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March 07, 2005

News 03/07/05 - SF Protests As PSNI Praised

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

IT 03/08/05 Sinn Féin Protests As PSNI Praised
BB 03/07/05 BBC Told To Hand Over Raid Tapes
IT 03/08/05 Dublin, London See Signs Of Hope In SF's Words
BB 03/07/05 Key Questions Remain For Sinn Fein
AP 03/07/05 Congress, Like Bush, Avoids Gerry Adams
MY 03/07/05 Adams At John Carroll Univ In University Heights Ohio
BB 03/07/05 McCartney Family Get Bush Invite
BT 03/07/05 Father Slams Unionist Stance
SF 03/07/05 McGuinness: Peace Process Needs A Collective Effort
SF 03/07/05 Adams: Constructive Engagement Is Way To Get A Deal
SF 03/07/05 McDonald: EU Ambassador Abused Position To Attack SF
SF 03/07/05 TD Assaulted By Joyriders
IT 03/08/05 SF TD Compares Ahern To Poodle
UT 03/07/05 Orde Unmoved By SF Protest
BB 03/07/05 Prison Wing Measures Criticised
4N 03/07/05 Family Escape Injury In Gun Attack
IO 03/07/05 Irish Woman: I Suffered Racist Abuse At Fire UK Service
BT 03/07/05 Neeson Hate Mail Lashed
IT 03/07/05 U2 Tour Puts Paid To Rumours Of Bank Job For Bono

QA 03/07/05 Did McCartney’s Sister Appearance Help? –VO
QA 03/07/05 Are We Obsessed with Archaeology? -VO
QA 03/07/05 Does Meath Deserve To Be Rubbbish Capital? -VO
QA 03/07/05 By-Election in Meath –VO
NW 03/07/05 Bird Watching In Skerries -VO

Questions and Answers - 07 March 2005
Noel Dempsey TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources
Mairéad McGuinness MEP, Fine Gael
Pat Rabbitte TD, Labour Party Leader
Trevor Sargent TD, Green Party Leader
Tom Parlon TD, Minister of State, Office of Public Works
Mary Lou McDonald MEP, Sinn Féin

Q1: Has the attendance of the McCartney sisters at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis helped or hindered their search for justice?

Q2: When it comes to archaeology, have we become so obsessed with what is underground that we have forgotten what is overground?

Q3: Does Meath deserve to become the rubbish capital of Ireland?

Q4: Why do the candidates think they should be elected in the upcoming Meath by-election?

Bird watching in Skerries - Valerie Waters meets a group of people from Dublin who combine their love of being on water and watching seabirds


Sinn Féin Protests As PSNI Praised

Gerry Moriarty Northern Editor

A Sinn Féin protest at the launch of a report yesterday praising the PSNI's human rights record was dismissed by the North's chief constable Hugh Orde as part of the "rich tapestry" of policing in Northern Ireland.

Mr Orde also took advantage of the protest to suggest that Sinn Féin had little justification in such demonstrations in light of the alleged murder by IRA members of Robert McCartney.

About 10 protesters entered the conference room of the Stormont Hotel in Belfast yesterday, where the Policing Board-sponsored report was launched, and unfurled a banner proclaiming, "Who sanctioned British death squads. Time for the truth".

While the report found that the PSNI had the best human rights record of all United Kingdom police forces, the protesters said that the PSNI could not be treated seriously until allegations of collusion were fully addressed.

No effort was made to remove the protesters who stood quietly at the back of the room. A number of people at the event however walked out during the protest.

After unfurling the banner the group's spokesman Robert McClenaghan walked to the front of the room to address the delegates. "We believe it is important that we come here today just to make the point that the issue of collusion is central to any human rights culture," he said.

"It is central to the development of policing, especially within nationalist and republican areas," Mr McClenaghan added.

"If we are serious about promoting human rights culture within the PSNI, then one of the key issues that has to be grappled with and dealt with seriously and effectively is the issue of collusion."

The protesters left shortly afterwards prompting Mr Orde to say it was disappointing that they did not stay to listen to what he had to say. He described the protest as an interesting part of the "rich tapestry" of policing in Northern Ireland.

"We are very proud of our human rights and, just for the record, the PSNI has always been against death squads and those include, for example, the people who murdered Mr [ Robert] McCartney," he said.

