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)

July 17, 2005

Blast Bombers Meant To Kill Me

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 07/16/05 Blast Bombers Meant To Kill Me, Says Mother
BB 07/16/05 Pair Held For 'Sectarian' Attacks
ST 07/16/05 Mixed Signals On Timing Of IRA Move
GU 07/16/05 Comment: Make The Morons Pay
BT 07/16/05 DUP Slams Police Over Derry Parade Violence
AR 07/16/05 Northern Ireland Ponders Truth Commission
ST 07/16/05 Scotland: Allow Us To Ban Orange Marches
BB 07/16/05 Irish Woman Dies In Turkish Blast
IO 07/16/05 > 1,000 Gather To Protest 'Rossport Five'
ST 07/16/05 'Army Limos' Party On The Falls Road


Blast Bombers Meant To Kill Me, Says Mother
2005-07-16 17:30:04+01

A Catholic woman whose north Belfast home was hit by blast
bombers today claimed the attack was meant to kill.

Even though police are examining a possible sectarian
motive, mother-of-two Sharon O'Shea, 28, did not know why
she was targeted.

Windows were shattered when the device was thrown at the
house on Mountainview Gardens, off the Crumlin Road, early
today. A car parked outside was also damaged.

Ms O'Shea, who lives there with her two young sons, needed
hospital treatment for cuts after being showered with

But she told BBC Radio Ulster: "If it actually had come
into the house I wouldn't be here. I would have been dead.

"They obviously meant business throwing it at the bedroom.
There was no way for me to get out."

The attack came days after rioting nationalists threw blast
bombs at police during a flashpoint Orange Order parade in
north Belfast.

Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist MP for the area,
condemned those involved in the latest bombing.

He said: "The use of blast bombs against anybody's home or
anybody's property or themselves is absolutely unacceptable
and deplorable.

"No right-thinking person in society would countenance such
a thing and nothing can justify it.

"Throughout north Belfast there's a desire to see calm and
restraint rather than any further violence."

Pat Convery, the SDLP deputy mayor of Belfast, urged the
public to shun the bombers.

"Those who indulge in such attacks need to be isolated in
their community and made amenable to the justice system,"
he said.

"That is the only way we can all live in peace in our

Meanwhile, sectarian thugs are also suspected of attacks on
Protestant homes in the Suffolk area of west Belfast.

A front door was kicked in and another house had a window
smashed early today.

Two men have been arrested under suspicion of criminal
damage and disorderly behaviour.


Pair Held For 'Sectarian' Attacks

Police are investigating a sectarian motive for attacks on
a number of Protestant homes in the Suffolk area of south
west Belfast.

Two men were later arrested. One has been charged with
criminal damage, the other with disorderly behaviour.

It is believed a group of men smashed windows at an elderly
couple's home. They also kicked in the front door of
another house and shouted threats.

The men disconnected the phone line at the house, where a
woman and baby live.

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson said vulnerable people were

"This is an ongoing situation that the people of Suffolk
have to suffer on a weekly basis," she said.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood also condemned the attacks.

"People who smash doors and windows just because those who
live in the house have a different religion have nothing to
offer society," Mr Attwood said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/16 17:00:43 GMT


Mixed Signals On Timing Of IRA Move

Liam Clarke

THE Irish and British governments believe an IRA statement
definitively renouncing violence in favour of politics is
due shortly. The statement is expected to be accompanied by
a final act of IRA decommissioning in which the
organisation will put the vast bulk of its arsenal beyond

The Irish government is hopeful that the statement will
come next week but Northern Ireland security sources
suggest it may take longer.

"We have nothing to indicate movement within the next
fortnight; it could take until September or longer," one
Northern source said.

A senior Irish government source brushed off this
suggestion, however. "There is no logic in further delay;
they will get maximum benefit by doing it before the
government breaks up for August," he said.

A British official agreed that next week is the most likely
date but said: "It is more interpretation than information.
They will please themselves."

General John de Chastelain and Andrew Sens, the two
independent commissioners who must oversee and verify any
IRA decommissioning, are currently in Ireland, giving rise
to speculation that an IRA statement is imminent. Sens and
de Chastelain plan to return to their homes in North
America later this week. They could extend their stay if
necessary but at present have no plans to do so.

Recent comments by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president,
are also being interpreted as suggesting delay. When he
emerged from an hour-long meeting with Bertie Ahern on
Friday, Adams said the IRA should be given time "to sort
out this matter".

But Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, met
the taoiseach in Croke Park last Sunday and told him that
the IRA needed "a couple more weeks" to complete its
deliberations. That suggests a date early next week.

Whatever the precise timing, there is general agreement
that the IRA statement will come within weeks rather than
months. The optimistic view is based on an assumption that
the IRA will want to issue it just before official holidays
in August.


Comment: Make The Morons Pay

Too many parents let their children get away with blue

Henry McDonald
Sunday July 17, 2005
The Observer

Before attributing blame over the disgraceful events at
Ardoyne, north Belfast, on the evening of 12 July here are
a few undisputed facts, laid out albeit along a rough

In the morning of the 12th Sinn Fein politicians, including
Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, as well as party stewards,
ensured that an earlier protest on the Crumlin Road against
the controversial parade passing by Catholic Ardoyne and
Mountainview was purely peaceful and dignified. Meanwhile,
loyalist paramilitaries, principally from the Ulster
Volunteer Force, worked from morning to night to keep their
followers and the Orange marchers as far away as possible
from their nationalist/republican enemies.

Later in the day, at least half-an-hour before the parade
and the supporters returned to the Crumlin Road, there were
golf balls and other missiles being hurled from the
Brompton Park entrance to Ardoyne. But as with the early
morning protest, republican stewards did try to push some
of the more hotheaded away from the barriers separating
Ardoyne from the loyalist side of the Crumlin Road.

The republicans' job was then made harder because there was
a perilous gap between the end of the barriers and the top
of the Woodvale Road through which protesters and potential
rioters at Brompton Park were in line of sight of the
loyalists, the only failing by the security forces on the
day. So the barrage coming from Ardoyne intensified once
the loyalists, and later the Orangemen and band, passed

On one of the most controversial events of the evening,
there was a delay of between 50 seconds and a minute from
when the riot started and when the PSNI used water cannon.
Once the rioters received a soaking, republican stewards,
visible in their green bibs, appeared, through no fault of
their own, to lose control of the mob at Brompton Park.

Across no-man's-land, loyalist stewards, in particular the
Progressive Unionist Party's Tommy Cheevers, risked
personal safety as they managed to contain the crowd
building up behind steel barriers on their side of the line
at Twaddell Avenue, pace the SDLP and Alex Attwood. Yes,
there were two prominent UVF members escorting the loyalist
supporters of the Orange march past Ardoyne but their
presence (just like SF and ex-prisoners on the other side
of the barriers) actually calmed tensions along the short
but precarious route.

Then republican dissidents took advantage of a worsening
situation and threw several blast bombs from Ardoyne
towards police lines, injuring dozens of PSNI officers as
well as several journalists and press officers.

Finally, the PSNI and British army acted generally in a
fair and relatively professional manner despite being
caught in the middle of an extremely dangerous scenario.

All of the main actors in this seasonal territorial contest
certainly share some blame for the deepening divisions in
this war-torn corner of north Belfast. There is, however,
one group that has so far never been singled out for
criticism - parents.

A large proportion of the rioters at Brompton Park on
Tuesday night were clearly under 16: many of them looked
far younger; possibly some were of primary-school age. The
question no one seems capable of asking after these events
is: 'Where are the parents?' Why are young children allowed
to cause so much damage in such a dangerous environment?
The primary responsibility for these youngsters lies with
their mothers and fathers and yet the blame for the former
group's behaviour is always someone else's. It is surely
time that mentality was challenged.

At risk of sounding like some Sir Bufton Tufton, what went
on last Tuesday night was a form of child-neglect. Those
under-16s who were left to roam and riot by parents were,
in effect, abandoned. So instead of the PSNI prosecuting
the hoods-in-hoodies who turned the Crumlin Road into a
battlefield, the police's attention should shift to their
parents or guardians. Once the foot soldiers of the
children's wrecking crusade are identified, their parents
should be tracked down, named, shamed and, if necessary,
fined for their offspring's loutishness.

That would be in the interest of the Ardoyne community,
Sinn Fein, the ex-prisoners on both sides of the divide
trying to hold the line, the people of Twaddell Avenue,
church leaders and the police. For just as the Orange Order
should be forced to pay for the clear up of towns and
cities blighted by the mountains of litter and garbage
their supporters drop during parades, so should the parents
of morons who wreck their own areas and others be obliged
to pick up the bill.

There is an attitude that someone else will pick up the
tab, hence one in five living on state benefit. This
outlook has to change and it can start with making those
responsible for children who defy and defile their own
communities pay the price for their charges' destruction.



