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March 03, 2005

03/03/05 – Security Force Probes Must Be Improved

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

BT 03/03/05 Security Force Probes 'Must Be Improved'
BT 03/03/05 IRA Never Intended To Melt Away: McDowell
BT 03/03/05 'I Didn't Order Fatal Pub Attack'
BT 03/03/05 McCartney Killers Sully The Cause: Adams
BT 03/03/05 What Is Taoiseach Doing On Sanctions?
BT 03/03/05 Governments Discuss The Options
UT 03/03/05 Sinn Fein Dismisses 'Crisis' Talk
BT 03/03/05 Ahern Is 'Certain' Cork Cash Was From Bank Raid
BT 03/03/05 Viewpoint: Democracy Must Prevail In The End
BT 03/03/05 Cross-Border Plan Unveiled


Security Force Probes 'Must Be Improved'

By Deborah McAleese
03 March 2005

Government investigations into deaths caused by security forces in Ulster need to be urgently improved, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission warned today.

Widespread criticism has been launched by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers for the failure to conduct effective investigations into the killing of several Ulster men.

"We are pleased that this important body has endorsed calls for more effective investigation of deaths caused by members of the police and security forces in Northern Ireland," said chief executive of the NIHRC, Ms Paddy Sloan.

"Urgent steps must be taken to address the weaknesses found by the European Court in the investigation of these deaths."

The Committee called for immediate action after the Court ruled that due to its failure to conduct effective investigations the Government had violated Article 2 of the European Convention - the right to life.

Breaches were found in the handling of probes into the deaths of Pearse Jordan, Gervaise McKerr, Patrick Kelly, Dermot Shanaghan and Patrick McShane.

The Court also found failings in the Pat Finucane murder investigation.


IRA Never Intended To Melt Away: McDowell

Minister names top Provo in Dail

By Chris Thornton
03 March 2005

The IRA never intended to melt away if last year's settlement had been successful, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said last night as he publicly identified another member of the IRA's Army Council.

During a Dail debate on the murder of Robert McCartney, Mr McDowell said the IRA's promised "new mode" meant it would "become a lightly armed IRA gendarmerie who would in future act as the enforcers" for Sinn Fein.

And he named Thomas 'Slab' Murphy as a member of the IRA's ruling seven-man council. Mr Murphy previously sued the Sunday Times for the same allegation and was awarded £1 in damages.

Mr McDowell has previously named Sinn Fein politicians Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris as members of the IRA's Army Council, basing the allegation on intelligence available to him as Justice Minister. The three men denied the allegation.

During last night's debate, Mr McDowell said: "The public are beginning to see the shape of the threat to democracy posed by a movement which uses crime on a massive scale to engage in politics.

"What is on view is but the tip of an iceberg.

"While the public were led to believe that the Provisional movement were struggling internally to leap directly in a clean break from paramilitarism to politics, the truth was and is that the Army Council were preparing to transform the movement by stealth into one in which the political loss-making `hardware division' of the IRA with its Semtex, Kalashnikovs, rockets and missiles, was to be replaced with a lightly armed IRA gendarmerie who would in future act as the enforcers for the criminal and control strategy underpinning Sinn Fein's drive for political power.

"We now know that the IRA was not planning to go away. It was to mutate into something else.

"It would be the lightly armed means whereby the crime went on, the smuggling zone was protected, the rule of the Army Council was enforced, the funds for politics and power were amassed, the Short Strand and many other enclaves would be dominated and ruled, and the means whereby opponents and rivals would be intimidated and silenced."

Mr McDowell said Sinn Fein and the IRA are "a single entity which terms itself the republican movement.

"It has a single leadership. The entire movement - including Sinn Fein - regards that leadership as the authentic source of political legitimacy on this island.

"Its decisions are law. Its murders are mere executions. Its tortures are but punishments. Its robberies are just legitimate expropriations. Its network of crime and money-laundering are merely the financing of the movement. Its action, as we now all know, are by definition never criminal."

Mr McDowell spoke about south Armagh man Eamonn Collins, a former IRA member who was murdered after speaking publicly about the IRA leadership.

Sinn Fein's Dail leader Caoimhghin O'Caolain insisted that every avenue must be kept open for witnesses to the murder of Mr McCartney to come forward.

Mr O'Caolain repeated Gerry Adams' remarks that those who had sullied the Republican cause must be held to account for their actions.

But he went on to say that calling on witnesses to contact the PSNI "restricts the means by which information may be given in order to help bring the killers to justice".


