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February 09, 2005

02/09/05 – Plea For McAllisters

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IE 02/09/05 Plea For McAllisters
IT 02/10/05 Brits Delay Response To IMC Inquiry Into Bank Raid –V
SF 02/09/05 FG Motion Reflects Ham-Fisted Approach To Peace Process
IT 02/10/05 SF Success Has Led To 'Torrent Of Abuse' - Adams
IO 02/09/05 Republicans' Anger Over Bank Raid
IT 02/10/05 Reiss Advised Bush On Sinn Fein Invite
EX 02/09/05 White House Doors Still Open To North Parties
IT 02/10/05 North's Parties Angry At Prospect Of Ban
IT 02/10/05 Blair Apology Exceeds Families' Expectations –V
IT 02/10/05 Unwelcome Irish In Wrong Place At The Wrong Time
IT 02/10/05 British Prime Minister's Apology
IO 02/09/05 Mystery Of Who Carried Out Bombings Still Unsolved
BB 02/09/05 Opin: No Ulterior Motive Behind Apology
IT 02/10/05 Louth Man Charged Over Omagh
IE 02/09/05 Analysis: Governments Downplaying IRA Danger
BT 02/09/05 New Bill Will 'Make Probe A Charade'
UT 02/09/05 McCabe Widow Warns Irish Government
UT 02/09/05 Jim Johnston Killing Case
IT 02/09/05 Taoiseach Recognised For EU Presidency Role
LD 02/09/05 Mc Crory Has Done Plenty In His Lifetime

Church and castle become inspirational restoration projects - Marie Mullarkey visits the houses in Mayo and Cork


Plea For McAllisters

A New Jersey congressman has made a direct plea to President Bush on behalf of Malachy McAllister and his family.

Rep. Scott Garrett, a Republican representing the state's fifth district, said that he did not believe that onetime INLA member Malachy McAllister, or his family, posed a threat to national security.

"I request that you give every appropriate consideration within United State law and policy to suspending the ongoing deportation proceedings of Mr. McAllister and his family," Garrett wrote the president.

McAllister's wife, Bernadette, died of cancer last year.


McDowell addresses debate on Northern Ireland peace deal - David Davin Power, Political Correspondent, reports on the Dáil debate on the motion calling for an end to republican criminality

Britain To Delay Response To IMC Inquiry Into Bank Raid -V

Mark Hennessy and Deaglán De Bréadún

The British government is to delay responding to the International Monitoring Commission's inquiry into the Northern Bank raid for over a week to let tempers cool.

The IMC will blame the IRA for the Northern Bank raid, and warn that Sinn Féin would have been suspended for six months from the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive if the two bodies had been sitting.

The document, prepared by the four-strong independent body headed by former Alliance Party leader Lord John Alderdice, will be released simultaneously in Dublin, London and Belfast at 11 a.m. today.

The Irish Government has repeatedly recommended that sanctions should not be imposed on Sinn Féin on the grounds that exclusion of republicans will create further problems down the road.

In the House of Commons, the Northern Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, will put off reacting to the report until Monday week at the earliest, British sources told The Irish Times last night.

The delay will help to let tempers recover, the British side hopes, following weeks of bitter condemnation of both the IRA and Sinn Féin by the Irish and British governments and other parties.

However, the IMC's recommendation that the salaries of SF members in the suspended Assembly should be cut will be partially honoured in that existing cuts, imposed after last year's IMC report into the kidnapping of Belfast republican Mr Bobby Tohill and due to expire shortly, will be continued.

Last night, Irish sources said they expected the British government would delay its response to the document for "a couple of days".

Meanwhile, the Government and main Opposition parties combined to support a Dáil motion that criticised Sinn Féin, condemned the IRA and demanded that all political parties support peaceful methods.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr McDowell, said Sinn Féin had repeatedly refused during December's talks to commit itself to peaceful politics.

"That simple proposition was too much to be swallowed," said Mr McDowell, who repeatedly insisted that IRA criminality has continued persistently since 1998 and must now end.

Urging all to renew their efforts, the Minister for Finance, Mr Cowen, said: "If we are to get out of this impasse we must submit ourselves to the will of the people."

However, Sinn Féin TD Mr Caoimhghin Ó Caolain, who was clearly annoyed by the contributions made by other TDs, "absolutely refuted" the allegations of criminality made against Sinn Féin. He asked other parties to state which measures negotiated by Sinn Féin they would now drop.

In Washington, the US President's Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Dr Mitchell Reiss, said the Bush administration had made "no official decision" about the St Patrick's Day White House party.

© The Irish Times


FG Motion Reflects Their Ham-Fisted Approach To Entire Peace Process

Published: 9 February, 2005

Speaking on Fine Gaels anti-Sinn Féin Private Members motion in the Dáil tonight, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said, "Fine Gael's inability to craft a motion for their own Private Members time certainly does little for their claim to be the government in waiting. Their ham-fisted approach reflects the bungling of their previous leadership in the peace process.

"My fellow Sinn Féin TDs and I are proud to represent our electorate and our party - a democratic party - in this House. We are here on the basis of our democratic mandate. Our party's negotiators have participated in every stage of talks and in every phase of negotiations on the basis of our electoral support and on that basis alone.

"I am not going to use my very limited time to address every false allegation thrown around this House and around the media. Those charges are not about criminality. They are not really about the IRA. They are not even about the peace process. They are about party politics in this State.

"Charges are being made in a climate in which all the old opponents of the peace process have come out of the woodwork. These are the people who vilified John Hume and Albert Reynolds for taking risks for peace a decade ago. The present Minister for Justice was among the begrudgers at that time. His recent conduct shows that while he claims to have changed his mind, his heart is still back in the days of Section 31, internment without trial and the demonisation of the entire nationalist community in the North.

"Huge progress was made in this peace process last December. It is sad that so many in this House are so blinded by their anti-republican prejudice that they cannot acknowledge or understand the enormity of what the IRA was on the point of delivering at that time - including putting all arms beyond use by the end of 2004. Instead of building on that, the Governments allowed the agenda to be set by rejectionist unionism and thus created the impasse we have today.

"I firmly believe we can put this process back on track. Sinn Féin is determined to fulfil our part of the collective responsibility to address all the outstanding issues including unionist reluctance to share power with nationalists and the issue of arms and armed groups.

