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February 05, 2005

02/05/05 – Minister Oppose SF Sanctions

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

TO 02/05/05 Ministers To Oppose Sinn Fein Sanctions
SB 02/05/05 Peace Process On The Wane, Warn Republicans
SB 02/05/05 Sinn Fein Must Find A Way
GU 02/05/05 Focus: IRA Digs In
GU 02/05/05 Comment: The DUP's Closet Policies
TO 02/05/05 ‘Cold Case’ Squad To Review 2,100 Troubles Deaths
UT 02/05/05 Greens Merge To Form One Party
TO 02/05/05 Secret Service Defied Neutrality During Second World War
GU 02/05/05 Books: Roots And Branches
TO 02/05/05 Feeney Donates €4m To Anti-Corruption Agency

NW 02/04/05 Kavanagh Centenary Celebrations –VO

Kavanagh Centenary Celebrations - Rowan Hand looks at how the life of Patrick Kavanagh was remembered in his home town of Iniskeen in Co Monaghan


Ministers To Oppose Sinn Fein Sanctions

Stephen O’Brien, Liam Clarke and Richard Oakley

THE Irish government is expected to oppose sanctions against Sinn Fein following the IRA’s robbery of the Northern Bank.

A report by the International Monitoring Commission, which will go to both the Irish and British cabinets this week, is understood to recommend that Sinn Fein be punished but one official said the measures are “milder than expected”.

Michael McDowell, the justice minister, said yesterday that the government was generally against sanctions because they allowed Sinn Fein to portray itself as a victim.

“The view of our government is that sanctions of a financial kind are a sideshow,” he said.

“The taoiseach and myself have discussed this at length. One of the problems with imposing sanctions on the IRA is that it is purely symbolic. They take advantage of these symbolic sanctions to claim that they are being discriminated against and go further into victim mode.

“We think it is a distraction from the fundamental issue: to get them to face up to their problems. Anything that assists them to characterise themselves as victims where they are causing all the problems themselves is counterproductive.”

In a remark likely to exacerbate tensions, Mitchel McLaughlin, a Sinn Fein spokesman, said in a radio interview that if the IRA were to rob the Northern Bank again “it would be wrong but it wouldn’t be criminal”.

McLaughlin, who was criticised for saying the IRA’s murder of Jean McConville in 1972 was not a crime, said anything the republican movement did in terms of discipline, structures and control, “they do on the basis of operational considerations. This is why I don’t think they did it”.

Eddie McGrady, an SDLP MP, said: “Holding up a family at gunpoint, and terrorising women and children is a crime. So is the theft of £26.5m. Clearly, Sinn Fein thinks that the Provisionals are above the law and that they don’t have to live by the same rules as the rest of us.”

Meanwhile Hugh Orde has said he doesn’t believe the IRA is on the verge of a split or that the Northern Bank robbery was a sign of division within the organisation.

The PSNI chief constable believes the IRA is well under the control of its leadership and united on a policy of financing itself through organised crime. This contradicts Sinn Fein’s attempt to distance the party from the heist by suggesting it was the work of people opposed to the peace process.

“I think the IRA carried out the robbery to send a message that ‘we are still here’ without risking too much,” said Orde. “It was also a revenue-raising exercise. There is nothing to suggest there are major splits. It (the IRA) is a hierarchical organisation and the leadership has got a grip on it.”

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, said yesterday that his party was totally opposed to any return to conflict. “We are totally wedded to our peace strategy. We resent greatly any suggestion to the contrary,” he said.

“Far from threatening anyone, what Sinn Fein is saying is that we are wedded to our peace strategy. But we cannot sort this out on our own and our position is completely undermined by the governments presenting this as the republicans being the problem.”

Asked what the two governments need to do to get the peace process back on track, Adams retorted: “I think they need to dig their heads out of their asses.”

McDowell said confrontational, inflammatory and abusive language should not be used. “The fundamental problems lie within the provisional movement and lashing out at others is not going to help to solve those problems,” he said. “They have to now address very serious issues about paramilitarism, criminality and decommissioning.”

Last week the IRA issued a statement warning the British and Irish governments not to underestimate the “seriousness of the situation”, leading to speculation that the organisation was in turmoil.


Adams critical of British and Irish govts - David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports on criticism by Gerry Adams of the stance taken by the two governments

Peace Process On The Wane, Warn Republicans

06 February 2005 By Paul T Colgan

Republicans have this weekend warned that the peace process is on the slide and could give way to a return to street violence in nationalist areas of Belfast.

Republicans are concerned that the political vacuum created by allegations of IRA involvement in the Northern Bank robbery and attacks on the Sinn Fein leadership will lead to street-battles between nationalists and the security forces.

Sources fear that the ongoing crisis may tempt loyalist paramilitaries to organise forays into republican areas leading to gun battles.

