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August 29, 2005

SDLP Slams Phoney Unionist Campaign

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/29/05 SDLP Slams 'Phoney' Unionist Campaign
DI 08/29/05 Loyalist’s Bail Changed So He Can Go On Holiday
IT 08/30/05 'Colombia Three' Urged To Meet Farc Victims
CS 08/29/05 Will Militant Splinter Groups Fill IRA Vacuum?
IO 08/29/05 NI Suicide Rates Rise As Troubles End
IT 08/30/05 Shell Acused Of 'Vindictiveness'
IT 08/30/05 Bomb Unit Called To Kerry Beach
RE 08/29/05 Irish Argue Over Easter Rising 'Bullet Holes'
BT 08/29/05 Murals Nothing To Be Proud Of
UT 08/29/05 Cavan Is 'Ireland's Cleanest Town'


SDLP Slams 'Phoney' Unionist Campaign
2005-08-29 18:00:03+01

The SDLP has slammed a new loyalist campaign which claims
the British government is about to ditch the North.

The party said the so-called "Love Ulster" campaign that
began today was a disgraceful attempt to spread fear and a
sense of crisis.

Tens of thousands of free newspapers were delivered in
unionist areas of the North today as part of the campaign
against perceived nationalist dominance of the political

The organisers of the "Love Ulster" campaign believe moves
like the establishment of the Parades Commission and the
disbandment of the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment are
harming unionist culture.

Allister McDonnell of the SDLP described the campaign as
"phoney". He said that it was a disgrace that the Orange
Order endorsed the campaign.

Loyalist paramilitaries were involved in handing out
today's newspapers.


Leading Loyalist Has Bail Conditions Changed So He Can Go On Holiday

By Ciarán Barnes

A leading Belfast loyalist who faces charges of trying to
blackmail £10,000 (€14,000) from a Chinese businessman has
had his bail conditions varied so that he can go on
holiday, Daily Ireland can reveal.

As part of his bail requirements, Thomas Spence from
Posnett Court in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, has to
report to a PSNI barracks once a week.

However, that condition has been lifted for seven days
between September 6 and 13 so the 39-year-old can go on a
short break.

While he is away Mr Spence will celebrate his 40th birthday
on September 11.

This is not the first time he has had his bail conditions
varied so that he can go on holiday.

Earlier in the year the south Belfast man was excused from
reporting to a PSNI barracks for one week so that he could
visit Belgium.

In May 2003, Mr Spence was remanded in custody after he was
charged with demanding £10,000 (€14,000) with menaces from
a Chinese businessman with the intention that the money be
used for the purposes of terrorism.

A detective constable told a court hearing that when
questioned Mr Spence denied the charge. He also said that
he believed the money was being collected on behalf of the
Ulster Volunteer Force.

Mr Spence was sent to Maghaberry prison, but released the
following January. While in jail he served his time on the
loyalist wing.

He gave a number of media interviews shortly after his
release in which he accused prison wardens of brutality.

In January 2003, Mr Spence was sentenced to four months in
prison for his role in a riot in Donegall Pass the previous
June when shots were fired at the police.

He was found guilty of riotous behaviour.


'Colombia Three' Urged To Meet Farc Victims

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

A victims' group which is to travel to Colombia with DUP
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has challenged the
"Colombia Three" to meet victims of the Farc organisation.

William Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives
(Fair), said his group was planning to bring victims of
Farc violence to Britain and Ireland.

On Sunday week Mr Frazer, with Fair colleague William
Wilkinson and Mr Donaldson, will fly to Colombia to meet
members of the government and security chiefs to discuss

In October Fair plans to bring victims of Farc to
Westminster and then to Leinster House "to highlight the
operations of Farc and how they used IRA mortar technology
to kill scores of innocent people", said Mr Frazer, whose
father, two uncles and two cousins were murdered by the

Mr Frazer said there was "clear evidence" that the IRA
trained Farc guerrillas in new mortar technology. "We want
to bring the victims of Farc to Westminster and to the
doorstep of the Dáil to show what has happened to them
because of IRA training.

