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March 26, 2005

Plastic Bullet Plan Unjustified

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/25/05
New plastic bullet plan 'unjustified'
IT 03/26/05 Use of new plastic bullet agreed in North
IO 03/25/05 McDonald Denies Short Strand 'Culture Of Fear'
EX 03/25/05 IRA Monument In Northern Town Pulled Down By Vandals
EX 03/25/05 O’Dea Calls For Boycott Of Sinn Féin’s Easter Events
LO 03/25/05 Sinn Féin Members Apologise After Manorhamilton 'Incident'
BB 03/25/05 Police To Transfer From Army Base
PB 03/25/05 Easter Reconciliation In Northern Ireland –V
IM 03/25/05
McCann Speaks On Republicanism
DJ 03/25/05 Josef Locke Sculpture Unveiled


New plastic bullet plan 'unjustified'

Campaigner says chance wasted to end baton rounds

By Clare Weir
25 March 2005

A peace campaigner blinded by a rubber bullet has said that the Policing Board has wasted an opportunity to abolish plastic bullets by approving a new baton round.

Children in Crossfire founder Richard Moore was ten-years-old when he was shot in the head by a soldier, four months after his uncle was killed on Bloody Sunday.

The Londonderry man overcame his disability to form the Children in Crossfire movement in 1996 which aims to protect young people around the world from violence.

He was speaking after Policing Board members backed the adoption of the new 'attenuated energy projectile' (AEP) at a meeting in Derry.

The board said the decision to replace the baton round with an AEP was subject to conditions.

These include Chief Constable Hugh Orde consulting with the Children's Commissioner and other bodies.

Board chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said the AEP presented "less risk of causing serious or fatal harm".

Sir Desmond added that no baton rounds had been fired since September 2002 and that their use was recorded and investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

"Plastic baton rounds have not been fired in Northern Ireland for two and a half years, and I hope that there will be no need to use the new equipment either."

He added that the issue was of great importance to the people of Northern Ireland, "not least those who have suffered loss or harm to their family members and friends".

It was also said that the Patten Report requires a search for or development of "less lethal" alternatives.

But Mr Moore said that the adoption of the new "spongier" rounds was a "wasted opportunity" to abolish the weapons.

"At a new time of peace in the country and with new policing, this was a perfect opportunity to do away will all baton rounds," he said. "I find it hurtful that people are still trying to justify the unjustifiable.

"The round that blinded me was called a 'rubber' bullet to make it sound less dangerous. You can't gloss over the fact that this is a potentially lethal weapon with a new name.

"These things are not meant to tickle - they are there to paralyse and disable, if even momentarily. If it is softer and spongier, surely it is less effective in doing this, so why have it in the first place?"

The final decision will be taken at a meeting on April 7.


Use of new plastic bullet agreed in North

Gerry Moriarty Northern Editor

The North's Policing Board, despite SDLP opposition, has agreed in principle to allow the PSNI use a new less lethal plastic bullet.

The board made its decision as the PSNI significantly announced it was moving its policing operations in south Armagh from Forkhill British army base to Crossmaglen police station.

At a special meeting of the board on Thursday night a "substantial majority" of members accepted the PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde's advice to endorse use of the "attenuating energy projectile".

This is subject to Mr Orde consulting with all relevant bodies, including the North's children's commissioner. The SDLP opposed the proposal.

Sir Desmond Rea, chairman of the board, said use of the new plastic bullets would be restricted. "Each firing of a baton round must be proved to be both measured and proportionate and every single firing is individually investigated and reported on by the Police ombudsman," he said.

Plastic and rubber bullets have proved controversial throughout the Troubles and since the ceasefires. Sixteen people died after being struck by such bullets although the PSNI has not fired one since September 2002.

The board decision triggered a row involving the DUP, the SDLP and Sinn Féin. DUP board member Ian Paisley jnr said the SDLP was left "reeling" by the decision and that it was isolated on the board. "Effectively the SDLP are in the ludicrous position of supporting the old style more dangerous baton round and want to remove the right to use the new baton round that is scientifically proven to be less lethal. They would place the board by their actions in a position of negligence with the public if they had their way," Mr Paisley said.

Sinn Féin's policing spokes- man Gerry Kelly said the SDLP "made noise but were ultimately powerless to prevent this and will without doubt go along with the decision of the board. The SDLP have once again acquiesced to the continuing use of plastic bullets by the PSNI."

