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May 25, 2005

Amnesty Reports On Ireland's Human Rights Failures

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 05/25/05 Amnesty Slams Ireland's Human Rights Failures
AI 05/25/05 Amnesty – Summary of Irelands Human Rights Failures
AI 05/25/05 Amnesty – Summary of N Ireland Human Rights Failures
UT 05/25/05 Paisley Accused Over Clinton Attack
SF 05/25/05 Adams Welcome For Establishment Of Suicide Task Group
BB 05/25/05 Parties Dispute Council Positions
SF 05/25/05 SDLP In Disarray Over Approach To Council Power Sharing
BT 05/25/05 No Time Limits On IRA To Make Decision
IO 05/25/05 1916 Surrender Order To Be Auctioned In Dublin Today
BB 05/25/05 Sinn Fein 'Bug' Taken Off Auction
SF 05/25/05 MI5 Spy Device And A Letter From Gerry Adams
SF 05/25/05 French Admission On EU Constitution Should Act As Warning
BB 05/25/05 Eight Still Ill After Fatal Crash
BT 05/25/05 Town Unites In Prayer As Hundreds Attend Mass
RT 05/25/05 Beer & Cider Sales Fall By 11.5%
RE 05/25/05 Northern Ireland Polishes Tarnished Tourist Image
IO 05/25/05 Fisherman Dies After Being Swept Out To Sea


Amnesty Slams Ireland's Human Rights Failures

25/05/2005 - 13:07:29

Amnesty International has criticised the Government's ongoing failure
to address human rights concerns in a number of areas.

In its latest annual report, the organisation highlighted allegations
of ill-treatment by Gardaí, failure to tackle racist crimes and
unsatisfactory conditions and treatment for patients in psychiatric

Amnesty has criticised Ireland in relation to these matters on
numerous occasions in the past.

In today's report, it reserved its strongest condemnation for the
United States, which it accused of primary responsibility for a
worsening of human rights throughout the world in recent years.



Head of state: Mary McAleese
Head of government: Bertie Ahern
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified
UN Women's Convention: ratified with reservations
Optional Protocol to UN Women's Convention: ratified
Ireland: Comments and recommendations on the International Criminal
Court Bill 2003
(AI Index: EUR 29/001/2004)

Covering events from January - December 2004

Allegations persisted of ill-treatment by police officers, and such
allegations were not investigated impartially. Concerns about the
system for reporting, recording and prosecuting racist crimes
continued. Conditions in psychiatric and other institutions for
mentally disabled people remained unsatisfactory. Concerns were
expressed about inadequate asylum-seeking procedures and
discrimination against migrant workers. Provisions to protect women
escaping violence in the family were insufficient.


The European Committee of Social Rights issued its conclusions on
Ireland's first report, finding 12 cases of non-conformity and
requesting further information on nine cases.

The Ombudsman for Children began to investigate complaints against
some public institutions.

Treatment of people with disabilities

The report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals, published in
September, criticized seriously unsatisfactory conditions for the care
and treatment of patients in psychiatric hospitals, as well as gaps in
provision for specific groups of vulnerable persons.

The severe shortage in psychiatric services for young people resulted
in children being detained in adult psychiatric hospitals.

A National Disability Strategy was published in September. This
included the Disability Bill 2004, which, despite prior government
pledges, was not human rights-based, and did not adequately provide
for the progressive realization of economic and social rights of
people with disabilities. The Strategy and Bill were criticized by
disability groups.


Allegations continued to be made of ill-treatment and other serious
misconduct by members of the Garda Síochána (police force), which were
not adequately investigated by the Garda Complaints Board.

The Tribunal of Inquiry (the Morris Tribunal) into complaints against
Garda officers in the Donegal Division issued its first report in
July. The tribunal found culpability ranging from instances of
negligence to two officers corruptly orchestrating the planting of
ammunition and hoax explosives. It made recommendations for improved
management, recording of incidents, an urgent review of policy on the
handling of informants, and greater accountability.

Seven Garda officers were tried in connection with allegations of
excessive use of force during a demonstration in Dublin in May 2002.
Six were acquitted and the seventh was convicted of assaulting a

The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 was published in February, setting out
for the first time in statutory form the functions of a police
service. It also provided for the creation of an independent Garda
Ombudsman Commission to deal with complaints, with powers of
investigation, arrest and detention of Garda officers. The Irish Human
Rights Commission voiced concern about certain provisions of the Bill.
Its recommendations included: all interviews with suspects should be
video-recorded; the Ombudsman Commission should have the right to
inspect any Garda station; and all investigations, except the most
minor, should be conducted by the Commission.