'The situation is sliding,' said a former republican prisoner. 'Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair are unleashing something they can't control - human nature. All it takes is for a loyalist attack on a nationalist area or a riot with the PSNI for someone to get hurt. If republicans are called out to defend their people things could take on a momentum all of their own.'

Republican sources have denied that the IRA is planning a resumption of its war but said that sections within the PSNI and loyalism were itching to confront the organisation on its own turf.

One source said that in such a scenario the IRA would not allow itself to be 'shackled' by the 'post-September 11 world view'.

This follows last week's comments by PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde who said he believed the UDA may be on the verge of a dangerous split.

'There is potential for a split between those who are trying to move on in a political way and those who are utterly incapable of moving on in a political way. Time will tell,' said Orde.

'The second IRA statement last week was fairly ominous,' said a republican source. 'It's convenient for critics of the republican movement to describe the IRA's statements as petulant but there is palpable frustration and anger among republicans.'

Republicans point to increasing disillusionment with the political process in strongholds such as west Belfast.

They cite an incident reported last week where a 16-year-old nationalist graffiti artist was chased by several PSNI patrol cars and Land Rovers, arrested, clothed in a forensic jumpsuit and subjected to a DNA swab before being interrogated.

They contrast this with the lengths to which senior republicans went last summer to protect several British army soldiers and PSNI officers at the hands of a nationalist crowd in North Belfast.

The crowd attacked the soldiers after supporters of the Orange Order were allowed to march through the Ardoyne area.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly intervened and sustained a broken arm in the fracas. 'People in the movement are asking questions about the process,' said the source. 'The republican community thought ten years ago when this process started that there would be access to power sharing by now, that there would be an Irish dimension.

'We went to prison, we lost people to the loyalist collusion squads and now we've arrived at a stage where the two governments are siding with the bigots in the DUP. People are saying what the hell is going on?'

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein is digging in for a long stand-off with the government. 'The campaign of confrontation appears set to run for the foreseeable future,' said a Sinn Fein source.

'We'd rather it wouldn't, but if they want a row then I don't think there's any better group of people on this island who could give them one.'

Sources said the government was intent on causing Sinn Fein electoral damage in the North in the run-up to the British general election, as it would have a 'knock-on effect' in the Republic.


Sinn Fein Must Find A Way

06 February 2005 By Tom McGurk

Orwellian Close might be an understated name for the cul de sac up which the Peace Process has suddenly disappeared.

In a month we have moved from the prospect of total IRA decommissioning and virtual stand-down to ominous warnings from P O'Neill. The political consensus across Ireland and Britain that had worked the republican ship to the very point of arrival has collapsed into recrimination and blame gaming. Agreement in the North is out for the foreseeable future and we are all in a dangerous vacuum.

Among all this uncertainty, there are only two certainties left to ponder. One is that there can be no agreement in the North without Sinn Fein - any attempt to construct institutions without them would simply lead to the eventual electoral eclipse of the SDLP.

The other certainty is that the current Sinn Fein/IRA political axis as it has operated in the past cannot now deliver. The question of whether Sinn Fein controls the IRA is actually not the determining one. The real question is whether the Republican Movement's strategy is prepared to abandon the extra player of paramilitarism and settle on politics alone.

The IRA can, of course, issue statements. Much of its first statement last week was an understandable expression of frustration. However, beyond the IRA's pique, what is it offering to solve the impasse? In the cold light of day this is an army being maintained to fight a war which is effectively over. The Republican Movement in 1998 signed up to a new political construct that replaced the political cul de sac that was partition.

The Belfast Agreement ended political majoritarianism in the North and replaced a colony with the architecture of a new civic society. The effect was to politically, de jure, end partition, while de facto maintaining it. In the 21st century context of the European Union's developing political and social architecture, that was the end-game for unionist political supremacy. And with nationalist census numbers almost equal to unionist numbers the North, post 1998 was unrecognisable in comparison to the one that preceded it.

Equally importantly, all of this occurred against a background of unprecedented economic wealth North and South. Perhaps invisible against the background of the troubles, a new Irish bourgeoisie was emerging who were about to enjoy standards of living and education that were among the best in Europe. Economic change always precedes political change and in the South, the surging economy was contributing to the creation of a new political equilibrium.

In the North too, a new generation of nationalists emerged with educational, economic and cultural strengths unlike anything known before. As the old oligarchic structure of unionist economic power was wiped away by free market forces, the new nationalist economic power utterly changed the social landscape of the Six Counties. The last thing the post-ceasefire nationalist generation in the North needs is a paramilitary army.

Following the ceasefire, this newly aspirational generation voted in unprecedented numbers for Sinn Fein.

They did this because their demands and expectations were matched by Sinn Fein's harder political nose and they voted too - let's not forget it - to divert the republican movement's energies away from paramilitarism to politics. Ironically they voted for the war party in order to end the war. Above all, they voted because they wanted the share of political power that was the inevitable consequence of their new economic and cultural position.