"We will also be using this visit to put pressure on the
Irish Government to extradite the so-called Colombia Three
back to Colombia," he added.

Caitríona Ruane of the Bring Them Home group, which
campaigned for the return of the men to Ireland, accused Mr
Frazer and Mr Donaldson of engaging in stunt politics.
"These men were wrongly convicted. They are victims of a
miscarriage of justice. There is no evidence that they were
training Farc."

Ms Ruane asked what were Mr Donaldson and Mr Frazer doing
to combat sectarian attacks on Catholics. "Rather than
engaging in stunt politics they would be better off trying
to get the political process up and running".

© The Irish Times


Will Militant Splinter Groups Fill IRA Vacuum?

THe Irish Republican Army vowed to disarm last month, but
terror experts cite threat from splinter groups.

By Ron DePasquale Correspondent of The Christian Science

BELFAST – Not long after the Irish Republican Army (IRA)
made its historic pledge to disarm last month, a taxi
driver was reportedly hijacked and forced to drive his
bomb-laden car toward a police station.

The driver abandoned the car about a quarter-mile away from
the station, and army technicians defused the bomb. But the
grim incident was blamed on breakaway republicans, and has
renewed concern that diehard militants would continue
fighting for a united Ireland.

The IRA, blamed for killing nearly 1,800 people since 1969,
declared last month that it had ended its armed struggle
against British control of Northern Ireland, fueling hope
that a lasting peace had finally come to the province.

Some, however, worry that a new group could break away, as
the Real IRA did in 1998 while the landmark Good Friday
Agreement was negotiated, or that IRA militants would drift
to splinter groups. Irish republican fringe groups have
shown no signs of following the IRA's lead and renouncing

"This has always been the threat to the peace process,
because the physical force tradition in Ireland and the
republican tradition are inextricably intertwined," says
Tim Pat Coogan, Irish author of "The IRA." "To those few
republicans, this is a betrayal, just as when Michael
Collins signed the treaty in 1921 that set up the Irish
state and partitioned the island. They'll figure that they
now have to go it alone, though they don't have any
widespread support."

Lower tolerance for terrorism

As the world's tolerance for terrorism of any kind
evaporated after the Sept. 11 attacks, Europe's long-
running rebellions have sputtered. More than 700 Basque
separatists are reportedly in Spanish jails, from which
some former rebel leaders have issued calls for an end to
the violence.

And on the turbulent French-ruled island of Corsica,
turnout at this summer's annual nationalist festival was
light, and Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, which has
supported the Basque and Corsican movements, was a no-show.

Despite their increasing marginalization, just a handful of
militants can wreak havoc on societies emerging from
decades of conflict and prolong the slow transition to
normality, analysts warn.

Irish republican breakaway groups are small and riddled
with informers, but remain potentially destructive. In
1998, the Real IRA exploded a car bomb in the small town of
Omagh, killing 29 people.

The veterans of such groups know no other way of life, and
they can attract aimless young men who see no escape from
Ulster's widespread poverty, says Michael Gallagher, leader
of an Omagh victims' group. "They are still very dangerous
people, and continue to recruit low- achieving people who
see this as a way to become powerful," he says.

Unlike in Northern Ireland, bombs still explode in Basque
country and Corsica, though more recently they have been
timed to avoid any deaths. ETA, the Basque terror group
accused of killing about 800 people in the past three
decades, has not been blamed for a murder in two years. And
while Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has apparently
outmaneuvered IRA militants opposed to disarmament, ETA and
its political ally, Batasuna, are mired in a power struggle
between militants and the politically minded, says Paddy
Woodworth, an Irish author who regularly travels through
Basque country.

"There's a real desire among Batasuna voters for a peace
process similar to Northern Ireland's," says Woodworth,
author of "Dirty War, Clean Hands," a book about the Basque
rebellion. "The IRA, however reluctantly, has been dragged
kicking and screaming forward to the negotiating table."

