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February 23, 2005

02/23/05 – Don’t Join IRA Says SF Member

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Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BB 02/23/05 'Don't Join IRA' Says SF Member
SM 02/23/05 Bulgarian Diplomats To Discuss 'IRA Dirty Money Ring'
IO 02/23/05 Paisley, 78, Seeks To Retain Commons Seat
IE 02/23/05 Analysis: Good Cop, Bad Cop
4N 02/23/05 Policing Board Chairman Severs Link With Company
IO 02/23/05 IRA-Accused Bullman Freed On Bail -V
BT 02/23/05 Motion Urges Support For Family -V(3)
IO 02/23/05 Adams Refuses To Comment On Imminent IRA Split
SM 02/23/05 Battle-Scarred Military Base To Be Closed Down
BT 02/23/05 Orangemen Debate New Laws Over Parades
BB 02/23/05 Marches May Be Banned In Glasgow
IE 02/23/05 British Politico Takes Aim At U.S. Deal With Spicer
BT 02/23/05 MLAs Back Efforts Of Women's Aid
WP 02/23/05 Geo Harrison: The Rebel With A Cause…

RT 02/23/05 Taoiseach Welcomes Ó Caoláin Statement –VO
RT 02/23/05 McGuinness - Difficulties Of Criminalising IRA -VO
RT 02/23/05 PSNI Apologises To Linfield After Derry Incident -VO
NW 02/23/05 The Tragedy Of Unexpected Death –VO
NW 02/23/05 Access To External Defribulators In The So & West –VO

Taoiseach Welcomes Ó Caoláin Statement - David Davin-Power, Political Correspondent, reports on comments made by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern

McGuinness Highlights Difficulties Of Criminalising IRA Members - Richard Dowling, North-East Correspondent, reports from the Sinn Féin campaign trail in the Meath by-election

PSNI Apologises To Linfield Fans After Derry Incident - Brendan Wright reports on the trouble which erupted at The Brandywell last night after the match between Derry City and Linfield

The Tragedy Of Unexpected Death - Mary Fanning talks to the Manning family from Cratloe, Co Clare, about their son Robert, who died unexpectedly in 2002 at the age of 16

Eoin Ryan takes a look at developments in the area of Public Access To Automated External Defribulators In The South And West of the country


'Don't Join IRA' Says SF Member

A Sinn Fein TD has said he would discourage any young person from joining the IRA.

It comes after five Dublin men, including two in their 20s, were jailed for IRA membership.

Of the other men jailed, one was in his 40s and two were in their 30s.

The two in their 20s, Thomas Gilson and John Troy, were 13 and 14 at the time of the 1994 IRA cessation.

In the past, some young people joined the IRA because they were idealistic and wanted to see Irish unity.

One historian says that remains the case, despite republican acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of consent that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK until a majority votes otherwise.

Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland, said: "People have always joined organisations like the IRA down through history for the same reason: to bring about a united Ireland.

"There maybe a peace process and a Good Friday Agreement, but possibly some of them think that joining the IRA is still part of that process." Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe says he believes young people in the Republic of Ireland may join the republican paramilitary group because they are impatient for Irish unity.

But he says he is against them joining the IRA.

"I myself wouldn't encourage young people to join," he said.

"I think the way forward is clearly through politics and I suppose there is a responsibility as a Sinn Fein leader in this city, that I want to see politics work and that's what we're about."

However, Monday's guilty verdicts show young people are still joining the IRA, even though the price of that membership can be a jail term if brought before the courts.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/23 20:58:05 GMT


Bulgarian Diplomats To Discuss 'IRA Dirty Money Ring'

By Ed Carty, PA

Senior Bulgarian diplomats are to hold talks with the Irish Government about an alleged international IRA money laundering ring, it emerged tonight.

As Irish fraud squad detectives worked with Interpol to smash the dirty money racket, officials from the former Communist state were travelling to Ireland for top level security briefings.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy has confirmed his officers are going international to chase down all leads in an investigation which has already seen almost £3million seized in raids across the Irish Republic.

With detectives examining thousands of recovered documents in a bid to unravel the money trail, Bulgarian officials are seeking clarification of alleged links with businesses in the eastern European state.

Former senior Irish government aide Phil Flynn admitted he travelled to Sofia last month with leading Cork financier, Ted Cunningham, at whose home detectives discovered £2.3million in cash.

Mr Flynn resigned a number of positions, including his role as head of the government’s decentralisation body, after Mr Cunningham was questioned by officers probing a suspected Provisional money laundering scam.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice confirmed envoys at the Bulgarian Embassy had requested a high level meeting in Dublin to discuss efforts to smash the dirty money racket.