Mr Orde said the report by lawyers Keir Starmer and Jane Gordon underlined the PSNI's "utter commitment" to deal fairly with everyone in the North.

The authors stated: "In our view, the PSNI has done more than any police service in the UK to achieve human rights compliance and, in many respects, we have been very impressed with the work the PSNI has undertaken in the human rights field."

In December 2003, Mr Starmer and Ms Gordon developed a framework for testing the police's human rights performance. In their report published yesterday, they made a number of recommendations on how the police could continue to improve their human rights record.

These focused on the PSNI's code of ethics and how police dealt with public order situations, use of force, covert policing, victims' rights, the treatment of suspects and human rights awareness among officers.

© The Irish Times


BBC Told To Hand Over Raid Tapes

A judge has told the BBC to give tapes of an interview with a Northern Bank employee, who was forced to co-operate with a gang who stole £26m, to police.

Chris Ward, abducted by the thieves during the robbery, gave an account of his ordeal to the Spotlight programme.

A week after the programme police applied for any unbroadcast material and notes to be handed over.

Judge Tom Burgess said the robbery investigation outweighed the BBC's right to retain its own material.

In the course of the hearing the judge heard evidence from officers leading the hunt for the robbers, including sensitive intelligence information provided to him in closed court.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Andrew Sproule, said the unbroadcast material would be useful, because Mr Ward might have mentioned things in his television interview he had not mentioned to police.

Mr Sproule said having access to that material and any notes would allow police, and eventually the prosecuting authorities, to establish the consistency of Mr Ward's account for the purpose of determining his credibility as a witness.

The court heard that Mr Ward had been informed about the police application and had indicated that he had no objection to it.

Ordering the BBC to hand over any unbroadcast material and any notes of direct quotes of Mr Ward, Mr Burgess said the public interest in the investigation of the crime and the prosecution of those who committed it, outweighed the BBC's right to retain its own material.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/07 19:12:33 GMT


Dublin, London See Signs Of Hope In SF's Words

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The British and Irish governments have drawn some encouragement from the comments of Sinn Féin leaders during the weekend ardfheis. However, they insist that the IRA must end all activity if the political impasse is to end.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said yesterday he was still prepared to meet Sinn Féin, while Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have engaged in a number of recent meetings with British prime minister Tony Blair's chief of staff Jonathan Powell.

Nothing specific emerged from the Sinn Féin conference in terms of any IRA commitment to decommission and cease all paramilitary and criminal actions, which the governments view as the key to ending the deadlock.

Nonetheless, the governments viewed as positive the comments by senior Sinn Féin figures on crucial issues such as the murder of Robert McCartney, IRA activity in general and policing.

The PSNI press office said yesterday it had no developments to report on the investigation into the killing of Mr McCartney. The McCartney family are this week expected to be invited to attend President Bush's St Patrick's Day White House reception.

In expressing his support for the McCartney sisters at the weekend ardfheis, Mr Adams repeatedly said that republicanism must not be tarnished with allegations of criminality. He also indicated that republicans may have to make hard decisions on the future of the IRA.

On Sunday Sinn Féin's policing spokesman Gerry Kelly advised republicans that sometime in the future they may have to make hard choices on whether or not to endorse the PSNI.

Mr Ahern said yesterday that he was "not an inch" wiser on whether the IRA would end all activity but nonetheless he was still prepared to hold discussions with Sinn Féin on this issue.

A Government source said that there were some encouraging comments from senior Sinn Féin figures at the weekend but what was crucial, as Mr Ahern said recently in the Dáil, was whether those words would be backed by actions.

British prime minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said Sinn Féin was now addressing the key issues but that political progress could only be made if the IRA ended paramilitarism and criminality.

Mr Blair's spokesman said a variety of speakers at the ardfheis had indicated, whether it was "the McCartney murder or criminality in general or punishment beatings or policing or the position of the Irish Government", that Sinn Féin had "at least begun to address the concerns".

Despite the current logjam, Mr Blair has not given up on the possibility of resurrecting December's failed deal, a fact highlighted by his chief of staff Jonathan Powell who held a number of recent meetings in Belfast and London with Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness.

The spokesman said the issues raised at the ardfheis would be "explored in further contacts with Sinn Féin".

