News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

May 31, 2005

Loyalist Remanded In Money Laudering Probe

News about Ireland & the Irish

SM 05/31/05 Ex-Loyalist Chief Remanded In Money Laundering Probe
SF 05/31/05 PSNI Badge on Helicopter Makes Little Difference
SM 05/31/05 Prince To Dedicate RUC Room At Police Training College
BB 05/31/05 Illegal Dump Fight 'Not Relaxed'
IT 06/01/05 EU Treaty Faces Heavy Defeat By Dutch Electorate
IT 06/01/05 Forensic Evidence Due In Omagh Trial
IT 06/01/05 Final Stage Of M50 To Open At End Of Month
US 05/26/05 Belfast Sees Hope For Unity In Titanic Project
BT 05/31/05 Geldof Announces Five 'Live 8' Shows
IT 06/01/05 Passengers Panic As Snake Slithers Loose Aboard Train


Ex-Loyalist Chief Remanded In Money Laundering Probe

By Alan Erwin, PA

Detectives probing an alleged money laundering racket involving
deposed loyalist terror boss Jim Gray have seized 100,000 documents,
it was revealed today.

Around 2,000 lines of inquiry are being examined by police following a
cash trail that has taken them abroad, the Northern Ireland High Court
was told.

As it emerged that a new arrest has been made in a mammoth
investigation linking Gray to a top Belfast estate agent, a judge
refused to grant bail for the ousted Ulster Defence Association

Gray, 47, was allegedly found with cash and bankers drafts totalling
£10,000 when arrested by police who stopped a southbound Mini Cooper
in Co Down in April.

He denies possessing and concealing criminal property.

Despite claims that he was simply heading on a trip with his
girlfriend, Lord Justice Campbell agreed with concerns expressed by
the Crown that he may have been attempting to flee.

The judge said: "That amount of money does seem fairly substantial to
be taking on a speculative trip."

Gray was detained days after being stood down as the UDA's so-called
brigadier in the east of the city.

Police studying his financial affairs later arrested Philip Johnston,
an estate agent who runs a network of branches in east Belfast, and
Gray's partner, Sharon Moss.

Johnston, 39, of King's Road, Belfast and Moss, from Torgrange, in
Holywood, Co Down, are both on bail charged with money laundering

During today's court hearing it was revealed that Gray was renting a
property from the estate agent, paying £400 cash per month.

Crown Barrister David Hopley told how the accused could not justify
where the money came from during police interview as it took his
minimal outgoings beyond what he had claimed to be living on.

Gray had said the cash he was allegedly found with came from the sale
of two bars he part-owned, the Avenue One and the Bunch of Grapes in
east Belfast, giving him a personal equity of around £130,000, the
court was told.

Gray claimed to have been able to save a £10,000 deposit for a loan on
the pubs eight years ago when he was earning £150 a week.

But police believe the money he was allegedly stopped with came from
the proceeds of his criminal lifestyle, the court heard.

Detectives who examined his bank accounts discovered his average
monthly outgoings for standing orders and other debits came to £1,700
a month without taking into account daily living expenses or housing

During questioning about how he financed his lifestyle, Gray claimed
he got money from "here or there" including help from his family, and
denied using any illegal means, the Crown said.

He also denied any UDA involvement during police interview.

But after his arrest, detectives launched a far-reaching investigation
under the Proceeds of Crime Act that led to the arrests of both
Johnston and Moss.

Searches carried out across Greater Belfast have resulted in around
100,000 documents being seized, including a significant amount of
financial material, Mr Hopley said.

He added that around 2,000 separate lines of inquiry were being
pursued, taking police outside the Northern Ireland jurisdiction.

Council offices, planning offices, solicitors, estate agents,
accountants and the homes and offices of politicians have all been
examined as part of the inquiry.

"Gray is central to this investigation therefore police have concerns
that, if released on bail, he may remove or destroy evidence still
being sought, or interfere with witnesses," the Crown said.

