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August 17, 2005

Islamic Cleric Says Ireland A Legitimate Target

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 08/17/05 Islamic Cleric Says Ireland A Legitimate Target
BT 08/17/05 Police Action 'Illegal', Says Republican
NL 08/17/05 Irish 'Dithering' On Colombia 3 May Enrage US
BT 08/17/05 Teenagers Jailed For Racist Attack On Children.
BT 08/17/05 ITV: Police Blunders In Brazilian's Shooting
BT 08/17/05 DUP Fury At UUP's Claims On RIR Issue
BT 08/17/05 Court Moves Could Tell The World Who Did What
BT 08/17/05 Boredom Blamed For Destruction Of Headstones
BT 08/17/05 Expert Predicts More Algae Problems In Water
BB 08/17/05 NI Tourism Continues Upward Trend
BT 08/17/05 Irish Accompany Pope As He Travels
UT 08/17/05 Irish Pupils Await Leaving Cert Results
AO 08/17/05 McAllister AOH North Carolina State Resolution


Islamic Cleric Says Ireland Is A 'Legitimate Target'

By Mick McCaffrey
17 August 2005

A notorious British-based Islamic extremist has said Ireland is a "legitimate" target for al-Qa'ida terror attacks.

Anjem Choudary, who has close links to the infamous hate preacher, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said the use of Shannon Airport as a stop-off for US warplanes justifies Ireland being attacked.

The solicitor (38) said: "If your government wants to support the atrocities in Afghanistan they can expect some repercussions," and added that Ireland had "opened itself" to attacks from radical Muslims linked to al-Qa'ida.

Choudary even said that terrorists have the right to kill indiscriminately since American bombers did not pick and choose military targets in Iraq.


He said he was "not in the business" of condemning terrorist attacks in Britain and Ireland and added: "What you need to do is you need to be responsible and you need to look after your national security.

"If people slipped into Ireland from Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, where the Irish are standing side by side with the butcher of Baghdad, George Bush, then they would have a legitimacy for that type of thing.

"That's not my personal opinion but your asking me what it says in the Koran."

Choudary believes that Ireland has risked being targeted by opening up Shannon to planes transporting US troops to Iraq.

"Obviously if Ireland is allowing their land to be used for planes to fly and to bomb Muslims, then those Muslims will obviously have a right to retaliate, it goes without saying."

He also criticises Irish Muslims, saying they've been "stripped of their Islamic personality through secular education. On the one hand they're not willing to speak up and on the other hand they're intimidated into being docile."

Choudary joined Omar Bakri Mohammed's al-Muhajiroun extremists in the late 1990s and became the cleric's spokesperson and advisor. He hailed the September 11 attacks as a "towering day in history" and hailed the hijackers as "magnificent martyrs".

Among the targets that the extremist believes are legitimate include hospitals, women and children.

"So this is the nature of war, people don't make love in war do they? They'll kill each other. If you fire a nuclear weapon they will fire a nuclear weapon back."


Police Action 'Illegal', Says Republican

By Sarah Brett
17 August 2005

A republican parades organiser was taking legal advice today after police refused him entry to Londonderry fearing a breach of the peace.

According to Paddy Murray, who organised Ballymena's first republican march last week, police stopped him at a road block outside the city on Saturday during an Apprentice Boys march and forced him to turn back citing anti-terror laws.

Mr Murray claimed his destination was Letterkenny and offered to take another route bypassing Derry but he was refused.

His car was searched and he was escorted back to Dungiven by the PSNI before making the rest of his journey home to Antrim alone.

In a statement the PSNI said: "A number of individuals travelling towards the city were advised that they would not be permitted to continue their journeys as police believed their presence would lead to a breach of the peace."

Mr Murray claimed the stop and search outside Drumahoe YMCA was illegal and has contacted his solicitor.

"I was initially stopped and asked my name and address which I gave, but I refused to give my age which the officer said was illegal under the Road Traffic Act," said Mr Murray.

"I did however offer to show them all my documents which would include my date of birth but he was not impressed and called for back-up.

"When a District Mobile Support Unit pulled up, the officer said he was going to search my car under anti-terror legislation.

"I told him I believed it was an illegal operation and rang my solicitor which the officer logged.

"Nobody asked where I was going. I asked could I go through Strabane to Letterkenny and they said if I didn't go straight home they would arrest me immediately.

