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February 14, 2005

02/14/05 – Pressure On Ahern To Give Kelly Family An Apology

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BT 02/14/05 Pressure On Ahern To Give Kelly Family Apology
IT 02/15/05 Give Information On McCartney Killing, Says Adams -V
EX 02/15/04 IRA Pub Murder - Silence A Blow To SF Credibility
BB 02/15/05 Council Refuses St Pat's Funding
ER 02/15/05 OSCE To Send Mission To Northern Ireland, Calls Russia
EX 02/15/05 Pat Kempton: Wrong Accent
IT 02/15/05 Eyre Square Project To Double In Cost To ¿10m

QA 02/14/05 Should President Bush Invite SF To The White House –VO
NW 02/14/05 The Chinese Community In Ireland -VO

Questions and Answers - 14 February 2005 - Presented by John Bowman
You can watch the entire show, or watch individual reports using the menu below.
Liz O'Donnell TD, Progressive Democrats Chief Whip
Joan Burton TD, Labour Party Spokesperson on Finance
John Waters, Irish Times columnist
Ed Walsh, former president of the University of Limerick
Alan Dukes, public affairs consultant
Q6: Should President Bush Invite Sinn Féin To The White House on 17 March? - Panel and audience respond

The Chinese Community In Ireland - Watch the entire episode on the growth of the Chinese community in Ireland


Pressure On Ahern To Give Kelly Family Apology

Arms book plan 'was shelved'.

By Brian Hutton
14 February 2005

Plans by a London-based publisher to release a tell-all book by an Irish army captain accused of importing arms for the IRA were abandoned following approaches by the Government, according to newly released records.

The revelation has led to renewed calls for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to issue an apology to the family of Captain James Kelly.

The issue resurfaced following a public apology issued by Prime Minister Tony Blair last week to the members of the Guildford Four.

Capt James Kelly - a central figure in the notorious Dublin Arms Trial in 1970 - was told that the Home Office warned the publisher about "interfering in Irish affairs", it is claimed.

Government records, marked confidential and seen by the Belfast Telegraph, reveal that in 1971 Taoiseach Jack Lynch raised concerns about the book with the then British Ambassador in Dublin, Sir John Peck.

The ambassador said Mr Lynch claimed the book "was going to be full of damaging material about the involvement of the whole Irish government (in the arms scandal)".

In a communication, to the Western European Department of the Foreign and commonwealth Office in London, Sir John warns: "If the book exhibits the same level of veracity as Kelly's statements made so far, I would advise Collins to scrutinise it very carefully indeed, as otherwise it may come a bit expensive, and they might also be well advised to wait until all the evidence in the Public Accounts Committee enquiry has appeared."

Further correspondence between London and the Dublin embassy reveal that a British civil servant contacted the publisher about the book and later contacted Dublin to confirm that Collins dropped the book .

Captain Kelly's wife Sheila said that her husband, who died in July 2003, was told by the publisher, Mark Collins, that the Home Office had warned him about "interfering in Irish affairs".

Captain Kelly and four others - former Sinn Fein MLA John Kelly, then government ministers Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney and Belgian hotelier Albert Lyuxs stood trial for plotting to pass guns to northern nationalists at the beginning of the troubles.

Although all were acquitted


Adams calls for information on McCartney murder - Michael Fisher reports on the investigation into the fatal stabbing of Robert McCartney in Belfast two weeks ago

Give Information On McCartney Killing, Says Adams

Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams last night urged anyone who knew about Mr Robert McCartney's killing to pass that information on.

The West Belfast MP also launched a scathing attack on those who carried out the stabbing and stressed that his party supported the victim's family in their search for justice.

"There are allegations that Robert McCartney was killed by republicans," he said. "I want to make it absolutely clear that no one involved acted as a republican or on behalf of republicans.

"I repudiate this brutal killing in the strongest terms possible. No one has any right, as has been claimed, to prevent anyone from helping the McCartney family.

"People with reservations about assisting the PSNI should give any information they might have either to the family, a solicitor or any other authoritative or reputable person or body."

Earlier yesterday, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Mr Martin McGuinness said he would not criticise anyone who gave information "to the appropriate authorities" about the £26 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last December. He also said he was satisfied that no breakaway group within the Provisional IRA carried out the robbery which he declined to describe as a crime.

Interviewed on BBC Radio Foyle yesterday morning, Mr McGuinness repeated his assertion that those responsible for the robbery had damaged the peace process and added that his firm belief was that the Provisional IRA was not responsible.

