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March 06, 2005

03/06/05 - Adams Reiterates McCartney Appeal

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

BB 03/06/05 Adams Reiterates McCartney Appeal -V
BG 03/06/05 Band Of Sisters Confronts IRA's Long Rule Of Silence
UT 03/06/05 Feature On SF Conference
SF 03/06/05 McLaughlin Delivers Negotiations Report To Ard Fheis
SF 03/06/05 Gerry Kelly Opens Session On Policing At Ard Fheis
PJ 03/06/05 Pawtucket Parades The Green
SF 03/06/05 McCartney Demands No Ambiguity On Plastic Bullets
ZW 03/06/05 Northern Ireland Official To Deliver March 17 Remarks
SL 03/06/05 Scap File Bombshell Revealed
TO 03/06/05 Ronan Bennet: Troubles Are Never Far Away For Author
TO 03/06/05 Judge To Head Inquiry Into RUC Murders
DN 03/06/05 A Towering Tale: Empire State Construction
SM 03/06/05 Heroism And Hell On Earth
WH 03/06/05 March Declared Irish-American Heritage Month In U.S.

(Poster’s Note: Listen to Adams’ interview on BBC. Jay)


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO Watch Gerry Adams on Breakfast with Frost - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has again called for those involved in the murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast to come forward. Mr Adams told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost the killers had "brought the good name of republicanism into the dark".

Robert McCartney's sisters heard Gerry Adams' keynote speech

Adams Reiterates McCartney Appeal -V

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has repeated his appeal for those involved in the murder of a man in Belfast six weeks ago to come forward.

Mr McCartney, 33, was murdered on 30 January after a row in a bar. His family claim republicans were involved in the killing and subsequent cover-up.

Mr Adams told Sinn Fein's annual conference that Mr McCartney's murder had "sullied the republican cause".

He told the BBC those involved should stop being selfish and come forward.

'Redeem yourselves'

Speaking on Sunday, he said: "People involved in intimidation should stop it, people who have information should come forward and those who carried out the crime should come forward and admit it - redeem yourselves."

In recent days, the IRA has expelled three members over Mr McCartney's murder following an internal investigation and Sinn Fein has suspended seven members suspected of involvement.

Mr McCartney's four sisters travelled to Dublin to hear Mr Adams' keynote speech on Saturday.

Mr Adams told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost that the killers had "brought the good name of republicanism into the dark".

"I wouldn't have invited the McCartney sisters there to make the remarks I made... unless I was serious," he said.

Mr McCartney's sisters received a warm welcome from delegates at the conference.

Speaking afterwards, his sister Catherine said Mr Adams' speech was encouraging but their priority was to see those responsible brought to justice.


Meanwhile, Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly told delegates at the party's conference in Dublin on Sunday that he believed "progress had been made on a new beginning".

He said the party would hold a special Ard Fheis on policing once the DUP had committed to a short time frame for the transfer of policing and justice powers to local ministers and once the British government enacted legislation which allowed this to be done.

He also warned party members that the transferral of these powers carried great responsibility.

Addressing the conference earlier on Sunday, party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said even though December's failed negotiations "seemed light years away", he believed there would be further talks aimed at restoring devolution.

He also warned the British and Irish governments that Sinn Fein would not settle for anything less than what was being offered to them during December's negotiations.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/06 13:38:08 GMT


From left, Donna McCartney, Claire McCartney, Gemma McCartney, Bridgeen Hagan, Catherine McCartney, and Paula McCartney are demanding justice in the slaying of Robert McCartney, who they allege was killed by IRA members. (Globe Photo / Seamus Murphy)

Band Of Sisters Confronts IRA's Long Rule Of Silence

Slaying launches justice campaign

By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff March 6, 2005

BELFAST -- Paula McCartney pulled back the curtain in the living room of the family home last week and pointed down the narrow, graffiti-scarred alleys of the Short Strand, a Catholic enclave on the knife-edge of this city's sectarian divide.

''He lives right over there. Everybody knows he's a full-time IRA man. Everybody knows he's the one who killed my brother," said McCartney, 40, a righteous anger rising in her voice as her four sisters gathered around her, nodding in agreement. ''We're going to get justice here, IRA or not. We're not afraid."

The McCartney sisters have stood together to break the long, unwritten code of silence in Belfast by publicly demanding justice in the brutal slaying of their brother, Robert McCartney, 33, by a known local leader of the Irish Republican Army and several of his associates.

McCartney, a father of two young boys who supported Irish nationalism but studiously avoided the sectarian violence that surrounded him all his life, was stabbed to death in a barroom brawl Jan. 30.

The local IRA leadership's alleged responsibility for the murder, along with allegations of a coverup and a campaign of witness intimidation, has ignited fury and division in the republican community.

Sinn Fein, the political party historically affiliated with the IRA in the struggle to end British rule in Northern Ireland, opened its annual party conference in Dublin yesterday with an attempt to defuse the crisis over the McCartney killing.

The McCartney sisters attended, along with Bridgeen Hagan, McCartney's fiancée and the mother of their two children.

The McCartney family has challenged Sinn Fein to use its influence to call upon those who saw the killing to come forward, so that the Police Service of Northern Ireland can solve the murder.

That kind of defiance used to get people killed in the old Belfast. That was before the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which set in motion a peace process that in the past seven years has emboldened the people of Northern Ireland to stand up to the old power bases -- Protestant and Catholic -- that have perpetuated the cycle of violence.

The McCartney sisters' collective plea for justice may prove to be a defining moment in post-Good Friday Northern Ireland. Their act has unleashed a backlash against an increasingly undisciplined IRA, which many on both sides think has transformed into an organized crime operation that answers to no one.

The McCartney family's stand has shaken the political landscape in recent weeks in Northern Ireland, with hundreds of republican supporters joining them in a protest march last month demanding that the killers turn themselves in.

With Sinn Fein under enormous political pressure to respond to their demand for justice, it invited the sisters to attend the Dublin conference, where they were welcomed by delegates and visitors with a standing ovation.

In his speech to the gathering, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams vowed, ''I am not letting this issue go until those who have sullied the republican cause are made to account for their actions."

But family members are not waiting for politicians' promises. They are leafleting their neighborhood to urge eyewitnesses to come forward to help police. One of the sisters said she even jammed a leaflet in the mail slot of the IRA man that the family is convinced did the killing.

The man, Gerard ''Jock" Davison, was detained by police for questioning last month. According to reports in the republican press in Belfast, he was expelled from the IRA along with two others over the killing. Davison has been quoted denying he ordered the killing. He was released by police after several days. Police say that without witnesses, they have insufficient grounds to charge him.

The McCartney family's courage to demand justice has put intense pressure on Sinn Fein.

The party was already strained by a storm of media and political criticism directed at a $50 million bank heist before Christmas that British and Irish politicians and police have said was carried out by the IRA with the knowledge of Sinn Fein's senior leadership.

Adams announced Thursday that the party would suspend seven of its members who allegedly witnessed or took place in the killing and the ''cleaning" of the crime scene -- an IRA practice of wiping fingerprints, destroying security surveillance cameras, and issuing death threats to silence witnesses.

What angers the family most is that Robert McCartney, who they describe as a gentle giant, was a Sinn Fein voter. The huge crowd at his funeral attested to his popularity in the republican Short Strand.

