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March 02, 2005

03/02/05 – Deficiencies In Death Inquiries

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

BB 03/02/05 'Deficiencies' In Death Inquiries
UT 03/02/05 No Adams Fundraising In US; McGuinness Stays Home
BT 03/02/05 McCartney Sisters In Irish American Plea
BT 03/02/05 UVF Must Also Bow To People Power- Father Of Victim
BT 03/02/05 Provos Are Shielding My Son's Killer- McGinley
BT 03/02/05 IRA Killers Lay Down Law In Jail
IO 03/02/05 Ahern: 'Govt Awaiting Peace Moves From Republicans'
SO 03/02/05 The Choice: Republicanism Or Provisionalism?
BT 03/02/05 Orde Reveals SF Do Talk With PSNI
SF 03/02/05 SF Reject McCartney Police Motion
BT 03/02/05 Short Strand Residents Sick Of Sinn Fein Spin
IS 03/02/05 Secrecy Shrouds Arrest Of IRA Murder Suspect
WP 03/02/05 War Of Words At Ballina Council Meeting
BT 03/02/05 Sinn Fein Holding Talks With EU Officials


'Deficiencies' In Death Inquiries

The government must improve the way it investigates deaths caused by police and security forces, the NI Human Rights Commission has urged.

Its call follows a report by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers into how the government responded to six cases.

The committee said action must be taken to address deficiencies in the government's investigation process.

The 1989 death of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was one of the cases examined.

The Human Rights Commission is a statutory body which was established under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Its role is to ensure that the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland are protected in law, policy and practice.


Commission chief executive Paddy Sloan said they were pleased with the committee's findings.

"Urgent steps must be taken to address the weaknesses found by the European Court in the investigation of these deaths and to ensure that this issue does not come before the court again," she said.

"The government should comply fully with the judgments as soon as possible."

The five other cases under investigation were the killings of Pearse Jordan in November 1992, Jonathan McKerr in November 1982, Vincent Kelly and others in May 1987, Patrick Shanaghan in December 1990 and Dermot McShane in July 1996.

It also examined circumstances which gave rise to allegations of collusion between the security forces and the loyalist paramilitaries who committed the crimes.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/02 12:57:01 GMT


Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams will travel to US without McGuinness

Adams Fundraising Revelation

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has scrapped plans to raise funds during a visit to the US next week, it was revealed today.

The trip is being undertaken amid the greatest crisis to face the republican party in years and in an apparent attempt to shore-up support among Irish Americans.

The party has been rocked by the fall-out from the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery blamed on the IRA and the more recent murder of Catholic Robert McCartney who IRA members have been accused of stabbing to death.

Mr Adams will be in the US over St Patrick`s Day but there will be no invitation to the White House this year as there has been for him, and other Northern Ireland political leaders, in recent years.

Sinn Fein said it had been decided that a series of fundraising events were being changed into straightforward speaking engagements.

It is believed republicans fear the Bush administration could decide to stop fundraising by the party in the current climate. Money from Irish-Americans in the US has long provided a substantial boost to republican coffers.

In a clear sign of the extent of the crisis which Sinn Fein believes it is in, the party has decided chief negotiator Martin McGuinness will not now also travel to the US as planned.

A spokesman said: "The political situation is much too grave for both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to be out of Ireland at the same time.

"Mr Adams will engage with a wide range of US political and Irish-American opinion. This will provide him with an opportunity to outline Sinn Fein`s view of the current situation and our efforts to put the peace process back on track."

Mr Adams visit will take in Washington, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Cleveland.


McCartney Sisters In Irish American Plea

Five vow to show US the 'real' IRA

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
02 March 2005

The five sisters and fiancee of murdered Belfast man, Robert McCartney, have appealed to Irish Americans to help them with their trip to the US to expose Robert's murder to US politicians.

The sisters are planning to make a dramatic appearance in Washington on St Patrick's week, along with Robert's partner, Bridgeen, unless the IRA helps identify his killers.

The five are currently raising funds for the trip, during which they intend to meet with US politicians and talk to any group that also speaks to Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams.

One of the McCartney sisters, Catherine, who is organising the proposed trip to Washington, said that she would welcome any finances or accommodation supplied by Irish Americans willing to help their campaign.

She also said that her family wants to dispel romantic views of the IRA that some Irish Americans still hold.

She added that she was still working out the finances for the trip, as they did not have the money necessary for it and their spouses were helping with the family while the sisters ran the justice campaign.

"There are six of us in total and we're all just ordinary women so we don't have the finances for the trip or accommodation sorted out just yet," she said.

