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April 02, 2005

Concern Over N Ireland Human Rights Commission

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Apr 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/02/05
Concern Over Work Of Rights Group
NL 04/02/05 Ex-Cops Face Off At Poll
BT 04/02/05 Orde Tells Of Recruitment Policy Risks
IO 04/02/05 Voting Underway In Udarás Na Gaelteachta Elections
IT 04/02/05 Opin: Sinn Féin May Prefer Divorce. Should We?
BT 04/02/05 Opin: Lindy McDowell: The Gaudy Mr Gray's Had His Day
NH 04/02/05 'Blame Everybody But Yourself' Is Our Mantra
BT 04/02/05 Viewpoint: A Pope Who Made His Mark
BT 04/02/05 Burning Issue To Be Investigated By Council
BT 04/02/05 Alert As Brutal Gang Chokes Swan To Death
BT 04/02/05 Boxing: Cooney Failed To Cash In Fully
BT 04/02/05 Award For Folk Park


Concern Over Work Of Rights Group

By Deborah McAleese
02 April 2005

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is still in limbo because the
Government continues to stall in its appointment of a new chief commissioner.

More than a month after the departure of former post-holder, Brice Dickson, the job has
not been filled.

The Government has also failed to replace eight commissioners, which means the
commission is functioning with only a fifth of its full quota.

This has led to fears that the body is unable to deal with a large portion of its workload.

A commission spokesman said: "We are currently in a phase of transition. We have two
commissioners in place, so we are able to function legally. "However, without a chief
commissioner and the new commissioners, we are constrained in terms of being able to
address policy issues."

The NIO said: "Interviews for the chief commissioner and new commissioners have now
taken place and the Government hopes to make an announcement as soon as


Ex-Cops Face Off At Poll

Exclusive By Stephen Dempster
Saturday 2nd April 2005

TWO former police officers will go head to head in the coming council elections - one for
Alliance, the other for Sinn Fein. Recently retired superintendent Bernard 'Barney'
Fitzpatrick says he will run against Sinn Fein councillor and former RUC officer Billy
Leonard, in Coleraine's Skerries ward.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "I am astounded that an ex-colleague would want to stand for a
party that has murdered our former colleagues, hindered the murder investigation of
Robert McCartney in Belfast and provided political cover for the IRA after it robbed the
Northern Bank."

Mr Leonard will also be standing for Sinn Fein in East Londonderry in the Westminster


Orde Tells Of Recruitment Policy Risks

Debate needed on race problems, he says

By Sean O'Driscoll
02 April 2005

THE PSNI's 50/50 recruitment policy could cause serious discrimination to ethnic
minorities in Ulster, the Chief Constable has warned.

Hugh Orde said that, as most ethic groups are not Catholic, they could face double
discrimination as they are counted in with Protestants in police recruitment figures.

Mr Orde said the issue of ethnic minority recruitment to the police was one that was
starting to cause him concern.

"The Portuguese community is Catholic mostly but the rest of minority groups fall into

"If you look at historic disadvantage in London, if you were black, you more likely to
have poorer housing and education and there is a cumulative disadvantage", he said.

The Chief Constable warned that most ethnic groups could be facing a double
discrimination, both because of lack of involvement in the police force and because
those who apply could be labelled as "non-Catholic" in their applications.

"We haven't done enough work on it yet but we may have to go back to government and
say we may have a problem here."

He added that it was an issue that was starting to cause him concern.

"It's a debate that needs to be had. If it's an issue, we need to go to government and
see if we can sort it."

Mr Orde also warned that the issue was of particular concern as there has been a
marked rise in anti-minority hate crimes in Northern Ireland.

"Race crime is one of the biggest problems facing Northern Ireland I think. It's
increasing. It's at pretty low levels compared to rest of the UK."

He said that every police district in Northern Ireland now has a diversity officer.


Voting Underway In Udarás Na Gaelteachta Elections

02/04/2005 - 09:40:36

Voting is underway in seven Irish-speaking Constituencies to elect members to Udarás
na Gaelteachta.

