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March 21, 2005

Loyalists Lured PSNI Into Riot

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 03/21/05
Loyalist Mob Lured PSNI Into Riot, Claims MP
BB 03/21/05 Seized Cash 'Linked To Bank Raid'
IT 03/22/05 IRA Has Echoes Of Nazi Brown Shirts, Says McDowell
IT 03/22/05 SF Urged To Press IRA Garda Killers To Surrender –V(2)
IO 03/21/05
McCartney Murder: Four Statements To Ombudsman
IT 03/22/05 McCartney Sisters Pass On Threatening Letter To PSNI
UT 03/21/05 SPED Scheme Costs Plunge
IT 03/22/05 Ahern Compares SF Plan To 'Snake-Oil Salesman'
IT 03/22/05 SDLP Document: Key Proposals SDLP Unity Document –V
IT 03/22/05
Connemara Events To Raise Funds For Lifeboat Station

QA 03/21/05
Are the IRA's days numbered? -VO

Questions And Answers - 21 March 2005 - Panel: Sen John Minihan, PD spokesman on Education; Tony Gregory TD (Ind); Sarah Molloy, Solicitor; Eamon Delaney, Editor of Magill; Denis Bradley, Vice-Chairman, NI Policing Board
Question 1: Are the IRA's days numbered? Panel and audience respond (this item is incomplete)


Loyalist Mob Lured PSNI Into Riot, Claims MP
2005-03-21 15:00:05+00

A paramilitary mob lured police into a riot to avenge the shutdown of an illegal drinking den, it was claimed today.

Officers were pelted with stones as a crowd of up to 50 went on the rampage in Northern Ireland.

Six cars were also set on fire and a petrol bomb thrown when violence erupted at the Bowtown estate in Newtownards, Co Down.

Trouble flared in the area last night - 48 hours after officers seized a gambling machine and alcohol in a raid on the estate.

Iris Robinson, the Democratic Unionist MP for the area, was outraged by the disorder. She said today: "While no one is attempting to deny the existence of paramilitary problems in the town, Sunday night's events represent a watershed.

"Never (in my time) as an elected representative for this area have the police been attacked in such an orchestrated and sustained manner in relation to an issue which is purely criminal."

A man, 35, was charged with disorderly behaviour and assault on police. He is due in court next month.

A teenage boy was also arrested but later released pending further reports. Extra police had to be drafted in to Bowtown, a loyalist stronghold, to quell the riot.

As she called for an urgent review of policing arrangements in Newtownards, Mrs Robinson said innocent residents had suffered as their cars were burned out.

She added: "It would appear the disgraceful behaviour at the Bowtown estate may be linked to a successful operation by the local police in closing down an illegal drinking den in the estate and would therefore seem to have been orchestrated, in order to lure police into the estate for pay back."


Seized Cash 'Linked To Bank Raid'

Irish police are satisfied that cash found during raids in the Irish Republic is linked to the Northern Bank robbery, Bertie Ahern has said.

Police seized almost £3m - £60,000 of it in Northern Bank notes - during raids last month linked to alleged money laundering in Dublin and Cork.

The IRA has been blamed for the £26.5m raid at the bank's Belfast headquarters on 20 December. The IRA denies this.

Mr Ahern said police were sure the cash "was part of the haul from the north".

The Irish prime minister told the BBC's Hearts and Minds programme: "Before I went to the United States, the position of the gardai (was) that they had done an enormous amount of forensic tests.

"But they are quite satisfied - professionally, absolutely and totally satisfied - as I understand it, that that money was part of the haul from the north."

Mr Ahern added that while tests were still ongoing, the police assessment was quite clear.

He said that it meant the IRA was indeed behind the bank robbery and now had a considerable amount of money which it did not have previously.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland's Chief Constable Huge Orde said there were "clear indications" money found in Cork came from the Northern raid.

The bank is replacing £240m of its notes - exchanging old Northern Bank money for notes with a new design and colour - following the robbery.

Police on both sides of the border have said they believe the IRA was behind the robbery.

As a result of the claims, Sinn Fein MPs are to be stripped of £400,000 in parliamentary allowances.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/21 18:51:20 GMT


IRA Has Echoes Of Nazi Brown Shirts, Says McDowell

Conor Lally

Republican paramilitaries have "historical echoes" from the Nazi brown shirts to the Mafia and continue to pose a threat which requires the vigilance of the Irish people, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said.

