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March 05, 2005

03/05/05 - McCartney Sisters Invited to SF Conference

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

IO 03/05/05 McCartney Sisters Invited To SF Conference
BT 03/05/05 Sinn Fein Moves To Isolate The McCartney Killers
BT 03/05/05 Robert McCartney: The Family Man
SF 03/05/05 McLaughlin - Resolving Crisis Challenges All Of Us
DS 03/03/05 Senate To Consider National ID Bill
DS 03/03/05 Save Your Radio Shows
BT 03/05/05 Opin: Hard Cop, Soft Cop, Routine Fails To Impress
BT 03/03/05 Viewpoint: Learning The Lessons Of The Last Century
BB 03/03/05 Trimble Rules Out SF Powersharing
SF 03/05/05 Alex Maskey: Unionist Outreach
SF 03/05/05 Sinn Féin Prepared To Enter Into Meaningful Dialogue
BT 03/05/05 Delegates Launch Attack On 'Minister Of Injustice'
BT 03/05/05 McGinley Death: I'm No IRA Man, Insists Stab Killer
JN 03/05/05 Nanuet Man To Lead St. Patrick's Parade
JN 03/05/05 50th St. Patrick's Day Parade To Kick Off In Yonkers


McCartney Sisters Invited To SF Conference

05/03/2005 - 13:48:33

The sisters of murdered Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney were today due to attend Sinn Féin’s annual conference in Dublin to hear what President Gerry Adams has to say about the killing.

Catherine McCartney confirmed the family had agreed to an invitation from Sinn Féin to attend the conference.

She said: “If anyone wants to talk to us at the conference and listen to our story, they’re welcome.

“We will go wherever and meet whoever we have to.”

Mr McCartney was stabbed and beaten when a row in a Belfast city bar on January 30 escalated.

The IRA has expelled three members following an internal investigation into claims by the family that Provisionals killed the East Belfast man, covered evidence up and intimidated witnesses from going to the police.

On Thursday Mr Adams suspended seven members of the party amid claims that they were involved.

The suspensions could become expulsions if the members are found guilty in any legal process arising from the case.


Put out in the cold

Sinn Fein Moves To Isolate The Mccartney Killers

From Noel McAdam in Dublin
05 March 2005

The IRA killers of Robert McCartney have found themselves further isolated after Sinn Fein members last night called on them to give themselves up to the courts.

As Sinn Fein faced one of its greatest crises following the Northern Bank robbery and allegations of money laundering, the party moved to distance itself further from Mr McCartney's murderers.

An emergency motion carried at the party's ard fheis in Dublin said it supported the family's quest for justice and called on those responsible "to make themselves accountable".

At the debate, ex-IRA man Gerry Kelly said the murder had been a brutal and criminal act. The party's justice spokesman said the killers' failure to make themselves accountable prolonged the family's agony ? and allowed those intent on "making political capital" to continue.

"It is wrong that those who witnessed the murder should be intimidated in any way," he warned.

Republicans who were angry over the involvement of a small number of IRA volunteers had a duty to support the McCartneys.

Just 24 hours after Gerry Adams suspended seven members, the bulk of grassroots delegates attending the three-day conference gave him their backing. But a significant section of the hall failed to raise their hands for or against.

Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness earlier said: "What pains me the most is any suggestion, suspicion or indication that the IRA could be turned into a criminal gang or a tool of individual interest, or otherwise engaged in criminality."

The motion said: "Whoever killed Robert McCartney should take responsibility and make themselves accountable to the courts."

It went on to call "on anyone with information regarding this killing to come forward and make a statement through whatever channel they deem appropriate to uncover the truth and to secure justice for the McCartney family".


Robert McCartney: The Family Man

Exclusive pictures of a lost life

By Mary Fitzgerald
05 March 2005

It's not the first time Robert McCartney's sisters have stood up for him. One of two brothers in a family of seven, Robert's older sisters used to pull rank around him when playground scrapes got a little rough.

"We didn't boss him around or anything like that as a kid," says Catherine McCartney, her face, tight with grief and worry, now relaxing into a smile. "But if anyone hit him, even though he could handle himself, we would go out, find the person responsible and give them a good talking to. He would have been surprised if we hadn't."

But this time it's different. Robert is dead. Beaten, gouged and stabbed after a squalid bar brawl turned nasty last month. Now standing up for Robert means ensuring his killers are brought to justice and that means taking on the local IRA hard men.

In the Short Strand that's no mean feat. Republican lore holds that the Provos sprang from the area's narrow streets more than 30 years ago. Standing up to the IRA here means standing up to people you might bump into in the local shop or, in the case of another sister, Paula, people who live only a couple of hundred yards away from your home.