Defence Barrister Norman Hill insisted, however, that contrary to the
speculation surrounding Gray, of Knockwood Park, Belfast, everything
points to him telling the truth during police interview.

He was prepared to live at home and report twice daily if need be to
police in a bid to be granted bail.

Mr Hill, who said Gray's family were standing behind him as he faced
the charges, added that there was no evidence of him ever absconding
in the past.

But the judge pointed out that the accused had never been up on such
serious offences before.

"Careless driving is not normally something to flee the jurisdiction
over," he said.


PSNI Badge On Helicopter Will Make Little Difference To Those In
Militarised Areas

Published: 31 May, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy today said that PSNI
Chief Constable Hugh Orde was living in a cloud cuckoo land if he
seriously believes that nationalists and republicans will think that
the purchase of a helicopter indicates any progress towards an
acceptable and accountable policing service.

Mr Murphy said:

"At the launch of the PSNI helicopter this morning the PSNI Chief Hugh
Orde indicated that he believed that this was a step along the road to
normalised policing. He also hinted that the role of the British Army
in policing here would be lessened, a claim later refuted by the
British Army themselves.

"Hugh Orde is living in a cloud cuckoo land if he seriously believes
that nationalists and republicans will believe that the purchase of a
helicopter indicates any progress towards an acceptable and
accountable policing service.

"In areas like South Armagh Hugh Orde‚s force are routinely carried in
low flying helicopters causing unwarranted and unnecessary disruption
to peoples everyday lives conducting intrusive spy operations from the
air. Putting a PSNI badge on the side of the helicopter will make
little difference to life for those of us living under PSNI and
British Army militarisation every day of the week." ENDS


Prince To Dedicate Room At Police Training College

By Martin Halfpenny, PA

The Prince of Wales will dedicate a room at a historic police training
college to the Royal Ulster Constabulary today.

The Prince is visiting the Police Training College in Bramshill,
Hampshire. He will tour the mansion and plant a tree to mark its 400th
anniversary this year.

He is also to dedicate a room within the college to the Royal Ulster
Constabulary George Cross and the RUC GC Foundation.

In 2000 the Queen awarded the RUC, now named the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, with the George Cross in recognition of the bravery
of RUC officers and their families.

At that time the RUC GC Foundation was established and it maintains
the RUC GC Garden of Remembrance, officially opened by the Prince in
September 2003.

The room at Bramshill is to be dedicated to the RUC GC and the work of
the foundation.

The mansion at Bramshill was built by Lord Zouche in 1605. A manor
already existed at the site from 1598, but Zouche used the foundations
to build the existing mansion which took 20 years to complete.

The mansion and surrounding grounds are now owned by Centrex (Central
Police Training and Development Authority) for police training.


Illegal Dump Fight 'Not Relaxed'

The fight against paramilitaries and others involved in cross-border
illegal dumping will not be relaxed, the Irish government has pledged.

A recent European Court of Justice ruling condemned the Republic for
past failures to deal with illegal waste.

Fears had been expressed that illegal operators would try to dump more
waste in Northern Ireland as a result.

Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche said he was aware of that
possibility, but there would be "no relaxation".

There had been fears that resources to repair illegal sites in the
border region might be diverted.

It is estimated that the illegal waste business in the Irish Republic
is worth about £70m a year, which is about 10% of the industry's
annual turnover.

Rogue contractors have been making millions by undercutting legitimate
waste collectors.

Directive breached

The European Court of Justice ruled in April that the Irish government
had failed to meet its obligation under the Waste Directive to ensure
municipal landfills held required permits.

It ruled that Irish authorities had "tolerated unauthorised activities
in numerous places in Ireland, often over long periods, failing to
require that those activities be brought to an end".

"Such a failure to fulfil obligations is general and persistent in
nature," it added.

The court concluded that "Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligation
to ensure that only duly authorised undertakings dispose of or recover

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/31 16:15:55 GMT


EU Treaty Faces Heavy Defeat By Dutch Electorate

Denis Staunton, in The Hague

Dutch voters are expected to reject the EU constitution today in a
referendum that could deliver the final blow to the treaty's prospects
of coming into force.

