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March 01, 2005

03/01/05 – Anger At Patten’s Degree

03/01/05 – Anger At Patten’s Degree

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

UT 03/01/05 Anger At Patten Degree
DJ 03/01/05 CRJ Boycott Restorative Justice Conference
IO 03/01/05 Commissioner To Help Victims Of Troubles
BT 03/01/05 Australian Bank Finds Suspect Northern Bank Cash
BT 03/01/05 Unravelling The Threads Of Phil Flynn's Tangled Life
IO 03/01/05 DUP Welcomes Govt Antagonism Towards SF
BB 03/01/05 IRA Expulsions Are 'Unimpressive'
BT 03/01/05 Web Shows Murdered Man's Last Movements
DJ 03/01/05 McCann Compares Murder Cover-Up To 'Sunday' Whitewash
BT 03/01/05 Rebel DUP Councillor Reconciles With Party
DJ 03/01/05 Cross Border Projects 'In Limbo'
BB 03/01/05 Priest Describes Hammer Robbery
DJ 03/01/05 John Hume Hailed As 'Profile In Courage'
NY 03/01/05 St. Pat's Fete Goes Beyond Green Beer
IO 03/01/05 Keane Cleared In Assault Trial

BB 03/01/05 IRA Hunger Strike -AO

Could the hunger strikes by the IRA in the early eighties have been bought to an earlier ending than previously thought?


Anger At Patten Degree

The University of Ulster was fiercely criticised today for its decision to confer an honorary degree on Lord Patten, one of the architects of police reform in Northern Ireland.

By:Press Association

Jimmy Spratt, former chairman of the Police Federation, said it was a disgrace that the university made the announcement on the day relatives and colleagues were remembering nine RUC officers murdered in an IRA mortar bomb attack in Newry 20 years ago.

Lord (Chris) Patten, who chaired the Independent Commission on Policing which made 175 recommendations for reform of the RUC, will be given an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

When he presented the commission`s report, he said they had tried to "ensure that any past mistakes are not repeated and to minimise any prospect of abuses such as those alleged to have taken place in the past".

But Mr Spratt, who accused him of wrecking policing in Northern Ireland, said he would be writing to the university to express his opposition to its decision.

He said: "I find it disgraceful that the University of Ulster should confer a degree on someone like Chris Patten who destroyed the finest police force in the world."

Mr Spratt, who retired from the police service three years ago, claimed the Patten Report created a system of recruitment which discriminated against young Protestants and destroyed the Province`s intelligence system.

"I think it was very insensitive to announce it on the day that families were remembering their dead loved ones."

A University of Ulster spokesman stressed that Lord Patten of Barnes was being honoured for his contribution to public life and education.


CRJ Boycott Restorative Justice Conference

Tuesday 1st March 2005

The Derry-based Community Rrestorative Justice group have said they are not attending a conference on restorative justice held in Belfast this week because it was organised by the PSNI.

The conference, entitled 'Restorative justice: From the mechanics to the dynamics' is being held in the Ramada Hotel in Belfast yesterday and today.

It is the latest in a series of events organised by the PSNI with the aim of emphasising their commitment "to put human rights at the centre of everything it does."

Delegates at the conference wil look at advances in restorative justice in the North and draw comparisons with England and Wales.

It is believed that none of the groups operating schemes in republican and nationalist areas have agreed to attend.

Yesterday Noel McCartney of the CRJ in Derry said his group was not attending because the event was organised by the PSNI.

He added: "The CRJ believe the PSNI are still not acceptable to the nationalist and republican people of this city and for that reason we decided not to attend this conference."

Mr. McCartney continued: "We also firmly believe that even if Sinn Fein were to join the Policing Board overnight there is still a long process of debate and negotiation that would have to be gone through before the PSNI would be accepted within republican and nationalist areas."

Speaking before the conference Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, head of the PSNI Criminal Justice department said: "Restorative Justice has the potential to offer a dynamic solution to the delivery of justice for certain types of crime because it involves the victim, the perpetrator and the community.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland recognises the value of restorative justice projects."


Commissioner To Help Victims Of Troubles

01/03/2005 - 14:01:36

A commissioner will be appointed to assist the victims of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the British government announced today.

Northern Secretary Paul Murphy said the move was part of a “tailored approach” to dealing with the past.

In a written statement, he said: “I believe this is necessary both to ensure a real focus on the needs of victims and survivors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and to ensure that their voices continue to be heard and respected.”

He said the commissioner would play a “pivotal role” in promoting the interests of those who had suffered and in setting up a Victims and Survivors Forum.