"This isn't about what the IRA has done for this community in the past," she says, surrounded by sympathy cards and photographs of her brother. "This is about the IRA today taking responsibility for their men who seem to be out of control. They have to ask themselves what are they now - some sort of militia?"

It's late afternoon exactly four weeks after Robert was murdered and the McCartneys are tired, their faces betraying the strain of long days and sleepless nights.

The phone keeps ringing - CNN, Radio 4, RTE, an American newspaper journalist - and the sisters, together with Robert's fiancee Bridgeen, are trying to finalise arrangements for the month's mind - a special Mass traditionally held one month after a death - that evening.

The sisters shrug and say they have not yet begun to grieve. There is no time in between organising vigils, putting up posters appealing for information, photocopying Robert's photograph for placards and doing interviews. Endless rounds of interviews. Everyone wants to hear the McCartney family's story. A steady parade of reporters, politicians and clergy has trooped through the front room of Paula's neat terraced home in Short Strand over the last month. The sisters have been to Dublin to meet Irish government representatives, to the US Consul's office in Belfast and to umpteen TV and radio studios. A trip to the US is in the offing.

Newspapers have dubbed this formidable band of sisters, along with their aunt Margaret and Bridgeen, 'The Magnificent Seven', including them in a rollcall of 'women who changed the course of Irish history'. They have been compared to the Peace People in the 1970s and Sicilian women who have campaigned against the mafia.

The McCartneys wear such praise lightly, preferring instead to talk about Robert and the latest developments in the case.

"We don't feel any sense of achievement or bravery," says Paula. "We still feel as beleaguered as we did the night we found out our Robert had been murdered.

"A lot of people in similar situations in the past have tried to be heard but they were ignored. I don't know why we're being listened to but thank God we are. I had never really known the importance of justice before this and I don't think anyone does until it arrives at your door. We are just an ordinary family that feels it cannot move forward until Robert's murderers are brought to justice."

Bridgeen nods her head in agreement. "Anyone else would do the same if it was their brother or partner. I know that I won't be able to get on with my life until these people are caught and I know Robert would be proud of us all," she says, smiling.

Bridgeen should be poring over plans for her wedding to Robert which was due to take place later this year. Instead, she is struggling to explain what has happened to their two children, Brandon, (two) and Conlead (four).

"It's hard for them to understand," she says. "They're still asking for him and crying for him. They see his picture on TV and tell me that they want their daddy. I told them that he's in heaven now but they cry and say they want him down from heaven and back home."

Robert was a forklift operator and bodybuilder, and sometimes worked as a doorman. His sisters say he was a Sinn Fein voter and a gentle, soft-spoken family man who was well-liked in the area. The family has lived in the Short Strand for more than 100 years, their great-grandfather a Presbyterian called Robert McCartney.

They know what it means to challenge the omerta in a staunchly republican community like theirs and they understand why the IRA is now trying to square the controversy, announcing the unprecedented expulsion of three members believed to have been involved in the killing.

In a further development, seven Sinn Fein party members have been suspended pending the outcome of the legal process surrounding the case.

"We didn't set out to destroy the IRA. They did it themselves," says Claire McCartney. They have been caught out, adds Catherine, recalling glib remarks made by Sinn Fein representatives about "a knife culture" in the immediate aftermath of the murder.

"They were dismissive at the start," she says. "They probably thought they were going to get away with it like they had in the past. They were arrogant and underestimated us as a family."

The McCartney family are under no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead. With no forensic evidence, they know that in order to secure convictions, witnesses must come forward with detailed statements or, unlikelier still, those responsible must hand themselves in.

"I'm beginning to think this will be a long road for us," sighs Catherine. "But we're not going to give up. Robert would have wanted this. Knowing us as he did, he would have said these people were fools to mess with us. And he would be right."


McLaughlin - Resolving Crisis In Process Challenges All Of Us

Published: 5 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin opening the peace process debate at the party's Ard Fheis said:

The recurring theme of our Ard Fheiseanna over the past number of years has been Building an Ireland of Equals. This is not just a slogan it is our firm objective and in order to achieve it we must first build a durable and successful Peace Process. At the moment the only aspect of the peace process that remains is the IRA cessation. No dialogue. No process. No engagement, but the re-emergence of a security agenda in response to the electoral advance of Sinn Féin.

By the 6th of May Sinn Féin will have contested 4 elections. The only party who can do so because we are the only all Ireland party.

