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March 16, 2005

Mallon Urges Full Finucane Inquiry

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/16/05 Mallon Urges Full Finucane Inquiry
NY 03/16/05 Opin - Peter King: The War Is Over
SF 03/16/05 Adams - Dialogue Is The Key To Progress
SM 03/16/05 Unionists 'Are Hypocrites Over McCartney's Death'
PH 03/16/05 Gerry Adams Gets Warm Welcome, Liberty Bell Model
BT 03/16/05 Irish America Is Shedding Its Green-Tinted Spectacles
BT 03/16/05 Judge Solely On Merit . . .
HC 03/16/05 The Latest 'Irish Question' Finds Way To White House
SM 03/16/05 Republicans Must Reject Criminality To Join Government
BT 03/16/05 Derry Family Claim Killer Linked To IRA
TF 03/16/05 Toronto Mayor Attended "Sinn Fein Canada" Dinner
BT 03/16/05 Viewpoint: The Crime Culture Behind Statistics
BT 03/16/05 Almost 4,000 Children Are Now Learning Through Irish
BT 03/16/05 Province Gets Set For Big St Pat's Party


Mallon Urges Full Finucane Inquiry

PM told 'to keep his word'

By Brian Walker
16 March 2005

Seamus Mallon has challenged the Prime Minister to "keep his word" and ensure that the inquiry into Pat Finucane's death will be full and open.

In what may be his last speech to the Commons before his retirement, the former SDLP deputy leader declared that at the Weston Park conference in 2001 "a deal was made and a deal must be kept".

But now, under proposed rules for the Finucane inquiry falling well short of those demanded by a range of critics from the family to the Irish government, he said: "Ministers know full well that a series of refusals for information will be made by Ministers, because of the way the finger will be pointed at those in senior positions and even as far as ministerial positions.

"I know the Prime Minister is an honourable man and that he will keep his word.

"But he can only do that if he ensures that all the information is made available," he added.

MPs were debating a new system of rules for holding all types of UK inquiry, giving ministers the right to intervene to curtail them on grounds of cost, to decide an inquiry's scope and to withhold evidence from the public on grounds of protecting national security and the identity of witnesses.

"Nothing will prevent tribunals seeing whatever evidence is necessary," the junior Constitutional Affairs Minister Christopher Leslie assured MPs. "The restrictions would only be placed on public access to the evidence."

No arrangements have yet been made for holding the Finucane inquiry, delayed for over a year since the Canadian retired judge Peter Cory recommended public inquiries into all four collusion cases.

The trial of loyalist Ken Barrett and the reform of the whole UK inquiry systems were the reasons stated for the long hold-up.

Casting a shadow over the whole issue, too, is the length and cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, now running at between £155m and £200m over more than six years.

Defending Lord Saville's conduct of the inquiry, the Labour MP Kevin McNamara said the long delays were "two thirds due to marked reluctance of the Ministry of Defence on withholding evidence."

Lord Saville

Lord Saville's office has pointed out that contrary to our report yesterday, he made no reference to the Finucane inquiry in correspondence with the Constitutional Affairs Minister Baroness Ashton.

Lord Saville said: "My correspondence with the Minister and her replies have been placed in the library of the House of Lords, but neither in the correspondence or otherwise have I made statements attributed to me in the article in relation to the inquiry and the death of Pat Finucane."

His criticisms of the Inquiries Bill were expressed in general terms.

We regret the error.


Opin - Peter King: The War Is Over

By Peter King

March 16, 2005 -- FORGET the green beer, the funny hats and the shamrocks. This year, St. Patrick's Day will be a defining moment in the history of Ireland and the Northern Irish peace process. Very simply, this is the time when the Irish Republican Army must make the decision to stand down and disband once and for all.

The man in the eye of the storm is once again Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein.

First, some context. Depending upon who you talk to, the struggle between the Irish and British dates back 800 years, 300 years, 84 years or 35 years. By any count, it has been too long and too deadly.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921 as part of the settlement ending a five-year war that saw Ireland's remaining 26 counties obtain their independence. The British retained the northern six counties, but Northern Ireland was a contrived entity with no cultural or geographic basis. It just happened to be the largest area of Ireland where the British had a majority of support.

The pro-British residents of Northern Ireland were primarily Protestant ("unionist" or "loyalist"), while the people who wanted unification with the government of Ireland were mainly Catholic ("nationalist" or "republican"). So this was never a "religious" war in any doctrinal sense.

Yet Northern Ireland was a "Protestant state for a Protestant people." From 1921 to 1968, Catholics were second- or third-class citizens — effectively denied the right to vote, to housing and to jobs.

Inspired by the American civil-rights movement, Northern Irish Catholics demonstrated peacefully for their civil rights in 1968. They were not demanding a united Ireland, and there was no IRA. But they were met by force of arms — both from loyalist gangs and their allies in the police.

The IRA soon emerged to protect the Catholic community. The British Army came into Northern Ireland to stem the violence but soon became identified with the Unionist majority.