Australian Bank Finds Suspect Northern Bank Cash

Woman detained but money was legitimate

By Chris Thornton
01 March 2005

A bank in Australia has spotted two Northern Bank notes that were on the PSNI's wanted list - but they turned out to be from a legitimate batch of money.

Police sources say the incident shows how the international banking sector is on high alert for the cash stolen in the £26.5m Northern Bank heist.

Northern Ireland woman Andrea Hawthorne was held for two hours by police in Perth after she tried to exchange the £20 notes among other cash when she arrived in Western Australia on a student visa.

A bank worker spotted that the serial numbers on the notes were among those originally put on a watch list by the PSNI.

But the PSNI said the notes turned out to match numbers which were mistakenly released after the robbery but were not stolen.

Previously, notes from the same batch were found at the Dundonald Ice Bowl shortly after the December 20 robbery.

Ms Hawthorne had been given the cash two weeks ago at a Glengormley bank before she and her son Jamie flew out to Australia.

Police in Perth accepted that she had received the money legitimately.

"This just shows the vigilance that is going on across the world," said a PSNI source. "It shows how difficult it is to use the stolen notes because the arrangements put in place across the banking world are working."

But Ms Hawthorne's family say she is having trouble getting the seized £40 back.

"She's a student and every penny counts," said her step-father, North Down man Terry Lightfoot.

"She brought the cash out to Australia because she saw on the internet that exchange rates were better out there.

"Then this happened. So far, no one is taking responsibility for the money and paying her back."

To date, the only confirmed recovery of stolen Northern Bank cash has been the £50,000 found at a sports club used by police.

The PSNI says the IRA planted the stolen cash at the New Forge club, in south Belfast, to embarrass police.

But the Garda is examining £60,000 in Northern Bank notes that its officers recovered two weeks ago to see if there is a forensic link to the robbery.

The cash was found in Cork during a series of raids on alleged money laundering operations.


Unravelling The Threads Of Phil Flynn's Tangled Life

He's a 'pal' of Bertie Ahern and 'close' to Gerry Adams. But who exactly is Phil Flynn, the leading businessman whose name has been linked to the current Garda investigation into IRA money laundering? Maeve Sheehan reports.

01 March 2005

For an "unrepentant republican", Phil Flynn greased the corporate pole with consummate ease.

Chairman of the Bank of Scotland, head of the Irish government's decentralisation body and on the board of the VHI, he had the best corporate contacts to hand. When a small-time money-lending outfit offered him a 10% stake for turning around the company, he asked Denis O'Connell, a former banking colleague, to check it out. The company was a money-lending agency that sometimes charged extortionate interest rates of up to 24% to people turned down by mainstream banks.

Flynn met the moneylender, Ted Cunningham, took the stake and trained the company's attentions on the lucrative and largely cash-based Bulgarian market where holiday villas can change hands for as little as £27,000.

Three weeks ago, Mr Flynn, Mr Cunningham and a party of four went to Sofia. Flynn initially told RTE they were there to look at property investments.

That was certainly why Mr O'Connell believed he was invited along: he had considerable experience of investing in Eastern Europe property. The rest of the party - a German-based lawyer with a practice in Sofia, an international consultant and an Irish speculator - were strangers to him.

The party met with the auctioneers, property developers and bankers. Even the doors of government were opened to them, no doubt helped along by Mr Flynn's stature as chairman of a valuable British-owned bank. Mr Flynn and Mr Cunningham met with Ilia Lingorski, Bulgaria's deputy finance minister responsible for foreign inward investment.

They opened up two bank accounts into which they lodged 1,000 euros each. A further 58,000 euros was to be telegraphically transferred. They returned at the beginning of February. So far, so respectable.

Then two weeks ago, Gardai raided Mr Cunningham's house in Passage West in Cork and found £2.3m in what garda suspect were stolen Northern Bank notes in a bin. He and his partner were arrested.

Three men were arrested outside Houston station with £50,000 in cash stuffed into a Daz box. One man, Don Bullman, was charged with IRA membership. Phil Flynn had opened his business files to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), resigned his prestigious directorships and declared his innocence.

Michael McDowell, the Irish Justice Minister, linked the property jaunt to an alleged IRA plot to buy a bank in Bulgaria to launder the £26.5m it stole from the Northern Bank in December, the biggest robbery in Britain's history.

Such is Mr Flynn's standing that many wonder whether he was duped.

Mr Cunningham, whom Flynn has known for some years, wasn't known for his republican connections. Nor is he in the big league. The moneylender's distasteful operations put him well beneath the radar of Cork's merchant princes.

