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August 27, 2005

First SDLP Leader Lord Fitt Dies

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News about Ireland and the Irish

BB 08/26/05 First SDLP Leader Lord Fitt Dies
BB 08/26/05 Obituary: Gerry Fitt
BB 08/26/05 Political Tributes To Lord Fitt
IO 08/26/05 Theme Attacked As 'Provo Double-Speak'
DJ 08/26/05 How Many More Killings Will It Take? - MP
EX 08/26/05 No Clean Solution In Sight For Three
BB 08/26/05 'Significant Move' By Next Summer
BB 08/26/05 Judge Questions Omagh Case Money
BB 08/26/05 Vocations To Priesthood On Rise


First SDLP Leader Lord Fitt Dies

The former SDLP leader Lord Gerry Fitt has died at a
relative's home in England.

Lord Fitt, 79, who suffered from a heart condition, had
been in declining health for several months.

He had lived in England for many years. His wife, Anne,
died in 1996 after contracting MRSA in a London hospital.

In his heyday, he was the dominant voice of nationalism,
but his outspoken criticism of republican violence lost him
votes and his Westminster seat.

He was one of the co-founders of the SDLP in 1970, by which
time he had won seats in Westminster, the Stormont assembly
and the old Belfast corporation.

He came to world attention on 5 October 1968 when, as an
elected official, he was among the civil rights marchers
beaten by police.

Images of Fitt, his forehead and shirt blood-stained, went
around the globe.

He went on to forge a power-sharing compromise following
the Sunningdale agreement.

He quit the leadership of the SDLP in 1979.

The current SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Lord Fitt would be
fondly remembered for his role in the Civil Rights Movement
and his work as the MP for West Belfast at Westminster.

"He will also be remembered for his role in the Sunningdale
Agreement and in helping to lead the power-sharing
executive - a model which was opposed by others who now 30
years later claim to accept similar principles," he said.

"People will remember his sense of humour, his devilment.
He had all sorts of stories from his seafaring days and was
a character who could tell a great story."

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain described Lord Fitt
as a "courageous politician" who fought against all forms
of injustice and showed "unrelenting opposition to

"A true democrat, grounded in his working class roots, he
always championed the rights of the most vulnerable in
society and often at great personal cost to himself and
family," said Mr Hain.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said Lord Fitt had made a very
significant contribution to constitutional politics and
civil rights in Northern Ireland.

He added: "He was a man who practised the message of
moderation and tolerance that he courageously preached.

"He was often in the front line of the Troubles and he
experienced violence at first hand from both sides of the
divide in the north."

DUP leader Ian Paisley expressed his sadness at the news of
Lord Fitt's death.

'Passionate defender'

"I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Gerry Fitt
today. I extend to his family circle and friends my sincere
sympathy at this sad time," he said.

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said he would be "respected
and remembered for his consistent opposition to the
Provisional movement and their terrorist campaign".

"As a parliamentaria, many unionists will always remember
him for his opposition, in the House of Lords, to the
changing of the RUC's name," he said.

The former Ulster Unionist deputy leader, Lord Kilclooney,
said he was saddened at the death of his old political

Lord Kilclooney, who was a member of the 1974 power-sharing
executive, described Lord Fitt as a "wonderful character".

"Some politicians you cannot trust, but with Gerry you
could always trust him," he said.

"He had a great sense of humour, very mischievous at

Catholic Primate of Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady said Lord
Fitt played a "vital role at a critical stage in the search
for justice and civil rights."

"Always a courageous opponent of violence, he served people
from all sections of the community at no small sacrifice to
himself," he said.

The Methodist President Reverend Jim Rea said Lord Fitt had
served people from every background.

"He was one who was vocal in his opposition to violence and
when it literally came to his own door-step he showed
immense courage," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 20:48:19 GMT


Obituary: Gerry Fitt

A lifelong activist for peaceful change in Northern
Ireland, Gerry Fitt - who has died aged 79 - was in his
heyday the dominant voice of nationalism.

