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July 31, 2005

SF Welcomes Security Scale Down

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 07/31/05 SF Welcomes Security Scale Down
RE 07/31/05 Pope Welcomes End Of IRA Armed Campaign
SL 07/31/05 IRA's 'On The Runs' To Become 'The Forgiven'
TO 07/31/05 Retired RUC Officer Dies In Basra Bomb Blast
SH 07/31/05 Public Reaction
TI 07/31/05 A Farewell To Arms
CC 07/31/05 IRA Took New Tack After 9/11
NH 07/31/05 Adams Succeeded Where Dev Failed
BS 07/31/05 Opin: The One Road
MS 07/31/05 The Last Word: Gerry Adams
GU 07/31/05 Looking For Lisa
TO 07/31/05 SAS Link: Could 'Police Officer' Be A Soldier?
RJ 07/31/05 When The Melting Pot Melts
CA 07/31/05 Grosse Ile: Island Of Tragedy And Hope
IO 07/31/05 Thousands Climb Croagh Patrick In Pilgrimage


SF Welcomes Security Scale Down

Sinn Fein has welcomed the start of the scaling down of
security in border areas.

The party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness told BBC
News 24: "I warmly welcome the fact that the British army
have begun to demilitarise."

A major security response to Thursday's IRA statement is
expected at the start of this week.

It is likely to mean significant changes to the security
landscape in south Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry.

Mr McGuinness said, "That clearly shows that, if you like,
the soldiers, whether it be soldiers of the IRA or the
soldiers of the British army are prepared, to some degree,
to trust one another.

"I think that if soldiers can do that, then it is incumbent
on the politicians and on the people to support that

On Friday, the Army began the first steps of dismantling
security bases in south Armagh after the IRA's statement
saying it had ended its armed campaign.

It is expected that the security base on the top of
Belfast's Divis Tower will be dismantled.

BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan said: "I think if
everything goes to plan, we will see the first steps
towards removing more of the Army watchtowers in south

"There will also be the controversial Army watch tower at
Divis on the Falls Road and what's called the Masonic
Observation Post in Derry.

"All of that work is expected to be completed within weeks.

"We should also watch out for significant political and
security statements.

"All of this is going to mean fewer troops in Northern

"I think what we're seeing are the first signals and
quicker steps towards the planned peace time garrison."

On Friday, it was announced that a base at Forkhill will
close, while a watchtower at Sugarloaf Mountain and an
observation post at Newtownhamilton police station will
also be removed.

The British and Irish governments are considering the next
steps to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

An updated programme of "security normalisation" will be
published soon.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said a reduced
military presence was one of a series of measures to be put
in place.

He said that the ceasefire watchdog, the Independent
Monitoring Commission, will report on progress made in
October and again in January.

Unionists have reacted angrily to the news of the Army
posts being dismantled.

The British government also intends to introduce
legislation in the autumn to allow paramilitary fugitives
to return home.

In a statement released on Thursday, the IRA said it would
pursue exclusively peaceful means.

The IRA statement said: "All volunteers have been
instructed to assist the development of purely political
and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful

Political talks last year failed to restore devolution,
which stalled amid claims of IRA intelligence gathering at
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, in 2002.

The Provisional IRA's campaign of violence was aimed at
forcing an end to the British presence in Northern Ireland,
leading to a united Ireland.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI has hailed the IRA's decision
to disarm as "beautiful news" and urged all to work for
lasting peace.

Addressing pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome, he
said he felt "satisfaction and hope" over the IRA

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/31 10:34:12 GMT


Pope Welcomes End Of IRA Armed Campaign

Sun Jul 31, 2005 12:56 PM BST

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (Reuters) - Pope Benedict welcomed
on Sunday the IRA's decision last week to end its armed
campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland and urged
all sides to take further steps for peace.

"It's fine news that contrasts with the painful events that
we witness daily in many parts of the world," the Pope told
crowds after his weekly Angelus blessing at his lakeside
summer residence outside Rome.

The Pope said the IRA paramilitary group's formal
announcement on Thursday of the end of its 30-year armed
campaign had given "satisfaction and hope to that island
and the whole international community".

"I encourage everyone, without exception, to follow the
path set out with courage, and to take further measures to
reinforce mutual trust, promote reconciliation and
consolidate negotiations for a just and lasting peace."

The IRA and its political ally Sinn Fein, which draws most
of its support from Northern Ireland's Roman Catholic
community, want to unite the province with the Irish
Republic. "Loyalist", predominantly Protestant parties,
seek to keep the province part of Britain.


IRA's 'On The Runs' To Become 'The Forgiven'

31 July 2005

THE man accused of masterminding the Enniskillen Poppy Day
massacre is expected to be one of dozens of Republican
terrorists to be known as 'The Forgiven'.

The man, who lives openly in the Republic, heads a Sinn
Fein amnesty list handed to the British and Irish
governments three years ago.

Around 55 other fugitives will also become 'The Forgiven',
under planned legislation following IRA's declaring the
armed struggle over.

Among the 'on the runs', who can expect amnesty, are
bombers and gunmen responsible for scores of deaths.

They include:

• LEONARD 'BAP' HARDY (44) from Ardoyne, who served five
years in an Irish jail for possessing explosives.

• LIAM AVERILL(39), dubbed Mrs Doubtfire who escaped from
the Maze in 1997 dressed as a woman.

• RITA O'HARE (61) SF's US lobbyist jumped bail in N
Ireland over 30 years ago while awaiting trial for a gun
attack on ambushed soldiers.

• DERMOT FINUCANE (42), masterminded the mass breakout from
the Maze in 1983, where he was serving 18 years for
explosives offences.

• DERMOTT McNALLY (44), who escaped from the Maze in the
mass breakout.


Retired RUC Officer Dies In Basra Bomb Blast

Liam Clarke

A RETIRED Northern Ireland police officer died yesterday in
a roadside bomb attack in Basra. Ken Hull, 48, a former
member of the RUC, was working as a security guard
protecting British diplomatic staff when the terrorists
struck. A second guard in the convoy was also killed.

Last night a spokesperson for his family said "they are
absolutely devastated but would like it to be conveyed that
he knew the risk and enjoyed the job".

Scores of former RUC members, made redundant as part of the
Patten reform of the force, are working in Iraq where their
training and experience of co-operating with the army makes
them ideal employees for private security contractors.

Hull was in a convoy of three vehicles carrying staff from
the British consulate in Basra when it came under attack on
the outskirts of the city. Television pictures showed his
blue Toyota Landcruiser with the doors smashed in and blood
splashed across a side window. The other vehicles in the
convoy were apparently unscathed.

Police said a second blast five minutes later injured two
children who were among youths gathering at the scene.
Mushtaq Kadim, a local police captain, said the bomb had
been planted on a "strategic highway" in the Qiblah
district in the southwest of the city.

In Baghdad yesterday a car bomb exploded near the National
theatre, killing seven people and injuring 25, including a
mother and her two children. Abbas Mohammed Salman, a
police major, said three of his colleagues died.

Police also said that the death toll from Friday's suicide
bomb attack on army volunteers in Rabiah, a town near the
Syrian border, had risen from 25 to 52 as many of the
wounded had died overnight.

An internet statement in the name of Al-Qaeda in Iraq said
the group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian
terrorist, carried out the attack.

Elsewhere lawyers acting for Saddam Hussein complained he
had been assaulted during his appearance at a court hearing
in Baghdad last Thursday.

In a statement from their office in Amman, the Jordanian
capital, they alleged that a man had attacked Saddam during
the hearing, which was attended by Khalil Dulaimi, his
defence lawyer.

Judge Raid Juhi, of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, denied
there had been any altercation.


Public Reaction:

'This war with the British ruined most of our lives, our
children's lives, our marriages and our health'

By Ed Moloney

Una Gillespie, 43, former Sinn Fein councillor and co-
ordinator of the West Belfast Economic Forum:

"The IRA has given everything. There is nothing left for
them to give. Pressure should now be on the British and the
unionists. What will they do for the peace process?