"Sinn Féin are committed to building this process, building towards real change and building towards the reunification of our island and our people." ENDS

Full text of Sinn Féin contribution to Private Members Business tonight

The motion before us in the names of Deputy Kenny and the Taoiseach is the third version of the Fine Gael motion placed on the Dáil Order Paper in the space of a few days. Fine Gael's inability to craft a motion for their own Private Members time certainly does little for their claim to be the government in waiting. Their ham-fisted approach reflects the bungling of their previous leadership in the peace process. It illustrates their failure to understand the complexities of the issues we all face.

My fellow Sinn Féin TDs and I are proud to represent our electorate and our party - a democratic party - in this House. We are here on the basis of our democratic mandate. Our party's negotiators have participated in every stage of talks and in every phase of negotiations on the basis of our electoral support and on that basis alone. Today we have the electoral support of well over a third of a million people in Ireland. We take very seriously the responsibility our electors have given us and our obligation to represent them effectively.

I wish to put on record, as leader of the Sinn Féin TDs, our absolute refutation of all the false accusations of criminality made against our party. As our amendment states, we reject criminality of any kind. I am not going to use my very limited time to address every false allegation thrown around this House and around the media. Those charges are not about criminality. They are not really about the IRA. They are not even about the peace process. They are about party politics in this State.

Charges are being made in a climate in which all the old opponents of the peace process have come out of the woodwork. These are the people who vilified John Hume and Albert Reynolds for taking risks for peace a decade ago. The present Minister for Justice was among the begrudgers at that time. His recent conduct shows that while he claims to have changed his mind, his heart is still back in the days of Section 31, internment without trial and the demonisation of the entire nationalist community in the North.

It is ludicrous to suggest that somehow Sinn Féin has been assisted to achieve increased electoral support by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Progressive Democrats. What a joke! You have tried and are trying everything to stop us.

I would also like to ask what are the so-called concessions, or 'acts of appeasement' that have been referred to during this debate? Was the lifting of the political censorship of the broadcast media a concession or an act of appeasement?

What elements of the Good Friday Agreement are now to be viewed as concessions and what elements do people who talk of appeasement want to see removed? The equality agenda? Human rights issues? The status of the Irish language?

Let me make very clear that we accept the validity of the institutions of this State. We will not accept lectures on that score from either side of this House. As far as the Government goes, the Minister for Justice should use his expensive time dealing with the real crime and anti-social behaviour that bedevils communities in this State rather than indulging his antipathy to Sinn Féin. He and his colleagues would do better in the eyes of the electorate if they addressed in a real way the social and economic inequalities they have allowed to fester in this prosperous economy.

Huge progress was made in this peace process last December. It is sad that so many in this House are so blinded by their anti-republican prejudice that they cannot acknowledge or understand the enormity of what the IRA was on the point of delivering at that time - including putting all arms beyond use by the end of 2004. Instead of building on that, the Governments allowed the agenda to be set by rejectionist unionism and thus created the impasse we have today. It was a repetition of October 2003 when David Trimble was allowed to rubbish the report of the IICD.

The Sinn Féin amendment says that the two Governments can and should proceed with the implementation of those elements of the Good Friday Agreement for which they are directly responsible. These include demilitarization by the British government, the full implementation of the Patten Report and a new beginning to policing, increased all-Ireland co-operation and a thorough re-commitment by both governments to the human rights agenda. We need to see full co-operation from the British government with inquiries into collusion - including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the many other instances of collusion in this State.

I firmly believe we can put this process back on track. Sinn Féin is determined to fulfil our part of the collective responsibility to address all the outstanding issues including unionist reluctance to share power with nationalists and the issue of arms and armed groups. Let me make it patently clear - we oppose a return to violence by any armed group. We will also oppose any attempt to penalize our electorate, to treat them as lesser citizens, to impose pre-conditions on our participation in dialogue and negotiations, or to reduce those engagements to a one-item agenda.

Sinn Féin are committed to building this process, building towards real change and building towards the reunification of our island and our people.

I commend the Sinn Féin amendment to the House.


SF Success Has Led To 'Torrent Of Abuse' - Adams

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, has said that the defence of the peace process must involve opposition to violence "by anyone".

He also accused the Taoiseach of "crossing the line" in his attitude to republicans.

He said "malign elements in the British system" were laughing at the "outbreak of civil war within Irish nationalism".

Mr Adams's repudiation of violence from any quarter comes ahead of today's publication of the report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, which is likely to propose sanctions against Sinn Féin over the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

The report is due to be published at about noon. It is expected to recommend financial penalties against Sinn Féin.

Mr Adams, speaking in Belfast yesterday, said it was the success of Sinn Féin which had "unleashed a torrent of abuse".

"It is almost like the days before the peace process, when the Irish and British establishments and unionist parties ganged up, trying to outdo each other in anti-Sinn Féin hysteria, aided at times by compliant sections of the media."

He said that the Government was at the forefront in the attack on Sinn Féin.

"The Taoiseach, in particular, has crossed the line on a number of important issues and is in the business of imposing or supporting the imposition of preconditions on the rights of Irish citizens."

He said that Sinn Féin would continue to make political advances.

"What is that work? To continue the process of change by defending the peace process, by opposing any return to violence by anyone, including British government agencies, by campaigning for the equality and other elements of the Good Friday agreement, and by upholding the rights of all citizens, including those who vote for our party."

SDLP Assembly member Mr Alex Attwood said that Mr Adams was engaging in "breathtaking self-righteousness" in claiming that all that remained of the process was the IRA ceasefire. "Sinn Féin says there is a civil war within Irish nationalism. There is not. Irish nationalism, the people and the political parties are united, and it is Sinn Féin and the IRA who are in conflict with their views. This is not civil war, this is a refusal to bend on democratic values," he added.

The Irish Times


Republicans' Anger Over Bank Raid
2005-02-09 22:20:02+00

Republicans tonight expressed anger at a police search operation in Co Tyrone in connection with the £26.5m (€38.4m) Northern Bank raid.

A water main was damaged as two homes were searched during an operation outside the village of Beragh.