Thus began a 25-year war. And while there were murders, atrocities and human-rights violations on all sides, the security forces and the loyalist paramilitaries caused more civilian casualties than did the IRA.

I first met Gerry Adams in Belfast in 1984, soon after he took over the leadership of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Republican movement. He told me then of his intention to achieve a political and diplomatic solution.

This took extraordinary courage and leadership ability. Despite being shot and badly wounded by loyalist paramilitaries, Adams persevered — and in August 1994, the IRA declared a cease-fire so that talks could begin with the British and Irish governments and the Northern Irish political parties.

The result was the April 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which established a democratic process in the north guaranteeing rights to all sides. The clear understanding was that as the political process went forward, all paramilitary groups would disband.

Progress was slow, primarily because Unionist leaders such as David Trimble and Ian Paisley were reluctant to create the necessary institutions.

During this six-year period, officials in both the Bush and Clinton administrations uniformly said that Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein were honest and up front in their dealings. Though a Northern Ireland government is not yet in place, Sinn Fein is the majority nationalist party and will be a major part of any government that is formed.

Just as importantly, extraordinary progress has been made in the quality of life.

When I first went to Belfast 25 years ago, it was a dark, gray besieged city. Some Catholic areas had unemployment exceeding 80 percent. Today, Belfast has luxury hotels, fine restaurants, a hockey arena and a growing economy. Significant police reforms have been implemented. The majority of college students are Catholics who are well-prepared for Ireland's Information Age economy.

The British, Irish and American governments are pledged to guarantee this progress. All that remained was for the IRA to decommission its weapons. Last fall, it appeared that progress was being made and by December a final agreement was tantalizingly close.

Then, out of left field, the IRA pulled off a $50 million bank robbery — followed by the brutal murder of an innocent Catholic by IRA men in a Belfast barroom brawl.

This has caused me and other concerned Irish-Americans to conclude that the IRA must disband without delay. So much has been achieved in Northern Ireland and there is no place for a private army in a burgeoning democratic society.

No one has done more to advance the peace process or has acted more courageously than Gerry Adams. But, now, all that has been attained is being put at risk by an unreconstructed minority who can't put down the gun and replace the bullet with the ballot.

Gerry Adams can't allow these hard men to deny the people of Ireland the society of peace and justice for which he and others have struggled so valiantly. He owes it to himself and the cause of Irish freedom to call upon these remaining IRA fighters to disband and go home.

The war is over — there is a new Ireland north and south. It is only when the IRA accepts this reality that we will truly be able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) represents parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.


Adams - Dialogue Is The Key To Progress

Published: 16 March, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unionists 'Are Hypocrites Over McCartney's Death'

By Alan Erwin, PA

Unionist political representatives have been outrageously hypocritical over the Robert McCartney affair, a loyalist paramilitary murder victim’s father claimed today.

Raymond McCord launched a blistering attack on the two major parties, accusing them of condemning the IRA killing yet ignoring the pain within their own community.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jr, 22, was beaten to death and his body dumped in a north Belfast quarry in 1997, believes Special Branch blocked the police inquiry into the murder to protect high-ranking Ulster Volunteer Force informer.

A major investigation into his allegations is being carried out by Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.

But as Mr McCartney’s five sisters and partner prepared for White House talks with President George Bush in their quest to bring the knife gang to justice, Mr McCord hit out at his own representatives.

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

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

Mr McCord, who has spoken out against the UVF men he insists were behind the merciless attack, praised the McCartney family’s tireless campaign.

“I totally support what the sisters are doing, I went to visit them at their house, I’ve been on the phone to them, and I hope they get justice,” he insisted.

“But why have people within unionism stayed silent on the murders of our sons.

“The UVF has murdered something like 30 Protestant people since their so-called ceasefire.”

Even Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has publicly called for the McCartney killers to come forward and give statements to Mrs O’Loan’s office, he added.

“It seems to me that nationalist MPs have no qualms about fighting for their community but within unionism its the complete opposite.

“The stance they have taken, and their hypocrisy, is staggering.”


Gerry Adams Gets Warm Welcome, Liberty Bell Model


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has been snubbed by U.S. political leaders in Washington and New York, received a warm welcome and a miniature Liberty Bell replica yesterday from City Councilman Jack Kelly.

Kelly presented the bell to Adams at a press conference in the mayor's formal reception room in City Hall. Mayor Street did not attend the brief ceremony.

Street's press office said the mayor never planned to meet with Adams and did not authorize the presentation of the Liberty Bell, an honor bestowed on visiting dignitaries.

Holly Maher, Kelly's legislative aide, said the bell was a personal gift from the councilman.

"We always keep an extra bell or two on hand just in case... it wasn't engraved or anything," Maher said.

It was also the least expensive of the replicas, costing roughly $9.

Adams is making the rounds to traditional Sinn Fein fund-raising strongholds in the U.S. this week, an annual rite around St. Patrick's Day.