What even our most strident critics must realise is that when these elections are over they will have to come back to face a re-energised and more determined Sinn Féin. We will put our trust in the electorate and I believe that they will see through the opportunism, the shortsightedness and cynicism of the establishment parties. The electorate have long known that the status quo is not an option, that stalemate is not an option. Both are wholly unacceptable.

Sinn Féin is ready to face up to our responsibility to help resolve the present difficulties. Our priority and primary responsibility is to rebuild this process and deliver the real peace that the people are entitled to. That is where our energies will be directed in the time ahead.

While not underestimating the current difficulties our commitment to the peace process and to the advancement of our social and economic agenda of equality and justice will be to the fore in our deliberations and that of our delegates and activists this weekend.

While there are wide ranging issues up for discussion, given the current situation, there needs to be a heavy emphasis on rebuilding the peace process which has effectively been put in deep freeze by the two governments while they concentrate on stopping the Sinn Féin advance. This has been the approach of the two governments ever since the DUP walked away from a deal in early December.

The crisis in the Peace Process is real. To resolve it requires stretching ourselves even more. It also means challenging partitionist Ireland, conservative Ireland, post-nationalist Ireland who are on an offensive against Sinn Fein because we challenge the inadequacy of their politics. Their logic is a return to the failed policies of the past. Some now advocate exclusion, repression and criminalisation. The two governments have joined them in the offensive against republican Ireland. But at some point the two governments will have to set about the task of rebuilding the peace process and that can only be done through a process of dialogue and engagement. There is no other way. Sinn Fein is ready to begin this work today. Dialogue and engagement has brought enormous progress over the past ten years. The political situation has been transformed. That progress needs to be consolidated and build upon.

So, despite the current difficulties this Ard Fheis will concentrate on the positive task of rebuilding the Peace Process. We will go away from here confident of the success of our peace strategy to date and in the knowledge that there is much work still to be done to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion and to build towards

:: a different Ireland;

:: a new Ireland;

:: a united, free and independent Ireland.


Hear this story

Hear a Related story: Panel: U.S. Mistreats Asylum Seekers by Danny Zwerdling

From Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 10:43 AM
Subject: Senate To Consider National ID Bill

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h


An Urgent Action Item for DC Downsizers

We lost the House vote on HR 418, the bill that will take the next step toward forcing Americans to carry a national identification card. We expected that. But now the fight moves to the Senate where we stand a much better chance of defeating this measure.

The Senate has so far resisted the House's desire to create a national identification system. We need to encourage them to continue their opposition. We've posted a new lobbying campaign at for this purpose.

Please go to and click on the link under "Senate to vote on national ID card." Use our easy Electronic Lobbyist system to ask your Senators to vote against HR 418. If this is your first time using the system, please choose your own password, don't let the system do it for you.

We can win with your help. Thank you.

Jim Babka


Message 2--Electronic Bracelets for Non-Citizens?

Check out this NPR story, which raises the prospect that all noncitizens
even permanent residents who may have been here for decades with families but maintain dual loyalties? -- could be required to wear such bracelets...

Legal Affairs

Electronic Anklets Track Asylum Seekers in U.S.
by Daniel Zwerdling

Morning Edition, March 2, 2005 · The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime.

So far, the Department of Homeland Security has put electronic monitors on more than 1,700 immigrants. Victor Cerda, director of Detention and Removal Operations at Homeland Security, says the anklets will help prevent tens of thousands of immigrants who are ordered to leave the country each year from "absconding" -- going into hiding to avoid deportation.

But critics say Cerda and other Homeland Security officials have exaggerated the extent of the problem. They point to a Justice

Department study that put part of the blame on immigration officials, saying they'd failed to keep adequate records to track aliens.

Alternatives to Anklets

A three-year pilot program in New York City tested how supervision affected immigrants' rates of appearance in court and compliance with court rulings. The program found that supervision -- regular phone calls from program workers, reminders about court dates, referrals to legal representatives and other such measures -- is more cost effective than detention and almost doubles the rate of compliance -- and they didn't use any electronic monitors.

Another Take on Ankle Monitors

Sarah Barry fled Liberia's civil war in the early 1990s. She's now awaiting a decision on her appeal of a government deportation order. Barry says she's glad to be able to wear an ankle monitor.



Save Your Radio Shows

The following story will help to explain what's wrong with the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004. Below you'll be able to send a message to your elected representatives asking them to co-sponsor legislation to repeal this horrible new law.

Understanding the Issue

This story is fiction, but it could soon become reality . . .

The time is the future. The near future. The place is the car of a man who works for a "family values" organization. He is driving to work to begin another day defending American families from vile influences. He is searching frantically on his radio dial for his favorite Christian radio show. And he can't find it!

