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March 16, 2005

Human Rights 1st Opposes Inquiry Bill

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

HR 03/16/05 Human Rights 1st Opposes Inquiry Bill
IO 03/16/05 Transparency Urged In Finucane Inquiry
IT 03/17/05 Ahern Urges Irish-Americans To Stay Loyal -A
BB 03/16/05 McCartneys Prepare To Meet Bush
IT 03/17/05 Politicians Harden Demands On IRA To Disband
GU 03/17/05 Kennedy Backs Sisters & Accuses SF Of Cover-Up -V
SF 03/16/05 Sntr's Remarks Unhelpful To Re-Build The Peace Process
SF 03/16/05 Adams - Dialogue Is The Key To Progress
IC 03/16/05 Bridgeen Speaks Of Life Without Robert -A
IT 03/17/05 IRA Linked To British Gangs In Smuggling Racket
IT 03/17/05 North Quay Extension To Liffey Boardwalk Opens
BB 03/16/05 St Patrick's Day For New Ireland
IT 03/17/05 Case Brought By McCabe Killers Adjourned
EX 03/16/05 Loyalist Victim's Father Criticises Unionist MPs
IT 03/17/05 Parade In Dublin To Break With Tradition

NP 03/15/05 Future Of The IRA – AO

Future Of The IRA - Talk of the Nation, March 15, 2005 · After years of fighting against British rule in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republican Army is at a crossroads. IRA members have been implicated in several recent crimes, including a bank robbery and the murder of a Catholic man in a bar brawl. The aftermath of that brawl led many to accuse the resistance movement of degenerating into general thuggery. In the United States, political allies have turned a cold shoulder to the IRA's political arm, Sinn Fein. Guests: Senan Molony, political correspondent, The Irish Independent; Conor O'Clery, North America editor for The Irish Times; Richard Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations; former director of policy planning at the State Department, where he advised Secretary of State Colin Powell; Martin McGuinness, chief negotiator for Sinn Fein


Human Rights First Opposes Inquiry Bill On Sixth Anniversary Of Rosemary Nelson’s Death

NEW YORK – Six years ago today, internationally acclaimed human rights activist and lawyer Rosemary Nelson was murdered outside her home in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. She died after a sophisticated bomb exploded underneath her car. Since then, Human Rights First has actively campaigned for a full, independent public inquiry to be established into allegations of security force collusion in her murder. Despite many obstructions by the government of the United Kingdom, an inquiry is finally scheduled to commence by mid-April.

Rosemary Nelson was in many ways a successor to Patrick Finucane, the Belfast human rights lawyer who was gunned down in his home in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries, in front of his wife and children. Like Nelson, Finucane was among the small group of lawyers in Northern Ireland willing to take on politically sensitive cases and represent people who had been arrested under the emergency or anti-terrorism laws.

However, despite numerous requests over the past sixteen years, a public inquiry into Finucane’s murder has not been established. Substantial evidence suggests that members of the U.K. government colluded with assassins in order to silence Finucane, as documented in Beyond Collusion: the UK Security Forces and the Murder of Patrick Finucane, a 2002 Human Rights First report. Instead of establishing an inquiry into Finucane’s death similar to that established to address the murder of Rosemary Nelson, the U.K. government is pursuing new legislation that would seriously compromise the independence and public nature of all future inquiries into incidents of government misconduct.

Human Rights First believes that the introduction of new legislation is yet another tactic by the U.K. government to further delay the process and to restrict the public nature of an inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane. We urge the UK to cease this delay and move forward immediately with a full public inquiry in this case.

More on Human Rights Defenders


Transparency Urged In Finucane Inquiry
2005-03-16 22:30:02+00

The British government's inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane must be transparent and have the necessary power to publish the full truth, it was warned tonight.

Mitchell Reiss, US Envoy to Northern Ireland, expressed concern that the new legislation governing inquiries could potentially reduce the independence and transparency of an investigation into the murder.

Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was murdered in February 1989 and his family is still fighting for the truth surrounding allegations of British military and police collusion.

Mr Reiss told an ad hoc committee on Northern Ireland human rights in Washington that, if the forthcoming inquiry was to receive the confidence of the Irish people, the Inquiries Act currently being considered by British Parliament must have the power to reveal specific detail.

"Whatever legislative instrument is used, my concern is that the inquiry has the necessary legal powers to establish the truth of what happened in the Finucane case and that the process has the confidence of the people in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The chair and other members of the inquiry should be fully satisfied that the terms of reference will provide them with the authority necessary to establish the truth and to examine thoroughly the allegations of collusion highlighted by Judge Cory."