It is understood a special delegation from the former Communist state is due to be briefed on the investigations before reporting back to the country’s Interior Ministry.

More than 100 detectives were involved in swoops on both sides of the Irish border last week as the net tightened on a massive money laundering ring.

Eight people were arrested in Cork and Dublin, including former Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hanlon.

Cork chef Don Bullman was charged with membership of the dissident Real IRA after police allegedly discovered £54,000 stuffed into a washing powder box in a jeep outside Dublin’s Heuston Station, while all seven others were released.

Forensic tests are still being carried out on the recovered notes, although police chiefs in Belfast and Dublin have refused to confirm if any of the money seized in the Republic is part of the record £26.5million haul stolen during the Northern Bank heist.

Fraud squad officers and the Irish Republic’s highly successful Criminal Assets Bureau have been brought in to assist the racketeering investigation that led to the high profile arrests on Friday.

The British and Irish governments have blamed the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery but Sinn Fein has insisted it believes the Provisional’s denial of any involvement.

The December 20 raid and allegations of continuing IRA criminality have left the Northern Ireland peace process in tatters.


Paisley, 78, Seeks To Retain Commons Seat
2005-02-23 17:40:05+00

DUP leader Ian Paisley is to seek a new mandate to extend his House of Commons career.

The DUP confirmed its veteran leader will defend the seat he has occupied in North Antrim for 35 years.

As he prepared to defend a 14,224 majority, Mr Paisley said his party's tough stance in recent negotiations had unnerved Sinn Féin.

But he also questioned whether republicans were serious about ending all links to criminality and terror.

Mr Paisley's announcement will be interpreted as a clear sign that the DUP leader intends to remain a major figure in Northern Ireland politics for at least another four or five years.

Last year he decided to quit the European Parliament, making way for party colleague Jim Allister who topped the poll.


Analysis: Good Cop, Bad Cop

PHOTOCALL Justice Minister Michael McDowell (right), with Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, discusses last week's police raids with reporters Friday at Garda headquarters in Dublin.

By Paul Colgan

DUBLIN -- The Garda Siochana and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have never been closer. Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy and PSNI's chief constable, Hugh Orde, met in Belfast on Monday to sign off on a series of unprecedented joint ventures.

The two men sealed an agreement that will see the exchange of officers between the forces. The agreement, first envisaged in the Patten report on policing, will bring cooperation between the Garda and PSNI to a whole new level.

However, while the two top policemen on the island of Ireland have been recently exchanging notes on the investigation into IRA money laundering and any possible links to the Northern Bank robbery, a more significant game of "good cop, bad cop" is being played out in Government Buildings, Dublin.

First came the "bad cop": Justice Minister Michael McDowell. McDowell, a lifelong critic of the republican movement, had busied himself over the weekend with broadsides against Sinn Fein.

Speaking on Today FM radio Sunday, McDowell alleged that Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, and North Kerry TD Martin Ferris were all members of the IRA army council.

McDowell was unflinching in his analysis that the three men, along with the rest of the Army Council, exercise complete control over the movement. He claimed that Sinn Fein and the IRA were one and the same and that the senior politicians coordinated the IRA's activities, including the bank heist.

The three men issued a joint statement Monday night strongly rejecting McDowell's assertion.

Meanwhile, the taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, stepped into the shoes of the "good cop" Monday. Not only did he restrain himself from joining in with his cabinet colleague on the Army Council claims, he said he had no personal knowledge of the council's makeup. He also threw doubt on McDowell's assertion that Adams, McGuinness and Ferris? can "deliver" the IRA.

"I might have my own views about whether people are, or are not, on the Army Council," Ahern said. "I do not know the membership of the Army Council.

"They [Sinn Fein] are genuinely saying that they are trying to get to a situation where they want to see these things through [decommissioning, paramilitarism].

"Why did we break down on the eighth of December on the criminality end? We know about decommissioning. But why did we break down on criminality? It is because Sinn Fein went to the IRA and the IRA would not allow them the movement. That is what happened. Sinn Fein went to the IRA. But Sinn Fein has to work that out."

Ahern's comments are significant in that he appears to be contradicting himself and the line currently emanating from McDowell's office. In the initial days following the Northern Bank heist, government sources posed a question: "Can Sinn Fein deliver the IRA or not?" In recent weeks an answer seemed to emerge: "yes, they can, but they don't seem to want to."

