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March 11, 2005

03/11/05 - Flanigan Kidnapper Held In US Base

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

BT 03/11/05 Flanigan Kidnapper Now Held In US Base
BT 03/11/05 Union Urges Loyalists To Lift Threat
SM 03/11/05 Alert As Northern Bank Swaps Cash
BT 03/11/05 Sinn Fein Motion Causes Council Row
BT 03/11/05 Poll Results: What Ulster Thinks Now
BT 03/11/05 Cash Windfall For Irish Language Day Centre
BT 03/11/05 Schoolgirls Off To See Bush
UT 03/11/05 McKevitt Challenge Court Latest
BT 03/11/05 Gay Student Forced From His Home In Londonderry
BT 03/11/05 One Small Step Down Road To Tolerance
NH 03/11/05 James P. Cozzens - RIP
BT 03/11/05 Letter: Demonisation Of Party Is Self-Inflicted


Flanigan Kidnapper Now Held In US Base

Armagh aid worker's abductor captured

By Sean O'Driscoll
11 March 2005

The self-confessed organiser of the abduction of Armagh aid worker, Annetta Flanigan, has been handed over to US authorities for interrogation in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.

Syed Akbar Agha, the leader of the Taliban's splinter faction Jaish-e-Muslimeen, has been handed over to the US authorities at a US military base in Bagram, 50km north of Kabul in Afghanistan.

He was arrested along with two other former Taliban officials in Pakistan and the three were handed over to the US authorities last Friday, according to Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency, quoting senior Afghan intelligence officials.

While Pentagon officials say privately that Akbar Agha has been detained, US military spokesman Major Steve Wollman said he could neither confirm nor deny the reports.

Akbar Agha has never made a secret of his involvement in the kidnapping of Ms Flanigan, telling western news agencies last year that she and two other UN election workers would be released if Afghan authorities released 26 Islamic fundamentalist prisoners.

Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed to Associated Press last week that Pakistani intelligence officers had captured Akbar Agha in Karachi and that he and the other two former Taliban officials were being held in different parts of the country.

A Taliban spokesman, Mufti Latifullah Hakimi, confirmed to an Afghan news agency Akbar Agha has been arrested along with the former Taliban military commander Mulla Abdul Razzaq, but said he could not confirm the third arrest, said to be that of a former high-ranking Taliban police officer.

The Taliban has sought to distance itself from the Jaish splinter group.

Agha, a former warlord, joined the Taliban as it rose to power in Afghanistan in 1995. He was the Taliban commander in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak province west of Kabul but was later expelled by Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He launched his own Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, group in December 2001 after the fall of the Taliban regime.

After the kidnapping of Ms Flanigan along with the other election workers, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali accused Agha's group of trying to disrupt Afghanistan's October 9 presidential election and suggested it had hired common criminals to carry about the abductions.

Agha told Associated Press last October the three would be released in exchange for the release of 26 prisoners held in Afghanistan and other countries, including the US military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

However, Afghan authorities say the three captured UN aid workers were released without any exchange of prisoners.


Union Urges Loyalists To Lift Threat

By David Gordon
11 March 2005

The seriousness of a loyalist threat against a social security office worker was stressed today, as a staff protest in his support continued.

Staff at the Newtownabbey jobs and benefit office showed their anger at the threat yesterday with a walk-out that has closed the premises to the public.

Trade union Nipsa is strongly backing the action by its members and is calling on political representatives to speak out.

Nipsa official Tony McMullan today said that police had called at the office on Wednesday afternoon to warn of the threat.

"They have not named the organisation behind it, but are clearly taking it very seriously.

"They have advised the employee to review his personal security," Mr McMullan said.

The union official added that staff at the office are "extremely angry" that a colleague has been threatened.

"I call upon local political leaders to join with Nipsa in expressing their outrage that a public servant could be intimidated in such a cowardly fashion," he added.

"The organisation or individuals behind this threat should immediately withdraw it thereby allowing staff to return to work to provide both jobs and benefits advice and support to the needy people in the Newtownabbey area," Mr McMullan said.

Nipsa members plan to keep the situation under review and will reconsider their position on Monday morning.

In the meantime the office will remain closed to the public.

