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August 16, 2005

Loyalist Gangs Target Innocent Victims

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/16/05 Loyalist Gangs Targeting Innocent Victims
BB 08/16/05 Feuding Is Gangsterism Says Hain
BT 08/16/05 Another Family Flees After Latest Attacks
UT 08/16/05 Eames Calls For End To Violence
SF 08/16/05 Ethnic Cleansing By Unionists In Ahoghill
SF 08/16/05 McDonnell Challenged Over Agreement Comments
IT 08/17/05 Paisley Condemns Attacks On Catholics
BB 08/16/05 Police Pelted With Petrol Bombs
DJ 08/16/05 BS Rifles Discovery Deeply Disturbing
DJ 08/16/05 McGuinness To Unveil Creggan Monument
SO 08/16/05 Watchtower & Gunmen Shadow Pretty N.Irish Town
CS 08/16/05 'Colombia 3' Strain Ireland's Relations
NI 08/16/05 NIO Condemns Loyalist Violence
DI 08/16/05 Shell Refuses To Shift
DI 08/16/05 AOH Parade Passes Peacefully
SW 08/16/05 The Myth Of Britishness


Feuding Loyalist Gangs 'Targeting Innocent Victims'
2005-08-16 19:40:03+01

Loyalist paramilitary killers locked in a deadly feud are switching their sights to innocent victims because police have disrupted assassination attempts, a top Belfast officer said tonight.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland revealed there have been nearly 20 attempted shootings and bombings in the vicious turf war that has claimed four lives so far.

Faced with a barrage of criticism over police response to the Ulster Volunteer Force's dispute with the splinter Loyalist Volunteer Force, he also disclosed that more than 160 extra officers have been drafted in to try to halt the violence.

He pledged: "I will do what I have to do to make the streets of Belfast safe. I will put whatever I have to put into this. The money doesn't count."

In the latest murder, father-of-three Michael Green was ambushed and shot dead on Monday as he arrived for work at a furniture store in South Belfast.

The UVF, which has carried out all four killings as part of a campaign to wipe out its despised rivals, claimed Mr Green was associated with the LVF.

But Mr McCausland stressed that the victim had no paramilitary connections and had not been identified by police intelligence as a potential target.

Others who may be involved in the feud have been warned about possible attacked in a bid to disrupt further loyalist assassinations, he confirmed.

Mr McCausland said that because of the police strategy against those carrying out the attacks, "they have broadened their catchment.

"It's a demonstration of the police response and disruption of what's going on that they have had to target Mr Green.

"They appear to be targeting, in their own small-minded way, people they think reflect the organisation they are attacking.

"But this feud, if you want to call it a feud, is down to criminal paramilitary gangs inflicting murderous attacks on their communities. By having to move away from what the community might feel are the main targets, I can say with confidence, we have saved people's lives in the last six weeks."

Since the struggle for control of the drugs and racketeering trade erupted into an all-out shooting war, police have listed 18 planned murder attempts, bombings or shootings. Twelve have been attributed to the UVF and six to the LVF.

"That's not to minimise the fact that four people have lost their lives," said Mr McCausland.

"But I'm putting significant numbers of police into this. There are over 160 additional police resources deployed specifically and military have been put into five separate districts."

The police chief revealed the scale of the forces' operation in response to withering criticisms that not enough had been done to end the killing and intimidation.

Senior Ulster Unionist representative Michael McGimpsey claimed officers were effectively allowing the two factions to sort out their dispute without interference. Previous police command teams would have done more to capture the killers, he said.

Mr McCausland rejected this assessment, pointing to the 90 house searches and 20 arrests - 10 where charges were pressed - as evidence of his officers' determination.

He added: "The community needs to help us to ensure that no one loses their lives, it's within their power to come up to the mark. A lot of people have done an awful lot, but people can do more.

"It seems to be easy to blame the police for not doing enough, but we're doing our full part and will continue to do our full part. It's up to the political leaders, church representatives and community workers to do their bit."

British government officials were tonight keeping in close contact with community leaders in loyalist circles in a bid to bring the ongoing violence to an end.

Ministers were also in close contact with the PSNI and security officials.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said Secretary of State Peter Hain had made clear from the outset of the current outbreak of violent killing that it was "gangsterism masquerading as loyalism".

He added: "What is important at this time is bringing an end to this violence and intimidation through effective policing and the PSNI deserve the support of the whole communit, especially in loyalist areas at this time," he added.

The PSNI had already arrested 20 people and charged 10 of them and conducted over 90 searchers, said the government spokesman.

Anyone with any information about violent attacks and murders should make it known to the police immediately, he said.

"Northern Ireland Office officials continue to be in close contact with community leaders in loyalism to try to bring this ongoing violence to an end. Ministers also remain in close contact with the PSNI and security officials."


Feuding Is Gangsterism Says Hain

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said the feuding between the UVF and the LVF is "gangsterism masquerading as loyalism".

Since the start of July, four murders have been linked to the feud between the two loyalist paramilitary groups.

Mr Hain said the police need support to help end the violence.

The PSNI had already carried out 90 searches and arrested 20 people - charging 10 of them - in relation to the feud, he said.

"What is important at this time is to bring an end to this violence and intimidation through effective policing and the PSNI deserve the support of the whole community especially in loyalist areas," Mr Hain said.

Northern Ireland Office officials "are in close contact with community leaders in loyalism to try to bring this ongoing violence to an end", he added.

He said NIO ministers also remained in close contact with the police about the situation.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said police were getting "considerable support" from the public in their efforts to halt the violence.

"We are getting significant results and significant assistance from the community," Mr McCausland said.

However, he urged the community to "redouble their efforts" in helping his officers.

The latest killing to be linked to the feud was that of 42-year-old Michael Green, who was shot at close range by two gunmen as he arrived for work at a shop in south Belfast's Sandy Row area on Monday.

