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March 29, 2005

Adams Risks US Ban After Kennedy Attack

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Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland and the Irish

II 03/29/05
Adams Runs Risk Of US Ban After Kennedy Attack
DI 03/??/05 Danny Morrison: He Without Blame Cast The 1st Stone
DI 03/29/05 Opin: Take Five - What Price Peace?


Adams Runs Risk Of US Ban After Kennedy Attack

Jim Cusack

GERRY ADAMS is "a word away from being banned from the United States and a stop put on Sinn Fein's legal fundraising there" following a vicious attack on the powerful US Senator Ted Kennedy in the republican newspaper Daily Ireland by Danny Morrison, one of Adams's closest associates.

On Tuesday the newspaper, which has been at the forefront in a campaign to question and undermine the McCartney family's quest for justice, ran a column by Danny Morrison saying Senator Kennedy was in no position "to be lecturing anyone" over the murder of Robert McCartney.

Morrison dredged up details of the 1969 death of Democrat party worker, Mary Jo Kopechne, who drowned in a car accidentally driven off a bridge at Chappaquiddick by a young Ted Kennedy.

The controversy that raged after the accident almost destroyed Senator Kennedy's career.

The attack on Senator Kennedy is part of a series of Sinn Fein-inspired articles and columns attacking the McCartney sisters and the decision of President Bush and some of the United States' most senior political figures to greet the family and support their cause while snubbing Gerry Adams.

However, the raising of the Chappaquiddick spectre that has haunted the Senator's career since he was a promising young politician, is said to be viewed as a particularly vicious betrayal of Senator Kennedy, whose personal intervention was crucial to promoting Adams and Sinn Fein in the US since the start of the "peace process".

At the behest of John Hume, Senator Kennedy intervened directly with President Clinton in 1994 to get Gerry Adams a visa to visit the United States as part of the deal to bring about an IRA ceasefire. Sources close to the Kennedy organisation said that it would take only "one word" from the Senator and President Bush would withdraw Adams's visa and put a stop to Sinn Fein's fundraising in the US; where it has netted millions of dollars in the past seven years. The sources say the Bush administration would close down the SF operation and withdraw Adams's visa "in the blink of an eye" if Senator Kennedy said so.

The Senator's organisation is making no public comment on the column but it is known that a copy of the article was faxed to their offices last week.

The campaign to smear and undermine his family's search for justice for Robert McCartney gathered pace last week with articles in the Daily Ireland, the Andersonstown News in Belfast and in the satirical magazine Phoenix.

The most vitriolic attack so far has come from the Andersonstown News which ran a column on Thursday attacking the sisters as "a group of women who have lost the run of themselves". It described their Washington visit as "unionism on tour" and said they were being manipulated by "anti-republican politicians and hacks".

It also said that Martin McGuinness's sinister warning to the family to be "careful" was "a very sound piece of advice". The newspaper said the sisters were "on the road to nowhere".

The McCartney family said last week neither Daily Ireland nor its sister paper had bothered to contact the family before running the critical articles.

Phoenix which rarely criticises Sinn Fein or the IRA carried an article in its 'funnies' section on Thursday comparing the McCartneys to the Spice Girls calling Gemma McCartney, who is a district nurse, 'Sporty McCartney'. The article entitled: 'McCartney sisters' extended tour' was clearly designed to poke fun at the family's campaign for justice for their murdered brother.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent has learned that eight weeks after the murder of Robert McCartney, the North's Police Ombudsman has only received three or four statements sent by solicitors, despite the promises by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that any republican in the bar on the night of Robert McCartney's murder should contact the Ombudsman.

None of the 70 to 100 witnesses, mainly IRA and Sinn Fein, has gone directly to the Ombudsman in the eight weeks since the murder.

Also the four suspected IRA men who went to the PSNI accompanied by solicitors made no statements and sat in silence during interviews.

And the Sunday Independent has learned that despite claims that the IRA "expelled three of its members" one of the IRA men believed to be directly involved in the murder has been seen repeatedly in the company of the IRA's most senior figure in Belfast over the past week.

It is also believed that the IRA's support for the people involved in the murder will be displayed openly today when the leading suspects take part in Easter commemoration parades in Belfast.


Let He Who Is Without Blame Cast The First Stone

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy refused to meet Gerry Adams on St Patrick’s Day in Washington last week.

He gave Irish republicans’ ‘contempt for the rule of law’ and the failure to cooperate with the police in the murder of Robert McCartney as his reason.

Now, that set me thinking about an incident where there was a celebration, where drink was taken and, at the end of the night a young person died, and where one of those involved asked people to lie about what happened. I know it was a long time ago – 18 July 1969 - and that since then Kennedy has done much good, political work, but it was certainly rich of him to boycott meeting Gerry Adams on the grounds of Adams’ alleged contempt for the rule of law.

In July 1969 Ted Kennedy organised a party for himself and his pals to coincide with the Edgartown Regatta - a weekend of festivities around yacht races. His cousin Joseph Gargan rented Lawrence Cottage on the nearby island of Chappaquiddick near the beach.

There were six married men and six single women at the party, crowded into a small living room. Ted Kennedy’s wife Joan, who was pregnant, was at home.

Besides having drank during the day, the supply of drink for the party was three half gallons of vodka, four bottles of scotch, two bottles of rum and two cases of beer.

Kennedy left the party with 29-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, a former campaign worker for his assassinated brother, Robert. He later claimed he was driving her back to catch the last ferry. He also claimed that he took a wrong turn - despite having been on the road twice that day. This road led to Dyke Bridge.