But this time around Adams isn't passing the hat on Sinn Fein's behalf. This trip is all about damage control.

Sinn Fein is the political arm of the Irish Republican Army. Both have received an avalanche of criticism following the brutal murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast in January. The chief suspects in the killing are "rogue elements" of the IRA.

Despite Adams' outspoken criticism of McCartney's murderers, both President Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., have snubbed him during his visit here.

Bush has refused to meet with the leaders of any of the Irish political factions. Kennedy cancelled a scheduled meeting with Adams citing McCartney's murder and calling on Sinn Fein to cooperate with the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the investigation.

"Sinn Fein cannot be a fully democratic party with the IRA albatross around its neck," Kennedy said.

Adams yesterday appeared to be distancing himself from the paramilitary IRA.

"Sinn Fein stands fair and square behind McCartney's family,... there is no way the Sinn Fein will be part of a drift back towards armed conflict," Adams said.

Adams also predicted, as he did earlier this week, that the time is coming when there will be no IRA.

He said he was disappointed but not offended by Bush's "dis-invitation" to the White House because he's meeting with the president's emmissary in Washington later this week.

According to Irish news reports, Northern Ireland police have questioned at least 11 people in the stabbing death of McCartney during a pub brawl, but no one has been charged with the murder.


Irish America Is Shedding Its Green-Tinted Spectacles

By Lindy McDowell
16 March 2005

It is getting more bizarre by the minute. Martin McGuinness suggests that the PSNI has been deliberately "dragging out the investigation" into the murder of Robert McCartney in order to use the case to "damage Sinn Fein".

In other words Martin, if I've got this right, currently appears to be demanding: "The PSNI must arrest these IRA murderers at once."

How times change.

We have come some distance since the day when the police, arriving in the Markets to carry out searches in connection with the investigation into Mr McCartney's murder were met by a stone-throwing mob.

Oh, and harsh words of protest from Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey who claimed at the time: "It appears the PSNI is using a tragic stabbing incident as an excuse to disrupt life within this community. The scale and approach of their operation is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable."

A few weeks ago the PSNI had no business searching for evidence about the murder. Now they can't arrest suspects quick enough.

Times have changed in America too where this St Patrick's Day, contrary to tradition, leading politicians have shown about as much enthusiasm for meeting Gerry Adams as witnesses to the McCartney murder have shown about coming forward and making statements to the police.

In recent years they've been tripping over themselves to be in the same photograph as Gerry. Simple reason - there were votes in it.

But with shock revelation following shock revelation in the last few days (we're now up to three Sinn Fein candidates in the bar on the night; any advance on three?) the green tinted spectacles are off.

For Gerry Adams it can't get much worse than hearing that now even Ted Kennedy doesn't want to meet him.

Ted Kennedy. Mr Irish America himself.

The same Ted Kennedy, who, from Chapaquiddick on, has shown an impressive instinct for putting as much distance as possible between himself and any disaster that might impact on his own public image.

Without wishing to make a tasteless analogy, now that Gerry is in it up to his neck, it won't be Ted who'll be bailing him out.

This week Ted has been speaking out against: "the IRA's ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law."

That will be the same ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law, that they've been showing for the 30 plus years of the Troubles, eh Ted?

Meanwhile Congressman Peter King, another long time supporter of Gerry's, has also been expressing new found reservations.

Says King: "The reality is that it really is time for the IRA to go out of business."

The reality, Peter, was that they should have gone out of business long before they murdered all those hundreds and hundreds of other people who died a death every bit as tragic and revolting as Robert McCartney's.

The reality is that when they were massacring these men, women and children, down through the years, you and your fellow romanticists were justifying this as freedom fighting.

So it's a bit late in the day to be calling now for the winding up of Provo plc.

Mr King says he believes that the IRA's offer to shoot people shows, "how tone-deaf they are."

Possibly, the tools of the IRA trade, the guns, bombs and mortar launchers they used to murder people, may have been a contributory factor in aggravating this industrial tone deafness.

But the fact is that their offer to kill is nothing new. They've been doing it for years.

Shooting those responsible for the McCartney killing will have struck the Provos as the best way out of their current difficulties. The only hiccup has been that the McCartney family turned down that offer.

The result is that the IRA are now under increasing pressure to facilitate the prosecution of their own men.

Apart from the rest of the troops, this obviously could not be expected to go down well with the men concerned. In their terms, it would be a case of their own blood brothers turning them in.

So how might they react to that?

The men concerned are said to be senior in the ranks, so they would undoubtedly have an enormous amount of dirt to dish on those they believed had served them up to the courts.

In other words these men could do enormous damage to the organisation which they believed had betrayed them.

You can understand then, why P O'Neill is currently in such a tizzy over what to do about the whole affair.

Shooting people as a means of crisis management might strike the rest of us as a rather extreme way to go about things. But to the IRA it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

Their problem is that suddenly the world out there has come over all moralistic and unsupportive.