DUP Slams Police Over Derry Parade Violence

By Clare Weir
16 July 2005

The DUP is to meet Londonderry police over concerns
following Tuesday's Twelfth celebrations.

Petrol bombs were thrown and riot police called to push
nationalist rioters from the Diamond to the Bogside after
fighting broke out as the last two bands paraded to the

Some unionists claimed they were assaulted by police.

At a DUP Press conference at the city's Guildhall yesterday
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the main parade
was "a great success", but he criticised police for
allowing crowds wearing "provocative" clothing to
congregate on the evening of the parade.

He has now called for all parties involved to take a "cool
and calm" approach ahead of the Apprentice Boys parade on
August 13, and plans to meet with police on Monday.

"Republicans have to assess their individual reaction to a
unionist presence in this city. We must all ensure that the
events of July 12 are not repeated next month."

Meanwhile in Belfast, a loyalist parades umbrella group -
the North and West Belfast Parades Commission - yesterday
declared "there is no-one in the Ardoyne that anyone can

Speaking in the Shankill yesterday the chairman of the
forum, Tommy Cheevers, stated that nationalists in the
Ardoyne are "bigoted and sectarian and they hate
Protestants on that road".

Ulster Unionist MLA Fred Cobain, who admitted he was
"terrified" after witnessing what he described as "naked
terrorism up close," said the people of the Ardoyne "just
do not want a Prod about the place".

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called for
dialogue between residents' groups and the Orange orders
ahead of Apprentice Boys parades later this month.

"I would like to think this entire process doesn't end up
with people's lives being turned upside down every time
Orangemen or other marching orders want to go in somewhere
where they are not welcome," he said.



Northern Ireland Ponders Truth Commission

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many Northern Irish adults would
support an inquiry into a period of violent political
conflict, according to the Northern Ireland Life and Times
Survey. 52 per cent of respondents believe establishing a
Truth Commission to study "the troubles" is important,
while 28 per cent disagree.

In 1921, after negotiations initiated by Michael Collins,
Ireland was split into two entities: an independent
Republic of Ireland in the south, and a British-controlled
Northern Ireland. Decades of violence and confrontation
have resulted in more than 3,000 deaths since the 1960s.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its splinter cells have
killed more than 1,800 people—including 650 civilians—over
the past 45 years.

The phrase "the troubles" is often used to describe a time
of violent political conflict, which began in the late
1960s and ended with the signing of the Good Friday
Agreement in April 1998. The period included the 1972
Bloody Sunday incident—where British paratroopers shot and
killed 13 unarmed participants in a Derry civil rights
march—and the Special Powers Act, which allowed the
government to detain hundreds of people without a trial.
The 1998 deal called for the "decommissioning of illegally-
held arms in the possession of paramilitary groups."

Northern Irish adults are not particularly optimistic on
the actual outcome of the inquiry. 30 per cent of
respondents believe a Truth Commission would help give a
clean start to Northern Ireland's political future, while
49 per cent disagree.

Polling Data

A Truth Commission is an inquiry where everyone would have
to tell the truth about things to do with "the troubles."
How important or unimportant do you think it is that
Northern Ireland should have a Truth Commission?

Very important 27%
Fairly important 25%
Neither important nor unimportant 18%
Fairly unimportant 15%
Very unimportant 13%
Don't know 3%

Do you agree or disagree? - "A Truth Commission would help
give a clean start to Northern Ireland's political future."

Agree strongly 3%
Agree 27%
Neither agree nor disagree 18%
Disagree 40%
Disagree strongly 9%
Don't know 3%

Source: Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 1,800 Northern
Ireland adults, conducted from October 2004 to January
2005. No margin of error was provided.


Scotland: Councils Demand: Allow Us To Ban Orange Marches

By Liam McDougall, Home Affairs Editor

THE head of the body which represents Scotland's 32 local
authorities is to hold talks with ministers to demand new
powers that would allow councils to ban sectarian marches
marred by violence and disorder.

The move comes just days after senior police officers
condemned the "disgraceful" scenes at an Orange march in
the east end of Glasgow commemorating the anniversary of
the Battle of the Boyne. Two weeks before that, police made
a record 85 arrests at another march held in the city

Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local
Authorities (Cosla), confirmed he would be contacting
justice minister Cathy Jamieson and seeking a meeting
before the end of the month.

He said he would press the minister for new laws that would
bolster councils' powers, and seek assurances that the
Scottish Executive would meet the costs of implementing
measures made in Sir John Orr's recent review of marches
and parades.