Places of detention

Detention conditions did not comply with international standards: many
prisons were overcrowded, lacked adequate sanitation facilities and
had insufficient education and employment programmes. People facing
deportation were detained in prisons, rather than in special detention
centres. Mentally ill prisoners continued to be held in padded cells
in ordinary prisons rather than in specialized institutions.

The authorities failed to establish an independent and impartial
individual complaints mechanism for prisoners, as recommended by the
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Asylum-seekers and migrants

The Immigration Act 2004 was fundamentally flawed in its lack of
respect for internationally recognized human rights. There was no
independent human rights monitoring of immigration controls at ports
of entry.

Concern heightened throughout 2004 about the status and entitlement of
migrant workers, including their rights to family reunion, and to be
provided with a means of appeal against a deportation order.

The 27th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, removing the
constitutional guarantee of citizenship for people born in Ireland who
do not have a parent with Irish citizenship.

Family members of children with Irish citizenship, who were not
themselves Irish nationals, faced the retrospective application of
changed government policy to deny them automatic residency. Such
families were not entitled to legal aid when applying to remain on
humanitarian grounds. According to official figures, by October, 32
parents of Irish children had been deported, and another 352 had been
issued with deportation orders. Concern remained that the best
interests of the child were not sufficiently being taken into account
in deportation decisions. In October a decision by the European Court
of Justice confirmed the rights of children who are citizens of the
European Union (EU) to the care and company of their parents in the
EU. In December, the government announced revised arrangements for
processing claims from the non-national parents of Irish children born
before 1 January 2005.

Racism and equality

There were inordinate delays in developing the National Action Plan
against Racism. According to the National Consultative Committee on
Racism and Interculturalism, there was an increase in the number of
racially motivated incidents in the aftermath of a citizenship
referendum in June. A number of human rights and Traveller groups
condemned the erosion of travellers' rights and heavy-handed policing
methods used in relation to Travellers. Concerns about the inadequacy
of the system for reporting, recording and prosecuting racist crimes

The Equality Act 2004, ostensibly enacted to comply with EU Directives
on equal treatment in relation to race, employment and gender,
inadequately implemented the Directives' requirements, and undermined
existing non-discrimination provisions. Of particular concern were
provisions for differential treatment of non-EU nationals in access to
education and to a number of state services, discrimination on the
basis of nationality in the area of immigration and residency, and the
continuing failure of the government to introduce a statutory duty on
public authorities to ensure greater equality.

Violence against women

Voluntary organizations supporting victims of rape, sexual assault,
domestic violence, and trafficking for sexual exploitation reported
that they were seriously hampered by inadequate funding. There was
also concern at the shortage of shelters for women and children
leaving abusive situations, and at the vulnerability of immigrant
women whose legal status prevented them from seeking help.

The only conviction for marital rape secured in Ireland was overturned
in October.

Arms trade

In May, the government published a review of Ireland's export control
system for military and dual-use goods. It subsequently committed
itself to introducing new legislation which would include controls on
arms brokering and the submission of an annual report to the
Oireachtas (Irish parliament). There were gaps in the proposed
legislative framework.


Northern Ireland

Collusion and political killings

In March, in a case with profoundly detrimental implications for human
rights and the rule of law, the Law Lords held that the authorities
were not obliged under the Human Rights Act 1998 to conduct an
"effective and independent" investigation into the 1982 killing of
Gervaise McKerr by members of a special "anti-terrorist" unit of the
Royal Ulster Constabulary because it had occurred before the Act's
entry into force in 2000.

In February Justice Peter Cory, a retired Canadian Supreme Court
judge, publicly confirmed that he had recommended four separate public
inquiries into alleged collusion by security forces in the killings of
Patrick Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright. In
April, the authorities finally published Justice Cory's reports, and
announced the establishment of public inquiries in three cases, but
not that of Patrick Finucane. The three inquiries had not started by
the end of 2004.

In September, Kenneth Barrett, a former Loyalist paramilitary, was
convicted of the 1989 murder of Patrick Finucane. Shortly thereafter,
the authorities announced that an inquiry into the Finucane case would
be established on the basis of new legislation to take account of
"national security". Concern remained over how public the announced
inquiry would be and the possible use of "national security" to
prevent the full exposure of state collusion in Patrick Finucane's

Abuses by non-state actors

Despite a significant decrease, high levels of paramilitary violence
continued, particularly by Loyalist groups. Three killings were
attributed to members of Loyalist groups and one to members of
Republican groups during 2004. There were on average two shootings and
two to three assault victims every week.

