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August 25, 2005

Children's Commissioner In Plea Over Attacks

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/25/05 Children's Commissioner In Plea Over Attacks
BT 08/25/05 Boy (15) In Court On Riot Charge
BB 08/25/05 'Robust' Attacks Response Pledged
BB 08/25/05 Two Accused Of Driver Murder Bid
UT 08/25/05 'Ice-Cream Footsoldiers' Freed
IO 08/25/05 DUP: High Human Cost Of Disbanding Battalions
SF 08/25/05 DUP Accused Of Wanting 'Sectarian' Subvention
BB 08/25/05 Visitors To Tour NI Troubles Jail
IT 08/26/05 Suicide Rate In Republic Exceeds NI-Conference
IN 08/25/05 Ireland's 1916 'Alamo' Saved For Posterity
UT 08/25/05 Diageo Buys Bushmills For £200m


Children's Commissioner In Plea Over Sectarian Attacks
2005-08-25 19:30:03+01

Young people must be shielded from the sectarian violence
plaguing parts of the North, the children's commissioner
said tonight.

Nigel Williams urged communities and parents to prevent
their children becoming pawns in the paramilitary trouble
which has flared in north Antrim and east Belfast.

Sinn Féin called on Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party
to use its influence to end the campaign of intimidation.

After a meeting with Northern Ireland Security Minister
Shaun Woodward, MEP Mary Lou McDonald claimed the DUP had
failed to show leadership, despite much of the trouble
flaring in Paisley's constituency.

But the party leader's son, Ian Paisley Jr, said the DUP
had condemned the violence and said it was time Sinn Féin
backed the PSNI.

Mr Williams said children, as victims or perpetrators of
violence, were being scarred for life by their experiences.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young
People said: "We have become too used to seeing children
involved in and suffering from the street violence we
witness on our television screens and on the pages of our

"Children and young people must not be allowed to be
exposed to such vicious scenes, they must not be allowed to
be hurt, they must not be allowed to become involved and
they must not be allowed to become pawns in whatever sick
games paramilitaries may be playing."

On the long-term impact of the violence, the commissioner
said: "We must remember that a child that witnesses such
scenes, or a child whose home is attacked bears more than
just physical scars.

"This is a psychological trauma that will colour their
lives long into adulthood."

Looking to the future, Mr Williams said: "Children, young
people and their parents have told me of the lack of
facilities, the lack of constructive direction in their
lives outside school.

"And they are then faced with two months off school, when
lack of facilities and limited opportunities for play and
leisure can lead to them undertaking risk-taking

A house was extensively damaged overnight in the latest
petrol bomb attack to take place in north Antrim.

No-one was at home at the time of incident, which police
believe was sectarian, in Castle Park in Ballymoney, which
happened between 10.30pm and 11pm.

In recent weeks, Catholic homes, churches and schools have
been targeted in a spate of petrol bomb, arson and paint
bomb attacks in Ballymena, Ahoghill and Rasharkin in the
heart of the Democratic Unionist leader's constituency.

Police have also issued Catholic families in Ahoghill with
fire blankets should they be attacked.

SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren condemned the latest

Mr Farren said: "We need to have these people taken off the
streets by robust police action.

"There must be no hiding place for sectarian attackers in
either community."

Mary Lou McDonald called for a "clear political response"
to the violence from the British government and unionist

Speaking outside Stormont's Castle Buildings the Sinn Féin
MEP said: "The incidents, particularly in the Short Strand
and north Antrim, were orchestrated and they were clearly
targeted at vulnerable Catholic and nationalist homes and

"I would say to anyone who is involved in an act of
sectarian violence against any of their neighbours to stop
it, and stop it immediately.

"It is unacceptable in 2005 that people are afraid in their

"We have all signed up to the Good Friday Agreement and are
committed to ensuring that people can live free from
sectarian harassment."

Ms McDonald said the trouble in east Belfast was clearly
led by loyalists and was part of an orchestrated campaign,
compared to other parts of the city where the attacks have
been tit-for-tat.

The MEP accused the DUP of being "utterly mute" on the

She added: "There needs to be a consistent pattern of clear
and unequivocal condemnation from unionism in terms of
these attacks.

"It also has to be made clear from the leaders of political
unionism that the individuals who are perpetrating these
attacks must be isolated.

"They must show that leadership, and so far I don't believe
they have."

