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May 25, 2005

RUC Urged To Aid Hamill Probe

News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 05/25/05 RUC Urged To Aid Hamill Probe
SF 05/25/05 Martin McGuinness Begins US Trip
IE 05/25/05 Spicer Threatens To Sue Echo, MP
DJ 05/25/05 'UDA Responsible For Bomb Scare' - Say IRSP
DJ 05/25/05 IRA Response Not Enough, - Says Eileen McGinley
SF 05/25/05 FF & FG Run Away From Debate On European Constitution
IO 05/25/05 €700,000 For Pearse Surrender Note
BB 05/25/05 Privilege Used To Allege IRA Link
BB 05/25/05 Blair Sets Out Sinn Fein's Choice
IO 05/25/05 Unionists Welcome Possible SF Stormont 'Freeze-Out'
DJ 05/25/05 SF Opposed To ID Cards
IO 05/25/05 Councillors' Conduct Could Be Scrutinised By Watchdog
ND 05/25/05 Inequality Still Rife, Says Councillor
ND 05/25/05 Mayor Pledges To Be Uniting Force
BT 05/25/05 Viewpoint: IMC Report Does Not Inspire Confidence
BT 05/25/05 A Dark Season's Story From The Soldier's Daughter
DI 05/25/05 Support For Bereaved
IO 05/25/05 Father Praises Teenager Who Rescued Death Crash Daughter
SF 05/25/05 Sinn Féin Call For Seatbelts On All Buses

SF 05/25/05 MI5 Device @ $3,000

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:


RUC Urged To Aid Hamill Probe

By Jarlath Kearney

Former members of the RUC who know anything about the murder of
Portadown man Robert Hamill have been urged to co-operate with a new
public inquiry that opened in Craigavon yesterday.

Mr Hamill's sister Diane made the plea at the opening session of a new
investigation into allegations of collusion relating to the 1997
incident. Mr Hamill was kicked to death by a loyalist mob in a
sectarian attack eight years ago.

At the time, he was a 25-year-old father of two and his partner was
pregnant with the couple's third child.

Following revelations that a nearby RUC patrol had failed to intervene
during the attack, Canadian judge Peter Cory reviewed the case and
recommended that a public inquiry should take place.

Judge Cory also reached a similar conclusion in relation to other
cases, including the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary

A series of unresolved questions remain over the conduct of the RUC on
the night Mr Hamill was murdered, as well as the subsequent handling
of the case.

The inquiry formally opened yesterday under a three-person panel
chaired by Sir Edwin Jowitt.

Speaking to reporters after the opening session, Diane Hamill said:

"We would especially like to appeal to any police officers, serving or
retired, who have information about that night ... and the botched
police investigation. Come forward, examine your conscience and do the
right thing.

"We just want to know why Robert was allowed to be murdered within
feet of four fully armed RUC officers," Ms Hamill said.

Upper Bann SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said her party is supporting the
Hamill family's quest for justice.

"This is a very important day for the family of Robert Hamill. We all
hope that this will be the beginning of a process that will confirm
the truth of what happened to Robert," Ms Kelly said.

Sinn Féín MLA John O'Dowd urged the inquiry to examine comparisons
between the sectarian murder of Mr Hamill and the racist killing of
London teenager Stephen Lawrence.

"I spoke with the Hamill family today and I know that they have mixed
emotions in terms of what this inquiry will deliver.

"It has taken eight years for them to get this far. It is time that
the family's request for the truth to be told is finally met and I
would hope that this inquiry will achieve that," Mr O'Dowd said.

Inquiry chairperson Sir Edwin Jowitt said that evidence will be
assessed to establish whether any failure or ommission on the part of
RUC members contributed to the attack occuring or the failure to
apprehend the killers.

"We are very conscious of the many emotions to which the death of
Robert Hamill has given rise and we repeat that our overriding concern
in this inquiry will be to do all we can to ascertain where the truth
lies concerning the issues raised by our terms of reference."


Martin McGuinness Begins US Trip

Published: 25 May, 2005

Speaking from Washington where he is engaged in a series of meetings
with senior US politicians and influential Irish American figures,
Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said that there is a firm
view in the US that any future progress within the political process
must be based on the principles set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr. McGuinness said:

"Over the next few days I will be meeting with senior US politicians
and influential Irish American figures to update them on the peace
process and on what is required to move the process forward. I will
also be raising the refusal to grant a visa waiver to our
representative to the US Rita O'Hare. The White House, US politicians
and Irish America have played a crucial role in the peace process,
particularly at times when courage and imagination was needed to move
the process forward. I am confident that they will play such a role in
the coming months.

"There is a widespread acceptance in the US that political progress is
possible in the coming period if the necessary political will is
displayed by all of the parties and in particular by the two
governments. However there is also a firm view, which I share, that
any future progress must be based on the principles set out in the
Good Friday Agreement. There has to be an acceptance of these core
principles by the DUP.

"In the negotiations late last year Sinn Féin ensured that the core
principles of the Agreement were defended and protected to the point
that the DUP were forced reluctantly to move onto the ground of the
Good Friday Agreement. This reality is obvious in the content of the
Comprehensive Agreement published by the two governments in December

" However as we all now know for electoral or whatever reason the DUP
chose to back away at the last minute from a comprehensive deal. Of
course the DUP can choose to do this again and ignore the reality,
which faces them and once again shy away from the political and
democratic process. If that happens the two governments must move
swiftly to ensure that the DUP are not allowed a continuing veto on
future progress." ENDS


Spicer Threatens To Sue Echo, MP

By Ray O'Hanlon

Controversial former British army officer, Tim Spicer, is this week
threatening to sue the Irish Echo and a member of the British
parliament in the London High Court. The threat of libel action is
contained in solicitors' letters sent to the Echo and to MP Sarah

The legal letters follow in the wake of a recent report in the Echo
that pointed to U.S. criticism of the manner in which a Spicer-owned
private security company has been operating in Iraq.

Spicer's company, Aegis Defense Services, was last year granted a $293
million contract by the Pentagon for security and reconstruction work
in Iraq.

However, a strongly critical report by the Office of the Special
Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction recently cited Aegis for not
complying with a number of requirements contained in the contract with
the U.S. Department of Defense.