The Spanish Congress has given Prime Minister José Luis
Rodríguez Zapatero the go-ahead to negotiate with ETA - if
it declares a cease-fire.

In Corsica, where rebels assassinated French governor
Claude Erignac in 1998, militants have splintered into
several groups. Although support for violence has declined,
separatists don't agree on whether their struggle for
independence should be peaceful.

Adams, who called for the IRA to become solely political in
April, seriously considered the threat of a split, analysts
say. The Real IRA wasn't the first group to break away on
Adams' watch - the Continuity IRA formed after Sinn Fein
ended its boycott of the Irish Parliament in 1986.
Republican Sinn Fein, the radical political party that
broke away during the same period, is allegedly allied with
the Continuity IRA, and has condemned the IRA's vow to
disarm as a betrayal.

Protestant supporters of pro-British loyalist
paramilitaries, which have also shown no sign of disarming,
say they provide protection against republican fringe
groups. Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed for a
string of attacks on Catholic homes and churches around the
Protestant heartland town of Ballymena.

New attacks

The attacks began earlier this month after republicans
paraded through Ballymena chanting the initials of the
Irish National Liberation Army, a splinter group that
formed during a 1975 IRA cease-fire and was reportedly
referred to by the IRA as "wild men."

After the IRA's declaration last month, Adams acknowledged
that some members would disagree and called on them to
"keep it in-house and stay united."

The Real IRA has threatened to retaliate against loyalist
militias if the attacks continue.

In March, at the height of the fallout over the brutal
killing of a Belfast Catholic by IRA men, Adams told the
Council on Foreign Relations in New York of the danger of a
new group breaking away.

"I think the best way for the IRA to leave the stage,"
Adams said, "is in a dignified manner that prevents any
recurrence of another IRA growing up alongside."


NI Suicide Rates Rise As Troubles End

29/08/2005 - 22:20:24

Suicide rates in Northern Ireland have risen since the end
of the Troubles, according to new research published today.

A University of Ulster report revealed that the violence
which raged for more than 30 years may have kept people
from taking their own lives.

The study, carried out alongside the Department of
Psychiatry at the Mater Hospital Trust in Belfast, says
civil unrest strengthened social bonds within communities
and "buffered" individuals from thoughts of suicide.

Since the peace process told hold the threat has increased,
with more than 150 people committing suicide in the North

The issue has become such a concern that international
experts gathered for a prevention conference in Belfast
last week.


Jailed Mayo Men Accuse Shell Of 'Vindictiveness'

Liamy McNally and Tim O'Brien

The five Mayo men imprisoned for contempt of court in
connection with their opposition to the proposed Corrib gas
pipeline have accused Shell of "vindictiveness and spite"
in not facilitating their release from prison.

The five said the refusal by Shell to withdraw a temporary
injunction was hindering their ability to prepare for a
full hearing of the case scheduled for October.

In turning down a request from Mayo County Council to with-
draw the restraining injunction against the men, Shell said
such a move would undermine the entire legal basis for the
onshore pipeline. A Shell spokesman said yesterday that
setting aside the injunction was not a realistic option.

In response, the men, who have been in Cloverhill Prison
for the last 63 days, said that as Shell had suspended work
on the pipeline, the injunction not to interfere with such
work made little sense.

Micheál Ó Sheighín, one of the jailed men, said Shell had
at all times been only willing to communicate its own
agenda "by bullhorn", and was "not in the least bit
interested in dialogue".

"There has never been any indication that Shell has, in any
way, been interested in dialogue.

"We cannot and will not give up our right to protect or
turn our backs on our obligation to defend ourselves, our
families and communities. This obligation is all the
greater where the State refuses to do so.

"The only direct function the injunction now serves is to
keep us in jail. No work is being done on the ground or
will be done for the remainder of 2005.

