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March 27, 2005

Irish Govt Fears Blair May Limit Inquiry

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/27/05
Irish Govt Fears Blair May Limit Finucane Inquiry
SF 03/27/05 Adams: Republicans Will Continue To Act For Change
SF 03/27/05 McGuinness - The Process Will Succeed
SM 03/27/05 Shooting Offer Was Mistake - McGuinness
MH 03/27/05 Opin: Shine A Spotlight On IRA Criminals
RT 03/27/05 Adams Responds To Call For Boycott
SL 03/27/05 Adams Urged To Make Omagh Bombers Appeal
SL 03/27/05 Shourki's away fixture with city crimelords
SL 03/27/05 Alleged Loyalist Drugs Baron Was To 'Retire'
SL 03/27/05 Another Loyalist Drugs Kingpin Has Cash Seized
SL 03/27/05 Wright Seeks No10 Minutes
SL 03/27/05 Ex Cops Told To Arm Themselves
BG 03/27/05 On Centennial, SF Weighs Cost Of IRA Violence
TO 03/27/05 Opin: Code Of Dishonour Trumps Calls For Truth
SB 03/27/05 Probe Into IRA Laundering Draws A Blank
SB 03/27/05 SDLP & Sinn Fein Prepare For Westminster Battle
TO 03/27/05 Trimble Plots Election Pact To Defeat Sinn Fein
TO 03/27/05 McCartneys Plan Election Poster Campaign
SL 03/27/05 McCartneys May Go For Omagh-Style Civil Action
SL 03/27/05 Movie Offers For McCartney Family
SB 03/27/05 McDowell Shows Human Side
SB 03/27/05 Opin: Hard To Understand McDowell's Mindset
SL 03/27/05 Former Premier Lord Callaghan Dies Aged 92 –V
BB 03/27/05
Tributes Paid To Lord Callaghan
SL 03/27/05 Car Magnate Paid Off IRA
GU 03/27/05 Comment: Fortnight Mag - A Puzzling Betrayal
SL 03/27/05 Life of IRA Spy Brought to book
SL 03/27/05 Film: Men Behind The Wire


Government Fears Blair May Limit Finucane Inquiry

27 March 2005 By Paul T Colgan

Confrontation is looming between British prime minister Tony Blair and the Irish government over concern that Blair is planning to push through a bill limiting the inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

Blair is expected to call a British general election early next week, prompting fears that the much-criticised Inquiries Bill will be rushed through parliament within a matter of days. The bill would restrict the Finucane inquiry, allowing government ministers to demand that evidence be heard in private or not at all on the basis of “national security'‘.

The Taoiseach's office this weekend warned Blair against going ahead with the legislation. “We will only be satisfied if Judge Cory's recommendations are honoured in full,” said a government source.

Retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who was appointed by the two governments to examine the Finucane case, recommended a full public inquiry into the murder of the solicitor by the UDA in 1989.

Cory told a US congressional hearing two weeks ago that if the Inquiries Bill was adopted, he would advise Canadian judges not to cooperate with the inquiry.

“I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act,” said Cory. He said it would create an “Alice in Wonderland'‘ situation and make any “meaningful'‘ inquiry “impossible'‘.

Cory found evidence of involvement by the RUC Special Branch and British army intelligence in Finucane's murder.

The solicitor was gunned down in front of his family in their home in north Belfast.

UDA gunman and RUC agent Ken Barrett was recently found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He may receive early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Finucane family have said that if the bill is passed, they will not cooperate with any inquiry. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has warned Blair that he must live up to the Weston Park agreement of 2001 when the two governments agreed to full public inquiries into a number of controversial killings, including that of two RUC officers near the border by the IRA in 1989.

Ahern briefed US president George Bush on the Finucane case during the recent St Patrick's receptions in Washington.

Sources said Bush was very “receptive'‘ to the government's position.


Adams: Republicans Will Continue To Act As The Dynamic For Change

Published: 27 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the Easter Commemoration in Derry this afternoon said"As Irish republicans we have a responsibility to look at where we want to be - a free and independent Ireland - and set about the task of getting there.

"Guided by our peace strategy this will inevitably mean more hard choices, more hard decisions for Irish republicans as we push ahead with our political project, and as we seek to achieve a united Ireland.

"The fact is that those who want the greatest change have to take the greatest risks. Time and time again we have demonstrated our willingness to do this. Are we ready to do that again? Are we ready to take more risks, to step up to the plate and demonstrate again the courage and tenacity, which is the hallmark of Irish republicanism?

"I believe we are. I believe we must. I intend to return to this issue in the short period ahead. Our preparedness to act as the dynamic for change has brought the peace process thus far. Sinn Féin‚s peace strategy and the initiatives Irish republicans have taken are what have made the progress of the last 10 years possible."

Extracts from Gerry Adams speech

A Process in trouble

While significant progress has been made in recent years much more should have occurred by now. Irish republicans do not underestimate the seriousness of the current situation. We share the concern of people across this island that years of hard work and progress is now being cast aside.

We also share their concern at the brutal and savage murder of Robert McCartney. Our goal must be to bring about the closure and truth and justice the McCartney family are campaigning for and deserve.

At our recent Ard Fheis I said that I was not letting this issue go until those who have sullied the republican cause are made to account for their actions.

Thus far those who killed Robert McCartney have refused to obey instructions from the IRA, and appeals from republican leaders. They have refused to behave in a brave and courageous way.

I know that many republicans and nationalists are outraged at how this murder is being cynically exploited to undermine republicanism.

What annoys me the most is not the criticism from the two governments, our political opponents, or those sections of the media who are clearly delighted to have a go at us. We are used to that and we can take it. What else do we expect? If those who fear the growth of Irish republicanism are given an opportunity to undermine it they will take that chance.

What annoys me the most is that a small group of individuals are not prepared to face up to their responsibilities. Instead these cowardly individuals will allow an avalanche of propaganda aimed at criminalising republicanism.

So let me be clear I am not letting this issue go.

Whatever way people feel about how the McCartney's are running their campaign this family have the right to truth and justice. And we as a party have a duty not to allow republicanism to be diminished in any way.

How we deal with this killing is very important. It is about us. It is about how we see ourselves.

The women prisoners in Armagh and the blanketmen and the hunger strikers in Long Kesh wouldn't allow Margaret Thatcher to criminalise our struggle. We will not allow anyone within republican ranks to criminalise this party or this struggle.

Irish government self-interest

Irish republicans pride ourselves on our ability to face up to challenges and find solutions to problems. Look at the record of the peace process. Time and time again Irish republicans have taken initiatives to help move the process forward. Last December we stood ready to do that again. Just three months ago the process was close to a deal which many thought impossible. Now the momentum is going the other way.

The process is in serious difficulty.

Much of this is being driven by an Irish government fearful of the growth of Sinn Féin and our determination to challenge the mess the establishment parties in Dublin are making of the economy, of health, of education and of the peace process.

Partitionism, self interest and incompetence are the factors underlying the Irish government's current approach to the process.

Too often Irish government Ministers have behaved like junior partners to the British government; frequently dismissed or ignored by London, and forever desperate to facilitate the unionists, even when it is obvious that such an approach smacks of weakness and reinforces unionist intransigence.

Since December the British and Irish governments have sought to reduce all of the issues to one - that is the issue of the IRA - even though they know that the IRA is not the only issue. What about policing? Demilitarisation? Human rights and Equality? The political institutions?

The current shallow and short sighted approach, especially by the Irish government, as well as its vitriolic attacks on Irish republicans, has further eroded confidence in the process, especially among nationalists and republicans.

We will be meeting the Taoiseach after Easter to discuss all of the issues. Be assured that Sinn Féin will not be kow-towing to the agenda being set by the Irish government. We will not be lectured to by anyone. We will treat everyone with respect. We expect to be treated in the same way. We do not let unionism walk over us. We do not let the British government walk over us. We will not let the Irish government walk over us.

Challenges and solutions - Irish republicans must be strategic

But while others are being tactical we have to be strategic - we have to be thinking not just about the upcoming electoral battle but also about the peace process.

As Irish republicans we have a responsibility to look at where we want to be - a free and independent Ireland - and set about the task of getting there.

Guided by our peace strategy this will inevitably mean more hard choices, more hard decisions for Irish republicans as we push ahead with our political project, and as we seek to achieve a united Ireland.

The fact is that those who want the greatest change have to take the greatest risks. Time and time again we have demonstrated our willingness to do this. Are we ready to do that again? Are we ready to take more risks, to step up to the plate and demonstrate again the courage and tenacity which is the hallmark of Irish republicanism?

I believe we are. I believe we must. I intend to return to this issue in the short period ahead. Our preparedness to act as the dynamic for change has brought the peace process thus far. Sinn Féin‚s peace strategy and the initiatives Irish republicans have taken are what have made the progress of the last 10 years possible.

Of course others have played their part. But does anyone doubt that but for our efforts the war, which dominated this island for much of the latter part of the 20th century would still be raging? It is Irish republicans who have made the difference and it is we who must continue to make the difference.

I appeal to all Irish republicans to give long and serious and calm consideration to the current situation. Talk to friends and comrades. Reflect on where Irish republicanism is today, how we got here and where we now need to go. Do what we do best - strategise, plan and be prepared to act."ENDS


McGuinness - Republicans Determined That Process Will Succeed

Published: 27 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP speaking at the Easter Commemoration in Dublin this afternoon said "Following the upcoming elections I believe that we will enter into what will be some of the most difficult negotiations that we have ever faced. If these are to be successful republicans must be honest in our analysis of the crisis in the peace process. But we also have to look to the future and set out clearly our solutions and our vision.

As we look back across a century of struggle we see that each phase on the journey has been different. Each has required different strategies and tactics. Republicans required courage to survive, resourcefulness to find new ways forward and determination to persist with their course of action.

We need all of those qualities in abundance if we are to continue to advance our peace project for Irish independence.

But if republicans have challenges to face there are also many challenges for the Irish government. All too often at critical junctures in the peace process they have allowed themselves to be treated as junior partners and have failed to act with the same determination in representing nationalists as the British government do when representing unionist interests.

It is time for the governments to be honest about all of this. It is time that we deal with all of the outstanding issues - armed groups, demilitarisation, equality, human rights and the difficult issue of policing."

Full text of speech

I am extremely proud and honoured to stand here today and address you at the GPO, the Headquarters of the 1916 Rising. Dublin City was the cradle of the Irish revolution in the early years of the 20th Century.

The city of the Great Lockout and, three years later, the Easter Rising.

The City of Larkin, Connolly, Pearse and Markievicz.

During those years Dublin was a cauldron of revolutionary thought and revolutionary action. During Easter Week 1916 Dublin was witness to a momentous chapter in Irish and world history when Ireland through her Freedom Fighters struck for her freedom.

Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Tom Clarke, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas Mc Donough, Eamon Ceannt and many others were executed by the British for leading the Rising. They will always be remembered as heroes by all of us who cherish their memory and the freedom they died to achieve. The British thought that by killing them they would extinguish their memory and with it Ireland‚s Freedom Spirit. Again the British got it wrong.

