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February 22, 2005

02/23/05 - McDowell Should Resign - FF Councillor

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IT 02/23/05 McDowell Should Resign - FF Councillor
IT 02/23/05 NI Policing Board Chief Quits Firm With Link To Flynn
UI 02/22/05 Sinn Féin: Sanctions 'Out Of Order' –V(2)
SM 02/22/05 Sinn Fein Chief: Rogue Republicans Must Leave Party
IT 02/23/05 IRA Has No Part To Play, Says O Caolain
IT 02/23/05 Gardai Believe £750,000 Was Burned By Man Who Panicked
IO 02/22/05 Funding Of Parties 'May Face Tighter Controls'
IO 02/22/05 Rabbitte Rules Out Negotiations With Sinn Féin
UT 02/22/05 Arrested Men 'Posed For Pictures With SF Leaders'
BG 02/22/05 Bulgarians Say No Big Deal In Money Laundering Probe
BB 02/22/05 Process Has A Crime Caper Script
BC 02/22/05 Adams Was Never Member Of Army Council. & I’m Liv Tyler.
IO 02/22/05 Stone Questioned In PSNI Probe Into 1980s Murder Plots
IO 02/22/05 Murdered Terror Chief's Homes Auctioned
SW 02/22/05 Unity To Fight Against The Injustice Of Terror Laws
SM 02/22/05 Partying Policeman 'Chanted IRA Slogans'
BT 02/22/05 UDR Widows' Plight Ignored
IO 02/22/05 'Hangers-On' To Be Dealt With By Parades Commission
IT 02/23/05 McCabe Killers Feature In FG Campaign
IT 02/23/05 O'Dea Says Ahern And Mcdowell Agree
IT 02/23/05 Parnell Square Area To Get Facelift


McDowell Should Resign - FF Councillor

Christine Newman

A Fianna Fáil councillor yesterday said she thought the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, should resign after making accusations about leading Sinn Féin members.

Cllr Noreen Ryan of Limerick County Council claimed on RTÉ's Liveline that the Minister was vehemently opposed to Sinn Féin.

When asked if she thought the Minister should resign, she replied: "Yes, I do, because he's after making so many statements and accusing leading members of Sinn Féin of being members of the IRA without any evidence of this."

She said she did not give too much credibility to her own party in the controversy.

Cllr Ryan said she did not support any criminality but there was criminality in Fianna Fáil too.

When challenged that she sounded like a member of Sinn Féin, she said she was not, but she was a republican.

"My own party should be working towards the end of partition," she said.

Nobody could make a judgment on Sinn Féin and she did not think any party should be tainted with criminality.

Cllr Ryan said she supported the Taoiseach.

She believed he had an intelligence operation going on with regard to who was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery but what was yet to be seen was if that intelligence was accurate.

Speaking later to The Irish Times, Cllr Ryan said it would be better if the PDs removed Mr McDowell as Minister.

"Given his conduct in the last number of days, his credibility is definitely questionable," she said.

© The Irish Times


NI Policing Board Chief Quits Firm With Link To Flynn

The head of the North's Policing Board, Sir Desmond Rea, has resigned from a Belfast-based development company as an indirect result of the Garda inquiries into alleged money-laundering by the IRA, writes Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Sir Desmond quit his position as a non-executive director of Ivy Wood Properties following Garda inquiries. He insisted he knew of no wrongdoing by anyone at the company and stressed his move was "precautionary". His resignation, however, indicates just how widespread and damaging is the fallout from last week's raids.

Ivy Wood Properties, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harcourt Developments, has the development rights to the Titanic Quarter in central Belfast. Mr Phil Flynn resigned his seat on the board at Harcourt last week following the arrests and seizure of cash by gardaí in Cork and Dublin.

Sir Desmond said yesterday: "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. I have submitted my resignation from Ivy Wood Properties Ltd merely as a precautionary measure to provide yet further distance."

He said in his letter of resignation to the chairman of Harcourt Developments: "You will no doubt appreciate that, given my role as Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, I cannot afford to bring such publicity, however ill-founded, to the door of the Policing Board."

Sir Desmond said he wanted to emphasise he had no shares in either Harcourt Developments or Ivy Wood Properties Ltd and to the best of his knowledge had never met Mr Flynn.

"I know nothing to the detriment of Ivy Wood Properties Limited, Harcourt Development, or Mr Flynn, and would wish the company well in the development of the Titanic Quarter which is a site critical to the economic and social development of the city of Belfast."

The company was not available for comment last night.

In the House of Commons yesterday, the Northern Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, said he plans to extend by 12 months the suspension of Sinn Féin's £120,000 Stormont Assembly grant, which was imposed after an earlier Independent Monitoring Commission report.

The British government is expected to table a motion in parliament which would enable it to target Westminster benefits, worth about £500,000, accruing to Sinn Féin's four abstentionist MPs. Mr Murphy told MPs he has given Sinn Féin until next Tuesday to reply before the new sanction is levied.

The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, said he could envisage sitting in government with Sinn Féin, but the IRA would have to cease all its activities and visibly prove it had disposed of its weapons. Asked on Channel 4 News if anything could be done to save the Assembly, which has been suspended since October 2002, Dr Paisley said he believed devolution could be restored, subject to those conditions.

The Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Mr Caoimhghin Ó Caolain, said yesterday that Sinn Féin was "a party that rejects criminality of any kind and that no republican worthy of the name can be involved in criminality". He said that anyone in Sinn Féin involved in criminal acts "should leave our ranks immediately".