SDLP policing board member Alex Attwood accused Sinn Féin of issuing "empty slogans" around policing.

Meanwhile, policing services are to be transferred from Forkhill British army base to the police station in Crossmaglen, denoting another move to bring the PSNI closer to the local community in south Armagh. South Armagh has always been one of the most difficult areas to police but PSNI chief supt Bobby Hunniford said these new arrangements would provide a better service in the republican area.

© The Irish Times


McDonald Denies Short Strand 'Culture Of Fear'
2005-03-25 16:10:02+00

Sinn Féin's National Chairman Mary Lou McDonald has denied the existence of a "culture of fear" in Belfast's Short Strand which is preventing witnesses to Robert McCartney's murder from coming forward with evidence.

Dublin MEP McDonald said today the McCartney family is meeting with Gerry Adams today and claimed they have the continued support of Sinn Féin in their fight for justice.

The McCartneys claim that the IRA has taken back one of the members it expelled over the killing, and they are questioning the group's commitment to their campaign for truth.

Ms McDonald denied that there was any pressure on people to keep quiet about what they saw on the night: "I think there is a myth amongst certain sections of the media, perhaps a deliberately constructed one, around this business of fear in the community.

"It is certainly not a fear of republicans in terms of bringing this information forward. We couldn't be more crystal clear, the IRA, Sinn Féin, republicans everywhere have called for people to bring the information forward," she claimed.


IRA Monument In Northern Town Pulled Down By Vandals

By Gary Kelly

AN IRA monument in the centre of a Co Down town has been damaged by vandals.

The Celtic cross in Main Street in Castlewellan was pulled down from its base by vandals in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Three flag poles surrounding it were also uprooted with one tossed into the grounds of St Malachy’s Chapel.

The attack was condemned by Sinn Féin MLA for the area Catriona Ruane who said it was linked to political opposition to a republican Easter parade in nearby Newcastle.

The parade was called off by Sinn Féin earlier this week. Ms Ruane described it as a mindless act of vandalism. “Actions such as this will make the job of improving community relations much more difficult.

“I have no doubt that those who carried out this attack were determined to try and escalate tensions in the area.

“It is no co-incidence that this attack on a republican monument comes at a time when the SDLP and DUP are actively opposing the Sunday Easter parade in Newcastle.

“There are elements in South Down who are trying to stop nationalists and republicans from being able to celebrate the 1916 Easter uprising. These are the same people who cannot accept the ever increasing support for republicans and Sinn Féin in this area.

“I have a simple message for these people. We will rebuild the Castlewellan monument to the people who have died fighting for Irish freedom and we will continue to build the momentum for Irish re-unification,” she added.

SDLP councillor for Down District Eamonn O’Neill also condemned the vandalism.

“It is clearly an attempt to cause confrontation with the Provisional Republican movement at a time when we want conciliation,” Mr O’Neill said.


O’Dea Calls For Boycott Of Sinn Féin’s Easter Events

By Mary Dundon, Political Reporter

DEFENCE Minister Willie O’Dea called on all Irish people yesterday to boycott the 100 Sinn Féin commemorations of the Easter Rising being held this weekend because they are organised by “criminals”.

In a hard-hitting statement, Mr O'Dea said it does not take the media or the political establishment to label Sinn Féin "criminal" because the party does it very well itself.

"They (Sinn Féin) are criminals not republicans and they have hijacked this term as part of their publicity strategy, but as the true face of the IRA becomes apparent, their support is waning," the minister added.

Mr O'Dea said the only form of republicanism that is acceptable to Irish people is constitutional republicanism, of the type which Fianna Fáil supports.

"All self-respecting people should boycott the 100 commemorations being held by Sinn Féin this Easter because they are being organised by criminals," the minister added.

And the best message Sinn Féin can give this Easter is to tell the murderers of Robert McCartney to hand themselves in, Mr O'Dea added.

This must be followed by decommissioning of all illegally held weapons and the disbanding of the criminal wing of its illegal organisation because Sinn Fein and the IRA are two sides of the same coin, Mr O'Dea added.

Responding to Mr O'Dea's comments, Sinn Féin said the party was confident that his comments will be duly ignored by tens of thousands of Irish people who will join it in honouring those who died in the fight for Irish freedom.