In the words of South African poet Don Matera writing after the release of Nelson Mandela:

Covered in the dust of defeat
Or so the conquerors believed
But there is nothing can be hidden
from the mind, nothing the memory
cannot reach, touch or call back

The Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army also struck an important and telling blow for democracy everywhere and signalled the beginning of the end for colonialism the world over.

The Irish revolutionary example inspired oppressed peoples across the globe and gave hope to many millions who sought freedom and national independence in their own countries.

Dublin republicans have played their part in the national struggle in every decade since. Indeed it was young Dubliners who helped to re-invigorate republicanism in many ways during the 1950s and who helped to redirect and focus its energies on removing partition.

I pay tribute to all those Dublin republicans who, down through the lean years for this struggle kept alive the flame of freedom.

As we stand here today republicanism in Dublin is stronger than at any time in recent history. Throughout the 1970s and for much of the 1980s Sinn Fein did not have any elected representatives in Dublin whatsoever.

That is until Christy Burke was elected to the City Council in 1985 and in a few short years Sinn Fein in this city made remarkable progress.

As we stand here today, 14 Councillors, two TD‚s and an MEP represent Sinn Fein in Dublin. We represent over 60,000 Dubliners and we are using this mandate to build a radical alternative in this city and country and to bring about real change.

I also note that in this historic year for our party a young Dublin woman - Mary Lou McDonald- your MEP - has been honoured with being elected as Sinn Fein National Chairperson.

Again in this, Sinn Fein‚s 100th anniversary year, Dublin is playing its part in the national struggle and in the coming weeks we will look to you once again, as across Ireland republicans prepare for three election campaigns ˆ Udaras na Gaeltachta elections in the 26 counties and Local Government and Westminster elections in the Six Counties. Last year we saw what could be achieved when we worked as an all-Ireland party in the Local Government and European elections.

And here in Dublin today I want to send a message to our political opponents in Ireland and the British government.

Be prepared to do business with a stronger and more determined Sinn Féin following these elections. Because more and more of the Irish people are coming to accept ˆ as we have always believed ˆ that real peace and true Freedom will only come when we finally rid ourselves of the malaise of partitionism, which undermines our ability as a nation to reach our full potential.

Sinn Féin's all-Ireland Agenda and the Good Friday Agreement when implemented with its all-Ireland and power-sharing institutions provides a powerful antidote to a crippling illness which has damaged all of us - unionist and republican for far too long.

Sinn Féin expects the highest standards from all those in our party

We must always be vigilant and cognisant of the fact that the stronger we get politically, the more we threaten the cosy cartel that has abused its grip on the levers of power in this state since partition. And those that have grown fat on the culture of Œcute hoorism‚ and brown envelopes that permeated this state for decades do not appreciate their position being threatened.

Therefore they will grasp every opportunity to undermine and discredit our struggle. But this is nothing new; many of those in power today have learned well the tactics of their former colonial masters when it comes to the use of black propaganda.

In every generation of struggle against British occupation the policy of criminalisation was introduced in an attempt to break the spirit and sap the energy of Irish republicans.

Character assassination was used by the British against those Irish patriots, who chose peaceful means of resistance, just as effectively as physical assassination was used against those who used armed struggle.

The men and women of 1916 were called criminals and terrorists in their day. The Irish Independent referred to the Rising as a 'criminal madness'. Today Sir Anthony O' Reilly's ( as he prefers to be called) Independent Group carries on that pro-British view of Irish Republicanism with relish. He didn‚t get his British Knighthood or nothing.

Sadly, today the opponents of Irish republicanism who are attempting to brand republicans, as criminals are not British oppressors.

It is establishment parties in this state who enjoy limited independence brought about by previous generations of Irish republicans.

The British did not succeed in criminalising the patriots of 1916 nor did they succeed in criminalising the men in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and the Women in Armagh in 1981.

And we are not about to allow the Soldiers of Destiny or the PD‚s to succeed in criminalising this generation of Irish Republicans.

But it is not good enough to get indignant when our political opponents point the finger of accusation at us if some within our ranks give them the opportunity to do so.

Each and every person within our ranks must realise that we are not 9 to 5 republicans. We are republicans 24 hours a day and everything we do reflects on this party.

As republicans we expect the highest standards of conduct from all within our ranks. That has always been the case and we reject anyone who, by his or her actions would bring the good name of the republican cause into disrepute.

Tragically that is exactly what has happened in recent times.

The brutal murder of Robert McCartney by republicans was a most grave injustice inflicted on Robert himself, his partner Bridgeen, their children and his sisters. Those responsible should do the honourable thing and face up to their responsibilities. Anyone without exception with information about this murder should also do the honourable thing. There can be no place within Irish republicanism for those who perpetrated this terrible deed. Nor can there be any place within Irish republicanism for anyone who by his or her silence would attempt to cover it up.

Primarily they should do so because the murder of Robert Mc Cartney was a crime. But not to do so is not only cowardly but also equally despicable as they are allowing their own community to be vilified and demonised.

Making Irish unity a reality

This weekend Republicans all over Ireland and from the Irish Diaspora throughout the world will participate in commemorations honouring generations of Irelands fallen heroes. On this the 89th anniversary of the Easter Rising we applaud and pay tribute to all of the Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army and members of Sinn Féin in every generation who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

We are a proud people. We are proud of our history; we make no apologies for our struggle against British occupation, oppression, murder and discrimination in our country.

We are proud of our role in the peace process and our work in bringing about Irish re-unification.

Only a fool would believe that the Irish people are not equipped to govern themselves better than the British have done in the last 800 years.

It‚s a bigger fool that believes that we will not succeed in achieving a sovereign independent Ireland. And we will achieve it through building our political strength throughout the four Provinces of this island.

In this the centenary year of Sinn Féin, we launched a campaign to get the Irish government to bring forward a Green Paper on Irish unity. Already it is making an impact with parties outdoing each other proclaiming to be the true inheritors of the legacy of 1916.

Can anyone remember any of the establishment parties in Leinster House or the SDLP in the North proclaim their united Ireland credentials prior to the growing support for Sinn Féin and our agenda for change.

No! I don't think so.

We also had Dermot Ahern cynically using the debate to attack Sinn Féin but the most telling thing about his comments was how far some in the leadership of the so-called largest Irish Republican party have moved from their traditional roots.

Dermot Ahern‚s claims that a Green Paper on Irish Unity is 'irrelevant', is very reminiscent of the SDLP‚s claim to be a 'post-nationalist' party. A policy platform that was very quickly abandoned by the SDLP after the last elections, when it failed miserably.

But whatever about the SDLP and their ill-advised attempts to position themselves politically it is absolutely unforgivable for any Irish minister, but especially a border TD, to be so hostile to the need for all of us in nationalist Ireland to properly plan for Irish reunification.

In almost 90 years of limited independence no Irish government has ever produced a strategy for unification and all four establishment parties who proclaim aspirations to a united Ireland have been in power during that period.

Besides paying lip service at Easter Commemorations, at Bodenstown and various commemorations up and down the country they have done absolutely zilch to promote Irish unity.

If we are to wait for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or the PD‚s to deliver unity we will be sorely disappointed. Republicans have to be the engine that drives the united-Ireland train. We need to be innovative, adventurous and persuasive in our approach as well as our thinking.

It is not an issue to grandstand on - it is an imperative if we are to successfully bring about unity in a planned and structured way.

Republicans will continue to set the agenda

The current onslaught against Sinn Féin is about trying to weaken our negotiating position and the wider nationalist position in future talks.

Those who oppose the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement and who oppose equality and human rights do not want to do business with a strong, effective and determined Sinn Féin.

Our opponents never contemplated a future where Sinn Féin would be the largest nationalist party in the north, the third largest party on the island where the status quo would be threatened and where the prospect of Irish unity would be ever closer.

Following these elections I believe that we will enter into what will be some of the most difficult negotiations that we have ever faced. If these are to be successful republicans must be honest in our analysis of the crisis in the peace process. But we also have to look to the future and set out clearly our solutions and our vision.

As we look back across a century of struggle we see that each phase on the journey has been different. Each has required different strategies and tactics. Republicans required courage to survive, resourcefulness to find new ways forward and determination to persist with their course of action.

We need all of those qualities in abundance if we are to continue to advance our peace project for Irish independence.

But if republicans have challenges to face there are also many challenges for the Irish government. All too often at critical junctures in the peace process they have allowed themselves to be treated as junior partners and have failed to act with the same determination in representing nationalists as the British government do when representing unionist interests.

Their approach has been clouded by a belief that unionists must be pandered to, even when this short-sighted approach has seen talks collapse twice in the last two years.

When all others had agreed a way forward it was unionists who could not make the final move, it was unionists who walked away and it was the Irish and British governments who supported them.

It is time for the governments to be honest about all of this. It is time that we deal with all of the outstanding issues ˆ armed groups, demilitarisation, equality, human rights and the difficult issue of policing.

We want to see the peace process succeed. We want to see the Agreement implemented and all-Ireland power-sharing institutions restored. I believe that this can be achieved.

I don't underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I am confident that republicanism will continue to grow and that we will succeed. We will go away from here confident of the success of our peace strategy to date and in the knowledge that there is much work still to be done to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion and to build towards:

:: a different Ireland;
:: a new Ireland;
:: a united, free and independent Ireland.


Shooting Offer Was Mistake - McGuinness

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

The IRA’s statement confirming it had offered to shoot the killers of Belfast father of two Robert McCartney was a mistake, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness acknowledged today.

As republicans prepared to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising with events on both sides of the Irish border, the Mid Ulster MP said the offer had detracted from the IRA’s attempt to dispel claims it was covering up the January 30 murder.

The Sinn Fein chief negotiator told ITV 1’s ’Jonathan Dimbleby’ programme: “What we have to acknowledge first and foremost is that the statement that the IRA, that they were prepared to shoot the people responsible, was in my opinion a huge mistake.

“It also detracted from what was a very important statement, because the IRA, I think, in this statement dispelled any notion whatsoever that they were prepared to cover up for the people who murdered Robert McCartney... it would have been terribly wrong, and that it would have been deplorable.”

Robert McCartney, a 30-year-old forklift driver, was stabbed and beaten outside a Belfast city centre bar and a friend, Brendan Devine, was also seriously wounded following a row with republicans.

The victim’s five sisters and partner have accused IRA members of carrying out the attack and other people of taking part in a clean up and cover up operation afterwards.

However despite the expulsion by the IRA of three of its members and repeated calls from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for witnesses to come forward, police investigating the brutal attack have faced a wall of silence.

The McCartney sisters’ campaign for justice, which took them to Washington this month for meetings with US President George W Bush, Senators Edward Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, has also resulted in the suspension of seven Sinn Fein members.

On March 8, the IRA confirmed it had offered to shoot the killers of Robert McCartney but this was turned down by the family during a five-and– a-half hour meeting .

The statement was regarded outside of republicanism as a spectacular publicity own goal.

In a series of hard hitting statements, Sinn Fein has, however, insisted republicans must do all they can to help the family’s quest to bring Robert McCartney’s killers before the courts.

Sinn Fein’s refusal to recognise Northern Ireland’s police service as legitimate has meant the leadership has had to advise witnesses to provide their solicitors with statements to pass onto the province’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan whose investigative team is also helping the probe.