The Loyalist Volunteer Force has blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force for the killing, but an LVF source denied Mr Green was one of its members.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/16 17:44:19 GMT


Another Family Flees Siege Village After Latest Attacks

By Deborah McAleese and Nevin Farrell
16 August 2005

Another family has been forced to leave the under-siege village of Ahoghill after sectarian paint bombers launched new attacks on a Catholic chapel, school and house.

Pressure mounted on unionists to demand an end to the "ethnic cleansing" of the Co Antrim village after the family had to flee their home, fearing for their lives.

This is the latest in a campaign by loyalists to intimidate Catholics from the predominantly Protestant village.

Several bottles of paint were thrown at the house in Tudor Vale on the outskirts of the village at around 11.30pm.

And paint bombs were also thrown at St Joseph's School and St Mary's Church at Ballynafie Road this morning.

One paint bomb was thrown at a window of the school and a second on to the driveway of the church.

Police say the paint is similar to that used in the attack in Tudor Vale.

The attacks came a week after Catholic residents in Ahoghill were issued with fire blankets and smoke alarms in an unprecedented attempt to thwart loyalist thugs.

Police chiefs said they took the decision based on intelligence which warned that more attacks were imminent.

Pat McGaughey (55), and her husband, also called Pat, whose home was targeted last night, said they will leave the area as they now fear for their lives.

Mrs McGaughey said: "We are not going to be like other Catholics and tolerate several attacks.

"We are not going to risk our lives. Our lives are more important than any building. I could not settle here. It was paint this time, but what next?"

Fears are rising that the continued intimidation of Catholic families in the area could soon end in tragedy and anger is growing over the DUP's silence.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan accused the area's MP Ian Paisley of preferring to pretend that nothing is happening.

He said: "This is extraordinary hypocrisy from the man who never hesitates to point the finger whenever others use violence.

"The SDLP is again demanding that Ian Paisley come out and condemn the attacks on his own constituents on his own doorstep."

Sinn Fein Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan said: "It is time for the DUP to bring to an end the discrimination and domination which has created the atmosphere into which this violence has fed."

However, DUP councillor for the area Roy Gillespie accused republicans and nationalists of "hyping up" the situation.

He said: "The SDLP and Sinn Fein have been hyping this up. They haven't helped the situation. "


Eames Calls For End To Violence

The Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Robin Eames today called for an end to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

By:Press Association

After another night of loyalist violence he said the current level of hatred and sectarian attacks against families, homes, churches and other places throughout the province was to be utterly condemned by all decent people.

In a strong call for a halt to the violence he said: "There is no justification or excuse for the attacks we are seeing day and night in this province.

"Innocent people and families are facing danger to their lives simply because of their religion or political identity."

Lord Eames said although those carrying out the attacks had little or no regard for the condemnation of church leaders, it was vital for the future of the community it was made clear beyond all possible doubt such attacks did not represent the feelings of the vast majority of ordinary people.

"Protestant and Roman Catholic must reject and condemn all attacks made under the guise of loyalism or republicanism," he said.

"This is a time for utter condemnation of attacks from whatever source and the detection and conviction of those who are claiming to act in the name of any organisation, cause of community".

His call came after sectarian paint bombers launched new attacks on a Catholic chapel and school in an under-siege village in Northern Ireland.

A parish priest discovered damage at St Mary`s Church and St Joseph`s School in Ahoghill, Co Antrim.

Police said the paint used was similar to that used in bottles thrown at a house nearby last night.

Republicans claimed loyalist paramilitaries were attempting to "ethnically cleanse" the village, located in a Protestant stronghold.

The attacks came a week after Catholic residents in Ahoghill were issued with fire blankets and smoke alarms in an unprecedented attempt to thwart loyalist thugs.

Police chiefs said they took the decision based on intelligence warning more attacks were imminent.

And with sectarian tensions rising across north Antrim, the intimidation flared again overnight.

Bottles filled with paint were thrown at the home in Tudor Vale in Ahoghill just before midnight.

The front of the house was extensively damaged.

Hours later, the priest discovered paint had been flung at the window of the school and the church driveway at Ballynafie Road.

Sinn Fein`s North Antrim Assembly member Philip McGuigan claimed loyalists were trying to drive all Catholics and nationalists from Ahoghill.

He said: "Over recent weeks and months the small Catholic population in Ahoghill has come under a sustained and violent unionist paramilitary campaign.

"It is motivated by a desire to ethnically cleanse Catholics and nationalists from the village."

A Catholic couple whose home was paint-bombed are to move, they revealed tonight.

Mrs Pat McGaughey said she and her husband feared for their lives. "We are not willing to take a chance on our safety.

They have lived in the house for eight years, but she said "We are going to move, we are going to leave, we`ll have to sell our house and go".


Ethnic Cleansing By Unionists In Ahoghill

Published: 16 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has accused unionist paramilitaries of trying to 'ethnically cleanse' Catholics and nationalists from Ahoghill. Mr McGuigan's comments come after the latest attack on a catholic home in the village last night.

Mr McGuigan said: "Over recent weeks and months the small catholic population in Ahoghill has come under a sustained and violent unionist paramilitary campaign. It is motivated by a desire to ethnically cleanse Catholics and nationalists from the village.

"It comes against a backdrop in North Antrim generally and the Ballymena area in particular of DUP politicians creating an atmosphere where Catholics and nationalists are seen as second class. The MP for the area Ian Paisley has been silent as catholic homes, churches and businesses in his constituency have been bombed and destroyed.

"No other MP would get away with such a response. I am once again challenging the DUP to tackle this issue. Have they raised it with the unionist paramilitary leaders on the various forums and commissions which they jointly sit on? If not why not?

"It is time for the DUP to bring to an end the discrimination and domination which has created the atmosphere into which this violence has fed. If we are to rebuild the political process the DUP now have to prove to nationalists that they are capable of treating people with respect and equality."