In the 30-year sectarian conflict known as The Troubles, the Short Strand has been a volatile area where a small community of Catholics lives surrounded by a larger Protestant neighborhood in which Loyalist paramilitary groups have long ruled the streets through intimidation and fear.

In Catholic sections like Short Strand, where the McCartneys have lived for more than four generations, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or RUC, was almost completely Protestant and viewed with great suspicion by Catholics who saw it as an extension of Protestant power. So in these areas, Catholics grew to rely on the force of the IRA to protect them and to mete out rough justice.

Under the Good Friday accord, the old RUC was renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and internal overhauls sought to make it more responsive and representative. And under the agreement, paramilitary groups, like the IRA, were to stand down and decommission their weapons.

For the McCartney family to call on witnesses to go to the Police Service of Northern Ireland reflects what observers say is a growing trust of and need for the PSNI in Catholic areas.

The threat the McCartney family faces for taking this stand became chillingly apparent Friday afternoon. Two police knocked on the door and reported that an anonymous call to a local newspaper had said that a bomb was planted in the house. Police searched the house and left.

''It's a pathetic attempt to silence us," Paula said. ''What the IRA is saying is, 'If you speak out, we will kill you.' . . . They are completely out of control."

The sense of an IRA out of control was in the air on the night of Jan. 30. According to family members who have collected witnesses' accounts and been in close touch with the police, McCartney and a friend, Brendan Devine, walked into a Belfast bar and were having drinks. Several women nearby said they were offended by their language. The women were accompanied by several purported IRA men, including Davison.

McCartney apologized. But the situation escalated. Davison allegedly attacked Devine and when McCartney tried to intervene, the mob of IRA men turned on him. Both were repeatedly stabbed, their throats and chests cut open, and they were left for dead. Devine lived. McCartney was dead on arrival at the hospital.

''In the past, this kind of violence could be attributed to the conflict . . . but not any more. There is no conflict now, and this is a civilian killing of an innocent man," Paula said.

The McCartneys, a tough, intelligent, and outraged band of sisters, have become almost folk heroes in Belfast. Paula, a mother of five, has recently returned to college for a degree in women's studies; Gemma, 41, is a nurse; Donna, 38, runs a restaurant; Catherine, 36, is a history teacher; Claire, 26, is a teacher's assistant. They have 20 children among them.

For the sisters, the movement they started is a women's movement. ''Yes, absolutely this is about women standing up," Paula McCartney said.

''The men tend to huff and puff and the egos come into play, and it goes round and round, and it always ends in more violence. . . . But we want real justice, not more violence. And for that we are willing to stay focused and be patient."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


Feature On SF Conference

Sinn Fein has always had a flair for drama at its conferences.

By:Press Association

But not even the appearance of the infamous IRA Balcombe Street gang in 1998 matched the sheer electricity of the five sisters of Robert McCartney yesterday entering the Royal Dublin Society to hear Gerry Adams` call for his murderers to hand themselves in.

It was a dramatic turn of events after five weeks of intense pressure on republicans to force the killers of the 33 year old father of two to face the family`s accusations against them in court.

At a time when Sinn Fein would have hoped to be celebrating at its conference its 100th anniversary and electoral breakthroughs on both sides of the Irish border, it has felt like a party under siege.

The tone of this year`s conference was set on Friday by chief negotiator Martin McGuinness`s insistence that republicans were outraged that IRA members were involved in the murder.

But at the same time the Mid Ulster MP vigorously disputed claims that Sinn Fein is the political wing of Ireland`s version of the Mafia, insisting the party would not let these allegations push republicanism towards "a return to violence".

As over 2,000 delegates passed through the doors of the RDS, they knew Sinn Fein`s links with the IRA were under the spotlight as never before.

Since the collapse of last year`s peace process initiative and the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, the party has faced a barrage of criticism, particularly in the Irish Republic.

Nationalist rivals on both sides of the border and unionists are convinced the Provisionals are operating their own black market economy, prospering from robberies, sales of pirate DVDs, CDs and video games, smuggled cigarettes, alcohol and petrol.

They also believe the IRA has invested in legitimate businesses and is engaged in international money laundering.

But while republicans have furiously denied these accusations, the one thing that has really stung them over the past five weeks has been the McCartney murder.

Why? Because it has exposed doubts about the IRA in its own strongholds.

In the immediate aftermath of the stabbing and beating, Sinn Fein councillor Joe O`Donnell claimed Robert McCartney was another tragic victim of Northern Ireland`s burgeoning knife culture.

Police raids on suspects` homes in the staunchly republican Markets and Short Strand areas were attacked by youths and were denounced as heavy handed tactics by Assembly member Alex Maskey.

However a fortnight afterwards, the situation changed.

In a hard hitting newspaper interview the sisters of Robert McCartney, some of whom said they had voted Sinn Fein, challenged the IRA.

They accused the Provisionals of covering up the murder, of shielding members who carried it out, of burying evidence and of intimidating eyewitnesses from going forward to the police.

Their dogged determination to get justice forced a series of statements from the IRA and Gerry Adams, with republicans anxious to distance themselves from an attack which also resulted in Brendan Devine, who was drinking with Robert McCartney, being seriously wounded.

The pressure from within and without the Short Strand has been so intense the Provisionals have had to expel three of their members following an internal investigation.

On the eve of its party conference, Sinn Fein suspended seven members.

With every advance, the McCartneys have responded coolly.

Every step forward has been welcomed but has also been met with a challenge to republicans to do more.

On Friday the family debated whether to take up an invitation from Gerry Adams to hear his speech.

Their decision to do so filtered through the RDS at lunchtime on Saturday, stunning many in the hall.

When the family arrived minutes before Gerry Adams` speech, Sinn Fein leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly had to hold back a media scrum to let them inside.

Once they entered the hall, there was a two minute standing ovation.

Delegates rose to their feet to cheer Paula, Catherine, Donna, Gemma and Claire and some delegates even chanted: "Robert. Robert."

As a television audience in the Irish Republic watched the speech live, Gerry Adams explained: "They are here on my invitation because I wanted to demonstrate to Robert`s partner Bridgeen and the entire McCartney family that we are on their side."

The West Belfast MP`s speech was strong in its condemnation of criminality and it contained his harshest denunciation yet of so-called punishment beatings and shootings.

He also called on colleagues to be as "strong minded in facing up to wrong doing by republicans, as we are opposing wrongdoing by anyone else."

But it was also heavy in its accusations that Sinn Fein`s political opponents, particularly in the Irish Government, are waging a McCarthyite campaign of vilification against the party because they fear its growing support.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell was the chief political punchbag for Gerry Adams and a succession of speakers because he named three Sinn Fein leaders as members of the IRA Army Council.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also figured in attacks, with Mr Adams and Dublin councillor Daithi Doolan alleging he has handed over control of the Irish Government`s peace process strategy to Mr McDowell.

But there were also hints from Mr Adams about where republicans may go in the future.

The West Belfast MP hinted Sinn Fein was prepared again to face up to difficult choices for republicans as they try to seek accommodation with the Reverend Ian Paisley.

British and Irish Governments officials will be anxious to tease out from Sinn Fein if this means the winding down of the IRA.

But the Reverend Ian Paisley`s DUP is adamant they are not interested in interpreting Sinn Fein speak.

"Actions speak louder than words," one party strategist insisted.

Sinn Fein will hope photographs of Gerry Adams with the McCartney family will take some of the heat off them, sending out the message that republicans do not tolerate criminality in their ranks.