However the McCartneys believe it is not good enough for witnesses to issue statements through their solicitors, arguing they should go directly instead to the police or Police Ombudsman who have the proper investigative skills to establish what happened.

Republicans who have also turned up at police stations with their solicitors have also exercised their right to silence during questioning by police.

Detectives investigating the murder have also been frustrated at the lack of information from people present in Magennis’s bar on the night of the killing.

Among the 70 or more people in Magennis’s were former Sinn Fein councillor Sean Hayes, former Assembly election candidate Cora Groogan and local government election candidate Deirdre Hargey.

All three handed in statements to the Ombudsman through their solicitors after it emerged they were present.

Mr McGuinness also remained hopeful today all sides in Northern Ireland’s peace process were ready to make progress on achieving a deal to restore power sharing after the British General Election in May.

“What we have to do is bring about a very clear situation where the issue of the IRA is dealt with,” he said.

“We tried to do that last December, it didn’t work because Ian Paisley fluffed it at the last.

“What we now need to do is recognise that we’re not going to resolve this, this side of the British General Election which is up coming in a few weeks’ time, but my sense of it is listening to the comments of Ian Paisley to RTE, Irish television, the comments of Tony Blair, the comments of others within the process that people recognise that immediately in the aftermath of that election we are going to have to crack out a deal.

“I actually think we can do it.”


Opin: Shine A Spotlight On IRA Criminals

Re Trudy Rubin's March 20 Other Views column, Has the IRA `morphed into the mob'?: The media are focusing on the sensationalism of Robert McCartney's death. [McCartney was killed in a Belfast bar in January by IRA members.]

But the larger picture of unsolved political assassinations in Northern Ireland is forgotten.

Six years ago, civil-rights attorney Rosemary Nelson, was threatened and then killed with a sophisticated car bomb detonated just seconds from her home. Her case drew dust, until retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory investigated and submitted his report requesting a formal inquiry to British Prime Minister Tony Blair .

But Blair is procrastinating. The British government's sluggishness in investigating political assassinations in Northern Ireland is legendary. It protects those on top in deference to the relatives of the slain.

If the Police Service of Northern Ireland can dedicate scores of detectives and huge sums of money to track and identify the culprits in a bank heist, why has the same police force been reluctant to find Nelson's killers?

McCartney's sisters squandered a golden opportunity in not asking President Bush to apply pressure on Blair to bring closure to the relatives of those slain and to enforce the tenets the Good Friday agreement.

There is a poignant slogan written on the walls of Derry that says: ``When the lawbreakers are the lawmakers, there is no law.''

Northern Ireland today, with the suspension of the Good Friday agreement, is a land without laws. Justice should demand that we examine the lawmakers.


Adams Responds To Call For Boycott

26 March 2005 16:53

The Sein Féin President, Gerry Adams, has said he does not take seriously a call by Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, for people to boycott Sein Féin commemorations of the Easter Rising this weekend.

Minister O'Dea said the commemorations were being organised by criminals, adding that Sinn Féin and the IRA are two sides of the same coin.

Speaking in west Belfast, Mr Adams said he paid no attention to the Minister he called 'Willie O'Who' and said no-one attending this weekend's republican commemorations would pay any attention either.


Adams Urged To Make Omagh Bombers Appeal

27 March 2005

SINN Fein boss Gerry Adams was under pressure last night to make a fresh appeal for information on the 1998 Omagh bomb outrage.

Victor Barker- who lost his 12-year-old son, James, in the blast - pleaded with Adams to urge republicans to help bring the Real IRA killers to justice.

Mr Barker wrote to Sinn Fein on March 10, after Mr Adams urged anyone with information on the killing of Robert McCartney - butchered by republicans outside Magennis's Bar - to contact the Police Ombudsman, or a solicitor.

But the angry father has still not received a reply.

This follows a letter the English-based lawyer sent to Mr Adams in March 2000, in which he asked him to call publicly for people with information about the Omagh bombing to come forward.

The Sinn Fein chief cited his party's distrust of the police and Ulster's justice system as his reasons for refusing to call on anyone to come forward.

Now - five years after his initial request - Mr Barker believes there are no "hurdles" to stop Adams from making a fresh appeal.

Said Mr Barker: "Taking into account the recent developments, in relation to the murder of Robert McCartney, I am asking Mr Adams if he would be prepared to change his stance, in relation to the Omagh bomb.

"Martin McGuinness told me the Real IRA were his enemies, as much as they were mine, and I can't see why the Sinn Fein leadership can no longer assist the Omagh relatives in their quest for justice.

"Robert McCartney's murder was tragic and unnecessary. But the murder of my son is no less sore for me, than is Robert's murder for his family.

"We once urged people to even go to the Samaritans with information, but we would greatly welcome anyone coming forward to their solicitor, or the Ombudsman.

"Perhaps one day, all the victims of violence, whether murdered by Protestant or Catholic terrorists, will be able to say 'tiochfaidh ar la'? (our day will come)"

Said a Sinn Fein spokesman: "We are not aware of any letter from Mr Barker being received by Gerry Adams, but we are looking into it.

"I think it would be discourteous of us to respond, without responding to Mr Barker."


Shourki's away fixture with city crimelords

By Stephen Breen
27 March 2005

UDA terror boss Andre Shoukri joined thousands of other Northern Ireland fans in Manchester yesterday.

The north Belfast crime boss arrived in the city with his henchmen on Friday for a weekend stay at a five-star hotel.

Senior security sources told Sunday Life they believe Shoukri may have used the game at Old Trafford as a cover to meet Manchester-based criminals with close links to the UDA.

Said a source: "Shoukri and his team arrived on Friday, and the local police were well aware if it.

"They claimed to be there for the football, but they spent the weekend partying and also meeting up with local crime bosses.

"Shoukri likes to enjoy himself when he's away - he probably had a good few quid with him to have a flutter in the bookies."

Cops were worried that there may have been trouble between the 'Egyptian' and arch-enemy Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, who lives in nearby Bolton.

But Adair told Sunday Life: "I don't even like football, I'm more of a boxing fan.

"I've got something else planned this weekend anyway."

Shoukri's gang were under constant surveillance during their stay.

The visit comes after sources claimed Shoukri was at the centre of a UDA probe over his gambling.

It followed claims he recently lost £32,000 in a week.

The terror chief is a big horse-racing, greyhound and football fan.

We understand he has recently invested in a north Belfast taxi firm, in a bid to raise extra cash to feed his gambling habit.

Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) spokesman Sammy Duddy said: "I am not in a position to comment on Andre's alleged gambling habits.

"I am not 100 per cent certain if he is involved in a new taxi venture in north Belfast.

"If Andre has come under pressure from the (UDA) 'inner council', you would have to ask them about that."


Alleged Ulster Drugs Baron Was To 'Retire'

By Stephen Gordon And Ciaran McGuigan
27 March 2005

THE ex-cop, accused of being a loyalist drugs baron, was planning to retire to a millionaires' playground, in the south of France.

Colin Armstrong - who had £5m worth of assets frozen by the High Court last week - had told friends he was planning to quit Ulster for the good life, on the glamorous French Riviera.

But, the 38-year-old ex-full-time reservist's plans now appear to be in tatters, following an 18 month long probe into his affairs, by Alan McQuillan's racket busting Assets Recovery Agency.

Armstrong is suspected of kick-starting his fortune with drugs cash, and of links to LVF founder, Billy Wright.

The ARA went to the High Court, in Belfast, to freeze 49 properties belonging to Armstrong, and his partner, Geraldine Mallon, who share a luxury home in Glenavy, Co Antrim.

A friend of Armstrong's told Sunday Life: "I was stunned when I heard the news about Colin and the drugs allegations, last week.

"As far I was concerned, he was a very successful, legitimate businessman, who had invested in lots of properties.

"He told me he intended to retire in a couple of years to enjoy the good life, in the south of France.

"He loved it over there, and was looking forward to an easy life in the sun."

The ARA alleges that Mr Armstrong was linked to drug trafficking, between Belgium and Northern Ireland, in 1994, and had links to the UVF, and later then the breakaway LVF, founded by Wright.

The ARA alleged in court, that Mr Armstrong had been dealing in all types of illegal drugs.

It alleged that Ms Mallon, a Catholic, was his partner, that she held some of the assets in her own name, and was director of some of the companies under investigation.

Armstrong owns 47 houses in Northern Ireland, one in Dublin, one in Côte d'Azur, and a number of companies, including two identified as Modern Homes (NI) Ltd, and Tudor Road Properties Ltd.

Tudor Road Properties Ltd is a property rental company, registered in April, 1999, with offices in Ballygowan.

It has earned only very modest four-figure profits, according to records in Companies House.

And, mortgages were taken out by the company against over 20 properties in the Lurgan, Portadown, Belfast and Gilford areas.


Another Drugs Kingpin Has Cash Seized

By Ciaran McGuigan
27 March 2005

DRUG-dealing thug, Malcolm McKeown, had his home turned over by cops, last week, during a number of planned searches that uncovered £750,000 worth of drugs.

McKeown's Parkmore home was one of a number of properties searched in swoops in Craigavon, on Tuesday.

A number of items were removed from the house, although none of the huge haul of cocaine and Ecstasy recovered in the operation were found there.

Among the items seized from the house were a large sum of cash and a quantity of prescription drugs, steroids and illegal cigarettes.

The major haul of drugs was discovered at a nearby address, where one man was arrested.

It included large quantities of cocaine, ecstasy and herbal cannabis.

A revolver, a pistol, an improvised shot gun, a replica firearm and a stun gun were also seized in the searches, along with a quantity of ammunition.

Cops who raided McKeown's home went to court, last Thursday, to make an application to hold on to money they seized from his home.

A police officer told Craigavon Magistrate's Court that they had searched McKeown's home, under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and seized more than £7,600 in cash, which they believed was to be used for criminal purposes.

They were granted a three-month extension to hold onto the money.

McKeown is a well-known drugs dealer in the Parklands area, and is said to rule the estate with an iron fist.

He has been accused of instigating violent attacks on a number of families in the area.

When we started investigating those claims, McKeown ordered a gang of teenage thugs to smash up a car, belonging to a Sunday Life photographer, and to steal valuable camera equipment.

In 1999, McKeown survived an LVF murder bid, after being hit in the stomach with a single shot, when a gunman fired into his home.

He had fallen foul of the loyalist terror gang, in a row over the lucrative drugs trade in mid Ulster.

McKeown is also known to have close contacts to another big-time drug dealer, Gary 'Mammy's Boy' Marno, who had been targeted by the LVF.

Marno was forced to flee to Spain in the late 1990s, after stealing a large sum of cash from the LVF's coffers.


Wright Seeks No10 Minutes

27 March 2005

THE father of murdered LVF leader, Billy Wright is seeking the minutes of a controversial meeting between ex-Prime Minister John Major and four loyalist politicians.

David Wright is using the new Freedom of Information Act to ask the cabinet office to release minutes of the July 1996 meeting at Downing Street, between Mr Major and leading UDP and PUP figures.

The meeting sparked a row, because the loyalist delegation including convicted cut-throat sectarian killer, John White.