Ahern said within weeks of the Dec. 20 Northern Bank job that the "dogs in the street" knew that Adams and McGuinness would have had to sanction the heist.

For Ahern now to portray the Sinn Fein leadership as a group of peaceniks in thrall to the IRA hard men seems strange. Does he now believe that they argued against last week's raids?

Ahern's strategy is unclear. Some observers believe he is attempting to draw the Sinn Fein leadership out. In questioning Adams and McGuinness' ability to negotiate for the entire republican family, he may be forcing them to prove their leadership bona fides. Others question whether Ahern has now decided to adopt a twin-track approach to Sinn Fein.

McDowell, who has had little involvement in Northern talks over the last eight years, risks nothing with his rottweiller approach to Sinn Fein. It is widely conceded in political circles that while McDowell undoubtedly feels justified in what he says about republicans, he has his eye on another prize: leadership of the Progressive Democrats. His party has long painted itself as a "law and order party," the territory traditionally occupied by Fine Gael.

Ahern, however, must plow a more diplomatic path. While few in Leinster House doubt that McDowell's almost daily utterances come with Ahern's rubber stamp of approval, the taoiseach in recent days appears to be taking a more long-term view of the political process.

The softening of tone and the refusal to engage in the "name and shame" dialogue would seem to indicate that Ahern does indeed envisage progress on the political front. He will have to spend some quality time with Sinn Fein sooner or later, hence his refusal to bow to calls that Sinn Fein be excluded from the political talks.

However, Ahern's offer for Sinn Fein to prove itself comes with a time frame. He has warned that the peace process could be in dire straits if things fail to improve by this year's marching season. More ominously, he hinted that he had information that things may get worse for republicans before they get better.

"It requires some time," he said. "I'm not saying that we will leave it forever. We need them to be coming back saying, the end of paramilitarism, the decommissioning of all weapons, and the cessation of all criminal behavior."


Policing Board Chairman Severs Link With Company

Policing Board Chairman Sir Desmond Rea has severed his links with a company which is a subsidiary of a firm under investigation by police in connection with alleged money laundering in the Irish Republic.

Sir Desmond quit as non-executive director of Ivy Wood Properties, a subsidiary of Harcourt Developments, after businessman Phil Flynn resigned from Harcourt following garda inquiries into the alleged money laundering.

Sir Desmond resigned on Sunday following newspaper coverage of the resignation of Mr Flynn, a former Sinn Fein vice president, from a range of business directorships, including chairman of the Bank of Scotland's Irish division.

In a statement, Sir Desmond said: "As soon as I had the first indication that there was any link - however tenuous and speculative - between my position as a non-executive Director of Ivy Wood Properties Ltd and the widespread coverage around ongoing policing operations in the Irish Republic, I decided that it would be appropriate for me to stand down from the Ivy Wood Properties Board, which I joined only last September.

“I would like to make it entirely clear that I know of no information whatsoever to link Ivy Wood Properties or the development in Belfast to any wrongdoing.”

Sir Desmond said he could not afford to bring such publicity, “however ill-founded”, to the door of the Policing Board.

Ivy Wood Properties currently owns the the development rights to Belfast's Titanic Quarter.



Bullman released on bail

IRA-Accused Bullman Freed On Bail -V

23/02/2005 - 13:17:42

A Co Cork chef arrested as part of a garda investigation into IRA money-laundering walked free on bail from the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

Don Bullman (aged 30), a chef and father of two, of Fernwood Crescent, Leghanamore, Wilton, Co Cork was charged last Friday with membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on February 16.

On Monday the court granted Bullman bail on his own bond of €500, an independent surety of €30,000, ordered him to report daily to Togher garda station, to surrender his passport and not to travel outside Co Cork.

The court also ordered him not to associate with anyone convicted of subversive crime or to associate with four named individuals - Conor Mc Laughlin, Christopher Mc Elhinney, Tom Hanlon and George Hegarty.

Today, Mr Denis Butler, solicitor with the Chief Prosecution Service, said that the Gardaí had no objections to the proposed independent bailsperson, Mr Denis Dunlea.

Mr Dunlea told the court that he is an uncle of the accused and he said that he lived at Liam Lynch Park, Glasheen Road, Cork. He said he understood the bail conditions set by the court and he undertook to ensure that Don Bullman did not breach the conditions.

He also undertook to ensure that Bullman did not associate with the people named in the bail conditions.

On Monday Detective Superintendent Diarmuid O' Sullivan of the Special Detective Unit, objected to bail for Bullman and said that he believed Bullman would interfere with evidence if granted bail.

