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August 29, 2005

de Chastelain Back in Belfast

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 08/29/05 de Chastelain Back In Town
BT 08/29/05 SF Man Stands By Comment To SDLP Councillor
NH 08/29/05 SF: 30 Parade Ruling Breaches At Loyalist March
BT 08/29/05 Men Charged Over Violence
BT 08/29/05 Pastor Slams Vandals After Attack On His Church
UT 08/29/05 New Campaign Opposed To United Ireland
BT 08/29/05 £140m Bypass Will Remove Last Bottleneck
BB 08/29/05 That's All Jokes
WP 08/29/05 Bush Prepares Hurricane Relief Effort

(See the “Bush Prepares” story for a pic of Danny O’Flaherty and O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel in New Orleans)


Arms Disposal Chiefs Back In Town

Fresh flurry of activity over IRA disarmament

By Noel McAdam
29 August 2005

Senior staff return to the International Decommissioning
offices this week, heightening unionist expectations of IRA
disarmament moves in the near future.

General John de Chastelain is due back at his desk by mid-
week along with fellow Commissioner Andrew Sens.

And they will be joined by a third senior member, Finnish
Brigadier Tauna Niemimen, who resigned from the Commission
in 2001, but is now returning.

His re-appointment by the British and Irish governments,
reportedly at the request of General de Chastelain, has
also fuelled expectations of a follow-through by the
Provisionals on their statement standing units down.

It is not known, however, whether any renewed
decommissioning is more likely to be a sequence of 'events'
- or will be announced and verified when it has been

Republicans have indicated it could take some time to
complete the process of decommissioning, possibly because
of the massive stockpiles of arms and explosives which are
expected to be put 'beyond use'.

There was speculation today that the re-appointment of a
third commissioner signalled a potentially heavy workload
for the body within the next few weeks.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said he believed
the process would "begin, middle and end" in the relatively
near future and would happen in "one sequence of events"
which would be in "fairly rapid order".

But he did not anticipate it would be done by "one single
press of a button or one single act of decommissioning at
one single place."

Speaking on the RTE programme This Week yesterday, he said
General de Chastelain has an estimated inventory of the
size of the Provisionals' arsenal.


SF Man Stands By Comment To SDLP Councillor

By Deborah McAleese
29 August 2005

A Sinn Fein politician is unrepentant for threatening to
"take the feet from under" his SDLP council colleague,
insisting that he was misconstrued.

Vice Chairman of Down District Council, councillor Eamonn
Mac Con Midhe, said his comment to SDLP councillor John
Doris was simply a figure of speech meaning he would
publicly embarrass him.

A bitter row between the two parties over the role of the
council's vice chairman has been rumbling on for several

Relations have now slumped even further, with Sinn Fein
accusing the SDLP of failing to respect councillor Mac Con
Midhe and the SDLP accusing councillor Mac Con Midhe of
intimidating other councillors.

Councillor Mac Con Midhe said: "There was absolutely no
physical threat of violence in my comment. It is a saying.
I meant I would publicly embarrass him."

The comment was made during a heated council meeting when
councillor Mac Con Midhe claimed that he was not being
shown "due respect" in his role of vice chairman by never
being asked to perform the public duties of council
chairwoman, SDLP councillor Carmel O'Boyle, in her absence.

He added: "The chairwoman of the council always uses her
SDLP colleagues as her substitute. It should be my duty as
vice chair to stand in, otherwise, why have a vice-

"I want a council policy implemented that outlines the role
of the vice chair."

Councillor O'Boyle warned that she will not be intimidated
by Mr Mac Con Midhe, nor will she allow him to intimidate
other councillors during her year in office.

She said: "I am concerned that some councillors will be
looking over their shoulders, that something will be said
about them or that some action will be taken against them.

"That must not happen and I urge the council for its full

"I want to get on with councillor Mac Con Midhe. This is no
reflection on Sinn Fein. But I want this to stop.

"You can't behave like a child and throw tantrums just
because you don't get your own way."


SF Claims 30 Parade Ruling Breaches At Loyalist March

(Maeve Connolly and Nevin Farrell, Irish News)

Sinn Féin has compiled a booklet which it claims details 30
breaches of a Parades Commissionruling made by bandsmen at
a controversial march in Co Antrim.

More than 40 bands, some with UDA and UVF connections, took
part in the parade in the mainly nationalist village of
Rasharkin on August 19.