Seventeen seats are being contested to fill the Udarás Board, which is the statutory
body charged with preserving and promoting the Irish language, and with encouraging
economic development in Gaelteacht areas.

The board consists of 20 members in total, with three of those appointed by the Minister
for Community, Rural and Gaelteacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv.

The elected members are comprised of six representatives from Galway, four from
Donegal, two from Kerry, two from Mayo, and one from Waterford, one from Meath and
one from Cork.

Polling stations close at 9.00pm tonight and the counting of votes with begin tomorrow.


Opin: Sinn Féin May Prefer Divorce. Should We?

Ed Moloney

IRA disbandment may well have been the Zeitgeist of the recent St Patrick's Day
celebrations in Washington, but once again it is the dog that didn't bark that may tell the
real story of this phase of the peace process.

Although discomfited by calls for the IRA to wind up from Senator Ted Kennedy and his
erstwhile loyal ally, Congressman Peter King, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams could
nonetheless take solace from the impressive list of those who kept their mouths shut on
the issue.

Most notable for his silence was President Bush himself. Even though sections of the
media had been briefed, it seems, to expect a pronouncement along the Kennedy-King
lines, when he spoke he had nothing to say about the subject.

In this respect the President was, wittingly or not, on message with his British and Irish

The word "disbandment" has yet to pass the lips of Bertie or Dermot Ahern or any
senior British minister or official.

Officially the two governments are seeking "an end to all criminal and paramilitary
activity" by the IRA or at most "a withering away" of the organisation. But no one is
actually saying out loud that which the dogs in the street know to be the case: that the
Belfast Agreement has no chance of being revived or unionists persuaded to risk
sharing power with Sinn Féin, post-Northern Bank, unless the IRA has been or is being
stood down.

Unofficially, the word from London and Dublin is that IRA disbandment is a bridge too
far for Gerry Adams and his allies on the Army Council; that if they pushed the issue too
hard and lost, then the consequences for the peace process could be catastrophic.

Yet all are agreed that something must be done. A hint as to what that "something"
might be was given by Bertie Ahern during a recent interview on the BBC programme,
Hearts and Minds.

"If the IRA decides they want to stay with the old ways," he told Noel Thompson,
"nobody is going to be able to convince them [ otherwise], but I think then the leadership
of Sinn Féin are going to have a very clear decision themselves to make. Are they going
to stay with that way, that way of the past and that way of paramilitarism, criminality,
holding on to guns, or are they going to move forward on the political democratic

In other words if Gerry Adams and his allies in the leadership can't persuade the IRA to
go out of business then the IRA and Sinn Féin should decouple and go their separate

One can only speculate about the reaction of Mr Adams and his colleagues to the
Taoiseach's words, but something along the lines of a whoop of triumph accompanied
by a fist punching the air would have been in order.

There is compelling evidence that the Provisional leadership has long cast wistful
glances at the divorce option, for it would bestow upon them the privilege of the harlot
down the ages, to paraphrase Stanley Baldwin, that is the enjoyment of power without

Except in this case it would be the rest of Ireland that would get screwed.

At a stroke the Sinn Féin leadership would be relieved of all responsibility for IRA
decommissioning, for bank robberies and for brutal murders of the sort visited upon the
unhappy McCartney family. Yet at the same time the party would extract leverage from
the same acts, or lack of them, for everyone would know that, divorced or not, Sinn Féin
and the IRA still live in the same house.

The reaction of Sinn Féin spokesmen to IRA actions in these circumstances is easy to
predict. A sad shaking of the head, a formal condemnation and then the comment that
"Of course, this is all the product of an unacceptable police service" or British
securocrats, or unionist intransigency and so on. In other words, the IRA still will not go
away until Sinn Féin's agenda is met.

This is not the first time the idea of a Sinn Féin-IRA divorce has been floated. Gerry
Adams suggested it back in the 1990-91 period, before the ceasefires. He was
frustrated at IRA operations that killed civilians and saw divorce as a way of being able
to criticise the IRA in public. His suggestion had a twist. Sinn Féin activists who sat on
the IRA's Army Council should be allowed to stay on, albeit secretly.