As the West Belfast MP prepares for his US visit, the party will have been very conscious about the power of that image for its supporters in Irish America who may have been unnerved by the McCartney murder.

But they also will note Catherine McCartney`s comments afterwards: "We are encouraged by Gerry Adams`s speech but until what he spoke about is delivered on the ground, this is not over."

To use Gerry Adams speak, they haven`t gone away you know.


 Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin
Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin

McLaughlin Delivers Negotiations Report To Ard Fheis

Published: 6 March, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin this morning updated party delegates on the current state of play on the negotiations front. Referring to last Decembers negotiations Mr. McLaughlin said "our approach was premised on a strategic calculation that our overall political objectives would best be served by testing the DUP's conversion to partnership, power-sharing and inclusivity, and by ensuring that this test, as presented by the two governments, would take place on Good Friday Agreement ground."

Mr. McLaughlin said: This is now the third successive Ard Fheis in which this section of our clár has opened with a report on the state of play in the negotiations front. This means that for the better part of the past three years Sinn Féin has been involved in negotiations to bring about the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It also means that seven years after the endorsement of that Agreement by the vast majority of the population north and south we still await its implementation.

On three separate occasions during a period of 22 months we have concluded negotiations with the two governments around a political package which, had it been adopted, would have ended the political stalemate and opened the door to a future based on partnership, inclusivity, equality and justice.

On the latest occasion, in December 2004, we reached a potentially defining moment in the peace process, a potentially watershed moment in the history of this island.

Now, just 10 weeks later, and in the midst of a maelstrom of groundless accusations against our party leadership, attempts to discredit our entire party membership, the unjustified and undemocratic penalising of those we represent, what we were on the verge of achieving in December seems light years away.

Some of you may question therefore the relevance at this point of the detail of last years negotiation. You may think there is little need for anything other than a summary of a now familiar story - been there, agreed that, unionists say no, so governments renege ú and then blame it all on republicans.

For whatever the detail of last December's political package the reality is we are certainly some way off from a restoration of the political institutions, we are some way off from unionists embracing power-sharing, we are some way off from a society built on equality, where the rights and entitlements of everyone are given equal status. In fact, seven years after its creation, we are so far off the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement we would all be forgiven for asking is there any point in clinging to such an objective, is there any life left in that Agreement.

We were posed a similar question last year. Our answer then is our answer now. We will continue to negotiate, and campaign and argue to have the Good Friday Agreement implemented not only because that is our obligation, not only because it is the right thing, but also because it fits into a strategy of providing and maintaining a political alternative to conflict, a means of sustaining and anchoring the peace process and a transition to the free independent Ireland we have worked long to achieve. We are in this process to the end, we are in this process until we have achieved our objectives, all of our objectives.

Last year's round of negotiations began early in the year and continued throughout the summer months and autumn and until conclusion in December.

Sinn Féin's focus in these discussions has been to achieve a comprehensive agreement which would see all outstanding matters dealt with and the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full.

Our approach was therefore two fold - to ensure that any proposals from the governments, and any agreement emerging out of these discussions, were rooted firmly in the Good Friday Agreement and to try to get the DUP on board for working with Sinn Féin in partnership in the power sharing, all-Ireland institutions.

The objective we set ourselves with regard to the DUP has confounded many. We had been accused of being unrealistic, of being naïve, of being fooled by noises from within the DUP before and after the Assembly election in November 2003 when they publicly espoused a willingness to do a deal.

Quite the contrary however. We have experienced too much of unionism's tactical engagement with the Good Friday Agreement to take at face value any assertion by unionist political leaders of a new found willingness to embrace change, to buy into a new dispensation based on equality.

No, far from being naïve, our approach was premised on a strategic calculation that our overall political objectives would best be served by testing the DUP's conversion to partnership, power-sharing and inclusivity, and by ensuring that this test, as presented by the two governments, would take place on Good Friday Agreement ground. And of course we are duty bound to recognise and respect the DUP mandate whatever we think of the prospect of them joining with us in our efforts to advance the political process.

The negotiations culminated in November last with the two governments proposing to the parties a comprehensive agreement which included draft statements dealing with issues which are the responsibility of the governments, the DUP, Sinn Fein, the IICD and the IRA. The bulk of these dealt with outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement as well as the DUP position on IRA arms.

Sinn Fein said yes to the political package and conveyed this clearly and in writing to the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister.

We did so because we were satisfied that we had defended the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement, including its power-sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions, that we had resolved issues of concern and succeeded in strengthening key provisions.

We had secured from the British government agreement to:

:: the reinstatement of the political institutions

:: the rescinding of the British Government power to suspend the political institutions

:: the creation of an automatic entitlement by Ministers to attend All-Ireland Ministerial Council meetings ( removing the power of veto over attendance previously exercised by unionists)

:: the creation of a requirement on Ministers to attend Executive meetings and to attend, where appropriate, All Ireland Ministerial Council meetings (which the DUP refused to do in the past)

:: the creation of a requirement on Ministers to observe the joint nature of the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (which the DUP had sought to erode)

:: the establishment of the All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum

:: the establishment of the All-Ireland Parliamentary Forum

:: the transfer of powers on Justice and Policing away from London and the NIO to local democratic accountability

:: the repeal of repressive legislation

:: the provision of new powers for the Human Rights Commission

:: the removal of the restriction which prevents Irish citizens from taking up senior civil service positions in the north

:: a peace dividend

:: the implementation of measures to repair the electoral register in the north

A process of rolling and frontloaded demilitarisation

Both governments also agreed to a resolution of residual issues around prisoners and OTRs.

We also secured from the Irish Government agreement on measures to facilitate Northern representation in the Irish parliament. For our part, on the issue of policing, we committed to recommend to an Ard Comhairle meeting that we convene a special Ard Fheis to decide on our position on this issue in the context of:

Agreement between the parties on the departmental model and the powers to be transferred; and

The enactment by the British Government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and

A DUP commitment to a short timeframe for the transfers of powers on policing and justice.

The resolution of this central matter will ultimately present an enormous challenge for republicans, not least because the primary function of both the policing and judicial systems in the north have been to repress republicans and nationalists. But this very same issue that makes it such an enormous challenge for us all is also a most compelling motivation to bring this issue to satisfactory resolution.

You will no doubt hear more of the detail of our approach to resolving the issue of policing from Gerry Kelly in the section of this Ard Fheis which deals specifically with this issue.

Throughout these negotiations we believed also that a comprehensive agreement would motivate the IRA to address satisfactorily the issues which are its responsibilities. We have many times stated our commitment to the objective of taking the guns out of Irish politics. And our commitment to this has gone far beyond words, far beyond the rhetoric of others. While it remains our position that resolving the issue of arms is a matter for the IICD and the armed groups we have not shirked from using our influence on many occasions in the past in an effective and productive way to help bring this about. Last December Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness again went to the IRA to seek to persuade that organisation to address the issue of arms in a conclusive way and in a way which took account of the genuine concerns of unionists.

The IRA subsequently set out publicly what they were prepared to do in the context of an agreement. What they offered to do was unprecedented and beyond the wildest expectation of the most optimistic observers of this process. The IRA were prepared to move into a new and peaceful mode and to put their entire arsenal beyond use within a space of weeks and do so additionally under the watchful gaze of two independent witnesses.

