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August 07, 2005

US Tell Dubliln To Arrest 3

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News about Ireland & the Irish

ST 08/07/05 Interpol, US Tell Dublin To Arrest 3
ST 08/07/05 Negativity Will Get Paisley Thrown Out
ST 08/07/05 Adams Should Be Cured Of His Arrogance
ST 08/07/05 Officials Close On IRA's Assets
WP 08/07/05 Opin: End Of An IRA?
ST 08/07/05 Irish Report Hits 'Racist' UK Army
BT 08/06/05 Books: History, Fiction And Simply Being Irish
BB 08/06/05 Northern Ireland's Gays March On


Interpol, US Tell Dublin To Arrest 3

Enda Leahy, Stephen O'Brien and Liam Clarke

IRISH authorities came under intense pressure this weekend
to track down and arrest the Colombia Three.

The American government issued a statement saying it
expected the government to pursue the matter, while a
spokesperson for Interpol said gardai were obliged to
honour an international warrant for the men's arrest.

Bertie Ahern interrupted his summer holiday in Co Kerry to
address growing international concern about the men's re-
emergence in Ireland last week. The three have been on the
run since they were convicted of training terrorists in
Colombia in June 2004.

The taoiseach said gardai would seek to talk to the men,
particularly in relation to possible passport fraud. He
added that any extradition request by the Colombian
authorities would be dealt with by the courts.

Ahern branded their reappearance, just a week after the IRA
issued a statement calling for the dumping of arms, as
"unhelpful to the peace process".

An Interpol officer said this weekend that gardai were
obliged to arrest and question the men. She said the men
were the subject of a "red notice" from the international
policing organisation.

According to the officer, Niall Connolly, James Monaghan
and Martin McCauley are all named in an Interpol file code-
named The Amazon Project, updated on January 19.

"If these men are found in Ireland then they must be
arrested," she said. "They're wanted to serve a sentence in
Colombia, and Colombia has asked for their arrest and
extradition if they are found."

Charlie Bird, whose interview with one of them, James
Monaghan, was broadcast on RTE on Friday night, refused to
give gardai information about the fugitive's whereabouts.
He was driven by a contact to meet Monaghan on Friday.

The American government issued a response yesterday to news
that the three fugitives had returned to Ireland last week.

The American statement said: "Three individuals tried and
convicted in Colombia are fugitives from Colombian justice.
We believe this is a matter that must and should be pursued
by the Irish and Colombian governments. The US condemns
contributions to terrorism, such as those of which the
three men were found guilty, no matter where perpetrated."

Ahern insisted that no deal had been done with Sinn Fein to
give the men safe haven in the republic. He said the issue
was never mentioned in talks with the republican leadership
prior to the IRA statement of last month. The government
had no knowledge of their return before the news broke on
Friday, he said.

"I assume the offences they may or not be responsible for
(in Colombia) are matters that the gardai could look at,"
said the taoiseach.

"And, of course, any prosecutions in the normal way would
be taken by the independent Director of Public Prosecutions
office. If there is any issue, like passports for instance,
that the gardai wish to raise with them, I understand they
will do so."

He said the men's activities "whatever they were" had
created a lot of difficulties for the Irish government, for
Britain and for America. "These men have created in the
peace process, on a number of occasions in the last few
years, an enormous amount of difficulty and their return
creates difficulty as well."

Pat Doherty of Sinn Fein said he was glad to see them home
and reunited with their families.

"There is a lot of nonsense in the media at the moment of a
side deal having been done with the Irish government which
is simply not true," he said.

One republican, who has talked to Monaghan since his
return, said: "Jim had been anxious to pay respects at the
grave of his sister who died while he was in custody in

"He does expect to be taken in and questioned by gardai at
some stage.

"But he does not expect the Irish people to allow his
return to Colombia for what would be a death sentence."

A garda special branch source said the men's appearance had
taken them by surprise and said arrests were inevitable.

"They'll probably be picked up under section 30 (of the
Criminal Justice Act) and if there's evidence against them
of IRA membership, it'll be thrown against them," he said.
"There's no extradition treaty . . . but they'll have to be
picked up if there's an international warrant."

The three could also be arrested and charged for possession
of forged passports.

Mary Harney, the tanaiste, who is acting as minister for
justice while Michael McDowell is on holiday, was being
briefed this weekend on developments by senior department
officials liaising with gardai.

She said on Friday that there were "serious issues" to be
raised about how the men returned to Ireland without valid
travel documents.


Paisley's Negativity Will Get Him Thrown Out Of The
Driver's Seat

Liam Clarke

Ian Paisley is surrounded by clever and ambitious men and
he would be well advised to listen to them. This week he
faces the greatest challenge of his life, and it is one for
which his three decades in politics have done little to
equip him.

Paisley can be charming, he has good people skills, he is
often kind, but when the going gets difficult his first
instinct is to lay down the law, throw a fit and say he
won't play. His years in opposition have taught him the
politics of the spoilt child.