"But the bottom line remains the same: that there can only be progress with Sinn Féin and republicans if there is an end to activity. But at least the ardfheis showed they are in the process of addressing those issues," he added.

"Now in terms of the specific issue of the McCartney family, the McCartney family said after the Gerry Adams speech that they were encouraged by what he said but they want to see progress on the ground. As always, the McCartney family have shown real leadership in terms of trying to get this issue addressed," the spokesman said.

Mr Adams said yesterday, while canvassing in the Meath byelection, that the key to bringing fresh impetus to the peace process rested on "constructive engagement".

"Republicans are willing to play our part as I outlined at the weekend, but there is an equally heavy responsibility on the Irish Government to act. The Taoiseach needs to examine the impact of recent comments by Government Ministers on the process. He needs to be working with us to develop a strategy back to talks," he said.

© The Irish Times


Key Questions Remain For Sinn Fein

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Sinn Fein conferences have been the scene of some dramatic comings and goings before.

The walk out after the split between Gerry Adams and Ruairi O'Bradaigh in the mid-1980s comes to mind, as does the arrival of the Balcombe Street gang at the Ard Fheis following the Good Friday Agreement.

However, few could have predicted that the focal point of Sinn Fein's centenary Ard Fheis would have been the arrival in the audience of the family of a man stabbed to death by IRA members outside a Belfast pub.

The appearance of Robert McCartney's sisters alongside Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness was undoubtedly a publicity coup for Sinn Fein.

The McCartney family still do not believe everything has been done that can be done to bring their brother's killers to justice.

But the newspaper images of the sisters at the Ard Fheis will confound those who portrayed their campaign as part of a "popular revolt" against the IRA.

Gerry Adams has accused his opponents of exploiting Robert McCartney's death.

'Policing and criminality'

Some of those opponents may have harboured hopes that the McCartney campaign, coming hard on the heels of the Northern Bank robbery, would halt Sinn Fein's electoral rise on both sides of the border.

But the family never made any secret of the fact that their objective was more specific - to get their brother's killers into court.

Unlike some of their new found political admirers, the sisters have to return to their homes in nationalist areas like the Short Strand.

His response to the McCartney murder implies that the Sinn Fein president recognises the worth of the police ombudsman, the DPP who would bring any charges to court and the judges who would try the accused

It is therefore entirely understandable that they do not want to be viewed as the family who snubbed Gerry Adams' invitation to his conference.

Although the McCartney sisters have made it clear that they will judge republicans by results, their attendance at the Ard Fheis looks likely to take some of the sting out of their forthcoming visit to the United States.

They no longer appear to provide quite such a symbolic contrast to the Sinn Fein president as he embarks on his new look St Patrick's tour (minus fund raising and White House invitation).

Whatever happens in the McCartney case, key questions over Sinn Fein's attitude to both policing and criminality remain unanswered.

Gerry Adams told the Ard Fheis he does not believe the IRA Army Council is the legitimate government of Ireland. But neither did he endorse the institutions north of the border.

His response to the McCartney murder implies that the Sinn Fein president recognises the worth of the police ombudsman, the DPP who would bring any charges to court and the judges who would try the accused.

However, Sinn Fein insists that the police responsible for investigating the crime are unacceptable.

There are obvious inconsistencies here, but Sinn Fein do not give much impression of wanting to use the McCartney case as a stepping stone towards a more flexible attitude to the police.

Instead, they appear intent on retaining policing as an important card in renewed negotiations leading to a comprehensive deal.

Gerry Adams told his faithful they must be ready to take big steps and to test the DUP again, but quite when the DUP will feel inclined to take that test is hard to foresee.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/07 07:38:52 GMT


Congress, Like Bush, Avoids Gerry Adams

AP Headlines

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams and other Northern Ireland political leaders will not be invited to a St. Patrick's Day luncheon with congressional leaders, another sign that the United States is unhappy over the stalled peace process.

Adams will not be attending the annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon held by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the lawmaker's spokesman Ron Bonjean said Monday.

That follows an announcement last week by the Bush administration that Adams and other Northern Ireland political leaders will not be invited to a St. Patrick's Day ceremony at the White House for the first time since 1995.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is expected to be at the White House ceremony to present a traditional bowl of shamrocks to the president.

Sinn Fein is allied with the Irish Republican Army, which has come under increasing criticism for recent crimes blamed on the group.

Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., chairman of the Friends of Ireland congressional group, said the decision by Hastert shows U.S. elected officials agree on the need to push both sides back to the bargaining table.

"The president made the call not to invite them to the White House, and I think the speaker is right in step with the president. It's disappointing but it shows unanimity," Walsh said.

"I would love to see them at the speaker's luncheon, it's been a grand tradition, but it would be ignoring the fact that there's been a major breakdown in the process," he said.

Walsh blamed the deteriorating relations on recent developments in Ireland, particularly a December bank heist and the January killing of a Belfast man in a bar fight. The IRA has expelled three members over the bar killing and has denied any role in the bank robbery.

Walsh faulted those incidents, and what he said were earlier inflammatory comments by unionist leader Ian Paisley, for stalling any new negotiations.

"Hopefully, this will give people there a sense of how seriously it's being taken by the United States," Walsh said.


Adams Speaks At John Carroll University In University Heights Ohio

CLEVELAND, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Gerry Adams, president of the Irish Nationalist Political Party Sinn Fein, will speak at John Carroll University in University Heights at noon on Friday, March 18 in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center. Adams’ lecture is entitled "The Irish Peace Process - Hope and History - Making Peace in Northern Ireland."

David C. Barnett, reporter and producer for ideastream, will sit down for a one-on-one interview with Adams about his role in the Irish peace process. The interview will be followed by a question and answer period led by a panel of JCU faculty and students.

Adams is commended for continuing efforts to build a stable, democratically-negotiated peace settlement in Ireland. With John Hume, leader of the Socialist Democratic Labor Party, Adams helped initiate the Irish peace initiative in 1993. This led to major political developments for peace including the Downing Street Declaration, the Joint Framework Document and the Irish Republican Army’s announcement of a complete cessation of military operations in 1994. This ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 which was ratified by a clear majority of the people of Ireland - north and south.

Adams’ visit to John Carroll comes during a very tenuous period in the Irish peace process. Sinn Fein almost made a deal to share power with Unionists before Christmas. The deal to establish a power sharing executive broke down because the IRA would concede to Dr. Ian Paisley’s demand that the arms disposal be photographed. Other events have also strained the process. The Northern Bank heist in Belfast and the death of a Belfast man, allegedly, at the hands of IRA members has intensified the political impasse. There have been serious charges made against Sinn Fein in connection with these recent events. Gerry Adams, speaking as the party leader, said his colleague in the Dail (The Irish Parliament), Mr. Caoimhghin O Caolain, spoke for republicans across Ireland when he said Sinn Fein rejected criminality of any kind.

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), met on March 3rd with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the current crisis in the Northern Irish political process. Ahern said, "Yes, we have had obstacles. We have to find progress to deal with these difficulties. Both Prime Minister Blair and I want to do that."

Mr. Ahern added, "I think that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have worked enormously hard. I understand what they have been trying to do, to keep everybody with them. I think that they have put so much into this process not to see it through, and they are endeavoring to find a comprehensive solution."

Adams was elected as a member of Parliament from West Belfast in 1983. However, he refused to take his seat in the House of Commons at Westminster in line with the republican tradition.

An author of several books, Adams has written Hope and History: Making Peace in Ireland, A Pathway to Peace, The Politics of Irish Freedom and Selected Writings, which provide expositions of his political thinking; Falls Memories, an autobiographical memoir; Cage Eleven, stories relating to prison experiences; and Before the Dawn, an autobiography.

The doors of the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center will open at 11 a.m. The Irish band "Tim Benson & Friends" will play prior to the start of the interview. Admittance to this event is by ticket only. For more information or to reserve a seat, visit or call 216-397-1935. Tickets are: $10 for the general public and $5 for John Carroll University community members. John Carroll students will be admitted free of charge.

John Carroll University, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a liberal arts university grounded in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition. The university has some 3,350 plus undergraduates and just over 750 graduate students. The U.S. News & World Report’s 2005 annual college guide ranks John Carroll University among the top five master’s-degree-granting universities in the Midwest and first in graduation/retention rank. Originally founded as St. Ignatius College in 1886, the university was renamed in 1923 to honor America’s first Catholic bishop, John Carroll of Maryland. John Carroll is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities located in the United States.

