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August 31, 2005

Covert Police Fight Violence Against Catholics

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News about Ireland and the Irish

IO 08/31/05 Covert Police Fight Violence Against Catholics
IE 08/31/05 IAUC: Loyalists The Problem
SF 08/31/05 SF Calls On Opposition To Speak On Attacks
4N 08/31/05 PSNI Failing To Tackle Loyalist Violence -Kelly
BB 08/31/05 Boy Charged In School Arson Probe
IE 08/31/05 Pols Condemn Light Sentences For Assault
SF 08/31/05 Rally For Irish Unity Arrives On eBay
IT 09/01/05 Garda Cast Doubt On Visit To Colombia
VC 08/31/05 Dog Days: Bombs Over In Belfast
MN 08/31/05 Westport's Point To Be Transformed
IT 09/01/05 Jailed Men Ask Ahern To Intervenev
IT 09/01/05 Commemoration For Chaplain Killed On 9/11


Covert Police Patrols Fight Violence Against Catholics
2005-08-31 18:00:06+01

Police are mounting undercover patrols to try to halt an
escalating sectarian campaign of attacks on Catholic homes,
schools and churches in north Antrim.

With senior churchmen urging greater action from Unionist
politicians to end the destruction in and around Ballymena,
police chiefs today revealed that covert operations had
been ordered as part of new security measures.

Fifty officers belonging to the Police Service of Northern
Ireland's tactical support unit have also been drafted in
to patrol the streets at night and guard property they
believe could be under threat.

The decision was made after arsonists set fire to a second
Catholic primary school inside 24 hours.

Superintendent Terry Shevlin, district commander confirmed:
"These are all operations that will be obvious for all to
see, but I am also deploying resources for covert

"This is an immediate response, but it is not one that we
can sustain over a long period."

SDLP, Sinn Féin and teachers' union officials have demanded
an end to the violence.

As police drafted in additional resources to protect
schools and churches, the Catholic Bishop of Down and
Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh said political representatives in
the Rev Ian Paisley's north Antrim constituency needed to
do more.

"The time is past for simply making statements of
condemnation," he said. "It is time for action. Elected
representatives need to be there for the common good and to
show courage and leadership."

Dr Paisley, and Ballymena's DUP mayor, Tommy Nicholl, have
already condemned the burnings and paint and petrol

But with few people charged, nationalists fear the
organised and sustained campaign to terrorise vulnerable
Catholic families, which has lasted for most of the summer,
shows no sign of stopping.

The latest fire destroyed the P7 classroom at St Louis
Primary School which was due to re-open tomorrow.

It followed another fire which swept part of St Mary's
Primary School in the Harryville area of the town.

The latest fires were among a wave of attacks in Ballymena
and neighbouring north Antrim towns and villages including
Ahoghill, where some Catholics were issued with fire
resistant blankets and alarms.

Protestant and Catholic homes in north and east Belfast
have been hit in a series of tit-for-tat attacks, but the
scale of the trouble in north Antrim has shocked all sides.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan challenged Mr
Paisley to do more to stop the violence.

The North Antrim MLA said: "These attacks are happening in
a climate were Ian Paisley and his DUP refuses to engage
with Sinn Féin and were he refuses to share power in the
North (of Ireland) with nationalism.

"This sends the very clear message that nationalists and
republicans in his opinion are second class citizens. This
fact is giving political cover to this current violent

"I am challenging Ian Paisley to do the right thing and to
work with all elected representatives in his own
constituency, including myself, to find a way of ending
these attacks. That is the kind of political leadership
that is required. It is required now before lives are

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said the attacks on Catholic
property indicated a deep communal problem in the area.

"It is absolutely essential that the elected
representatives go far beyond condemnation and start
examining the primary causes of this very determined
sectarian campaign against Catholic buildings," he said.

"This puts a particular responsibility on unionist
politicians to engage with nationalist politicians,
including myself."

Frank Bunting, northern secretary of the Irish National
Teachers Organisation, said it was imperative all community
representatives made every effort to halt the sectarian

He said: "Any attack on a school is an attack on the
community, the teaching and learning of pupils and the
entire education service."


Loyalists The Problem -- IAUC

The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement are being
seriously damaged by continued loyalist violence, according
to the Irish American Unity Conference.

"The best hope for a peaceful coexistence among the
different communities in Northern Ireland is the full
implementation of the GFA, which the majority of Irish
citizens voted for, north and south," said IAUC president,
Judge Andy Somers.

"However, the British government's apparent indifference to
continuing gangland feuds between rival loyalist groups, as
well as sectarian attacks against nationalists, is very
damaging to the peace process, and gives comfort to
opponents of the GFA," he added.

