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February 21, 2005

02/21/05 – McGuinness: I’m Not On IRA Council

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BT 02/21/05 McGuinness: I'm Not On IRA Council
BT 02/21/05 Dublin Adds To Pressure On Republican Activists
IO 02/21/05 Murphy Set To Slap Cash Sanctions On SF
BT 02/21/05 Opin: The Game Is Over . . . And The Unionists Have Won
BT 02/21/05 Garda Officers On Way To Ulster
BT 02/21/05 Opin: Fighting Crime Across The Border
BT 02/21/05 Special Branch 'Shielded IRA Killer'
BT 02/21/05 Head's 'Holy Cross' Fears
IO 02/21/05 Unionists Welcome Cancellation Of McAleese’s Visit

RT 02/21/05 Commissioner, Chief Constable To Discuss Probe –VO(3)
RT 02/21/05 Five Guilty Of Illegal Organisation Membership -VO

Commissioner, Chief Constable To Discuss Probe - Minister Micheál Martin tells Southern Editor Paschal Sheehy that trust between the Government and republicans has been shattered

Declan McBennett previews the meeting between the police heads at Hillsborough this afternoon

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, says that Sinn Féin are now under pressure on four separate fronts

Five Guilty Of Illegal Organisation Membership - Paul Reynolds, Crime Correspondent, reports that gardaí believe the men were members of an IRA active service unit


McGuinness: I'm Not On IRA Council

Police chiefs meet as more cash is seized

By Chris Thornton and Jonathan McCambridge
21 February 2005

Martin McGuinness denied being a member of the IRA's army council today as Sinn Fein fought back against an onslaught from the Republic's authorities.

The Sinn Fein chief negotiator claimed he was opposed to all criminality - including punishment attacks - after more cash was seized by gardai investigating a suspected IRA money laundering operation.

British and Irish Ministers were expected to discuss the operations against republicans during a mini- summit at Hillsborough today that includes the most senior police officers from both sides of the border.

Irish Ministers have accused Mr McGuinness, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Kerry North TD Martin Ferris of running the IRA as part of their increasingly tough stance against republicans in the wake of the Northern Bank robbery.

They spoke out after police in the Republic seized another £120,000 after raids connected to the money laundering investigation.

Eight people were arrested last week, but seven of them, including Sinn Fein member Tom Hanlon, were released pending a prosecutor's review of case files.

The only man charged after the finds was accused of IRA membership and is suspected of being a dissident republican, although he used to work in Sinn Fein's Cork office.

Mr Adams also pointed to the discovery of £50,000 in stolen Northern Bank notes in a police social club as evidence pointing away from republicans. Police believe the IRA planted the cash.

Mr McGuinness said he denied "absolutely" being even a member of the IRA.

He also claimed he was working towards the end of the IRA and opposes crime.

"I have been hostile to punishment beatings and criminality of all descriptions for my entire political life," he said. "I believe that anyone who is involved in punishment beatings or shootings was involved in criminality."

However, Mr McGuinness's credibility took a knock at the weekend when he claimed he did not know Mr Hanlon minutes before the BBC showed footage of him chatting to the man at an election count. He also campaigned with Mr Hanlon in April 2002.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy will be quizzed publicly about links between some of the £2m found in the Garda raids and the Northern Bank robbery.

The Chief Constable will also come under pressure about the discovery of £50,000 in new Northern Bank notes discovered at Newforge police social club in south Belfast.

Mr Orde said he is convinced republicans planted the money, which is the first confirmed recovery of notes from the world's biggest cash bank heist in December.

The Chief Constable and Garda Commissioner Conroy are meeting at Hillsborough to sign a new formal agreement on further co-operation between both services. Secretary of State Paul Murphy and Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell will also attend the meeting.

However, at a news conference afterwards attention will focus on the Garda raids in Cork and Dublin last week as well as the Newforge discovery.

Five shrink-wrapped packages each containing £10,000 were found in the Newforge club toilets on Friday.


Dublin Adds To Pressure On Republican Activists

By Noel McAdam
21 February 2005

The deep freeze between Dublin and Sinn Fein has intensified with the republican movment left reeling by the cross-border police operation to smash an IRA money laundering ring.

Martin McGuinness firmly denied Irish Government claims that he, Gerry Adams and Dail TD Martin Ferris are members of the IRA army council.

Dublin Justice Minister Michael McDowell told RTE radio that Sinn Fein and the IRA are "directed by the same leadership".

