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March 19, 2005

Smith In Finucane Inquiries Appeal

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/19/05
Rep Chris Smith In Finucane Inquiries Appeal
PD 03/19/05 'Peace Is Very Threatening,'Sinn Fein Head Says At JCU
BT 03/19/05 Derry Mayor Denies Snubbing The PSNI
IC 03/19/05 MLA Attacked At Bonfire Site
IO 03/19/05 Sinn Féin Supporters Protest In Dublin -V
BT 03/19/05 List Of Shame
BB 03/19/05 Family Targeted In Petrol Bombing
BT 03/19/05 Belfast Dad Was Victim Of Murder, Says Family
BT 03/19/05 US Meetings Have Bolstered McCartneys' Determination
DM 03/19/05 We Failed One Brother. We Will Not Fail Another
BT 03/19/05 Statue Tribute To Tenor Locke
IO 03/19/05 Legendary Irish Horseman Eddie Boylan Dies

RT 03/19/05
McCartney Family Visit -V
RE 03/19/05 Senate Motion To Condemn McCartney Killing -V

(Poster’s Note: Click the links above to go directly to the story online. Jay)

On March 20, 1964, Irish writer, drinker and one-time IRA member, Brendan Behan died.

World Report: Robert Shortt, Washington Correspondent, reports on the visit to the city by the sisters and partner of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney

Senate Motion To Condemn McCartney Killing - Jonathan Clynch reports as Ted Kennedy, Hilary Clinton, Chris Dodd and John McCain call on Sinn Féin to break with the IRA


Congressman In Inquiries Appeal

A senior US politician has called on Tony Blair to abandon plans for a new law on public inquiries.

Congressman Chris Smith said proposals to hear some evidence in private would prevent an open inquiry into the 1989 murder of the solicitor Pat Finucane.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Inside Politics, Mr Smith said the government should give the Finucanes and other families what they had been promised.

"That is to have this public inquiry without this new legislation," he said.

Mr Smith said this had been promised in the Weston Park talks of 2001.

The new legislation is to come about as a result of the Inquiries Bill which was published at the end of last year.

Last week the judge who investigated allegations of collusion in the murder of Mr Finucane - who was shot dead by the UDA - criticised the law changes.

Judge Peter Cory told a Washington committee chaired by Mr Smith the new legislation "would make a meaningful inquiry impossible".

"It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation," Judge Cory said.

Following the publication of the Inquiries Bill the Northern Ireland Office said nothing would be withheld from the inquiries.

However, it said some evidence would have to be considered in private.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/19 09:49:20 GMT


'Peace Is Very Threatening,'Sinn Fein Head Says At JCU

Saturday, March 19, 2005
Robert L. Smith
Plain Dealer Reporter

Gerry Adams, climaxing a St. Patrick's week visit to America, declared to a Cleveland audience Friday that he is more committed than ever to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Adams also charged that the volleys of criticism being fired at him and his political party, Sinn Fein, come strongest from those who loathe the idea of a united Ireland.

"Peace is very threatening," Adams told about 1,700 people gathered in a gymnasium at John Carroll University. "If peace does require justice, and does require equality, then you must change society. There will be resistance."

Appearing tall and trim in a dark blue suit, with his trademark salt and pepper beard, the bespectacled Adams talked in a calm, even brogue and occasionally flashed a smile.

The audience, a mix of students, faculty members and the general public, greeted him with a standing ovation and applauded several times during his speech.

Adams, president of Sinn Fein, talked mostly about the peace process.

He said he is commited to seeing the peace process through to full democracy. But he also acknowledged that recent events in Ireland have aroused much skepticism and concern, even among Sinn Fein's staunch supporters.

Members of the outlawed Irish Republican Army have been linked to a $50 million bank heist in December and to the recent slaying of a Belfast man, Robert McCartney, in a pub brawl.

Seen as the legal political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein is tainted by IRA outrages.

McCartney's sisters arrived in Washington Tuesday to argue their claim that the IRA was more criminal than political.

For the first time since 1995, Adams and other Northern Ireland leaders were not invited to the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House. Instead, President Bush welcomed the McCartney sisters.

Congressional leaders also turned their backs on Adams this week. Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, among others, declared it was time for Sinn Fein to disassociate itself from the IRA if it could not convince the IRA to disband.

Adams denied that his party had any involvement in or knowledge of the two crimes. He added that his dream is that the IRA will one day cease to be necessary, but said that the day has not yet come.

Much progress has been made since the Good Friday accords of 1998, Adams said, but Catholics remain distrustful of Northern Ireland police, and armed groups -- both Protestant and Catholic -- remain active.

Adams, who was to fly home last night, asked his audience to help the peace process by caring.

"I always go back inspired that people care," he said. "And the size of the crowd here, at John Carroll, shows that people care about a wee small island called Ireland."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: , 216-999-4024

© 2005 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.


