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February 14, 2005

02/14/05 – Court Rejects SF’s Sanction Challenge

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

SM 02/14/05 Court Rejects Last Year’s SF Sanctions Challenge
BT 02/14/05 Police Chief Fears Long Hot Summer
BT 02/14/05 Alliance Ford Hits Out At SDLP 'Rhetoric'
BT 02/14/05 IRA Exists To Fund Republican Lifestyles- Attwood
BT 02/14/05 SDLP To Tell US Envoy Of Murder Cover-Up –A –V
BT 02/14/05 McCartney’s Sister: 'We Know The Provos Killed Robert'
BT 02/14/05 Changing Face Of Party In The Post-Hume Era
BT 02/14/05 Protestants to SDLP: We Need To Work More Closely Together
BT 02/14/05 SF's Attitude Hinders Police: Hanna
BT 02/14/05 Opin: Why SF Can No Longer Bank On The White House
BT 02/14/05 £11.5m To Separate Prisoners
GR 02/14/05 New Irish Newspaper Draws Fire
BT 02/14/05 Bottom Line-Peace Processing: Battling Against All Odds
BT 02/14/05 Executive Poised To Take House Plan Battle To Court
BT 02/14/05 Ardoyne: Family Waiting To Hear How Father Died
BT 02/14/05 McAleese: No Ruling On Trip
BT 02/14/05 Opin: McAleese Apology Should Be Enough
BB 02/14/05 Bid To End 'Housing Segregation'
KC 02/14/05 Comets Midfielder's Character Forged In N Ireland


Court Rejects Sinn Fein Sanctions Challenge

By Ian Graham, PA

Sinn Fein today lost a legal bid to overturn financial sanctions imposed on it by the Government because of IRA activity.

The High Court in Belfast refused the party permission for a judicial review of the decision to penalise it more than £100,000 last year.

Sinn Fein launched court action after Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy last April withdrew funding from its Assembly party.

He took action in the wake of a report from the Independent Monitoring Commission highlighted the level of paramilitary activity by both the IRA and loyalists and recommended sanctions against Sinn Fein and the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party.

The IMC last week recommended further sanctions against Sinn Fein because of its knowledge and sanctioning of the IRA’s £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery before Christmas.


Police Chief Fears Long Hot Summer

Bank robbery 'vacuum' could spark trouble

By Jonathan McCambridge
14 February 2005

One of Northern Ireland's top police officers today spoke of his fears over a potential summer of discontent following the Northern Bank robbery.

Concerns are rising that the political vacuum caused by the heist could see street disorder and violence return to parts of the province during the volatile marching season.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland has appealed for calm and warned that all sides must take responsibility to ensure Northern Ireland does not undergo a "long hot summer".

Hopes of a political settlement were shattered by the £26.5m robbery at the Northern Bank in Belfast just days before Christmas.

The Chief Constable and the Independent Monitoring Commission have blamed the IRA for the robbery. Republicans vented their anger last week by blocking roads across the province.

A number of police sources have indicated that there is nervousness within the PSNI that the absence of any political momentum could lead to a sharp upturn in street violence in the summer.

The level of violence during the marching season has receded in recent years although there was serious rioting in Ardyone last July as police clashed with nationalists after Orangemen and their supporters passed along a contested route.

Mr McCausland, ACC for the Urban area whose responsibilities include public order, said it was important that the political vacuum did not mean Northern Ireland returned to the "politics of the street".

He said: "It would be unfair of me to say that I do not have concerns that issues which were around last year are still around and could potentially be exacerbated by gaps which exist in the political environment.

"I hope that we are not facing a long and hot summer and I don't think there is anybody in the community who wants that.

"I hope we have moved away from the politics of the street and I am more than happy to speak to anyone from any side of the community.

"What is there for anybody to gain by having serious disturbances? It will only start the whole spiral of violence once again.

"However, it is true that there is a political vacuum at the minute but hopefully that will not add to any potential difficulties.

"I would say to people to think long and hard before you decide that you want to go out and cause trouble."

The ACC said the PSNI had made plans for the marching season and were "planning for the worst but hoping for the best".

"We can be flexible enough to reflect the agreements that are made in local communities. If there is no agreement in place then we will reflect that and police an area in a certain fashion to protect the community.

"Our policing for major events is always scenario-based."


Ford Hits Out At 'Rhetoric'

14 February 2005

Alliance leader David Ford accused the SDLP today of being all talk and no action for criticising Sinn Fein at their annual conference while refusing to freeze them out of Stormont.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan called Gerry Adams a liar during his conference speech on Saturday in Londonderry, and criticised republicans for remaining wedded to the IRA.

But he also revealed that he had turned down a Downing Street request to enter a coalition at Stormont that would exclude Sinn Fein.

"The more the SDLP rachet up the rhetoric against republicans but fail to contemplate any sanctions against Sinn Féin, the more they are letting them off the hook," said Mr Ford.

"In effect, they are saying that republicans can do what they wish, because the SDLP will not take or support any action against them."


IRA Exists To Fund Republican Lifestyles, Claims Attwood

By Dominic Cunningham
14 February 2005

Republican attitudes to crime and justice drew a blistering attack from the SDLP's policing spokesman Alex Attwood.

He said the IRA was precisely where it wanted to be - it continued to exist in order to fund republican activity and lifestyles, in order to exercise control over people and communities as well as retaining a terror capability.

The West Belfast politician told delegates that Sinn Fein had no credible policing agenda and were "not serious" about this issue.

"How can they when their chairperson says the murder of a mother is not a crime; when their chairperson says bank robberies committed by the IRA would not be a crime; when their chairperson advises people not to provide information to the police about Omagh, the biggest crime in our recent history?" Mr Attwood asked.

But, he claimed, while the IRA viewed themselves as a lawful authority, they were in reality a criminal gang.

Source: Irish Independent


Morning Ireland: Mark Durkan, SDLP leader, discusses the issues within nationalism in Northern Ireland ahead of this summer's British elections

1 News: Michael Fisher reports on the continuing investigation into the death of Robert McCartney in Belfast over two weeks ago

SDLP To Tell US Envoy Of Murder Cover-Up –A -V

Durkan: killing was at hands of IRA people

By Ashleigh Wallace
14 February 2005

The leader of the SDLP today pledged to raise claims that the IRA was behind the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney when he meets the US Special Envoy this week.

