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May 19, 2005

Guns Seized In Loyalist Blackmail Bid

News About Ireland & The Irish

IO 05/19/05 Guns Seized In Loyalist Blackmail Bid
BT 05/19/05 Police Confirm UDA Behind Brutal Murder
IO 05/19/05 US Envoy: Ulster Peace Depends On IRA Response
GU 05/19/05 Blair Holds Talks To Restart Peace Process
CN 05/19/05 Omagh: Man Faces 29 Murder Charges
BT 05/19/05 Breakthrough On McCartney Killing 'Closer'
BT 05/19/05 Viewpoint: Attacks On Brave Firemen Deplorable
NL 05/19/05 Parade Law Puts 12th Under Threat, Order Warns
IO 05/19/05 Ahern Defends Decision To Sell Aer Lingus
BT 05/19/05 Bush's Man At Integrated Schools Celebration


Guns Seized In Antrim

19/05/2005 - 11:33:28

Guns have been seized after police foiled a loyalist blackmail bid on
a businessman in Co Antrim, it was revealed today.

A sawn-off shotgun, a handgun, ammunition and other undisclosed items
were taken away for examination.

They were discovered in searches of houses in the Ballysillan and
Silverstream areas of north Belfast.

It followed the arrest of five men last night as part of an operation
involving detectives belonging to the organised crime squad.

They were investigating the attempted extortion of money from a
businessman in the Nutts Corner area of Co Antrim.


Police Confirm UDA Behind Brutal Murder

Offer of reward for help to catch killers

19 May 2005

A reward of £5,000 has been offered to help catch the killers of DJ
and ex-Downtown Radio producer Stephen Nelson.

The money was put forward by a donor as detectives investigating Mr
Nelson's murder confirmed the UDA had carried out the brutal attack.

Stephen Nelson (55) died on March 18 this year, six months after he
was savagely assaulted by a gang of ten men at the Chimney Corner
Hotel in Newtownabbey.

Police returned to the scene of the crime yesterday to reveal details
of the reward.

Detective Inspector Ian Gilchrist said the reward was "independent of
the police inquiry".

He said: "I believe the attack has been carried out by UDA members,
and that they intended to kill their victim.

"This belief is based on the motive of the murder".

It is understood that Mr Nelson's killers were drug dealers and that
the victim had tried to prevent them from selling drugs.

The senior policeman appealed to any persons present either inside or
in the area of the hotel on September 19, 2004, at around 2.30am to
come forward to the police.

"We believe 361 people were at the hotel that night. About 100 have
already come forward, but we're still waiting for more."

The foyer where the crime was committed is not covered by CCTV, but
videos of the front area of the hotel are under scrutiny.

The detective said police were still investigating whether the gang
was already in the hotel before the attack.

He also appealed to taxi drivers who drove to the hotel that night to
come forward.


US Envoy: Ulster Peace Depends On IRA Response

18/05/2005 - 17:02:47

The US administration put fresh pressure on the IRA today to declare
its total rejection of violence and backing for democracy in Northern

President George Bush’s special envoy to Ireland, Ambassador Mitchell
Reiss, said he wanted an early response from the IRA leadership to
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams’ pre-election call for them to fully
support the use of only democratic means to move the political process

Speaking in Belfast after a series of talks with the local political
parties, Ambassador Reiss said it was clear political progress “does
hinge on the IRA’s response".

He said: “I think it is important that they respond in a very positive
and unambiguous way.”

He admitted there were concerns the situation could worsen if there
was no early response and things were left to drift through the
tensions of the summer Loyalist marching season.

Mr Reiss said: “Everyone I have spoken with so far recognises the need
for the IRA to respond positively and every has said sooner is better
than later and I think there is some concern if it does continue to
delay much longer that the situation isn’t going to remain the same.

“You are either going forward or you are not.”

He said he very much hoped for an early IRA response but added: “I can
be patient as long as they give the right response. It is much more
important that they give the right response than we get one in the
next few days.”

Mr Reiss said in his discussions with Mr Paisley’s Democratic Union
Party he did not detect a hardening of attitudes following their
General Election successes. Equally he didn’t detect a softening.

He declined to say whether he thought the electoral successes of the
DUP and Sinn Fein made a political breakthrough more or less likely.

“You have to play the cards you are dealt and if it has made it
harder, it doesn’t matter, you still have to get the deal done.”

Mr Reiss visited a number of cross community projects and went on a
walkabout in rain-swept North Belfast.