Somers said that the IAUC is concerned that all
communities, and in particular loyalist communities, were
under siege because loyalist gangs continued to hold and
use their weapons to terrorize their neighbors.

"We make no distinction between victims, and express our
sympathies to loyalist and nationalist victims of violence

"The British government, which has demonstrably conspired
with loyalist gangs in the past, not least in supervising
the transfer of arms, should use its considerable influence
and legal powers to halt these actions immediately," he


Sinn Féin Calls On Opposition Leaders To Speak Out On
Loyalist Attacks

Published: 31 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Councillor Killian Forde has expressed his
outrage at the second consecutive arson attack on Catholic
schools in Ballymena. This is the latest in a litany of
attacks over the summer in North Antrim. A summer
represented by PSNI inaction, Unionist whataboutery and
southern politicians' indifference.

Last week Councillor Forde and Mary Lou McDonald MEP
visited residents of North Antrim who were victims of
loyalist violence. At those meetings the residents
expressed their frustration with the police and their
bewilderment with the silence of the southern parties.

Councillor Forde stated that "The political climate has
changed and must not be allowed through indifference or
design to reverse. It is high time all political leaders
came out and unequivocally state their solidarity with the
victims and indicate what they will do to try and stop
these loyalist attacks.

"I am thoroughly baffled how Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte
can continue to ignore or even to comment on the situation.
This pair make a mockery of their offices"ENDS


PSNI Failing To Tackle Loyalist Violence Claims Kelly

Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing Gerry Kelly has accused
the PSNI of "abjectly" failing to tackle ongoing loyalist
paramilitary activity.

Mr Kelly's remarks follows numerous attacks on catholic
homes and schools in recent weeks, especially in areas such
as north Antrim and north Belfast.

"Over the past number of weeks the sectarian campaign being
waged against

Catholics and nationalists in areas like North Antrim has
intensified," the North Belfast councillor said. "It has
not met with a robust response from the PSNI. In fact the
contrary would appear to be the position.

"Instead of confronting those organisations responsible too
often the PSNI have publicly failed to even acknowledge
that the motivation behind this campaign is sectarian. In
doing so they are providing cover for those behind the
nightly attacks.

"It sends out a message that there is a toleration of
loyalist violence and an acceptance that these attacks will
continue without hindrance."

Mr Kelly confirmed that he had requested a meeting with
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern to discuss
ongoing loyalist activity.



Boy Charged In School Arson Probe

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested and is due to appear in
court over an arson attack on a primary school in County

A 15-year-old boy is being questioned about the fire which
destroyed one classroom and damaged 10 others at St Louis'
Primary School in Ballymena.

Extra police have been deployed in the town following a
series of attacks.

Principal Liam Corey said the fire was in a classroom used
by pupils about to begin 11-plus test preparations.

'Great condition'

"As everyone knows, primary sevens are immediately into a
stressful period preparing for the transfer test, so that
is quite unfortunate from their point of view," he said.

"The caretaker had spent all summer making sure the school
was in great condition for the start of the new year.

"The teachers had been in, not just this week but last
week, preparing."

The attack came just one day after nearby St Mary's Primary
in the Harryville area was petrol bombed.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/31 21:54:33 GMT


Pols Condemn Light Sentences For Assault

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST -- Both nationalists and unionists have expressed
anger and shock after a court gave only suspended sentences
to four loyalists who threatened and assaulted an under-
cover police officer.

The four men had pleaded guilty to charges linked to a UDA
extortion scam in the town of Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim,
when loyalists had demanded payments from the police
officer who was posing as an ice-cream seller.

In court, a prosecuting lawyer said that police began an
under-cover investigation into the UDA extortion racket two
years ago. A officer had driven an ice-cream van into the
loyalist Castlemara estate.

He was approached by two UDA men who told him they
controlled ice-cream sales in the area. One of the men
boasted that the UDA was also in overall control of all
ice-cream sales in the nearby town of Larne.

Unaware they were being taped, the men told the under-cover
officer he could not sell ice-cream without first
registering with the local UDA. They then ordered him out
of the area.

The lawyer said, as the police officer drove his van from
the estate, there was an "orchestrated attack" on him by
the accused and a number of other men armed with golf
clubs, batons and stones, also captured on video.

The officer was showered with glass from his broken
windscreen, had a "very lucky" escape according to the
prosecution, and the video was later used to identify the
four accused.

Three of the men, 38-year-old John Steven Millar, Robert
Glen Murray, who's 29, and 20-year-old Thomas McCrea were
freed when their jail terms were suspended. The fourth man,
Mark Gourley, 32, was put on probation for 18 months.