"In terms of equality and human rights, we're worse off in
the North now than 30 years ago. Republicans have been
courageous. They have taken initiatives and risks, but
nothing has been reciprocated.

"The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) still won't share
power with Catholics. There has been no peace dividend in
working-class nationalist areas. The latest figures show
that seven of the 10 most deprived electoral wards in the
North are Catholic.

"Since the 1994 ceasefire, there are fewer government-
sponsored jobs and more unemployment, benefit dependency,
and lower wages in West Belfast. Northern Catholics are
still twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants –
that figure hasn't changed in three decades. But nobody
wants to talk about this. Nobody cares about the daily
lives of ordinary Catholics. It doesn't make headlines .

"Loyalist paramilitaries have been running rampage on
Protestant estates this week. Imagine the reaction if the
IRA was doing that. I don't see the police firing plastic
bullets at loyalists like they did at nationalists in

"I worry that the IRA has given too much too soon, while
the British and the unionists get away with behaving as
they always did."

Aileen Quinton, 47, lost her mother in the 1987 Enniskillen

"Nobody has ever been brought to justice for Enniskillen.
The government is planning to allow the on-the-runs to
return. I'll be sickened if those who murdered my mother
and 10 other people – and carried out countless more
atrocities – can come back and walk the streets freely.

"I saw Gerry Adams on TV after the IRA statement. I
switched over to The Bill. I'd do the same if Hitler came
on, and at least he was defeated.

"Why should I be grateful to the IRA for stopping doing
what they'd no right to do in the first place? You
shouldn't get brownie points for not murdering people.
They've broken all their previous promises to abandon
violence. Only the IRA would try to sell the same horse
over and over again, and only the English would buy it.

"My mother, Alberta, was 72 when she was murdered. She was
from Donegal. She was in North Africa, Yugoslavia and Italy
as an RAF nurse during the second world war. She always
said they never had time to mourn their dead then and that
was why Remembrance Sunday was so important to her. She
wore her medals every year.

"I was in my flat in London crocheting a tablecloth for her
when there was a news flash about the bomb.

"At the funeral, my three brothers and I threw poppies onto
her grave. She fought fascism in the war; I'm doing my bit
now. I fear Tony Blair will reward the IRA. Unfortunately,
terrorism pays."

Jimmy Spratt, 54, former RUC officer and Police Federation

"I've been told by police that, despite the IRA's
ceasefire, they've been targeting me within the past 18
months. I don't believe they've turned over a new leaf with
their statement. I hope I'm wrong.

"I joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) at 21. My
motto was: 'Treat everybody like you'd treat your mother,
wife or brother.'

"I'm angry that young people who joined the IRA since 1994
could be let into the police. Standards are dropping. I'd
have been barred for a driving offence.

"In 30 years in the RUC, I saw horrendous things. I was on
the scene after nine officers were killed in a mortar
attack in Newry in 1985. We picked bits and pieces of
colleagues from the debris.

"There were 302 RUC officers murdered in the Troubles. I
knew plenty of them. Sometimes, you would visit three
bereaved houses in a single evening.

"My life was saved at least twice by Special Branch.

"As part of the RUC's senior management team, I sat in on
many intelligence briefings. The IRA are sophisticated and
cunning. I'd never underestimate them.

"When they were growing up, I drilled my four sons into
saying 'Dad's a farmer', if anybody asked. My wife could
never hang my green RUC shirts on the washing line.

I still take security precautions. I'm a DUP councillor now
and I know the IRA remains lethal."

Tom Kelly, 41, Policing Board member, MD of Stakeholder
Communications, and former SDLP communications director:

"I come from Newry, the most bombed town in Northern
Ireland. I'm glad the IRA leadership have made their 'go
home and have your tea now, boys' statement, but they
should have done that 31 years ago.

"Those dozen or so paragraphs could have been written any
time from 1974. The Council of Ireland in the Sunningdale
deal offered nationalists far more than the cross-Border
bodies in the current agreement.

"Sinn Fein has accepted a constitutional nationalist
settlement. Better late than never, but what have those
three decades been for? Is war something that starts in
certain leaders' minds and then ends when they say so?

"There has been such waste of life. In 1973, Kevin Heatley,
a 12-year-old Newry schoolboy, was shot dead by the Brits.
I remember it well because he was the same age as me. In
1981, a Catholic police officer, Neal Quinn, was killed
while drinking in my local, the Bridge Bar.

"All the Protestant policemen had moved out of Newry, but
Neal had stayed. He was doing what police should do –
living and socialising in the community where they work

"I hope Sinn Fein is at last able to meet the challenges of

" Republican leaders have never lacked commercial sense. I
think they can bring their expertise to business life."

Brendan Shannon, 49, former IRA member:

"Decommissioning is a crime. Thousands of people gave money
to buy IRA weapons and went to jail for looking after them.
My father brought handguns into the Falls in 1969 to
protect the community. I was later jailed for arms

"I joined the Belfast Brigade's D company at 16. We carried
out three or four operations a day. It was continuous war
from when you got up in the morning until you went to bed.
I never had moral qualms. The British have no right to be

"I was interned at 17 for three years. I don't believe I
wasted my youth – I just missed out on three years fighting
the Brits. Then, I was caught with guns in 1979. I was
married with a child and my wife was pregnant again. I went
on the blanket and the dirty protest. They were awful

"I know people who lie in 18 of the 22 graves in the
republican plot in Milltown Cemetery. Some of our leaders
did no fighting. We trusted them to do the talking but they
let us down.

"This war ruined most of our lives, our children's lives,
our marriages, and our health.

"I'm no rabid militarist; I believe in politics and support
the peace process. I took part in Sinn Fein protests at
Stormont and canvassed in elections.

"I thought we'd wreck the state from within, but all the
leadership wants is power. They've betrayed republicanism."

31 July 2005


A Farewell To Arms

The I.R.A. announces an end to the armed campaign but
Loyalists remain sceptical


As the four men suspected of trying to bomb London's
transport system on July 21 were apprehended last week,
another group of terrorists said it was laying down its
weapons. In a DVD video, I.R.A. veteran Seanna Walsh — who
spent 21 years in prison for munitions offenses — stood
before an Irish flag to read a statement formally ending
the organization's 36-year armed campaign to force Britain
out of Northern Ireland. By ordering its members to "dump
arms" and adopt "exclusively peaceful means," the I.R.A.
leadership signaled that their decades-long quest for Irish
unity now rests in the hands of their political
counterparts in Sinn Fein. The statement prompted a sudden
surge forward in the peace process. The British army began
demolishing some of its remaining installations, and the
I.R.A. said it was ready to dispose of all its weapons with
witnesses from the Protestant and Catholic churches

But can Northern Ireland's Troubles end that easily?
Unionists, led by Ian Paisley, a fiery Free Presbyterian
preacher, point out that the I.R.A. has made lots of
promises in the past without ever fully giving up violent
and criminal activities — or intimidating witnesses so that
no one is ever prosecuted. "Does [the statement] mean that
if they're involved in crimes, the rule of law applies to
them the same as everybody else?" asks Paula McCartney,
whose brother Robert was murdered by I.R.A. members in
January in a bar brawl. One man is awaiting trial for the
killing, but police suspect at least nine people were
involved in the attack. "It's time to put some meat on the
bones," says Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law
were killed by an I.R.A. bomb in 1993. "People judge them
on what they do." To address the skepticism, leaders in
London and Dublin asked a watchdog body to report next
January on whether the I.R.A. is sticking to its vow.

Many of the approximately 1,500 I.R.A. members could well
enter the political struggle for a united Ireland by
working for Sinn Fein. In the seven years since the Good
Friday Agreement brought a fragile peace, Sinn Fein has
grown while the I.R.A.'s influence waned. Led by Gerry
Adams, Sinn Fein is now the biggest nationalist party in
Northern Ireland, with 24 seats in the Northern Ireland
Assembly. And they have gradually become an influential
political force in the Irish Republic, too, where they even
threaten Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's hold on
working-class North Dublin. But there's also a risk that
splinter groups could keep the violence going. "Nothing has
changed," a defiant source from the Continuity I.R.A. told
Time. "There is still a British presence that has to be
removed." To counter that threat, I.R.A. members will need
to show the same determination to keep the peace as they
once displayed to wage war.