Mark Durkan said he will brief Mitchell Reiss about the "appalling murder and the organised cover-up and intimidation" during this week's trip to America.

Following a meeting with the victim's family over the weekend, Mr Durkan said: "His vicious murder was at the hands of IRA people, including a very senior IRA person who was centrally involved in the attack.

"Many of those IRA people have been prominent Sinn Fein election workers and minders for their politicians.

"The family are not claiming that this was a planned IRA operation. They are very clear that the full force of the IRA has been used to intimidate witnesses and prevent the killers from being brought to justice."

In a newspaper interview yesterday, McCartney's sister Paula revealed that before he was killed, the murdered 33-year old always voted Sinn Fein.

She also claimed the IRA was involved in the clean-up operation after the attack as well as threatening local people not to talk to the police or the media.

Revealing how Mr McCartney was beaten by up to 15 people outside Magennis's bar, she said her brother had a "history" with the senior IRA man who directed the attack - a republican, she said, with close links to Sinn Fein.

Saying the horrific murder was similar to the killings carried out by the Shankill Butchers in the 1970's, she added: "I never thought IRA men would do this is to a nationalist in Belfast in the 21st century."

Former Sinn Fein Assembly member John Kelly accused the Sinn Fein leadership of the "cynical and despicable manipulation" of children during police searches in nationalist areas of the city.

He asked: "Have we, the nationalist/republican community exchanged a fascist and sectarian orange jackboot for an increasingly fascist and totalitarian green jackboot?"


'We Know The Provos Killed Robert'

By Ashleigh Wallace
14 February 2005

The sister of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney today challenged Sinn Fein to encourage people with information on his killing to come forward.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Paula McCartney said: "We know it was done by members of the Provisional IRA. We are fully aware of this and we also know the IRA did not sanction it."

She said most of the McCartney family, who are well respected and well known within the Short Strand area of the city, voted Sinn Fein. But that all changed when two weeks ago, the former bouncer was kicked, punched and stabbed by a gang of up to 15 people.

The family claims a senior IRA man with close links to Sinn Fein, who had a "history" with Robert, was responsible for directing the killing. They also believe members of the IRA were involved in a clean-up operation after the attack.

Miss McCartney said: "I would ask them to encourage people who know anything about what happened to come forward and not be afraid of any type of threat or danger.

"We would ask them to respect the wishes of the McCartney family who want the people who did this brought to justice through the courts.

"The people who did this need to be taken off the streets. They are not only a danger to their own communities but to the wider society."

Saying she had not eaten or slept properly since her brother's murder a fortnight ago, Miss McCartney added: "It's been two weeks now and still no-one has been charged.

"The clean-up operation afterwards must have been meticulous and it seems the police are finding difficulty with evidence. The police know who they are the same as we know who they are."

When asked how it felt to live in the same area as the senior republican the McCartneys' believe was heavily involved in the killing, she replied: "It's excruciatingly difficult."


Changing Face Of Party In The Post-Hume Era

By Chris Thornton
14 February 2005

They were in John Hume's city, but the SDLP that gathered in a hotel by the Foyle for their annual conference this weekend doesn't seem so much like John Hume's party any more.

Forget that the hall was half full for the start of the former leader's welcome speech, his last appearance before the party as an MP. Forget that while Mr Hume talked at length about Europe, when the SDLP doesn't have an MEP anymore. And take it as given that no matter what Mr Hume says or doesn't say, he is loved and respected by large sections of the party.

There is one major difference between the SDLP that came away from Londonderry yesterday and the one that Mr Hume led. Where John Hume worked to bring Sinn Fein in from the cold, this party has had its fill of the Shinners and isn't afraid to say so.

Where Mr Hume spent years engaging Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in talks, Mark Durkan, thinks Mr Adams is a liar and isn't afraid to say so. .

So nationalism wades into 2005 in state so fractured that its bound to make some unionists nostalgic. There is no talk of a pan-nationalist front now, unless perphaps you're referring to ranks of southern parties and the SDLP drawn up against Sinn Fein.

The shift shouldn't take anyone by complete surprise, not least the republican movement, which got some retaliation in first by staging a protest outside the SDLP conference.

Important clues to the change came at Westminster after Chief Constable Hugh Orde blamed the IRA for robbing the Northern Bank. Both Eddie McGrady and Seamus Mallon denounced republicans, with Mr Mallon telling MPs that the peace process had become "a moral quagmire".

Mr Hume, by way of contrast, told the House of Commons that he believed the IRA denial. Both his party colleagues were clearly annoyed. Mr McGrady, battling Sinn Fein again at the next general election, was said to be livid.

Mr Hume changed his tune the next day, after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced that he too blamed the IRA, and that Garda intelligence backed the PSNI. Just as the Taoiseach gave him cover to back up, so too have Mr Ahern's attacks emboldened the SDLP.

For years, SDLP speechmakers and soundbite merchants used to refer to Sinn Fein as "others", adhering to an old political theory that you don't give your opponents a leg up by mentioning them by name. With their very presence at Westminster under threat, there is no sense in the SDLP being oblique. They found plenty of opportunity to mention the republican movement by name, and took to it with gusto. .

Mr Durkan led the way by spending about 20 minutes of his keynote speech drawing the connection between the Shinners and the IRA.

"To those who think the IRA don't pull off robberies, they do," he added later. "That's what they were doing in Adare when they killed Garda Jerry McCabe. That's what they were doing in Newry when they killed postal worker Frank Kerr.

"Each time Gerry denied. Each time Gerry lied. So Gerry, how can we believe you now? Why would we believe you over the Taoiseach, who has done so much for the peace process?"

Alex Attwood spoke in similar terms.

"The IRA," he said, "...continue to exist in order to fund republican activity and lifestyles, in order to exercise control over people and communities and in order to retain a terror capability in order to influence London in a direction of the IRA's choosing."