She said the six hoped to arrive in Washington a few days before St Patrick's day and would appeal to Irish Americans who were meeting with Sinn Fein leaders.

"I think some Irish Americans have a romantic view of the IRA that doesn't fit with the reality. We're there to tell them what has really gone on in Belfast," she said.


Questions raised over SF sanctions

Wednesday, March 02

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP said today that many people are wondering what the Irish government has done in the time since Paul Murphy indicated that he was going to introduce sanctions to stop these measures being imposed on Irish voters.

Mr Doherty said: “It is very clear that the British government are intending to press ahead and implement sanctions against the Sinn Féin electorate in the wake of the latest report from the IMC. Given the stated opposition of the Irish government to sanctions and their supposed co-equal role in managing the peace process the imminent implementation of sanctions raises serious issues for the Irish government.

“Since Paul Murphy’s announcement on sanctions what have the Irish government actually done to stop them being imposed upon Irish voters.

Sanctions are discriminatory and counter productive and are clearly prejudicial to rebuilding the political process in the time ahead.

“In the past the British government have cancelled elections and introduced suspension measures both of which were opposed by the Irish government. It is crucial if we are to rebuild this process that the Irish government does not allow itself to be relegated to the role of a junior partner.”


UVF Must Also Bow To People Power, Says Father Of Victim

By Chris Thorton
02 March 2005

The family of a teenager butchered by loyalists say they want the people power that has forced the IRA to act over the murder of Robert McCartney brought to bear on the UVF.

David McIlwaine, whose son Paul was stabbed to death along with Andrew Robb in February 2000, says there are similarities between the cases - but not in the political response to the killers.

Just as Mr McCartney was killed by IRA members who were not authorised by their leadership, the UVF gang that murdered the teenagers near Tandragee was acting outside the paramilitary group's chain of command.

Paul McIlwaine, who was due to meet SDLP leader Mark Durkan today, especially criticised unionist politicians who "have jumped on the bandwagon" after the McCartney murder because it suits them to criticise the IRA.

"But we haven't had one mention from them since 2000," he said. "Frankly, it sickens me."

He said the PUP, which is linked to the UVF, promised him eight months ago that loyalists would take a fresh look at the killing. He said there has been no response since then.

"We don't want any violence towards the men who killed the boys," said Mr McIlwaine, who is due to meet SDLP leader Mark Durkan today. "We want answers and we want to see them before the courts."

The Police Ombudsman is currently looking into police handling of the murder investigation.

The PSNI says the investigation is still active, and last year submitted material for new DNA tests.

Mr McIlwaine suspects a police informer may have been among the gang that carried out the double killing.

In January, one of the suspected killers took his own life. Noel Dillon, who had been arrested over the murders and later released, was found dead at a house in Armagh. Several killers are still at large and believed to have remained in the UVF.


Provos Are Shielding My Son's Killer, Claims Mother

By Brian Hutton
02 March 2005

The mother of a Londonderry man who was stabbed to death spoke out today against the IRA who she claims are shielding her son's killer.

Eileen McGinley said her family have been told by republicans that the man convicted of killing her son, James 'Dee-Dee' McGinley (23), in October 2003, is in the IRA.

Bartholomew Fisher (43), was jailed on Friday at the High Court, in Belfast, for three years for the manslaughter of the father-of-one.

Fisher plunged a 12-inch dagger into Mr McGinley's heart outside the Sackville Court flat, on the edge of Derry's Bogside, where the accused lived.

Mrs McGinley said today that she went to a Sinn Fein office, in Derry, following her son's death to ask if republicans knew anything about it. She claims she was told that no-one could talk to her.

"When I found out then that he (Fisher) was in the IRA, I knew that's why they wouldn't agree to meet me."

Mrs McGinley claims that some weeks later she asked two members of Sinn Fein if Fisher was a member of the IRA, to which they responded: "We cannot answer that at this time."

But last Thursday, her son Eugene was summoned to an office in Derry's Shantallow, used by republicans, where he was warned not to seek revenge on Fisher, she claims.

"The day before the court sentencing they acknowledged him as a member of the IRA. They basically said that nobody will touch him.

"They are a law unto themselves. The leaders of the IRA need to take a look around and see what they're doing to us."

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein today denied reports that Fisher ever worked for Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.

The claims were based on recorded footage of Fisher acting as a steward at this year's Bloody Sunday commemoration march in Derry.


IRA Killers Lay Down Law In Jail

Provos who took life of Garda McCabehave a veto on the running of prison

By Tom Brady
02 March 2005

The IRA killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe have a major say in the running of their bungalow jail complex, an official report explained last night.

