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March 08, 2005

03/08/05 - Agency Can Seize LVF Assets

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

BB 03/08/05 Agency Can Seize LVF Man's Assets
UT 03/08/05 Tell All About McCartney Murder, Adams Urges
BB 03/08/05 £30m For Unsolved Murders Review
BT 03/08/05 Loyalists Reject Plan For A 'Truth Process'
BG 03/08/05 Congress Shuns Sinn Fein Leader -A
UT 03/08/05 McDowell Criticises Sinn Fein In UL Speech
BT 03/08/05 Viewpoint: Murders Review Is A Welcome Move
BT 03/08/05 MEP Urges McCartney Tribute
SF 03/08/05 International Women's Day: Sinn Féin Backs New Women's Political Caucus
BB 03/08/05 What The Papers Say


Agency Can Seize LVF Man's Assets

Assets of £200,000 owned by murdered LVF man Stephen Warnock can be seized by the Assets Recovery Agency, the High Court has ruled.

They include a £100,000 insurance policy, over £40,000 found in his car on the day he was shot and the proceeds of the sale of a house in Newtownards.

Warnock, 35, was shot dead in his car in September, 2002, in Newtownards.

The judge said the agency was relying on the police belief that Warnock was a major supplier of cannabis and ecstacy.

Mr Justice Girvan said the evidence had entirely satisfied him that Warnock was pursuing a criminal lifestyle which generated significant sums of money obtained from illegitimate sources.


"The evidence establishes that he was a senior figure in the LVF," the judge said.

"An LVF mural in Holywood depicts him as a brigadier in that organisation which is an unlawful paramilitary organisation involved in various criminal activities."

The judge said the PSNI believed that Warnock had become involved in drug trafficking on a significant scale.

Commenting on the £40,000 found in the LVF man's car he said: "The lack of any explanation as to a lawful source, the criminal background and associations of the deceased, all point to the overwhelming conclusion that the money was the proceeds of crime and recoverable property."

Also included in the assets which can be seized is a home entertainment system worth £6,000.

Warnock was driving his three-year-old daughter to school when he was murdered. She escaped injury when a gunman on a motorcycle pulled alongside and fired 15 shots into her father's car.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/08 12:48:41 GMT


Tell All About McCartney Murder, Adams Urges

Witnesses who have given statements about the murder of Belfast father of two Robert McCartney today faced a fresh Sinn Fein appeal to reveal everything they know.

By:Press Association

Party president Gerry Adams issued the appeal after police expressed concern last Friday that some witnesses had been reluctant to give all relevant information to the investigation because of fear of reprisals within their own community.

The IRA has expelled three members and Sinn Fein has suspended seven following claims by Mr McCartney`s sisters that republicans were involved in the stabbing and beating outside Magennis`s bar on January 30.

The family has been told up to 20 people were involved in the attack and clean up operation which also resulted in Brendan Devine, who was drinking with Mr McCartney, being seriously injured.

They also understand up to 70 people were in the pub at the time.

But amid allegations that witnesses are being intimidated, police said last Friday that 10 people arrested and later released had exercised their right to silence during questioning.

Mr Adams said today: "Despite numerous appeals those who killed Robert McCartney have not come forward.

"It is clear that their refusal to do the right thing by the family of Robert McCartney is entirely motivated by self-interest.

"There should be no doubt about this. There can be no other explanation for their refusal to accept full responsibility for their actions.

"Witnesses have come forward. I would appeal to others who have not come forward to do so now. I would also ask those who have made statements to reflect on the terrible events of that night and to carefully consider whether there is anything additional they can ad to their first accounts. Every piece of information is crucial.

"This is the only way that the family can have the closure they are campaigning for and deserve."

Sinn Fein and the IRA have been anxious to distance themselves from the murder following a high profile media campaign by the five McCartney sisters - Paula, Catherine, Gemma, Donna and Claire - for their brother`s killers to be brought before the courts.

In the wake of the murder, the family accused the IRA of shielding the murderers and intimidating witnesses.

The IRA`s expulsion of three members and Sinn Fein`s suspension of seven members received a cool response from the family who have welcomed every advance but have insisted more needs to be done on the ground to ensure those responsible answer the allegations in court.