The Independent Monitoring Commission reported that members of
Loyalist paramilitary organizations were responsible for a series of
violent racist attacks in Belfast. According to the Police Service of
Northern Ireland the number of racist and homophobic incidents
recorded had more than doubled from 226 and 35 respectively in
2002/03, to 453 and 71 in 2003/04. In December, however, the
authorities reported that the rate of increase in racist attacks was
slowing down.


A parliamentary committee found that more people than ever were held
in custody and for longer periods. It found that many of them should
not have been there, in particular the mentally ill. It expressed
concern about overcrowding, unsatisfactory detention conditions and
the extreme paucity of prosecutions of police and prison officers
involved in custodial deaths. It concluded that the authorities were
failing "properly to protect the lives of vulnerable people in the
state's care". It found that "someone is either killed, kills
themselves or dies in otherwise questionable circumstances every other
day" in prison. It expressed deep concern at the number of people
dying in custody and at the rate of self-harm incidents, especially
among women.

Official statistics showed that there were more than 100 self-
inflicted deaths in prisons during 2004. Fourteen or 15 were women.
Although women comprised only five to six per cent of the prison
population, they accounted for 13 to 15 per cent of self-inflicted

The Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales issued some
highly critical reports following her visits to a number of
institutions. Among other things, she raised concerns about risks to
inmates' safety, unsatisfactory regimes for women, and poor detention
conditions. The Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland reported that
overcrowding had worsened and that in some facilities sanitary
conditions were grossly inadequate.

In November a public inquiry opened into the killing of Zahid Mubarek
by his cellmate, a known racist, at Feltham Young Offenders
Institution in March 2000.

Deaths in police custody

In April a television broadcast showed Christopher Alder choking to
death on the floor of Queen's Gardens police station in Hull while
handcuffed, in 1998. In December, four of the five police officers
involved in his death retired on ill-health grounds. A review of the
case by the independent police complaints commission was ongoing at
the end of 2004. The Alder family demanded an independent public

In November the verdict of unlawful killing returned by a jury in
October 2003 following the inquest into the death of Roger Sylvester
in January 1999 was quashed.

Police shootings

In October an inquest jury returned an unlawful killing verdict
following a second inquest into the 1999 fatal police shooting of
Harry Stanley. Although the prosecuting authorities were still
considering whether to charge the officers involved, in December they
were allowed to return to work on "non-operational duties".

In December an inquest jury returned a lawful killing verdict
following an inquest into the fatal police shooting of Derek Bennett
in 2001.

Army deaths in disputed circumstances

In November the CAT expressed concern about "reports of incidents of
bullying followed by self-harm and suicide in the armed forces, and
the need for full public inquiry into these incidents and adequate
preventive measures".

In December, the authorities appointed a human rights lawyer to review
four deaths of young soldiers at Deepcut Barracks.

Freedom of expression

In February the prosecution dropped charges against Katharine Gun, a
former government employee accused of leaking an e-mail on US plans to
eavesdrop on UN Security Council members in the run-up to the Iraq
war. The prosecution stated that there was no reasonable prospect of
securing a conviction.

In December the Court of Appeal of England and Wales upheld the
judgement in a case concerning three coachloads of anti-war protesters
who were stopped from reaching the Royal Air Force base at Fairford –
used by US B52 bombers to fly to Iraq – and forcibly returned to
London in March 2003. The court found that detaining Jane Laporte to
forcibly return her to London was unlawful and violated her right to
liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the
court found that preventing the coaches from reaching Fairford was
lawful, and that, as a result, the police had not violated Jane
Laporte's right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Legislation further restricted the right to appeal against a refusal
to grant asylum, replacing the two-tier immigration appeals system
with a single tier. The authorities' initial decision-making on asylum
claims was frequently inadequate. Restrictions on public funds for
immigration and asylum work left many asylum applicants without expert
legal advice and representation.

In May the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ruled that legislation
allowing the authorities to deny any support to adult asylum-seekers
could not be reconciled with the UK's international human rights

AI country visits

AI delegates observed judicial hearings pertaining to internment
proceedings under the ATCSA, the prosecution of Katharine Gun, and
proceedings in Northern Ireland arising from the killing of Patrick


Paisley Accused Over Clinton Attack

The Rev Ian Paisley was accused today of acting irresponsibly after he
launched a withering attack on former US president Bill Clinton.

