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October 05, 2005

Cory Was Shadowed, Even In The Loo

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 10/05/05 IAUC: Cory Was Shadowed, Even In The Loo
IO 10/05/05 Women Quizzed Over Gray Killing
TO 10/05/05 Few Tears As Loyalist Thugs Kill Their Own
IT 10/06/05 Paramilitary-Linked Murders: 2005 Victims
IO 10/05/05 Two Held In McCartney Probe Are Released
IO 10/05/05 TDs Get First Hand Account Of Sectarian Attacks
IT 10/06/05 Loyalist Attack Victims Ask TDs For Help
DI 10/05/05 Time For War Is Over: IRSP
DI 10/05/05 Opin: INLA On The Verge
IE 10/05/05 No Funds Raised At McGuinness Events
UT 10/05/05 Orde Slams 'Mafia State' Predictions
EP 10/05/05 EU Can Not Solve Ulster Troubles
DI 10/05/05 Bairbre De Brún: European Support For IRA Move
BB 10/05/05 Guidelines On Justice In N Ireland By New Year
UT 10/05/05 Bradley 'Committed To Job Despite Attack'
IE 10/05/05 Opin: Disarmament Intensifies FF/SF Rivalry
DI 10/05/05 Christy: Live At The Hostel
WG 09/18/05 'The Fighting 69th' Makes History, Yet Again

(Poster’s Note: On the Fighting 69th story, follow the link to the Wild Geese Today for several good graphics and links to more background on the 69th. Jay)


Cory Was Shadowed, Even In The Loo

By Ray O'Hanlon

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory was so distrusted by
British intelligence agencies that he was accompanied by
agents every time he went to the bathroom at MI5

He had experienced nothing like it since kindergarten,
Cory, the keynote speaker at last weekend's Irish American
Unity Conference national convention in Pittsburgh, said.

Cory, who led a team investigating allegations of collusion
between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in
Northern Ireland, spoke of having difficulties in obtaining
documents from British police and intelligence agencies,
not least when he was investigating allegations of
collusion in the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat

"Documents led to other documents. Some places were
extremely difficult. Some would even deny they exist. One
lady from an agency left her purse behind when delivering
documents and, when I called her number to tell her, the
first question was: 'How did you get this number?'

"Then they said: 'We don't exist and anyhow, we don't know

Dealing with MI5 was particularly difficult, Cory said.

"If I made notes they had to see them and ensure they
accompanied me until they were put in the safe. I never
went anywhere on their premises alone. Even if I went to
the john, they came with me -- the first time that had
happened since kindergarten."

In a report on the IAUC gathering, the Belfast published
newspaper, Daily Ireland, said that Cory's report on the
Finucane killing had been taken out of Britain by the
Canadian High Commissioner in a diplomatic pouch and given
to the Canadian secret service for safekeeping.

The various Cory reports have recommended public inquiries
into the murders of Finucane, Robert Hamill, Rosemary
Nelson, loyalist leader Billy Wright and RUC
superintendents Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.

Cory believes there is enough sufficient evidence to
justify inquiries in the cases of Finucane, Nelson, Hamill
and Wright.

"Was there collusion? There certainly was," Cory told the

IAUC national president, Bob Linnon, said that Cory's
presence at the convention had been a breath of fresh air.

"He's stumping British government attempts to cover up
their involvement in many underground activities," Linnon

The IAUC would be campaigning for full implementation of
Cory's recommendations, Linnon added.

This story appeared in the issue of October 5 - 11, 2005


Women Quizzed Over Gray Killing

05/10/2005 - 19:10:57

Two women were tonight being questioned by detectives
hunting the killers of deposed loyalist terror boss Jim

They were arrested with four men hours after the ex-Ulster
Defence Association commander was assassinated by former
associates desperate to silence him.

As police chiefs blamed the UDA for murdering Gray, 47,
outside his father's home, loyalists claimed he provoked
his own death by returning to east Belfast after being
freed from prison on bail.

One said: "He was sticking two fingers up at the
organisation and there's nobody bigger than the

"Once he got out and flaunted himself, coming back to live
in a community where he wreaked havoc for years, his fate
was sealed."

Even though detectives warned the flamboyant gangster he
was under threat several times since he was thrown out of
the UDA in March, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde stressed no
protection was given to him.

But police who had charged him with money laundering
offences did fear he would be killed after he was allowed
out of jail.

Sir Hugh said: "We objected to Mr Gray getting bail. Indeed
we kept him in custody for some time on serious money
laundering charges.

"He applied for bail and was granted it by the High Court.

"He was subjected to conditions of bail and was not under
surveillance and not under police protection.

"He was a suspect, not a witness."

Gunmen lying in wait for Gray opened fire as he got out of
a car at his father's house in Knockwood Park, east Belfast
last night.

He was hit several times at point blank range, dying almost

Gray, nicknamed Doris Day because of his designer clothes,
heavy tan, bleach blonde hair and gold jewellery, had been
ordered to live at the address.

Detectives confirmed they visited the house on a number of
occasions to check he was meeting bail demands.

But with UDA chiefs fearing Gray was ready to provide
damning information on them in return for a lighter
sentence, security chiefs believe he was seen as too
dangerous to their crime empires.

The organisation's top brass are understood to have been
holed up in a south Belfast bar when the killers struck
last night – providing them with an alibi.