The relative luxury enjoyed by the four Provisionals is revealed in the findings of the Inspector of Prisons, Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen, after a visit to The Grove bungalows where the killers are serving out their sentences.

Judge Kinlen comments on the relaxed atmosphere in The Grove, which is run like an open prison within the confines of Castlerea jail in Co Roscommon.

The Provisional IRA prisoners live alongside, but separately, from two INLA inmates, three "concerned parents against drugs" and other ordinary prisoners in seven two-storied houses.

The Prison Officers Association last night claimed the policy of integration in The Grove was not working. It said the IRA prisoners were effectively using the power of veto over the duties assigned to working inmates there - objecting, for instance, to working with sex offenders and drug dealers.

The Grove bungalows are surrounded by the main boundary concrete wall on two sides and separated from the rest of the prison by a high steel grid fence.

They have vegetable and horticulture gardens. Other buildings such as workshops, an education unit and visiting areas are surrounded by neat grassy lawns.

The domestic scene is completed by the inclusion of hens, chickens, ducks, peacocks, pheasants, geese, rabbits and goats.

There are also a number of plastic tunnels to grow vegetables and flowers.

The groups all live separately and at the time the inspector visited the two INLA men had a bungalow to themselves, although Mr Justice Kinlen reported overcrowding in the main prison, with offenders sleeping on the floor.

The IRA keep apart from the rest, even at mealtimes. They have their dinner and tea on their own in the communal kitchen and the rest of their meals in their own bungalows.

They are also allocated a special time in the gym where they work out on a treadmill, a stepper and a punch bag. In the carpentry shop, where they concentrated during the official visit, they are restoring a boat.

Each of the bungalows has a kitchen cum dining room, a sitting room, bedrooms and bathrooms. The bedrooms are fitted with TV sets while there is a TV in each sitting room.

The goats, rabbits and fowl wandering around the grounds add to the relaxed atmosphere, Mr Justice Kinlen said.


Ahern: 'Govt Awaiting Peace Moves From Republicans'

02/03/2005 - 13:16:50

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern has reiterated the Government's stance that it is up to Sinn Féin to make moves to revive the peace process.

Speaking after a meeting of the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference in Dublin today, Mr Ahern said he was waiting to hear from Sinn Féin on whether republicans were willing to decommission and end criminality.

Meanwhile, Northern Secretary Paul Murphy said he believed the IRA was intimidating people to stop them giving evidence to the police about the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney.

This is despite the organisation's insistence that everyone with information should come forward and that threats issued in the name of the IRA would not tolerated.

Elsewhere, asked about reports that IRA inmates at Castlerea Prison were effectively in control of their own section of the prison, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said he would move the men if it was proved that the reports were true.


The Choice: Republicanism Or Provisionalism?

Dermot Ahern's speech in the Dail last night reads as much as an essay, as a speech. In support of his argument that the Law and the Police are the sole means of getting justice for all victims, he recalls the words of Eammon McCann and Padraig Pearse. He's makes life uncomfortable for Alex Maskey, when he asks, "Did he not know what we in Dublin already knew?".

NB: He introduces a new frame for future argument: the choice between Provisionalism and Republicanism!

A Cheann Comhairle, the case of Robert McCartney is a case of collusion. Collusion that emanates from within the Provisional Movement. To avoid justice. To escape the truth. To protect the killers.

Like all collusion cases before it the Irish Government will incessantly press for truth and justice – for the family and for our wider society. Like the cases of Rosemary Nelson, Patrick Finucane, Robert Hamill before, we will not allow the case of Robert McCartney slip from the agenda.

On behalf of the Irish Government I made that pledge to Robert’s sisters and partner – I intend to keep it. Robert was clearly a deeply loved brother, partner and father.

The family spoke movingly and tenderly about him. I want to commend their composure and their determination.

Though deeply grief stricken, they have sought to focus on achieving truth and justice. The longer that process is delayed, the longer it will be before they can deal with their loss as a family. But no length of time will dull their will to secure justice.

And no matter how long it takes, I know this House, and the Irish People - will stick solidly by them.

Ceann Comhairle, I want to add my voice to all those who have commended the stand taken by the McCartney family. It has taken real courage to confront those responsible and their associates. The sickening details of the murder can leave no one in doubt about what these perpetrators are capable of and what a menace to their own community they represent. It has taken real courage too for the family to take their case to the court of public opinion.

Their interviews and public statements have been marked by a degree of integrity and belief in the rule of law that has inspired all who have heard them. The courage of the McCartney family is also reflected in their demand that the killers be brought to justice. Not the justice of the backstreets or the mountainside or the seashore but the justice that only the law of the land can provide.

