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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
February 15, 2005
02/15/05 – SF Wants Transparency On McCartney Killing
RT 02/15/05 SF Wants Transparency On McCartney Killing
SM 02/15/05 Republicans: No McCartney Killing Cover-Up
WT 02/15/05 Irish Prime Minister Pressures The IRA
UT 02/15/05 Durkan Attacks Adams Over Appeal
SM 02/15/05 Sinn Fein Speakers Invite Only After Peace Deal
BT 02/15/05 SF In Protest Over IMC Report
4N 02/15/05 SF Hit Out At St Patrick's Day Funding Refusal
UT 02/15/05 Fulton Fears Assassination
BT 02/15/05 Gender Equality 'Must Be Extended'
BB 02/15/05 Homes May Be Near Polluted Land
BB 02/15/05 Shorts Announces 280 Jobs To Go
PT 02/15/05 Should Croke Park Be Opened Up To Other Sports? –VO (2)
Should Croke Park Be Opened Up To Other Sports? - Katie Hannon reports on the mounting pressure for the GAA's top brass to debate the controversial Rule 42
Anthony Delaney, former chairman of Shannahoe GAA Club, Martin Breheny, GAA Editor with The Irish Independent, John Arnold, Member of Bride Rovers GAA Club in East Cork and GAA historian, and Tommy Kenoy, former chairman of Roscommon County Board, offer their views
SF Wants Transparency On McCartney Killing
15 February 2005 16:42
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has appealed for anyone with information about the recent killing of Robert McCartney to give that information to the victim's family.
Mr McCartney, 33, was fatally stabbed during a fight at Magennis's Bar in Belfast over two weeks ago.
Speaking in London this afternoon, Mr McGuinness condemned the killing and said the McCartney family deserved justice.
He said anyone with reservations about going to the PSNI should pass any information they had 'to the family or any respected organisation'.
Mr McGuinness said the killing had nothing to do with the IRA as an organisation.
He said Sinn Féin was doing everything in its power 'to encourage people in the community to provide the McCartney family with the information they so desperately seek at this time'.
Last night Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams launched a scathing attack on those who carried out the stabbing, and stressed that his party supported the victim's family in the search for justice.
Republicans: No McCartney Killing Cover-Up
By Alan Erwin, PA
Beleaguered republicans claimed today they would have no part in any cover-up to shield the killers of Belfast man Robert McCartney.
As Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern warned the alleged IRA murder had more serious consequences than the Northern Bank heist, senior Sinn Fein representatives insisted the victim’s family deserved justice.
Relatives of Mr McCartney, 33, who was stabbed to death after a city centre pub brawl, will urge the US government to intervene at a meeting with the US Consul General in Belfast, Dean Pittman, tomorrow.
Mr McCartney, a 33-year-old forklift driver from the east of the city, was attacked with knives and sewer rods by a gang of Provisionals on January 30, they have claimed.
Even though the family accepts it was not a sanctioned IRA murder, they have accused republicans of protecting the thugs and threatening witnesses into silence.
But as Sinn Fein attempted to head off a deepening political row over the attack, which came just weeks after the IRA allegedly stole £26.5 million from the Northern Bank’s Belfast HQ, leading party member Gerry Kelly spoke out.
The North Belfast MLA said: “I don’t care who was involved in this horrible killing.
“Had I been anywhere near where this terrible killing took place, I would immediately have gone to the family and made a statement of what happened there.
“Let me be clear, there will be no cover up. Sinn Fein people will not be involved in covering up this action.”
The McCartneys, who met Mr Kelly yesterday, now believe the republican party are sincere.
But Paula McCartney, a sister of the victim, said: “We need to be more convinced they will be handed over.
“It’s not in Sinn Fein’s interests to cover this up and they seem just as eager as us to get the people who did this.”
Although police have questioned seven men, including a top IRA man, no one has yet been charged.
In Dublin, political leaders heard how the murder reinforced the need to deal with paramilitarism and criminality must be addressed.
Mr Ahern, the Taoiseach, told the Irish Republic’s parliament: “Some of the issues are more serious from the perspective of the nationalist community than a bank raid.
“A bank raid doesn’t affect people other than the families who are caught up, the two families.
