, resigns from the UUP and joins the DUP – taking two fellow MLAs with him.

FEBRUARY 2004. Review of the workings of the Good Friday Agreement launched in Belfast. It was put on hold in May for the European elections, resumed in Belfast in June and moved to Leeds Castle in Kent in September. There is “cautious optimism” after three days of intensive discussions.

OCTOBER 2004. DUP leader Ian Paisley has landmark meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in Dublin. Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy says he hopes a breakthrough in the political process will come within weeks. Intensive talks continue in Belfast, London and Dublin.

NOVEMBER 2004. British and Irish Governments put their proposals for breaking the stalemate to the DUP and Sinn Fein. Talking continues. US President George Bush talks to Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams to urge them forward.

DECEMBER 7, 2004. Mr Adams says political process has reached “defining moment”. Mr Paisley insists on photographic proof of further acts of IRA decommissioning. Mr Adams responds that republicans will not be humiliated.

DECEMBER 8, 2004. It becomes obvious there will be no deal. Mr Blair and Mr Ahern travel to Belfast to publish details of what might have been.

JANUARY 7, 2005. Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde confirms that the IRA was behind the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast.

FEBRUARY 1, 2005. Mr Blair and Mr Ahern warn the IRA that it must give up all criminal activity if there is to be any return of power sharing in Northern Ireland. Following talks in Downing Street, the two men say the IRA’s continuing criminal and paramilitary activity was the sole remaining obstacle to a peace settlement in the province.

FEBRUARY 2, 2005. The IRA withdraws future co-operation on disarmament, saying the scheme to put all its weapons completely and verifiably beyond use is no longer on the table. It denies it is an obstacle to a lasting and durable settlement over allegations of criminal activity.


Loyalist Slogan A Shock For New York Commuters

By Ray O'Hanlon

This slogan would raise few eyebrows if scrawled on a pillar in Larne, a wall in Ballymena or a gable end in some diehard loyalist corner of Belfast. But this piece of hateful graffiti isn't in Northern Ireland at all. It was unleashed on unsuspecting train commuters in suburban Westchester County, New York.

And it gave at least one train rider a Monday morning jolt that had nothing to do with freezing mid-winter weather or strong coffee.

The anti-Catholic message, "Taigs Out. UVF", was written in marker on a pillar at Pleasantville train station, a northern Westchester stop on Metro North's Harlem Line.

"I have no idea who could do such a thing," said the commuter, who wished to remain anonymous. "It's scary to think that there could be a genuine nut around here thinking in these terms."

The commuter is Irish-American and knew immediately that "Taigs" was a pejorative term for Catholics used in Northern Ireland and the letters "UVF" stood for the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force.

The UVF is currently embroiled in a growing turf feud with the rival LVF, or Loyalist Volunteer Force, in areas of Belfast disputed by both paramilitary groups.

The graffiti was scrawled on a pillar at the foot of steps leading to the train platform from the street.

"It stood out because Pleasantville is a very clean station," the commuter said.

The commuter said that the slogan had not been on the pillar when he ended his work week last Friday so it had been written with blue marker at some point over the weekend.

"It's distressing and a shame to think that someone would feel the need to do this," the commuter said.

When contacted by the Echo, Metro North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders expressed surprise at the graffiti, and shock over its hateful meaning.

Within an hour of being notified of the slogan, Anders called the Echo to say that a Metro North station cleaning team had erased the callous message with special graffiti remover.

This story appeared in the issue of February 2-8, 2005


LVF-UVF Turf War Threatens Peace

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST -- Yet another loyalist feud is threatening to burst into bloodshed in North Belfast with gangs of rival LVF and UVF men setting fire to each others' cars, firing at taxi depots, and beating and intimidating each other.

The LVF originally split from the UVF over the loyalist ceasefire, but since then the proceeds of drug dealing and extortion, along with personal rivalries, have replaced any political motivation.

In the latest incident, a gun attack on a taxi depot is being linked to the LVF. Staff members were in the depot on the Ballysillan Road when shots were fired at the front of the building in the early hours of Saturday morning.

No one was injured and police said a number of men were seen driving off in a car. A short time later, the car was found burning in the Oldpark area.