Sinn Féin's Waterford city councillor David Cullinane said: "We will not be put off by Willie O'Dea as he spews out another load of anti-republican claptrap."

Sinn Féin and true Irish republicans the length and breadth of this island will commemorate with pride all those who have died in the pursuit of Irish freedom from 1916 onwards, Mr Cullinane added.

Junior Environment Minister Batt O'Keeffe, who will be delivering the Government's keynote address to mark the Easter Rising in Co Cork on Sunday, was equally critical of Sinn Féin.

He accused the party of hijacking the term republican. "Sinn Fein is not beyond exaggerating their position, but history questions the validity of their claims," Mr O'Keeffe said.

Both Minister O'Dea and O'Keeffe were responding to a statement made by Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly at the launch of the party's Easter Lily ceremony.

Mr Kelly said the political establishment is once again set on criminalising the republican struggle and by extension our patriot dead.

"This weekend provides republicans with an opportunity to send out a clear message that we are rightly proud of our heritage and our struggle and will not allow that to be tarnished or criminalised," Mr Kelly added.

The Government will not hold its major celebration of the Easter Rising this year until April 24 the actual date that the rising started and the keynote speech at Arbour Hill will be given by Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv.


Sinn Féin Members Apologise After Manorhamilton 'Incident'

By Leonie McKiernan -

Two Sinn Fein members involved in an incident at a Manorhamilton pub have since apologised to the owner of O’Mahony’s Bar for their behaviour, said a party spokesperson.

Local county councillor Michael Colreavy confirmed that the pair had made a “sincere apology to the owners of the premises involved.”

He said that the party were happy that the two men had taken this step, however he added Sinn Féin would allow legal action to take its “due course” before deciding whether to take any further disciplinary action against the pair.

The pair were part of a large group who entered O’Mahony’s Bar, Main Street Manorhamilton allegedly claiming to be members of the IRA. Two customers were apparently approached in the incident and threatened.

Six men were later arrested and questioned and a file is currently being compiled for the DPP on the matter.

Cllr Colreavy noted that the two Sinn Féin members had apologised shortly after the incident and had since been allowed back into the premises.

“I believe that their apology was sincere and heartfelt and was accepted,” he told the Leitrim Observer.

Although there has been no official confirmation, it is believed that some of the other individuals involved in the incident have also come forward to apologise to the owners of the pub.

Publican Patricia O’Mahony said that she was aware of the blanket apology that had been offered by Cllr Colreavy on behalf of Sinn Féin but admitted she had not been approached by anyone involved offering a personal apology.

However, she said an apology may have been offered to other members of her family. She said that there has been a “lot of media attention” and the family just want to “let the matter lie now.”


Police To Transfer From Army Base

Policing services in south Armagh are being transferred from Forkhill Army base to Crossmaglen police station.

The move is being made following a review of policing in the area.

Members of Newry and Mourne District Policing Partnership have been briefed on the new arrangements by the Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford.

He said he believed the changes, which take effect from 1 May, will improve police services in the area.

The level of service to the Forkhill area will be maintained, as a number of officers will continue to serve in Crossmaglen.

Other officers from Forkhill will join colleagues in Bessbrook and Newtownhamilton and more officers are to be assigned to the south Armagh area in May, increasing the overall number of officers.

Mr Hunniford said: "Local people will see a significant change in policing style.

"I call on members of the community in Forkhill, Crossmaglen, Bessbrook and Newtownhamilton to support their local officers as they strive to provide policing services to them through working in partnership. "

SDLP Newry Armagh assembly member Dominic Bradley said he welcomed any move towards the "full normalisation of policing and the further implementation of Patten."

He said the SDLP wanted to see all military installations in south Armagh removed.

'Cosmetic moves'

"The intrusive British Army presence must be removed. The SDLP have been in negotiations with the British Government in respect of demilitarisation in South Armagh and have presented our proposals for how it can be achieved in a quick timescale. "

Sinn Fein assembly member for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy said: "On the one hand we were told the British Army is there to support the PSNI, whilst on the other hand the Forkhill community are now being told, the PSNI are vacating but the military occupation is staying put.

"The amount of military activity, the telecommunication masts and surveillance apparatus reinforces the vast majority of residents' fears that this station is a major monitoring centre for the entire area.

