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September 03, 2005

Unionist & Loyalists Unite

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SB 09/04/05 Unionist Politicians And Paramilitaries Unite
ST 09/04/05 IRA Starts To Decommission
SB 09/04/05 IRA's Rigidity Will Make Decommissioning Easier
SB 09/04/05 'Grandstanding' On Colombia Three Slated
ST 09/04/05 Donaldson Campaigns For C3's Extradition
SB 09/04/05 SDLP Representatives To Attend FF Party
SB 09/04/05 Call For Inquiry To Clear SF Member's Name
ST 09/04/05 Bosnia Expert Starts Search For The Disappeared


Unionist Politicians And Paramilitaries Unite

04 September 2005

Edward Carson, the unionist politician who first armed the
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),would have approved of events
at Larne harbour last week.

Senior loyalist paramilitaries, helped by unionist
politicians, unloaded 200,000 news-sheets urging
Protestants to 'Love Ulster and Save Ulster' from the
threat of a united Ireland.

Side-by-side, the leaders and foot soldiers of the Ulster
Defence Association (UDA) and UVF including the UDA's south
Belfast leader, Jackie McDonald passed the sheets to
smiling unionist politicians. Robert Saulters, the grand
master of the Orange Order and a key figure in organising
the event, said that the leaflets would be distributed to
homes in the North. The aim is to save unionists from the
current political 'crisis' in the North.

The show of unity between paramilitaries and politicians
came as the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, called for
unionist politicians to display greater solidarity with
Catholic communities in north Antrim which had been
attacked by loyalist paramilitaries. The choice of Larne
harbour as the venue was significant it was there that
Carson illegally armed his private army, the UVF, in 1913
in opposition to Home Rule for Ireland. In the unionist
version of history, the event is celebrated as the birth of
Northern resistance and the end to nationalist aspirations
for unity.

Nationalist commentators, however, are asking what exactly
has caused the latest 'crisis' and why u n ion i s t
politicians were openly sharing a platform with
paramilitary leaders. Those same politicians have refused
to ask loyalist paramilitaries to bring about an end to
sectarian attacks on Catholics. William Wilkinson, a
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) candidate in last May's
election, who attended the leaflet drop, defended the
presence of loyalist paramilitaries. "Ulster is in a crisis
because of the concessions given to Sinn Fein," he said.

"We are trying to present a positive message to unionists
and to encourage all sections of the unionist community to
get involved. We issued an open invitation to anyone
concerned and the fact that some people with paramilitary
connections turned up is not double standards at all. "As
long as they recognise that this is a democratic exercise,
then anyone can turn up. We are not in the business of
excluding people.This is about the victims, we are the

Wilkinson said that Sinn Fein should be excluded from
government in the North. He also defended his party's
refusal to engage with loyalist paramilitaries to bring
sectarian attacks to an end.

Loyalist paramilitaries are under pressure over their role
in sectarian attacks in north Antrim and the ongoing feud
between loyalist organisations. In outlying areas of
Ballymena, the attacks are so common that the Police
Service of Northern Ireland is providing a 24-hour guard
outside Catholic schools and churches. One loyalist
community worker said that the leaflet event had "really
helped people in Protestant working class areas to get
behind true loyalists. People see that there is more to the
loyalists than just feuding now."

The Orange Order's grand master has consistently refused to
enter into negotiations with nationalist residents' groups
over contentious loyalist parades. Saulters has argued that
the groups are a "front for terrorism''. Saulters said he
was unaware of the presence of loyalist paramilitaries at
the Larne event and refused to comment further. The leaflet
campaign illustrates the crisis of confidence within
unionism over anticipated political advances in the North
following the IRA's July statement abandoning its armed

It also signals an intention from within unionism to resist
political change. Instead, unionists have chosen to appeal
to Protestant fears and involve the most violent sections
of the unionist community in a high profile campaign. Sean
Farren, the SDLP's north Antrim member of the Northern
Assembly, accused the event's organisers of "inventing a
crisis to stave off political movement in the North.
Unionist politicians should be using their influence with
loyalist paramilitaries to get them to decommission and end
their sectarian campaigns, rather than giving them any form
of moral support.