"It's hard to believe that he would be taken in," said a government figure. Mr Flynn dismissed the claims of IRA money-laundering as a "bum steer". After a week of terse comment, he broke his silence at the weekend: he had hoped to set up a financial company, but it was all totally innocent. He wanted to replicate Cunningham's Chesterton Finance in Bulgaria or set up a regular mortgage firm. He said he had canvassed many business people and "carried a brief for a number of business people".

Questions remain. Under pressure to fend off accusations that Bulgaria is a soft touch for money-laundering, the ministry there has issued statements on the visit from the Irish property speculators. A spokesman referred to four individuals who claimed to represent "a financial institution registered in Amsterdam with capital of roughly 14 million euros" .

Mr Flynn said he had "no idea" what they were referring to.

Such questions will be no doubt addressed in the massive investigation as detectives continue to unravel the threads that bind Mr Cunningham, Mr Flynn and the smattering of apparently-upright professionals caught in the crossfire.

Last Thursday the female consultant who accompanied Mr Flynn and his party to Bulgaria was arrested by garda special branch.

The following day, Denis O'Connell was forced to issue a declaration of innocence.

Sir Desmond Rea became the first indirect casualty, resigning as chairman of Northern Ireland's police board because he sat beside Mr Flynn on the board of Harcourt Developments, a property company. The political establishment shuddered.

Phil Flynn has woven himself into the fabric of Irish public life. He is a pal, if not friends with, Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach. He has imbibed in the Fianna Fail tent at the Galway races. He has counted such political stalwarts as Fergus Finlay, a Labour Party chef de Cabinet. He has the admiration of the numerous government ministers who have called on him to sort out disputes ranging from baggage-handling rows to the restructuring of An Post to Team Aer Lingus.

Last week, it became apparent just how closely he is embedded into the republican tapestry too. In the fallout of the garda investigation, Mr Flynn conceded that while heading the Irish Government's decentralisation programme and chairing the Bank of Scotland (Ireland), he was simultaneously advising Sinn Fein on overhauling its party structures.

It didn't augur well that one of the Irish Government's top troubleshooters is quietly helping Sinn Fein sharpen up its act while government ministers condemned the party for its links to criminal activities.

Phil Flynn may well be vindicated once the investigation concludes. From the moment his name cropped up in the investigation, former colleagues, politicians and investigators wondered whether he had ever left behind the republican family on the road to financial security and corporate respectability.

What surprises Mr Flynn's former colleagues is that the establishment ever thought that he had.

Mr Flynn was never reticent about his politics. They were shaped as a teenager in Dundalk in the 50s when he canvassed for Sinn Fein and honed three years later among England's emigrant community.

A decade later, he returned to Ireland and worked for the Local Government and Public Service Union, developing his trade union career in tandem with his republican ambitions. He earned his stripes: he was acquitted of IRA membership in 1974 and he offered to mediate for the authorities with Eddie Gallagher, the IRA man who kidnapped the Dutch businessman, Tiede Herrema. But, as Patrick Cooney, the Irish Minister for Justice at the time, pointed out in the Sunday Independent, Mr Flynn's offer was rebuffed - his "political pedigree was flawed".

By the time he became general secretary of the LGPSU, he was already vice-president of Sinn Fein. His dual allegiances caused consternation among some of his own members and he was blackballed by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition; ministers refused to deal with him. A year later, he stood down as vice-president, declaring that he would always be there for the party.

One friend said: "I think they (Sinn Fein) said to him 'You have done enough; we don't need you as a public fallguy. We need you as a supporter.' They would have taken him out of the front line."

Even after he quit as vice-president, Mr Flynn appeared to enjoy the whiff of sulphur his republican associations gave off. Friends said he often dropped hints to his union comrades that he was an important cog in the republican wheel.

But some suspected him of exaggerating his connections. One former colleague said he often dropped hints about the pivotal role he played in the Northern talks, acting as a republican broker for successive taoisigh, including Albert Reynolds and John Bruton.

Neither Mr Reynolds nor Mr Bruton could recall bestowing any such role on Mr Flynn.

"There was something Walter Mittyish about him," said one associate.

He was - and remains - close to Gerry Adams though. Friends believed he got added political kudos from his friendship with the Sinn Fein leader. Mainstream politicians didn't seem to mind his republican politics as long as he wasn't actively involved in Sinn Fein.

After the wilderness years during the coalition government of the 80s, Charlie Haughey paved the way for Mr Flynn's rehabilitation. In 1987 he broke hostilities by speaking at an LGPSU conference.