Derry Mayor Denies Snubbing The PSNI

By Clare Weir
19 March 2005

The Sinn Fein mayor of Derry has denied that he deliberately avoids events involving the PSNI.

Gerry o'hEara made the comments this week after the Telegraph revealed that a road safety group pulled out of a planned event to celebrate their 40th anniversary after he said he was unable to attend.

The Foyle Road Safety Committee scrapped the special ceremony at the city's Guildhall in disgust after learning that the mayor would not attend on the given date.

Secretary Aileen Tester - whose brother Robert (20), died after being knocked down by a drunk driver in Nottingham said she believed that the Mayor followed party lines and withdrew after learning that PSNI chief superintendent Richard Russell would also be taking part.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council said that the body remains open to hosting a reception for the group and is not prescriptive about who attends.

There was also a denial that Mr O'hEara avoided events attended by police.

Councillor O'hEara also expressed "disappointment and surprise" at claims he snubbed the committee.

He has sought a meeting with the group.


MLA Attacked At Bonfire Site

by Joe Nawaz

The bonfire site at Milltown Estate in Castlereagh has already been the subject of controversy with over four months still to go before the 11th night.

SDLP Assembley member for South Belfast, Carmel Hanna, was stoned by loyalists this week when visiting the estate for a television interview.

Ms Hanna was pelted with bricks as she sat in her car, waiting to talk about the environmental impact of bonfire dumping in the area.

The shaken MLA said: "I just heard the bricks hit the roof of my car, and one broke my wing mirror.

"If anyone had been nearby or a brick had come through the window, goodness knows what would have happened.

"I had to drive out to get away,” she added.

Dumping has already begun in earnest on the controversial site, with a large furniture suite among the waste beginning to accumulate.

Although Mrs Hanna stressed that she respected the right to mark a key date in the Protestant calendar, she added: "As a public representative I should be allowed to have a view on it.

"We need health and safety regulations implemented just like there are for Halloween fireworks and there should be a time frame so that these sites are not polluted all year round."

Castlereagh councillors were quick to denounce the attack on Ms Hanna, but many offered a note of caution.

Deputy Mayor of Castlereagh Council, David Drysdale, condemned the attack on Cllr Hanna, but added that her visiting the area was "unhelpful".

"While I would deplore what happened to Carmel, her being there didn’t help.

"Agreeing to be interviewed, along with Sammy Wilson, in the area where we have been conducting delicate negotiations on the bonfire site, can only be detrimental to getting a satisfactory deal.”

The Ulster Unionist councillor added that locals were not responsible for the premature dumping on the site.

"To be fair to organisers here, somebody from outside the area came and dumped a suite here. Local kids then just followed suit.

"Everyone knows these bonfire sites of old, and people from outside the area see it as a good opportunity to get rid of unwanted waste.

"All this doesn’t help when we are in negotiations with local organisers to make this run as smoothly as possible, although we would not want to tell locals what to do on this issue."

Alliance party councillor Sara Duncan condemned the stoning of Ms Hanna.

"This attack is to be utterly condemned. To attack Carmel or anybody else in that manner is just plain wrong.

"Although her being interviewed in such a sensitive location was perhaps not helpful, she should still have the right to be there as the MLA for that area."

Cllr Duncan added: “What sort of image and message does that convey to the outside world? I don’t see how this is going to help to win recognition and support for 11th night bonfires."

Speaking from her office the following morning, Cllr Hanna said that she was overwhelmed by the support that she had received from residents of Milltown estate following her attack.

"I have had calls from local people this morning, thanking me for going to their area to bring the matter of bonfire dumping to public attention.

"It shows that there are people who do not support the devastation that these bonfires can cause to their areas,” she said.

"Their view also deserves to be represented and they show that there is by no means a united front on the issue, as we are sometimes told.”

Cllr Hanna added: "Whilst people may enjoy the bonfire, I’m sure most of them do not want their homes and environment to be ruined by them or for local bonfire sites to be a permanent eyesore all year round."

Journalist:: Joe Nawaz


Sinn Féin supporters hold protest

Sinn Féin Supporters Protest In Dublin -V
2005-03-19 16:10:02+00

An estimated 200 Sinn Féin supporters gathered in Dublin today to protest against what they describe as attempts to criminalise the republican movement.

They say they have been victims of trial by media and are fighting to defend the peace process.

Speaking at the rally, Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe said they are fighting back against those who are tarnishing their name for political gains, and also that the republican struggle is stronger than at any time in recent history

He said: "People are waking up to the fact that the evidence hasn't been produced to link republicans to the criminality, and we've already reiterated that if any republican, or member of my party, are involved in criminality they will be dismissed out of the party."


List Of Shame

The 39 killed by the IRA since the ceasefire

19 March 2005

Christopher O'Kane (37) was shot dead outside a Derry pub on April 21, 2001. O'Kane was a small-time drug dealer who had a number of run-ins with local IRA figures.