However, his outspoken criticism of republican violence and
the IRA hunger strike in the Maze prison sealed his fate
and he stood down from the leadership of the SDLP in 1979.

His political career brought him the first leadership of
the SDLP and finally a seat in the House of Lords.

From an archetypal Belfast Catholic working-class
background, Gerry Fitt joined the Merchant Navy in 1941,
serving on Atlantic and Russian convoys.

He said later that on the ships he discovered that poverty
wasn't confined to Belfast, and learned a tolerance he
hadn't found in the Catholic ghettos of his childhood.

When his convoy had been surrounded by German submarines,
with missiles flying back and forth, he wondered how young
men in both vessels could try to kill each other when they
had not even met.

"Since then I have been totally against war," he once told
the BBC.

Gerry Fitt returned to Northern Ireland a committed
socialist, and was soon on Belfast City Council as a member
of the Irish Labour Party.

Fitt's political profile grew ever higher. In 1962, he took
a Stormont seat from the Unionist Party, and in 1966 took
his place at Westminster, by now bearing the standard for
the Republican Labour Party.

His presence in London brought Irish nationalists' problems
to a wider audience and, in October 1968, Fitt succeeded in
attracting UK parliamentarians to a civil rights march in

Fitt's face, bloodied by clashes with police, became a
potent symbol of the Northern Ireland troubles.

It was Fitt, under pressure from local Catholic residents
in the Falls Road, who made the call to the Prime Minister
to have troops sent in.

In 1970 he became the first leader of the loose coalition
of the civil rights and former nationalist leaders who
created the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

By 1974 he was deputy chief executive of the short-lived
Northern Ireland Executive, an unprecedented position for a

Fortress Fitt

Although this meant sharing power with the Unionists, Fitt
saw this as Ireland's most realistic opportunity for
lasting peace, and he described his "heart breaking when
the coalition broke down after five months".

Fitt noted the cracks in his own party too, lamenting those
"who would have a united Ireland at any price".

Despite his face being forever associated with the bloody
confrontations of Derry, Fitt's total opposition to
violence led to his unpopularity among more militant
republican sympathisers, and his home was regularly

In 1976 intruders burst in while his wife was having an
asthma attack, and Fitt was forced to draw a gun on the

When his house, which he had termed Fortress Fitt, was set
on fire soon afterwards, the Belfast-born politician defied
cries of desertion and moved his wife, Anne, and the five
daughters he affectionately dubbed "the Miss Fitts" to a
new home in London.

After having refused a peerage several times, he changed
his mind when he discovered, in the charred remains of his
home, his wedding picture ripped in two by republican

Fitt himself said of his family: "We may have been
physically in England but we have stayed in Northern
Ireland emotionally every day."

Lone protestor

His loyalty to his country was perhaps supported by his
growing disillusion with the British handling of Northern
Ireland. His contempt led him to abstain in a crucial
Commons vote in 1979, which brought down the then Labour

Later that year, though, Fitt also resigned from the SDLP,
protesting against its need for an "Irish view" to be part
of the political process.

In 1981, Fitt found himself once more on his own after
protesting against the Maze Prison hunger strikes.

Sinn Fein targeted his seat in Parliament and, despite
support from the Protestant minority in his area, in June
1983 he lost the constituency of West Belfast to Gerry

The following month Gerry Fitt was made the Baron of Bell's
Hill and, from his seat in the House of Lords, he defied
nationalist opinion and criticised the way the Anglo-Irish
Agreement had been imposed over the heads of Unionists.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 13:06:43 GMT


Political Tributes To Lord Fitt

Lord Fitt, one of the co-founders of the SDLP, was the
dominant voice of nationalism in his hey-day.

Leading political figures have been given their reaction to
his death.