A spokesperson for the Social Security Agency said that the closure would not affect the benefits of anyone supposed to sign on on Thursday or Friday.


Alert As Northern Bank Swaps Cash


A MAJOR security operation is being planned across Northern Ireland to ensure next week’s replacement of £240 million worth of notes from the Northern Bank goes smoothly.

Police said a special command room has been set up in Belfast and extra police resources deployed throughout the province to oversee the operation at 95 branches in the wake of last December’s record £26.5m robbery from the bank’s HQ.

Members of the public were also urged today to watch out for criminals trying to exploit the situation as old Northern Bank money is exchanged for notes with a new design.

Police on both sides of the border believe the IRA was behind the heist, which seriously damaged hopes that a power-sharing government could be revived in Northern Ireland this year.

Following the Independent Monitoring Commission’s claim that Sinn Fein leaders with leadership roles in the IRA sanctioned the raid, MPs backed Government moves yesterday to strip Sinn Fein of £400,000 in allowances from the House of Commons.

Two days ago the Northern Bank revealed all £10, £20, £50 and £100 notes would be replaced on Monday with notes with a new logo and different colour. The serial numbers on the notes will also be changed.

Inspector Philip McCullough, a senior PSNI Crime Prevention officer, said today: "Undoubtedly there is an increased risk of crime over the coming weeks as this huge financial and logistical operation swings into effect.

"Police will certainly be playing their part to ensure everything goes according to plan.

"I would urge everyone in the community to exercise the utmost vigilance."

The old Northern Bank money will only be exchanged in banks.

People were also advised not to immediately rush to Northern Bank branches on Monday to have their notes replaced as the operation will run for several weeks.

During the replacement period, old notes can still be used in the normal way.


Sinn Fein Motion Causes Council Row

By Nevin Farrell

11 March 2005

A row has flared after a council meeting had to be abandoned in Co Antrim after a unionist walk-out ahead of a proposed Sinn Fein debate on the subject of a united Ireland.

Around eight DUP and Ulster Unionist councillors, including the meeting chairman, DUP deputy mayor councillor Ian Stevenson, left Ballymoney Borough Council before Sinn Fein councillor Philip McGuigan had the chance to raise his motion.

With only Mr McGuigan and two SDLP councillors present, the meeting had to be abandoned as a quorum of four councillors was required to enable it to continue.

Mr McGuigan claimed council rules now mean that his motion must be the first matter under discussion at the next meeting of the council and said, if unionists continue to walk out "ad infinitum", it would mean council business could grind to a halt.

"This walkout shows a lack of political courage from unionists that they could not discuss this matter," said Mr McGuigan.

"It further reinforces our argument that it is Unionism that is opposed to power-sharing; it is their representatives who walk away from the table."

Mr Stevenson hit back, saying: "I don't need to answer for my actions to Councillor McGuigan. By my own actions I stand or fall. His notice of motion was a blatant election stunt."


What Ulster Thinks Now

11 March 2005

From the Northern Bank raid to the murder of Robert McCartney, the political process in Northern Ireland has been rocked by a series of crises. An exclusive Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll reveals what people here really think

Almost half of Sinn Fein supporters today told the IRA: 'disband now'. Is it a message Sinn Fein can ignore? Political Correspondent Noel McAdam reports.

A startling 44% of Sinn Fein voters believe the time has come for the IRA to disband, according to today's Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll.

And - broadly in line with a number of polls over recent years - almost 60% of Sinn Fein supporters say the IRA should decommission all of its weapons.

The poll was taken just before the latest twist in the developing crisis over IRA criminality, when the Provisionals revealed they had offered to shoot those they believe responsible for the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney.

Both Sinn Fein and SDLP voters were asked: 'What should the IRA do now?' (Table 1)

Table 1: What should IRA do now?

Unsurprisingly, 77% of SDLP voters opted for 'disband' and 82% of them for 'decommission all their weapons'.

Substantially more Sinn Fein supporters questioned opted for the decommissioning of all Provisional weapons (59%) compared to some of their weapons (25%).

Meanwhile the poll also shows that around 60% of people in both Northern Ireland and the Republic also believe the IRA was responsible for the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in December. (Table 2)

Table 2: Were IRA responsible for £26.5 m Northern Bank robbery in December 2004?