CONTACT: Christine A. Somosi of John Carroll University,
+1-216-397-4663, or
Web site:


McCartney Family Get Bush Invite

The family of Belfast murder victim Robert McCartney will be invited to President George W Bush's St Patrick's Day reception, the BBC has learned.

The US government is not inviting local politicians to the White House bash, but is focusing attention on figures it believes are acting as peacemakers.

Mr McCartney, 33, was murdered on 30 January after a row in a bar. His family claim republicans were involved.

Mr McCartney's sister, Paula, said they would use the invite to get justice.

"Our message will be to highlight the murder of our brother Robert. We will be asking him to support us in our campaign for justice and indeed for justice for Ireland," she said.

In recent days, the IRA has expelled three members over the father-of-two's murder, following an "internal investigation", and Sinn Fein has suspended seven members suspected of involvement.

At the weekend, family members attended Sinn Fein's annual conference in Dublin.

In an address to delegates, Mr Adams said the killing was dreadful and the alleged involvement of some republicans made it a huge issue for Sinn Fein.

"As president of Sinn Fein or as an individual, I could not campaign for the victims of British or unionist paramilitary thuggery, if I was not as clear and as committed to justice for the McCartney family," he said.

Mr McCartney's sister Catherine said they were encouraged by Mr Adams' speech but their only concern was to see the perpetrators in court.

All five of Mr McCartney's sisters, and his partner Bridgeen, are going to Washington.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/07 18:42:28 GMT


Father Slams Unionist Stance

By David Gordon
07 March 2005

A campaigning father today accused unionist politicians of "hypocrisy" over their comments on the murder of Robert McCartney.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was killed by the UVF in 1997, said unionists had failed to take a stand on loyalist paramilitary murders.

He asked: "Who among unionist politicians is calling for the murderers of my son to be handed over?

"Who is calling for sanctions against the PUP?

"Their demands on the McCartney murder are nothing more than hypocrisy."

Mr McCord, a north Belfast Protestant, claimed unionists have let down victims of loyalist violence in their communities.

Raymond McCord Jnr was beaten to death by a UVF gang in November 1997.


Peace Process Needs A Collective Effort To Rebuild It

Published: 7 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP, speaking at a meeting of election workers in Belfast today, has said that the work of rebuild the damaged peace process has to begin at some stage and it should begin sooner rather than later.

Responding to comments today by the British Prime Minster, Tony Blair, Mr McGuinness said:

"The peace process is the only way forward but the process is in deep crisis. It needs to be rebuilt and it needs a collective effort to rebuild it.

"The British and Irish governments want to reduce all of the issues to one - that is the issue of the IRA - even though it knows that the IRA is not the only issue.

"And they present this in the most dishonest, provocative and counter-productive terms by defining the problem as criminality. Let me be clear. There is no room for criminality within republicanism. But the historic and contemporary reality is that the IRA is a response to deep injustice and to the failure of politics in the north.

"And by addressing and resolving these issues we can create the conditions where the IRA ceases to exist.

"Republicans are up for this challenge but we cannot do it alone." ENDS


Constructive Engagement Is The Only Way To Get A Comprehensive Deal On The Peace Process

Published: 7 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking from Dunboyne this afternoon where he is campaigning with the party's by-election candidate Joe Reilly said "I'm sure the Taoiseach understands precisely what needs to be done to sort current difficulties. If the peace process is to be put back together then the starting point must be a constructive engagement. And the conditions in which such an engagement can take place must be created."

Mr. Adams said:

"Last December Sinn Féin was working with the two governments to secure a comprehensive deal which would deal with the issue of armed groups, see the political institutions restored and the Good Friday Agreement implemented. This fell apart when the DUP walked away from talks. Any future deal must address these three elements. In relation to the issue of criminality, our position is equally clear - we are opposed to criminality and there is no place in this party for anyone involved in it.

"I'm sure the Taoiseach understands precisely what needs to be done to sort out current difficulties. If the peace process is to be put back together then the starting point must be a constructive engagement. And the conditions in which such an engagement can take place must be created.