"It's his way or the highway," a DUP member told me some
years ago, adding: "Ian will never be a member of anything
he doesn't lead." That approach built a party for him, but
it could also destroy the union to which he has dedicated
his life.

Sinn Fein has no problem in handling the politics of "no
surrender" and "not an inch". They had a trial run with the
Orange Order at Drumcree, who acted with the same dull
predictability as Paisley, and were brought to their knees
by the superior footwork of Sinn Fein and the residents'

Last week, Gerry Adams looked positively smug when he
referred to Paisley outside Downing Street. "I prefer to
give Ian Paisley a limited amount of space to get his head
round all of this," he said, adding "If Ian Paisley isn't
going to share power with the rest of us then we are going
to have to move on without him." Paisley, he said, could
either join Sinn Fein "in building the process or stand
aside and let the rest of us get on with it."

Adams was clearly confident that he had the measure of
Paisley and that things were running to plan. The DUP
leader had that day been in to see the prime minister to
give him a four-page document listing his objections to
government policy and threatening what he would do if
things did not go his way. The document has not been made
public, but there is no concealing the fact that Paisley's
sanctions consist of a phased withdrawal from public life
and delaying anything that Blair wants to achieve for as
long as he can.

Paisley set out his broad strategy when the DUP overtook
the Ulster Unionists to become the largest party in the
province in November 2003. "I may be in the driving seat,
but I don't necessarily have to drive. I can sit in that
seat with a poker and give Tony Blair a poke in the ribs,
but I don't need to come up with any formula or solutions.
The government created this mess and the onus is on Blair
to come up with the solution," he said. Privately, some of
his supporters built on the metaphor and talked of knowing
how to use the brake but not the accelerator.

All his political life Paisley has acted like this, passing
negative judgments on the efforts of one unionist leader
after another, finding flaws in every necessarily imperfect
political initiative. He brought them all down, but this
time it is the British government he faces.

The implications of refusing to drive and standing squarely
in the path of attempts by Blair to stabilise the situation
are clear and were spelt out by none other than Peter Hain,
the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, in his
previous life as a troops-out campaigner in June 1986.

"I think it's helpful, from the point of view of people who
wish to seek a united Ireland, to have the loyalist
community in open revolt against the Thatcher government.
That is one of the preconditions for making advances," Hain
said in an analysis of the Anglo-Irish agreement.

His logic is inescapable. If the people who want to
preserve the union go into serious conflict with the
British government, then the union, and the influence of
unionism, is bound to be weakened.

That is one reason why Adams looked smug. Another is that
Paisley's tactics since the recent IRA statement actually
made it easier for Adams to sell his achievements to the
republican grassroots. Paisley's discomfiture could be
presented as visible evidence that Sinn Fein had not sold
out anything basic, but had pulled off a clever manoeuvre
that put them ahead of the game.

Unionist annoyance at the early release of Sean Kelly, the
Shankill bomber, the proposed disbandment of the home
service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) and
the dismantling of security force bases was understandable,
but presenting them as defeats was a big strategic mistake.

The fact was that Kelly was bound to get out at some stage
and that, if IRA activity ended, it was going to be soon.
It would be a few months at the most before he would stand
a chance of getting his case passed by the sentence review
commission. It was also known that the home service
battalions of the RIR would not survive the Troubles. They
had been raised for a specific purpose that was coming to
an end and they could not, contractually, be deployed
outside Northern Ireland.

There was no way that, in an atmosphere of cutbacks in
which famous Scottish regiments were being amalgamated and
scrapped, the home service battalions would be preserved as
some sort of memorial. The timing of the announcement was
insensitive — the soldiers and unionist politicians should
have been told before they heard it on Monday's lunchtime
news — but in essence the decision was a no-brainer. The
two-year period for its implementation was a reasonable
one, leaving time for it to be reviewed if the security
situation should take a downturn.

The watchtowers and military bases that are being
demolished are, by common consent among the police and
army, well past their sell-by date. They had been retained
largely as bargaining chips in negotiations with the IRA.
Blair hinted as much last week when he stated "these are
things that are justified and actually have been justified
for some time in security terms".

These are issues that the DUP can and should deal with
pragmatically. Paisley would have done far better last week
had he reacted in more measured tones. He could, for
instance, have taken some credit for forcing the IRA to
come to terms and stated that he would be reserving his
judgment until he saw full delivery. He could have
denounced the government announcements as premature and
urged Blair to state that the RIR cuts could not be
confirmed until it was clear the IRA campaign was at an

Blair could hardly have refused and then Adams would have
found Paisley a little harder to patronise.

It would also have created more room for manoeuvre and a
good backdrop against which to negotiate the practical
package that is now needed by the 3,100 full- and part-time
soldiers and the up to 2,000 back-up staff who depend on
the RIR.