The very serious question that Sinn Fein needs to ponder this weekend is whether their some 320,000 voters across the country fully appreciated the role the IRA would have in the discharge of their democratic franchise.

Of course. the political forces ranged against Sinn Fein were determined to trammel their political ambitions by tying them to the IRA, but do their voters accept this arrangement?

How can you have, at one end, a political party with 320,000 votes demanding political power and at the other end a secret, armed society exercising a political veto by virtue of their continuing existence?

The question this weekend is actually not who robbed the bank, but who runs the show lads? Is it the universally franchised, democratically elected members of parliament or the IRA army council with its more limited franchise? I don't know, but I would like to know. So too would the wider Irish political democratic constituency.

And what are the IRA's options this weekend? Go back to war? I don't think so. What would it be for - to have decommissioning without photographs? Anyway, the IRA knows perfectly well that its ultimate controllers, the nationalist population of the North would not stand for it. Another generation of jails and funerals? I don't think so.

So if republicans have no war to fight, why do they want an army?

If somebody doesn't watch out we may have a classical Irish internecine division. It has happened twice before, when the point where militarism ends and politics begins could not be agreed upon.

Such feuding has always been a classic post-colonial affliction. One can only hope that this present generation of Sinn Feiners has already left that condition behind.

The Peace Process has had many enemies in the South and in these last weeks they have been out tossing their sweaty nightcaps into the air in delight at the present difficulties. They are the usual suspects, with the southern nationalist instinct that from 1922 saw partition and unionist domination in the North serving their own best interests in the Republic.

In recent years Sinn Fein and the Peace Process had utterly wrong-footed them but they gritted their teeth and waited their opportunity.

The republican movement should not rise to their taunts, doing so only gets in the way of the work to be done. This is not about securocrats or Perfidious Albion.

This is about the all Ireland democratic vote which mandated the new political settlement that replaced the 1920 Government of Ireland Act.

This is about the long march of the nationalists of the North out of the dark and into a new century to their full share of peaceful political and economic prosperity. Sinn Fein is the weapon they chose to carve out that share. Is Sinn Fein up to the hard choices now needed to deliver it?


Focus: IRA Digs In

'Not an ounce'

Resuming its defiant stance, the IRA is giving out signals that threaten the peace process. But in a post-9/11 world that has trained its sights on terrorism, what options do the Provos really have left?

By Henry McDonald
Sunday February 6, 2005
The Observer

The defiant message from the Falls Road in west Belfast on Thursday summed up the mood of the Irish republican base. Freshly painted in white and written up in capitals, it announced: 'NOT AN OUNCE.'

The slogan is a reference to that old unionist battlecry of 'not an inch' surrendered to their nationalist enemies; transposed into IRA-speak it alludes to demands from their foes that the armed wing of the republican movement disarm their huge arsenals of weapons and explosives in return for sharing power in Northern Ireland.

Just hours earlier the IRA leadership had issued a statement withdrawing last December's offer to decommission vast amounts of arms as well as tonnes of Semtex explosive in order to boost a deal that would see Gerry Adams sitting down in government with his unionist nemesis, Ian Paisley.

Since that deal broke down, the atmosphere in Northern Ireland has been toxic, the over-hyped euphoria about an historic deal between Sinn Fein and Paisley's Democratic Unionists replaced with verbal warfare and the prospect of the nationalist and unionist communities sharing power in a devolved assembly a remote possibility. As a result, the IRA will not consider handing over even an ounce of Semtex to move politics forward.

Irish politics was further poisoned when on 22 December the families of two bank officials were held hostage in an operation believed to have been carried out by an elite unit of the IRA. The theft of an estimated £26m from the Northern Bank in central Belfast led to a fresh crisis in the peace process.

Why the bank was targeted illuminates the nature of the internal debate over the IRA's future as a dormant but highly oiled terror machine.

According to a security briefing given to Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern just over a fortnight ago, the Northern Bank robbery was a 'bloodless spectacular', an alternative to a major bombing attack in Britain.

The Irish Republic's top detectives, along with the Irish Defence Forces' military intelligence unit known as G2, told Ahern that, in the aftermath of the political talks breaking down, a minority in the IRA leadership believed the British should have been taught a lesson. However, instead of bombing Britain, potentially a political disaster in the post-9/11 world, the movement chose instead to execute a plan that was two years in the making - to pull off the biggest cash theft ever.

Irish government officials have absolutely no doubt that this robbery was sanctioned at the highest levels of the IRA. They point to a meeting in early December at a hotel just over the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic involving top Belfast IRA commanders and their counterparts in South Armagh. They were so paranoid about being under human and electronic surveillance that the gathering broke up the meeting in the hotel bar, walked into the car park and resumed discussions in several vehicles they had travelled in to the venue. Given that it was a combination of Belfast and South Armagh IRA members who robbed the bank, the authorities in Dublin now believe that this meeting gave the green light for the heist to go ahead.