They had all pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual
bodily harm to the under-cover policeman and causing
criminal damage to his ice-cream van. Lawyers for the four
said they had been involved only in throwing a few stones
before running off.

SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness said the
suspended sentences sent a terrible signal to

"It was a highly organized attack and they made it
perfectly clear that they were using violence and the
threat of violence to control the ice-cream market. They
should have received substantial jail sentences.

"I am mystified as to the reasoning behind the sentencing.
The argument that they were merely foot soldiers rather
than godfathers is questionable and anyway, it is

"It is the foot-soldiers who make people's lives a misery
in loyalist estates, who threaten people and beat them up,
who sell the drugs and guard the brothels and collect the
protection money.

"This sends a most unfortunate message at a time when they
are running rampage, killing each other and organizing
attacks on nationalist homes. If people who use baseball
bats, golf clubs and batons for criminal profit are not to
be jailed, how are we to protect law-abiding people?" he

DUP Assembly member for South Antrim, Sammy Wilson, also
said the sentences were "scandalous" and said it was a poor
result for a long-running under-cover police operation
against the UDA.

O'Connor, a Larne SDLP councilor who has come under attack
from loyalists on numerous occasions, said the courts were
apparently treating loyalists with indulgence and leniency.

A loyalist who had threatened to kill his (O'Connor's)
mother was also given a suspended sentence. Three months
before that, the same man had been given another suspended
sentence for attacking a policeman and threatening to burn
his house down.

The Alliance Party's Sean Neeson, a former mayor of
Carrickfergus, said the sentences were a kick in the teeth
to the police and undermined efforts to curb loyalist
paramilitary control of Protestant estates.

This story appeared in the issue of August 31 - September
6, 2005


Rally For Irish Unity Arrives On eBay

Published: 31 August, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has called on people
throughout Ireland to mobilise for the Rally for Irish
unity which will take place in Dublin at the end of
September. Ms. McDonald was speaking as the party announced
that a giant banner publicising the event, currently
located on Parnell Square in Dublin, has been put up for
auction on Ebay with all proceeds going to the campaign for
Irish unity. A link to the auction can be found at

Ms McDonald said:

"On Saturday 24th September a Rally for Irish unity will
take place in Dublin and I am calling on people throughout
Ireland to mobilise for the event. Following the end of the
IRA's armed campaign a golden opportunity has been created
for us to build on the increasing momentum for Irish unity
and to rally the Irish people behind the slogan, Make
Partition History.

"As part of our promotion of the rally, a giant banner has
been erected on Parnell Square in Dublin. This unique
banner has been put up for auction on Ebay and all money
raised will go directly to the campaign for Irish Unity."


Garda Cast Doubt On Visit To Colombia

Gardaí have cast doubt on an assertion by Minister for
Justice Michael McDowell that officers investigating the
"Colombia Three" case are likely to visit the South
American country, writes Mark Brennock, Chief Political

A Government spokesman said Mr McDowell told the first
Cabinet meeting since the summer break yesterday that such
a visit was "probable". Minister for Enterprise Micheál
Martin also said last night the Minister had told them it
was "likely the gardaí will be going to Colombia".

A Garda statement suggested such a visit was less than
probable at this stage, saying it was only among "many
options" being considered. The Government spokesman said
gardaí had been in contact with the Colombian police
through Interpol. He said Mr McDowell had said it was
"probable" this would be followed up by a Garda visit to

But the Garda spokesman said: "Gardaí are conducting
criminal investigations into possible passport and other
offences. We have been in contact with other police forces.
Many options are open to us including sending officers

Mr McDowell told Ministers a Garda trip was "probable"
during a Cabinet briefing on the situation in relation to
Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan, who
announced their return to Ireland on August 5th. The three
went on the run before being convicted of training Farc
guerrillas and sentenced to 17 years each.

The Government spokesman said Mr McDowell told Ministers
"all options are on the table" regarding the three. He told
them no extradition request had been received, however.

Lawyers say an attempt to have the men serve their 17-year
sentences in Ireland would also be fraught with legal

© The Irish Times


Dog Days: Bombs Over In Belfast

By Nate Flannery
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2005

July is marching season in Belfast, a season of Protestant
protests and papist petrol bombs. In the dog days of
summer, you usually can't teach an old dog new tricks, but
these days it seems that you also can't let sleeping dogs

Ireland's prime minister Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams,
leader of the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein, are entering
into increasingly friendly relations and despite immense
skepticism that the IRA can put its old ways of violence
behind it, it seems the group will finally make honest
efforts for disarmament and disbandment.