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin facing worst crisis over criminality - Michael Heney reports on the mechanics of money laundering, and its impact on the northern situation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, SF leader in the Dáil, and Fintan O'Toole, columnist with The Irish Times, discuss what steps the party can or will take now

Sinn Féin penalised for links with crime - Brian O'Connell, London Editor, reports on the Northern Secretary's announcement in the Commons

David Davin-Power, Political Correspondent, reports on Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin's statement in the Dáil this afternoon

Sinn Féin: Sanctions 'Out Of Order' –V(2)

22/02/2005 - 16:40:15

Sinn Féin is incensed by the sanctions against the party announced today by Northern Secretary Paul Murphy, claiming the Secretary of State was out of order.

Alex Maskey, one of the party’s senior representatives, said: “Paul Murphy has no right to discriminate against democratically-elected Irish politicians.”

The South Belfast MLA also challenged the Irish Government to back up claims that it was opposed to penalties.

“If they are co-equal partners with the British in the management of this process, are they prepared to block these sanctions?” he asked.

“The British government has no right to act unilaterally if this is a partnership arrangement.

“More importantly, the Irish Government has a duty to defend the rights of Irish people and their political representatives. Will they do so? Will they stand up to the British government? Either the Irish Government are co-equal partners or they are not.”


Sinn Fein Chief: Rogue Republicans Must Leave Party

By Senan Hogan, PA

Sinn Fein repeated its calls tonight for rogue members to leave the party immediately so there can be a speedy implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

But parliamentary leader Caoimhghin O Caolain refused to admit if his ultimatum was a significant shift in the party’s position in relation to its alleged links with criminality.

Speaking on RTE’s Primetime tonight, Mr O Caolain reiterated an earlier Dail statement that activists engaged in criminal activities outside the legitimate political norm “should leave the party today“.

He said of his Dail statement: “I certainly intended it to be as clear and as unambiguous as I could possible deliver.

“It is addressing many audiences but I hope that not only all of the elected opinion represented in Leinster House, but indeed republican opinion the length and breadth of the island will take note of what I have said.

“I’ve made it clear today. I’ve made it clear and clearer I believe than I’ve ever done before that we’re working towards an end to the Irish Republican Army.”

“All of the years of hard work leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and since has created great frustration for the Sinn Fein leadership, as much and perhaps more than any other opinion on this island and we want to see a conclusion to all of this reached and reached speedily.”

The Cavan/Monaghan TD was speaking amid mounting pressure facing the party to denounce criminality and sever all links with the IRA after a vast money-laundering cash racket was smashed by police last week.

The British government today extended financial sanctions against Sinn Fein’s Stormont MLAs and announced the possible withdrawal of parliamentary allowances for the party’s Westminster MPs next week.


IRA Has No Part To Play, Says O Caolain

The leader of Sinn Féin in the Dáil, Mr Caoimhghin Ó Caolain, indicated last night that he accepted that the IRA had no part to play in a democratic society and that the leadership of his party was as frustrated as any other party with the current impasse in the peace process.

Speaking on RTE's Prime Time, Mr Ó Caolain added that he would continue to work to find a political solution to the situation.

"I do believe, in a fully democratic society, that there is no place for paramilitary organisations in any shape or form. Make no mistake about it," he said.

"With all the years of hard work leading up to the Good Friday agreement, this has created great frustration for the Sinn Féin leadership, as much and perhaps more than for any other on this island. And we want to see a conclusion to all of this reached and reached speedily."

© The Irish Times

Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey speaking from London today following the decision of the British government to extend sanctions on his party said that "Paul Murphy has no right to discriminate against democratically elected Irish politicians". Mr Maskey also questioned the claims of the Irish government to be opposed to sanctions.

Mr Maskey said: "Paul Murphy does not have one vote in Ireland. He has no right to discriminate against democratically elected Irish politicians. These actions are a distortion of democracy. The people of Ireland elect us and we are accountable to them. We reject these anti-democratic actions by a British government against an Irish political party.

"We will continue to fight this discrimination politically, legally and through an ongoing campaign of democratic resistance. We will go to the nationalist and republican people in elections in May.

"The IMC upon whose report this action is based is not independent. It has no credibility. It is the tool of the securocrats whose stated aim is to prevent the further growth of Sinn Fein and the further development of the peace process. Sinn Féin predicted exactly the scenario we see being played out now when this body was first established at the behest of the UUP.

"The Irish government claim to be opposed to sanctions. What are they going to do about it? If they are co-equal partners with the British in the management of this process are they prepared to block these sanctions?

"The British government has no right to act unilaterally if this is a partnership arrangement. More importantly, the Irish government has a duty to defend the rights of Irish people and their political representatives. Will they do so? Will they stand up to the British government? Either the Irish government are co-equal partners or they are not."


Gardai Believe £750,000 Was Burned By Man Who Panicked

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent

Gardaí investigating a suspected Provisional IRA money-laundering operation believe some £750,000 was burned by a man in Co Cork who panicked when he heard gardaí were raiding houses looking for Northern Bank notes.

Officers also believe some £400,000 was brought to England to be laundered just days before gardaí raided the house of a financial adviser in Co Cork and seized a further £2.3 million hidden in a basement of the building.

According to an informed source, gardaí now believe that a 47-year-old man was given some £750,000 to mind by a republican activist in the greater Cork area just before the activist was arrested for questioning last Wednesday.

The 47-year-old man panicked when he heard gardaí were raiding houses looking for stolen Northern Bank cash and he proceeded to burn the £750,000 in his fireplace.

Gardaí, who have recovered over £600,000 in other operations since last Thursday's raid, yesterday continued with a series of searches in Cork and Kerry, as well as in Dublin and other parts of the country.

