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August 17, 2005

McBrides Meet U.S. Diplomat

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 08/17/05 McBrides Meet U.S. Diplomat
IO 08/17/05 Paint Attacks 'More Sinister'
IO 08/17/05 Unionists 'Must Condemn Attacks On Catholics'
DI 08/17/05 PSNI Is Running Out Of Excuses
DI 08/17/05 Making A Mockery Of Irish Neutrality
IO 08/17/05 Two Released In Loyalist Murder Probe
BB 08/17/05 Police 'Assurances' Over Attacks
DI 08/17/05 LVF Associates Warned They Are Being Targeted
DI 08/17/05 When Will We Hear The UVF’s Real Plan?
DI 08/17/05 Irish State Failing Victims Of Collusion
IO 08/17/05 Neo-Nazis Have Threatened Me: Assembly Member
EX 08/17/05 Embers Of Innocence Fanned Into Flames Of Fury
BT 08/17/05 MPs Clash On Republican Festival Plan
BT 08/17/05 SDLP Joins Calls For IRA To Give Up Killers
SW 08/17/05 Chartists: Accused Of Treason,Repressed W/ Lies
IE 08/17/05 Cindy Sheehan: No End In Sight
DI 08/17/05 Documents Give Lie To Version Of Killing
IT 08/18/05 Planning Refused For Galway Village Complex
IT 08/15/05 Good Year For Roses As Tralee Festival


McBrides Meet U.S. Diplomat

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST -- Campaigners in the case of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride have met the U.S. consul-general in Northern Ireland, Howard Dean Pittman, to discuss U.S. links with the commanding officer of the two British soldiers convicted of his shooting.

McBride's mother, Jean, and his sister, Kelly, were accompanied by Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Center for Human Rights when they questioned the role of the U.S. government in funding a company operated by the former British army officer.

The Pentagon recently awarded a lucrative security contract in Iraq to Aegis Defense Services whose chief executive is former Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer. He was the commander of the Scots Guards regiment in 1992 when two soldiers, James Fisher and Mark Wright, killed McBride.

Despite being found guilty of murder, both Wright and Fisher have been allowed to stay in the British army. Campaigners have demanded that both men be dismissed pointing out that soldiers guilty of far lesser offences are routinely expelled from the ranks.

Spicer defended his men, both at the time of their various trials and in a book he published later. Although McBride had been body-searched minutes before the shooting, the soldiers persisted in saying they believed he posed a risk.

The court threw out their version of events and convicted both men of murder. Despite appeals, the convictions were upheld at the highest court in Britain, the House of Lords.

Jean McBride described the meeting with Pittman as useful. "The consul has promised to get back to us after consulting with the State Department and U.S. Department of Defense," she said.

"He also talked to [U.S. special envoy to Ireland] Mitchell Reiss and the State Department about the Aegis contract," she said. McBride said members of her family had been in direct contact with legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about the case.

She pressed Pittman to ensure that a complete review of the Pentagon's dealings with Aegis takes place. O'Connor said the U.S. administration "cannot simply ignore this case because there are fairly serious legal issues at stake.

"Just last week, Senator Pat Leahy asked, if a private contractor is responsible for a death in Iraq, what is the legal responsibility of the U.S. government? In the case of Aegis, we have advised the U.S. government of our strong concerns about a company and person to whom they have given their contract.

"The question we are asking is: where do those documented and long-standing concerns leave the U.S. government in the event of legal proceedings with respect to civilian contractors in Iraq?" he asked.

"In our view, it puts them in a very tenuous legal predicament," he said.

The decision to award the Iraq security contract to Spicer's company has already provoked controversy in the U.S. where a number of senators wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raising their concerns.

This story appeared in the issue of August 17-23, 2005


Paint Attacks 'More Sinister Than Ethnic Cleansing'
2005-08-17 16:50:02+01

A vicious campaign of paint and petrol bomb attacks on Catholics living in an under-siege village in Northern Ireland is worse than ethnic cleansing, a top police officer claimed today.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton confirmed that helicopter surveillance was being used in a bid to identify the thugs preying on their neighbours in Ahoghill, Co Antrim.

A couple whose home was splattered with paint in the latest round of attacks have vowed to quit the area to escape their tormentors.

A Catholic church and school were also vandalised in the intensifying offensive which has horrified clergymen and public representatives.

Mr Leighton accepted the attacks were partially fuelled by sectarianism but stressed that disputes among neighbours was also to blame.

He said: "This is much more sinister than ethnic cleansing, this is real hatred between communities in Northern Ireland."

Catholics living in Ahoghill, which is near the strongly-Protestant town of Ballymena where sectarian tensions have risen, were supplied with fire blankets and smoke alarms last week amid fears of fresh attacks.

With police making the move based on intelligence, security patrols have also been increased in an attempt to thwart the loyalists.

But on Monday night milk bottles filled with white paint were hurled at Patrick and Pat McGaughey's home, smashing windows and showering the property with glass and paint.

Paint was also thrown at St Mary's Church and St Joseph's Primary School in Ahoghill. Police believe the same thugs carried out all the attacks.

Mr Leighton, who was in the village to reassure residents that police were doing everything possible to end the violence, insisted: "We don't believe these attacks are being carried out by an organisation.

"There's no doubt that there's an element of sectarianism, but also an element of people just not getting on with each other."

With increased patrols on the village streets, the police chief believed the paint bombers may have been deflected towards targets on its outskirts.

He added: "I have met with CID, intelligence officers, uniformed and community officers to discuss what we can do overtly and covertly.

"We have been discussing the resources brought to bear so far and whether I have made full use of our air support unit.

"But I don't accept we have not done enough."


Unionist Leaders 'Must Condemn Attacks On Catholics'
2005-08-17 13:20:02+01

Unionist politicians were urged by a senior politician in the Republic today to take a strong line against sectarian attacks on Catholic homes in Northern Ireland.

Liz McManus, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said recent petrol and paint bomb attacks on Catholic homes and property in north Antrim had all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing campaign by loyalists.

The Wicklow TD said: "Local unionist politicians cannot equivocate on this.