Final opinion polls suggested that almost 60 per cent of voters would
reject the constitution just three days after France gave the document
an emphatic No.

EU politicians and officials acknowledged yesterday that a second No
vote could derail the process of ratification in other countries.

Denmark's prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country plans
to hold a referendum on September 27th, said that EU leaders must
decide at a summit this month if the process should continue.

"Our starting point is that Danes must be given the opportunity to
give their opinion, but it presupposes that the European Council
decides to continue," he said.

French president Jacques Chirac last night insisted that France's No
vote to the constitution in a referendum on Sunday was "not the
rejection of the European ideal".

He said in a televised address that the result was a demand for
"action" and "results".

"You are calling for determined, immediate action to respond as soon
as possible to the present difficulties, which are unemployment and
spending power," he said.

Earlier Mr Chirac appointed Dominique de Villepin as prime minister
following the resignation of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, as a way of
addressing voter concerns on the domestic issues in France.

Tomorrow the Taoiseach will meet Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean
Claude Juncker, whose country holds the EU presidency. The two leaders
are expected to discuss the impact of this week's referendums.

Mr Ahern will travel from Luxembourg to Berlin, where he will meet
chancellor Gerhard Schröder and deliver a speech on Europe - Our
common future - to the Humboldt University.

Irish officials said yesterday that the Taoiseach is unlikely to make
any decision to call off Ireland's referendum on the constitution
before the EU summit on June 16th.

Dutch foreign minister Ben Bot yesterday admitted that the
constitution, which has the support of all the country's main
political parties, trade unions and business organisations, is likely
to be rejected.

"We had hoped for a neck-and-neck race (but) . . . it looks as if it
is going to be a No vote," he told CNN television.

The Dutch parliament is not obliged to respect the outcome of today's
referendum but the governing Christian Democrats have promised not to
ratify the constitution if more than 55 per cent of voters reject it
on a turnout of more than 30 per cent.

Latest polls predict a turnout between 42 and 44 per cent.

The low-key campaign was dominated by public disquiet over the size of
the Netherlands' per capita contribution to the EU budget - the
highest of any member state - and anger over the decision by EU
finance ministers two years ago to allow Germany and France to break
the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact.

Far-right campaigners against the constitution also appealed to
popular hostility to immigration and to moves to start EU membership
talks with Turkey.

The Dutch EU commissioner, Neelie Kroes, told Volkskrant newspaper
that voters were unhappy with the idea of a constitution for Europe.

"I'd rather talk about a new international treaty. That we're talking
about a constitution at all . . . is because of the enthusiasm of the
chief author, Giscard d'Estaing. He put a nice title on the thing
because he was in an exultant mood. That exaggerated optimism is now
being punished," she said.

© The Irish Times


Forensic Evidence Due In Omagh Trial

Gerry Moriarty

Lawyers representing alleged Omagh bomber Seán Gerard Hoey will
question forensic experts when the case opens next month, Belfast
Magistrates' Court heard yesterday.

The huge scale of the case, which is due to begin in preliminary
session on Monday, June 20th, was revealed when presiding magistrate
Desmond Perry said he was potentially faced with "12 boxes of papers"
to read relating to the 61 charges against Mr Hoey.

Mr Hoey, a 35-year-old electrician from Molly Road, Jonesborough in
south Armagh, appeared by video link at the court yesterday from
Maghaberry Prison, where he has been on remand since September 2003.

He faces a total of 61 charges, including charges of murdering each of
the 29 victims of the "Real IRA" Omagh bombing of August 15th, 1998.

He also faces several other serious charges, including "Real IRA"
membership and "Real IRA" bombing offences.

Mr Hoey made no comment yesterday other than to confirm his name.

He was remanded in Maghaberry to appear again before the court by
video link on Friday, June 17th, and to appear personally in the court
for a preliminary hearing of the case on the following Monday.