With reporting by Mairead Carey/Dublin and Andrea


IRA Took New Tack After 9/11

The Associated Press

LONDON - Britain's decades-long struggle with the Irish
Republican Army appears to be coming to a close as the
country confronts the threat of Islamic terrorism on its
home soil.

Analysts say this month's London bombings almost certainly
did not directly influence the IRA's dramatic announcement
Thursday that it was ending its war against Britain. But
the new reality of terror groups willing to carry out
carnage on an indiscriminate scale may be causing Europe's
paramilitary movements to change tack.

A key concern may be the urge for such movements to
establish a moral distinction between themselves and the
new breed of terrorists.

''Until 9/11 there was a great debate about freedom
fighters and terrorism, but now there is a sharp division
between the two,'' said Michael Swetnam of the Potomac
Institute of Policy Studies, in Arlington, Va. ''Now a
terrorist is an evil person who kills people, and using the
tactics of terror is becoming very unpopular with the
freedom fighters of the world.''

The IRA killed and maimed thousands of people in a 35-year
campaign against British rule. In a carefully timed
announcement, the outlawed group renounced violence as a
political weapon and ordered an end to its armed campaign.

Analysts agree the timing of the statement probably had
nothing to do with the July 7 mass-transit suicide bombings
in London, which killed 56 people including the four
attackers. The statement had long been in planning and was
a direct response to an appeal in April by Gerry Adams,
leader of the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party.

But some historians and analysts believe the political
climate following the Sept. 11 attacks helped nudge the IRA
toward a peaceful resolution.

Magnus Ranstorp, at the Center for the Study of Terrorism
and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in
Scotland, said the Sept. 11 attacks put the IRA ''on the
back foot,'' and there were strong signals from the White
House that violence would not be condoned.

Ranstorp said groups like the IRA and ETA - the Basque
separatist group in Spain which has killed more than 800
people since 1968 in its campaign for an independent state
- had ''red lines'' they would not cross.

''The backlash would be so severe that their own supporters
would turn against them'' if attacks were too bloody, he
said of those groups. The threat posed by Islamic
extremists, however, was ''limitless depending on how much
explosives they can get.''

Swetnam drew a distinction between ''practical terrorists''
with political goals and aims and what he called
''apocalyptic terrorists,'' with whom it was impossible to

Brian Feeney, a former councilor and member of Northern
Ireland's Social Democratic and Labor Party, cautioned
against overstating the influence of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He noted the IRA had declared an open-ended truce back in
1997, and Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness had ''actively wanted to bring the campaign to
an end'' for many years.

Still, he said, the attacks on the United States definitely
had an impact.

''It did have an effect on the IRA. Their first act of
decommissioning was very shortly after 9/11,'' he told The
Associated Press, referring to the scrapping of the IRA's
weapons stockpile.

Under terms of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, the
IRA was supposed to have fully disarmed in cooperation with
international inspectors by mid-2000, but it did not start
the process until October 2001.

(Published: July 31, 2005)


Adams Succeeded Where Dev Failed

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

You can parse yesterday's (Thursday) IRA statement any way
you like but you end up with the same result. It's this:
For the first time since the establishment of the Irish
state in 1922 the IRA has decided there is no need for an
armed campaign. This time it's not just a matter of dumping
arms which the IRA has done a few times before.

Now they believe there is an alternative way to achieve
their goal of a united Ireland and an end to British rule
in the country. In short, this statement marks a
fundamental historic departure for republicans or, as Tony
Blair said, 'a step of unparalleled magnitude'.

There's another crucial aspect, one which has gone largely
unnoticed. IRA members 'have been instructed to assist in
the development of purely political and democratic
programmes'. This injunction signals another historic shift
for republicans.

Until now the IRA literally called the shots. The IRA
constitution has always had Sinn Féin formally playing
second string to the IRA. In a truly democratic party that
cannot happen. Those elected by the people cannot be
overruled by others elected by a military coterie. That's
over now. IRA members will be assisting Sinn Féin in
developing republican political programmes instead of
directing Sinn Féin, an historic role reversal.

Naturally there has been a universal welcome for the
statement and its implications except of course from the
usual suspects, the unionists who cower fearfully in their
cave cursing the darkness. Begrudgery is their role. We'll
all have to wait another six months for the troglodytes to
emerge blinking into the sunlight after a positive report
from the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission set up
at Trimble's behest. By next spring unionists will have no
excuse and no option but to negotiate with Sinn Féin. They
can't support and not support the IMC at the same time.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world, apart perhaps from the
awful Michael McDowell, will be taking advantage of the
opportunity presented by the IRA statement. Watch for a
long republican shopping list being delivered, elements of
the Good Friday Agreement the British and unionist-minded
officials in the NIO have stalled on for years. Sean
Kelly's release was the first example of the new political
power the IRA statement has endowed republicans with. The
demolition of barracks and watch towers and departure of
regiments will drive unionists nuts. Just wait till the
last native regiment of foot, the RIR, is demobilised. Then
there's the legislation to suspend the Stormont assembly
which has to go too. Then a huge raft of changes which have
already been agreed in principle by both governments last

Of course for republicans the great prize is the prospect
of turfing McDowell and his micro-party out of government,
a party which has fewer TDs than Sinn Féin and no MEP, yet
holds the Republic's government and Fianna Fail to ransom.
There was no prospect of any role in a coalition while the
IRA remained an active army. Now that it has become
inactive since 4pm yesterday there's the opportunity for SF
to play its full role as a political player both north and
south. No wonder McDowell has done his damndest to make it
impossible for the IRA to go out of business. If they go
out of business so does he.

Those political opportunities are the real reason for the
IRA leaving the scene as a military organisation, not to
please unionists. Quite simply the continued existence of
the IRA as an active player was holding back SF's advance
as a political force on the island. Sinn Féin's leaders,
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, were able to pay off the
IRA in the currency of electoral success and to demonstrate
that the IRA was an obstacle to completing that success in
the long term with a role in government north and south.
The last decade has shown conclusively that the voters,
particularly in the north, like republican politics but
don't like republican violence.

It's been a long road since the mid-1980s when Adams and
McGuinness set out to transform Sinn Féin into the dominant
wing of the republican movement. They have succeeded where
de Valera failed in both 1926 when he left SF and founded
Fianna Fail and in 1936 when he declared the IRA illegal.
Could you ever imagine the IRA becoming a legal
organisation? Just watch.

July 31, 2005


Opin: The One Road

Originally published July 31, 2005

CAN POLITICS be the continuation of terror by other means?
The Irish Republican Army says the answer is yes. IRA
leaders told their men to "dump arms" last week because,
they said, they believe they can achieve their goal -- a
united Ireland -- through democratic and peaceful methods.

For starters, they must show they mean it -- though this
looks genuine. They also must show that the IRA has turned
its back on organized crime. Then they must show that they
can be serious participants in a government of Northern
Ireland that they hope one day to see dissolved.

With Islamist terror focusing the minds everywhere, the IRA
surely understands that there is no possibility the British
government would consider concessions in the face of
another outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland. Moreover,
the movement's political wing, Sinn Fein, has established
itself as the leading republican party there, and it
clearly hopes to build on that strength. An argument can be
made that terrorists are motivated by a sense of
humiliation -- that, for instance, young Arab men turn to
jihad because of what they perceive as the humiliation of
Islam at the hands of the West -- and there's no question
that Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland once lived with
daily discrimination at the hands of their Protestant

But attitudes and institutions have evolved, and the sting
is gone. It makes sense that the impulse toward terror
should have become exhausted. And the more successful the
republicans are in politics, the more pointless violence
will seem.

In the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah should take note.
Today these groups pursue violent and political means; if
the hard men of the IRA can renounce the one for the other,
so can they.