Searches at the homes of some Sinn Féin members in Cork prompted a strong rebuke from the party's elected representatives throughout the city and county who accused the Garda of "politically-motivated harrassment".

Eleven Sinn Féin councillors strongly condemned a raid by gardaí on the home of 19-year-old Cllr Roisín O'Sullivan, a Sinn Féin member of Passage Town Council.

Cllr Jonathan O'Brien said that eight Special Branch detectives raided Cllr O'Sullivan's home at 8 p.m. on Monday night and "spent an hour taking the house apart and behaving in an extremely aggressive manner".

Detectives from the CAB recovered a further £5,000 when they revisited a man in east Kerry who had handed over £10,000 at the weekend.

© The Irish Times


Funding Of Parties 'May Face Tighter Controls'

22/02/2005 - 22:12:45

The Government may consider tighter controls on the public funding of political parties after last week’s police crackdown on an IRA-linked cash laundering racket, it emerged tonight.

A Sinn Féin ex-councillor was arrested and quizzed by gardaí after nationwide raids netted sterling notes worth more than £3.5m (€5m) – possibly linked to December’s Northern Bank Robbery.

Tánaiste Mary Harney agreed in the Dáil today that the use of taxpayers’ money in funding political parties would now have to be scrutinised.

“I think there are many issues around the funding of political parties that we do need to examine, hopefully on an all-party context,” she said.

“I would not like to see a situation where some people could launder money overseas and then take it back as part of their fundraising efforts into this jurisdiction.”

The issue was raised by Labour leader Pat Rabbitte who referred to “most extraordinary events” in recent days, including “apparent international money laundering, the murder of Robert McCartney, the attempted purchase of a bank in Bulgaria and so many other things“.

“Is it not important that this house would seek to best protect our democracy,” he asked.

“All democratic parties who want to accept public money, the most basic prerequisite ought to be fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

“If a party is not prepared to put into its constitution a requirement that it subscribes to the institutions of the State, that party would be excluding itself as a qualifying party eligible for public money to carry on politcal affairs.”

Ms Harney agreed recent subversive-linked events were very grave and serious and fundamentally changed many things.

She congratulated the massive Garda operation and said officers had “done a fantastic job in defence of democracy“.

She added: “It isn’t compatible with democracy that some parties had access to huge amounts of money – the proceeds of crime – in order to fund a political campaign. It is neither desirable nor fair.

“The vast bulk of the people in this country would only want their money to go to parties that subscribed to the basic fundamentals of democracy and all that’s entailed.

Mr Rabbitte said his party had drafted a bill on the issue which could be discussed before the Dáil.

“It seems to me that in the light of recent events, taxpayers would be horrified to find that their money is being intermingled with money from such nefarious causes as we have seen,” he added.


Rabbitte Rules Out Negotiations With Sinn Féin

21/02/2005 - 10:02:15

There is no prospect of Sinn Féin being involved in the business end of politics after the exposure of a huge money-laundering racket being linked to the IRA, it was claimed today.

In the wake of police raids, arrests and cash seizures to crack the massive fraud scam, Labour Party leader Rabbitte said the Sinn Féin leadership had been given a wake up call to sever their ties with the IRA.

“No, there is no immediate prospect (of doing business with Sinn Féin) that I can see,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte said the scale of the money-laundering operation should force Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to distance themselves from the IRA once and for all.

“If that doesn’t bring members of Sinn Féin to their senses and realise the nature of the organisation that they are members of then nothing will,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte said the only option for the republican movement was to stand down the IRA and discharge their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

He said republicans would be left facing a public test of their bona fides and commitment to democracy.

“They can do that by a unilateral act of decommissioning, advising the PSNI of who are the murderers of Robert McCartney,” he said.

As Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and Northern Ireland SecretaryPaul Murphy meet today to discuss the cross-border battle to smash a massive IRA money-laundering racket, it emerged almost £500,000 (€726,000) was seized in weekend raids.

Gardaí recovered £437,000 (€634,000) yesterday and £250,000 (€363,000) was found when officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau officers visited a man in his 20s in the Tullamore area of Co Offaly.

A middle-aged man in Dublin handed over a further £67,000 (€97,000).

CAB also seized £120,000 (€174,300) from two businessmen in Munster – almost £100,000 (€145,000) when they visited a businessman in the Millstreet area of north Cork, and a further £20,000 (€29,000) in a follow-up inquiry with a businessman near Rathmore in east Kerry.

They money will be sent for forensic and other technical examinations.

Yesterday’s operations in Munster followed an investigation into the activities of financial adviser Ted Cunningham from Farren in mid-Cork, and the discovery of some £2.3m (€3.3m) in the basement of his home last Thursday.

Forensic tests are expected in the coming days to prove the origins of the bank notes.


Arrested Men 'Posed For Pictures With Sinn Fein Leaders'

Two men arrested in a raid on a suspected Continuity IRA training camp had posed for pictures with leading members of Sinn Fein, a court heard today.

By:Press Association

Thomas Barry, 21, from Larchville, Lisduggan, Co Waterford, and Brian Galvin, 38, from Ardmore Park, Ballybeg, Co Waterford, were among a group of nine men who were discovered with rifles and shotguns in an isolated, forested area in the Comeragh Mountain in Co Waterford on August 3, 2003.

At the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, Superintendent Liam King said follow-up searches of Barry`s house had uncovered a photograph of him posing with Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.

A search of Galvin`s house revealed a photo of him posing with Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris.

Gardai carried out the raid after a long-running surveillance operation.