Included in the report was a recommendation that councils
should consult with march organisers and local communities
before they went ahead.

Under current legislation, councils are powerless to ban
marches – only the chief constable has the authority to
stop a march from going ahead.

Last night, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland condemned
Watters's plan , saying it was a "threat to our democratic
right to peaceful procession and assembly".

But Cosla will tell the minister that it is "pointless"
having the power to consult if there is no legislative
back-up to implement the views of its constituents.

Watters said: "We're in favour of getting the
responsibility, being able to consult with communities and
the march organisers to try to alleviate problems that
might be caused or to address the perceived problems. But
to do that we need proper legislation to back up any
decision that we take and the necessary finance to do it

He pointed out that in the space of just a few days, scores
of marches can take place in Glasgow. Watters added: "If
consultation over a 28-day period has to take place for
each, that's some amount of staff time that has to be
devoted to do this. We need the finance to actually do it
and if there is a problem [with a march] we need to be able
to act on that problem. Our ability to do anything at this
present time is very narrow."

Watters denied that he was "asking the minister to write a
blank cheque" but said: "What we're asking is for is an
assurance that they [the Executive] will meet the necessary
expenditure, whatever it is."

Although Watters said the plans for a meeting with Jamieson
were not prompted by the scenes at Orange marches in
Glasgow this month, there was nevertheless an "urgency" for
councils to have the power to deal with disorder.

Last Wednesday, police condemned the "disgraceful" scenes
at an Orange march which resulted in 20 arrests at a parade
in Glasgow. Police said the march on July 12 in the east
end of Glasgow was marred by drunkenness, sectarian singing
and general disorder.

According to police, a "much higher level of disorder"
could have resulted had police not received the "good co-
operation" of pub licensees in the Gallowgate area who
agreed to keep their doors closed as the parade passed.

Of the 19 men and one woman arrested, 13 were detained on
suspicion of sectarian hatred, while seven others faced
breach of the peace charges.

The trouble happened less than two weeks after a 270% rise
in the number of arrests at the largest Orange walk in
Scotland, which was also held in the city. Some 85 people
were arrested at the parade.

Councillor Jim Coleman, deputy leader of Glasgow City
Council, said he had received letters from members of the
public complaining about the behaviour of those who turned
out to watch the recent marches in the city.

He also said he would be in favour of tough new powers to
regulate or ban problem marches. " This story is going out
all over Britain, all over the world, and it's doing the
image of the city no good.

"The first thing that people say is, 'why don't you just
ban them,' but we don't have the power to do it. The only
person who has the power to do that is the chief constable
under the existing law, which is out of date in our opinion
and in Cosla's opinion."

Robert McLean, executive officer at the Grand Orange Lodge
of Scotland, said: "What Pat Watters is asking for is a
threat to our democratic right of peaceful procession and
assembly. We would be disturbed if any local authority was
bringing in something that would ban anyone's rights.

"We are a responsible organisation and we've shown that by
changing the dates of our marches to accommodate the recent
Special Olympics and the G8 summit."

He said that the lodge would also now seek a meeting with
the minister and extended an invitation to Watters to the
councils' plans.

Commenting on the number of arrests at recent Orange
marches, he said: "We've had four main parades with a small
number arrested.

"Out of 40,000 people who watched the large one in Glasgow,
only 85 people were arrested. That means that 39,915
enjoyed themselves. We asked the police to be robust and
deal with drunken behaviour, and they did that."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said Cosla was "welcome to
make its case to ministers".

On the conduct at recent marches, she added: "It is very
disappointing that at a time when there is so much positive
work going on to tackle sectarian bigotry that [incidents]
like this should occur."

17 July 2005


Irish Woman Dies In Turkish Blast

Turkish resort blast kills five

An explosion on a minibus in the Turkish Aegean resort of
Kusadasi has killed at least five people, including one
British and one Irish woman.

At least 13 other people were wounded, including five other
Britons, three of them seriously.

Turkish officials are investigating the possibility that
the blast was caused by a parcel bomb.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the
blast a "terrorist attack" without laying specific blame.

"The government will naturally take the necessary measures
accordingly," he added.

No group has said it carried out the bombing.

UK tour company clients

The British woman died of her injuries after having been
taken on to the nearest city, Izmir - 90km (56 miles) away
- for medical treatment, along with the other wounded

UK tour operator Thomas Cook has confirmed that two of
those killed in the attack and the five injured Britons
were their customers.