"They must be equally trenchant in their criticisms of loyalist violence as they are about republican paramilitaries.

"They must also use all their power to get the attacks to stop.

"I appeal particularly to the representatives of political parties connected to loyalist paramilitary groups to demand that this organised campaign against the Catholic community ends immediately."

Sinn Féin and the nationalist SDLP in Northern Ireland have also criticised the response of some unionist leaders to the attacks on Catholic homes, churches and schools in Ahoghill, Cloughmills, Martinstown and Ballymena.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan yesterday accused Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley of failing to address the problem in his own constituency.

The North Antrim MP, who has been on holiday during the recent upsurge in attacks, hit back last night at Mr Durkan's claims.

"Last week when the mayor (DUP councillor Tommy Nicholl) unreservedly condemned any and all such attacks, he spoke with the authority of my party and it goes without saying that I too condemn these attacks and call for them to end," Mr Paisley said.

Presbyterian clergymen in Ahoghill have issued a statement expressing revulsion at the attacks and their support for the besieged Catholic community there.

Church of Ireland Archbishop Robin Eames has also issued strong condemnation.

With a bloody loyalist paramilitary feud also claiming the lives of four people in Belfast in recent weeks, Ms McManus noted a number of high profile loyalist politicians with links to the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association had been indulged in recent years by the Irish political establishment.

She told them: "It is about time some return on this investment was realised and they started using their influence over their paramilitary colleagues for the wider public good."


PSNI Is Running Out Of Excuses

The geographical facts of the recent series of sectarian attacks on Catholic families in Co Antrim, laid out in this newspaper today, suggest that it might take even less of an effort by the PSNI to tackle the crisis than had previously been thought.

The evidence suggests that a very localised group is responsible for the onslaught which has blighted the political landscape for the past number of weeks and which has undermined the ongoing efforts to reach an accommodation which would allow republicans to back the new policing arrangements. That being the case, it might be expected that the local PSNI would have much less trouble not only in identifying and catching the criminals responsible, but in protecting vulnerable Catholic families, but no.

The latest attack took place, to the great surprise of no one – except perhaps the PSNI – in the village of Ahoghill, which is fast becoming a byword for bigotry and hatred as well as a potent symbol of the PSNI’s increasing gormlessness.

A Catholic school and church were paint-bombed, as was the home of a Catholic couple who promptly announced that they’d had enough and were leaving the village.

If their decision to get out while the going’s good is a depressing indictment of the state of community relations in the mainly loyalist village, it is also further proof of the PSNI’s inability to protect and serve beleaguered Catholics in the north Antrim area.

Pat McGaughey, who has lived in the village for the past eight years, says she’s disappointed at the reaction of church leaders and politicians in the north Antrim area to the ongoing campaign of intimidation which has forced her and her family out.

Some Protestant clergy have rallied around the Catholic population of north Antrim, helping clean up the mess and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims in a powerful display of the real meaning of Christianity, but where politics and religion meet then lines become blurred and the DUP/Free Presbyterian political and religious axis has not covered itself in glory in recent days and weeks.

Individual DUP members have spoken out when pressed, but where are the party big names and where is the local MP?

They’re quick to turn up for a photo opportunity and a chance to sound off if as much as a single Protestant window is broken, yet they cannot find it within themselves to turn up at the door of victimised and terrified Catholics.

That omission is not only terribly dispiriting for the families affected and for this society as a whole.


Making A Mockery Of Irish Neutrality

Mary Lou McDonald

The continuing loyalist feud cannot be allowed to overshadow the sinister escalation in attacks upon vulnerable nationalist homes, schools, churches and lives.

The Irish government has a responsibility to protect Irish citizens in the six counties, particularly those who remain most vulnerable to attack. The government must challenge the British state on these attacks and pressurise them to rein in the informers and agents whom they control in the UVF, UFF and LVF.

The horrendous rape of the young girl in Belfast and the ordeal which her friends subsequently endured has made headlines across the country.

Similarly, the murder of 15-year-old Thomas Devlin has shocked the nation.

I am sure that the people of Dublin extend their solidarity with the young people, their families and local community. We are united in our condemnation of these events and want to see those responsible brought to justice.

Irish Defence Minister Willie O’Dea has been playing u-turn politics.

Yesterday it emerged that he would seek cabinet approval for Irish troops to join Europe’s own little military adventure – the EU Battle Groups.

Just over six months ago, Willie was telling us that legal and constitutional difficulties prevented the state from taking part in the short term. What has changed?

Expect to see a flurry of activity in the next few months with a number of constitutional changes, including the possibility of foreign troops training on Irish soil.

Willie O’Dea had the audacity to attack Fine Gael regarding their stance on neutrality in March.

Fianna Fail’s approach to the issue is both contradictory and hypocritical.

At least we know where we stand with Fine Gael. If the government allows for Irish participation in this regional force then there are surely serious implications for Irish neutrality.

Taken with the use of Shannon Airport by the American military, it is clear that government is making a mockery of the concept of neutrality.

Last Thursday I made my way into Cloverhill prison to visit the men who have become known around Ireland as the Rossport Five: Micheál O Seighin, Willie Corduff, Phillip McGrath, Vincent McGrath and Brendan Philbin.

The men are now into their 51st day in prison for refusing to give assurances that they would not obstruct the building of a potentially hazardous pipeline through their lands in County Mayo.

When I finally got to meet the Rossport Five, I found that their spirits remain high.

The men are as determined as ever to see their cause through.

It remains an absolutely ludicrous situation that five upstanding citizens can be treated in such a manner for legitimately asserting their rights.

I was also struck by the composure and determination which the men’s families have shown.

Special mention must also go to the Mayo Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who has abandoned five of his own constituents on this matter.

Mary Lou McDonald is a Sinn Féin Dublin MEP.


Two Released In Loyalist Murder Probe

17/08/2005 - 23:57:26

Two men arrested in Belfast in connection with separate murders linked to a bitter loyalist feud were tonight released without charge.

A 31-year-old was detained for questioning about the murder of Craig McCausland, 20, who was shot at his girlfriend’s house in north Belfast last month. He died later in hospital.