© The Irish Times


Final Stage Of M50 To Open At End Of Month

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

The final stage of the M50 motorway is to open to traffic at the end
of this month after six years of legal wrangles and protests.

Although the road, known as the South Eastern Motorway, is two years
behind its original schedule, the opening date is two months ahead of
its revised schedule, which followed the last High Court challenge to
the project.

The office of Minister for Transport Martin Cullen yesterday said the
Minister would open the road officially on June 30th, two months ahead
of the planned August opening. The final stage will link up the N11
dual carriageway with the other Dublin orbital routes, allowing
traffic to avoid suburban Dublin entirely. The junction near
Carrickmines Castle, the subject of lengthy legal actions, will not be
open until October, however.

Congestion on the M50 is not expected to be greatly improved by the
new section and is likely to worsen in the coming months when
construction on new "spaghetti junction" interchanges and an upgrade
to four lanes get under way later this year.

First planned in the 1970s, the Dublin C-Ring, which became known as
the M50, has taken a long time to complete.

Plans to begin construction of the South Eastern Motorway stretch in
1999 were abandoned after Jackson Way, which owned land at
Carrickmines, took a High Court action against the road plan, bringing
it as far as the Supreme Court. It abandoned its court action in 2000.

The road was further delayed by archaeological work, especially around
Carrickmines Castle, which then became the focus of protest by
heritage activists who said the site would be virtually destroyed
unless the interchange and road were redesigned.Protesters took a
series of successful legal actions over the failure of State agencies
and the Government to adhere to heritage protection legislation in
relation to the site, which led to the introduction of new heritage
legislation last year.

A High Court challenge to parts of the legislation failed last
September, and construction on the full route recommenced.

© The Irish Times


Belfast Sees Hope For Unity In Titanic Project

By Richard Willing, USA TODAY

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Nearly 100 years ago,
workers at the Harland and Woolf shipyards here built
the Titanic, the largest ship of its time.

Harland and Woolf stopped building ships in 2003. But
if dreamers in this still-divided city get their way,
a new Titanic will someday grace the shipyard's empty
acres along Belfast's lough. Groundbreaking is
scheduled for later this year on the Titanic Quarter,
a massive commercial and residential development that
is projected to cost $2 billion, take 20 years to
build and eventually cover 185 acres of currently
vacant waterfront. Included in the plans: a $200
million dollar Titanic museum that would open by 2011,
the centenary of the launch of the 883-foot-long ship.

If it clicks, the Titanic project could provide a home
base for Northern Ireland's growing high tech
industries and housing for a middle class that has
enjoyed increasing prosperity since warring Catholic
and Protestant factions declared cease-fires in the

But its most ambitious goal can't be measured by
construction timetables: securing peace by providing
high-paying jobs for thousands of Catholics and
Protestants, including former paramilitary members who
fought an inconclusive 25-year war over the province's
fate. On Tuesday, the province's Independent
Monitoring Commission, which oversees the cease-fires,
blamed unemployed paramilitary members for an ongoing
scourge of robbery and crimes.

Considering the namesake ship's own fate — sunk by an
iceberg on its maiden voyage, with 1,517 killed — is
the Titanic really the best symbol for redevelopment
in this war-weary city?

"There was nothing wrong with 'er when she left
Belfast," replies Sammy Douglas, a community worker in
Protestant East Belfast who is helping recruit job
applicants for the Titanic project.

Douglas, 52, comes by his feistiness naturally. In
Belfast, he's a rare species: a "Prod," in the city's
unique dialect, who has earned the trust of Catholics
with whom he works on employment projects and defusing
tensions between the city's Protestant and Catholic
neighborhoods. He walks a fragile line between the two
communities, using a constant stream of cell phone
calls to maintain his balance.