The divorce would have been a sham, and it was too much for others in the IRA
leadership, as one source privy to the episode told me: "It was rejected out of hand so
strongly that it was never heard of again."

Until recently, that is, courtesy of the Taoiseach's BBC interview.

So attractive and profitable is the divorce scenario that the Sinn Féin leadership might
be well advised not even to bother trying to disband the IRA but to go straight to it. And
if they did who is to say that the same lie attempted in 1990-91 might not prevail this

Or put another way: does anyone seriously think that the control freaks of Sinn Féin
would really let the IRA go its own way? The underlying issue is about power and
strength. Do Gerry Adams and his allies in the Provisional leadership have the power
and strength to set the IRA on the path to disbandment? Implicit in Bertie Ahern's BBC
interview is the belief that they don't or mightn't.

But the Taioseach must face this conundrum. If Gerry Adams was not strong enough in
1990-91 to contrive a divorce on his own terms but can pull it off in 2005, what does that
say about who now exercises most power in the Provisional leadership? And if his
influence is strong enough to do that why not go the whole hog and start standing the
IRA down?

Ed Moloney is a journalist and author of A Secret History of the IRA

© The Irish Times


Opin: Lindy McDowell: The Gaudy Mr Gray's Had His Day

02 April 2005

News of two major departures this week. And on the same day too. First, the UDA's Jim
Gray. Then, Dr Who. Coincidence or what? I mean, which one of this pair would you
describe as an oddly-attired spaceman?

As so-called brigadier of the UDA in east Belfast, the gaudy Mr Gray has been an object
of much derision, not just from the media (who dubbed him Doris Day), but within his
own UDA ranks. According to one report, even Johnny Adair had issues with Doris's
wardrobe choices.

A source reveals: "Jim would arrive at meetings in his pink jumpers and Johnny would
go mad. He'd be ranting: 'That's some image for our organisation'."

A fairly elementary observation here - if Mad Dog thinks you're barking, it would be fair
to say you've got a problem.

But Doris was undeterred. With his florescent tan, a hairdo that could best be described
as Boris Johnston blond, and an exotic taste in leisurewear, the inappropriately named
Gray came to represent everything that is ridiculous about paramilitary bling. No small
achievement, bearing in mind that the UDA movement has also given us a Bacardi
brigadier and a cross-dressing Chihuahua fancier.

There's a pic of Gray taken at a loyalist rally where he's standing alongside Michael
Stone. Hanging from his hand is what, on closer inspection, turns out to be an Ulster
flag. But it says something about Doris's day wear that at first glance it looked like a

With Gray gone, the UDA will indeed be a greyer area. The only glamour left will be
Samantha - Sammy Duddy's feminine alter ego.

But was Jim Gray pushed this week, or did he jump? The UDA, in that poncey language
they so favour, claimed he had been "stood down" and that, "to dispel any confusion,
the East Belfast UDA is now under the direct command of the Inner Council".

Here's the thing, though - what exactly does a brigadier have to do to get "stood down"
by the UDA?

Since murder, corruption, drug-dealing, assault, theft and all sorts of depravity are not
only considered acceptable but are generally encouraged, it's hard to see where they
feel he may have overstepped the mark.

One theory is that the UDA is concerned about the rise of the LVF in East Belfast. And
about the return of Johnny.

Another more heartwarming theory is that the UDA is desperately trying to keep one
step ahead of the ARA, the Assets Recovery Agency which, with the redoubtable Alan
McQuillan at the tiller, is making inroads into the paramilitary coffers and may now be
planning to take the appalling shirt of Gray's back.

Whatever the reason, the ironic aspect of this week's developments is that it's his thug
brothers who have given Gray his marching orders - and not, as we should have
expected, the authorities.

This man after all, was a leader of an illegal terrorist organisation. Yet he has been
permitted to strut around the East like he owned the place.

Why wasn't he lifted? Why aren't the rest of them? How come the self-confessed
leadership of an illegal terrorist organisation is not considered a cause for police action?
In the same way that, say, parking on an double yellow line is?

The way Gray and the rest of Northern Ireland's celebrity paramilitary clique have been
allowed to operate with impunity is contemptible.