The publication contains 50 photographs which Ballymoney
Sinn Féin councillor Daithi McKay said prove that the
Parades Commission's determination had been broken.

"This document identifies 11 bands who carried UDA, UVF,
UYM and YCV flags through the village on Friday night. It
also details the behaviour of parade supporters and band
members who engaged in much verbal sectarian abuse towards
residents as well as intimidation," Mr McKay said.

Republicans noted "every single time" band members and
supporters allegedly breached the determination which
prohibits the display of flags or other paraphernalia
belonging to proscribed groups.

Sinn Féin claims loyalist paramilitary banners and flags
were carried by 11 bands and that one bandsman wore a T-
shirt with a UVF symbol.

It has also detailed "provocative, sectarian and aggressive
behaviour" by bandsmen and supporters.

According to the parades body ruling "behaviour should be
respectful. There should be no excessively loud drumming.
Participants should refrain from conduct, words, music or
behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as
intentionally sectarian, provocative, threatening, abusive,
insulting or lewd".

Sinn Féin said the display of paramilitary paraphernalia
breached this condition, as did "excessive drumming" and
hand gestures and obscenities directed at nationalist
residents and protestors.

One supporter took pictures of protestors on his mobile
phone while a number of the bands played "sectarian
provocative music", the booklet claims.

"Supporters of the parade were seen by observers taking out
a wooden ladder and climbing a lamp post to remove an Irish
tricolour. They then stopped a motorcyclist and asked him
for some fuel to burn the flag with.

"The motorcyclist turned down this request and drove on.
The supporters then proceeded to burn the flag to the
cheers of the loyalist crowd," according to the booklet.

Mr McKay said the booklet would be sent to the Parades

However, DUP assembly member for north Antrim Mervyn Storey
said he would have more confidence in "balanced" reports
from other monitors of the parade such as Mediation
Network, the PSNI and Parades Commission.

Sinn Féin wants to "eradicate Protestant heritage and
tradition" he said.

"I think that any report emanating from Sinn Féin will have
to have a health warning with it. They are neither
impartial nor in any way objective when they look at an
issue," Mr Storey added.

"This is an organisation that orchestrated a protest in the
main street of Rasharkin when councillor Daithi Mckay had
claimed the same piece of ground was a non-contentious
route in a newspaper interview," he added.

Meanwhile, another contentious parade – consisting of one
band – will pass through the village tonight with no
restrictions imposed.

August 29, 2005


Men Charged Over Violence

Four due in court after black parade is attacked

By Andrea Clements
29 August 2005

Four men are expected in court today charged with public
order offences following an attack on a Royal Black
Preceptory parade in Co Tyrone.

The men - three aged 30 and one aged 28 - are due to appear
at a special sitting of Omagh Magistrates Court this
morning charged with a number of public order offences.

One is also charged with causing grievous bodily harm with

The charges follow a riot which broke out in Castlederg
after marchers returning from a demonstration passed
through the nationalist Ferguson Crescent - a route
approved by the Parades Commission - where dozens of Tyrone
supporters were celebrating their gaelic football team's
victory over Dublin.

West Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Derek Hussey, who was
participating in the procession, slammed republicans for
encouraging "blatant sectarian bigotry".

Seven police officers, the 75-year-old district master of
No 6 chapter and another member of the Royal Black
Preceptory were among those injured.

The PSNI said one of the officers suffered a broken
cheekbone while the preceptory members had received facial

"At 5.55pm a parade was returning from Newtownstewart via
an approved route when a number of people came out of a
bar, interfered with a banner and assaulted members of the
parade and police," said a spokesman.

Mr Hussey said the trouble was a stark contrast to the
friendly atmosphere enjoyed earlier in the day at the
institution's demonstration in Newtownstewart.

He said GAA supporters had enjoyed the pageantry, colour
and music while marchers had exchanged greetings with
nationalists they knew along the route.

"Those involved in this disgraceful affair are obviously
responding to an ongoing republican campaign of
vilification of unionist culture," he said.

"Saturday's shameful scene demonstrated total religious and
cultural intolerance to the point of blatant sectarian
bigotry encouraged by local republican propaganda."

Sinn Fein councillor Charlie McHugh said it made no sense
to allow the parade to go through the area.

"I'm calling on the Parades Commission to explain why they
went against the advice of their own person on the ground
and insisted on sending the parades through Ferguson
Crescent when they knew the Tyrone match was on," he said.