They wrapped it all up by referring to their own policies as "true republicanism", meant to imply Sinn Fein isn't the genuine article. It's a phrase that won't resonate well with unionists who the SDLP won't say they need, but whose anti-Sinn Fein votes would probably be quietly welcomed in a few close contests.

Sinn Fein took notice enough to send out the protesters and to attack Mr Durkan, rather strangely, for saying that he wouldn't exclude them from government. Strange, because it was just the sort of thing John Hume used to say.


'We Need To Work More Closely Together'

By Noel McAdam
14 February 2005

Evangelical protestants have said the best hope for the political crisis is for the SDLP, political parties in the Republic and the Irish Government to work more closely together, the conference heard.

Alex Attwood said the strategy had been suggested when he and Assembly colleague Alban Maginness met a group of evangelical protestants last week who vote across party lines.

The party's justice spokesman said "ordinary, sensible, progressive unionists" believed it would "ensure this is sorted" and encouraged more contact between Protestants and the Irish Government in particular.

Earlier, South Down MP Eddie McGrady said in the current fluid situation the party should not close the door on new thoughts and ideas - and that those unable to join up to basic parameters for inclusivity should not be allowed to prevent others making progress.

"I am not prepared to be a representative of people and not fulfil their needs simply because the hardest liner on the IRA Army Council dictates that I cannot do that," he said.

Mr McGrady said the reality was that the DUP had successfully commenced the demolition of the Good Friday Agreement, while paramilitaries had extended their insidious control in communities.

"We are entering on the one hand a green Mafia land and on the other, an orange Mafia land. The next few months will decide if we can recede the tide."

Deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said the first phase of the peace process was over and the second, perhaps harder phase, begun.


Party's Attitude Hinders Police: Hanna

Mob almost helped violent thief escape

By Ben Lowry
14 February 2005

Sinn Fein's "ambivalent" attitude to policing contributed to a car thief almost escaping justice for a vicious hammer attack that left a Belfast man with brain damage, an SDLP MLA said today.

Carmel Hanna was speaking after it emerged that two years ago a west Belfast mob tried to prevent police arresting Kevin Barry Moyna, who was jailed on Friday for eight years for his part in a violent rampage in south Belfast.

Moyna, who was 18 at the time of the attacks in March 2003, admitted causing grievous bodily harm when he and his brother Gerard Michael Donegan, then 21, both of Ross Road, burst into the Strangford Avenue home of 56-year-old Maurice McCracken and two other nearby homes in a bid to steal cars.

Donegan, who was jailed for 15 years for attempted murder, was arrested shortly after the attack, but when PSNI officers sought to apprehend Moyna some weeks later, he tried to escape by boarding a bus.

Passengers on the vehicle tried to block the police arresting him, even though they are not thought to have known Moyna or why he was being pursued.

Mrs Hanna said: "Sinn Fein and the people on the bus need to be aware that their ambivalent attitude to policing could encourage lawlessness. They could have unwittingly enabled this thug to go free - and it could have been any criminal."

She added: "It is of course a two-way street, the police need to instil confidence in the community."

Sentencing the brothers in Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Mr Justice Deeny praised police for apprehending the brothers, and said that those who tried to prevent the arrest of Moyna "must feel very foolish" in light of what is now known about the attacks.

He expressed the hope that the incident would be "a lesson" for people to realise that they should allow the police to exercise their duties.

Part of Mr McCracken's front skull collapsed, in what the judge described as "catastrophic" injuries.

His wife Maureen told the trial that her husband had "no intellectual capacity" and was "just a memory of the person I knew".

Donegan could be freed in his late 20s if he gets remission for good behaviour.


Why Sinn Fein Can No Longer Bank On Novelty Biscuits In The White House

From Sean O'Driscoll in New York

14 February 2005

Osama Bin Laden may finally have parity of esteem this St Patrick's Day. It has long been a serious sticking point for the al Qaeda leader that Gerry Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders are allowed into the White House to share shamrock-shaped cookies with American presidents while he is holed up in a cave in sub-zero temperatures being bombarded by those same presidents.

In 1997 he was particularly aggrieved, as the IRA had not restored its ceasefire yet its leaders were Danny Boying with Bill and Hillary.

Three days after satellite TV sent images around the world of Gerry glad-handing with Bill in the West Wing, Bin Laden met with CNN correspondent Peter Bergen high up in the Hindu Khush Mountains and ranted.

"At the same time that they condemn any Muslim who calls for his rights, they receive the top official of the Irish Republican Army at the White House as a political leader.

Wherever we look, we find the US as the leader of terrorism and crime in the world," he said, waving his arm in the air.

Bin Laden went on to compare the favourable treatment shown to Gerry Adams with the lack of support shown to Palestinians after Israelis killed 102 civilians during an attack on a UN building in the Lebanon in April 1996.

You'll never get them to admit it directly, but Bush administration officials are sweating bricks over what is becoming a glaring problem.

How can they convince Muslim Americans that they are not being unfairly targeted while IRA representatives can breeze into the White House after two Belfast bank officials were told their families would be shot dead unless they helped clear £26.5m from the vaults?

Over and over again you see Muslim commentators in the US and Middle East contrast the treatment of innocent Muslims with that of IRA leaders, and it's an issue that the Northern Bank robbery has brought to a very dramatic head.

The change in fortunes for Sinn Fein is palpable. You could see it at the recent visit by Gerry Kelly to Washington, when he had a meeting with State Department officials, but not with the US envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, who was AWOL for the day.

There was a time when even the bottom feeders of the republican cause could get a meeting with the US special envoy, but times, as one of Gerry Adams' favourite singers once noted, are a changin'.

You can also see it in the weeks and months after the Northern Bank raid, with the lack of Irish American Congressmen jumping up and down about a British conspiracy, as happened after the Colombia Three arrests.

The Sinn Fein Press would swoon at the very suggestion, but its growing isolation is palpable.

You can see it, most prominently, in the flurry of Irish government activity earlier this week during the Irish Foreign Minister's visit to the US.

One very well placed government official quietly briefed journalists - the Northern Bank robbery was a major deal for the Bush administration and that it was looking increasingly likely that there would be a "rearrangement" at the St Patrick's Day bash.

Translated: there is no way that Karl Rove and the White House handlers want the president to shake hands with anyone linked to the Northern Bank heist.