Judge Peter Cory's conclusion that there was strong evidence of collusion by the British army, the RUC and the security service prompted the British government to accept the need for an inquiry.

But by concealing various names in order to protect compromising prosecutions, the British government has attracted widespread criticism.

"Public confidence requires as much transparency as possible, within the constraints of protecting lives and considerations of national security," Mr Reiss added.

"Judge Cory's report is eloquent on this point: 'Without public scrutiny, doubts based solely on myth and suspicion will linger long, fester and spread their malignant infection through the Northern Ireland community'."

After gunman Ken Barrett confessed to the Finucane murder last September, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced that the British government would establish an inquiry but that it would be based on this new legislation.

The Finucane family, as well as several human rights groups, have raised concerns about the provisions of the proposed Inquiries Act. They fear that, as drafted, the legislation could reduce the inquiry's chances of establishing the entire truth.


U.S. Snubs Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams - by Mike Pesca - Day to Day, March 15, 2005 · During his visit to the U.S. this week, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams received a chilly reception from politicians and Irish-Americans. Sinn Fein's connection to the Irish Republican Army has brought international condemnation since the IRA was implicated in the Belfast bar murder of Robert McCartney. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

Ahern Urges Irish-Americans To Stay Loyal –A

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, in Washington

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last night urged the Irish-American community to continue to back the peace process.

Speaking in Washington, where sentiment against Sinn Féin has hardened in recent weeks, Mr Ahern said he understood "the sense of impatience and frustration" felt by many Irish-Americans.

"Believe me, I have often shared your frustrations. But I would urge you to stay with us now as you have so loyally done in the past. We have no intention of giving up until the job is done," he told the American-Ireland Fund annual dinner.

The dinner, which has for so long been one of the leading events in Washington's social calendar, was attended by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. He was the guest of Irish-American publican, Tom Moran.

In his speech, Mr Ahern demanded that all parties in Northern Ireland sign up for an end to paramilitarism and criminality and to decommissioning.

"Those concerned need to give clear responses on the issues that have obstructed the achievement of stable politics in Northern Ireland.

"They need to give a clear commitment to leaving all forms of paramilitarism in the past and to pursuing exclusively peaceful and democratic means for the future.

"This is what the people of Ireland, North and South, voted for in 1998. They did not vote for a half-way house between violence and peace. They voted for the real thing, they voted for democratic peace," said the Taoiseach, who will today meet with President George Bush.

Making no effort to downplay the current difficulties, Mr Ahern told guests that "we are certainly going through a rough phase".

Despite the problems, he said the Government believes "the full implementation of the Agreement remains the only credible road map for the future".

The difficulties had been compounded, he acknowledged, by the Northern Bank robbery and the brutal killing in Belfast in January of Robert McCartney by members of the IRA.

The five sisters of Mr McCartney - Catherine, Claire, Donna, Gemma and Paula - and his partner, Bridgeen Hagans, attended the dinner, along with Geraldine Finucane, whose solicitor husband, Pat, was murdered by the UDA in Belfast in 1989.

In his speech, the Taoiseach increased the pressure on the British government to agree to a full public inquiry into Mr Finucane's killing.

Up to now, the British government has refused Irish demands, preferring instead a limited inquiry that would be barred from hearing testimony that could impact on British national security.

However, Mr Ahern said the Finucane killing was one of a number of issues "that must be addressed and resolved if Northern Ireland's dark past is finally to be left behind.

"The British government promised a public inquiry into the circumstances of his killing. They must honour that commitment and in a manner which has the confidence of Pat Finucane's family.

"The family has our full and continuing support in their tireless efforts over so many years to achieve the full truth in this deeply disturbing case," he said.

Speaking in Baltimore earlier in the day, the Taoiseach issued a rebuke to Mr Adams, who claimed on Monday that Government pressure had led Senator Ted Kennedy to cancel a meeting with him.

"He [ Mr Kennedy] did not ask the Irish Government for any advice and he did not ask the Irish Embassy for advice. He made his own decisions in this matter," said Mr Ahern sharply.

Questioned about the often ferocious criticisms facing Sinn Féin in the US this week, Mr Ahern said: "I think Sinn Féin will realise that (despite) the huge support that they had in the US that people are thinking differently about things now."

The Taoiseach met briefly last night at the dinner with members of the McCartney family, who will meet with President Bush in the White House today.

