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April 07, 2005

Inquiries Bill Passed

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Apr 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

PF 04/07/05
Inquiries Bill Passed
RT 04/07/05 UK Govt Pushes Through Inquiries Bill
IT 04/08/05 Jim Gray & Six Others Member Of UDA Expelled
IO 04/07/05 Jim Gray Held In The North
SF 04/07/05 Anger At Plastic Bullet Move
IV 04/07/05 Pope Would Have Returned

PT 04/07/05
Adams In Historic Appeal To IRA –VO(4)

Adams In Historic Appeal To IRA To Put Down Arms
Ken O'Shea reports on the reactions to the statement from Gerry Adams yesterday
Niall O'Dowd, Editor of the Irish Voice, discusses the view in the US
Michael Heaney reports on the significance of the statement for the people of Northern
Ireland and the ailing peace process
Sinn Féin's Mitchell McLaughlin, Alex Attwood of the SDLP, Peter Weir of the DUP and
Chris McGimpsey of the UUP discuss the implications of the statement


Inquiries Bill Passed

7 April 2005

As feared the Inquiries Bill passed the final stages in Westminster earlier today despite
the strong objections of NGOs, the legal community and most importantly, the Finucane
family. The new legislation is widely perceived as a legislative attempt to deny the
Finucane family access to vital information surrounding the 1989 murder. In announcing
the proposed Bill late last year Secretary of State Paul Murphy admitted that aspects of
the murder involved British 'national security interests." For this reason the government
is unwilling to subject the events surrounding the murder to public scrutiny.

In light of this latest development it is highly unlikely that the Finucane family will co-
operate with the proposed inquiry.

Earlier this afternoon we emailed the following response to Catherine Ashton, the
parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs who had
sought to defend the Bill;

"...we wish to take this opportunity to respond in light of our understanding that the
Inquiries Bill has indeed passed the required legislative stages earlier today. Are you
aware that those who actually witnessed the murder, the Finucane family, are now
highly unlikely to take part in this inquiry?

Your government appears determined to cover up the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989.
This is perhaps understandable given the involvement of the Force Research Unit of the
British Army, the Security Service (MI5) and RUC Special Branch in the murder and
subsequent cover-up.

You state in your letter that the Bill 'will help build public confidence in inquiries.' Nothing
could be further from the truth. In reality this Bill will convince many people in Ireland,
Britain and throughout the world that this government will go to any lengths to hide the
truth about the operation of what was essentially a state sponsored death squad. None
of this occurred on your watch. But the cover-up continues on your watch. PM Tony
Blair MP made a clear and unambiguous commitment at the Weston Park talks. He lied.

When the time comes to write the history of this shameful episode your name will join
the list of those who believed that defence of the realm was more important than
publicly and independently inquiring into state run death squads.

General Pinochet would have been proud of this government."

See for extensive background on the Inquiries Bill


UK Govt Pushes Through Inquiries Bill

07 April 2005 21:54

The British government has pushed through what the SDLP has called 'dirty' new
legislation on the Pat Finucane inquiry.

The controversial Inquiries Bill went through its final stages in the House of Lords and
will come into law when royal assent is given.

Mr Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead 16 years ago by loyalist paramilitaries
amidst allegations of collusion by British security agencies.

Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into the killing of Mr

He later criticised the form of inquiry put forward by the Prime Minister, saying new
British legislation would make a meaningful inquiry impossible.

Now as Parliament is about to be dissolved Tony Blair has pushed through the inquiries
bill, which allows a British government minister to limit the public scope of any future

The Finucane family say they will not co-operate with any such investigation.


Jim Gray & Six Others Member Of UDA Expelled

A senior member of the Ulster Defence Association, Jim Gray, was among several
senior East Belfast members expelled from the loyalist paramilitary organisation

In a move seen as an attempt to clean up its image, Mr Gray (43), one of six so-called
brigadiers on the inner council of the UDA, was deposed yesterday, along with other
senior members of his East Belfast unit in a ruthless move by the organisation.

His bleach-blond hair, heavy gold jewellery, year-round tan and lavish lifestyle were an
increasing source of embarrassment as the UDA attempted to restore its tattered

The UDA declared yesterday that its East Belfast leadership had been stood down and
was now under the direct command of an inner council trying to restore its credibility.

The organisation has claimed to be on ceasefire for two years.