Eamon Collins: the 45-year-old ex-prisoner was beaten and stabbed on January 27, 1999, because he wrote a brutally honest book, Killing Rage, about his role as part of the murderous IRA's south Armagh brigade. He also testified in the Sunday Times libel case against IRA boss, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy. Police who attended the scene said they had never encountered such injuries, which at first made them think he had been mangled by machinery. No one has been charged.

Paul Daly (38) was sitting with his 11-year-old daughter in his car near the nationalist Unity Flats on May 4, 2001 when two gunmen approached and shot him. Daly was a known drug dealer and, although his death was never admitted, it was known to be another IRA murder under the pseudonym 'Direct Action Against Drugs' (DAAD).

Andy Kearney (33) was involved in a fist fight with a notorious north Belfast IRA man. The IRA man sent an armed gang to Kearney's seventh-floor flat in the New Lodge area on July 20, 1997. They overpowered Kennedy, tied his hands behind his back, dragged him out onto the landing and shot him three times in the legs. They then tore out the telephone and disabled the lift so Kearney's girlfriend had to run down 16 flights of stairs to raise help. He bled to death.

Michael Magee (34) was recovering from a savage IRA punishment beating at his home in Downpatrick on June 11, 2001 when a masked gang broke in and shot him dead at point-blank range. Local republicans said Magee was involved in drugs but his family and friends said he was not a dealer but was shot because he had a fight with a local republican.

Gareth O'Connor (24) disappeared while travelling through south Armagh on March 11, 2003. Gardai believe he was murdered by the local IRA and secretly buried, and, although the reasons remain uncertain, it is believed they were acting on behalf of a 'Continuity' IRA figure from Armagh.

Matthew Burns (26) was sitting in his car when gunmen opened fire, killing Burns and injuring his brother at Castlewellan, Co Down on February 21, 2002. His family denied republican claims that he was a drug dealer.

Brian McDonald (51) was a taxi-driver in Dungannon, Co Tyrone who was on his way to pick up a fare in the town when he was approached by two gunmen and shot dead on April 4, 2002. Local people said a close relative of Mr McDonald's had been involved in a fight with a local IRA man and his murder was an act of revenge.

Seamus 'Shavo' Hogan (47) was shot dead by an IRA hit squad as he emerged from the Transport Club in Crumlin in the Republic on July 14, 2001. Shavo, who once was a close associate of 'the General', Martin Cahill, refused to pay protection money and suffered the consequences.

Edmund McCoy (28) was sitting in a bar at Dunmurry in south Belfast when three gunmen walked in and shot him in the head and stomach on May 29, 2000. McCoy was a Catholic who associated with loyalist drug dealers. Again, the murder was seen as benefiting Catholic drug dealers who paid protection to the IRA.

Nicholas 'Mad Nicky' O'Hare (34) was shot dead in Dundalk on August 19, 2000. O'Hare was a former INLA man heavily involved in criminality. He was believed to have been murdered by the IRA in retaliation for the killing of a Dundalk man, Stephen Connolly, three weeks earlier.

Patrick Quinn (32) was also accused of being a drug dealer after his murder on September 29, 2000 as he sat drinking in the Depot Bar in Magherafelt, Co Derry, though his family and friends strongly denied the claim. He was shot dead at point-blank range by a lone gunman.

Joseph O'Connor (26) was a Real IRA man who was shot dead near his mother's home in the Ballymurphy estate in west Belfast on October 13, 2000. The IRA never admitted the killing, which local people said was carried out because O'Connor was muscling in on their local smuggled cigarette racket.

Trevor Kells (35) was a Protestant taxi driver who answered a call to Ardoyne on December 5, 2000 and was shot dead by two gunmen. At his inquest the police officer investigating the killing described it as "a purely random sectarian murder."

Brendan 'Speedy' Fagan (24) was a drug dealer in Newry who knew he was under threat from the IRA when he was shot dead in a local pub on May 9, 1999. As two gunmen approached him, he shouted: "It's the Provies." Fagan bought drugs from Dublin dealers, including members of John Gilligan's gang.

Paul 'Bull' Downey (37) was a close associate of 'Speedy' Fagan's whose body was found on a south Armagh roadside on June 13, 1999.

Charles Bennett (22) had joined the IRA after the ceasefire and was accused of being a police informant. He was abducted, tortured and then taken to waste ground in west Belfast and shot through the head on July 25, 1999.

Brendan 'Bap' Campbell (30) was another small-time Belfast drug dealer who was shot dead on February 9, 1998 as he left a Lisburn Road restaurant with his girlfriend.

Bobby Dougan (34) was a prominent south Belfast loyalist who was shot dead by the IRA on February 10, 1998. Despite denying the murders of both Dougan and Campbell, ballistics tests showed the guns used were also used in previous IRA murders and Sinn Fein was suspended for two weeks from the talks leading to the Good Friday Agreement. They were then re-admitted and the IRA issued orders to import new handguns from Florida so that they could avoid detection from ballistics. The gun-smuggling ring was discovered in 1999 after some 200 guns were sent through the post to safe houses in the Republic.

