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August 27, 2005

Mayors Unveil Banner for Irish Unity Rally

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News about Ireland and the Irish

SF 08/27/05 Mayors Unveil Banner For Irish Unity Rally
SB 08/28/05 Sectarian Riots Threaten Peace
IO 08/27/05 SF 'Unaffected' By Colombia Three Controversy
SB 08/28/05 Government Bites Its Tongue In C3 Debate
IO 08/27/05 Police Hurt In Parade Riot
BB 08/27/05 Loyal Order Head Condemns Trouble
BB 08/27/05 Man 'Critical' After City Assault
SB 08/28/05 SDLP Leader Lived By Socialist Principles
SB 08/28/05 Neutrality Becomes An Issue Again


Mayors From North And South Unveil Building Size Banner For
Irish Unity Rally

Published: 27 August, 2005

Speaking at the unveiling of the building size banner
announcing details of the upcoming Carnival and Rally for
Irish Unity, Sinn Féin Mayor of Kerry, Toireasa Ferris said
she "would encourage as wide a participation as possible in
the Carnival and Rally on September 24 to show that the
desire and demand for Irish unity amongst the ordinary
Irish people is as strong today as it ever was." The Mayor
of Kerry was joined by Francie Molloy, the Mayor of
Dungannon and South Tyrone District Council.

"It is time to reject the partitionist mentality that has
unfortunately been the mainstay of the 26 County
establishment politics for decades", she said.

"While it is great to see GAA teams and supporters arriving
in Dublin today from as far apart as Kerry and Tyrone for
All Ireland matches over the weekend we must ensure that
this doesn‚t remain the limit of our vision of Irish unity.

"Sinn Féin wants to see all-Ireland structures developed
not just in sport but in ever single aspect of daily life
in Ireland - political as well as social. Our goal is the
reunification of our country and an end to British
jurisdiction in it. We are confident it will be realised."

Francie Molloy said, "The Carnival and Rally on September
24 will give people, the length and breadth of Ireland, an
opportunity to enjoy a fun day out while also making a very
strong and determined statement in support of Irish unity."


Sectarian Riots Threaten Peace

28 August 2005 By Colm Heatley

As the marching season draws to a close in the North, a
series of riots and sectarian attacks in Belfast's most
volatile interface areas have threatened to destabilise a
fragile peace between local communities.

In the Ardoyne, nationalist and loyalist youths have rioted
every night since last Sunday.

Petrol bombs and bricks are thrown during the riots, which
were brought under control after community workers

The clashes follow a series of paint bomb and petrol bomb
attacks on Catholic homes on the Ardoyne Road, and the
Cliftondene area of north Belfast.

Protestant homes on the nearby Hesketh Road were also
attacked on Tuesday night.

In the Short Strand, a Catholic enclave in mainly loyalist
east Belfast, a riot involving more than 50 youths broke
out on Monday night. Community workers and politicians on
both sides have appealed for an end to the violence.

Sinn Féin's Margaret McClenaghan, a councillor in Ardoyne,
condemned nationalist youths who rioted.

“We do not need these riots, they are only disturbing the
peace in the area and causing untold stress for residents,”
she said. “Some of the nationalist youths who are rioting
are nothing more than young thugs, who cause as much
problems in their own area as they do for nearby

“Community activists have been out on the street trying to
prevent these riots, but it is not possible to make sure
there is no trouble at all. Loyalist are intent on coming
down to provoke trouble, and unfortunately some people are
playing into their hands.”

Both unionist and nationalist politicians have criticised
the PSNI for its handling of the riots. Sinn Féin accused
the police of sheltering loyalist stone-throwers at the
Ardoyne interface, while loyalist community worker, Mervyn
Gibson, said the PSNI had sat “twiddling their thumbs'‘
during the Short Strand riots.

The PSNI said its officers had responded appropriately to a
“difficult situation'‘.

The riots follow a month-long intimidation campaign of
Catholic families by loyalist paramilitaries in Ahoghill,
north Antrim, and the sectarian murder of 15-year-old
Catholic schoolboy Michael Devine in north Belfast two
weeks ago.


SF 'Unaffected' By Colombia Three Controversy
2005-08-27 15:50:02+01

Sinn Féin has said it has not been negatively affected by
the controversy surrounding the Colombia Three.

The party has refused to be drawn on the return of General
John De Chastelain from his holidays, saying
decommissioning is a matter to be sorted out between the
General and the IRA.

Sinn Féin Councillor and Mayor of Kerry, Toireasa Ferris,
claimed that the public are supportive of Sinn Féin's
stance when it comes to the Colombia Three and are happy
the men are home.

"My perception of the feeling on the ground is that people
are actually delighted the Colombia Three have come home -
I think that we had a very effective campaign in raising
people's awareness of the human rights abuses particularly
of prisoners in Colombia.