"I have never attended a march in Derry in my life. I wasn't doing anything wrong and they found nothing in my car. They seem to be using anti-terror laws at a whim, it was a farce from start to finish."


Irish 'Dithering' On Colombia 3 May Enrage US

By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent
Monday 15th August 2005

The US government is putting the squeeze on Ireland to ensure the Colombia Three serve their 17-year sentences.

James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McAuley, who remain fugitives from justice in the Republic, were tried and convicted in Bogota last year for training Farc guerrillas.

It emerged at the weekend that Washington was taken aback by the low-key approach adopted by the Irish authorities to the return of the trio.

US diplomatic sources told a Sunday newspaper that the American attitude to the fugitives could turn to fury if they are not sent to jail in Ireland or Colombia.

One of the main reasons for the concern is that US intelligence agencies claim to have information that the three were part of a much bigger IRA operation in Colombia in the late 1990s and the start of this decade.

Meanwhile, an Irish American group is lobbying Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to ensure he does not return the men to South America where they could be subjected to inhuman, degrading or cruel treatment.

The Irish American Unity Committee (IAUC) said it supported the Irish premier's statement regarding the Colombia Three that Ireland would "fulfil its international obligations subject to the scrutiny of the Irish courts".

But the group said it was the legal and international obligations that were most important.

The IAUC urged the Irish government to review the situation of the Colombia Three in light of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Ireland ratified on April 11, 2002.

Under the terms of the convention, an Irish national must not be returned to a country where they face torture at the hands of paramilitary groups, and where it has been demonstrated that the government is likely to acquiesce, or turn a blind eye, to any torturous acts.

The IAUC added that the three men had been incarcerated in La Modelo prison in Bogota "which ranks as one of the most dangerous prison regimes in the world".

IAUC human rights chairman Eamonn Dornan said: "There is no bilateral extradition treaty in existence between Ireland and Colombia.

"The IAUC also notes that the Irish courts are well-versed in extradition law, and in particular with sections 9 and 50 of the Extradition Act 1965 which raises the defence of the "political offence exception" to extradition requests, as well as the right of an Irish national to challenge any ruling ordering him extradited if it would be "unjust, oppressive or invidious to deliver him up".

Unionists, however, are pressing for the men to be sent back, noting that they were convicted of training Farc guerrillas in inhumane, cruel and murderous terror techniques.

Many of the victims in Colombia are innocent civilians who have been killed or maimed by mortar bombs similar to those used by the IRA.


Teenagers Jailed For Racist Attack On Asian Children

By Ian Herbert
17 August 2005

A teenage member of a white gang which attacked three Asian schoolboys, beating two of them unconscious, has been detained for 16 months by a judge who likened the attack to "wolves seeking, stalking and chasing their prey".

James Peters, 18, was in a gang of up to 100 youthswho hunted and cornered the children, aged 11 and 14, who were playing close to their school. Two 11-year-old boys were beaten to the ground and a boy of 14, who had stepped in to help his friends, was punched, hit with a log, stamped on and kicked unconscious.

The attackers kept shouted racist abuse throught the assault. Peters, 17 at the time, was convicted of the beatings with four accomplices, but had fled court during a break in earlier legal proceedings.

Jason Brassington, 17, was said to be the catalyst and recruiting officer for the attack. Brassington was not a pupil at Counthill school in Oldham, Greater Manchester, which the Asian boys attended, but he had gone there and threw stones at Asian pupils. He then got into a fight with one pupil who was trying to defend others.

The next day, Brassington, who has two brothers of mixed race, assembled a mob of up to 100 youths from the local, predominantly white Moorside estate and at lunchtime arrived at the school, and shouted racist abuse and waved sticks. Raza Ali and Aadil Nabil, both 11, and Raza Shan, 14, were playing football in the playground. They fled but were caught and beaten.

Peters told police he punched one of the children then head-butted a second. Despite these admissions, he denied three counts of racially aggravated assault.

Ali and Shan, now 12 and 15 who are cousins, have changed school. Witness statements read in court revealed how the older boy's class grades dropped and said he was frightened to play outside. The younger boy's father, Asgher Ali, 40, said it was the family's first experience of racial violence since they arrived from Kashmir in the early 1980s.

District Judge Alan Berg condemned the "unbridled racist thuggery", saying Peters had shown "no mercy". He added: "You behaved like a pack of wolves; seeking, stalking and chasing your prey. You showed no mercy. Indeed, you have showed little or no contrition or remorse." The judge rejected claims that the Asian children had provoked the gang as an "utter distortion". "You were part of a gang, an important and active part, who attacked the students simply because they were Asian," he said.