Addressing delegates at the AGSI annual conference in Kilkenny last night, Mr McDowell said that although dissident paramilitaries continued to be active, they were not the only ones who posed a threat.

Referring to the Provisional IRA, he said: "Private armies inextricably linked to political parties are, of their nature, profoundly undemocratic. They have historical echoes from the brown shirts to the Mafia."

He defended plans to establish a tribunal of inquiry to investigate allegations of Garda collusion in the 1989 murder of two RUC officers just north of the Border. Mr McDowell said Judge Peter Cory had made his recommendations on the matter and the Government could not refuse to establish a tribunal when the British government had established a number of similar inquiries.

"Remember, the two RUC officers in question, Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan, came unarmed to Dundalk Garda station and they were shot in the most horrific and brutal and cowardly circumstances by an active service unit of the IRA. One of them emerged from their vehicle waving a white flag and one of the IRA active service units, who knew they were unarmed, went over and shot him down and then shot him in the head as he lay on the road.

"That's the kind of thuggery and savagery that has always characterised the IRA." In March 1989 Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were driving from a meeting with gardaí in Dundalk when they were intercepted and shot dead.

The Minister disputed the media's reporting of the deportation last week of the Nigerian teenager Olunkunle Eluhanla.

He did not believe the boy had been shot four times as he claimed and also did not believe he had no relatives in Nigeria, had nowhere to live and had been deported in his school uniform.


Gardaí reject McCabe killers statement - Paul Reynolds, Crime Correspondent, reports from the AGSI Conference in Kilkenny

Paul Reynolds says the conference is also considering problems in achieving convictions

SF Urged To Press IRA Garda Killers To Surrender –V(2)

Conor Lally in Kilkenny

Sinn Féin should call on two IRA members still on the run from gardaí for their part in the killing of Det Garda Jerry McCabe to give themselves up, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said.body dismisses with utter contempt recent apology from killers of Det


While it thanked Minister for Justice Michael McDowell for confronting republican "bullyboys", the association dismissed "with utter contempt" the recent apology from the killers of Det Garda McCabe.

"It is a public relations exercise that is breathtaking in its cynicism," said AGSI president Joe Dirwan at the opening of the annual conference in Kilkenny last night.

"Is one really to believe that after all these years these people are finally sorry for what they have done? And what about the others who are still sought for this heinous crime? Are they sorry too? Are they sorry enough to give themselves up, come forward, own up and take their medicine? I'm sorry, I just don't believe it.

"And why does Sinn Féin not call on these killers to give themselves up? I call on them to do so," Mr Dirwan said.

He told delegates that the pressure on Garda station budgets was so great that the "main emphasis [ within the force] is now on balancing budgets rather than fighting crime". District officers were spending a great deal of their time trying to maintain figures and to record crime rather than devise effective crime-fighting strategies.

He added morale among uniformed members of the force had been repeatedly "shattered" because these gardaí were being repeatedly passed over for promotion in favour of plain-clothes detectives and members working in specialist units.

This had resulted in a culture in which young gardaí saw moving away from uniformed duties as the best way to advance their careers. This was not a positive development and could only be avoided by a promotions system divorced from Garda management.

Currently regional commanders influence the promotion process.

On fighting crime, Mr Dirwan said the force needed to devise new ways of reacting to the threat in Ireland of Eastern European crime gangs, who deployed "vicious and brutal methods". The IRA continued to engage in "thuggery, robbery, murder and mayhem" and to exercise "control by fear and intimidation over whole communities".

He strongly criticised the Government's record on improving conditions at Garda stations, many of which were "absolute kips".

There were too many State agencies involved in advancing such plans and the system needed to be slimmed down in the interests of achieving results.

The mooted Garda Inspectorate should not only address errant behaviour by members of the force but should have a proactive role in bringing about any change needed within the force. It should also highlight shortcomings in resources and any other issues around which public debate is needed.

Garda staff associations should be permitted to raise issues with the inspectorate and, in general terms, there should be more consultation by Garda management with the staff associations.

Nine committees had been set up by Garda management to examine the fall-out from the interim report of the Morris tribunal, yet the staff associations had been offered just one place on one of the committees.