Mr Major was criticised for the meeting, at a time when he was refusing to meet Gerry Adams.

The other three loyalists who met Mr Major were David Ervine and Hugh Smyth of the PUP, and UDP's Gary McMichael.

In July 1996, the main loyalist paramilitary groups were on ceasefire, but Wright's mid-Ulster UVF group were at forefront of violent protests at Drumcree, and were blamed for the brutal, sectarian murder of Catholic man, Michael McGoldrick.

Mr Wright says he wants to know what was said about his son, who was put under a death threat by the UVF the following month, and who was murdered by INLA inmates at Maghaberry jail, 18 months later.

He says the minutes should also be available to the forthcoming public inquiry into the loyalist killer's death, chaired by Lord Randal MacLean.

Mr Wright said: "I have been reliably informed that Billy Wright was the principal topic discussed at that Downing Street meeting.

"It has been alleged one of those present asked the British Government what they intended to do about the 'Wright problem' in mid-Ulster.

"I want to see the minutes to verify if those words were used and who said them.

"I have also been told what the Government's response was, but I need to verify that information as well."


Ex Cops Told To Arm Themselves

Provo spying triggers alert

By Alan Murray
27 March 2005

FORMER RUC officers are being told to buy their OWN guns, and take refresher firearms courses, because of new terrorist threats from republicans.

Some of those warned about their personal safety have been told that "mainstream" republicans are involved in tracking their movements.

A number of former RUC officers have been told that they should upgrade security levels around their homes, and be alert for suspicious vehicles.

East Londonderry DUP MP, Gregory Campbell, said that former officers were warned that their movements were being monitored by "mainstream" republicans.

He said: "I am now aware of seven people - three former RUC officers and four other constituents, who have links to the police - being advised by the PSNI that their movements are being monitored.

"It has been indicated to at least two of those seven, that the monitoring is being carried out by the IRA - not the Real or Continuity versions.

"These warnings have all been delivered in the last month, so it is absolutely clear that the Provisionals haven't gone away - as indeed Gerry Adams told us some time ago."

Former RUC officers, living in Belfast, have also been told to purchase a firearm for their personal protection, after security alerts around their homes.

In one case, a vehicle with 12 'traces' to the IRA was spotted parked in a neighbour's driveway. The officer was told that it would be advisable to purchase a personal protection weapon for his own security.

Said the former officer: "When I left the force, I handed in my service firearm, because I didn't want to carry one, and actually didn't think that I would need to carry one.

"But, I was advised a couple of months ago to buy a gun and undertake a firearms training refresher course."

The officer, who lives in the greater Belfast area, said he was advised that the surveillance of his home was carried out by the IRA.

He added: "The vehicle being used by the 'dicker', as they call them, had 12 PIRA traces to it and it wasn't disputed that the exercise to spy on me was linked to the IRA.

"I have now reluctantly purchased a gun, and gone for firearms training, which is something I didn't want to do."

Senior officers are still being given high-profile security protection around their homes, mainly because of the continuing threat from dissident republicans.


Sinn Fein members voted last week at talks in Dublin. Because of Irish Republican Army violence, the party has faced some rifts. (Globe Photo / Seamus Murphy)

On Centennial, Sinn Fein Weighs Cost Of IRA Violence

By Kevin Cullen and Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff March 27, 2005

DUBLIN -- For half of Sinn Fein's 100 years, Miceal de Faoite has been a loyal member, dedicated to the party's goal of an independent, united Ireland.

De Faoite weathered years of irrelevance as the party's military wing, the Irish Republican Army, petered out in the 1950s. He was outraged by the British crackdown on the Roman Catholic civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, but was heartened when the long-dormant IRA rose to defend Catholic nationalists, seeing them as heroes defying the British empire.

GLOBE GRAPHIC: Irish nationalism: Sinn Fein's 100-year campaign

In 35 years of armed conflict, as the IRA fought the British security forces to a bloody stalemate, de Faoite would not have dreamed of criticizing the IRA. But now, he and other republicans -- hardline nationalists who believe force is justified to remove British influence from Ireland -- are saying openly what for them was once unthinkable.

''It's time for Sinn Fein to break from the IRA," said de Faoite, a 65-year-old construction company executive from the southern city of Tipperary. ''Politics is the only way to go now. That break should be made."

De Faoite spoke as Sinn Fein (pronounced shin fane) gathered in Dublin this month for its annual conference, in its centennial year, not far from the post office where the rebels who inspired today's IRA staged the ''Easter Rising" of 1916.

Breaking from a mythologized past that so deeply informs the republican movement's violent, revolutionary identity has proved difficult. But a series of recent events -- and perhaps the passage of time -- have conspired to make this 100th anniversary of Sinn Fein not as much a year of celebration as one of deep soul-searching.

Never has the IRA been under such pressure, in Ireland and the Irish diaspora, especially in the United States, to forsake the violence that has been its hallmark.

Over the past decade, the IRA has stopped shooting police officers and British soldiers, and, aside from a spectactular attack in London in 1996, it has stopped planting bombs, allowing the peace process in Northern Ireland to effectively end what had been Europe's most intractable conflict.

But the IRA has refused to disband, and its members have continued to engage in armed robberies while dispensing vigilante beatings, shootings, and expulsions to dissidents, petty criminals, and those who defy the IRA's iron-fisted control of republican neighborhoods.

A review by The Boston Globe has found that police forces on both sides of the border implicate the IRA in the killings of at least 39 people since its historic cease-fire in August of 1994.

After a $50 million bank heist in Belfast on Dec. 20 that authorities attributed to the IRA and the barroom murder on Jan. 30 of a Catholic man, reportedly by IRA members, a growing number of Irish nationalists have begun to say that the IRA itself poses the biggest threat to political and social normalcy in Northern Ireland.

The Irish government, which had followed a policy of ''constructive ambiguity" about the IRA's continued existence, no longer accepts that the IRA can remain in business until there is a final settlement in Northern Ireland.

A decade ago, in Washington, acceptance of Sinn Fein, and especially of its leader, Gerry Adams, was crucial in convincing republicans that they would be treated as equals in the political process once violence was put aside. Now, many of those who enthusiastically helped Sinn Fein into the mainstream, including US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, have concluded that the IRA has become an albatross around Sinn Fein's neck.

But even more significantly, so have a growing number of Irish republicans, who have long viewed the IRA not as criminals but as their defenders.

Last month, when the sisters of Robert McCartney, who was stabbed and beaten to death by IRA men, defied the code of silence in neighborhoods like theirs in the Short Strand section of Belfast, hundreds of friends and neighbors stood with them.

IRA leaders met with the McCartneys and offered to shoot two IRA members and two other men involved in the murder. The sisters rejected the offer, saying they wanted the suspects to be investigated by the police and tried in the courts. In doing so, the McCartney sisters and their supporters were rejecting the IRA's raison d'être: the protection of Catholic nationalists from forces loyal to Britain.

Paisley's missed chance The current crisis facing Sinn Fein was almost avoided in December, when a half-dozen parties were tantalizingly close to an agreement to restore the Northern Ireland assembly, which had been suspended in October 2002 over allegations of IRA spying.

Under a complex arrangement brokered by the Irish and British governments, the Democratic Unionists, the largest Protestant party led by the fundamentalist Rev. Ian Paisley, would agree to share power in the assembly's executive branch with Sinn Fein, which represents most Catholic nationalists.

In addition, the IRA would agree to scrap more of its weapons and allow two clergymen, one Catholic, the other Protestant, to witness this act.

Also as part of the accord, the Irish government would release a group of IRA prisoners who had killed a police officer; the British government would dramatically scale down its already shrunken military presence in Northern Ireland; and, perhaps most significantly, Sinn Fein would agree to sit on the civilian board that oversees the police.

Getting Sinn Fein on the policing board would effectively mean the end of the IRA, because it would amount to acceptance of the legitimacy of the police in Northern Ireland, thus removing justification for the IRA's existence. The republican prohibition against any people from its community joining the police would be lifted.

The elaborately choreographed December agreement would have closed the circle of conflict in Northern Ireland, where the IRA was reborn in the 1960s, mainly because the overwhelmingly Protestant police had not protected Catholics from Protestants.

But Paisley, a divisive figure throughout the 35-year conflict known as ''the Troubles," threw a wrench in the carefully laid plans, demanding photographic evidence of IRA disarmament. The IRA rejected this as an attempt to humiliate it.

Adams and Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, met with the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, to say that Sinn Fein and the IRA could not do the deal. In separate interviews, the other two Irish government officials at that Dec. 6 meeting, Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell, said that after a three-month lull, the IRA then resumed punishment shootings and beatings. This reinforced the Irish government's view that Sinn Fein and the IRA are inextricably linked, and that violence can be turned on and off like a tap.

Prime Minister Ahern, who has made resolution of the conflict his top priority, was furious at what he saw as the cynical use of violence. His fury, and that of his top ministers, grew two weeks later when an armed gang took the families of two bank executives hostage and then forced the bankers to help them cart off $50 million from a Belfast bank.

The military precision bore all the hallmarks of the IRA; and the chief constable in Northern Ireland accused it of the action. But more damaging to the republican movement, Bertie Ahern blamed the IRA, and said he believed that Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders had known the IRA had planned the robbery, even as Sinn Fein was negotiating with the Irish government.

Adams was uncharacteristically shaken, challenging the police to arrest him if Ahern's allegations were true. The Irish government would not back down from its hard line. In an interview, McDowell said the government's assessment was based on electronic surveillance and intelligence developed by the Irish, not the British, police. And he voiced publicly what many Irish diplomats have said only privately in recent years.

''The IRA does not accept the legitimacy of the republic, and all of Sinn Fein still believes that the powers of government of the Irish Republic are vested in the IRA," he said.

Danny Morrison, a former IRA and Sinn Fein figure who coined the republican movement's twin-track strategy of seizing power with an Armalite rifle in one hand and a ballot paper in the other, said critics who focus on the recent outcry against the IRA do not acknowledge the massive shift the movement has made over the last decade -- from accepting that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom until a majority living there votes otherwise, to giving up weapons for the first time in history.

''The peace process has seen the whole republican family shift to electoral politics," he said. ''The problem is that everything we were promised hasn't happened. So the complete shift is stalled."

Behind the scenes, what Bertie Ahern was demanding was a bold, new gesture from the IRA, an unconditional declaration that it was standing down as a paramilitary organization, according to several high-ranking Irish officials.

In Washington, where he was snubbed by Kennedy and President Bush, Adams said the McCartney murder was being used to smear Sinn Fein. He said much of the criticism of his party was politically motivated by those who fear being overtaken by Sinn Fein, which since the 1998 Good Friday agreement has quickly risen in Northern Ireland but has had more modest success in Ireland.

Dermot Ahern, the foreign minister, scoffed at Adams's assertion. Noting that Sinn Fein holds just five of 166 seats in the Irish parliament, he said. ''We have no fear of fighting them in a democratic arena."

But Dermot Ahern said his party and others see the IRA's criminal acts as giving Sinn Fein a distinctly unfair advantage when it comes to funding future political operations.