'I Didn't Order Fatal Pub Attack'

Top republican tells of how he was stabbed

By Chris Thornton
03 March 2005

The senior republican arrested over the murder of Robert McCartney today denied ordering the fatal attack.

Gerard "Jock" Davison, who was later released without charge, admitted being in Magennis's bar in Belfast when the row that led to the murder broke out, but claimed he is "as much a victim of circumstances as everybody else".

In an interview with Daily Ireland, Mr Davison said he believes the intimidation of witnesses to the murder is "non-existent".

The republican said he had personally told witnesses to give statements to the same solicitor he has instructed in the case.

Mr Davison said he had called into Magennis's bar on January 30 and was approached by "a member" who said that men at a table which included Robert McCartney had been making rude gestures to women.

Mr Davison said he approached Robert McCartney, a former neighbour of his, and "sorted it out in a couple of seconds".

He said another man he did not know then "verbally attacked me" and stabbed him three times .

"I defended myself and that was my sole role in the whole affair," he said.

He said he was treated for three hand wounds in the bar and then brought to hospital. He said he was "nowhere near" Market Street, where the worst part of the assault on Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine, who was seriously injured, took place a few moments later.

Mr Davison said he was already at the Royal Victoria Hospital when Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine were brought in "maybe 20 minutes, half an hour after me".

The interview was published as Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were preparing to meet in Downing Street.

It follows Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell's claim that the IRA has never planned to wind up its activities, but intended to continue to exist as "gendarmerie" for Sinn Fein.

During the interview with Daily Ireland editor Maria McCourt, Mr Davison refused to answer questions about whether he has been dismissed from the IRA or if he is the senior republican described in last week's IRA statement on the murder.

Several accounts of the row in Magennis's bar said a senior IRA member drew his finger across his throat in a gesture to other IRA members in the bar.

But he denied ordering the attack or playing any other role.

"I would like to get somebody to stand over that," he said.

"I totally refute that, it's actually an insult to say that I was . . . even that implication, that you ordered somebody to kill a man.

"I'm from the Short Strand, he's a neighbour of mine, he's a member of my community.

"There's not a snowball's chance in hell that I would even involve myself in an incident like that. I totally refute that allegation, it's wrong, it's unfair on me."

He added: "I sorted out the problem with Robert McCartney in seconds and I was attacked by a thug so I'm as much a victim of circumstances as everybody else."

Mr Davison said he has met members of the McCartney's extended family and would like to meet Mr McCartney's closest relatives.

Mr Davison denied knowing about the clean-up operation in the bar by IRA members, when tape from a security camera was stolen.

He said he did not believe witnesses had been intimidated.


McCartney Killers Sully The Cause: Adams

By Ashleigh Wallace
03 March 2005

Those behind the killing of Short Strand father of two Robert McCartney have "sullied the republican cause" and must be made accountable for their actions.

That is according to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, who once again called for those involved in the city centre stabbing to come forward.

Reiterating his support for the McCartney family's quest for truth and justice, the West Belfast MP once again called on those who have information on the murder to make it available.

Mr Adams said: "Although many people have come forward, others have not, particularly some who may have been directly involved in Robert's murder.

"In my view these people must give a full account through whatever conduit they choose. I want also to restate with absolute clarity that whoever killed Robert McCartney should come forward and take responsibility for this. That is what I meant when I said that if I was involved I would make myself accountable to the courts.

"So far, Robert McCartney's killer has not had the courage to do this. Self-preservation and selfishness will not prevail in this case.

"I am not letting this issue go until those who have sullied the republican cause are made to account for their action."

His words were echoed by Sinn Fein Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghin O Caolain.

But he went on to say that calling on witnesses to contact the PSNI "restricts the means by which information may be given in order to help bring the killers to justice".

The office of the Police Ombudsman has offered to assist in the investigation of the murder.

The offer was made as a way of getting republicans not traditionally anxious to make statements to the police to come forward.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said earlier that he was quite happy for people who did not feel confident about going directly to the police to approach them through a third party.

"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,'" said Mr Orde.


What Is Taoiseach Doing On Sanctions?

By Chris Thornton
03 March 2005

Sinn Fein asked today what the Irish government is doing to oppose London's plan to strip away the party's £500,000 Westminster allowances.

Party vice-president Pat Doherty - one of the MPs in line to lose the payments - said "many people are wondering" about the Irish government's response as the Taoiseach said he thought they were a bad idea.

Last week Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced in the House of Commons that Sinn Fein's Assembly allowances would be docked. He also said the Commons will vote on stopping its Westminster entitlements.