But Ian Paisley Jr, who is also a member of the North's
Policing Board, responded to criticism from Ms McDonald by
insisting the DUP's opposition to the attacks was

"We have condemned unequivocally this most recent wave of
attacks and we ask anyone with information about the
attacks to forward it to the police and help ensure that
the perpetrators are brought to justice," the North Antrim
MLA said.

"We would challenge Mary Lou McDonald to publicly support
the police, law authorities and the courts in their
attempts to ensure that justice is served upon those
responsible for these attacks."


Boy (15) In Court On Riot Charge

25 August 2005

A 15-year-old boy was charged today with riotous assembly
at an Orange Order parade at the Twelfth.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was
remanded in custody at Belfast Magistrate's Court and his
solicitor said an application for bail would be made

A police officer said there would be no objection to the
boy being released.

He is the 15th person to be charged arising out of rioting
when police were attacked as Orangmen were passing a
flashpoint area at the Ardoyne shopfronts.

Over 100 officers were injured by rioters.


'Robust' Attacks Response Pledged

Sectarian violence in north Belfast will be met by a "very
robust" response from the security forces, NIO minister
Shaun Woodward has said.

Mr Woodward was speaking after a night of violence in which
homes and police officers were attacked with petrol bombs
and other missiles.

"The police are doing their very best, there are arrests
that are being made.

"But let's be clear about this, there also has to be a
response from the community as well," Mr Woodward said.

"I've read reports of youngsters under the age of 10, some
maybe as young as six, involved in some of the violence
over last weekend. It requires all of us to be involved in

Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at police
during Wednesday night's disturbances.

The home of a couple aged in their 70s was one of a number
of houses in Alliance Avenue also targeted by petrol

The man was taken to hospital suffering shock after four
devices were thrown.

Rival gangs of youths clashed in the Twaddle, Cranbrook and
Ardoyne areas but there were no reports of any injuries.

Police said up to 30 youths threw paint, golf balls and a
smaller number of petrol bombs at officers in the Brompton
and Cranbrook areas.

The violence lasted about two hours. The police said
community representatives worked with them to restore calm.

Earlier on Wednesday night, three children, including a 13-
month-old baby, were splattered with paint during an attack
at a house in Cliftondene Gardens.

A gang of four youths attacked three homes in the street at
about 1730 BST. Loyalists are being blamed.

The children - a girl aged six, a boy under two and the
baby, Lorcon Grew, - also suffered minor cuts in the

The gang escaped on foot leaving behind a crate of bottles
filled with paint.

The father of two of the children said his two-year-old son
saw the attack happening and said that "bad men" were
trying to burn his house.

She doesn't want to go back this time, she won't even hear
of going back

Victim's husband

Gareth Grew said his wife collapsed in his arms when she
told him what had happened.

"She doesn't want to go back this time, she won't even hear
of going back," Mr Grew said.

Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor Pat Convery said those
responsible on both sides of the divide were sinking to new
lows, targeting the elderly, the sick and mothers with

"Murder cannot be far away unless we put a stop to it now,"
the SDLP representative said.

Sinn Fein councillor Danny Lavery said Wednesday's attacks
were sectarian.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he was disgusted by
the attacks.

"The very elderly, the sick and disabled and even young
children, have all been the target over recent days of a
series of vicious attacks on homes across north Belfast,"
he said.

"It is essential that those who have instigated this
violence for no good reason should stop their campaign of

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/25 18:20:46 GMT


Two Accused Of Driver Murder Bid

Two men have been charged with attempted murder over a gun
attack on a taxi driver in County Down last weekend.

The victim was shot as he sat in his car at Stirling Avenue
in Newtownards early on Saturday 20 August.

He was said to be in a stable condition after the shooting.
Police said it may have been linked to loyalist feuding.

The two men, aged 19 and 20, will appear before Newtownards
Magistrates court on Friday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/25 16:40:38 GMT


'Ice-Cream Footsoldiers' Freed

Four "footsoldiers" of would-be loyalist 'emperors of ice-
cream' caught on video attacking an under-cover cop posing
as an ice-cream salesman were freed today.

Belfast Crown Court heard that moments earlier the under-
cover policeman named `John` was ordered from the loyalist
Castlemara estate in Carrickfergus by two UDA men who
claimed to control ice cream sale in the area.

Freeing the four, Judge Noman Lockie said he was willing to
make a distinction between them and the two UDA men who
unfortunately were not before the court to be "severely

Three of the Carrickfergus men, 38-year-old John Steven
Millar from Castlemara Drive, Robert Glen Murray, 29, of
Carnhill Walk and 20-year-old Thomas McCrea of no fixed
abode where freed when their jail terms were suspended,
while the fourth south Antrim man, Mark Gourley, 32, of
Dean Park, was put on probation for 18 months.