Since 1995, when Bill Clinton lifted a ban on its fund-raising, Sinn Fein has raised about $7 million in the United States, according to reports filed with the US Justice Department by Friends of Sinn Fein, the party's American support group. State Department officials privately admit that fund-raising could be banned again if the US government decides Sinn Fein has not done enough to get the IRA to stand down.

But while the republican movement has always seen the United States as an important fundraising source, US political influence has been coveted more. And, according to Kennedy, the influence that opened doors for Sinn Fein is in jeopardy because of the IRA's continued existence.

After a murder, a campaign When the IRA men who brutalized Robert McCartney were finished with him outside Magennis's pub in Belfast, the 33-year-old forklift driver's face had been mangled, an eye had been gouged out, and his stomach had been sliced open.

McCartney's sisters went looking for answers. As they say in Belfast, even the dogs in the street knew that IRA members had killed McCartney. But when the sisters approached Alex Maskey, the Sinn Fein representative for the area, Maskey was dismissive, according to the sisters.

Paula McCartney, who said she has supported Sinn Fein and who had lauded the IRA for protecting neighborhoods like hers, said Maskey's response to her brother's murder was to help orchestrate, or at least condone, youths throwing stones at police who had come to investigate the murder. The sisters responded, in turn, by mounting the most high-profile, damaging, international campaign against the IRA in years, taking their case all the way to the White House.

''If our complaint had been taken more seriously from the beginning" by Sinn Fein, ''this might not have all happened," Paula McCartney said.

Maskey, a former boxer and IRA prisoner, embodies the republican odyssey from revolutionary politics to the mainstream. In 2002, he became the first republican mayor of Belfast, and the first mayor to unfurl an Irish tricolor in an office long a bastion of Protestant unionist power.

Inside the delegates' lounge at the Sinn Fein conference, Maskey disputed the McCartney family's assertion that he had rebuffed them.

''They went through an awful trauma," Maskey said. ''So I can understand very much that there is a lot of emotion there."

A week later, Maskey was sitting in Locke-Ober, the venerable Boston restaurant, as guest of Boston businessmen who belong to a philanthrophic group called the Irish American Partnership.

When Sinn Fein was founded in 1905, the only Irishmen inside Locke-Ober were in the kitchen, washing dishes. But now Maskey and his wealthy hosts sat in a private dining room, tucking into salmon and sipping fine wine.

The businessmen consider Maskey a friend, and their group has contributed money to schools and other organizations in his district.

But, on this night, they made it clear that they were deeply troubled by the IRA's actions, and by the fact that the IRA remains in action.

Joe Leary, who heads the Irish American Partnership, said he believes Maskey got the message.

''We're going to have to leave some people behind," Leary quoted Maskey as telling them.

Brian Feeney, author of ''Sinn Fein: A Hundred Turbulent Years," said he doubted that Sinn Fein would do anything dramatic before the British general election, which is expected in six weeks.

But like many others, Feeney said Sinn Fein is at a crossroads. The gun and the ballot box, he said, cannot continue to coexist.

''It is the biggest turning point in their history," Feeney said.

Globe correspondent Jim Cusack contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


Comment: Liam Clarke: Code Of Dishonour Trumps Republican Calls For 'Truth'

Ever so slowly Sinn Fein and the IRA are starting to move in on the McCartneys.The courageous campaign launched by Robert McCartney’s five sisters and his fiancée Bridgeen Hagan risks hitting the same obstacles met by anybody who has had a sustained run of good publicity. Whether you are a footballer, politician or victim, the public starts to tire of you after a while.

As surely as Wayne Rooney went from being depicted as the golden boy of football to the consort of prostitutes in the popular press, the McCartneys can expect the hunt to start for their feet of clay — with Sinn Fein leading the pack.

The party, which has been badly damaged by revelations that IRA members were among those connected to the brutal killing, knew this moment was coming. And it has bided its time. Martin McGuinness cast the first stone with a “friendly warning” to the campaigners shortly before they went to America.

He said: “The McCartneys need to be very careful. To step over that line, which is a very important line, into the world of party political politics can do a huge disservice to their campaign. In fact, it can dismay and disillusion an awful lot of people, tens of thousands of people who support them in their just demands.”

There is no doubt that, coming from a man of McGuinness’s reputation, a man believed by both the British and Irish governments to be on the IRA army council, such friendly words could take on a sinister hue. McGuinness later insisted the message was not intended as a threat but it doubtless rattled the sisters and placed doubts in the minds of supporters about the wisdom of being publicly identified with them.

When the McCartneys returned from a successful campaigning trip to America to coincide with St Patrick’s Day, Daily Ireland, the new Sinn Fein-leaning daily paper, injected poison into the wound. It was dominated by two stories: an IRA statement carried in full and another headlined “SDLP organised McCartney visit”.

The newspaper detailed how a travel agency part-owned by Alastair McDonnell, the SDLP deputy leader, had extended the McCartneys four weeks credit on their flights to America. It also claimed that Ruairi McKenna, a former member of the SDLP’s youth wing at Queen’s University who now lives and works in Washington, had given them mobile phones during their visit and helped field media queries. The implication was that theirs was a political campaign funded by Sinn Fein’s republican rivals.

It overlooked the fact that, before they left, the McCartneys openly said they would accept help from any political party that offered it. As one of the sisters put it later, “everyone except Sinn Fein helped us in America”.

The IRA statement, the other half of Daily Ireland’s front page, contained another poke at the sisters. It described Robert McCartney’s killing as murder and crime but went on: “It was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA. The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have tried to assist in whatever way we can. Unfortunately, it would appear that no matter what we do it will never be enough for some.”

The statement was clearly referring to the McCartney sisters and Hagan who have repeatedly called for the IRA and Sinn Fein to do more to bring the killers to justice.

Even as Sinn Fein and the IRA take swipes at the campaigners, with a view to undermining their considerable authority, they claim they have helped them in every possible way.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In the crucial days after the killing, republican youths — supported publicly by Sinn Fein elected representatives — organised rioting to stop police raiding the home of the man suspected of knifing Robert McCartney and that of another man who got the knife and destroyed evidence. That is one reason why the police investigation has been hampered and so many appeals have had to be made by the McCartneys.

On the night of the murder itself, the bar where the initial attack took place was packed with 70 people, most of whom it has emerged were Sinn Fein or IRA members or supporters. The murder happened in the street outside. A fight started, a man had his throat cut with a broken bottle and another man was killed, and yet nobody saw or heard anything.

After the murder the bar was locked, people were warned not to call an ambulance until it was cleaned up and CCTV footage removed. None of the Sinn Fein or IRA members, none of the Sinn Fein candidates, none of the people who got off a bus from Londonderry where they had demanded that the truth come out about Bloody Sunday, can give the police a clear account of what happened.

Most didn’t come forward and when approached by the police they gave statements through their solicitors containing a minimum of information. The presence of Cora Groogan, a former Sinn Fein candidate, in the bar was only revealed six weeks after the event by the testimony of a taxi driver. Gerry Adams may limit the damage by calling, at the Sinn Fein ard fheis for the people to come forward with information, but many people sitting in hall applauding had relevant information and failed to pass it to police.

Sinn Fein and the IRA’s statements and “expulsions” are little more than empty exercises in damage limitation and their subsequent attempts to undermine the McCartney campaigners for seeking justice highlight their hypocrisy. One of the IRA members supposedly expelled has been boasting to friends that he will be readmitted within six months at most. He has been seen, most days walking around Short Strand with Bobby Storey, the IRA director of intelligence.

Far from being a maverick, this man is one of the IRA’s most valued members, their northern command operations officer. He knows too much and is too well connected to be sacrificed.

Two others have been urged by the IRA to confess and to give evidence against each other. So far they have failed to do so but, even if they do, they can expect the charges to be reduced to manslaughter or even assault in the absence of eyewitnesses. Confessions could portray the incident as an accident or better still self-defence thanks to the silence and solidarity their republican comrades have shown.

At the Bloody Sunday hearings, where he refused to give the evidence he was asked in the tribunal for which he campaigned, McGuinness described this sort of thinking as “the IRA honour code”.

After this murder, it may not be proclaimed in quite such glowing terms but it can still be enforced.

It is a vital test of the peace process and Sinn Fein’s fitness for government that this sort of thinking, this refusal to give straightforward accounts to the police, is broken once and for all. That is why, at the very point where their campaign is faltering and vulnerable, the McCartneys deserve support. Governments and political parties must make the giving of evidence a factor in any renewed political negotiations and individuals must bear it in mind when they decide how to vote.


Probe Into IRA Laundering Draws A Blank

27 March 2005 By Paul T Colgan

A Bulgarian investigation into an alleged IRA money-laundering scheme has found no evidence of attempts to launder cash.

The investigation by the country's Financial Intelligence Agency was sparked by media reports that Cork-based moneylender Ted Cunningham and Irish government troubleshooter and businessman Phil Flynn had travelled to Bulgaria in January.

Flynn was a non-executive director of Cunningham's Chesterton Finance, the company at the centre of a garda investigation into IRA money laundering.

Bulgaria's chief financial intelligence officer, Vasil Kirov, said that his investigation had unearthed “no evidence of Bulgaria's involvement in such a case'‘.

The Bulgarian ambassador to Ireland, Bisserka Benisheva, told The Sunday Business Post that the investigation had been established on the basis of media reports, not at the request of the Irish government.

She said that Kirov's comments signalled the end of the investigation.

Benisheva added that, while no official correspondence about the investigation had been exchanged between the two governments, senior Bulgarian representatives had briefed officials from the Department of Justice in Dublin last month.

Flynn and Cunningham opened two bank accounts in the Corporate Commercial Bank in Sofia, depositing €1,000 in each account. Subsequently, €55,000 was transferred to a Bulgarian lawyer to set up three firms.

Flynn, a former chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and former vice-chairman of Sinn Féin, insisted that Chesterton was “clean'‘, and said that his trip to Bulgaria was for legitimate business reasons. He added that he had hoped to set up a firm similar to Chesterton and had looked at the possibility of opening a mortgage firm there.

Flynn and Cunningham were accompanied on the trip by former Bank of Scotland director Denis O'Connell, a German lawyer and an Irish business consultant. The men met Bulgaria's deputy finance minister, Ilya Lingorski.

Cunningham was arrested by gardai following the discovery of stg£2.3million in a compost bin at the back of his house in Farran, Co Cork. His partner, Cathy Armstrong, was also questioned. The two were later released without charge.

Following the investigation into Chesterton, Flynn resigned as chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), director of VHI and chairman of the government's committee on decentralisation.


SDLP And Sinn Fein Prepare For Westminster Battle

27 March 2005 By Paul T Colgan

With expectation mounting that the British general election will be called for early May, the SDLP and Sinn Féin are preparing to face off for the most critical battle in their recent history. Having endured more than three months of unprecedented criticism from the Irish, British and US political establishments, Sinn Féin will seek to drive home the message that it is unbloodied. At the same time, the SDLP leader Mark Durkan is still fighting for his political life.

The SDLP holds three Westminster seats. John Hume is making way for Durkan in Foyle, former deputy leader Seamus Mallon is handing over the reigns to Dominic Bradley in Newry and Armagh, while Eddie McGrady is again standing in South Down.