"The people of this area have witnessed these types of cosmetic PR moves before and are not that easily fooled."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/25 16:08:40 GMT


Watch the video at:

Easter Reconciliation In Northern Ireland -V

March 25, 2005 Episode no. 830

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Holy Week and Easter have special significance in Northern Ireland, a land torn by decades of religious conflict. It was on Good Friday in 1998 that Catholics and Protestants negotiated a power-sharing agreement designed to end hostilities. Seven years after the Good Friday accords, violence has decreased substantially, but lasting peace still has not come. Amid the ongoing tensions, a Benedictine monastery is working for reconciliation and unity. Kim Lawton has our profile of the monks and their work.

KIM LAWTON: Early spring in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains south of Belfast. Signs of new life are at every turn. This tranquil setting seems far removed from the Troubles, as people here call the hatred and killing that have wracked Northern Ireland for decades.

But Father Mark-Ephrem Nolan, abbot of Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery in Rostrevor, says bitterness here still runs deep.

Father MARK-EPHREM NOLAN (Abbot, Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery, Rostrevor, Ireland): There has been so much pain and suffering. I think it is sometimes very hard for people from outside this country to measure to what extent people's lives have been deeply, deeply affected by the Troubles.

LAWTON: The very modern Holy Cross Monastery was dedicated just over a year ago, the first Benedictine monastery in Northern Ireland since the year 1183. It was established to work for peace and reconciliation.

Father NOLAN: Quite often, we talk of the two communities in Northern Ireland. I don't think we can think of two communities in Christian terms. Perhaps you have got two political communities. There is one Christian community, which is divided within itself, and our call is to be reconciled in Christ Jesus.

LAWTON: The monastery is run by Nolan and four other monks who came with him from France in 1998. They were inspired by a Vatican document that urged monks and nuns to take their contemplative lives of prayer out into corners of the globe where people are divided. Nolan was born in Belfast and felt a call to minister in his conflict-ridden homeland. His French brother-monks shared his vision.

Father NOLAN: We hope to live here, and I think that's at the heart of the monastic vocation -- a ministry of compassion, to be with people who have suffered, who are suffering, to be a sign of the presence of Christ.

LAWTON: They live by the Rule of Saint Benedict, the set of instructions written in the sixth century by the founder of Western monasticism. It's a simple life, marked by manual work, Bible study, regular intervals of prayer, and long periods of silence. The monks at Holy Cross support themselves by making candles, which are sold around the world. They also practice hospitality, with a guesthouse where people can come for spiritual retreat.

The monks gather five times daily to pray. People from all denominations in the community are invited to join them. Every day they pray for national healing, for peace and unity, and every day they pray for Catholic and Protestant church leaders by name.

Father NOLAN: A psychiatrist came one morning, a Catholic layman. He said to me, "You have no idea the bombshell you drop when you name the Presbyterian minister and the elders in the congregation." He said, "People just have never heard that before."

LAWTON: The monastery sponsors public healing services, where Catholics and Protestants alike talk openly about their stories of pain and loss. Holy Cross also hosts regular dialogue sessions for local Catholic and Protestant clergy.

Participants, including this Protestant pastor, say they've been touched.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTANT CLERGYMAN (At Service): I have experienced this community to be a community that holds a safe space, where the grace of God's forgiveness and God's work of reconciliation can flow.

LAWTON: The monks' impact is being felt well beyond the community. One big supporter is the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican George Carey, who spoke at the monastery's ecumenical dedication ceremony in January 2004.

Lord GEORGE CAREY (Former Archbishop of Canterbury): This monastery is a sign of hope that together we can do something, and we can do far more.

LAWTON: The monks have also gained an international following thanks to brisk sales of their CD of Gregorian and Taize chants.

But Father Nolan believes their biggest impact is in simply trying to live what they preach. He calls it "truthful living."

Father NOLAN: The fact that we are trying to live reconciliation with our brothers day after day, brothers whom we didn't choose, brothers whose legitimate differences we have to recognize and accept and rejoice in -- then that speaks to the churches.

LAWTON: Here at Holy Cross, Nolan says the themes of Holy Week and Easter resonate deeply. Above their altar is an icon of Jesus on the cross. The inscription at the top reads, "May All Be One," taken from Jesus' prayer on the eve of his crucifixion -- a constant reminder, Nolan says, that hope can come out of death.