And so, we arrived in early December at, what I described earlier as, a potentially defining moment in the peace process, a potentially watershed moment in the history of this island. So what happened?

Well the first thing that happened was the DUP refused to sign up for the political package. They failed the test that had been set for them in the terms of equality and power sharing. This was no surprise. They had failed it many times before in the council chambers of Ballymena, Lisburn, Castlereagh and elsewhere. They had failed it in the discussions at Leeds Castle last October. But the DUP also rejected the IRA offer to put all its weapons beyond use and demanded instead at their party meeting in Ballymena the humiliation of the IRA, and for republicans to wear sackcloth and ashes.

They signalled clearly that they were not yet prepared to leave behind the sectarianism, bigotry and intolerance that marked the political life of the northern state since partition.

The second thing that happened is that, in the run up to the conclusion of these negotiations the governments, in the knowledge that the DUP would fail to come across the line, tried to shift the blame onto republicans by supporting the demand for photographs of the IRA putting their arsenal beyond use.

And of course, the governments themselves then refused also to honour their part of the political package.

In effect, they failed the very same test set for the DUP. And of course, like the DUP, this was no surprise either. On every occasion in the past when unionist leaders have walked away from or reneged on agreements to break the political stalemate the governments in turn have reneged on their end of the deal. On each occasion they have failed or refused to confront a unionist veto.

While all of this has tried our patience we must not allow it to distract us from our objectives. The outcome of past negotiations including that which ended in December has been increased validation for our political analysis.

It may be that as the governments walk away from each negotiation in the knowledge that there will be another, they do so in the hope that republicans will come back to the next round of discussions weaker and prepared to accept less. The two governments have now joined with our political opponents in a concerted effort to weaken the Sinn Féin negotiating hand.

We must now shift our focus away from negotiations to the coming elections. In the coming months we have an opportunity to once again seek an increased endorsement of our strategy, an opportunity to ensure that when we return to discussions which will shape a way forward we will do so with an increased mandate.

The process of change cannot be frozen because rejectionist unionism refuses to come to terms with the new political realities. Political unionism cannot be allowed to veto the fundamental rights of citizens or to veto other changes necessary for the development of a peaceful society.

That is our message to the governments. With increased political strength we will be better able to increase the pressure for radical social and political change across this island.

Sinn Féin's radical, alternative voice is a challenge to the sectarianism and inequality of the 6 County state. But also it is increasingly a challenge to the corruption and elitism of the Southern political establishment. That is why they seek to halt the surge in support of our party.

Sinn Féin is in this to the end. We will secure our rights and entitlements on the same equal basis as available to others. We will persevere and we will achieve all our political objectives. So, let's get out and build a radical alternative.


 Gerry Kelly
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice Gerry Kelly MLA

Gerry Kelly Opens Session On Policing At The 2005 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis

Published: 6 March, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice Gerry Kelly MLA speaking at the 2005 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this morning said that republicans have put policing at the "very core of negotiations with the British".

Full Text:

For generations now the police force in the North has been an instrument of political repression, counter-revolution and terror. It has been a partisan, political, protestant and paramilitary force, which has been used in the main against Catholics, Nationalists and republicans.

For any conflict resolution process, or peace process or political process to succeed in Ireland then all the above has to change so radically that the old regime will be unrecognisable in the new beginning to policing that republicans are striving for.

Republicans put policing at the very core of negotiations with the British for that reason.

I'm not going to go over all the history of those very protracted and ongoing negotiations except to remind people that instead of having one Justice Act and one Policing Act, Sinn Féin had to push for and achieve a further Act in each case because the first Acts simply reflected the securocrats trying to arrest change as opposed to implement it.

Let us also remind ourselves that those who scream the loudest for Sinn Fein to join the present policing arrangements are the same individuals and political parties who worked with the RUC and the judicial system at the worst periods of oppression of Nationalists during the last 35 years and longer. Indeed some of the political parties in the 26 counties introduced and enacted repressive legislation against republicans that would have made Maggie Thatcher or for that matter Attilla the Hun look like Florence Nightengale.

So where are we at, at our 2005 Ard Fheis? We have made very substantial progress. We have a Police Act, which more fully reflects the 175 Patten recommendations.

Critical to a new beginning to policing and justice is the issue of transfer of powers to Ireland through the local Assembly, the Executive and hence into an all-Ireland context through the all-Ireland institutions. But transfer of powers is also crucial because it is the only way that control of policing and justice can ultimately be wrested out of the hands of British securocrats in London and the NIO who have run policing as a paramilitary force for generations. Without transfer Policing and justice will remain unaccountable and a tool of repression.

Other outstanding issues, which remain to be resolved, include:

:: A ban on the use of plastic bullets.

:: In the meantime an accountability mechanism is required to deal with plastic bullets, which are fired by British Army personnel.

:: We have negotiated changes to the inquest system. We await the outcome to see if the wholesale abuse of the past will cease.

:: The British government has yet to repeal emergency legislation and instead, has extended powers

:: The inquiry demanded by the family of Pat Finucane is again being buried through new legislation to prevent the truth coming out.

:: The British Government must acknowledge state violence. And collusion and dismantle the structures which perpetrated collusion.

Within the last year, a battery of new repressive legislation has been introduced by the British government. The most recent proposal is a new Prevention of Terrorism Bill which is reminiscent of anti-democratic laws which prevailed under Apartheid in South Africa. The British government has also revealed plans to change the role of MI5 in relation to policing in the 6 counties. These proposals will pre-empt the transfer of powers. Any attempt to minimise the transfer of powers will be unacceptable to Sinn Féin and we have said that to both governments. All of this vindicates the position our party has taken in demanding to see the script for legislation on transfer of powers.

Previous speakers have already laid out the potential comprehensive agreement of last December. When the DUP bluff on power sharing was called they collapsed the negotiations. The policing section in that was essentially that in the context of: -

Agreement between the parties on the departmental model and the powers to be transferred;

The enactment by the British government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London; and

A DUP commitment to a short timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and justice.

Then the party president would propose to the Ard Comhairle that it calls a special Ard Fheis to decide Sinn Féins position on new policing arrangements.

In other word because of our experience thus far on the efforts of securocrats to hollow out legislation we wanted to see the parliamentary Act after it was passed to make sure the British keep their word. On that basis the Ard Comhairle and most importantly the rank and file in the party would then have the opportunity to debate the very fundamental issues involved at conference.

Let me repeat what I said at last years Ard Fheis. The job given to the negotiations team was to achieve a new beginning to policing and justice. We have made significant progress especially through new legislation. It is not an impossible task and republicans need to be acutely aware that if the Republican Leadership achieves the objectives set in this area then this in turn will raise fundamental questions and problems for all activists. There is a public commitment if we reach that point to then put a changed policy to our membership and nationalism as a whole. While we are a substantial distance from that point yet, activists need to realise that we can achieve it and with achievement there is responsibility.

Now let me quote SDLP Chief Seamus Mallon. He recently said, "The people of West Belfast, West Tyrone and South Armagh do not want policing because if you have policing, you don't have criminality".

Try telling the people of New York, London and Dublin that good policing means no criminality. You need policing because of criminality.

No one wants a new beginning to policing and justice more than the nationalist and republican people of West Belfast, West Tyrone and South Armagh. I commend all of those who work on the ground to create safer communities through anti-car crime schemes; youth outreach programmes, and especially, Community Restorative Justice projects. They are doing a greater serviced to working class nationalist areas than the policing and justice system has ever done.