Despite their own reservations about the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, they are prepared to trust the courts and the PSNI to give them justice.

Ceann Comhairle, truth and justice are words that spring easily to the lips of spokesmen for Sinn Féin. The challenge now is whether the Provisional movement can accept the family's demand and give them the truth and justice they are seeking – in the family's own terms.

There has been much talk about encouraging people to "come forward". Provisional leaders and spokesmen have said that people with information should offer that information to whoever they feel comfortable in imparting it. That may or may not mean the PSNI.

In the weeks following the murder, Sinn Féin spokesmen openly called on people with information to come forward but not necessarily to the police. There were reservations about the police, said the leadership.

But let us be clear about this. The only information that will help put the killers of Robert McCartney behind bars is information given directly to the PSNI, information that lead to statements that can be used as evidence in a court of law.

The question is not whether Gerry Adams would testify in court. The question is whether he would offer a statement to the PSNI. That would certainly be an implication of his recent statement but given the allegations of witness intimidation it would be helpful if he could clarify that point.

I fully agree with the Taoiseach and the McCartney family when they say that the IRA has a role here too in ensuring that the killers are brought to justice before the courts. When I met the McCartney family last week, the Sinn Féin leadership had already made statements supporting the family’s call for justice and encouraging people to come forward.

But when I talked to them, none of the witnesses to the crime had done so. So intimidating is the menace of paramilitaries in the Short Strand and Market areas that their mere presence is enough to still voices and quell legitimate protest.

The McCartney family made clear to me that it was one thing to issue statements and quite another to see results. They were very clear that the leaders of the Provisional movement knew how to do both – how to issue statements and how to ensure that witnesses felt free to come forward.

They were clear that the only real measure of the sincerity of the Sinn Féin leadership lay with the outcome. The bottom line is this – until the killers are brought before the Courts no member of the Provisional Movement can utter the words truth or justice with any credibility. No amount of spin is worth the conviction of the killers and justice for the family.

Ceann Comhairle, I do not need to remind the house of the broader political context which has contributed to the general lack of credibility of the statements issued by or on behalf of the provisional movement.

Séamus Heaney once remarked that in ancient Ireland the spoken word had the power of voodoo. There was reverence for the word, for its value and integrity. And indeed the peace process made significant progress because it was believed that words would be honoured by deeds. But as the McCartney family have said, the people are now too familiar with the double-speak of the Provisional Movement. They know how to decode it.

Ceann Comhairle, I and my officials were monitoring this dreadful event in some detail very soon after it occurred. Based on our own contacts and sources, a detailed picture quickly emerged of the main outlines of what had happened. It was an appalling picture of bullying and thuggery that quickly degenerated into heinous violence against innocent men.

Yet contrary to all of the intelligence that we in Dublin were aware of, a leading spokesman for Sinn Féin, a life long member of the provisional movement and a former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, condemned the incident as a tragic example of the knife culture in Belfast. He accused the PSNI of being heavy handed in searching for evidence against the killers and excused the young rioters out to impede the police. Did he not know what we in Dublin already knew?

Rumours were spread by others locally that victims had in fact been the perpetrators of their own wounds in a fall-out amongst friends. A rumour was circulated that McCartney was a member of the Provisional IRA so that the ordinary decent members of the public should have no need for concern.

Let me remind the House what the Government once said about another incident when the victims were blamed for their own deaths:

What sets this apart from other tragedies that might rival it in bloodshed is that the victims suffered a second injustice when [others] sought to taint them with responsibility for their own deaths in order to exonerate, even at that great moral cost, those [they] found it inexpedient to blame.

To what was the Irish Government referring? Those words can be found in the report "Bloody Sunday and the Report of the Widgery Tribunal, the Irish Government’s Assessment of the New Material".

They were directed at the British Government for the actions of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, in blaming the victims of Bloody Sunday in order to exculpate the soldiers involved. And what did the new Labour Government under Prime Minister Blair do in response to our assessment that the Widgery Report was not just deeply flawed but a profound injustice to the victims?

It set it aside and established a new public inquiry under an international panel of judges to look again at those terrible events. This set the new tone of the British Government’s engagement in Northern Ireland under Tony Blair and it proved an auspicious start to a process that would quickly see the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement.

What irony then that Robert McCartney should be literally slaughtered at the hands of those self-styled republicans returning from the Bloody Sunday commemoration.

I whole heartedly agree with the comments of Eamonn McCann about those who murdered Mr. McCartney.

I quote from reports of the words he spoke at the rally in support of the family’s demand for justice last Sunday:

"We are told ….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 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."