Asked who he was referring to, he said: "We're talking about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and others."

The Provisional movement was engaged in massive criminality and earning millions of pounds which it laundered through a network which includes solicitors, accountants and other professionals, he said.

The cash was invested in a series of front companies, including the communications industry recently, and also used to finance Sinn Fein political and election campaigns.

Mr McGuinness said he had already outlined his membership many years ago of the IRA to the Bloody Sunday tribunal but he was not a member of the army council - and neither were Mr Adams or Mr Ferris.

"People like Michael McDowell have decided that a window of opportunity exists to attack our party, to criminalise our party in the best tradition of Margaret Thatcher."

Earlier, Mr Adams insisted reports that the party "had lost control of the IRA" were incorrect because Sinn Fein "never had control of the IRA".

After a meeting of its ard comhairle (executive) on Saturday following Mr Adam's return from Spain, he predicted the party would "weather the storm".

He also told a rally commemorating three IRA members in Strabane: "Do they think we are not serious about our republicanism.

"Do they think we are not determined to persue our legitimate goals? Do they believe our commitment to the peace process is a pretence."


Murphy Set To Slap Cash Sanctions On SF
2005-02-21 12:50:07+00

Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy is expected to outline financial sanctions against Sinn Féin during a speech to the House of Commons in London tomorrow.

Mr Murphy is due to present the British government's response to the Independent Monitoring Commission's report into the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last December.

The IMC has blamed the Provisional IRA for the heist and a number of other robberies in the North in recent months.

It claimed the raids were all sanctioned by the IRA's ruling army council and the Sinn Féin political leadership and recommended financial sanctions against the party.

These sanctions could include a cut in Sinn Féin's Westminster allowances or an extension of the withdrawal of Assembly allowances imposed after the IMC accused the Provisional IRA of involvement in the attempted abduction of dissident republican Bobby Tohill a year ago.

The Irish Government and the SDLP have expressed their opposition to such sanctions on the grounds that they would allow Sinn Féin to present itself as a victim.


Opin: The Game Is Over . . . And The Unionists Have Won

by Malachi O'Doherty
21 February 2005

The peace process was a blame game from the start and unionism has won.

That mightn't have sunk in among all nationalists yet but they have.

Some nationalists do accept the Adams description of the problem: that a conspiracy among political parties which feel threatened by Sinn Fein is disgracefully blackening the party's good name, casting up aspersions about murder and bank robbery.

The weakness in this defence is simply that the Provisionals are murderers and thieves.

There is no possibility at all that the current leadership of Sinn Fein can complete the peace process.

Sinn Fein was branded by Michael McDowell, the Justice Minister of the Irish Republic, as a criminal conspiracy pretending to be political.

For all that Adams sneers at McDowell, his office enables him to make that assessment and gives him authority abroad.

The SDLP still perceives the crisis in terms of the faltering peace process.

There is no faltering peace process; there is only a dead one.

The actual crisis which the SDLP now faces is not the need to rescue John Hume's vision but to restore responsible leadership to Northern nationalists.

The immediate problem for northern nationalists is not the need for a powersharing executive; it is the need for a viable political leadership. Without it they don't have power to share.

The old thinking suggests that it would be progress to persuade Sinn Fein to join the policing board. This idea is being repeated virtually every day in editorials and in comment columns. It is an obsolete idea. It belongs to the fantasy that Sinn Fein are serious political players who might be persuaded to secure a deal and stand down the IRA, who might be gently wooed deeper and deeper into the political process until they wake up one day and find that they have been turned into a political party that is a little like the Liberal Democrats.

Those who cling to such a naive assessment have simply not assimilated the lesson of the last three months. The bank robbery was proof that the Provos weren't serious about the peace process.

A party that specialises in money laundering and espionage has to be kept out of policing.

The only hope of retrieving an executive is through the restoration of responsible leadership to the nationalist community. There are two ways that can happen: either through the electoral annihilation of Sinn Fein or through a coup within Sinn Fein to replace the current cabal in leadership with people who have political consciences.

The unlikelihood of either prospect being fulfilled is an indication of the depth of the crisis nationalists are in.

There are many good people in Sinn Fein who work very hard for the electorate but they have never yet shown any capacity for independent action. They do not criticise their leaders - ever.

The brave Republicans who do protest against the militaristic manipulation, like John Kelly and Anthony McIntyre, find themselves excluded and reviled. This is a party that allows no dissension so it is not a political party at all.