He said that gardaí had found a bag containing a Daz box and the box contained over €94,000 wrapped in three individual wrappings of 30,000 Euro each when Bullman was arrested last week at Heuston Station in Dublin in a northern registered jeep.

The Detective Supt said that Bullman was "a central individual" to the activities of the IRA prior to February 16 and that activity was "a money-laundering operation for the IRA, in which he is central.''

The Det Supt said: "I have an apprehension he will continue to launder money for an unlawful organisation, the IRA."

Bullman, in evidence, said: "I am not a member of any unlawful organisation and never was." He also denied that he was in the IRA and agreed to give any undertaking sought by the court.


McCartney family meets with minister - Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, reports on the McCartney family's campaign for justice following the death of Robert McCartney

Charlie Bird speaks with members of the McCartney family

Alex Atwood, SDLP, discusses the investigation into the killing of Mr McCartney

Motion Urges Support For Family -V(3)

By Andrea Clements

23 February 2005

A motion urging support for the family of murder victim Robert McCartney in its quest for justice will go before Belfast City Council next week.

The 33-year-old Short Strand father-of-two was stabbed to death outside Magennis's bar in Belfast city centre on January 30.

His family claims a senior IRA man from Belfast, with close links to Sinn Fein, was involved.

They also believe members of the IRA were involved in a clean-up operation and threatened people not to talk to police.

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy, who has put forward the motion, said people in the city were very angry and frightened.

"It is fear that is keeping people from going to the police. The communities of the Short Strand and Markets know who did it. They know the names of up to 15 people thought to be involved in the murder and its cover-up."

Mr McCarthy's motion calls on "the entire community to show the same courage and dignity of Mr McCartney's family".

It adds: "This council believes that the suffering and abuse dealt to the community by criminals must end, demands an end to the intimidation of witnesses and calls on the community to co-operate with the due process of law to apprehend the organisers and perpetrators of this crime."

The SDLP councillor said he hoped Sinn Fein would endorse the motion.

"If what Martin McGuinness says is true, that they want no criminals in their ranks, they should be supporting this."

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said he could not pre-judge the views of other councillors but that he agreed with the "general sentiment" of the motion.

The McCartneys will meet Dublin politicians today in their bid for justice.


Adams Refuses To Comment On Reports Of Imminent IRA Split

2005-02-23 11:40:02+00

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has refused to comment on reports that the leader of the Provisional IRA is planning to establish a breakaway group if complete decommissioning goes ahead.

Reports in the tabloid press this morning, quoting senior garda sources, claimed the IRA chief-of-staff and republican hardliners in south Armagh were adamantly opposed to decommissioning and were threatening to split the IRA if Sinn Féin agrees to complete disarmament.

Asked about the matter in Trim, Co Meath, this morning, Mr Adams said he would "not be commenting or trying to interpret the IRA position because it is being used to stop the growth of the Sinn Féin party".


Battle-Scarred Military Base To Be Closed Down

By Alan Erwin, PA

One of Belfast’s most battle-scarred military bases is to be shut down, it was announced today.

Troops are to quit Girdwood Barracks, where the Army was stationed through decades of violence in Northern Ireland, later this year.

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde confirmed the closure as part of new security arrangements.

A military observation post attached to Oldpark police station is also to be removed.

Both the base and watchtower are located in the north of the city, where sectarian tensions raged throughout the Troubles.

Mr Orde, who consulted the Army’s General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland, Major General Phillip Trousdell, insisted the move would not impact on military back-up to his force.

Although 40 infantry currently stationed there will move out within months, overall security in the area will not be reduced, police said.

The 14-acre Girdwood site’s shutdown is expected to be completed by the autumn.

Army bosses will attempt to relocate 16 civilian staff, either to Ministry of Defence offices or other Government departments.

But a spokesman admitted some redundancies may be necessary.

First refusal on the land, just off the Crumlin Road, will be offered to the Northern Ireland administration at market value.

Meanwhile, the Oldpark post is due to be dismantled within the next three weeks.

The Democratic Unionist MP for North Belfast, Nigel Dodds, hit out at the closures amid growing allegations of IRA violence.

He said: “This decision is totally wrong in light of the continuing exposure of the utterly bogus and fraudulent nature of the IRA’s commitment to peace.

“Coming in the wake of sinister and threatening noises emanating from republicans it is sending out completely the wrong signal to a community in north Belfast which has suffered more than its fair share at the hands of terrorists.

“The timing could not be more senseless.”

But Gerry Kelly, a Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA, insisted the move was essential for an economically deprived area.