Not least in America where the Provos, the Shinners and their fund raising battalions used to coin it every St Patrick's day.

This year all they're collecting is criticism.

And as this editorial from the Pittsburg Tribune-Review shows, the tide has turned with a vengeance. . .

"The Irish Republican Army has become a Hibernian Hezbollah run by godfathers in green. Today's IRA, a dysfunctional stew of terrorists, mobsters and other sociopaths, has lost any respectability it may have had and, finally, all credibility in the eyes of the Bush administration. That is why anyone associated with it rightly will be persona non grata at the annual St. Patrick's Day party at the White House."

Terrorists ostracised from the White House on St Patrick's Day? Now, that really is bizarre.


Judge Solely On Merit . . .

London Life by Brian Walker, London Editor
16 March 2005

Taking part in a "Sunday Sequence" panel on Radio Ulster, I was dismayed to hear the academic and commentator Brian Feeney write off the police reforms as "a failure."

Feeney retailed the Sinn Fein excuse that distrust of the PSNI was the reason that no one had so far come forward with real information on the McCartney murder. Nor would the police ever be trusted until the post-ceasefire IRA had joined the force. Although one of the bend-over-backwards brigade myself, this took my breath away. Republican sympathisers with clean records are one thing. But the prospect of the IRA donning police uniform to retain their grip on West Belfast would do far more damage to policing and society in general, than the B Specials did in 1969.

•Much the same point as Feeney's was made by Danny Morrison, by far the ablest strategist and spin doctor that Sinn Fein has produced. He made it in a short film for the BBC One 'This Week' political review programme, featuring the outspoken MPs Michael Portillo and Diane Abbot. Morrison turned up later in London for the first performance of 'The Wrong Man', his play about a suspected IRA informer, which he says no one in Ireland will dare stage.

In London, the timing couldn't have been better. Sure enough, Portillo - once the Conservative leader of the future - arrived to review the play for the New Statesman, agreeing with me that it should be judged on its merits.

Morrison wrote the novel on which the play is based on either side of five-and-a half-years in prison for running an informer's kangaroo court himself. He still denies the charge and I'll leave it at that. He is able to claim though, that the IRA shot 60 alleged informers. The play opens chillingly, with an IRA team savagely interrogating a hooded, gagged and bound suspected tout. He also turns out to be a failed executioner and a jack-the-lad with IRA women. With all that going against him, the shots come as no surprise and you wonder what's left to say. But the rest is flashback.

Interestingly for someone who was once part of the innermost circle and is still very much part of the Sinn Fein scene, instead of glorifying the armed struggle, Morrison has chosen to identify the pressures that undermined it - fear and sex. "Respect my principles", pleads an IRA man to his neglected wife, but she throws him out, calling him "a f***ing murderer".

Informed presumably by inside knowledge, the most gripping scene has "hard cop, soft cop" RUC interrogators trying to turn the jack-the-lad into an informer, using as they say, information of a sexual nature.

The characters are stereotypes and the play lacks depth, but the writing is Belfast street-sharp, and darkly witty. Perhaps the play's main interest is that the action feels authentic. The author's message is unjudgemental, as spoken by the IRA man comparing the parallel RUC and IRA interrogations. "It's not because they're evil or they hate you, it's just because it works."

A play or novel based directly on Morrison's own knowledge of the genesis of the political strategy would be worth reading. Should 'The Wrong Man' be put on back home? Certainly, when present tensions subside. It does drama's job by offering real insight into a world thankfully closed to most of us.

•London's St Patrick's Day parade, grows bigger every year. Last Sunday, up to 400,000 people manned floats or lined the tricolour- festooned route from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square. Once a hole-in-the-wall affair to build confidence among the ex-pats at the height of the Troubles, it's now a big-time display of Celtic tiger confidence.

From the platform in Trafalgar Square, the London mayor Ken Livingstone reminded the happy crowds that it wasn't like this for the Irish in the early years of the Troubles.

"Years ago, the newspapers demonised the Irish. Now the papers are subjecting the Moslems to the same treatment. I say to the papers, you were lying about the Irish. Now you're lying about the Moslems - stop it."

Could Ken have had in mind his own, still unresolved spat with the Evening Standard, when he refused to apologise for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard? So the Irish, the Moslems - and by implication Ken himself - are all newspaper victims together.

It was an object lesson in pitching for support that would have made his old ally Gerry Adams turn green with envy.


The Latest 'Irish Question' Finds Way To White House

By Cragg Hines
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Every now and then, geopolitics seems to leave the realm of the real and venture into the terrain of overwrought fiction or even unhinged cinematics. That will be the case Thursday as a bizarre skein of events threads itself into the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

On the surface, it may be a traditional observance of St. Patrick's Day, as one more Irish prime minister gives one more American president one more crystal bowl of shamrocks.

President Bush and Prime Minister BertieAhern may speak with lofty sadness of a startlingly altered dynamic in the decades-long debate over the division of the Irish isle. New pledges of good faith will almost certainly be made. It will be warm, probably even chummy, but ultimately clinical.