Bertie Ahern, who was then Labour minister, and Mr Flynn became "pals", if not friends.

The future Taoiseach found a kindred spirit: "If you think about it, the make-up of the two men, they could be first cousins. They both are natural-born facilitators. They both have superb negotiation skills. If you talk about the two or so people who excel in this field, Phil Flynn would be one and Bertie Ahern would be the other," said one Fianna Fail source.

But it was Ruairi Quinn, the former Labour Party leader in the Republic, who set Mr Flynn off on his corporate trajectory in 1996. Then Minister for Finance, Mr Quinn had a vacancy to fill in the state-owned Industrial Credit Corporation (ICC). Phil Flynn had retired as union leader and Mr Quinn - who had known and dealt with Mr Flynn since the 70s - thought him a suitable candidate.

It was quite a turnaround for the coalition to promote a man whom 10 years earlier it refused to speak to because of his politics.

Mr Quinn said he would have been concerned about Mr Flynn's politics but he had "reason to believe" that they were sound. During a meeting with American trade unionists in the mid-80s, Mr Flynn declared in Mr Quinn's hearing that he did not "support the armed struggle". That satisfied Mr Quinn and Mr Flynn's corporate career was born.

His gusto for corporate life amazed his former trade union colleagues. "Most of us would be slow to take up commercial posts," said a former union chief.

Mr Flynn joined the boards of numerous businesses, ranging from property development to finance. Most believe he got there on merit.

"I think he was a highly-skilled negotiator. If you are in that space, probably in a group that numbers no more than two or three people, by the nature of government, and the nexus of relationships between public, private and politics, those kind of people will always be in huge demand by any government," said one Fianna Fail veteran of state boards.

Colleagues said that he is a workaholic who "can't say no". They also cite his personal circumstances as a factor: married twice, he had two households and three children to maintain.

A former union colleague said he believed Mr Flynn resumed interest in Sinn Fein after leaving the trade union movement. Ruairi Quinn said at the weekend that he had also heard three or four years ago that Mr Flynn was back with Sinn Fein.

If that was the case, it was odd that no one told the Government. Bertie Ahern's spokesman said that the Taoiseach was not aware of Mr Flynn's consultancy work for Sinn Fein.

One former trade union colleague recalled a comment Phil Flynn made many years ago: "You're never out of the business, you're just on 'rest and recreation'."

And so it came to pass.


DUP Welcomes Govt Antagonism Towards SF

01/03/2005 - 08:13:51

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has welcomed the Government's growing antagonism towards Sinn Féin.

Speaking at a party meeting in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last night, Mr Robinson praised the "robust" approach being adopted by the Government due to alleged ongoing IRA criminality.

He said this contrasted with the attitude of the British government which, he said, was refusing to name people on the IRA army council because the police would then be required to arrest and charge them.

Mr Robinson said republicans were now under the spotlight as never before.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has said that, whatever the origins and reasons for the current crisis, the work of rebuilding the peace process had to begin.

He also said he did not underestimate the seriousness of the crisis.


IRA Expulsions Are 'Unimpressive'

Northern Ireland's police chief has said he is "not impressed" by the IRA's decision to expel three members suspected of involvement in a murder.

Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father-of-two, died after being stabbed near Belfast city centre on 30 January.

His family have blamed the IRA for the killing but said expulsion of IRA members did not go far enough.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said a number of people wanted for questioning over the murder had left Northern Ireland.

"We are currently pursuing a number of people who are outside jurisdiction," he said.

Mr Orde added: "I'm not that impressed by illegal organisations ejecting people who have committed illegal acts.

"This was not committed just by three people. We are looking to gather evidence against anyone that was involved in the actual offence, or in a conspiracy to commit the offence or in the affray around the offence."

He was speaking at a news conference a short time after Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said the expulsion did not go far enough.

Mr Murphy said Sinn Fein should follow Mr McCartney's family's example and ask witnesses to go to the police.

He also paid tribute to the family and said he was impressed by the number of people who had shown support for them.

"It (the IRA) doesn't go far enough," he said.

"I hope they follow the lead of the McCartney family by telling people, if they know anything about this crime, they should go to the police.

"That should be the plea of every political party here in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein."


Meanwhile, a motion demanding justice for the McCartney family is to be debated at Belfast City Council.

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy said the motion condemned the killing and commended the family's courage.

Mr McCartney's family has said those responsible must be forced to admit their role in the murder.