“These kind of behaviour do. That is the reason why we need an end to criminality and I agree with that because in all these comments, not to wind things up again, it is not a question about money or about petrol.
“It’s about stabbing to death. It’s far worse.
“So that is the reason, that is the motivation why we want to see the ending of these things for everybody, not least people in nationalist communities who are the people who are affected by this particular incident.”
Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte likened the killing to a television Mafia hit.
He said: “Isn’t that, Taoiseach, a reason alone, this Tony Soprano-style killing, for the democratic parties and the two governments to break the power of the Republican Movement in controlling paramilitary activity even when not on an officially sanctioned job?”
Irish Prime Minister Pressures The IRA
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Dublin, Ireland, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A furious Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern increased his public pressure on Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army Tuesday, insisting the IRA clean up criminality among its members and supporters following the slaying of a Belfast truck driver.
"Some of the issues (of criminality in Northern Ireland) are more serious from the point of view of the (Catholic Irish) nationalist community than a bank raid," Prime Minister Ahern told the Irish Parliament, the Dail, on Tuesday.
"A bank raid doesn't affect people other than the families who are caught up. These kinds of behavior do. That is the reason we need an end to criminality and I agree with that because in all these comments ... it is not a question about money or about petrol (gasoline). It's about stabbing to death. It's far worse," the prime minister said.
The comments indicated that Ahern was stepping up his already unprecedented pressure on the veteran Catholic nationalist paramilitary organization in Northern Ireland to disavow and pull out of criminal activities.
Political sources in Dublin have told United Press International that when Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern was in Washington last week, he presented the Bush administration with hard evidence gathered by the Irish security services that the IRA was involved in the sensational robbery of $50 million (26.5 million pounds sterling) from the Northern Bank in Belfast before Christmas, and that top Sinn Fein leaders knew of it.
Sinn Fein leaders have unambiguously and repeatedly denied these charges. But their denials have been met with widespread skepticism throughout Ireland, North and South. A popular joke in Belfast these days is that "10 out of nine people believe the IRA did it."
The family of a senior Northern Bank official were held hostage to force his cooperation in the raid in a part of West Belfast where IRA paramilitaries have overwhelming clout.
Foreign Minister Ahern was outspoken in delivering the Dublin government's assessment to both the Bush administration and Republican and Democratic members of Congress involved with Irish issues, Irish and U.S. sources said.
The foreign minister's frank talk confirmed and strengthened the strong relationship he and his prime minister have long enjoyed with the Bush administration, according to Washington sources. But they took some congressional leaders from both parties supportive of the peace process by surprise, sources on Capitol Hill said.
More evidence in that regard appeared last week when the Independent Monitoring Commission that surveys Northern Ireland's ever more problematic peace process, reported growing levels of paramilitary activity by both the IRA in the 600,000-minority Catholic community and by loyalist groups among the 900,000 Protestants.
The IMC also recommended imposing new sanctions on Sinn Fein because it believed the IRA had sanctioned the Northern Bank robbery.
The stabbing of forklift truck driver Robert McCartney in a bar brawl in central Belfast Jan. 30 could not have come at a worse time for the IRA. Public anger, both North and South, is still keeping them on the defensive over the bank raid.
Leaders of Sinn Fein have responded to the pressure by calling on anyone with information about the slaying of 33-year-old McCartney to come forward to the authorities. But there is widespread skepticism in the North that anyone will dare to.
David McKittrick, one of the most respected journalists covering Northern Ireland, reported in the Irish Independent newspaper Tuesday that one McCartney's attackers was a former commander of the IRA in Belfast. The facts of the cover up that followed certainly support this possibility.
The killing took place in front of some 30 witnesses yet not a single one has come forward and a security video tape that should have recorded the attack has mysteriously vanished since. Northern Irish police sources say these circumstances are typical of what they call "clean up" operations by either Protestant Loyalist or Irish Republican groups to protect their own senior members from prosecution.
The victim's sister certainly believes so. "Their cover-up and their clean-up operation afterwards was meticulous," Paul McCartney told the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Radio Ulster Monday. "They're no good to man or beast. They're just psychopaths with power," she said.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams made a dramatic appeal Monday night to break down the wall of silence. "I repudiate this brutal killing in the strongest terms possible," Adams said. "No one has any right, as has been claimed, to prevent anyone from helping the McCartney family.