This man was a leading figure in the campaign to pass the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004. And he's very proud of his achievement. His work gave the Federal Communications Commission the power to levy fines that would bankrupt broadcasters for engaging in indecent speech. This man helped drive Howard Stern off the air. He views himself as a defender of truth, justice, and the American Way.

But now something has gone terribly wrong. Howard Stern isn't the only one missing from the airwaves. Congress has recently passed a follow-up law to the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004. The new law bans "hate speech" from the publicly owned airwaves. And a court has just handed down the first decision in a case testing this new law. The court has ruled that Christian radio broadcasts that criticize homosexuality are guilty of "hate speech."

Huge fines have been levied against Christian broadcasters, and many radio stations have dropped Christian programming to protect themselves from future liability.

But it gets worse. Government ownership of the broadcast airwaves was the excuse for exempting radio broadcasters from the protections of the First Amendment. This was the justification for the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004. And now, in another case, the courts have ruled that Christian ministries cannot use the public airwaves at all, because this violates the separation of church and state.

Our defender of family values can't find his favorite Christian radio show because it's gone. But he does find a news broadcast reporting on the latest court decisions that are the natural outcome of his life's work. And as he realizes the true consequences of his actions he slowly pulls his car off the road, stops, and buries his face in his hands.

His mind floods with admonitions from the Bible: As you sow, so shall you reap. Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you. Consider not the mote in your neighbors' eye, but the timber in your own eye.

Note to the reader: If this story seems far-fetched to you, please consider that Canada already has laws banning Christian broadcasts that criticize homosexuality, and federal judges are increasingly referring to foreign laws as a guide to their own decisions. Government power is a dangerous thing. Give the government the power to do something you favor today, and someone else will use it to do something you oppose tomorrow.

Use the form below to send a message to your elected representatives asking them to sponsor legislation to repeal the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004.


Opin: South's Hard Cop, Soft Cop, Routine Fails To Impress

By Barry White
05 March 2005

Remember GUBU, the acronym seized upon by Conor Cruise O'Brien after Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, in 1982, described the discovery of a double murderer staying at the home of the Attorney General as "grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented"?

Any neutral observer over the past few days would have to agree that we're deep in GUBU territory.

People are burning Northern Bank notes in Cork, moneylenders -including a pal of the Taoiseach - are opening bank accounts in Bulgaria and while Justice Minister Michael McDowell accuses Sinn Fein leaders of being members of the IRA Army Council, Bertie Ahern is praising the same Gerry and Martin for working "enormously hard" and endeavouring to find a "comprehensive solution".

What kind of solution would that be? Does he mean a solution to laundering the stolen £26.5m, winning an IRA vote to decommission weapons or, surely not, getting the unionists to sit down with Sinn Fein in a Stormont Executive? The latter is what he was talking up, the day after McDowell told the Dail that the IRA's promise to adopt a "new mode" last December only meant that they would become "a lightly-armed gendarmerie" acting as the enforcers for "the criminal and control strategy underpinning Sinn Fein's drive for political power".

Thanks very much, Bertie, but if that's the deal, forget it. In fact, we resent that within two months of a lucrative, after-hours visit to the Northern Bank, and a day after the Cork money was directly linked to it, you are back wooing Gerry and Martin, along with Tony Blair.

What on earth is going on, Bertie? We know that McDowell foams at the mouth when Sinn Fein is mentioned, but often it's hard to realise that you are members of the same government. Hard cop, soft cop, we know the routine, but more than the Republican Movement is getting confused. From all we've heard, the deal you nearly talked the DUP into - until the IRA refused to relinquish its crime empire - would have lasted only a matter of weeks.

You and Tony were willing to wish that on us, knowing the extent of the IRA's criminality and still hoping that the prospect of political power would transform subversives into democrats. McDowell doesn't seem to agree, when he ridicules the perception that the Provisionals were "struggling internally to leap directly in a clean break from paramilitarism to politics".

How do I put this gently? Unionists are so disillusioned, for the moment, that the idea of power-sharing with Sinn Fein is GUBU, in triplicate. They'll not even think of it, and they're waiting, without much hope, for Tony and Bertie to stand as fast as the McCartney sisters until a genuine parting of the ways between Sinn Fein and the IRA.

To be frank, they are relying on Michael McDowell to act as their defender against the kind of charm offensive that the two premiers and the Sinn Fein luvvies are capable of. So tantalisingly close to a deal - how many times have we heard that one, when all the evidence is otherwise.