"One guest was travelling with Thomas Cook Tour Operations,
and the other with Thomas Cook UK & Ireland's subsidiary
company, Sunworld Ireland," company spokeswoman Faith
Wooton said of the dead holidaymakers.

"Thomas Cook's first priority is the welfare of its
customers, and the company's overseas team is on hand to
support the injured guests and their families," she added.

The British ambassador, Sir Peter Westmacott, is travelling
to Izmir and a consular team is going with him to provide

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul says Kurdish militants
are the most likely suspects if it was a bombing.

Police said evidence was now pointing towards a bombing
rather than a suicide attack as earlier reported, said
Kusadasi government official Ali Baris.

Provincial governor Mustafa Malay earlier said the blast
could have been caused by a bomb placed under the seat on
the bus.

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Irish Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern condemned the suspected attack, while
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called it a "repugnant

Second attack

The blast comes six days after a bombing in the nearby town
of Cesme, which left at least 20 people injured.

Kurdish militants claimed responsibility for that attack,
as well as one in Kusadasi in April, in which one policeman
was killed and four other people were wounded.

Militants both from the far left and from Islamist circles
have carried out bombings in Turkey in the past, as have
Kurdish rebels.

Saturday's minibus explosion took place at 1030 (0730GMT)
as the vehicle was travelling through Kusadasi's Ataturk
Square, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

The blast blew the roof off the minibus, a public transport
vehicle shuttling people between the town centre and the

Kusadasi is popular with both Turkish and foreign holiday-

Kurdish campaign

A group called the Kurdish Liberation Hawks (Tak) said it
carried out the bombing in Cesme on 10 July.

Their overall aim is to force the Turkish government to
grant autonomy to the predominantly Kurdish south-east of
the country, but the means to that end appears to be to
strike at the tourism industry - the life blood of the
Turkish economy, our correspondent says.

The Tak is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK), which has been fighting the government for
independence since 1984.

More than 37,000 people have been killed in the 20-year
campaign by the PKK, which is considered a terrorist
organisation by the US and EU.

The rebels declared a unilateral truce in 1999, but ended
it in 2004, saying Turkey had not done enough to meet their

Have you been affected by the explosion in Kusadasi? Send
us your comments.

Me and my girlfriend were in Kusadasi last week, on the
minibuses (they called them dolmus). My skin went cold when
I heard the news. My thoughts go out to the people who have
died, and the people who are seriously injured, as well as
those who are related in any way to the victims.

Krystof Kisala, Bishop's Stortford, England

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sorrow
to the people of Kusadasi. I really enjoyed my recent
holiday there and send my well wishes to those warm and
welcoming inhabitants I met. As a Brit who enjoys living
and working in Istanbul I am full of regret that such an
event should happen in such a lovely, peaceful part of the
world. The bullies who carry out such horrible acts will
not deter me from returning to Istanbul, my "second home".

Nicola Dellow, England and Turkey!

I am going to Olu Deniz today with my family and I have
come to be very disturbed by this blast. Although we are on
the other side of the Island we can't put this to the back
of our mind. I shall keep the families and friends of those
dead in my prayers.

Sean Carson, Wigan, England

I am Turk, living in UK. Cesme is in Izmir, where my
hometown is, and Kusadasi is very close, which we visit
every summer. I was first worried that my relatives were
among the injured, thanks god, they were not. These
inhumane attacks on innocent civilians are no less barbaric
or inhumane than those committed in London; and should be
equally condemned. Terror has no particular race, religion
or ethnicity. It is inhumane to sympathise with these evil
attacks or the motivation behind the attacks on innocent

Aykut Uz, Basingstoke

My Turkish wife's parents live in Kusadasi and we are going
there today for a week's holiday. Naturally, we are
concerned about the bombing and feel sorrow for those
caught up in this dreadful act, but we have agreed that our
trip will go ahead as planned. If tourists alter their
travel plans to avoid the places targeted by terrorists,
which is exactly what these idiots want, then we run the
risk of encouraging further terrorism as an alternative to
dialogue and discussion.

Matthew, Birmingham, England

My family is in and around Kusadasi as well as Cesme, site
of the other bombing six days ago. I cannot tell you how
angry we Turks are at these who have done these deeds. The
media in Turkey is already speculating that Kurdish and/or
leftist terrorists have done this. Europe needs to wake up
and realize a terrorist is a terrorist, yet both Reuters
and other news agencies have called these people
'militants' instead. What difference is there between
terrorists who kill in the UK and those who kill abroad?
The time has come to crack down on all those PKK cells that
are allowed to operate freely in the UK, Germany, France,
and elsewhere.