© The Irish Times


McCartneys Prepare To Meet Bush

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney is preparing to join US President George W Bush at the White House for a St Patrick's Day reception.

Members plan to give Mr Bush a dossier on the events before and after the father-of-two was stabbed to death following a row in a bar on 30 January.

It comes a day after their campaign for justice received backing from some of America's most influential politicians.

NI's political parties are not invited to the annual White House celebrations.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern will be presenting the president with a bowl of shamrock at the event.

However, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been denied a presidential meeting with on the Irish national day.

President Bush invited the McCartney family to the White House as part of a gesture to all those working towards peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr Bush said he was looking forward to meeting Mr McCartney's five sisters and his fiancee, Bridgeen Hagans, who he referred to as "these very brave souls".

On Wednesday, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, met the McCartney family and said the US administration was doing all in its power to help them.

He said he stood with all Americans in his admiration for the "courage and determination" of the family.

The family also held talks with US Senator Ted Kennedy, who has refused to meet Gerry Adams during the Sinn Fein leader's St Patrick's week trip to the US.

A spokeswoman for Senator Kennedy said he had cancelled a meeting because of the IRA's "ongoing criminal activity".

IRA expulsions

Senator Kennedy said the family's presence in Washington "sends a very powerful signal that it's time for the IRA to fully decommission, end all criminal activity and cease to exist as a paramilitary organisation".

The McCartney family's visit to America comes after Sinn Fein criticised the handling of the murder inquiry by police in Northern Ireland.

Martin McGuinness accused the police of "unprecedented and incredible delays" in questioning key suspects and witnesses just to damage his party.

Three men were expelled by the IRA after the killing, including the two main suspects in the case.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/17 01:59:33 GMT


Politicians Harden Demands On IRA To Disband

Irish and American political figures united yesterday around the visit to Washington of the sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney to harden their demands for the disbandment of the IRA, writes Conor O'Clery, North America Editor in Washington

President George Bush is expected to add his voice to those calling for the IRA to go out of business when he meets Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the McCartney sisters in the White House this morning.

Some of the strongest criticism of the IRA's continued existence came from senator Edward Kennedy, a long-term supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process.

After meeting the sisters on Capitol Hill along with senators Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Mr Kennedy said that their presence in Washington sent "a very powerful signal that it's time for the IRA to fully decommission, end all criminal activity and cease to exist as a paramilitary organisation".

The IRA was now an albatross around the neck of Sinn Féin, Mr Kennedy said, adding, using a poker analogy: "I think there's a time to hold 'em and a time to fold 'em and it's overdue in terms of the disbandment of the IRA."

At the White House Mr Bush disclosed, when asked if he was sending a message to the IRA by not inviting Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to the White House for the first time in 10 years, that he had discussed the issue with Mr Ahern at his meeting with EU leaders in Brussels last month.

"We wanted to make sure that we honoured those in civil society in Ireland who are contributing positively to the peace process," Mr Bush said. It was very important that people understood that the parties must renounce violence, he went on.

"The Good Friday agreement laid out the way forward for peace in Northern Ireland, and this administration and our government strongly supports those steps. But tomorrow's message will be, we want to thank those in civil society who are working hard to achieve a peaceful resolution."

Mr Bush is scheduled to meet the McCartney sisters during a White House reception after the traditional presentation of shamrock by Mr Ahern this morning.

"Hopefully some good will come out of the evil perpetuated on this family," the president remarked.

The McCartneys and the partner of the late Robert McCartney, Bridgeen Hagans, yesterday met US envoy to Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss at the State Department and afterwards Mr Reiss said all of America stood with them in their grief and search for justice.Speaking on behalf of the McCartney family, Catherine McCartney made a short statement after meeting the four senators, saying "We came here to tell the story of Robert's murder. We hope this will produce justice for the family" and "send a signal".

Late yesterday Mr Reiss met Mr Adams at the State Department and a State Department spokesman said that Mr Reiss would tell the Sinn Féin leader it was time for the IRA to disband, especially in the light of the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Mr McCartney. They would also discuss the role of the administration in helping to advance the process and the rule of law.

The Taoiseach last night urged the Irish America lobby to continue loyally to back the peace process as in the past, according to an advance copy of his speech to the annual American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington.

He emphasised that people voting for the Good Friday agreement were voting for democratic peace over violence.

Also yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, met national security adviser Stephen Hadley, who told him the the Bush administration would take the advice of the British and Irish governments on what they thought was most helpful to move the current situation forward.