SDLP insiders concede that Mallon's seat is all but lost to Sinn Féin's coming man Conor Murphy, leaving the real battles to retain Foyle and South Down. McGrady is deemed safe having represented the constituency since 1987 and built up a strong personal vote.

But Durkan's fate is finely balanced and the bookies are hedging their bets. Paddy Power is this weekend giving even odds that the SDLP will retain Foyle. The bookmaker is offering 5/1 that the party will win no seats, 9/4 that it will salvage one seat, and 5/1 that it will hold all three.

Nicholas Whyte, the Alliance party's former director of elections and one of the North's more respected number crunchers, believes Foyle is up for grabs and that the prospect of Durkan losing the seat is a distinct possibility.

“The chances of Sinn Féin picking up in Newry and Armagh are very strong,” he said.

“They are only 1,500 votes behind in Foyle going on the last Assembly election results. If they do pick up two seats then the second seat will be there.”

In 2003, Durkan watched his party's share of the Foyle vote slump by almost 12 per cent, bringing Sinn Féin's combined support to within 1,500 votes of the SDLP. Hume had benefited from a huge personal vote in 2001 and topped the poll with almost 12,000 more votes than Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin.

The thought that Durkan might lose out to McLaughlin in May is not one the SDLP party leader dares to contemplate. Were he to lose, serious questions would hang over his leadership and the very future of the party.

Whyte said, however, that as May's election will be first past-the-post - unlike the Assembly poll, which was by proportional representation - Sinn Féin will have to work hard to bridge the healthy margin bequeathed to Durkan by Hume.

But Durkan is taking the threat seriously. The SDLP last week embarked on a new campaign designed to win over republicans in light of the Northern Bank robbery and the killing of Robert McCartney. Last Monday it unveiled a policy document outlining its pursuit of a United Ireland.

‘A Better Way to a Better Ireland' envisages that referendums in the two jurisdictions be held simultaneously on the constitutional question.

The new campaign comes just a month after the launch of a similar one by Sinn Féin, leading to claims by republicans that the SDLP is jumping on the unity bandwagon. Sinn Féin has called on the government to prepare a green paper on Irish unity - a request that was last week rebuffed by foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern who called it a “red herring'' while weighing in behind the SDLP.

SDLP strategists make no bones about the party's republican credentials and say that the document had been in “gestation'‘ for some time. “We would hope that referenda would be held as soon as the political institutions are bedded down and working properly,” said a SDLP source.

“We're not shy about referenda and we don't see why they would necessarily be defeated - we believe a majority for a united Ireland can be won.”

Fianna Fáil has again tacked its colours to the SDLP mast, just as it did before the Assembly elections of 2003.

Dermot Ahern last week attended the Newry launch of the ‘Better Ireland' document and compared those calling for a green paper to “snake-oil salesmen'‘. While Ahern no doubt intended that his remarks be directed at Sinn Féin, he also managed to ensnare former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds with the barb.

Reynolds had earlier been reported as calling for just such a green paper.

The Dublin political establishment is certainly hoping that Durkan survives May's challenges. Flanking the SDLP leader in Dublin last week were Liz O'Donnell of the Progressive Democrats and Labour's Liz MacManus.

While such camaraderie may lift spirits in the SDLP camp, it is unlikely to transfer into extra votes. Bertie Ahern's endorsement in 2003 did nothing to stop Sinn Féin consolidating its lead over the party - taking 24 seats to the SDLP's 18.

Neither did the presence of a contingent of political advisers drafted in from Fianna Fáil, Labour and PD gene pools to assist with the SDLP campaign.

A recent opinion poll carried out for the Belfast Telegraph will have set SDLP nerves on edge showing support for it and Sinn Féin at level pegging on 20 per cent each. Given that the poll was conducted amid sustained criticism of Sinn Féin over the IRA's alleged involvement in the Northern Bank robbery, a money laundering operation and the killing of Robert McCartney, republicans took solace from the healthy showing.

A poll for the same paper in the days before 2003's elections significantly underestimated support for Sinn Féin and predicted that the SDLP would emerge as the largest nationalist party.

The respectable showing by Sinn Féin's Meath by-election candidate Joe Reilly, who actually increased his share of the vote by 3 per cent, suggested to many observers that the party had not been heavily damaged by recent events.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is preoccupied with the prospect that only one unionist candidate will run in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and that the SDLP may stand aside in West Tyrone to make way for independent Kieran Deeney.

The Ulster Unionists and the DUP are debating whether to proceed with a pact in Michelle Gildernew's constituency, while reports last week suggested the SDLP was split over whether Deeney, an Assembly member, should be given a free run at Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty.

A unionist pact would cause Gildernew problems. Were the DUP's Arlene Foster (who defected from the UUP along with Jeffrey Donaldson) selected as a unity candidate, Sinn Féin would have to work hard to hoover up support from SDLP voters.

Gildernew beat the UUP's James Cooper by 53 votes in 2001 and many believed the unionist was deprived of the seat after the decision of independent anti-agreement unionist Jim Dixon to run.


Trimble Plots Election Pact To Defeat Sinn Fein

THE Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble has asked the Democratic Unionists not to contest four seats in the British general election to give the SDLP and a hospital candidate a free run against Sinn Fein.

The negotiations are still in progress, but Ian Paisley's party has said it wants unionists to contest all 18 seats in Northern Ireland.

A source familiar with the negotiations said: "Shortly after Trimble put forward this proposal, Mark Durkan, the SDLP leader, produced a green paper for Irish unity. It is hard for anyone to advise unionists to vote for him when he is in the foreground on this issue."

Trimble said yesterday that he had not suggested a deal in quite those terms, "but that is not an unreasonable interpretation". He said his intention was to develop a strategy which would do "maximum damage to Sinn Fein" and that this might have involved urging unionists to vote SDLP in some constituencies.

The SDLP currently holds three seats. In Newry & Armagh its sitting MP, Seamus Mallon, is standing down and Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy is expected to take the seat. In Foyle, John Hume, the former SDLP leader, is stepping aside and Durkan faces a tough challenge from Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin.

The party's third seat is in South Down, where the SDLP's veteran MP Eddie McGrady is being challenged by Catriona Ruane of Sinn Fein but is expected to survive.

Trimble's offer reflects widespread fears that Durkan will lose his seat and the SDLP will be wiped out by Sinn Fein, leaving no moderate nationalist force in the north. Most pundits expect the SDLP to lose at least one seat, with some predicting they could lose all three. Unionists have little chance of winning any of these seats.

A DUP source said: "Our understanding is that the Ulster Unionists are still not putting up a candidate in Foyle. They talked to us about not contesting Newry & Armagh or South Down either, and they wanted to support the hospital candidate in West Tyrone." Trimble agrees that he did make a proposal on West Tyrone.

The seat is currently held by Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty, but in the November 2003 assembly elections Dr Kieran Deeney topped the poll in a dispute over hospital services in Omagh.

He was helped by the fact that the election was run on proportional representation, and all the main parties fielded a number of candidates. He could still win the Westminster election if other parties support him. Alliance has stood aside in his favour and the SDLP is also considering doing so.

The DUP wanted to limit any voting pact with the UUP to Fermanagh/South Tyrone, which is held by Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew, and South Belfast, where the UUP's Rev Martin Smyth is standing aside.


McCartneys Plan Election Poster Campaign

Liam Clarke

THE sisters and fiancée of Robert McCartney are planning to escalate their campaign after it emerged that not a single person has spoken to the Northern Ireland police ombudsman’s investigators about the murder.

Catherine McCartney, the sister of the man stabbed and beaten to death by members of the IRA in Belfast on January 30, said the family believes a key witness to the murder was threatened at gunpoint to keep quiet. She believes some of the other witnesses are members of Sinn Fein and the IRA and are not co-operating with the investigation.

“We believe that Brendan Devine, who was with Robert when he died and was also stabbed, has been threatened at gunpoint,” said McCartney. “We want him to give a full account and not to be intimidated.”

The family plans a poster campaign in republican areas of south and east Belfast to increase the pressure on people to come forward and to stop the intimidation of witnesses. They intend to paste pictures of Robert with the slogan “What About Justice?” near Sinn Fein election posters. They are also planning a trip to Brussels next week and a rally at Belfast City Hall next month.

Hopes were raised a few weeks ago when Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, urged party supporters to co-operate with investigators working for Nuala O’Loan, the ombudsman, as an alternative to co-operating directly with the police, but no party member has given worthwhile evidence so far. The family is hoping to meet Adams to discuss the problem.

Catherine McCartney, who welcomed Adams’s initial call for evidence to be given to the ombudsman, said: “It’s been disappointing. The bottom line is what happens on the ground, not what people say. Expressions of support are welcome but we need to see results and evidence being produced.”

Sources close to the ombudsman say that although four brief statements have been handed in by solicitors, none of them gives significant information and none of those who made a statement has been available for interview.

Three of the four whose solicitors produced statements were current or former Sinn Fein candidates, including Cora Groogan, a former assembly candidate, Deirdre Hargey, who is standing in the forthcoming council elections, and Sean Hayes, a former councillor.

All three said they saw no fighting in Magennis’s bar, although Groogan described the fighting in the presence of a taxi driver who took her away from the crime scene that night.

McCartney said: “It is clear that most of those in the bar and outside were republicans and that they have not co-operated fully with the ombudsman or anyone else in bringing the facts to light.”

The McCartneys will seek the support of the trade union movement and women’s groups for the rally at Belfast City Hall.

Sinn Fein has offered the services of Mary Lou McDonald, its Dublin MEP, to help the family with a planned Brussels trip but the offer has been declined.

The family also plans to visit Dublin to meet the taoiseach. In London, they plan to meet Ken Livingstone, the mayor, as well as the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Des Dalton, the vice-president of Republican Sinn Fein, will today call on the IRA to disband at an Easter rally in Caherciveen, Co Kerry. He will say that the IRA is no longer an army of national liberation but has degenerated into a criminal militia.


McCartneys May Go For Omagh-Style Civil Action

By Stephen Breen
27 March 2005

THE determined family of Gentle Giant' Robert McCartney could be set to embark on an Omagh bombing-style civil action against his IRA killers.

Paula McCartney - whose 33-year-old brother was stabbed to death outside Magennis's Bar, in Belfast - told Sunday Life her family would consider taking a civil case against the top Provos, who they believe were responsible for the brutal slaying, as a "last resort".

These include the senior IRA man who butchered the dad-of-two, his accomplice who supplied and destroyed the murder weapon, and the leading republican who sanctioned the frenzied attack.

And the McCartneys have not ruled out taking a similar course of action against the republicans - including a number of Sinn Fein members - who they believe were involved in the clean-up operation in the bar, in the aftermath of Robert's murder.

Said Paula: "Our main aim, and primary concern, has been to get the people who slaughtered Robert, and those involved in assisting the savage killers, into a court of law.

"But if we come to the end of the road in our quest, then we will consider the option of a civil course of action against these psychopaths."

And if the McCartney's opt to pursue a course of civil action, it is understood influential Irish Americans, including Senator Ted Kennedy, could help bankroll the initiative.