The feud has been simmering since before Christmas. Since then, people have been beaten and intimidated, and at least 10 taxis belonging to different firms linked to the rival groupings have been burned out. Protestant ministers have been unsuccessfully trying to mediate between the warring parties.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds condemned the shooting. "This vicious attack could easily have resulted in death or serious injury," he said. "It is bad enough that people's livelihoods, businesses and property are being destroyed. But someone will lose their life unless this all stops."

This story appeared in the issue of February 2-8, 2005


Analysis: IMC Set To Report On Bank Job

By Paul Colgan

DUBLIN -- The Independent Monitoring Commission is expected to report in the coming days that the Provisional IRA carried out December's £26.5 million Northern Bank heist.

The British and Irish governments have requested the IMC to speed up its investigations into who was behind the robbery. The body had originally planned to publish a report into ongoing paramilitary activity in April.

However, following the Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable's contention that the IRA was responsible and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's statement that the Sinn Fein leadership had foreknowledge of the IRA's plans, the IMC will focus on the record-breaking bank job.

Observers expect the IMC to recommend that financial penalties be imposed on Sinn Fein despite the Irish government's unwillingness to punish the party. Dublin believes that such a move would enable republicans to pose as "victims."

Speaking Monday, Ahern said: "I do not think the politics of exclusion or penalties will bring us forward. We have serious issues that we have to find resolutions for. I will positively work to try to find resolutions for those."

The IMC carried out a special report last year following the alleged abduction by IRA members of Belfast dissident republican Bobby Tohill. The body was set up as part of the two governments' joint declaration in 2003.

Republicans claimed that it was established as a sop to the Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble and that it would be used to exclude Sinn Fein from the political process.

The four-man team comprises John Alderdice, former leader of the Alliance party Joe Brosnan, former secretary general of the Irish Department of Justice John Grieve, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the British Metropolitan Police and former CIA deputy director Dick Kerr.

The IMC's expected findings will fuel the current political controversy. Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met with Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week in crunch meetings in Dublin and London.

Both premiers are thought to have stuck by their claims that the IRA carried out the raid and called on the Sinn Fein leadership to distance itself from ongoing "criminality."

Adams said that the meetings had not descended into "rows" and that he expected that Sinn Fein would meet with the governments again soon.

However, Ahern traveled to London Tuesday to meet with Blair in the company of Garda commissioner Noel Conroy. PSNI's chief constable, Hugh Orde, also attended the meeting.

The attendance of the two most senior policemen on the island of Ireland has led to concerns from republicans that the governments are no longer interested in reaching a deal on power sharing and are instead investing more time in security issues.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said in an interview Sunday that the Irish government in particular was seemingly not interested in marshalling a fresh deal in the North.

"The failure of the initiatives last December and the attempt to criminalize republicans at the moment have made profound difficulties worse. And the stance of the government at the moment is not even aimed at trying to sort them out," Adams told the Sunday Business Post.

"It appears the taoiseach has gone for a full-frontal attack. I hope that is not going to become government policy because that will be a very, very firm signal that they don't think the process can work in the short term."

Adams also raised concerns that the taoiseach had allowed Justice Minister Michael McDowell to take the government's lead position on the North. McDowell has been scathing of the Sinn Fein leadership in recent weeks and has linked them to the turning "on and off" of punishment attacks in the North and of not being serious about peace.

"His anti-republicanism is famous, so my concern isn't as much about what Michael McDowell is saying, although I find it very offensive," Adams said. "It appears that he is taking the lead position for the government on the North, particularly since Brian Cowen shifted. That's my concern."

A report at the weekend that suggested the IRA was considering a return to a "limited" form of war has, meanwhile, been dismissed by republicans and the Dublin government. The Sunday Independent had reported that the taoiseach had received intelligence from the Garda that indicated that the IRA leadership was considering a limited return to violence in order to placate hardliners within the organization.

Bertie Ahern said he had received no such information while republican sources said the report was outlandish.


Teenagers Were Victims Of 'Padre Pio' Shootings

Two teenagers were shot in the hands in Belfast last month, in a style of paramilitary attack known as a "Padre Pio" shooting, which was brought to light by the Taoiseach last week.