© The Irish Times


Sen Kennedy addresses the media

McCartney family visits US dignitaries - Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, reports on the meetings between Senators Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton and the family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney

Kennedy Backs Sisters And Accuses Sinn Féin Of Cover-Up -V

Senator urges disbanding of IRA after McCartney murder

Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday March 17, 2005
The Guardian

Senator Edward Kennedy, Sinn Féin's most powerful friend in Washington, called on the IRA to disband yesterday, and accused it and Sinn Féin of covering up Robert McCartney's murder.

He was speaking after he met the sisters and partner of Mr McCartney, whose murder outside a Belfast pub in January has, as a result of the family's campaign, caused the almost total evaporation of support for Sinn Féin in Washington.

Mr Kennedy had already cancelled his traditional St Patrick's day meeting today with the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams.

He said in a statement after meeting the sisters: "Their presence in Washington on this St Patrick's Day sends a very powerful signal that it's time for the IRA to fully decommission, end all criminal activity, and cease to exist as a paramilitary organisation."

Standing beside the McCartneys, he told CNN: "There's no question Sinn Féin and the IRA are involved in a cover-up there. Gerry Adams has to free himself." Modern western democratic parties "do not, and should not, and cannot have private armies, and cannot be involved in criminality and violence".

He added: "I believe Gerry Adams wants to see the IRA disbanded. There's a time to hold 'em and a time to fold 'em, and we're overdue in terms of the disbandment of the IRA ... We would certainly hope that the leadership of Sinn Féin ... understands what an albatross the IRA is on them and for the cause of peace in Ireland."

Last night Mr Adams, who is also in Washington, criticised Mr Kennedy's "unhelpful" focus on IRA disbandment when other parts of the Good Friday agreement also needed implementing, and he had "set out very clearly Sinn Féin's efforts to create the conditions in which the IRA ceases to be". He added: "Sinn Féin is determined to resolve all of these difficult issues and to put the peace process back on track."

The McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans, Mr McCartney's partner, are due to meet George Bush today at a St Patrick's Day reception at the White House, and present him with evidence on the murder and its subsequent cover-up.

Yesterday the president said he was "looking forward to meeting these very brave souls. They've committed themselves to a peaceful solution, and out of this, hopefully, some good will come of the evil perpetuated on this family."

The McCartneys have had an electric effect on Washington, and yesterday four of the Senate's most famous faces, Mr Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Christopher Dodd, squeezed into a small room on Capitol Hill with dozens of journalists to voice their support and their impatience with Sinn Féin.

Mrs Clinton said the peace process "cannot go forward unless there is a complete reckoning and justice in the murder of Robert McCartney".

She called on anyone involved to come forward by Good Friday, and added that it was clear that it was no longer taboo in the Catholic community to talk to the police.

Catherine McCartney said she hoped support in Washington would have "results on the ground", forcing witnesses to come forward.

"If Robert's murderers are brought to justice it would be a clear signal the country has found peace."

Mr Kennedy made it clear his frustration with Sinn Féin had been rising before the murder. Irish-American politicians had been involved in talks in December "at the same time the IRA was planning a bank robbery", he said. "That sends a special message to many of us who had confidence in terms of the negotiating process."

Mr Kennedy, who met Mr Adams in every St Patrick's week for more than a decade, said he had asked him to sever ties with the IRA. "I have done repeatedly over the past years and it has not been effective."


Senator's Remarks Unhelpful To Efforts To Re-Build The Peace Process

Published: 16 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking following a press conference in Washington with the sisters of Robert McCartney and Senator Ted Kennedy said:

"Sinn Féin welcomes support for the McCartney's campaign. This is about getting those involved in the killing of their brother into a court of law. And they have Sinn Féin's support in this.

"Other remarks which focused on the issue of IRA disbandment may have been intended to be helpful - they are not. The singular focus on this issue when there are other key parts of the Good Friday Agreement, which also need to be implemented, is unhelpful.

"I have already set out very clearly Sinn Féin's efforts to create the conditions in which the IRA ceases to be. It is my conviction that we will be successful.

"Sinn Féin is determined to resolve all of these difficult issues and to put the peace process back on track."ENDS


Adams - Dialogue Is The Key To Progress

Published: 16 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will meet with US envoy on the peace process Mitchell Reiss in Washington this afternoon (Wednesday 16th) and will later attend the America Ireland Fund dinner. Responding to the Taoiseach's comments in the US last night Mr. Adams said:

"The Taoiseach knows Sinn Féin's position on criminality and paramilitarism. He also knows that the difficulties facing the peace process at this time are formidable. There is no dialogue, no political institutions and no Good Friday Agreement.