"Loyalist paramilitaries have been anything but quiet over
the summer period in Antrim," he said. "There has been a
spate of sectarian attacks on Catholics that are still
continuing." Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty said that the Orange
Order had "very publicly nailed its colours to the unionist
paramilitary mast''. Unionist politicians have aligned
themselves with loyalist paramilitaries during past crises,
most notably during the 1974 Ulster Workers Council Strike
leading to the end of power-sharing in the North and during
protests against the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The latest alignment is a signal that working-class
loyalism no longer represents itself, but relies on the
established unionist parties for political guidance.
However, the 'Love Ulster' campaign has come under attack
from some members of the Protestant community. Nicola
McIlvenney, whose cousin Craig McCausland was murdered by
the UVF at his north Belfast home in July, said the
campaign ignored Protestant victims of loyalist violence.
"They are standing with people who are involved with the
same group who shot Craig dead, and they are talking about
justice for Protestants," she said.

"These people should look around them and see the damage
loyalist paramilitaries are doing to their own communities.
But the organisers of these things don't live in working-
class areas." Of the 698 Protestants killed during violence
in the North, 340 died at the hands of loyalists. Since the
first ceasefires in 1994, the vast majority of Protestant
victims have been killed by loyalists in internecine feuds.
Observers of the latest campaign believe it will fizzle out
in a similar fashion to the unionist-organised 'Long March'
campaign in the late 1990s. This was called to stop the
'erosion of Protestant civil rights', but ended in farce
when tiny numbers of Protestants attended the much-
publicised series of rallies.

So far there has been silence from the Protestant Churches
and British government on the inclusion of loyalist
paramilitaries in this latest campaign. Last week's stage-
managed event illustrates that a significant section of
unionism is prepared to resist political change while
simultaneously staying out of political negotiations.
Critics argue that elements within unionism hope to achieve
this by making little of loyalist attacks on Catholics,
while at the small time accepting paramilitary support.


IRA Starts To Decommission

Liam Clarke

THE IRA has already begun to move its weapons to central
dumps in preparation for complete decommissioning within
two to three weeks, according to senior British security

"There has been significant precursor activity which leads
us to believe that they are preparing something big on the
decommissioning front," a source said.

There is caution over whether all IRA weapons will be
decommissioned, however, and whether they can ever be
recovered by the IRA.

Senior police sources say there is no evidence of IRA
targeting, intelligence gathering, recruitment or training
since the organisation's statement on July 28, when it told
units to dump arms. Because there have been similar lulls
in activity in the past, police are continuing to monitor
the situation.

They have received reports of weapons being moved from
Northern Ireland to the republic, the opposite of what
happened during the IRA's terrorism campaign. This is being
taken as an indication that the weapons are being moved to
central dumps in preparation for disposal.

The method of putting the weapons "beyond use" is expected
to consist of encasing them in quick-drying concrete as
they lie in the underground bunkers. It is not clear
whether the bunkers will be sealed with concrete, which
would allow them to be dug up again, or whether concrete
and corrosive material will be poured directly over the

Before this happens the members of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning will be allowed
to inspect the IRA's armoury to verify that the weapons are
in working order and to make an inventory. The inspection
will be carried out by John de Chastelain, a retired
Canadian general, Andrew Sens, a retired American diplomat.
and Tauno Nieminen, a Finnish brigadier.

De Chastelain and Sens met an IRA representative last month
and it was decided that the operation would be on such a
scale that Nieminen's assistance would be required.
Nieminen, who had previously resigned from the commission,
has now been recalled. Two clergy, one Catholic and one
Protestant, will also witness the process.

Despite saying that they have little confidence in
decommissioning, the Democratic Unionist party has been
pressing for its nominee, the Rev David McGaughey, to be
the Protestant witness. A former Presbyterian moderator,
McGaughey is noted for his hardline views and refuses to
attend ecumenical services that include Catholic priests.

"If they are serious about building confidence in the
unionist community with this gesture then they will take
our nominee instead of one of their own," a DUP source

There is speculation that the Catholic cleric will be
Father Alec Reid who helped to broker the IRA ceasefire.

The DUP had initially asked for a complete photographic
record to be kept of the decommissioning process, but the
IRA has not agreed to this. Without visual proof, a lot
will hinge on what de Chastelain and the clerical witnesses
are allowed to say about the process afterwards.

Under the terms of his mandate, de Chastelain can be
obliged to keep the details private until all weapons,
loyalist as well as republican, have been put beyond use.
After its last act of decommissioning in October 2003, the
IRA held him to this obligation, forbidding him to give

The result was that the gesture did not have the intended
political impact. David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist
leader, refused to enter government with Sinn Fein without
further details being given. The DUP has indicated that in
the absence of transparency it will take at least two years
of IRA inactivity before it considers sharing power with
Sinn Fein.