The motion, due to be debated on Tuesday night, calls upon the entire community to show "the same courage and dignity displayed by Mr McCartney's family".

Mr McCarthy represents the Markets area where the murder took place.

His motion also demands "an end to the intimidation of witnesses and calls upon the community to co-operate with the due process of the law to apprehend the organisers and perpetrators of this crime".

Mr McCarthy said he hoped the Sinn Fein members on Belfast City Council would support the motion.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/01 12:46:54 GMT


Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney

Web Shows Murdered Man's Last Movements

By Ben Lowry
01 March 2005

The last movements of murdered Robert McCartney have been marked on a map that appears today on the PSNI website.

Police have published the map, and a picture of the 33-year-old Short Strand man, as part of their ongoing appeal for information into the attack.

Mr McCartney was killed at Cromac Street/East Bridge Street at around 10.45pm on January 30.

The map, which shows his route after leaving Magennis's Bar, when or shortly after he was attacked, can be found on the appeals section of the website at

There was fresh pressure on republicans today over the stabbing to death of the father of two, with a new SDLP motion at Belfast City Council calling on witnesses to contact police over the killing.

Councillor Pat McCarthy, who originally comes from the Markets area and now lives in the Lower Ormeau, tabled the motion for tonight's monthly meeting at Belfast City Hall.

"It recognises the courage and dignity the McCartney family have shown and condemns the intimidation that has taken place, and it encourages witnesses to show the same courage and contact police," said Mr McCarthy.

"Sinn Fein hoped all along that the family would be isolated, as happened to many relatives of victims of the provisionals."

Irish premier Bertie Ahern has also called on the IRA to assist the PSNI investigation into the murder.

He said yesterday that all parties who were present on the night when Mr McCartney was stabbed to death should co-operate to ensure successful prosecution.

"The only people who have the authority under law and the ability to deal with that is the PSNI.

"They need co-operation to do that and if the IRA can assist, then that's part of the answer," he said.

On Friday, the IRA expelled three of its members for their involvement in the stabbing.


McCann Compares Murder Cover-Up To 'Sunday' Whitewash

Tuesday 1st March 2005

Veteran civil rights campaigner, Eamonn McCann has compared the cover-up in the wake of the Belfast murder of Robert McCartney to attempts by the British Army to gloss over what happened in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

On Sunday, residents of the staunchly nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast turned out to support the McCartney family as they put further pressure on IRA members and others involved in covering up the murder to answer the allegations against them in court.

The 33-year-old forklift driver was drinking with a friend in Magennis's bar on January 30 in Belfast city centre when they were beaten and stabbed.

Mr. McCartney died in hospital and his family believe up to 20 people were involved in the murder and subsequent cover-up.

On Friday, the IRA continued to distance itself from the murder and confirmed it had expelled three of its members after an internal investigation.

However, while the family has welcomed the move, they insist more people need to come forward either to the police or through lawyers.

Eamonn McCann, a guest speaker at Sundays' rally, noted that the murder had coincided with the 33rd anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

He told the rally: "We are told, and I believe, that some of those directly involved in the murder of Robert McCartney had come from marching in Derry demanding justice for the Bloody Sunday families. "How dare they? The hardest thing that I can say about them is that they have brought themselves and the organisation which apparently some of them were a part, they have brought themselves to the level of the British paratroopers in the Bogside. What an irony that is."

Mr. McCann said it would be hypocritical for those who demanded justice for the Bloody Sunday families not to also press for justice for Mr. McCartney's family.

He said the family's campaign was not intended to be divisive nor was it directed at any particular party.

"It is a positive campaign for justice, a continuation of a campaign which has had nobility on its side down through the years," he said.

The campaigner added that unless they achieved justice for Mr. McCartney's family, it would cast a long, dark shadow on all other campaigns down through the years."


Rebel DUP Councillor Reconciles With Party

By Noel McAdam
01 March 2005

A veteran DUP councillor who quit the party in a bitter internal row has returned to the fold, it was confirmed today.

Larne councillor Jack McKee said: "I have spent my time in the wilderness and now I'm back."

But the 61-year-old former District Policing Partnership chairman added: "I have no regrets for anything I have done."

And now he is running for the council on a DUP ticket in the May 5 election.

Mr McKee quit the party after his nomination to run for the Assembly was overturned in favour of former UK Unionist Roger Hutchinson.

Mr Hutchinson then claimed he had been asked to resign following allegations of indecent assault - which he has strenuously denied - but Mr McKee was again passed over in favour of Independent Orange leader George Dawson.