Father NOLAN: We are, there's no doubt, a marked people, a scarred people, a wounded people. But I think, by the power of God's grace, those wounds can, in fact, become signs of resurrection and new life.

LAWTON: At the entrance of the monastery stands a giant version of the traditional resurrection icon. They have a smaller version inside, as well. Nolan says he loves the symbolism, which conveys the very core of his faith.

Father NOLAN: Christ, who is depicted here as trampling underfoot death and the powers of the underworld, pulling Adam and Eve, man and woman, forth from the regions of darkness, the regions of death -- forth from the tomb, literally. Christ has a strong grasp there on Adam, pulling him forth, and there's a gentle bidding of Eve.

LAWTON: They placed the icon at the entrance in order to proclaim their belief that the risen Jesus is in their midst.

Father NOLAN: That's what we want to share with those who come to the monastery -- that life of the risen Lord who is the one who brings us forth from darkness and brings us forth from the shadow of death, who gives new hope to people who have suffered and who is there with his message of peace.

LAWTON: It's an Easter message, the monks say, for all year long.

I'm Kim Lawton in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland.


McCann Speaks On Republicanism

by Mark Hewitt - ARN, SWP Friday, Mar 25 2005, 9:46pm

down / anti-capitalism / event notice

Socialist Worker Forum
Public Meeting

Eamonn McCann
Author and Broadcaster
Speaks on

Sinn Fein and the IRA – Republicanism at the crossroads
Why we need a Socialist Alternative

7.30pm Wednesday 30th March
An Chulturlann, Falls Road, West Belfast

All Welcome

Over the past three months, Sinn Fein have gone from being the key players bringing about a devolved administration in Northern Ireland, and in the process aiding in the complete decommissioning of IRA weapons, to being pariahs on an international scale.

The recent snub by the US administration on St Patrick’s Day an example of the pressure being applied to Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein.

Implicated in the Northern Bank Robbery despite no evidence being presented and having to deal with the fall-out from the murder of Robert McCartney the call from Bush, Blair, Ahern and Paisley is for Sinn Fein to ditch the IRA.

Eamonn McCann has written about and been involved in political campaigns in Northern Ireland since the 60’s. His book “War and an Irish Town,” is considered a classic account of the beginning of “the troubles” and equally a classic in terms historical and political writing.

Eamonn will be speaking on the present turmoil within the peace process and within republicanism and will give his view on how events may unfold over the months and years to come.

For more information call Gordon Hewitt on 07742 531 617


Josef Locke Sculpture Unveiled

Friday 25th March 2005

Asculpture commemorating the life of one of the city's most famous sons, tenor Josef Locke, was unveiled yesterday in Derry's city centre.

The ceremony, outside the City Hotel at Queen's Quay, was attended by Derry-born musician and composer, Phil Coulter, local MP John Hume and the city's Mayor, Colr. Gerry O'hEara.

The unveiling took place the day before what would have been Josef Locke's 88th birthday.

The sculpture was designed by local designer Terry Quigley and sculpted by Maurice Harron, also from Derry.

Over the past two and a half years, local man Michael Sheerin has spearheaded a campaign to have a permanent monument erected to Locke.

The campaign culminated with a special concert, headlined by Phil Coulter, which was held in the Millennium Forum last August to help raise money to have the sculpture commissioned.

Mayor O'hEara said he was delighted to see Josef Locke's memory honoured in such a way.

"Josef Locke was an ambassador for this city on a world-wide stage and I am delighted to see that his life and achievements are being celebrated in this manner.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Sheerin for his tireless work in ensuring this project was successful and would like to congratulate both Terry Quigley and Maurice Harron in producing such a magnificent piece."

The sculpture has been described as 'a wonderful, flowing piece in bronze and stainless steel, which rises like the swirling melody of a song, and encompasses Josef's life'.

Michael Sheerin, co-ordinator of the project, said: "I am thrilled that after two and a half years we are now at the final stages of unveiling this splendid sculptor which will recognise one of the many great people from this city who have put their home town on the international map.

"I would like to thank everyone who supported us in this project including the Millennium Forum, Phil Coulter, Derry City Council plus the people of this city who pledged their support by donated money or by attending the fund raising event we hosted last year in the Forum."

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Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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