On Saturday, the family surprised many observers by accepting an invitation from Mr Adams to attend Sinn Fein`s annual conference in Dublin to hear what the West Belfast MP had to say about their brother`s killing.

Mr Adams has issued a series of hard hitting statements in recent weeks condemning the murder and has passed on the names of the seven suspended party members to Northern Ireland`s Police Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan via his solicitor to investigate.

Protocols have been agreed between the Ombudsman`s office and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to enable them to gather information which could help the police investigation.

They were agreed because republicans will not go directly to the police because of their refusal to recognise police reforms.

Mr Adams noted today that despite numerous appeals from him and other senior republicans some people still had not come forward.

Mr Adams` latest appeal came amid reports that the McCartney sisters will be invited by the US Government to attend St Patrick`s Day celebrations in the White House when they visit Washington next week.

Sinn Fein and other Northern Ireland political parties have been frozen out of this year`s event which they normally attend.

It is believed US President George Bush`s administration has changed the focus of the event to honour community figures because of the failure to revive power sharing and end paramilitarism in the province.


£30m For Unsolved Murders Review

More than £30m of funding is to be used to review unsolved killings in Northern Ireland, the government is due to announce.

The review is an attempt to bring closure for families of hundreds of people killed in the Troubles.

More than 1,800 cases, half the total number of people killed during 30 years of the Troubles, remain unsolved.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde is expected to call on outside police help for the investigations.

The Police Federation, which represents thousands of officers, has welcomed the funding which will be spread over a number of years.

The killings of more than 200 police officers remain unsolved.

Chairman Irwin Montgomery said: "Everybody has a different idea of closure.

"Families just want to know what happened to their loved ones, they want to know the circumstances of the deaths.

"If they have any idea of who may have done it and if there is anything that can be done to bring those people to justice."

However, the father of a teenager stabbed to death in County Armagh five years ago has dismissed the fund as a "waste of public money".

Paul McIlwaine's teenage son David, 18, was found dead along with his friend Andrew Robb, 19, on a roadside near Tandragee in February 2000.

The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force was blamed for the deaths. Neither teenager had any paramilitary connections.

Mr McIlwaine said he just wanted the killers brought to justice.

Justice process

"Most of these families, in 90% of the cases, they all know who was involved, they know who was there. So what is this victims' commission going to do, tell them what they already know?

"It is just a publicity stunt, it's a waste of public money. Put the money to good use and give something to the victims."

Mr Orde has made it clear that the police review should not be seen as a substitute for some wider truth and justice process.

BBC Northern Ireland's security editor Brian Rowan said Mr Orde had also stressed that the review would not lead to a wave of charges and court appearances.

"However, more information will be made available to the families of victims - and that in itself will be seen as progress," he added.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/08 11:59:49 GMT


'Opening wounds will hurt, not heal'

Loyalists Reject Plan For A 'Truth Process'

By Michael McHugh
08 March 2005

A South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission for Northern Ireland would risk re-igniting violent conflict instead of helping society move beyond the Troubles, a paper produced by loyalists has warned.

A policy document compiled by a number of loyalist ex-prisoners' groups has questioned the value of a truth process at a time when rival communities are arguably more polarised than ever and follows the Secretary of State's decision to defer a truth and reconciliation process.

Sinn Fein has slammed the Government's position as "contradictory and divisive" but a pamphlet entitled, 'Truth Recovery: A Contribution From Within Loyalism' has warned that violence could be fuelled through old wounds.

The Loyalist Prisoners' Welfare Association, the EPIC centre for ex-prisoners and community groups across Northern Ireland have contributed to the consultation, which urged caution in light of heightened communal tensions.

"The initial optimism and good will generated by the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement has all but evaporated in loyalist areas," the paper said.

"In this kind of unstable, unsettled political context, a 'truth process' that attempts to open up old wounds runs a real risk of re-igniting violent conflict instead of helping society to move beyond the Troubles.

"Many wounds are still too raw for a truth process to have a realistic chance of succeeding. Under such circumstances, any truth process runs the risk of indoctrinating a more militant younger generation with hatred and providing justification for continuing conflict."

Sinn Fein has been pressing for a reconciliation process and North Antrim Assemblyman Philip McGuigan has lambasted Paul Murphy's decision to defer action.