The contract has sparked controversy in Ireland, Britain and the U.S.
because of Spicer's past record in Northern Ireland where he commanded
the Scots Guards regiment during a tour of duty in the early 1990s.

Soldiers in that regiment shot and killed Belfast teenager Peter
McBride in September of 1992. Spicer subsequently defended the actions
of his men.

Two members of the regiment were tried for murder, convicted and
sentenced to life. However, they were released after six years and
reinstated in the unit.

In a letter to the Pentagon several months ago, the Derry-based Pat
Finucane Center pressed the U.S. army to justify its decision to award
the Iraq contract to Aegis Defense Services, of which Spicer is CEO.

The Pentagon has also been pressed on the issue by a group of U.S.
senators, Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, and Teather,
a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Commons.

It was a line in a recent Echo report that prompted legal letters sent
to both Teather, the member of Parliament for the Brent East
constituency in London, and this newspaper.

In its May 4-10 issue, the Echo, in a story headlined "Spicer speared
in scathing U.S. report," reported Teather's view that "serious
questions" still required answering in the McBride case.

However, it was the Echo's precise wording of this aspect of the
Spicer/Aegis story that prompted the legal letters to the Echo and

The report stated: "Teather recently told the Echo that 'serious
questions' were still in need of answers with regard to Spicer and his
role in the death of Peter McBride."

The letter sent to the Echo alleged that this statement, made with
regard to "Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer OBE," was "seriously
defamatory of him."

The letter stated: "He had no role whatever in the death of Peter
McBride. He was the commanding officer of the regiment in which two
soldiers involved in Mr. McBride's death were then serving. Thereafter
he stood by his men and, in due course, was vindicated in so doing."

The letter demanded an "immediate and full retraction" to be published
in the Echo. Such a retraction would serve to "unequivocally" withdraw
"the serious aspersions made against our client."

The letter additionally indicated that Spicer, through his legal
representatives, would be seeking damages and costs in the event of
there being no "satisfactory response" from the Echo and Teather.

The letter to the Echo warned that if there was no such response
"proceedings will be instituted against you in the High Court in
England and against Ms. Teather without further notice."

Both the Echo and Ms. Teather were taking separate legal advice
regarding the matter this week.

Irish Echo Publisher Seán Finlay defended the Echo's coverage of the
controversy surrounding Spicer, his record in Northern Ireland and
with regard to the Iraq contract, which has been defended and
confirmed by the U.S. Army Contracting Agency, in spite of multiple

"We stand over our reporting of this story," Finlay said.

"It is entirely legitimate that the Irish Echo questions the basis for
the contract awarded Aegis, as well as Spicer's broader military and
alleged mercenary record," Finlay said.

The basis for the Pat Finucane Center's objection to the Iraq contract
is rooted solely in the death of Peter McBride.

Spicer was not present at the scene of the shooting which took place
September 4, 1992 in Belfast's Upper Meadow Street.

McBride was shot in the back moments after being searched by a
sergeant attached to the same patrol as the soldiers who fired their

Despite his absence from the scene, Spicer's role as commander of the
regiment was to draw him to the center of the furious controversy that
followed the death of the teenager, a controversy that continues to
this day.

In its stated objection to the Iraq contract, first relayed to the
Pentagon last December, the PFC stated that the "allegation" against
Spicer was not that he advocated for the release of the two soldiers
from prison after the shooting of McBride.

"The issue is that he opposed their arrest and opposed their being
charged with any offense whatsoever. In a sworn affidavit, and again
in his autobiography, Spicer has sought to portray an entirely
fictitious and untruthful version of the events preceding, during and
following the actual murder," the center stated.

Spicer defended the actions of the two soldiers in a letter to the
Times of London on the grounds that both believed they were involved
in a terrorist incident and had accordingly acted in good faith, in
accordance with the law, the rules of engagement, and their military

Separately, in his autobiography, which was extracted in the London
Daily Mail, Spicer threw additional light on why he had so vigorously
defended the actions of his men.

His view, he stated, was in accordance with the British army's "yellow
card," a document that outlined the army's rules of engagement in
Northern Ireland.

"My view," Spicer wrote, "is that if the soldier genuinely believes
his life, or the lives of his comrades, are under threat from
something such as a Mark XV, then even if it was not immediately
obvious that one was being thrown, he could open fire."

"Mark XV" refers to a "coffee jar" bomb frequently used by the IRA
during the time covered by Spicer's tour of duty in Northern Ireland.

No such weapon, or any weapon, was found on Peter McBride, either
during the army search, or after he was shot.

Meanwhile, the criticism directed at Aegis by the Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction cites rests in part on rules
concerning guns and their use.

The report stated that Aegis had been unable to provide correct
documents to verify that its employees were qualified to use weapons.

And it warned that many Iraqi employees were not properly vetted by
Aegis to ensure they were not a security threat.

"As a result there is no assurance that Aegis is providing the best
possible safety and security for government and reconstruction
contractor personnel and facilities," the report stated.

This story appeared in the issue of May 25-31, 2005


'UDA Responsible For Bomb Scare' - Say IRSP

Tuesday 24th May 2005

The IRSP in Derry last night blamed the UDA for an overnight bomb
scare in Derry's Gelvin Gardens.

A large number of residents were moved from their Waterside homes on
Sunday evening while army technical officers examined a suspicious
device found in one of the gardens of the houses.

Local people were forced to take refuge in a nearby school and the
Trench Road was closed between the junctions of Rose Court and
Hollymount Park.

The road was reopened again just after 9 a.m. yesterday morning when
residents were able to return to their homes.

Army experts declared a suspicious object found at the scene as a
"hoax" however it was taken away for further examination.

Yesterday the IRSP laid the blame for the security alert on the UDA.

An IRSP spokesperson said: "We totally condemn this [hoax] bomb attack
on a defenceless and innocent family in Gelvin Gardens in the

"This attack was obviously carried out by loyalists with the sinister
intention of creating fear and intimidation. However we will not let
this act of recklessness intimidate us.

"Unfortunately people living in this area have suffered similar
attacks in the past but are not deterred from going about their normal
day to day business."

The IRSP claimed they were aware that a claim of responsibility by the
"Loyalist Action Force" was received "which we know to be a flag of
convenience for the UDA in Derry."