He said he thought that at the moment the politicians were lagging
behind the people and needed to catch up.

He said once the response from the IRA comes: “We will be in a better
position to evaluate whether we can reach a deal or not.”

Mr Reiss had a meeting with the McCartney sisters about the murder of
their brother Robert by an IRA member in January and the wall of
silence which has prevented the killer being brought to justice.

Ambassador Reiss said he was heartened to hear the sisters were
confident they would get what they wanted and he had heard from others
that the investigation was moving forward.

He said he had not discussed the McCartney killing when he saw Gerry
Adams today but had done so previously with him and with Martin
McGuinness when he was in Washington last month.

He said they were: “Under no illusion as to where the United States
stands and what we want to achieve in this case.”


Blair Holds Talks To Restart Peace Process

Matthew Tempest and agencies

Thursday May 19, 2005

Tony Blair will today hold separate talks at Downing Street with Gerry
Adams, the Sinn Féin leader, and Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist
leader, aimed at restarting the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The talks are the first since the general election, which saw a major
realignment of Northern Ireland's political forces at Westminster. The
more moderate Ulster Unionists lost four of their five seats,
including that of leader David Trimble.

The devolved assembly at Stormont has been suspended since October
2002, and politics in the province plunged further into crisis before
Christmas after a £26m bank raid which was blamed on the IRA.

Sinn Féin would like to see the restoration of the power-sharing body,
notwithstanding the failure last year of a deal over decommissioning
IRA arms dumps. Mr Paisley's DUP now believe they have a mandate -
both in Belfast and London - to exclude Sinn Féin from the assembly.

Officials in Belfast, London and Dublin are holding out little hope of
an early breakthrough. Mr Paisley refuses to meet Mr Adams directly,
so this afternoon's talks will be separate.

The new Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, said on Wednesday the
government would not get involved in "side deals".

"You have to work together with all the partners involved," he said
after meeting the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and Irish foreign minister
Dermot Ahern in Dublin.

Earlier this week, both Sinn Féin and the DUP held separate meetings
with US envoy Mitchell Reiss. Mr Reiss said he wanted the IRA to
declare officially it had turned its back on terrorism. He said in his
discussions with the DUP he did not detect any change in their
attitude following the elections.

Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast, and now one of nine DUP
representatives in the Commons, said: "Political progress should not
have to wait for the provisional movement, because we see no prospect
of them making the necessary changes.

"The focus of government efforts should now be on the democratic
parties restoring accountable democratic government in Northern
Ireland as quickly as possible.

"The unionist people have absolutely no faith whatsoever in anything
Adams and McGuinness do. They failed so spectacularly last Christmas
at a time when they were planning the biggest ever bank robbery in
British history."

The Northern Ireland assembly was suspended in October 2002 amid
claims of an IRA spy operation inside Stormont.

Mr Adams said his party was intent on achieving the re-establishment
of the power-sharing executive, the political institutions and all-
Ireland bodies.

The IRA is considering an appeal last month by the Sinn Féin
leadership that the paramilitaries "seek an alternative to their armed

A report by the International Monitoring Commission, a body set up by
the government to monitor the IRA and loyalist paramilitary
ceasefires, is due out next week and is likely to confirm the belief
of security chiefs that the IRA remains active.

Just before December's bank raid Mr Blair failed in an attempt to get
a settlement after Sinn Féin rejected demands by Mr Paisley to allow a
major act of arms decommissioning to be photographed.

Although Sinn Féin upped their number of seats at Westminster to five
on May 5, they have suffered a public relations crisis since the
stabbing of a Catholic man, Robert McCartney, earlier in the year. His
sisters blamed the murder on IRA men and intend to mount a civil
prosecution of those they believe responsible.

Meanwhile, a 10-year-old girl was among four people who escaped injury
in a gun attack on a home in Derry today. Shots were fired through the
windows of the house at Melmore Gardens, in the Creggan area of the
city, at about 2.15am. The three adults and a child inside were unhurt
but extremely shocked, police said.

Detectives are keeping an open mind about the shooting incident, and
have urged any witnesses to contact them.


Omagh: Man Faces 29 Murder Charges

Thursday, May 19, 2005 Posted: 8:26 AM EDT (1226 GMT)

Omagh was the worst atrocity in 30 years of Northern Ireland violence.

CRAIGAVON, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- A magistrate judge in Northern
Ireland has ordered Sean Gerard Hoey, already jailed on terrorist
charges, to remain in custody and face 61 new charges expected to
include 29 counts of murder related to the 1998 Omagh bombing.