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty said: "The PSNI moved into two family homes in the Roscavey area outside Beragh this morning. They claimed in their warrant that the searches were part of the investigation into the Northern Bank robbery. Over 60 PSNI vehicles were involved in the initial operation.

"Already the outsides of the homes have been dug up and water supplies have been cut off. The wife of the man who owns one of the homes was prevented from travelling to work this morning.

"The PSNI are still there and have claimed that the operation will continue well into tomorrow. This operation is outrageous. It has nothing to do with the Northern Bank robbery and everything to do with intimidating and harassing the nationalist community. No doubt it will eventually end as all of their other searches relating to this robbery have in complete failure.

"This operation is part of the failed policing agenda of the RUC and clearly demonstrates just how far this force have to travel before they even approach being acceptable within the broad nationalist community."

Speaking from the scene of the PSNI operation this evening, local Sinn Féin Assembly member Barry McElduff said:

"The PSNI remain at the scene, their repression is ongoing. The families involved have been informed that the larger search teams will return in the morning. This is yet another example of the sort of political policing which has become associated with Hugh Orde and his force in recent times.

"Local people here tonight are angry at this operation and I have to say that they will be listening closely to the SDLP in the coming days as they seek to justify this sort of intimidation and terror visited upon these two families and the wider community in this area."

A spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed that a number of searches were carried out in connection with a serious crime investigation.

"We can confirm that a water main was burst during the search operation at Beragh but it has now been repaired and police regreat any inconvenience caused to the community."

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde has said the IRA was behind the raid on the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast on December 20.

The homes of republicans were searched in Belfast in a follow-up to the heist. The IRA has denied involvement in the robbery and last week withdrew its offer to decommmission its weapons, accusing the Irish and British governments of damaging the peace process.

Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said the searches centred on two homes. The West Tyrone assembly member said both familes were "shocked and upset".

Mr McElduff said a large number of police vehicles were involved in the operation.

"They have been searching for, according to this warrant that I have in my possession, vehicles associated with the Northern Bank robbery and notes stolen from the bank on 20 December 2004," he said.

Radar equipment

An area of land was dug up, and police used radar equipment to assist their search.

Police divers were brought in to search a duck pond.

A water main was damaged during the searches, police confirmed.

Sinn Fein said the families involved told them they had nothing to hide, and the party accused the police of timing the searches to coincide with the International Monitoring Commission's report on the robbery to be published on Thursday.

It is understood the search operation will continue on Thursday.


Reiss Advised Bush On Sinn Fein Invite

Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, in Washington

The US President's Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Dr Mitchell Reiss, revealed yesterday that he had made a recommendation on the question of whether or not to invite Sinn Féin to the traditional St Patrick's Day reception at the White House. But he refused to say what advice he had given to President Bush on the matter.

The Bush administration, he said, had made "no official decision" as yet. He was taking part in a joint press conference at the Irish Ambassador's residence following a working lunch with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern.

Dr Reiss also revealed that Mr Gerry Adams called him a few weeks ago. "We talked for about 15 minutes or so, had a good conversation. Any time that the Sinn Féin leadership wants to contact me, it's very easy for them to do so, my door is always open to them.

"It is important, as the Taoiseach said, that we remain engaged, and so that's what I intend to continue to do with Sinn Féin," he said.

On the view of the Minister for Foreign Affairs that no party in the process should be allowed to feel itself victimised, Dr Reiss said: "Whether a political party portrays itself as a victim or not, that's their call, but that's certainly not my preference, that's certainly not what I intend to do."

President Bush, he said, was "looking forward to seeing Bertie Ahern again and to celebrating the enduring ties between our two countries". On Northern Ireland, it was clearly a "difficult period for the process".

Pointing to the progress made at the end of last year on power-sharing, policing and decommissioning, Dr Reiss said: "I believe that we can get back to a position where these issues will be resolved. Trust among the parties is now at a low ebb and it will take time to restore the level of confidence that's needed to settle these issues. I share the view of Prime Ministers Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair that the continuation of paramilitary activity and criminality is now the biggest obstacle to reaching a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland. I have been briefed by both governments on the December bank robbery in Belfast and have no reason to question their conclusion that it was done by the IRA."

Describing their meeting as having been "very good", Mr Ahern said: "I did not lobby Mitchell or his administration in relation to the issue of anyone being guests in the White House". This was "primarily a matter for the Bush administration". He had reiterated the Government's view that the Northern Bank raid, in effect, was a "huge knock on the trust and confidence of the Government, and of the Taoiseach, and that we needed to continue engagement", but obviously it had to be made clear that a number of issues still had to be resolved.

These were decommissioning and an end to paramilitarism and criminality.

"They are issues that other people have to address, not the governments," Mr Ahern said.

© The Irish Times


White House Doors Still Open To North Parties

By Senan Hogan, Victoria Ward and Harry McGee

THE White House has dismissed reports that Northern Ireland political parties will be excluded from St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington.

“No decision has been taken regarding invites being sent to Northern Ireland parties,” a state department spokeswoman said.

If they are excluded, it will be the first time in more than a decade that Sinn Féin and the main unionist parties are not part of the March 17 celebrations. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil yesterday that a decision had already been taken by the US Government on the issue but he did not specify further.

Meanwhile, the IRA’s second-in-command travelled from Belfast to Dublin to punish ‘sticky fingered’ members and to take over the organisation of criminality in the city, Michael McDowell claimed last night.

On the second day of the hard-hitting Dáil debate on a Fine Gael motion condemning IRA criminality, the Justice Minister said the IRA’s Belfast-based adjutant general was on “rubbing shoulder” terms with leading Sinn Féin representatives.

He said the Dublin brigade of the IRA was stood down because they were “sticky fingered” and were keeping some of the proceeds of crime.

He went on to say that this man took over control and began to organise crime in Dublin, inflicting punishment attacks on those who had kept proceeds, and issuing death threats to others.

Mr McDowell, in a speech that referred to Des O’Malley’s “I stand by the Republic” speech, contended a tiny group of secret paramilitaries would not be allowed to usurp the rights and authority conferred by the Good Friday Agreement.

He refuted the claim that he was “unenthusiastic” about the peace process, saying he stood fully behind the Agreement.

He said the Government did not seek to exclude, marginalise or criminalise anybody, but Sinn Féin inflicted the situation on itself by extortion, punishment beatings, armed robbery, exiling under threat, murder and attempted murder.