The PSNI were judicious in their comments. There was no reflex response by the PSNI publicly assuming or claiming the worst as far as the IRA were concerned. As early as 3 February, the Chief Constable said that he did not believe the crime was related to a particular terrorist group following its particular objective.

At that point, the case seemed clear. A bar brawl had ended in a terrible tragedy. The IRA was not involved. Privately, we knew that the reality was quite different. The family knew it. The people of the Short Strand knew it. The IRA was protecting its own under the blanket of denial and obfuscation. The pattern has persisted.

While the Provisional Movement has rapidly shifted its position in response to the pressure mounting from the family and their community, any progress forward has been consistently one step short of what is required.

A Cheann Comhairle, The remarkable feature of this case is the speed with which truth overwhelmed the official line peddled by the Provisional Movement’s spokesmen.

Inspired by the family’s courage, by the depth of revulsion about the slaughter of an innocent man – a Sinn Féin voter no less, the community of the Short Strand held a candle-lit vigil and on the day of the funeral attended in their masses.

Some twelve hundred people came out to support the family and with silent dignity defy the official line from a provisional leadership that liked to portray itself as a defender of that community.

The McCartney case crystallised a challenge to some fundamental notions of what the Provisional Movement claims to stand for. It claims to stand for justice but the question is 'what form of justice?'

Is it the same kind of justice in the courts of law and public inquiry that it has demanded for the families of Bloody Sunday, for the Finucane, Hamill, and Nelson families? It claims to stand for truth but will it stand for truth only when that truth can be used as a weapon in pursuit of its own interest?

It claims to stand as defenders of the small and vulnerable Short Strand community. That rings hollow for the McCartney family.

Ceann Comhairle, This case is clearest evidence of the gaping and growing divergence between ‘Provisionalism’ and Irish Republicanism. The Irish people in the first act of 32 county self-determination since 1918, overwhelmingly backed the Good Friday Agreement.

That Agreement granted Irish people the legitimate expectation of an end to paramilitarism and criminality. That is clearly the will of the Irish people. No Irish republican can oppose that will. Yet the Provisional Leadership continues to hinder that will. That Movement continues to cling to paramilitarism and criminality.

And if protecting killers, or destroying forensic evidence or keeping the police from the crime scene do not constitute criminality, I don’t know what does. Pearse, in his great poem , the Rebel, spoke of a sorrowful people under the lash of masters, and of their courage and their determination for freedom.

But in the Short Strand and the case of Robert McCartney, the Provisionals seem to have become the masters. And a normal Irish family like that of Robert McCartney have become today’s rebels – determined to secure truth and justice against all.

That’s not what Ireland in the 21st century was supposed to be like.

Ceann Comhairle, On Friday the IRA announced that it had expelled three of its members. It offered a narrative of sorts for the events of that day, as if its own self-styled process of inquiry could offer facts about what transpired as if it were a court of law.

The outcome was the expulsion of three members and encouragement that they take responsibility for their actions. Was this a step in the right direction? Certainly when I spoke to the family earlier that week, they asked why the perpetrators remained in the ranks. And the IRA statement of Friday last was a response of sorts to that.

But in falling so short of what the family wanted, it was a response that seemed tailored to the provisional movement’s needs to ease the pressure rather than listen to what the family were saying. The family has insisted that that is not enough – and we stand by the wishes of the family.

What they want is justice. Not the Provisional definition of justice. Not the Provisional definition of what it finds tolerable. The McCartney family, like any normal decent Irish family,wants and is entitled to justice without limits and without prescription.

As a republican, I can understand the sense of siege and vulnerability felt by nationalists living in Northern Ireland. I am old enough to have lived most of my life in a time of violence and conflict because of the problem of Northern Ireland.

I have known and admired people who have lost their lives, including decent people who suffered the ultimate penalty because they fell under the suspicion of the provisional movement. I knew that there had to be a better way.

I believed that the Sinn Féin leadership know there was a better way too. I acknowledge their profound contribution to the peace process. No one can gainsay the fact that they have managed their constituency in all its aspects to ensure that a ceasefire has been maintained and that weapons have been decommissioned in a situation where the overall political environment has presented some opportunities but equally has been prey to turbulence and uncertainty.

But there comes a time when the old ways of doing business don’t work any more. There comes a time when responsibility demands that rhetoric is matched by actions. There comes a time when a moral crisis demands clarity and precision.

There comes a time when the Provisional Movement must act like Irish Republicans and heed the will of the Irish People. What does one do? Listen to the family and help them find justice.

What is justice? It is the rule of law.