There's a lesson for London, too. Not all the violence in
the north and south of Ireland was the IRA's, and for 31
years the British government has refused to cooperate with
an Irish inquiry into bombings that killed 33 people in
Dublin and Monaghan. A loyalist group claimed
responsibility, and London's continued silence suggests
that elements within the British government were somehow
implicated. As Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomes the IRA
disarmament, and as he continues to cope with the bombings
of July 7, surely it's time for Britain to come out against
terror in all its forms.

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun Get Sun home delivery


The Last Word: Gerry Adams

A Moment of Opportunity

Newsweek International

Aug. 8, 2005 issue - Apparently, time heals all wounds.
just over 20 years ago, Gerry Adams was a prisoner and
suspected terrorist, banned from entering Britain. Today
the 56-year-old president of Sinn Fein—the IRA's political
wing—is a member of Parliament and has been spearheading
peace negotiations. Last Wednesday, the IRA released a
landmark statement declaring its total demilitarization, as
well as its commitment to pursuing any future goals
"through exclusively peaceful means." NEWSWEEK's Mary
Acoymo spoke with Adams about the monumental moment.

ACOYMO: What was the catalyst for your call for the IRA to
be run solely through political means?

ADAMS: There is not an alternative way of securing or
achieving republican goals. I think that the IRA was being
used as an excuse by some who don't want to see a process
of change, who don't want to see the peace process moving
in the way that it should. And there are probably people
out there on the union side who have genuine fears about
the IRA.

What can liberation and independence movements elsewhere
learn from the Northern Ireland peace process?

Well, I'm always reluctant to think that we have any
special lessons for anyone else because conditions are
different in different conflict situations. But I do
believe there are basic principles that can be employed. We
learned a lot from the South African situation. So dialogue
is the key word. There has to be dialogue. And dialogue has
to be conducted in an inclusive way. People have a right to
send whoever they want to represent them. It isn't up to
any other group to say, "Well, we won't accept him, or we
won't accept her." I also think there should be no
predetermined outcome. I don't think you can say, "OK, so
we'll talk to you, but we'll only talk to you if this is
the outcome." I think everybody should be able to bring
their own agenda points.

I also think that you need to be able to ensure some method
of implementing de-cisions which are reached. I think
governments have a huge role to play. In fairness to Tony
Blair, whatever differences I would have with him about the
war in Iraq or other issues, the fact is, he has been very
leaderly in terms of the Irish peace process. So
governments have to be able to show courage. And then
finally, the international community: if you get a conflict
and the combatants are almost boxed into that conflict, it
needs someone from outside the frame to be able to
encourage or define lateral ways of breaking the spiral and
getting dialogue underway.

There are many who remain skeptical of the sincerity of the
[IRA] announcement.

No statement of this kind was ever issued before. I'm not
that concerned about the skeptics, or the cynics, or the
begrudgers. I do think that people from all sides
appreciate the momentous nature of [these] developments. I
particularly note the fact that the two governments—and
indeed the Bush administration—have welcomed what happened.
Obviously, there has to be delivery. There has to be
delivery by the governments. There has to be delivery right
across the board. I also think there is a huge onus upon
the Democratic Unionist Party and its leader, Ian Paisley,
to engage in dialogue. There is a huge onus to make sure
these opportunities aren't lost. I think history would deal
harshly with any politician or any government which played
politics with history's developments.

There has been much made of the difference between the
Clinton and Bush administrations' attitudes toward the IRA
and Sinn Fein. Do you see demilitarization as a way to warm
up relations with Washington?

Well, I spoke to President Bush by telephone within the
last hour. I have to say his administration has been
encouraging. The difference between this administration and
the Clinton administration is essentially a difference in
style. Bill Clinton led the way at a time when it needed
it—and I spoke to President Clinton also within the last
hour. So Clinton led the way when [the process needed]
someone from outside the frame to free the situation up.
The process moves on. Two terms later, in comes George
Bush, and he continues with this outreach. I have to say
that President Bush and I have had a very frank, open,
friendly and cordial relationship.

What does the new IRA look like?

I've stayed away from the issue of what the IRA looks like.
What it did was end its armed campaign and, with the IICD
[In-dependent International Commission on Decommissioning],
put in place processes to put arms beyond use. That is
momentous when you consider that the British Army are still
here in Ireland, that Ireland is still partitioned, that
the union with Britain remains. There are actually more
British troops here than there are in Iraq. The unionist
paramilitaries remain active. They've killed a number of
people in recent days. So what the IRA did was truly

So for me the big issue is not what the IRA looks like. The
big thing for me is that this has created an opportunity
which should not be lost.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.


Looking For Lisa

Like many girls her age, Lisa Dorrian worked hard and liked
a party. So why was she 'disappeared' by loyalist
terrorists? Henry McDonald investigates a tragic tale of
drug dealing, paramilitary infighting and a community
living in fear

Sunday July 31, 2005
The Observer

Until Lisa Dorrian vanished in mysterious circumstances
earlier this year, her family had managed to escape the
horrors of the Northern Ireland Troubles. The Dorrians are
Catholics living in a village that is largely Protestant,
on the edge of a seaside unionist town that has been
relatively untouched by 35 years of incipient civil war.
They stress that during that time they were never subjected
to abuse or violence, even in the darkest days of the

Yet, after coming through three decades of sectarian
slaughter, Lisa Dorrian has joined the ranks of Ulster's
'disappeared' - those who have been abducted, in some cases
tortured, murdered and then buried in the tightest of
secrecy by paramilitary groups, mainly the IRA. Lisa's
disappearance, however, is different in one crucial sense -
she is the first person to be 'disappeared' by loyalist

Inside their pristine detached home in Forest Hill, a cul
de sac in the middle of Conlig village just outside Bangor,
Lisa's mother Patricia and sister Joanne recall the days
when the television news broadcast images of carnage and
destruction across the rest of Northern Ireland and beyond.

'I remember one year going to the zoo with my dad,' recalls
Joanne, 'and we were driving through East Belfast. I saw
debris on the road, burnt-out cars. I asked my dad why they
were there, because I hadn't a clue about the violence
going on just 15 miles away in Belfast. We were wrapped in
cotton wool up in Bangor.'

Patricia, a native of Oldham in Lancashire who fell in love
with an Ulsterman and moved with him to Northern Ireland 23
years ago, says her relatives in England sometimes knew
more about atrocities than she did. 'My family would ring
from England and say "What about that bomb?" or "What about
that trouble in Belfast?" and I would say it was news to
me, I haven't turned on the TV yet.'

But even in Forest Hill and the village beyond, there are
undertones of paramilitary menace and sectarian hatred. On
the ornate rock at the entrance to the cul de sac with
'Forest Hill' chiselled into the stone, someone has taken
the trouble to chip in the capital letters 'FTP' -
Ulsterspeak for 'Fuck The Pope'. Meanwhile, in the village
main street, set in the wall above thelocal Spar, are two
plaques celebrating the murderous exploits of loyalist
terror group the Red Hand Commando (RHC), an organisation
that is closely tied to the larger Ulster Volunteer Force.

One of the men who detectives and other loyalists believe
played a central role in Lisa's disappearance earlier this
year belongs to the RHC; the other main suspect once had
links to the Ulster Defence Association and now sells drugs
for yet another, rival faction, the Loyalist Volunteer
Force. And in a case that echoes the IRA murder of young
nationalist Robert McCartney in a Belfast bar on 30 January
this year, these men have used their loyalist connections
to impose a code of omerta on anyone with information about
Lisa's fate.

Lisa Dorrian vanished between 27 and 28 February this year,
supposedly after a party at a caravan park in Ballyhalbert,
a favourite seaside haunt of working-class Protestants from
the Greater Belfast area. Within weeks of her disappearance
the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) concluded
that Lisa had been killed, but had no idea as to where she
may be buried. Over the past four months there have been
several land, sea and air searches across the North Down
coast to try and locate her body, but at the time of
writing she remains 'missing, presumed dead'. No one has
been charged in connection with her disappearance, nor have
any of the nine to 10 friends with whom she was at the time
of the party come forward to the police or the Dorrian
family with information. One young woman has even provided
an alibi for the chief suspect.