Sinn Féin Councillor for the area Monica Digney who has in recent days met with catholic residents in Ahoghill said that the situation in the village cannot be allowed to go on.

Cllr. Digney said:

"It is not acceptable for this situation in Ahoghill to be allowed to continue. Catholic people in Ahoghill cannot be expected to live under this type of intimidation and terror.

"Handing out fire blankets does not resolve this problem. The unionist community ending this violent campaign does.

"Sinn Féin will be raising the issue of this campaign with the Irish government in the coming days and we will be impressing upon them their obligations towards Irish citizens enduring these attacks." ENDS


McDonnell Challenged Over Agreement Comments

Published: 16 August, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy today reminded the SDLP Deputy Leader Alaisdair McDonnell that it is Sinn Féin who are the largest pro-Agreement party and it is Sinn Féin who have defended that Agreement in negotiations with the rejectionist DUP. Mr Murphy's remarks come after Mr McDonnell bizarrely challenged Sinn Féin to say whether or not they would uphold the Agreement in any future talks.

Mr Murphy said: "Mr McDonnell seems to forget that Sinn Fein are the largest pro-Agreement party and have taken the lead in defending the Agreement in negotiations long after the SDLP has left the table or in some cases not arrived at all.

"In the negotiations last December the SDLP sniped from the sidelines as Sinn Féin defended the rights of nationalists, the equality agenda and all-Ireland architecture against the objective of the DUP to achieve a veto over such areas.

"The SDLP is in no position to lecture Sinn Fein about the defence of the Agreement. The approach of the SDLP approach to a relatively small number of key issues demonstrates that.

Mark Durkan negotiated the reform and re-investment initiative which introduced water charges - the SDLP then launched a campaign against water charging.

The SDLP claim to oppose plastic bullets in public - in the privacy of the Policing Board they rubber stamped the purchase of tens of thousands of new devices unleashed upon nationalists in Ardoyne in July.

The SDLP claim to oppose repressive legislation in public - yet in Westminster voted with the DUP and Tories in support of even more repressive and restrictive powers.

The SDLP claim to support the political institutions yet have proposed that the British government appoint ten hand picked mandarins to administer the local departments.

The SDLP support fully the work of the IMC a body established at the demand of unionism to try and exclude republicans from the political process.

The SDLP acquiesced to the British government suspension legislation.

The SDLP supported wholeheartedly the introduction of the new Electoral Registration requirements which resulted in the disenfranchisement of over 200,000 people. When Sinn Féin forced the British government to change the rules, the SDLP publicly claimed to be opposed to the regulations all the time.

At Weston Park a senior SDLP negotiator stated that the issue of demiltarisation was solely for Sinn Féin and the British government to resolve - when it became clear that Sinn Féin were making progress on this issue the SDLP suddenly claimed that this issue has been a priority all along.

On the crucial issue of Policing the SDLP in Westminster first supported the Mandelson Bill, then abstained and finally opposed the Mandelson Bill in the three parliamentary sittings.

The SDLP stated that they would not join the Policing Board without an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.

"Given the reality of the above facts the question posed by Mr McDonnell about defending or supporting the Agreement in future talks would of course be best addressed by his own negotiating team." ENDS


Paisley Condemns Recent Attacks On Catholics In Protestant Village

Gerry Moriarty and Nevin Farrell

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley has condemned recent attacks on Catholics in his North Antrim constituency. His comments come in the wake of claims by SDLP leader Mark Durkan and other nationalist politicians that Dr Paisley was "silent" on loyalist sectarian violence.

The small Catholic population in the predominantly Protestant village of Ahoghill has come under regular sectarian attack in recent weeks, to such an extent that the police issued some Catholic householders with fire blankets and smoke detectors.

Other Catholic homes, churches, businesses and property in Antrim have also been targeted. The Catholic church in Harryville in Ballymena, scene of bitter sectarian picketing in the mid-1990s, was also attacked a number of times over recent weeks.

At least two Catholic families last week decided to quit Ahoghill because of these incidents and yesterday another Catholic family said they had no option but to leave.

Mrs Pat McGaughey (55), and her husband, also called Pat and the same age, are getting out of their £160,000 home of eight years in the private Tudor Vale estate off Ahoghill's Killane Road after being attacked by paint bombers. She explained that they moved to Ahoghill from Ballymena eight years ago because they thought it a nice place to live. "We are not going to risk our lives. Our lives are more important than any building. I could not settle here. It was paint this time, what next?" said Mrs McGaughey, as she surveyed the damage to her living room, hall and outside of her house on the outskirts of Ahoghill.

"We were not given fire blankets because we wouldn't have been considered at risk here outside the village," she added.

Mrs McGaughey, a bed manager at Antrim Area Hospital, thanked her Protestant neighbours for rallying around her and her husband yesterday but said it was too dangerous to continue living in Ahoghill.

Paint bombs were also thrown at the Catholic church and school in Ahoghill yesterday. Presbyterian ministers in the Ahoghill area condemned the attacks.

Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames said there could be no justification or excuse for sectarian attacks and that innocent families were facing threats to their lives "simply because of their religious or political identity".

SDLP leader Mr Durkan said yesterday it was "high time" that Dr Paisley and the British government "ended their silence about loyalists".

"Despite the intimidation of his own constituents, Ian Paisley, the MP for North Antrim, is silent about UDA violence. He prefers to pretend that it is just not happening. This is extraordinary hypocrisy from the man who never hesitates to point the finger whenever others use violence."

Sinn Féin North Antrim Assembly member Philip McGuigan said loyalist paramilitaries were trying to "ethnically cleanse" Catholics and nationalists out of Ahoghill. He too accused Dr Paisley of being "silent" on the attacks.