"We cannot hinder work that is not being done."

Last week, the cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Henry
Kenny (FG), and party colleague Paddy McGuinness visited
the men in prison, and afterwards publicly requested that
Shell withdraw the injunction to enable the men to purge
their contempt and allow face-to-face talks.

Mr McGuinness said Shell's decision was a matter of great

"We were hopeful that Shell would lift the injunction. This
news is a great disappointment but we will not wash our

"We are meeting with the council executive within the next
24 hours to examine further options. We cannot walk away.
This is too serious."

Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the Shell To Sea campaign,
said the impasse "has nothing to do with the law but with
Shell's strategy. These men were targeted by Shell".

He accused Shell of adopting a hardline position in
contrast to the moderate approach of the men and their
families, who want to see the matter resolved.

Bellanaboy/Leenamore residents, who live beside Shell's
proposed Corrib refinery about five miles from Rossport,
also issued an open letter yesterday calling on the company
to withdraw the injunction.

The letter, signed by Jacinta Healy, reminds Shell that in
their five-year battle opposing the refinery the residents
had always treated Shell personnel "with respect, courtesy
and dignity at all times".

It has also emerged that Advantica, the company appointed
by the Government to carry out the latest safety review on
the Corrib upstream pipeline, is a sister company of
Transco, the British gas transportation company fined £15
million last week for causing the deaths of four members of
a Scottish family in 1999 due to health and safety

© The Irish Times


Bomb Unit Called To Kerry Beach

Anne Lucey

Army bomb disposal experts were yesterday examining what
appeared to be British navy shells which washed up on one
of Kerry's most popular beaches at the weekend.

The 30.48cm (1ft) long cylindrical shells are believed to
be illumination shells used by the British navy during the
first World War to illuminate the Irish coast.

They would have been fired into the air from cannons on
navy ships, an army spokesman said.

An area at the blue flag Rossbeigh strand in south Kerry
was sealed off by gardaí on Sunday evening after members of
the public reported seeing what looked like two unexploded
bombs on the beach.

When the First Southern Brigade of the bomb disposal team
based in Collins Barracks arrived to investigate yesterday,
three more shells were discovered near the shoreline.

A spokesman said three of the shells were very eroded and
posed no threat. The others were still being examined
yesterday afternoon.

He advised members of the public to report any sightings of
any such material to local gardaí.

The spokesman stressed that even though in the sea for a
long time, such material could still be live.

© The Irish Times


Irish Argue Over Easter Rising 'Bullet Holes'

Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:32 PM BST

By Kevin Smith

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Few tourists leave Dublin without seeing
what they are told are bullet holes pock-marking the city's
General Post Office, seized by rebels during the ill-fated
1916 Easter Rising against British rule.

Now, however, controversy has flared over whether the marks
on the building's majestic Georgian facade were caused by
British troops firing at the rebels or simply the result of
weather erosion and other damage.

"It certainly has been our understanding that whatever
marks are on the front of the building in 2005 weren't
caused by bullets from 1916," Anna McHugh, a spokeswoman
for the Irish Post Office, said on Monday.

"The building was almost destroyed in the Rising and had to
be substantially rebuilt and refurbished and there has been
work done on the pillars and facade at regular intervals

She said the question had come up because of a cleaning
programme being carried out on the building.

Rebels occupying the GPO on Dublin's O'Connell Street came
under heavy fire from British troops during the week-long
insurrection, eventually surrendering on April 29, 1916.

The uprising, in which nearly 500 people were killed and
thousands injured, was a military disaster for the rebels
but proved to be an overwhelming symbolic victory, paving
the way for Ireland to become a fledgling state six years


Historian Pat Liddy, author of a number of books about
Dublin, is also dubious about the provenance of the marks.

"You'd really need to do forensic testing of the holes but
I think a lot of them were caused post-1916," he told

Liddy said much of the stone on the building's facade had
been replaced and damage had been caused over the years by
workers drilling holes for scaffolding and to hang banners.

