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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
September 30, 2005
McGuinness Barred From US Fund Raising
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News about Ireland and the Irish
IT 09/30/05 McGuinness Barred From Raising Funds On US Trip
SF 09/29/05 Unionists Need To Grasp Opportunity
BB 09/29/05 Home Attack Treated As Murder Bid
SF 09/29/05 Methodist Church Attack Condemned
AP 09/29/05 Experts Say IRA Has Criminal Empire
BT 09/29/05 GAA Hits Back In Attacks Dispute
BT 09/29/05 Premiers Plan To Push Ahead
McGuinness Barred From Raising Funds On US Trip
Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has been
barred by the US State Department from fundraising in the
US this week, despite the decommissioning of weapons by the
IRA, writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, in
The move has worried the party's Irish-American supporters
in advance of next month's Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser
in New York, though Sinn Féin sought to downplay its
significance last night.
The annual Manhattan dinner, which costs $500 a head and is
usually attended by senior Sinn Féin figures such as Mr
McGuinness and party leader Gerry Adams, raises up to
$400,000 for the party's coffers.
Heeding a warning last March from the White House in the
wake of the Belfast killing of Robert McCartney, Sinn Féin
did not apply for fundraising rights when Mr Adams
travelled to the US for St Patrick's Day.
Under US State Department rules, foreign politicians have
to apply for permission to raise funds from US donors
before each of their visits to the country.
The restriction, The Irish Times understands, was
specifically mentioned by the US special envoy to Northern
Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, when he met Mr McGuinness in
Washington on Tuesday, though he had been told of it before
Efforts are now expected from Irish-American supporters to
get the ban lifted quickly. "There is no question but that
it will be a big problem next month if it is not lifted,"
one informed source commented last night.
The exact reasons for the US decision are not yet clear,
though it could reflect White House caution about the IRA
before the Independent Monitoring Commission issues the
second of its reports next January.
Mr Reiss last night refused to discuss the visa restriction
on Mr McGuinness. "US officials are not allowed to talk
about the visa application of any individual."
Last night, a Sinn Féin spokeswoman said: "The fundraising
wasn't a big part of this trip. He is doing all the
political work that he intended to do on the west coast.
"We are hopeful that on the next trip he will be able to
fundraise. We don't see this as a long-term problem. This
trip was put together at the last minute," she said.
Mr McGuinness will travel to Seattle today before going on
to San Francisco tomorrow and San Diego on Sunday. He
concludes the US leg of his visit in Phoenix on Monday.
He will travel to Calgary in Canada on Monday and speak at
a $100-a-head Friends of Sinn Féin (Canada) dinner there
© The Irish Times
DUP in 'frank' meeting with arms witnesses
Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent
The Democratic Unionist Party yesterday held two hours of
"frank" talks in Stormont with the Catholic and Protestant
clergymen who witnessed IRA decommissioning last week.
However, the DUP delegation, led by the party's leader Dr
Ian Paisley, was tight-lipped after the encounter in
Stormont with Fr Alec Reid and Rev Harold Good.
"We had a useful, frank and detailed discussion. I don't
want to say anything more. We have genuine concerns about
what happened," a DUP spokesman said last night.
The DUP was sharply criticised for apparently questioning
the integrity of the two churchmen, following the
announcement by Gen John de Chastelain that decommissioning
had taken place.
Speaking on Tuesday, following a lengthy meeting with Gen
de Chastelain, Dr Paisley declared: "The more the
searchlight is put on this, the more we discover that there
is a cover-up." The DUP leader had also said then that he
had been "shocked" to discover the two clergymen had not
been appointed by the Independent International
Decommissioning Body, or the governments, but "by the IRA".
Despite these remarks, the DUP rejected subsequent
criticism from the Ulster Unionist Party and other quarters
that they had questioned the integrity of Fr Reid and Rev
Led yesterday by Dr Paisley, the DUP delegation included
the party's deputy leader, Peter Robinson, David Simpson
and Ian Paisley jnr.
The two clergymen did not make any public comment
Earlier the two had met an Ulster Unionist Party delegation
that included the party's Assembly deputy leader, Danny
Kennedy, and the party's sole MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon.
Criticising the DUP, Mr Kennedy said: "There was an
unfortunate impression raised that the integrity and
independence of the church witnesses was being called into
question. I felt, and my party felt, that that was unfair
and unwarranted and that any criticisms of the system in
which they were forced to operate may have been right, but
that the work carried out by the independent witnesses is
the work that they were discharged to carry out."