Dr Paisley however, who is on holidays, issued a statement condemning the attacks yesterday. He said the DUP mayor of Ballymena, Tommy Nicholl, spoke for the whole of the party and said he had made statements about the issues in recent weeks.

"I am happy to put on the record that this is my policy and I condemn whatever side do these acts and they are to be condemned unreservedly," he added.

His MLA son, Ian Paisley jnr, added that Dr Paisley was well known for his compassion and genuine concern for all his constituents.

© The Irish Times


Police Pelted With Petrol Bombs

Police in Lurgan have come under what they have called a sustained attack from youths throwing petrol bombs and other missiles.

Up to 30 petrol bombs were thrown by a crowd of about 20 youths in the Cornakinnegar Road area.

Police were in the area while Army bomb disposal experts examined a device on the railway line. It has been declared a hoax.

Earlier two petrol bombs were thrown at a BBC television crew in the town.

The crew were at the Kilwilkie estate when the devices were thrown at their car. No-one was injured but one device hit their vehicle.

The railway line between Lisburn and Portadown has now reopened.

It had been closed after workmen discovered a suspicious object on Monday close to Malone Bridge on the Lurgan side of Bells Bridge.


SDLP Assembly member Dolores Kelly claimed dissident republicans were training young people to leave devices.

"Local people reported to us seeing young people being almost trained in paramilitary fashion to leave the device and wearing balaclavas," she said.

"So, it seems as if there is an element of recruitment amongst dissident republicans training young people, or at least corrupting their lives, and disrupting the lives of everybody else around them."

She said hoax devices were often left as a means of luring security forces into the area, to be attacked.

Ms Kelly also condemned the disruption caused by such incidents to every day life.

"There is not easy transport access outside of Lurgan other than the train and it is widely used," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/16 20:15:28 GMT



'Sunday' Rifles Discovery 'Deeply Disturbing' - Says Victim's Brother

Tuesday 16th August 2005

A relative of a teenager gunned down on Bloody Sunday has branded as "deeply disturbing" revelations that rifles fired by soldiers in Derry that fateful day have been found - despite claims they had been destroyed.

It emerged at the weekend that three British Army weapons used to shoot unarmed civilians in Derry's Bogside on January 30, 1972 have been recovered in Beirut, the United States and Sierra Leone.

It was earlier this year that it was revealed one of the weapons used by paratroopers in Derry was uncovered in Sierra Leone.

It has now been confirmed that two other weapons have turned up in a police station in Beirut and in a gun shop in Little Rock, Arkansas.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was among those gunned down on Bloody Sunday --said he found the revelations "deeply disturbing."

He said he suspected the "hand of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) at work." "Nothing surprises me when it comes to the MoD," said Mr. Kelly. "They have, at every turn, tried to disrupt and mislead the quest for truth and justice surrounding Bloody Sunday.

"The story as regards the guns used on Bloody Sunday has changed on so many occasions that it's hard to be surprised any more.

"However, what is deeply disturbing is the distinct possibility that guns used to murder innocent people in Derry may well have subsequently been used for other murderous acts."

In September 1999, the Saville Inquiry was informed that 14 of the 29 rifles used on Bloody Sunday - which were submitted to the original Widgery Inquiry - had been destroyed when self-loading rifles (SLRs) became obsolete in 1997. The Inquiry was told ten rifles had been sold.

The inquiry immediately placed an order banning the movement of the remaining five rifles but three months later it emerged that a further two had been destroyed.

Details and serial numbers of 29 SLRs used by the solders were identified by the Inquiry as they had been originally submitted by the army for forensic testing to the 1972 Widgery Inquiry.

However, Lord Saville wanted to re-examine the guns in the hope that modern forensic methods might produce fresh clues as to which soldier shot which civilian.

In particular, the Inquiry wanted to establish if any of the SLRs had been adapted to fire lower-calibre .22 rounds. Major General Robert Ford, the British Army's second-in-command in the North in 1972, had recommended in a top secret report that marksmen be allowed to shoot dead troublemakers with rifles altered to fire less powerful bullets.

The tribunal wanted to test if this had been put into effect on Bloody Sunday when Kevin McElhinney, one of those killed, appeared to have been shot with a .22 bullet.

Many of the weapons used on Bloody were disposed of just days before the Inquiry started on January 29, 1998 with some melted down for scrap metal and others sold to international dealers.


McGuinness To Unveil New Creggan Republican Monument

Tuesday 16th August 2005

A new Republican monument will be unveiled in Derry at the weekend by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as part of the Spirit of Freedom Celebration Weekend.

Now in its second year, the Creggan mini feile is a constructive celebration of the spirit of freedom shown by the community throughout the course of 'The Troubles' in the city.

Speaking ahead of the events Mr. McGuinness congratulated the republicans of Creggan estate for their dedication to the memory of IRA Volunteers and Republican activists from their community who devoted their lives to the struggle for Irish Freedom.

"This monument will be a memorial to their sacrifice as well as a reminder to the rest of us that the united, independent Republic for which they gave their lives has yet to be achieved. It is up to all of us who avow republicanism to ensure that their dreams and aspirations are fulfilled," he said.

I would encourage everyone, young and old, to attend as many of the functions arranged during the four days of events to commemorate the lives of the Volunteers and Republican activists being celebrated this weekend."

This year's event begins on Thursday, August 18 with the Eamon Lafferty Memorial Lecture and a wreath laying ceremony which will take place at 7.30pm at the spot in Kildrum Gardens where Eamonn was killed.

On Friday, August 19 the Creggan Volunteers Memorial Committee will take on the Waterside Volunteers Memorial Committee at Sean Dolan's GAA Club in the Danny Doherty, Willie Fleming, Kieron Fleming, Anton MacGiolla Bhrigagh Memorial Cup. This will be followed by the Michael Friel Memorial Charity Night at the Telstar Bar at 9.00pm. Music on the night is by Glasgow band Shebeen. Admission is £3.00 and all monies raised on the night will go to a charity chosen by Michael Friel's family.