"There are many obstacles to be overcome if we are to get the process back on track. It certainly is not a one-item agenda.

"Sinn Féin is totally and absolutely committed to bringing the peace process to a successful conclusion and this includes creating the conditions where the IRA and all of the armed groups cease to exist. It also means dealing with the issues of policing, demilitarisation, human rights and equality.

"No matter how difficult the obstacles to dialogue are, they need to be tackled and overcome.

"Sinn Fein is prepared to enter into meaningful dialogue today, tomorrow, at any time. We are prepared to face up to all of the difficult issues and to make this process work. Others need to do the same." ENDS


McCartney Sisters Discuss Their Mission - All Things Considered, March 16, 2005 · Robert Siegel talks with Catherine and Paula McCartney, sisters of a man who was murdered in a Belfast pub last January by a gang that included members of the Irish Republican Army. The McCartneys are in Washington, campaigning for justice in the case.

Bridgeen Speaks Of Life Without Robert –A

Bridgeen Hagans’ life has been turned upside down since the death of her partner Robert McCartney. She explains to Victoria McMahon what the past few weeks have been like

Life for Bridgeen Hagans changed utterly the night her fiancé and father of her two boys was brutally murdered outside Magennis’s Whiskey Café in the early hours of 31st January.

The murder of Robert McCartney has rocked republicanism to its core. But as the political storm ensued, it is easy to forget that this is first and foremost a personal tragedy for a grieving young family left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Little did the pretty 27-year-old know as she sat at home that night that doctors were desperately trying to save the man on the operating table – the man Bridgeen Hagans thought she would spend the rest of her days with.

Despite heroic efforts, they failed, and her world was to be turned upside down. Instead of the idyllic family life she had planned, a life as a grieving single mother awaited her.

On that night the McCartney family didn’t only lose their remaining son and brother, but Bridgeen lost her partner while their two young boys Conlead (4) and Brandon (2) were robbed of a lifetime that should have been spent with their "gentle giant" of a father.

"I’m just not coping at all," says Bridgeen looking tired as she juggles Brandon from arm to arm. "It’s really hard, so hard for those two," she looks at Robert’s two sons playing with their motorbike toys on the floor of the Short Strand home they had all shared for two years.

Although there is a clear resemblance between both boys and the photograph of 32-year-old Robert that has taken pride of place on the fireplace, it is the youngest, Brandon, who is "the spitting image of Robert", says Bridgeen.

Aged just four Conlead is more keenly aware his Dad does not come through the door anymore at lunchtime to play with him.

"I have told them their dad is in heaven, but Conlead was crying all night last night."

It is during the usual childhood temper tantrums Bridgeen most misses Robert’s steadying fatherly hand on their boys.

"He wouldn’t have let me shout at them or anything. I’m stricter with them than Robert was. He was softer with them," she smiles sadly at the memory.

"But even so, they would listen to him more."

Bridgeen talks of how Robert was larger than life in personality but shy when first asking her out six years ago. It was his sense of humour and later his hard-working nature, determined to provide for his young family, that never failed to impress her.

As the impact and significance of Robert’s murder continues to reverberate here and abroad, it is closer to home Bridgeen sees the most tragic effect.

"Conlead is not mixing as he used to. His nursery school teacher is telling me he is sitting in the corner crying out for his daddy. She says it breaks her heart. He is more withdrawn. I’m thinking I should maybe get some help for him to cope with this.

"We are just kept so busy that I haven’t had time to start grieving properly. But it’s the time when you’re alone that you think about it. When the boys are crying for their daddy at night, that’s when it hits you again."

There are no signs of the rollercoaster ride of emotions that Bridgeen and the five McCartney sisters have to endure on a daily basis abating.

"Sometimes during the day you are thinking about it [the murder] and then you think you are getting somewhere with the case and you are up on a high again," says Bridgeen.

"It’s like a nightmare to me, I’m still waiting on him walking in through the door."

Bridgeen’s Mother’s Day cards stand side by side with the cards of condolence, a poignant reminder of the devastating paradox she is now forced to live with. It is occasions like Mother’s Day when she knows she will feel Robert’s absence most.