The UUP had gained "an important insight" into the work of
Fr Reid and Rev Good, Mr Kennedy said.
"We are satisfied to say that we believe that the
independent witnesses have carried out their work
independently and that they have also acted in an
honourable and truthful manner at all times. What they have
seen they have faithfully reported."
The UUP, he said, is satisfied "a substantial act" of
decommissioning has taken place.
Meanwhile, the UUP has said it believed Fr Reid and Rev
Good had been selected to act as decommissioning witnesses
However, this was questioned last night by an Irish
Government source who said Rev Good's name was not
mentioned "until the last fortnight", though it had been
"generally assumed" the other witness would be Fr Reid.
© The Irish Times
Unionists Need To Grasp Opportunity Presented By IRA Initiative
Published: 29 September, 2005
Commenting after meetings today between both the DUP and
UUP with the Rev. Harold Good and Fr. Alec Reid, Sinn Féin
MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy urged unionists to grasp
the opportunity created by the historic initiative taken by
Mr Murphy said:
"This weeks announcement by the IICD and the July statement
from the leadership of the IRA deal in a definitive way
with any genuine concerns unionists had about republican
"The decision of the IRA to formally end its armed campaign
and put its weapons beyond use offers all of us an
unprecedented opportunity to move forward collectively into
a new future.
"The unionist political leadership need to grasp this
opportunity in the time ahead and end the stalling and
prevaricating. The process of change can only be advanced
it can not be turned back." ENDS
Home Attack Treated As Murder Bid
A pipe bomb attack on a family in Ballymoney is being
treated as attempted murder, police have said.
No motive has yet been found for the attack on the house,
but loyalist paramilitaries are being blamed.
A pipe bomb was placed on the window sill of the property
in Carnany estate where a couple and a three-year-old child
were asleep upstairs.
It exploded at about 0230 BST, embedding a 12 inch long
piece of shrapnel into a chair. No-one was hurt.
Shrapnel was also found in the ceiling of the living room
and a heavy metal bolt was blown 50 yards down the road by
the blast, where it hit the Carnany community centre.
Detective Inspector Nick McCaw said it was lucky no-one was
"When we catch the people responsible they will be charged
with attempted murder," he said.
He said that if someone had been in the living room "they
would have been seriously injured or killed".
Police have appealed for information and the house has been
cordoned off for an examination by forensic scientists.
Condemning the pipe bombing, DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said
local people are disgusted at the attack "on a family who
have lived in the estate for many years".
SDLP assemblyman Sean Farren said that whatever the motive,
there was no place in society for people who would leave
"There is only one way to remove this danger and that is to
have these people arrested, charged and jailed, " he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/29 11:24:26 GMT
© BBC MMV
Methodist Church Attack Condemned
Published: 29 September, 2005
Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has
hit out at those responsible for a paint bomb attack on
Greencastle Methodist Church on the Whitwell Road in the
early hours of this morning.
Mr Kelly said:
" There can be no possible justification or excuse for this
attack Greencastle Methodist Church. Political and
community leaders need to make it clear that this sort of
sectarian behaviour is completely and totally unacceptable.
"Sectarian attacks on churches, community halls, businesses
and homes from whatever quarter need to end. The cycle of
sectarianism and violence needs to be tackled and
addressed. There is a role for everyone within this society
in standing up to sectarianism and prejudice if we are to
move forward in the time ahead." ENDS
Experts Say IRA Has Criminal Empire
BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The Irish Republican Army may
no longer want to fight the British, but detectives say
it's still in business - as owners of pubs and clubs,
smugglers of fuel and cigarettes, bank robbers by night and
property investors by day.
Throughout the past 35 years of conflict over this British
territory, the IRA has built a sophisticated criminal
empire throughout Ireland and beyond, laundering profits
through legitimately owned businesses and properties worth
more than $400 million, anti-racketeering experts say.
Now that weapons inspectors have announced the IRA's
disarmament, the political focus has turned to whether the
underground group will renounce crime, too.
