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February 26, 2005

02/26/05 - £30m May Go To 'Cold Case Probe'

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BB 02/26/05 £30m May Go To 'Cold Case Probe'
BB 02/26/05 Man Held Over 'IRA Bar Killing' –A(3)
RT 02/26/05 IRA Statement 'Unusual', Says Ahern
SM 02/26/05 Belfast Pub Killing - Questions And Answers
BT 02/26/05 Provo Move 'Cynical Face-Saving Exercise'
BT 02/26/05 Murder Inquest Due As Adair Visit Fuels Fears
RT 02/26/05 Good News For Govt In New Opinion Poll
BT 02/26/05 Opin: Lindy McDowell: Making Sense
BT 02/26/05 Opin: Thought: Rector t Thomas' Parish, Belfast
BT 02/26/05 Opin: Pearse's Surrender A Blueprint For Present Needs
BT 02/26/05 Orange Order History Books Ulster Future


£30m May Go To 'Cold Case Probe'

Chief Constable Hugh Orde may get as much as £30m to investigate unsolved murders from the Troubles, an SDLP assembly member has said.

Patricia Lewsley said the government is close to agreeing this sum.

She also claimed the government is considering setting up a panel to look into whether there should be a truth and reconciliation commission.

Mrs Lewsley said if this is confirmed "it will represent some progress but is still short of what is needed".

"The SDLP will continue to press in coming days for further movement including the quick creation of a Victims' Forum and the establishment now of a truth recovery process," she said.


If the figure of £30m to investigate so-called cold cases is confirmed it would be much more than anticipated would be pledged by the government.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced in September that the role of the Serious Crime Review team investigating unsolved murders would be expanded.

Last October, Mr Orde told the Policing Board that retired detectives may be brought in to review about 1,800 unsolved cases once the financial backing is in place.

"It would involve seconding a small number of officers from other police services, if I can get them," he said.

Mr Orde said "a substantial degree of independence" was important, "otherwise, we will not have credibility".

New forensic techniques would be made available in the hope of achieving breakthroughs in the cases.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/26 09:26:28 GMT


Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams on the IRA expulsion of three of its members over the death of Robert McCartney.

The IRA says it has expelled three of its members over the death of Robert McCartney.

The IRA says it has expelled three members over the death of Robert McCartney. We get reaction from SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell.

Man Held Over 'IRA Bar Killing' –A(3)

A man has been arrested in Belfast in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney, police have said.

It is understood he handed himself in at Musgrave Street police station in the city centre and was accompanied by his solicitor.

It follows the expulsion of three IRA members over suspected involvement in the killing following a row in a bar last month.

The family have welcomed the IRA's move saying it was encouraging.

The 33-year-old father of two died in hospital after being stabbed.

'Give evidence'

His family said all of those involved in the killing, which they have blamed on IRA members, and subsequent "cover-up" should allow themselves to be charged.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams also said that if he had witnessed the murder he would give evidence in court.

Mr Adams said "any self respecting republican" had a responsibility to come forward if they witnessed the fatal assault.

"Had I found myself in Magennis's Bar and was caught up in these dreadful events, I would now be making myself available to the court as the McCartney family have asked," Mr Adams told the BBC's Today programme on Saturday.

"I say that mindful of all the difficulties that we have had trying to straighten out and get a proper judicial system and so on, but I think that this is such a serious situation."

The IRA said one of those expelled made a statement to a solicitor and called on the others to take responsibility.

Two of the men dismissed were described by the IRA as "high ranking volunteers".

The expulsions came after what the IRA called "an investigation" into last month's killing.

'Pretend purge'

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr said: "No one should be fooled by this diversionary tactic of a pretend purge of the IRA ranks.

"The statement only highlights the confusion that exists within the IRA who last week told us they were not involved in criminality and tonight pretend they have purged those who are criminals."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said that, whilst he welcomes the IRA shift in position, he does not believe it will lead to justice being done in court.