Mr McKee ran against the party as an independent, but said it was the toughest decision of his political life. The row lead to the suspension of the party's entire East Antrim Association.

"I was not in dispute with the party over its leadership or policies but selection. That is now dead and gone," he said.

"My heart was always in the party which I always thought was doing the right thing for Ulster."


Cross Border Projects 'In Limbo'

Tuesday 1st March 2005

The absense of the Northern Assembly has left many important cross-border projects in Derry and Donegal 'in limbo', according to Donegal North-East TD Cecilia Keaveney.

Deputy Keaveney will table a question to the 68-member British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body when it convenes from March 6 to March 8, in Bundoran.

She will ask the Republic's Agriculture Minister, Mary Coughlan: "In the context of the continuing absence of an Executive and North South Ministerial Council meetings, whether there is a will to find a means to ensure that infrastructural projects such as gas, train, plane, roads and other projects of concern to the North West, can be progressed rather than left in the limbo in which we find ourselves now for years."

Ms. Coughlan TD, will deliver the keynote address to the inter-parliamentary body on Monday, March 7, on behalf of the Irish Government.

The body's Irish cochairman, Dublin T.D., Pat Carey said the meeting - during which Northern Ireland issues are expected to dominate the agenda - was taking place at a "crucial time" in Irish-British relations.

Other items tabled for debate include cross-border EU funding, a committee report on truth and reconciliation and a special educational provision in Britain and Ireland.

The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body was established in 1990 as a link between Westminster and Dublin. It has 25 British and 25 Irish members drawn from the Upper and Lower Houses of both parliaments. In recent years membership of the body has been extended, with representatives from the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.


Priest Describes Hammer Robbery

An Armagh priest has described how a man armed with a hammer and replica gun threatened to hit him before stealing a briefcase containing money.

It happened as Father John Gates was leaving the parochial hall in Cathedral Road at about 2145 GMT on Monday.

Father Gates said there was a struggle before he handed over the case.

"I quickly saw that it was a replica gun, so I said to him 'no you're not having it, it's not my money, it's the parish's money'," he said.

"He made a grab for the bag, and there was a bit of a struggle, then he threatened me with the hammer so I decided at that point to let it go."

Father Gates was not hurt in the incident, but suffered shock.

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.

The robber, who escaped in the direction of Edward Street, is described as being about 6ft 2in tall, of medium build, in his late 30s to early 40s and is said to have spoken with a local accent.

He had mousey brown coloured hair and was wearing blue jeans, a red jumper and used a black scarf to cover his face.


Meanwhile in County Antrim, a man in his 60s has been assaulted by two robbers at his home.

It happened after he answered a knock at the door of his home at Lissue Road in Lisburn at about 2000 GMT on Monday.

A robber tried to force his way in but the householder managed to push him back into the drive way.

A second man then appeared and the two attacked him.

He was held by one of the robbers while the second man went back into the house and took a black briefcase from the bedroom.

The case was later found on Harry's Road.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/01 12:44:14 GMT


John Hume Hailed As 'Profile In Courage'

Tuesday 1st March 2005

Foyle MP John Hume's contribution to peace in Ireland was recognised recently when he was honoured at a special reception in Washington DC.

Speaking at the reception, which took place at Capitol Hill, Senator Edward Kennedy - brother of former US President John F. Kennedy and a lifelong friend of Mr. Hume - hailed the former SDLP leader as "one of the people I've most admired in the world." "I've consistently been impressed by his insights, his commitment to peace, and his dedication to the people of Northern Ireland," Senator Kennedy told the reception. "He's truly a profile in courage."

The Massachusetts Senator added that, in the wake of the civil rights movement in the North in the late 1960s, Mr. Hume soon emerged as an " apostle of non-violence, just as Martin Luther King did at a critical time in our own civil rights movement.

"And history will honour him forever for all he did so well," he added.

Mr. Hume was also presented with a Congressional Record in which his achievements were outlined in detail.

The outgoing Foyle MP told the 'Journal' last night that he was "very honoured" at his latest plaudit. "It is very rewarding and, indeed, humbling to receive such a major award from the US Congress.

"Ted Kennedy, along with some of his colleagues, has been a great friend of Ireland over many years.

"He has been spearheading the cause of peace, reconciliation and justice in Northern Ireland for a very long time and for this he deserves our thanks and respect."


St. Pat's Fete Goes Beyond Green Beer

Beware the stage Irishmen of March.

Nothing's worse for proud people of Irish heritage than watching the third month of each year turn into a Celtic version of a Jim Crow minstrel show. If there's anything more embarrassing than watching the numbskull brigade wearing green stovepipe hats and "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons puking green beer, let's just call it the luck of the Irish that I missed it.