I am deeply saddened by the passing of Gerry Fitt. I had
spoken to him on the phone a few weeks ago and we had
planned to meet when I was next in London.

Gerry Fitt was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement
and in the political life of the North for many years. As
MP for West Belfast, he broke down the wall of indifference
that British ministers and Westminster had previously shown
towards Northern Ireland.

He was instrumental in founding the SDLP on the principles
of non-violence, partnership and equality and in bringing
about the Sunningdale Agreement, with its core features of
power-sharing, a strong all-Ireland dimension and human

The tragedy for him and everyone else was that Sunningdale
was opposed and brought down by intransigent unionism and
violent republicanism - the same people who now claim they
are for the principles that were at its core.

While he was a great character and good company, Gerry Fitt
should be remembered, above all, as someone who cared very
deeply about the people.


Gerry Fitt was a courageous politician who fought against
injustice in all its forms and demonstrated unrelenting
opposition to violence from whatever source.

A true democrat, grounded in his working class roots, he
always championed the rights of the most vulnerable in
society and often at great personal cost to himself and

He will be missed by many here as well as at Westminster
where he continued, until very recently, to make a
significant contribution in the life of parliament.


I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Gerry Fitt.

I offer my sincere sympathies to his family circle and his
friends at this time.


I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Gerry Fitt.

During a long and brave career in the wider labour movement
and as a public representative he made a very significant
contribution to constitutional politics and civil rights in
Northern Ireland.

Through turbulent times at the height of the Troubles, he
provided leadership to constitutional nationalists and an
example to people of every creed.

He was a man who practised the message of moderation and
tolerance that he courageously preached. He was often in
the front line of the Troubles and he experienced violence
at first hand from both sides of the divide in the north.

He was an excellent parliamentarian and a passionate
speaker and he delivered many compelling speeches in both
Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

He had a deep-seated commitment to equality and basic fair
play, that stemmed from his strong socialist beliefs. Above
all he abhorred sectarianism and violence.

In the ongoing quest for a peaceful settlement and
constitutional politics in the north, history will record
that he played his part by word, by deed and by example.

Gerry Fitt with his late wife Anne and their children, gave
selfless public service to their community and to politics
on these islands.


Gerry was a wonderful character. I remember him as a
colleague at Stormont when I was Home Affairs Minister.

Some politicians you cannot trust, but with Gerry you could
always trust him.

He had a great sense of humour, very mischievous at times.

But he also made a huge contribution in the House of Lords
to the debate on Northern Ireland, because his
understanding of the problems was so good.


Gerry was man who played a very central role at a time of
great change in Northern Ireland.

His efforts in Westminster, bringing the issues of justice
in Northern Ireland to the floor of the House, has so far
been understated.

History will show that the way in which he brought the
problems of Northern Ireland to the immediate attention of
parliament and a worldwide television audience had a
fundamental effect on what has happened since.


He will always be respected and remembered for his
consistent and resolute opposition to the Provisional
movement and their terrorist campaign, which ultimately
resulted in the loss of his Westminster seat.

As a parliamentarian many unionists would always remember
him for his opposition, in the House of Lords, to the
changing of the RUC's name.

He was a passionate defender of the socially and
economically disadvantaged and made a lasting contribution
to the political landscape in Northern Ireland.


The differences between Gerry Fitt and republicans were
many and profound.

But this is not a time to revisit these.

I wish to express my sympathy to the extended Fitt family
following the news of the death of Gerry Fitt.


Gerry was a great human being, he was a very humorous man,
but also a very committed man.

We always regretted when the break between himself and
ourselves took place.

It came to our surprise and we regretted that very much,
but in his early days we strongly supported what he did
because he was very strongly in the Civil Rights Movement
and strongly campaigning for Civil Rights.

He was the first MP from Northern Ireland to be allowed to
even raise the Northern Ireland problem in the House of
Commons. Gerry's political legacy really was that he was a
down to earth, working class, totally involved in trying to
improve the living standards of his people.