How does one cooperate? It is by making statements to the police.

There comes a time when a case arises that carries with it enormous significance. The public are rightly focused on this case because of its moral clarity. Their focus will not be deflected by words and statements. The demand for justice will only be satisfied when everything possible has been done and seen to be done.

A Cheann Comhairle, I fundamentally reject the notion put around by Sinn Féin spokesmen that I or any member of the Government has sought to use the murder of Robert McCartney as a stick to beat Sinn Féin on the issue of policing.

I reject the idea that somehow we find it convenient to seize on this case in order to compel Sinn Féin to endorse policing and join the Policing Board.

Sinn Féin have said that they can only endorse policing in the context of the prospect of devolving policing and justice. That context is the only issue that they have cited as a cause for delay in terms of the leadership convening a party meeting to decide the issue of policing.

But the broader security policy issues that devolving policing and justice addresses have nothing to do with the day-to-day police work that will bring the killers of Robert McCartney to justice. Neither the Secretary of State nor the Policing Board has a role in those operational matters.

If there is a role for an outside body to review the police handling of the investigation, that would fall to the Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan. Some Sinn Féin spokesmen have made references to concerns about the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

Need I remind them that that too fell under the umbrella of the Good Friday Agreement. That because of the Good Friday Agreement, the Criminal Justice Review made 294 recommendations for change. That those changes are being implemented following two Criminal Justice Acts, a revised implementation plan in a process overseen by an Independent Criminal Justice Oversight Commissioner.

And might I add that in the negotiations leading to the Comprehensive Agreement of 8 December, Sinn Féin did not raise concerns about what had been achieved under the Good Friday Agreement and the Joint Declaration in terms of the criminal justice system?

And so I make the point that this is not about Sinn Féin and broader issue of policing or criminal justice. But I do say, as I said to the McCartney family, that policing is a key element of this case.

For only by cooperating with the PSNI can the killers of Robert McCartney be brought before the courts and prosecuted for this terrible crime.

And Sinn Féin and the IRA can only help the McCartney family when they accept that that is the case. I believe that this is a challenge for the Provisional Movement. I acknowledge the recent statements by the Sinn Féin leadership that they recognise that there are more hard choices and more hard decisions ahead for them.

I welcome that they say now that they are up for the challenge today. It is positive and encouraging that they have restated their commitment to see all of the guns taken out of Irish politics and to be part of the collective effort that will create the conditions where the IRA ceases to exist.

The Irish Government has been a willing partner for peace throughout this process. We have stuck with it through all the tough times. We will do so again. And we will not be found wanting when the opportunity arises to ensure that the commitments to abide by democracy and the rule of law are turned into a reality for everyone living in Northern Ireland.

A Cheann Comhairle, I welcome this opportunity for the House to consider the murder of Robert McCartney. The Government have not sought to put down a counter motion. I fully subscribed to this motion without hesitation. Our approach underlines the unanimity amongst every Deputy in this House who believes in justice and the rule of law.

I commend this motion to the House as a declaration of support for the McCartney family and their pursuit for justice.


Orde Reveals SF Do Talk With PSNI

Party must now engage openly: police chief

By Chris Thornton
02 March 2005

Sinn Fein representatives regularly talk to police "behind the scenes", Chief Constable Hugh Orde said today as the party still refused to encourage witnesses to help solve the murder of Robert McCartney.

Mr Orde said a "grip of fear" remains over witnesses to the murder.

However, pressure for a clearer response to the killing continued to mount on republicans, as Sinn Fein announced that they have cancelled the lucrative fundraising end of Gerry Adams' St Patrick's Day trip to America.

Mr Adams will still travel to the US next week, but will not raise cash for the party during stops in six US cities.

Mr McCartney's sisters are hoping to travel to America at the same time to increase pressure to get the IRA members who killed their brother into court.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr Adams will not ask for donations in America because fundraising had become "a contentious issue for the US government" - an indication that Washington is also applying pressure for the IRA to end criminality in the wake of the McCartney murder and the Northern Bank robbery.

Mr Adams could normally expect to raise more than $$100,000 on his annual tour.

The murder of Mr McCartney outside a Belfast city centre pub on January 30 is increasingly exposing questions over Sinn Fein's approach to policing.

Last night the party refused to endorse a Belfast City Council motion encouraging the witnesses to the murder - around 70 people - to make statements to police.

But Mr Orde said today that Sinn Fein members talk to police while refusing to say it is acceptable for the witnesses to do the same thing.

"The notion that we don't speak to Sinn Fein is rubbish," he said. "Sinn Fein speak to us behind the scenes.