Brassington, 17, Brandon Crossley 16, Stephen Lees, 16, and Michael Culkin, 16, all from Oldham, had also denied charges of racially aggravated violence. Brassington, Crossley and Lees were detained in young offenders' institutions and Culkin was given a community-based punishment.

Oldham has tried to foster racial harmony since race riots in the town four years ago, though the Ritchie Commission set up to investigate those disturbances questioned how committed it was to the process.

Asian taxi-drivers still bear the brunt of white racism and many have been lured into the town's Abbeyhills district by hoax calls, only to find themselves on the receiving end of racial abuse and stone-throwing. Mosques in the town have been sent hate mail.


ITV Claims To Show 'Police Blunders' In Brazilian's Shooting

By Geneviève Roberts
17 August 2005

Documents obtained by ITV News have revealed contradictions in evidence after the killing of an innocent Brazilian during the height of terror fears in London.

According to ITV, a catalogue of police failures led to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, who was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder by police on 22 July

Secret documents and photographs from the independent investigation into the shooting were obtained by the broadcaster, revealing how the Brazilian came to be mistaken for a suicide bomber.

They claim to show Mr de Menezes - an electrician whose only connection with the failed bombers was living in the same block of flats - "behaved normally" when he entered Stockwell Tube station - contradicting rumours that he had bolted from police officers.

According to ITV, the CCTV footage confirmed Mr de Menezes was not wearing a padded jacket, something that police had initially announced.

The documents suggest, Mr de Menezes walked calmly through the barriers at Stockwell station, using his Oyster card, and paused to pick up a free newspaper. The report, if corroborated, could add weight to the de Menezes family's legal fight against the police over the shooting and death of Jean.

The death caused embarrassment to police at the time, with Sir Ian Blair apologising to the family. .

Last night, the documents allegedly highlighted the catastrophic mistakes made in the surveillance operation. On the morning of 22 July, officers were in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill watching a flat they believed contained would-be bombers who had tried to blow up the Tube.

The investigation is believed to say that the firearms unit of the police had been told "unusual tactics" may be required and, if officers were deployed, they should intercept a subject and - if there was an opportunity - they should challenge him. But if the subject was non-compliant, "a critical shot may be taken".

One firearms officer is quoted by ITV as saying: "The strategy around the address was: No subject coming out of the address would be allowed to run and an interception should take place as soon as possible away from the address trying not to compromise it."

ITV also claims the report shows officers wrongly believed Mr de Menezes could have been one of two bombing suspects who they thought were in the building.

The report says: "De Menezes was observed walking to a bus stop and then boarded a bus, travelling to Stockwell Tube. During this, his description and demeanour was assessed and it was believed he matched the identity of one of the suspects ... the information was passed to the operations centre and Gold Command made the decision and gave appropriate instructions that he was to be prevented from entering the Tube system. At that stage, the operation moved to Code Red tactic, responsibility was handed over to SO19."

According to ITV, the firearms officers were given clearance to kill Mr de Menezes but he seemed completely unaware he was being tailed.

In contrast to a witness statement that said Mr de Menezes tripped as he was boarding the train, CCTV footage apparently shows he only started running when he got to the concourse, perhaps to catch a train. He entered the carriage and sat in an available seat.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is assessing the contradictory evidence. Last night, Scotland Yard said it was unable to make a comment because of the investigation.


DUP Fury At UUP's Claims On RIR Issue

By Ben Lowry
17 August 2005

The DUP has slammed UUP suggestions that it knew about the disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Strangford MP Iris Robinson angrily rejected claims by the UUP's David McNarry that the DUP had either been asleep at the wheel as the Government disbanded the RIR or had known of the disbandment but not let on.

Mrs Robinson said Strangford MLA Mr McNarry had "lost the run of himself", and instead laid the blame for the RIR's end at the door of the David Trimble-led UUP.

Mrs Robinson said that plans to disband the home battalions were "born as a direct result of the talks between the pro-Agreement parties which led to the Joint Declaration in April 2003".

She added: "The DUP publicly indicated that the home battalions of the RIR were being sacrificed as part of the Trimble/Empey desire to get back into government with Sinn Fein/IRA.

"At the time Ulster Unionists such as Mr McNarry denied that the RIR was under threat and accused us of scaremongering."