We can also reveal the family - who met with the advisers of London mayor Ken Livingstone last Wednesday, to highlight their justice crusade - have been offered help by leading human rights lawyer Imran Khan.

Said Paula: "People should remember the psychos who murdered my brother with a kitchen knife are still walking the streets - God knows how many people they've killed?

"It is in our society's interest that these people are brought before a court and convicted for committing, and covering up, such a barbaric act.

"But if we come to a point in our campaign, and have exhausted every avenue and option, to get these thugs behind bars, then we cannot rule out a course of civil action.

"The more time these scumbags are free, the more time they will have to laugh at the IRA leadership, and consider themselves untouchable.

"If a civil course of action, helps bring an element of justice to this family, in the event of us failing to get these thugs into a criminal court, then so be it."

The devastated woman also hit out at the smear campaign which has been directed against her family, adding: "Whoever is responsible for the smear campaign against our family need to seriously question their sense of morality - they will not stop us from obtaining truth and justice."


Movie Offers For McCartney Family

27 March 2005

FILM companies are queuing up to shoot a movie about the Robert McCartney murder.

The latest offer arrived at sister Paula's Short Strand home, on Thursday.

It's the sixth bid from film-makers to make a movie about the cut-throat killing.

As Paula set about answering 12 pages of emails from the US - including some from congressmen and senators - she received a parcel containing a video from a film company in Britain.

Said Paula: "Ah, it's another one from a company wanting to make a film about Robert and his murder.

"We've had about five before this, and people wanting us to co-operate to write books about it."

But, for the present, Paula, her four sisters, and Robert's partner, Bridgeen, are concentrating on bringing the killers to justice.

Paula added: "That's in the future. What we need now is the evidence to bring these people before the courts to face trial.

"Gerry Adams urged party members who were in Magennis's Bar to make full and frank statements for the investigation.

"But most of them haven't come forward - and those who did have only made brief statements to say they didn't see or hear anything.

"Magennis's bar was full of Sinn Fein members. Why is Gerry Adams not pressing them to do what he said they should do in his speech at the [Sinn Fein] Ard Fheis?"


McDowell Shows Human Side

27 March 2005 By Alison O'Connor

There are many things that the Minister for Justice can be accused of, but inconsistency is certainly not one of them. Once Michael McDowell embarks on a particular course, there is usually no diverting him - just ask Sinn Féin.

Where others may experience moments of self-doubt, the Progressive Democrats' president appears to bask in the knowledge that he and his incredible intellect have taken the right path.

But we saw a chink in the McDowell armour last week. Even more surprising, it was in a policy area where the minister has made a virtue out of presenting his ‘I am not for turning' persona.

After a night of considering the issue, he decided early last Thursday that Nigerian student Olukunle Elukanlo could return to Ireland to sit his Leaving Certificate.

A storm of protest had gathered from friends, teachers, opposition politicians and members of the public after the Leaving Certificate student at Palmerstown community college was sent back to Lagos on a chartered flight from Dublin along with over 30 other Nigerians on March 14.

Last weekend McDowell defended his decision. “Just because you're young doesn't mean you aren't deported. An Irish person going to America in similar circumstances would be back on the next plane, and would never see the inside of an American school,” he said.

But four days later, amid mounting criticism, he surprised everyone by changing his mind. The decision had been wrong, and on “mature reflection'‘ he was sorry for it. He said that this was a one-off decision and would not set a precedent.

The latest deportation, symbolically close to the St Patrick's Day celebrations, had struck a nerve with the public in a manner that surprised those working in the area.

After all, this is a country which less than a year ago voted in an overwhelming majority to pass the Citizenship Referendum.

At that time the public gave all the signs of backing the justice minister's tough attitude on asylum seeking, wholeheartedly.

Group deportations are nothing new, and have been continuing regularly, with little attention being paid, apart from the cost to the state of chartering flights.

But this time, thanks to the efforts of the friends and supporters of the deportees, the issue struck a chord. Rather than a faceless group being forced to leave, those involved were given names and faces.

People were able to imagine a student in his school uniform, a mother who had felt forced to leave her small children behind, the friends who were left behind after years spent putting down roots in a community.

This is just the third time we have seen such a heartfelt swell of public support for asylum seekers. The first concerned the Kosovar refugees who arrived here in 1999 to escape the strife in the Balkan province.

On the second occasion, eight asylum seekers were found dead in a container in Wexford in December 2001.

Apart from these isolated incidents, it seemed until this week that McDowell had his finger on the pulse of Irish thought on the asylum issue.

In a Dáil debate last Tuesday, centring on the deportation of Eluhanla, the minister said that despite “uninformed criticism of the Irish asylum determination system by a small, but vocal, minority of groups in our country, the fact of the matter is that our asylum determination system compares with the best in the world in terms of fairness, decision making, determination, structure and support services'‘.

McDowell said: “I believe that the vast majority of people in Ireland recognise this, and have faith in our asylum system.”

Peter O'Mahony of the Irish Refugee Council said that McDowell had “completely dominated'‘ the asylum issue in recent years.

No other voices were being heard from the government, said O'Mahony, because McDowell had managed to monopolise the issue.

“The things that came out this week relating to the deportation have happened in the past, but he keeps saying we have the best system in the world and the most liberal.

“Because people didn't know any better, when he spoke of things like the effective risk of massive numbers of orphans turning up on our doorstep, it was taken at face value,” said O'Mahony.

“But now maybe people are taking it with a large grain of salt. This time it touched a nerve that is only occasionally touched as broadly.”

To his credit, McDowell did announce before Christmas that up to 17,000 people who had claimed residency in the state as parents of Irish-born children would be given a chance to make fresh applications to apply to remain in Ireland permanently.

But perhaps he could afford to be generous in that instance, given that the previous get-tough policy has worked well. The number of asylum applications here fell significantly last year, while the number of people recognised as refugees remained steady.

In 2003 there were 7,900 asylum applications lodged. That figure fell to 4,766 last year. Some 1,132 people were granted refugee status last year compared to 1,174 in 2003.

The number given leave to remain – a matter that is at the discretion of the justice minister - is astonishingly low, said O'Mahony.

The fact that just 75 asylum seekers were successful at this stage last year - the number deported was eight times this - suggests, he said, that the bar is set extremely high.

At the same time, the basis for the refusal of some particularly strong cases is questionable. “Some people who have been here - legally - since the late 1990s are now having their cases closed with a refusal of leave to remain, and are then liable to deportation,” he said.

Early last week, McDowell told his Dáil colleagues that since becoming minister he had observed some groups in the country who placed themselves on high moral ground.

Those groups “run to the media with gross exaggerations or misinformation'‘ regarding the treatment of individual asylum seekers, including the deportation process, he said.

“When the true facts emerge exposing the untruths, we are deafened by the silence of these very same groups.” The minister's unbending stance on these matters appeared to have the full backing of his government colleagues.

The cabinet, and junior ministers, are notable for their reluctance to take a stance on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. Liz O'Donnell, now on the backbench, made a valiant effort during the last administration, but none of her colleagues has made any effort to step into her shoes.

But something changed this week. In the past, Michael McDowell has given the impression that U-turns are for wimps. But last Thursday he had the courage and the humility to, in his own words, do “the right thing'‘.

Now that McDowell and his government colleagues have seen people power in action, the system may become a little more humane.


Opin: Hard To Understand McDowell's Mindset

27 March 2005 By Vincent Browne

There is an irony and a justice in Minister for Justice Michael McDowell being shamed over deportation.

It was he who instigated the dishonourable citizenship referendum a year ago. It played to the racism of a certain section of the Irish people and had no discernible public interest justification, certainly no proportionate one.

Remember what that constitutional amendment was about? It was solely to deprive children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents of the right to Irish citizenship.

It did not in any way affect the rights or entitlements of anybody else. It gave no right to residence here or entitlement to citizenship to the families of such children, fathers, mothers, siblings or anyone else.

The Supreme Court had previously opened the way to the deportation of the parents of Irish children, and McDowell, with familiar compassion, had made it clear that such parents would indeed be deported with or without their Irish citizen child.

He played the Chen case card. Remember that? This concerned a woman whose child was born in the North and who, as a consequence, was entitled to Irish citizenship, and who claimed a right of residence in Britain on the basis of European law.

The European Court of Justice found she had such entitlement, but on conditions that made her circumstances and the case entirely irrelevant to the issues of immigration and asylum in Ireland.

The conditions were that she could fund herself in whatever European state she opted to reside with her Irish citizen child, but if she became a “burden'‘ on such a state, her entitlement to remain there was revoked.

McDowell claimed - or sought to - that the Chen judgment (actually at the time it was merely an advisory opinion of an advocate-general) made it essential that Irish citizenship law be changed because the fabric of European immigration policy could be endangered by the Irish “loophole'‘.

It was a cynical distortion of the reality: that being that the Chen judgment was, to all intents and purposes, irrelevant.

The sole targets of that citizenship amendment were Irish-born children. The campaign played on racist sentiment in the midst of local and European elections.

I suspected that the ploy was to embarrass Sinn Féin: the party would be forced to take sides one way or another on the issue, and if it opposed the change, it would be damaged in what McDowell might perceive as the Sinn Féin “constituency'‘ in the south.
If it supported the change, it would be embarrassed among its left-wing constituency and vis-a-vis its own ideology.

Whatever else one might say about Sinn Féin - and there is quite a lot to say - it passed that test well, opposing the referendum as a racist ploy.

And, by the way, I do not think McDowell is racist, but there was a perception that the citizenship issue would play well with the electorate, to the benefit of the government parties in the elections. It did not work out like that, for although the referendum won 80 per cent support, the government parties did disastrously.

It is hardly surprising, given that background, that McDowell would make such a miscalculation on the deportation of Olukunle Elukanlo, the Palmerstown College student.

But the mindset that would ordain the deportation of a student who had been here for several years, who clearly had integrated well into his school and community, and who was a few months away from sitting the Leaving Certificate is consistent with the one that ordained that citizenship referendum.

This wasn't a singular impulsive error. McDowell did this with his eyes wide open, then with familiar, almost fanatical, fervour, defended it.

Did you see him advising the media to think through the logic of its outrage over what he had done in terms of encouraging every stray Nigerian youngster whose father was dead and whose mother was missing to come to Ireland?

Is there not something troubling about a person of such a mindset being Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform?

That department has been afflicted with ministers of deep conservatism and law-and-order blinkers for years, but do we now have one without any of the milk of human kindness?

Anybody who thinks he may have learned a lesson from the humiliation the students of Palmerstown College heaped on him would be mistaken.

He also deported Nkechi Okolie and her three children from Athlone. These people had been here for years, had formed friendships and connections, and were then plucked cruelly from the environment that had become their home.

Then there was the deportation of Elizabeth Odumsi and Iyabo Nwanze, who, between them, left four children behind. These women, befriended by Bertie Ahern, at least for the purposes of a photo-opportunity, were also plucked from their homes.

Worse than that, they were rushed out of the country and weren't able to bring all their children with them.

The public outrage is a reassurance that savage callousness is not representative of the Irish sentiment.

One does not have to believe in what is called ‘an open door' policy on immigration to be appalled at what has happened.

As Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, said during the week, issues of normal compassion and reason have a role here.