Joanne, an attractive, effervescent student, has abandoned
her English Literature course at the University of Ulster
at Coleraine to campaign for justice for her sister. She
reserves most of her bitterness for the group of young
women who befriended both Lisa and her killers.

'I have always classed myself a feminist who would stand by
women that were the victims of male violence. So I can't
understand why the women in that group of so-called friends
haven't had the decency or guts to help us. There hasn't
been one single phone call or message of sympathy. It's as
if Lisa never existed to them.'

The family has raised £10,000 reward money for information
about where Lisa's body is located; a tabloid newspaper is
running a 'Bring Lisa Home' campaign; and the Dorrians have
made several harrowing appeals on local TV pleading for
anyone who was with her during those final days to come
forward. They have even enlisted a medium who led them to a
water-filled quarry at Kircubbin on Strangford Lough,
although police divers failed to find anything. So far,
according to Patricia, the Dorrian family have come up
against 'a wall of silence', a barrier made seemingly
impenetrable by the grip paramilitaries still exert on
communities across Northern Ireland, even after their
cease-fires were declared 11 years ago.

North Down is the wealthiest constituency in the north of
Ireland, with the highest number of millionaires in the
Province. Locals quip that it is a society divided between
the Haves and the Have-Yachts. The coastal region is
populated by QCs, hospital consultants, senior police
officers and financial directors, as well as the leading
figures of the unionist political class. However, even here
in the most affluent part of Ulster, all the main loyalist
terror groups exert power and instill fear. Conlig, for
instance, was home to LVF terrorist Adrian Porter, a close
associate of exiled UDA boss Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair. Porter
was shot dead in the village four years ago during an LVF
feud with the rival UVF, the gunman being a retired Royal
Marine Commando brought in for the hit.

Last summer, Lisa broke up with her long-term boyfriend and
in late autumn fell in with a new crowd of friends, some of
whom had paramilitary connections. The group spent most
weekends consuming industrial quantities of ecstasy and
amphetamines supplied by loyalist paramilitary drug
dealers. Lisa's drug taking became such a dominant force in
her life that she gave up her job in a Bangor sandwich shop
and, claims her mother, became increasingly dependent on an
east Belfast man with known loyalist connections who plied
her with gifts, offers of holidays and, of course, drugs.

By Christmas, Lisa was in such a state of physical and
mental torment that she agreed to see a drugs counsellor
and even wrote a promise to her mother on a Christmas card
that she was giving up for good. Patricia still has the
card with Lisa's vow to kick the habit. It reads: 'Drugs
are for mugs and I am a mug no more.'

'Before Christmas I asked Lisa what this new man did for a
living,' Joanne says. 'She replied that he was a joiner,
but there was never any sign of tools in the house. During
the week he was always there instead of being at work. It
was getting very suspicious and the only thing we could
guess at was that he was a drug dealer.'

By the turn of the year Lisa's weight had dropped
dramatically and the Dorrians started to suspect she was
avoiding them. 'Lisa always had a nice figure, but by
Christmas she had dropped to a size eight and looked
unhealthy, although she was pleased with her body,' Joanne

In early January Patricia started to notice that Lisa was
becoming less welcoming towards her family whenever they
arrived at her home.

'I remember passing by her house and popped in to see her.
One of her friends was at home and when I asked where Lisa
was she replied that she'd just gone to the shop. Then the
guy we were worried about came downstairs and without
explanation he said he had to go. I'm sure she was not at
the shop at all - my gut instinct was that she was upstairs
avoiding me.'

Despite her promises to stop taking drugs, Lisa was
drifting further out of contact with her mother and sisters
Joanne, Michelle and eight-year-old Ciara. It was a choice
that was to prove fatal.

On the days leading to her disappearance, Lisa was her
normal bubbly, chatty self, according to Joanne. There were
no warning signs that she felt under threat from anyone or
any organisation.

'She was in very, very good form. She told Dad she was
looking forward to that weekend; there was no hint that she
was in any sort of trouble.'

The last photograph taken of Lisa shows her in a pair of
furry moonboots inside the kitchen of her flat in the
Balmoral area of Bangor some time in the week leading up to
her disappearance. She never went anywhere without these
boots, but it was a choice of footwear dictated not by
fashion but embarrassment. Five years ago she fell on an
escalator in a Bangor shopping centre and suffered terrible
injuries to both legs. Patricia says that, after a series
of operations, the doctors told her the half-moon shaped
scars were permanent. 'Ever since then all she wore was
boots, even on holiday.'

Just before she disappeared, Lisa was about to be
compensated for her injuries, to the tune of around
£50,000. Lisa planned to use the money to set up a jet-ski
business in either mainland Spain or the Canaries, to make
a clean break from a life in Northern Ireland dominated by
drugs. She was due to meet a financial adviser to discuss
the final settlement in the first week of March.

The last place Lisa was seen alive was at a caravan park on
a disused wartime airfield close to the shore at
Ballyhalbert. During an all-weekend party fuelled by drink
and drugs, Lisa received a call on her mobile phone.
Detectives believe she left the caravan to meet the caller.
A local man has recently come forward with information
about a blonde woman resembling Lisa going into a house in
Ballyhalbert around 5am on Monday 28 February. Inside the
house it is thought that Lisa was questioned about missing
drugs and money, and then subjected to a severe beating.
She was then taken against her will in a car via isolated
country roads to Holywood, a town just outside Belfast
whose affluence is in sharp contrast to the grim
dilapidation of Ballyhalbert, with its greasy cafes selling
cholesterol-laced 'Ulster fries', gospel halls and rundown
caravan park decorated with plastic gnomes and potted

There are several theories as to what happened next. The
most plausible is that she was the victim of another
vicious assault involving two men, one of whom was a
teenager. Panicking after they realised Lisa was dead, they
took her body away in a car and buried it somewhere in the
North Down area, possibly in woodland. An alternative is
that Lisa's body was taken out to sea, weighed down and
dumped in deep water.

Meanwhile, the UVF has set up its own 'inquiry' into Lisa's
disappearance, which is running in parallel with the
official police investigation. In a macabre twist to the
tragedy, and apparently without irony, the UVF has
appointed convicted murderer Samuel Cooke to head its
'investigation'. He was one of five loyalists jailed in
1994 for the sectarian murder of 26-year-old Catholic
mother Anne Marie Smyth in 1992. Her killers strangled her
and cut her throat, after she was lured to a party in east
Belfast by a group of UVF men drinking in a local loyalist
social club.

Mark Dornan, the PSNI's senior investigating officer on the
case, is scathing about the loyalists' self-appointed
'policing' role in the tragedy. 'These gangs have no moral
or legal authority and they will end up causing even more
crime,' he says. At least 150 officers, ranging from
underwater search teams to behavioural analysts, have spent
the past four months trying to find Lisa. Yet despite
having spoken to nearly 1,200 people, the PSNI is yet to
achieve a breakthrough. Although Dornan will not be drawn
on the killers' skills in covering their tracks, he - like
other detectives - knows that some of those responsible
learned their trade in the paramilitaries.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, the Ulster Unionist Party's only MP,
represents North Down at Westminster. She wears the light-
blue ribbon symbol of the 'Bring Lisa Home' campaign and
visits the Dorrians regularly to offer advice and support.
Lady Hermon, whose husband Jack was a former Chief
Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, accepts that
even in prosperous North Down, the loyalist paramilitaries
cast a long shadow.

'These organisations are not just making the Dorrians'
lives a misery. There are hundreds upon hundreds of people
in this area who are living in misery under these thugs.'
Lady Hermon sees the existence of the Assets Recovery
Agency - the body charged with seizing the criminal assets
of gangsters and paramilitaries throughout the UK - as the
answer to the resilient presence of paramilitaries.

'My view would be that anyone suspected of a paramilitary
crime such as Lisa's disappearance should have their assets
frozen and asked to explain where their wealth came from.
It's the only way to stop it,'she adds.