On Saturday, August 20 a Tour of Plaques will depart from the bottom of Southway at 3.00pm. This tour will make its way around Creggan visiting the spots that mark the place where IRA volunteers were killed in action. Close friends and comrades of the volunteers will relate their personal stories at each plaque visited along the way. The tour will end with a video presentation and discussion in the Corned Beef Tin. Saturday will also see the George and Pop One-Day Memorial Football Tournament at Creggan Pitches. The event kicks off at 6.00pm. There's a £20.00 entry fee for the teams and those of all ages and genders are welcome to take part.

The Real Story event planned for Sean Dolan's at 9.00pm has been postponed, but will take place at a future date. However, everyone can enjoy an open air concert at Central Drive at 7.00pm featuring Celtic Beat, Shebeen, Bad Bhoys and many more local acts.

The Spirit of Freedom Celebration Weekend ends on Sunday, August 21 with a Band Parade and Competition which kicks off at Beechwood shops at 3.00pm. There will also be fun and games for kids of all ages at The Laughter of Our Children event at Bishop's Field from 3.00pm to 5.00pm. The highlight of the closing night will be the unveiling of a new republican monument at Central Drive and Cromore in Creggan by Martin McGuinness. This will be followed by the final of the Ethel Lynch Tournament Memorial Cup at Bishop's Field and the presentation of the cup at Creggan Community Centre at 9.00pm. Admission to this event is £3.00 and music will be provided by Shebeen.


Watchtower And Gunmen Shadow Pretty N.Irish Town

By Jodie Ginsberg

5:00 a.m. August 16, 2005

CROSSMAGLEN, Northern Ireland – With its hanging baskets full of glossy pink flowers, squares of green lawn and old-fashioned pubs, the center of Crossmaglen looks the picture of a traditional British village.

But the outskirts of this Northern Irish border town tell a different story.

An iron-clad fortress – the local, army-protected police base – squats on the main road into Crossmaglen, bristling with cameras and antennae. On the other side of town, wooden boards painted with images of masked gunmen glare down from lampposts.

A military helicopter clatters into the air, shattering the silence of a sunny summer day.

This is the Irish nationalist heartland of south County Armagh, an area of Northern Ireland dubbed "bandit country" that borders the Irish Republic and where armed supporters of the campaign for a united Ireland fought some of their fiercest battles with British police and soldiers.

Between the start of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland in 1969 and its cease-fire in 1997, around 60 police officers and more than 100 soldiers were killed in southern Armagh, many in Crossmaglen.

Snipers killed at least nine members of the British security forces here in the 1990s and it was in this area that the explosives for at least three major IRA bombs were prepared.

The police station – protected by a regiment of the army paratroopers in maroon berets who still patrol Crossmaglen's streets – was showered with IRA mortars and bullets.


Despite the cease-fire, Britain maintained its heavy military presence in Northern Ireland. But two weeks ago, following a formal end to the IRA's armed struggle, the British military started dismantling watchtowers dotted along the Irish border as a precursor to slashing its troop numbers by more than half.

But locals expect change to be slowest in Crossmaglen, where most houses fly the green, white and orange flag of Ireland or the white and orange colors of Armagh.

"The army were out patrolling the streets yesterday and the day before," said Lisa Ahern, a waitress at fast-food restaurant Superbites in the village square. "Nothing has changed."

She remembered a time when soldiers offered sweets to local children, encouraging them over to their positions as protection against snipers.

The snipers have gone, but deep-seated fear and mistrust of the police and army remain.

"It would be generations before we could ever think there would be trust of the police," said Colman Burns, a local councilor for Sinn Fein, political ally of the IRA.

Burns recalled regularly being stopped and searched by soldiers as a young man on his way to dances in the 1980s, when violence was at its height.

But he was hopeful that once the visual proofs of conflict – like the green watchtowers that loom over Crossmaglen's playing fields and pro-IRA signs nailed to telegraph polls – are dismantled, the area can enjoy a new lease of life.

"When these things are removed, I can see tourism – after farming – being a healthy second income," he told Reuters.

He envisages a time when tourists will come to fish in the region's rivers and lakes, and when Armagh will be able to market itself as a destination for cyclists, walkers and riders, like neighboring County Monaghan in the Irish Republic.

Visitors interested in history would start to look beyond "the troubles" and further back into the past by visiting the nearby graveyard at Creggan where three 18th century Irish Gaelic poets are buried.

"Things will change," Burns said.


'Colombia 3' Strain Ireland's International Relations

Why the return of three convicted bombmakers may threaten the N. Ireland peace process.

By Arthur Bright

The return to Ireland of three convicted terrorist-collaborators and suspected Irish Republican Army members is causing a major foreign relations problem for the Irish government and may threaten the Northern Ireland peace process.

James Monaghan, Martin McAuley, and Niall Connolly, dubbed the "Colombia 3" by Irish and British papers, revealed their return to Ireland in early August, when Monaghan was interviewed by Irish state broadcaster RTE. The three men were convicted by the Colombian government of training members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), one of Latin America's largest narco-terrorist organizations, and sentenced to 17 years in prison each.

The men fled Colombia in December 2004 while appealing their convictions.

Presently, the Colombia 3 are believed to be still at large in Ireland, and are being sought by Irish police. Deputy prime minister Mary Harney has promised that the trio will be brought to justice, although she has hedged on the possibility of their extradition to Colombia, instead suggesting that they serve their prison sentences in Ireland, reports AP.

"It is important that the three persons involved, and those who have expressed exultation at their return to this country, should not underestimate the government's determination to explore all the options open to it to ensure that Ireland continues to play its full part in the fight against international terrorism," Harney said.