"When I look at the holes I just don't know whether they
were from that or the result of bullets," he said.

He added he believed the heavy-calibre weaponry used by the
British troops would be more likely to leave shatter marks
than neat holes.

Others beg to differ.

"Our view is that it is probable that some of the marks
were caused during the 1916 Rising," said a spokesman for
Dublin's Office of Public Works, which owns the building.

There may also have been damage caused when the Irish
Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla group blew up a nearby
monument to British naval hero Horatio Nelson in 1966, he

Lorcan Collins, who has been conducting a walking tour of
the Rising's key sites for more than 10 years, said there
was no doubt in his mind the marks were bullet holes.

"I've stuck my fingers into these holes on a daily basis
and I've had American military people on my tours who know
a bullet hole when they see one," he said.

"If I'm wrong I'm leaving Ireland," he added.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Murals Nothing To Be Proud Of

Carlton Baxter on business

29 August 2005

I was listening to the radio on my way home from work the
other day and caught a piece on tourism - a vital and
underdeveloped business in Northern Ireland.

Part of the report covered the interest taken by visitors
in Ulster's various murals, or 'muriels' as some say in
Norn Ireland. Given the widely reported and ongoing
sectarian violence in this society I wondered if the murals
should really be part of the tourism trail.

I say that in the full knowledge that we can't stop people
going to see them, but at a time when paramilitaries of one
hue or another have their communities firmly under the
cosh, carrying out acts of intimidation and murder, should
colourful representations of their heinous activities be
part of a tour?

The vast majority of murals in Northern Ireland are
blatantly sectarian and often celebrate the murderous
exploits of illegal organisations - the paramilitaries.

Don't worry, I'm not living in a state of denial. Cultures
and communities express themselves in different ways and a
few words here won't stop people tripping along to see the
murals. Yet paramilitarism is a fact of life in Northern
Ireland and the attitude we take towards it and its various
expressions surely defines our society as a whole.

I'm sure sociologists, and perhaps even anthropologists,
have a field day when they examine this art form, but at a
base level I couldn't quite square the tourism report I
heard with the fact that I travelled down Sandy Row the
other day, saw a paramilitary mural and remembered that a
man was murdered on that street going to work just days

The question of our collective attitude to paramilitarism
remains largely unanswered, but to celebrate or even
notionally tip our hats in the direction of the artistic
expression and propaganda of murderous thugs while on a
tour doesn't seem quite right while murderers remain at

In other countries the exploits of evil men are quite
rightly on display as a reminder of the past - places like
Dachau and Auschwitz. But these are genuine and obvious
reminders of activities universally condemned and, of
course, there are many other examples.

However, the murals and the paramilitaries are not just
part of our past, they are very much part of our present
and in a region with a growing and improving tourist
product do we really have to place on the tourism trail a
representation of the ongoing murderous work of some men
and women?

Does that really serve the tourist trade, this economy and
the general good of this society?

Perhaps when we finally have true peace in Northern
Ireland, a peace respected by all selflessly and without
favour or agenda, then the murals will quite rightly serve
as a reminder of a period in our history of which we are
ashamed and never want to revisit.

Right now, with people dying and being intimidated in
sectarian and paramilitary violence, pointing out the
murals to our overseas visitors somehow doesn't seem

Carlton Baxter is a director of Stakeholder Communications
and a former editor of Ulster Business magazine.

(See some pics of murals I took at:


Cavan Is 'Ireland's Cleanest Town'

Cavan has been declared the cleanest town in Ireland for
the sixth time, according to the latest survey from the
Irish Business Against Litter group.

A record 13 towns and cities across the Republic have
achieved litter-free status.

Overall, litter levels have fallen by 30% in the last

However six towns have been marked as "litter blackspots",
including Dublin, Ennis, Sligo and Cobh.

The amount of discarded cigarette butts has risen sharply
since the introduction of the smoking ban.

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