Another man was arrested by detectives investigating the murder of Stephen Paul, 28, who was gunned down later in the month at his home a few streets from that of Mr McCausland.

The PSNI tonight confirmed that both men were released after questioning.

The loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force is suspected of carrying out both murders as part of its feud with the splinter Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The UVF is thought to have carried out all four murders in the feud – the latest on Monday – in a bid to wipe-out its rivals.

Police chiefs revealed last night that they had drafted in 160 extra officers in a bid to stop the feuding, which has also seen nearly 20 attempted murders and bombings in recent weeks.


Police 'Assurances' Over Attacks

One of Northern Ireland's most senior police chiefs has met with local officers to discuss a series of sectarian attacks in County Antrim.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton travelled to Ahoghill to reassure residents police were doing everything possible to end the violence.

He said there had been an "element" of sectarianism to the attacks.

"I'm entirely satisfied police officers here have worked tirelessly to try and alleviate this situation," he said.

A Catholic church and school were splattered with paint on Monday night, the same night as the attack on a Catholic couple's Tudor Vale home.

The McCaugherys said they feared for their lives after the attack and had decided to leave their home of eight years.

Last week, Catholic residents in the village were supplied with fire-resistant blankets and smoke alarms amid fears of fresh attacks.

Security patrols in the village were also stepped up following a series of attacks by loyalists.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/17 16:40:44 GMT


LVF Associates Warned They Are Being Targeted

Ciarán Barnes

Families and friends of Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) members have been warned by the PSNI that they are under an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) death threat.

A Belfast man who was forced to flee his home four weeks ago told Daily Ireland that he is being targeted because the partner of one of his children was an LVF associate.

The man, who has no paramilitary connections and who is too frightened to be identified, said this was why 42-year-old Mick Green was murdered by the UVF on Monday. Mr Green was gunned down in the Sandy Row district of south Belfast outside a furniture shop where he had worked for 20 years.

It is believed he was murdered because someone close to him has associations with Lawrence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid – the UVF’s number one feud target.

In recent weeks, Mr Kincaid has been the subject of two murder bids and survived being blasted in the chest with a shotgun.

News of the UVF’s sinister decision to target the friends and families of LVF members came on the same day the Housing Executive revealed 14 people have been forced from their homes as a result of loyalist feud-related intimidation.

One of those men forced to flee said his life was under threat even though he has no LVF connections.

He said: “I am being targeted because someone I know is friendly with someone who had LVF associations.

“It’s a genuine threat and my life is in danger.

“The UVF knew Mick Green was not in the LVF, yet they still killed him. The same could happen to me.”

Four men, Jameson Lockhart, Craig McCausland, Stephen Paul and Mick Green, have been murdered since July 1 by the UVF.

Rev Mervyn Gibson, who chairs the Loyalist Commission and who has been trying to broker a ceasefire between the warring groups said at this stage there is no prospect of the violence ending.

He said: “I am constantly approaching both sides asking them to step back from the brink, but I am being told consistently that there is no hope of this feud ending.

“It is a really sad state of affairs and one that weakens the unionist community.

“All I can do is hope that there are no more murders.”

Policing costs for the feud stand at more than £30,000 (€44,000) per day.

Since July 1 more than £1 million (€1.46 million) of taxpayers’ money has been spent on trying to bring it under control.


When Will We Hear The UVF’s Real Plan?

Danny Morrison

Ian Paisley is on his holidays. The four entirely independent members of the Independent Monitoring Commission are on holidays. Peter Hain is the Secretary of State for Wales. Sir Hugh Orde is damned elusive. Where are all the ‘peace’ groups and those politicians opposed to paramilitary violence, drug-pushers and criminality?

Where are the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leaders, Billy Hutchinson and David Ervine?

Must be on holiday as well.

Remember how often over the past 30 years we were told that loyalist paramilitary violence was solely a response to the activities of the IRA? We heard that mantra ad nauseam from unionist politicians and loyalist spokespersons alike. It was echoed in police press statements and in the tenor of early media reporting describing the murders of Catholics as “tit-for-tat” or “retaliatory” killings. They told us that if there was no IRA or IRA activity there would be no loyalist paramilitaries or loyalist violence. It was a perverted logic that allowed unionists to spuriously claim that the IRA was thus responsible for all 3,500 deaths.

It is obvious from the history of Ulster unionism, including the illegal activities of the first UVF and its subsequent co-option into the state forces, that there has always been a dependent relationship between unionism and the use or threat of extra-parliamentary violence.

That loyalist paramilitaries today represent something corrupt, uncontrollable and embarrassing does not gainsay the case that the paramilitaries in the past played their part on behalf of the unionist cause, and could do so again in the future.

Ian Paisley’s Ulster Protestant Volunteers were to the fore in the counter-demonstrations which attempted to smash the Civil Rights Movement. Loyalist gangs joined with the RUC and B Specials to burn Catholics out of their homes in 1969. William Craig’s Vanguard Movement was paramilitary at heart and, of course, the muscle for the Ulster Workers Council strike in 1974 came from the UDA and the UVF. Paisley joined with the UDA/UFF in the second strike in 1977. Then there was the penchant for wearing berets, marching in military formation, saluting flags and the swearing of solemn and binding oaths (the Carson Trail rallies, the Ulster Clubs and Ulster Resistance) which perpetuated a culture of unionist tolerance towards extra-parliamentary activity.

In recent years the IRA has not only engaged with the International Decommissioning Commission but also verifiably put a large number of weapons beyond use. While during the IRA cessation some IRA activity continued, the graph of activity has shown a prominent decline until the IRA announcement last month of the formal end of its armed struggle.

Yet, loyalist violence, both sectarian and intra-community, has continued. The LVF emerged to support both a drugs empire and Orange Order demands to get marching through the Catholic Garvaghy Road. There has been internal UDA feuding, UVF vs UFF feuding and UVF vs LVF feuding resulting in the loss of dozens of lives.

When Billy Hutchinson announced a few years ago that he did not believe the UVF would decommission its weapons (even were the IRA to do so) both the UUP and the DUP were unexercised by his statement, because, according to them, the IRA is the real problem, not the loyalists: further proof of the duplicitous attitude of the unionist parties.