But Mr McNarry replied: "It is outrageous that the DUP should attempt to blame the UUP for the current mess when they have been the largest unionist Party in Northern Ireland for over two years.

"The only response from the DUP's 'stepford politicians' to the never?ending stream of concessions to republicans has been to spin a web of lies about the UUP."


Court Moves Could Tell The World Who Did What

Lindy McDowell
17 August 2005

Time for peace, time to sue? One of the most remarkable things about the victims of the Troubles is how very quiet they are. True, people who have suffered violence at the hands of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland have many reasons to keep their heads down. The fear of attracting further paramilitary attention to themselves being not the least of these.

But while in this place there's been much publicity about what's loosely referred to in the media as high profile murder cases and controversial murder cases, the vast majority of the families of the thousands murdered here and the tens of thousands of people injured here, have rarely sought (or, perhaps that should be, have rarely been given) the opportunity to tell their story.

Because the Republican Movement is the most vocal in campaigning for inquiries into certain selected cases (allegations of so-called collusion being standard) the impression often given is that most of those killed in the Northern Ireland Troubles died at the hands of the security forces. They didn't. They died at the hands of terrorist organisations.

The most prolific killing gang throughout the course of the Troubles was the Provisional IRA. The loyalists weren't too far behind them.

Most of these terrorist organisations have political wings. These political wings seem to have no shortage of money.

And judging by the second homes, flash cars, designer wardrobes, extensive jewellery collections and expensive tans paramilitary bosses flaunt, the coffers of the terrorist organisations also bulge like a brigadier's muscles.

Over the years leading figures who are known to have "served" at top level in both military and political wings of their respective organisations have been widely identified.

What I am leading up to is the question that constantly intrigues me about the quest for justice in Northern Ireland: Why don't more victims seek redress through the courts?

In other words, why don't they sue?

But who would they sue, you might ask.

Well, take for example the case of victims of the Provisional IRA.

As recently as just before the release of the IRA's latest statement, the Taoiseach, no less, let it be known that Gerry Adams and his trusty sidekick, Martin McGuinness, had just recently stood down from the so-called army council.

The general consensus is that Messers Adams and McGuinness had been on this so-called army council for many, many years. During which time the IRA claimed many, many victims.

Isn't there a possibility that the families of these victims could take a case against the so-called army council which presumably ordered or at least sanctioned those attacks? Might this not involve Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness being asked to outline what role precisely they played in the command chain at the time?

Is it possible even, that someday, someone might sue either or both of these men - or any or all of those who served on the so-called army council with them?

Similarly, might it not be possible for other victims to sue other well-known figures who've played a leading role in other paramilitary organisations? Or to sue those organisations' political wings?

The Republican Movement took £26.5m from the Northern Bank alone. It's not as though they'd be short of funds to pay adequate compensation.

But, of course, it wouldn't be about money from the victims' point of view.

Suing paramilitary organisations and bosses would be about getting some small measure of justice - and a clearer picture of the truth.

In a place where the cries for transparency often come loudest from those who appear to be in denial about their own past, wouldn't it be "helpful" to use that word Gerry and Martin are so fond of, to find out just what exactly some of our celebrity terror leaders did (or ordered) to get where they are today?

To hear spelt out in graphic detail in a court of law - and relayed in media reports worldwide - the reality of what a terrorist "operation" entails, from cold, inhuman planning to gruesome, merciless enactment, might open a few eyes internationally as well as here at home.

As I say it wouldn't be about the money.

But in one respect it would inevitably come down to money.

Where would the victims get the money to pursue court actions?

The example of the Omagh families who have battled against truly outrageous odds to raise the money to get their day in court is a reminder of just how difficult it would be.

But not impossible. Especially if the Government were to consider funding, via legal aid, potential cases.

These cases would help innocent people on both sides of the community get some small measure of justice.

They would help lift the lid on who exactly did what in the 30-year long campaign of terror. And they would give the outside world a clearer, more honest picture of what people suffered here.

Could the Government afford to fund such a truth-telling process?

It could in monetary terms. It may not be willing to though, in political terms.

Because what the search for the truth in Northern Ireland comes down to is that the Government doesn't want certain truths to be told. It doesn't want anything that might upset the so-called process.

In Northern Ireland the victims of the Troubles tend to keep their heads down and to keep quiet. The Government would like to keep it that way.