"It was only through the challenge of the McCartney family that Sinn Fein has had to take a different track that comes a bit closer to the truth but doesn't come the whole way to justice," he said.

Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said unless the expulsions were accompanied "by the names of the individuals involved in a way that will lead to police prosecution", the statement would be viewed as little other than "a cynical face-saving exercise".

The IRA statement came 24 hours after Mr Adams met the McCartney family.

The family had accused republicans of pressuring witnesses not to talk, although they welcomed an earlier IRA statement urging his killers to come forward.

Mr Adams described the meeting as "constructive". "There is an onus on us to do everything we can to bring closure to this family," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/26 14:17:06 GMT


IRA Statement 'Unusual', Says Ahern

26 February 2005 14:44

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has responded to last night's IRA statement on the Robert McCartney murder by saying it was unusual for the IRA to suspend people in a public fashion.

The IRA said it had expelled three people from its ranks following an investigation into Mr McCartney's death.

Mr Ahern said the expulsions are a recognition of what the McCartney family had been saying, and recognition of support for the family.

Speaking while canvassing in Celbridge in Co Kildare, Mr Ahern said the real question now is would people be convicted of the murder. He said the only way this could happen would be for anyone with information to co-operate with the PSNI.

He said anyone with evidence, including IRA evidence, would have to co-operate so that prosecutions and convictions would follow.

Mr Ahern said if there was no intimidation of witnesses then people would come forward. He said people had information on what was a very public murder.

The Taoiseach said the community was outraged at the killing and that what we were now seeing was a reaction to pressure.

End of IRA activities important: McDowell

The Minister for Justice said the IRA statement underlines the whole issue of the importance of ending the activities of the IRA in their entirety.

Michael McDowell added that this was not a question that can be resolved by small gestures like expulsion of IRA members.

He also said that he did not believe the public should be beguiled into thinking that the IRA becomes in any way improved or tolerable as a result of some of its members being put out.

The minister said the entire organisation is 'intolerable, unlawful and is aimed at subverting democracy in Ireland'.

Asked whether he had anticipated last night's statement, he said he always anticipates 'slick propaganda moves by the republican movement in the face of strong, adverse criticism'.

Kenny cites sisters' courage

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said the IRA statement was a testament to the courage and bravery of the McCartney sisters. He said it was also an admission by the IRA that its members were involved in this murder.

Mr Kenny said the kind of justice meted out by the IRA in kangaroo courts was not the kind of justice the McCartney sisters wanted. The Fine Gael leader met the McCartney sisters in Belfast last week.

Statement forced: Rabbitte

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte has said the IRA statement had been forced out of them by the McCartney sisters.

He said the statement was welcome if it truly removed obstacles to the murder investigation.

Mr Rabbitte said it appeared, if taken at face value, to be a significant step forward in the traditional approach to co-operation with the criminal justice system in general, and the police service in Northern Ireland in particular.

He added: 'In the longer term the real test of the IRA's bone fides will be whether or not they are prepared to release communities in Northern Ireland from the thuggish hold they have exerted over them for far too long.'

Damage limitation - Durkan

The SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, has described the IRA statement as a damage limitation exercise.

Speaking in Belfast, Mr Durkan said the statement was 'a bit closer to the truth, but not the whole way to justice'.

The SDLP Deputy Leader, Alasdair McDonnell, said there had been 12 Provisionals involved in the attack on Mr McCartney, and that some of the culprits were being protected by sacrificing three.

Reg Empey of the Ulster Unionists has described the statement as a cynical face-saving exercise.

Ian Paisley Junior of the Democratic Unionist Party said nobody should be fooled by the diversionary tactic of a pretend purge by the IRA.


Belfast Pub Killing - Questions And Answers

By Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor PA

The Provisional IRA expelled three of its members last night as republicans remained under pressure over the murder of Belfast father of two Robert McCartney.