They all pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual
bodily harm to the under-cover policeman and causing
criminal damage to his ice-cream van.

Prosecuting lawyer Charles McKay told the court that on May
20 2003 police began an under-cover investigation into a
UDA extortion racket in the loyalist Carrickfergus estate.

Posing as an ice-cream man for "Rainbow Ices", `John` was
approached by two UDA men who told him they controlled ice
cream sales in the area, and one even boasted that he also
"run Larne and all, too".

Unaware they were being taped, added Mr McKay, the men told
him he could not sell ice-cream without first registering
with the local UDA and ordered him out of

the Castlemara estate.

"He (John) was left in no dobut what this was about," said
Mr McKay, who added that the under-cover policeman was
told, "the icecream business was controlled by either the
UDA or UVF" in the sourth Antrim area.

The lawyer said as `John` drove from the estate, there was
an "orchestrated attack" on his ice-cream van by the
accused and a number of other men armed with golf clubs,
batons and stones, which was captured on video.

Mr McKay said the officer, who was showered with glass from
the broken windscreen, had a "very lucky" escape and that
the video was later used to identify the four accused, whom
he described as "footsoldiers".

Lawyers for the four said they were "not in the same
league" as the two UDA men, and that they had been involved
only in throwing a few stones before running off.

Judge Lockie said the attack on the van was orchestrated,
planned by the two UDA men and that, "it is most
regrettable, for whatever reason, these men were not

brought before the court and severely punished for their
disgracful behaviour".

Suspending Millar and McCrea`s six month sentences for two
years, Murray`s 15 month term for three years and placing
Gourley on probation, the judge added a distinction could
be made in their case as they had happened to be in the
area and "acted as part of the crowd who were under the
direction of the two men".


DUP: High Human Cost Of Disbanding Battalions
2005-08-25 13:40:57+01

Plans to disband three Northern Ireland-based battalions of
the Royal Irish Regiment in a major shake up of security
could cost the North's economy £60m (€88m) every year, it
was claimed today.

Democratic Unionist Assembly Member Arlene Foster said
while there had been a focus on the implications of the
move for the safety and security of communities, it was
also becoming clear there would would be a high human cost.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said: "A significant
number of the soldiers within the RIR are drawn from areas
in the west of the province where there are already few
enough job opportunities.

"Indeed, within the past months many of these same areas
have been hit with job losses within the manufacturing

"Businesses are already feeling the knock-on effect of
previous job losses and this announcement has only served
to heighten fears of a further knock-on effect.

"It is suggested that with the disbandment of the RIR Home
Battalions there will be a loss of some £20m (€29.3m) per
battalion to the economy each year.

"Looking at the economic implications of this decision it
is obvious that the idea is ill-conceived and has certainly
been made without giving any consideration to the
widespread economic impact."

Three thousand soldiers, some of them part-time, will be
affected by the decision to axe the home service battalions
by 2007 if the British government is able to implement
radical demilitarisation moves envisaged in the wake of
last month's IRA declaration that it is ending its armed

Despite RIR Colonel Mark Campbell's insistence that the
regiment was not being thrown to the political wolves,
unionists have reacted furiously to the plans.

Last week, British prime minister Tony Blair was warned by
the DUP that its approach to talks to revive devolution in
the North would be determined by how the British government
treated the soldiers.

Ms Foster said today it was important to remember not only
were soldiers losing their jobs but 2,000 civilian jobs
were also disappearing.

"With this in mind surely the government must set about
planning to attract replacement jobs for the individuals
affected," she argued.

"It is unacceptable for the government to rush some two
thousand people on to the job market all at once and have
no plans in place to deal with this situation."


DUP Accused Of Wanting 'Sectarian' Subvention

Published: 25 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has
said that DUP MLA Arlene Foster's economic arguments around
the future of the home battalions of the RIR exposes the
truth about unionist opposition to demilitarisation and
accused the DUP MLA of wanting the British government to
retain a 'sectarian' subvention that benefited the unionist
community rather than targeting resources of the basis of

Ms Gildernew said:

"Unionists have resorted to a number of arguments around
the disbandment of the home battalions of the RIR. However,
it is hard for many nationalists to see the RIR as anything
other than a unionist paramilitary force.

"Arlene Foster's arguments about the economic implications
resulting from the scrapping of the RIR expose the truth
about her opposition to progress on demilitarisation. It is
based on unionist self-interest not the interests of the
peace process or the demilitarisation of our society.