Hakan Korkut, Turkish ex-pat in NY

I'll never forget a shop owner who went out of his way to
brew a special cup of Turkish coffee for me during a visit
to Kusadasi two years ago. My heart goes out to such warm
and hospitable people.

Greg, St. Joseph MO, USA

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/16 22:10:49 GMT


More Than 1,000 Gather To Protest Jailing Of 'Rossport

16/07/2005 - 19:02:18

More than 1,000 people have attended a protest in Ballina
this afternoon against the jailing of five men for
attempting to prevent the building of a gas pipeline on
their land in Co Mayo.

The demonstrators are calling for an investigation into
deals made between the Government and the gas company,

The wives and families of the jailed men thanked the crowd
for their continued support.

Frank McBrearty Jr was a guest speaker at the rally and
after the speeches the protestors marched around the town.

Another rally is being planned to take place in Dublin next
Saturday, July 23.


'Army Limos' Party On The Falls Road

Liam Clarke

IT COULD have been a scene out of a satirical television
show: Gerry Adams waving and smiling at a group of women on
the Falls Road in Belfast as they clambered onto a British
Army Land Rover to the strains of Girls Just Wanna Have

In the 1970s, fraternising with soldiers would have
resulted in the women being tarred and feathered, but last
weekend the Sinn Fein leader just wished them well. The
helium balloons attached to the roof were proof that the
British Army vehicles were not on duty, but just the latest
fad in celebrity limo hire in Belfast.

"When Gerry Adams happened to pull up there was great
craic," said Briege Lyons, who had hired out the vehicle,
complete with beer cooler and disco lights, for a friend's
hen night. "Some of the girls snapped him, but I think he
was afraid to come over because there were so many women."

The vintage army vehicles are owned by Party Piglets, a
company run by Fergal O'Connor, a North Belfast
electrician, and Art Corbett. Their previous ventures
included using a 45-ton Chieftain tank for corporate
entertainment events. Next week they intend to add a Humber
armoured car, which seats 10, to their fleet.

Party Piglets is cashing in on a wave of Troubles nostalgia
in Northern Ireland. A wing of the Maze prison is being
turned into a museum, while former inmates are acting as
tour guides. Meanwhile, republican and loyalist murals in
Belfast are being preserved as tourist attractions.

O'Connor had commissioned an engineer to modify the turret,
installing seats for 16 and safety harnesses. "The tank was
great fun," said O'Connor. "An engineer modified the
turret; he built a big frame around it with 16 seats on it
all harnessed in for safety. It cost £5 (€7) for a 10-15
minute ride, or £150 for a private hire if you wanted it to

"We drove it all round obstacles, through water splashes,
up over mounds and crushed cars. The turret spun round, the
gun went up and down while 16 punters were on top. When you
were up on these mounds they were sitting 40ft or 50ft off
the ground squealing their heads off. They loved it."

The only snag was that the tank burnt out four engines in
five months, landing O'Connor £54,000 in debt.

The smaller riot control vehicles Party Piglets uses have a
more viable proposition. The armoured Land Rover was in use
on the streets of Belfast until it was bought by a private
collector in 1986, and it still has a plaque on the roof
listing military codes for bases and landmarks in Belfast.
It seats eight and has a roof-top hatch, originally used by

O'Connor and Corbett usually turn up for duty wearing
combat fatigues and armoured helmets, and brandishing a
replica weapon.

Emmet Donaghy, whose friends booked the vehicle as an 18th
birthday surprise last Wednesday, said: "It was a superb
present. I was sitting at home with my mate thinking where
we would go for a pint when the door went. There was this
big jeep thing sitting there blaring out Happy Birthday and
balloons coming out of it. They drove us round the town
playing (Is This the Way to) Amarillo and we stuck our
heads out the top."

The vehicle caused some initial misunderstanding in
nationalist areas. "After I bought it from a museum in
north London, it still had the confidential telephone
number for information [on terrrorism] on the side," said
O'Connor. "When I drove round, kids did throw a few stones
at me.

He has now painted out the number with a For Hire sign.
"Now if I see a child lifting a stone I just press the
horn, which plays the Dukes of Hazzard theme tune," he

There have been a number of run-ins with the security
forces.Lyons' hen party was stopped by police on the
Crumlin Road. She said: "That turned out funny too, because
everyone asked the PSNI if they were the stripograms. At
that stage they let us go."
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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