Addressing Mr McDowell directly, he criticised the Minister's lack of consultation with the staff associations when recently increasing to 35 years the maximum age at which new recruits can join the force.

© The Irish Times


McCartney Murder: Four Statements To Ombudsman

21/03/2005 - 18:14:46

Just four statements from people who were in the pub where IRA murder victim Robert McCartney was attacked have been handed to the Police Ombudsman, it emerged tonight.

And the victim‘s sisters believe the level of non-cooperation proves republicans never genuinely wanted to aid their quest for justice.

The McCartneys insisted the Belfast bar was packed with drinking IRA men and Sinn Féin members when the violence spilled outside.

After arriving home from White House talks with President George Bush, Catherine McCartney said: “If they had been serious about people coming forward they could have said this is a list of people who were there on the night and they are willing to go forward to the Ombudsman.

“It seems they have had no real intention of helping us.”

Even though republicans refuse to deal with the police service, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has urged all 70 people who were in Magennis‘s Bar when the cut throat gang first struck to give details to Ombudsman Mrs O‘Loan‘s staff.

But so far only three Sinn Féin representatives and a fourth, unidentified witness have provided accounts on the January 30 brawl which have been passed from their solicitors to the Ombudsman.

Party election candidates Cora Groogan and Deirdre Hargey, along with former Belfast councillor Sean Hayes have given statements.

All three are understood to say they saw no fighting in the bar, with sources confirming they have little evidential value to the police investigation.

But the sisters were astonished by Ms Groogan‘s version, claiming she has not supplied vital information.

They claimed a taxi driver who took her to another bar in the city heard her describe events in Magennis’s over the phone.

So far 11 people have been questioned about the murder which has plunged a republican movement, already under unprecedented pressure over the Northern Bank heist, into its biggest ever crisis.

The IRA has expelled three men suspected of being involved in the killing, while Sinn Féin has suspended seven members.

Yet the party has continued to face a barrage of attacks, none more vicious than from the victim‘s family.

Mr McCartney‘s five sisters and fiancee have accused republicans of a wall of silence that has thwarted police attempts to hunt down the murderers.

After last week‘s meetings with President Bush and other Washington powerbrokers, they now plan to take their fight to Europe.

A campaign centre is also to be opened in Belfast in a bid to stop interest from flagging.

Another sister, Gemma, pledged there would be no let up.

“It seems that that bar was more or less full of Sinn Féin members and IRA members than originally we thought,” she said.

“We thought at the start maybe that they were blood related – which was what was preventing people coming forward – ties of loyalty to each other.”

Catherine McCartney also confirmed she would not be standing for elections, but stressed it was because the effort would detract from the campaign rather than any Sinn Féin caution to avoid party politics.

In a savage attack on republican strategies, she claimed attempts had been made to undermine a group of women who refuse to give up.

“It‘s a sexist smear campaign,” she insisted.

“The fact that we are women means there must be someone pulling our strings because we can‘t think for ourselves.

“But the reality is this is just an issue of justice.”


McCartney Sisters Pass On Threatening Letter To PSNI

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

A threatening letter that the McCartney sisters and Robert McCartney's partner, Bridgeen Hagans, received on their return from the US has been handed to the PSNI for forensic examination, the police have confirmed.

The letter was among several letters of support that were sent to the home of Ms Hagans, the fiancée of Robert McCartney who was fatally stabbed in an incident outside Magennis's pub involving some senior IRA members over seven weeks ago.

The family has complained of a "whispering campaign" against them and a "wall of silence" that is preventing Mr McCartney's killers being convicted in court.

A spokesman for the family said the letter upset Ms Hagans and the sisters. He said the letter referred to the family being on a "hit list", to "bullets being too good for them" and to a threat of members of the family facing a potential knife attack, similar to the attack that killed Mr McCartney.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said last night that incidents allegedly involving the IRA such as the murder of Mr McCartney, the £26.5 million robbery from the Northern Bank, and IRA multi-million pound money laundering cannot be allowed to continue.

Mr Ahern in interviews with the BBC, UTV and Channel 4 spoke on the current issues that have caused a crisis in the peace process and prompted the McCartney family to embark on their "Justice for Robert" campaign.

The Taoiseach said people who had witnessed the murder must come forward and deliver usable testimony.