"The only result could be trouble and that's what they


Pastor Slams Vandals After Latest Attack On His Church

By Debra Douglas
29 August 2005

The Minister of a Co Down church targeted by vandals for
the third time in four months has hit out at those

Dromore Baptist Church, Maypole Hill, was attacked last
week, smashing a number of double glazed windows.

Pastor Jim Magill, said the attack was the latest in a
string of incidents.

"We thought this would go away but it keeps haunting us and
everyone here is very upset about this latest incident," he

"They are very annoyed that people could think so little of
something they think so much of."

Pastor Magill said they are now considering taking steps to
prevent further attacks.

He explained: " We have no idea what the cost of the damage
will be as it has to be assessed but we are considering
taking preventative measures, maybe CCTV."


New Campaign Opposed To United Ireland

Loyalists delivered more than 200,000 newspapers today as
part of a new campaign urging resistance against an alleged
slide towards a united Ireland.

By:Press Association

Victims of IRA violence fronted the attempt to rally mass
Protestant support, with headlines and posters declaring:
"Ulster At Crisis Point".

But senior loyalist paramilitaries were also at Larne
Harbour in County Antrim where the cargo of free newspapers
was brought in by boat in a symbolic recreation of a
weapons delivery to the old Ulster Volunteer Force on the
Clyde Valley ship in 1914.

Campaign organisers, who have also gained the support of
Orange Order leaders, insisted this was an alternative to
violent protest.

William Wilkinson, of the South Armagh-based group for
Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR), said they
would struggle against a security seal down and disbandment
of Royal Irish Regiment units through entirely peaceful

He said: "The pen is mightier than the sword and we hope
this will provide an alternative to a lot of frustration
and deep hurt being felt."

Organisers pledged to deliver papers right across Northern
Ireland free of charge as part of what they have labelled
the Love Ulster Campaign.

A website has also been set up carrying regular news and
campaign updates.

The newspaper was put together by the Shankill Mirror, a
community organisation based in a West Belfast protestant

John MacVicar, a board member of the media organisation,
claimed they had simply answered the call of anxious
loyalists across the province and were waiting for future
instructions about where the project should go next.

Mr MacVicar also insisted that the paramilitaries could not
be ignored.

"The reality is that loyalist paramilitaries are part of
the protestant community," he stressed.

"They along with a lot of other people were part of the
conflict we have been involved in and they need to be part
of the resolution.

"We have come out of 35 years of violence, things aren`t
going to change overnight and we need to influence everyone
in our community positively and that include loyalist

But the campaign also pushed the views of those still
coming to terms with the loss of loved ones during the

Sisters Ashley Graham, 26, and Manya Dickinson, 29, spoke
of their hurt at seeing republicans allegedly being
rewarded for the IRA`s decision to end its armed struggle.

The Provisionals` declaration that their war was over
provided little comfort to the pair whose father Kenny
Graham, a building contractor who supplied security bases,
was blown up outside his home in Kilkeel in 1990.

Mrs Dickinson said: "It`s been forgotten about completely,
even though we have to live with it every day."

Her sister insisted there would never be closure for
families like them.

She added: "We feel the IRA have gotten away with it. They
can get on with their lives but not a day goes by without
us having to remember.

"People in our situation are angry and feel something
should be done."

The campaign has pledged to produce future issues of the
Shankill Mirror to be distributed across Northern Ireland,
and will consider staging rallies if support levels are
strong enough.

Even though the loyal marching orders and church
representatives were said to be involved, the initiative
has steered clear of all unionist politicians as they
insisted the emphasis should be on victims.

But Robert Salters, grand master of the Orange Order,
declared his total backing for the project.

"I would hope that Orange members will support it
wholeheartedly," he said.

"When you look back at the victims within our institution
we have grieved 304 members, and half of those weren`t
involved in security force work. They were just murdered
for being a protestant or an Orangeman.

"I would welcome and hope that if we can get the whole
protestant, loyalist people together, that this will be
given a great go because we need to stick together."


£140m Bypass Will Remove Last Bottleneck

By Ben Lowry
29 August 2005

The last major bottleneck on the Belfast to Dublin road is
set to be removed next month with the early opening of the
Dundalk bypass.

Completion of the seven-mile road round the Co Louth town
at the end of September will complete a 52-mile motorway
from Dublin almost to the border.

The £140m bypass has been finished six months early, thanks
to a contract which gave the builders a huge incentive to
complete the road quickly.