"On the one hand Paul Murphy is recognising the need to deal with the difficulties faced by victims of the conflict while at the same time rejecting the need to create a independent process and framework to allow people to fully deal with the past and the issues of healing and truth," he said.

Mr Murphy said that "in the light of recent events" it was not the time to launch a consultation in advance of a political settlement.

He announced that a Victims' and Survivors' Commissioner was to be appointed as an alternative measure.

The loyalists' paper accused republicans of hijacking the process to blame the British state and its surrogates for everything.

It added that a lack of political remorse on the part of loyalists could be interpreted as rubbing salt in victims' wounds rather than promoting healing.

"Any truth process that would require individual ex-prisoners or ex-combatants to give public testimony about specific past actions will most likely contribute to the continuing demonisation of these loyalist activists," the dossier said.


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams won't be going to President Bush's St Patrick's Day reception. The family of Belfast murder victim Robert McCartney are going instead. Matthew Wells reports.

Congress Shuns Sinn Fein Leader -A

Follows Bush lead on holiday events

By Devlin Barrett, Associated Press March 8, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams and other Northern Ireland political leaders will not be invited to a St. Patrick's Day luncheon with congressional leaders, another sign that the United States is unhappy over the stalled peace process.

Adams will not be attending the annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon held by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the lawmaker's spokesman Ron Bonjean said yesterday.

That follows an announcement last week by the Bush administration that Adams and other Northern Ireland political leaders will not be invited to a St. Patrick's Day ceremony at the White House for the first time since 1995.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is expected to be at the White House ceremony to present a traditional bowl of shamrocks to the president.

Sinn Fein is allied with the Irish Republican Army, which has come under criticism for recent crimes blamed on the group.

Representative James Walsh, Republican of New York and chairman of the Friends of Ireland congressional group, said the decision shows US officials agree on the need to push both sides back to the bargaining table.

"The president made the call not to invite them to the White House, and I think the speaker is right in step with the president.

It's disappointing, but it shows unanimity," Walsh said.

"I would love to see them at the speaker's luncheon, it's been a grand tradition, but it would be ignoring the fact that there's been a major breakdown in the process," he said.

Walsh blamed the deteriorating relations on recent developments in Ireland, particularly a December bank heist and the January killing of a Belfast man in a bar fight. The IRA has expelled three members over the bar killing and has denied any role in the bank robbery.

Walsh cited those incidents, and what he said were earlier in- flammatory comments by unionist leader Ian Paisley, as reasons for stalled negotiations.

"Hopefully, this will give people there a sense of how seriously it's being taken by the United States," Walsh said. concluded it could make cable more expensive.


Justice Minister Criticises Sinn Fein In UL Speech

The Justice Minister has criticised Sinn Fein for the way it's treated the murder of Robert McCartney differently to that of Jerry Mccabe.

Michael Mcdowell made his comments while adressing members of the UL law society during a visit to Limerick last night.

Speaking at the Univesity of Limerick he asked what`s the difference between the two killings.

"What was the moral quality of what happened in Adare that puts it on a higher plane to what happened in McGuinness` pub in shortstrand in Belfast that day? I`m not going to attempt to supply the answer to that but I suggest that there isn`t an answer to it I suggest the only arguable reasoning which could arrive at such a distinction is pretty paper thin one- that one was done on the authority of the IRA - albeit low level authority - and that the other was not."

And you can hear an extended portion of Michael McDowells speech to the UL law society later this morning during Live 95FM`s Limerick Today programme.


Viewpoint: Murders Review Is A Welcome Move

Looking back: Anything that helps relatives of victims is worth pursuing

08 March 2005

Behind the cold statistics of deaths in the troubles lie thousands of cases of heartbreak, so the government's £30m contribution to reviewing unsolved killings is a welcome and compassionate gesture. Without it, the promise of a review would have been meaningless, since extra resources and manpower will be necessary.

The aim is to bring closure for families - especially the families of police officers, who have led the campaign - after years of waiting and wondering about the circumstances of their loved ones' deaths.

It is unlikely that many investigations will result in fresh charges, but at least there will be the satisfaction that something has been done to put matters to rest, without prejudicing existing policing requirements.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the Good Friday Agreement was that it drew a new line in the sand, not only leaving horrific murders unsolved but allowing paramilitary suspects to walk free.