Sinn Fein’s Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin lashed the Fine Gael motion as “ham-fisted” and accused the party of failing to understand the complexities of the peace process.

“I wish to put on record our absolute refutation of all the false accusations of criminality made against our party,” he said

The motion was passed without going to a vote as not enough TDs opposed the measure, but Sinn Féin’s five TDs were supported in challenging the proposal by independent TDs Seamus Healy, Tony Gregory and Joe Higgins.


North's Parties Angry At Prospect Of Ban

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP have reacted with annoyance and frustration to indications that the US administration may cancel the usual annual St Patrick's Day White House reception in order to avoid any embarrassment over Sinn Féin's presence at the event.

The parties complained that they were likely to be "punished" by being excluded from the White House because of the alleged £26.5 million IRA robbery of the Northern Bank.

US sources said that no formal decision had yet been taken on the event, although it is understood that President Bush's annual reception will be cancelled for two linked reasons: to make a point to Sinn Féin about the robbery but also to avoid any suggestion of Sinn Féin being politically isolated.

A State Department spokeswoman said that the issuing of invitations was still under review. "No decision has been taken regarding invites being sent to Northern Ireland parties," she said. "The issue is still under consideration."

The SDLP, Sinn Féin, and the Ulster Unionists nonetheless plan to travel to Washington for events on and around March 17th, including the lobbying of senators, Congress members, business leaders and others in positions of influence.

However, the DUP's deputy leader, Mr Peter Robinson, indicated that the DUP presence on Capitol Hill this year could not be guaranteed considering the attitude of the US administration.

"This is typical of the way governments face up to these problems. Rather than deal with the republican movement, they want to punish everybody. It is outrageous that everybody should be tarred with the same brush," he said.

The SDLP deputy leader, Dr Alisdair McDonnell, said that US goodwill towards the peace process was "being recklessly squandered" as a result of the alleged IRA raid.

Dr McDonnell said that the SDLP had spearheaded efforts to generate US support for the peace process, but that was now in danger of being wasted as a result of reaction to the robbery.

"The US administration is clearly annoyed at the IRA raid of the Northern Bank - and at Sinn Féin's failure to face up to the huge damage done by it. The failure of the talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin has been damaging too," he added.

UUP Assembly member Sir Reg Empey added: "Instead of having the determination to ban Sinn Féin, they (the US administration) have banned everyone else. This sends out a bad signal. One hopes that Prime Minister Tony Blair won't follow suit, but will instead back democrats rather than those engaged in criminal activity and paramilitarism."

A Sinn Féin spokesman said that whoever attended the White House reception was a matter for the US administration. So far, he was unaware of any official decision on the matter.

© The Irish Times


Blair apologises to Conlons and Maguires over false convictions - Brian O'Connell, London Editor, reports on the apology from the British Prime Minister

Blair Apology Exceeds Families' Expectations -V

Frank Millar, London Editor

Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair sought closure on one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history yesterday with an unprecedented public apology to the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven.

Mr Blair's call for their complete exoneration was broadcast after a highly emotional meeting with the members of the Conlon and Maguire families in his office at the House of Commons. Afterwards - carrying a personal letter from Mr Blair for his mother Sarah, the widow of the late Guiseppe Conlon - Mr Gerry Conlon said he had got all he had wanted from Mr Blair "and more".

Declaring herself equally delighted, Mrs Annie Maguire said she would continue to pray for Mr Blair and his family.

In 1974, a bomb at a pub in Guildford killed five people and injured more than 100. Mr Gerry Conlon, Mr Paddy Armstrong, Mr Paul Hill and Ms Carole Richardson, were jailed for life and became known as the Guildford Four. Mr Hill and Mr Armstrong were also jailed for the Woolwich bombing in which two people died the same year.

Later Gerry Conlon's father, Guiseppe, and members of the Maguire family were arrested and jailed. They became known as the Maguire Seven. Anne Maguire and family were convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine which it was alleged was passed to the IRA to make bombs. Mrs Maguire and her husband Patrick were sentenced to 14 years and her two youngest sons were imprisoned for five and four years respectively. Her brother, William, brother-in-law Guiseppe Conlon and friend Patrick O'Neill got 12 years.

Mr Blair recalled those who died and were injured in the bombings and said "their loss, the loss suffered by their families, will never go away". Howeverk, it served no one "for the wrong people to be convicted for such an awful crime.

"...There was a miscarriage of justice in the case of Gerard Conlon and all the Guildford Four as well as Giuseppe Conlon and Annie Maguire and all of the Maguire Seven."

Mr Blair went on: "I recognise the trauma that the conviction caused the Conlon and Maguire families and the stigma which wrongly attaches to them to this day. I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice.

" They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated."

Mr Blair had been expected to make his apology on the Commons floor during Prime Minister's Questions. However, it emerged that Commons Speaker Mr Michael Martin might not call the SDLP's Mr Eddie McGrady to ask his planned question, following early-morning media coverage anticipating what Mr Blair was to say to MPs.

Mr Blair broadcast his apology instead and met the families in his private rooms. Mrs Maguire said the resulting encounter was better than she could have hoped. "I think it has come out better because it was like a family thing... You could see he was really sincere. As Gerard Conlon said, 'you'd have thought he was slapped across the face' when he heard individual ones telling him what age they were and what happened to them."

Mr Conlon agreed: "I'm happier than I have been in 31 years. Tony Blair went much further than he could have done on the floor of the House of Commons . He met us privately, he spoke to every one of us, he took time, he listened to us, he exceeded our expectations in apologising to us, he said it was long overdue."

Mrs Maguire's son, Patrick, who was 13 when he was arrested, said it was an emotional experience: "I could see the shock on his face. All I wanted was to hear the word 'sorry'. But it was a good day and I thanked him."

Mr Blair signed Mr Maguire's copy of Robert Kee's book, Trial and Error, with the inscription: "I am so sorry it took so long." However, he faced criticism from Ulster Unionist leader Mr David Trimble, and Conservative spokesman Mr David Lidington, who questioned why he should apologise for matters that were the responsibility of the courts rather than government. The DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley renewed his call for the appointment of a Victims Commissioner.