Bin Laden's taunt that the White House is promoting "terrorism and crime" by allowing the IRA into the White House has taken on an immediacy in the wake of the raid.

Despite attempts by the American right to devour Gerry Adams ("Osama's Soul Brother" according to Rupert Murdoch's New York Post) he remains a well-liked figure in the US, and his intelligence is admired by the administration.

But the IRA and Sinn Fein find themselves at a very decisive moment. If the Bush administration decides to drop Sinn Fein from the White House bash, it is sending a signal to the Middle East that the administration will not share novelty biscuits with terrorists just because they are English-speaking and white.

Congress, the State Department and Sinn Fein's US backers will be watching very closely over the next days to see which way the White House decides.

And the IRA can bet its last Northern Bank note that, somewhere in a cave with a CNN antenna on top, Osama Bin Laden will be watching very closely, too.s


£11.5m To Separate Prisoners

Cost of keeping groups apart

By Michael McHugh
14 February 2005

The separation of paramilitary prisoners at Maghaberry Prison is costing the taxpayer around £11.5m per year, the Government has disclosed.

An update released recently by the Northern Ireland Office has revealed the financial penalty of the special arrangements separating incarcerated loyalists from republicans ahead of this week's meeting of loyalist prisoners to discuss worsening tensions at the prison.

The Prison Officers Association and prisoners both acknowledge the high price of security arrangements, which involve using three officers for every prisoner when moving them around the compound.

The NIO announced a range of measures designed to cut the costs of the current regime, recommended in the 2003 Steele Review, in a memo to Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

"The gross cost of implementing a separated regime for paramilitary prisoners is expected to be in the region of £11.5m per annum in resource terms," the paper said.

"It is planned to offset this cost in part by recruiting less expensive night patrol and prison custody officers to replace prison officers now redeployed under Steele.

"These costs are being funded through the departmental Spending Review process."

The news has prompted anger among prisoners who argue that the security arrangements are improper but prison officers insist they are necessary to prevent proscribed organisations from establishing Maze-style fiefdoms within the jail.

"What I am saying is that the separated conditions and the cost of running it is totally unnecessary," loyalist prisoners' lobbyist Frankie Gallagher said.

"We think there should be a more normal regime. We only wanted to be separated for safety.

"Every time they move prisoners there has to be three officers and they move three prisoners at a time so you are talking about nine officers walking 100 yards. We need some common sense here."

Co-operation between warders and prisoners has been poor for some time and Prison Officers' Association chairman Finlay Spratt said the procedures were necessary to control some of the most dangerous men in the province.

"Our experience has taught us that when you reduce the supervision for these paramilitary-type prisoners they take it over and these scales of supervision are necessary to ensure that we remain in control," he said.

"Obviously the prisoners see this as unnecessary but unfortunately that's the type of money that we have to spend.

"It was a Government decision to give them separate status. The current arrangements are a fair balance from our perspective, indeed this is the minimum amount that we feel is necessary to maintain control."


New Irish Newspaper Draws Fire

Posted on Monday, February 14 2005
Topic: Europe news
By Jason Walsh

The Irish newspaper market has been flung into turmoil with the launch of a new title: Daily Ireland…

Launched on February 1, Daily Ireland is published by Nuachtain, better known by the name of their flagship title the Andersonstown News, headed by former Sinn Fein councillor Mairtin O'Muilleoir.

The new paper employs 40 staff and has an initial target circulation of 20,000 with offices in Belfast and Monaghan.

Backers include Peter Quinn, former president of the Gaelic Athletic Association and Irish senator Mary White.

Quinn is involved with two weekly Dublin newspapers published in association with the Nuachtain and previously invested in Ireland on Sunday.

According to Daily Ireland’s editor Maria McCourt, although the newspaper is a tabloid it has a "clean design reminiscent of a broadsheet. In terms of news we want to achieve readability and credibility.”

McCourt who formerly edited the weekly South Belfast News explains: “We’ll be aiming to take readers from both the Irish News and the Daily Mirror.”

The launch comes only a year after Trinity Mirror’s sale of the News Letter to the 3i venture capital group, backed by former Mirror Group chief, David Montgomery.

Critics see the new title as the Irish republican Andersonstown News being re-launched on a national basis.

Asking a person in Northern Ireland which newspaper they read is tantamount to asking who they vote for, or worse what religion they are, as these divisions are replicated in the press.

Nationalists favour the Irish News and unionists the News Letter or Belfast Telegraph, though the Belfast Telegraph enjoys considerable cross-community support due to its extensive recruitment and classified advertising sections.

Belfast Telegraph editor Edmund Curran says: “Sinn Fein in particular feels that the media doesn’t treat it fairly and see a sympathetic daily as advantageous.”

Writing in the Spectator, Stephen Glover bemoaned the fact that, “a publisher loyal to Sinn Fein”, had received £750,000 in funding from the British government since 1999.

The group applied for further funding of £5 million from the government but was turned down. Ulster Unionist MP, Sylvia Hermon objected, demanding a review of the compatibility of the group with state aid.

O'Muilleoir dismissed concerns and says Daily Ireland is “virtually entirely privately funded.”

It is estimated that one third of the capital is coming from US investors.

The history of the Andersonstown News is unlike that of any other newspaper in Ireland.

Launched on November 22, 1972, it was initially an openly political publication published a republican front organisation called the Andersonstown Central Civil Resistance Committee.

The story of the newspaper mirrors that of Sinn Fein, growing in popularity amongst the nationalist community and seeking acceptance by the mainstream.

Now published twice-weekly alongside sister titles the North Belfast News and the South Belfast News, the Andersonstown News has come a long way from its anti-establishment roots.

According to commentator, Liam O'Ruairc: “It’s a corporate enterprise and its central aim is to be profitable. The paper’s prior support for “No Rent” and “No Rates” wouldn’t go down well with the estates agents advertising in its pages today. Its move to the mainstream parallels the growth of the republican movement as a bureaucratic institution. Both are now concerned with the ‘new Catholic middle-class’.”