Gerry Fitt was a giant of nationalist politics in Northern
Ireland over the course of five decades.

Throughout his life he abhorred violence and was dedicated
to pursuing his political objectives only by peaceful and
democratic means.

He brought common sense, a deep personal knowledge, passion
and wit to debates on Northern Ireland during his time at
Stormont, in the House of Commons and latterly the Lords.

Above all, he will be remembered for his tremendous courage
in the face of the most appalling intimidation by the IRA.


Gerry Fitt was one of the most important figures of the
last 50 years in Irish political life.

In the 1960s, he put Labour politics on the map in Northern
Ireland, through his activism at grassroots level and
subsequent election to Belfast City Council, Stormont, and

He was always a strong and passionate advocate of civil
rights at a time when unionists failed to recognise or
respond to these calls. He also demonstrated great personal
courage in the face of worsening sectarianism.

Gerry Fitt's larger-than-life personality and his
forthright, often blunt, approach won him enemies and
friends alike.

Yet despite political differences with colleagues and
opponents he remained committed to the politics of
persuasion and to a peaceful, non-violent solution to the
violence in the north.


Gerry Fitt was a truly remarkable politician who made a
huge contribution to the creation and development of
democratic nationalism in Northern Ireland.

As a founder member and first leader of the SDLP he gave
the nationalist population a vehicle to achieve civil
rights and equality through politics.

Throughout his career, Gerry Fitt demonstrated huge
courage, both in his steadfast opposition to all
paramilitary violence and in exposing the criminality in
which the provisional movement was engaged.


Lord Fitt was a testimony to courage and independence in
the most divided year of Northern Irish Politics.

He was never afraid to say controversial things when
necessary and was fearless when it came to challenging the
status quo.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 20:38:51 GMT


Conference Theme Attacked As 'Provo Double-Speak'
2005-08-26 17:40:06+01

Republicans have been forced to re-examine how to achieve
their goal of a united Ireland following the historic IRA
statement, an MEP said today.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald also said unionists would
have to learn to work with nationalists in the new
political climate.

Ms McDonald was speaking after the Coiste na n-Iarchimi
summer school in Co Armagh, which focused on whether Irish
republicanism can be militant without being militaristic.

The Ulster Unionists condemned the theme of the conference
and said it was nothing more than "Provo Double Speak".

But Ms McDonald said it was time to look to the future and
move away from the past.

The MEP said: "We are coming out of what was a very long
period of struggle and to the end of the conflict.

"This requires people to stop some of their old demonising
ways, that includes the UUP.

"I hope in time they can get to grips and come to some
level of agreement.

"They may act to frustrate it but they can't stop it.

"We all have to work together as we all live together in

Ms McDonald said the IRA statement was received positively
by delegates at the conference, which was organised by the
republican prisoners group.

She added: "People are very much focused on the future and
on bringing about a united Ireland."

But UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy questioned the theme of
the summer school, which was opened yesterday by Sinn Féin
TD Martin Ferris.

The Newry & Armagh MLA said: "Being militant and
militaristic are both incompatible with democratic politics
in Northern Ireland.

"For 36 years this province and its people had to endure
republicans' violent and evil militant and militaristic
terrorist campaign.

"His comments last night will serve as a chilling reminder
of what the republican movement are capable of.

"We are sick, sore and tired of Provo Double Speak and Mr
Ferris's comments last night were a master class in this
dark art."

The UUP MLA added: "Ferris's comments will be seen as the
green light for republican volunteers throughout Ireland to
continue to indulge in their subversive activities.

"Four weeks have passed since the IRA's statement and not
one bullet, gun or rocket launcher has been put verifiably
and transparently beyond use, despite the endless train of
concessions to republicans."