The statement came after the family of the 33-year-old forklift driver accused the organisation of shielding those who carried out the killing and of intimidating witnesses.

But it also followed two weeks of intense political pressure for Sinn Fein on both sides of the Irish border over republican attitudes to criminality and co-operation with Northern Ireland’s police.

Q: What exactly happened on the night of the attack?

A: The family of Robert McCartney say he and his friend, Brendan Devine were drinking in a Belfast city bar on January 30 when they got into a row with members of the Provisional IRA. Mr McCartney was fatally stabbed and beaten and his friend was also seriously assaulted. The family claim the bar was forensically cleaned and customers in the packed pub told not to ring the emergency services. They also allege people have faced pressure not to come forward to the police to help their investigation.

Q: Why would republicans oppose co-operation with the police?

A: Even though the Government has overseen a major reform of the police in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein believes they have not gone far enough. The party says even though the name may have changed from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and more Catholic recruits have joined, they are not convinced the reforms measure up to proposals made by a commission chaired by former EU Commissioner Chris Patten. They have refused seats on boards designed to hold the PSNI accountable. However the Irish and US Governments, the nationalist SDLP, Irish Opposition parties and leading Catholic church, business and community leaders believe the reforms have brought about a new beginning to policing.

Q: How has this affected the debate over Robert McCartney’s killing?

A: When police initially raided homes in the Markets area of south Belfast and the Short Strand in east Belfast, they came under attack from stone throwing youths and were accused by Sinn Fein of heavy handedness. However the McCartney family and friends have condemned Sinn Fein’s stance, with the party coming under criticism in republican areas over its approach to co-operation in the police investigation. Political opponents in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have echoed the family’s concerns that the IRA was protecting members who carried out Robert’s murder and intimidating witnesses. Republicans have been accused of tolerating criminality in their own ranks and have been under pressure to help the family achieve justice.

Q: How has this impacted on republicans?

A: Coming on the back of January’s assertion by PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde that the IRA carried out the £26.5 million Northern Bank heist, Sinn Fein has faced fierce criticism over its stance on policing, criminality and the McCartney investigation. Party president Gerry Adams has issued a series of unprecedented statements urging witnesses to come forward to help the McCartney family but has stopped short of asking people to go directly to the police. The IRA has also been anxious to distance itself from the murder, insisting initially it was not sanctioned by them and would not tolerate criminality in its ranks. Those sentiments were echoed by Gerry Adams in a speech at a republican rally in Strabane, Co Tyrone last weekend and in the latest development led to the IRA expelling its three members.

Q: Does the IRA statement relax the pressure on republicans?

A: With two by-elections for Parliament seats in the Irish Republic this month and a likely General Election and local government election in Northern Ireland in May, Sinn Fein is likely to still face a barrage of criticism. Unionist and nationalist opponents have dismissed the IRA statement as a face saving exercise. There will be intense interest in how Sinn Fein candidates fare in the polls on both sides of the border. The McCartney family is also considering fighting Sinn Fein for a council seat in Belfast.

Q: What does that mean for the peace process?

A: All sides are pessimistic about the prospects of a resumption of power sharing between unionists and nationalists this year. Opponents of Sinn Fein ranging from the Irish Republic’s Justice Minister Michael McDowell, Democratic Unionist leader, the Reverend Ian Paisley and nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan insist the IRA must end all paramilitary and criminal activity if there is to be inclusive government in Northern Ireland involving the party. Gerry Adams has accused political opponents and media commentators of ganging up on his party and smearing the Republican Movement. However Sinn Fein will be anxious about the impact of a drip feed of stories about the Northern Bank robbery, IRA criminality and money laundering activities. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have said they would like inclusive government involving republicans but it is difficult to see how unionists would sign up to that while the IRA remains active.


Provo Move 'Cynical Face-Saving Exercise'

26 February 2005

Unionist politicians have hit back at the IRA statement, saying it was meaningless unless the three men expelled faced legal penalties.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr said: "No one should be fooled by this diversionary tactic of a pretend purge of the IRA ranks.