According to the IRSP spokesman: "In this claim they named a man who
does not reside where the [hoax] bomb was found. The UDA are allegedly
on ceasefire but this random and sectarian attack on a nationalist
estate proves that ceasefire to be totally worthless. "This attack
follows the recent discovery of a PSNI notebook in the Waterside area
which included the personal details of Republicans. There is a
sinister agenda at play here in trying to raise tensions between
Catholics and Protestants and we urge people on both sides not to play
into this agenda,' he alleged.

The IRSP added: "We want to use this opportunity to reinforce the need
for people living in interface and other vulnerable areas,
particularly in the Waterside, to exercise caution by checking around
their homes and under their vehicles."

Police in Derry said yesterday that they had not yet established a
motive for the attack.

However they urged anyone with any information to come forward. They
are particularly eager to hear from anyone who noticed the culprits or
any suspicious activity in the area between 9pm and 11.15pm on Sunday.
The telephone number to ring is 028 7136 7337 and ask for the police
at Waterside, or 'Crimestoppers' in complete confidence on freephone
0800 555111.


IRA Response Not Enough, - Says Eileen McGinley

Tuesday 24th May 2005

Responding to the IRA statement in Friday's Derry Journal, claiming
that "there is absolutely no threat from the IRA to the McGinley
family", Eileen McGinley has called on the IRA to make clear if they
are denying that a threat was made against her family or if that
threat has been lifted. She has also said that the IRA's response is
not enough.

"We asked the IRA for four things, to state whether or not they
consider our Jimmy's killing to be a crime, kick Bart Fisher out of
their organisation, apologise to us for how we've been treated and to
lift the threat made against us" she said.

"If they're saying that no threat was made then they're trying to make
liars out of us and we're not. We wouldn't go on national TV and radio
and tell lies. Everything we're saying is the truth.

"They told my Eugene that no member of this family is to touch Bart
Fisher when he gets out of prison because he's an IRA man. What if
there's a row up the town and somebody belonging to me is involved and
Bart Fisher's involved? Am I going to have the IRA at my door or
another dead child?

Campaigner for the family, Damien Okado-Gough welcomed the IRA
statement and said he hopes that it marks the first step in resolving
the issue between the IRA and the family.

"If it represents a denial that any threat was issued then that just
adds insult to injury. If, however, it is a sincere attempt to address
the McGinley family's concerns then it should be welcomed. I am asking
the IRA to clear up this ambiguity through whichever channels it is
comfortable with.

"That aside, the family have wider concerns and I hope that this
statement marks the start of a proper engagement between the two that
will bring this whole episode to an end."

The recent, cancelled meeting with Gerry Adams is expected to be held
again within the next two or three weeks, however a date has not been
decided upon.


Fianna Fáil And Fine Gael Run Away From Debate On European

Published: 25 May, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael
of running away from a debate on the proposed European Constitution
after key figures in both parties refused to participate in a keynote
debate on the proposed EU Constitution. The debate was due to take
place at a major conference, which is taking place in Dublin city this
weekend. She challenged both parties to stop hiding on the issue and
attend the weekend conference.

Ms. McDonald said:

"This weekend Sinn Féin is hosting a major conference on the proposed
EU Constitution and among those participating in the event are
academics, Non Governmental Organisations and MEPs from across Europe.

"As part of the weekend we had hoped to have a keynote debate 'The EU
Constitution: Yes or No' with politicians arguing opposite sides of
the debate. Key figures in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were invited to
participate in the debate but refused to do so.

"It is not good enough for public representatives to run away from
debating this issue and surely if they are confident enough of their
arguments they would be more than willing to participate. Neither is
it good enough for these parties to pay lip service to the notion of a
full and frank debate on the EU Constitution if they are not prepared
to stand up and argue their case.

"In the coming days the people of France and Holland are voting on the
Constitution and in the coming months the people of Ireland will be
voting. It is crucial that there is a full and open debate on the
consequences that this constitution will have for Ireland and the
European Union.

"I am challenging Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to stop hiding on this
issue and to participate in this weekends conference." ENDS

The conference will take place in the Irish Film Centre on Eustace
Street in Dublin on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May.


€700,000 For Pearse Surrender Note

25/05/2005 - 21:13:55

A surrender note written by Irish revolutionary icon Padraig Pearse
fetched €700,000 – almost 10 times its guide price – at auction in
Dublin tonight.

The document, dated April 30, 1916 had been estimated to sell for
about €80,000 by auctioneers James Adam and Sons.

A spokesman for the firm said tonight: "There was huge interest and it
exceeded its guide price incredibly. It finally went to an anonymous

Several state organisations had viewed the historic letter, which was
penned by Pearse from his prison cell days before his execution by
firing squad after the ill-fated Easter Rising.

The letter had been stored carefully by an anonymous family for the
past 80 years since a Capuchin priest, Fr Columbus, collected the
letter from Pearse's cell in Dublin's Arbour Hill Prison.

The letter attracted interest from overseas, including American
collectors, when it was displayed in a Bond Street auction room in
London and in Belfast over the past few weeks.

An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic
recently went for a record €390,000 at the same salesrooms in Dublin's
St Stephen's Green.

Pearse wrote the note before he was executed with 14 other rebels
captured in the battle to overthrow English rule.

The letter reads: "In order to prevent further slaughter of the civil
population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, the
members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have
decided on an unconditional surrender, and commandants or officers
commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms. P.H.
Pearse. Dublin 30th April 1916."

Pearse came to the fore as a revolutionary in the early 20th century
with calls for a blood sacrifice to rid Ireland of British rule.

Fr Columbus brought the hand-written note to forces in the Four Courts
who had refused to give up the fight a week after the Proclamation was
read on the steps of the GPO.

On reading the letter Captain Gary Holohan, who was in charge of the
Four Courts Command, eased hostilities and surrendered.

Other surrender notes, which are now in state hands, were typed up for
Pearse to sign and one other hand-written letter also exists.


Privilege Used To Allege IRA Link

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Irish financier Phil Flynn has challenged Ulster Unionist peer Lord
Laird to repeat allegations about him outside parliament.