The opening of the road will draw attention to the much-
criticised northern part of the 102-mile intercity route,
the A1.

At present, the main route through Dundalk is a congested
single-lane 'bypass' which cuts through the east of the Co
Louth town and was built in the 1980s.

In Northern Ireland, the remaining single carriageway
sections of the A1 road near Newry are being upgraded only
to dual carriageway standard, in three schemes. The Dundalk
bypass was a public-private partnership scheme, but the
road will not be tolled.

However, the contract was designed so that the construction
company will be entitled to income from the toll booths at
Drogheda, closer to Dublin, which are thought to bring in
up to £10m a year.

But this cash entitlement does not begin until the Dundalk
bypass opens to traffic, and so has acted as a lucrative
incentive to complete work early.

It also meant that the motorway cost Irish taxpayers
nothing - an important factor, given that European funding
for roads in the Republic is drying up.

On the A1, work has not even begun on one of the three
sections to be upgraded, from Beech Hill to Cloghogue. It
will involve a rebuild of the 1996 Newry bypass, which was
built as a single carriageway with four roundabouts.

The £200m improvements on the A1 include two further
sections which are already being built - a road of near-
motorway standard between Newry and the border, leading to
Ravensdale Forest north of Dundalk.

The other section is nearing completion, south of
Loughbrickland. But it will be a basic standard dual
carriageway, in which slow-moving vehicles which want to
make right turns will have to enter the fast lane before
crossing the central reservation.

The inferiority of the A1 when compared to the southern
motorway has been criticised by many Northern Ireland
politicians, but no major political parties have come out
in favour of tolling. It is likely that by 2008 the entire
distance between Belfast and Dublin will be dual
carriageway or motorway.


That's All Jokes

By Jonathan Duffy
BBC News website

How does one crack jokes about sectarian hatred,
internecine violence and murder?

It's not easy, but such is the state of Northern Ireland
politics that anyone who sets out to poke fun at the
situation there needs a finely tuned sense of humour - and
a strong nerve.

For the past four-and-a-half years that's been the role of
Newton Emerson, editor and sole writer of the Portadown

Don't be fooled by the title, the Portadown News is not a
local paper but a sharply satirical website that has become
something of an institution among locals and ex-pats.
Former Unionist leader David Trimble was a reader, says
Emerson, and a print out is even said to have landed on
Tony Blair's desk.


In a region still characterised by the centuries-old divide
between Protestants and Catholics, Emerson, 35, has
injected some much-needed humour into the political scene.

But his followers will have to look elsewhere after
Emerson's decision to "decommission" the site, having been
offered a column in a "real newspaper".

So it's farewell to stories such as the one from a recent
edition about the baffling state of competing loyalist
paramilitary groups: "Police in East Belfast have refused
to tackle a UVF mob which is tackling an LVF mob which
police refused to tackle."

The worst thing you can say about anyone in Northern
Ireland is that they can't take a slagging - it's what
saved me

Newton Emerson, editor, Portadown News

Or, following the IRA's offer to shoot the killers of
Robert McCartney, a Catholic who was killed outside a pub
earlier this year: "That IRA statement in full - Following
an investigation of ourselves alone by ourselves alone
several volunteers have volunteered to be shot."

"I think it's served its purpose," says Emerson. "I've said
all I can say in this format and face the risk of repeating

Humour and politics are never natural stable mates at the
best of times, but in Northern Ireland they seem almost
mutually exclusive. So what inspired Emerson to start the
site in 2001?

"I'd been living in my home town of Portadown and for nine
years we'd had this Drumcree stand-off," he says referring
to the annual July march by Protestants that had,
periodically, ended in sectarian rioting.

"Like most people I was annoyed with these groups who had
completely destroyed my town - the night life, the
commercial life. That was where the frustration came from.

"I started it as a joke, for a few friends," he says. But
within a couple of months a local paper, sniffing
controversy, seized on it. Suddenly visitor numbers to the
site rocketed to about 10,000 and have hovered around that
mark ever since.

"It got into all the papers around the world. I think there
were a lot of journalists looking for a new angle on the
stupid, boring Drumcree story."


But Emerson, who is from a Protestant background, was still
dipping his toe in the pool. Despite mocking both sides in
equal measure, he remained anonymous, fearing reprisals.

"That's how we thought it worked in Northern Ireland, but
it turns out when you do something like this, nobody really
has a go at you at all.