"The statement only highlights the confusion that exists within the IRA, who last week told us they were not involved in criminality, and tonight pretend they have purged those who are criminals.

"There's no call in this statement to support the police and there's no effort by the IRA to stand down, decommission and remove themselves off the face of humanity."

East Belfast DUP councillor Robin Newton described the expulsion as "meaningless".

And Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland said: "Unless these expulsions are accompanied by the names of those involved in a manner that will lead to police prosecutions, it will be seen as little other than a cynical face-saving exercise."

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party would not speak on behalf of the IRA following the release of its statement, but added: "We support the McCartney family in their campaign for justice.

"Sinn Fein has been strident and upfront about that from the start. We don't interpret or comment on IRA statements. The IRA speaks for itself."

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said: "Quite clearly I can't or won't speak on behalf of the IRA - I'm not in a position to comment on what they say. My support for the family continues - nothing has changed there."

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy, who has tabled a Belfast City Council motion calling for support for the family in the quest for justice, last night said more than 12 people may have been involved in the murder and its cover-up.

He said the names of the three men expelled were known.

"There were evidently more than three men involved," he said.

"What about the ones that cleaned it up, and the ones who intimidated witnesses?

"Are the IRA going to name those involved? They must know who was responsible."


Murder Inquest Due As Adair Visit Fuels Fears

By David Gordon
26 February 2005

The feud murder that led to Johnny Adair's family being expelled from Northern Ireland is to be relived in court - just days after the notorious loyalist sneaked back to the Shankill.

Adair is still living under a UDA death threat which was issued after paramilitary godfather John 'Grug' Gregg was murdered in February 2003.

But he managed to make a brief return to the Shankill early on Thursday morning, during a day trip to Ulster from his Bolton home.

Next Monday morning, meanwhile, the inquest into Gregg's murder is due to begin at Belfast Coroners Court.

Adair was behind bars when his 'C company' faction gunned down the Rathcoole UDA boss in the Belfast docks area, as he returned from a Rangers match. Another UDA man Robert Carson was also killed in the attack.

The loyalist terror group responded by driving Adair's family and supporters out of their lower Shankill base.

He joined them in Bolton on his release from Maghaberry Prison last month, having been flown to England in a military helicopter.

Adair also visited Portadown on Thursday and posed for photographs beside an LVF mural with close associate Gary Smith.

The UDA has tried to play down the importance of his brief return.

But a source close the loyalist grouping said: "Adair's C company used dissident republican guns to kill John Gregg and Robert Carson. That cannot and will not be forgotten."

Carson's murder is also due to be examined in the inquest.

Meanwhile, Adair's flying visit has been denounced as a "dangerous stunt" by a former Lord Mayor of the city.

Hugh Smyth, the president of the PUP which is linked to the UVF, lambasted those who facilitated the visit.

In a hard-hitting statement, Councillor Smyth said Mr Adair was simply not welcome in Northern Ireland.

"The people in my constituency, the Shankill Road, were glad to see the back of him when he left Northern Ireland following his recent spell in prison," the PUP councillor said.

"I find it very worrying that at this time and in this fashion Mr Adair has been allowed, if not encouraged, to return."

Mr Adair's appearance in Portadown also alarmed nationalist SDLP Assembly member Dolores Kelly.

The Upper Bann MLA said: "Portadown has quietened down in recent years and Johnny Adair's presence here can only be a worrying sign."

Councillor Smyth asked why the infamous loyalist had reappeared at a time when republicans in Northern Ireland were under intense pressure and loyalism appeared relatively calm.

Mr Adair's visit, he claimed, had created instability and fear in the community on the Shankill Road.


Good News For Govt In New Opinion Poll

26 February 2005 15:15

A new opinion poll shows a significant improvement in ratings for the Government, the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil.