However, nationalists and republicans insist the organisation, which murdered scores of
Catholics at the height of the bloodshed in Northern Ireland, remains sectarian.

The British government last November acknowledged that UDA guns were silent in an
attempt to lure it away from crime and violence and into the political process.

The SDLP deputy leader, Alasdair McDonnell, claimed last night that the UDA was still
heavily involved in racketeering despite the expulsions.

"The UDA are trying to make themselves out as the paragons of virtue in this situation.

"But the truth is that getting expelled from the UDA for criminality is like getting expelled
from the Ku-Klux-Klan for racism," he said.

Dr McDonnell, a South Belfast MLA, claimed its crime levels showed no sign of

"This is not simply a problem in east Belfast, it is rife in south Belfast, where protection
rackets, drug dealing and other illegal activities are the order of the day.

"The UDA do not want to give up criminality - they are making too much money out of

© The Irish Times


Jim Gray Held In The North

07/04/2005 - 19:52:28

A top loyalist was questioned by police in the North tonight.

Jim Gray, who was ousted by the UDA as the leader of its organisation in east Belfast
last week, was stopped by police outside Loughbrickland, Co Down.

It is believed he was in a car travelling on the main Belfast-Dublin road. A police
spokesperson confirmed: "A man has been arrested for questioning in connection with
serious criminal offences."


Nationalist And Republican Anger At Plastic Bullet Move

Published: 7 April, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Gerry Kelly today said that the decision of
the Policing Board to introduce a new plastic bullet would anger many within the broad
nationalist and republican community. Mr Kelly said:

"The decision of the Policing Board to reaffirm their original proposal to introduce a new
plastic bullet onto our streets will cause great anger and resentment within the broad
nationalist and republican community.

"When the SDLP jumped early and joined the Policing Board they proclaimed that one
of the issues that would be effectively dealt with through Board membership was the
issue of plastic bullets. Today‚s decision by the Policing Board exposes this position as
seriously flawed.

"Nationalists and republicans have every right to be angered by the action of the
Policing Board in placing these lethal devices into the hands of the PSNI and the role of
the SDLP in acquiescing to it."ENDS


Pope Would Have Returned

By Mairead Carey

Pope John Paul II had planned to return to Ireland later this year if his health allowed.

While Mexico had been knocked off his itinerary before Christmas, Ireland was still one
of two countries which the Pope was determined to visit before he died.

He longed to return to an Ireland at peace, and particularly to the North. On his last visit
in 1979 he was prevented from traveling across the border because of security reasons.

His advisors feared the Pope could be a target for Loyalist paramilitaries and that his
visit would heighten tension between Catholics and Protestants.

Millions of people turned out to see the Pontiff during a hectic three day visit in
September-October of 1979. It was the first time that a Pope had visited Ireland but he
made up for it, greeting vast crowds in Dublin, Drogheda, Galway, Limerick and Knock.

This week people from across the country recalled their memories of that time. Perhaps
the most enduring memory of the visit was his impassioned plea for peace in Northern

"I wish to speak to all men and women engaged in violence," he said. "I appeal to you,
in language of passionate pleading. On my knees I beg you, to turn away from the path
of violence and to return to the ways of peace."

Others recalled the Pope's empathy with the young people of Ireland and the youth
Mass in Galway and massive crowds at the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Over 1.25 million
people turned up to celebrate Mass in the capital, the largest crowd ever seen in

Had he returned, the Pope would have come back to a very different country to the one
he visited in 1979. Back then almost every Catholic was a practicing one.

There was no shortage of vocations. No one spoke about clerical sex abuse.

"On Sunday mornings in Ireland, no one seeing the great crowds making their way to
and from Mass, could have any doubts about Ireland's devotion to the Mass," he told
the crowd in Limerick. These days the churches are rarely full.

The Pope had used his visit to urge the Irish government not to bring in divorce. But
divorce is now a fact of life.

The two clerics who did the warm-up act in Galway before the Pope touched down,
Bishop Eamon Casey and Father Michael Cleary, were later revealed to have had
mistresses and fathered children.

A series of clerical sex abuse scandals led to the resignation of one Irish Bishop and
have left the church reeling.

But while many commentators had predicted a low turnout if the Pope returned, the
huge outpouring of grief in Ireland following his death suggests the Pope still
commanded the warm affection of the Irish people.

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