He added: “The site should have been returned to the local community long ago in order to provide an area of substantial redevelopment.”


Orangemen Debate New Laws Over Parades

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
23 February 2005

Orange Order leaders meet this weekend to debate new laws requiring lodges to take responsibility for supporters.

The Grand Orange Lodge is holding a special session on Saturday to discuss legislation due to be rushed through Parliament in time for the main marching season this year.

Grand Master Robert Saulters and senior officers are also setting up meetings, including unionist Assembly members and Protestant community representatives over the issue.

The Grand Lodge then plans to issue a statement in the near future, with the start of the marching season due to get under way at Easter.

As disclosed in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, the Order-in- Council will give the Parades Commission power to make determinations, including march followers.

The extension to existing legislation is to be in place by the end of March and will apply to all marches - and also protests against them - from May 14.

It follows violence in the Ardoyne on the last Twelfth when protestors clashed with police..

A Grand Lodge spokeswoman said: "The followers are not the parade. We do not have jurisdiction over them. It's not something we can control."

Sinn Fein and the SDLP welcomed the new measures, accompanied by a new period of consultation on mediation over parades.

But Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said: "It is sheer madness to think that adding to this quango's power will produce a peaceful summer."

Marches May Be Banned In Glasgow

Marches could be banned in Glasgow if they have been the focus of public disorder in the past.

Under new plans they could be blocked if sectarian chants, threatening or drunken behaviour, or support for proscribed organisations has occurred.

The authority said other options included re-routing processions or bolstering stewarding arrangements.

Glasgow City Council agreed the policy on Orange and Republican parades after considering a police report.

Former Strathclyde chief constable Sir John Orr came up with the recommendations and suggested marches be blocked if there was a risk of intimidation to the local community or of serious disruption.

Under the measures, groups will have to give 28 days' notice of a march, instead of the present seven.

They may also be ordered to pay a good behaviour bond, which will be forfeited if marchers cause trouble.

In future, city leaders will decide whether to give the 300-plus parades which take place in Glasgow every year the green light following advice from police and consultation with residents and businesses.

Council chiefs will also consider the frequency of processions in a particular area, their timing and the route before granting approval.

The council's deputy leader, Jim Coleman, said: "We're looking to implement the new policy over the summer and we hope to get the full co-operation of those individuals and organisations who arrange processions and demonstrations in Glasgow.

"The new policy will make it clear to those who organise and participate that the event should be pre-planned, well-organised and peaceful, with as little negative impact on local residents and communities."


The policy followed a public consultation which attracted 3,680 responses, 95% of which came from people associated with the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

The organisation's executive officer, Robert McLean, said: "We have zero-tolerance for proscribed organisations and we encourage the police to be robust in tackling those people who support these groups at marches."

But Cairde Na hEireann (Friends of Ireland), which organises Republican marches in Scotland, was defiant.

Spokesman Jim Slaven said: "No-one can stop the Friends of Ireland marching or expressing support for political organisations."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/23 22:30:07 GMT


British Politico Takes Aim At U.S. Deal With Spicer

By Ray O'Hanlon

A lone member of the Mother of Parliaments is taking on the mighty Pentagon on behalf of a lone mother in Belfast.

Sarah Teather, the member of parliament for the Brent East constituency in London, has written to the U.S. Embassy in London asking that it intercede with the Pentagon over the controversial deal for private security service in Iraq awarded former British army officer Tim Spicer.

Teather, a member of the Liberal Democrats, intervened in the case after a letter to the Pentagon from the Pat Finucane Center in Derry went unanswered.

The letter was written on behalf of Jean McBride, mother of Peter McBride, who was shot dead by soldiers of the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast in September, 1992.

The regiment was commanded by Spicer at that time and he subsequently defended the shooting.

The center is pressing the U.S. Army to justify its decision to award Aegis Defense Services, of which Spicer is CEO, a $293 million contract for private security work in Iraq.

And it is linking its appeal to the still-disputed killing of McBride, who was unarmed and shot in the back.

The center wrote the Pentagon on behalf of Jean McBride weeks ago but has not yet received a reply. It is this lack of a response that prompted Teather, whose constituency covers some of London's most famous Irish immigrant neighborhoods, to write her own letter. Teather told the Echo last week that she felt the Pentagon had been "very discourteous" in not quickly replying to the Finucane Centre letter.

She herself had filed her letter with the U.S. Embassy in London on Jan. 20 and was now, like the center and Jean McBride, anxiously awaiting a reply. Teather said that if she did not hear back from the Pentagon by this week she would write another, more strongly worded, letter.