The weakness in the SDLP's argument against Sinn Fein is in its declared determination to fight for its inclusion in an executive that is not coming back. This is a suicidal position for the SDLP to take.

Their job now is not to take us back into the assembly - since that cannot be done - it is to restore responsible leadership to nationalist voters and to work for a political structure here that cannot be vetoed by one party.

An assault on Sinn Fein that is tempered by the urge to coax them back into office will never have the simplicity and relevance of an assault aimed at destroying them.

After all the nationalist community's complaining about discrimination against them it is that same community that has failed to rise to the challenge of partnership government and equality. The only obstacle now to full citizenship rights for nationalists is their own preference for being led by a delinquent party.

Unionist leaders, for all the dissension they had to cope with, proved themselves willing to deal. It was the leadership chosen by the majority of northern nationalists who walked away. I don't hear unionists gloating about this. Perhaps, like most nationalists, they are waiting for this amazing reality and its implications to sink in. Among those implications is the inability of any future nationalist leader to blame unionism for the failure to create a stable and democratic society here.


Garda Officers On Way To Ulster

Policing swap facility agreed

By Jonathan McCambridge
21 February 2005

Garda officers will be able to work on the streets of Northern Ireland under a new cross-border policing agreement signed today.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and An Garda Siochana Commissioner Noel Conroy met at Hillsborough to sign the ground-breaking agreement which will allow for personnel exchanges and secondments on both sides of the border.

The joint agreement comes at a time when the police forces are already co-operating closely together in the hunt for the Northern Bank robbers.

The signing was attended by the Secretary of State Paul Murphy and the Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The recommendation for cross-border policing exchanges was made in the Patten report, which said specialist co-operation could be useful in the battle against drugs and for training.

It is known that many of Ireland's top organised criminals operate cross-border smuggling empires and the two police forces have increasingly shared intelligence.

Under the new protocol, a Garda officer who is transferred to Northern Ireland will exercise the same powers and duties as a PSNI officer and wear the uniform if necessary.

The new arrangement will mean the PSNI is the first British police force to sign a formal co-operation agreement with a force outside the UK.

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood, MLA, said: "Garda officers in the North and PSNI officers in the South on three year secondments build confidence in policing and makes policing work better.

"The North/South pursuit of crime gangs is top of the police agenda."

DUP Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr said any sharing of resources, skills and intelligence to improve the fight against crime "will not be sniffed at by anyone".

But he said fighting crime and terrorism was the number one priority in Northern Ireland and people would want to know the protocols were being signed to aid that rather than for the political purposes of simply enacting the Patten Report.


Viewpoint: Fighting Crime Across The Border

Police Protocols: Only criminals should fear the new arrangements

21 February 2005

The signing at Hillsborough Castle today of ground breaking protocols between the PSNI and the Garda Siochana should be welcomed by everyone who supports law and order in Ireland.

The new arrangements mean that officers from the Republic will be able to undertake three year secondments with the PSNI, and vice versa. They will wear the uniform of the host force, be under its command, and have the same powers as their colleagues.

The initiative is one of the fruits of the Patten Report, and is designed to improve cross-border co-operation. As Hugh Orde says, officers will be able to share information, experience and expertise.

Such a move would have raised hackles in bygone years, but there is a growing acknowledgement within all parties of the need to co-operate in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Subversives and criminal gangs do not recognise borders, which means that police forces north and south must work together more closely than ever. No constitutional principle is being breached by the new levels of liaison.

The need for the PSNI and the Garda to work hand in glove is highlighted by the Northern Bank heist and the more recent uncovering of an IRA money-laundering operation in Co Cork. Collaboration between forces from both jurisdictions is now a vital factor in all such investigations.

The issue is particularly important in border areas, where the frontier has too often enabled law-breakers to evade justice. Closer co-operation between the PSNI and Garda should help crack down not just on major crime but on other problem areas such as dangerous driving.

As the Chief Constable says, effective communication and the pooling of information will help bring people to justice. The border should not be a barrier behind which guilty parties can hide.

History is being made in Hillsborough and the new protocols should be of practical benefit in the campaign against crime, north and south.

The closer the links between the PSNI and the Garda, the more co-ordinated the battle against crime will be. There can be no hiding place for criminals.


Special Branch 'Shielded IRA Killer'

Review justifies claim, says family

By David Gordon
21 February 2005

A damning review of an RUC murder investigation proves that the force's Special Branch shielded the killer, the victim's family claimed today.