"We need sooner rather than later - and that is very soon - evidence that can lead to prosecutions and convictions. Clearly there are people who can assist in that. This was not a murder in a back lane without witnesses," he said.

"There has to be clear evidence that can be used and that can be procured by the police in a way that they can stand it up.

"We all know in the rule of law you have to prove something, and the only way to prove it is based on facts, and there are people who have those facts," added Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach said a way out of the current crisis was the IRA ending all activity and decommissioning and Sinn Féin embracing policing. He said the security assessment remained that some of the money recovered in Garda raids last month was part of the Northern Bank robbery, although gardaí have yet to officially confirm this.

Mr Ahern said he believed that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was working to deliver the implementation of the Belfast Agreement and a democratic peace "otherwise I would not be talking to him".

With sources indicating that the British and Irish governments may be prepared to make another drive for a comprehensive agreement in September, Mr Ahern said that the Government's commitment to the current phase of the peace process would not continue indefinitely.

"What we want to see - and what we are not sure of, quite frankly - is it within the ability of Sinn Féin to bring to be able to bring that across the line? Time is running out and it won't go on endlessly, I can assure you of that. We have made it very clear over the last two years that this can't go on on a never, never basis," the Taoiseach added.

Mr Ahern also said the British government had reneged on the Belfast Agreement by failing to deliver a public and independent inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

© The Irish Times


SPED Scheme Costs Plunge

The annual costs of an emergency scheme to buy houses from owners fleeing death threats in Northern Ireland have plunged by more than 80%, it was revealed tonight.

An Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board said it could be a sign that the province`s darkest days were over.

Just under £7 million was spent last year by the Government last year on relocating people under threat.

Twelve months earlier, at the height of an alleged IRA spy scandal that caused the Stormont power-sharing administration to collapse, the bill stood at a staggering £43.7m as security force personnel demanded moves.

Applications for the Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED) scheme fell from a high of 689 in 2002/03 when the espionage plot was uncovered, to around 120 in the last financial year.

Loyalist paramilitary feuding, which caused many in parts of Belfast to flee their homes has eased as well.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive chiefs were cautiously optimistic about the new figures.

But Fred Cobain, an Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board in Belfast, claimed it could be a sign that the province`s darkest days were over.

He said: "Maybe we are finally moving to some sort of normality.

"It could be that the large scale movement of people being forced out of their homes is a thing of the past."

Home owners qualify for the scheme if Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde signs a certificate declaring it is unsafe for them to remain living there because they risk serious injury or death.

From 2001-2002 when the Government spent £6.5m, the price to the Exchequer has risen dramatically until last year`s record.

The SPED cash comes out of the Government`s block grant for running Northern Ireland.

Although most, if not all, of the money is recouped when the homes are resold on the market, it was hoped that extra funding could now go into health, education and other critical areas.

Paddy McIntyre, the Housing Executive`s Chief Executive, said: "There can be no doubt that in recent years the scarce resources needed to support SPED could have been used elsewhere.

"We`re optimistic about the fall in SPED figures and, while we expect to help 120 families through the SPED process this year, we are hopeful that in time the scheme won`t be needed at all."

The security breach that led to the fall of Stormont in October 2002 involved the personal details of Northern Ireland Prison staff.

In total 451 men and women working in the jails had to be relocated.

But Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, stressed that his colleagues had not drained the system.

"Prison officers, police and members of the public who feel threatened have all availed of SPED," he said.

"Most of our people have been rehoused, but the Government have resold the homes.

"Any idea that a lot of prison officers are paid out of public money is not true."


Ahern Compares SF Plan To 'Snake-Oil Salesman'

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has implicitly dismissed as the proposal of a "snake-oil salesman" Sinn Féin's call for the Government to publish a Green Paper on how to achieve Irish unity.

The recent Sinn Féin ardfheis called for such a paper from the Government but Mr Ahern rejected the proposal as a "red herring" when he attended last night's Newry launch of the SDLP's unity document, A Better Way to a Better Ireland.

"Like the snake-oil salesmen of the American west, the proponents of a Green Paper advance it as a panacea for all our ills. It is not," said Mr Ahern.

The Minister did not mention Sinn Féin by name but it was clear he repudiated its Green Paper proposal.