Lord Laird used the legal protection of parliamentary privilege on
Tuesday to raise questions about the relationship between Mr Flynn, a
former vice president of Sinn Fein, and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

Lord Laird called for the police fraud squad to examine any loans made
locally by Mr Flynn's former firm, the Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

In February, Mr Flynn resigned from his position on the Irish
government's decentralisation committee after being interviewed by the
Irish Criminal Assets Bureau during an investigation into money

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Laird claimed Phil Flynn "was
prosecuted for IRA membership in 1974.

"The police understood that he had been their chief finance officer.
He became vice president of Sinn Fein from 1980 to 1985," he said.

"When, in 1997, Bertie Ahern became Irish prime minister, Flynn had
already been his friend, adviser and main troubleshooter for some

The police now believe that the IRA have up to £2bn in assets in

Lord Laird

The peer said that Mr Flynn, who left active politics for a career in
trade unionism and business, became a "pillar of Irish society".

However, Lord Laird said: "The Irish police knew different.

"In 2002 and 2003, they observed Brian Keenan, currently an active
member of the IRA Army Council, staying for some time at Flynn's home
in Dublin.

"They also observed Slab Murphy, the IRA Army Chief of Staff, meeting
Flynn on a regular basis. They reported this to the government.
Nothing happened."

Referring to the Irish police's investigation into the IRA and money
laundering, Lord Laird said: "The police now believe that the IRA have
up to £2bn in assets in Dublin: in pubs, hotels, houses and other
legitimate investments.

"They are based on a cash deposit of stolen money, and between 80% and
90% of lending by a 'friendly institution'."

Questioning the relationship between Mr Flynn and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern, Lord Laird asked: "Was there a deal to allow the IRA to buy
their way into respectability with stolen money?

"What is the link between Sinn Fein and Ahern that allows some in the
Irish government to turn a blind eye to the 'state within a state'?"

The peer went on to refer to the Taoiseach's offer, now rescinded, to
release the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe as part of any peace deal.

He claimed that "Sinn Fein have undue influence over Fianna Fail
through a combination of money and blackmail".

'Cover of privilege'

Phil Flynn was formerly the chairman of the Bank of Scotland

In his speech, Lord Laird called on the Police Service of Northern
Ireland's fraud squad to "urgently inspect" the bank's Belfast loan

Contacted by the BBC, Mr Flynn said he had not seen Lord Laird's
speech but would respond fully if the Ulster Unionist peer repeated
his allegations without the cover of parliamentary privilege.

He said that much of what he had seen attributed to Lord Laird
previously had been inaccurate.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/25 16:08:36 GMT


Blair Sets Out Sinn Fein's Choice

Sinn Fein will only return to the NI Executive if republicans abandon
all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity, Tony Blair has

The prime minister said on Wednesday it would be "far better" to find
a way forward which included Sinn Fein.

However, he warned that an alternative solution would have to be found
if paramilitary activity did not cease.

He was speaking before meeting an SDLP delegation at Downing Street
for their views on the stalled political process.

The prime minister met Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein last week.

Speaking at question-time in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Blair said
there were only two ways forward.

"One is inclusive of Sinn Fein and, for that to happen, there has to
be a complete end to all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity as
the Good Friday Agreement indicates," he said.

Addressing Eddie McGrady, SDLP, he added: "Or, alternatively, a way
forward without Sinn Fein which actually depends on your party."

Inclusiveness 'better'

Inclusiveness was a "far better" way forward, but not possible without
an end to all criminal activity, he said.

Mr McGrady had protested that the government's attempts to resolve the
crisis were a "substantive part" of how the community in Northern
Ireland had been "placed at the dictate of the IRA army council and
the extremes of unionism and republicanism".

Nigel Dodds, DUP, welcomed Mr Blair's indication that he would
consider a way forward without Sinn Fein.

"There can be no fudge between democracy and terror and the DUP is
determined that stunts and statements designed to take the pressure
off Sinn Fein/IRA will not succeed," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/25 15:13:02 GMT


Unionists Welcome Possible SF Stormont 'Freeze-Out'
2005-05-25 15:40:03+01

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's suggestion that the freezing of
Sinn Féin from regional government was one option for Northern Ireland
was today welcomed by the Democratic Unionists.

After exchanges between the Prime Minister and the nationalist SDLP in
the House of Commons, DUP negotiator Nigel Dodds welcomed Mr Blair's
comments that an alternative to inclusive power-sharing may have to be
sought if the IRA fails to end all paramilitary and criminal activity.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Blair told the SDLP's Eddie
McGrady it would be "far better" to find a way forward which included
Sinn Féin.

But he stressed there were only two ways forward in Northern Ireland.

"One is inclusive of Sinn Féin and for that to happen there has to be
a complete end to all forms of paramilitary or criminal activity as
the Good Friday Agreement indicates," he told the South Down MP.

"Or, alternatively, a way forward without Sinn Féin which actually
depends on your party."

The IRA is currently engaged in an internal debate on their future
following Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams's appeal last month for it
to abandon armed struggle and embrace the democratic alternative.

But the DUP have been pushing the British government not to wait for
republicans to end all IRA activity.

They have urged ministers to bring back a different form of
devolution, promoting a voluntary coalition between unionists and the
SDLP which freezes out Sinn Féin.

However SDLP leader Mark Durkan, who will meet Mr Blair in Downing
Street today, has ruled out such a move.

After today's exchanges in the House, Mr Dodds said: "I welcome the
Prime Minister's indication that is he is willing to consider a way
forward without Sinn Féin/IRA.

"It is time for the democratic parties to move on as quickly as
possible in light of the results of the general and local government
elections which demonstrated that the vast majority of people support
an exclusively peaceful and democratic way forward.

"There can be no fudge between democracy and terror and the DUP is
determined that stunts and statements designed to take the pressure
off Sinn Féin/IRA will not succeed.

"The days of IRA words gaining them access to government in Northern
Ireland are over."

The DUP has also argued that if a voluntary coalition cannot be set up
the British government should instead make direct rule from
Westminster more accountable, with Stormont Assembly members or local
councillors being given a scrutiny role over the work of Northern
Ireland Office ministers.

A report by the Independent Monitoring Commission yesterday claimed
that the Provisional IRA was still recruiting members and training
them how to use firearms and explosives.