"They are just incapable of speaking to us up front and engaging in policing through the democratic procedures that are in place in Northern Ireland."

The row over the McCartney killing and the general debate over IRA criminality is now expected to overshadow Sinn Fein's ard fheis, the party's annual conference that opens in Dublin on Friday.

The IRA has expelled three members it says were involved in the McCartney murder, but has taken no other public action over the killing.

Mr Orde accused the group of allowing its members to murder without sanction.

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell, who represents the Short Strand area where Mr McCartney lived, suggested that witnesses could make statements to the Police Ombudsman or solicitors instead of the PSNI.

But legal experts have indicated that any such statements will end up being followed up by the PSNI if a viable case is to be brought to court.

Mr McCartney's sister Paula said the IRA should order its members "to do the right thing".

"The responsibility of what happens now to these members lies with the IRA," she said.

"They have expelled three members. But there were more than three people involved."

Mr Adams is due to begin his US tour on March 14 with a speaking engagement in New York.

Meanwhile, a 29-year-old man, questioned by police yesterday in relation to the McCartney murder, has been released without charge.


BBC NI political correspondent Martina Purdy: "Two of his sisters listened impassively to the debate"

SF Reject McCartney Police Motion

Sinn Fein has been condemned for not backing a council motion urging anyone with information on the Robert McCartney murder to go to the police.

The 33-year-old father-of-two died after being stabbed near Belfast city centre on 30 January.

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

Two men have been arrested over the murder in the past week, but both have been released without charge.

Sinn Fein failed to back a motion at Belfast City Council on Tuesday urging anyone with information or evidence on the murder to go to the police.

The SDLP motion was passed by 33 votes to zero.

Sinn Fein's 13 councillors abstained after its amendment to "encourage anyone with information or evidence to go to the organisation of their choice" was not passed.

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy, who tabled the motion, said he was disappointed but not surprised Sinn Fein did not back it.

"I would like them to turn round and tell everyone that if they want to go to the police, they can go without any fear of repercussion," he said.

The motion, debated on Tuesday night, called 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 demanded "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".

Sinn Fein deputy mayor Joe O'Donnell said many people in the area would not go to the police.

"Our motion was to make sure they used other avenues - it was more inclusive, it represented the wishes of more people and it would ensure that more information was brought forward," he said.

Unionists and others said Sinn Fein's words rang hollow, and it was time for action.


Meanwhile, the Police Ombudsman's office said it would be willing to assist the investigation in any way possible.

A spokesman for Nuala O'Loan's office said it would want to liaise with the police about the best way to achieve this.

Mr McCartney's sister, Paula, has said that if witnesses were unwilling to approach the police, the family would like them to give statements to the Police Ombudsman.

Sinn Fein said witnesses to the murder should go to whatever reputable body they were comfortable with.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that he would encourage people to go through a third party if they did not feel confident about going to the police directly.

Earlier on Wednesday, he told the BBC's Today programme that it was similar to his experiences in London, where "some communities who didn't trust us" would go through third parties "as a way of getting to the police".

"I have no difficulty with that, but what we need to do is get the information and then give the people the confidence to go into court and give the evidence," he added.

A 29-year-old man arrested over the murder of Mr McCartney was released without charge on Tuesday.

Another man questioned about the murder was released without charge at the weekend.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/02 11:49:24 GMT


Short Strand Residents Sick Of Sinn Fein Spin

By Andrea Clements
02 March 2005

Unionists have revealed they had been contacted by residents from the Catholic Short Strand, sick of Sinn Fein "spin" over Robert McCartney's murder.

The claims came during a debate over an SDLP motion last night that encouraged anyone with evidence about the January 30 murder to give it to the PSNI.

Sinn Fein attempts to amend the motion to urge people with information or evidence "to bring it forward through an avenue of their choice" were unanimously rejected by other councillors.

The SDLP motion was supported by all 33 of them, while the 13 Sinn Fein councillors abstained.

Pat McCarthy, who brought forward the motion urging support for the McCartney family in their quest for justice, hit out against "murders who walk freely around the district as if nothing had happened".

Of Sinn Fein, he said: "Their supporting political vows ring hollow when they condemn Robert's murder".

But Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said: "They can't say we are not saying the words."

Deputy Lord mayor and Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell claimed that, while his party supported the general sense of the motion, many in the city could not go to the PSNI "for good reason".

He said that if the Sinn Fein amendment was not supported, many would believe it was turning the tragedy into "a political football".

Unionists felt there had been a dramatic shift in support for Sinn Fein following the murder.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson said he was aware he was not a "natural voice" for people living in the Short Strand, but added: "Since these events took place, I have been surprised by the number of people who have contacted me to say that what I have said was what they wanted someone to say."

And Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey felt it was significant people in the area were "so frustrated at spin" from Sinn Fein they came to him.

His party colleague Michael McGimpsey said damage done to Sinn Fein damaged all parties.

"We have a requirement to go forward in some form of partnership with but it seems impossible to include Sinn Fein."

Outside the chamber, Mr McCartney's sister Catherine said the fight to get justice for her brother would continue.

She added that 15 to 20 people were involved in the clean up of the bar and everybody knew who they were.

"The issue for the family is clear cut: we want to see these people brought to justice.

"These people are accountable to no one."

A 29-year-old man was released by detectives investigating Mr McCartney's murder last night.


Secrecy Shrouds Arrest Of IRA Murder Suspect

ISN SECURITY WATCH (02/03/05) - Northern Ireland police arrested a 29-year-old man was arrested in Belfast on Tuesday in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney. The suspect handed himself in to police in the company of a solicitor, but was released early on Wednesday without charges. The man, whose name has not been released, was not one of the three expelled last Friday by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on suspicion of their involvement in the McCartney murder. It is believed that 12-15 men were involved in the killing.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hugh Orde, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), said all three men dismissed from the IRA had left the country. However, the PSNI later retracted that statement.

McCartney died outside a Belfast bar on 31 January, after getting involved in a dispute with a group of local IRA men. McCartney was from the Catholic Short Strand district, an enclave in the mainly Protestant eastern part of Belfast. Short Strand is seen as the birthplace of the modern IRA, known as the Provisional IRA. As violence intensified in 1969, Short Strand residents were besieged by Loyalist groups. Many left the area, but the IRA, according to locals - including McCartney’s sister, Paula McCartney - came to their defense.

Now, the public display of defiance to IRA domination of the district, led by the McCartney family, has serious ramifications for both the IRA and the political party linked to it, Sinn Féin. The party has been under enormous public pressure recently, due to the IRA’s alleged role in the €38 million Belfast bank robbery in December, and ensuing money laundering investigations conducted in the Republic of Ireland.

The McCartney killing led to demands for Sinn Féin to publicly state its support for witnesses to come forward. The IRA statement last Friday declared that no intimidation of those seeking to help any investigation would be tolerated. Sinn Féin has stated that people should go forward to whoever they deem suitable, reflecting the traditional distrust of the Northern Ireland police in nationalist areas.

Late on Tuesday, the Irish parliament debated a motion calling on public representatives to encourage witnesses with evidence to come forward. Sinn Féin, which has five sitting representatives in Dublin, sought an amendment encouraging those who did not trust the police to come forward via a solicitor.

Meanwhile, Hugh Orde said on Tuesday that although many people had come forward in recent days, no one was willing to testify in court. (By Simon Roughneen in Derry)


War Of Words At Ballina Council Meeting

A war of words exploded at a meeting of Ballina Town Council last week on a motion calling on Sinn Fein/IRA to cease all paramilitary and criminal activity.

The fiery dispute developed between Cllr Mary Kelly (Ind) and Cllr Michelle Mulherin (FG) when a motion from Mullingar Town Council was put to the meeting.

Cllr Padraig Moore (FF) drew attention to the motion and said he felt they should support it. Cllr Peter Clarke (SF) said he could not support the motion. It was party politics, he said.

Cllr Mulherin then launched into her remarks and was interrupted by the Meara Cllr Kelly who said they were getting away from the point. This then led to a flurry of animated remarks between the councillors.

Before the row Cllr Mulherin said the issue was a very sensitive one at the present time. A lot of allegations had been made but the situation was that we were living in a democratic society and we had laws and the rule of law should apply.

If there was hard evidence to support any of the allegations made then the necessary prosecutions should be taken and the rule of law and due process should apply.

She added that any party and any person was entitled to fair process. She thought there had been a lot of statements bandied about and if there was evidence due process should be followed.


Sinn Fein Holding Talks With EU Officials

By Michael Drake
02 March 2005

Sinn Fein is going to Brussels to discuss major farming and fishing matters with senior EU officials.

MEP Bairbre de Brun, MP Michelle Gildernew and Fermanagh council mayor Gerry McHugh will be making the two day visit.

Today Ms Gildernew said: "There are many key developments, particularly at EU level, which impact on the long term future of Irish agriculture and fishing.

"Sinn Fein is determined to secure the best outcome for our fishing and farming communities. This demands sustained engagement with officials in Europe. This visit is the next stage in a programme that encompasses working with rural communities which depend on farming and fishing."

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Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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