Signalling this mainstream acceptance the newspaper moved from its cramped offices on the Andersonstown Road in the 1990s to a purpose built centre located in an industrial estate on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Staff started work in the Belfast district of Andersonstown in early January.

Undeterred by the grim surroundings of an industrial estate, one reporter says “The atmosphere is great – they’re a really nice crowd.”

Editor Maria McCourt adds: “The paper will give a lot of young journalists with experience on weeklies an opportunity to work on a daily.”

Daily Ireland will be serious competition for the Irish News, the main nationalist daily in Northern Ireland, which has a steady circulation of 50,000.

Unlike the Irish News, a Northern Irish title, Daily Ireland is being pitched as an all-Ireland newspaper, however it will be limited initially to Northern Ireland and border counties such as Monaghan and Cavan, moving to all-Ireland distribution at an unspecified point in the future.

Irish News management is clearly feeling threatened and is getting its retaliation in first – the newspaper now features a daily page in the Irish-language and is switching from its present Berliner format to tabloid, though editor Noel Doran insists that: “the plans were announced six months before Daily Ireland was announced.”

Doran is adamant that the Irish News will survive: “We’ve been publishing continuously since 1891. Plus, they’ve made a lot of being a ‘national’ newspaper but the fact remains that it will only be available in 12 counties – about a third of Ireland.”

He continues: “It will certainly be competition, but we’re already competing with the Belfast Telegraph, the British tabloids and to a lesser degree, the southern papers.”

The fact that the Irish News is generally seen as a moderate, highbrow voice may signal his being overly optimistic.

Just as the nationalist electorate has switched its support from the moderate SDLP to Sinn Fein, a populist republican newspaper could make significant inroads into the Northern Irish media.

Doran disagrees: “Things change but we’ve been a constitutional nationalist paper since before both the SDLP and Sinn Fein’s foundation. The fact that the field of constitutional nationalism is more crowded than before is good for us.”

Edmund Curran is not particularly concerned about newspaper’s emergence: “It won’t have any effect on the Telegraph. Overall, it’s hard to say – it’s a very crowded marketplace. It will be competition for the Irish News, but remember the Irish News is very serious. If the Daily Ireland is perceived as a true tabloid then it will really be competing with the Daily Mirror,” says Curran.

There are now 18 morning dailies available in Northern Ireland – an area with a population of 1.6 million – and it is clear that the British imports in particular have deep pockets. The Daily Mirror in particular features extensive local sports coverage – competing directly with the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph.

Curran feels that the tabloids' perceived impartiality on political issues is a bonus to them.

"British tabloids outsell the local morning papers, which reflects that people's tastes are wider than before. It would be dangerous to assume that a political position alone will sell a paper," he argues.

What effect the paper will have on the press in the Republic is less clear. Ireland does not have a distinctively nationalist daily.

The Irish Times and Independent News and Media-owned Irish Independent and Evening Herald are perceived to be anti-nationalist.

Ireland is littered with failed newspapers: Ireland on Sunday failed to find a market until it was bought by Associated Newspapers, becoming a ‘Celtified’ edition of the Mail on Sunday.

Despite selling 150,000 copies it remains a loss-making operation. March 2003 saw the launch of Dublin Daily which closed after just 90 editions.

The Irish Press, founded by former Irish president, Eamon de Valera, was the quintessential nationalist title, but despite this clear readership it closed in May 1995 amid questions surrounding finances.

Republican writer Danny Morrison is confident Daily Ireland will succeed: “Sinn Fein polls very well in border counties. There is a readership with an appetite for it, but they will have to resist being dominated by Belfast,” says Morrison.

Irish Independent deputy editor Michael Woolsey disagrees: “If this paper had any impact in the South at all I’d be surprised. It will be perceived as northern and I know that the Irish News sells poorly in the south. Being an ideological paper won’t help it overall – if it sold a thousand copies in the Republic, it would be doing well.”


Bottom Line In Peace Processing Is Battling On Against All Odds

by Malachi O'Doherty
14 February 2005

I have been asked by an American magazine to write an article about how peace processes work. My insights, for what they are worth: a peace process is a corrupting and hypocritical business. It falls between two untenable options, being less bloody than war and less civilised than stable, democratic politics.

It is different too from another prospect, final settlement talks. In Northern Ireland, the outline of a settlement is clear. When we are collectively ready for it, a group of well-meaning old enemies will work it out on the back of a postcard over lunch.

Peace processing is what you do when you don't want bloodshed, you can't function politically and you're not ready to settle terms.

Peace processing is war by other means. It is highly conflictual political engagement through which parties seek not resolution but power.

That is the lesson of Northern Ireland.

Ten years ago we had many people dancing with glee at a supposed spiritual transformation. Love had overcome hate, they said. Nothing of the kind had happened. Old enemies had started to trust each other, they said. No they hadn't and they still don't.

This trawling for signs of forgiveness had started even before the violence stopped. A favourite newspaper story: Man/woman forgives the killers of his/her father/mother/son/daughter.

Journalists were almost more keen to report an outbreak of forgiveness than an explosion in the street. And people said that peace had become possible because the warlords had aged and had teenage children of their own.

The Government played public service advertisements s which an old gunman coming out of prison is appalled to see his son now a paramilitary too.

We thought that those ads were aimed at the gunmen themselves to show them the future they were creating. They weren't: they were aimed at the rest of us, to persuade us that a change of heart was possible in the armed groups, a change for which there was no evidence other than the word of mediators who were often naive religious enthusiasts or community activists who stood a good chance of getting government funding for peace making endeavours.

The armed groups still occasionally kill people and rob them. Compassion doesn't stop them. What curtails them is political pragmatism.

Gerry Adams in particular has hammed up the loving side of peace making. If pulling legs of kittens could get him more votes he would do that instead.

So what's the point of a peace process? Well, peace of course. It is a political contest in which fewer people get killed.

The parties in Northern Ireland entered the process hesitatingly and determined to undermine each other.

In close talks they have played not for completion but for a breakdown without blame.

The Ulster Unionist Party played to try and force the complete disarmament of the IRA. This proved to be a bad strategy. As the Ulster Unionists got angrier about the IRA refusing to disarm, more nationalists voted for Sinn Fein as the party that most annoyed unionists.