They found a makeshift firing range with rifles mounted on tripods, which were located around 100 metres from paper targets. Three men were mounting guard outside the range, while one of the accused barked out orders to "load, aim and fire" to four men on the firing range.

Three of the nine men claimed in police interviews that they had been hunting deer and one added that they were wearing balaclavas so that the deer would not spot them.

All nine men have pleaded guilty to possessing weapons in suspicious circumstances.

Judge Richard Johnson, presiding, adjourned the sentencing hearing until Thursday.

The men awaiting sentence are: Patrick Deery, 53, of Woodhouse, Stradbally, Co Waterford, Joseph Mooney, 37, of Ozzier Court, Co Waterford, John O` Halloran, 34, of Ross Avenue, Mulgrave St, Limerick, Mark McMahon, 37, of Commodore Barry Park, Wexford, Patrick J. Kelly, 38, of Belvedere Grove, Wexford, Dean Coleman, 23, of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, Michael Leahy, 23, of McCarthyville, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Thomas Barry, 21, of Larchville, Lisduggan, Co Waterford and Brian Galvin, 38, of Ardmore Park, Ballybeg, Co Waterford.

Deery and Galvin have been in custody since August 2003, while Barry, 0`Halloran and Coleman have been in custody since their last court appearance on January 31. The remaining men are out on bail.

The court heard that on the day of their arrests, the men were in possession of two lawfully held rifles with telescopic sights, one lawfully held shotgun and one unlawful sawn off shotgun which had been stolen in a burglary in 1999.

Senior counsel Patrick McCarthy, representing the DPP, said the men had offered no substantial resistance to Gardai when they were being arrested.

He added: "The purpose of the individuals being present was to conduct a training camp, or training activities, with firearms."

Superintendent King said the men on the firing range were being instructed by Patrick Deery, a former shepherd from Derry.

Garda searches of the nine men`s homes revealed a variety of items, including balaclavas, berets, a tin whistle with `IRA` on it, disposable suits, green army jumpers and tickets for the Republican Sinn Fein lotto.

Lawyers for the men said the `unsophisticated operation` involving rifles and shotguns was in contrast with the sub machine gun and, assault rifle seized at a training camp organised by the Real IRA in an underground bunker in Stamullen, County Meath in 1999.

They told Judge Johnson that their clients, by pleading guilty, had saved the state the expense of a trial involving up to 170 witnesses and had freed up Garda resources.

Senior counsel Brendan Nix said his client, Thomas Barry, had already spent five months in custody.

"What has he learnt? The first thing he`s learned is that he doesn`t like it," he said.


Bulgarian Officials Say No Big Deal In Irish Money Laundering Probe

SOFIA (bnn)- Irish businessmen probed at home on suspicions of trying to launder suspected IRA cash in Bulgaria have met a deputy minister of finance in the Balkan country last January, an administration source speaking on condition of anonymity said Tues

The source would not name the deputy minister and the exact day of the meeting, which reportedly focused on the general business environment in Bulgaria.

"It has been quite a routine and innocuous meeting," the source told the Bulgarian News Network (BNN). "The two gentlemen came with very solid credentials and it was only natural to be received at a due level."

Phil Flynn, a former aide of Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and businessman Ted Cunningham are investigated at home on suspicion of trying to launder an unspecified amount of suspected IRA cash in real estate deals and a bank acquisition in Bulgaria.

Irish police have seized GBP2.3 million (EUR3.6 million/US$5 million) in brand new notes in a country house Cunningham owns near the city of Cork. Investigators suspect the money could be part of GBP26.5-million (EUR39 million/ US$53 million) booty snatched from a Belfast bank last December in a robbery attributed to IRA.

Flynn, a former chairman of Bank of Scotland in Ireland, has confirmed in an interview for the Irish Examiner Daily he met "a very senior banker ... and a very senior Department of Finance official" in Bulgaria, but asserted this had nothing to do with money laundering or buying a bank for IRA.

"We have intercepted neither any large-scale financial operation to launder money through the financial system of the country nor an attempt to buy a bank," Bulgaria's Financial Investigation Agency Director Vasil Kirov told the BNN in an interview.

"No one can come to buy a bank here and remain unnoticed," he said. "What press reports say about this sounds like the thousand and one tales of Sheherezad."

Kirov however added that following a telephone conversation with colleagues in Ireland Tuesday, his agency was looking into a minor transaction Flynn and Cunningham made in Bulgaria.

"The sum is wee," he said. "It could have done to buy office equipment, but by no means _ to purchase a bank."

Kirov declining to disclose the amount and where it was transferred, citing secrecy of investigation.

He said that Bulgaria, which is expected to join the European Union in 2007, has already built a system to monitor cash flows under EU standards and was working closely with counterpart services in all member states of the bloc.



Process Has A Crime Caper Script

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Hollywood is already said to have taken an option on one author's research into the Northern Bank robbery. But the film moguls must be getting mighty confused.

Did they expect a taut thriller or an Ealing comedy? Have they paid for the next Ocean's Eleven, The Usual Suspects or the Lavender Hill Mob?

Certainly the pre-Christmas robbery fitted the plot of the conventional "heist" movie.

But the latest developments - cash said to be stuffed in Daz washing powder boxes and dustbins, notes fluttering out of chimneys - look more like a Carry On caper.

Then what to make of the £50,000 stashed in a toilet at the police sports club in south Belfast, now rather grandly known as Newforge Country Club?

Some republicans may argue this is "prima facia" evidence that rogue police officers carried out the robbery.

But how dumb would they have to be to hide the most traceable loot in such an obviously embarrassing place?