"People with reservations about assisting the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) should give any information they might have either to the family, a solicitor (lawyer) or any other authoritative or reliable person or body."
But McCartney remains adamant in her belief that the IRA is using its power in West Belfast to protect the killers. "If it wasn't related to any organization, people would now be arrested and charged," she said Monday. "I don't believe that the IRA sanctioned this, but they have to accept that members of it carried this out."
Meanwhile, Adams and his right-hand man Martin McGuinness, have been taken aback by the prime minister's continuing fury since the bank raid. He shut off all direct communications with the Sinn Fein leaders who have said they felt betrayed by his action. And the prime minister's line, the toughest any Irish prime minister has taken publicly against the IRA or Sinn Fein in many years, has met with widespread support in Ireland.
To add to Sinn Fein's woes, on Monday, it lost a legal appeal in Belfast to overturn financial sanctions worth around $200,000 (100,000 pounds sterling) imposed upon it by the British government because of IRA activities last year.
Sinn Fein launched their appeal after Paul Murphy, Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, withdrew the $200,000 in official funding from the party, which has the largest support of any among Northern Ireland's Catholic minority, in April 2004.
Sinn Fein, however, remains the most popular political party among Northern Ireland's Catholic community as does the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party in the Protestant one. It remains to be seen how much controversies over the bank raid and the McCartney killing will damage it. In the meantime, Prime Minister Ahern isn't pulling his punches.
Durkan Attacks Adams Over Appeal
SDLP leader Mark Durkan has attacked Gerry Adams following his statement calling on people to come forward with information on the murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast.
Speaking from New York, where he is currently briefing Irish-American and American politicians, Mr Durkan said:
"I have spoken to the McCartney family today. They are pleased that over two weeks after Robert`s murder, they have forced Sinn Fein to come out. They are also clear that Gerry Adams`s words come up short.
"He has not said what needs to be said: that people with information on this matter should go to the police and give statements.
"Let`s be clear. The police are responsible for investigating crime. If the family are to get justice in this case, people have to be encouraged to go to the police and give statements. What does Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein expect priests and solicitors to do with information they receive? What does he want them to do?
"Robert and his friend Brendan were attacked in a bar in front of scores of people. Brendan`s throat was slashed in that bar. Those people were so scared and so intimidated that they did no feel free even to ring an ambulance.
"Sinn Fein and the IRA to date have been trying to cover up this case and divert attention from it. When the houses of suspects were searched, Alex Maskey was out immediately condemning the police instead of urging people to let justice take its course. Separately, children were sent out to riot.
"Sinn Fein on the ground told people not to co-operate with the police.
"It is only when Sinn Fein encourages people to go to the police and demonstrates clearly that scared people are in fact free to go and come forward in large numbers, that progress will be made. Until then, soft words from Gerry Adams will only be about saving face for Sinn Fein. and not securing justice in this awful case."
Sinn Fein Speakers Invite Only After Peace Deal
Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor, PA
An Irish Government offer to allow Sinn Fein MPs to speak in the Irish Parliament can only be reinstated in the event of a comprehensive peace process deal north of the border, Bertie Ahern said today.
The Irish Prime Minister told the republic’s Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte that the offer which angered Ulster Unionists last December would only have been considered in the event of a complete deal on power sharing and ending paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.
Mr Ahern also insisted that the killers of Irish policeman Jerry McCabe would have to serve their full sentences instead of securing an early release under a peace process deal with the Dublin Government.
The Taoiseach told the republic’s parliament: “On the McCabe issue, where that stands now is that they (the prisoners) have release dates and they will be released when their release dates are reached.
“That’s the position. Some of them are soon. Some of them are not so soon – soon meaning a few years.”
He continued: “On the third issue (the speaking rights issue) I have given no more thought to that.
“Naturally I think it is a good thing if we got comprehensive agreement. We should still be able to do that but it is in the context of a comprehensive agreement.
“It was only ever considered back when the parties looked at this in the agreement at the end of 2001, early 2002.
“It was on the basis of us having normality and hopefully we will get back around to that.”