There are many possibilities. Many soldiers will find a
redundancy package to their liking and will move into the
private sector. Others may be prepared to move into the
regular service battalions of the RIR, who are liable to
service abroad and to pursue a military career. This option
will be all the more attractive, and all the better for
jobs in Paisley's North Antrim constituency where the RIR
has it headquarters, if the remaining battalions are
garrisoned in Northern Ireland instead of Oxford, where
they are at present.

It is mundane stuff compared with the histrionics we had
from Paisley earlier in the week, but it's called taking
responsibility, showing leadership and delivering for your

Paisley should also exert himself to bring loyalist
paramilitaries under control and into the political process
as best he can. At present, a vicious feud has claimed
three lives, is tying down police resources and is making
life a misery for people in many working-class Protestant
areas represented by DUP MPs such as Nigel Dodds.

Currently the loyalists are attacking the distribution of
the Sunday World newspaper for daring to expose the squalid
personal lives of some of their leaders. On past form they
could, at any stage, sink their differences by attacking
Catholics and are more likely to do so if Paisley persists
in tilting at republican windmills, presenting every twist
and turn of the peace process as terrible reverse for

Bringing that situation to an end would deliver more for
the unionist people than any amount of showboating. It
would also create brownie points for Paisley where he badly
needs them, in Downing Street.

In the final analysis, governments have no friends, only
interests. They tend to reward people who serve those


Alan Ruddock: Adams Should Be Cured Of His Breathtaking

I should have known better. Last week, when contemplating
the historic cessation of the IRA's armed campaign, I
suggested that this time the terrorists had made an
initiative without, apparently, the usual synchronised
statements and concessions from the British and Irish
governments. And then came the deluge.

Northern Ireland's security infrastructure is dismantled,
the Royal Irish gets its marching orders, the Colombia
Three arrive back in Ireland, and Gerry Adams, the Sinn
Fein president, tells us he is entitled to drop into the
Dail when he feels like it and regale the elected
representatives with his views on how best to govern this

The one thing that was missing? In case you hadn't noticed,
not a gun nor an ounce has been decommissioned since that
historic statement, even though we were led to believe that
a "significant" act of decommissioning was so imminent you
could almost touch it.

Adams has decided that he is back on top, his natural
arrogance given new impetus by the IRA's statement, and we
are all, apparently, condemned to endure his patronising
twaddle about the 26 counties, Crown forces, socialist
republics, victimisation of republicans, reluctant
unionists and whatever else takes his fancy.

He has decreed that the IRA's words were seismic, and the
world has changed. Reality matters not: republicans are in
a self-proclaimed ascendancy and he now wants the political
process to move on without the Democratic Unionist party
(the largest political party in Northern Ireland, but
mandates, clearly, only matter if they are his).

Writing in The Irish Times on Friday, Adams said: "It is
long past time for the DUP to face up to their political
responsibilities and start representing the interests of
those who vote for them . . . However, if the DUP are not
willing to talk, if they are not willing to embrace the
Good Friday agreement, then the governments need to move
the process forward."

He then launched into the latest flight of republican
fancy: that Northern Ireland's members of the Westminster
parliament should be allowed to speak in the Dail.

"As MP for West Belfast I should have the same right to
speak on the Rossport Five in Co Mayo, or homelessness in
Dublin, or drug problems in Limerick, as Michael McDowell
or Dermot Ahern have to speak on issues in Belfast or
Derry. We want to see this done with all speed." So jump to
it, Bertie.

According to Adams, our taoiseach has "given a commitment"
that he and his colleagues, who choose not to attend the
parliament to which they are elected, should be allowed to
lecture one to which they are not elected.

For once we should be happy that Ahern is not a man to
state anything so clearly, making it unlikely that the
taoiseach has given Adams any such commitment (though
entirely possible that Adams thinks he has). He may be
invited to contribute to a Dail committee hearing on narrow
issues of Northern Irish policy, but so could anybody.
That, of course, will not satisfy the republican agenda,
but then nothing short of a united, socialist republic

Adams needs to be given a harsh reality check, and it must
come from Ahern. The taoiseach has been treated with
contempt by the Sinn Fein leader, his willingness to trust
repeatedly thrown back in his face, and he must now have
the political courage to face down republican triumphalism
and impose some much needed realism on the peace process.
The return of the Colombia Three is yet another kick in the
teeth for Ahern and was orchestrated despite the acute
embarrassment it will cause.

Deliberately and malevolently, Adams is manoeuvring Ahern
into a position from which he will struggle to emerge with
either dignity or honour. If he allows the Colombia Three
to strut freely, Ahern will snub America and the rule of
law. Men who protest against a pipeline languish in jail,
while men convicted of helping terrorists fine-tune their
bombing techniques so that they can murder scores of people
walk free. Yet if the taoiseach moves against the Three, he
will incur the wrath of many people in this country who see
little wrong with Ireland exporting terrorist techniques
and who choose to worry more about the convicted men's fate
in a Colombia jail than they do for the victims of their
bomb-making expertise. Either way, he loses. Adams has
ruthlessly exploited the taoiseach's weakness, just as he
has exploited Ahern's willingness to believe republicans
are genuinely committed to a peaceful resolution in
Northern Ireland.