The trio's presence in Ireland and the government's reluctance to hand them over may be straining Irish relations with Colombia. The Colombian government has been adamant that the three men be extradited to serve their sentences. In an Irish Times opinion piece (subscription required), Vice President Francisco Santos invoked the specter of terrorism in outlining his government's argument.

Over the past few years, bombs set by the FARC against our civilian population have become more deadly and more difficult for authorities to detect and disarm. ...

These improvements in explosives by the FARC did not come from an Al Qaeda or anarchist website; they came from the direct training of people like James Monaghan, Niall Connolly, and Martin McCauley.

The Colombia 3 has led to tension between Ireland and the United States as well. "The US spends more funds on military efforts in Colombia than anywhere else in the world" outside of the Middle East, reported the Irish Independent, and thus Washington is pressing the Irish government to bring the trio in.

A US State Department official, on condition of anonymity, said last night that James Monaghan, Niall Connolly, and Martin McCauley were deemed to be "fugitives of Colombian justice".

Although emphasising that the case would have to be dealt with by the Irish and Colombian governments, Washington could not simply ignore the situation. ...

"The US condemns contributions to terrorism, such as the three were found guilty of, no matter where it's perpetrated," the official added.

Irish officials have admitted that the episode has hurt relations with the US, the Independent noted in an earlier article.

"It doesn't do any good for our relationship with the United States," [said Social Affairs Minister Seamus Brennan.] "We have major investment programs here with the US. We are not harboring terrorists; we have a common law system, it is entirely different."

The Colombia 3's return has also threatened to derail the peace process in Northern Ireland. While Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin, publicly welcomed the trio home, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democractic Unionist Party (DUP), the two major unionist parties in Northern Ireland and fierce opponents of the IRA, have lambasted the government of the Irish Republic for their inaction.

The UUP said that unless the Colombia 3 were returned to Colombia, "Ireland was harboring terrorists and shirking its duty in the international war on terror," reported The Guardian, while in a Reuters article, the DUP suggested that the trio's return was part of a deal secretly negotiated between the IRA and Irish Republic. The Irish government denied the charge.

According to a Sunday Independent poll, the Irish public predominately believes the Colombia 3 should serve their sentences with 86 percent in favor, though they're evenly split on whether the trio should do their time in Colombia or in Ireland. The poll also reports that three-quarters of the public are dissatisfied with the Irish government's handling of the situation, though a majority believes the Colombia 3's return was not part of an IRA deal with the Republic of Ireland.

At the moment however, progress on extradition seems to be bogged down in legal battles. No formal extradition treaty exists between Ireland and Colombia, and with its suspect human rights record, Colombia likely can't overcome the legal hurdles faced, according to an AP report.

"So long as there is no bilateral extradition treaty between Ireland and Colombia, there can be no extradition," [extradition law expert Remy] Farrell said. "This then begs the question as to whether the (Irish) government would enter into such an agreement."

The biggest obstacle to establishing a treaty, Farrell said, was Colombia's human rights record, which he noted has been criticized by the United Nations. The risk that the men could be killed in prison could also be cited as a reason to refuse extradition, he said.

In their search for grounds to compel Ireland's extradition of the trio, Colombia's lawyers have even gone all the way back to a 1888 treaty with the United Kingdom, of which Ireland was a part at the time, reports The Sunday Times of Ireland.

The 1888 law, the “Treaty between Great Britain and Colombia for the mutual surrender of fugitive criminals” includes offences such as "piracy", "sinking or destroying a vessel at sea" and "dealing in slaves". It was drawn up between the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and the president of Colombia and stated that "fugitives from justice, should, under certain circumstances, be reciprocally delivered up" by either side.

Legal expert Professor Dermot Walsh, however, "said that extradition of the three men, with or without a treaty, was a 'non-runner,'" since Ireland ceded from the United Kingdom in 1922, notes the Times.


Wednesday 17th August
Tuesday 16 August 2005

NIO Condemns Loyalist Violence

The Northern Ireland Office has condemned the ongoing murders and violent attacks. An NIO spokesperson said: "The Secretary of State has made clear from the outset of this outbreak of violent killing that this is gangsterism masquerading as loyalism.

"What is important at this time is to bring an end to this violence and intimidation through effective policing and the PSNI deserve the support of the whole community, especially in loyalist areas at this time.

"The PSNI have already arrested 20 people, charged ten of those arrested and conducted over 90 searches. Anyone with information about any violent attacks or murders should make it known to the Police immediately.

"NIO officials continue to be in close contact with community leaders in loyalism to try to bring this ongoing violence to an end. Ministers also remain in close contact with PSNI and security officials."


Shell Refuses To Shift

Conor McMorrrow

Shell has flatly refused to lift an injunction under which five Mayo men have been jailed for opposing a gas pipeline through their lands.

The men, known as the Rossport Five, called yesterday for the injunction to be lifted in order to facilitate dialogue between the company and the objectors to the pipeline.

In a statement last night Shell E&P Ireland said: “The continued imprisonment of the five men is a matter between them and the High Court whose order the men breached.

“Shell cannot interfere with that process. If the men wish to participate in further dialogue outside of prison the matter is entirely in their hands should they choose to purge their contempt.”

The five were jailed for contempt of court seven weeks ago after refusing to obey the injunction ordering them not to interfere with work on the Corrib gas pipeline due to be laid on their land.

Their call for dialogue came in an open letter from prison, released yesterday through the Shell to Sea group which is campaigning for their release. The letter states: “We are currently in prison for refusing to allow Shell and their Irish government partners to build a pipeline close to our family homes. Our crime was to refuse access to our lands. We have refused access because of the certainty that if this pipeline as currently proposed ruptures we, our families and neighbours, will die.”

Micheál Ó Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath said in the letter they wanted to accept the oil giant Shell’s offer of talks on the issue and called on the company to lift the injunction so they can leave prison and attend those talks.