To tell the full tale, the screenplay must flash back.

First, to a world-record $50 million bank robbery in Belfast in December, which was quickly attributed to the Irish Republican Army, the terrorist-military wing of Sinn Fein, the dominant republican political party in Northern Ireland. Party leaders were at the same moment in supposedly serious peace talks.

So much for good-faith negotiations.

The scene changes to the night of Jan. 30 and Magennis's, a republican pub in the Short Strand area of Belfast.

A dispute over one man's alleged remark or gesture to a woman turns violent. The man's throat is slit. A friend who comes to his aid is stabbed and stomped. Both men lay on the street outside; the first man was unconscious; his friend, Robert McCartney, was dead.

A routine enough ruckus but one that in the intervening six weeks has transformed debate on the Irish question on both sides of the Atlantic. For the assailants were said to be easily identified operatives of the IRA who reportedly announced to the pub's patrons: "This is IRA business."

Initially, the IRA and its political associates disclaimed any role in or knowledge of McCartney's killing, even as it quietly promised the usual treatment (death) for any of the 70 or so people in the bar who might have been thinking about speaking up.

It has since developed that a Sinn Fein candidate was in the pub, although she initially denied it and says she saw nothing.

When mounting evidence made its denials of involvement untenable, the IRA, reverting to form, calmly offered to murder at least some of its members who had taken part. Even after years of IRA's violent outrages, politicians in Britain and Ireland were left virtually speechless.

The reaction has properly washed across the Atlantic.

It has left Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein chief and leading nationalist figure for three decades, as a virtual persona non grata, so tainted that even Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the ultimate U.S. advocate of the republican cause, has canceled a St. Patrick's Day meeting with Adams. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a leading republican advocate in the U.S. House, has suggested it is time for the IRA to disband.

Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said the senator's decision was made "given the IRA's ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law." King told RTE, Ireland's state radio, that it was "hard to see what the justification is for the continued existence of the IRA."

Bush, who has played far less of a public role than President Clinton in the debate on Northern Ireland, refused to invite Adams to the White House for St. Patrick's Day, the first such snub in 10 years. Instead, Bush has invited McCartney's five sisters to the White House reception.

The McCartney sisters have been the focus of a campaign to have their brother's killers brought to justice. The women are the personification of working-class Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland who have been the backbone of the republican movement over the decades of The Troubles.

And they are a worthy symbol of the personal costs of the senseless bloodshed that has stood in the way of reaching a permanent power-sharing agreement between the Protestant majority and Roman Catholic minority in Northern Ireland.

Adams has conceded that the killing of McCartney has put Sinn Fein "on the back foot" and has even said it may be time for the IRA to disband. But he warned in New York on Monday that the IRA should be seen "leaving the stage in a dignified way."

Adams, with his own long history of association with the IRA, can harbor any fantasy he likes about how the murderous gang should depart — just so long as it goes quickly.

That point should be made clear to Adams in a private meeting still scheduled for today at the State Department with Mitchell B. Reiss, Bush's special envoy on Northern Ireland.

The rationale for the meeting is that lines of communication need to remain open. Fair enough. So long as Adams gets the right message to take home and acts on it once he is there.

Hines is a Houston Chronicle columnist based in Washington, D.C. (


Republicans 'Must Reject Criminality' To Join Government

By Sian Clare, PA Political Staff

The Prime Minister told the Commons the price for the Republicans entering Government in Northern Ireland was to give up criminality and paramilitarism completely.

Tory leader Michael Howard had called on Mr Blair to deliver a clear message to Sinn Fein after the SDLP’s deputy leader Seamus Mallon blamed Mr Blair for the current situation.

Sinn Fein had been enjoying a “veto on political progress” in Northern Ireland, Mr Howard said during Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons.

But Mr Blair dismissed the Tory leader’s remarks, saying: “You can get a cheer, but it’s not actually much help.”

The Premier stressed: “It has been the position since October 2002, that we can’t have an inclusive executive in Northern Ireland, an inclusive government, unless there is a complete end to all forms of paramilitary and criminal activity.

“That’s the position of the Government. That’s why we’re still in the impasse we’re in.”

The exchanges started when Mr Howard said: “Will you join me in paying tribute to the extraordinary courage and tenacity of the family of Robert McCartney who have exposed the evil of IRA thuggery.

“In paying tribute to their courage, will you make it clear that there can be no place in the Government of Northern Ireland for any party linked to terror and organised crime and which refuses to co-operate with the police.”

Mr Blair said: “Of course, we all pay tribute to the courage of the McCartney family and no one has made their case better than them, frankly.”

Mr Howard asked how Mr Blair responded to Mr Mallon who had said that the present situation in Northern Ireland had been brought about by the Prime Minister who had “acted in bad faith and who has pandered to the demands of Sinn Fein/IRA”.

Mr Blair paid tribute to Mr Mallon and the work he had done to bring about a settlement in Northern Ireland.