The Millward Brown/IMS poll, which is published in today's Irish Independent, gives the Government parties an eight-point lead over a possible coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's ratings are up six points to 61%; support for Fianna Fáil is up five points to 42%; and satisfaction with the Government is up six points to 51%.

Support for Fine Gael is down three points to 20%; Labour is down one at 12; Sinn Féin down one at nine; the Greens are unchanged at 5; the PDs are down one at 3; and support for Others is up one point at 10%.

Satisfaction with PD leader Mary Harney is down three at 52%; Labour's Pat Rabbitte is down one at 52; Fine Gael's Enda Kenny is up one at 46; Green Party leader Trevor Sargent is down six at 35; and Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams is down 20 at 31%.


Lindy McDowell: Making Sense

By Lindy McDowell
26 February 2005

A-mazing own goal

A package of proposals on the future of the former Maze prison has been released this week.

These include a new sports stadium. And a jail museum which will include an H block and the hospital wing where the hunger strikers died.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the Bobby Sands Memorial Stadium.

Northern Ireland can never move forward without looking back. And we can never look back without paying special tribute to the murderers, gangsters, savages and thugs who stopped us moving forward.

What this new plan will give us (if it goes ahead) will be a sports stadium cum terrorist shrine. Attempts are being made to dress this up as something more palatable. It's being called everything from a peace centre to a reconciliation project.

But let's not kid ourselves that a Maze museum will be anything other than a shrine to the inmates.

The argument is that without the preservation of particular parts of the jail, the GAA were never going to come on board.

After all how, some people ask, could the GAA be expected to play over the place where the hunger strikers died? This is a reasonable point. Respect for the dead is always a reasonable argument.

Our problem in Northern Ireland is that we're only allowed to show respect for dead terrorists. Every day in this place, people run roughshod over, not only the memories of the innocent dead, but over the feelings of their families. And nobody ever kicks up a fuss about that.

We all accept that some of the men from both sides who ended up in the Maze were young and vulnerable when they were sucked into paramilitary activity. In a different era, in a different place they'd never have done time.

But that doesn't diminish the reality that very many of those held in the Maze were evil bastards who committed the most savage and brutal crimes and who inflicted the most awful suffering.

Does anyone believe for a moment that a Maze museum will reflect that suffering? Or will it commemorate instead the "suffering" of those who once went on protest over the size of sausage rolls? Who daily faced the trauma of having to choose between guitar lessons or fly fishing classes? Who were given a first rate education and treated to conditions superior to prisons elsewhere in the British Isles?

The hunger strikers who committed suicide had a choice. Their victims didn't. If we are going to pour millions more of public funding into commemorating anything it should be used in tribute to the innocent thousands who died - not ten dead convicts .

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler put it best when he said with miffed distaste this week that he was aware that "some people would be happy to see the place bulldozed to the ground."

You're right there, Paul.

I'm one of them.

Food to dye for?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the chill cabinet, the Government issues yet another list of foods which contain the dodgy dye.

Is there any foodstuff out there which doesn't contain the banned Sudan 1? Are we all doomed? Or are we just over-reacting?

The dodgy dye was used first in chilli powder which was then added to Worcester sauce which was then added to a dizzying range of foodstuffs. But diluted to this extent is it really going to do us any real damage?

Dumping millions of pounds worth of food certainly disposes of even the remotest risk. But isn't it also a bit of an over-reaction to a little bit of food dye?

In a world where people are dying of starvation.

Gerry simply soldiers on

Gerry Adams, while speaking to the troops, sorry audience, at last weekend's commemoration in Strabane raised the thorny subject of IRA criminality.

"No republican worthy of the name can be involved in criminality of any kind. If any are they should be expelled from our ranks," he said.

Er, OUR ranks, Gerry? Surely an odd turn of phrase from a man who insists he was never, himself, in the IRA?

Odder still is the reluctance of Mr Adams and his pals, Mr McGuinness and Mr Ferris, to have their names associated with the IRA's so-called army council.