Kevin Conway (30) was found hooded and shot through the head on February 17, 1998 in farmland at Aghalee on the western outskirts of Belfast. The reason for Mr Conway's murder was never fully established, though local people said he had been targeted by the IRA for a punishment beating but that this escalated to murder.

Gerard Moran (35) from Rory O'Connor House, Hardwicke Street, in north central Dublin, was shot dead while delivering takeaway food in Drumcondra on November 21, 1998. His murder was ordered by the IRA boss on the northside of Dublin, the same man who has been responsible for the series of container heists in Dublin city port and, ironically, the man believed to be sheltering the Belfast IRA man who stabbed Robert McCartney. Moran's death was ordered because he had taunted IRA figures in the north inner city.

Michael Mooney (34) was shot dead as he sat drinking with friends in a Belfast city centre bar on April 28, 1995. His was the first of the series of IRA murders claimed under DAAD. One of the two gunmen involved in his murder was also centrally involved in the murder of Robert McCartney.

Anthony Kane (29) was shot dead by a lone gunman as he sat in a car with his wife outside a west Belfast church where his aunt's funeral was taking place on September 5, 1995. Kane's murder was claimed under the DAAD cover name, but well-known local IRA figures were involved.

Paul 'Saul' Devine (35) was shot six times in west Belfast on December 12, 1995. He was a known criminal who had previously carried out robberies and other crimes passing part of the proceeds to the IRA. Again DAAD claimed the murder.

Francis Collins (40) was a former member of the IRA who was shot dead on the night of December 18, 1995 at the chip shop he ran in Belfast's New Lodge area. It is believed he had been in a dispute with a local IRA boss. He had no connections to the drugs trade though the IRA claimed his murder as a DAAD killing.

Christopher 'Sid' Johnston (38) was shot dead at his home in south Belfast on December 19, 1995. At the time he was on bail for possession of £250,000 worth of cannabis. Again, claimed in the name of DAAD.

Martin McCrory (30) was sitting in his flat on the evening of December 27, 1995 when two men burst in and shot him at point-blank range with a shotgun. His inquest heard he was a recreational drug user, but not a supplier. It is believed he had had an argument with local IRA figures.

Ian Lyons (31) was shot dead by two gunmen who approached his car as it was parked outside his girlfriend's house in Lurgan, Co Armagh on January 2, 1996. A notorious local IRA man was responsible. It is believed the IRA man had demanded money from Lyons who had refused.

John Paul Devlin was sitting in his flat in the Markets area when two gunmen burst in and shot him to death on September 13, 1996. Devlin was due to appear in court the next day on minor drugs charges. He was not suspected of being a major drugs dealer but was shot dead as a "punishment" by the same IRA group responsible for the murder of Robert McCartney.

PJ Judge (41) was shot dead on December 7, 1996 as he sat in a car outside a Finglas public house. Judge had a deserved reputation as a brutal criminal. However, local people say the IRA gang which murdered him has close links to Judge's rivals and were paid to carry out the assassination.

Joseph Foran (38) had been a partner in crime of PJ Judge who was shot dead by the IRA in 1996. He was sitting in a car in Finglas with his girlfriend when two gunmen approached and shot him dead on February 26, 2000. Again local sources say Foran was shot by the IRA at the behest of his rivals in the local drugs trade.

Thomas 'Tomo' Byrne (41) married with one young son, was shot dead as he enjoyed a drink with friends at O'Neill's pub in Summerhill in Dublin's north inner city on April 30, 2000. The same IRA man who ordered the killing of Gerard Moran is believed to have murdered Byrne. Tomo Byrne was said by local people to have beaten up the IRA gangster in a pub fight several months earlier.

Josie Dwyer (41) was a semi-invalid heroin addict and HIV sufferer who was beaten to death by an "anti-drugs" mob led by two well-known local IRA men on May 14, 1996 on Basin Street, Dublin. Twelve people were originally charged with manslaughter but after one witness, Alan Byrne, was shot and almost died, other people began withdrawing statements. In the end only two men were convicted for causing harm to Dwyer.

Mark Robinson (22) the father of a small baby was also involved in a pub fight with another notorious Derry IRA man. A IRA gang armed with scaffolding poles and a butcher's knife pounced on him near his home in the Galliagh area on April 30, 2001 and stabbed and beat him to death.

James 'Dee Dee' McGinley (23) a friend of Mark Robinson's, he got into a dispute with Derry IRA man Bart Fisher who stabbed McGinley once in the heart. Fisher was convicted of manslaughter three weeks ago and received three years after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped a charge of murder as no witnesses were prepared to testify. McGinley's family say they were subjected to threats and intimidation throughout Fisher's trial.