Adams's arrogance and his calculation have to be
challenged, and the responsibility rests squarely with the
taoiseach. Right now he appears like a puppet on an Adams
string. He must cut himself loose and rediscover the anger
that flared so briefly in the wake of the Northern Bank

Whether or not the Colombia Three can be extradited
successfully, Ahern must set in train whatever legal
procedures are possible to demonstrate that, if there is a
way to return them to justice, he will find it. He must
disabuse Adams of any notion that he, or any other MP from
another state, has any "right" to address our parliament.
If Adams wants to speak in the Dail, let him stand for
election in what he so disparagingly refers to as the 26
counties. And he should state categorically that his
priority is to see a devolved executive working in Northern
Ireland and that his government is eager to do business
with that executive. That requires Sinn Fein to deliver on
its promises, to embrace the police and justice systems in
the province and to help the Police Service of Northern
Ireland to root out the criminality that has spread like a
virus in the past decade.

The IRA's statement, if it is to mean anything, must lead
to a period in Northern Ireland's politics where actions
take precedence over rhetoric. Unfortunately, Adams appears
to see it as an opportunity to crank up the volume, as if
the statement itself was all the action that was needed. It
was not.

Already, what little hope that was engendered by the
statement has been diminished by the cynicism and the
arrogance that has followed. The return of the Colombia
Three is a sharp reminder that Sinn Fein will extract
maximum advantage at every opportunity. It may now be
followed by some decommissioning, which would almost
certainly deflect attention away from the Colombia Three.
Given the context, that too will be a cynical manipulation
rather than a genuine gesture.

The republican project is depressingly selfish, and
grounded in the belief that the peace process can be played
ad infinitum to its own advantage. Fundamentally it is a
barren project, one that could only succeed if it corrupted
the rest of the democratic process, north and south, and
that cannot be allowed to happen.

Adams can patronise us for as long as he likes, he can make
his demands and trumpet his mandate, but no matter how much
noise he makes he must be made to realise that his
credibility has run dry.

Ahern has a duty to face down Adams and to provide the
unionist parties in Northern Ireland with the firm
assurance that his government will deal with reality and
not indulge Sinn Fein's calculated propaganda stunts. Just
as importantly, Ahern must reassure the people of the
Republic that he, and not Adams, is setting the agenda for
this state.

It requires Ahern to present an alternate vision that
tackles republican fantasies and which stipulates, in the
starkest possible terms, that Northern Ireland's people
must resolve their own difficulties and forge their own
future. It will be a painfully slow process because its
success depends on mutual trust among the parties. For the
moment, there is none and so progress is impossible.

Adams's posturing ensures that trust will not be created
anytime soon, and the juxtaposition of the Colombia Three
and the IRA's statement makes the building of confidence
more difficult. Since that was a predictable consequence of
their return, the only plausible conclusion is that Adams
cares nothing about forging trust, cares nothing for the
Good Friday agreement and cares nothing about the wishes of
the vast majority of the people in both states.

Selfish, arrogant, manipulative and disingenuous, he needs
to be checked. If Ahern does not accept the challenge, then
Adams is free to propagate his poison, and we all suffer
from the perception that grubby deals are being struck with
men who abuse whatever is put their way. This week the
Colombia Three walk our streets. Next week, the murderers
of Jerry McCabe?


Officials Close In On IRA's Money-Laundering Assets

Nicola Tallant

AN investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has
concluded that the IRA invested in development land near
Dundalk, and in holiday cottages in Donegal.

The CAB is planning to strip senior IRA members of land and
property portfolios following its in-depth inquiry into the
paramilitary group's finances.

A Dublin brigade commander was served with a tax bill of
just less than €1m last week, and further bills will be
sent to six more leading IRA figures. The commander, who
lives in a luxury home in Rathfarnham, south Dublin,
originally came from humble origins in the north inner city
but has amassed a huge fortune during his career as a

The CAB has compiled detailed files on IRA top brass, who
they believe got the best of financial advice on investment
decisions. The garda investigation has identified a number
of accountants and solicitors who specialised in IRA
finances. A money broker in Dundalk and another near the
border are suspected of laundering millions for the
organisation over the past 10 years.

A favourite investment by members of the Derry IRA was in
holiday homes throughout Donegal, including Creeslough.
Some were sold on, while others have been kept as
retirement homes for senior members. The county is already
a favourite of senior members of Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams has
a four-bedroomed house in Gortahork, already home to Pat
Doherty, a Sinn Fein MP. Brian Keenan, a former member of
the IRA army council, was a regular visitor to the Donegal
Gaeltacht. Anthony Sloan, an IRA activist who escaped from
the Maze in 1981, built a holiday home in Gweebarra Bay.

Senior CAB officers are to meet with the country's leading
financial institutions in the coming weeks to discuss a
number of accounts they are interested in probing. The CAB
says the investigation is one of the biggest it has
undertaken since the unit was set up in 1996.