Yet it is the murder of Robert McCartney which has even greater potential to damage the republican movement. (Table 3)

Table 3: Attitudes to response of Sinn Fein leadership to killing of Robert McCartney

Almost two thirds of Sinn Fein voters (65%) said they were 'satisfied' with the response of the Sinn Fein leadership to the killing.

A quarter of Sinn Fein voters, however, said they were dissatisfied with the leadership response, indicating the level of on-going tensions.

And across voters for all parties, dissatisfaction with the response of the republican leadership is, perhaps surprisingly, just below half of the total (47%).

Asked for the reasons for dissatisfaction, around 29% cited 'haven't told the court/covered up' and a further 27% said the names should be handed over.

A total of 18% said the Sinn Fein leadership was reacting to the McCartney sisters or to save face - but only 2% said people who might know something about it 'are being stopped by intimidation'.

Asked 'What, if anything, does Sinn Fein need to do to demonstrate it is committed to democracy and peace?', a total of 30% said lay down or decommission all arms and 18% overall said 'break links with/ stand aside from' the IRA.

However 13% answered: 'nothing' and said that Sinn Fein 'have been doing a lot/ trying their best'.

Table 4: Would arrest of senior Sinn Fein leaders on grounds of prior knowledge of IRA activities be right or wrong thing to do?

As Table 4 shows, only 47% overall said the arrest of senior Sinn Fein leaders 'on grounds of prior knowledge of IRA activities' - referred to in the last International Monitoring Commission report - would be the 'right thing' to do.

Of the sample total, 32% said it would be the 'wrong thing' - including 49% of SDLP supporters.

On the related, but more general issue of policing which will be at the heart of any attempt to restore devolution, 70% overall said Sinn Fein's co-operation with the PSNI is 'inadequate'. (Table 5)

Table 5: Is Sinn Fein's co-operation with PSNI adequate or inadequate?

Interestingly, a total of 25% of Sinn Fein voters agree with the term 'inadequate', although 60% of Sinn Fein voters said it is 'adequate'.

Sinn Fein is suffering from the political crisis over criminality, but not significantly in electoral terms. Ulster Unionists, however, are facing a substantial electoral dip. Noel McAdam reports

Voter support for Sinn Fein has slumped only 3.5% since the last Assembly election, today's Belfast Telegraph poll results reveal.

In the period including last year's abortive attempt to restore devolution, the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney, the poll shows backing for Sinn Fein down from 23.5% to 20%. (Table 6a)

Table 6a: Party Support

Ostensibly the poll would appear to suggest a nationalist shift back - if not a surge - towards the SDLP.

Support for the SDLP has risen correspondingly by 3% from 17% at the time of the November 2003 election to 20% now - in other words suggesting it is now neck and neck with Sinn Fein.

Today's results are broadly in line with two recent polls showing that, while support for individuals, including Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, has dipped considerably, overall party support is affected only marginally.

On the eve of its first election test - in a by-election in Meath - republicans may take some heart from the indication that its core support remains solid, even if it may also be interpreted as showing the party's 'onwards and upwards' electoral march has peaked.

Only the results of the local government and likely Westminster battles in May will prove if that is the case.

Table 6b: Profile of Sinn Fein voters

A breakdown of the Sinn Fein vote shows sustained middle class (ABC1) support up to 2003. This most recent poll however, reveals there may have been some slippage of this ABC1 support. It also shows a lower level of the traditionally high male support than previously observed. The Sinn Fein profile has always been very young but, like class, has shown some development of the older vote.

While Sinn Fein is down by around 3%, the party they have been - and will again be - negotiating with, sees its support increase by more than 2%.

Support for the DUP has increased further from the high of its Assembly election performance of 25.6% to 28% now.

Today's poll contains very bad news for David Trimble, however - support for the Ulster Unionist Party has slumped from the already low 22.7% in November 2003, to just 16%.

If translated into reality at the ballot boxes in two months, it could leave the party with just one or two Westminster seats.

Ulster Unionists' electoral backing has more than halved from the May 1997 General Election result after the Good Friday Agreement when it stood at 32.7%.