The LVF protests it played no role in Lisa's disappearance
and the UVF, along with its RHC satellite, can with some
justification equally protest that it would never sanction
such a crime.

It may end up that those who murdered Lisa and then buried
her in secret will in their turn receive an OBE from the
UVF - more Ulsterspeak, this time meaning, 'One bullet
behind the ear'.

The Dorrians care next to nothing about the intricacies and
sordid squabbling inside the loyalist paramilitary
underworld. All they want, like the dozen or so families
whose relatives have been 'disappeared' by the IRA, is for
Lisa's body to be located for proper burial.

In the living room of the Dorrians' home stand all of
Lisa's worldly possessions at the time of her
disappearance. They are tightly packed into two locked
suitcases that will not be opened until her body is

'When I look at the cases and realise that was Lisa's life
inside them, all the things she held dear, I get angry,'
says Patricia. 'Why are her so-called friends not speaking
up? Haven't they got a heart?'

At the end of June there appeared to be a breakthrough. The
PSNI inquiry team recovered a Vauxhall Vectra - the car
they now believe was used to take Lisa to her death. There
had been reports this car had been scrapped shortly after
Lisa's disappearance. If the Vectra does turn out to be the
car in which Lisa was driven away, detectives say there is
every chance there will be DNA traces that can be linked to
her killers.

A forest of sympathy cards lies on the Dorrians' living-
room floor. They come from all religions with messages of
support from the other families of the disappeared, some of
whom are still waiting for the discovery of the remains of
their loved ones decades after they vanished. Above the
cards there is a birthday balloon still floating on its
string from Joanne's 22nd at the end of May. There was
another Dorrian birthday 17 days later, but there are no
cards or balloons to mark that occasion. Lisa would have
been 26.

Faction men

The existence of this alphabet soup of loyalist
paramilitaries and their generally malevolent influence on
communities like Conlig and families such as the Dorrians
reminds the outside world that the IRA is not the only
force casting a shadow on postwar Northern Ireland. Indeed
as long as those loyalist groups remain in existence, they
provide a powerful argument for republicans who protest
that the IRA cannot disband while there is a latent threat
from armed groups on the other side of the sectarian

These factions include:

UVF Ulster Volunteer Force

Originally founded in 1912 by Sir Edward Carson and
reconstituted just before Ulster's Troubles erupted at end
of the Sixties. During the Troubles, the UVF carried out
one of the biggest atrocities when, in 1974, bombs exploded
in Dublin and Monaghan town killing 33 people, including 20
women and two baby girls. Officially on ceasefire since
1994, but has since been responsible for an estimated 30
killings. All of these victims bar one have been

RHC Red Hand Commando

A satellite of the UVF based mainly in North Down whose
members include the murdered drugs baron Jim 'Jonty'
Johnston. Its one-time leader Frankie 'Pig Face' Curry is
thought to have killed at least a dozen people, most of
them Catholics, targeted simply because of their religion.
Curry defected from the RHC in 1996 and three years later
his former comrades shot him dead in west Belfast.

LVF Loyalist Volunteer Force

Established in 1996 following a split inside the UVF's so-
called Mid-Ulster Brigade. Led by the late Billy 'King Rat'
Wright (below left), a loyalist terrorist leader shot dead
in the Maze prison a year later. Heavily involved in drug
dealing across Protestant areas of Northern Ireland, the
LVF is responsible for killing Sunday World reporter Martin
O'Hagan in 2001 - the only journalist deliberately murdered
by terrorists in Northern Ireland.

UDA Ulster Defence Association

The largest loyalist paramilitary movement, set up in the
early Seventies. The UDA provided the muscle behind the
1974 Ulster Workers' Strike that brought down the
province's first power-sharing government. It evolved into
a fragmented coalition of terrorist cells, the most
notorious being 'C' Company. Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair led 'C'
Company - the most deadly loyalist murder squad - until
early 2000 when his faction was routed in a feud with the
mainstream UDA.


SAS Link: Could Stockwell 'Police Officer' Be A Soldier?

Michael Smith

BRITISH special forces soldiers took part in the operation
that led to the shoot-to-kill death of an innocent
Brazilian electrician with no connection to the London
bombings, defence sources said last week.

Jean Charles de Menezes was tailed by a surveillance team
on July 22 as he caught a bus to Stockwell Underground
station in south London. He was shot eight times when he
fled from his pursuers at the Tube station.

The Ministry of Defence admitted last week that the army
provided "technical assistance" to the surveillance
operation but insisted the soldiers concerned were "not
directly involved" in the shooting.

Press photographs of members of the armed response team
taken in the immediate aftermath of the killing show at
least one man carrying a special forces weapon that is not
issued to SO19, the Metropolitan police firearms unit.

The man, wearing civilian clothes with a blue cap marked
"Police", was carrying a specially modified Heckler & Koch
G3K rifle with a shortened barrel and a butt from a PSG-1
sniper rifle fitted to it — a combination used by the SAS.

Another man, dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and trainers, was
carrying a Heckler & Koch G36C. Although this weapon is
used on occasion by SO19 it appears to be fitted with a
target illuminator purchased as an "urgent operational
requirement" for UK special forces involved in the war on

The soldiers who took part in the surveillance operation
that led to de Menezes's death included men from a secret
undercover unit formed for operations in Northern Ireland,
defence sources said.

Known then as 14 Int or the Det, it is reported to have
formed the basis of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment,
the newly created special forces unit stationed alongside
the SAS at Hereford. The men include SAS soldiers serving
on attachment and are part of a team of around 50 UK
special forces that has operated in London since the July 7
bombings in which 56 people died.

Special forces counterterrorist experts have been regularly
used to support police at Heathrow since the September 11
attacks. They moved into London a day after the July 7
bombings and have been supporting the police and gathering
intelligence to help snare the suspects.

Members of SO19 (technically known as CO19) are trained by
SAS and SBS instructors. One key tenet of that training is
to ensure that a suicide bomber is killed rather than
wounded, which would allow them to trigger a bomb.

The use of multiple shots to the head is the modus operandi
of the special forces, whether from the SAS, the SBS or the
undercover intelligence operators used in the Stockwell
operation. Over the past 30 years the SAS has developed a
reputation for never allowing gunmen to remain alive, an
attitude shown most graphically during the 1980 Iranian
hostages siege and the Gibraltar IRA killings eight years

"It is vital to strike fear into the minds of the
terrorists," one former SAS officer said. "In an ongoing
situation such as we have now the fear must be directed to
the fact that we are watching them and will eventually
(get) them. They need to know that they cannot escape.

"We know they are happy to kill themselves but that doesn't
mean they are happy to be killed by others. As long as they
evade the police they will think they are in control but
the minute they are intercepted they lose control."

The Ministry of Defence insisted last week that the
military involvement was limited in the operation that led
to de Menezes's death. "We would describe it as technical
assistance as part of a police-led operation under police
control," a spokeswoman said. "It is a particular military
capability that the police can draw on if needed. It was a
low-level involvement in support of a police-controlled

The Det is made up of the army's best urban surveillance
operators using skills honed in Belfast against republican
and loyalist terrorists. Its speciality has always been
close target reconnaissance: undercover work among
civilians, observing terrorists at close quarters, and
carrying out covert searches of offices and houses for
information and weapons.

The unit was very egalitarian when it operated in Northern
Ireland. An operator's rank was always regarded as less
important than his or her capabilities; it was also the
only UK special forces unit to use women.

The Det broke into homes to gather intelligence and plant
listening devices or hidden cameras. Weapons were left
where they were found but "jarked" with tiny transmitters
placed inside them that would provide warning should they
be moved.


When The Melting Pot Melts:

Has our society changed so much that ethnic clubs no longer
serve a iseful purpose?