Twenty-three-year-old Newry republican Eoin Morley was gunned down by the IRA in the border town in April 1990.

Mr Morley's family believe the Easter Sunday killing was carried out by a high-level Special Branch informer within the Provisionals.

They complained to Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan who issued a highly-critical report on the conduct of the murder investigation.

Mrs O'Loan found no evidence to support a collusion allegation, centring on claims that police had instigated the murder to provoke a republican feud.

But she did conclude that Special Branch had failed to pass on 10 separate items of potentially relevant information to detectives investigating the case.

The Ombudsman's office found nothing to indicate any arrests had been made by police, despite high-grade intelligence on a number of individuals who were named as being responsible for the murder.

Mrs O'Loan stated: "The practice of the RUC Special Branch not to disseminate information and the consequences of this inevitably led to suspicion that individuals were being protected."

Mr Morley's brother Ivan said: "We are still convinced that Special Branch knew in advance what was going to happen.

"We never expected a paper chase to lead back to proof of collusion. We never expected that to be found. But the fact that Special Branch were shielding someone is evident."

Mrs O'Loan's team also discovered that one individual ? named only as Man A ? was not arrested or even considered a suspect, despite a link between him and a house where the murder weapon was discovered.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that Man A is the former security force informant blamed for the murder by the Morley family.

The victim's brother, who now lives in England, said: "The idea that this informer never told his handlers that the shooting was going to take place beggars belief. Of course he's going to tell them.

"And when they have an informer like this at the top, of course they are going to protect him. He was the Provisional IRA quartermaster in Newry."

Mr Morley praised the Ombudsman's investigators for their work. "It's 15 years after the fact. The findings were all they really could come out with, given the circumstances."

Mrs O'Loan's report stated that the murder weapon had also been used in two attacks on Army helicopters.


Head's 'Holy Cross' Fears

McAleese cancels school visit after hatred storm

By Noel McAdam
21 February 2005

A school head told today of 'Holy Cross' fears over President Mary McAleese's visit to the Shankill which has been cancelled.

Edenbrooke Primary principal Betty Orr said there had been a lot of "nasty rumours" of protests at a school cermony on Thursday, which Catholic pupils were due to attend.

"No way were we going to have a Holy Cross situation here. Why would you put children through that?," Ms Orr, head for more than 10 years, said.

"It is very unfortunate because this was not political, it was a celebration of the children's work which is up all around the school. But it will simply be deferred, I hope."

Staff and parents from Edenbrooke have been visitors at the President's residence Aras an Uachtarian and Thursday was a reciprocal trip.

Mrs McAleese called off the visit to the Shankill after appeals from local unionist politicians in the aftermath of her comments on sectarianism, for which she profusely apologised.

In her remarks over the Holocaust commemoration, Mrs McAleese had said an irrational hatred of Jews had been passed on "in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things".

West Belfast DUP MLA Diane Dodds said today there was great relief that Mrs McAleese had cancelled the Shankill section of her visit.

The President's spokeswoman said the president would still meet staff and patients at Belfast City Hospital, deliver the O'Connell Lecture at St Malachy's College and visit the Hannahstown area in west Belfast.

Mrs McAleese has already faced anger from the Protestant community over the remarks.

The Orange Order cancelled a meeting with the Irish President in the wake of the remarks.

The organisation was due to meet her on March 8 to discuss the concerns of its members in the Republic.


Unionists Welcome Cancellation Of McAleese’s Shankill Visit

21/02/2005 - 12:09:47

Unionists have welcomed President Mary McAleese's decision to cancel a planned visit to the loyalist Shankill Road in Belfast this week.

Mrs McAleese was due to visit the area during a trip to Belfast on Thursday, but cancelled her plans after she was asked to do so by local unionists.

The unionists said the visit would have come too soon after the President's controversial comments about Protestant sectarianism at the recent Auschwitz commemoration in Poland.

Mrs McAleese has apologised for comparing the Nazi hatred of Jews to the hatred of Catholics instilled in Protestant children in the North.

Unionists have accepted the apology, but have also said that it is too early for her to be welcomed back into the Shankill Road.

Responding to her decision to cancel this week's visit, local Ulster Unionist Party councillor Chris McGimpsey predicted that she would be welcomed back eventually.

Local community worker May Blood also welcomed the decision, saying it would take time for Mrs McAleese to rebuild bridges with the Shankill community.

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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