Where families have put down roots, where children, in their formative years have become connected here, where the duration of their stay is, even in part, contributed to by the chaos of our own arrangements, then these human concerns trump the formalities of immigration and asylum regulations.

If there is any justice in politics, there will be electoral retribution for this in the not-too-distant future.


Former British Prime Minister dies - Sinead Crowley reports on the life of former British PM. Lord Jim Callaghan

Lord Callaghan sent British soldiers to Northern Ireland in 1969

Former Premier Lord Callaghan Dies Aged 92 -V

27 March 2005

FORMER Prime Minister Lord Callaghan died yesterday - just days after mourning the loss of his wife.

The Labour Party giant - who made Ulster history as the man who sent troops on to the streets of Northern Ireland - died 11 days after his wife of 67 years, Audrey.

His grieving family confirmed that Lord Callaghan had died "peacefully" at his East Sussex home on the eve of his 93rd birthday.

During a distinguished - but often turbulent - career, James Callaghan made political history as the only person to hold the four major offices of state: Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary.

As Home Secretary in Harold Wilson's Government, he sent British troops to Northern Ireland in August 1969 as a result of worsening violence - and the powder-keg situation triggered by the 'Battle of the Bogside' in Londonderry.

In spite of much resistance from some quarters within unionist circles, he also rubber-stamped the disbandment of the controversial 'B' Specials.


Tributes Paid To Lord Callaghan

Political leaders in Northern Ireland have paid tribute to former Labour prime minister Lord Callaghan, who died at home in East Sussex aged 92.

In 1969, while he was home secretary, Lord Callaghan sent British soldiers to Northern Ireland as civil unrest gathered pace.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said that he had been "deeply saddened" by his death.

"He was a man of great honour, compassion and dignity," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

DUP leader Ian Paisley said that although he did not agree with his political views while he was in office, he later developed a good relationship with him.

"He was a decent man and I certainly had a good personal relationship with him when he was on the back benches," he said.

"He was always keen to talk about Northern Ireland and he was always keen to find out what the Democratic Unionist Party's views were on it."


The SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, said Lord Callaghan should be commended for taking the decision to send soldiers to Northern Ireland in 1969.

"We can reflect positively on his intervention as home secretary in 1969 at the height of the civil rights movement," he said.

"But that intervention should have been more complete and decisive - he had the opportunity and should have abolished Stormont at that time.

"He was avuncular and apparently sincere, so it will always be a disappointment that on Ireland he did not act more, act better and act sooner."

Lord Callaghan's death came just 11 days after Audrey, his wife of 67 years, died.

He leaves a son and two daughters.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/27 10:15:58 GMT


Car Magnate Paid Off IRA

By Sunday Life reporter
27 March 2005

MI5 and Scotland Yard believed the late John DeLorean paid protection money to the IRA - courtesy of the British tax-payer.

DeLorean boasted of his "tight relationship" with the IRA, when caught on tape talking to FBI undercover agents, posing as Mafia cocaine dealers.

The Government pumped £87m of taxpayers cash into the failed DeLorean project, in the late 1970s and early 80s.

But British Intelligence kept close tabs on the slippery car magnate, and was directly involved with the FBI in the 1982 sting, which led to DeLorean being arrested on multi-million dollar cocaine dealing charges.

DeLorean was caught on tape in Los Angeles dealing in drugs with undercover agents.

Believing that he was dealing with Mafia heavies, he referred to the IRA as his backers.

"They're Irish? you know some of the things they've done. They've been partial sponsors of our project, making sure we get ...(indecipherable)," he said on the FBI tape.

"We went into the most difficult terrorist area of all in Northern Ireland, and the reason we've been able to survive is we have a very tight relationship with the IRA".

DeLorean's lawyers claimed this was just bluff, but MI5 believed he had IRA contacts and this was why his west Belfast factory avoided being hit, during a Provo blitz on economic targets.

DeLorean escaped conviction in LA, claiming he had been the victim of FBI entrapment.

It later emerged that he had personally siphoned off £4.7m of the £87m received in UK grant-aid.

In 1992, one of his associates was jailed in Belfast for his part in this fraud. Sources say some of DeLorean's share, laundered through Swiss banks, went to the IRA in New York.

DeLorean himself could not be compelled to return to the UK, where he almost certainly would have been jailed for fraud.


Comment: A Puzzling Betrayal.

Why is the Arts Council refusing to fund Fortnight magazine?

Henry McDonald
Sunday March 27, 2005
The Observer

Have you heard the one about the magazine that has been promoting arts and culture in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years but no longer gets a grant from the Arts Council of... er, Northern Ireland?

This is not the beginning of some in-house south Belfast joke but sums up the current predicament of Fortnight magazine, the arts, culture and politics review that has been covering life in the Troubles-torn north of Ireland since the early 1970s.

Just before St Patrick's Day the publication's current editor Malachi O'Doherty, and his deputy Rudie Goldsmith, were informed that the Arts Council had refused Fortnight a grant totalling £20,000. At the same time the publicly-funded body forked out thousands to both the Ultach Trust (designed to promote the Irish language) and a further up to £50,000 to a little known if worthy collection of writing that comes out twice a year called Irish Pages.

There is absolutely no disrespect intended here either to Ultach or Irish Pages, each of which plays a valuable role in the promotion of arts, language and literature. But the question still has to be asked: what they have got what Fortnight doesn't? For instance, Irish Pages got a huge increase in its funding which indicates that this year's financial decisions were not based on budget constraints but rather the re-allocation of resources away from Fortnight.

Before we go on I really should declare an interest here: I am an infrequent contributor to Fortnight. However, I would stress that in my defence of it and my right to say so, the magazine has never paid me a penny for a single article I have written.

Fortnight has also provided a window for academics, journalists, opinion formers, politicians on corners unvisited by the conventional electronic and print media. O'Doherty's predecessors opened up uncharted routes into the new thinking emerging inside the post-hunger strike Provisionals and later the pre-ceasefire Ulster loyalists. Under John O'Farrell and latterly O'Doherty's tenure it has taken on the role of the slightly precocious child pointing out that the Emperor of the Peace Process has no clothes.

In conjunction with its erudite, often controversial and eclectic political features have been illuminating interviews and articles focussing on the world of Irish cinema, poetry, literature and the performing arts. Fortnight 's alumni include Glenn Patterson, Michael Longley and Seamus Heaney. Newer voices on the poetic-literary scene have also emerged in the pages of the magazine such as Fionola Meredith, Paula Shields and Maureen Boyle. Women at last have been given more prominence in the pages of this very necessary publication. This new band of female writers have covered a catholic range of topics from the legacy of Brian Friel to Belfast's brief flirtation with the lap dancing phenomena.

The notion peddled by those who have defended the Arts Council's decision that the magazine is too political is bizarre given that since its inception there has been a section in the back dedicated to new poetry.

It is a shame, then, that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland should deny it funding and by doing so ignore the contributions over a generation to culture and public discourse. After all, literature in all its guises (and that includes political writing which, as George Orwell set out to prove, could be made into an art form) provides a neutral space into which common humanity rather than ethnic, sectarian, racial and other superficial divisions reigns. Through the darkest decades of our recent conflict Fortnight ' has opened up various passageways into that other space.

This financial blow to Fortnight comes on the back of an equally perplexing decision by the Community Relations Council not to help fund the magazine. The council has undoubtedly promoted many worthy cross-sectarian causes over decades and it deserves credit for that. Yet its own brief makes it all the more puzzling as to why it doesn't grant monetary support for a publication that amplifies voices from across all religions, nationalities and classes in the north of Ireland.

Since publicly-funded NI based bodies have for now forsaken Fortnight , surely some private benefactors could step into the breach and shore up the magazine? And in addition we might ask, where is the International Fund for Ireland here, which has donated millions of dollars to other good causes on this island?

What irony that on this weekend, the seventh anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a magazine that embodies political, social and cultural inclusivity, that has given equal value to various traditions and identities, is denied public funding. The real risk-takers have been Fortnight 's directors, in particular Tom Hadden... people who could have used money poured into the magazine for their own comfort. Such philanthropy should be rewarded, not betrayed.


Life of IRA Spy Brought to book

By Stephen Breen
27 March 2005

AN explosive new book is to be published on the life of infamous IRA spy 'Kevin Fulton' (right).

The controversial autobiography - Unsung Hero - will hit the shelves later this year. London publishing firm Blake, which also released cemetery killer Michael Stone's None Shall Divide Us, has secured the rights.

The book will focus on Fulton's life as a terrorist, and his role as a double-agent in the 1980s. It will also repeat the ex-spy's claims about warnings he allegedly gave cops before the Omagh bombing.

Another case to feature will be the IRA ambush of senior cops Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in March 1989, as well as claims two TDs were involved in a huge fraud scam.

Fulton fled the province after being interrogated by IRA superspy, Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci.

Fulton and his wife were summoned to meet Scappaticci, after a number of IRA men - including a cousin of Gerry Adams - were arrested as they prepared to murder a top cop in east Belfast.

Although he now lives in London, Fulton regularly speaks about his years in the IRA.

When we contacted him last night, he said: "I'm not saying anything about this at the minute, but I will at some stage. I don't want Sir John Stevens getting his hands on it before it comes out."

Said a spokeswoman for Blake: "At present, we are unable to confirm publication details for Unsung Hero.

"As soon as we are able to release details concerning this title, we will do so."

Fulton - a former RIR soldier - is to be called to give evidence at the Breen and Buchanan inquiry.

A 2003 report by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory into allegations of collusion recommended a probe into the double-killing.

Other double agents who've written books on their experiences inside the IRA include the late Eamonn Collins, Martin McGartland and Sean O'Callaghan.


Film: Men Behind The Wire

By Alan Murray
27 March 2005

THE Northern Ireland Prison Service has admitted it doesn't know what a long-serving warder has said in a 90-minute film about serving in the Maze jail at the height of the Troubles - including the 1981 IRA hunger strike.

Academic, Cathal McLaughlin, compiled the film from three 30-minute accounts given by prison officer, Dessie Waterworth, and two paramilitaries - leading IRA man, Gerry Kelly and former PUP Assemblyman, Billy Hutchinson, both of whom served life sentences for murder.

The film - Inside Stories Memories from the Maze and Long Kesh - is being shown at the Catalyst Art Gallery, as part of the Belfast Film Festival, this week.

The Prison Service told Sunday Life, last night, that it had no control over the interviews conducted by Mr McLaughlin - although it said officials had discussions with him about the project. Initially, a spokesman for the service said that it had understood that the film would only be shown to academic audiences.

But, Mr McLaughlin - speaking from his London home - said that the only restriction or condition imposed on his project was that it should not be "broadcast".

He said: "The Prison Service did not ask to see a final edit.

"The one condition was that it was not for broadcast, and people would speak only of their personal experiences - they would only talk about themselves."

Mr McLaughlin said that one of the ground rules was that the three contributors did not refer to other people, whom they encountered in recalling their experiences, or make any personal references to other individuals.

Inside Stories: Memories From the Maze and Long Kesh Prison will be screened as part of Belfast Film Festival, at the Catalyst Arts Gallery from April 7.

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