Mr Murphy was acting in after an IMC report which blamed the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery and said Sinn Fein leaders approved the £26.5m theft.

Mr Doherty said: "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."

A spokesman for the Irish government said: "We are equal partners in this and our opposition is clear."


Governments Discuss The Options

By Noel McAdam
03 March 2005

The British and Irish governments have held initial talks on the options for political progress following the forthcoming elections.

Their "preliminary discussions" at the British/Irish Inter-governmental Conference in Dublin yesterday came with agreement to meet again in May - just after the council and anticipated Westminster election battles.

A joint communiqué afterwards said London and Dublin remain committed to the "new beginning" promised by the Good Friday Agreement and the early restoration of an Assembly and Executive.

But the governments will also examine the scope for enhanced North-South co-operation in the continuing absence of devolution.

The conference at Iveagh House discussed the continuing fall-out from the Northern Bank raid and the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney. The governments said they were united in admiration at the courage and dignity of the McCartney family "in the face of intimidation and obstruction".

The communiqué said there was no place for violence in a democratic society and called on those with information on the McCartney murder to share it with police.

The conference also asked officials to work on the issue of political donations to parties in Northern Ireland to ensure arrangements are "fair, accountable and transparent".

The British Government also pledged that the inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane will be in line with commitments given at the Weston Park talks.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy and the Republic's Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern signed a memorandum of understanding granting permission for the Irish language television station TG4 to be broadcast on a UK frequency to Irish speakers in Northern Ireland.

Test transmissions are due to begin probably from this Friday, from Divis Mountain, after years of campaigning by enthusiasts.

Other issues included the planned appointment of a Victims and Survivors Commissioner, illegal waste dumping in Northern Ireland, nationality requirements for public servants and future developments at City of Derry Airport.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the conference showed not everything is dependent on Sinn Fein and the IRA. "As long as people see the Agreement is still working, they will realise how much the Provisional IRA is stalling progress," he added.


Sinn Fein Dismisses 'Crisis' Talk

Embattled republicans today attempted to halt a growing belief that Sinn Fein is facing its biggest crisis yet.

By:Press Association

As the White House cancelled political invitations to its annual St Patrick`s Day celebrations in Washington, the party denied it was in response to allegations of IRA bank robbing, money laundering and murder.

Caoimhghin O Caolain, Sinn Fein`s leader in the Irish Parliament, insisted that the decision to pull the plug on the March 17 bash by President Bush`s administration applied across the board rather than to his party alone.

With Gerry Adams due to fly out to the States regardless of Washington`s move, Mr O Caolain said: "This is just one event. It`s for the US administration to explain their decision."

But the party, which has been on the defensive over the multi-million pound Northern Bank heist in Belfast, blamed on the IRA, and the pub killing of Robert McCartney by a suspected Provo gang, rejected a new assessment of their growing problems by Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy.

Mr Murphy admitted yesterday he had never seen the republican movement under so much pressure as it deals with demands for an end to all IRA crime and justice over the McCartney killing.

Mary Lou McDonald, a Sinn Fein MEP for Dublin, said: "There are attempts to turn this into a Sinn Fein meltdown story.

"Anyone who imagines our party is in crisis needs to come along to our Ard Fheis (annual conference) this weekend."

Mr O Caolain, who confirmed talks between his party and Government officials, including Prime Minister Tony Blair`s chief of staff Jonathan Powell, were ongoing, expressed his disappointment that talks with the Dublin administration broke down six weeks ago over the deepening problems in the peace process.

But he insisted: "The crisis is not only Sinn Fein`s, it`s a crisis that has to be addressed by all parties and both Governments."


Ahern Is 'Certain' Cork Cash Was From Bank Raid

By Gene McKenna
03 March 2005

The Government is "absolutely certain" that some of the money recovered in money-laundering operations by gardai in Cork came from the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern gave the first official confirmation of this yesterday after a meeting in Dublin with Northern Secretary Paul Murphy.

When asked if money recovered by gardai in Cork came from the ?38m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast on December 20, Mr Ahern said: "Absolutely."

The minister added: "I am not speaking for the Garda Siochana or the Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland. It is the Government's view and from our information from the Garda Siochana, they are not pursuing any other line of inquiry."

Mr Ahern said the Government was also still waiting to hear from the Provisional movement what they were going to do about ending paramilitary and criminal activity.

Both Mr Ahern and Mr Murphy also reiterated their support for the family of murdered Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney in their bid to bring his killers, believed to be IRA members, to justice.