'How Many More Killings Will It Take?' - Asks Derry MP

Friday 26th August 2005

Derry MP Mark Durkan has accused Secretary of State Peter
Hain of "remaining speechless" in the face of ongoing
loyalist murders.

The SDLP leader is pressing the British government to
declare obsolete the ceasefire of the UVF - blamed for
murdering four men in Belfast since the start of July -
which also stands accused of issuing new death threats
against a murder victim's father.

Mr. Durkan expressed astonishment that the Northern Ireland
Secretary has yet to give an assessment on the UVF.

The Belfast murders have all been linked to the UVF's
vicious feud with the splinter LVF.

But in a separate development, Raymond McCord, the group's
most outspoken critic, claimed they were planning to use
the violent turf war to try to kill him.

Mr. McCord blames the UVF for murdering his 22-year-old
son, Raymond Jnr., in November 1997.

Alarmed both by Mr. McCord's claims and an attempt by the
UDA to prevent the sale of a Sunday newspaper, Mr. Durkan
insists loyalists are trying to take away freedom of

The Foyle MP said: "On the one hand, the UVF is threatening
Raymond McCord --simply because he refuses to stay silent
about the fact that they killed his son.

"On the other, the UDA is threatening newsagents that stock
the 'Sunday World' simply because it has published stories
about the luxury lifestyles of UDA crime bosses. "These
threats cannot be lightly dismissed. After all, the UVF
have already killed Raymond McCord's son.

"And just a few years ago, loyalists murdered a brave
'Sunday World' journalist, Martin O'Hagan.

"It is demoralising for decent people that the Secretary of
State has remained speechless. He still will not say what
everybody knows: that loyalist paramilitaries have broken
their ceasefires.

"Just what is it that needs to happen before the Northern
Ireland Office think that the UVF has broken its ceasefire.
How many more killings does it take?"

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), however, has rejected
allegations that it is ignoring the situation.

A spokesman said: "We completely refute any allegation of
indifference towards this murderous violence.

"The Secretary of State has made it clear from the outset
that this is gangsterism masquerading as loyalism.

"Our focus is on the most effective way of bringing these
murders and violent attacks to an end.

"We believe that this will be best achieved through
effective policing and the PSNI deserve everyone's support,
particularly in loyalist communities at this time, to bring
the perpetrators of this violence to justice."


No Clean Solution In Sight For Three

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

LISTENING to Michael McDowell sound off about Sinn Féin and
the Colombia Three was a bit like witnessing the tail-end
of a Mediterranean storm.

You know that it has passed. You can see that the lightning
has moved off over the horizon but you are still hearing
the deafening roar of delayed thunder.

The huffery and puffery wasn't surprising (it is the Mullah
after all and it is the Shinners he is going on about). But
what was surprising was that his first pronouncement was so
political. You could have predicted what he was going to
say about Adams's family values long before he wound
himself up for fulmination. He had some stuff to say about
the possible legal options. But nothing to suggest there is
any clear pathway open to extradite the three men to

Sure, there is an international arrest warrant out for the
men. And sure, Colombia is a signatory of international
conventions of which Ireland is a party. But they specify
categories of offences which don't give any fit with what
the work of the three republican missionaries was.

The absence of a bilateral extradition treaty between
Ireland and Colombia is the biggest stumbler. And even if
that were to happen, the provisions of the 1965 Extradition
Act would indicate that the prospect of the men being
extradited was remote. Are the offences political in
nature? Under the act, extradition shall not be granted if
the offence is regarded as a political offence or as an
offence connected with a political offence.

While the definition of political offence was recast by
then Chief Justice Thomas O'Higgins in 1984, allowing for
the extradition of Dominic McGlinchey, it would prove a
huge barrier to any request made by the Colombian

And is there an equivalent offence in Ireland to that with
which they were charged? Moreover, Colombia's questionable
judicial system and its dodgy records on human rights would
also mean that a request would be mired for years.