"Republicans are willing to play our part, as I outlined at the weekend, but there is an equally heavy responsibility on the Irish government to act. The Taoiseach needs to examine the impact of recent comments by government ministers on the process. He needs to be working with us to develop a strategy back to talks." ENDS


EU Ambassador To US Accused Of Abusing Position To Attack Sinn Féin

Published: 7 March, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald, has this afternoon accused the EU Ambassador to the US, John Bruton, of abusing his position to launch an attack on Sinn Féin. Ms McDonald questioned whether Mr. Bruton had any right as the EU‚s ambassador to the US to "vent his anti-republican spleen" or to "comment in a partisan way on the domestic political situation in any EU member state". She said she would be raising the matter within the EU Parliament as soon as possible.

Ms McDonald said, "It is my contention that John Bruton, as EU ambassador to the United States of America, has absolutely no right to comment in a partisan way on the domestic political situation in any EU member state. If his comments were made in relation to a political party in any other country in the EU there would be uproar. John Bruton is mandated by the EU to promote the Unions policies in the US and relations between the two. He has not been given a platform to vent his anti-republican spleen."

"Is Mr. Bruton trying to give the impression that his own well known personal views are a matter of EU policy? If he is then the record should be set straight. If he is going to continue in this vein and continue to spout his own personal views in relation to Sinn Féin then his position as EU ambassador to the US will become untenable." ENDS


TD Assaulted By Joyriders

Published: 7 March, 2005

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh today described 'joyriding' as an "ongoing and potentially lethal problem" in the Ballyfermot area. The Dublin South Central TD made his comments after joyriders assaulted him near his home yesterday evening.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "On my return from yesterday's Ard Fheis at around 5pm I was nearly run off the road by joyriders who were driving extremely recklessly around the area I live and where there are always a lot of young children out playing.

"Concerned about the safety of not only my own children but also of the other kids on the road I challenged the occupants of one car to stop their activity but they sped off. I contacted the Gardai to alert them to the presence of joyriders in the area. I then approached the operator of an ice-cream van who was on the road at the time to warn him that up to four cars were being driven at speed around the area.

"It was while I was talking to this man that a second car came along. The car stopped because they couldn‚t get past the ice cream van. I approached the car to ask the occupants to stop because of the threat they posed to local children. It was then that one of the occupants got out of the car and punched me in the face. When other neighbours came out of their homes the joyriders left the area pursued by the Gardai.

"Joyriding in an ongoing and potentially lethal problem in the Ballyfermot area. Thankfully yesterday evening it ended in nothing more than a bloodied nose for myself. And while I would like to congratulate the Gardai for their prompt response I am still fearful that some young child is going to be tragically killed if we don't tackle this issue. Everybody - the community and the Gardaí - need to work together to bring an end to this scourge." ENDS


SF TD Compares Ahern To Poodle

Renagh Holohan in Bundoran

The Taoiseach "was bouncing around like a pink poodle behind the British bulldog" for failing to object to British sanctions against Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin TD for Louth Arthur Morgan told the meeting yesterday of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body.

Such a remark was highly offensive, Senator Martin Mansergh said. The Taoiseach had done more than anyone to ease the transition of the republican movement to democratic politics. The Irish Government, he said, had no jurisdiction on what was decided at Westminster.

Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan, who was being questioned by Mr Morgan on Britain's "unilateral action" on sanctions, said the only thing pink about the Taoiseach was the colour of his tie. What the Government wanted was for Sinn Féin to move the peace process forward by dealing with paramilitarism and criminality.

Mr Morgan said earlier during the two-day meeting that if the deal on devolved government had been agreed in December, the Northern Bank raid would probably have been solved.

Republicans, Mr Morgan said, agreed with the need for a proper, acceptable and impartial policing service and the working classes in republican and loyalist areas knew this. Criminality could only be addressed as part of an overall deal.

Mr Morgan told the group, backbench members from the Oireachtas and Westminster as well as regional assemblies, that borders generally lent themselves to people becoming involved in criminal activity. If you got rid of the border, you would reduce criminality.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim Glennon said last December's inability of the IRA to agree a formula of words renouncing criminality stymied the deal.

There was no border in Magennis's bar; there was no border in the Short Strand. Prostitution, murder and protection rackets did not require borders.

Sinn Féin, he said, had done a good job in criminalising itself.

Mr Mansergh said republicans insisted they had not lost the war; he hoped they were not about to lose the peace.

The meeting agreed a motion supporting full implementation of the Belfast Agreement, abhorring the murder of Robert McCartney and regretting the damage done to the peace process by criminality.