Reacting to an assertion this week by Irish Justice minister, Michael McDowell, that they are indeed members of that council, the trio issued a statement insisting, "categorically that we are not members of the IRA or its army council".

Why so insistent? You'd think they'd be pleased. After all, as republicans surely it's something of a honour to be publicly linked so closely with the armed wing?

What on earth's their problem?

Could it be more than an attempt to avoid questions about aforementioned republican criminality?

Could it be that they're worried that some day, some IRA victim might try to sue?

Is there any hope for us?

This one is just so very Belfast. . . in order to celebrate the building of the Titanic, there are plans afoot to tow an iceberg (at doubtless considerable expense) down from Norway and into the old shipyard.

Far be it from me to pour cold water on any artistic endeavour, but isn't there a possibility that by the time it gets here that's exactly all it will be - cold water. Even with our weather you don't see too many chunks of ice bobbing around in the Irish Sea. And couldn't we build our own iceberg without having to go all the way to a fjord for one?

More to the point, isn't there an issue of bad taste here - should we really be "celebrating" a famous tragedy by giving harbour space to the culprit?

Artist Rita Duffy who is behind the project insists: "The iceberg could become a symbol of hope as it melts." How exactly?

This "symbol of hope" nonsense is thrust at us on a regular basis to justify all sorts of lunacy.

Actually you could better argue that buckets of money being wasted on a melting chunk of ice is a symbol of insanity.

If you ask me, Belfast needs a melting iceberg like an ocean liner needs a hole in the hull.

A-dairing trip?

It was probably Johnny's idea of A-dairing day trip. But his pathetic little "yah-boo you can't catch me" jaunt back home this week was eclipsed only by the bluster of the UDA who insisted they'd been "monitoring" his visit. The UDA/UFF have always been buffoon battalion. Like Mad Dog himself, part cartoon, part horror movie. The serious question this week's one-day circus raises is, just what was Adair doing in LVF occupied Portadown? It's also been a reminder that it's not just the IRA we need shot of in Northern Ireland - but their blood brothers in the loyalist paramilitary gangs.

Boy Becks' cross to bear

David and Victoria Beckham have added to their family of exotically named sons with the birth this week of little Cruz. The name in Spain is mainly given to girls.

Cruz, in Spanish, means cross. Which of course, the boy will be. When he finds out what they've called him. . .


Thought For The Weekend: Canon Walter Lewis, Rector St Thomas' Parish, Belfast

26 February 2005

In our schools we teach our children to tell the truth. We let them know that intimidation or bullying is wrong. We expel pupils where there is evidence of extortion or theft. These basic disciplines are essential to the proper functioning of any school. Without these, the necessary secure learning environment does not exist.

Also, these elements of everyday life are the basic building blocks of ordinary civilized living. Without these values and practices, society falls apart and the law of the jungle takes over.

The Bible clearly affirms these truths. The Ten Commandments are all about the importance of truth, trust and respect in relations between people, and with God.

Jesus inaugurated God's Kingdom which, He said, is built on the core values of truth, justice, righteousness and love. Our society today is part of that rich Jewish-Christian heritage of morality and ethics extending back to the time of St Patrick. That heritage needs to be re-visited urgently.

As we think about the moral values imparted through education and the Christian faith, we have to pinch ourselves when we hear reports in the media of what the IRA and Sinn Fein have been up to. Are we really part of this society which has become so corrupted by lies and deception, robbery on a massive scale, money-laundering, intimidation, extortion, threat, violence and murder?

We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy, and the Republic's Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, for opening our eyes to the extent of the corruption and criminality in our midst. Even after 37 years of the Troubles, it is startling to read Mr McDowell's words: "The Provisional movement in its entirety is a colossal crime machine".

Our Christian faith is unequivocal about what our response to crime should be. We should be vigilant. We should seek and practice the truth. We should pray that crime will stop, and that God will be heeded.