Politically, this was such a crafty coup by the republican
movement. The sudden appearance of James Monaghan on RTÉ
with his fetching foxy-coloured highlights showed just how
completely they had outflanked their opponents.

Here was a classic example of a cuckoo placing its egg in
the nest with no hope of dislodging it. By timing it so
closely with the IRA statement, they calculate that they
can weather the storm before they get round to talks about
any real deal on the North. Sinn Féin have been busy
harping on the of merits of forgiving and forgetting,
hectoring all and sundry to leave the poor men return to
their lives in peace.

The Government also knew the damage it would cause.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern broke his holidays in Kerry and
there was a lot of optics to show how seriously they were
taking it. The Irish ambassador to Mexico was dispatched to
Bogota. The US Ambassador James Kenny and the British
chargé d'affaires Ted Hallett were briefed in Dublin.

But Mr Ahern and Mr McDowell know that they have been
snookered. Mr Ahern will also have to counter allegations
that this was all part of some clandestine side-deal that
was forged with SF in order to gain the greater prize.

The case of the Colombia Three stinks to high heaven. It's
inarguable that Colombia is hardly a beacon of democracy.
It's true also that the way in which an acquittal was
reversed so dramatically by a closed appeal court was
highly dubious, to say the very least.

But the three intrepid travellers hardly came looking for
justice with clean hands. Sinn Féin ducked and weaved when
all this first landed on their laps in August 21.

First there was the denial (nope, Niall Connolly is not a
Sinn Féin representative in Cuba). Then we were told they
were eco-tourists in search of armadillos and the lesser
spectacled bear. Finally, they settled on a story that they
were there to study the Colombian peace process (on whose

There have been too many gaps in the narrative. Too many
inconsistencies. Too many silences since the three
absconded last December.

A mote in the eye when it comes to selective victimisation.
And somewhere in that political jungle, truth, like the
three men, can make a habit of vanishing without trace.


'Significant Move' By Next Summer

By Martina Purdy

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

It's been another bitter summer.

In Ahoghill, Catholic families have been forced out -
following a series of attacks.

There has been more rioting at the Belfast interfaces.
Sectarian violence has been particularly acute in north

This week, a Catholic mother and three children narrowly
escaped death when a lit petrol bomb was thrown threw their
front window in broad daylight in Cliftondene Crescent.

In Alliance Avenue, the home of a 78-year-old Protestant
pensioner, recovering from a stroke, was petrol bombed.

A sectarian motive for the murder of Catholic teenager
Thomas Devlin has not been ruled out.

The security minister, Shaun Woodward, fresh from his
holiday, is promising a crackdown on those behind almost
nightly interface violence.

The government, which last Spring launched its Shared
Future document aimed at promoting harmony, is promising
another report in the autumn.

Critics say the report "sank without trace" and a more
robust approach is required.

The main thrust of the strategy is encouraging more
tolerance by promoting integrated housing and schooling and
removing illegal flags.

These ideas are not new, nor is the deep scepticism about
the prospect of mixed housing in Northern Ireland where the
vast majority of Catholics and Protestants live separately.

The Alliance leader, David Ford, supports the vision of
integrated housing and believes it can happen, but Brian
Feeney, the Irish News columnist, speaking on the BBC's
Inside Politics programme, said this was fantasy and would
result in more violence and riotous behaviour.

The police response to the sectarian problem has also been
in the news, and speculation that former paramilitaries are
going to be allowed to join the police has also made

This follows a report that the Northern Ireland Office is
considering proposals which include community support
officers being introduced here.

These CSOs are used in England and Wales.

They are full-time officers who go through fast-track
training, have no powers of arrest, but are used to deal
with petty crime in the community.

There has been some concern about abuses despite assurances
that the scheme would come with safeguards if it was

The fierce opposition to former paramilitaries joining the
service, and the fact that this was ruled out by Chris
Patten, the architect of the new PSNI, means it is highly
unlikely that Sinn Fein's demand will be met.