Robert McCartney (33) the Belfast father-of-two whose sisters have brought the issue of the IRA's brutal killing machine to international attention. McCartney was beaten with sewer rods and stabbed and slashed to death by at least 12 IRA members at Magennis's bar in the Markets area of Belfast. Despite Gerry Adams' claims to want to help the family get justice no one has yet told police they saw the killing.

Bobby McGuigan (36) the Lurgan, Co Armagh, father of a young son, was shot dead at point-blank range as he sat in his car on February 27, 2001. Republicans claim McGuigan was a drug dealer, but local people say he was murdered because of an argument with the local IRA boss. He was said by local people to have refused to pay protection money to local IRA bosses.

Kieran Smyth was found shot through the head at Curraha, Co Meath on February 9, 2001. Originally from Mullaghbawn in south Armagh, he had been abducted, then beaten and tortured for three days before being brought to farmland in Co Meath and his head bound in masking tape before being shot with a shotgun. It is believed a senior IRA man in south Armagh owed Smyth money from the sale of smuggled cigarettes and, when Smyth pushed for the money, he was murdered.

Eric Shorthall (23) was a drug addict and petty thief from Ballyfermot in the Republic who may have inadvertently robbed a man closely associated with the IRA. He was shot while out walking on Crumlin Road on November 25, 1995.

l This list does not include the murders of Det Garda Jerry McCabe in the South, and others killed in Northern Ireland and in Britain during the period of the IRA's "active" campaign.


Family Targeted In Petrol Bombing

A Protestant family has been targeted in a petrol bomb attack in north Belfast.

A device was thrown at their house at Gunnell Hill in the Whitewell area. It caused minor scorch damage.

Rival crowds gathered in the area after the attack but the police said they managed to contain the situation with help from community representatives.

Nicole Darragh, who was in the house, said she and her family had a lucky escape.

"We heard this bang and there was a woman who ran down the street who called for my mummy," she said.

"She told her to get out of the house quickly because they had thrown a petrol bomb.

"My mummy shouted for all my sisters to get out of the house. I had just come in five minutes before with the dog.

"If it had have been five minutes earlier, the petrol bomb would have hit me and the dog probably, and we would have been killed."

It is the second time the family has been targeted in the past month.

The area's MP, the DUP's Nigel Dodds, condemned the attack.

"It is deplorable that a family should be subjected to such an appalling attack.

"I have spoken to local police chiefs and asked for extra patrols in the area to prevent any further incidents," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/19 17:34:19 GMT


Belfast Dad Was Victim Of Murder, Says Family

By Deborah McAleese
19 March 2005

The tormented family of a Belfast father-of-three killed in suspicious circumstances pleaded last night for an end to "a wall of silence" shrouding the case.

Stephen Montgomery's family do not believe he was killed in a simple hit-and-run accident.

They are convinced the 34-year-old was brutally murdered and left to die alone at the side of the road.

And the family last night vowed not to rest until they find out the truth behind Stephen's death.

Mr Montgomery's body was discovered at Jamaica Road in the Ardoyne area on February 13.

Police, who are currently treating the incident as a road traffic collision, have questioned several people but nobody has been charged, much to the distress of the family.

According to the family, several witnesses have told them that they saw Stephen being beaten outside a bar and his body left in the middle of the road.

A car then ran over him and sped off, they say.

The family are convinced that members of the community know who was responsible, and have now issued an appeal for anyone with information to contact them directly, or through Holy Cross priest, Father Gary Donegan.

"We are up against a wall of silence, someone is covering up for these people. We need more information, we need justice for Stephen and for his family," Stephen's brother Sean told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

He added: "We cannot come to terms with Stephen's death because there are people walking about who were involved in this.

"Our Stephen was the most happy-go-lucky bloke in the world, he was a real gentleman. He suffered horrendous injuries, the people who did that to him are animals.

"We have had the backing of a large section of the community but there is a small section of people in this community who know what happened, and I would ask them not to hide these individuals."

Stephen is survived by his children Tiarnan (3), Stephen (6) and Amy (15).

His fiancée, Julie Hughes, vowed that she will not stop in her pursuit of justice.

"It is a struggle to get up every morning when I remember Stephen is not here anymore," she said.

"We all just want to know the truth about what happened to him. Anyone with information, please come forward, stop hiding these people, for the sake of Stephen's children and his family."

A police spokeswoman said: "Police are still actively pursuing the death of Stephen Montgomery and would encourage anyone with information to get in contact."


US Meetings Have Bolstered McCartneys' Determination

19 March 2005

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney will leave Washington this weekend confident their story has been heard but more determined than ever to ensure his death brings change in Northern Ireland.

The five McCartney sisters were trailed across the US capital from meeting to meeting, interview to interview, as they took their campaign for justice from the streets of Belfast to the US president.

