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June 02, 2005

AI Appeals To Judges To Boycott Sham Inquiries

News about Ireland & the Irish

AI 06/02/05 Amnesty Appeals To Judges To Boycott Sham Inquiries
TE 06/02/05 Bloody Sunday Gun 'Found In Africa'
MC 06/02/05 Catholic Politicians Defend Northern Ireland`S Police
IO 06/02/05 SF Made Most Money In Political Donations Last Year
BT 06/02/05 PUP And IRSP In Talks To Defuse Tensions
IO 06/02/05 Cork Bank Notes Were From Belfast Bank Raid – PSNI
IO 06/02/05 McCartney Murder: Police Have 150 Witness Statements
BT 06/02/05 Chinook Families Grieve 11 Years Later
IO 06/02/05 Morris Report Officers' Futures Under Scrutiny
BT 06/02/05 Troubles' Play Will Premiere At The Playhouse


UK: Amnesty Launches Appeal Calling On Judges To Boycott Sham

Amnesty International has launched an online appeal asking people
worldwide to write to senior UK judges, urging that neither they nor
other judges sit on any public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005
into the murder of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane.

An inquiry under the 2005 Act, railroaded through Parliament on the
last possible day before it was dissolved for the election, would lack
independence and be largely controlled by the executive, says Amnesty

The final report of any inquiry under the Act would be published at
the executive's discretion and crucial evidence could be omitted at
the executive's discretion, "in the public interest.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"Any judge presiding over an inquiry into the Finucane murder under
the Inquiries Act 2005 would be presiding over a sham. We urge judges
not to sit on any such inquiry.

"By rushing through this Act, the government has placed itself beyond
public scrutiny and dealt a massive blow to any hopes of transparency
in government.

"Under the Inquiries Act 2005, there will be no more independent,
public inquiries like those into the Ladbroke Grove train crash, the
murder of Stephen Lawrence or the tragedy at Hillsborough.

"The government will be able to control what the public finds out, and
what it doesn't."

Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead in
his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 12 February 1989 by Loyalist

In the aftermath of his killing, prima facie evidence of criminal
conduct by police and military intelligence agents acting in collusion
with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder emerged.

In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by
different government agencies and authorities.

In April 2004, an independent report, commissioned by the UK and Irish
governments concluded that "only a public inquiry will suffice" in
Patrick Finucane's case.

Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane's widow, has called on all senior
judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an inquiry into
her husband's case held under the new legislation.

Amnesty International calls on the UK authorities to establish a truly
independent judicial inquiry into collusion by state agents with
Loyalist paramilitaries in Patrick Finucane's murder; into reports
that his killing was the result of state policy; and into allegations
that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent
cover-up of collusion in his murder.

The appeal asks supporters to write to Lord Bingham, Senior Law Lord;
Lord Woolf, Lord Chief Justice; and Lord Cullen, Lord President of the
Supreme Court in Scotland, urging that neither they nor other judges
in their jurisdiction sit on an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Appeals will also be sent to the heads of the judiciary in countries
with a common law system who might also be approached to sit on such
an inquiry, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the USA,
South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.

Under the Inquiries Act 2005:

the inquiry and its terms of reference would be decided by the
executive; no independent parliamentary scrutiny of these decisions
would be allowed

the chair of the inquiry would be appointed by the executive and the
executive would have the discretion to dismiss any member of the

the decision on whether the inquiry, or any individual hearings, would
be held in public or private would be taken by the executive

the decision to issue restrictive notices to block disclosure of
evidence would be taken by the executive

Lord Saville of Newdigate, the chair of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal of
Inquiry, pointed out that the Inquiries Act 2005 "makes a very serious
inroad into the independence of any inquiry; and is likely to damage
or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings".

Lord Saville also said:

"As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be
appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of
this kind."

Take action - write an appeal to senior UK judges...

You can copy and paste this sample letter into an e-mail or a document
to print out. If you are planning to write your own appeal please read
our letter writing guide.