“I do obviously disagree with the remarks he has made for this very simple reason.

“I think the SDLP conference themselves passed a resolution a short time ago saying that they wouldn’t go into government exclusive of Sinn Fein and that therefore is the issue.

“It’s why it’s important to try and make progress that does include everybody, but it’s got to be on a very clear basis that there is a commitment to peaceful and democratic means by everyone.”

He said there had been an immense amount of progress over the past few years.

“The very fact of what is happening today, with the IRA, with the way that the McCartney family are behaving and what they are saying and the fact that you’ve got the British, the Irish, the American government all on the same side, the fact you’ve got every major political party on the same side in this, I think that is an indication of how much has changed.

“For the rest to change, it is necessary actually for those people inside the republican community finally to stand up and say ‘we’ll pursue our perfectly legitimate aspirations for a united Ireland peacefully and we want nothing to do with criminal gangs, criminal activity or indeed paramilitarism.”

Mr Howard said Mr Mallon, admired on all sides of the House, had said: “‘If you look at all the side deals, the lesson Sinn Fein got from Blair and Bertie Ahern was the more often you ask, the more often you get.

“He said ‘Sinn Fein damn well near lived in Downing Street, giving the message that these are the people we should support, because they are the people doing the deals’.

“Isn’t it now obvious to everyone that Sinn Fein/IRA are up to their necks in criminal activity.

“So will you now send out a clear message that Sinn Fein will no longer enjoy a veto over political progress in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Blair said: “It is absolutely correct, we have worked very closely with Sinn Fein over the past few years, very closely indeed.

“I make no apologies for that. It’s been a necessary part of securing the progress we have secured.

“Secondly, the reason why we have not got an inclusive executive, or indeed any executive or devolved institutions in Northern Ireland is precisely because we have made it clear that the price of going into government is giving up criminal activity and paramilitarism completely,

“Thirdly ... the most important thing in Northern Ireland is that there is a big debate now going on inside the republican community.”

He wanted the debate to happen constructively, with the realisation that the unionist community was sincere in its wish to be inclusive, provided violence was given up.

“If that becomes clear in the whole of the island of Ireland, we’ve got a chance of making progress.”


Derry Family Claim Killer Linked To IRA

Mother Of Stab Victim Wants To See Adams.

By William Allen
16 March 2005

The mother of stabbing victim James Dee Dee McGinley today urged Gerry Adams to meet her family to discuss his killer's links to the IRA.

The McGinley family has written to a number of party leaders including the Sinn Fein president as part of a bid to apply pressure on the IRA to admit Bart Fisher was a member and expel him from the organisation.

They also want an IRA threat against them lifted.

Fisher, who was recently given a three year sentence for manslaughter, plunged a 12-inch dagger into Mr McGinley's heart outside the Sackville Court flat, where the accused lived in Londonderry, in October 2003. He has denied that he is a member of the IRA.

Mr McGinley's mother Eileen said today there had been no approach to the family by republicans following public calls for the IRA to answer a number of questions.

On March 3, the family held a vigil at the spot where Mr McGinley was killed and demanded that IRA leaders release a statement stating whether they considered his killing a crime, and whether Fisher has been expelled from the organisation.

They also asked for an IRA apology to the family for their treatment during the trial - when it is claimed family members were told to stay away - and for a threat made against the McGinleys by the Provos to be lifted.

Mrs McGinley said: "Nobody from Sinn Fein or the IRA has come anywhere near us since we went public with this. We've made calls on them both to respond to us, but there's been nothing yet.

"We made a public call for Sinn Fein to state clearly their position on this issue, but they've said nothing. Even when a local paper contacted them they refused to comment.

"We know why the IRA got involved in the trial of our son's killer. We know because they told us he is a member of that organisation. We know why he's on the republican paramilitary wing (at Maghaberry prison) and we know why he's being protected and supported by the IRA and Sinn Fein.

"We don't want answers, we want action. We want Sinn Fein to state clearly their position on this issue and we want them to help us bring this to an end."


Toronto Mayor Attended "Sinn Fein Canada" Dinner

by Judi McLeod,
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Toronto Mayor David Miller attended the Second Annual "Friends of Sinn Fein Canada" dinner, held in Toronto in November 2002.

Miller, who attended the fundraiser when he was a city councillor, was elected as Toronto’s mayor in November 2003.

In an election year, Miller posed for photographs with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, along with Canadian Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett.

Adams has had the door slammed on his North American fundraising stops on the heels of demands that the Sinn Finn end its support for criminal and terrorist activity in its support of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

On Thursday, the White House will honour the five sisters of Robert McCartney, slain at age 33 by members of the IRA.

The White House has told Adams he is not welcome, and added it did not want him or any of his colleagues raising money for their operations during their current trip to the United States.

Even Senator Edward Kennedy, a longtime supporter of Sinn Fein, finally slammed the door on Adams. Kennedy cancelled a meeting with Adams and told him his party could never be democratic with the IRA "albatross around its neck".