At the same time, their hero, McDowell, may have been too quick to dismiss the allegations of a gardai, featured on UTV's Insight, about a Garda plot to discredit him because he knew that, prior to Omagh, a superior had decided to let a Real IRA bomb go ahead, to protect a valuable informer.

Then there's Richard O'Rawe's worrying account of the Thatcher Government's concessions in 1981 that might have saved six hunger strikers' lives, if they had been conveyed to the prisoners in the Maze, not to the Army Council. GUBU or what?

Oh, and the UUP are celebrating their centenary by laying wreaths. Not their best idea.


Viewpoint: Learning The Lessons Of The Last Century

100 YEARS ON: New realities still need to be recognised

05 March 2005

It is perhaps no coincidence that the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Fein should both be celebrating their centenaries this year. In 1905 Ireland was in a state of high political excitement over Home Rule.

As history shows, both unionists and republicans spawned their respective armed wings. Politics foundered and violence took over, a tragedy which was to cost thousands of people their lives down the years.

Today the political argument continues but nobody can deny that both the Republic and Northern Ireland have been transformed since the days of partition.

The Republic is a modern European state, with its economy revolutionised as a result of European assistance and the Celtic Tiger. For its part Northern Ireland has benefited hugely down the years from the British link. But the terms of membership of the UK have changed in recent years.

As David Trimble has recognised, partnership, equality and tolerance are now the hallmarks of the union. The days of a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People are just as distant a memory as Eamon De Valera's isolationism.

As was manifest in the Good Friday Agreement, the Republic and Britain are now the closest of allies and the need for co-existence in Northern Ireland has never been so evident.

The experience of the last century shows what happens when politics fails, and people resort to the gun.

Lessons must be learnt if an historic accommodation between unionism and republicanism - which seemed to be within reach last autumn - is to be hammered out.

If that happens, the prospect arises of a new era of understanding and harmony being fashioned in Ireland. If democracy can finally eclipse violence of all shades, the next century could be the most peaceful and prosperous in the island's history.

But new realities still need to be recognised. As unionists embrace the principle of partnership, republicans must once and for all step out from behind the shadow of the gunman.


David Trimble
David Trimble launched a scathing attack on the DUP

Trimble Rules Out SF Powersharing

Ulster Unionists will not re-enter an assembly which includes Sinn Fein, party leader David Trimble has said.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, being held in Belfast.

Mr Trimble said if asked by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams how to restore unionist faith in the Executive, he would say he had no idea how this could be done.

The Ulster Unionist leader also used his speech to launch one of his strongest attacks yet on the DUP.

'Green card'

He said the DUP had given republicans a "green card" to continue criminal activity in the failed political negotiations before Christmas.

"No wonder republicans thought they could get away with the Northern Bank raid," he added.

Speaking about the possibility of an electoral pact with the DUP, Mr Trimble said his party would not be driven off the political battlefield.

He warned the DUP that if they contested the South Belfast constituency in the next general election and handed the seat to a nationalist they would be "condemned as anti-unionist".

"We can fight at local government level, but Westminster seats must not be thrown away," he said.

"The man in the street can see that there are unionist seats that could be lost to nationalists and republicans on a split unionist vote."


Mr Trimble also accused the DUP of failing to get decommissioning, conceding to an all-Ireland Assembly of MLAs and TDs and a structured role for nationalist MPs and MEPs in the Dail.

He said the DUP had "turned a blind eye" to the release of Garda Jerry McCabe's killers and also accused the party of sending out signals that it was waiting until after the elections to "get back into bed with republicans".

He added that the DUP should "join with his party and other democrats to ensure there would be no deviation from the constitutional settlement enshrined in the Agreement".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/05 14:17:10 GMT


Alex Maskey: Unionist Outreach

Published: 5 March, 2005

As I have said on a number of occasions in recent years this area of work for Sinn Fein, outreach with unionists and protestants, is probably the most important work we can be doing.

It is a difficult area of work. It is a difficult engagement because we are dealing with emotions on both sides generated by centuries of a brutal conflict.

We are also wrestling with the consequences of a society where political power was in the hands of one section of people who are having difficulties coming to terms with sharing that power with the rest of us.

This dialogue is taking place against a background of competing political allegiances and demands arising out of the conflict. These difficulties should spur us on not deflect us. National reconciliation between nationalists and unionists is very much underdeveloped yet it is a crucial element to creating the conditions out of which a new Ireland will emerge.

The atmosphere within which this work can best be developed and bear fruit is of course an agreement between us all. That is what the Good Friday Agreement was about. It recognised the triangular nature of relationships, within the six counties, within this island and between us all and Britain.