Catholic homes, schools and chapels have been systematically attacked. Over the summer there were attempts to drive Catholics out of various streets and villages around the North. There were gun attacks, pipe and petrol bombings.

The UVF has also been the driving force behind the most recent feud with the LVF which has resulted in the loss of several lives and a number of individuals being seriously wounded. The LVF, made up of former members of the UVF, has, in turn, attempted to kill its rivals.

In July up to 300 UVF men – who made no bones about being UVF members – occupied the Garnerville Estate in east Belfast and, in front of the PSNI and the British army, drove out a number of families with alleged LVF connections. Unionist politicians were measured in their criticism: in comparison to the passion with which within days they were to demonstrate in condemning the return of the Colombia Three to Ireland.

Indeed, Ulster Unionist Party leader, Sir Reg Empey, called for ‘mediation’ between the feuding sides. Could one ever have envisaged him giving the same vocational advice and wide berth to feuding republicans? His colleague, Michael McGimpsey, also spoke very softly when he described members of both proscribed organisations as ‘Volunteers’.

Many of the anti-Catholic attacks have occurred in the heartland of the North Antrim constituency of Ian Paisley. No doubt he will eventually issue – or be forced to issue – some statement of condemnation from his place of retreat. But the abiding perception is one of indifference – in direct contrast to the actions of several other Presbyterian ministers who went to Harryville and physically washed away the paint which had desecrated the Catholic church.

Reading between the lines of the various statements of the mainstream unionist parties (when they can be found), and the spin put out by PUP spokespersons (when they can be found), there is clearly an attempt to paint the UVF as being somehow more virtuous and upright than the LVF. That is, that the UVF might merely be doing a bit of ‘housekeeping’ within loyalist working class areas (indeed, the purge of the LVF in Garnerville appears to have been fairly ‘popular’).

The UVF remains a dangerous and active sectarian organisation. It now appears increasingly likely that its members were behind the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Catholic Thomas Devlin in north Belfast last week. It has also been disillusioned with the peace process, the Belfast Agreement and the failure of its political representatives in the PUP to establish a firm electoral base.

So, perhaps there is more to its feud with the LVF than driving out drug barons and ‘liberating’ Protestant areas. Is the UVF champing at the bit to resume full-scale activity? Isn’t it about time that we heard from Billy Hutchinson and David Ervine what the real plan is? Will they be honest enough to admit that the threat from the UVF is not related to the IRA or IRA activity but to the prospects of political progress and peace with justice?

Danny Morrison is a regular media commentator on Irish politics. He is an author and playwright.


Irish State Failing Victims Of Collusion

Jarlath Kearney

Irish government officials know the main street in Toome fairly well. Not as well as the British government’s proxy loyalist murder machine but fairly well nonetheless.

The historic Co Antrim village straddles the River Bann at the mouth of Lough Neagh and it borders Co Derry.

Whether attending political meetings in the O’Neill Arms Hotel two decades ago or monitoring Sinn Féin speeches at an Easter memorial 12 months ago, Irish government officials are pretty familiar with Toome’s main street.

However, if you asked any Irish government official to walk the couple of hundred metres off Toome’s main street to the small terraced home of Peter Gallagher, they would not know where to start and would probably not even recognise his name.

The same nonchalant neglect would probably apply if you asked an Irish government official to drive the few short kilometres from Toome to John Davey’s isolated home in Gulladuff, Co Derry, or to follow the Bann north to the weir at Kilrea in Co Derry, where Tom Donaghy worked or to head half an hour into north Antrim to Gerard Casey’s former home in Rasharkin.

One thing is certain. No Irish government official woke yesterday morning knowing that it was the 14th anniversary of Tom Donaghy’s assassination by a pro-unionist death squad.

Tom Donaghy’s killing was one of more than a dozen against the nationalist community in the south Derry and north Antrim area during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Speaking yesterday, relatives of Gerard Casey, John Davey, Tom Donaghy and Peter Gallagher discussed the unresolved legacy of British collusion with Daily Ireland at the Gulladuff Centre in Co Derry.

Each of the families is part of a larger outreach programme being established by Relatives for Justice, the Belfast-based lobby group that campaigns for victims of state violence in the North.

Mary Davey, John’s wife, remained adamant that the Irish government had failed in its moral and legal obligations to prosecute the British government for war crimes in Ireland over the past 35 years.

His daughter Pauline Davey-Kennedy unshakably stated that British forces had directed a sophisticated and co-ordinated murder campaign in the area.

John Davey was shot dead in the laneway of his home on February 16, 1989, two days after the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane in Belfast.

The respected local Sinn Féin councillor was a 58-year-old father of six. Political and paramilitary sections of the unionist community had repeatedly targeted him during his participation in public life.

Johnny Donaghy, brother of Tom, remarked that an entire tier of civic leadership in the republican community of the south Derry and north Antrim area had been strategically and systematically wiped out during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Tom Donaghy was shot dead on August 16, 1991, as he arrived for work at the eel fishery in Kilrea. The 38-year-old was a former republican prisoner.

In the months before his murder, he became so concerned about the attention of passing RUC patrols in his isolated family home that he moved to a flat in Kilrea for greater personal safety.

Shauna Gallagher, Peter’s daughter, noted the cruelty of her father’s well-planned and targeted assassination as he opened up a workyard on west Belfast’s Grosvenor Road.

The yard sat beneath the watchful gaze of a British Army spy post on nearby flats.

A gunman shot the 44-year-old on March 24, 1993, and then escaped on a bicycle across a footbridge to loyalist south Belfast. It was only the second day that Peter Gallagher had opened the yard on his own.

During the previous year, British forces had regularly stopped him on his way to the same workplace. His widow was left to look after the couple’s seven children.

Gerard Casey’s sister Rosaleen Downey recalled that, months before her brother’s murder, the RUC raided Gerard’s home in Rasharkin.

The force drew a detailed plan of the property’s layout and removed a legally-held shotgun.