The police view is that the £50,000 was an obvious distraction which proves that whoever stole the £26.5m were no ordinary robbers, but people interested in making a relatively crude propaganda point.

Presuming he hasn't been spending all his time plotting the next move of his "securocrat" bank robbing gang, Paul Murphy will now be concentrating on his statement to the Commons, pencilled in for Tuesday, on sanctions against Sinn Fein.

The secretary of state will find it hard to follow the big build up provided for him by both the police and the bank robbers.

He is expected to roll over the £120,000 fine levied on Sinn Fein last April and to signal a willingness to let the Commons vote on whether to cut the £400,000 in allowances paid to the party's four abstentionist MPs.

Sources also suggest he may reduce the salaries paid to the 24 Sinn Fein assembly members.

The International Monitoring Commission has already described such financial penalties as "paltry" but the government appears to have decided that doing nothing is not an option.

Some would like the IMC's reach extended by law so they can make recommendations about matters like the Westminster and local council allowances which are beyond their current remit.

There is no indication, however, as to whether the government agrees.

Once the sanctions are announced, it is on with the election, which promises to be particularly interesting so far as the battle for nationalism is concerned.

Sinn Fein will argue that it's not them but their voters who are being punished. They will ask nationalists whether they want the securocrats telling them who their elected representatives should be.

The SDLP will point to whatever continuing revelations the Garda and PSNI investigations into alleged money laundering provide.

Even more potently, they will cite Belfast man Robert McCartney's killing in January as evidence that republicans do not deserve the voters' trust.

However, anyone who thinks Sinn Fein will fall apart under the recent pressure is kidding themselves. For the SDLP, saving two out of their existing three seats would be a cause for celebration.

And the other side of the election? Well no-one knows. Could some shadowy figures be loosening the tiles in the assembly building toilets or stashing a wad of cash under the Speaker's seat?

Those Hollywood moguls better take an option out now on my next blockbuster: Stormont - the Sequel.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/21 14:08:19 GMT


Gerry Adams Was Never A Member Of The IRA Army Council. And I’m Liv Tyler.

Posted by Queenie on February 22, 2005 08:06 AM

A Secret History of the IRA
Ed Moloney
Book from W. W. Norton & Company
Release date: November, 2003

Liv Tyler is tall and slim with long dark hair. So am I. Liv Tyler cannot tell left from right, and finds driving intermittently challenging. So do I. Liv Tyler knows a lot about hobbits. So do I. Liv Tyler sleeps with rock stars (well one in particular). So do I, when I get the opportunity (although I don’t narrow my options so much, not having bagged one yet).

However, I’m not Liv Tyler. I know this, because I do not have incredibly beautiful eyes and translucent skin, nor do I have a lifestyle that involves getting paid to go and live in New Zealand, or free dresses to wear to the Oscars.

I’m quite upset about all the kerfuffle around the IRA, their lying and thieving and hoodwinking of just about everyone over the last few years. I’m more than a little miffed at the thought that all the overtime put in during the nineties, by citizens of three countries, including the United States, the peace process might be about to be flushed down the toilet. I am annoyed that, having grown up in a country where it was possible to watch people being murdered live on television, my views are not considered important. I am particularly upset that seventy people saw Robert McCartney have his throat ripped open in a Belfast bar last week but they’re saying nothing because they’re too scared (I don’t believe that for a second, pack of fence sitters).

But mostly I am upset, because Martin McGuinness, who I know to be a very clever man, seems to be under the illusion that he is not currently a member of the IRA Army Council. I was having breakfast on Sunday morning when I heard him quite clearly say that he was not, on live radio. And then he said that Gerry Adams never was, and I nearly choked on my toast.

I’m like everyone else riding the Celtic Tiger. I would like the peace process, and its dreary steeples, and its brown suited men, and its suave apologists, and its oppressive righteousness to go away. But it never does. And now I have to think about it again.

I thought about it yesterday morning when I saw a photo of Gerry Adams addressing a gathering of his supporters at a memorial for three IRA operatives who were assassinated by British troops (I’m being diplomatic in the use of my language here, knowing that some people felt the Troubles was a war). These people were wearing green military clothes and berets. Like the National Guard, or the Territorials. Only cooler of course, because Gerry Adams, architect of the peace process was there.

Now I’m prepared to consider the possibility that my government is lying to me, that’s what governments do after all (isn’t it?), but I think that if I went to a memorial to commemorate my dead comrades, I would expect their leader to address the gathering.

I also think that traditionally, Irish revolutionary movements that did not have a joint military/ political leadership usually ended up having a split when the political route was chosen. And that never happened in 1997. Not really.

But mostly, I wonder why these mysterious men (or maybe women) who make up the IRA Army Council have never made themselves known. They must be very unassuming. They fought the British army to a standstill, after all. They must be very proud of what they did. They must have wanted to walk triumphantly into the Houses of Parliament. To beard the hated enemy in his den. To use his phones and photocopiers and expense accounts to build a brave new world. I wouldn’t have been able to resist. I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself enough to let some unblooded mouthpiece take my place in the next stage in the process. No sirree, I wouldn’t.

But maybe I have it all wrong. I’m not Liv Tyler after all, despite the superficial similarity, and the driving dyslexia, and the penchant for rock stars, and the diploma in hobbit lore.

Just because Gerry Adams calls himself the leader of the republican family, and addresses military gatherings, and calls all the political shots north and south of the border, and speaks authoritatively on all aspects of the peace process, and struts around like he owns my goddamn country, doesn’t mean he’s a member of the IRA Army Council.