SF Opposed To ID Cards

Tuesday 24th May 2005

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney has said that Sinn FÈin are
fundamentally opposed to the introduction of British ID cards.

Mr. McCartney said: "Proposed Westminster legislation would involve
creating a UK-wide database holding information on individuals such as
names, addresses, and biometric information like fingerprints, facial
scans and iris scans by 2008.

"Under the Good Friday Agreement people in the North have the right to
Irish or British identity (or both). Far from being an effective tool
for anything, these cards would undermine not just civil liberties but
also fundamentally the right of people living in the north to their
Irish identity.

"Should Irish citizens in the North have to carry such a British ID
card or there is there any basis for the British government have the
right to hold biometric and other information on Irish citizens?"

He went on: "The costs would also be considerable, individually and
possibly to our overstretched local budget.

"The track record of the British government on delivering any similar
computerised scheme, for example such as the Tax Credits system, has
already proven to be deeply flawed. I wouldn't trust the government to
introduce this measure in a sensible confidential manner.

"Any system the government has introduced involving technology in the
past few years has been shambolic.

"Also within the context of a deeply divided and sectarian society the
opportunity for authorities here to abuse a database of this nature
and the ability of agencies such as the PSNI to use such information
or ID cards to discriminate against nationalist is huge."

Mr. McCartney went on: "The argument that this will tackle fraud is
bogus. We heard these arguments when the British government introduced
new electoral legislation that resulted in thousands of nationalists
and young people being disenfranchised. People who fall through the
system will become truly excluded and marginalised from society."


Councillors' Conduct Could Be Scrutinised By Watchdog
2005-05-25 18:40:03+01

Local councillors should come under the remit of the Standards in
Public Office Commission watchdog, it was claimed today.

Commission chairman Justice Matthew Smith, who normally monitors the
conduct of TDs and Senators, said local authority members should also
be accountable to his five-member body.

"I feel they should. It is an area where corruption is more likely to
arise than anywhere else in the public service," he told the
Oireachtas Finance and Public Service Committee today.

The issue was raised by Labour's committee member Joan Burton.

Comptroller and Auditor General and Commission member John Purcell
said that the body had wanted to "beef up" a code of conduct for local
authority members and employees contained in the Local Government Act
but this had not happened.

Senator Martin Mansergh commented that a deceased UK government
minister once told him that tribunals in Ireland "were doing great
damage" to the country's reputation.

Justice Smith noted that some tribunals have been running for up to
eight years but he welcomed legislation by Justice Minister Michael
McDowell to fast-track inquiries.

"I suppose these should be speeded up more quickly and efficiently,"
he added.

Commission member and former Government minister Liam Kavanagh
remarked that neither a TD or Senator had made a complaint to the
Commission during the four years it has been in existence.

"If there is an obstacle, please let us know," he told committee

Mr Purcell said that it may be a daunting experience for anybody to
make a complaint to the Commission.

"Sometimes they may feel that they themselves are in the dock if the
complaint goes to a full complaints procedure," he noted.

Sinn Féin committee member Caoimhghin O Caolain said that inflammatory
remarks by politicians in public debates should come under the remit
of the Commission.

"These prejudices should find no succour in the public utterances of
senior or junior ministers," he added.

Senator Mansergh said he didn't feel that "healthy and robust debate"
in the course of parliamentary debates should be the subject of the
Commission's work.

Justice Smith replied that he believed the Commission had no
responsibility in this area.

The awarding of a departmental public relations contracts to PR
executive Monica Leech by former Environment Minister Martin Cullen
was referred to the Commission earlier this year.

However Justice Smith said today that the Commission's "hands were
somewhat tied" in relation to the matter and it was unable to

He said a "big inhibitory factor" was the fact that the Commission
couldn't appoint an inquiry officer to collect information to
establish if a prima facie case exists for investigation of


Inequality Still Rife, Says Councillor

GENDER inequality is still rife in Newry and Mourne. That was the
message coming from Marian Mathers, the first female councillor to be
elected in the Newry Town ward.

The Sinn Fein councillor said that her party were " committed to
combating gender inequality within Irish society." She said that the
principle of equality is at the very heart of Sinn Fein.

"Our message is clear, we want to build an Ireland of equals, and we
recognise the vital need for gender balance, gender proofing and
gender equality in the decision making process."

Councillor Mathers pointed out that women continue to suffer
disproportionately in the workplace through unequal pay with their
male counterparts, are more likely to fall in the poverty trap, suffer
as a result of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. "Many rural
women continue to be disadvantaged resulting from a lack of services
and a sense of isolation.

"Sinn Fein is committed to combating gender inequality within Irish
society. "It is against the backdrop of cuts and the downgrading of
the Women's Sector that we launch this document.

"We are campaigning for mainstream funding for women's groups in the
community sector and for those frontline organisations providing
services for women. "These inequalities are an indictment of our
society. "They are unacceptable and Sinn Fein intends to work both
within our party and at local, national and European levels to make
the necessary changes."


Mayor Pledges To Be Uniting Force

SINN Fein's Pat McGinn has pledged to adopt the theme of togetherness
during his reign as the new Mayor of Newry and Mourne.

Councillor McGinn became the third Chairman or Mayor from his party –
following Brendan Curran and Davy Hyland – during Monday evening's
annual general meeting of Newry and Mourne District Council. SDLP
Crotlieve representative Councillor Michael Carr was elected into the
position of Deputy Mayor.

Commenting after his election, Councillor McGinn said, "This is an
honour and a privilege. I will not be using this position for personal
gain, but will instead to trying to promote effective, accountable and
active leadership."

The Fews representative pledged to base his reign as Mayor on the
theme of le cheile, the Irish word for together. And as he pointed
out, in today's Newry and Mourne, this means realising that there are
more communities to be taken into account rather than simply the
nationalist and unionist sides.

"We're all different and it's not just a case of nationalist and
unionists these days," he commented. "We now have many different races
and cultures in Newry and Mourne, but that does not mean that we can't
all work together. We should acknowledge our differences but still
work together."