The British and Irish governments say political progress
depends on reports being published in October and January
from the Independent Monitoring Commission. Both
governments formed the four-man panel - which includes a
former top CIA official - chiefly to publicize IRA
If these experts rule that the IRA is withdrawing from
criminal activity, Britain and Ireland say negotiations
should resume to revive the cornerstone of Northern
Ireland's 1998 peace accord: power-sharing between the
British Protestant majority and Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked
Even the most ardent advocates of power-sharing say the
IRA's criminal power has become the new deal-breaker. But
IRA experts warn that the group is not about to cede
control to common criminals.
"The IRA's criminal activity will be hard to hide but easy
to deny," said Ed Moloney, author of "A Secret History of
the IRA," who forecast that IRA racketeering "may even
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, a veteran IRA commander who
denies ever being a member, has repeatedly said IRA
activity cannot be described as crime. At his most recent
party conference in March, Adams said Sinn Fein would
"refuse to criminalize those who break the law in pursuit
of legitimate political objectives."
Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell, who is regularly
briefed on IRA activity by the anti-terrorist and anti-
racketeering branches of the Garda Siochana, Ireland's
national police force, called Sinn Fein's line on IRA crime
"a massive lie of Orwellian proportions."
Other politicians fear that Sinn Fein, growing rapidly in
both parts of Ireland, derives an undemocratic advantage
from deep IRA pockets. They note the party's ability to
produce exceptional volumes of literature, posters and
campaign workers at election time.
Sinn Fein says it negotiates better deals on printing, has
an army of unpaid volunteers and publishes financial
statements showing party coffers in the red.
Some analysts do not buy this.
"Using the proceeds of that IRA empire, Sinn Fein has a
plan to buy its way into power in Ireland," said Kevin
Toolis, author of "Rebel Hearts: A Journey Into the IRA's
Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau, the United Kingdom Assets
Recovery Agency and the Police Service of Northern Ireland
estimate that IRA rackets generate more than $20 million
Those assessments exclude four massive Belfast robberies
last year that police chiefs, the British and Irish
governments and the Independent Monitoring Commission
blamed on the IRA.
In December, a hostage-taking gang stole the equivalent of
$50 million from the Northern Bank - a theft so colossal,
at a moment of such relative peace, that IRA crime became a
dominant political issue for the first time.
Police in February arrested more than a dozen IRA suspects,
lawyers, accountants and loan sharks during raids across
the Irish Republic. They seized more than $6 million worth
of British bank notes.
Two detectives in the investigation, who spoke to The
Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they
were not authorized to speak to the press, said they
suspect the IRA tried to plow Northern Bank loot into
property in Britain and Bulgaria with guidance from Phil
Flynn, a former Sinn Fein vice president and labor-union
boss who most recently was chairman of the Irish division
of the Bank of Scotland.
Flynn openly admits pursuing investments in Bulgaria on
behalf of the man caught with most of February's money.
Although Flynn resigned from several prominent business and
government advisory posts, he denies any wrongdoing.
The difficulty of bringing the IRA to justice is
personified by IRA chief of staff Thomas "Slab" Murphy, who
has never been convicted of any crime. Prosecutors offered
police surveillance and forensic evidence in several trials
they said showed that Murphy's South Armagh unit
constructed and delivered most of the IRA's biggest vehicle
For two decades, Murphy has run a fuel-smuggling business
from his farm straddling the Irish border. A 1999 best-
seller, "Bandit Country" by Toby Harnden, described
Murphy's smuggling techniques, which include fuel tanks on
both sides of the border connected by pipelines.
When an Associated Press reporter drove past Murphy's farm
last week, one oil tanker had just driven to the gate,
while a second was parked beside his home.
Customs officials' probes have repeatedly fizzled out,
partly because Murphy has repeatedly founded and folded
companies - and partly because nobody dares testify against
Murphy in 1998 lost a libel lawsuit against a British
newspaper, The Sunday Times, that reported on his IRA and
smuggling exploits. Eight months later, the pivotal witness
against Murphy, former IRA member Eamon Collins, was
clubbed and stabbed to death, his face butchered beyond
Murphy, who has never given an interview, could not be
reached for comment.
Police say while the IRA has cleared out its major weapons
dumps, it has retained at least 100 handguns shipped from
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Ireland in 1999.
Anthony McIntyre, a disillusioned ex-IRA member, says his
IRA neighbors in Catholic west Belfast have no intention of
disbanding, and will use their small arms to fend off
unwelcome competition from criminal rivals.