Please send appeals to:

Lord Bingham of Cornhill
The Senior Law Lord
Law Lords Corridor
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Bingham of Cornhill

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Woolf
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Woolf

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk
Lord President
The Supreme Court
11 Parliament Square
Edinburgh EH1 1RQ
United Kingdom
Salutation: Dear Lord Cullen of Whitekirk

Dear Lord [add surname],

I am writing to express my concern over the UK government's stated
intention to hold an inquiry into Patrick Finucane's case under the
Inquiries Act 2005.

As you may know, more than 16 years after the killing of Patrick
Finucane -- an outspoken human rights lawyer -- by Loyalist
paramilitaries with the alleged collusion of police and military
agents, the UK government continues to refuse to hold a truly
independent public inquiry into these allegations. The Inquiries Act
2005 empowers the UK authorities to block public scrutiny of state
actions and undermines the independence of the judiciary. Any inquiry
held under such legislation would fall far short of international
human rights standards. Amnesty International considers that any
judge sitting on such an inquiry would be presiding over a sham.

Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane's widow, has recently called on
all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an
inquiry into her husband's case held under this new legislation.

In light of the above, I urge you to ensure that all members of the
judiciary in your jurisdiction are made aware of these extremely
serious concerns.

Amnesty International is urging those members of the judiciary who may
be approached by the UK authorities to sit on an inquiry into the
Finucane case held under the Inquiries Act 2005 to decline to do so.

I thank you in advance for your urgent attention to the concerns
expressed in this letter.

Yours sincerely


Bloody Sunday Gun 'Found In Africa'

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 03/06/2005)

Relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims yesterday called on Col Tim
Collins to give evidence to the Saville inquiry after he claimed that
a rifle used in the shootings had been recovered in Sierra Leone.

According to Col Collins, the rifle was found in 2000 when he was an
SAS operations officer on a mission to rescue a group of British
soldiers held hostage by the notorious West Side Boys.

In his new autobiography, Rules of Engagment, Col Collins claimed that
the Saville inquiry, set up in 1999 into the killing of 13 civilians
in Londonderry by the British Army, had been told the weapon had been

The rifles used in the 1972 shootings were seen as important pieces of
evidence by the investigation.

Col Collins said colleagues in the 1st Bn Parachute Regiment took two
rifles from Sierra Leone as souvenirs. It was only when the serial
numbers were examined that it was discovered one of them was used on
Bloody Sunday and the Saville inquiry had been told it had been

Yesterday Col Collins said: "It is the sort of anecdote that I had
second hand. It is probably true but I don't have any firm evidence."

John Kelly, who lost his 17-year-old brother Michael on Bloody Sunday,
said Col Collins should give evidence to the inquiry following his
claims. "It is an important piece of evidence. It could be a murder
weapon as far as we are concerned," he said.

A spokesman for the Saville inquiry said the rifle issue had been
looked into and they were "not presently minded" to call Col Collins.


Catholic Politicians Defend Northern Ireland`S Police

Jun 3, 2005, 2:05 GMT

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (UPI) -- Catholic nationalist politicians
Thursday defended the record of Northern Ireland`s restructured police

The political counter-offensive was launched earlier this week when
Alex Attwood of the moderate nationalist Social and Democratic Labor
Party answered attacks by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern
Ireland`s Protestant majority.

The Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, claimed that crime was soaring
since the police structure was reformed, the Belfast News-Letter

"The Special Branch of the old Royal Ulster Constabulary is no more
and a new system of intelligence gathering is in place which complies
with human rights standards, conforms with best international practice
and has seen a significant number of agents deactivated," Attwood

"This was essential to have proper standards of intelligence gathering
and to building confidence in the new police service," he said.

Attwood said the DUP critics of the reformed police "have little to
say when crime figures are reducing. They say little about the
successes of intelligence-led policing which no doubt includes the
closing down of fuel smuggling plants, and extortion racket in north
Belfast in the last two weeks and other policing operations."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International


SF Made Most Money In Political Donations Last Year

02/06/2005 - 13:47:07

Sinn Féin declared more money in political donations last year than
any other party in the State, according to figures published today by
the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The party declared more than €88,500 in donations for 2004, more than
double the amount declared by Fianna Fáil (€43,500).