© The Irish Times


Unwelcome Irish In Wrong Place At The Wrong Time

The Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were wrongly convicted in a hysterical atmosphere, writes Carol Coulter.

It is hard to imagine what it was like for Irish people in Britain 30 years ago, at the height of the IRA bombing campaign which claimed dozens of lives, including those of Irish emigrants.

Irish visitors to Britain, especially if they were young and male, were routinely stopped, searched and questioned. Having an Irish accent was enough to attract hostile glances in shops and restaurants.

People in Britain lived in fear that the next bomb could be in their pub or cafe. Their anger was exacerbated by an IRA statement that "the British government and the British people must realise that because of the terrible war they wage in Ireland they will suffer the consequences".

This was the context in which a number of young people were arrested and charged with the Woolwich and Guildford bombings.

To anyone with even a smattering of knowledge of how the IRA worked, they were unlikely bombers.

The only one with any links to the republican movement was Paul Hill, who had been involved with the IRA in Belfast before he left for London and met up with an old schoolfriend, Gerry Conlon.

Gerry Conlon was briefly in the youth group of the republican movement, the Fianna, but was kicked out after a month because of his lifestyle, which included drug-taking.

He said of himself at that time: "I liked money, drink, gambling and girls." He also liked to dabble in soft drugs. He spent about a year in London following this lifestyle before moving back to Belfast where he was arrested and charged with the Guildford bombing.

Paddy Armstrong had no links with the republican movement. He moved from Belfast to London to work in the building trade, but was seduced by the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll culture of London in the early 1970s. He met an English girl, Carole Richardson, whose passion for horses had become eclipsed by her involvement in the soft drugs and petty crime scene, and started a relationship with her.

The naivety of the pair is shown by the fact that in late October 1974, two weeks after the bombing, they set out on a hitch-hiking tour, where in Folkestone Carole got into a fight with a man about the use of a public phone. They reported the matter to the police - hardly the behaviour of IRA bombers on the run.

They were easy targets for the robust interview techniques of the British anti-terrorist interrogators.

Despite the fact that before their arrest both Richardson and Armstrong had taken a cocktail of drugs, they were subjected to isolation and sleep deprivation during their periods of interrogation.

They signed confessions that they had participated in the Guildford bombing, though they repudiated the confessions during the trial, and both had alibis, including a photograph of Richardson with a member of a folk-rock group in south London on the night of the attack.

Hill, who had a previous conviction for involvement in the killing of a British soldier in Belfast, was arrested in London and also fiercely interrogated. He reportedly implicated the others, when he confessed.

Conlon was arrested in Belfast and brought to Addlestone in England. He was beaten repeatedly and he too confessed. He stated later he would have said anything to get the beating to stop.

There was no forensic, fingerprint or identification evidence against any of the four. All withdrew their statements during the trial. Nonetheless, they were convicted. Few questioned the verdicts at the time.

Following his release in 1989, Gerry Conlon told The Irish Times: "It's a sore point I have with the Irish Government and certain known faces in the Irish media that they never said: 'This must be the first IRA unit that lived in a squat, signed on the dole and got drunk in Kilburn High Road or spent their dole money on drugs'."

However, in the succeeding years the weakness of the evidence against the four led to a number of people, notably in the British media, questioning their conviction. This followed an unsuccessful appeal in 1977.

Over the next decade more and more evidence emerged that challenged the convictions. A campaign built up, including such pillars of the British establishment as Cardinal Basil Hume and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, two former Home Secretaries and a number of distinguished lawyers, calling for their release.

Following a number of TV programmes on the case, an inquiry into the conduct of the case was ordered and it was carried out by the Avon and Somerset police. This discovered the suppression of custody records, the fabrication of interview notes and other irregularities in the investigation.

When these came to light, an appeal scheduled for January 1990 was brought forward and the prosecution stated it was not opposing the appeal. The four were released in October 1989, and criminal investigations were announced into the activities of some members of the Surrey police.

This all came too late for Gerry Conlon's father, Guiseppe, who died in prison after he too was arrested and charged with bombing offences while visiting London to see his son in 1976.

He was staying with his sister-in-law, Annie Maguire, when the whole family, with the exception of the 13-year-old son, was arrested, along with a family friend. They were charged with bomb-making on the basis of later-discredited forensic evidence, and sentenced to terms ranging from eight to 14 years. They served their full sentences, going on to fight for years to clear their names. An inquiry was announced into their case following the release of the Guildford Four.

Despite the fact that the convictions of all those caught up in these tragic events were eventually quashed, giving an apology for the wrong done was resisted for a long time.

Carol Coulter reported on the Guildford Four case, and their release, at the time.

© The Irish Times


British Prime Minister's Apology

This is the full text of the apology issued by British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair to the Conlon and Maguire families

"The Guildford and Woolwich bombings killed seven people and injured over 100.

"Their loss, the loss suffered by their families, will never go away. But it serves no one for the wrong people to be convicted for such an awful crime.

"It is a matter of great regret when anyone suffers a miscarriage of justice.

"There was a miscarriage of justice in the case of Gerard Conlon and all the Guildford Four as well as Guiseppe Conlon and Annie Maguire and all of the Maguire Seven.

"And, as with the others, I recognise the trauma that the conviction caused the Conlon and Maguire families and the stigma which wrongly attaches to them to this day.

"I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice.

"That's why I am making this apology today. They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated."

© The Irish Times


Mystery Of Who Carried Out Bombings Still Unsolved

09/02/2005 - 21:11:49

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven did not carry out the bombings – but who really did remains a mystery to this day.

The Guildford and Woolwich bombings were the work of the Provisional IRA . Of that there was never any doubt.

But republican leaders who shouted ‘miscarriage of justice’ and campaigned to get Gerry Conlon, Annie Maguire and company out of jail were never going to offer up any alternative names.

After the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were cleared no one else was ever charged with the crimes for which they wrongly spent years behind bars.

It is the same story in Northern Ireland where many hundreds of terrorist murders remain unsolved.

However, the cases of the 11 wrong convictions – and those convicted and later cleared of the Birmingham bombing – sent shockwaves through the British policing and judicial systems. They were described as the worst miscarriages of justice in history.

There were investigations and inquiries into what went wrong, but no terror charges.