The new Mayor pledged that he will initiate and remain involved in a
variety of activities aimed at bringing the various communities

"I would hope that I can give leadership in embracing these
differences and diversities in a practical and understanding way," he
said. "I'll be adopting a common sense approach and that's how I hope
people will judge me in 12 months time." Asked if he will work
alongside the Unionist community, Councillor McGinn promised to extend
the hand of friendship. "We may be from different communities but that
is not a reason not to show friendship. As Mayor, I would certainly
intend to be involved in everything that's happening," he explained.

Referring to his predecessor in the Mayor's chair, Councillor Henry
Reilly of the Ulster Unionist Party, Councillor McGinn said that he
would like to wish him all the best. However, another Ulster Unionist
councillor, Danny Kennedy, labelled Councillor McGinn's election a sad
day for democracy and hit out at the newly introduced system which
uses party representation to allocate positions.

"It's a sad day for true democracy when a system which ignores so many
of the electorate is used as the template for deciding which party
supplies the mayor," Councillor Kennedy insisted. "This sends a
negative message to the Unionist community in Newry and Mourne as the
system of allocation effectively means a carve up between the SDLP and
Sinn Fein. It is a matter of deep regret that Henry Reilly is likely
to be the last Unionist mayor of this district."


Viewpoint: IMC Report Does Not Inspire Confidence

IRA Activity: Prospects for political progress are knocked back yet

25 May 2005

Although its contents do not come as a surprise, the latest report of
the Independent Monitoring Commission still makes depressing reading
for anyone hoping for a speedy revival of the peace process.

After taking detailed soundings, the IMC affirms earlier assertions by
the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, that
the IRA is continuing to recruit and train new members, including in
the use of arms and explosives.

In its wide-ranging 59-page report, the IMC concludes that the IRA is
heavily involved in criminality, ranging from fuel and tobacco
smuggling and money laundering.

Regrettably, this does not sound like the behaviour of an organisation
which is about to jettison all paramilitary activity and seek to
achieve its aims by "purely political and democratic activity" as
Gerry Adams has urged. Rather, it creates further doubts as to whether
the IRA has any intention of completing the decommissioning process
and disbanding.

The most benign interpretation that can be put on the IMC report is
that the Provisionals are trying to retain control of republican
communities by ensuring potential recruits do not defect to breakaway

But if that is the case, why is it necessary to include firearms
training in the induction period? It is difficult to interpret this
disclosure as anything but a deeply sinister development.

More than ever, the future hinges on the IRA's response to Mr Adams'
appeal. What is needed is an unequivocal commitment to peaceful means,
and a complete rejection of paramilitarism.

On the basis of the IMC report, such a breakthrough seems improbable.
On the contrary, it appears that republicans wish to remain half in
and half out of the peace process.

In view of the report, the Government has little option but to
consider further sanctions against Sinn Fein. The change of heart by
republicans heralded in the Good Friday Agreement now looks like a
figment of the imagination.

As the IMC asks, does Sinn Fein seek power in Ireland using
paramilitary muscle to back its participation in politics? It is a
question which goes right to the heart of the peace process.


A Dark Season's Story From The Soldier's Daughter

Louise Dean (35) is English and lives an apparently charmed life in
Provence with her husband John and their three children, Jules (8),
Cassian (4) and Elsa-Rose (3). Her highly-acclaimed first novel,
Becoming Strangers, was a deeply-moving love story. Yet the follow-up,
This Human Season, is set inside the Maze prison in 1979 during the
dirty protest. It's compelling, compassionate and balanced, yet why
did this Army daughter want to write about the Troubles? And what
influence did being in New York on 9/11 have upon her subject matter?
Gail Walker interrupted Louise while she was making trifle for her son
Jules' birthday party to get some answers

25 May 2005

Why did you suddenly decide to write a book set in the Maze prison
during the dirty protest and just ahead of the hunger strike?

Gosh, I sometimes wonder myself. I don't have any connections with
Northern Ireland - just a couple of friends who happen to come from
there. And I didn't even know they were from the province until I
started writing the book and they came out of the closet. They were
living in England, with these perfect Home Counties accents. They had
done what so many people do - left the North and totally reinvented

So, er, why choose the Troubles?

Well, I was researching a totally different book on Anthony Blunt and
other spies and I went to the library to look through old newspapers.
I pulled out a copy of the Daily Telegraph for May 5, 1981, and there
on the front page, in just a couple of pars, was a story about how
Bobby Sands, a Westminster MP, had died on hunger strike.

That jolted my memory of being 11 and watching the news coverage of
his death on TV. It wasn't a huge story in England. All those years
later I found myself wondering why we weren't all talking about it at
home or school. After all, we are all supposed to be part of the UK
and 10 men went on to die on the hunger strike.

But, for us, it was just considered to be more grief and pain from the
North and therefore inexplicable.

But didn't your horrific experience of 9/11 play a part in making you
think about terrorism, too.

Yes, I'd just returned from New York. I'd been there when the Twin
Towers were attacked. I saw that from my own doorstep. And, looking
back, I thought that it was wrong of George Bush to say this was now a
story of good and evil. For me, life is never that simple. Why did the
terrorists do that? What was it all about?

Your dad served in the Army, so what did he think about you writing
about the IRA?

I think my family probably considered it quite disloyal to be writing
about the Republican movement. My father had been a soldier, though he
didn't serve in Northern Ireland. But he is very patriotic, very
British and proud of it.

Plus I, too, didn't want to write what, if it were only about one side
or the other, would inevitably become a piece of propaganda. So I set
out to explore both sides - the prison officers and those in jail.
That's also why there's what some might see as a heavy-handed
structure, with each side being the subject of alternate chapters. But
it was very important to me to be balanced.

So far, the reviews have been largely excellent but there is some
resentment that an outsider should write about the Troubles.

From early on lots of people were warning me not to write this book.
They told me it was an awful theme - too grim. And lots of people in
the North said I'd get so much s**t for it because I wasn't from the
province and therefore could not understand it.

Mind you, you certainly put in the research.

I did. I felt the only defence I could give myself would be to go
above and beyond what would be expected in terms of finding out all I
could about it. Also, while I was over, I found myself, just like the
ex-British-soldier-turned-prison officer in my novel, John Dunn,
"falling in love with Belfast."


Seriously, the people are so dark and interesting and warm and funny.
And I did fall in love with both sides.