“We wish to immediately accept Shell’s offer of dialogue and enter into talks to resolve the impasse,” the letter stated. “To that end we ask Shell and their government partners to immediately stand down their injunction at this time so that we can leave prison to attend these talks.”

Dr Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the men and the Shell to Sea campaign, said: “At the moment Shell are adopting a very fundamentalist position, that if their project has to be changed they will leave the country.

“While they are purporting to be interested in dialogue and consultation, they are not setting a context within which any such dialogue can meaningfully occur.

“By contrast, the men have always been willing and happy to dialogue with anyone, but you can’t dialogue with anyone when you’re in prison. As Mary Corduff, wife of Willie said last week, ‘you cannot dialogue with anyone through a perspex screen’.

“Once again we are being reasonable and Shell are being extreme.”

Shell E&P Ireland last night rejected the call for them to lift the injunction but welcomed the public statement of the imprisoned objectors as a significant step towards dialogue.

The company said it underlined the urgent need for an open and honest dialogue about the issue of safety on the onshore pipeline and said it noted the commitment of the objectors to enter into that dialogue with Shell once they are out of jail.

“We have done everything possible to create the appropriate climate for this to take place. This included voluntarily suspending all works on the onshore and offshore pipelines and the standing down of over 220 workers. It also included rescheduling of some works on the Corrib Project until next year,” the statement said.

In the open letter from the men, they thanked those who have supported them in their campaign, including grassroots Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael supporters. But they said they had been “shocked by the abandonment in our time of crisis by the Fine Gael leader and local TD Enda Kenny who we now regard as irrelevant in this crisis as a leader”.

They also dismissed the Irish government claim that the building of the gas line was “in the national interest” as “a myth that has been fabricated by the Irish government and their partner Shell”.


Parade Passes Peacefully

Zoe Tunney

Thousands of people lined the streets of Newry in Co Down yesterday for the annual Ancient Order of Hibernians parade for the Feast of the Assumption.

Huge support for the order and a large local membership made sure the day was a success from the outset. Organisers estimated that as many as 10,000 people had turned out.

The event passed off without a hitch. Participants said there was a carnival atmosphere as families and young people turned out for the annual parade.

The 120-strong membership of the Newry order was joined by around 4,000 members of the order from all over Ireland and as far away as Scotland and the United States.

About 40 bands took part in the Newry parade, one of the biggest in Ireland. They included flute bands from Belfast and Derry and accordion bands from Cavan and Donegal.

Ciarán Lennon, secretary of Newry Ancient Order of Hibernians, said the day had been a success for everyone involved.

“It’s been hectic but it is all worth it. We had a lot of support and it was good to see so many bands from Ireland and America,” he said.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians has often been regarded as the Catholic counterpart to the Orange Order, although the organisation has no political links. Every year, the order marches on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, in celebration of the Virgin Mary.

In previous years, unionists have protested at a parade through nearby Kilkeel, which they have claimed is provocative and controversial.

The order applied through the Parades Commission to march through Newry this year. As in previous years, the order was granted permission, and no restrictions were placed on the parade.

Three years ago, the Newry order was praised for its sensitive handling of its parade after it agreed to change the time of a march to avoid it coinciding with Protestant worshippers leaving a church service.

“We never cause any problems,” Mr Lennon said.

“We try not to offend people and take into account other people. That is why we are always allowed to have our parades and do not have any restrictions placed on us.

“It was a fantastic day for everyone. It was a great event.” he added.


The Myth Of Britishness

Tens of thousands of British people of all religions and colours stood against the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (Pic: Ray Smith)

Writer Neil Davidson examines the hypocrisy surrounding the debate on ‘Britishness’

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are trapped on the edge of a cliff by angry Native Americans. The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, “Looks like we’re surrounded, Tonto.” Tonto replies, “What do you mean ‘we’, paleface?”

This is a politically correct version of an old joke.

Chutzpah is a useful Jewish term best illustrated by the story about the man who murders his parents then asks the court to let him off because he’s an orphan.

I am reminded of this joke by the current clamour for Muslims, and by implication, all non-whites and non-Christians, to adopt British culture and values.

Tory MP Boris Johnson expressed his shock in the Daily Telegraph that “too many Britons have absolutely no sense of allegiance to this country or its institutions”. Why might this be?

Johnson, we can be sure, has never suffered a racist attack. It is unlikely that he has ever been singled out for stop and search by the police on account of his hair-style, clothes or accent — bizarrely different though they are to those of the majority of people living in Britain.

We know that he has not been confined to a low paying job or forced to live in sub-standard housing. We can be certain that his religion — the state religion, at least in England — has not been attacked by commentaters whose arrogance in denouncing it is equalled only by their ignorance of its tenets.

Yet if he had experienced these things, as Muslims regularly do, he might be less mystified as to why some of them feel a less than perfect allegiance to “this country and its institutions”.

In fact, what is remarkable is that, despite the way non-white immigrants to Britain have been treated over the last 60 years, they have nevertheless variously argued, pleaded, and demanded that they be treated as British.

They want British national identity to be extended to them on the same basis that it is to the English, the Scots and the Welsh.

The Irish are a more complex case, of course. Yet, despite all the rhetoric about equal opportunities and multiculturalism, in all that time the British state has maintained the levels of institutional racism that form the daily background to their lives.

But now the British political classes and their echo-chambers in the media are demanding that people whose

Britishness has been denied or downplayed for so long must abandon their religious identity.

These identities have in some cases at least been maintained as a defence against the hostility of their social environment, as a consolation for the pain which they have to endure.

We are informed that multiculturalism — which in this context means people being able to follow their preferred ­religious and cultural practices — is a form of apartheid.

Now if this meant that British society had forced many minority groups into segregated ghettos, it would be an interesting if wildly exaggerated analogy.