The five McCartney sisters–Gemma, Paula, Donna, Catherine and Claire–and their murdered brother’s fiancee, Bridgeen Hagan, have publicly denounced the IRA and its code of silence, demanding justice for the January 31 murder of Robert McCartney.

The legendary courage of the sisters in standing up to the IRA has won them admiration in their country.

Theirs is the kind of courage that meets danger head on.

Donna McCartney, 39, runs a gourmet sandwich shop in central Belfast. Donna, about whom her sister Gemma says, "wouldn’t be afraid of the devil" stood her ground when a hooded gunman demanded the use of her car to bomb a hotel.

"Take yourself off, ya big-nosed bastard," Donna told him.

Irish courage runs through the blood of all the McCartney women.

They were greeted with applause when they boldly showed up at a Dublin Sinn Fein conference. Their loud cries for justice in the murder of their brother caused the IRA to make an out of character offer to shoot the men who had killed Robert.

Continuing to stand their ground against the goons, they say they’d prefer the truth in an open court. "The only way our family will know the truth is when we hear witness statements in a court," insists Catherine, 36, who teaches history and politics at a college of further education.

Admiration for the courage of the five anti-IRA crusaders exceeds the bounds of the Emerald Isle. The McCartney sisters have been celebrated everywhere from Dublin to New York and Washington. Their unparalleled courage has given a black eye to the stature and credibility of the IRA.

It’s a green feather in their cap that they are replacing Sinn Fein at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, 2005.

On Irish soil, Sinn Fein continues to fight Paula McCartney, who has said she is considering standing as a local councillor over the issue of IRA involvement in her brother’s death.

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein spokesman warned the sisters to stay out of politics.

"It’s vitally important for the McCartney campaign that they don’t stray into party politics," he said.

"We do know there are people out there who would like to manipulate the situation."

But Sinn Fein should know by now that the McCartney sisters don’t stray into anything. They choose always to walk bravely into the lion’s den.

Canada Free Press founding editor Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the media. A former Toronto Sun and Kingston Whig Standard columnist, she has also appeared on, the Drudge Report,, and World Net Daily. Judi can be reached at: .


Viewpoint: The Crime Culture Behind Statistics

New Figures: Drop is welcome but there is no room for any complacency

16 March 2005

Although the PSNI today were claiming a 10pc reduction in crime over the past year, with 11,000 fewer victims, there is no room for the slightest complacency in any part of Ireland. Hardly a day goes by without some major theft or blatant breach of the law, against which the police seem powerless.

Just yesterday, the TV cameras picked up the deposit of bonfire materials by the side of a main south Belfast road, four months before the Twelfth. A politician was being interviewed, supporting the bonfire culture but objecting to the early start, when stones and bottles rained down and the crew had to retreat.

Yet what can and will be done to stop these virtual waste dumps growing over the coming weeks? On past experience, very little, as everyone passing - tourists as well as natives - deplores the unsightliness.

The problem posed by some traveller families is another case in point. What new initiatives have been taken to prevent caravan dwellers moving on to unguarded private property and then to stop a ransom being demanded?

These are two minor examples of how the law is being flouted, without anyone seeming capable of reacting, let alone imposing zero tolerance on the offenders. On any weekend, police can raid public markets and come away with thousands of pounds' worth of counterfeit goods. A Dail committee heard yesterday that an estimated 64pc of DVDs and videos sold were fake.

It is easy to say that things were ever thus, and that there is little the police, north and south, can do to combat petty lawlessness. Yet the evidence is that both the small-time criminals and the paramilitary gangs are becoming more ambitious all the time, threatening to turn the island into a free-for-all Mafia haven.

The whole world knows that Belfast was the location for the one of the biggest bank heists ever, and there will be fresh concern that the same kidnap method was used in Dublin to scoop 4m euro. Surely everyone responsible for large sums of money should have devised new systems, or have the police lost their intelligence edge?

Everyone knows about the long-established smuggling culture in south Armagh, where fortunes are being made both by individuals and the IRA, but the police make little progress. Cigarettes have to be transported to Dublin via Liverpool rather than run the gauntlet of the border enforcers.

There is no single answer to a growing problem, but clearly greater north-south police co-operation and a more effective intelligence network are needed. Otherwise the image of the island as a place to do legitimate business, and prosper, is bound to suffer.


Almost 4,000 Children Are Now Learning Through Irish

By Claire Regan
16 March 2005

The number of children being educated through the medium of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is set to hit an all-time high of 4,000, it was revealed today.

Up to 300 teachers and assistants from 80 Irish medium schools and nurseries were given the encouraging news this morning at their sector's annual conference in Belfast.

The conference, held in the Hilton Hotel, heard that the rapid growth of recent years in the sector has been maintained with the number of children in Irish medium schools now approaching 4,000 for the first time.

There are now 3,731 children being taught through Irish - a startling growth from just seven children in 1971 and a rise of over 500 in the past two years alone.