Avon and Somerset Police carried out a review of the Surrey force investigation and was highly critical in its findings.

Eventually the only charges in relation to the Guildford bombings were against three Surrey detectives involved in the investigation who were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

By the time they went to trial in 1993 all three had retired from the force.

In May 1993, a jury of six men and six women took more than eight hours to clear the ex-officers of the charge of fabricating notes of interviews with Paddy Armstrong, one of the Guildford Four.

Labour MP Chris Mullin, now a British Foreign Office minister, campaigned for the release of the Guildford Four.

At the end of the police officers’ trial he said he regretted that it had been “primarily concerned” with the retrial of the Guildford Four, and that it had been done without any of the original defendants being given the opportunity to respond.

The acquittal of the retired detectives meant, he said, that the question of how Mr Armstrong and others were persuaded to confess to a crime they did not commit would remain a “mystery which students of British criminal justice will continue to ponder”.


No Ulterior Motive Behind Apology

By Mark Simpson
BBC Ireland correspondent

One of the golden rules of politics is "never apologise" and so when it's broken, suspicions are raised.

What ulterior motive lay behind Tony Blair's humble TV statement over the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven?

Was it part of some secret political choreography?

By saying he was "very sorry" about these miscarriages of justice, what was he hoping to get in return?

Boring though it may seem for the conspiracy theorists, it appears there was no hidden agenda.

This was simply a terrible wrong which had to be put right, and Mr Blair agreed to do it

It certainly couldn't be regarded as a political stunt for his forthcoming re-election campaign. It's hardly likely to be a big talking point on the doorsteps.

Yes, it could be seen as a rare favour for the nationalist SDLP, which led the campaign for an apology.

The Irish government also pushed the issue, but apart from that, it's difficult to see any other political motive.

This was simply a terrible wrong which had to be put right, and Mr Blair agreed to do it.

Some unionists believe it's time for others to apologise. What they want to hear at the moment is paramilitary groups like the IRA saying "sorry" for 30 years of death and destruction.

A constitutional question has also been raised - should a politician be apologising for the mistakes of the judiciary?

Old wounds

The debate will continue. In the meantime, Mr Blair has to find some way of sorting out the current political mess in Northern Ireland.

His apology to the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven will not alter the current problems, but it may heal some old wounds, at a time when the peace process needs all the help it can get.

Last week's flurry of IRA statements prompted fears about a possible breakdown in the ceasefires.

The panic is now over, as it seems the IRA was only sabre-rattling.

But in Northern Ireland, peace is never taken for granted. That's another golden rule.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/09 23:52:17 GMT


Louth Man Charged Over Omagh

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

A Dundalk man appeared before Enniskillen Magistrate's Court amid heavy security yesterday charged with supplying the car used in the "Real IRA" bombing of Omagh more than six years ago.

Anthony Joseph Donegan, a 34-year-old labourer, denied that, at a date unknown between August 11th and 16th 1998, he made available to another person a maroon Vauxhall Cavalier car, knowing that it might be used for terrorism.

On August 15th 1998, a 500lb "Real IRA" car-bomb exploded in Omagh town centre, killing 29 people and unborn twin girls.

Mr Donegan, of Afton Drive, Dundalk, was brought to the courthouse under heavy guard. He avoided the cameras by hiding under a sweater and crouching on the floor of a Garda car as it was driven through a side gate.

In the dock, Mr Donegan stood quietly as the charge was read to him. He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charge.

Mr Donegan, who was detained in Newry, Co Down, was initially charged on Monday night at Omagh police station, where he pleaded "not guilty". However, a PSNI detective-sergeant said he believed that he could connect him to the charge.

The magistrate, Mr Liam McNally, remanded Mr Donegan in custody until March 8th to appear via video link at Omagh Courthouse.

Mr Laurence Rush, whose wife Libby died in the Omagh bombing, was among those who sat in the public gallery of the court.

Relatives of those murdered in the bombing are taking a separate £16 million civil action against five men they suspect of plotting the atrocity.

Colm Murphy, the only man sentenced so far in relation to the bombing, had his conviction for conspiracy to cause an explosion overturned on appeal in Dublin last month. A retrial has been ordered and he is now on bail.

The charge against Mr Donegan is only the second to be brought by police in Northern Ireland investigating the atrocity.

Seán Hoey is on remand awaiting trial on charges related to the "Real IRA" bombing of Omagh, including possession of a timer power unit between March 1997 and the day after the bombing.

© The Irish Times


Analysis: Governments Downplaying IRA Danger

By Paul Colgan

DUBLIN -- Republican insiders have described the second of last week's two IRA statements as "ominous." But Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair apparently are not losing too much sleep over it.

The statement, which warned the two premiers not to underestimate the "seriousness" of the current political crisis in the North, followed hot on the heels of an earlier and lengthier pronouncement from P. O'Neill.

O'Neill, the name that accompanies IRA statements and originates from the fictional Irish Republican Publicity Office in Dublin, announced that the IRA was withdrawing its offer to decommission weapons and move into a "new mode."

While RTE's chief news correspondent, Charlie Bird, was at pains to stress its "hard-line" nature to a seemingly disbelieving news anchor last Wednesday night, few close to the peace process were surprised or worried by the statement.

The IRA issued a similar statement following the collapse of negotiations in 2003. Ahern referred to it saying it was normal negotiating strategy to withdraw offers following failure to strike a deal.

As Thursday wore on, Ahern was quizzed at various functions as to whether he was concerned by the news. The answer was always the same: in effect, "move on, folks, nothing to see here."

Come Thursday evening, however, and things took an altogether less expected turn. O'Neill had returned to his rusty old typewriter to bash out a short, sharp riposte to those who had passed over his original statement.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told a press conference that the peace process was in "profound difficulties" and that, by the way, his party would no longer be on hand to interpret or explain IRA statements or activities. He said Sinn Fein was involved in the peace talks solely on the basis of its electoral mandate and not because it was a "conduit" between the IRA and the two governments.

Suddenly, as one Northern newspaper put it, all bets were off.

Were the Provos laying the ground for a return to armed struggle? What exactly did Adams mean when he said Sinn Fein would no longer provide analysis of the IRA position? Was there a split in the republican movement? Were Adams and Martin McGuinness still in control of their own hard-liners?