By:Press Association

Mr Paisley branded the former president a "political has-been" last
night after he challenged the Democratic Unionist leader`s claim that
the Good Friday Agreement was dead and should be buried.

The veteran unionist was in turn criticised by Sinn Fein MP Michelle
Gildernew for his broadside against Mr Clinton.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP said: "It is possible that if Ian
Paisley had the courage to remain within the political negotiations
which led to the Good Friday Agreement instead of walking away and
then catching up with the process years later, he may have experienced
at first hand the positive role which was played by President Clinton
and his administration in the search for peace and justice in Ireland.

"Mr Paisley`s ill-judged remarks today are the latest in a long line
of irresponsible commentary from the DUP leader.

"Mr Paisley needs to reflect upon the political responsibility which
comes with an increased political mandate and behave accordingly."

The DUP leader accused Mr Clinton of "unmitigated cheek" following his
comments on the Agreement during a visit to Dublin.

The former president did not agree with the DUP leader`s claim outside
Downing Street last Thursday that the 1998 accord was dead.

He also stated his view that the next move to reinvigorate the
political process in Northern Ireland was in the IRA`s court.

The former president said: "If they were to give up their arms and
criminality, I think it would put a lot of pressure on Mr Paisley and

Mr Clinton added that the Good Friday Agreement was fair to everyone
in Northern Ireland.

He said: "I hope it can still be revived."

The DUP leader responded that the Agreement was devoid of democracy.

There needed to be a new beginning in Northern Ireland which froze the
representatives of terrorism out of government, he insisted.

The North Antrim MP continued: "Clinton cannot have his way to force
IRA/Sinn Fein terrorists into the government of this part of the
United Kingdom, as I told him to his face when he was in Belfast."

Mr Paisley said when Mr Clinton was in the White House he would not
have allowed the Oklahoma bombers to take posts in his government.

"Rather, he threatened them with the almighty punishment of his
government. Yet he dares to dictate to the free people of Northern
Ireland that they must have such terrorists in their government," the
veteran MP, who has been buoyed by the strong General Election
performance by his party, said.

"Don`t do what I do, but do what I say - that is the hypocritical way
of Bill Clinton, a has-been."

Mr Paisley also launched a vigorous attack on nationalist SDLP leader
Mark Durkan after he insisted the DUP should not be allowed to dictate
the pace of political progress in Northern Ireland following the
recent elections.

The Democratic Unionist claimed Mr Durkan had been mixing for far too
long with Sinn Fein.

Ms Gildernew said Sinn Fein was determined to see political progress
in the time ahead.

She said: "The two governments (the British and Irish) clearly have a
massive responsibility to ensure that this happens.

"The people of Ireland who voted for the Good Friday Agreement in such
large numbers cannot be expected to wait forever for the DUP to begin
to grasp basic concepts of equality and democracy."


Adams Welcome For Establishment Of Suicide Task Group

Published: 25 May, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has given a general welcome to the
news that a Suicide Task Group is to be established for North and West

Mr Adams said:

" The news that a special suicide task group is to be established to
begin work in North and West Belfast is welcome and has come about
after a sustained campaign by the local community, those bereaved
through suicide and Sinn Féin.

" There still remains however an onus on the Department of Health to
bridge the funding gap which continues to exist for mental health
provision in North and West Belfast and ensure that a regional
strategy for suicide prevention is put in place.

" Sinn Féin intend to meet with the Health Minister in the coming
weeks to continue to press the Department to seriously address the
issue of suicide and suicide prevention." ENDS


Parties Dispute Council Positions

A row has broken out on Magherafelt council between the SDLP and Sinn

It follows the council's annual general meeting on Wednesday where
Sinn Fein claimed 30 out of the 59 posts.

Sinn Fein said it was entitled to the positions as it holds eight of
the 16 council seats, however, the SDLP claimed this stance was

The SDLP has said it plans to lodge a complaint with the British and
Irish governments over what it sees as a "mis-use of the d'Hondt

Sinn Fein councillor Sean Kerr said seat allocation should reflect the
respective political strengths of the parties.

However, SDLP councillors Kate Lagan and Jim Campbell argued such a
move "created a mockery of power-sharing".

The SDLP was elected to five posts on the council.

Tuesday's meeting of the council was the first since it was elected
two weeks ago.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/25 07:27:08 GMT


SDLP In Disarray Over Approach To Council Power Sharing

Published: 25 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Chairperson of Magherafelt District Council Sean Kerr has
dismissed SDLP criticism of his party for implementing the d'Hondt
system of power sharing on the council last night and said that his
party would not be deflected by criticism from individual SDLP
Councillors or rejectionist unionists from demanding that the system
be introduced across all 26 local authorities in the six counties.