Every time they dared to nip outside for a cigarette or grab a coffee in the hotel lobby they faced a wall of cameras and a barrage of questions.

They admit at times they felt utterly overwhelmed but their combined ability to maintain a dignified and accessible persona proved effective.

"We came here to see if anyone would listen to us and ultimately what we have found is that there is no one left to tell," said Paula McCartney.

But while the sisters have ensured the world now knows their story, their goal remains the same and in practical terms they concede nothing has changed.

"Until we get the people who murdered Robert into a courtroom and inevitably into a cell I can't feel anything," Paula added.

"I don't feel we've achieved what we wanted to achieve. We have been heard but of course that's not enough."

She said she wished Secretary of State Paul Murphy had insisted that the peace process talks could not resume until her brother's murder had been solved.

The McCartney family is resolute, as are many influential American politicians, that this is crunch time for Sinn Fein and time for action, not words.

The sisters are convinced the majority of witnesses to their brother's murder are Sinn Fein and IRA members and that the only way forward is for them to step up and lead by example.

It "beggars belief" they claim, that no one has given a statement to the police ombudsman since the January 30 killing.

"If Gerry Adams doesn't use his position to do this, it's not just Sinn Fein, it's Ireland that will suffer. People will know that if you belong to an illegal organisation you can get away with murder."

Various rallies have been planned in Belfast when they return, including one outside Magennis's pub where Mr McCartney was attacked.

They have been asked to address the European Parliament and will be meeting again with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and US envoy Mitchell Reiss.

"What has most encouraged us is the fact that President Bush agrees that the resolution of this issue is more than a matter for the McCartney family, he believes it could advance peace for Ireland," Paula said.

"When you go to bed every night with the image of those five men surrounding our Robert and a knife going into him and him falling to his knees and you wake up with that again in the morning, that gets you through the day," Paula said.


We Failed One Brother. We Will Not Fail Another

By Jenny Johnston, Daily Mail
11:52am 19th March 2005

Once, in simpler times, the McCartney sisters had two brothers: Gerard and Robert. Born just a year apart, they grew up cocooned between four elder sisters and one younger; adored and tormented in equal measure.

Only one brother is likely to be remembered in the history books, however. This week, his sisters have thrust Robert's name, and memory, into the consciousness of the whole world.

His murder, at the hands of a gang that included at least three members of the IRA, has propelled his five sisters and his fiancèe into an extraordinary fight for justice - a fight that has brought them from the streets of Belfast to the White House.

There is no reason the name Gerard McCartney should have been mentioned in the dozens of press conferences the sisters have held this week. When they mourned Gerard, it was private; a family matter. His death, four years ago, was a tragedy, but not a cause for international outrage.

Gerard was 28 when he walked into the River Lagan and took his own life. His sisters had no one to blame except - illogically, but perhaps crucially - themselves. Now, away from the cameras and the hand-shaking, he is being remembered in a cramped hotel room in downtown Washington.

In an exclusive interview with the Mail, the sisters agree to talk about their other lost brother. And the more they do so, the more you wonder how much his loss has to do with their impassioned campaign for Robert.

"Robert wasn't the first brother we had buried feeling that we had failed to protect him," admits Paula, 40, the second McCartney sister.

'I think we all blamed ourselves'

"After Gerard died, I think we all blamed ourselves. He had suffered from severe depression since he was 23, but none of us imagined that he would want to take his own life. When he did, it ripped our family apart.

"We spent months - years - wondering if we could have done anything to stop him. Maybe if we'd tried a bit harder. Maybe if we hadn't been so preoccupied with our own lives."

Overnight, the McCartney women crumbled - and turned to their only surviving brother for support.

"Robert felt it, too, but he was somehow able to be strong for us. At Gerard's wake, he held us up physically. When we thought we couldn't go on, he'd be there, always dependable.

"We all came to rely on Robert. He was our protector, the man of the house, and the one we thanked God for now that Gerard was gone. We appreciated him like you'd appreciate no brother on Earth, because we knew what it was like to lose one."

With that background, the loss of Robert McCartney, aged just 33 and the father of two young sons, was always going to be acutely felt.

But the manner of his dying - dragged from a Belfast bar as he tried to come to his friend's assistance, kicked and beaten to a pulp - devastated the sisters. Since then, they have dropped every other aspect of their lives to drag the truth about his death into the public domain.

Unpalatable truth

That unpalatable truth could change the face of Irish republicanism. Much has been made of the political fall-out of what the sisters are doing.

Here in Washington, even the President has professed his horror at how the IRA has attempted - and largely succeeded - to cover up what happened that night.

News of the IRA team rushed in to perform a forensic 'clean up' of the crime scene, of how witnesses were intimidated into keeping quiet, and of how the sisters have done the unthinkable in exposing that madness, has been met with growing unease.