Up until now, I was prepared to let it slide. I thought that Army Council members didn’t name themselves to prevent their enemies using it against them politically. After all, it’s a dirty game. But whatever about stealing money from a bank, or smuggling petrol across the Border, or running parts of Belfast like a personal fiefdom, ripping some bloke’s throat out in a pub because he dissed your capo is not on. So I’m not going to let it slide anymore. And neither is anyone else.

And so the appalling vista reopens itself, just in time for the next round of elections. Legions of martyrs and not a hero in sight!


Stone Questioned In PSNI Probe Into 1980s Murder Plots

21/02/2005 - 19:05:38

Milltown Cemetery killer Michael Stone has been questioned about plots to murder prominent political figures during the 1980s, it emerged today.

Stone, who was jailed for murdering three mourners at an IRA funeral in 1988, was released without charge after being quizzed by detectives.

A police spokeswoman confirmed: “A man was arrested by police yesterday and released without charge.

“He was questioned about serious crime in Belfast and was released from police custody shortly after 9pm.”

Stone was questioned for eight hours at Antrim Police Station about plans to kill high profile targets, while he was operating as a freelance loyalist terrorist in the mid 1980s.

He claims he had admitted the murder conspiracies 17 years ago after being arrested for the Milltown Cemetery murders in March 1988.

It is believed his admission to police at that time involved plots to kill 11 people, including former then Taoiseach Charles Haughey, the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and former RUC Chief Constable John Hermon.

At the time he was only charged with three, including conspiring to kill Sinn Féin‘s Martin McGuinness and former Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Owen Carron.

Stone was convicted of murdering Coimhghin MacBradaign, John Murray and Thomas McErlean at the funerals of three IRA members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar.

Another 60 people were injured as Stone stormed through Milltown Cemetery in the Falls Road area, firing shots and hurling hand grenades.

He was released early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, declaring “my war is over”.

In August 2000, he caused uproar when he shared a platform alongside convicted UFF commander Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair.

He has been pursuing a new career as an artist but hit the headlines two years ago when he wrote a book about his terrorist past.

Families of his victims bitterly complained Stone was profiting from the deaths of their loved ones.


Murdered Terror Chief's Homes Auctioned
2005-02-22 23:10:03+00

Four houses belonging to a murdered loyalist terror boss were auctioned off for more than £250,000 (€360,300) tonight.

Drugs baron Jim Johnston's properties in Bangor, Co Down, went under the hammer as part of a major operation by the UK wide Assets Recovery Agency.

The money spinning semi-detached homes, all rented out by Johnston, were sold for a total of £267,000 (€384,700), sources disclosed.

With the assassinated Red Hand Commando chief's luxury home in Crawfordsburn, Co Down, fetching £410,000 (€590,700) last year, and under undisclosed sales, the crime-fighting team is closing in on the total £1.25m (€1.8m) his estate was valued at.

But a fruit and vegetable shop with upstairs drinking club in east Belfast was held over after punters refused to meet the expected price.

Johnston, 45, was shot dead outside his house in May 2003 as part of a bitter feud with rival loyalist paramilitaries.

The agency was granted a High Court order to seize his cash and property last September in the first civil recovery to exceed £1m (€1.4m).

Alan McQuillan, a former Northern Ireland police chief and head of ARA's team in the North, was at tonight's sell-off at auction rooms just outside north Belfast.

One source said: "Alan was absolutely delighted with the prices and believes they were pretty much on the mark with his values."


Unity To Fight Against The Injustice Of Terror Laws

Civil rights activists campaigning against New Labour’s latest round of “anti-terrorism” legislation joined forces with the families of those who have died in police custody last weekend at a meeting in Tooting, south London.

Ian Macdonald QC, a barrister who recently resigned from the Special Immigration Appeal Court in protest at the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, attacked what he called the “culture of impunity” in the police and government.

“This culture of impunity extends from deaths in custody to a wider stage,” he said. “It’s exactly what we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, where all the Geneva Conventions have effectively been torn up.”

Home secretary Charles Clarke is currently trying to rush a new set of anti-terror laws though parliament that will lead to people being kept under indefinite house arrest on the mere say-so of a politician.

The meeting, organised by Stop Political Terror, also saw extracts from a video reconstruction of the arrest of Babar Ahmad in December 2003. Babar, who is currently being held in Woodhill prison, received 50 injuries while in police custody. He was arrested again last year and next week faces an extradition hearing to the US on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Under a new extradition act that came into force this year, people can be extradited to the US on terrorism charges simply on the request of US authorities. They are not allowed to challenge or examine the US’s evidence in such cases.

Several campaigners from the United Friends and Family Campaign, which represents the families of people killed in police custody, also spoke out at the meeting.

They drew parallels between the experience of the African-Caribbean community and the treatment currently being meted out to Asians under the pretext of the “war on terror”.

Brenda Weinberg, sister of Brian Douglas who died in 1995 after a blow to the head from a long handled police baton, told the meeting of her ten year struggle for justice for her brother.

Many speakers stressed the need for black, Asian and white campaigners against police injustice to unite their struggles.

The meeting also heard a statement from Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four. “I have watched with increasing horror reports of arrests and accusations about the Muslim community in this country which are identical to what happened to Irish men and women,” he said.

“I am astonished that no lessons have been learned. I don’t want to see a young Muslim man coming out of prison in 15 years time after his wrongful conviction is finally quashed.”

Gerry and three others were arrested in 1974 and wrongfully convicted for an IRA pub bombing. The Guildford Four were eventually released 15 years later. The government finally apologised to them earlier this month.