Most tax demands it will issue in the coming months will be
for €1m, but, according to senior CAB sources, a few will
be "way in excess" of that.

Information gathered by the CAB shows that IRA figures were
advised to buy up land in areas that were due for rezoning.
They bought land near Dundalk that is expected to be
developed for a roads project, as well as tracts on the
northern side of the town.

"Our investigation has identified a number of accountants,
solicitors and brokers that were working to launder the IRA
money," a CAB source said.

"They got excellent financial advice in land speculation
and developments. We have identified a number of housing
schemes and a lot of land that was purchased with IRA

"Of course this was going on on both sides of the border
and we have been working very closely with the PSNI."

Last week CAB was given permission to recruit extra
accountants and revenue staff. Michael McDowell, the
minister for justice, has said all assets built up by the
IRA during its decades of terror will be forfeited to the

McDowell believes the IRA was in possession of hundreds of
millions of euros, including the proceeds of the Northern
Bank robbery in Belfast last December. He said there would
be no amnesty for IRA assets and every arm of the state
would be used to seize them.


End Of An IRA?

By Claude Salhani
August 7, 2005

Sometimes miracles in politics do happen. After nearly four
decades of resorting to violence, using killings, political
assassinations, kidnappings and bombing campaigns, the
Irish Republican Army has formally ordered an end to its
policy of armed struggle. Henceforth, the IRA -- an acronym
that has long stood for terror in Northern Ireland and the
British Isles -- is to follow a purely political agenda to
achieve its aims.

This news could not come at a better time for Britain's
Prime Minister Tony Blair who needed some respite after two
attacks on London's public transportation system by
Islamist terrorists that claimed the lives of 54 people.

The announcement of the IRA's change of policy was well
received at No. 10 Downing St. as well as in Dublin.
Indeed, this change will allow Britain's intelligence
services to concentrate on the more imminent threat of
Islamist terrorism.

"This may be the day when finally after all the false dawns
and dashed hopes, peace replaces war, politics replaces
terror on the island of Ireland," said Mr. Blair.

The armed struggle by the IRA spanned more than three
decades, though armed Irish rebels opposed to British rule
have been around in one form or another for centuries.
Wolfe Tone, a Protestant rebel who died in the 1798
rebellion is now revered as the founding father of the
Irish rebellion. Opposition to Britain went through many
phases, eventually sparking a war that led to the British
leaving part of the island. That became the Republic of
Ireland. But the Troubles in Northern Ireland, part of the
United Kingdom, continued on and off.

The revolt was revived in 1969 with the IRA becoming what
the Independent newspaper calls "one of Europe's largest,
most active and longest-lasting violent groups."

A bombing campaign in the 1970s left London on edge,
frightening tourists away, forcing new security measures to
become part of everyday life. As the Independent points
out, "The IRA was not the only source of violence, but it
was always the most proficient of the killing groups, the
most cunning and the most dangerous."

The IRA was responsible for more than 1,700 deaths of the
3,800 victims in what was referred to as "The Troubles."

The IRA invented the car bomb; a device that claimed many
civilian lives. In an incident known as Bloody Friday, nine
persons were killed in Belfast in 1972 when the IRA
detonated 20 devices in just more than an hour.

At times the IRA opted for daring operations, such as the
1979 assassination of Louis Mountbatten, and the killing of
18 soldiers at Warrenpoint in County Down in 1979.

In 1984, the IRA tried to kill Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher and members of her Cabinet at the Grand Hotel in
Brighton during the Conservative Party conference. Mrs.
Thatcher survived but five persons died in the attack.

The IRA flirted with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi and
cooperated with extremist Palestinian groups. For a while,
Col. Gadhafi armed and financed the Irish insurgents much
to the detriment of the British government. In the 1980s,
Col. Gadhafi provided the IRA with ample arms and
explosives, including the powerful Semtex explosive.

Libya established training camps in the desert for the IRA
where it could train in relative safety. Acting on Col.
Gadhafi's orders, Libyan intelligence agents provided
weapons, safe houses and money to the IRA.

From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, the IRA
enjoyed close ties with radical Palestinian organizations
such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
then headed by George Habash.

For years, while the Palestinian guerrillas operated
without hindrance in Lebanon, the PFLP and the IRA
cooperated closely. The Palestinians provided training
facilities in Lebanon and Syria to the IRA, as well as safe
places for IRA members to lay low, whenever needed. In
return, the IRA helped Palestinian operatives in Europe.

Last month's historic statement announcing its abandonment
of violence was read by former IRA prisoner Seanna Walsh:
"All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All
volunteers have been instructed to assist the development
of purely political and democratic programs through
exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in
any other activities whatsoever."

But the IRA maintained its long struggle was "legitimate."

"We are very mindful of the sacrifices of our patriot dead,
those who went to jail, volunteers, their families and the
wider republican base. We reiterate our view that the armed
struggle was entirely legitimate. We are conscious that
many people suffered in the conflict."