A bigger joke than even Jim Gray's dress sense.


'Blame Everybody But Yourself' Is Our Mantra

(Denis Bradley, Irish News)

What would we do if we didn't have someone else to blame? It is one of the great
comforts of life to be able to lay responsibility at someone else's feet.

It allows us to offload some of the burden of taking on to ourselves the responsibility of
our own failures. Blame only really works, of course, when there is enough truth in the
assertion that someone or something else had a role to play in the failure.

That smattering of truth allows the deception to implant itself in our imagination.

Blame will be the central tenet of the upcoming elections. There is nothing unusual in
that in the cut and thrust of politics. But we do it here to an inordinate and unhealthy

We do it to the point where there is little or no room for reflection or critique. We do it to
where there is little possibility of self-criticism leading to renewal.

But among the morass of confusion, anger and depression, there are shoots of new

By far the best of the Easter addresses by Sinn Féin was the one given by Gerry Kelly.
It contained the familiar tune of blaming both governments and the unionists for the
failure of last December.

But it also challenged the Sinn Féin constituency to begin to think and strategise. He
called for grassroots debate about the future direction that republicanism would take.

"Talk to friends and comrades.

Give serious thought to where Irish republicanism is today, how we got here and where
we now need to go," he said.

It was not mind blasting in its oratory but, at least, it placed the issue in the parameters
of self-reflection and critique.

In that reflection, republicans should examine the damage that has been done during
the last few months.

They need to assess the damage that has been done to their own organisations but
also to the organisations and the liaisons that have helped republicans "get to where
they have got".

The truthful starting point is that republicans have had to face hard realities and make
bold decisions but they have always done so with the help, encouragement and
foresight of their friends.

Those friends have ranged from priests to presidents, from coalmen to consuls, from
businessmen to bureaucrats, from messengers to ministers.

Among this eclectic group is a deep sense of betrayal.

This group has not gone away but it has become much more cautious. When the
negotiations begin after the election these people will still be there but they will engage
and respond in a different way.

They will demand more honesty and straightness. They will probe and test in a way they
have not done before.

They will be less generous and giving unless they are convinced that the honesty and
the giving is a two way process.

Unionists are in equal need of self-reflection. The truism that you make peace with your
enemy is as true now as it was at any time during the Troubles.

Peter Robinson's assertion that there will be no liaison with republicans for at least
another generation only boosted Sinn Féin's election results by a few per cent.

They, the unionists, have stood aside, on the whole, from the raging debate within

Their main contribution has been to praise the doggedness and the thoroughness of the
debate. Fair enough.

They appear, however, to have failed in identifying the complexity of the debate. They
may have assumed that the anger at Sinn Féin and the IRA among the broad
constituency of nationalism will result in a large decrease in the Sinn Féin vote.

Not true, or perhaps more accurately, it is not true yet. That constituency certainly is
angry .

It wants greater honesty and decency. It wants the IRA to stand down and it wants
republicans to distance themselves from any trace of involvement with organised crime
and community control.

But that constituency is steeped in Irish history and in the contorted layers of that history
and it has not yet given up in its ability to cajole and even drive republicans into a
democratic mode.

It is reinforced and confirmed in its position as it recognises that the British government
holds to that same position.

Unionism, or rather the DUP, is currently in a reasonably strong position.

Time and indolence will weaken, not strengthen, that position.

Any two-bit politician knows that deals are better made from positions of strength.

Blame is no substitute for political reality.

April 2, 2005
This article appeared first in the April 1, 2005 edition of the Irish News

Reposted at NuzHound


Viewpoint: A Pope Who Made His Mark

PAPAL LEGACY : Charismatic pontiff will be hard act to follow

02 April 2005

The dignity with which Pope John Paul II has faced his final hours must have impressed
Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The 84-year-old Pontiff has exhibited exemplary
faith, courage and stoicism as his life slipped away and he confronted death.

As the obituaries are written, the Pope will be remembered around the world as a highly
intellectual person who was conservative on moral matters but radical on questions of
human rights and international issues.