Kennedy, who had a record of serious traffic violations, had no current driving licence. He took the narrow bridge too quickly and the car crashed through the bridge and plunged into Poucha Pond, landing upside down under the water.

Kennedy escaped and says that he repeatedly dived under to rescue Kopechne. He said he was confused and in a state of shock. He walked past four occupied houses yet asked no one for help. He walked back to the party, climbed into the back seat of a car and asked one of the men to get him Joseph Gargan, who was also a lawyer. He didn’t tell the girls what had happened.

Kennedy, Gargan and Paul Markham, another lawyer, left the party and drove to the bridge. His two friends stripped and dived repeatedly. They fought a strong current but could not locate Kopechne. They came out, got changed and then drove to the ferry landing at Edgartown. Kennedy told them:

“Why couldn’t Mary Jo have been driving the car? Why couldn’t she have let me off, and driven to the ferry herself and made a wrong turn?”

His lawyer told him that he had to report the accident. Kennedy asked to be brought back to the cottage to establish the story that he had lent Kopechne the car. After a while he would leave, then when he got back to his hotel Gargan could ‘discover’ the accident and report to police that Mary Jo had been alone in the car.

His two friends insisted he inform the police. Kennedy said that he would and that they should go back and take care of the women at the party. Kennedy suddenly jumped into the water and swam across to the other side. It was 2.30am. Instead of informing the police he went to his hotel. His two friends didn’t tell the women what had happened – in case they went to the police before Kennedy. It wasn’t until the next morning that Gargan broke the news. He ordered that the place be tidied up to disguise evidence of a party. He then got them off the island and back to the mainland before Edgartown police even knew they were there.

At eight o’clock the following morning two fishermen noticed the submerged car and alerted the authorities. A diver gave the registration number to the police. They radioed through the details and were informed that it belonged to Edward Kennedy. On closer inspection the diver saw Mary Jo Kopechne and later testified that she was in a position that suggested she had survived the crash, and that she could have been saved if rescue personnel had been promptly called to the scene.

It wasn’t until 10am, nine hours after the accident, that Kennedy linked in with the police. During the night he had made numerous phone calls including one to Mary Jo Kopechne’s parents. The Senator, however, neglected to mention that he was the driver of the accident car when he called to report their daughter’s death. Instead, they learned that information later from a wire service story.

Kennedy gave the police a short written statement in which he made no mention of the party, the women and the drinking, nor that he and his two lawyers had gone back to the scene of the accident in the early hours of the morning, nor that they had urged him to report the accident immediately. Furthermore, they sat with him in the station when the written statement was taken.

An inspector read over the statement and thought there was something wrong with it. He said:

“I would like to know about something.”

“I have nothing more to say!” Kennedy answered brusquely. “I have no comment.” Markham said, “The Senator will make a further statement after he has contacted his [New York] lawyer,” but he never did.

Kennedy was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury. The hearing, eight days after Kopechne’s drowning, lasted seven minutes and smacked of a deal worked out in advance. His guilty plea precluded cross-examination and the taking of evidence. He was given a two-month suspended sentence. The police didn’t hear about the party until after the trial. Nor was there an autopsy carried out to find the exact cause of death.

So, with that example of a cover-up, the destruction of evidence, contempt for the law and failure to fully cooperate with police, I think it ill-behoves Senator Ted Kennedy to be lecturing anyone.

Danny Morrison is a regular media commentator on Irish politics. He is the author of three novels and three works of non-fiction. His play about the IRA, ‘The Wrong Man', begins a three-week run in the Pleasance Theatre, London, from March 12.


Opin: Take Five - What Price Peace?

Canadian Judge Peter Cory has stated that new legislation taking force in Britain will essentially prevent any proper inquiry of the Finucane and Nelson cases.

He said that no self respecting Canadian judge should accept the regulations as proposed.

Such a statement from a totally independent person has to be taken seriously.

The Weston Park signatories had only one concept of a public inquiry and that, it would seem, is now being denied.

The thorny issue of inquiry into state collusion in murder and acts of violence is one that keeps bobbing back to the surface no matter how many times the establishment shove it back under.

There is something so disturbing about these issues that many people have and do dismiss them preferring to move on but the victims and their families have rights and our failure as a society to bring closure for them leaves a blister that simply will not heal.

Pat Finucane was murdered in his home in front of his wife and children in 1989.

The Finucanes have had to live with the memory of that night for 16 years, all the while knowing that the murderers have escaped scot free - free to enjoy their lives and their


Having watched the brave quest of the McCartney family over the last few weeks, would we be happy if they were still searching for justice 16 years from now?

Do we want to see Robert Mc Cartneyπs adult sons, with their aunts and their mother in the year 2021, visiting Leinster House or Number 10 still searching for answers, still searching for justice?

The McCartneys' quest recently became an international issue.

The Finucane and Nelson murders were also world news; the fact that they were both lawyers crystallized minds, for if legal representatives cannot operate without threat what chance have the rest of us?

Tony Blairπs government wants to see the killers of Robert Mc Cartney brought to justice quickly.

They should practice what they preach and help the Finucane family and many other families find some kind of closure too.

In some cases it may be difficult, if not impossible, but that is no reason not to try.

Yes, inquiries are expensive, long winded and can often be ultimately disappointing and inconclusive, but what cost is too great for truth, for justice and ultimately for peace?

Emer Brennan is a Fianna Fáil activist and holds officer positions at all levels of the party in Monaghan. She is active in a range of educational and community groups. She teaches in a small rural primary school in North Monaghan, has authored educational materials and has been involved in the delivery of teacher in-service for a number of years.

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