The paramilitary group said that, though it was renouncing
violence, it was not disbanding nor, for that matter,
renouncing its vision of a united Ireland. The statement
declared, "We believe there is now an alternative way to
achieve this and to end British rule in our country."

This surprising move away from violence comes after Gerry
Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA political wing, asked
that the group give up armed struggle and engage instead in
the democratic process to achieve its aim.

Welcoming the news as historic, Mr. Blair said: "This is a
step of unparalleled magnitude in the recent history of
Northern Ireland." Yet his and the Irish governments
remained cautious.

The IRA will need to prove it stands by its word. Previous
promises were broken and violence in the province

"The history of the past decade in Northern Ireland is
littered with IRA statements which we were told were
'historic,' 'groundbreaking' and 'seismic,' said Democratic
Unionist Party Leader Ian Paisley.

One IRA problem has been an inability to control breakaway
groups, such as the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, who
refuse to abide by IRA decisions. Whether it will be
different this time and the IRA will impose its will on the
splinter groups remains to be seen. Sometimes miracles do

Claude Salhani is international editor for United Press


Irish Report Hits 'Racist' UK Army

Andrew Bushe

A SECRET Irish government report sent to Britain has
bitterly criticised the executions of 26 Irish-born
soldiers during the first world war and demanded they be

The military courts that ordered their deaths were anti-
Irish, class-biased and often dispensed death sentences
against innocent men simply to set an example and to shore
up discipline in the trenches, according to the report.

Drawn up by officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs,
and submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) nine months
ago, the report condemns the

26 executions by firing squad as "shocking",
"inconsistent", "capricious" and "unpredictable". The MoD's
defence of military justice is described as "fundamentally

The previously unpublished 54-page report concludes that
the army had a racist bias against Irish soldiers that is
"difficult to explain". The MoD has said it will consider
the Irish government's submission, but Dermot Ahern, the
minister for foreign affairs, is understood to be still
awaiting a detailed response.

Based on an examination of the 26 courts martial files, the
report says each death sentence could have been overturned
if agreed standards such as the absence of proof or due
consideration of medical conditions were used.

It accuses presiding officers of ignoring medical evidence
in 11 cases, and says there were extenuating circumstances
such as the death of family members in four cases.

In the remaining 11 cases, executions were carried out as
"examples" to badly disciplined units. This was the case
with Belfast man James Templeton of the 15th Royal Irish
Rifles. who went missing for three days before giving
himself up to an officer.

The report shows that at trial both the major commanding
and major general agreed Templeton should be shot as a
deterrent as there had been three previous desertions and
none had been given the death penalty.

"Soldiers were effectively condemned to be shot because of
both the behaviour of others and the opinion of others as
to their fighting potential," the report says. "Executing a
soldier to deter their colleagues from contemplating a
similar crime, or because their attitude in the face of the
gravest of dangers was not what was expected — in some
cases after only a matter of weeks of basic training — must
be seen as unjust."

The report calls for full pardons for the men to "grant
them the dignity in death they were denied in life".

Granting a pardon would not involve any compensation
payments and would not "open a legal quagmire from which
will stem untold horrors".

Ahern said that the report makes tragic reading.

"Nobody could not be moved by the simple stories of brave,
often poorly educated young men who were shot after
perfunctory courts martial. The Irish government believes
this was wrong. These Irish people died needlessly," he

"We continue to press the British government to restore the
good names of these men. In most instances almost 90 years
has passed since they these men met their awful fate. We
must ensure their names are cleared and their memories
honoured well in advance of the centenary of their deaths
and the outbreak of the great war. Nothing less will do for
the Irish government and their families."

The report says it is "telling" that Britain kept the
courts martial files secret for 75 years because of their

The controversial conclusion of the Irish government report
is that there was an ethnic and racist bias against Irish
soldiers. This is based on a comparison of recruitment
figures and subsequent death sentences. It revealed a
disparity in the treatment of Irish soldiers in comparison
with those from other countries in the British army.

The number of men recruited in Ireland was similar to that
of New Zealand, but there were 10 times the level of
condemnations in the Irish regiments. This is despite the
fact that the New Zealand regiments were "notoriously harsh
with discipline" at the time.

"This might not seem many, but given the size of the Irish
regiments it is an extraordinary high number," says the

The overall average for English, Scottish or Welsh units is
four death sentences per battalion while the average for
the Irish units is seven.

One soldier for every 2,000- 3,000 British troops was shot
by firing squad compared with one in 600 in the Irish
units. This applied equally to loyalist regiments, such as
the 36th Ulster division, as to regiments recruited south
of the border.

"This indicates that there was no religious basis for the
disparity in Irish condemnations," the report says, adding
that there was a pervading British attitude towards the
Irish at the time of "mistrust and suspicion".

It quotes a 1922 British study into shell shock that heard
evidence questioning the soldiering abilities of certain
races, including the Irish and concluded that although
shell shock did not recognise an individual's background,
the Irish, among others, were more prone to it.