"Robert was so generous, he would have got me a card and wee presents, maybe something I had mentioned. A card with ‘I Love You’ written on it. He would have been very thoughtful like that. Occasions, I think, are going to be the hardest – Christmas, Easter and that."

The spotlight of the now worldwide media attention shines ever more intensely by the day, something Bridgeen is finding difficult to fathom.

"I just thought when there was a murder people got caught, were put in jail and you tried to get on with the rest of your life," she says.

"I’m sure if this happened somewhere else people would be caught. We can’t even start to get on with our lives."

Bridgeen does not hesitate when asked whether she thinks intimidation of witnesses is still continuing in the area.

"Why has no-one come forward, then, if there is no intimidation? There were 70 people in the bar that night and they all saw nothing, they were all in the toilet. They weren’t there, they were on the phone or at the toilet. Nobody apparently saw it," she says.

"I don’t think I’m brave. We just want justice for Robert."

The campaign continues to gather momentum and, ever mindful of their ultimate goal of justice, Bridgeen and Robert’s five sisters will be travelling to Washington at the invitation of President George Bush for St.Patrick’s Day this Tuesday [15th] for five days.

"Apparently Ted Kennedy now wants to meet us, it is really surreal. The same Kennedys you watch on TV," Bridgeen reveals, slightly overwhelmed at the prospect. "As long as we get justice we will go wherever we can."

The offer came after it emerged the White House would not be inviting Sinn Féin or other parties to the St Patrick’s celebrations for the first time in 10 years.

On the IRA’s offer to shoot those responsible for the murder last week, Bridgeen stands firm in seeking justice before the courts and not before a gun.

"We don’t want revenge, just justice. We just want to see them up in court," she replies.

She says the support from neighbours and friends in her adopted area has given her strength in the darkest moments and she smiles when speaking of the touching fundraising event organised to raise money for her and the boys this Saturday.

"It’s brilliant what they are doing. I knew nothing about it until someone from down the street came to my door and told me. It’s very nice of them. There are great people around here. I really knew no one around here as I’m from the Falls Road but they’ve been so supportive.

“I just wish everything was settled and I could try and move forward," she adds with just a trace of hope.


IRA Linked To British Gangs In Smuggling Racket

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The IRA is active in a vast cigarette and fuel smuggling racket alongside British criminal gangs, according to a report.

This is making them "perhaps the most sophisticated organised criminal grouping to be found anywhere in Europe, possibly anywhere in the world."

The claim was made by Northern Ireland minister Ian Pearson in response to a BBC investigation which claimed that the IRA was involved in large-scale smuggling and the laundering of hundreds of millions of pounds.

According to a former head of the RUC special branch, Bill Lowry, IRA members forged links with British gangsters while they spent time in high-security jails. Mr Lowry made the allegation on Radio 4's File on Four.

Police and customs sources, quoted by the BBC, also said the IRA ran a substantial smuggling racket centred on south Armagh.

Sinn Féin denounced the claim, calling Mr Lowry a "discredited securocrat with no credibility".

Mr Lowry said: "They [the IRA] have a network within the criminal community in mainland UK. A number of them did a lot of jail time in high-security jails and made good friends, so they have contacts through that. They spread throughout the whole UK and in the Republic of Ireland. They have a very, very good network for dealing with bringing in guns, bringing in cigarettes or diesel smuggling. They have a system and it works extremely well."

Mr Pearson said: "The Provisional IRA is a highly disciplined organisation. It has a clear structure. They have been at this for a considerable period of time and, as a result, they are very clever at what they do."

He stated bluntly that organised crime was going to take a long time to tackle. "This isn't going to go away. There's no sudden thing that any government anywhere in the world can do that will mean that organised crime disappears. It's going to be a long battle. It's been a long battle to date."

The BBC quoted police and customs sources on both sides of the Border who said the IRA is involved in a "significant percentage" of cigarette and fuel smuggling in the UK.

The IRA uses some of Britain's leading criminal gangs as a distribution network for tobacco on which no duty has been paid, it was claimed. Expert techniques were used to remove the dyes from low-tax diesel intended for agricultural or central heating use in order to allow it to be used illicitly by road vehicles.

Last month customs intercepted fuel tankers bound for Liverpool from Dublin, which had been disguised as trailers carry- ing timber to conceal their cargo, the programme reported. It was believed that almost five million litres of laundered fuel are being sent across the Irish Sea by one IRA group alone.

Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, criticised Mr Lowry, suggesting his words were politically motivated. "Given his past involvement with the Special Branch and his direct role in the operation which led to the collapse of the Assembly and Executive, nationalists and republicans will not be surprised by the latest outburst from the mouth of this securocrat."

© The Irish Times


North Quay Extension To Liffey Boardwalk Opens

Paul Cullen

An extension to Dublin's Liffey boardwalk opened yesterday, seven months after the initial date for its completion. The new walkway along the northern quay opened at lunchtime with a minimum of fanfare.

Extending from O'Connell Bridge to Butt Bridge, it is 224m long and 4m wide, with a similar design to the original boardwalk and safeguards against flooding.

The extension was scheduled to open last August, but delays in the delivery of timber slowed the project.

Although spectators at today's St Patrick's Day festivities will be among the first to enjoy the new facility, yesterday's opening did not form part of the holiday celebrations.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said that the boardwalk would not be given an official opening because it was an extension rather than a new project.

© The Irish Times


St Patrick's Day is cue for millions to party

St Patrick's Day For New Ireland

By James Helm
BBC Dublin correspondent

It's the day the world turns green.

Around the globe, from Chicago to Cork, St Patrick's Day produces parades and parties, music and dance, costumes and celebrations.

The odd pint of the "black stuff" is consumed, with around 13m pints of Guinness drunk around the world on what's fondly known as "St Paddy's Day".

For many people with Irish blood, in the United States, Britain, Australia or elsewhere, the day of the patron saint of Ireland is a time to celebrate their roots, and their links with the homeland.

In Dublin, the Irish capital, hundreds of thousands of people will turn out for the traditional parade - a family event of spectacular floats and startling costumes.

This year, there's a change - the parade route has been reversed. It will head south across the River Liffey and end up, naturally enough, at St Patrick's Cathedral.

One of the factors in the move, apparently, was so that spectators and photographers don't have to look into the sun to see the floats.

But organisers are annoyed that the floats won't be as high and mighty as usual, because overhead cables from the new tram system couldn't be lifted to let the tallest ones through.

Frank McCourt has a fascinating view of all the international celebrations.

Angela's Ashes was his vivid depiction of his childhood in the Irish city of Limerick.

It became a global bestseller and earned him fame relatively late in life.

Like so many other young Irish people who'd grown up in poverty, he left the country of his birth and travelled to the US, becoming a teacher in New York.

On a recent trip back to Dublin, he spoke of how he views the festivities, and what he makes of Ireland's transformation, on the back of such economic success in recent years.

In New York, he wouldn't usually go to the main St Patrick's Day parade.

Old stereotypes

He believes the New York event should "loosen up" a bit and prefers the parades in Chicago, which he says are "wild".

After decades spent watching the people he calls "Irish hyphen Americans", he thinks many Irish abroad carry old stereotypes of leprechauns, fairies, and little thatched cottages, which they don't want to relinquish.

"They have to now," he says. "The word is out - Ireland is on the move."

He does understand why the Irish diaspora wants to retain a sense of its heritage, which he calls both "a gift and a burden".

And he has his own "sneaky desire" to pass on to his grandchildren a love of the music and poetry of Ireland. The music of his homeland is, he says firmly, unparalleled.

He also marvels at the changes he sees in the country he left behind as a young man, a place which has ridden a wave of enormous economic growth in recent years.

Big prize

He says it has changed completely.

Ireland "has won the big prize of progress and prosperity", he says.

"It's like going into space - you have to have an oxygen tank practically to keep up with the new Ireland."

Many, like Frank McCourt, remember when St Patrick's Day in Ireland was simply a religious holiday which involved Mass, a parade, and perhaps going to Gaelic football or hurling afterwards.

Today, with the St Patrick's Festival in its tenth year, it's a bigger, bolder affair.

Crowds will watch the bands from America and elsewhere in the biggest parade on the streets of Dublin, as well as in the smaller gatherings in towns up and down the country.

Ireland may be changing, but it still knows how to celebrate.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/17 01:20:01 GMT


Case Brought By McCabe Killers Adjourned To Back Of Court List

Legal proceedings aimed at securing the early release of two men serving jail sentences for the manslaughter of Det Garda Jerry McCabe were adjourned in the High Court yesterday.

The judge adjourned the case to "the back" of the court list, meaning it is likely to be some time before it comes to hearing.

Pearse McAuley, originally from Strabane, Co Tyrone, and Jeremiah Sheehy, from Limerick, were jailed in 1999 for 14 and 12 years respectively after pleading guilty at the Special Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Garda McCabe outside Adare post office, Co Limerick, in 1996.