Hoey, a 35-year-old unemployed electrician, has been in police custody
since 2003 facing a number of terrorist-related charges.

These include possession of an explosive substance of a type that
police say was used in the Omagh attack and 14 other charges,
including membership of the Real IRA and conspiring to cause an
explosion in County Antrim three months before Omagh.

The August 15, 1998, car bombing in Omagh was Northern Ireland's
single deadliest terror attack. Hoey, who appeared in Craigavon
Magistrates Court Thursday by video link, was ordered to appear in
person to hear the new charges.

He would be the first person directly charged with the Omagh killings.

Only one person has been convicted in connection to bombing --
publican Colm Murphy, who was in 2002 sentenced to 14 years in the
Special Criminal Court in Dublin for helping to plot the attack.

Hoey's defense lawyer, Martin O'Rourke, argued in court that it was an
abuse of legal powers to charge his client in the Omagh bombing now
after first questioning him about it in 1998.

O'Rourke also attempted to obtain a delay in the proceedings, because,
he said, "There was no mention of murder charges at the last hearing."

The defense has already said Hoey is innocent of the charges against

While most IRA members have observed a cease-fire since 1997,
dissidents have continued to mount occasional gun and bomb attacks in
pursuit of the traditional IRA goal of abolishing Northern Ireland as
part of the United Kingdom.

In 1998, the year of the Omagh bombing, the Good Friday accord was
signed. It proposed a joint Catholic-Protestant administration for the
province, emphasizing that Northern Ireland would remain within the UK
as long as most of its residents supported this.

CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this report


Breakthrough On McCartney Killing 'Closer'

More witnesses speaking up

19 May 2005

A sister of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney yesterday revealed
more witnesses have come forward and police are "closer to a
breakthrough" in the probe.

Paula McCartney was speaking after updating US President George Bush's
special envoy to the North, Mitchell Reiss, about their campaign for

"We are hopeful something is going to happen sooner rather than
later," she said, after meeting the ambassador, who is on a three-day
visit to Northern Ireland.

The family has maintained IRA members were involved and has accused
republicans of not doing enough to help bring their brother's killers
to justice. Father-of-two Mr McCartney (33) was stabbed in the throat
and stomach on January 30 outside a Belfast city bar following a row
with senior IRA men.

At one stage, the IRA offered to shoot the men allegedly involved.
Although the identities of the chief suspects are known, nobody has
been charged. Four months on, Paula McCartney said police were "a lot
more confident in their language" and had told the family more
witnesses had come forward.

The witnesses were being a lot more co-operative and the PSNI had
received more information, she added.

"Judging by their language and tone, they seem a lot more confident.
Obviously I cannot be any more specific than that. But that's where
the ground lies now. More witnesses have come forward and obviously
their statements are more helpful," said Paula, accompanied by sister
Gemma and Mr McCartney's fiancee Bridgeen Hagans.

A police spokesperson described the murder probe as an "active and
challenging inquiry focused on bringing to justice the killers of
Robert McCartney".

They said there were still people in the community with information
that would help the investigation, and urged them to come forward.

Mr Reiss met the family after holding talks with Sinn Fein president
Gerry Adams and an SDLP delegation before he was due to travel to
Dublin last night.

Paula McCartney said the family had been reassured the US
administration was fully behind their campaign.

Mr Adams said the McCartney case had not been raised in his meeting
with Mr Reiss, but the family said the ambassador told them it had and
dismissed the Sinn Fein leader's comments. Speaking in north Belfast
before leaving for Dublin, Mr Reiss said he was heartened to hear the
McCartney sisters were confident they would see justice done.


Viewpoint: Attacks On Brave Firemen Deplorable

ALARM BELLS: Communites must throw their support behind firefighters

19 May 2005

Outrage is the only word to describe the feelings of the public at
reports that firefighters are being attacked in the course of their
duty. Sooner or later, as a senior fireman has warned, a tragedy will
occur after which the authorities will be forced to react.

Accounts of attacks in Blacks Road, Rathcoole and Silverstream beggar
belief. In the first of these, firemen believe a gang of youths
deliberately set fire to rubbish, got their camera phones ready and
proceeded to record the mayhem as the fire engines arrived at the

Has all sense of decency left the youth of some areas - and their
parents, who must know what teenagers are capable of, left to their
own devices?

As the evenings lengthen, the problem may increase, so now is the time
for a heavier hand to be used. If firemen need protection, they must
get it from the police, and mobile phone records could be used to
identify culprits.