"We trust Sammy Douglas," says Frankie Brennan, 55, a
jobs counselor in the mostly Catholic Short Strand
neighborhood near the Titanic project's site. Brennan
was imprisoned — but not charged — for IRA activity in
the 1970s. "When he says something, you can believe
him, and that's something I can take back to my

30,000 people detained

From 1969 until 1994, the period of Northern Ireland's
"Troubles," about 30,000 paramilitary members were
detained or imprisoned, Douglas estimates. The mostly
Catholic Irish Republican Army, which called a
cease-fire in 1994, was fighting to unite the six
mostly Protestant counties of Northern Ireland with
the 26-county Republic of Ireland. Groups including
the Ulster Defense Association, the Ulster Volunteer
Force and the Red Hand Commandos, all mostly
Protestant, want Northern Ireland to remain within the
United Kingdom.

The "loyalist" paramilitaries fought the Irish
Republican Army and sometimes one another over
territory and power. At times, all of the paramilitary
groups fought local police and the British army.

Now, the province of 1.6 million is being governed
from London while Northern Ireland's political parties
await talks aimed at establishing a local government.

Parties associated with Protestant hard-liners and the
IRA finished first and second in races for the British
parliament and for local government councils on May 5.

While unemployment across the province was 4.5% in
January, according to the UK's Northern Ireland
Bureau, the jobs boom has not been spread equally. In
Belfast last year, joblessness was 22% in the poorest
Catholic area and nearly 20% in a nearby Protestant

"The problem of ex-prisoners is an important one
that's been too much lost sight of," Douglas says.
"When they go looking for work is when the problems

Sid Trotter, an Ulster Defense Association (UDA)
volunteer from County Fermanagh, left prison in 1993
after serving six years for raising funds for the
outlawed group by shaking down construction sites. He
earned a sociology degree after leaving prison. But
Trotter, 43, says he has been trapped in a low-paying
community organizing job. Even driving a taxi is out;
ex-prisoners can't be licensed.

Worse yet, he says, is that his daughter was rejected
for a job with Northern Ireland's new police service
when a background check uncovered her father's record.

"I'll take responsibility for what I did, and I'll try
to live with the consequences," says Trotter, a brawny
man with Ulster's traditional symbol, a blood-red
hand, tattooed on a bulky forearm. "But for our
children, where's the new beginning?"

Organized crime

Crimes such as robbery and money laundering have
continued on both sides, even during the cease-fires.

In February, the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC), which oversees weapons decommissioning,
reported that the IRA was responsible for a $50
million bank robbery in central Belfast last December,
as well as several smaller holdups last year.

In April, Jim Gray, a former Ulster Defense
Association leader in East Belfast was charged with
money laundering after police found about $29,000 in
the trunk of his car.

The IMC said Tuesday that the IRA is an organized
crime group and that former Protestant paramilitary
fighters remain "active, violent and ruthless"

For some, crime is an extension of paramilitary
careers, says Andy Tyrie, 65, who led the UDA from
1973 to 1988. "There may be a (political) reason to do
it, but then the money goes in the pockets."

Putting former enemies to work on the same job site
sounds risky. With Titanic Quarter's leaders, Douglas
is developing a "council of reference" in which
respected members of both communities will oversee
hiring to ensure jobs are doled out fairly to target
groups, including former prisoners. Such a council,
Douglas says, could exclude former members of
paramilitaries most likely to cause trouble, such as
those with especially violent records.

Can such a plan work in a city thoroughly soaked in
its history of sectarian bitterness and suspicion? Ian
Adamson, a Belfast City Council member and historian
of Northern Ireland's Protestants, is optimistic.

"There always will be some that won't leave off
(committing crimes), but I think the majority will
once they're shown something better," Adamson says.

"It's hard to know, though, until you truly try."
Activists on the Republican side say they're
especially hopeful the Titanic proposal will deliver
new jobs for their community. Catholics, they note,
found it difficult to get jobs in the old shipyard —
or hang onto them when times were hard.

Ironically, Douglas says, the legacy of discrimination
may have left Catholics better prepared to grasp new

"With the help of community organizations and the
Catholic Church, they got training and qualifications
and many of them are ahead (of Protestant employment
candidates)," Douglas says.