If you're like me and want to avoid the cliches of dancing leprechauns, weepy Tin Pan Alley laments and night court on March 17, you might consider delivering yourself instead to a fine sampling of true modern Irish culture at the Seventh Annual New York Film Fleadh and Craic Music Series.

Founded by a Brooklynite named Terrence Mulligan, the festival's honorary board members include such serious Irish and Irish-American artists as Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Peter Gallagher, Ed Burns and Michael Moore.

So don't get me wrong. This is not some brooding, self-important collection of pompous artists. It's a film and music festival. The word "craic" - pronounced "krak" - is Irish for "fun." And parties will follow each night's cultural events at local pubs, where festival organizers promise that there will be "no green beer." Instead this will be an interesting mix of creative people celebrating a common cultural heritage.

The film portion of the extravaganza starts tomorrow night at the Loews 34th St. Theater, 312 W. 34 St., with a screening of the feature film "The Boys and Girls of County Clare," directed by John Irvin and starring Colm Meaney and Andrea Corr, of the Corrs singing group fame, in her acting debut.

"Colm Meaney is always great," says Mulligan at his DUMBO headquarters. "But I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised at how good an actress Andrea Corr is in this comedy set in the world of traditional Irish music. And Andrew McCarthy has directed a short film called 'News for the Church,' based on a Frank O'Connor short story. The after-party is at Stitch on W. 37 St., $20 for film and party. Andrea Corr will be there."

The rest of the film festival portion of the event will run until Saturday at the NYU Cantor Center at 36 E. Eighth St. and includes a Thursday night feature called "Dead Bodies," a thriller set in modern Dublin, directed by Robert Quinn. "Nothing is what it seems in this one," says Mulligan. "A really good chiller, but leave the kiddies home. The after-party is at Bar 13 on E. 13th St., and the film and party is $15 online, $20 at the door."

Friday night offers a lineup of award-winning short films with an after-party at Slainte on the Bowery, featuring the band Lancaster County Prison, $15 for film and party.

The festival will end on Saturday with three separate programs. At 2 p.m. there will be a screening of "The Battle of the Bogside," an award-winning documentary about the 1969 riots in Derry in Northern Ireland following the Protestant Apprentice Boys parade. At 5 p.m., "American Faces" tells the story of a woman from India falling in love with an Irish-American amid the xenophobic climate immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. "This was made by a guy named Rom Jodha, who is from the insurance business," says Mulligan. "But it's a very impressive first film, with real heart."

Mulligan says the most resonant film of the series might be "Omagh," directed by Pete Travis and written by Paul "Bloody Sunday" Greengrass and Guy Hibbert. It examines the aftermath of the 1998 bombing by the Real IRA that killed 31 people in Omagh. "Gerald McSorley is just terrific in this film about an event that's had a lasting effect on Northern Ireland," says Mulligan.

The Craic Music Series runs from March 10-12 at Crash Mansion on the Bowery.

"This year in addition to the film festival we'll have great music," says Mulligan. "March 10 will be 'Rock Night' featuring Mainline, a hot Dublin band; Brenda O'Shea, a New York-based singer-songwriter, and Bronagh Gallagher, who acted in 'The Commitments' and 'Pulp Fiction,' playing songs from her new album 'Precious Soul.'"

March 11 is Punk Night, featuring Raar, the Skels and America's Sweetheart, and on March 12, at Puck Fair on Lafayette St., there will be a "Session Brunch" featuring blues and folk by Kelly McRae and a traditional jam consisting of various Irish musicians.

No stovepipe hats, no dopey buttons, no green beer.

No stage Irishmen.

"Just great craic," says Mulligan.

For more information, call Orla Clancy at (646) 549-1349 or go online ( or


 Roy Keane
Roy Keane

Keane Cleared In Assault Trial

01/03/2005 - 12:56:36

Manchester United captain Roy Keane was today cleared of assaulting a teenager who taunted him in the street.

District Judge Paul Richardson delivered his verdicts at Trafford Magistrates Court, Greater Manchester, after Keane repeatedly denied manhandling the youth despite the abuse.

Keane, 33, had been accused of common assault, a public order offence and criminal damage.

After leaving court, Manchester United club solicitor Maurice Watkins released a short statement on behalf of the player.

It said: “Roy has been here for two days. Throughout Roy has cooperated fully with the police inquiry.

“He has maintained his innocence throughout and he has been vindicated today and he is very relieved justice has been done.”