Our public life must be guided by moral and ethical values.

Do we want a wasteland? Or do we want security, peace, justice and truth for our children and ourselves?


Patrick Pearse's Surrender Is A Blueprint For Present Needs

By Barry White
26 February 2005

The following document has just come into my possession. Do you think it's genuine?

"In order to prevent further erosion of credibility and in the hope of salvaging the peace process, the members of the Provisional IRA present at headquarters have decided on an unconditional end to all activities, and commandants or officers commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms."

All right, so I'm taking minor liberties with the original surrender document - yes, he called it "surrender" - signed by Patrick Pearse on April 30, 1916, in Dublin's Arbour Hill Prison after the Easter Rising. But it's a pretty good model for the statement we need to hear from the present-day IRA leadership, not sparing "further slaughter of the civil population" this time, but trying to build trust between unionists and nationalists.

Pearse's letter, written in schoolboy backhand and taken from prison by two Capuchin monks, has been put up for sale in Dublin by an unnamed owner. If it is authentic, it could fetch even more than the £270,000 for an original copy of the proclamation of the republic.

Pearse and the other leaders were executed but de Valera survived the 1922-3 civil war, which he lost, to lead Fianna Fail into government in 1932.

It might not be so easy for the present IRA but they're too intelligent not to know that their day, like Pearse's, is nearly done and their only honourable and forward-looking course is to exit the scene. Just look at the way even the most understanding mediators have abandoned them.

Ken Newell, the Presbyterian moderator, has been on Christian name terms for years but he's 95% certain the IRA did the Northern Bank job and feels disappointed and angry. He speaks for hundreds of thousands when he tells Alex Maskey to his face - who is equally disheartened - that he has no confidence in anything Sinn Fein says.

And that goes for Bertie Ahern too. "It is not rocket science to end this," he says, allowing himself a little exaggeration.

It is, of course, the most sophisticated science ever, getting republicans off their addiction to guns, crime and victimhood when they don't even recognise their problem.

That claim that "republicans are incapable of criminality" reminds me of a bishop's assertion that people will be "very happy" to hear they are paying compensation for paedophile priests.

Who thought it up and who thought we'd buy it?

All of us know what criminality is, breaking laws that are generally common to both parts of Ireland and no amount of political spin can justify what the IRA have been doing.

Just because Dublin (and occasionally London) turned a blind eye to "internal housekeeping" and secret arsenals - to help the transition to democracy - never meant that there was one law for the IRA and another for the rest of us.

The worms have turned and they're not going to let the Republican Movement walk over them again, whatever the election results show.

Nothing may be possible without Sinn Fein but, if it has to be Sinn Fein/IRA, it's equally impossible.

Meanwhile, just look at what's happening because Sinn Fein are making monkeys out of Bertie and Tony and the Good Friday Agreement junkies.

Direct Rule means that manufacturing jobs are being lost, because derating is ending, a tap tax is coming, along with increased rates, libraries are closing, grammar schools are going comprehensive, parade organisers will be responsible for their hangers-on and a new asbestos facility is opening - all without our Assembly members having any say.


Orange Order History Books Ulster Future

By Emma Fitzpatrick
26 February 2005

One of the oldest known documents in the existence of the Orange Order has been returned to Northern Ireland after being missing for 207 years.

The lodge minute book dates back to within three years of the formation of the Order.

The inscription reads as belonging to the "Fort Edward Body of Orange Men formed June 17, 1798".

The book turned up for sale on a specialist American website, and was later acquired by the Queen's Orange Lodge in Belfast.

It will be put on display with the rest of the Lodge's Orange memorabilia which are in the headquarters at Schomberg House, east Belfast.

It is understood that the original lodge was formed during the rebellion of the United Irishmen, and was made up of members of the yeomanry and militia based in Co Tyrone.

The document was formally handed over to senior Orange Order figure Cecil Kilpatrick during a special viewing in Co Tyrone.

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