"And I will expect a reply. I will continue to pursue this," Teather said.

Teather said that "serious questions" were still in need of answers with regard to Spicer and his role in the death of Peter McBride.

"The Pentagon has a duty to respond to this family, and the fact that they have not done so yet is simply not adequate," she said. "This is a very sorry affair."

The unanswered PFC letter argued that in addition to the questions surrounding the Aegis contract, a previous company of which Spicer was CEO, Sandline International, was "involved in major violations of international and British law and has been the subject of international and British investigations."

Spicer's actions, both as an officer in the British army and as CEO of Sandline, the PFC argued, had a bearing on Spicer's record of integrity and business ethics, both of which had to be above reproach according to the U.S. Army's own standards.

The letter asked the Pentagon to "review" the $293 million contract awarded Aegis and Spicer, who has variously been referred to in British press reports as Britain's "most notorious mercenary" and "soldier of fortune."

This story appeared in the issue of February 23-March 1, 2005


MLAs Back Efforts Of Women's Aid

23 February 2005

The efforts of Women's Aid to help victims of domestic violence have been backed by Assembly members in the North West.

East Londonderry UUP Assembly member David McClarty said instances of domestic violence in the area were a concern, with children suffering in many cases.

And Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin also praised the work of the organisation, saying it dealt with shocking cases of abuse on a daily basis.

Welcoming a new high-profile advertising campaign to raise public awareness about domestic violence and to promote a new free-phone helpline, Mr McClarty said he hoped it would help victims to come forward and seek help.

He added: "The work of organisations such as Women's Aid in this area cannot be praised highly enough.

"I have seen at first hand the dedication they have to helping those suffering domestic violence.

"Violence in the home is a difficult subject to approach and it takes the victim to make the first step in seeking help. For anyone in such a terrifying situation it can be extremely hard to summon up the courage to pick up a telephone and call for help.

"Women's Aid is always available to offer vital help and support for those traumatised by violence in the home."

Mr McClarty added that he felt the new advertisement campaign would be helpful in raising awareness of domestic violence which accounts for approximately one third of all recorded violent crime in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein National chairman Mitchel McLaughlin has also endorsed an initiative undertaken by the Bogside and Brandywell community.

A mural was erected at the rear of Free Derry Corner examining the consequences of violence in the home.

Mr McLaughlin said: "This piece of artwork, highlighting the issue of domestic violence is part of a community response within the Bogside and Brandywell area to highlight the concern about this issue.

"In recent years there has been growing research and evidence about the prevalence of domestic violence, and whilst many of us know of individuals experiencing abuse in their homes, it makes stark reading that one in four women will experience abuse during their lifetime within the home, and indeed one in 10 women within the past year.

"This does not include the number of children raised within this environment of fear and abuse."

The Northern Ireland Office are now drafting the first ever domestic violence strategy for Ulster, entitled 'Tackling Domestic Violence at Home'.

Mr McLaughlin added: "We commend the agencies such as Women's Aid who continue to provide much needed services for women and children who experience this abuse daily."


The Rebel With A Cause…

By: Marion Harrison

With the IRA’s commitment to the Northern Ireland Peace Process under intense scrutiny, Marian Harrison traces the extraordinary life of the Mayo-born gun-runner, George Harrison, who died in the US last year.

Overlooking Shammer Lake sits a decrepit, deserted cottage, steeped in IRA history. The roof of the Harrison homestead has fallen in, the windows are rotten but inside you can still make out the shell of a fireplace. It was here that the villagers gathered a couple of nights a week for a game of cards and to swap republican stories. The older generation would talk about the famine, loved ones overseas and their commitment to a thirty-two county Republic. It was here that George Harrison got his first glimpse of an Ireland torn apart by political violence.

In the early 1900s every second family in Shammer, on the outskirts of Kilkelly, were members of the IRA committed to the fight. The war against the British was raging and all of Ireland seemed up in arms.

Secret meetings were held in kitchens around the village and youngsters were given the honour of looking out for the enemy. Any blue shirts were spied on and reports of their movements were sent back to the branch.

“Members of the IRA in Shammer at the time passed on messages and reported back on Blueshirts in the village. Underground bunkers were spotted around the countryside with one in Shammerbawn,” noted one local.