Over the same period, support for the DUP has more than doubled from the 1997 figure of 13.6%.

Support for the Alliance Party is, however, holding its own, up slightly from 3.7% almost 18 months ago to 4%.

43% of Protestants want assembly back but without Sinn Fein

Nearly half of Protestant voters believe the Government should restore the Assembly, but exclude Sinn Fein. (Table 7a)

Table 7a: What should Paul Murphy do now?

According to the first tranche of results from the Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll, a total of 43% of Protestants polled this week opted for ending suspension of the Assembly "with exclusion of Sinn Fein".

However, 47% of Catholics said Secretary of State Paul Murphy should end the suspension begun almost two and a half years ago "with full participation of all parties".

Only 6% of Catholic voters, however, support the option of restoration with Sinn Fein excluded.

Of Protestants, however, 45% support the comeback of the Assembly, involving all the parties including Sinn Fein, if the IRA were to disband and verifiably decommission.

Table 7b: Think that Paul Murphy should restore Assembly with full participation of all parties

Just a third of Protestants would support restoring the Assembly on the basis of total decommissioning alone.

Direct Rule, as shown in many previous polls, continues to be the least worst option for both communities.

Overall, 23% support the continuance of Direct Rule in consultation with the Irish Government and within the framework of the Good Friday Agreement - 24% of Catholics and 21% of Protestants.

Day two of our exclusive Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll

Adams poll rating dips, but only just

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent

:: 88% SF voters back leader
:: 61% Protestants support Paisley
:: Taoiseach gets highest rating

Gerry Adams sustained a slap on the wrist from Sinn Fein supporters as his performance rating dipped in the latest Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll results.

But the highest rating from the people of Northern Ireland went to a politician they cannot even vote for - Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

More than half those surveyed earlier this week said Mr Ahern has performed 'very well' or 'fairly well' with the approval of 63% of Catholics and 47% of Protestants - the only politician scoring a majority.

PM Tony Blair receives just a 32% rating overall - down from 35% in 2003.

The second day of the poll results taken in the aftermath of the collapse of devolution talks, the Northern Bank robbery and murder of Robert McCartney also showed:

:: Both Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson's standing as potential First Minister increased;

:: DUP leader has 61% approval from Protestants - compared to 35% for David Trimble;

:: Mr Trimble is still highest preferred First Minister - but his margin is substantially down.

Gerry Adams saw a 5% drop among his party voters who said he has performed 'very well' or 'fairly well' from 93% to 88%.

Table 8: How have party leaders performed? - Nationalist

Table 8a: How have party leaders performed? - Unionist

In the same period SDLP leader Mark Durkan's performance rating among his supporters has decreased by 15% since the last Assembly elections.

Mr Adams also performs significantly better among Catholics, however - 62% saying he has performed well compared to 38% approving of Mr Durkan's performance.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy receives an increased performance rating from 46% to 49%.

Some 10% pick Ian Paisley as their preferred First Minister, compared to 6% in 2003, while those choosing Peter Robinson have gone up from 4% to 7%. Jeffrey Donaldson, however, has dipped by 2%.

The survey also reveals Catholic confidence in a long-lasting peace, usually high compared to Protestants, at its lowest point in the seven years since the Good Friday Agreement.

After the 1998 Agreement, 82% of Catholics were confident about the prospects for peace but now the total is 50% - with 49% saying they are not confident.

By comparison the Protestant total in 1998 was 35%, with 63% saying they were not confident. It has hardly changed now - 32% of Protestants are confident and 68% not confident about the future.

Confidence in the PSNI has increased 3% overall from a similar survey two years ago - two-thirds of the poll sample voicing confidence - although Catholic confidence is significantly down.

The survey also revealed two-thirds of Protestants think the IRA will never disarm compared to 45% of Catholics who think it will happen under the terms of the Agreement.

Prospects for the future

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent

Today, how people feel political leaders have performed over the last two years, and who they would like to see as First Minister. What level of confidence does the public now have in the PSNI, the Ombudsman, the de Chastelain Commission and the IMC? Plus, when do people think the IRA will disarm?

Of all the political leaders connected to the peace process, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern stands out today with the highest approval rating from the people of Northern Ireland (Table 9).