By Steven Scarpa, Record-Journal staff

onday nights during the summer are usually pretty quiet at
the Franco-American Club on Liberty Street in Meriden.
During the winter, it is likely that the wood-paneled bar
would be filled with people playing darts, pool, or just
smoking on the leather couches around the room. But
summertime draws people outside, so the club sits, nearly
empty of members. Bryan Courchesne and Jack Scappaticci
were relaxing with "The Dukes of Hazzard" on one television
set and a baseball game on the other. Scappaticci was
sipping a beer, unwinding before he went out on some

The club has about 300 members, only 100 of whom are very
active. "That is still better than most clubs around here,"
Scappaticci said.

Dozens of social clubs sprang up in the city over the last
century, generally revolving around churches and ethnic
neighborhoods. Today, for many of those clubs, which
boasted thousands of members in their heyday, finding new
members is now a struggle. Several of the institutions are
trying to reinvent themselves.

Some of the clubs are well-appointed, with nicely tended
grounds and a lot of space. Others are masculine enclaves,
all wood paneling, musty smoke and athletic trophies. Many
offer scholarships, host family events and have active
athletic teams. They support a host of charities, from
veterans' causes to the American Cancer Society's Relay for

There are still other places that look foreboding —
depressing holes in the wall that appear to embrace no
culture except that of alcohol.

The appeal of the ethnic club nowadays is that it gives
people — mostly men — a place to relax and unwind without
dealing with unfamiliar people. "You know everyone. You
don't have to worry about any troublemakers. Troublemakers
just aren't accepted," Scappaticci said.

"It is your extended family," said Karl Berg, Franco-
American club president.

Even today, in an environment where ethnicity is far less a
defining element than it was in the past, Meriden is a
melting pot. According to the 2000 census, 18 percent of
residents reported being of Italian descent, the largest
margin in the city aside from people from Latin America.
Fourteen percent of the population reported Irish ancestry,
while 13 percent identified themselves as Polish. Ten
percent of Meriden's population is German. Less than 10
percent of the population said they were of English and
French descent.

An early counterculture

The decline of the ethnic social club is a complex subject,
taking in politics, economics, urban flight, civic
participation, the role of women in society, and so forth,
according to Rachel Ranis, a professor of sociology at
Quinnipiac University.

After 1880, Irish, Polish, Italian, Jewish and Russian
immigrants faced prejudices and mistreatment that their
predecessors, the English, German and French, largely
avoided. "These clubs provided mutual assistance ¼ People
were impoverished and felt rejected by greater society,"
Ranis said.

"They would help each other out," said Stephen Ivers,
president of the Meriden chapter of the Ancient Order of
Hibernians, an Irish club. "People weren't integrated into
the system, so they developed their own systems."

The boom of the ethnic and civic club began in the 1920s as
a response to the Great Depression, and lasted through the
1950s. "We've changed a lot since the 1950s. People weren't
as selfish. It wasn't right to be selfish," Ranis said.

It was through these organizations that people found or
kept work, made friends, found places to live, and above
all, connected with people of a similar culture and

Rafael Collazo said that was exactly what he was trying to
accomplish in founding the Latin American Society in 1956.
"We had no place to congregate and hold our civic and
social affairs," Collazo said.

"It was about connecting people to jobs and build
solidarity between ethnic groups," said Jacqueline Olvera,
a sociology professor at Connecticut College. "The groups
had begun as a way to promote culture, but they ended up
being more functional."

Canadian immigrants in search of work founded the Franco-
American Club, according to Courchesne, whose father and
grandfather were members. In a foreign environment, people
of similar language and customs sought each other out.
"They can get together and be comfortable," Scappaticci

The American ethos encourages self-sufficiency and
independence, so when these immigrant groups fully
assimilated, they tended to move into the suburbs where
they could escape choked urban settings. "That weakens the
ties of neighborhood and extended family," Ranis said.

Urban flight and a detachment from society have taken a
toll on clubs and civic organizations. People tend to want
to stay home and watch television or use the Internet
rather than participate in them. Families are often pulled
in different directions, balancing the pressure of work and
children. There simply isn't time to commit oneself to a
civic organization. "People don't do things together
anymore," according to Ranis. "We unfortunately are not
seeing each other as much anymore."

Irish, German and Latino

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was in danger of closing
three years ago, Ivers said. The club's bank account
dwindled to less than $1,000. One of the older members held
an anniversary party that ultimately saved the institution.
While the club offers some exposure to Irish heritage and
culture, it primarily functions as a welcoming drinking
establishment. "They like camaraderie instead of going out
where there is always potential for trouble," Ivers said.
"It's like 'Cheers.' Everyone knows everyone. At a public
bar, you don't have the same feeling."

"I think there was a period where the membership was really
down. The last 10 years it has really picked up. You are
seeing younger people growing up and joining," said member
Mary Noonan Cortright, Meriden's superintendent of schools.

Changing the rules for membership, one way of bringing in
new members, is not easily accomplished, Ivers said. If the
club decided to waive the requirement that at least one of
a prospective member's grandparents be Irish, it would have
to go before the state to get permission for the change.
Once that happens, the organization's liquor license would
be subject to review. "That is what pays the rent," said
Ivers, who noted that the organization also rents out its
hall, something many clubs do to bring in much-needed cash.

Hilda Manville braved oppressive heat recently to look
after the flowers at the Turner Halle on South Colony
Street. The Turner Halle, which began as a gym for 13
German immigrants and became a singing society later on, is
now open only on Thursday nights. It costs $40 a year for
couples to join the Turner Society, $30 for singles. She
said the membership dues are barely enough to cover the
cost of keeping the doors open. "We have just barely over
100 members," she said. "The members are old. We would love
to have new young people. The tradition has fizzled out."

She came to the United States from Trier, Germany, in 1957
and joined the club about six years ago. "I made a lot of
friends. We can speak German if we want to and we can speak
English ¼ we exchange ideas," Manville said.

The club does bring in a few young people when it holds its
German beer festival in August, but they don't stick
around. The major draw for the club are its monthly dances,
a mix of Polish and German foods and music. "Food, music
and dances and conversations. That is what keeps us coming
back," she said.

During the early days of the Latin American Society in the
late 1950s, it was known as a force for political and civic
good, participating in the founding of Casa Boricua and the
Meriden Community Action Agency. In the late 1990s, the
club was plagued by a series of violent incidents, gang-
related shootings and stabbings that chased off
professional members of the club. Nowadays, the club is
trying to recapture its family beginnings. "I think it has
quieted down," said Marcelino Perez, a president of the
club in the 1980s.

Some struggle to survive

The Polish Knights on Willow Street is on the upswing.
After years of difficulty attracting members, and internal
strife, the leadership has tried to bring in new members
and improve the club building, a former school at 90 Willow
St. "We don't have a lot of money, so we are working on it
slowly," said bartender Bill Steinbach.

"The neat thing about it is that all of the members are
bonding together to remodel it," said member Ron Perry.

The club features the standard décor of beer signs, wood
paneling and athletic trophies, but there is a slightly
more familial air. There are pictures and articles
featuring members on the wall. Across from a picture of
Revolutionary War Gen. Casimir Pulaski is a photo of St.
Louis Cardinals slugger Stan Musial, a baseball star of
Polish descent. The hall is clean and not as musty as some
of its counterparts.

Perry likes to take his wife to the club for a quick
nightcap after dinner on Friday nights. He started going
with his fellow veterans several years ago. "I think this
particular club is going to survive," he said. "They are
opening it up to the public, so to speak. The wave of the
future is going to be to diversify and be a little more
liberal or you are going to fail," Perry said. "It is a
good mix right now. Initially it was a lot of older people,
stuck in their ways, but now the younger people are getting

Around the corner, things are a lot different. One only has
to walk up to the front door of the Polish Falcons Nest 68
on Olive Street to see it. The outside of the building is
in disrepair. The bar, while tidy, reeks of decades of
cigar and cigarette smoke. Two old men recently sat at the
end of the bar, drinking and playing cards, small stacks of
dollar bills piled in front of them. When asked about the
club's outside appearance, a card player named Herb Pittman
responded, "We drink inside. They won't let us drink

Another man, who declined to be identified, said the club
is in rapid decline, and could close at any time. He said
it has devolved from an organization with hundreds of
members and a rich tradition of athletics and marching
bands to the same half-dozen men drinking in the bar night
after night.