The release of the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe who was gunned down by an IRA gang in Adare, Co. Limerick in 1996, was regarded as a key issue for republicans in last December’s negotiations with London and Dublin over a comprehensive peace process deal.
Sinn Fein was also hopeful last December that it had secured a deal with the Irish Government to allow MPs and MEPs to take part in debates in the Dail, the Irish republic’s Parliament on issues relating to Northern Ireland.
However the deal collapsed when the IRA refused to give in to demands from the Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists, backed by both governments, for photographic evidence of future disarmament.
The Northern Ireland parties and the British and Irish Governments have struggled to resurrect the deal following Chief Constable Hugh Orde’s assertion that the Provisionals carried out the £26.5 million raid on the headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast before Christmas.
SF In Protest Over IMC Report
By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
15 February 2005
Republican supporters occupied a key Belfast building today in protest at the Independent Monitoring Commission report - and warned their protests will grow in the coming weeks.
Staff at Windsor House in central Belfast were handed leaflets saying: "Republicans will not be criminalised"- and thanking them for their co-operation.
An estimated 100 Sinn Fein members and supporters staged the 45-minute demonstration which passed off peacefully. Another protest took place in Dublin.
They followed demonstrations at key vantage points which brought traffic gridlock to Belfast, Derry, Newry and Toome on the day of the report.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Michael Ferguson said: "Republicans are adamant that they will not simply stand aside and watch the British Government discriminate against and sanction the Sinn Fein electorate on the back of the flawed report from the IMC.
"Today's occupation of buildings in Belfast and Dublin are the latest stage in a campaign of peaceful democratic resistance to he plans of the British Government.
"Sinn Fein have a substantial electoral mandate. Paul Murphy doesn't have one vote in Ireland.
"As for the IMC the fact that it contains a failed politician in John Alderdice says it all."
The IMC report last week said senior members of Sinn Fein who are also on the IRA army council sanctioned the £26.5m Northern Bank heist and other robberies last year.
SF Hit Out At St Patrick's Day Funding Refusal
Sinn Fein have hit out at 'unionist' Alliance Party today for refusing to back a motion that would have granted financial aid for a St Patrick’s Day carnival in Belfast.
The Alliance Party, UUP and DUP all refused to back a motion last night which would have granted £30,000 to help fund this year's parade in the city.
Sinn Féin’s Belfast council group leader Tom Hartley said: “Once again last night the Alliance party in Belfast City Hall firmly nailed their colours to the unionist mast. In the recent past they have refused to support power sharing on the council and now have failed to support the St Patrick’s Day Carnival in the city.
“In the eyes on the nationalist and republican community in this city the Alliance party are operating as little more than unionists in everything but name.”
Unionist councillors said that while efforts were being made to make the event more inclusive, not enough was being done to enable the City council to endorse the event and provide community funding.
The Alliance Party were unavailable for comment.
Fulton Fears Assassination
An IRA spy who fears for his life after his identity was exposed today accused police of ignoring pleas to investigate a picture theft.
The ex British agent, known as Kevin Fulton, believes he is being set up for assassination following the publication of his photograph in a Belfast-based newspaper.
Fulton, who worked undercover for an ultra-secret military intelligence wing at the height of Northern Ireland`s dirty war, has been on the run from the Provisionals for a decade.
His appearance has always been kept secret, but last year a full facial picture was splashed under the heading `Fulton Exposed`.
Even though he made a statement to police in December, the former mole alleged they have done nothing since.
He claimed: "Human intelligence sources, or informants, set me up to be murdered.
"But the newspaper hasn`t even been interviewed to ask where they got the photograph or to retrieve my stolen property.
"Are they protecting an informant."
Fulton, who now lives in England, claimed the photo was taken from a north Belfast flat where he used to live by one of two Provos who used the address to plan terrorist attacks without his knowledge.
He told police he had to quit the address in 1994 after being questioned about an assassination attempt on a senior RUC officer.
He fled without his belongings, claiming the two republicans as the only keyholders who could have obtained the photo.
The ex-soldier, who worked as an agent with the controversial Force Research Unit, issued one of the terror warnings that led to Police Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan`s damning verdict on the Omagh bomb inquiry.