And it was funny because if I was with one side and said: "I'm heading
to Portadown now", there'd be lots of "you be careful" and if I was
with the other side and said I was going to west Belfast, I'd get
exactly the same thing.

But it was pretty intense, by the sound of it.

Yes, I went over for a week every month for nine months. I would spend
at least three hours with everyone I interviewed and often a full day.
I talked to soldiers, prison officers and their families, Protestant
paramilitaries and the IRA.

I remember spending one whole day with a lady whose prisoner officer
husband had been murdered and that was absolutely heartbreaking.

Didn't some soldiers admit to you that they'd killed in Northern

They did. To track down soldiers I placed an advert on the Forces
Reunited database. I had replies from 125 who had been in Northern
Ireland and I whittled that down to 25.

Of those, 15 had killed. Talking to them was critical to me because
the character of John Dunn has also killed. Later, I had a letter from
one soldier who has read the book and said that he found it very
moving and stunning because it had made him finally go back to that
era and think it through.

And one of the soldiers who had killed had not even told his wife what
he had done. I felt a huge duty towards them and became very
emotionally involved.

What did you make of the IRA?

I talked to men who had either been on the first hunger strike or the
second one, before it folded when the mothers intervened. I also
talked to others on the blanket protest. In total I must have spoken
to about 25 Republican volunteers.

Some of these chats must have been a bit tricky. Surely, you must have
found yourself looking at some people and wondering how on earth they
could justify taking a life?

I had to stop myself from making moral judgements otherwise I could
not have written the book. But, yes, there were things said to me that
were difficult.

I kept the book, Lost Lives, in my hotel room and sometimes I'd be
talking to a person who did not know who they had killed, but they
knew when it was and in what area. I was able to go back to my hotel
room and work it out. That placed me at the centre. But I made a
decision to act like a priest with the confessional and never pass on
information. But it was incredibly sensitive; it was knowledge that I
felt I should not have.

But I hope the book will do a wider good than any single action on my

You also got into the Maze?

Yes, I was amazed the Northern Ireland Office was so accommodating.

I went inside with a representative from the NIO and one of the former
prison officers. I spent the day in there and those two guys thought I
was very bizarre. I went into one of the cells and sat on the floor
and asked them to shut the door and leave me alone for a while.

I felt very moved and very involved to be in there. It was one of the
most important sightseeing trips of my life.

One room had all these files of prisoners lying on the floor.

And one of the prison officers' locker rooms looked as if everyone had
just left in such haste. There were still topless pin-ups on the wall.

Didn't you find it hard, while writing the book, to revert to being a
wife and mum?

Completely. I found it very hard to leave behind. I was the lovelorn
one back here in Provence waiting to get back over there. And whatever
I'd be doing I'd find just thinking it all through. I wept when I
finished the book, and my husband wept too. But I think he was weeping
tears of relief.

And what do you understand about Northern Ireland now?

In a way so little. I didn't want the book to be political because I'm
not qualified to do that. But I was in Belfast when the election
results were coming in. They were so divided on tribal lines again and
it seemed to sad.

Outside an Orange band was marching.

I don't know any other place in the world where the sense of history
is so palpable.

Did you struggle just a little with our own distinctive dialect. I
couldn't help but notice that people had 'beaks' where they should
have had, ahem, 'bakes.'

(Laughs heartily). I had such a problem with some of this. I recorded
all of the interviews verbatim but if I had written them exactly as I
heard them I would have been accused of over-hamming it. If I had put
in "so it is" as many times as I had heard it, the book would have
been twice as long.

Life in Provence sounds idyllic. But tell us about your experience of
the US. It's hardly surprising you left after what you witnessed so
near at hand on 9/11.

I'd been working in the US in advertising. In 1999 I had a small ad
agency but I'm hopeless with anything numerical and it went broke.
Actually, that was a good thing because the truth was I didn't like
advertising at all.

So I started writing my first novel and that's what I was doing on the
morning of September 11 when my husband shouted at me to come
downstairs and run outside to see what was happening. We were living
just one and a half minutes away from the Twin Towers ... and all the
dust ran over our back yard and in the dust there were little bits of
paper from all the files and folders raining down.

It was very disturbing. Everyone kept their children inside and, of
course, we thought we were at war. That must have affected me in some
way but, like I said, I didn't know whether to write directly about
the Middle East or about good and evil ...

When did you move to France?

In 2002. And, yes, it is lovely. I've just been working in the garden.

What's the next book about?

I've just started it after six months research. It's about a
neuroscientist and the impact of science.

And what does your husband do?

He's a food and wine writer and he's currently setting up his own
vineyard. He let me write and he supported me when I was trying to get
my first book published and I always said to him that if I ever made a
go of the writing and earned any money then he could have a go at
running a vineyard. Now, he's got his wish.

÷This Human Season by Louise Dean (Scribner, £12.99)

÷Read Grania McFadden's review this Saturday


Support For Bereaved

By Conor McMorrow

The five schoolgirls killed in Monday's bus crash near Navan were all
good friends, it was confirmed yesterday.

Lisa Callan (15), Amy McCabe (15), Claire McCluskey (18) and Deirdre
Scanlon (17) all attended St Michael's Loreto Convent. Sinéad Ledwidge
(15) attended nearby Beaufort College.

There were emotional scenes at St Michael's yesterday as students and
teachers tried to come to terms with the deaths.

"God has five more angels" read one of the numerous notes left with
flowers outside the school yesterday.

Sister Mary O'Connor of the school's board of trustees said yesterday:
"Teachers are devastated that students who they taught yesterday are
no longer with us.

"The feeling is of shock and devastation. There is a quiet, calm
atmosphere around the school but I think people are very traumatised."

Starting at 8.30am yesterday, 12 psychologists from the National
Education Psychology Service were on location in all four of Navan's
secondary schools to assess the level of need and to provide immediate
support to pupils and staff.

A critical incident team has been established for each of the four
schools. The role of the team will be to support children, parents and
other relatives, staff and all those who have been directly affected
by the tragedy.

Messages of sympathy and condolence continued to pour in yesterday,
including a message from the Church of Ireland's Archbishop Robin
Eames to the Catholic bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith.

Archbishop Eames said: "I want to extend to you 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."