As with December's £26.5 million Northern Bank job, speculation, not hard-fact, seems to be the order of the day.

Those critics of the republican movement who maintain that it is a unified monolith, claim the IRA statement was designed merely to prompt talk of a potential return to war in order to take political heat off Sinn Fein.

They claim Adams and Blair should not be distracted by "Provo misdirection." They insist that Adams and McGuinness remain in control of the republican movement, have within their grip IRA decommissioning, and could close down the IRA at a moment's notice if they only wished to.

Others, always wary of the potential for splits in the IRA, speculate that Adams and his coterie of close supporters are no longer in the ascendancy. Martin Mansergh, Bertie Ahern's respected advisor on the North, has hinted at such a possibility. Backroom staff in government buildings also fear that the "peaceniks" in Sinn Fein and the IRA are now unable to "deliver" IRA decommissioning.

One prominent commentator has gone so far to speculate that Adams, who it is claimed usually writes IRA statements, did not pen last week's offerings, saying it was "not in his style."

Certainly Sinn Fein has done little to dampen such speculation. While the party's new policy of refusing to interpret IRA statements may signify little more than its general weariness in having to answer repeated questions about the Northern Bank raid, it provides grist to the mill of the conspiracy theorists.

Republicans who are politically close to Adams and McGuinness privately concede that there is a debate going on within the republican movement as to the future of the peace process. However, they do not speak of splits or a return to war.

One source said last week that his main concern was that loyalists, or hard-line elements within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, would seek to exploit the current bout of Sinn Fein bashing in order to foment street violence. The aim, he said, would be to coax IRA gunmen onto the streets.

"If republicans are called out to defend their people, things could take on a momentum all of their own," he said.

Certainly the little reported comments of the PSNI chief constable, Hugh Orde, last week, in which he said the UDA was on the verge of a split, have done nothing to calm jitters in the interface areas of Belfast.

Of more concern to mainstream republicans than who gets the blame for the bank raid is the fact that the British and Irish governments came down on the side of the Rev. Ian Paisley in last year's political negotiations. They supported his demand for photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning despite republican claims that it would amount to "humiliation."

Sinn Fein claims that, under Paisley, the DUP will never sign up to power sharing and that the call for Provo polaroids was a red herring. That it is the fundamental impediment to political progress in the North, they say -- not IRA activity.

Meanwhile, there are signs a softening in the relationship between Sinn Fein and the Irish government may be under way. Despite Gerry Adams's undiplomatic suggestion that the two governments "dig their heads out of their asses," things appeared to calm slightly over the weekend.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said it was a time for "cool heads," while Adams said all involved needed to "calm down, to think about the future, to get over whatever hurt or perceived hurt there is over this row."

However, the report by the Independent Monitoring Commission, which is to be published later this week, will lay blame for the robbery at the door of the IRA and will recommend sanctions against Sinn Fein.

The tone of P. O'Neill's next statement, whether angst-ridden or conciliatory, depends greatly on how the various sides ride out what looks like being another tumultuous period.


New Bill Will 'Make Probe A Charade'

Finucane attack on Blair over legislation.

By Chris Thornton
09 February 2005

The planned inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder is in danger of becoming a "government-controlled charade", his eldest son said today.

Michael Finucane, a Dublin solicitor, attacked the special legislation being rushed through Parliament to change the rules of evidence for the inquiry into collusion the murder.

And he criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair for introducing the Inquiries Bill, saying it would cover up aspects of the killing.

"Somehow the politician who promised an end to government by stealth was replaced by one who seems to want to write the definitive work: the Inquiries Bill," Mr Finucane wrote in today's Guardian.

"The murder of my father is a crucial event because of what the case could potentially reveal. It is for this reason the bill was created.

"But the bill does not just affect one case: it is about to become the law of the land and is being pushed through by the most control-obsessed government Britain has ever seen."

Mr Finucane said the law change "should be resisted by anyone who really feels that secrecy and closed doors have no place in a modern, democratic British government".

"Or, to put it another way," he added, "anyone who doesn't think like Tony Blair."

Saturday will be the 16th anniversary of Pat Finucane's murder by the UDA.

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, concluded in 2003 that there had been collusion between the loyalist killers and members of the security forces.

The Government finally agreed to proceed with an inquiry, but only under the terms of new legislation that will give Ministers greater powers to keep secrets from the inquiry.

As a result, the Finucane family has said that they will refuse to cooperate.

"The reality is that an inquiry that is not a public inquiry becomes little more than a government-controlled charade. It is established by government, regulated by government and controlled by government throughout," said Mr Finucane.


McCabe Widow Warns Irish Government

The widow of murdered Detective Garda Jerry McCabe warned the Irish Government today that her husband's killers must never be freed as part of a Northern Ireland peace deal.

By:Press Association

Ann McCabe was speaking after Irish premier Bertie Ahern unexpectedly confirmed in the Dail parliament yesterday that the issue was not only "off the table" but he did not "see it coming back on the table" again in future talks.

Mr Ahern provoked outrage in early December when he revealed that the four IRA men convicted of the 1996 killing could be freed early as part of an overall settlement.

The early release had been a key negotiating demand by Sinn Fein during power-sharing talks, even though the men did not qualify under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mrs McCabe said: "This was never part of the Good Friday Agreement. If it was, I would never have voted for it.

"I voted for peace. I certainly didn`t vote for the release of my husband`s killers."

She added: "I would be totally against, as the normal decent people of Ireland would be, any early release."

Mr McCabe was gunned down in a botched post office raid in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

Mr Ahern made his comments during a Fine Gael motion in the Dail calling on republicans to abandon all violence and embrace democracy.

The Government and the Opposition were divided on the wording of the motion until Mr Ahern confirmed his position on McCabe.

Sinn Fein will respond to the motion tonight before a vote.

Mrs McCabe said she had received many letters and cards from people telling her to stay firm on the release of her husband`s killers.


Jim Johnston Killing Case

An alleged hitman today declared that he "definitely did not" have anything to do with the murder of former Red Hand Commando chief Jim 'Johnty' Johnston.

Throughout giving evidence to Belfast Crown Court on his own behalf, 41-year-old Robert James Benson Young maintained that the May 2003 murder was "definitely nothing to do with me".