George’s parents, Tom ‘Yank’ and Winnie McDermott, a native of the bordering village of Barnacogue had returned from America to a plot of land on the banks of the Siuleen River, donated by Tom’s sister. Tom was a stonecutter and Winnie ran the village shop, rearing ten children. The shop was something of a landmark in Shammer, where people from both sides of the river, Shammer Ban and Shammer Dubh met to play cards and talk politics. While the youngsters played handball against the gable wall, held boxing matches in a nearby field or tied up a couple of old socks as a football. Like many houses of its time the Harrison homestead was overlooked by the tricolour, which proudly flew from a post along the riverside. A Sinn Féin banner also flew in the village, with the words The Thomas Ashe Cumman, Sinn Féin and United We Stand. In 1916 Thomas Ashe led the rebels and was one of the last to surrender. He was deemed a hero after his arrest and conviction when he went on hunger strike. In later years Harrison became close friends with Paddy Logan, a comrade who had been on hunger strike with Ashe.

Republicanism was rife in the small village. A company of the IRA was founded, commanded by Martin Casey, a native of the area and a Sinn Féin cooperative was organised, of which Tom Harrison, George’s father, was a member. But George’s first hands-on experience of the War of Independence was late one night when his home was raided by the Black and Tans. Butter was taken from his mother before the soldiers threw George into a corner for wearing a green jumper. This experience stayed with him throughout his life and further increased his hatred for the British.

When Martin Casey led an attack against the Black and Tans in Kilkelly and burnt their station to the ground he was captured but efforts to negotiate between the British and the IRA led to his release. Harrison stood along the bonfires, as Casey was welcomed back into the village as a hero. This accompanied with the fact that the Civil War claimed a Shammer native, Michael Duffy, a cousin of Harrison, when he sustained gun wounds fighting with Irish Government troops led to Harrison’s growing republicanism. The environment in which he was reared was one raging with the republican movement and those who fought for their country were deemed to be heroes. Harrison’s own role in the republican movement first began when he delivered copies of An Phoblacht to homes around the village. Rarely did a week pass that George’s views on the affairs of the world did not appear in some publication or other and no later than the morning of the day he died, he penned the following sentiment for the inclusion in the newspaper ‘Saoirse’, of which he was a founding member.

May the spirit of those who suffered in the torture chambers

Of the Empire of Hell animate us with enough strength to

Free the land of our heart’s desire.

In dedication to all my comrades, the living and the dead

It was tradition that youngsters would join the army and at the age of 16 George Harrison joined the IRA, he was attending weekly meeting and running messages between local IRA units. He was trained to use a rifle in derelict buildings before being taken out to a nearby bog to fire two rounds of ammunition.

But the hopes of the Shammer unit were never fulfilled and the East Mayo Brigade never saw any real action. In the mid-30’s Harrison crossed the Irish sea where he did ‘pick and shovel’ work and at harvest time he, like many other Irish, picked potatoes on the English farms. Money was scarce at the time and while the Harrisons were reasonably well off, the few pounds sent home by George were welcomed.

George set foot on Shammer soil in 1938 before leaving his homestead for the last time to emigrate to the supposed land of opportunity. The Kilkelly man served in the US army from April 1944 to February 1946 attaining the rank of corporal and in the 1940’s he became active in numerous Irish-American organisations. He was an avid member of the James Connolly Club and it was during this time that he became friendly with Liam Cotter. The Kerry native, a seasoned member of the IRA, shared Harrison’s goal for a united Ireland disconnected from British rule.

Cotter and Harrison were close comrades, always anxious for news from the home front. Until his death, three months ago, Harrison was in contact with home at least once a week. Kathleen Knowles McGuirk, former General Secretary of Sinn Féin, received a phone call from Harrison every Sunday looking for an update on the Northern situation. He was also in contact with friends from Shammer with every conversation ending with the expression ‘Up Shammer’. Harrison never forgot his home place and when he and Cotter were approached by the IRA to supply weapons to his native country, they agreed but not without some hesitation. It was the death of Paddy McLogan, a friend of George’s that spurred the two men on. Suicide was suggested at the time but Harrison was suspicious and feared the M15 was behind his death.

It was in the 1950’s that his role in the IRA deepened and he began to supply guns to the IRA. When the troubles began in the North of Ireland he became the IRA’s main gunrunner supplying more than 3,000 weapons and one million rounds of ammunition to the IRA over three decades. Handguns, Armalites and Bazookas were all sent to Ireland but George Harrison was unrepentant to the end.

“We got everything we could lay our hands on and sent them to Ireland. It wasn’t easy, you had to rely on people coming over.”

George De Meo, an Italian neighbour of Harrison family, George had moved his parents and brother to Brooklyn in 1949, appeared to have strong mafia connections and was interested in guns, running a gun store outside the city. With De Meo connected to arms shipments for Cuban rebels, it wasn’t long before he became a crucial link in the Chain, supplying Harrison with arms for the IRA.