The gunmen who subsequently killed Gerard Casey on April 4, 1989, broke into his house before running straight to his upstairs bedroom. Their victim was a 29-year-old father of four.

Gerard Casey had been so concerned about death threats from the RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment that he had gone to work in England in the period before he was killed.

Each of the four men – along with other locals such as Danny Cassidy or Jamesy Kelly or Bernard O’Hagan – had two things in common.

First, they were staunch supporters of Sinn Féin and represented the heartbeat of the party’s growing political dynamic in south Derry and Co Antrim.

Second, British state forces – particularly the RUC and UDR – constantly targeted them for serious harrassment and periodic arrest and frequently threatened them with death.

The stories told by each of their families yesterday were, individually, both harrowing and emotive.

Examined in a collective context, the stories throw the frightening reality of British state violence into sharp relief.

A chilling framework of state collusion on a military scale is built up by the stark patterns of identical factual evidence set alongside the repetition of strikingly similar experiences, whether in the intensity of the Castlereagh interrogation centre in east Belfast or on the quiet country roads around the River Bann.

All the killings were attributed to loyalist death squads but the targets were expertly selected to rupture the infrastructure of local communities.

British security montage photos of some of those murdered were subsequently discovered in loyalist hands. In John Davey’s case, the photograph was crossed out and marked “dead as doornails”.

Inquests proved hopelessly inadequate and, in the relatives’ view, arguably formed another layer in the wider collusion policy of the British state.

In any event, no one has ever been convicted for any of the killings. The families say no members of the RUC or PSNI have ever spoken with them about the cases.

The British government has never explained why elements of its security agencies had ordered the killings.

Crucially, no officials from the Irish government have ever found time to explain the apparent indifference displayed towards the British government’s state-run murder campaign against Irish citizens living in Ireland.

The families’ hopes have been lifted only by the work of groups such as Relatives for Justice and the anti-collusion group An Fhírinne.

Pauline Davey-Kennedy said the opportunity provided by Relatives for Justice for the families to get together in Gulladuff had provided a level of support that had never previously existed. The other relatives agreed.

One recent example of this newfound solidarity was the participation of the group in the anti-collusion march in Belfast the Sunday before last.

Mary Davey, Pauline’s mother, also insisted that the Irish government had failed the victims of British state violence.

As a proud Irish citizen whose murdered husband was an elected representative of the Irish people, Mary cautioned that the British government was not the only grouping that needed held to account over the wider impact of state collusion in the North.

That thought is one that some Irish government officials might care to remember the next time they find themselves near the village of Toome.

:: Relatives for Justice provides a weekly benefits advice service at the Gulladuff Centre every Tuesday from 1pm to 6pm. The group can provide its services only to people bereaved or injured as a result of the conflict. Further services, including a computer course and complementary therapist, will be offered from September. Any relative wishing to get in touch with the Belfast-based group can telephone 07739 876 127 or (028) 9022 0100.


Neo-Nazis Have Threatened Me, Says Ulster Assembly Member
2005-08-17 17:40:02+01

Neo-Nazis have threatened to burn down the home of an outspoken Northern Ireland Assembly member, he claimed tonight.

John Dallat, a nationalist SDLP representative, said the Combat 18 grouping also warned they were plotting to set fire to his offices.

The East Derry MLA believes that the far-right grouping with links to extreme loyalists targeted him because he spoke out about their re-emergence in his constituency.

He said: "They phoned my office and told one of my staff they were going to torch it and my home."

Mr Dallat already has bullet-proof windows installed at his house after angering terrorists in the past.

But, as police investigated the latest threat, he pledged to stop racist and sectarian thugs gaining a foothold in the area.

He said he attracted their attention after condemning fly-posters plastered over Catholic-owned properties in Garvagh, Co Derry, declaring "Combat 18 is back".

"Presumably that is the reason why threats have been made to torch my office or home," he said.

"I'm more concerned about my two staff - they were distraught.

"This practice is deeply distressing to my staff but it won't deter me from speaking out against hate-mongers and insisting that their racist fly posters are removed from property as soon as they appear.

"Previous campaigns to launch Combat 18 and other racist groups in the Coleraine area failed and I am determined that any future attempt will equally fail."

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said the force would not comment on an individual's personal security.


When The Embers Of Innocence Were Fanned Into Flames Of Fury

Danny Morrisson

WHEN I was a kid my mates and I always looked forward to August 15 — the Feast of the Assumption, or Our Lady’s Day, as it was called.

For weeks beforehand we would go out into the streets of Andersonstown (later, the Falls after I moved there in 1963) chanting, "any oul wood for the bonfire". We collected anything flammable, and would proudly compete with the next district to see who had the biggest fire.

In the run-up to the feast day, the big lads would stay out until the early hours to prevent a raid or some sabotage by >rivals.

The 'boneys' were usually in a field or on waste ground, and were lit before midnight so that the younger children could enjoy the spectacle. Families thronged around the flames and those who drank alcohol were in the minority and frowned upon.

The occasion though for the life of me I cannot imagine why, given that it was a holy day of obligation was also an annual rite for boys to try and get off with whatever local girl they fancied.

The tradition of the bonfire goes back to ancient times when the power of fire was thought to protect against the power of evil. Bonfires were subsequently lit to commemorate ancient festivals, including Samhain in the old Celtic calendar or Hallowe'en. (That festival was also a time when fertility played an important factor in the future well-being of the community so maybe that's why we were kissing the girls!)

In Britain, the tradition of Guy Fawkes-related bonfires came in response to celebrating the survival of the king in the failed Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605, with effigies of both Fawkes and the pope later being burned on top. And, of course, some time after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, loyalists began commemorating King William's victory over the Catholic King James II with 'eleventh night' bonfires.

Effigies of the pope and Lundy (a Protestant 'traitor' during the Siege of Derry) were burnt on top, then petrol-soaked Tricolours became traditional, only to be joined in recent years by effigies of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

In Belfast the tradition of bonfires celebrating the Feast of the Assumption lasted about 100 years but came to an abrupt end in 1969. In the week running up to Our Lady's Day in August 1969 there were disturbances throughout the North. The Battle of the Bogside raged in Derry, and on August 14 the pogroms against nationalist areas in Belfast resulted in eight civilian deaths, hundreds of homes being razed and thousands fleeing for their lives.