" I don't think anybody could put their hand on their heart
and say that they want those men returned to such
circumstances," she said.

"To be honest, the only negativity coming seems to be
coming from the corners of (Justice Minister Michael)
McDowell and others and that's what we'd expect from people
like that anyhow," she added.


Government Bites Its Tongue In Colombia Three Debate

28 August 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The debate surrounding the return of the Colombia Three may
have focused the public's attention on how the government
parties were going to react, but republicans, for their
part, have revelled in the men's reappearance.

As news of the trio's whereabouts filtered through the
country earlier this month, car horns were sounded and
supportive slogans shouted on the streets of west Belfast.

Though Sinn Féin has repeatedly denied that it had any part
in helping to organise their return home, the move was
nonetheless viewed in nationalist quarters as a defiant two
fingers in the direction of justice minister Michael

The timing of James Monaghan's interview on RTE television
could not have been more significant in this regard, given
that the republican movement's nemesis was holidaying in
Australia when it took place.

With little else on the political agenda - and IRA
decommissioning still to happen - the story has remained
centre stage ever since.

However, for all the panic over a potential diplomatic
fiasco, the three men are likely to remain free in Ireland
for some time.

McDowell will be painfully aware of all this. Having served
as Attorney General before becoming justice minister, he
will doubtless have war-gamed such a scenario well in

Still smarting from the onslaught of criticism that came
from Government Buildings over the Northern Bank robbery,
republicans could not wait to cause McDowell some political
discomfort of his own.

Had the men returned to Ireland prior to the IRA statement,
McDowell would have made significant political mileage from
attacking Sinn Féin.

With IRA disarmament due in the near future, and a
commitment from the IRA itself that it will only pursue
democratic and political methods, much as many may dislike
it, the government is prepared to bite its tongue on what
should be done with the Colombia Three.

According to one republican source, the story is now a
“dead one'‘ as far as Sinn Féin is concerned.

“This story is over,” said the source. “The Taoiseach has
said it's firmly a matter for the courts.

“Those who are trying to keep it alive are the usual
suspects - the unionists, McDowell, the guards and the
likes of the Evening Herald. Nothing is going to happen as
far as we're concerned - we can't understand why people are
still getting themselves into such a tizzy. Some of the
attempts to stir it up have been bizarre, like digging out
legislation from the 1800s.”

With no action likely to be taken against Monaghan, Martin
McCauley and Niall Connolly, the three men are planning to
keep a low profile - at least for now.

None of the men's families lives in the North, so the
prospect of a confrontation with the British government is
deemed unlikely. The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has said
that if they were to enter the North, a extradition request
from the Colombia government would be processed

Such a situation would create serious problems for the
political process. The relationship between the British and
the Colombians is relatively good.

While Britain has been something of a haven for people
wanted in other jurisdictions for paramilitary or terrorist
related offences, it is understood that the British
intelligence agencies are on good terms with their
Colombian equivalents.

Even if Tony Blair were not keen to extradite the three
men, he would come under intense pressure from the NIO.

Politically-motivated judicial decisions are not uncommon
in the North - take, for example, the recent arrest and
subsequent release of Shankill bomber Sean Kelly.

If the three were to turn up in Belfast, Blair would have
an unenviable call to make.

The men and their advisers are under no illusions as to the
significance of such a scenario for the wider political

While the Colombia Three are unlikely to make it North
anytime soon, other “on the runs'‘ may not have to wait so

With the British government now committed to drafting
legislation that would allow IRA members to return home
without facing prosecution, several other prominent
republicans could be back in Belfast before Christmas.


Police Hurt In Parade Riot

27/08/2005 - 22:00:37

A riot broke out in a Tyrone town tonight after a marching
band passed through in the wake of the county's All-Ireland
quarter final victory over Dublin.

Seven police officers were injured and four people were
arrested following the disturbance in Castlederg.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said one of
the officers suffered a broken cheekbone.

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

The parade by the loyalist Black March Preceptory Order was
passing through the staunchly nationalist Ferguson Crescent
area of Castlederg, where dozens of Tyrone supporters in
three separate licensed premises were celebrating their
team's victory over Dublin.

After violence broke out, the PSNI brought in more officers
to enforce the Parade Commission's ruling that the march be
allowed to go through the Castlederg area.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie McHugh, who was
returning from the match in Croke Park when the trouble
broke out, said it made no sense to allow the parade to go
through the area.

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

He added: "The only result could be trouble and that's what
they got."

Mr McHugh said a similar parade in the town two weeks
earlier had passed off peacefully because the Ferguson
Crescent area had been avoided.


Loyal Order Head Condemns Trouble

The head of the Royal Black Institution has condemned the
recent outbreak of trouble in Northern Ireland.

The Sovereign Grand Master of the marching loyal order,
William Logan, was speaking at a demonstration in
Loughgall, County Armagh.