Public Safety Minister, Shaun Woodward, who yesterday visited Central
Fire Station, must make the issue a priority. As he says, ways must be
found to make such incidents a thing of the past.

The best deterrent to all forms of criminality is the likelihood of
being caught, but the PSNI's record on recent high-profile cases
leaves much to be desired.

Five months after the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery, attributed by the
British and Irish governments to the IRA, no arrests have been made,
and the same silence surrounds the Robert McCartney and Lisa Dorrian
murders. One of the few successes has been the charging of a man for
the Omagh murders, seven years on.

The names of those suspected of these crimes are well-known - to the
public as well as the police - but getting evidence usable in court is
the obstacle, as the criminals know. Is red tape or fear of complaints
tying the hands of the police, or are too few detectives available,
with so many inquiries into pre-ceasefire killings on-going?

These are questions to which few answers are given, even when figures
are produced to show that crime in general is decreasing. Yet the
Policing Board, which represents the public interest, must be aware
that there is as much concern about what has been described as
"recreational crime" against firemen, as about headline incidents of
murder and robbery.

The law-abiding public needs to know that action is being taken, not
only on the big matters but also on the small, all being part of the
evil legacy of the troubles.


Parade Law Puts Twelfth Under Threat, Order Warns

Exclusive By Johnny Caldwell

Thursday 19th May 2005

The future of parading and the Twelfth demonstrations are under threat
from new legislation, according to the Orange Order.

From this week, anyone applying to hold a parade - regardless of its
size - must stipulate the number of ' supporters' they anticipate will
attend, not just those taking part.

And, according to the Order, if any of these people misbehave the
Parades Commission can take this into account when deciding whether to
ban or restrict future parades.

If the number of supporters indicated on the submitted form is
exceeded - and the Order points out the difficulty of estimating how
may will turn up at a county demonstration on July 12 - the parade
could be considered illegal.

A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said this "half-
baked and confrontational measure has been deliberately designed to
further antagonise and marginalise the entire unionist community".

The spokesman continued: "How can organisers possibly be expected to
state accurately in advance how many people will turn up to support a
parade? What is the difference between a supporter and a spectator,
and - short of making them wear armbands - how will the police
distinguish between notified supporters and unnotified ones?


Ahern Defends Decision To Sell Majority Stake In Aer Lingus

19/05/2005 - 13:37:50

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has defended the Government's decision to
sell off a majority stake in Aer Lingus.

The part-privatisation was approved by the Cabinet yesterday as part
of a package of aviation proposals that will also see a second
publicly-owned terminal built at Dublin Airport.

The move is designed to raise the funds needed for the airline to

Speaking about the decision this morning, Mr Ahern said it would allow
Aer Lingus to grow.

"The right thing to do for anyone who cares genuinely about Aer Lingus
and the development of Aer Lingus is to allow equity to be put in," he

"The last management team felt that, the present board feel that and
the trade unions aren't opposed to it."


Bush's Man At Integrated Schools Movement Celebration

By Claire Regan
19 May 2005

US President George Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland Mitchell
Reiss has honoured the special contribution made by the integrated
education movement.

The envoy attended a reception hosted in Belfast by the US Consul
General, Dean Pittman, in honour of America's strong support for the
efforts of those working to boost integrated education.

The event, held at Ardnavally House yesterday evening brought together
representatives spanning the entire integrated movement, including the
current 57 schools, new parents groups, the Integrated Education Fund,
the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and All Children

The consul general said: "The United States believes strongly in the
integrated education movement and have sought ways we can support the
efforts of parents, students and educators.

"We understand from our own history how important integrated education
is in building a strong and united community."

The special envoy noted that President Bush singled out
representatives of the integrated sector at the White House during
this year's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

"The United States continues to be impressed by the energetic and
tireless commitment of average citizens in Northern Ireland towards
building an inclusive and stable community," he said.

Baroness May Blood, MBE, chairman of the Integrated Education
Campaign, highlighted the successful trip of two integrated school
pupils - Rosie Hassin and Shannon Graham from Ulidia Integrated
College in Carrickfergus - who met President Bush at the White House
on St Patrick's Day .

"The ongoing support we have received from this and successive US
administrations has made a huge difference to the growth of integrated
education in Northern Ireland," she said.

"The invitation by the US Consul General to celebrate at a local level
the achievements is a further endorsement for all who have helped in
establishing integrated schools across Northern Ireland."
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