Young, from Ulsterville Park in Portadown, denies murder while his 39-year-old sister Lorraine Young, from Church Hill in Holywood, denies giving him a false alibi for the time of the killing.

Another Co Down woman, 35-year-old Susan Ferguson from the Westlink in Holywood,denies possessing the magazine found along with one of the murder weapons at the murder scene and a second magazine uncovered at her home in follow-up searches.

Diplock trial judge Mr Justice Higgins has already heard evidence that Young`s blood was found on two fence posts a quarter of a mile from Johnston`s luxury Crawfordsburn home and that when he was arrested two weeks after the shooting, he was found to have suffered a number of cuts to his legs and arms.

He has also heard that tests carried out on the 9ml Taurus handgun, the two balaclavas the gunmen wore and a coat found near the scene gave negative results.

Today (wed) Young told his defence QC Terence McDonald he was "confident" that no materials would be found on the various itmes to connect him with them.

In relation to his blood being found on the fence, Young conceded that "yes" it was his and that it was "possible" he had been there in the past but added that "I don`t remember being there but it`s possible".

Mr McDonald asked him directly if any of the injuries had been caused by "ripping or tearing of your skin on barbed wire" to which Young stated simply "no".

Under cross examination from prosecuting QC John Creaney, Young claimed the cuts had been there "for weeks" and further claimed he could not remember how or when he got them.

He agreed with the lawyer`s suggestion that it was a "mystery" as to how his blood got on the barbed wire fence and posts but he denied the further suggestion that the "alternative to the mystery" was that he had been there and had caught the fence when he was "clearing off and going along the escape route having kille

d Mr Johnston".

Young maintained he could not remember being in the area near Johnston`s house, telling the court "I`m not going to make a story up to say that I was".

However, Mr Creaney put to him that he was not making up any stories because "it`s as plain as a pikestaff that you were there on the evening of the 8 May as yo

u blundered over in the dark" but Young again replied "no".

The lawyer suggested to Young that it was "fortuitious...just a coincidence" for his blood to have been found on the fence and posts to which the alleged hitman replied: "I would not disagree with that."

The trial has also heard that when he was arrested on May 23, Young had £900 in Northern Banks notes in his possession as well as his passport.

Today (wed) Mr Creaney suggested to him that the police caught him "when you were just on your way", but again, Young denied his suggestion, telling the court that "If I was going to leave I would have left well before that".

At hearing.


Taoiseach Recognised For EU Presidency Role

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The public relations industry yesterday paid tribute to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, for his conduct of Ireland's European Union presidency last year.

Presenting an award to the Taoiseach, the chairman of the Public Relations Consultants' Association, Mr Hugh Gillanders, said the Government's communications during the six months had been "excellent and innovative".

The Taoiseach's special adviser, Mr Joe Lennon, who was in charge of presidency communications, also received an award.

The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, in a letter read out at yesterday's lunch, said there had "been no more effective leader of the European Union during my time as Prime Minister (and that includes my own presidency!)".

The negotiation of the EU constitution "was a very difficult challenge", said Mr Blair. That it was finally agreed at the end of the Irish presidency was "a triumph for Irish diplomacy".

The president of the European Commission, Mr José Manuel Barroso, said Mr Ahern had made a habit of being the one at European Council meetings to "make low-key but wise interventions which have always helped to move our discussions along".

© The Irish Times


Mc Crory Has Done Plenty In His Lifetime

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Edmund “Ned” Mc Crory, a native son of Ireland, is the fourth of five children born to Edward Mc Crory and his wife, Bridget Maguire in 1945 County Tyrone, “British Occupied” Ireland. His formative school years took place in Co. Tyrone until the time arrived for him to attend Junior Seminary, or what we here would call high school.

The family saw him off to attend Junior Seminary in Thurles, County Tipperary, a center for college and religious education. The lad at the young age of 13, entered into the seminary and then at 18 began seven years of religious instruction and at 25, was ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest.

Mc Crory’s first assignment was to a language school at Lake Victoria to learn Swahili and then he was sent to the village of Singeda, Tanzania, East Africa where he spent the next four years. Placed in charge of distribution for the American Catholic Relief, he got around the diocese on a small motorcycle, going from one supply hut to another along his route.

He tells of the time when he kept the donated clothing in a particular hut and on arrival found that his American clothes had been stolen. Quickly he sent out word that the stolen items must be returned immediately and they were. They were left on the doorstep but every piece had already been altered.

Mc Crory reminisced about his days in Africa and looked back on learning to deal with upwards of 129 separate tribes with their own languages and customs. As religious occasions, such as marriages, routinely took place at the parish church, it was essential to understand the requirements and customs when dealing with different tribal members in marrying, celebrating a baptism or conducting a funeral.

In that region, leprosy was commonplace and Mc Crory recalled the time when he was approached by a married man who wanted to marry a much younger woman. He wanted to keep his old wife, even though she wouldn’t sleep with him because of his leprosy. But he also wanted the new younger wife because she too, was a Leper.

Mc Crory also learned that Tanzanian women routinely ate hard boiled eggs, but the men wouldn’t even touch them because of the belief that the eggs would affect their virility.

He was later assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ely, Nev., and spent two years there. Soon after, he decided to leave the priesthood as he said, “It’s a lonely life” and he longed for a family.

Mc Crory then attended the San Francisco School of Mortuary Science and upon graduation, was hired by Duggan’s Funeral Home in Daly City where he stayed for the next 13 years. He found himself liking the mortuary business because he could still be involved in ministering to people and families in their time of need.

Next he went to Castro Valley and worked three or four years there before coming to Pine Grove in 1991 and purchased Olson’s Upcountry Funeral Home.

Four years ago he started Jackson Final Care on Jackson Gate Road and recently purchased the Amador Memorial Cemetery in Pioneer. He conducts the funerals and rotates coroner cases every four months with Daneri Mortuary in Jackson.

For 27 years, Mc Crory has been married to his wife, Karen and they have four children, Sinead, Martin, Shannon and Patrick. He counts himself one blessed and lucky Irish-American as he has his family, a satisfying profession and is able to minister to others at a time when we all need help.

When asked about his favorite Irish saying, he replied, “This is from the West Belfast country. ‘Whatever you say, say nothing.’”

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