In their judicial review proceedings, McAuley and Sheehy are claiming that their continuing detention breaches the Belfast Agreement and Irish and European law.

The case was listed for hearing yesterday but when it was called, Mr Justice John Quirke said there had been an application on Tuesday on behalf of the applicants to have the case adjourned because a witness they wished to cross-examine was in the US at the moment.

The judge said he had agreed to start the case yesterday and hear that witness later, but that proposal was not acceptable. He did not understand how the applicants could have been prejudiced by that sequence. He said litigants were queueing up for court time and he would adjourn the case to the back of the list.

In a statement last Sunday, the men said they no longer wanted their release to be part of negotiations on the peace process.

© The Irish Times


Loyalist Victim’s Father Criticises Unionist MPs

THE father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim has criticised unionist political representatives over their comments on the Robert McCartney murder.

Raymond McCord launched a blistering attack on the two major unionist parties, accusing them of condemning the IRA killing yet ignoring the pain within their own community. Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr, 22, was beaten to death and his body dumped in a north Belfast quarry in 1997, believes the Special Branch blocked the police inquiry into the murder to protect a high-ranking Ulster Volunteer Force informer.

A major investigation into his allegations is being carried out by North’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan. But as Mr McCartney’s five sisters and fiancee prepared for White House talks with President Bush in their quest to bring the knife gang to justice, Mr McCord criticised his own representatives.

“Myself and other victims are absolutely disgusted over the stance the Democratic Unionists and Ulster Unionists have taken on Robert McCartney.

“Why can’t they look at things closer to home. They have failed the people who voted them in,” he said.

Mr McCord, who has spoken out against the UVF men he insists were behind the merciless attack, praised the McCartney family’s tireless campaign. “I totally support what the sisters are doing. I went to visit them at their house, I’ve been on the phone to them, and I hope they get justice,” he insisted.

“But why have people within unionism stayed silent on the murders of our sons. “The UVF has murdered something like 30 Protestant people since their so-called ceasefire.” Even Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has publicly called for the McCartney killers to come forward and give statements to Mrs O’Loan’s office, he added.

“It seems to me that nationalist MPs have no qualms about fighting for their community but within unionism it’s the complete opposite. The stance they have taken, and their hypocrisy, is staggering.”


Marie Nilsson (left) and Louise Mason on stilts and riding bright pink flamingoes on Custom House Quay in Dublin yesterday as they and many other performers and entertainers arrived in the capital on the eve of St Patrick's Day where they will be entertaining those following the parade. Photograph : Bryan O'Brien

Parade In Dublin To Break With Tradition

Christine Newman

Over 3,000 people will take part in today's St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin. And close to half a million people are expected to line the route of the country's biggest parade.

As the St Patrick's Day festival parade in the capital celebrates its 10th anniversary, it will break with tradition by beginning on the north side of the city for the first time.

Starting at noon at Parnell Square north, it will travel down O'Connell Street, past dignitaries at the GPO grandstand before crossing O'Connell Bridge. It will then continue up Westmoreland Street on to Dame Street and to Christ Church. It will come to an end when it passes in front of St Patrick's Cathedral.

The highlight will be 10 theatrical pageants, each designed on the theme "Mischief, Mayhem and Madness".

There will also be 17 international marching bands and street theatre companies from Kildare, Waterford, Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Dublin and Wexford.

The youngest participant in Dublin is seven years old and the oldest 81.

In another break with tradition, there will be four grand marshals instead of one. The grand marshals are representatives of four Irish international aid agencies, Concern, Goal, Irish Red Cross and Trócaire.

They were chosen to lead the parade by organisers as a way of thanking them for their immediate response to the Asian tsunami and the Irish people for their overwhelming response in raising over €75 million.

Cork will host its largest St Patrick's Day parade to mark its designation as European Capital of Culture.

Organisers have opted to break from the norm by having guide dogs for the blind lead the event - they will act as honorary grand marshals.

The parade will begin at noon on the South Mall.

Meanwhile, one of the world's shortest St Patrick's Day parades will take place in Drispsey, Co Cork, which is just 25 yards long. It is turning into a major attraction for tourists from the US and Australia.

The theme of the Limerick parade will be "One City, A World of People" which aims to reflect the changing face of Ireland and promote a multicultural society.

For the first time the parade will be led by two grand marshals, Munster rugby captain Jim Williams and fashion guru Celia Holman Lee.

© The Irish Times

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