But the implication is rather that these groups have segregated themselves, subjected themselves to an internal exile because of their rejection of those good old British values of justice and fair play ­enjoyed by millions around the world from Ireland to India.

These are currently being displayed to the mysteriously unappreciative ­inhabitants of Iraq.

To put obstacles in the way of people becoming British, then to denounce them for failing to do so, takes chutzpah on a truly cosmic scale.

The insolence of these establishment demands is staggering, especially when we remember how Muslims in particular were once praised for the very characteristics for which they are now denounced.

In the 1970s, it was common for “Asian” people to be praised by right wingers for their supposed commitment to family values and small-scale capitalist enterprise.

And, if they were Muslims, they had a sternly moralistic religion as well. How different, it was claimed, were these virtuous shop-keepers from the feckless African-Caribbean one parent families who had failed to adapt to the “British way of life”.

Equally, Labour Party politicians were quite happy for Asians to remain ghettoised as long as they voted for their candidates. One politician now sitting in the House of Lords used to refer to the inhabitants of his Midlands constituency as “my Asians”.


One of the pleasures of Respect MP George Galloway’s victory in Bethnal Green & Bow is the blow it delivered to that kind of patronising complacency.

But now the propaganda needs of the ruling class are different. The tight,

enclosed family characterised by religious observance is no longer seen as a model of middle class industry, but as an incubator of terrorism.

Patterns of community voting, now that the votes are no longer guaranteed to the Labour Party, are a thing of scandal, a demonstration of the way in which immature young minds are being influenced by clerics, quite possibly of foreign origin.

The cry goes up, “Why don’t they accept our values, our way of life?” Let’s take a closer look at these notions.

The definition of a national culture as “a whole way of life” was introduced by the brilliant but deeply reactionary poet and critic, T S Eliot.

It was taken up by the socialist writer Raymond Williams. It is, however, an incredibly dangerous idea for the left to embrace, as recent events have proved.

First, a living culture is not static. It is not something which at some point in history can be declared finished, and to which everybody thereafter must conform.

The culture is whatever the people who live within a society do at any one time, with all the contradictions that involves. In that sense, multiculturalism is simply a social fact, not a social policy, and cannot be undone.

Second, cultures have never been purely national, less so than ever today. Why should they be anyway?

In a recent article in the New Statesman magazine called, “Why Britain is Great” the historian Tristram Hunt praises David Blunkett for “speaking of his patriotic ardour for English music, poetry, drama and humour”.

If Blunkett is seriously saying that he appreciates these things more than the culture of other countries simply because they are English then he’s an even bigger fool than we had supposed.

This a naked appeal to nationalism which no one takes seriously other than as a stick to beat the immigrant population or their descendants. The people who talk about the superiority of British national culture watch US films, eat Indian food, buy German cars, take their holidays in Italy

Third, and most important, there is no culture can be said to embody a single set of values.

Leave aside the absurdity of claiming values such as “tolerance” and “justice” as particularly British as if other people did not also embrace them.

By this I do not mean that each different class or group has its own culture but that the values within each culture are contested.

The values of the managers of ­British Airways are not the same as those of the mainly white union members who struck in ­support of mainly Asian sacked workers.

These differences in values are ultimately based on differences of class interest — the great unmentionable in this entire debate.

When Hunt writes, “Like other Western and non-Western nations, we have a history of promoting the type of gender, racial and sexual equality reviled by misogynistic mujahids”, we should respond like Tonto.

Every single attempt to broaden demo­cracy in Britain, from the first attempts to extend the vote, through decolonisation, to the decriminalisation of abortion and homosexuality has been forced from the hand of the ruling class.

Here we have another example of that old ruling class chutzpah again. First, resist democratic reform until it is no longer safe to resist. Then, claim the achievement of these reforms, which you fought like hell to prevent, as part of our national heritage.


I am not arguing, incidentally, that the left needs to create an alternative national history to counter that of the right — the people’s story as a counter to our island story. This is a strategy that has always proved disastrous in that it remains fixated on the nation.

There is one final argument which is used to attack the Muslim population. This is slightly more subtle, in that it does not rely on exclusively British values, but on the universal values of the Enlightenment.

Now I agree that we need to defend the Enlightenment against irrationality, but perhaps we should start at home, or with our closest ally.

The president of the US favours intelligent design as an explanation for the origins of life. Schools in several US states are now teaching creationism as an alternative to Darwinism. And gay marriages will continue to go unrecognised because of what is written — along with prohibitions on eating shellfish, owls and other abominations — in the Book of Leviticus.

It is certainly clear that socialists need to take a stand against these forces of darkness and unreason.

Indeed, non-Christians might reasonably ask what it is in the Bible that apparently compels Tony Blair to bomb, invade or occupy five countries in eight years. Is it statements such as, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword”?

But this is not what pro-war columnists Nick Cohen or Francis Wheen mean by defending the Enlightenment. What they mean is that Muslims should be forced to stop allowing their religion to influence their lives.

For these people “the Enlightenment” is only a series of rational beliefs based on evidence. Except when it comes to the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, of course. Like the existence of Allah, they are an article of faith.

But the Enlightenment, or at least the radicalised Enlightenment associated with Marxism, is more than this. It is not enough to denounce people for being deluded by their priests or imams.

We have to understand what in their social conditions might lead people to accept these beliefs in the first place and to do so as a basis for engaging with them in joint activity.

To say to Muslims — or people of any faith community — that they must agree to abandon their beliefs before we will deign to have a conversation or join a march with them is the worst kind of sectarian abstention.

It is also to make the elitist assumption that other people are incapable of changing their minds through the process of action and discussion. One of the most significant events in recent years has been the mass entry into active political life of the Muslim population in the anti-war movement.

It is this, not the harangues of those demanding adherence to some mythical British “culture” or “values”, that has allowed people from different groups to see themselves as one — not as British, but as part of the worldwide resistance to war and capitalist globalisation.

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