During their meeting on Wednesday with Senator Edward Kennedy, the father of Irish-Americanism, Kennedy called their mother in Belfast and told her she should be proud of her daughters. She asked: "How are my girls?"

The answer to that one is that they are as racked with guilt as they were in the days following Gerard's death. They simply cannot believe that their little brother was plucked from their midst, leaving them impotent.

Any suggestions that they have their eye on the bigger picture, envisioning a new chapter in the peace process, is met with incredulity. In fact, the sisters' motivation is much less complicated and much more human.

'We would have died for Robert'

"The truth is that if we'd been in that bar that night, Robert would not be dead today, and we wouldn't be here sailing around the White House or anywhere else," says Catherine, a history and politics teacher.

"They'd have had to get past us before they laid a finger on him. We would have died for Robert."

Paula interrupts. "We still would. If it comes to that, so be it. We couldn't protect him in life, but we are damn well going to get justice for him now.

"We'll do whatever it takes - sell our homes, live in a caravan, whatever. If the IRA think we are going to shut up, they have another think coming."

None of the McCartney sisters has been back at work since their brother died. Their husbands are back in Belfast, looking after their 21 children. They haven't left each other's sides all week.

"We have to be together," explains Gemma, 41 and a nurse. "There's not much sleeping been going on, but at least none of us is alone."

Paula, a mother of three, was not at her brother's hospital bedside when he took his last breath. She had been keeping vigil, and met Donna in the corridor as she returned.

'Started something that was going to be bigger than any of us'

"I remember that moment very clearly. Donna said: 'He's gone.' I was calm. I remember thinking of the bastards who did this, and knowing that they'd started something that was going to be bigger than any of us.

"I said: 'They don't know who they have killed.' And they didn't. We had already lost one brother, and we weren't simply going to give up another one. Not without someone paying a very heavy price."

She has not cried since her brother was killed on January 30. Her eyes fill up at least a dozen times during our harrowing interview, yet she simply pauses, blinks herself composed, and carries on.

"I cannot allow myself to cry," she explains. "Once I start, I won't be able to stop."

Incredibly, there is no room for anger either. "That's a crippling emotion, which causes you to lose focus. We are incredibly focused on what we are doing.

Not about politics or revenge - just justice

"It is not about politics. It is not about revenge. It is just about getting justice for Robert, and having someone agree with us that what happened to him simply cannot be allowed."

There is something quite surreal about this particular fight for justice. On Wednesday night, the women attend a St Patrick's Day gala - a glittering affair where the champagne flows copiously and the most powerful Irish-Americans queue to shake their hands.

As they are getting ready, and suitcases seem to explode over every surface, the impossibility of their situation emerges.

"What do you wear to something like this?" Claire asks. At 26, and a teaching assistant, she is the youngest sister but also one of the most eloquent. "It's a party, but I don't feel like partying. I feel as if I should look good for Robert, but I want to wear a sack.

"I don't want to smile. I want to lock myself away in a room and never come out."

Instead, of course, she applies bright green eyeshadow and does her best at small talk. By her side is Bridgeen Hagans, Robert's fiancèe and the mother of his sons Conlaed, four, and Brandon, two. She looks simply terrified and admits as much.

'Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed'

"Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by it all, and I wonder what we are doing here. Then I remember my boys and how their father died, and how we owe it to him to make sure people know. And if we have to go through a bit of a palaver to get that message across, well, it's a small price."

Everyone here wants to meet the McCartney sisters. Billed as the most famous sisters in the world, they are in constant demand.

At one press conference, held by Senators Edward Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, the assembled newsmen cannot fit into the designated room.

Hundreds of reporters spill out into the corridors of the Russell Senate Building. It is, says one breathless US television anchor, "the biggest Irish story we can remember - at least as big as the time Gerry Adams got his first US visa."

Just a few blocks away comes a timely reminder of how the balance has changed. There, on a blustery pavement, stands the Sinn Fein president himself, surrounded by no more than a dozen journalists and a few cameras, mostly from stations in Northern Ireland.

America, it seems, is no longer interested in what he has to say. And while the downfall of Adams, and all that he stands for, is far from the minds of the McCartney sisters, it is all that other people are talking about.

Changing opinions

Not far from the Capitol building is Kelly's Bar, an Irish pub. Here, the Mail finds Joseph Michael Monahan, a 57-year-old who describes himself as a third-generation Irishman from Butte, Montana.

For weeks, he has been hearing vague mutterings about the sisters from Belfast. Now, with their faces - and their harrowing words - right there on the TV screen in the corner of his bar, his attention has been grabbed. They are saying terrible things about the IRA - his IRA - and his whole world is collapsing around him.

"I used to wear my IRA T-shirt with pride," he admits. "The Hunger Strikers were my heroes. Then Gerry Adams. But those women - my God, they have hit me hard. I've been questioning everything I ever believed, and I'm ashamed.