However, while the bulk of Sinn Féin's money came from its own public
representatives, most of Fianna Fáil's came from private business.

Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Progressive Democrats declared no
donations to the Standards in Public Office Commission, while the
Greens declared €36,000.

Under the law, political parties can only accept a maximum of around
€6,350 from individual donors in a single year and must declare all
donations exceeding €5,079.


PUP And IRSP In Talks To Defuse Tensions

By Brendan McDaid
02 June 2005

Political groups representing the UVF and the INLA in Londonderry have
made a historic pact during face to face talks to help dilute tensions
ahead of this summer's marching season.

The PUP's Londonderry spokesman Leslie Mitchell today said that the
first meeting with the Irish Republican Socialist Party had been
constructive, with more discussions set to follow.

And he also called on a shadowy loyalist group calling itself the
Loyalist Action Force to disband.

The IRSP also confirmed they would now use their influence to help
quell violence at flashpoint interface areas of the city.

The meeting between the two groups was called after loyalists in
Derry's Waterside claimed they were under surveillance from the INLA
in the city.

Mr Mitchell said: "This was the first time the groups have ever got
together down here.

"Members of the loyalist community felt they were being targeted and
being watched and felt it was coming from within the INLA.

"The IRSP have confirmed after speaking with the INLA representatives
that this was not the case and we are taking that on board and
accepting that.

"Whether it was a case of individuals trying to wind people up, we
don't know."

Mr Mitchell said the groups discussed meeting in the future and agreed
to keep the new channels of communication between them open.

"Both parties felt this was very important coming up to the marching
season" he said, adding: "We both expressed a willingness to work to
try to defuse tensions.

"The PUP are already heavily involved in this type of work and we have
done a bit of work with Sinn Fein.

"The IRSP have said that any influence they have they will use it as

Confirming this, a spokesman for the IRSP said: "We were approached
for a meeting and met at a neutral venue last week.

"The meeting was cordial and constructive enough.

"We discussed certain issues with them, and told them there was no
members of the INLA involved in watching them.

"We also talked about the IRSP using its influence with young people
in certain areas to tackle any upsurge in stonings."

The IRSP said that while "nothing concrete" had been sorted out it was
quite possible the two groups would meet again.


Cork Bank Notes Were From Belfast Bank Raid - PSNI

02/06/2005 - 17:54:50

Two senior police officers in the North have said they are clear that
bank notes recovered in Cork were stolen in the Northern Bank raid.

Speaking in Derry at a Police Board meeting, the chief constable and
an assistant chief constable said they were liasing closely with

The chief-constable of the PSNI Hugh Orde said he was very clear where
the money in Cork had come from.

He said it had moved across the border by an IRA money laundering


McCartney Murder: Police Have 150 Witness Statements

02/06/2005 - 17:51:49

Police investigating the murder of Robert McCartney have statements
from more than 150 witnesses, it was revealed tonight.

As detectives continued to question two men about the horrific Belfast
killing of the Catholic father-of-two, senior officers revealed the
extent of their inquiries.

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the police's
painstaking efforts showed their "absolute commitment" to bring the
case to a judicial conclusion.

"It is what we want, it is what the families want. It will be in
accordance with the law and hopefully we will see some developments in
the near future."

Mr Orde was speaking afte a public meeting of the Policing Board in
Derry at which Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid revealed that 151
statements had been received, 25 houses searched and 80 hours of CCTV
footage seized for examination.

Mr Kincaid disclosed that 10 people had provided signed statements
through the offices of the police ombudsman, and the ombudsman had
contacted the PSNI again in recent days to say that men arrested and
questioned about the murder all had remained silent during

He said the police service was still of the opinion that members of
the Provisional IRA were involved in the brutal murder but officers
did not believe it was sanctioned by the IRA. He said there was clear
evidence of a forensic clean-up after the killing.

Mr McCartney, 33, from the Short Strand area of Belfast, was stabbed
to death after being dragged from a Belfast city-centre bar at the end
of January.