But in Belfast, politics is never far from the

Republicans, says Catholic job counselor Brennan,
support good jobs for both communities. Good paying
jobs for Protestants, Brennan says, will break down
that group's historic resistance to uniting with the
Republic of Ireland, where the economy is booming.

"They'll not resist the 'Celtic Tiger,' " he says,
referring to an Irish economic boom that has driven
employment levels and living standards to modern

From the Protestant side, the view is different. Good
jobs and peace in the neighborhoods, says Ulster
Volunteer Force member Paul Hoey, 50, decreases any
possibility that Protestants would embrace political

"We're not pushing matters, only defending our
communities and traditions," says Hoey, who describes
himself as a "player" in East Belfast street politics.
"Leave us alone, and you'll not even know that we're about."


Geldof Announces Five 'Live 8' Shows

U2 to play Hyde Park

By Gary Fennelly
31 May 2005

Bob Geldof has announced details of the follow-up to 1985's Live Aid.
Five free concerts will be held in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and
Philadelphia, as part Live 8.

The event is aimed at raising money and awareness to fight poverty and
will coincide with the meeting of international leaders at the G8

The main concert will be held at Hyde Park in London on Saturday, July
2 with simultaneous shows at the other four venues.

Irish rockers U2, Coldplay, Robbie Williams, REM, Paul McCartney and
Madonna will play in London.

Other performers include Will Smith, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band,
Stevie Wonder and P. Diddy in Philadelphia; Crosby, Stills and Nash,
Lauren Hill and Brian Wilson in Berlin; Jamiroquai, Youssou N'Dour,
Yannick Noah and Placebo in Paris; and Duran Duran in Rome.

Organisers said the Spice Girls would be invited to play, if they
reformed in time, quashing earlier rumours that they were not welcome.

Geldof, the driving force behind the Band Aid and Live Aid campaigns
for African famine relief said: "This is not Live Aid 2. These
concerts are the start point for The Long Walk To Justice, the one way
we can all make our voices heard in unison.

"This is without doubt a moment in history where ordinary people can
grasp the chance to achieve something truly monumental and demand from
the eight world leaders at G8 an end to poverty.

"The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will
only have the will to do so if tens of thousands of people show them
that enough is enough.

"By doubling aid, fully canceling debt, and delivering trade justice
for Africa, the G8 could change the future for millions of men, women
and children."

Geldof said that, following the concerts, he wants a million people to
take part in a protest in Edinburgh to coincide with G8 summit at
Gleneagles, Scotland, on July 6 and 8.

Organisers revealed there are plans for concerts in other G8
countries, but did not give further details. Canada, Russia and Japan
are the three other nations in the G8.

Getting tickets

Tickets for the LIVE 8 London concert in Hyde Park will be allocated
via a text lottery. Each person that enters the lottery can obtain 2
tickets each by texting a special number. The text number will be
announced at 8am on Monday 6 June 2005 via all UK Radio Stations & BBC

Further details available at


Passengers Panic As Snake Slithers Loose Aboard Train

Liam Horan

Commuters travelling by train from Dublin to Galway got the fright
of their lives when they saw a snake roaming loose from one carriage
to another.

Passengers jumped up on to seats and tables as the snake slid along
after escaping from the box in which a pet-shop owner was transporting

"There was complete panic. People were very frightened and they really
freaked out. It was an awful shock for us to get, I got the fright of
my life," said one passenger.

"Someone noticed the snake on the floor and then the shouting started.
People just tried to get away from the snake, because Irish people
know very little about snakes and I know I am very afraid of them."

Iarnród Éireann is investigating the incident which resulted in the
train stopping for 20 minutes in Kildare station on Monday afternoon.

"The snake escaped from the box in which the pet-shop owner was
carrying it," said a spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann. "It made its
way into the next carriage where people noticed it.

"The owner secured the snake back in its box again and the train
stopped in Kildare to ensure that everything was okay. It is not
against our bylaws to bring pets on trains provided they are safely
secured away, and don't cause annoyance or offence. We will be
investigating it fully and the pet-shop owner is co-operating."

© The Irish Times
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?