School Holiday Boredom Blamed For Wanton Destruction Of Headstones

By Anita Guidera
17 August 2005

A Church of Ireland bishop has condemned what he has described as the "wanton destruction" of ancient headstones in a graveyard last weekend.

School holiday boredom was being blamed yesterday for a spate of vandalism in Co Donegal, which has caused thousands of euro worth of damage to tombstones and churches. In the border town of Lifford, a Church of Ireland cemetery at Clonleigh became the latest target when 11 headstones were smashed and broken last Saturday night.

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Right Rev Ken Good, yesterday expressed horror at the vandalism.

"The 11 badly-damaged headstones, many of which are over 200 years old, are an irreplaceable part of the heritage, not just of the Church of Ireland but of the whole community in Lifford," he said.

Bishop Good added that the Church of Ireland community greatly appreciated the support of the local Catholic Parish Priest, Father Edward Kilpatrick, local councillors and members of the public who had expressed their outrage at what had happened.

The damaged headstones, some of which contained ancient Celtic crosses, were discovered by local rector Rev. John Hay on Sunday morning. He described it as an act of extreme vandalism.

"This is not just an attack on history but it is also an attack on a sacred place," he said.

"These headstones commemorate someone who has passed away. It is extremely upsetting to our congregation," he said.

He added that what had probably taken minutes to destroy could take months to restore. "There is no way of replacing them. We will have to get an estimate as to how much it is going to cost and we will try to put them back as best we can."

Local councillor and youth worker, Tony McDaid said the presence of sweet wrappers at the scene suggested that young people were involved. There was also evidence that the sacred ground was being used as a drinking den. "Parents need to take more responsibility for where their children are at night," he said.

He added that there were a number of sporting organisa-tions and resource centres for young people in the area.

"These young people appear to have disengaged from these sorts of activities. The drink cans at the scene suggest that the attack may have been alcohol motivated," he said.

Meanwhile, in west Donegal, a parish priest has blamed boredom and a lack of facilities for young people for recent attacks on Derrybeg Chapel in Gweedore, in which windows and tombstones were smashed.

"They are good children all of them. They have nothing to do. We badly need a cinema in the area and we need youth workers," said Fr Michael Sweeney.

He added that not all young people were interested in sporting activities and that needed to be taken into account.


Expert Predicts More Algae Pollution Problems In Our Water

By Michael McHugh
17 August 2005

Global warming may spark more cases of algae-polluted tap water in the future in Northern Ireland, an expert claimed last night.

Professor Peter Robinson from the Water Council watchdog said the problem which has affected thousands of homes in south Armagh could be repeated if action is not taken to cut down on the level of nitrates sprayed onto soil.

Water is being delivered in tankers to parts of south Armagh following the outbreak at Lough Ross near Crossmaglen.

At least four 3,000-gallon tankers will be sent to the area.

Filters are being installed at the Carran Hill Treatment works, but Prof Robertson said the problem may be repeated if the nitrates problem is not tackled.

"What you find is that as we get more nutrients in the water we are getting more nitrates which are good for algae," the water treatment professor at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen said.

"With the warmer weather at the minute and the increased nitrates these are the perfect conditions for algae to grow and this is why we are seeing more of these blooms.

"Potentially with climate change we will get warmer weather across these areas and if we maintain the nutrient levels there will be more of these blooms."


NI Tourism Continues Upward Trend

Belfast is welcoming so many visitors this summer that the company which runs open-top bus tours of the city has had to order another bus.

City Sightseeing tours has added a seventh bus to its growing fleet in the city, and has bought another one for Londonderry as well.

Tourist numbers in Northern Ireland have doubled in the past 10 years, building up to last year's record figures of 2.1m visitors.

Alan Clarke of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board says peace and stability have been key factors, as have improved access and a growing number of cheap flights into the province.

"Obviously reassurance and people's wish to have a safe holiday are exceptionally important, as are air access and the ability to get away for a short break," he says.

Several tourists were asked about the effect of recent news on their attitudes to visiting Northern Ireland, such as the IRA statement renouncing violence or the ongoing loyalist feud.

One Australian man said these factors "didn't even enter my head" before he decided to visit Belfast.

"We just wanted to come somewhere different and have a good time," he added.

In Derry, the city walls are also proving to be a popular attraction.

City ranger Hugh Kennedy said visitors were well aware of "what this place used to be like and they are coming now for a new experience".