Negotiations herald change. Change brings turmoil and soul searching. It also means breaking moulds. If we accept that the political changes over the last decade have caused massive upheaval for the Unionist and British system which has misruled the North for so many years let us also accept that Republicans have faced shibboleths and sacred cows as well.

Nobody said it would be easy. Here is the challenge facing us. As political activists we must rethink strategically, debate strategically and decide what is best for our party, for the cause we represent and most importantly for the people we represent.

Policing and justice cannot be viewed in isolation from other key issues such as the stability of the interdependent institutions, equality and human rights, demilitarisation, the ending of discrimination, collusion and so on. The militarised barracks, armoured vehicles, guns and plastic bullets do not auger well. The force within a force, the continuing political raids, the mis-policing of loyalists marches and the lack of action on sectarian attacks and drug dealing makes it extremely difficult for republicans and nationalist to envisage a radical new policing service in the future. But we will pursue proper policing and justice with all out energy.

Last December in theory at least, we were within months of having a decisive debate on this issue. Delegates need to go back to their areas and open up the debate within Sinn Fein and their community.

Our opposition to the present policing arrangements is not a matter of timing. It is not merely a question of tactics. It is a matter of integrity and our inalienable rights.

It is a Justice and Policing system for the people we will achieve, not for the privileged few or the brown envelope brigade. Hugh Orde needs to know that he is not the justice minister in the North. We as Republicans will not be part of the Police Force which is involved in collusion, we will not be part of a Police Force which protects Human Rights abusers, or Drugs barons, or Sectarian murderers simply because they are state agents. There will be no force within a force when we are finished. We will create a new policing service, which will serve the whole community throughout Ireland. We will have a service, which is representative, accountable and free from partisan political control.

I call on this Ard Fheis and activists to support us in this very fundamental struggle for an enduring and All-Ireland Justice system.


Pawtucket Parades The Green

Fifty organizations featuring musicians and muskets march for a crowd of about 3,000 people at Pawtucket's St. Patrick's Day parade.

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, March 6, 2005
Journal Staff Writer

PAWTUCKET -- There were warty-nosed leprechauns, soldiers firing muskets, and trumpet-playing Elvis impersonators.

But none of these acts could compete with the biggest star of the 23rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade: the sun.

"The weather is fantastic. It's just fabulous," said resident Kate Sadlier, smiling beneath a green, white and orange tam.

Green-clad visitors from all over the state packed the snowy sidewalks yesterday at noon to watch more than 50 organizations march from Jenks Junior High School to City Hall.

The parade is held the first weekend of March every year, said parade coordinator Mary Messier, so participants can march in bigger St. Patrick's Day parades later this month in other parts of the state.

Yesterday, children tore free from their parents to snatch up candy thrown from floats. The Seekonk High School Marching Band rat-tat-tatted along, followed by girls twirling big flags. And the members of the Party Band of Warwick blasted the theme from The Blues Brothers on their trumpets.

"It's a spectacular parade today," said resident Joe Gildea, 65. "It's grown to great proportions. I never miss it."

Not all of the acts were about entertainment. The Irish Northern Aid group carried a banner that declared "England Get Out of Ireland." The organization supports the Irish political party Sinn Fein.

"The bomb has been replaced by the ballot box," said Jim McGetrick, who marched with the group. "It's a good thing if we get a united Ireland."

Before he could finish, a group of Revolutionary War reenactors fired an ear-splitting round from their muskets.

"That wasn't us," quipped McGetrick, wincing.

At the end of the route, each act lingered in front of the reviewing stand at City Hall, performing for members of the parade committee.

Some were virtuosic, such as the young men representing the Cape Verdean-American community. Demonstrating capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, they cartwheeled, stood on their hands, and performed graceful high kicks, as if break-dancing in slow motion.

At the other end of the spectrum was a man who wore a grotesque, potato-like leprechaun suit and bustled up to small children, unfurling a long red tongue made of cloth.

"They're after me Lucky Charms," he shouted at grand marshal Kathleen Magill. She hooted at him.

"It's a great day!" the former city councilwoman said, adding that it was "quite an honor to be chosen" to lead the parade.

Parade organizers estimated that about 3,000 people turned out -- and by 1:15, many of them were packed inside the Visitors' Center for beer and corned-beef sandwiches.

Only Burrillville resident Paul MacDonald, dressed as St. Patrick -- complete with flowing gray wig and a gold-colored miter -- remained outside.

"Where's the bus to Providence?" he asked a reporter.

Directed to the RIPTA station, he trundled off, staff in hand, the green shamrocks on his long robe glinting in the sun.


Raymond McCartney Demands No Ambiguity On Plastic Bullets

Published: 6 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney speaking to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis said there is "no room for ambiguity on Plastic Bullets anywhere or in any situation".

Ta me ag labhairt ar son run 311- 315 - 323

I am speaking in support of motions of 311 - 315 - 323

At various times throughout the past thirty five years the British government thought by a simple change in name that they could get people to believe that real change had come about.

Remember the early 190s the internees overnight became detainees - Long Kesh became the Maze - The B Specials became the UDR who became the RIR. Of course there are some who believe change the name - and you change the nature of the problem, Today they shelter behind the new label of PSNI to cover over the inadequacies which still remain in policing. Of course truth does not change at the stroke of a pen.

Only this week we get latest change in name - no longer will we have Plastic bullets - and in their place and wait for this Attenuating Energy Projectiles - I will say that again Attenuating Energy Projectiles.

We are told by some who are LESS THAN HONEST that AEPs are LESS THAN LETHAL. This weapon is another form of plastic bullet which has killed men women and children. This is not a time for deferral as the SDLP opted for this week - this is the time for a clear and precise message - this weapon is lethal and the Policing Board must refuse to purchase - and put them in the hands of those who have abused them before.

No room for ambiguity on this either - there is no place for this weapon anywhere or in any situation.

The Policing Board have also provided a new name for CS GAS - they call it - Anti-Person Control Spray - they make it sound like the latest deodorent for men. As I speak it has been used over 100 times in the North ˆ with most of the incidents going unreported in the media.

It has severely injured those it was intentionally directed at and it has also injure people in close proximity. A similar weapon has been withdrawn in the United States as it was responsible for death of a spectator in a sports stadium.

Yet we have a policing board which not only approved their deployment behind closed doors - but it was forced into a position to admit that they permitted its use without guidelines. It was up to the PSNI to issue its own guidelines - Responsible management at its very best.

Let there be no doubt that this is CS GAS and the motion should be supported.

These are just some of the matters which the SDLP have failed to act on - indeed it highlights the bankruptcy of their position on policing in general. They failed the people of Ardoyne last July and the people of Short Strand the year previous.

Their positions on the Policing Board, their role on the whole issue of policing is not about serving the public interest, but self interest and self preservation.

The nationalist and republican electorate have delivered their verdict on the way forward for accountable policing and they certainly did not vote for Joe Byrne and Tom Kelly.

In conclusion I urge people to support the motion for the removal of the Rosemount spy post. I commend the PFC for its attempts to have it registerd in the Guinness book of records - £250,000 for 12 visits per year - £20000 a visit and as one republican cynic was heard to say - put me down for two of them and I will do it at half the price.


Alex Maskey
Alex Maskey, a city councilor in Belfast who served as mayor of the city in 2002 and 2003

Northern Ireland Official To Deliver March 17 Remarks

A Northern Ireland municipal official will deliver the principal remarks March 17 to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County.