"I'm not saying real journalists are safe. But the days
when you couldn't stick your head above the parapet are

Emerson used humour as a shield.

"The worst thing you can say about anyone in Northern
Ireland is that they can't take a slagging. That's the
biggest insult in our culture. It's what saved me. If I'd
been making the points I have been in standard prose form,
I'd have been sued and shot and had my arse kicked a
hundred times over. You're protected if you're cracking a
joke I think."

That's not to say he isn't threatened, on average a new
threat against him is e-mailed or posted on the web every
couple of months. But he has relaxed, saying: "a sports
reporter would get more than that."

Puncturing pomposity

By and large though, public figures have tolerated him,
shaking his hand "through gritted teeth" when they would
"prefer to wring my neck".

Emerson views Northern Ireland politics as patently absurd.

"Part of the reason Portadown News has been so easy to
write down the years is that when you have parish pump
politicians swanning around world capitals, appearing on
CNN and demanding to be treated as if they are
international political leaders... the absurdity and
pomposity of that is just a total gift to comedy."

But how does he judge the humour in what can still be a
bitterly divided community? It would have been "difficult
to write something like the Portadown News when people were
dying in large numbers".

"The murder of Robert McCartney was not amusing at all," he
says, setting out his stall. "You simply wait a little
while until the political hypocrisy emerges and then the
hypocritical responses that follow, and so forth.

"When you've got bombs going off that's a rather hair-
splitting distinction."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/29 09:03:26 GMT


Bush Prepares Hurricane Relief Effort

By Jennifer Loven

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 28, 2005; 7:00 PM

CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush, as he readied the
federal government for a massive relief effort, on Sunday
urged people in the path of Hurricane Katrina to forget
anything but their safety and move to higher ground as

"We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to
Gulf Coast communities," Bush said as the storm roared
across the gulf toward New Orleans and other communities.
"I urge all citizens to put their own safety and the safety
of their families first by moving to safe ground."

O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel
“O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel”

(See Pic at: )

Max Thore, left, helps Danny O'Flaherty, 2nd from left, and
his son Liam carry a Currack, an Irish racing boat, into
their bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Sunday,
Aug. 28, 2005. Preparations continue for the arrival of
Hurricane Katrina which is expected to make landfall on
Monday. At right is Harriet Simon. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
(Bill Haber - AP)

With forecasters warning of a category five storm, the
president made sure the federal response would not be
delayed by already declaring emergencies in Mississippi,
Florida and Alabama just hours after a similar declaration
for Louisiana. Such declarations make federal aid available
to assist with disaster relief, but they are rarely made
before a storm even hits.

Working from his Texas ranch, Bush participated via
videoconference in a large meeting of federal, state and
local disaster management officials preparing for the
storm's onslaught. Separately, he spoke by phone with the
governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

"We will do everything in our power to help the people and
the communities affected by this storm," the president

Winds reaching 175 mph and a potentially devastating storm
surge were feared when Hurricane Katrina reached land early
Monday. The 485,000 residents of New Orleans were ordered
to evacuate the city.

In Washington, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was
coordinating relief efforts sending water, food and other
supplies to staging centers in the Southeast. FEMA was
moving supplies from logistics centers in Atlanta and
Denton, Texas, to areas closer to where authorities believe
the storm will create a need, spokeswoman Nicol Andrews

"It's a very dangerous situation at this point," FEMA
spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said. "We're ready and awaiting

The American Red Cross was mobilizing volunteers from
across the country for what one official called its largest
response to a single disaster in many years.

"This is really an all-hands-on-deck scenario for the Red
Cross right now," spokeswoman Carrie Martin said.

The Red Cross urged people, even those who think they are
outside the storm's path, to prepare for an emergency.

"It could shift at any point. It's really a matter of not
taking any chances, having the supplies in place," Martin

Andrews said that FEMA knows "from 30 years' experience
that these hurricanes are still largely unpredictable and
can turn at a moment's notice."

Officials anticipated a need for emergency shelters as
people evacuate the areas expected to be hit hardest by the
storm. "As far as people can get away from the storm there
will be places for them to go," Andrews said.

The Red Cross encouraged people to turn to friends and
family first rather than shelters because of the magnitude
of the evacuation. Shelters should be for those who have
nowhere else to go, Martin said.

Associated Press writers Tom Raum and Douglass K. Daniel in
Washington contributed to this report.
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