Table 9: Performance of...

More than half the adults surveyed for the Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll said Mr Ahern has performed fairly well or very well over the past two years.

He was the only politician to find approval with a majority of people, including 63% of Catholics and 47% of Protestants. This also put him the closest of any politicians to achieving a cross-community consensus.

Ian Paisley received the next highest, with 42% of people saying he has performed fairly well or very well. The DUP leader receives the highest approval from Protestants, reaching positive reactions from 61%.

Overall, he receives the strongest positive feeling, with 14% of people saying he has performed very well.

Mr Paisley is well ahead of his UUP rival, David Trimble, who gets a positive endorsement from just 27% of people surveyed.

Mr Paisley is approved by 61% of Protestants, while Mr Trimble gets the approval of 35%.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams gets the third highest rating, with 34% of people saying he has performed well.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan finishes at 33%, but Mr Adams performs significantly better among Catholics. Sixty-two per cent say the Sinn Fein chief has performed well, compared to 38% approving of Mr Durkan's performance.

Mr Trimble performs better under another question. Fourteen per cent of people say he should be First Minister if Stormont is restored. But this is a drop of 8 percentage points from a similar poll in November 2003.

Mr Paisley is the only politician whose standing as a potential First Minister improves. Ten per cent picked him as their preferred First Minister, compared to 6% in 2003.

Confidence in peace process

Catholic confidence in long-lasting peace is at its lowest point in seven years, according to today's results of the Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight

While Protestants have never expressed much optimism about peace in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement, Catholic opinion has traditionally been bouyant.

But now it is almost evenly split on the prospects for the future.

Immediately after the Agreement was reached in 1998, 82% of Catholics were confident about the prospects for peace.

Today that figure is 50%, with 49% saying they are not confident.

Protestant opinion has varied only slightly over the same period. In 1998, 35% were confident of lasting peace, with 63% saying they were not confident. Today 32% of Protestants are confident, with 68% saying they are not confident about the future.

Confidence in Northern Ireland's institutions is, in some cases, a different matter (Table 10).

Table 10: Levels of confidence

The PSNI enjoys the confidence of 66% of people, up three points from a similar survey in 2003. That figure includes a little or a lot of confidence from Catholics, although the negatives for the PSNI have hardened among Catholics. In November 2003, 16% of Catholics said they had no confidence at all in the police, rising to 22% this week (Table 11).

Table 11: Levels of confidence in PSNI

SDLP supporters have become enthusiastic backers of the PSNI. Seventy-six per cent say they have a little or a lot of confidence in the PSNI.

This is slightly higher than the support level for the DUP (74%), although UUP voters give the most support, with 87% expressing confidence in the police.

Sinn Fein voters still register the hardest disapproval of the police, with 62% saying they have not very much or no confidence at all in the police. Thirty-seven per cent of Sinn Fein supporters say they have a little or a lot of confidence in the PSNI.

Opinion is split between Catholics and Protestants about the IRA's intentions regarding decommissioning (Table 12).

Table 12: IRA's intentions

Two-thirds of Protestants think the IRA will never disarm, while 45% of Catholics think it will happen under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Belfast Telegraph/BBC Newsnight poll was carried out by Millward Brown Ulster who interviewed a quota-controlled representative sample of 1,010 northern ireland adults aged 18+ between march 7-8 2005. All interviewing was face-to-face and was conducted at 56 randomly-selected points according to the definitive standards of the Interview Quality Control Scheme and the Code of Conduct of the Market Research Society.


Cash Windfall For Irish Language Day Centre

By Deborah McAleese
11 March 2005

An Irish language day care centre is to benefit from a major cash windfall.

West Belfast Irish Language Day Care Centre, Ionad Uibh Eachach, is to receive a £554,684 investment from the Department for Social Development.

The cash will enable the school to provide a dedicated day care centre, after- school unit, a renovated centre for parents, including an IT suite, and new outdoor play area for around 150 children.

"Our action plan initiative has provided around £275m to over 350 projects across Northern Ireland. This grant will enable Ionad Uibh Eachach to renovate and extend its premises to enable it to provide full time childcare to the Beechmount, Clonard and Falls communities," said DSD deputy secretary John McGrath.