But there is little doubt that young men and women who have
been recruited into the IRA post 1994 and who have no
police records may end up in the PSNI.

Certainly that would make it easier for the Sinn Fein
leadership to sell the new police service to its supporters
when the time comes.

Policing changes

Interestingly, Mr Ford did not deny this was a possibility.

He said it was important to focus on the safeguards that
exist to ensure all officers uphold the law: "I think we
may have to accept there may be certain bad the
police service.

"The key thing is to ensure the police service is run as
best it can be and these bad apples are weeded out."

The issue of republicans and the police is expected to
dominate politics in the months ahead.

Sinn Fein has indicated that it will not allow the DUP to
veto progress in the peace progress, or prevent changes to

It is not a matter of if, but when, Sinn Fein signs onto
the PSNI.

One republican source did not dispute a significant move by
next summer.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 17:49:19 GMT


Judge Questions Omagh Case Money

A judge has said the Lord Chancellor did not have the power
to instruct Legal Aid to fund the Omagh families' civil
action against Michael McKevitt.

The Real IRA leader is challenging the almost £750,000
awarded to the families of victims of the bombing.

Mr Justice Coghlin said he was "minded to grant McKevitt
the relief sought", but added he could not see the
families' funding being withdrawn.

He adjourned the case for two weeks to hear further

McKevitt is crrently serving a 20-year sentence in
Portlaoise prison for running the Real IRA.

He and four other people in the Republic of Ireland -
Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy
- are being sued by the families of the 1998 bomb atrocity
in which 29 people were killed.

The government gave the Omagh relatives almost £750,000 to
sue them for £14m, while McKevitt's claim for £1m in legal
aid was turned down.

Justice Coghlin said he considered the decision of the Lord
Chancellor to help fund the families' cases to be unlawful
as he did not have the power to do so.

However, he added that "no doubt the overwhelming majority
of right-thinking people in this jurisdiction... would have
little difficulty in giving their approval to such a

The judge added: "I find it difficult to conceive of
circumstances" in which the families funding could be
withdrawn, "particularly in view of the subject matter of
the proceedings".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 17:17:14 GMT


Vocations To Priesthood On Rise

Following years of decline in vocations to the priesthood
in Ireland, this year sees the highest number of Catholic
seminarians in 10 years.

Nineteen young men will enter Saint Patrick's seminary at
Maynooth, west of Dublin, on Saturday.

In 2002, only one of Northern Ireland's 700,000 Catholics
was ordained a priest.

But a County Donegal man, who is about to begin his studies
at Maynooth, believes that the death of Pope John Paul II
has perhaps contributed to what is being seen as a
resurgence of interest in vocations.

Gregory Gallagher, 19, from Mount Charles, said he believed
recent scandals involving the Catholic Church had perhaps
affected numbers going into the priesthood.

However, he said the death of the pope had "renewed the
faith" and "made people question themselves and their
perspective on things".

"It's still a big step to take for young people to get the
courage to stand up and confess their faith," he said.

Gregory said his call to the priesthood had come through a
variety of "signs".

"A number of things inspired me to become a priest, it
wasn't a life long ambition I had. It was a process of
discerning what God wanted me to do," he said.

"It was like trying to reveal what God had planned out for
me in the signs.

Missionary work

"(There were) a number of things such as hearing a priest's
homily at Mass, and reading a bible or some kind of a flyer
or maybe like watching a documentary on Jesus and his
apostles, things like that."

The young man admitted that it had been difficult to reveal
his future plans to family and friends, and some had
initially been shocked.

"They usually are supportive about it and give you a lot of
advice," he said.

Gregory admitted to being nervous about joining 18 other
seminarians at Maynooth this weekend, but was still looking
forward to it.

"I am planning on being a parish priest and if I wanted
ever to change I could change down the line to missionary
work," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/26 07:40:07 GMT


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