After the decommissioning acts, attention will switch to
the October report of the Independent Monitoring
Commission, which monitors para-military ceasefires. If it
finds that the IRA has been inactive, and if it repeats
this finding in its next report in January 2006, there will
be intense pressure on the DUP to move into negotiations
with Sinn Fein.


IRA's Rigidity Will Make Decommissioning Easier

04 September 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The Taoiseach has said he expects the process to start this
month. It is impossible to put an exact figure on the
amount of IRA weapons and explosives in existence. Most
estimates by Irish and British security personnel reckon
IRA members had access to more than 1,000 revolvers and
assault rifles and two tonnes of Semtex explosives.

In recent months the IRA leadership has attempted to ensure
that weapons are not left in the hands of individuals.
Having taken the decision to commit itself to politics, it
is aware that a failure to secure the bulk of its weaponry
could have serious implications for the political process.
"During the war every unit had its own weaponry," said one
former IRA member.

"Every squad usually had either two AK-47s or Chinese or
Heckler Koch machine guns. They would also have had coffee-
jar bombs, but they didn't have access to the big
explosives, simply because of the danger involved in the
storing of them." The IRA's explosive of choice Semtex
plastic was strictly controlled by the organisation's
"headquarters'' staff.

In the event that an individual IRA unit was planning the
use of explosives, a senior member of IRA staff would be
called upon to help plan an operation. "They would always
send in an EO(explosives officer) to set up a 'line'
[booby-trap device]," the former member said. "A highly
trained eye was needed in order to look at it. Explosives
were always tightly held." The strict handling of IRA
explosives makes their decommissioning the most
straightforward part of the disarming process. The
collection and decommissioning of individual firearms could
prove much more troublesome.

"The IRA takes the loss or robbery of its weapons very
seriously but that doesn't mean that some weapons have not
fallen through the cracks," said the former IRA man.

"GHQ would know roughly how many guns went out to Northern
Command, and Northern Command would know how many it
dispersed to individual brigades but guns do go missing.
The vast bulk of the IRA's arsenal is understood to have
been stored in the Republic. Its biggest dumps, containing
its most sophisticated weaponry Semtex and rocket-propelled
grenades were always in underground bunkers in isolated
rural areas.

The British military presence in the North and the
widespread use of helicopters made the storage and recovery
of large amounts of weaponry there almost impossible. The
decommissioning process is expected to take a number of
weeks, perhaps even a month.

Unlike previous occasions of IRA decommissioning, much of
the weaponry is not thought to have been stored in a single
dump. The Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD) is first expected to announce that
IRA decommissioning has begun.

The IICD will not be giving a running commentary on the
process, and will only issue its next statement when
decommissioning is at an end. Two clergymen one Protestant
and one Catholic will give public statements confirming
that they have witnessed decommissioning and that the
weapons disposed of match up with the IICD's declared
inventory of IRA weapons. While it is impossible to assess
whether every weapon under the IRA's control has been put
out of action, the importance of decommissioning is in its
symbolism. Never before have weapons been decommissioned in
the presence of non-IRA members.

Critics of the IRA's July 28 statement have claimed that it
differed little from previous IRA statements declaring an
end to armed operations. But it has never before been the
case that the organisation has allowed outsiders access to
its weapons dumps. Nor will members be able to simply dump
their arms de Chastelain and his team will be on hand as
IRA members render their weapons obsolete. It is believed
that once decommissioning has been completed, the arms
dumps will be concreted over.

With IRA decommissioning complete, the IICD's sights will
then settle on the various loyalist paramilitary groupings.
With little sign that the UDA or the UVF are prepared to
follow the IRA's lead, de Chastelain and his colleagues
look set for another prolonged process.


'Grandstanding' On Colombia Three Slated

04 September 2005 By Alison O'Connor

The Dublin MEP told The Sunday Business Post she did not
believe the return of James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and
Niall Connolly to Ireland last month caused a crisis in the
peace process. She said the general public was relieved
that the men had not come to any harm. "I think the return
home of the men did not create a crisis in the peace
process. I simply don't accept that. I think certainly if
you have over-reaction and grandstanding on the issue you
could, of course, unsettle things. I know that that is the
last thing that we need in this point in time."

McDonald said that nobody gained by creating the men's
return into a political football. Their return and the
peace process were two separate issues, she insisted. "I
think that good sense needs to triumph here and that
matters that for the legal system and for judicial decision
should be left there. In the final analysis, all of the
controversy around these men will be resolved in line with
legal provisions and procedures.