His upbringing in Poland and the traumas of the Second World War left him with a
deep-seated hatred of totalitarian regimes, whether fascist or communist, and this was
to be a hallmark of his papacy. His support for the Solidarity trade union helped sow the
seeds which led ultimately to the drawing back of the Iron Curtain.

In Ireland, the Pope will be remembered for his trenchant denunciation of violence
during his historic 1979 visit to the Republic. Although his call did not bring an
immediate end to terrorism, it helped pave the way to the peace process.

On social issues, though, he became increasingly uncompromising, opposing birth
control and abortion, and ruling out the ordination of women priests. He condemned
same-sex unions and decreed that divorced Catholics who re-married could not receive

Such dogmatic stances put the Catholic Church at odds with an increasingly secular
modern society. But by adopting such a firm line, the Pope believed he was remaining
true to the faith.

Despite John Paul II's undoubted charisma, the church's influence is on the wane and
no priest can now expect his views to go unquestioned. The church's authority in Ireland
has been undermined by its mishandling of the clerical abuse scandal, and the sharp
fall in the number of students at Maynooth tells its own story.

Internationally, the power base of the Catholic Church is shifting, as is the case in the
Anglican Communion. Third world countries are beginning to exert their influence, and
the church is becoming more fundamentalist.

Over 25 years, the Pope showed a remarkable stamina and energy, and his successor
will have a hard act to follow. John Paul II will be mourned as someone who made his
mark not just on the Catholic Church but on the wider world.


Burning Issue To Be Investigated By Council

02 April 2005

Lisburn Council's environmental service committee is to study a report after a meeting
with statutory agencies at which bonfire control was considered.

The move follows requests from voluntary bonfire committees for the council to get
more involved in the issue, as the Twelfth looms closer.

It's understood the Housing Executive, Fire Service and PSNI have been talking to
committee officers in a bid to get firm arrangements in place for the management of
bonfires in the Lisburn area.

The chairman of the Stoneyford Bonfire Committee, Mark Harbinson, said he would like
to see bonfire sites downsized and crowd control barriers introduced. Mr Harbinson
pointed out there were five bonfire committees in the Lisburn area and they all backed
the idea of more council involvement. He said in past years the council had organised a
positive scheme that gave a £250 prize for the best kept bonfire site, and he hoped the
gesture would continue.


Alert As Brutal Gang Chokes Swan To Death

02 April 2005

Anglers in Portadown have been told by police to watch over the swans on the River
Bann after one of the birds was brutally choked to death.

And anglers, in turn, have called on the authorities to protect all wildlife on the river after
the swan incident and reports of illegal fishing.

The moves come after a group of men were seen killing the swan by looping a wire
around its neck, tightening it and taking the dead bird away.

Anglers claim that illegal fishermen have been hauling coarse fish like perch, roach and
bream from the river and taking them home to eat or sell to a restaurant.

The scandal came to light when a furious angler contacted the Belfast Telegraph, after
seeing the swan incident.

The man - who does not want to be named - said that he watched in horror as the men
looped the wire-on-a-pole around the swan's neck, tightened it, choked the bird, placed
it in a bag and took it away.

"I don't know why they did it, but swans are a protected species and this was an horrific
end for a magnificent bird," he said. "The rest of the swans on the river must be

"I'm a pensioner and couldn't confront the three men, but it's up to the authorities to take

He added that men had also been seen catching scores of fish, placing them in a bag
and taking them away.

"The idea of coarse angling is to conserve stocks, by catching them, placing them in a
keep net and returning them to the river," he said.

"No wonder stocks on the Bann are dwindling. I was told that the men said they were
taking some home to cook and eat, and selling others to a restaurant - it's disgusting.
We also believe they didn't have a licence."

The incident was reported later to the police.

A PSNI spokesman said anglers should get in touch with them immediately, and they
would send personnel as quickly as possible.

"We would also require a full description of the perpetrators," he said. "Obviously we are
keen to stamp out this sort of illegal activity."

The spokesman added that the police were actively investigating the reports and would
do all in their power to stamp out the practice.