Protest in support of Babar Ahmad on Wednesday, 2 March, 10am, outside Bow Street magistrates court, central London. For more information on the case and protest go to


Partying Policeman 'Chanted IRA Slogans'

By Alan Erwin, PA

A police officer is under investigation for allegedly chanting IRA slogans on a staff night out, it was revealed today.

He horrified colleagues with a pro-republican outburst at a south Belfast hotel, sources claimed.

A detective from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Internal Investigation Branch was appointed after complaints were lodged.

It is understood the officer at the centre of the probe is from Londonderry and joined within the last two years.

He was among the first to be drafted in under plans to transform the overwhelmingly Protestant force.

But his career is in the balance as the internal probe is carried out.

“If this is found to be true then he will have to be sacked,” a source close to the inquiry said.

“You can’t have police officers associated with the IRA.”

The allegations were made after staff from one of the PSNI’s Belfast stations held their annual Christmas party.

Off-duty officers had been drinking heavily when the remarks were allegedly made.

It is believed Chief Constable Hugh Orde has been alerted to the case.

Police chiefs have also transferred the officer to another station in the city in a bid to defuse tensions.

The PSNI refused to disclose any details on the inquiry.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s not our policy to discuss individuals or internal procedures.”


UDR Widows' Plight Ignored

In the course of the Troubles, over 200 UDR/RIR soldiers were murdered. A further 60 were killed after they had left the regiment. Yet the families of these men and women received very little assistance of any kind. JIM McFALL was only 15 years old when his UDR father, Corporal James McFall (38) was murdered at his West Belfast home. In this poignant article, he recalls his own family's suffering and asks why the plight of UDR widows and their families has still not been officially recognised.

22 February 2005

My father was murdered on July 27, 1977, at our home in Belfast. His day job was as a postman and he started work early. Sometimes when he was on duty with the UDR, he would end up going without sleep. He always called home after picking up his deliveries for a cup of tea.

It was about 8.00 am. My mother, older sister and myself were still in bed. My other three sisters were away on a cross-community holiday to Dublin. My father was in our living room having his cup of tea when two men walked up the path and rapped the door.

He was suspicious and got his gun out but what was he to do? His family were up the stairs and could come down at any time. The stairs faced the front door so any one coming down would be in danger. Our living room was long, running from the front to the back of the house. He could easily escape out the back windows - but what about his family?

He had no choice; he had to go out to the hall. They shot him through the glass panel in the door. He had no chance. My father died in my arms that morning - I was 15 years old.

After the murder, I didn't go out much. On my first day back at school people seemed to be talking about me, behaving differently towards me - I didn't go back.

I'm not aware of anyone from the school calling or writing to see why I wasn't there. I sat no examinations and received no qualifications.

A few weeks after the murder, I was walking home from the shop when three men walked out in front of me. They all had hats on, and their jackets were buttoned right up. One of them said; "You're the boy whose dad was killed a few weeks ago." I nodded my head. "Want a chance to get even?" he said.

These were loyalist paramilitaries trying to recruit me. I remembered what my dad once told me: "Your own are worse." And how right he was. I said no, and walked on.

It was a frightening experience and I decided not to tell my mum and sisters, as they were going through enough as it was.

There didn't seem to be anyone there to help us deal with the trauma of what had happened - we just had to cope in our own way.

It was extremely hard financially too. I remember my mum needed to buy us new uniforms for school but she could not afford them.

A friend of my dad, who was also in the UDR told her the UDR had money set aside to help widows in this situation so she went along and spoke to a captain in the UDR. He refused her request for help and she felt humiliated. She never approached the UDR again.

My mother had to go out to work and the only job she was qualified to do was home help. She had to wash and clean old people's floors and windows in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. No one from Army welfare came to see how we were coping financially or emotionally.

The Government, the Northern Ireland Office and the Army all failed the families. They failed to do all that could have been done to protect the UDR and their families.

For example, some UDR soldiers, worried about security, had requested that bullet-proof glass be installed in their homes. As this was already happening in RUC homes, surely this would be no problem. But it was denied on the grounds of cost. The authorities issued door chains as there was not much cost involved there. But obviously this was of no help if you happened to be a relation of a UDR soldier who had died after being shot through the glass panel of the door.

When the worst did happen, they had nothing in place to provide a decent standard of living for the families left behind.

There should also have been some professional help on hand to help families to deal emotionally with what had happened. In our case, they phoned the family doctor who prescribed Valium.

When they finally did recognise the RUC widows, they failed the UDR widows again. They failed to recognise that the UDR widows, especially the pre-1982 widows, were also badly treated in regard to pensions and compensation.

The following quote is taken from the Steele Report which investigated the setting up of a fund to help the RUC widows and families.

"The fund would therefore be an acknowledgement of the special obligation owed by the state to the families of police officers murdered and officers injured as a direct result of terrorism"

Surely the UDR families deserve that same special obligation?


'Hangers-On' To Be Dealt With By Parades Commission

22/02/2005 - 13:01:52

The British government has announced legal changes to give the North's Parades Commission jurisdiction over "hangers-on" at Orange Order marches.

The new laws will allow the commission to make orders governing the activities of parade supporters.

Their introduction follows a High Court ruling last summer that the commission had jurisdiction over Orangemen themselves and bands taking part in their marches, but not the hundreds of "hangers-on" who accompany them.

The new laws, which are due to be in force by this summer's marching season, are likely to anger unionists, who had been calling for the Parades Commission's powers to be curbed.


McCabe Killers Feature In FG Campaign

Liam Reid in Naas

Fine Gael has attempted to make the possible release of Det Garda Jerry McCabe's killers a by-election issue by challenging Government candidates to promise to oppose the early release of his killers.