Despite having close encounters with the law, thousands of weapons were brought to the hands of IRA members in Ireland, all passing through George Harrison. However, the Harrison network was brought to a sudden halt in 1981 in an FBI sting operation, known as Operation Bushmill. The charge was gunrunning, the cast of characters might have come straight out of a film and the plot gimmick would have made the most experienced directors proud. It seemed like a cast- iron case against the IRA supporters but Harrison and four others were acquitted of illegal gunrunning. In defending the five, their attorneys had put the CIA on trial. The five Irish-born defendants could not be guilty of crimes against the United States Government, they claimed, because for 25 years the silent partner in their gunrunning operations had been the Government, specifically the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Thanks to evidence provided by a source connected to the CIA the five men had a simple defence and it worked.

When it was suggested during the court hearing that he had only been running guns for six months, Harrison was outraged. So much so in fact that his lawyer, shrewd, silver-tongued Mayo born Frank Durkan, told the Judge: “Your honour, the prosecutor has just charged my client with running guns for six months. My client feels somewhat insulted. Because as the Government well knows, he had aided and abetted and supplied arms to the rebels in Northern Ireland for a quarter of a century.”

Harrison and the other four IRA gunrunners were described as terrorists but to the end they argued that they were not terrorists but patriots, Irish patriots and patriotic Americans as well. They claimed that they had served the US in World War 11, Korea and Vietnam but they insisted that they would never turn their backs on the land of their birth.

The trial made for interesting viewing with a number of interesting character witnesses. 86-year-old Samuel P. O’Reilly took to the stand. The freedom fighter had been among the people in the GPO during the Easter Rising. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, who sent a message from Ireland to be read at Harrison’s memorial, described Harrison and Falvay as among “the finest people living in this country, people who would never do anything that would dishonour either the country they were born in or the country they live in”. Her sentiments had two jurors in tears as she left the stand.

The jury accepted their unsubstantiated claim that the CIA was backing them.

“Up the IRA” declared George Harrison as he raised his arm like a victorious boxer after the trial, unrepentant to the end.

It was the cause of Irish freedom that fuelled his zeal; he fought for Ireland’s Independence from Britain all his life referring to Britain only as “the British Empire from Hell”.

Speaking at George Harrison’s memorial service in Manhattan, Frank Durkan spoke of Harrison’s charitable nature outside his usual activism.

“Harrison’s passion for the cause of the underdog was exceeded only by his dedication to the relief of their suffering. He was a soft touch”.

In spite of his avowed antipathy to many of the policies of organised religion, he gave generously, whether it was his new coat to a homeless man on the streets or a committee working to restore a church in his native village. Today people across the country enjoy the fruits of his labour. The church in Kilkelly was repaired with help from Harrison. Ballintubber Abbey and the stone to the Spanish Civil War Martyr Tommy Patton on Achill Island also received funding from the Mayo man.

Times have changed since Harrison set foot on Irish soil and so has political opinion. A lot of people on the island changed their political opinions but not George Harrison. He didn’t change one whit and what’s more he was proud of it. There was a time when being an IRA gunrunner was enough to get you a medal and a postage stamp with your name on it but that Ireland that Harrison left in the 1930’s has changed dramatically. Guns have been swapped for debates and bombs for peace talks, something George Harrison and his compatriots hadn’t in mind and he made his feeling on Northern Ireland clear. He described electoral politics as a dangerous distraction and believed that physical force was a means “to drive the Brits out, lock, stock and barrel”. As far as George Harrison was concerned the peace process was a “sell-out”.

Despite your political opinion one must agree that Harrison was determined in his cause to the end. He had survived a hail of bullets fired on him in a subway and was the victim of several muggings. He threw in his lot with Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA in 2004, when RSF was put on the US State Department foreign terrorist list. He promised to increase his donations to the party and was reported to say, “If the Bush administration want to jail me, I’m ready.” Harrison’s nurse, Priscilla McLean, was in Manhattan on the day he died ensuring that he had an absentee ballot to vote for John Kerry in the election for President in November. One message from Ireland, recited at Harrison’s memorial service summed up his shrewdness. He was always one step ahead.

“For 70 years of his adult life he led them a merry dance and lived and died on his own terms.” George Harrison died in New York at the age of 89, never having returned to his family cottage in Shammer for 66 years. Some believe that he made a vow never to return to the hearth of his home place until a united Ireland had been carved out.

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