"I don't know how much money I gave to those thugs over the years. When they passed round the Noraid basket in the pub, I gave willingly. Always. They told us that our contributions were going to 'the widows and the orphans', but we all knew it was really for guns.

"I was happy with that. Ireland, our Ireland, was a land under occupation. And what do you do when your land is being occupied by a foreign force? You fight.

"So for decades, I helped that fight. Every time we heard about innocent people dying, I justified it to myself. In war, there is collateral damage. Innocent people will die.

"But the bastards that killed that young man McCartney in that bar aren't the IRA I gave my money for. Nor is Gerry Adams the man I thought could bring my country to peace. He's sold me a lie.

"IRA men turning on their own! And Adams trying to say it has nothing to do with him. Has the world gone mad?"

Adams compared to Arafat

Joseph has never been to Ireland. Nor is his change of heart entirely down to the McCartney sisters. Ever since September 11, he has been uneasy about the distinction between terrorist and freedom fighter. And his own behaviour has come under scrutiny.

He is not alone. The combination of factors at play here could have unprecedented consequences.

For the first time since his introduction to the political system, Gerry Adams was not invited to any official US government St Patrick's Day celebrations.

This year, he was banned from fundraising, and even compared to Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader.

Little wonder those Irish-Americans who have traditionally supported the IRA are questioning their own not-too-distant pasts.

Back in the sisters' hotel room, they are prepared to answer equally difficult questions. Lawless behaviour by the IRA is not a new phenomenon. People have been beaten and knee- capped and robbed for as long as anyone can remember, cease-fire or no ceasefire.

Why has it taken the death of their own brother for the McCartney sisters to make a stand? And do they feel any guilt for that?

Paula nods quietly. "I'm so annoyed with myself now. For years, I walked around with blinkers on, not seeing, not hearing.

Little progress in Belfast

"I heard about things that were blatantly wrong. There was a case, not so long ago, where an IRA man raped a woman. She was warned not to say anything. I remember talking about it with friends, saying how terrible it was. But did I do anything? No. Did any of us? No."

Now the catastrophic consequences are coming home to roost. For all the Stateside fanfare, there has been little progress back in the Catholic Short Strand area of Belfast where the sisters live.

Not a single person in the city has come forward and offered themselves as a witness. Even the McCartneys' own friends are conspicuous by their absence.

"There were acquaintances of ours in that bar that night," says Paula. "They haven't been near us. They didn't come to offer their condolences, or to tell us what Robert's last words were.

"I suppose they were scared I would quiz them about what they were doing when our Robert was being beaten to a pulp. I would have, too. I would have said: 'Who were you with and how could you not have seen?'

"I understand they are afraid - but they have to speak out. If they don't, these men will think they can do it again, and again, and again. And we will all pay the price."

'Why should we be the ones to go?'

The sisters go home today. But what sort of community are they returning to? Paula makes a surprising admission.

"I hate Belfast," she says. "I've always hated it, even before this. It's a depressing place. Oppressive. I'd leave tomorrow if I could.

"But the people who murdered Robert are walking right past my front door. I see them every time I go out for a pint of milk. So I'm damned if I am going to leave now. Why should we be the ones to go?"

Their grieving will not start until the justice they keep talking about is within their grasp.

"What we want is quite simple," says Catherine. "We want to be able to remember our brother's face. We want to remember him like the big eejit he was, clowning around and playing with his kids.

"At the minute, none of us can see that. When we shut our eyes, all we can see is this figure curled up on the floor, surrounded. And with not one of us anywhere near him.

"We let him down once, and we're not about to do it again. And nobody will stand in our way."


Statue Tribute To Tenor Locke

By Clare Weir
19 March 2005

One of Ulster's favourite singers is to be honoured with a statue in his home town.

The sculpture to world-renowned tenor Josef Locke will be dedicated in Londonderry on Tuesday at a site near the City Hotel.

The event will be attended by some other famous sons of the city - songwriter Phil Coulter and former SDLP leader John Hume, plus members of the Locke family, mayor Gerry O'hEara and Michael Sheerin, a lifelong Locke fan who spearheaded the campaign to honour the singer.

Locke, born Joseph McLaughlin in 1917, sang in local churches as a young boy, before lying about his age to join the Irish Guards.

He served abroad with the Palestine Police before returning to Ireland in the late 1930s to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Nicknamed The Singing Bobby, he became a celebrity and toured the UK.

He appeared on TV and radio and was signed by EMI in 1947. He recorded classics like Hear My Song and I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen.


Legendary Irish Horseman Eddie Boylan Dies

19/03/2005 - 16:27:34

One of Ireland's legendary horsemen, Eddie Boylan, has died at the age of 80.

Boylan was a member of the Irish gold medal-winning Three-Day Event Team at the World Championships at Burghley, England in 1966.

A year later he was the individual gold medallist in the European Championships at Punchestown.

He also won the Badminton Horse Trials in 1965, among many other high international placings.

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