"It's probably one of the safest places to come to in Europe, which is a complete turnaround," he says.

"The walls were closed off to the public for the best part of 25 years."

It is believed that although visitor numbers are slightly down on last year's figures, tourists are spending more money during their stays.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/17 06:21:08 GMT


Irish Pilgrims To Accompany Pope As He Opens 'Catholic Woodstock'

By David Quinn
17 August 2005

A group of 30 young people from the Galway diocese will accompany Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives by boat in the centre of Cologne tomorrow for the start of his four-day visit to Germany, his first foreign trip since his election.

More than 350,000 Catholics from all over the world, including about 2,000 Irish, have already converged on the historic city and the surrounding areas to take part in World Youth Day, a week-long "festival of faith" aimed at reviving Catholicism among young people.

Pope Benedict flies to Cologne tomorrow at lunchtime and at 3.30pm Irish time he will set out on a 20-minute journey by boat down the Rhine from the home of the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, to the cathedral in the centre of the city.

About 500 young people will be with him on the Papal boat including 30 from the diocese of Galway led by Fr Frankie Lee. Six will sit with the Pope on the journey.

A flotilla of other boats will follow, including vessels representing each of the continents. Another 30 members of the Galway group will be among the hundreds of young people on the "Europe" boat.

Father Lee said the Galway delegation would be on the Papal boat because of "the close links that have been developed between the dioceses of Galway and Cologne over the years".

He said the Secretary of World Youth Day, Fr Ulrich Hennes, was "a frequent visitor to Galway."

Fr Lee described the opportunity to accompany Pope Benedict on the boat as "a great honour -we are absolutely thrilled."

He also said that on Sunday, when the Papal Mass to close World Youth Day takes place, the 30 young Galwegians who will be on the Europe boat tomorrow, will sit close to the altar where the Pope will concelebrate the Mass.

In the lead up to World Youth Day, the 2,000 Irish present have been taking part in events all around the country, including visiting parishes, staying with German families, attending concerts, Masses and other prayer services.

Today, the 750 young people who have gone to Germany with Catholic Youth Day, the youth agency of the Dublin diocese, will take part in a catechetical session led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

World Youth Day opened yesterday with a Mass in Cologne.

Speaking before the Mass, the head of the German Bishops' Commission for Youth, Dr Franz-Josef Bode, said that 350,000 young people, including 120,000 from overseas, have already taken part in the "Days of Encounter" in parishes all over Germany in the run-up to yesterday.

Up to 800,000 people are expected to attend the final Mass outside Cologne on Sunday morning.

Grey skies and drizzle greeted young Catholics arriving in Cologne yesterday. But they cheered nonetheless, waving national flags and shouting boisterous "olas" and "hellos".

"It's the most peaceful invasion of all time," popular newspaper Bild newspaper wrote.

Bemused residents of Germany's fourth-largest city smiled patiently as pilgrims thronged outside its massive Gothic cathedral, some strumming guitars, others studying maps to find one of three Masses opening the "Catholic Woodstock".

"The whole city is full of young people," Cologne's Cardinal Joachim Meisner told an opening news conference, adding how proud he was to have been one of those involved in the planning of the €100m festival over the last three years.

"This is the first World Youth Day with two Popes, one watching from above and the other taking part here below."

"I think we may have travelled the furthest," said Mercedes Docampo (17) from Tasmania, struggling to hold her luggage, inflatable kangaroo and huge Australian flag.

"I came because I wanted to appreciate the size of the Catholic Church and share my faith with other young people."

While the crowds of happy, noisy youngsters made the pilgrimage look like just another festival, many said they came especially for the chance to strengthen their faith and identity as Catholics.

"I wanted to meet other young Catholics from all over the world," said Desire Ilboudo (30) from Burkina Faso.

Pope Benedict smiled from posters around Cologne's pedestrian precincts, and the city's churches flung their doors wide open to welcome their international visitors.

Stages hosting Christian rock bands have sprung up around the city and hundreds of temporary toilets line the banks of the River Rhine.


Irish Pupils Await Leaving Cert Results

Leaving Cert students across the Republic are getting their exam results.

Over 57,000 candidates sat the Leaving Cert this year, down two percent from last year.

This year`s students performed poorly overall in Maths and the Science subjects, prompting concerns among industry bodies such as IBEC.

Around one in five failed ordinary level biology, while 4,500 failed maths at the same level.