Cllr. Kerr said:

"Sinn Féin have unashamedly demanded that all 26 local authorities
introduce d‚Hondt as a system of allocating fairly and proportionately
all positions within local councils. We have had some success in this
effort over recent years. However the SDLP have adopted a different
approach. On some councils they have supported power sharing while on
others such as Moyle during the last council term they happily
colluded with unionists and others to exclude Sinn Féin from senior
positions. However Sinn Féin will not be deflected by criticism from
individual SDLP Councillors or rejectionist unionists from demanding
that the system be introduced across all 26 local authorities in the
six counties.

"Last night on Magherafelt Council as with Strabane Sinn Féin
successfully ensured the adoption of d'Hondt. The system ensured that
Sinn Féin as the largest party with 50% of the seats became Chair for
this year along with a DUP Deputy, as example of successful power
sharing in anybody‚s book. Indeed at last nights meeting in Magherfelt
the SDLP group actually declined to accept a number of nominations to
positions of power in line with their strength while in Strabane their
councillors operated the system effectively and fairly.

"The bizarre allegation made this morning by SDLP Councillor Kate
Lagan that Sinn Féin have done anything other than ensure the
successful implementation of d'Hondt in line with party policy is
ludicrous. The SDLP leadership need to clarify if the objections
raised to the running of d‚Hondt by a number of Magherafelt
councillors last night is a departure from their support for this
mechanism in delivering Executive positions under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement. If the SDLP leadership adopted the argument and
approach promoted by their councillors last night in Magherfelt then
they would in fact not accept Ministerial positions in line with their
electoral strength. This is a daft position to adopt and id one I
suspect will not find much favour amongst the SDLP Assembly group."


No Time Limits On IRA To Make Decision

By Brian Walker
25 May 2005

The British and Irish Governments are again stressing the need to give
the IRA all the time they need to come up with a definitive statement
permanently renouncing all illegal activity.

Playing down the idea of a time limit for the IRA to make a statement
of its future intentions, Secretary of State Peter Hain said: "If more
time is needed for a definitive and categorical statement I would
prefer that to a premature and unsatisfactory one."

Bertie Ahern followed a similar line, telling the Dail that "what the
IRA said in any future statement was the most important thing".

"The quality and clarity of the reply is what I have turned my mind to
rather than if it takes one week or two weeks or a month," he told
Opposition leader Enda Kenny.

The space given for the IRA was the main theme to emerge from last
week's otherwise ritual talks with Gerry Adams in Downing Street, when
it emerged that the terms and timing of an IRA reply to calls to
disarm hadn't even been raised by Tony Blair.

An SDLP delegation led by Mark Durkan, newly elected as MP for Foyle,
was meeting Mr Blair today.

But the IRA will have to be "crystal clear it is ending all illegal
activity if it is to gain the confidence of others in the peace
process", Mr Hain warned.

Responding to the IMC's finding of continuing IRA recruitment,
training and intelligence gathering and heavy involvement in crime,
the Secretary of State said: "They have only themselves to blame for
everyone mistrusting them.

"They put their own motives and intentions in the dock when they
carried out the Northern Bank robbery and the grisly murder of Robert
McCartney within weeks of different parties coming close to an
agreement before Christmas.

"I am hopeful that we can find a way out of the impasse but a crucial
staging post in that will be the clarity and certainty of any IRA
statement and some verification of that reality on the ground," Mr
Hain said.

His warning came as the Taoiseach hinted in the Dail that he may soon
hold his first talks with Sinn Fein since January.

Mr Ahern told Opposition leader Enda Kenny that the IRA's internal
debate on its future was very significant.


1916 Surrender Order To Be Auctioned In Dublin Today

25/05/2005 - 07:38:36

A surrender order written by Padraig Pearse in the wake of the 1916
Rising is expected to sell for tens of thousands of euros at auction
in Dublin today.

The hand-written document was penned at Arbour Hill Prison on April
30, 1916, three days before Pearse's execution by firing squad.

It is one of a number of surrender orders written by the rebel leader
instructing republican volunteers throughout Dublin to lay down their

The document has been valued at between €50,000 and €80,000.

It is unclear if the State will be among the bidders as it already
owns other surrender orders written by Pearse following his capture.