"The IRA will continue to function," McIntyre said. "Not
militarily against the British state, but as a militia to
give muscle to Sinn Fein and as an organ of intimidation."
GAA Hits Back In Attacks Dispute
By Brendan McDaid and Clare Weir
29 September 2005
A row rumbled on today after the DUP said that a spate of
attacks on GAA fans was partly due to the organisation
being perceived as "sectarian".
Derry County GAA chairman, Seamus McCloy, denied the claims
by the DUP's William Hay, made after a series of attacks on
drivers with Tyrone emblems inside their cars passing
through the unionist Newbuildings estate en route to
Police now say that six cars have been attacked in the
village since the Tyrone football side's victory over Kerry
at the All Ireland final on Sunday.
On Sunday, a woman and her one-year-old son were pelted
with stones as they sat at traffic lights in the village.
In an earlier incident last week another woman's car
displaying the Tyrone flag was singled out for attack in
the same spot.
Assembly member Mr Hay said today: "I condemn the attacks
but it's common sense that if you are going to go through a
village that is 99% Protestant with a child of 12 months
then you shouldn't be flying a Tyrone flag or jersey.
"It's like me driving through the Bogside with a Rangers
jersey or flag out the window of the car. I might do it
once . . .
"For many years RUC and ex-British Army soldiers weren't
allowed to play gaelic, many clubs were named after IRA
volunteers or after hunger strikers, and all this doesn't
go down well with the unionist community."
Mr McCloy hit back: "We are a non-political and non-
sectarian organisation. GAA is the biggest sport in
"Sport is sport is sport, and all people are welcome.
People should be allowed to display whatever emblems they
Strabane Sinn Fein councillor, Jarlath McNulty, claimed
that Mr Hay's attempts to explain the attacks were
"Sam Maguire himself was a Presbyterian. I am confident
99.9% of Newbuildings villagers do not want these sort of
attacks but the community has to act."
Premiers Plan To Push Ahead
Last steps will be difficult, says Hain
By Noel McAdam
29 September 2005
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is to meet Tony Blair in London next
week as both Governments signalled their expectation of
beginning meaningful political negotiations as early as
possible in the new year.
Mr Ahern, who has indicated he would like to see progress
by Easter of next year, said while trust had to be rebuilt
to tackle the uncertainties and fears of unionists, new
political realities would also have to be recognised.
"I can understand that it will take some time for the full
consequences of an ending of the IRA campaign and the
decommissioning of all their weapons to be fully
comprehended," he told the first day of the new Dial
session yesterday. "But it is important also to begin to
The DUP and Sinn Fein are also likely to meet both Mr Blair
and Secretary of State Peter Hain next week - possibly
Thursday - as the political row over the IRA's
It was also being indicated the implications of the IRA's
actions and the way the Government sees the way forward is
a visit to Belfast by Mr Blair possibly late next month.
Mr Hain said yesterday the Government sought to "take the
last, painfully difficult steps towards a political
settlement that will finally guarantee peace, stability,
democracy and human rights".
But he told the Labour Party conference the endgame to
bitter conflict could be most tortuous.
When people had to take the final step - to put aside their
differences, prejudices and fears - and had to share with
people who were once sworn enemies, it was difficult, he
"When people have to face that moment of truth - that's the
most painful, the most difficult, time of all," said Mr
In a clear call to unionists not to hold back he added:
"The endgame is the hardest because the two sides may have
journeyed miles towards each other, but, when they are just
feet apart, they want to draw back.
"We are at this key moment now and it's time for the
politicians of Northern Ireland to be courageous, because
we have come such a long way".
If in January the Independent Monitoring Committee confirms
a complete end to IRA activity, he said, "then the time
will have come for every person in Northern Ireland,
unionist or nationalist, to grasp this opportunity for
peace", said Mr Hain.
There was a historic opportunity to move forward with
genuine political engagement and progress.
The real lesson of the years since the Good Friday
Agreement, he said, was that violence did not pay - that
real political progress could only be made when
paramilitaries left the stage.
It was a lesson eventually learnt by republicans, he said,
and it was high time it was learnt by loyalists too.
Then turning to the loyalist paramilitaries, he added: "We
tell them straight: they will not succeed. The IRA has
decommissioned its arms. The loyalist paramilitaries must
now do so too."
But Northern Ireland could not afford to tread water,
politically or economically, until the resumption of
devolution, he said.
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