Three students have achieved nine A1 grades, while there are high marks in Religious Education, which was tested for the first time.

From midday today, results will also be available online and by telephone.


McAllister AOH North Carolina State Resolution

The AOH passed a resolution in support of the McAllister's in North Carolina

The North Carolina State Board Resolution

Assembled in Convention this 23rd day of July, 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina the Ancient Order of Hibernians State Board for North Carolina together with Officers and Members in good standing from Hibernian Divisions in Wake, Buncombe, Mecklenburg, Guilford and New Hanover Counties.

Whereas, In 1988 Brother Malachy McAllister and his family were forced to flee their home in Belfast in the North of Ireland following a harrowing assassination attempt by loyalist paramilitaries during which over 26 rounds from an AK47 were fired into their home, narrowly missing the McAllister children and Grandmother. Whereas, the Northern Ireland security forces advised Brother McAllister that he and his family were on a loyalist death squad “hit list” because of his religion (Roman Catholic) and his Nationalistic beliefs and past activism.

Whereas, the McAllister family have suffered from blatant sectarianism because of their religious and political beliefs culminating in an attempt on their lives.

Whereas, the security forces of Northern Ireland were unable or unwilling to protect the McAllister family in the face of documented threats which continue today as evidenced by the January, 2004 email sent to the Irish Echo newspaper from a loyalist paramilitary group threatening “next time we won’t miss”, should the McAllisters be returned to Northern Ireland.

Whereas, in order to assure his family’s safety and provide a living environment free from fear and oppression Mr. McAllister sought asylum in the United States. The Immigration Court originally granted political asylum to Mrs. Bernadette McAllister and their children finding that they had suffered severe past persecution because of their political beliefs. Malachy McAllister was denied asylum because of his past involvement in Nationalist activist activities as a young man during the 1980’s; for which offenses he served time in prison and was subsequently released.

Whereas, in a controversial decision the Board of Immigration Appeals rescinded the asylum order and the McAllister family is currently facing deportation. This ruling is currently under review by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Whereas, Mr. McAllister has been a model citizen since his arrival in this country and has been a contributing member of the community, and as a return to Northern Ireland would place the McAllisters in extreme jeopardy and as providing asylum for the oppressed has long been a tradition in this country and is rooted in our heritage as Americans.

Be it hereby resolved that the North Carolina State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Divisions of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Buncombe, Guilford, Mecklenburg, New Hanover and Wake Counties, North Carolina fully support Brother Malachy McAllister and his family in their quest to escape oppression and live in freedom and security of life in the United States of America.

Further we call upon the Secretary of Homeland Security to rescind any orders of removal or deportation for any and all members of the McAllister family and that permanent residency status be granted Malachy McAllister and his family.

Further we call on the members of the 109th Congress of the United States from the State of North Carolina to support and lend your good offices to the cause of the McAllisters. Particularly we urge you to support the Rothman Bill which would grant permanent legal status to Malachy McAllister and his family and to become signatories to the King /Rothman Congressional sign-on letter to the Homeland Security Secretary requesting suspension of deportation proceedings against the McAllister family.

Jack Crosson
North Carolina State President
Ancient order of Hibernians

Steve McEnaney
North Carolina State Secretary
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Member Name DC Phone DC FAX Email

Senator Elizabeth Dole (R- NC) 202-224-6342 202-224-1100

Senator Richard Burr (R- NC) 202-224-3154 202-228-2981

Representative G. K. Butterfield, Jr. (D - 01)

202-225-3101 202-225-3354

Representative Bobby Etheridge (D - 02) 202-225-4531 202-225-5662

Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R - 03) 202-225-3415 202-225-3286

Representative David E. Price (D - 04) 202-225-1784 202-225-2014

Representative Virginia Foxx (R - 05) 202-225-2071 202-225-2995

Representative Howard Coble (R - 06) 202-225-3065 202-225-8611

Representative Mike McIntyre (D - 07) 202-225-2731 202-225-5773

Representative Robert (Robin) Hayes (R - 08) 202-225-3715 202-225-4036

Representative Sue Myrick (R - 09) 202-225-1976 202-225-3389

Representative Patrick McHenry (R - 10) 202-225-2576 202-225-0316

Representative Charles H. Taylor (R - 11) 202-225-6401 202-226-6422

Representative Melvin L. Watt (D - 12) 202-225-1510 202-225-1512

Representative Brad Miller (D - 13) 202-225-3032 202-225-0181

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