"Sinn Fein have argued that demilitarisation should and
could release millions of pounds for use on frontline
services such as health and education and to tackle decades
of under investment and neglect, particularly West of the
Bann. Rather than seek a British Exchequer subvention of
some £60 million for the exclusive benefit of the unionist
population I believe that many people in Fermanagh and
South Tyrone would prefer to see this money spent on
improving the roads infrastructure, improving local schools
and in developing the local economy to the benefit of
everyone." ENDS


Visitors To Tour NI Troubles Jail

Belfast's Crumlin Road jail is to take inmates again next
month - but only for the weekend.

The complex, built in the Victorian era, will be open to
visitors on 10 and 11 September as part of European
Heritage Open Days.

They will be given an hour-long guided tour of the wings
including the infamous hanging cell.

The Grade A listed building was designed by Sir Charles
Lanyon and was built between 1843 and 1845.

The free event is being organised by the Office of the
First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Department
for Social Development.

A spokesman said the jail was "an early example of an
innovative approach to prison planning and organisation".

The layout was based on Pentonville Prison in London.

"This, in turn, was influenced by the Eastern State
Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA, the first to be laid out
on the radial cellular system," said the spokesman.

Cultural events

The four wings contain 640 cells which are open to view
from the central inspection hall.

The jail and the adjoining Crumlin Road courthouse are
connected to one another via an underground tunnel, built
to securely transfer some of Northern Ireland's most
notorious prisoners across and prevent escape attempts.

The former courts building was the scene of some of the
most infamous trials during the Northern Ireland troubles.

It has recently been used for a number of cultural events,
including a play.

Heavy security fencing was removed at the courthouse and
jail in 2002 as part of a £10m project aimed at developing
a tourist attraction to rival San Francisco's island
prison, Alcatraz.

People interested in the tour will have to pre-book by
phoning the North Belfast Community Action Unit on 028

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/25 11:40:22 GMT


Suicide Rate In Republic Exceeds NI-Conference

Gerry Moriarty

The suicide rate in the Republic is significantly higher
than in Northern Ireland, statistics presented to a
conference in Belfast yesterday revealed.

Caroline Farquhar, of the Scottish suicide prevention group
Choose Life, presented figures showing that in 2003 there
were 12.5 deaths from suicide per 100,000 of the population
in the Republic, compared to 8.5 deaths per 100,000 in the

The comparative figure for England was 9.9 deaths per
100,000. The figure for Wales was 12 deaths, while Scotland
had the highest rate in these islands of 15.7 deaths per

No specific reason for this island of Ireland disparity was
given at the conference, although Derek Chambers, research
and resource officer of the South's National Suicide Review
Group, suggested that the Republic's figures may be more

"There may be an underestimation of suicide deaths in
Northern Ireland," said Mr Chambers who, in his address,
demonstrated how the incidence of suicide among young
people in the Republic was particularly acute.

He said there were 15.7 suicide deaths per 100,000 in the
Republic of people in their 20s or early 30s. "Suicide
rates are peaking for people in this age group. This is a
new phenomenon, as the normal trend is for peaks to
increase with age."

Mr Chambers said men were the most vulnerable gender group
as the suicide level among males was 80 per cent. He added
that one in three suicides were unemployed, while more than
one in four were medical card holders. The most common day
for suicide was Monday, followed by Sunday and Saturday,
suggesting that alcohol or substance abuse was a factor.

Almost one in four suicide victims was reported by a doctor
or psychiatrist to have a history of alcohol abuse. Mr
Chambers said this figure was an underestimation. This view
appeared to be supported by the US expert on suicide
prevention, David Litts, who said 90 per cent of people who
took their lives had "diagnosable mental or substance-abuse
disorders or both".

Mr Chambers is project manager of the South's National
Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention, which will be
launched by Minister for Health Mary Harney on September

The North's health minister, Shaun Woodward, is due to
receive an interim report on how to tackle suicide in
Northern Ireland at the end of October and a detailed
report at the end of December. This will form the basis for
the Northern Ireland Office's future strategy for
addressing suicide.

Ms Farquhar said, based on the Scottish experience, there
could be a gradual reduction in suicide levels but "no
quick fixes. It's undoubtedly a 10-year strategy. This is
complex, like finding a cure for cancer, and you can't do
it overnight. It's about changing attitudes and that could
take several generations."