"No I don't believe they did it," he said. "I was very conscientious about first of all going to the IRA and establishing from them had they done it, and trying to establish the possibility that someone in the ranks of the IRA would have been involved because there were of course previous occasions, we had the Garda McCabe situation, and I thought it was absolutely essential, to the best of my ability, to rule out any prospect that that could have happened.

"I am satisfied as the result of those conversations that the IRA were not in any way involved in the Northern Bank robbery."

He said he believed "without exception" that it was "absolutely wrong" for any organisation to be involved in actions, including bank robberies, which could undermine the peace process.

Asked would it be an act of criminality if it was proven there was IRA involvement in the robbery, Mr McGuinness said that to "ask me to go down the road of this huge discussion of criminality is to then ask me to adjudicate on every single action that occurred over 25 years of conflict, and what is at the heart of this debate is to try to get Sinn Féin leaders to say that the IRA are criminals.

"I am absolutely opposed to criminality. I have a very clear view that anyone involved in crime should be arrested, they should be brought before the courts and given due process."

Asked if they should be arrested by the PSNI, he said they should be arrested "by whoever the appropriate authorities are. In my own constituency in Mid-Ulster, a 75-year-old man was murdered over the Christmas period. He was smothered in his bed . . . I told the local community that they should not hold back any information they had and that they should give that information to whoever they deemed to be the appropriate authorities."

© The Irish Times


IRA Pub Murder - Silence A Blow To SF Credibility

THE Mafia culture of omerta imposed on nationalists in Belfast by a murder gang led by a senior IRA member deals a major blow to the credibility of Sinn Féin leaders who are already under intense pressure over their alleged links with criminality.

It is a chilling reflection of the republican movement’s reputation for thuggery that not one witness was willing to come forward to give evidence about a murder that took place in a crowded pub.

According to the family of Robert McCartney, the 33-year-old father of two young sons who was fatally stabbed in a pub fight which began as a shouting match, there were 72 people in the bar at the time.

Yet nobody has been brave enough to tell the police who was responsible for the fatal stabbing.

The scenario that ensued in the pub would not be out of place in a mafia movie. According to an eye-witness account, after the killers pursued the victim outside the pub, they simply walked back into the bar, locked the doors and issued a chilling warning: ‘If anyone talks, everyone in the bar will be held responsible’.

Nor would this shocking display of violence be out of place in Iraq. After Robert McCartney was beaten with sewer rods, had his throat slashed and was repeatedly kicked in the head, he received a fatal stab wound to his stomach.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan hit the nail on the head when he accused the IRA of intimidating witnesses to prevent them coming forward and charges the organisation with imposing a ‘Sopranos culture’ in nationalist areas. This forthright criticism of the downright thuggery of the IRA deserves to be applauded.

Despite the glare of publicity focused on the IRA after the multi-million euro Northern Bank robbery, the leaders of Sinn Féin stubbornly refuse to admit that the organisation’s litany of raids, punishment beatings, and even murder, amounts to crimes.

In a further illustration of the IRA’s poisonous influence, youths attacked police carrying out searches in the area where the dead man lived.

It is sinister to think that IRA menacing is preventing witnesses to a murder from coming forward. If Sinn Féin leaders are genuinely committed to democratic politics they should take up the gauntlet thrown down by the McCartney family and encourage witnesses to speak to police.

They should also have the courage to sever links with an organisation that relies on murder and punishment beatings to maintain its strangle-hold over decent, law-abiding people.

It is high time Gerry Adams abandoned his own cynical style of omerta. Murder is a crime and you should have the political honesty and courage to call a spade a spade and admit that, Mr Adams.


Council Refuses St Pat's Funding

Thousands attended last year's event in Belfast

Belfast City Council has voted not to grant £30,000 to this year's St Patrick's Day parade in the city.

Councillors decided on Monday not to overturn an earlier decision to refuse grant aid.

Unionist councillors said that while efforts were being made to make the event more inclusive, not enough been done for the council to endorse it.

One of the organisers, Conor Maskey, said they had done all they could to make sure no offence was caused.

"We as a committee designed an official logo, a multi-coloured shamrock, which would not be offensive to anybody," he said.

"We tried to look at all the issues relating to St Patrick's Day. This might not have been good enough for some people."

However, Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey said the event was not yet inclusive enough.

"They have yet to prove that they can produce an all-inclusive carnival which would be supported by and could be bought into by both sections of our community," he said.

"Until that happens, I don't think we are in a position to formally fund the St Patrick's Day carnival.