"The club's membership is so small. They have been in it
for decades and decades, and now they are dying off," the
man said after showing off some old trophies and band

The wave of the future?

Ranis does not believe it is possible for ethnic clubs to
reconstitute themselves as they were when first started.
The need they once served has been co-opted by so many
different areas of society that once the current membership
dies out, that could be the end. "Some of the hidden
functions are no longer necessary," Ranis said. "It was a
reaction to the needs people had at the time."

If some equivalent of ethnic social clubs were to become
popular again, it would likely be formed by one of the
newer immigrant groups coming to the United States, or it
would have some connection to the Internet, Ranis said. She
pointed to the grassroots campaign of former Democratic
presidential candidate Howard Dean as an example. Like-
minded people sought each other out online, and then met
face to face to share their ideas. These groups would
likely convene for short periods of time, and then disperse
when their immediate need was met, she said.

Olvera believes that groups are more than able to change,
although she has not yet been able to quantify their life
cycles. "Their mission might be sort of old-school
traditional, but people can transform these clubs to fit
whatever their needs are at the time," Olvera said.

Berg is convinced that these clubs have continued relevance
and can push on: "It all depends on how the officers
administrate and adapt to what is going on."
(203) 317-2225


Island Of Tragedy And Hope

Grosse Ile, downstream from Quebec City, became the final
resting place of more than 5,000 Irish immigrants during a
typhus epidemic in 1847. Next week, Irish descendants will
make a trek of remembrance to the historic site Five years
ago, Victor Boyle made a trip that took him back in time to
the 19th century. Following in the footsteps of his Irish
ancestors, Boyle travelled to the island that served as the
gateway for immigrants to Canada for more than 100 years.

The Gazette
Sunday, July 31, 2005

Disinfection sheds and village buildings of the Grosse Ile
immigration station have been restored by Parks Canada as a
historic site. The quarantine station opened in 1832, a
half-century before the U.S.'s fabled Ellis Island, and by
the time it closed in 1937, it had welcomed immigrants from
40 nations.

"It was the Celtic cross that caught my eye," said Boyle,

The cross stands on the highest point of Grosse Ile and the
Irish Memorial. With the rain pouring down, he said, it
appeared like a solitary tree, standing taller than the
rest, watching him approach.

"It's impossible to stand by that cross and not be moved by
what happened there in 1847," said Boyle, national
president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Canada.

Parks Canada took over the island and restored some of the
old buildings in the 1980s, but it was opened up for
visitors as a national historic site only in the last

"It's a very well-kept secret," said Jo-Anick Proulx,
deputy manager of the historic site for Parks Canada.

About 30,000 visitors travel by ferry to the island every
summer, although fewer than 10 per cent of the tourists are
from English Canada.

Even Boyle, who lives in Montreal, did not know about
Grosse Ile until he visited a museum in Ireland several
years ago.

"It's just something I think every Irish person has to
experience at least once in their life."

Every year in August, members of the Order travel to the
former quarantine station to commemorate more than 5,000
Irish immigrants who died on the island during a typhus
epidemic in the summer of 1847.

Boyle is hoping to lead the annual pilgrimage with about
100 people on Saturday. Departing from Montreal, he also
expects some members from Ontario and Manitoba to join the

The cross was erected by the Order in 1909 as a reminder of
the tragedy on the site.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a non-profit
organization dedicated to the preservation of Irish
history. It was founded in 16th-century Ireland to protect
the Catholic religion.

The Order is also starting to plan special celebrations for
the cross's 100th anniversary, one year after Quebec City's
400th birthday in 2008.

The quarantine station first opened in 1832, at a time when
Quebec City was the busiest port in North America, more
than half a century before the opening of Ellis Island,
near New York City. The authorities wanted a location close
to the city, but far enough to prevent the spread of
contagious diseases. So they chose Grosse Ile, about 50
kilometres downriver from Quebec City.

A flood of Irish immigrants came through in the middle of
the 19th century after a major famine in Ireland. But the
long trip by sea in unsanitary conditions contributed to
the typhus epidemic among the new arrivals.

Marianna O'Gallagher also remembers her first trip to
Grosse Ile, in 1973, was on an overcast day.

"The mild drizzle emphasized the whole element and the
sadness of people having to leave home," said O'Gallagher,
76, an author who is considered one of the top experts on
the island's history.

O'Gallagher, whose grandfather designed the Celtic cross,
said Parks Canada has done a good job recapturing the
spirit of the island.

The main cemetery, which was overgrown with weeds and
cornflowers, is now marked by crosses and a special
monument. The old Catholic chapel and a lazaretto - a
building that housed patients - have been restored in the
village. The disinfection building is now the site of a re-
enactment for visitors to experience what it was like for
immigrants as they stepped off the boat and entered Canada.

Rose Dompierre, 74, said she was struck by a feeling of
deja vu when she first set foot on Grosse Ile in the 1970s.

"I had the impression the island was frozen in time," she
said. "I was walking with my mom, and all of a sudden she
stopped me, grabbed my arm and said: 'Do you realize what
you're saying? It's the first time you've been on the
island.' "

But Dompierre had grown up hearing stories about Grosse
Ile. Three generations of her family lived there as
employees of the island.

In the years after the typhus epidemic, the family saw the
birth of a new, happier era for the quarantine station as
medical research by Louis Pasteur and other scientists led
to improvements in public health practices. The island
welcomed immigrants from more than 40 nations before it
closed in 1937.

"My parents always spoke to me about Grosse Ile at home,
describing it as an extraordinary place where they loved to
live. They told me stories about immigrants arriving on the
island, what immigration was like, and the quarantine," she

"For them, it was their native village. It was a place
where they were happy, and it was so beautiful."

Dompierre has uncovered old diaries and logs, and has
spoken to many immigrants or descendants of people who
passed through the island.

"It was really a special island," she said. "I used to
train the (Parks Canada) guides, and I told them to remind
visitors they are walking down the path of history. It's
the same trail of 1832. All the immigrants passed through
there - the missionaries, the doctors, the employees, the
mothers, and the children."

The quarantine station shut down during the Second World
War, when the Canadian armed forces and the Allies used the
medical facilities to begin research into biological
weapons like anthrax. The army finally left the island in
1956, but much of its work was shrouded in secrecy.

"People think that because it was off limits, that there
were huge secrets," said Dompierre, whose cousin remained
on Grosse Ile as an island employee through the war.

"There was a period where there were experiments on animals
on the island for vaccines. So there were monkeys, dogs,
chickens, turkeys, cows and horses."

She said most of the restrictions were for safety reasons
as top international researchers descended on the island to

"They were playing with viruses, and it was to ensure it
didn't spread. That's why it was off limits. Even for
personnel on island, if they went into the labs, they would
have to go through a disinfection process before leaving."

Agriculture Canada then used the island as a quarantine
site for animals before Parks Canada took over.

Dompierre said the memorial now reflects the island's
heritage, not only as a spot of immigration and quarantine,
but also as the reception area for the country.

"During a century, for most immigrants, the first contact
that they had with Canada and Quebec, before all, was
Grosse Ile. It was a welcoming place that never
distinguished between nationalities and religion."

For more information on Saturday's pilgrimage, contact
Victor Boyle at (514) 928-7196 or by e-mail at

Grosse Ile Web site:


Thousands Climb Croagh Patrick In Annual Pilgrimage

31/07/2005 - 10:12:41

An estimated 25,000 people have begun climbing the Mayo
mountain of Croagh Patrick.

It is part of the annual pilgrimage for the summit of the
holy mountain, where saint Patrick is believed to have
fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

A Mass will take place in the mountain's church, which was
bulit 100 years ago.

Harry Hughes of the Croagh Patrick Archeology Committee
says for most climbers, it is a spiritual experience

"But throughout the summer months, in July and August, we
have many other visitors and tourists that climb it", he

"They climb it for exercise, for a day out. Most people
when they reach the summit realise they are on a sacred
mountain and that this is a sanctified place."
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