Sinn Fein 'Bug' Taken Off Auction

Part of a bugging device put up for sale on an internet auction by
Sinn Fein has been removed because it contravened the website's rules,
eBay has said.

The device, which was allegedly found hidden in the floorboards of the
party's office in Belfast, was listed for sale on the company's
website on Tuesday.

Described on the site as an "MI5 British spy device", it was being
sold, accompanied by a framed, handwritten letter from party president
Gerry Adams.

The letter said MI5 had admitted bugging the Sinn Fein office.

On Wednesday, eBay said it had removed the item "because it
contravened clauses 6.2 and 9 of the eBay users agreement".

Sinn Fein chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin criticised eBay's decision to
remove the item as "a clumsy attempt at censorship".

He said the device would be put up for sale on the party's own

"There was widespread interest in the auction in Ireland and in many
countries across the world, something which obviously made MI5 deeply
uncomfortable," he said.

"Last night, without warning, the auction of the bugging device was
removed from eBay."

The device was said to have been discovered at Connolly House in
Andersonstown in September 2004.

At the time, the party said the device had two microphones - one
directed at an office, the other at a meeting room.

However, the device, which no longer works, is being sold as an
historical artefact.

The accompanying letter also explains that Mr Adams and party
colleague Martin McGuinness gave part of the bugging device to Tony
Blair during political talks in Leeds Castle in Kent that same month.

Mr Adams adds: "When we were leaving that meeting I held on to a
section of that device.

"Since then I have been in correspondence with various elements of the
British system to establish who authorised this electronic
surveillance operation.

"In January 2005, Eliza Manningham-Butler, head of MI5, admitted that
MI5 bugged Connolly House.

"This note is authentication by me that the section of the bugging
device which it accompanies is part of the Connolly House device which
was returned to Mr Blair."

There had been about 12 bids on eBay for the item, with the highest
offer in excess of US $800.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/25 11:36:25 GMT


MI5 Spy Device And A Letter From Gerry Adams

This auction has been removed from eBay by the eBay management. We are
now offering it for auction by email. Current Verified highest bid:

This auction has been removed from eBay by the eBay management. We are
now offering it for auction by email.

Current Verified highest bid: $2200.00

This auction is for part of a British MI5 bugging device found hidden
in the floorboards of a Sinn Féin office in Belfast in September 2004.
Approx 10.5 inches by 6.5 inches.

Included is a handwritten letter of authentication from Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams. The handwritten letter has been framed and
there is a display board for the device.

This is a unique opportunity. A historical item such as this has never
before been made available and it's highly unlikely that it will
happen again.

Bidding will end at midnight Irish time Saturday 4th June 2005.
Please bid by clicking on the link below and sending an email to:

Please include your Name, Address and Phone Number. Please give your
bid amount in US Dollars.

All details given will be kept strictly private and the highest bid
will be posted here each day.

The Text of Gerry Adams Letter

On September 13th, 2004, at a very sensitive time in the peace
process, a sophisticated bugging device was found hidden in Sinn Féin
offices in Connolly House, Belfast. This was the second device found
in Belfast within ten days. Martin McGuinness and I returned the
Connolly House device to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair during
the peace talks in Leeds Castle, England.

When we were leaving that meeting I held on to a section of that
device. Since then I have been in correspondence with various elements
of the British system to establish who authorised this electronic
surveillance operation. In January 2005 Eliza Manningham-Butler, head
of MI5, admitted that MI5 bugged Connolly House.

This note is authentication by me that the section of the bugging
device which it accompanies is part of the Connolly House device which
was returned to Mr. Blair.

Gerry Adams.


French Admission On EU Constitution Should Act As Warning To Irish

Published: 25 May, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald
has today challenged the Irish Government to "publicly commit itself
to ruling out a re-run of the EU Constitution referendum if it is
defeated by people in the 26 Counties".

Ms McDonald made her comments after the French Prime Minister Jean-
Pierre Raffarin said that a re-run of the EU Constitution referendum
was not a perspective that France could accept. Mr Raffarin made his
comments on television yesterday (Tuesday 24.05.05) before the French
people vote on the EU Constitution this coming Sunday, May 29th.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"Prime Minister Raffarin‚s comments are a clear indication that the
French Government will not hold a second referendum if the first fails
to be ratified. In comparison, the Irish Government has refused to
rule out this possibility. In fact, when questioned on the 12th April
2005 in the Dail, the Taoiseach refused to rule out a second

"When the Irish Government re-ran the NICE referendum, it was clear
that they were more interested in pandering to the elites in Europe,
than to the will of the people in this state. This Constitution will
have far reaching ramifications for all of Ireland; the people must be
sovereign, and not sacrificed for political expediency by this

"Sinn Féin will be campaigning for a NO vote on the EU Constitution
but if the people vote for the Constitution then we will respect their
will. Unfortunately the Irish Government is unwilling to make such a
commitment." ENDS


Eight Still Ill After Fatal Crash

It is believed eight people are still in hospital after a school bus
crash which killed five Irish schoolgirls.