"Ionad Uibh Eachach is an excellent example of an organisation that has engaged successfully with other local community organisations and statutory bodies to provide a joined- up approach to meeting local needs."


Schoolgirls Off To See Bush

By Claire Regan
11 March 2005

The politicians may have been frozen out of this year's White House Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, but George W Bush is preparing to welcome a different delegation from Northern Ireland.

For two pupils from Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus will be joining the US President in Washington DC next week to fly the flag for Northern Ireland's integrated education sector.

The special invitation to sixth form students Rosie Hassin (18) and Shannon Graham (16) is seen as a further endorsement by Washington and the State Department of the contribution made to peace and reconciliation by the integrated education movement.

Funded by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), the girls fly out to the US on Monday.

Their hectic week-long schedule will see them join St Patrick's Day celebrations in the White House and attend a special gala dinner, hosted by the American Ireland Fund, aimed at enlisting further financial support in the US for the integrated education sector.

They will be joined by their principal, Eugene Martin, the school librarian, Moira Martin, and a member of Ulidia's board of governors.

Rosie, who is in Upper Sixth, said she is "absolutely over the moon" about the visit.

"I still can't quite believe it. I'm sure it's going to be a life-changing event," she said.

"I will be quite nervous about meeting the President but it's great to get the chance to talk to him about integrated education.

"It's amazing that someone of his power should take an interest in what we are doing here.

"I can't wait, I really cannot wait to go over. I'm especially looking forward to being wined and dined in style at the White House."

Lower Sixth student Shannon said she is looking forward to thanking US supporters of integrated education for their encouragement so far.

"It's a chance to tell more people about our schools but also to thank those who have done so much for us already.

"I also can't quite believe it's happening. It was a big shock when I first heard and now I just feel really giddy when I think about it.

"I know the nerves will really kick in on the day but I'm still looking forward to meeting the President."


McKevitt Challenge Court Latest

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt seems certain to clear the first hurdle in his challenge to the British Government's decision to give the Omagh bomb victims £700,000 to fund their £14 million claim against him and four others.

In the High Court Mr Justice Weatherup said he was "not minded" to refuse leave for an application for judicial review but required more detailed information dealing with delay in bringing the case.

He adjourned McKevitt`s application so that lawyers can visit him in Portlaoise Prison to draft an affidavit.

The Lord Chancellor authorised the payment in February last year but McKevitt`s lawyers claim the Access to Justice Order passed in 2003 is unlawful.

Frank O`Donoghue, QC, said the funding decision impacted on McKevitt because the compensation case against him was being funded by the British state in circumstances where the state had refused him legal aid.

The Real IRA claimed responsibilitjy for the Omagh bombing in 1998 in which 29 people died and McKevitt is serving a 20-year sentence for directing terrorism.

His appeal is due to be heard in June.


Gay Student Forced From His Home In Londonderry

Man flees apartment after latest in attacks

By Brian Hutton
11 March 2005

A gay student is today homeless after an alleged campaign of violent homophobia forced him out of his Londonderry home.

Paul Mooney (20) said he reluctantly fled his city centre apartment after the latest and most sinister in a series of attacks.

Two men, claiming to represent the IRA, beat then threatened the young man last Thursday evening, he said.

He was told "this is only a taster of what you're going to get" if he continued going to the police about the abuse.

Just two days before, he was approached by another man in broad daylight in a city centre street and told he "would have two less legs to walk on" if he contacted the police again.

Mr Mooney suffers from epilepsy and depression and his doctor has now increased his medication.

On one occasion, he suffered a seizure and was hospitalised as a result of being punched and kicked as he returned home from a local gay bar.

He said he accepted the "usual abuse" before, but the latest episode has left him in fear of his life.

The Housing Executive has refused to provide the part-time student with alternative accommodation.

The authority said it doesn't have sufficient evidence of the alleged abuse.

The young man is currently staying in a temporary secure unit in Derry, arranged by Social Services.

He turned down advice from a senior officer in the Housing Executive to speak to Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) or Sinn Fein about the attacks.