"Racial characteristics were cited as a predisposing cause
together with 'education and social conditions and
environments' in that order, " it says.

The report also claims that the courts martial had a class
bias that is incompatible with an impartial system of
justice. "The treatments meted out to officers and upper
echelons tended to be at the lower end of the disciplinary
scale, whereas lower ranks were often afforded little, if
any, leniency."

Of the 26 executions of soldiers serving in Irish
regiments, 23 were for desertion, one for striking an
officer, one for quitting his post and one for

In one case a soldier was executed for a 45-minute absence.
Most of the men were illiterate and had no grasp of
military law. Only one of the 26 was provided with a
"prisoner's friend" — as was their entitlement — and most
condemned soldiers and their appointed defending officers
were unfamiliar with the system of pleas for mercy
following conviction.

The report points out that just 10 years after the war
ended, unease about the summary battlefield justice led to
the death penalty being repealed for offences such as
desertion and refusing to obey an order.


Books: History, Fiction And Simply Being Irish

Granta, £30

By Damian Smyth
06 August 2005

Like the Pink Panther, Don Akenson is a gentleman, a
scholar, and, with this monumental tome of some 800 pages,
something of an acrobat as well.

Author of the influential The Irish Diaspora: A Primer and
an acclaimed biography of Conor Cruise O'Brien, Akenson's
intimidating work aspires to the condition of a novel while
retaining the credibility of a study of history.

It is written in a multitude of short sections - 'Monkeys
in the Treetops', 'Pride of the Second Fleet', 'Non-
Reactive Measurement in the Social Sciences', for example -
each evoking an incident over millennia, advancing towards
the 19th century when this particular volume closes. The
style is free-flowing, irreverent, anarchic, omnivorous.

Akenson has a way of reading a modern sense of nationality
back into time so that the word 'Celts' somehow triggers
emotions in the more susceptible of us which the word
'Irish' might also provoke - though there is no reason at
all to view Celts as Irish in any sense whatsoever. The
peoples of the past are innocent.

The 'Irish' of the title here are all very familiar
characters indeed. They are in fact 'us' ourselves - 21st
century dwellers who like to take our bearings from the
massive agglomeration of truth, half-truth, soppy
melancholia, swan song, self-aggrandisement and simply oul
slabber which is supposed to characterise the
'consciousness of our race'.

One of the side-effects of this is that historical
characters appear to think according to the same values we
do in our time. They are our contemporaries - but, of
course, they really aren't. Different historical time
accords as different a process of thought as do, for
example, different cultures and languages in our own day.

Moreover, while Akenson is punctilious in eschewing
sectarian stereotype, his word 'Irish' includes all those
who would never wish to be described that way at all, but
would prefer 'Ulster' or 'British' or absolutely anything

This is a misguided sense of inclusivity.

Any historical person with any connection with 'Ireland' -
however marginal, but with enough clout to have made an
impact on history in the first place – is recruited as yet
another variation on the great melody that is 'Irishness'.

Akenson finds shards of Irishness everywhere. At
Gettysburg, Lincoln will use 'the metrics and timbre of
Robert Emmet's 1803 speech-from-the-dock'. But this time,
'they will not be the drone notes of a threnody but instead
will undergird an ode to the resurrection of the American

The 'American soul'? Is there such a thing outside the
barnstorming excesses of a nationalistic idiom? Whatever
the connection between Emmet and that soul is, it isn't
history. It's magic.

Having said all this, Akenson serves up a host of
historical snippets, quotations, oddities, ironies, which
simply wouldn't fit anywhere but in a book of this
entertaining type.

So, Wolfe Tone's brother Billy turns up as one of General
Lake's staff officers in India. Sarah Curran, who famously
loved Emmet, dies in Kent, wife of an officer in the Royal
Engineers. In Montserrat in 1777, the will of Irishman
Martin Lynch 'leaves twelve negroes, including "Cork, a
good barber", worth £140.'

And this little vignette:

'In 1836, a woman in Londonderry who has nine shillings
owed to her in Dublin, worries about it. She cannot afford
to lose the sum. She frets. She cannot sleep. Choosing her
moment, she ships from Derry to Liverpool and then to
Dublin, where she collects the nine shillings owing. Then
she takes passage back to Liverpool and back to Derry.

It's a good investment: collecting her 9s has cost her a
total of 1/6d – eighteen pence - that's how close are
England and Ireland.'

Of much more significant note, however, Akenson asserts
even in his delirium the final resting place of 'Padraig
the Briton' as indeed Downpatrick in Co Down, and certainly
not at Armagh. Left to be guided by the hands of God, the
oxen bearing the saint's remains "wandered in irregular
patterns for several hours and eventually, tired and
footsore, came to rest on a modest hill. There the saint
was buried. He had completed a very long journey."

As a Downpatrick man myself, such rest is gratifying.


Northern Ireland's Gays March On

By Patrick Jackson
BBC News, Belfast

If parades are what you are after, this is the place to be
- marching is so much a part of life here, they have a
season named after it.