To understand why the IRA withdrew its decommissioning offer last week and then 24 hours later issued an unusual, terse second statement, warning the British and Irish governments that they 'are trying to play down the importance of our statement because they are making a mess of the peace process - do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation', it is important to understand who runs the Western world's most secretive paramilitary movement.

The IRA's supreme body is the Provisional Army Council comprising seven men who between them have held senior positions in the terror group for more than a quarter of a century. Their tenure at the top of the IRA has outlasted Jim Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and, if there is a post-election coup in Downing Street, Tony Blair. They have also witnessed the passing of six Irish Prime Ministers over the same period. The body includes Sinn Fein's top tier including Gerry Adams (although he has always denied even being a member of the IRA), Martin McGuinness and Pat Doherty. Also on the Army Council sits the Irish TD (MP) Martin Ferris, a convicted gunrunner, convicted bomber Brian Keenan and millionaire smuggler Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.

One man who was close to all seven on the Army Council for 16 years was the IRA's former southern commander turned informer, Sean O'Callaghan.

'The most important statement last week was not contained in any of the two IRA statements, said O'Callaghan, speaking from a secret location in Britain where he lives under the shadow of an IRA death sentence.

'The really interesting comments came from Gerry Adams, who said that the peace process was as transient as Tony Blair's tenure in Downing Street. Knowing Adams and the movement as I do, that is highly significant. It signals to the British that we are entering a new phase of the struggle, a post-peace process world, that they are thinking post-Blair and the implications of his departure from the scene.'

So does the fugitive who once sat at the same table as the IRA leadership discussing strategy really believe last week's statements indicate a return to 'armed struggle?'

'I don't think they are going back to outright war, but rather will adopt a policy of destabilisation in Northern Ireland. The IRA cannot afford to allow Northern Ireland under direct rule from London to be stable and prosperous. At the same time they cannot go back to bombing Britain, because that puts them in the same camp as Bin Laden and damages their relations fatally with the American government. But they may consider a policy of street disorder, winding things up in the loyalist marching season, maybe ultimately targeting loyalist terrorist leaders and not claiming responsibility for any actions.

'Remember one crucial thing about these men and this movement: they have been here before and their instinct is to unite, get into a group huddle and sit it out in the proverbial trench until the political flak dies down. It's an enormous risk, especially for someone like Adams, but if there are internal tensions and pressures they may have no alternative.'

One route the IRA could take, according to senior security sources in Northern Ireland, is for the organisation to destabilise direct rule by focusing on the policing issue. Aside from the expected general election in May, there are local government elections in Northern Ireland. Observers of the local political scene expect the highly organised, well-funded Sinn Fein machine to steamroll over its more moderate nationalist opponents, the SDLP. With Sinn Fein boycotting local policing boards and in the absence of SDLP councillors to sit on the bodies overseeing the police, the republican party could argue post-May that nationalists no longer support the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Cue the picketing of district policing board meetings, the harassment of independent non-elected nationalist members of the body and the disruption of the PSNI's community initiatives. Throw in new battlegrounds along sectarian interfaces during the marching season and the North of Ireland becomes dangerous unstable once more.

So far, officially at least, the PSNI has been less alarmist about the implications of the IRA's two statements. In private some senior officers fear that the post-election/summer period may bring with it the danger of communal disorder breaking out again on flashpoints between republican and loyalist areas.

Dressed in a pink-striped Ralph Lauren shirt, corduroy trousers and casual jacket, Hugh Orde's attire last Thursday evening reflected his attitude to the crisis enveloping the peace process: relaxed.

Out of uniform and mingling with journalists just hours after the second IRA statement, the Chief Constable sought to comfort and reassure the gathering. 'There is no imminent threat of the IRA going back to what they call "war". They have the capability to return to violence but not the intent,' Orde insisted.

None the less, security both in Northern Ireland and on entry points to Britain has been tightened over the last few days.

Yesterday Gerry Adams insisted he did not want to see a return to war, although at a press conference earlier in the week the Sinn Fein president pointedly refused to interpret what those IRA statements meant.

'I am not going to translate or interpret or elaborate on the IRA statement,' Adams said.

Adams, who has invested enormous personal capital in the peace process, knows that any resumption of full-blown terrorism by the IRA would have serious consequences for both him and Sinn Fein. The problem, however, for the military wing of the republican movement is that by issuing two statements in quick succession - both loaded with threat - it has got itself into a corner.

If Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern refuse to bend to last week's implicit threats and the IRA fails to respond militarily then its statements will be perceived both internally and externally as toothless and hollow. A critical test has been set for the IRA. As a consequence the next few months leading to the UK general election will be the most uncertain since Canary Wharf was bombed in 1996.