Sinn Fein played for the fragmentation of its enemies, the unionists, the erosion of its rivals, the SDLP, and the growth of its own vote.

The peace process grew to be about power rather than the completion of its stated objective, a political settlement. A settlement would have removed the very issues which generate support for the parties engaged in the process.

Our peace process is near collapse now. The republicans robbed a bank and no one trusts them. In their hurt dignity they express surprise. So they ought - robbing banks has always been just one of the things they do. But in stealing a huge amount of money, they have strayed beyond the safe limits permitted by the game of peace processing and may have wrecked the game.

What are the Governments doing about it? They are trying to restore the stability of the game. Peace processing is all we have for politics now and no one has any better ideas.

My advice to readers in other situations about which I may not know much: recognise that once the game is on, all parties will want to stay in. So they can then be pressed to behave.

And if the long game means that you never settle your differences, well that's because you have decided that peace processing is still better than the alternatives.

Recognise that peace processing is a game and play hard. Resist all appeals to forgiveness and compassion. You really hate these people at the other side of the table. That's OK. They hate you too.


Executive Poised To Take House Plan Battle To Court

By David Gordon
14 February 2005

The Housing Executive was poised to take a court injunction against Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor over his bid for a property development in his back garden, it can be revealed today.

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell landed himself in controversy last year, with a plan for three new townhouses on land he bought from the Executive on condition it became part of his garden.

Internal Housing Executive papers, released under freedom of information legislation, have now revealed the body's determination to halt Mr O'Donnell's proposal.

One of the disclosed documents states that the Executive wrote to the councillor's solicitors "and put them on notice that, if development was commenced, we would issue an injunction to have development stopped".

Mr O'Donnell bought the small stretch of land behind his home from the Executive for £1,000.

The deal included a covenant restricting the use of the plot to a garden extension.

Permission for three new homes would have dramatically increased the value of the site.

But the Sinn Fein councillor denied trying to profit from his scheme.

He said he would have donated the land to a housing association if planning permission had been granted.

The Department of the Environment issued a preliminary refusal for the application and it was withdrawn by Mr O'Donnell.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was heavily criticised in a Belfast City Council debate, at which all parties but Sinn Fein backed a DUP resolution calling for a Government investigation.

The Executive papers on the case were issued to the Belfast Telegraph after a request was made under the Freedom of Information Act, which took effect at the beginning of this year.

Mr O'Donnell's chief critic in the saga, DUP councillor Sammy Wilson, today welcomed the content of the documentation.

"I'm glad to see that the Executive was prepared to take this degree of action and go for a court injunction," he said.

"It shows how serious this matter was, despite Sinn Fein's attempts to play it down."

But Mr O'Donnell said: "The situation is over and closed. The application is withdrawn and it's not going in again, so end of story."

It was revealed some months after the controversy that the veteran Sinn Fein councillor would not be standing in this year's forthcoming local government elections.

He denied that the decision was in any way linked to the row over his planning application.


Grieving Family Waiting To Hear How Father Died

By Deborah McAleese
14 February 2005

The grieving family of a father of three found dead on a north Belfast street is today waiting to discover if he was definitely killed in a hit-and-run accident.

Police today are still questioning three men, aged 22, 25 and 28, in a bid to discover the exact circumstances of 34-year-old Stephen Montgomery's death.

Mr Montgomery's body was found with severe head and body injuries in the early hours of yesterday morning at Jamaica Road in the Ardoyne area.

In a heartbreaking development it was discovered that just hours before his death Mr Montgomery had been out grieving for his stepfather who died on Friday after a short illness.

When he did not return home his family searched the cemetery where his stepfather had been laid to rest believing he may have visited the graveside.

However his battered body was found a short time later by a passer-by at around 3am.

Although police have not yet confirmed how Mr Montgomery was killed, a post-mortem examination revealed that he died of injuries similar to those caused as a result of being struck by a car.

Mr Montgomery is survived by his children Tiarnan (3), Stephen (6), and Amy (15).

His fiancee Julie Hughes said his family is devastated by his death.

"He lived for his family and his children loved him.

"They now have to live without a dad and I have to live without a partner."

Ardoyne parish priest Fr Aidan Troy said it is a "very tough time" for the family.

"It is a tragedy that someone should be taken in such circumstances. We have had too much of it in Belfast in recent times," he said.

"The family have my prayers and sympathy."

Sinn Fein councillor, Margaret McClenaghan, said the community needs to come together to tackle the problem.

She said: "People cannot believe that this family has had to endure the distress of losing a father and now a son. We cannot allow another family to go through such a tragedy."


McAleese: No Ruling On Trip

Unionist pressure mounts over visit plan to Shankill

By Paul Melia
14 February 2005

President Mary McAleese's aides today refused to say whether they would postpone a trip to Belfast's Shankill Road.

Pressure was mounting on Mrs McAleese to rethink her planned trip later this month for a meet-and-greet session with loyalist communities.

The trip may be postponed following a joint weekend statement from the DUP, Ulster Unionist and Progressive Unionist parties which called on the President not to travel because of her comments that Protestant children were taught to hate Catholics in the same way that Nazis despised Jews.

Outrage from the loyalist community over the remarks led to an apology from Mrs McAleese, in which she said she was deeply sorry for any offence caused.

However, unionists claimed that her apology had not undone the offence caused within their community.

A spokesperson for the President said that her schedule for the end of the month had not yet been finalised, and refused to reveal when a decision would be made on whether she would travel.

"The President's schedule for the end of February is not finalised," one said. Another added that it would be at least the end of the week before any engagements were confirmed.

Mrs McAleese had intended to travel on February 24, visiting communities along the Shankill Road.

The joint unionist statement said: "As elected representatives of the Shankill area, from all the unionist parties, we would call on Mary McAleese, the President of the Republic of Ireland, not to proceed with her planned visit to the Shankill area later this month.

"Her recent comments about Ulster Protestants caused great hurt and offence to the unionist community and her subsequent apology has not undone the damage she has caused."


Viewpoint: McAleese Apology Should Be Enough

Shankill Visit: Unionists cannot afford to stay in victim mode for ever.