His comments at the 'last Saturday' rally followed
outbreaks of trouble in east and north Belfast.

"I condemn all violence irrespective of where it comes from
or who is involved in it," Mr Logan said.

He said those involved displayed neither a "commitment to
the reformed faith, nor is it a demonstration of loyalty to
any cause be it orange or green".

Mr Logan also told the crowd at Loughall that apparent
concessions made by Tony Blair have been met with anger by
law-abiding unionists and loyalists.

He said the "imposition of policies alien to the majority
of the Northern Ireland population smacked of

More than 30,000 Royal Black Institution members took part
in the 'last Saturday' demonstrations across the province.

There were six in total - at Newtownards, Antrim, Lurgan,
Raphoe, Newtownstewart and Loughgall.

There were 450 preceptories (lodges) - headed by 400 bands
- at all of the demonstrations.

Some members on their way to Loughgall were delayed for
more than an hour following a security alert in Armagh.

Bomb disposal experts examined a suspicious object near
Lonsdale Road which later turned out to be a hoax.

The Royal Black Institution came into existence in Ireland
in 1797, two years after the formation of the Orange Order.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/27 16:45:52 GMT


Man 'Critical' After City Assault

A 38-year-old man remains critically ill after he was
assaulted by a gang of four men in Londonderry.

He was walking along Rosemount Avenue at about 0500 BST on
Saturday when he was set upon and beaten up.

He was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital with severe head
injuries but later transferred to the Royal Victoria's
intensive care unit in Belfast.

Police have not established a motive for the attack. SDLP
MLA Pat Ramsay said it was "no routine punch-up".

Mr Ramsay said the attackers were "intent on serious injury
or worse".

This was a horrific beating - he sustained serious, life
threatening injuries

DCI Nigel Kyle

"There is a responsibility on everyone to get whoever did
it off the streets, by helping the police," he added.

Police cordoned off Rosemount Avenue and Epworth Street as
they investigated the assault.

Sinn Fein Derry mayor Lynn Fleming said it was a "savage

"There has been disruption this morning as the police
closed off roads as part of their investigation, but the
residents I spoke to were very understanding of the need
for proper inquiries," she said.

"Nobody wants the person responsible for this running loose
in the community."

Police believe some people may have looked out of their
bedroom windows after hearing the commotion on the street.

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Kyle appealed for anyone
who witnessed the assault or saw the attackers running off
towards the Creggan area to contact police.

"This was a horrific beating - he sustained serious, life
threatening injuries," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/27 15:55:47 GMT


Former SDLP Leader Who Lived By Socialist Principles

28 August 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The political career of former SDLP leader Gerry Fitt, who
died last Friday aged 79, showed just how easily and
quickly support for political leaders can evaporate in the

Fitt, like his SDLP colleague Paddy Devlin, came from a
Labour background and ran for election to Stormont on Irish
Labour and Republican Labour tickets.

He was elected as MP for West Belfast in 1966 after Sinn
Féin stood aside for him. Nationalist historian Brian
Feeney, who would later take Fitt's seat on Belfast city
council, said Fitt “wreaked havoc'‘ in London by exposing
unionist discrimination and gerrymandering.

Those who knew him maintain that he always kept to his
socialist principles and that his lifestyle reflected this.

Fitt rose to further prominence in the late 1960s after
playing a central role in the work of the Northern Ireland
Civil Rights Association. He was beaten by members of the
Royal Ulster Constabulary, and pictures of his bloodied
face were beamed around the world. He had been successful
in attracting several English MPs to civil rights marches.

In 1969, along with Austin Currie, Ivan Cooper, Paddy
Devlin, John Hume and Paddy O'Hanlon, he formed the SDLP.

Four years later, the SDLP sat down with unionists in a
power-sharing executive at Stormont. The arrangement
collapsed a year later, largely under the pressure of
loyalism, with Fitt saying he felt that nationalists had
pushed unionists too hard on the issue of all-Ireland

Fitt stood down as leader of the SDLP in 1979, though he
stayed on as MP until 1983 when he lost his seat to Sinn
Féin's Gerry Adams. Fitt's denunciation of the 1981 hunger
strikes lost him significant support in republican

Fitt's poor showing at the Westminster and local elections
that year paved the way for him accepting Margaret
Thatcher's nomination to the House of Lords.

The decision to accept a peerage earned him the unfortunate
moniker “Fitt the Brit'‘, but he nonetheless used the
chamber to highlight British failings in the North.

Fitt maintained that his decision to accept a peerage from
a Conservative government was motivated in part by anger at
how he and his family had been treated by republicans. A
mob had once attacked and burned his home in north Belfast,
forcing him to draw a gun on them.

Unlike his successor Hume, Fitt led the party through a
period when it was at complete loggerheads with Sinn Féin
and the republican movement.