Comment: The DUP's Closet Policies

It's time Ian Paisley Junior and his colleagues saw sense about gays

Henry McDonald
Sunday February 6, 2005
The Observer

Ian Paisley Junior, the Democratic Unionist Party and their supporters should immediately stop using Belfast Citybus. The reason? Because Translink, the company that runs bus and rail services in Northern Ireland, has painted its fleet of metro-buses in the city pink. Given the DUP's near pathological obsession with all things gay, the party surely has no choice but to organise a boycott of this mode of transport. Their colour, after all, has long been associated with gayness. So to save Ulster from sodomy (again) the DUPers and their allies in the Free Presbyterian Church ought to demand that a more macho gloss be painted over the vehicles; possibly royal blue or maybe lily-white, the latter being the same colour as the clear collective conscience of all those true-believing homo haters.

Last Monday Paisley Junior worked himself into lather over a report in a tabloid newspaper that David Trimble's political adviser had married his boyfriend in Canada. Stephen King's civil union with his long-term partner across the Atlantic made the front page of the Daily Mirror 's Northern Ireland edition, complete with a wedding style photograph of the happy couple.

The picture was accompanied by a powerful dose of moral outrage that climaxed with Paisley Junior demanding Trimble sack his adviser simply because King had pledged his life to the man he loves. By Thursday this conflated controversy had extended to the north's Policing Board with independent members such as Tom Kelly demanding that Paisley Junior (himself also a member of the board) be censured for homophobic remarks.

Paisley Junior is normally a shrewd politician who has his finger on the pulse of the Ulster Protestant community. In December he was way ahead of other leading figures of the party in reading the proper mood of unionists in the north - that they wanted no deal with Sinn Fein to restore power sharing. His instincts and his opposition to that deal probably saved the DUP from fatal damage following the Northern Bank robbery. If the party had followed the advice of other ambitious devolutionists back in December they would have been caught in government with Sinn Fein just as the IRA carried out the record bank heist.

It is highly likely he relied upon those same instincts in a bid to score political points against Stephen King's Ulster Unionist Party. Appealing to a 'moral majority' in Northern Ireland, however, has not been as rewarding in terms of votes in Northern Ireland as it is in the United States. People are actually more tolerant of the gay and lesbian community in the north than the likes of Paisley Junior care to imagine.

Most unionist voters mark down their first preference for the DUP because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that Paisley Senior's party is more robust in defending the union and not because they occasionally like to verbally bash the gay community. If the DUP doesn't believe this they should turn up to central Belfast's 2005 Gay Pride parade.

Last year's cavalcade of camp wound its way along Royal Avenue and past City Hall with a hardly a murmur of protest. Only a few ageing fundamentalists wrapped up in sandwich boards with biblical text written on them stopped to abuse the procession; most of shoppers on that sunny Saturday afternoon waved, cheered, clapped or got on with business.

There is something deeply disturbing about the way DUP politicians are quick to make juvenile anti-gay remarks in council chambers or, in the case of Newtonabbey councillor Paul Girvan, on district police partnership boards. Perhaps then it's time for the gay activist Peter Tatchell to re-boot his outing campaign of the early 1990s when he threatened to expose homosexual MPs (in the main from the Tory party) who were active on the gay scene while voting for anti-gay legislation in parliament. A perfect place to start would be the north of Ireland where homophobic attitudes are more prevalent although not widespread compared to Britain. Given the size of the party and its growing support base, there must be gay DUP members out there living a double-life of backing blatant homophobic policies. They would make ideal candidates for a fresh bout of Tatchellite outing.

Although Tatchell, like any right-minded person, should feel nothing but sympathy for the way Stephen King's private life was made a public issue, the former Labour candidate and courageous hounder of Robert Mugabe should not forget the record of King's own party on gay rights. In a disgraceful display of opportunism, the Ulster Unionists remain opposed to the Blair government's plan to legalise civil unions between gay men and lesbians even though the party has in its ranks many other gay members as well as King.

Once Tatchell has completed his work maybe he could ride around Belfast in a pink bus distributing his 'outing' letters in the event of there being no RSVP from those he's invited to have a chat about their double lives as homo-haters in public and gay lovers in private.


‘Cold Case’ Squad To Review 2,100 Troubles Deaths

A SPECIAL team of 100 staff, including 50 detectives, is to be recruited to reinvestigate more than 2,100 unsolved killings that took place during the Troubles, writes Liam Clarke.

Those recruited will include retired RUC and Garda detectives as well as serving officers from British forces. Two officers, one retired and one serving, are already working to set up the largest “cold case” review in British or Irish legal history.

There has been speculation for some time that unsolved murders would be re-examined. Hugh Orde, the chief constable of the PSNI, has now confirmed that the review will cover about 320 disputed killings by the security forces, not classified as murder, as well as 1,800 terrorist killings for which no conviction had been secured.

The security force killings that will be reopened range from plastic bullet deaths to SAS ambushes, such as the one that killed eight IRA men and a passer-by during an IRA attack on a police station in Loughgall in 1987.