New schools and nurseries are planned this autumn for Newry, Magherafelt, Omagh, Ballymena and possibly other towns.

A ten year plan for future development of Irish medium schools in Northern Ireland, launched three years ago, outlined plans to develop up to 60 Irish medium schools and nurseries.

That plan is currently being revised and it is expected that the target figures for new schools will be revised upwards.

Pilib O Rúnaí, of Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, the funding body for Irish medium schools, said the figures heralded a "great time" for the sector.


Province Gets Set For Big St Pat's Party

Shamrock and Guinness to be the order of the day

16 March 2005

As people across the province tomorrow prepare to celebrate St Patrick's Day, we focus on where the main events will be taking place


Twenty-thousand people are expected to converge on Downpatrick for Northern Ireland's biggest St Patrick's Day cross-community celebrations.

The centre-piece will be the carnival which gets underway at 2.30pm - with the theme A Rock 'n' Roll Rainbow.

Led by the chairman of Down District Council, councillor Robert Burgess, the parade will feature 1,500 participants on floats, as well as costumed dancers, musicians in rock 'n' roll, samba, jazz, pipe, accordion and silver bands.

All roads and exits leading on to the parade route will be closed from approximately 2.20pm and will re-open at around 4pm.

Meanwhile, Down County Museum has bought a sculpture of Ireland's Patron Saint - Young St Patrick, by Imogen Stuart, which is on display.

A free programme of events is available from Down Tourist Information. A series of other events are also taking place this coming weekend.


Coronation Street barman Keith Duffy will compere a St Patrick's Day concert outside Belfast City Hall (1pm to 3.30pm).

The former Boyzone singer will introduce a string of acts including U2 tribute band Elevation and rock band More Power To Your Elbow.

For the younger ones the Tweenies will also be putting in an appearance.

Organisers of the carnival have stressed that there will be a ban on alcohol and that flags will not be welcome.

Meanwhile, Belfast City Council - which declined to fund the city hall concert, is organising a special St Patrick's Night show at the Waterfront Hall headlined by Micheal O Suilleabhain, the internationally-acclaimed Irish pianist.

Also on the bill is one of the world's best uilleann pipe players, Liam O Flynn; Alyth McCormack from On Eagles Wing, Clannad's Maire Brennan and members of her band, and the Ulster Orchestra.

The city council has provided £15,000 to cover the cost of the concert and has donated a further £30,000 which has been divided between 50 community groups to help cover the cost of St Patrick's Day celebrations.


The city is staging its biggest parade in over a decade. Thousands are expected to take to the streets to see the carnival kick off at 1pm.

There will be traditional ceili bands stationed across the city with local singer-songwriter Paul Casey and Donegal acts The Plea and Ireland's Eurovision finalists The Henry Girls taking centre stage at Guildhall Square.

The Irish traditional theme will be given some oriental spice with a Chinese Lion Dance, samba bands and a massive Geisha girl street theatre puppet inspired by the Trinidad and Notting Hill carnivals.

Also at 1pm runners will be getting on their marks for the 17th Inaugural Road Runners race at Foyle Street while the Big Tickle Comedy Festival will be providing an alternative to those avoiding the black stuff.

Pubs are staging a range of traditional and more contemporary concerts.


Slemish mountain is literally set to be a top draw this St Patrick's Day

That's because children's artwork will be displayed on the approaches to the Co Antrim hill top - which is reputed to be the place where St Patrick herded animals.

Up to 2,000 visitors are expected to scale the mountain. A number of free buses will run from the Ecos Centre in Ballymena.


Armagh will be celebrating the big day with religious services and a cross-community family fun event on the Mall.

The traditional Blessing of the Shamrock ceremony will take place at St Malachy's Chapel in Lower Irish Street.

With St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral undergoing major renovations there will be no parade of youth organisations and voluntary groups through the city centre, which has been a feature in the past.

The festival day will be marked in the Cathedral Church of St Patrick with a service of Holy Communion celebrated for the first time in Irish by the Rev Eric Culbertson, rector of Newmills in Tyrone.

The Dean of Armagh, the Very Rev Herbert Cassidy, will be the preacher at a mid-day service.


Shamrock-shaped shortbread is promised to those who take to the floor at Larne Alive's St Patrick Day tea dance.

This popular annual event will be held at the Old Presbyterian church of Larne and Kilwaughter hall at 2pm.

Afternoon tea will be served, complete with shamrock-shaped shortbread. Admission is £2.

Meanwhile, Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne re-opens for business for the spring and summer season on St Patrick's Day.


Around 1,600 are expected to take part in a 26-band Ancient Order of Hibernians parade in Dungiven, Co Londonderry - with hundreds more attending as spectators.

The main parade will assemble at 1.30pm at Station Road before moving off at 2.30pm to make its way to the castle.

No traffic will be allowed in the town until the parade is over sometime around 4pm. Diversions will be in place.

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