"Why should I beg to be left alone," he said. "I don't harm anybody. I go to college, come home, and maybe go to the bar some nights. I'm not doing anything wrong but I've been driven out of my home - all because I'm gay."

Damian Moran, of the Housing Executive, said: "There's no doubt that there has been an increase in homophobic attacks in the city. We have housed five or six gay people over the last year as a result of homophobic attacks. In this case, investigation so far hasn't been able to substantiate his claims."

A police spokesman confirmed that an investigation is underway into a report of intimidation, following a series of alleged incidents going back to last August .

Sean Morrin, of the Rainbow Project, confirmed he had been contacted by the Housing Executive on Monday about the case.

"I wasn't aware of the attacks, but that doesn't mean they didn't happen," he said.


One Small Step Down Road To Tolerance

By Gary Grattan
11 March 2005

Voluntary and community groups in Northern Ireland have been urged to declare openly their opposition to sectarianism, racism and all other forms of intolerance and violence.

Chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Seamus McAleavey, has written to NICVA's 1,000 member organisations urging them to sign a declaration as part of the One Small Step Campaign.

"We are asking them to state their commitment to a civil society in which all individuals are considered as equals, where differences are resolved through dialogue and where all citizens are treated impartially.

"To that end, we want them to oppose sectarianism, racism and all other manifestations of intolerance and violence," he said.

The initiative comes during Community Relations Week and recognises that all parts of society, not just government, political parties and paramilitaries, have a role to play in building peace.

"This challenge ensures that we as individuals or organisations will not use sectarianism or racism in any way to promote our cause or activities," Mr McAleavey added.

Groups are asked to return signed declarations to NICVA by April 15.


James P. Cozzens - RIP


A Mass of the Ressurection for James P. Cozzens, 58, of Highland Heights, will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Name Church, 8328 Broadway Ave., in Cleveland.

James P. Cozzens

A Mass of the Ressurection for James P. Cozzens, 58, of Highland Heights, will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Name Church, 8328 Broadway Ave., in Cleveland.

Mr. Cozzens died March 5, 2005, at his residence.

He was born June 12, 1946, in Cleveland.

He was a member of Holy Name Church. He was also president of The Dirt Club, and a member of the Irish Northern Aid, Hibernian Club, and the Irish American Club East Side Incorporated in Euclid. He was a friend to all.

Survivors are his wife, Patricia A. (Farrell) Cozzens; children, Melissa A. (Patrick) Cozzens-Hopkins of Highland Heights and James F. Cozzens of Richmond Heights; grandchildren, Connor and Nolan; siblings, Fr. Donald Cozzens, of University Heights, Thomas (Mary Ann) Cozzens of University Heights, and Maryellen (Dan) Dombek of Highland Heights; and many nieces and nephews.

His parents, Bernard and Florence (Gay) Cozzens, are deceased.

Fr. Donald Cozzens, will officiate the services.

Arrangements are being handled by the McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio Funeral Home, 38001 Euclid Ave., in Willoughby.

©The News-Herald 2005


Demonisation Of Party Is Self-Inflicted

10 March 2005

Further to the letter from Brighid McBride of Florida (Writeback, March 8), I agree it would be nice if the focus could be on the Belfast Agreement and that it would take place in a democratic manner.

Northern Ireland can do without the intimidation of people by terrorist organisations supported by political parties. I agree that Fr Sean McManus (Irish National Caucus) speaks for Irish Americans but not all Irish Americans agree with him.

As for Ms McBride's claim of me not being a credible Irish voice, I'm assuming that's because of the political party she supports and her assumption that I don't support organisations with close knit ties to terrorist thugs.

And as for the demonisation of Sinn Fein, that's not my agenda. They have taken care of that themselves.

I support an Agreement that encompasses equality, equal civil and human rights as well as political rights. I don't support intimidation, kneecappings, bank robbery or murder and I have a huge problem with those who do.

As for disenfranchising Sinn Fein voters from their civil right to democratic representation, Ms McBride is laying blame in the wrong direction.

The last time I looked the Westminster representatives from Sinn Fein weren't taking their seats in Parliament but were collecting a pay cheque.

I wonder how well that would go down in the Sunshine State of Florida for those who voted for someone to sit their seat in the Senate or Congress and didn't.


Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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