© The Irish Times


Orde Unmoved By SF Protest

Sinn Fein gatecrashed the launch of a human rights report and protested during a brief stunt about alleged security force collusion.

By:Press Association

Around half a dozen protesters entered the conference room in the Stormont Hotel in Belfast and unfurled a large Sinn Fein banner bearing the message "Who sanctioned British death squads. Time for the truth".

They stood quietly at the rear of the hall but the official proceedings were brought briefly to a standstill when group leader Robert McClenaghan strode to the front of the hall and began addressing delegates.

He said: "If we are serious about promoting human rights in the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) one of the key issues that has to be addressed is the issue of collusion."

No effort was made to remove the protesters but a number of people attending the launch walked out in disgust.

Within minutes the protesters were gone and when PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde stood to formally receive the report he dismissed the intrusion as an interesting part of the "rich tapestry" of policing in Northern Ireland.

He insisted: "We are very proud of our human rights and just for the record the PSNI has always been against death squads and those include, for example, the people who murdered Mr McCartney."

Robert McCartney was stabbed to death after a row in a Belfast bar in January.

His family alleged the killing was carried out by members of the IRA and covered up by them.

With Sinn Fein under intense pressure and facing a growing crisis over the incident, the IRA has expelled three members and Sinn Fein suspended seven members for their alleged involvement in the murder and its cover up.

Mr Orde told the gathering: "The very reason we are here today is to reassure and convince the community that this report underlines the utter commitment to deal fairly and properly with all the communities that we are privileged to serve."

He said human rights was not "window dressing" and those who had produced the report had been given unprecedented access to the service and its operation.

He said they were not complacent and acknowledged there was still a lot to learn. He said he would respond in detail to the report when it had been fully studied.


Prison Wing Measures Criticised

A prisoners' support group has criticised the placing of non-political prisoners in wings reserved for republican inmates at Maghaberry jail.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association said the authorities could turn down prisoners' requests to be accommodated in specific wings.

The prison service said prisoners must apply to be segregated and meet specific criteria.

A separated regime was introduced in the prison in March 2004.

Association spokesperson Marion Price said the current situation was unacceptable.

"We understand that to get onto the republican wing you have to make a request to be put onto that wing," she said.

"But because someone claims to be a republican, it does not make them a republican and certainly people who are in prison for criminal acts have no right to claim that they are republican prisoners.

"When a request is put in, the prison authorities can turn that request down if they so wish."

In September 2003, a review of safety at Maghaberry recommended separating republican and loyalist prisoners.

The move was introduced in the wake of violent clashes between rival groups in the jail and in the face of a "dirty protest" by a group of dissident republican prisoners.

As well as paramilitary prisoners, Maghaberry houses male and female prisoners, whether they are convicted or on remand, and a number of asylum seekers.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/07 22:31:36 GMT


Family Escape Injury In Gun Attack

Four people have escaped injury following a gun attack in west Belfast on Monday.

The incident occurred at a house in the Falls Road area of the city just before 1am. A man, woman and two children were inside when two shotgun rounds were fired at the property.

The assailants are thought to have made off in a dark coloured vehicle, possibly a Seat Alhambra, which was later found on fire in Servia Street.

Sinn Féin lower Falls councillor Tom Hartley said the shooting could have had “devastating consequences”.

“This was a reckless gun attack on a family and someone clearly could have been seriously injured or killed,” Cllr. Hartley said.

“Incidents such as this are totally unacceptable to the local community and I know that many are concerned that the consequences could have been devastating.”

Police have said they do not believe the attack was sectarian and have appealed for witnesses.


Irish Woman: I Suffered Racist Abuse At Fire UK Fire Service

07/03/2005 - 17:23:43

An Irish woman was told to leave Britain if she could not speak “the Queen’s English” by a colleague in an emergency services control room in Berkshire, a tribunal heard today.

Ann Neylan, 39, who is originally from Kilcolgan, Co Galway, said she was told to “f*** off home” because of the way she spoke by a colleague at the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, a tribunal in Reading was told today.

Ms Neylan, who is claiming victimisation under the Race Discrimination Act, told the panel that a string of incidents left her feeling humiliated.

She told a tribunal that on two occasions, in 2002 and 2003, a woman working directly under her had referred to gypsies being her “relatives” when dealing with 999 calls to Traveller sites.