In the wake of September 11th and the London bombings, the
Irish are beginning to empathize more strongly with the
victims and victims' families of these brutal attacks and
see the IRA in a much less favorable light.

It is true that the paramilitary Irish Republican Army has
served a historic purpose both in the formation of the free
republic of Ireland in the south, and in protecting the
vulnerable Catholic minority from the Protestant-dominated
government and police force of the United Kingdom's
Northern Ireland.

But, these days Catholics in the north have a lot to gain
from politics and everything to lose if the IRA were to
carry out another horrific bombing or attack. Resistance to
disarmament at this point is probably more about pride than
a genuine concern for security. In most people's minds the
days of oppressive rule by the British are over. The days
of self-pity are gone.

British Oppression? Don't make me laugh. It's hard for the
Irish to engage in debilitating self-pity when their Celtic
Tiger economy is the most ferocious beast in Europe.

As Britain and the continent struggle to reach abysmal GDP
growth rates of around 1.5%, Ireland surges forward,
unstoppable. The Tiger's expected economy-wide growth rates
are around 6%, and disposable income, the money in people's
pockets, is expected to grow by close to 10% this year. The
Irish have a higher standard of living than Britain, and in
terms of purchasing power parity, have the fourth strongest
economy in the world. Such economic success is certainly
nothing to sneeze at.

Even as Ireland's economy grows rapidly and healthily each
year, the Irish have maintained strong interpersonal
connections between family and friends, and according to
one study are the second happiest nation in Europe. With
such success the Irish truly have little use for self-pity.
With these facts in mind, it is not surprising that The
Economist magazine reports that more Irish have been to
London than to Belfast.

A people proudly focused on the future have less patience
for those, like the IRA, who seem stuck in the petty
struggles of the past. Despite initial skepticism that it
would ever happen, the importance of this summer's
agreement for the IRA to finally disband and give up its
mammoth supply of guns, ammunition, and explosives cannot
be ignored.

In the coming months and years the world will see if one
old Irish fighting dog can learn some new tricks.

If the IRA does change its stubborn ways of guts and glory,
it will be more because of the changing notions of what its
master, the Irish people, think it needs to do to get
treats. If it is finally made clear that violence is no
longer an acceptable means to the end of political gains,
the IRA really might give up its old ways and embrace
politics for good.

The IRA is finally trading the sword for the pen, the bomb
for the ballot-box, but don't expect cries of betrayal from
the people.

With priorities shifting, the recent split of IRA and Sinn
Fein and the decision to disband and disarm could not have
come at a better time. It seems the old warriors of the IRA
have finally accepted the truth of one street philosopher's
claim that "Cash Rules Everything Around Me. C.R.E.A.M! Get
the money! Dollar, Dollar, Bill Y'all."


Westport's Point To Be Transformed

report by Padraic Burns

WESTPORT Sinn Féin Town Councillor, Dave Keating, has been
reassured by the manager of Westport Town Council, Mr Peter
Hynes, that it is the objective of the council to transform
the bathing area at the Point, Westport Quay into a
designated official bathing area. Mr Hynes was speaking in
the aftermath of comments by Cllr Keating when he queried
the position regarding water quality and the erection of a
sign by Mayo County Council advising the public against

"I queried the validity of a council 'No Bathing' sign
erected at the Point in Westport and I have expressed my
disappointment at the lack of response from Westport Town
Council in relation to specific questions that I asked,"
said Cllr Keating.

He said he wrote to Mayo County Council and Westport Town
Council in early July highlighting his concern and asked a
number of basic questions but to date he has received no
reply. Cllr Keating asked why a Mayo County Council sign
has been erected on Westport Town Council property and he
was also seeking the relevant water quality monitoring
reports following the installation of Westport's new Water
Treatment Plant.

"Westport Town Council is currently preparing a Local Area
Plan for this area so I was somewhat bemused to see a Mayo
County Council 'No Bathing' sign there. People who use the
area want to know when will it be safe to swim there again?
According to the EPA local authorities are responsible for
sampling of waters at bathing sites and are required to
conduct periodic investigations to determine the volume,
nature and effect of all possible potential polluting
discharges. I fully intend to get these reports, if they
exist, either from the council, the EPA or through the
Freedom of Information Act if necessary," he said.

Cllr Keating said that Sinn Féin in Westport has long
campaigned for the Point at the Quay to be fully restored
as a community bathing amenity for the people of Westport
and for visitors to the town.