The numbers to ring are Portadown 028 3833 2424 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


Boxing: Cooney Failed To Cash In Fully

By Jack Magowan
02 April 2005

Tony Cooney was Irish, a tough-as-nails steelworker, and had four sons, one of whom
was a reluctant prize-fighter.

Physically, Gerry Cooney stood taller than Lennox Lewis and was as strong as an ox,
but psychologically, he was a big softie. While Marvin Hagler wore 'destruction and
destroy' on his dressing-fown, Gerry wore 'I love New York.'

"Cooney had knock-knees and too much height, but what a left hand. It was murderous,
the best left hook in the business," recalled Barney Eastwood during a lunchtime
chinwag on the hardest hitting heavyweights of all time.

"Like Joe Louis, Marciano and Tyson could knock out an opponent with either hand;
Dempsey and Baer were both great right hand punchers, and, for me, Frazier and
Cooney had few equals as left hook specialists. Cooney was a natural fighter who
seemed to share Baer's impediment -he just didn't take boxing seriously. He liked to
minimise the risks in return for maximised profits."

Cooney reckons he earned over 20 million dollars with his fists, half of it as a gallant
loser against the formidable Larry Holmes. This was the night on which referee Mills
Lane allowed Holmes nearly two minutes to rest and recover from such a blatant below-
the-belt foul that it cost Cooney not one, but two penalty points on all three judges'

Had Gerry boxed to rule and avoided such a crude indiscretion, two of the three judges
would have had him ahead on points going into the 13th , the round in which Holmes
suddenly cut loose with awesome power, forcing an anxious corner to rescue Cooney
from a possible KO with only seconds remaining.

"I'm sorry I let you all down," was Gerry's tearful post-fight apology on television as a 32-
year-old Holmes, faking hurt from suspiciously low blows, leapt in with a quote of his
own: "My wife will want to love me to-night, but I may have to disappoint her!"

It would be another eight years before Cooney called it a day after a stop-go career of
28 wins and three defeats, often against strong opposition. Like Ken Norton and Ron
Lyle, both of whom he stopped in one round. "He was always boxing's Mr Nice Guy,"
says Barney Eastwood, "Maybe too good natured to be a fighter. He had time for
everybody, never refused an autograph, and, even at the height of his fame, would have
offered his seat to an old lady on a bus. And still does, I'm told."

Once Cooney was a New Yorker. Now his home is in Fanwood, New Jersey, where the
charity he founded, FIST, provides job training and financial aid for boxers who have
fallen on hard times.

"We only help fighters help themselves," smiles Jennifer Cooney, Gerry's wife. "My
husband wisely saved some of his boxing millions, and now fund-raises for over 20
charities, among them the American Heart Association."

Cooney admits to having had a drink problem during his boxing career, but hasn't
touched a drop, he says, for 17 years.

"My only regret is not having realised my full potential as a fighter," declared the man
once hailed by Irish Americans as the 'Great White Hope'. "I had the punch to really be
somebody, but not the desire. I know I could have been so much better than I was, but
I'm proud of my fight with Holmes."

There were 30,000 in the sprawling car-park of Las Vegas' ritzy Caesars Palace Hotel
that night, most of them rooting for the man who gave only half of himself to boxing, but
was universally popular.


Award For Folk Park

02 April 2005

The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh has won a special Merit Award of Excellence
from CIE Tours International at a special awards ceremony held at the Four Seasons
Hotel in Dublin.

The event, in its 15th year, awards exceptional performers within the Irish tourism

As the largest inbound tour operator into Ireland, CIE Tours Awards are highly coveted
by the hospitality industry.

Coach tour clients chose the award winners. Each passenger on CIE's coach tours
completed a detailed questionnaire, which was then independently analysed to select
the winners.

The awards were presented by the Republic's Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism,
John O'Donoghue.

Accepting the accolade on behalf of the museum, Peter Kelly, accompanied by curator
Phil Mowat, said: "We are absolutely delighted to receive this award particularly as it
reflects the personal experiences of visitors to the Ulster American Folk Park.

"This award recognises the huge effort we put into ensuring the highest levels of
excellence in terms of our service provision and our visitors' experience."

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