14 February 2005

Even though it is St Valentine's Day, little affection is being displayed by unionist politicians towards Mary McAleese. Representatives of the three main unionist parties in north Belfast have told the Irish president that she will not be welcome in the Shankill during her forthcoming visit to Belfast.

Nigel Dodds and his colleagues are evidently still smarting over the "hurt and offence" caused to unionists by Mrs McAleese's controversial remarks at Auschwitz about Protestant hatred. They say more time is needed for the damage to be undone.

The unionists may have a grievance, but they need to be wary of taking it too far. Certainly, the President made a mistake but she quickly retracted her remarks, and issued a full and abject apology.

Crucially, too, the words "for example" were omitted from most transcripts of the controversial comments. While this rider does not completely rectify matters, it does put the President's words in context.

Significantly, Mrs McAleese's expression of regret has been accepted by most church leaders and politicians. As Michael McGimpsey of the UUP acknowledged, it took some courage to issue the apology.

In such circumstances, Mr Dodds and his fellow unionists in north Belfast could afford to be more magnanimous. By adopting a hostile and unforgiving stance, they let down the image of the Protestant community in this beleaguered area.

Such is the tone of their statement, however, that the President would seem to have little choice but to shelve her plans to visit the Shankill. It would be a cruel blow to someone who has gone out of her way to reach out to the unionist and loyalist section of the community.

If this happens, it will be a hollow victory for the Shankill. An area of high unemployment and social deprivation will be seen to be shunning a highly influential visitor who comes in peace.

This is not the way forward for the Shankill, or for Northern Ireland. Bridges must be built, not torn down. If people stay in victim mode for ever, dialogue will never flourish.

Mrs McAleese has acknowledged her blunder, and there the matter should be allowed to rest. For their part, the unionists in north Belfast should reflect on the President's apology and her open approach and consider whether they too can be a little more generous.


Bid To End 'Housing Segregation'

About 90% of public sector housing has become segregated

Two integrated housing estates are to be created in a bid to bring divided communities closer together in Northern Ireland.

The Housing Executive said it was also taking measures to protect the interests of ethnic minority tenants.

Next month, the agency will officially launch its Community Cohesion Unit, set up to promote better community relations on its estates.

About 90% of public sector housing in Northern Ireland has become segregated.

The Housing Executive has not yet revealed where the pilot estates will be.

Brendan Murtagh, a reader in environmental planning at Queen's University, said the movement of people in Northern Ireland in the 1970s was the biggest mass movement of any population in Europe since the Second World War up until the Balkan conflict.

"People felt they had to move further back into their ethnic heartlands, into places where they felt secure.

"That territorial behaviour was basically reflecting the fear and anxiety in the wider community."

Up until the outbreak of the Troubles, most public housing tenants had lived in relative harmony in mixed estates.

The mainly loyalist Rathcoole estate on the outskirts of north Belfast began as an optimistic social experiment.

In the beginning, a third of its population were Catholics.

'Social attitudes'

Former resident and Labour councillor Mark Langhammer said it had been a very mixed estate.

"Most of the Catholic population moved out around 1971, 1972 and 1973. By and large, it's a segregated area, if you want to put it that way."

He said in the 10 years since the first IRA ceasefire, the "marking out of territory" had increased.

"It would be very difficult to say that this is the right time to try the reintegration in an area like Rathcoole."

In a recent social attitudes survey, more than 70% of people said they would prefer to live in an integrated area.

The Housing Executive said it was seeking to promote good community relations in housing policy through its new Community Cohesion unit.

It has been set up to develop and implement the executive's 'Good Relations Strategy'.

Its priority is tackling flags, emblems and "sectional symbols", supporting people who choose to live in single identity or integrated neighbourhoods and assist in the pilot of two integrated housing schemes.

Last month, the Housing Executive said it was looking for views on its race relations policy amid concerns that ethnic minorities were being refused housing in some areas.

Its draft policy relates to anyone renting houses to people from ethnic minorities.

Chief Executive Paddy McIntyre said they had to meet the changing needs of the increasingly ethnically-diverse community in Northern Ireland.


Man of Steele

Comets Midfielder's Character Was Forged In Midst Of Religious Strife Of Northern Ireland

The Kansas City Star

“He's got a rebellious side to him, because of his upbringing. But he has got the kind of spirit all coaches look for in players.”

Minor-league soccer coach Laurie Calloway

The baseball bat in the back of his brother's car was there for protection. But Jonny Steele never thought he would use it outside a video store.

Steele watched from the parking lot as a gang of a dozen Protestant boys surrounded his older brother Martin outside the door.

What started as an exchange of ethnic slurs quickly turned volatile. His brother was knocked to the ground before Steele sprang from the car with the bat in hand. A few massive swings later, blood splattered the pavement. The two brothers escaped with a few cuts and bruises and their lives.

Four years before Steele came to the Kansas City Comets, this was his life growing up Catholic in a predominantly Protestant town in Northern Ireland.

Steele, 18, left the violence at home to pursue a professional soccer career, but the dreadful memories still consume his thoughts wherever he goes.

“Whenever you went out, you always had to look over your shoulder,” he said. “It brought my family closer, but I always hoped I never would get that phone call that something bad happened.”


Steele was raised with three brothers in Larne about 25 miles from Belfast in Northern Ireland — a country where Protestant vs. Catholic is a dangerous rivalry and where bomb threats, not icy weather, threaten to shut down schools.

The country is about 55 percent Protestant and 45 percent Catholic. The 400-year strife between the two communities is complicated, but the basic hatred was caused by all the political and social opposition that comes from a pro-Britain Protestant majority sharing the same land with a Catholic minority who consider themselves Irish. More than 3,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed between 1968 and 1998.

The older generation of Catholics in Northern Ireland had it the worst. Back when the Irish Republican Army was still active, some areas were almost like a war zone. Steele's girlfriend's father lost both of his legs in an explosion when he was a teenager.

The conflict has since settled down after a few cease-fire agreements, but “there is still a lot of craziness,” Steele said.

“Some of my friends have been burned out of their houses,” he said. “My brother's car was smashed, and some people even tried to spit at my mom. You never know what's going to happen.”