They said they were "united in their admiration" for the family's efforts "in the face of intimidation and obstruction". They added they "utterly deplored such criminality for which there is no place whatever in a democratic society".

Mr Murphy said he did not believe the people of Belfast would stand for intimidation from the IRA: "If anybody, including the IRA, is intimidating witnesses, then that is utterly to be condemned. What is most significant is that such intimidation is being rebuffed by people who actually live in the Short Strand and in Belfast. The fact that we have seen hundreds, indeed thousands, of people out on the streets in the last number of weeks is symptomatic of what people feel."

After the meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Mr Murphy and Mr Ahern praised the dignity and courage of the Mr McCartneys.

They said it would be acceptable if witnesses were prepared to give evidence to a solicitor. But both insisted the "litmus test" for the family was whether people would be prepared to go to court.

Mr Murphy said they believed that there is intimidation of potential witnesses being carried out and added: "We condemn that." The two Governments said they were "at one" in their stance that the onus was on Sinn Fein to come forward and tell them that criminality and paramilitarism was at an end.

The Northern Secretary also said that he could not remember a time when republicans were under so much pressure politically.

"The Northern Bank robbery, the murder of Robert McCartney and other issues have brought this to a head, " he said.

"No one wanted this to happen. It would have been much better if we had been talking about the restoration of the Executive in Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said police were still not in a position to confirm that the money recovered in the Republic was from the Northern Bank robbery.

"But all indications currently suggest that they are definitely linked," he added.

Source: Irish Independent


Viewpoint: Democracy Must Prevail In The End

Plan B: Sinn Fein must sever its links with criminality or be left behind.

03 March 2005

The meeting in London today between Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern should mark a watershed in the peace process, when democracy prevails over criminality, but will it? There have been too many attempts to treat Sinn Fein like a normal party, instead of one linked to organised crime, for anyone to be sure that the two governments will eventually consider restoring devolution without it.

Yet there were further indications yesterday of the guilt of the IRA in the Northern Bank raid and its subsequent connection with a large-scale money-laundering operation. Chief Constable Hugh Orde is 99.9pc recurring certain that it was an IRA heist and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern is sure that money recovered near Cork came from the Belfast robbery.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell has already connected Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness with the ruling Army Council of the IRA, so it is not surprising that, in the circumstances, US President Bush is scaling down the customary St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington.

The scourge of world-wide terror could hardly receive politicians who so recently have been associated with a major crime, not to mention the activities in Colombia or IRA members' part in the brutal murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast.

The sad consequence, in America as in Northern Ireland, is that since Sinn Fein have made themselves unacceptable, through the IRA's actions, the law-abiding parties are equally affected. No politicians will be welcomed at the White House, following the failure of the IRA to abandon both criminality and its weapons, and no form of Stormont devolution is being contemplated, since the unionist parties refuse to deal with Sinn Fein/IRA.

The peace process is, therefore, in the most serious of its many crises since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. In the past, both governments and enough unionists have been prepared to move on, after a period of reflection, but this time there is little prospect of Sinn Fein creating sufficient trust, even after the results of the May elections are known.

Even as pressure is mounting, internationally, for Sinn Fein to sever its paramilitary links, there are hints that already Downing Street is in contact with the republican movement, presumably sounding out its future intentions. Whatever is being discussed, it can only be about how republicans are to become fully-fledged democrats or be ostracised for years ahead.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern will be reluctant to take any drastic steps before the elections, but in the longer term they cannot let local democracy wither and die. Either Sinn Fein take the hint, or a devolution Plan B must be devised.


Cross-Border Plan Unveiled

By Patsy McArdle

03 March 2005

A new cross-border development plan - designed to promote projects which will have an impact in Northern Ireland and the Republic - is to be unveiled at a conference in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, tomorrow.

The plan, based on a study undertaken in South Armagh and Co Monaghan, is aimed at forming a partnership approach for Government and EU funding for a number of new projects with cross-community appeal.

Local authority representatives from both sides of the border, as well as Ulster and Eire trade leaders, are involved.

A spokesman for Mentor Economic Development Limited, which has undertaken the survey, said: "This is a major co-operative exercise - the objective is to draw down maximum grant aid from both governments and the EU for the Border region."

The Mayor of Castleblayney, Brendan Hughes, said the conference will also discuss formalising the role of the North/South Partnership and consider 'a new Action Plan' for the future'

Delegates, he said, will also be exploring where maximum funding can be obtained for the most meritorious schemes.

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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