Dr Smith said the area had been devastated by the accident.

"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.

In the North, direct-rule transport minister Stephen Ladyman suggested
yesterday that school buses could be forced to install seat belts in
the wake of Meath crash.

Democratic Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the tragic
accident had highlighted the need for seat belts to be fitted to all
school buses in the North and Britain.

Mr Ladyman joined the MP in expressing his condolences to the victims'
families. He added: "We must do everything we can to avoid similar
tragedies in the future, so we will be looking very closely at that
experience and similar accidents and learning what we can from them.
"If the measure you are describing is indicated, then I have no doubt
we will bring proposals forward," he told Mr Donaldson.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat called on direct-rule ministers to
"get serious" about legislation governing school transport and to take
immediate action to ensure that risks were kept to an absolute

Mr Dallat said: "The tragic loss of lives in the Co Meath accident
could easily happen in the North any day, where decisive action is
needed to introduce and enforce the wearing of seat belts on school
buses. This issue was debated in the assembly but nothing decisive has
been done to ensure that there is an end to overcrowding and each
child has a seat belt."


Father Praises Teenager Who Rescued Death Crash Daughter

25/05/2005 - 18:18:33

A father tonight praised a heroic teenager who rescued his injured
daughter from the worst schoolbus crash in Irish history.

As five families prepared to bury their loved ones, Michael Maguire
thanked 17-year-old Robert Connell for dragging his unconscious
daughter, Julieanne, from the bus after it overturned outside Navan in
Co Meath.

Mr Maguire said he was relieved that Julieanne, 17, who is one of five
people who remain in a stable condition in hospital, was alive, but he
sympathised with the parents who had been bereaved.

Five teenage girls were killed and 46 people were injured when the bus
taking them home from secondary schools in Navan overturned at
Kentstown on Monday afternoon.

The vehicle was not fitted with seatbelts and the tragedy has led to a
massive public outcry for safety on school vehicles to be upgraded.

The Irish National Parents Council has proposed a boycott of all buses
without seatbelts when the new school year starts in September.

President Eleanor Petrie said: "If we don't make this stand, we will
have blood on our hands. We have to stand up now."

Education Minister Mary Hanafin said it would be impossible to instal
seatbelts on all schoolbuses by September but junior minister Síle de
Valera later said the Government was hoping to phase in the features.

Julieanne Maguire, 17, from Dollardstown, Co Meath was knocked
unconscious by the impact of the crash and trapped under three other

But her 17-year-old neighbour, Robert Connell, pulled her out from
under the three male pupils and then went in to the bus again to
recover her schoolbag and mobile phone.

Her father Michael Maguire said Robert had acted even though his own
arm was injured.

"It's nice to think there's lads like that who don't think of
themselves," he said.

When Robert visited Julieanne in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in
Drogheda, he told her grateful family: "Anyone would have done it."

"He's the modest type," said Mr Maguire.

Julieanne, a pupil at St Michael's Loreto Convent in Navan, has a
badly bruised back and has been given morphine injections to relieve
the pain.

Other children who lost classmates in the accident are suffering
nightmares, sleeplessness and eating problems, experts have warned.

The makeshift shrine at St Michael's Loreto Convent for four of its
pupils killed in Monday afternoon's crash continued to grow today as
schoolgirls added more bouquets and messages.

Francis O'Toole, who is co-ordinating the counselling service, said
the 700 students of the school were going through all the emotions
associated with tragedy.

"You're talking about shock, what has happened, the pain, the loss of
a loved one," he said.

"You're talking about the fear, breaking down, what you say to your
friends. There may be anger – is someone to blame for all this? They
are the normal stages of grief people will go through and that's going
on for students and teachers."

The symptoms reported among students include problems with sleeping,
eating, talking and not being able to go the toilet. Many have also
experienced nightmares.

Gardaí said they were making steady progress in interviewing and
taking statements from the schoolchildren on the bus and other

Superintendent Gerry Smith, of Navan Garda Station, said the three
drivers involved in the accident had not yet been formally

The bus and the two cars have been removed from the scene for forensic
examination, along with sections of the road.

Mr Smith said it was still unclear what caused the accident.

"There's a lot of witnesses to be interviewed and a lot of technical
evidence to be examined," he said.

St Michael's Loreto Convent will be closed for the rest of the week,
with the funerals of Deirdre Scanlon, Sinead Ledwidge, Claire
McCluskey and Lisa Callan taking place tomorrow and the funeral of Amy
McCabe taking place on Friday.

A guard of honour will be provided by the girls' schoolmates at each
funeral and students will sing in the choirs.

Businesses in Navan will shut down as a mark of respect during each
funeral and a special Mass will be held at 2.30pm tomorrow in St
Mary's Church in the town.

:: The funeral of Deirdre Scanlon will take place in the Church of the
Assumption, Beauparc at 11am tomorrow.

:: The funeral of Sinead Ledwidge will take place in the Church of the
Assumption, Beauparc at 2pm tomorrow.

:: The funeral of Clare McCluskey will take place at the Church of the
Nativity in Rosnaree at 11am tomorrow.

:: The funeral of Lisa Callan will take place at the Church of the
Nativity in Rosnaree at 2pm tomorrow.

:: The funeral of Amy McCabe will take place in the Church of the
Assumption, Beauparc at 11am on Friday.


Sinn Féin Call For Seatbelts On All Buses

Published: 25 May, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has called for the immediate
implementation of the Assembly committee report that called for
seatbelts to be provided on all buses.

His comments come in the aftermath of the tragedy in County Meath were
5 school children tragically died in a road accident involving a
school bus.

Mr McGuigan, who has constantly complained about the overcrowding of
children on school buses to and from school said:

"If urgent action isn't taken then we will have a similar tragedy in
the north. It is unacceptable that over one hundred children are
allowed to travel to school on a fifty-seated bus with all their
schoolbags, sports bags, hurling sticks and helmets. It is even more
unacceptable that every child on a school bus is not provided with a
seat belt."

"As both a parent and an elected representative, we want to know that
when our children leave in the morning that they will get to and from
school safely. The current British direct rule minister needs to act
now. I would also encourage parents to insure that their children use
seatbelts on buses were they already exist." ENDS
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