For republicans the most important dimension is the links between those who live here; those who have to share this space we call Ireland. There remains a lot of distrust on all sides. Republicans believe that unionists are insatiable, always demanding more from republicans and not appreciating the enormity of gestures such as that offered up last December by the IRA.

At times we wonder can a deal be done with unionists. And while we are very disappointed the reality is that we were close to a breakthrough last December. I believe if we had all the elements of the GFA functioning well then the task of reconciliation would be a lot easier.

The political leaderships of unionists and nationalists would be leading by example, sharing power at an all-Ireland level and within the northern Executive. This working relationship would send a powerful signal out to all the communities. It would help create a climate to build strong links at the interfaces in Belfast. It would help encourage those in the Orange Order who refuse to speak to residents to do so. That I believe is the best context for developing this area of outreach.

Of course we have to deal with the fact that there is no agreement and this area of work has to continue. And I am satisfied that over the next year we will continue to meet and discuss with all shades of unionism how we share the future for the good of all the people of this country.


Sinn Féin Prepared To Enter Into Meaningful Dialogue

Published: 5 March, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for Newry Armagh Conor Murphy speaking for the Ard Comhairle on Motion 214 said "Rather than press the British government to either take on rejectionist unionists or to implement outstanding aspects of the Agreement, the Dublin government has chosen to lead the charge in the campaign to halt the growth of Sinn Fein.

Despite our obvious and justifiable anger at all of this, Sinn Fein is prepared to enter into meaningful dialogue at any time, to face up to all of the difficult issues and to make this process work."

Mr. Murphy said:

This week the two governments began the test on the transmission of TG4 across the North. Since it has taken seven years for this fairly modest commitment under the Good Friday Agreement to be delivered by the governments -- should we be surprised then that many of their commitments on key issues such as demilitarisation, a new beginning to policing, justice, equality and human rights remain outstanding.

Perhaps they have they not been able to bring the hard men in the NIO on board for a process of genuine change.

But this much is obvious, there is clearly much more than one outstanding issue yet to be delivered to secure the full implementation of the Agreement.

Despite the failure of the two governments to deliver on the promises they made in the Joint Declaration of May 2003, even when republicans stepped up to the mark in October that year, Sinn Fein engaged in good faith in last year's negotiations with two objectives in mind.

Firstly to defend the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement and secure its full implementation and secondly to get the DUP to sign up to a process of political change.

We secured the first. Indeed Sinn Fein made significant advances across a range of issues, including the operation of the Agreement. The DUP entered the negotiations seeking new vetoes over the appointment of nationalist ministers, any decisions those ministers might take and over the operation of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council. They achieved none of these.

Sinn Fein also secured agreement on;

:: The removal of the British government's power to suspend the Assembly.

:: The removal of the unionist veto over nationalist ministers attending All-Ireland Ministerial Council meetings.

In addition, as a result of our determined efforts;

:: All ministers will be required to attend Executive meetings -- something the DUP refused to do in the past.

:: All ministers will be required to attend All-Ireland meetings, which the DUP also refused to do in the past.

:: The attempt to erode the joint status of the First and Deputy First Ministers has been resisted.

:: The integrity of the All-Ireland institutions has been defended as have the equality provisions in the Agreement.

Sinn Fein also achieved progress on a range of issues that others had given up on, including;

:: Policing, including the transfer of powers from Westminster.

:: Demilitarisation

:: Participation by Northern MPs and MEPs in the Oireachtas.

:: The repeal of repressive legislation.

:: A peace dividend.

:: The repair of the electoral register.

:: New powers for the Human Rights Commission.

:: Plastic bullets.

:: The removal of the ban on non-British nationals in senior civil service posts.

:: The establishment of the All-Ireland interparliamentary forum and the All-Ireland Civic Forum.

A substantial piece of good work by any account. And, on top of that, we secured a commitment to an unprecedented and historic initiative by the IRA.

That all of this floundered on Ian Paisley's unrealisable demand for the humiliation of the IRA is hugely frustrating. That the two governments backed that demand, knowing it was unachievable, is disgraceful. That the Taoiseach felt obliged to apologise to Ian Paisley for momentarily deviating from his rejectionist viewpoint is, frankly, embarrassing.

Rather than press the British government to either take on rejectionist unionists or to implement outstanding aspects of the Agreement, the Dublin government has chosen to lead the charge in the campaign to halt the growth of Sinn Fein.

Despite our obvious and justifiable anger at all of this, Sinn Fein is prepared to enter into meaningful dialogue at any time, to face up to all of the difficult issues and to make this process work.