Alex Maskey, a city councilor in Belfast who served as mayor of the city in 2002 and 2003, will address the society's annual gathering at Genetti Manor in Dickson City.


Joseph T. Kelly Sr., D.D.S., president of the Friendly Sons, said Joseph P. Bannon, M.D., will be installed at as president during the organization's 100th dinner.

Mr. Maskey was Belfast's second Roman Catholic mayor and the first member of his party, Sinn Fein, to be elected to that office. In 1982, he was elected as the first Sinn Fein member of Belfast City Council.

Mr. Maskey has endured hardship related to political violence in Northern Ireland. There have been at least nine attempts on his life including a fire bombing at his home.

Dr. Bannon is a surgeon and partner in Delta Medix, a Scranton physicians' group.

He is a graduate of Scranton Prep, the University of Scranton and Jefferson Medical College. He received numerous academic awards and holds certifications from the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.

He is affiliated with all hospitals in the county.

Attorney Christopher M. Kelly, Dr. Kelly's son, will be toastmaster.

The dinner program will begin at 8:30 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN Radio WEJL-AM and WBAX-AM.

©Scranton Times Tribune 2005


Scap File Bombshell Revealed

06 March 2005

Senior cops knew of a plot by a notorious Army spy to kill one of their own agents - NINE months before the murder.

The shock revelation is contained in secret security files, which also show that two Special Branch officers weren't told of an IRA plot to kill them.

The leaked documents - described as "devastating" by a senior security source - also indicate that an IRA informer was sacrificed to protect a more highly regarded informer.

The allegations relate to three key spies inside the IRA:

:: Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci, who ran the IRA's notorious 'nutting squad' while working for the Force Research Unit.

:: Joseph Fenton, a Lenadoon man codenamed 'The Driver', who was shot dead by Scappaticci's squad in February 1989.

:: Charles McIlmurray from Andersonstown, Special Branch agent 'Sealink', who was abducted and killed by Stakeknife's gang in April 1987.

One RUC source report reveals the IRA suspected they'd been "given" Mcllmurray to protect Fenton, and, ironically, got Scappaticci to investigate.

The document, authenticated by a senior security source, was dated June 6, 1988 - nine months before Fenton was killed and 14 months after Mr McIlmurray was shot dead.

It reads: "Source states that Fred Scappaticci has been asked to carry out an indepth inquiry into Joe Fenton in an effort to establish whether he is a tout or not.

"Source states that they are going to go back over every job Fenton has been involved in over the years...

"Source states that another thing being looked at is the reasons why or how Fenton gave them (the IRA) intelligence relating to Charlie McIlmurray being a Special Branch tout, which ended in McIlmurray being executed (by the IRA)."

Another section of the report will send shockwaves through Special Branch.

It reveals how an IRA team set out to shoot McIlmurray and his two handlers in Belfast, but aborted when they spotted a police traffic car.

One of the two Branch officers used his own car for meetings with informers.

But, like his colleague, he was never told of the IRA operation, and continued using the same car.

A senior security source said: "Questions need to be asked and answered on several fronts. Most worryingly . . . are the circumstances surrounding the two officers and their meeting with McIlmurray, which was watched by armed PIRA members.

"If, as this source states, McIlmurray was given to the IRA, why were his handlers never told? Two police officers could have lost their lives, as well as Mr McIlmurray, in an IRA ambush.

"The fact these officers were not even told of the attempt on their lives after the event, is reckless."

Some relatives of both Fenton and McIlmurray are considering taking legal action, seeking compensation for their loss.

Last night we handed over a copy of the documents to a solicitor representing relatives of both men.

:: Greg Harkin is co-author of Stakeknife: Britain's Secret Agents in Ireland, and is the Editorial Director at Local Press Limited in Northern Ireland.


Profile: Ronan Bennet: Troubles Are Never Far Away For Author

Had he listened to his fellow inmates in Long Kesh, Ronan Bennett would not have scooped the Irish novel of the year award last week. A terrified secondary-school pupil when he entered the notorious prison in 1974, the 18-year-old was told by republican elders that the guys who mattered threw bombs. Writing, the young activist was warned, was “bourgeois nonsense”.

Bennett, who was wrongly convicted of murdering an RUC officer during a botched armed robbery, took the advice to heart.

He stopped reading novels for 10 years, convinced by his fellow political prisoners that writers were “fairly miserable pieces of work”. He couldn’t give up entirely, though, and to pass the time he made a study of “wars of liberation” around the world.

The Maze made lasting impressions on Bennett, a soft-spoken son of a Catholic mother and Protestant father who was born in Oxford in 1956. He was raised in west Belfast and first became politically active as a student at St Mary’s Christian Brothers school on the Lower Falls, Gerry Adams’s alma mater.

Like Adams, Bennett’s life has been shaped by the Northern Ireland conflict. His teenage years, scarred by seeing neighbours and school friends killed, came to a climax when he was arrested, with three others, for the murder of William Elliott.

Elliott, an RUC officer, was murdered while trying to stop a robbery at Rathcoole, near Belfast. Bennett was convicted by a non-jury Diplock court and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 18 months in Long Kesh before his conviction was overturned on appeal.

Behind bars, Bennett’s intellect impressed the republican leadership. “He was very serious and disciplined,” said a former internee. “He was no partygoer, not like some of us. He was also hilariously funny and, unlike a lot who came out, he has no ego.”

Most internees emerged from Long Kesh with a chip on their shoulder, but Bennett says that, apart from the cold and brutality, he enjoyed his time spent alongside republican stalwarts such as Ta Power, Jimmy Brown and Gerry Steenson. His fellow jailbirds would later inspire his debut novel.

“The place itself was very bleak,” he said. “There was an atmosphere of great brutality but, at the same time, there was a tremendous sense of solidarity. You go in a very frightened kid but, instead of being brutalised by prisoners, you discover that you know most of them from your street or school. Often it was a family reunion. Looking back, I haven’t regretted that experience at all.”

Far from regretting it, Bennett — whose work has been compared to that of the late American playwright Arthur Miller — has carved a prolific literary career out of his arrests, imprisonments, trials and uncanny ability to “beat the rap”. He has only one conviction, having been charged with escaping from custody after a failed attempt to impersonate another prisoner who was about to be released. He walked 10 yards before his effort was thwarted.

After being released from Long Kesh, Bennett relocated to England. In 1978 he began his second term in prison, spending 20 months on remand in Brixton after police raided the Bayswater flat that the 23-year-old shared with his girlfriend and found a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, wigs, false moustaches, balaclavas, false documents and passports. Bennett was accused of leading a terrorist gang and charged with the now legendary offence of “conspiring to commit crimes unknown against persons unknown in places unknown”.

Dubbed the anarchist’s trial, the crimes unknown case developed into a cause célèbre after a 14-week hearing in which Bennett defended himself. The self-trained advocate, who was accused by one lawyer of “attempting to overthrow society”, was acquitted of possessing a .22 rifle, sodium chlorate — an explosive substance — and handling stolen goods.

His trial over, Bennett enrolled at King’s College, London, where he completed a doctorate in crime and law enforcement in the 17th century.His passion for history almost led to a career in teaching but Bennett was also attracted to politics. He was never far from controversy. In 1987 the security forces protested when Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing Labour MP, appointed Bennett as his researcher, granting him a pass to the House of Commons. Bennett was banned from the Houses of Parliament by the Speaker.