"Once the water quality meets international Blue Flag
standards it would not cost much to restore the Point to
the popular bathing spot it was some 30 years ago.
Certainly, it would be significantly cheaper to do this
than the current €5m marina project planned for the Quay in
Westport. Sadly, another summer has almost passed us by and
Westport would appear to be further away from its goal of
having a community bathing amenity within walking distance
of the town centre," concluded Cllr Keating.

Mr Hynes told The Mayo News that it was the ultimate
objective of the Town Council to designate the Point as an
official bathing area. "That's our plan but before we can
achieve that we have to make sure that all the variables
such as water quality, safety, traffic control are all in
place. When they're all together then we can proceed with
restoring the Point back to what it once was as a public
bathing amenity," said Mr Hynes.


Jailed Men Ask Ahern To Intervene

James Fitzgerald

The five Mayo men jailed for contempt of court over the
Corrib gas pipeline have asked the Taoiseach to intervene
and resolve the situation.

During a meeting with six TDs and an MEP in Dublin's
Cloverhill Prison yesterday, where the men have been held
for the last 65 days, the men dismissed a suggested
solution from Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte.

Tony Gregory TD said the only way the men would now be
released was if the Shell oil company lifted its injunction
restraining the men from interfering with work on the

"Arising from our visit we have been asked by the men to
request a meeting with the Taoiseach and with the Norwegian
ambassador on the basis of the Norwegian company Statoil's
involvement in the project, and the fact that the Norwegian
state will make more out of Corrib than the Irish State,"
said Mr Gregory.

On Tuesday, Mr Rabbitte suggested that the men could be
freed if they apologised to the court, while Shell
simultaneously withdrew the injunction. He added that the
Government needed to appoint an agreed negotiator to report
on issues of concern to the men.

"I'm afraid the men didn't think much of Rabbitte's
suggestion," said Mr Gregory. "We specifically asked them
about it and they dismissed it out of hand . . . they say
that considering work on the project is halted and will
probably remain so until the end of the year, the only
purpose the injunction serves is to keep them in prison,"
he said.

A spokesman for the five men confirmed their wish for the
seven politicians to meet with Mr Ahern and the Norwegian
ambassador. He described Mr Rabbitte's suggestions as
"redundant" and "not practical".

"The first step has to be for Shell to lift the
injunction," he said. "The men cannot enter into dialogue
while in captivity. They are prepared to purge their
contempt, but not while the injunction is in place.

"Appointing a negotiator would be redundant because this is
a dispute about safety and safety is not something that can
be negotiated in principle . . . the men are happy to talk
direct to Shell on this, but the injunction must be
lifted," he said.

Mr Gregory, who visited the men with TDs Jerry Cowley, Joe
Higgins, Finian McGrath, Catherine Murphy, Séamus Healy and
MEP Marian Harkin, said that despite spending more than two
months behind bars, the men were more determined than ever.

Mr Gregory criticised Mr Rabbitte and Fine Gael leader Enda
Kenny who, he said, had "let the Government off the hook".

A spokesman for Shell repeated last night that lifting the
injunction would undermine the company's legal position.

© The Irish Times


Leitrim Commemoration For Chaplain Killed In 9/11 Attacks

Marese McDonagh

One of the best known victims of the September 11th
attacks in New York is to be commemorated on the
anniversary of the atrocity in Leitrim.

A peace garden is to be dedicated to the memory of Fr
Mychal Judge, chaplain of the New York City Fire Department
in land previously owned by his family at Keshcarrigan, Co
Leitrim, on Sunday, September 11th.

A poignant picture of Fr Judge being carried from the Twin
Towers which was flashed around the world became one of the
most enduring images of the tragedy. In 1926, Fr Judge's
father Michael left Keshcarrigan and emigrated to the US
where he married Leitrim woman Mary Fallon from Drumkeerin.

Fr Judge was a frequent visitor to Keshcarrigan and made
his last trip to Leitrim the year before he died at the age
of 63.

His twin sister, Dympna Jessich, will travel from the US to
unveil the memorial in the peace garden in a scenic spot on
the shores of Kesh lake.

She has donated the flags which draped her brother's casket
- the US flag and the flag of the New York City Fire
Department. Also attending the ceremony will be Fr Judge's
successor as chaplain to the fire service, Fr Chris Keenan.

Lorna McCarthy, secretary of Keshcarrigan Development
Association, said the community had been anxious to honour
the memory of Fr Judge and others who died in violent

"He was a frequent visitor and people still refer to the
area where the peace garden is located as the Judge
property," she explained. "We have been tossing around this
idea for a few years and felt we could not let it go
without doing something to honour Fr Mychal."

© The Irish Times

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