Celebration died and there were no bonfires in 1970 or 1971. In response to the IRA campaign, the British and Stormont governments introduced internment against republicans on August 9, 1971. It was controversial (some of those detained were hooded for seven days and tortured), resulted in the deaths of 20 people in its first week, further alienated the nationalist population and boosted support for the IRA.

When the first anniversary of internment came around, bonfires were once again lit in nationalist areas across the North as an act of solidarity with the internees and to celebrate the fact that internment had failed and that resistance was ongoing. Thus, what had been a religious-inspired tradition became subsumed into a political tradition, even after internment was phased out in 1975.

The eve of each subsequent anniversary of August 9 was commemorated with bonfires, but was an extremely tense occasion during which control of the streets, especially in west Belfast and Derry, was disputed between the locals and the British army and RUC.

It was a time of rioting, rubber bullets and gun battles, often resulting in fatalities or serious injury.

In the confrontations the local community lost out most, as the streets lay littered with burnt-out vehicles. Soot and dirt permeated homes, and deliveries and essential services were suspended.

Republican marches and rallies on August 9 were also banned but went ahead anyway. One rally in particular, outside Sinn Féin's Andersonstown headquarters, was extensively covered by the press because the Northern Aid spokesperson from New York, Martin Galvin, was expected to defy a British government exclusion order. When Galvin got up to speak the RUC, according to one BBC reporter, "ran riot".

One man died and up to 20 others were injured, four seriously.

In 1988, after two plainclothes soldiers were shot dead in Andersonstown after driving into an IRA funeral, the local community was demonised by politicians and the media. Secretary of State Peter Brooke referred to nationalists as the "terrorist community".

FEARING more trouble around the anniversary of August 9, the MP for the area, Gerry Adams, set up a committee and founded Féile an Phobail (the West Belfast Festival). Instead of bonfires, local communities organised street parties, raised money to take children and pensioners away on day trips. It grew slowly until it became one of the largest community festivals in Europe, attracting thousands of overseas visitors and bringing much needed revenue into the area.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when driving down the Falls Road last week at the end of this year's festival, I saw a huge bonfire stacked on waste ground at the bottom end of Divis Street. It was like a mirror image of an eleventh night bonfire except that it was bedecked with over a dozen union and Ulster flags and was protected by gangs of youths.

This district once an IRA no-go area to even the toughest of British army regiments has, in the past few years, suffered at the hands of 'hoods' (juvenile delinquents) and joyriders, with local people struggling to claw back ownership of their streets.

Increasingly, during the period of the IRA ceasefire, hoods in nationalist areas have been flexing their muscles, exploiting the policing vacuum and bullying locals, including former republican prisoners. They know that the IRA is constrained from acting against them. If it does act, then a major political issue arises unionists and the two governments become involved and the Independent Monitoring Commission writes a report which results in Sinn Féin being penalised and excluded from the political process.

The hoods have become even more brazen since the IRA's declaration of an end to the armed struggle. The PSNI cannot or does not pursue them (indeed, many believe that some members of the gangs act as 'eyes and ears' for the police who have little intelligence on republicans).

Upon inquiry, however, it turned out that those who had built the bonfire were not hoods, but youths with no memory of the August 9 or Our Lady's Day bonfires on August 15. The wanted a bit more 'excitement' than féile had to offer.

However, their bonfire night descended into what one letter writer to a local newspaper described as "a slum circus," with youths running around drunk into the early hours, urinating in public and being abusive. Sinn Féin opposed the bonfire, fearing it would lead to trouble, and said it hoped that "it was the last bonfire we will have in west Belfast".

Had that been said to my mates and I when we were kids, we would have protested: "Never! Never! Never!" But circumstances and times change and I, too, never want to see a bonfire again.


MPs Clash On Republican Festival Plan

By Brendan McDaid
17 August 2005

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness is set to lead comemorations for Londonderry's IRA dead during a four-day festival.

It will culminate with Mr McGuinness unveiling a new republican monument at the Linsfort/ Cromore junction in Creggan area of the city on Sunday.

The MP's involvement today led to fierce criticism from unionists, with DUP MP ,Gregory Campbell claiming the events proved Sinn Fein were "apologists for the IRA".

The move is being seen as an effort by republicans to assure the bereaved families of IRA members killed during the Troubles that they did not die in vain.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr McGuinness said: "I congratulate 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.

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

Mr Campbell claimed the festival and Mr McGuiness's prominent role in it proved Sinn Fein were "apologists for the IRA".


SDLP Joins Calls For IRA To Give Up Killers

By Debra Douglas and Ruairi McLaren
17 August 2005

The SDLP today accused the Provisional IRA of shielding the killers of a Galliagh man who was stabbed and beaten to death with poles.

Foyle Assembly member Mary Bradley today backed calls from the family of Mark Robinson who urged the IRA and Sinn Fein to investigate his murder following yesterday's inquest into the 2001 killing.

Mrs Bradley said: "The family of Mark Robinson deserve not only truth, but justice. It is terrible that nobody has been charged with his killing. And it is awful that his killers appear to be shielded by the Provisional movement.

"Nobody in our society should be above the law or able to act as if they are the law."

Sinn Fein today declined to comment.

Mark "Mousey" Robinson was stabbed 11 times before being bludgeoned to death near his Collon Lane home in the Galliagh area of the city in April 2001.

In a twist of fate, the 22-year-old's heart was then donated to his critically-ill uncle.

After his brutal killing, his heartbroken family mounted a campaign to get the IRA to admit members of the organisation were involved.

After the inquest was held into Mark's death yesterday in Belfast, his aunt, Sheila Holden said: "We knew from day one it was a paramilitary murder.

"We have heard the PSNI say they believe it was a paramilitary type beating but now we want the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein to do their investigations.

"We have asked this on numerous occasions and we are still asking the same questions. They have denied any involvement but we know in our hearts that Provisional IRA members were involved in Mark's murder.