It was at King’s College that the studious former jailbird lifted his self-imposed ban on reading fiction. “It was like falling in love again,” said Bennett. “It was a very intense experience.”

In 1991, he sent The Second Prison, a psychological novel about a man released from jail in Northern Ireland who cannot get the experience out of his head, to a literary agent. It was critically acclaimed on publication, and Bennett soon came to the attention of The Guardian, which enlisted him as a contributor on Northern Ireland. At the paper, he met Georgina Henry, now its deputy editor. The couple live in east London and have a four-year-old son.

Bennett’s first article for The Guardian argued that the only way forward in the north was for talks, with Adams at the top table. It was an ambitious thesis in the early 1990s, and sparked outrage from unionists, who dismissed him as an IRA apologist.

“He has always been seen as someone who would bat for Sinn Fein,” said a senior republican. “He is clearly very learned and skilful, a person of considerable intellectual ability, but he has had a few gaffes too with what he has said about the peace process. At times, even republicans would privately admit that he was overcritical of the unionists.”

A spat with David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party, began in earnest in the summer of 1994, when Robert Cooper, the head of drama at BBC Northern Ireland, commissioned Bennett to write a television series about the 1916 rising and the war of independence.

Trimble led the revolt against The Rebel Heart, a four-hour £6m production, protesting in a letter to the BBC that Bennett was a “most unsuitable person” to write such a screenplay. Trimble criticised the publicly funded corporation for inviting a republican to write the drama.

Bennett also courted controversy when he declared in an interview with the Spectator magazine that he would not hand over the Omagh bombers to the RUC. Dismissing the province’s police as a “completely discredited force”, he was forced to issue an apology to the families of the victims. This too was attacked for being half-hearted.

When he was first approached about writing a docu-drama about the September 11 attacks, he turned the offer down, saying that it had “great potential to offend”. Months later, he changed his mind. “I wanted to know who these men were and why they did what they did,” he said. As part of his research, Bennett travelled to Hamburg to meet former acquaintances of some of the hijackers. He studied the Koran and Islamic politics and stayed in the streets where the hijackers lived.

The resulting drama, The Hamburg Cell, was attacked by parents of British victims as “cruel and insensitive” when it was shown last year, but welcomed by American families who said it shed light on the hijackers’ motives.

Despite his popularity in literary circles and his newspaper connections, Bennett says he enjoys the quiet life. “I avoid the scene,” he has said. “I don’t hang out. I’ve got the same friends I had at the start. I go back to Derry and Belfast and work with up-and-coming writers in the nationalist community and you can’t go back to those places without being reminded of who you are and why you started.”

He is a self-confessed workaholic. Rising “at the crack of dawn” each day, he often struggles to type 200 words in one sitting. It took him five years to write Havoc In Its Third Year, his fourth novel which was nominated for the Man Booker and won the title of Irish novel of the year. “If it’s not a book, it’s a film, he just doesn’t know where to stop,” said a family friend.


Judge To Head Inquiry Into RUC Murders

Enda Leahy

THE president of the District Court has been appointed by the Irish government to investigate alleged garda collusion with the IRA in the murder of two RUC officers.

Justice Peter Smithwick confirmed last week that he had “agreed in principle” to undertake the inquiry.

The murder of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, two Special Branch officers, has long been a source of controversy. The men were ambushed by the IRA in south Armagh in 1989 as they returned from a meeting at Dundalk garda barracks. It was subsequently alleged that a garda tipped off the IRA.

Peter Cory, the retired Canadian judge who investigated claims that security forces colluded with paramilitary groups in six attacks in Northern Ireland from 1987 to 1999, recommended that an inquiry into the RUC killings be conducted.

The Irish government has been criticised by human rights groups for failing to investigate the murders before now. Jane Winter, of British Irish Rights Watch, said: “We are delighted the Irish government is holding an inquiry. Compared to the British government on this issue the Irish govern- ment has been exemplary.”

William Frazer, a spokesman for Families Acting For Innocent Relatives, said: “We believe a web of collusion will spring out from the Buchanan and Breen case — there are people guilty of turning a blind eye as well as those guilty of doing it,” he said.

An initial report by Cory into the double murder centred on intelligence documents that mentioned a garda officer passing information to the Provisional IRA to facilitate the murders. It also referred to a statement from Kevin Fulton, a former British intelligence agent within the IRA.

Fulton identified a garda officer in Dundalk to Cory, and claims to have witnessed him passing information to the republican army. He is likely to be one of the main witnesses in the inquiry.

Fulton said: “I’ll be there, no problem. It’s in everybody’s interest, including the police in the north, the gardai and the IRA. “I haven’t seen the intelligence documents that (Cory) has, but they backed up my statement to him,” he said. “The report that was put out by him to the public was not even a tenth of what I have told him, and he purposely did not release the rest. He couldn’t.”

Fulton said he doubted the inquiry would uncover the full truth. He also accused the gardai of witholding information relating to a threat on his life.

A department of justice spokesman said that a proposal to the Oireachtas to establish the inquiry is scheduled to begin March 23.

It will increase pressure on the British government to initiate inquiries into the murder of Pat Finucane, the Belfast solicitor, and other disputed killings in which British security force collusion is alleged.


A Towering Tale: Empire State Construction Provides Novel's Backdrop

07:50 PM CST on Saturday, March 5, 2005

By JEROME WEEKS / The Dallas Morning News

Most of an entire episode in Ric Burns' majestic PBS documentary New York was devoted to the 1930 construction of the Empire State Building – it was started just as the Depression crippled the city but pursued at a breakneck pace (an entire floor completed every day). For anyone who was moved by the drama of that human and technological feat, Thomas Kelly's novel Empire Rising will strike a familiar chord: somber, epic and cocksure all at once.

Highfalutin claims should not be made for the novel: It's mostly a noir-ish, period melodrama. But having written several thrillers about racketeering in the New York building trades, Mr. Kelly (a former construction worker and mayoral aide) has found in that signature skyscraper a big-city, blue-collar story with scope: the story of Irish immigrants, the Italian mob, Tammany Hall and Mayor "Gentleman Jimmy" Walker himself. Plus, of course, "the Eighth Wonder of the World" as it makes its girder-and-granite ascent toward heaven.

Empire Rising is founded on the romance between Michael Briody, an assassin and gunrunner for the Irish Republican Army who is hiding out with a rivet crew, and Grace Masterson, an Irish immigrant artist who is painting the Empire State's construction. She is also the mistress, however, of Johnny Farrell, Mayor Walker's powerful point man for bribery.

Nothing gets built in New York, Mr. Kelly observes, without payoffs – and politics. It's through these processes that he connects his lovers to larger wheels within wheels – from seedy East Side bars full of revolutionaries and bootleggers all the way to Albany, where Gov. Franklin Roosevelt wants to dig up dirt on Tammany Hall, as a way of distancing himself from the corrupt Democratic machine to clear the way for his run at the presidency.

It's not too farfetched to see Empire Rising in terms of the skyscraper itself, its weaknesses and wonders: The Empire State Building lacks the silvery beauty of its compatriot, the Chrysler Building, but it was not as dull and corporate-engineered as the Twin Towers. The Empire State is not just tall; it's big-shouldered, the largest, fattest fact on the Manhattan skyline. It remains an embodiment of New York money, power, raw ambition and muscle.