The review will cast new light on their crimes, forcing organisations and individuals to take responsibility for their actions, rather than escaping guilt as participants in the peace process.

A new look is being taken at past killings, far short of a truth and reconciliation inquiry that might have followed a genuine cessation of violence, and there are signs that the outside world is beginning to rethink its attitude to the long-running Northern Ireland saga.

President Bush could hardly have expressed his exasperation with Sinn Fein - and its continuing association with the IRA's criminality - more effectively than by inviting the sisters of Robert McCartney to a special White House occasion on St Patrick's Day.

Instead of handshakes for Gerry Adams and other politicians, there will be nothing but praise for the bravery of the McCartney sisters in their attempts to unmask his killers.

So far, three IRA members have been expelled and seven Sinn Fein activists have been suspended, but the stony faces of the sisters, at the Dublin Ard Fheis, was a clear indication that their anger will not be assuaged until murder charges are brought.

To do this will require witnesses to the brawl that preceded the murder to come forward, without fear of reprisal. If Sinn Fein's best efforts cannot achieve this, their condemnation and concern will count for little, and another family will be left with an unhealable wound.

The propaganda tactics of the past, blaming the "securocrats" or the security forces for collusion and ignoring the far more frequent instances of unprovoked murder, are ceasing to work. Times have changed, the police have changed, but the republican movement is as dedicated as ever to mixing politics and paramilitarism.


MEP Urges McCartney Tribute

By Aoife White
08 March 2005

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson asked the European Parliament to pay tribute to the strength of the McCartney family yesterday, moments after a British Labour MEP denounced organised crime in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein's MEP Bairbre de Brun was in parliament for both speeches but did not speak in her party's defence.

Mr Nicholson told Europe's 785 MEPs that the murder of Robert McCartney had to be condemned by right-thinking people.

"It is not enough for Sinn Fein or the IRA to say they'll give one person or five people up. All the people who are guilty of this attack on Robert McCartney should be given up," he said.

UK Labour's top MEP Gary Titley, also denounced recent crime in Northern Ireland in a veiled attack on Sinn Fein.

"The raid on the Northern Bank, the murder of Robert McCartney, the intimidation of witnesses, the evidence of money laundering suggests that extensive criminality has now become part and parcel of the Northern Ireland scene," he said. Such criminality had no place in political action, he said.

Two weeks ago MEP Jim Allister (DUP) asked the parliament to withdraw Sinn Fein's office and travel allowances, in line with similar moves at Westminster. In a statement yesterday, he said that he trusted the parliament would have the courage to take action against Sinn Fein.


International Women's Day: Sinn Féin Backs New Women's Political Caucus

Published: 8 March, 2005

Sinn Féin has strongly backed and welcomed the formation of a cross-party Women's Political Caucus initiated and launched by the National Women's Council today. Attending the launch in the Mansion House on behalf of the party are Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew, Spokesperson on Equality, Human Rights and Women, Caitríona Ruane MLA, and Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD.

Speaking before the launch, the newly-elected Sinn Féin Party Chair Ms. McDonald said:

"I congratulate the National Women‚s Council for this bold initiative which will bring together women public representatives and women community leaders in a non-partisan way to work constructively together on behalf of women's equality. Given the ongoing massive under-representation of women in public life and in positions of power generally, I personally look forward to a positive engagement with my colleagues from other parties around this critical issue. I truly believe that as women with common interests we will be able to put party politics aside in the interests of the public good."

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Féin's first elected woman MP in the Six Counties said:

"I particularly welcome that the Women‚s Council has decided to bring grassroots women community leaders together with those of us who are women elected public representatives, because their leadership is just as important and needs to be acknowledged. I also commend the Council for deciding to extend this initiative to be 32 county in scope. I look forward to the opportunity for positive engagement on women‚s issues with my counterparts in the 26 Counties, but also in the SDLP, the Women's Coalition, the Alliance Party, the UUP and the DUP. We and the women we represent have common interests in ending gender-based discrimination, and particularly the double inequality experienced by working class women." ENDS


What The Papers Say

Journalist Finola Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Tuesday's morning newspapers.