The whole exercise is expected to take six years to complete. The total cost is estimated by civil servants at about £25m. It represents value for money compared with Lord Saville’s Bloody Sunday inquiry, which will have cost an estimated £154m by the time it closes in August.

Justice Peter Cory has also recommended another five public inquiries into killings where security force collusion is suspected, four in Northern Ireland and one in the republic.

Orde said: “This is a big thing to do but I am determined to do it.” The new unit will be supervised by Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid. It will have its own headquarters at Sprucefield on the the outskirts of Lisburn, its own forensics teams and detectives.

The police hope to secure convictions by applying modern forensic methods. New residual DNA techniques are far more sensitive than anything available during the Troubles, which ended with the Good Friday agreement in 1998.

Orde concedes that if members of the IRA or other terrorist groups are convicted they will serve a maximum of two years under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. But in many cases, he said, families wanted the cases reopened even if there was no chance of securing a conviction.

“My principle will be maximum disclosure,” he said. “I will take a lot of persuading that intelligence from 1970 is still too sensitive to disclose unless there is a danger to life in doing so.”

Last night Mairead Kelly, whose brother Patrick was the leader of the IRA unit wiped out at Loughgall, said: “Hugh Orde has told me he would reopen the case but I can’t accept the involvement of retired RUC or Garda officers. These organisations were part of the operation and the intelligence gathering so they aren’t impartial.”


Greens Merge To Form One Party

The Irish Green Party today agreed to merge with its sister party in Northern Ireland to create an all-island movement.

Party members in the Republic overwhelmingly passed a motion to remove obstacles in their constitution to allow the Northern Ireland Greens become a regional council.

Speaking after the special convention in Dublin, Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said the move endorsed the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and its aims for a lasting peace.

Green Party of Northern Ireland leader Dr John Barry hailed the merger as "an historic and exciting development" and said it will help more members to get elected and contribute to the peace process.

The party only has one public representative - Cllr Raymond Blayney on Down District Council - but will run several candidates in the local elections in May.

Today`s decision also paves the way for Northern Ireland Greens to strengthen ties with sister parties in Scotland, England and Wales.

Mr Sargent said: "The Green Party has taken a decision to remove any obstacles toward greater co-operation between the Green Party of Northern Ireland and its sister party in the Republic.

"I welcome this move, particularly at a time when the Good Friday Agreement is under such enormous strain.

"The Green Parties across this island are determined to send the strongest signal of full support for the Good Friday Agreement and for a lasting peace among all traditions."

Dr Barry added: "This is an innovative and bold development geared toward being as inclusive as possible to all political traditions.

"The motion passed today is based upon an evolutionary logic of greater co-operation and allows the Green Party to be unique in not just supporting the Good Friday Agreement but actually living it through its new organisational structures.

"This development should enable Greens to make their contribution to the peace process by getting Green candidates elected."

Northern Ireland`s Greens have failed to match the success of its better-resourced sister parties in the British Isles and across Europe.

Last year`s European Parliament elections saw Northern Ireland Green co-leader Lindsay Whitcroft secure 4,810 votes in the province wide poll - 0.9% of the vote.

In November 2003`s Stormont Assembly election, the party had a total of 2,688 votes (0.4% of the poll) with co-leader John Barry performing respectably in North Down and Raymond Blaney in South Down.

Northern Ireland Greens will draw on the expertise of sister parties in the UK and Irish Republic as they head into local government elections on May 5.

The party is also considering fielding a Westminster candidate.

In the Irish Republic, the Greens have six TDs in the country`s parliament and 29 local councillors.

In the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, the Greens saw their number of MSPs rise dramatically from one to seven.


Secret Service Defied Neutrality During Second World War

Scott Millar

THE Irish secret service spied for MI5 during the second world war, according to newly released diaries. Officials helped the allied cause by spying on Germans and the IRA without the knowledge of Eamon de Valera’s government. It adopted a public policy of neutrality.

The extent of the co-operation is revealed in the diaries of Guy Liddell, the director of counter-espionage for MI5, the British security agency, during the second world war.

The documents record regular visits to London by Colonel Liam Archer, a leading officer in G2, the Irish secret service. During these, he discussed the German delegation in Dublin, the possible existence of U-boat supply bases on the west coast of Ireland, IRA activity and the attitude of the Irish people and government to a possible German invasion.

Liddell records the discussion at one meeting with Archer on May 15, 1940. Archer felt there was “nothing to prevent the Germans landing in Eire and he did not see how any resistance could be mounted for more than a week . . . he thought there might be quite a number of people who would say, ‘Oh well they are here in force, we can’t do anything’.”

Archer added “that many people would not mind Great Britain getting a licking”.

Liddell, who died in 1958, dictated the diaries to Margot Huggins, his secretary, at Wormwood Scrubs prison in London, where MI5 was based during the war.