"We know who killed Mark, the dogs on the street in Derry know."


The Chartists: Accused Of Treason, Repressed With Lies

Feargus O’Connor
by Keith Flett

Summarily deporting opponents, jailing people for what they are held to have said and raising the spectre of treason are not new.

The British government is the oldest capitalist state — and it would be surprising if it did not have a range of devices for attempting to deal with challenges to its authority.

Sometimes, such as in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972, this has involved troops cutting down unarmed protesters. But more usually the government has relied on the law, judges and jails to suppress its opponents.

John Maclean, the Scottish revolutionary, was jailed several times in the period after the First World War for sedition.

Leaders of the Communist Party were imprisoned on similar charges around the time of the 1926 general strike.

We have to look further back in history to find an episode where the authorities aimed to criminalise an entire movement. The Crown and Government Security Act of April 1848 introduced a new offence of treason as a felony, allowing deportation or imprisonment.

It has never been repealed and could be the piece of legislation used against Muslims, if media speculation of treason charges for those failing to condemn the recent London bombings were to be taken up by the government.

The early part of 1848 saw revolution start to sweep across Europe.

In Britain a mass working class movement — the Chartists — agitated for the vote. On Monday 10 April they held a huge demonstration on Kennington Common in London.

The government had been talking up in public the supposed threat of revolution by the Chartists—even though it knew in private that no such threat was forthcoming. After the demonstration, it moved in parliament to push through treason legislation in one week.

Home secretary Sir George Grey moved the Security Bill in the Commons. It did not alter in any way the offence of high treason against the Crown, he explained. Rather it introduced a new offence of treason punishable by transportation.


Grey claimed that the idea was to curb rebellion in Ireland, and that while the legislation would apply to the whole of the United Kingdom, in practice it made no change to matters on the mainland.

This was far from true. One provision was to make “open and advised” speaking punishable as treason. This meant that it was not what someone did or planned to do that was subject to legal sanction — simply what they said that could be a crime. Calling for revolution or the overthrow of the government certainly came within this definition.

The second parliamentary measure in the week following 10 April was the Aliens Removal Bill. This legislation gave the home secretary powers that New Labour can still only dream of. Any foreigner deemed to pose a threat to the peace of the country could summarily be booted out.

In the Commons opposition to the measures was led by Feargus O’Connor, the Chartist leader and MP for Nottingham, and radical Liberal MPs such as Joseph Hume.

Hume complained that people would be “dragged before tribunals for words spoken not only in public but at their own tables”.

O’Connor made several effective interventions — including producing a letter from a leading military commander pointing out that the Times had recently reported an uproarious Chartist meeting in Blackheath — even though no such meeting had ever taken place.

Nevertheless both pieces of legislation were easily passed well before the end of April. There was, however, some opposition to the clauses on “open and advised” speaking, which the government agreed to review after two years.


Did the legislation work in the way that the government had intended? Up to a point. Charges against Irish rebel leaders for seditious libel had failed in March 1848, while a charge against another leader under the new legislation was successful.

Neither act was much used directly. The aim, following on from events in France and the perceived Chartist threat, was to create a climate where opponents found it more difficult to operate and where the government could strike more easily against individual radicals if it so chose.

The Chartist left, the Fraternal Democrats, were led by George Julian Harney and friendly with Marx and Engels. They had to reorganise to exclude foreign radicals from direct participation in the organisation.

Not to do so would have been to invite government action to criminalise the whole party. It was an inconvenience rather than a hammer blow. The work of international solidarity and discussion of ideas with radicals from across Europe who had made their way to Britain continued.

The “open and advised” speaking clause was quite heavily used in the summer of 1848, when the Chartist challenge to the authorities was much greater than in April.

Notes of the speeches of Chartist leaders were taken by government spies and were used to jail and transport activists. Where Chartists were convicted under the Security Act, there were complaints from Australian authorities that the government was sending the wrong sort of people out to the colony.

The repressive legislative measures floated in the “war on terror” in the summer of 2005 have a long pedigree stretching back to the summer of 1848. But while the measures were and are genuinely nasty, their ability to disrupt a mass opposition movement turned out to be less than the state had hoped.

© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.


No End In Sight

REUTERS Cindy Sheehan carries a cross bearing the name of her son Casey, who died serving in Iraq. Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., has set up an anti-war protest camp near the Crawford, Texas, ranch where President George W. Bush is vacationing this month.


By Niall Stanage

Bereaved Irish-American mother Cindy Sheehan has been protesting outside President George W. Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch for almost two weeks, but there is still no sign of the saga reaching a definitive conclusion.

Sheehan's son, Casey, was an army specialist in the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, and was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Sheehan met with the president shortly after Casey's death but she now claims that Bush treated her coldly on that occasion.

Sheehan now wants to meet for a second time with the president to talk about her sense of loss, her anger at a war she believes to be unjustified and to press her demand for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Sheehan's vigil has attracted massive media attention and has become a focal point for anti-war sentiment in general. Many other anti-war activists have joined her in Texas, in the process setting up a de facto "peace camp" just outside the Bush ranch.

But while the National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has met with Sheehan, there have been no indications that the president himself will consent to a meeting.

The farthest Bush has gone in reference to Sheehan is a statement he made at a recent press conference in which he said he had "thought long and hard" about her position, even though he disagrees with her.

Attempts by the Irish Echo to contact Sheehan were not successful. However, in an interview with the Buzzflash website earlier this year, she referred to her Irish heritage, while talking about a phone call Casey had made to her shortly before his death:

"He was on his way to Mass, and we talked about when he stopped in Ireland to refuel," she recalled. "We're Irish, so he found an employee that was telling him about the history of our name, the Sheehan name."

After her son's death, Cindy Sheehan became one of the founding members of an anti-war group, Gold Star Families For Peace. The group calls for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. More idiosyncratically, it also insists that the president should tell its members why his twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, are "not in harm's way" in the war.

While Sheehan's beliefs as a whole are to the left of most Americans, her protest comes at a time of rising discontent over the war in Iraq. A succession of polls has shown that the war is now more unpopular than ever before.