A plastic surgeon at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald says bullet wounds to the hands are serious injuries which may result in a permanent disability.

Last month, the two teenage boys in east and west belfast were ordered to clasp their hands together before being shot through both hands.

The attacks have become known as Padre Pio shootings because of the stigmata which the saint had on his hands.

Sinn Fein have condemned the attacks and are accusing Bertie Ahern of electioneering.

The police say they are currently investigating eight paramilitary shootings, four of which were carried out by republican and four by loyalist paramilitaries last month.


Two Freed In Pub Brawl Murder Hunt

02/02/2005 - 16:57:40

Two men being questioned by detectives about the murder of a man in a pub brawl were released unconditionally today.

Four others are still under arrest over the fatal stabbing of 33-year-old Robert McCartney in Belfast.

Police have also gone back into Belfast’s nationalist Short Strand, where officers were stoned during searches earlier this week.

Mr McCartney, a married father of two from the Mountpottinger Road in the Short Strand, died in hospital after a fight broke out in Magennis’s Bar in May Street on Sunday night.

The 33-year-old was found lying unconscious in nearby Cromac Street.

Another man, aged 31, was also taken to hospital with a stab wound which was not life-threatening.

Several officers carrying out searches in the Short Strand and nearby Markets area were injured during disturbances over the past two days.

But Sinn Féin representatives have accused the police of heavy-handed tactics.

Meanwhile, the investigation moved outside Belfast today when police made three arrests at Killough, near Downpatrick, Co Down.


Obit: LONG ISLAND: James Winters, 72, Businessman And Boxing Promoter



February 2, 2005

Business savvy often comes down to dollars and cents. But for James Winters, there was an ethical code that was worth more than the bottom line of his successful waste management company. The integrity by which he ran his business and lived his life was punctuated by the advice he enjoyed handing out to his sons.

"Always put yourself in the other guy's shoes," he told them. "Always give a fair deal," and "Don't ever break your word."

The longtime St. James resident and a founder of Winters Brothers Recycling Corp. died Sunday of lung disease at home surrounded by his family. He was 72.

Born and raised in Maspeth, Winters joined the Navy in 1951 and served overseas during the Korean War. In the military, he developed a passion for boxing that would last his life.

After three years, Winters was honorably discharged and came to Babylon to help his brother, who had started a waste management company. Winters Brothers Recycling Corp. became one of the largest on Long Island. "It flourished in a time when it was hard to make a living in the industry," said his son Joseph of St. James. The key to its success was the strong moral code by which Winters lived, his son said. "He always said it is better to make $10 honestly than to make $15 the wrong way," he said. Those who regularly dealt with Winters walked away impressed by his iron-clad virtues.

"He instilled in his family as well as the companies he created a real strong sense of integrity, hard work and loyalty," said longtime family friend and former Suffolk County Executive Patrick Halpin. "And those are the principles by which he lived his life."

Winters' love of boxing propelled him to start a promotional business for the sport during the 1970s and '80s. Using venues such as the Long Island Arena in Commack and the Holiday Inn in Hempstead, he put on shows featuring up-and-coming Long Island boxers, some of whom, such as Gerry Cooney and Bobby Cassidy, would go on to national prominence.

At home, he encouraged his five sons to take up the sport. It was not uncommon for Winters to wake at 3:30 a.m., his son said, do a garbage run, come back to St. James, pick up his sons and take them to Manhattan for training. "Some fathers take their sons to baseball games," Winters said in a 2002 Newsday article. "I took mine to the Times Square Gym."

When he wasn't watching matches on television, Winters, who was active in the local Irish-American community, traveled with his wife, Brigid, to their second home in Ireland.

Although he retired about 10 years ago, his son said, Winters had a morning routine that always included coming down to the business and having a cup of coffee while offering advice to his sons, who now run the company. "He was such a great adviser," his son said.

In addition to his wife and son Joseph, Winters is survived by sons Sean, James Jr., Michael and Andrew, all of St. James; brother Joseph and sister Dorothy Tschan, both of Douglaston; and six grandsons.

Visiting today is 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. in the St. James Funeral Home. A funeral Mass will be said tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Sts. Philip & James Roman Catholic Church in St. James, followed by burial in St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?