The IRA in the early 1980s once referred to the SDLP as
“imperialist lickspittles'‘.

On a personal level Fitt was well regarded.

“He was great fun in a social situation,” said one SDLP
member. “He was almost like a Frank Carson-type - great at
telling stories and cracking jokes. Although people in the
party may have disagreed with some of his decisions, they
couldn't help but enjoy his company.”


Neutrality Becomes An Issue Again

28 August 2005 By Ian Kehoe

After months of vacillating, the Minister for Defence,
Willie O'Dea, expects to bring proposals for Irish
involvement in so-called EU battle groups to the cabinet
within the next five weeks. If passed, the move could see
Irish troops participating in an EU rapid reaction force
within two years.

Irish participation in the battle groups, which involve
soldiers from a number of countries working together as a
cohesive military unit, have been shrouded in controversy
from the beginning. Critics have argued that it runs
contrary to Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality.
Even the government has admitted that certain legal
obstacles will have to be overcome.

Earlier this year, O'Dea asked an inter-departmental
working group to prepare three reports on battle groups
relating to policy, legislation and operational issues. A
spokeswoman for the minister said the reports were due to
be on the minister's desk by the middle of next month.

It is understood that the minister is confident that the
legal obstacles can be overcome by changing legislation,
rather than through a constitutional referendum. It is now
widely anticipated that O'Dea will propose a series of
legislative changes to pave the way for Irish

“Our intention is to join up if we can,” O'Dea said earlier
this year. If he brings his proposals to cabinet, it will
once again stir up the debate on Ireland's policy of
neutrality. He has already accepted that neutrality is the
main stumbling block in Ireland's membership of the battle
groups, but that he is confident of overcoming it.

Even if a referendum is not required, O'Dea will face a
hard task in convincing the Irish public that Ireland is
remaining a neutral state. While not enshrined in the Irish
constitution, neutrality has achieved almost a consecrated
status in society.

“Make no bones about it - that will be our biggest
difficulty,” said one senior department official. “There is
an emotional attachment to neutrality that if almost hard
to comprehend.”

For some, the country's policy of neutrality is based upon
a belief that all wars are always wrong, and that Ireland
has no place participating in any military conflict. For
others, neutrality is seen merely as a self-serving policy
that allows Ireland to escape its international

“It is archaic and outdated,” said Bernard Allen, Fine
Gael's spokesman on foreign affairs. “It is a farcical
concept that is no longer applicable to modern realities.
Can we really be politically aligned and military neutral?
The answer is no.”

In 2003, Fine Gael became the first Irish political party
to propose that Ireland move away from its policy of
neutrality. In a document entitled “Beyond neutrality'‘,
the opposition party called for Ireland to join a common EU
security and defence agreement.

“The threats we face now are different than when we first
adopted this strategy. We are no longer in danger of being
invaded by a foreign aggressor,” said Allen. Terrorism is
now the enemy, and being neutral will not do anything to
defend us from that sort of attack.”

“Furthermore, we are part of the international community
and that means we have certain responsibilities that we
have to live up to.”

To date, Fine Gael are the only mainstream party calling
for neutrality to be jettisoned.

Joe Sherlock, Labour 's spokesman on defence, said the
party wanted the government to publish a White Paper on the
issue of EU battle groups, and it would respond then. “This
is a serious issue and we will debate it thoroughly when a
White Paper is published,” said Sherlock.

Two years ago, Sinn Féin proposed that neutrality should be
written into the Irish constitution to avoid all ambiguity
on the subject.

Responding to the proposal, Tom Kitt, then the junior
minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that
neutrality had not been considered since the 1937
Constitution came into effect and that “this was for good

Rather than serve a constructive purpose, Kitt said the
proposal would see Ireland adopt an “inward-looking and
narrow interpretation of our international

The Taoiseach has also argued that neutrality should not be
defined or enshrined in the Constitution. Writing in 2003,
Bertie Ahern stated that Irish neutrality was manifested by
Ireland's non-membership of military alliances and by the
country's obligations under the UN charter.

“Neither is it described in the Constitution, nor should it
be,” he wrote. The irony of the debate is that Ireland has
already participated in UN and EU military plans and

Irish troops served with the EU in Bosnia (under a UN
mandate) and helped plan the Democratic Republic of the
Congo mission (also UN mandated). Five senior Irish army
officers work at the EU's military headquarters.

The state has argued that all Irish troops have been
involved in peacekeeping operations sanctioned by the UN.

Even if it joins the EU battle groups, it has said that the
“triple lock mechanism'‘ of approval by the government,
Oireachtas and the UN for any military deployment of Irish
troops will remain.

To date, the government has avoided a major debate on the
issue of Irish neutrality.

During the Iraq war, the government defended its decision
to allow US jets to land at Shannon by stating it was
militarily neutral, yet politically aligned.

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