Yesterday police arrested two men, both from the nearby Markets area.

One, a 49 year old, was detained in Belfast while the other, aged 36,
was seized by armed officers at a bedsit in Birmingham and dragged
away wearing just his boxer shorts.


Chinook Families Grieve 11 Years Later

By Jonathan McCambridge
02 June 2005

Relatives of those killed in the Chinook helicopter tragedy on the
Mull of Kintyre - which claimed the lives of many of Northern
Ireland's top terrorism experts - will mark the 11th anniversary

Twenty-nine people, including senior MI5 and RUC officers, were killed
when the aircraft crashed on June 2, 1994 - the RAF's worst peacetime

The helicopter was carrying senior members of the intelligence
community from RAF Aldergrove to a security conference at Fort George,
near Inverness.

It crashed into a cloud- covered hill on the west side of the Mull of
Kintyre, killing all 25 passengers and four crew.

A 1995 RAF Board of Inquiry report blamed the crash on "gross
negligence" by the pilots, Flight Lieutenants Richard Cook and
Jonathan Tapper.

But a 1996 fatal accident inquiry held at Paisley Sheriff Court
concluded it was not possible to be certain of the cause of the crash.

The father of pilot Richard Cook, John Cook, died last month after a
long battle with emphysema.

He had fought the campaign to clear his son's name, along with his
other son, Chris, right up to his death, at the age of 70.

The father of pilot Jonathan Tapper said he would not rest until it is
proved both pilots were innocent.

He said: "Recent overtures to the Prime Minister have borne no fruit
whatsoever. I remain astonished that he cannot see that the burden of
proof against our sons was not met, and could never be met."

An all-party House of Lords select committee unanimously concluded in
February 2002 that the MoD's finding of gross negligence was not

The RAF found the pilots had put the helicopter into a long, fast and
shallow climb over Kintyre, misjudging the speed and position of their

The board said that technical malfunction was unlikely, but could not
be disproved.

The Mark 2 Chinook involved in the tragedy was the first of its type
in Northern Ireland and had more sophisticated computerised systems
than the Mark 1 model.

Relatives, MPs, peers, and journalists have accused the RAF of being
unfair to the dead pilots.

Families of the 29 people who died gathered to mark the 10th
anniversary of the disaster last year.

No official ceremony is planned today.


Morris Report Officers' Futures Under Scrutiny
2005-06-02 15:40:05+01

The Government and Garda Commissioner will urgently examine the future
of officers implicated in the latest damning Morris Tribunal report,
Finance Minister Brian Cowen said today.

Judge Frederick Morris's inquiry into the 1996 death of Donegal cattle
dealer Richie Barron found the garda investigation was "prejudiced,
tendentious and utterly negligent in the highest degree".

As senior officers said they fully accepted the findings of
yesterday's report, Mr Cowen, who was deputising for Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern in the Dáil, described the publication as "very disturbing,
deeply troubling and shocking".

He said the Government and the Justice Minister took the most serious
view of the second report.

"The Minister for Justice and the Government accept the findings of
the report and will act on it," he said.

"The Government and the Commissioner will now urgently examine the
implications of the findings of this report for individual officers."

The Morris report strongly criticised at least 10 gardaí and detailed
a trail of mistakes and lies committed by officers which prevented the
investigation reaching a successful conclusion.

The judge found that gardaí were "consumed" with the idea that
publican Frank McBrearty Jnr and his cousin Mark McConnell were guilty
of the murder of Mr Barron and tried to frame them.

A debate on the first and second interim reports will be held in the
Dail and Seanad later this month.

After last summer's first report, Superintendent Kevin Lennon was
sacked while another superintendent and a chief superintendent

The Garda Commissioner also dismissed a number of gardaí.

Mr Cowen added that substantial reforms were contained in the Garda
Siochana Bill, including an independent Ombudsman Commission to
investigate complaints and an Inspectorate to report on the
effectiveness of the force.

A special committee, headed by Senator Maurice Hayes will oversee the
implementation of the Bill when enacted.