Regrettably, our detractors have been fighting the elections since December. This is nothing new. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the PD's have always campaigned for our opponents in Northern elections.

But we are confident our peace strategy will be endorsed with a strengthened mandate in the coming elections, and increased strength will enhance our ability to press for more political change across this island.

We will not be criminalised, discredited nor, indeed, distracted from the task ahead. Of that you can all be sure.

Go raibh maith agaibh.


Delegates Launch Attack On 'Minister Of Injustice'

05 March 2005

Sinn Fein delegates debated justice at their ard fheis last night - without mentioning the Robert McCartney killing or the Northern Bank raid.

The justice motions - linked to community and drugs - included prison reform, anti-social behaviour, alcohol abuse and a call for increased gardai on the ground in cities.

But the half-hour session heard an attack on Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell - who has spearheaded recent Irish government attacks on republicans - as the 'Minister for Injustice'.

Dail member Aengus O Snodaigh said: "He has smeared us as individuals. He has actively subverted the peace process."

Mr McDowell's "over-reaction" was an admission of his weakness and SF's potential.

"The truth is this Minister is all about smoke and mirrors," he said.


McGinley Death: I'm No IRA Man, Insists Stab Killer

'I have empathy for pain of family'

By Sarah Brett
05 March 2005

The killer of Londonderry man James McGinley has denied being a member of the IRA.

In a statement released by his family last night, Bart Fisher said he regretted "the tragic death" of Mr McGinley, for whose manslaughter he is currently serving a three-year prison sentence.

"I want to place on record that I wholly regret that I am responsible for the tragic death of James McGinley and that I have total empathy for the pain which the McGinley family are experiencing as they come to terms with the loss of their son," he said.

The McGinley family claimed this week Fisher was a member of the Provisional IRA "enjoying the protection of that organisation" and further alleged that republicans stage managed the public gallery throughout his trial.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said yesterday Fisher was not a member of the party.

Fisher said he had always accepted responsibility for his actions but highlighted that he stabbed Mr McGinley in the heart in response to "severe provocation".

"At my trial it was accepted by the jury that I had responded to severe provocation and physical attack and the jury found me not guilty of murder," he said.

"I was sentenced to three years imprisonment for manslaughter and the trial judge in accepting my account stated that this tragedy was at the lower end of manslaughter.

"I appreciate that this is a traumatic time for the McGinley family and I have no desire to add to that.

"However, I must address the allegation that I am a member of the IRA.

"I wish to state that whereas I am an Irish republican, I am not a member of the IRA."

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has lent his support to the McGinley family in their campaign to appeal Fisher's sentence, which they believe was too lenient.

Mr Durkan vowed to make representations to the Attorney General on behalf of the family.

Although unwilling to draw comparisons between the McGinleys' campaign and that of Robert McCartney's family in Belfast, Mr Durkan said the two cases had the potential to open the floodgates for families who felt wronged by the republican movement.


Nanuet Man To Lead St. Patrick's Parade


Emerald Ball honorees

The Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians hosted its 2005 Emerald Ball on Feb. 26 at the Sheraton Crossroads Hotel in Mahwah, N.J. Funds from the ball help pay for the parade.

This year's honorees were

• Cyril Hughes, grand marshal
• Thomas Schutz, parade commander
• Pat Tully, Hibernian of the year
• Linda Sheridan, aide to grand marshal, New York City
• John Lyons and Billy Madden, Irish businessmen of the year
• Betty Lynch, president's award
• John Scanlon, president's award

Cyril Hughes, known as "Cy" by friends and many of the county's large Irish community, has been chosen to be this year's grand marshal for the Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick's Day parade on March 20 in Pearl River.

And he's very excited about the honor.

"The fact that you're the guy wearing the top hat and walking down the avenue as all your aides from various divisions and other Irish organizations within the county are there, you feel very important," Hughes said Thursday. "To be chosen and given that honor, I feel, is a very high honor."

The Nanuet resident will don a tuxedo, top hat and the traditional green, white and orange sash for New York's state's second largest parade in honor of Ireland's patron saint. New York city's parade is the largest.

Hughes, a native of Clontibret, County Monaghan, came to America in 1963. He is the 42nd grand marshal of the parade, which dates back to 1963, and was honored last month at the AOH's Emerald Ball along with Thomas Schutz, Pat Tully, Linda Sheridan, John Lyons, Billy Madden, Betty Lynch and John Scanlon.

Funds raised from the ball and journal pay for the parade, which costs about $30,000, said George Leahy, president of the Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Leahy said that there are more than 1,000 members between the men's and women's AOH groups in Rockland and that each division —there are five, with Division 3 of Pearl River being the largest — is given a number of votes based on its size.