While attending St. Comgall's, a Catholic high school in Larne, Steele couldn't walk home without being chased by hoards of “Prods” or Protestant boys trying to stir up trouble.

Steele still feels guilty for letting a friend walk alone after leaving a party at his house one night. The kid lived only around the corner, but a gang waited to jump him right outside. Steele saw his friend the next day in a hospital bed with a broken nose, swollen eyes and facial lacerations.

Another incident had the potential to be much worse when a pipe bomb was thrown through the living-room window of a friend's house. Luckily, no one was in the room at the time.

Steele's 21-year-old brother, Martin, who still lives in Larne, said he doesn't remember the police getting that involved. So with a lack of law enforcement, the more serious hate crimes often were never punished.

“The police aren't too helpful,” Martin Steele said. “They are scared of what might happen to them. It's kind of sad.”


By the time Steele was 14, he was running with a local gang of older Catholic boys for protection. They were looking for trouble almost as much as the Protestant boys. Steele's parents realized things probably would only get worse, so they pleaded for their son to leave home.

Fortunately for Steele, he was a gifted soccer player, and young talent rarely goes unnoticed in Europe. After a few standout seasons on his junior club team, he was offered a contract to play in England.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers of the English Premier League was the best situation for him. Steele had a chance to train in one of the top leagues in Europe while also being exposed to an environment richer in ethnic diversity than bigotry.

“I couldn't believe it,” he said. “The whites were actually the minority where I was living. But I could walk wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted without trouble.”

One of the first things he noticed was the blacks whom he met treated him with respect and identified with the struggles he had with violence and prejudice growing up.

Steele's black friends introduced him to hip-hop music, took him to clubs and even back to their neighborhoods in England.

Yet while Steele was adjusting socially and emotionally to being away from home, he wanted to change his look physically to reflect the bad-boy image he portrayed growing up. He grew a slight goatee. Bought silver-stud earrings. Got tattoos.

Just after his 16th birthday, he had “STEELE” etched across his back in Gothic lettering. Then came a tattoo of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara on his left arm, which he said was for inspiration. Then came an Irish cross and the words “Father, Son, Holy Spirit” in Latin on the inside of his arm.

His new look matched him on the inside where he was hardened from a rough childhood, but soccer would continue to take him farther away.


In two years with Wolverhampton, Steele had become a fine midfield prospect with blinding speed and scoring potential. But he was still too young to contribute at that level.

When Steele was released after the 2002-03 season, he vowed to make his former team regret letting him go.

“I felt like I had something to prove,” he said. “My goal was to play in (Major League Soccer) or Europe somewhere.”

Luckily, the misfortune disguised itself as a prime opportunity when Steele's agent landed him a tryout in the United States with the Dallas Burn, a member of MLS.

Although Steele failed to make the cut, he left a good impression with the coach.

“I thought he had a lot of potential,” Dallas coach Colin Clarke said. “We weren't able to find a place for him at the time, but we were very high on him.”

Not even a month passed before Steele was signed by the now-defunct Syracuse Salty Dogs of the United Soccer League, one step down from MLS competition.

Steele was excited about his new team, but adjusting to the U.S. way of life wasn't as easy. The lifestyle change was surprisingly not as immense as from Northern Ireland to England. The biggest problem came with learning how to deal with the jealousy of some of his American teammates.

“A lot of the players here aren't used to someone Jonny's age having more experience at 17 than they do at 23,” said Laurie Calloway, the former Syracuse and current Rochester Raging Rhinos coach.

Those players didn't waste any time belittling Steele. They told him he wasn't any good and made fun of his heavy accent.

On the first day of practice, Steele's hot-blooded Irish temper got the best of him, and he had to be restrained by teammates.

“He's got a rebellious side to him, because of his upbringing,” Calloway said. “But he has got the kind of spirit all coaches look for in players. He can be belligerent and cheeky, but you don't want to take that away from him.”


Anthony Maher first met Steele after the initial fight at practice in Syracuse. Maher spent last summer there between his first two seasons with the Comets.

Maher, 26, felt he had a lot in common with Steele despite their age difference and backgrounds that were worlds apart.

After Syracuse folded last October because of financial difficulty, the two players became even closer when they were reunited with the Comets this season.

Maher and Steele became roommates, and Steele spent his first Christmas away from home with Maher's family in New Jersey.

Like Steele, Maher grew up with three brothers and learned how to fight at a young age. He had a hot temper and was even kicked out of college for fighting.

Yet neither Steele nor Maher has had major problems in Kansas City besides a few practice scuffles. Steele has been a positive influence more than anything else.

“I have the utmost respect for him,” Comets forward Jamar Beasley said. “He's a cool guy, and he's funny. We're all like a close family.”

But sometimes even tight friends take arguments too far. Once Steele and Maher got into a shoving match at practice, but everything was squashed quickly because Steele didn't want to get stuck without a ride home. Steele doesn't have a U.S. driver's license. He also relies on Maher to cook, and he just got his own cell phone a week ago.

“He is like a little kid when I come home,” Maher said. “I have to ask him if he had something to eat. If not, then I usually make some noodles or something for us.”

Steele will get some home-cooked meals while he is home for the next few weeks playing for the Northern Ireland under-19 national team.

He made sure to take with him a Bible given to him by Comets coach Zoran Savic, one of Steele's biggest supporters.

“He had a rough upbringing, but fortunately he is a good man and comes from a good family,” said Savic, who grew up in Yugoslavia.

“He has a short fuse, but he also has got a background of soccer at the highest level. Jonny will be as good as he wants to be.”

No. 1 on Steele's “Commitments for 2005” pinned to the wall above his bed — higher than improving his soccer skills or staying faithful to his girlfriend — is to read the Bible at least 15 minutes a day. He prays for the safety of his family and to keep the violence out of his life.

Steele's parents never forced their strong Catholic beliefs on him. He barely went to church then but now attends First Family Church in Overland Park regularly. Since leaving Northern Ireland, Steele learned that carrying a Bible can be just as powerful as carrying a club.

“I'm Catholic,” he said. “But I like it. I think it is really helping.”

To reach Marcus Fuller, sports reporter for The Star, call
(816) 234-4363 or send e-mail to

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