The Times headline reads: "From Short Strand to the White House", above a picture of Paula McCartney.

She and her sisters will visit the White House on St Patrick's Day, as part of their campaign for justice for their murdered brother, Robert.

The Irish Independent also leads with the story.

It claims that the meeting is part of a Washington strategy to isolate Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Bush 'exasperated'

The Times claims that President Bush is "exasperated" by events in Northern Ireland.

An aide is quoted, saying that just as the president labelled Yasser Arafat "not a partner for peace", the same now applies to Gerry Adams.

Daily Ireland leads with claims that 100,000 voters have disappeared from the electoral roll in Northern Ireland. That is about 10% of the adult population.

The paper says Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty has called for the registration system to be scrapped, describing it as "a scandal that has seen more than 200,000 people wiped off the electoral register".

The Irish News reports that Ken Barrett, the loyalist killer of lawyer Pat Finucane, has been refused early release because he may be a danger to the public.

This is according to the Sentence Review Commissioners' assessment.

The paper says that Barrett, who was transferred from an English prison to Maghaberry jail in County Antrim two weeks ago, plans to challenge the panel's decision.


Missing Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian, 25, is pictured on the Newsletter's front page, together with her two sisters in a family snapshot.

Lisa has not been seen since leaving a party at Ballyhalbert caravan park just over a week ago.

The paper reports that her distraught family is still clinging to the hope that she is alive.

Her sister, Joanne, who has spearheaded the family's efforts to find Lisa, said: "The days are going into one another and I'm finding it hard to remember what day it is."

The Telegraph reports that girls as young as five are unhappy with their bodies and want to be thinner. It quotes a new study which blames peer pressure in a child's early years at school.

Most girls think they have to be slim to be popular, the paper says. The report's authors claim body dissatisfaction and dieting awareness develop over the first two years of schooling.

Journalist Melanie McDonagh says that young girls are "reflecting, like so many 'mini-mes' the self hatred of adult women for their bodies."

It is almost impossible to protect little girls from the "all-pervading body tyranny of our times," she says.


Finally, the Independent reports on new efforts to deal with a lack of chivalry towards pregnant passengers on the London Underground.

A badge system has been introduced to encourage more people to offer mothers-to-be a seat during busy times.

The "baby on board" badges will be given to expectant mothers so that seated passengers can easily identify them and "do the decent thing".

However, the paper reports that it is not selfishness, but fear of causing offence that stops most men from being gallant.

A spokesman for London Underground said: "These badges are designed to make it a little easier for everyone - women may feel more confident about asking for a seat, while men should feel less nervous about offering one up."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/08 09:12:47 GMT


St Patrick's in Houston 2005

From Aussie Meyer,

Your Guide to

Parades, Parties and Irish Fare

If one parade isn't enough, the luck of the Irish is with you, we have two. The
Downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade is slated for Saturday, March 12th, starting 2:00 p.m. (starting at Minute Maid Park? It did last year).

Then on Sunday, March 13th, plan to head Northwest to FM 1960 at 2:00 p.m. for the
Great Northwest St. Patrick's Day Parade, starting at Champions Forest Drive @ 1960 and parading to Kuykendahl.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Irish heritage in March. More local events in pubs and other venues can be found on the
Houston Irish Calendar and at the Northwest Parade Events page.

Sponsored Links

St. Patrick's Day ThemesFun St. Patrick's Day celebrations Get your free wallpapers today!
Kiss Me I'm IrishGreen Wristbands for St. Patrick's Day that say Kiss Me I'm
Free St. Pat's eCardsSend funny lucky or stupid messages to your friends and drinking

On the day itself, March 17th, look for
Griff's 40th Annual St. Patrick's Day Festival, an all-day event; actually, be sure to check out the Griff's website for the March 10th Queen Contest and March 12th Irish Stew Cookoff and Irish Open Golf Tourney.

McGonigel's Mucky Duck has great festivities planned with six musical groups, dancers, a singalong, and plenty of Irish food.

Molly's Irish Pubs have events all over town as well.

I won't pretend that's all - there's always a grand party at Birraporetti's, and no shortage of other Irish bars and pubs around the town. You will not have to go far to find a green beer, friends. Enjoy it in good health!

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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