"It happens anyway, but they are looking for us to fund it and endorse it, and we cannot yet do that."



OSCE To Send Mission To Northern Ireland, Calls Russia

MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ought to forward a mission to Northern Ireland, is a Russian idea. Boris Timokhov, Russian spokesman, voiced it at an OSCE Permanent Council session, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press and information department.

Northern Ireland settlement efforts saw a bad setback as the IRA announced, February 2, that it was withdrawing its own initiatives of last year to terminate "semi-military" action and pass arsenals to an international commission. The developments alarm Russia, said Mr. Timokhov.

Russia proposes to forward to Northern Ireland an OSCE fact-finding mission, which would delve into all reasons why the old conflict has come to an edge now. The mission would also evaluate the humanitarian aspects of current developments, and the local population's plight after recent terror acts and on instances when the army and police were using arms out of proportion with the actual situation, the diplomat went on.

He hopes the prospects for OSCE involvement in the Northern Ireland problem will not estrange London from Dublin, and both will not misunderstand those prospects but will realize that the OSCE is anxious to promote settlement progress.

The OSCE will certainly gain with participation in the Northern Ireland settlement cause-it is an organization that represents entire Europe, and is not to limit its activities to tackling conflicts "east of Vienna", stressed the Russian spokesman.

"We have no desire to give the problem a political coloring. What moves us is sincere desire to build up stability and security throughout Europe," he reassured.


Wrong Accent

IT was good to see that your report headlined ‘White House doors still open to North parties’ (Irish Examiner, February 10) corrected your previous day’s anti-republican report headlined ‘Bush bans SF from Paddy’s Day visit.

Guess people shouldn't be too quick to believe everything they read in the Irish papers these days.

Since Bertie Ahern is definitely on the guest list, here's a bit of advice: leave that bowl of shamrock at home and bring tea and crumpets instead.

The way he's been acting lately reminds me of something my Mayo mother used to say: "Those damn Irish make me sick!"

She was referring to Irish-American politicians who wouldn't lift a finger for the old country for fear of upsetting the supposed special relationship between the US and England. There isn't much difference between Bertie and Blair any more except for the accents.

Pat Kempton


Eyre Square Project To Double In Cost To ¿10m

Michelle McDonagh

The cost of the Eyre Square redevelopment project in Galway is now set to double from the original estimate to around €10 million, it has emerged.

Councillors yesterday called on the council to explain the cost over-run, while businesses said the ratepayers should not have to foot the spiralling bill.

All the indications are that the work will not be completed on schedule by this October but will run into next summer, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Galway, Fine Gael Councillor Pádraig Conneely, said yesterday.

Director of services at Galway City Council, Mr Tom Connell, confirmed yesterday that the total cost has reached €9 million. But he denied a claim by Mr Conneely that extra delays could result in the figure rising to over €10 million, double the initial estimate of costs which was between €4 to €5 million.

Mr Conneely said on top of the €6.3 million contract price paid to Kingston Construction, the cost of consultants, planning, archaeological and other reports stood at €2.7 million. "This is a double-whammy for the ratepayers in Eyre Square whose businesses have already been devastated by the works. When the project is completed, they are going to have to pick up the tab over the next couple of years."

Green Party councillor Mr Niall Ó Brolcháin yesterday questioned how the over-run in costs was going to be met and said he would be surprised if the scheme finished on schedule.

"As a councillor, I find it very difficult to stand over this, and I want to know who is making the decision to continue spending money on this project. It is not acceptable that the costs keep rising and rising," he said.

Mr Connell insisted yesterday that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the overall cost of the project would not exceed €9 million and that the completion deadline of the end of October/beginning of November would be met. He confirmed that the cost of the civil engineering works was €6.3 million and the balance of the €9 million included the cost of the extra work, as well as the employment of city council staff on site and additional archaeological costs.

The city council has already received €2.5 million from the Department of the Environment for the project.

It has lodged another application for a second tranche of funding from which it is hoping to get at least €2 million.

The chief executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Mr Michael Coyle, said any question of the city's ratepayers having to pay additional levies as a result of an over-run in costs was totally unacceptable. He pointed out that the ratepayers in the city were already paying €21 million in rates for the coming year and many businesses, particularly those immediately adjacent to Eyre Square, had already suffered since the work began over a year ago.

"We would like the square to be completed as quickly as possible. We acknowledged at the outset that this was a complex project that would take 20 months to complete, but that was on the understanding that the contractors would be working flat out to achieve that deadline, and we are very concerned with the pace of progress."

© The Irish Times

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

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