The president's supporters contend that Sheehan and her supporters are using her grief as a vehicle for a partisan political agenda.

The story also has complicating personal elements. Some members of the Sheehan family have distanced themselves from Cindy Sheehan's protest. Although Casey's father, Pat, is also listed as one of the founders of Gold Star Families For Peace, he reportedly filed for divorce on Friday.

Cindy Sheehan blames the stress caused by their son's death for having driven the couple apart.


Internal Documents Give Lie To Official Version Of Killing

Colin O’Carroll

Secret documents and photographs obtained by the media yesterday appear to confirm that British police had no reason to shoot dead a Brazilian electrician on the London Underground last month.

Jean Charles de Menezes was killed on July 22, the day after the series of failed bombings on the tube and bus network.

Daily Ireland’s headline the following day reflected the public disquiet with the official version of the killing.

Officers were given permission to shoot the innocent man dead after he had allegedly been identified as a suspect in the bombings when he was followed from his flat near Stockwell tube station.

Police now say this was a catastrophic mistake.

Internal police documents reveal that the dead man was not acting suspiciously and did not jump the ticket barrier as was first suggested in reports given to the media shortly after the killing.

He was behaving normally and did not vault the barriers. He even stopped to pick up a free newspaper.

The Brazilian started running when we saw a tube train at the platform.

He was not wearing a “bulky winter coat”, which was also suggested to the media at the time with the implication that he could have been concealing a bomb.

Once in the train, he took his seat as any normal passenger would before a team of armed police approached him.

In a witness statement, one of the surveillance team has said he approached Mr de Menezes and pinned the Brazilian’s arms to his side in the seat.

Then another armed policeman started firing bullets into the Brazilian’s head close to the ear of the witness, according to the statement.

Other eyewitnesses said they had heard no warnings before the police opened fire.

Photographs of the scene showed a large amount of blood around a seat on the tube and several scattered bullet cartridges.

They showed the dead man lying on the floor of the train and confirmed he had been wearing a flimsy denim jacket and jeans.

Two officers fired at least ten shots from close range.

They shot Mr de Menezes a total of eight times — seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

It is unclear if anyone responsible will now face disciplinary action.

The documents also appear to confirm suspicions that police in London and elsewhere in England are operating a shoot-to-kill policy, amounting to summary execution.


Planning Refused For Galway Village Complex

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for a mixed housing and commercial development on the coastline in the Galway village of Bearna.

The appeals board has ruled that such a large-scale project should not be approved in the absence of a statutory development plan for Bearna.

The board's inspector was also unhappy with the design and layout of the project, which he described in his report as "poor", "inadequate" and "substandard".

The decision has been welcomed by community group Pobal Bhearna, which says it has no problem with development once it is "sustainable".

The application for a complex of 12 terraced houses, eight apartments, a restaurant, gallery, shop, cafe, car parking and beachfront promenade was made by Tom and JP Cunningham and granted planning approval by Galway County Council in January 2005, subject to 22 conditions.

Three appeals were lodged, by Pobal Bhearna, the Concerned Lacklea and Seapoint Residents, and Anne Davey. An observation was submitted by Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht development authority.

Pobal Bhearna argued that the development was premature when no integrated development plan had been sanctioned for the former fishing village in the Galway Gaeltacht, and that it was contrary to coastal protection provisions. It said Bearna had already been approved for 281 per cent of its six-year housing allocation under the county development plan, and eight large-scale planning applications for the village since January 2003 had resulted in a "dramatic breach in the spatial planning allocation".

A new "aparthotel" is being built in the village on the site of the former Twelve Pins hotel, which was a landmark at crossroads now marked by traffic lights. An extension is being built to the local shopping centre on the coastline, while a proposal for a shopping centre, 152 apartments and townhouses and a five-storey hotel was withdrawn last year after 100 objections were lodged.

Údarás na Gaeltachta said the local authority, which awards special status to the Irish language in its county plan, failed to give proper recognition to the language implications for the Bearna development. While the status of Irish in the Bearna area was in a "very fragile state", it could be strengthened through a series of practical steps and support networks, the authority said.

"There is no doubt that housing estates have a very negative linguistic effect on communities in which Irish is already under pressure," it said.

The appeals board said that in the absence of a development plan, the proposed development would be "premature" and contrary to proper planning and sustainable development.

© The Irish Times


Good Year For Roses As Tralee Festival Hopes For A Profit

Anne Lucey

New judges and a new presenter, as well as the expectation that the event will earn a modest profit, are among the new features of this year's Rose of Tralee festival.

Among her prizes, the winner of the 2005 title will receive global travel sponsorship to the tune of €25,000 from Kerry Group.

The 30 Roses - who include 10 Irish, eight American, five Australian, three English and one Rose each from Dubai, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Toronto - began the first visit to Northern Ireland yesterday in the festival's 47-year history.

They arrived in Armagh yesterday afternoon and were set to spend the night in Derry before visiting Belfast.

The Roses fly to Cork tomorrow morning and will lunch at the Sheen Falls Hotel in Kenmare before the festival's formal opening and international Rose ball later that evening. Media and communications are among the most common professions of this year's roses. Music degrees are also popular, as are the science and engineering fields.

Esther Budding (24), a barrister, represents New Zealand, which is back in the festival after an absence. Leitrim Rose Pamela Bourke (21) teaches in Japan, and Kerry Rose Siobhán Ryan (22) is a hotel management student on her first placement at the Sheen Falls Hotel. This year's judges for the first time include a former Rose of Tralee - 1987 Chicago Rose Lana Canoy Lackner - as well as mayor of Tralee Terry O'Brien. Broadcaster Sharon Ní Bheoláin is also on the panel of judges, chaired by Oonagh Doyle of Newbridge Silverware and including Smart Telecom's Ken Barry.

Ted Keane, festival spokesman, said the five directors who had set about revamping the festival last year expected to turn a modest operating profit this year, as against the losses incurred over the previous number of years.The festival finals, hosted by Ray D'Arcy this year, who has replaced Ryan Tubridy, will go out live on RTÉ on Monday and Tuesday nights.

© The Irish Times

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