He is locked in a lengthy legal battle with the Government over demands for a personal security package.
In his statement, given first to detectives in London, he added: "My picture was published at a time when public enquiries into collusion between the IRA and Garda were being conducted.
"This has resulted in my seriously fearing for my life as it has identified me as being a key witness to these enquiries.
"My name had been mentioned all over the internet and throughout many newspapers, but up to this point it was just a name.
"The fact that a stolen photograph of myself has been published by this newspaper has not only put my life in danger, but it is also a fundamental breach of my basic right to life."
A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman would not confirm whether anyone has been interviewed.
She said only: "The matter is currently under investigation."
Gender Equality 'Must Be Extended'
By Brendan McDaid
15 February 2005
The central role played by women in the North West's community and voluntary sector must be built upon, Sinn Fein have said.
Speaking after the party's women's conference, held in Newry, Derry City Councillor Maeve McLaughlin called on community and statutory organisations to ensure gender equality is on the political agenda.
Councillor McLaughlin said: "The women's sector is currently experiencing a number of challenges, namely a global shift towards a conservative approach to world politics.
"The sector faces a crisis in funding, which also requires a direct and consistent challenge."
Ms McLaughlin said that a decade had now passed since the Beijing platform, during which 12 areas of action to promote women's issues were highlighted.
She added: "The Millennium summit in 2005 will be reviewing the development goals including goal three, which focuses on gender equality."
As part of the global week of action, beginning next Monday, women across the world will be addressing a broad range of issues, and demanding action on commitments to ensure women's rights and gender equality.
Homes May Be Near Polluted Land
About 200 homes in County Antrim may have been built near contaminated land on the site of a former textiles factory.
Environment Minister Angela Smith says precautionary site investigations are to begin on the land at the old Courtaulds site in Carrickfergus.
She said Akzo Nobel, the company which acquired Courtaulds in 1998, told them of possible contamination in December.
Mr Smith said householders in the area are being informed of the situation.
The houses involved were built in the early 1990s after the factory closed. Before the building took place, the land was checked for contamination but was found to be clear of any problems.
Six years ago, all of Courtaulds' operations in the UK were bought by Akzo Nobel.
They told the BBC that when they were going through some of Courtaulds' old documents, they discovered that there was a possibility that chemicals could have been dumped on one part of the land.
They stress that the houses involved are not built on the site where the material was dumped.
Although Akzo Nobel do not own the land nor have responsibility for it, they decided nevertheless to make the DOE aware of the situation and gave them the files.
As a result, the homes involved will be advised that chemical testing will take place in the area in due course.
The chemical thought to be involved, carbon disulphide, disperses in the open and its thought very unlikely that any traces of it would remain after all these years.
The town's mayor, David Hilditch, said the council had written to residents in the Brackenridge and Ashbourne Manor areas and would keep them informed.
"It's only precautionary and hopefully within a few weeks things will pan out and any fear will be negated," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/15 21:03:40 GMT
© BBC MMV
Shorts Announces 280 Jobs To Go
Belfast aerospace company Shorts has announced up to 280 jobs are to go as the result of cutbacks announced in the autumn.
In October, Shorts' parent company Bombardier announced it was scaling back production of a number of aircraft.
This was because of volatility in world airline markets.
At the time, Shorts warned that up to 600 jobs could go at the firm in the coming months.
The company said the jobs would go over the next number of weeks.
However, it said it hoped to limit the number of compulsory redundancies because of voluntary redundancies and redeployment of staff.
Former Stormont Trade and Industry Minister Sir Reg Empey said the news was a bad blow, but that there is hope for the future.
"Work has been going on behind the scenes to try and get the government, in London, to help Shorts launch the new C-series aircraft which, if it comes off, would be a successor to the 737s that we are all so familiar with," he said.
"We are working hard with the chancellor and other ministers in London to get the resources to back the company to do this."
Shorts said it could not rule out further job losses later in the year because of continuing market uncertainty, but said it was taking steps to mitigate the situation.
The east Belfast company announced at the start of October that its 5,500-strong workforce would face significant cuts after a number of its biggest customers ran into financial difficulties.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/15 15:21:31 GMT
© BBC MMV