The Fine Gael candidate for North Kildare, Mr Darren Scully, also accused the Government of adopting a soft approach towards criminality in the Provisional movement.

Speaking at a rally for supporters in Naas last night, Mr Scully said: "Over the past 10 years we have allowed the mafia culture, which is so central to the republican movement, to become legitimate".

Congratulating the Garda for the recent arrests and investigation into money-laundering by republicans, Mr Scully said the Government would have to "face down" Sinn Féin and the IRA.

He said that the credibility of the State as a sovereign republic had "gone beyond breaking point because of our weakness in standing up to the Provisional movement.

"The time has gone when official Ireland will look the other way and say nothing; because of a fear of upsetting the peace process.

"Clearly some people think that they are above the law and that money-laundering, racketeering and punishment beatings will be ignored".

He said that the Garda must be allowed to do their job "unfettered by politicians".

Mr Scully criticised the Government for being willing to agree to the early release of the McCabe killers as part of a Northern peace settlement last year.

He told the rally, which was also attended by the Fine Gael leader, Mr Enda Kenny, that the willingness of the Government to release the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe was "an affront to decency and democracy in this country".

Pointing to the fact that he was married to a Garda sergeant, Mr Scully said that, if elected, he would vote against any proposal before the Dáil relating to the killers' early release.

"I further call on all other candidates going before the electorate of North Kildare to solemnly promise that if they are elected . . . they, too, will oppose in the Dáil any attempt to secure or authorise the early release of the lawfully convicted Sinn Féin-IRA killers of Det Garda McCabe at any future date, regardless of the circumstances," Mr Scully said.

© The Irish Times


O'Dea Says Ahern And Mcdowell Agree

Barry Roche

The Minister for Defence, Mr O'Dea, said he didn't believe there was any "dichotomy" between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, with Mr McDowell saying that Mr Gerry Adams was on the IRA army council and Mr Ahern saying that he didn't know if he was.

"You'd have a dichotomy if somebody says they were members and somebody else said they weren't - Michael McDowell said they were members of the army council and the Taoiseach says he doesn't know.

"Michael McDowell knows things the Taoiseach doesn't know because he's in the Department of Justice," said Mr O'Dea, adding that what was important to him was that Sinn Féin and the IRA were inextricably linked, and the IRA had to wind up to progress the peace process.

Mr O'Dea was speaking during a visit to Collins Barracks in Cork, where he opened a military museum and a mess for privates.

He said he believed Mr McDowell had made his comments on foot of Garda intelligence, but said he himself had not received any briefings from military intelligence in the past week that would confirm what Mr McDowell had said.

He accepted the Northern Bank raid was carried out by the Provisional IRA, and he believed at least part of the money which was being laundered in Cork represented some of the proceeds.

"All the indications are that the money attempted to be laundered down here in Cork and elsewhere in the country, part of that represents some of the [bank raid] proceeds," he said.

"Obviously, if people were laundering the proceeds of that robbery it would be the same people that robbed the money that would be involved in the laundering or somebody on their behalf".

© The Irish Times


Parnell Square Area To Get Facelift

Joe Humphreys

Plans to turn Parnell Square into "the jewel of the northside of Dublin" have been unveiled by Dublin City Council.

With the rejuvenation of O'Connell Street nearing completion, the local authority has turned its attention to a square which is "undervalued, underused and under-performing", according to the Framework Plan for Parnell Square published yesterday.

Upgrading of footpaths, lighting, trees and bus lay-bys are to be completed over the next 18 months, with the creation of a National Museum of Literature and the opening of a new northern entrance to the Garden of Remembrance planned for later years.

In the longer term, it is proposed that Coláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square North will be converted into a luxury hotel, and the Rotunda Hospital gardens will be re-landscaped, and opened to the public. Some €200 million in public and private investment will be needed to deliver the plan over three phases.

The first phase, due to be completed by the end of 2006, will cost an estimated €24.6 million. This includes a €12 million extension to the Hugh Lane Gallery, already under way, and the creation of an urban pergola and sculpture promenade on Parnell Square East.

Significant improvements are also planned for Parnell Street - "an uninviting place for pedestrians", which "at night times is perceived as dangerous" - and Parnell Square West, "the most run down and unattractive side of the square, characterised by heavy traffic, double-parked buses, chaotic end-on car parking; shabby buildings and even a large empty site that has been derelict for some time." To facilitate the upgrading, the number of parking spaces on the square will be reduced from 114 to 70.

The second phase, due to be completed by 2016 and costing an estimated €52.5 million, includes the conversion of the Ambassador theatre into a "cabaret-type theatre with restaurant café and bars"; the opening of a new City Children's Garden and crèche on the northwest corner of the square; and the redesigning of the Garden of Remembrance to allow for improved accessibility.

The third, and most ambitious, phase entails the building of an underground car-park to allow the Rotunda Gardens to return to their former glory.

A new north-south throughway is planned between the hospital, its gardens and the Garden of Remembrance, but with "controlled public access, on the model of the squares in Trinity College". Hospital management has backed the plan, along with local businesses. Mr Michael Colgan, director of the Gate Theatre, said the square was "once an epicentre of cultural life in Dublin" thanks to the patronage of Rotunda Hospital founder Dr Bartholomew Mosse. "Nearly 250 years later, we now have an opportunity for Parnell Square to be restored to its former purpose and glory."

The city manager, Mr John Fitzgerald, said the plan was ambitious but "achievable". While it would require a new injection of public funds, he said, "we are not sitting around waiting for approval. We are getting on with the bits we can do now."

© The Irish Times

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Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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