Three separate investigations will aim to find out the cause of the
crash at Kentstown near Navan in County Meath.

Pupils from four schools were on board when the bus overturned on
Monday. One pupil said the bus swerved to avoid two cars which had
crashed in front of it.

A teachers' union has called for seat belts on all school buses as the
bus involved did not have them fitted.

Elsa Margrain from the NASUWT said: "This accident happened in the
south (of Ireland). It happened with the equivalent of a Translink

"Are we going to wait until we have a tragedy like that up here and
then decide that we need to do something about this?"


The exact cause of the crash is not yet clear, but the bus ended up
lying on its side on the grass verge. It is believed there were road
works in the area at the time of the crash.

One pupil said: "All I could see was two cars crashing and the bus
driver had to swerve round to avoid one of the cars, because we were
behind it.

"We just turned round and landed in the opposite direction on the
other side of the road, and then we toppled over."

The girls who died were from Yellow Furze, just outside Navan.

They were: Lisa Callan, 15, Claire McCluskey, 18, Amy McCabe, 15,
Deirdre Scanlon, 17, and Sinead Ledwidge, 17.

Their funerals are expected to take place on Thursday and Friday.

Father Robert McCabe, who is helping the families prepare for the
services, said they had been inundated with messages of condolence and

"We have an online book of condolences for anybody who might like to
offers us and offer the families some words of comfort or words of
strength," he said.

"Already messages have been flooding in from different parts of the

The girls were pupils at St Michael's Loretto Convent School in Navan
and nearby Beaufort College.

Classes at St Michael's have been suspended and psychologists are
meeting to discuss what action to take to help pupils and teachers.

Irish police, the Health and Safety Executive and Bus Eireann are all
conducting separate inquiries into the crash.

In all, 46 people were taken to hospital.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/25 08:15:18 GMT


Town Unites In Prayer As Hundreds Attend Mass

Tom Felle
25 May 2005

Navan was united in grief yesterday as the tragic deaths of the five
teenage girls who died in Monday's bus crash began to sink in.

Hundreds of local people, students and teachers from the four
secondary schools attended early morning Mass at 10am to pray for
their lost school friends.

The congregation at St Mary's Church in Navan also included some of
the pupils who were on board the bus when it crashed.

Celebrant Fr Brendan Ludlow asked for prayers for the students who
died and were injured.

"Don't underestimate the power of prayer at a time like this. Your
prayers are not in vain. They will support the families and students
at this terrible time," he said.

The Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, visited the scene and the
schools yesterday.

He called for prayers for the victims, the injured and their families.
He also asked people to remember the teachers and other students from
the schools.

"I call on people across the diocese to unite in prayer for the young
victims and their families, for the injured and their families and for
the teachers and students from the schools affected by this tragedy,"
he said.

Archbishop Robin Eames sent a message of sympathy on behalf of the
Church of Ireland.

"I want to extend our deepest sympathy and prayers on the tragic loss
of young people's lives yesterday. Our prayers are with the relatives
and friends and those who are so badly injured," he said.

Expressions of sympathy were also extended yesterday from the Church
of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, and the Church of
Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Bishop Richard Clarke.

A book of condolence has also been opened by the vicar of St Ann's in
Dawson Street in central Dublin, Reverend Canon Tom Haskins.

The book is to remain open from 10am to 4pm until Friday afternoon,
and will then be sent on to the people of Kentstown.

Outside the church, there were emotional scenes as students met one
another, some for the first time since the crash.

Many hugged each other for support. Parents and relatives spoke of how
the tragedy had shocked the entire community.

Edwina McGinn said her 14-year-old daughter attended the Loreto

"You send children off to school for an education. When you say
goodbye, you expect them to come home safe. You don't expect this to

"Getting over this is going to be a day-to-day process. You hope the
counselling and friendships they've made will help them get on with
things. Children are resilient at the end of the day," she added.

Elizabeth Sheridan, a mother whose teenage son and daughter survived
the crash, said the community was devastated but would pull together.