Gerard and Carol McCartan, whose 18-year-old son Danny took
his life in April, said more support was required to
prevent suicide, particularly for vulnerable teenagers.

© The Irish Times


Ireland's 1916 'Alamo' Saved For Posterity

By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 26 August 2005

The house in Dublin celebrated by republicans as the "Irish
Alamo" for its role in the 1916 Easter Rising is likely to
escape a demolition order thanks to a growing campaign to
preserve it.

No 16 Moore Street was where the leaders of the
insurrection made their last stand against the British.
After surrendering they were shot.

Today, the house close to O'Connell Street is abandoned and
dilapidated, with gaping holes in its roof and a general
air of dereliction.

But interest has quickened in the fate of the building,
which was the scene of a vital and fateful moment in the
rising, the republican rebellion which eventually led to
the British leaving southern Ireland.

Matt Doyle, of the republican National Graves Association,
agreed yesterday that, as the northern Troubles tail off,
more members of the public feel free to support the
campaign to preserve the house. "There is a lot more
interest and concern," he said. "You get a lot more people
willing to contribute, while before they probably just
switched the radio off."

Once regarded as one of Ireland's most important historical
locations, it stands between a hairdresser's and a mobile
phone shop, surrounded by market stalls offering fish,
fruit and vegetables. Several years ago the house was
scheduled for demolition, but now the authorities are
making surveys of its condition.

The aim is to preserve it as an information and education
centre as the area around it undergoes large-scale

Calling for "positive and practical action," a spokesman
for An Taisce, the Republic's official heritage body, said:
"It's important as a historical location, a place where
history happened, and an opportunity to commemorate and
explain the event."

The rebellion is annually revered by Irish governments,
which mark it with pomp and ceremony as a seminal moment in
the foundation of the modern Irish state. But there is a
problematic undercurrent to celebrating the event, since
the Easter Rising was unquestionably a violent event in
which many civilians died.

While the authorities have always regarded this use of
force as a legitimate means of budging the British, the
outbreak of the northern conflict in the late 1960s posed a
huge and troubling question. This arose because the modern
IRA claimed validity from the precedent of 1916, saying
that it was the legitimate inheritors of the physical-force
tradition. The events of 1916, the organisation argued, in
effect gave them a licence to kill.

While all sections of official opinion in today's Irish
Republic strongly repudiate this view, the authorities are
sensitive to the fact that the state had violent roots. Dr
Brian Feeney, head of history at St Mary's University
College in Belfast, said: "The rising was what created the
state, but many southern ministers wish the 1916 stuff
would just go away.

"Independent Ireland emerged out of an uprising and
guerrilla warfare of a type which in many ways pioneered
modern terrorist methods."

Perhaps partly because of this ambivalence, Dublin has
comparatively few conspicuous reminders of the rising apart
from some plaques. Many key locations, including 16 Moore
Street, have not been preserved or highlighted by
successive governments.

The importance of the Moore Street house is that many of
the rebellion's leaders retreated there after British
artillery pounded the General Post Office, the centre of
the rising, into rubble.

It was there that the republican leader Padraig Pearse
ordered an unconditional surrender "in order to prevent
further slaughter of the civil population". After the
surrender, Pearse and five occupants of the house were
executed by firing squad.


Diageo Buys Bushmills For £200m

One of Ireland's best-known whiskey distilleries has
changed ownership in a £200 million deal, it emerged today.

By:Press Association

The Old Bushmills Distillery, the oldest licensed whiskey
distillery in the world, was taken over by the drinks
industry giant Diageo.

The company`s chief executive Paul Walsh said the purchase
of the Bushmills brands was a particularly exciting
opportunity for Diageo.

"This is one of the industry`s oldest Irish whiskey brands
and gives Diageo, for the first time, an important presence
in this growing category," he said.

"Since 2000 Diageo has built a focused premium drinks
company which is now a world leader.

"The business has grown organically and through targeted
acquisitions and the Bushmills purchase continues this

Diageo also owns established drinks brands such as Johnnie
Walker, J & B, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Cuervo and

It also owns two of Ireland`s best-known drinks firms,
Guinness and Baileys.

Mr Walsh said: "We believe Bushmills has huge growth
potential and are looking forward to utilising our
marketing expertise and distribution capabilities to move
this brand into the global whiskey market."

Bushmills was previously owned by the French drinks giant
Pernod Ricard.

The acquisition of the Bushmills plant means Diageo now
employs 580 people in Northern Ireland.

The old Bushmills distillery, which received its licence to
distil in 1608, employs staff of 125.

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