"Those advancing it are in fact impeding the drive towards unity by distracting attention from the immediate priorities of getting the institutions of the [ Belfast] Agreement back to full working order, including the concomitant North/South dimension and the justice, equality and policing reforms," he said.

"I want to stress that we already have the template [ for Irish unity] - it's called the Good Friday agreement. That agreement is backed by a popular 32-county vote. Its mandate is bigger than any one party. Only those who are working to implement the agreement have credibility on unity," Mr Ahern added.

He said that as a "republican my main personal and political goal is the unity of Ireland" but that it could not be achieved by violence. "For Fianna Fáil, the democratic political goal of a united Ireland is at the heart of our republican perspective. Our project did not end in 1923.

"Our project held, and still holds that unity by armed force would - at best - transfer nationalist isolation and alienation on to unionists. At worst it would threaten the lives of tens of thousands of fellow Irish men and women. We believe Connolly was right when he said that 'Ireland without her people means nothing to me'." He said the agreement represented the clear will of the Irish people, and "no republican can impede that will".

"Our bottom line is this - unity down the barrel of a gun, unity through intimidation, aggression, murder, cannot work. Anyone clinging to those means is impeding the path to unity. Any such group or party cannot claim to be republican," he added.

Unity could not be achieved unless nationalist Ireland started focusing on the future and not the past. He said Irish republicanism has always been "of its time" and "whatever about the past - in today's democratic world violence for political purposes is simply unacceptable".

"While the alienation and isolation of the past should never be forgotten, rather than be immobilised by a divisive past we need to focus on a shared future. We must stop describing the present with reference to the conflict and the simple dichotomies of the past - Catholic versus Protestant, Irish versus English."

© The Irish Times


Durkan accuses Sinn Féin and IRA on republicanism - David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports on the SDLP's proposals for a United Ireland achieved through the Good Friday Agreement

SDLP Document: Key Proposals SDLP Unity Document -V

• United Ireland created based on passing of separate unity referendums carried in North and South.

• Belfast Agreement continues.

• Northern Assembly and Executive maintained but as regional parliament of United Ireland.

• Northern Ireland TDs elected to Dáil rather than MPs to House of Commons.

• NI politicians can sit in House of Lords.

• NI people can identify themselves as British or Irish or both and hold British or Irish passports.

© The Irish Times


Connemara Events To Raise Funds For Lifeboat Station

Lorna Siggins

A Connemara community which witnessed the loss of four fishermen last September has united to raise €250,000 for a lifeboat station in the area.

Villagers in Carna, Co Galway, were involved in the extensive search for the four crew of the St Oliver, which hit rocks at Oileán Lachan, off the Muighinis coast, on September 17th. The vessel was en route from Leitir Ard to Rossaveal in heavy weather conditions when it ran aground.

The 19.81m (65ft) vessel's skipper-owner, John Dirrane, who was from Inishmore island and in his early 40s, died along with fellow Aran islander Michael Faherty (41), boatyard owner Josie Connolly (66) of Leitir Ard and Michael Mullin (18) of Moyard. The bodies of three of the four were recovered off the Carna coast within 24 hours of the sinking. Mr Dirrane's body was found near the wreckage a week later during a shore and coastal search carried out by hundreds of people from the Aran islands, Connemara and beyond.

The Carna community believes that a lifeboat station is essential to prevent further accidents at sea, and to support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's offshore station on the Aran islands and inshore bases at Clifden, Costello Bay and in Galway city.

"This tragedy affected not just the village of Carna and its environs but also the communities of Aran and Cleggan," Neasa Ní Chualain of the Bád Tárrthála Charna agus na n-Oileán committee has said. "Such a loss has been experienced all too commonly in this small fishing community down through the years."

The series of fundraising events will include Connemara's first ever triathlon on July 2nd.

Details to the events were announced yesterday by Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon Ó Cuív.

They include a 750m swim at An Aird Mhóir, a 40km cycle from An Aird Mhóir along Bothár na Scrathóg to Óstán Chuan Charna, and an eight kilometre run from Carna to Moyrus, finishing at Óstán Chuan Charna.

Master of ceremonies will be TG4 presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin, who will also captain a celebrity seven-a-side soccer team.

Further details of the fundraising programme and details are available on the website

© The Irish Times


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Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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