"That is real ly where it should sit. I don't see who gains
or who wins from that, unless you are a PD for example, and
looking at it from a very narrow and very partisan
perspective." She said Sinn Fein had no influence as to
"the precise timing when these men or whether these men
would come home. They arrived back when they arrived back
and made themselves known to the public when they were
here. They have spoken to the gardai," she said.

McDonald said Sinn Fein had too much invested in the peace
process to wilfully do anything to damage it. "The peace
process is the property of everybody and people have made
their efforts and their contributions towards it. But I
think it would be accepted across the board that
republicans have a lot invested in this andwe are
determined to see it succeed. So the suggestion that we
would wilfully do anything that would disrupt or cause
crisis is totally ... if you are to take a fair and
objective look at what we are trying to do and trying to

McDonald said she became aware of the men's return when she
heard it on RTE radio. "I heard it when Charlie Bird
breathlessly announced it. To kind of endow Sinn Fein with
the abilities to stage manage all of this is rather
overstating things, to be perfectly frank."


Donaldson Campaigns For Colombia Three's Extradition

Liam Clarke and Stephen O'Brien

JEFFREY DONALDSON yesterday travelled to Colombia with a
Northern Ireland victims' group to campaign for the
extradition of the Colombia three.

The Democratic Unionist party MP's cousin, Alexander
Donaldson, was one of nine RUC officers killed in an IRA
mortar attack on Newry police station in 1985. The type of
device used is believed by security forces to have been
developed by Jim Monaghan, one of the republican trio
convicted of training Farc guerrillas.

Donaldson said this lent a special poignancy to his
journey. "It will create a bond with the Colombian victims
of Farc," he said.

On Tuesday, Donaldson and Willie Frazer of Families Acting
for Innocent Relatives will meet Francisco Santos,
Colombia's vice-president, and members of Colombia Herida
(Wounded Colombia), a victims' group headed by Rodrigo
Obregon, an actor and human rights activist.

Obregon said yesterday that as a result of the Colombia
three's training of Farc, "many people have been maimed and
killed". He added: "We believe they must pay for that."

Donaldson will lobby the Colombian government to fund
members of Colombia Herida to visit Ireland so that they
can lobby the Irish government.

"We want to support the Colombian government in their quest
to have the three men extradited," Donaldson said. "If you
have an international network of terrorism exchanging
training and expertise why can't you have an international
network of victims working to help each other?"

The return of the Colombia three to Ireland was probably
approved by republican leaders to placate supporters, an
Irish government minister said yesterday. Eamon O Cuiv, the
gaeltacht minister and a grandson of Eamon de Valera, said
it was important that the Irish government did not depart
from the established constitutional and legal framework in
dealing with the men's return.

"All along, as the republican movement has been moving
forward and as they have been dealing with the arms issue
they've had an eye on how they convince their own
supporters who might have been reluctant to go the
political route," he said.

"To keep that constituency with them has been a very
important issue for Sinn Fein and all I can do is speculate
that the Colombia three are part of that bigger picture."

Senator Martin Mansergh, a former adviser on Northern
Ireland to three taoisigh, has said that the three are
unlikely to be sent back to Colombia because of the nature
of its judicial system. In The Irish Times, Mansergh said
the state could not be accused of harbouring terrorists
unless people had been convicted according to a recognised

He said that two years in a Colombian jail was the
equivalent of much longer in Mountjoy, Portlaoise or


SDLP Representatives To Attend FF Party

04 September 2005 By Pat Leahy and Emmet Ryan

Several of the SDLP's members of the Northern assembly will
attend the Fianna Fail 'think-in' and will meet party MEPs
Sean O Neachtain, Eoin Ryan, Liam Aylward and junior
minister for Europe, Noel Treacy.

The meeting will focus on closer cooperation between the
two parties on matters relating to the European Union. The
SDLP lost its only MEP when John Hume retired although,
partly through Hume's influence, European peace funding
continues to flow into the North.

The presence of the SDLP delegation is evidence of growing
links between the two part i e s . There have been
suggestions in recent years about a merger between the two
in the North and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that he
would like to see Fianna Fail having a 32-county presence.

However, the SDLP also retains close links to the Labour
Party. The SDLP and Fianna Fail both face a growing threat
from Sinn Féin, which has eclipsed the SDLP as the North's
largest national ist party and continues to challenge
Fianna Fail, particularly in Dublin.