They were to be destroyed by MI5 but when their existence was revealed in Peter Wright’s controversial book, Spycatcher, it was decided that they should be preserved for historical examination.

Nigel West, who edited the diaries and has written the authoritative history of the British intelligence agency, said: “You get the clear impression from the diaries that MI5 and G2 were pretty discreet about the level of their contacts. I believe they co-operated to an extent that was beyond the knowledge of the politicians.”

He added: “There were a number of reasons why Ireland was of particular importance to MI5. During the early stages of the conflict, suspicions that the U-boats were refuelling at a base on the west coast were taken very seriously and a series of informants were established to watch this possibility. There was also the wireless communications intercepted from German agencies and the comings and goings at the Dublin German consulate were of much interest. There was also concern that Ireland could be used as a launchpad for an invasion of Britain.”

On January 18, 1940, Liddell records in his diaries: “A submarine base is said to exist near the mouth of Doonbeg river in southwest Clare. A submarine comes in three times a week and is camouflaged with a canvas screen. One of the men in charge of the local coast-watching station is said to be an IRA deportee. The local civic guard appear to be terrorised. It was alleged that a small tramp steamer was waylaid in Galway Bay by a submarine and made to hand over stores.”

Liddell was so concerned about enemy agent activity in Ireland that he appointed his brother Cecil Liddell as head of the Irish section of MI5 during the war. Guy Liddell himself was familiar with Ireland as his wife's family were the historic owners of Lambay Island, off the coast of Co Dublin.

Diarmuid Ferriter, a historian, said: “This account illustrates how Irish neutrality was in some ways more beneficial to the British intelligence agencies, allowing them to spy on the German delegation in Dublin and intercept communications that would have otherwise not been possible.”


Books: Roots And Branches

Melissa Benn examines the lives of two of Ireland's favourite daughters in Nell by Nell McCafferty and The Road from Ardoyne by Ray Mac Manais

Saturday February 5, 2005
The Guardian

by Nell McCafferty
448pp,Penguin, £17.99

The Road from Ardoyne: The Making of a President
by Ray Mac Manais
448pp, Brandon, £20

There's a touching picture in Nell McCafferty's memoir, of the grey-haired author enjoying a sisterly embrace with the manicured and coiffed Mary McAleese on the latter's day of inauguration as Irish president in 1997. It seems apt that it should be the feminist activist in the simple sweater and silver who remains seated while the powerful president, dressed in smart caramel-coloured velvet, acts the supplicant. After all, modern Irish history and the story of Irish women in particular has been changed as much, if not more, by plain old disputatious Nell as by charming, politic President Mary the Second.

Despite their differences, McAleese and McCafferty have similar origins. Both were born into large, close, working-class Catholic families - McAleese in Belfast, McCafferty in Derry; both women's politics were forged during the Troubles. The McAleese family were driven out of their Crumlin Road home in 1972 by stone-throwing mobs.

Returning home from London in 1968, 24-year-old Nell walked straight into a riot: "Generations of pent-up humiliation were unleashed in a show of rage that night. It felt completely, inexplicably right." Of Bloody Sunday, four years later, she writes: "It is not a myth that all of us there were changed for evermore by the experience; it is a fact. It is in the Derry air. It is limned in our blood."

Such closeness to battle, and to the many in her community who joined the IRA, meant the emerging writer and activist could never take a simple condemnatory stance in relation to armed struggle. McCafferty is agonisingly honest about her confusions. She describes the night she went up to an IRA safe house to "rage" at the boys sleeping there, after the shooting of a good Derry boy who had been in the British army in Germany. There is also an account of her now infamous refusal in 1987 to repudiate the IRA on public television. The day after McCafferty made her statement on RTE, 11 Protestants were blown to pieces at Enniskillen and McCafferty became a virtual outcast among former friends and colleagues.

McCafferty is a gifted writer, whose narrative rattles along at pub-talk pace with all its attendant vivacity and occasional claustrophobia. Occasionally, one needs a more precise sense of social history, the setting of complex personal anecdotes into a broader landscape.

But there are passionate accounts here of all the life-saving campaigns of the Irish Women's Liberation Movement, on rape and abortion and domestic violence, and some wonderfully comic set pieces, such as her account of the historic "Contraceptive Train" into Dublin. For campaigning purposes, McCafferty had to buy hundreds of aspirins as a substitute for birth control pills and the journalist Mary Kenny blew up condoms and let them whizz round the aisles of the train carriage.