Leahy said it was Hughes' years of service that made him an appropriate choice to lead the parade this year.

"I marvel at how Cy Hughes is able to work full time and balance all that he does," Leahy said. "Every time something has to be done, Cy Hughes is there."

Hughes' wife, Margaret, is a native of Gragg, Abbyfeale, County Limerick. The couple have two daughters and six grandchildren. His 83-year-old mother, Elizabeth, also will be at the parade.

Hughes, 61, is the director of transportation for the Tarrytowns school district and retired from the New York City Transit Authority. He served in the U.S. Army for three years, including time in Korea, and later joined the Air Force National Guard Reserve.

After 26 years, including active duty at Ground Zero, Hughes retired at the rank of first sergeant in 2003.

Hughes has been involved with Irish causes in the county since he moved here in 1978. He is a director of the New York state AOH and a past president of the Rockland County AOH.

He is president of the MacBride Chapter of Irish Northern Aid and is involved with the Feis Committee and the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee.

For Hughes, leading the parade along Middletown Road and Central Avenue is more than just walking the parade route and waiving to revelers.

"In one word, it's our heritage," Hughes said. "It's very important to me and a lot of other Irish in the county to keep our Irish heritage and not allow history to go unwritten.

"We know who built the 59th Street Bridge because it was documented, and there was a lot of Irish involved in that. We know who built the Holland Tunnel. We want the next generation to know what we've done. Maybe there aren't any tunnels to build, but we'll definitely be in the forefront of something."

Paddy Hogan, Division 3 president, said being elected grand marshal is no easy task and Hughes is a good choice to lead the procession.

"It's the highest honor an Irish person can get in Rockland County," Hogan said. "He has given many years of service to the Rockland community. He's promoted all things Irish here."


50th St. Patrick's Day Parade To Kick Off In Yonkers

The Journal News

Parade events

Flag-raising: 11 a.m. at City Hall.
Mass: Noon at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (St. Mary's), 103 S. Broadway.
Parade start: 1:30 p.m. at Radford Street and South Broadway.
Dinner dance: 6 p.m. at the Polish Community Center, 92 Waverly St. Attire is semi-formal and tickets are $75 per person. Call dinner chairwoman Aileen Flath at 914-965-4682.

YONKERS — Lawrence McCrudden has been around the Yonkers St. Patrick's Day parade since its inception, but the fact that he has done it 49 times before doesn't dull the luster of the annual event.

From the first parade in 1956, which he attended as a student at Iona College, and through trips home during a stint in the Army, McCrudden, chairman of the parade committee and an employee of the city's Finance Department, has not missed a single formation. Tomorrow, he will march in the city's 50th parade as if it were his first.

"It's fun because there's new faces," he said. "It's once a year. It's like Christmas. You know, you don't say, 'This is my 70th Christmas.' Every one is brand new."

The 1-mile parade, one of the oldest in the state, starts at Radford Street and runs up South Broadway, past City Hall and to the parking lot known as Chicken Island.

There are 29 bands, including 13 bagpipe bands, and about 60 groups marching, McCrudden said. Thousands are expected to attend.

Festivities kick off with a flag-raising at City Hall at 11 a.m., followed by a Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (St. Mary's) on South Broadway. The parade begins at 1:30 p.m., rain or shine.

State Supreme Court Justice J. Emmett Murphy will lead the procession as grand marshal.

"I've always loved the parade," said Murphy, a Yonkers native who has marched as far back as his days as a high school student at Sacred Heart. "It's as nice and local a social event as you can have."

A contingent of past grand marshals will be pulled along the parade route on a horse-drawn Irish jaunty cart, in keeping with the march's 50th-year celebration. Many of Murphy's aides also have connections to past grand marshals, including Eileen O'Rourke Hoffnagle, principal of Cedar Place School and daughter of former Yonkers Mayor James F.X. O'Rourke.

The parade also features the debut of the Yonkers Fire Pipes and Drum Band. The group formed in 2002, many of its members spending the past several years learning to play bagpipes from scratch, said drum major Thomas Kemple, a 26-year veteran of the department.

"It's amazing," Kemple said of his bandmates. "It's a lot of dedication. Every day, you have to play."

The 50th annual Yonkers St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee Dinner Dance follows the parade at 6 p.m. at the Polish Community Center on Waverly Street. About 500 people are expected to attend, said Aileen Flath, dinner chairwoman.

"It's a family tradition for so many Irish-American families in Yonkers," Flath said. "So many families come back to view the parade and see old friends."

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