"Even at the hospital last night, it was like a community gathering.
It's all very shocking. You don't expect that a school bus will
overturn like that," she added.


Beer & Cider Sales Fall By 11.5%

25 May 2005 12:55

Sales of draught beer and cider have fallen by 11.5% in the first four
months of this year in pubs, according to figures from the Irish
Brewers Association.

The statistics come as a number of leading brands have announced price
increases in recent days.

The biggest fall in draught sales has happened in Dublin were turnover
is down almost 15%.

Some major drink producers have confirmed they are increasing prices
4c per pint, citing higher costs as the reason behind the move.

Heineken, Guinness, Smithwicks, Carlsberg, Harp, Budweiser and Bulmers
will all increase. It is expected the pubs will add a further 4c and
two cent will go in VAT, meaning that a 10c increase is expected on
their pints.

Today Beamish & Crawford which produces of Miller, Fosters, Beamish
and Kronenbourg said it was freezing prices in light of falling sales.

The company's chief executive Alf Smiddy today said the price of a
pint was becoming too expensive for consumers.

The Licensed Vintners Association welcomed the move and said its
members were in a very difficult period.


Northern Ireland Polishes Tarnished Tourist Image

Wed May 25, 2005 9:54 AM BST
By Paul Majendie

BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Ireland, once renowned worldwide for
bombs, bullets and bigotry, is doggedly rebuilding its tarnished image
and now boasts more than two million visitors a year.

At the height of the Irish Republican Army's campaign to oust Britain
from the province, working for the Tourist Board ranked as one of the
most unenviable in the travel business.

But now, cashing in on the low cost airline boom to attract city break
visitors from across Europe, the tourist industry has ambitious

"We need to get their spend up but we topped the magic two million
mark last year and are aiming for seven percent growth this year,"
said Northern Ireland Tourist Board chief executive Alan Clarke.

"We have nine more air routes coming in here from Europe this year.
All this helps to build up confidence in Northern Ireland," he told
Reuters. "Of course we started from a low base but it is going in the
right direction."

The 1998 Good Friday accord brought an uneasy peace to the province
where more than 3,600 people died in 30 years of sectarian violence
between Protestants and Catholics.

But efforts to sustain a local assembly have still not succeeded. Its
1997 ceasefire may be holding but the IRA has still not pledged to lay
down its arms forever.

Tourists, however, seem not to worry.

Visitors from Britain have risen by 50 percent since 2000 and Ireland,
with its booming Celtic Tiger economy, is a real tourist gold mine on
the province's doorstep if more Emerald Isle visitors can be tempted

The Dublin and Belfast tourist boards now work together in marketing
and promotion and Clarke said: "This is one of the most tangible
results of the peace agreement."

Long gone are the days when the only images beamed around the world
from Northern Ireland were of death and destruction.

"Our surveys show that when visitors get here, they do feel safe. We
have work to do but we want to be in the news for the right reasons,
not the wrong ones," he said. "Tourism is a real barometer of economic

Even its bloody past is proving to be a boom with sharp-eyed local
entrepreneurs laying on "Troubles Tours" to show visitors the
troublespots of Belfast where rioters once pelted police with petrol
bombs and sectarian killings abounded.

That is fine by Clarke.

"You try to meet customer needs and people want to know what happened
here and why. I think there are now about half a dozen groups
organising tours in Belfast."

City breaks, golf, fishing and some of the most unspoilt scenery on
the island of Ireland are proving to be real tourist magnets.

But Clarke is keen to beef up the heritage attractions and 2012 offers
a convenient target to aim for.

That marks the centenary of the Titanic being launched from Belfast
for its brief career as the world's most famous ocean liner before
being sunk on its maiden voyage by an iceberg.

Eager to cash in on the box office success of the Titanic film, plans
are now afoot to develop a visitor centre in the docks where the
doomed liner was built.

In a surreal celebration of Belfast's industrial heritage, artist Rita
Duffy is planning in 2008 to tow an iceberg from north of Norway into

She believes the iceberg would represent a dramatic piece of
"performance art" as it slowly melted in Belfast Lough.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Fisherman Dies After Being Swept Out To Sea

25/05/2005 - 11:15:07

A 24-year-old man has died in hospital after being washed into the sea
while fishing on the Co Waterford coast yesterday evening.

The man, who is from Killenaule in Co Tipperary, was fishing at
Newtown Cove near Tramore when he was washed off the rocks by a wave.

He was rescued by a coastguard helicopter shortly after 8pm and taken
to Waterford Regional Hospital, where he died early this morning.
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