And if your cause happens to be not local politics but the
right to be gay, does the culture not dictate banners,
bands and your best foot forward?

Throw in coloured balloons and boas, disco floats and a
posse of superheroes on mini motorcycles, and you have the
2005 Belfast Gay Pride, dancing its way around the city
centre this Saturday.

Bar a homophobic joke or two, there was little sign of
indignation - and much good humour - among the crowds
lining Royal Avenue to see the carnival in its 15th year,
among them many families.

Where outrage did surface was among the organised
protesters, facing down the avenue from the City Hall with
a show of placards like shields in this city famous for the
strength of its religious feeling.

It must be hard to keep a straight face, no pun intended,
when a glam guitar man on stilts in a giant pink Afro wig
staggers by to the strains of Madonna's Like A Prayer, but
the hugely outnumbered Stop The Parade (STP) activists
stood their ground, bearing witness with dignity to their
Christian faith in the teeth of what, for them, is a
celebration of sin.

'Never again'

So strong has their feeling been that this year they tried
to have the Pride march banned through Northern Ireland's
Parades Commission - a body more used to causes coloured
Orange and Green, not Pink.

If you don't want to see what is going on on Royal Avenue,
stay away for an hour - it's only for an hour every year

Paul Meekin

Belfast hair salon manager

Their bid was rejected but the application made a live
issue of an established event, publicising "sensitivities"
around the Pride that its organisers had barely noticed in
past years.

"It had become more of a carnival, more of a party, but now
it has almost turned on its head and become political
again," Belfast Pride's Andi Clarke told the BBC News

"Because there is opposition, people are actually getting
up and saying 'No, hang on, there is a case here, people
are not going to be suppressed anymore, not here in
Northern Ireland in 2005'.

While most parade-goers are gay men or women or
transexual/transgendered, a large number are heterosexual,
he adds, and he was hoping to top the 2004 turnout of

One thing you hear repeatedly among the local gay community
is that the Pride is one of the few genuinely cross-
community events in Northern Ireland, transcending barriers
between Protestants and Catholics.

But there is also a perception that the easing of the
Troubles has led to a search for new scapegoats.

"The old sectarian tensions aren't an excuse anymore," said
Andi Clarke. "I feel people are channelling their anger to
the ethnic minorities, to sexual minorities instead."

Gays, as another Pride organiser put it, are "probably the
most discriminated-against group in Northern Ireland".

Tattooed on the torsos of some of the 2005 paraders were
the words "forbidden fruit", playing on a local term of
abuse for homosexuals.

Protesters 'pigeon-holed'

Many believe the term "gay" was coined as a happy
abbreviation for Good As You - something the BBC News
website put to STP's Jonathan Larner.

"I most definitely do not regard myself as any better than
a homosexual on a moral level - Good As You is quite
correct," he replied.

His group's aim, he said, was to make gay people aware of
the Bible's teachings on homosexuality and their "need of
repentance from sin and faith alone in Jesus Christ".

STP was, he said, "pigeon-holed as hateful and homophobic"
but, in the view of Christians like himself, "the far
greater hate would be shown by staying at home and doing

If preaching was one aim of the protesters - and they do
believe they may have convinced at least two gay people at
the 2004 Belfast Pride - then another was to uphold public

"To us the sexual gesturing, nudity and innuendo are post-
watershed [late evening TV] stuff and not acceptable,"
Jonathan Larner said.

Talking, not shouting

Some costumes at the 2005 Pride may have been a bit risque
but probably no worse than at the cabaret in the old French
comedy La Cage Aux Folles.

And certainly not a patch on the outfits I saw earlier this
summer on a weekend in Cologne which coincided with its
vast Pride events.

Yet at the German event, straight people on the streets did
not appear to bat an eyelid as gay men and women thronged
the Old City where every other cafe or pub displayed
rainbow flags.

There was a feeling that these gay people were accepted as
an organic part of the community, free to live differently
but equally in modern Europe.

By contrast, furious protests accompanied Prides in Riga
and Bucharest while Warsaw banned its event, although
Polish gays marched anyway.

And a major test for gay rights is looming in May 2006, if
Russia's gay community presses ahead with the first Moscow
Pride - something the mayor has vowed to ban.

In the event, Belfast's parade passed off without incident
but its organisers remain determined to maintain public
awareness of their pride in their orientation and their

"Society is finally being trained that discrimination is
unacceptable, that we live in a very diverse world and that
people need to accept others," Andi Clarke said.

As the balloons drift out over the Irish Sea, this year's
dispute in Belfast may be remembered for one positive

During the Parades Commission's mediation, the Pride
committee sat down for talks with the Christian protesters
- a first according to both sides. If they did not reach
much agreement, at least the flags and placards were down.

Have you been on a Pride this summer and met a hostile
reaction? Do you see tolerance of gay people as a key test
of European values? Send us your comments and experiences
using the form below.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/06 22:37:37 GMT

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