On another occasion, the tribunal heard, she found that her computer log-in name had been changed to “Irish Ann” and some time later she picked up her telephone headset to find the word “Paddyy”, (with two ys), written on it.

The tribunal heard that the incidents reached a head in January 2003 when she made a suggestion to her temporary watch commander Liz Mitchell. In her statement to the tribunal she said: “She was annoyed that I had expressed my opinion. I could see she was angry and I said: ’Sure Liz, we won’t fall out over it. I just thought it was a bit daft’.”

Ms Neylan claims that another colleague, Lisa Bell, had mimicked her accent echoing “Daft, daft, daft” – prompting some discussion of her pronunciation. Ms Neylan claims that the watch commander, Ms Mitchell, then responded: “I suggest that if you don’t start speaking the Queen’s English, f*** off home.”

Ms Neylan told the panel that she had complained to her line manager, David Wright but said that he had not taken it seriously.

Two months later, on March 13, 2003 – Comic Relief Day – she had entered the control room to find a white board with a list of “sins” written for which people would have to make a donation to the fund. Among misdemeanours, such as swearing and coming in without a tie was, she says, “being Irish”.

On another occasion she said that a presentation she had been delivering to staff had been interrupted by a senior office shouting “No! No! No!” Afterwards she was told that two colleagues had a problem with her – something which she attempted to resolve by speaking to one of the women directly.

But the encounter only led to her being called in to a senior officer’s office and asked what she had done to upset the woman – who, she maintained, was unhappy at her promotion. After the encounter she claims that she burst into tears and drove home where she was physically sick and took time off work because of stress.

Cross-examined by Nicholas Baldock, representing the fire brigade, on how her feeling of victimisation was linked to the earlier incidents she said: “The only way I could say that is the way I was being humiliated which is the racial comments and the things that were happening to me.”

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.


Neeson Hate Mail Lashed

By Nevin Farrell
07 March 2005

A DUP councillor in the home town of Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson, whose controversial film 'Kinsey' opened in Northern Ireland on Friday, last night issued a Mother's Day condemnation of hatemailers targeting the actor's mum in Ballymena.

Robin Stirling - who believes Neeson's film about the 1950s American sex doctor Alfred Kinsey could corrupt family values - hopes no one in Northern Ireland would stoop to writing abusive letters.

When Kinsey opened in America last year many family value groups picketed cinemas and Neeson admitted that his mother Kitty even received hatemail.


Extended U2 Tour Puts Paid To Rumours Of Bank Job For Bono

Conor O'Clery in New York

The prospect of Bono becoming the next president of the World Bank may have caught the imagination of the US media but the U2 singer is not acting as if he plans to switch careers anytime soon.

The band is set to announce today the addition of 33 more dates to its Vertigo//2005 world tour.

The show begins in San Diego in a few weeks and will now finish on December 19th in Portland. This means U2 and Bono will be on the road almost non-stop until the end of the year.

Outgoing World Bank president James Wolfensohn is stepping down after 10 years on June 1st and a successor would have to be in place by then. Traditionally, an American gets to head up the 184-nation development bank, and the choice is made by the US president.

But US treasury secretary John Snow, who will recommend Wolfensohn's successor to President George Bush, seemed to confirm that Bono was on the list because of his reputation as an activist on debt relief and Aids.

"He's somebody I admire," Mr Snow told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. "He does a lot of good in this world of economic development.

"Most people know him as a rock star. He's in a way a rock star of the development world too. He understands the give-and-take of development. He's a very pragmatic, effective and idealistic person."

So is he on the short list? "I am not going to review here all the candidates that are on the list," said Mr Snow. "But I will attest to my admiration for Bono."

The U2 lead singer took time off to tour Africa with Mr Snow's predecessor, Paul O'Neill, who subsequently pushed the Bush administration to raise the profile of the war on poverty and Aids in Africa.

Other names mentioned in speculation about the World Bank nomination - one of the most important in Mr Bush's second term - include Carly Fiorina, the recently ousted chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and a friend of Mr Snow's; deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz; former secretary of state Colin Powell; John Taylor of the treasury department, Peter McPherson, a former university head who led the rebuilding of Iraq's financial system; Randall Tobias, Bush's global Aids co-ordinator; and Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, U2 is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York next week.

© The Irish Times

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