Similarly, Empire Rising grabs us with its panoramic feel for how a skyscraper, how a city, works. Along the way, Mr. Kelly can create a touching, elusive, minor figure like Mayor Walker – the former dance man sadly aware of his charm and easy graft, ennobled a little by that sad awareness.

On the other hand, some of Mr. Kelly's characters remain stubbornly hollow – either noble and brawny or WASPy and bigoted – and while he's unafraid of melodrama, he resorts to it too often toward the end.

Still, if Mr. Kelly's not profound, he's compelling. Empire Rising is a richly entertaining yarn – with the feel of those classic black-and-white shots by Lewis Wickes Hine, photos of brawny workmen dangling in midair from cables, showered in welding sparks, all of New York City below them.

Empire Rising
Thomas Kelly (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25)


Heroism And Hell On Earth

Gerard DeGroot

The Siege of Derry
Carlo Gébler
Little Brown, £18.99

SIEGES usually make for gripping history. There’s something about a good siege that brings out the best and worst in humans. All those people are crammed into a small, ever-shrinking place. Shells rain down. Supplies of food, medicine and ammunition dwindle. People take to eating their pets and, occasionally, each other. Bodies piled everywhere begin to rot. Sewage services inevitably break down and disease is rampant. No wonder the incessant pressure turns some to cowardice and treason. Somewhat more surprising is that some find inspiration for heroism.

Who needs novels if you can get your hands on a good siege story? The tales told by Anthony Beevor in Stalingrad, or Bernard Fall in Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu, are difficult to beat for the depth of misery and height of heroism. Both books reveal just how much suffering some people can tolerate, not to mention the process which causes others to break.

The Siege of Derry promises all the same dramatic elements, but with an added ingredient: the fact that in Ireland, history is not just the past but also the present. Look at the siege of Derry and one finds all the emotive elements that cause animosity in the country today: ‘Popish plots’, Jacobite traitors, Apprentice Boys, King Billy and the Bogside.

The siege began when Richard Talbot, the Earl of Tyrconnell, under orders from King James II, sought to ensure that all strong points in the country were held by forces loyal to the Catholic cause. He reckoned without the stubbornness of Protestant groups in Derry, where tensions had been fermenting for some time.

By November 1688, Derry was the only major outpost that still had a Protestant garrison. The task of subduing Derry went to Alexander MacDonnell, third Earl of Antrim. By the first week in December - the same week King William of Orange landed in England - Antrim was ready to advance upon Derry. He had with him about 1,200 men, most of them Redshanks - soldiers from the Highlands and islands, so named because they were accustomed to wading bare-legged through freezing rivers.

On December 7, Antrim’s army arrived on the right bank of the Foyle, and began to cross the river. They were 60 yards from the city walls when 13 young men, the now-famous apprentices, inspired by William’s arrival, seized the keys from the guard at the Ferry Quay gate. Then they raised the drawbridge, much to the surprise of the Redshanks, who were expecting a relatively peaceful hand-over of power. The governor of the garrison, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lundy, was suspected of being a Jacobite traitor; an allegation he vehemently denied. He was ousted from his post and replaced by Major Henry Baker and the Rev George Walker, who oversaw the defence of the town during the siege. The usual population of 2,000 had been swollen by 7,000 soldiers and perhaps another 30,000 refugees, putting enormous pressure on supplies of food and ammunition.

The bitter animosities of the preceding years had convinced both sides that surrender was not an option, since this was not a conflict governed by gentlemanly conceptions of war. The Jacobite forces were well entrenched and kept up a steady bombardment of the city, which shredded the defences inside the walls. Anyone hit by shrapnel within the city was likely to die an agonising, slow death from septicaemia.

While the punishment from the Jacobite guns was heavy, the Catholic forces never quite figured out that the most effective way to win a siege was to starve the defenders into submission. Supplies were able to get through the rather leaky cordon that surrounded the town. Nevertheless, by June 1689 conditions within Derry were desperate.

Attempts at relieving the garrison by sea had previously foundered when Protestant forces recoiled at the vicious fire from Jacobite guns at Culmore fort. Then, on the evening of July 28, 1689, three vessels managed to make their way up the Foyle and get close to the city walls. The arrival of provisions broke the will of the Jacobites, who withdrew soon afterwards. The siege of Derry, which lasted 105 days, was over.

THE STORY oozes drama, perfidy and heroism. Well told, it would make a great book.

But this is far from a great book. Carlo Gébler is an excellent writer. His prose is as sharp as a well-honed razor. But producing good history requires more than simply being able to write well. There’s this thing called research which needs to be done. Either through a lack of time, or perhaps lack of interest, Gébler didn’t put in the time at the library that is essential in order to produce a really good history. His bibliography is embarrassingly short and, if the strings of ‘ibids’ in his end notes are anything to go by, the books he actually relied on would hardly fill a backpack.

The effect of this failure to dig out obscure sources and provide fresh material is that a book which seems promising at the beginning eventually began to bore me. Good writing alone was not enough to keep me sustained.

Gébler is at his best when writing about the legacy of the siege; in other words, the effect it has had upon the Ireland in which he grew up and still lives. The partition of Ireland, we should remember, was drawn on the basis of what happened more than 300 years ago. Bloody Sunday occurred in Derry, and it is the place where the peace efforts of recent years will receive their severest test. One wonders if the Apprentice Boys ever thought about the inheritance they bequeathed.

Unfortunately, good history cannot be written entirely from the heart. I sincerely wish that Gébler had taken the time to collect the material which would have enabled some valuable insights to be made into what actually happened back in the time of King Billy.

Publishers take note: there’s still room for a really gripping account of the siege of Derry.


March Declared Irish-American Heritage Month In U.S.

Proclamation honors people of Irish descent who helped shape nation

05 March 2005

Calling the story of the Irish in America "an important part of the history of our country," President George W. Bush has proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month. The president's proclamation recognizes the service of notable early Irish- Americans Charles Thompson and Commodore John Barry, as well as former presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Lauding Irish-American contributions to commerce, culture and public service, the president's proclamation declares "The Irish are a significant reason why Americans will always be proud to call ourselves a Nation of immigrants."

Following is the official proclamation:

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

March 4, 2005


The story of the Irish in America is an important part of the history of our country. This month, we pay tribute to Americans of Irish descent who have shaped our Nation and influenced American life.

Long before the great wave of Irish immigration in the 1840s, people of Irish ancestry were defining and defending our Nation. Charles Thomson, an Irishman by birth, served as Secretary of the Continental Congress and helped design the Great Seal of the United States. Irish-born Commodore John Barry fought for our country's independence and later helped found the United States Navy.

Irish Americans have been leaders in our public life, and they have retained a proud reverence for their heritage. In June 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the Parliament in Dublin and told the story of the Irish Brigade, a regiment that fought valiantly for the Union and suffered terrible losses during the Civil War. Two decades after President Kennedy's visit, President Ronald Reagan returned to his great-grandfather's hometown in County Tipperary, Ireland, and greeted the crowd in their own Irish language.

The industry, talent, and imagination of Irish Americans have enriched our commerce and our culture. Their strong record of public service has fortified our democracy. Their strong ties to family, faith, and community have strengthened our Nation's character. The Irish are a significant reason why Americans will always be proud to call ourselves a Nation of immigrants.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2005 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by celebrating the contributions of Irish Americans to our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth.


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