Separately, up to 200 people from Limerick city will picket
the Fianna Fail gathering in Cavan tomorrow. The group is
protesting the decision to deny 51 children places on
school buses in the city. Tom Donovan, a spokesman for the
group, accused Sile de Valera, the junior minister for
education and science, of refusing to meet those affected.
Donovan said one of the aims of the protest was to try to
speak to de Valera. "Sile de Valera has been intransigent
on the issue," said Donovan. "She wouldn't talk to us."

The group staged a smaller demonstration in Ennis in Co
Clare yesterday and last week staged a go-slow protest,
driving at 5 miles per hour in front of a school bus in

The demonstration caused a two-mile tailback in the city
and resulted in the 12-mile bus journey, which normally
takes 25 minutes, lasting two hours. Donovan, whose son is
one of the children affected, said the group were
organising a "phased series of protests''.


Call For Inquiry To Clear SF Member's Name

04 September 2005 By Post Reporter

Owen Smyth, former chairman of Monaghan Town Council, is
seeking a public inquiry into the charges which were based
on a disputed confession statement. Smyth, a publican, was
accused of firearms offences and false imprisonment
following the abduction of businessman Peter North from his
home in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, in November 1990.

In a so-cal led 'human bomb' case, North was forced to
drive a van containing 3,000 lbs of explosive to a British
Army checkpoint at Roslea. However, the bomb, for which the
IRA claimed responsibility, failed to explode.

Five charges against Smyth were dropped at the Special
Criminal Court. He was acquitted on a sixth charge of IRA
membership. Smyth denies making the statements that were
attributed to him by the gardai in the case.

He has collected statements from 28 people testifying that,
at the time of the abduction, he was playing celebratory
songs in the Round House Bar in Monaghan after Thatcher
resigned as British prime minister.

Smith said that he wrote to the Department of Justice and
the Garda Siochána seeking an inquiry into the case. "The
gardai did initiate an inquiry, but its remit was so narrow
that it was meaningless," he said.

He also complained about four named gardai to the Garda
Complaints Board. The board decided that "neither an
offence nor a breach of discipline'' had occurred. "I did
not have the opportunity of going to any independent body
for redress," Smyth said. "I have not been formally cleared
of these charges, I have had no legal declaration of

"My innocence means that a conspiracy took place involving
the concoction of statements, and that is what a public
inquiry will establish." A motion will be proposed at the
September 5 meeting of Monaghan County Council by its Sinn
Fein chairman Pat Treanor calling for a public inquiry into
the case.


Bosnia Expert Starts Search For The Disappeared

Liam Clarke

A BRITISH expert who helped find mass graves in Bosnia has
started a search for bodies of the "Disappeared", people
murdered by the IRA in the 1970s whose bodies are missing.

The expert met families of three of the victims and their
supporters at a WAVE Trauma Centre in North Belfast early
last month. Using only his first name, he stressed the
difficulty of his task, saying: "I'm not looking for a
needle in a haystack at this point, I'm looking for the

Other families will receive reports of his work at a
conference in two weeks' time.

It is hoped that the people who buried the victims will be
prepared to speak directly to him under conditions of
confidentiality and with legal guarantees that they will
not be prosecuted. In the past, information was passed to
the British and Irish governments by Fr Alec Reid, a
clerical intermediary.

The forensic expert will report directly to the Commission
for the Location of Victims' Remains, a north-south body
headed by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, former head of the
Northern Ireland Civil Service, and John Wilson, the former
Fianna Fail tanaiste.

Last night, Bloomfield confirmed the appointment. "This man
can best do his job if he does it fairly discreetly and
anonymously," he said. "What I think will happen is that he
will go over all the information that has been made
available so far. That review is the first part of the
process and may lead to further action.

"These burials were probably carried out by young guys at
the dead of night in some wild area and the last thing they
were doing at the time was saying 'I must mark this very,
very carefully so that I can be sure that if anyone comes
along in 30 years time they can tell exactly where it is',"
he said.

An additional problem is that physical landmarks, like
trees, bushes and tracks, may have changed over the 30-year
period. Despite this, leading forensic experts say there is
some prospect of success if the IRA co-operates fully.
Barrie Simpson of the Forensic Search Advisory Group, which
advises British police forces on the location of bodies,
pointed out that it had been possible for archeologists to
locate graves that had been created hundreds or even
thousands of years ago.

The family of Colomba McVeigh, a 17-year-old from Co Tyrone
who was murdered by the IRA in 1975, has been told by
intermediaries that the man who dug the hole is still alive
and suffering pangs of conscience. They have appealed for
him to speak directly to the expert and accompany him to
the bog in Co Cavan where the body is said to be buried.

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