The Commissioner will also soon unveil a comprehensive package of
management reform within the force, Mr Cowen said.

The minister added: "We've all been let down badly by the behaviour of
a number of gardai in Donegal. The vast majority of men and women in
the Garda Siochana who give loyal and dedicated service will be
shocked and disappointed.

"It is difficult to overstate the disservice done to the ordinary
decent gardai by the shocking misconduct outlined in this report."

Mr McDowell will give his full response to the report when the debate
takes place later this month.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the report raised fundamental issues
about individual garda officers, garda management and political
responses to the allegations.

He called on Mr McDowell and his predecessor John O'Donoghue to say
why they refused public inquiries and ongoing legal aid to the
McBrearty family.

Mr Kenny paid tribute to politicians Jim Higgins and Brendan Howlin
who stood up against a "ferocious onslaught" to pursue the truth
through Dail questions on the matter.

"The integrity of the force should be beyond question and it should
have the trust of the country. It's a shame that the Morris report
points clearly at a rottenness at its core," he said.

"Sadly, this report diminishes all those who have given outstanding
service and public duty to the country."

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte claimed that Mr McDowell had "opposed tooth
and nail" the set-up of the Morris Tribunal in the Dáil.

He recalled that Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy had recently described
the Barron investigation as "thorough and efficient".

"That kind of thing should profoundly disturb this House," he added.

He called for a Patten-style Commission to examine policing in the

"Unaccountable power is a very dangerous thing and there is nothing in
the Garda Siochana Bill that will address that," he concluded.

Green Party chairman John Gormley said that Mr McBrearty, who spoke at
the party's recent conference, was "ruthlessy and viciously framed by
the gardai".

"Their [McBrearty family] lives were made a hell. If it were not for
the tenacity of the McBrearty family or Jim Higgins or Brendan Howlin,
these issues would never have come to light," he said.

"Mr McDowell has successfully spun his way through his ministry and
some people believe he is doing a good job. I don't believe he is
doing a good job."

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris said the Morris findings were shocking but
not surprising and reiterated his party's calls for a probe into the
death of former Donegal councillor Eddie Fullerton.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said many of its
members were dismayed by the web of deceit, negligence and human
tragedy uncovered by the Tribunal.

AGSI general secretary Pat Flynn said the findings had been fully
accepted and that senior officers were digesting the shocking details.

"We welcome the Morris Tribunal report and feel that it is a report
that could do An Garda Siochana a lot of good in the long term if
proper measures are taken to ensure that these sort of mistakes don't
happen again," Mr Flynn said.

He said the AGSI had put itself forward to garda management and the
Justice Minister to work together to ensure scandals which swamped the
Donegal division in the 1990s could not be repeated.

"It is down to the Association in conjunction with garda management
and the minister to try to ensure that this type of incident does not
happen again," he said.

The report is due to be discussed at the AGSI executive meeting next


Troubles' Play Will Premiere At The Playhouse

By Brendan McDaid
02 June 2005

Next week will see the premiere of a new play centring on the Troubles
opening in The Playhouse theatre.

Rat in the Skull by Ron Hutchinson has been billed as a powerful
examination of the human face and human cost of 30 years of violence.

The play opens in the holding cell of a London police station, where
an IRA suspect is interrogated by a visiting RUC officer.

As they clash, the two face off against each other in a verbal game of
cat and mouse where the threat of violence is never far away.

A spokesman for the Playhouse said: "Originally produced in the 1980s,
Rat in the Skull remains a strikingly relevant comment on political
and state violence and on the fragility of the peace process.

"Both police thriller and psychological dissection, it is a terrifying
glimpse into the soul of Northern Ireland and the cultural antagonism
behind the violence.

"Produced by The Playhouse, Rat in the Skull features Derry actors in
a tense production which mixes blacker than black humour with rare
insight and rising tension.

"The play is a blazing, wrathful, compassionate dissection of history,
politics and, above all, what happens when the ideals of patriotism
and the politics of faith collide."

The play will run from Monday to Saturday next week at 8pm nightly.

Tickets at £9 and £6 from the box office on 028 7126 8027.
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