Keane then left court surrounded by a scrum of TV cameras and press photographers but made no further comment.

Earlier, giving evidence under oath, Keane, who is known for his fiery temper on the football field, admitted he was angry with the teenager after he called him a “wanker”.

But he denied grabbing the 16-year-old student by the neck and shouting in his face after clashing with him outside his his £1.4m (€2m) mansion in Hale, Cheshire, last September.

The footballer, who remained seated while the judge gave his ruling, gave no reaction as he was cleared of the three charges.

Mr Richardson said he had to remind himself of the high burden of proof needed to convict a suspect in court.

He said he was not satisfied the standard had been reached, adding: “Accordingly I dismiss these three charges.”

Mr Richardson said he was not convinced by the evidence given by the 16-year-old.

He added: “It was clear to me this was a young man who enjoyed the attention that the incident had given him. Given his motive was at the best very questionable, I could not rely on his evidence.”

The judge said the three charges of common assault, criminal damage and the public order offence arose out of the same incident and so all stood or fell together.

Mr Richardson said the student had been exposed as a liar during the two-day trial.

He added: “As a witness he was unsatisfactory, he was caught out as a liar, notably in relation to the chain but perhaps in several other perhaps less significant areas.”

Mr Richardson said the teenager had been warned by police not to speak to the Press before the case went to court.

But he broke the promise by speaking to reporters and then denied he had done so to the police.

“Despite clear instruction in this case that he should not speak to the Press he chose to do so and he then lied to the sergeant about what had happened.”

Keane first clashed with the teenager while walking his dogs outside his home.

The footballer told the court that as the teenager and a friend drove past on their mopeds, the teenager shouted: “Keano – you’re a wanker,” and made a hand gesture.

A few weeks later, on September 4 last year, Keane spotted the teenager outside his home a second time.

Keane went over to tell the “lippy” youngster to “watch your mouth”.

He denied any physical assault but the teenager claimed the footballer grabbed him round the neck, swung a punch stopping just short of his face and snapped his neck chain.

Giving evidence earlier today, Irish international Keane described the moment he confronted the teenager.

The teenager has admitted making a “wanker gesture” to Keane as he rode past the footballer on a moped.

Standing in the witness box with his hands clasped in front of him, Keane spoke quietly to deny any physical assault on the youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The court had been told that after exchanging words with the teenager, Keane walked away with his dogs.

But once the footballer had left, the teenager said to his friend “what a wanker” – and Keane overheard the remark and returned.

Keane took the oath on the Bible and told the court he had been a professional footballer all his life and for the last 12 years had played for Manchester United.

Keane denied lashing out with a walking stick when he first saw the two youths as they initially drove past him.

And in the second incident weeks later, he again denied physically manhandling the teenager.

“I walked towards him and asked him if he gave me a hand gesture a couple of weeks earlier,” Keane said.

“I just wanted to ask him to see if it was him and ask why he had done it.

“He said along the lines of ’you tried to knock me off my bike’.

“I was quite surprised, I think I might have said ’no I didn’t’.

“I basically said I was not a wanker and I did not try to knock you off your bike and something along the lines of watch your mouth.”

Keane was asked by his barrister, Stuart Denney, if he had thrown a mock punch at the youngster’s face, his fist stopping just before contact.

Keane said that had not happened.

After walking away, he said he overheard a remark from the teenager to his friend saying “what a wanker”.

Keane said he went back to speak to the lad to “nip it in the bud” because on occasion he walked his dogs with his young family.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Peter McNaught, the footballer was asked about the media spotlight and attracting attention while relaxing, walking with his dogs.

“It’s part of the trade,” said Keane.

The player said he had spoken to the boy in a “polite and calm” way about the swearing.

In a statement to police read out in court, Keane said the lad was “quite lippy to say the least, saying ’get out of my face, get walking your dogs’, just giving lip basically.”

Mr McNaught asked why he decided to go back to the lad after overhearing the “what a wanker” remark.

“Just to have another word with him, give him another warning,” Keane replied.

“What warning?” the prosecutor asked.

“Along the lines of watch your mouth,” Keane replied.

Mr McNaught asked “what were you going to do if he did not watch his mouth?”

“I’m not sure, telephone the police, along those lines,” Keane said.

He admitted he was “just a little bit angry”.

Mr McNaught said: “This 16-year-old youth a few weeks ago calls you a wanker.

“You have gone across to speak to him and he wouldn’t answer your question. Then he called you a wanker again. Just a little bit angry?”

“Just a touch,” Keane replied.

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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