In its own way, this memoir is as taboo-breaking as those now historic political actions. McCafferty is finally open about her lesbianism, the fact of which, literally, frames this book, and all the pain, shame, anger, lust, longing and anguished exclusion she has felt over the years. The book also claims to set the record straight on her 15-year relationship with fellow writer Nuala O'Faolain, author of two gorgeously bleak and richly poetic memoirs of her own. Since the publication of Nell in Ireland, the rights and wrongs of this relationship have become a public soap opera; this is sad, given the incredibly subtle ways in which both women have written of their long affair. What McCafferty's memoir reveals more starkly than O'Faolain's is that this was not just a failed relationship between two women, but between two writers, both of whose livelihoods depended on their unique reflections on the same territory: the troubles of Ireland. That fact alone was probably enough to sabotage any love affair, gay or straight.

The Road from Ardoyne is a very different sort of book, a thoroughly researched, straight-from-the-heart, semi puff of a publication, in which the admiring Ray Mac Manais painstakingly charts the Irish president's every triumph, tragedy and a fair few meals cooked and clothes stitched in between.

There is a chilling account of McAleese's time as a reporter and researcher at RTE during the hunger strikes of the early 1980s, when hatred of the IRA toppled into a malign distrust of any northern Catholic with nationalist sympathies. The moderate McAleese was more or less ostracised, a period which she describes as "the most difficult, the darkest, the worst time of my life" - an experience that may have informed her recent, and recently withdrawn, comments comparing Irish Protestant prejudice to Nazi bigotry.

McAleese, like her forerunner Mary Robinson, is highly impressive: a clever and astute lawyer, academic, politician and an important bridge-builder between mainstream feminism and the official Catholic hierarchy. But the story ends where we might like it to begin, with her assumption of the Irish presidency. What has this moderate, diplomatic, committed Catholic from the working-class north managed to change in the rapidly developing south over the last seven years? Is she more figurehead than path-breaker?

It is hard to imagine comparable books on comparable English figures - feminists or politicians - perhaps because the social and political change has not been so rapid, the politics so bloody nor the public culture as passionate. Both books conjure up public characters of transparent honesty, principle and incredible moral and physical courage. There is also a sense of an informal bond, of mutual warmth and respect, among Irish women in public life, often despite huge religious and political differences, which is incredibly touching. Anyone who wants a clear view of the revolution in women's lives in Ireland in the post-war period could do worse than start with the stories of these two remarkable lives.

· Melissa Benn's first novel, Public Lives, is published by Penguin.


Feeney Donates €4m To Anti-Corruption Agency

Jan Battles

AN American billionaire who was Sinn Fein’s biggest donor is planning to spend €4m over the next five years exposing corruption in Irish politics.

Chuck Feeney, who made his fortune selling duty-free goods, is funding an independent investigative agency in Ireland to expose political graft.

The Centre for Public Inquiry will be headed by Frank Connolly, a journalist and a brother of Niall Connolly, one of the Colombia three. Most of the annual €800,000 provided by the Irish-American philanthropist will be spent on staff, rent for its Dublin city-centre offices and setting up a war chest for legal support and protection. “We wanted to have enough money to come out with regular reports and documents,” said Connolly.

The organisation is modelled on the Centre for Public Integrity in America which investigated issues such as the funding of George W Bush’s election campaign. It is also inspired by Common Cause, an American body whose slogan is Holding Power Accountable and operates “as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest”. There are similar privately funded groups in South Africa and Canada.

“Ireland is nearly the exception in not having an organisation such as this,” said Colin McCrea of Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney’s charitable vehicle. “This is not unusual. We think it is a good idea to have an independent organisation to promote high standards of integrity and ethics and accountability.”

Others are sceptical, however. John Minihan, a Progressive Democrat senator, has questioned the need for “a privately funded investigative centre that would parallel the work carried out by state-funded institutions and agencies”.

Minihan said: “All citizens have a responsibility to support the institutions of the state and to report any abuses or wrongdoing and mechanisms exist for them to do so. I question the motivation behind a privately funded investigative centre.”

The centre placed newspaper advertisements for four journalists/researchers and an administrator last week and the organisation is expected to be up and running by Easter. Notwithstanding Feeney’s connections with Sinn Fein, the centre states in its memorandum of association that it “shall not be affiliated with any political party”.

Justice Feargus Flood, the former High Court judge and tribunal chairman, has agreed to act as an unpaid chairman of the new organisation.

Other board members include Alice Leahy of Trust, Damien Kiberd, the Sunday Times columnist, Enda McDonagh, a former theology professor, and Greg O’Neill, a solicitor for victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Connolly said the body would take “up cases brought to us by citizens or groups of people who are highlighting some official wrongdoing from their perspective”.

Feeney has been one of the biggest donors to Irish causes in recent years. Despite giving away more than $600m of his considerable fortune, he wears a cheap watch, takes the bus and flies economy class. He shuns publicity, insisting that no public acknowledgment be made of his generosity.

Details were revealed in America several years ago, however, after he was sued by a former business partner.

The son of a New Jersey train driver, Feeney was Sinn Fein’s largest single donor for many years, giving the party about IR£500,000 in total.

In 1998 he stopped the arrangement and, instead, donated to restorative justice schemes in the north.

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