But UDA bosses had decided a long time ago that Gray had to
be shot dead, police believe.

Even if there had been any dissent, the doubts were removed
by a road-rage incident when Gray allegedly abused the wife
of one of the new commanders.

His expulsion from the UDA was compounded a week later when
he was stopped by police in a car heading towards the Irish

A bank draft for €10,000 and nearly £3,000 (€4,500) in cash
was allegedly found in the vehicle.

Even though Gray claimed the cash came from the sale of two
pubs, police argued it was the profits from extortion and
drug dealing.

Superintendent George Hamilton, in charge of the inquiry,
confirmed Gray's former associates were believed to have
carried out the killing.

He said: "A significant and major line of inquiry is that
Mr Gray was murdered by the UDA, an organisation with which
he had an association in the past."

The suspects arrested during searches in the city were held
at a serious crime suite in Antrim Police Station, 15 miles
out of Belfast, he added.

Advisers to the UDA denounced Gray's racketeering, but
expressed concern for the impact on his family.

Frankie Gallagher of the Ulster Political Research Group
said: "I am not surprised. My sympathy goes to his
immediate family.

"What the man done and how he terrorised people ... blame
cannot be laid at the door of his father or his immediate
family, and my sympathy goes to them."

Despite Gray's reputation, police pledged to try to hunt
down his murder gang.

Mr Hamilton sad: "I want to be very clear about this, Mr
Gray was murdered.

"This was the brutal killing of a man by another human

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland will fulfil its
obligation in attempting to bring to justice those
responsible for the murder of James Gray."


Few Tears As Loyalist Thugs Kill Their Own

By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

WAS Doris Day about to sing? As police made six arrests
over the murder of Jim Gray, a notoriously violent loyalist
terrorist leader nicknamed after the 1960s singer/actress
for his camp dress sense, the word on the street was that
he was murdered by former comrades who feared that he was
preparing to tell all as part of a plea bargain.

If so, the only public reaction to the removal of the
"Bling Brigadier" on the streets of East Belfast, where he
and his henchmen — known as "the Spice Boys" — plied their
drugs and extortion rackets, was a sense of relief.

Gray, 47, was shot five times in the back on Tuesday after
being tricked into dropping his guard, it emerged last
night. He was assassinated as he shifted weightlifting
equipment from the boot of a car outside his father's home
in the Clarawood Estate in East Belfast.

He was the highest- profile loyalist godfather in Northern
Ireland after Johnny Adair was forced to flee by rivals.
Adair was found guilty in Bolton last week of intimidation
and also pleaded guilty to beating his wife, Gina.

Gray had been living at his father's home since his release
on police bail three weeks ago on charges of money
laundering. He had been arrested in March as he drove
towards the Irish border with a bank draft for €10,000
euros (£6,800) and £3,000 cash in his car. It was believed
that he was about to fly from Dublin to the Costa del Sol,
either to lie low for a while. A few days earlier he had
been deposed by the five other "brigadiers" of the Ulster
Defence Association's ruling inner council. Gray had ruled
East Belfast for years from his Avenue One Bar on the
Newtownards Road, opposite the UDA's "Freedom Corner" —
murals urging the Irish to leave Ulster and depicting
Cuchulainn, a mythical warrior, as a loyalist leader.

With the arrival of paramilitary ceasefires, figures such
as Gray — a man who issued death warrants to be carried out
by his men — drifted ever deeper into purely criminal
activities such as drug trafficking. He used his licensed
premises to launder the money.

Gray was said to have been a cocaine user and his son,
Jonathan, 19, died of an overdose at a party in Thailand
that both men attended in 2002.

Belfast's terrorist underworld has always been a shadowy
place but, unlike the tight discipline of the republican
groups, loyalist chiefs have a history of falling victim to
their own vanity and perishing as a result of it.While some
loyalists sought to formulate political statements, Gray
seemed exclusively committed to parading his misguided
fashion statements. When he joined other loyalist leaders
to meet John Reid, the Northern Ireland Secretary, in July
2002, he wore a Hawaiian shirt, chunky gold necklace and
bracelet, earring, sunglasses and a pink pullover.

With his thinning peroxide-blond hair and chubby form, he
looked like a cut-price Elton John; but unlike some other
loyalist patriarchs who tried to portray themselves in a
benign light, Gray did not care what people thought of his
cruel, bullying ways. Before a captive audience at a Rod
Stewart concert at Stormont Castle in 2002, he battered and
kicked a man who had spilled a drink on his clothes while
his lieutenants held the victim down.

Two months after meeting Mr Reid, Gray was shot, reputedly
by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in retaliation for a
murder. It was not clear if the shooting was a murder
attempt or an attack on Gray's vanity, since the gunman
aimed at his face.

Detectives said yesterday that their main line of inquiry
was that Gray had been killed by fellow UDA members. Some
of his associates were reported to have gone into hiding
last month as rumours grew that he had done a deal with
officers investigating loyalist racketeering. Whether or
not there is substance to the allegations, Gray has joined
the list of other toppled UDA brigadiers.

In truth, he and his former cohorts had been running on
empty for a decade, waiting for the courage of the public
to consign them finally to the past; but on the Protestant
side of the community there has so far been no equivalent
to the McCartney sisters' campaign, which weakened the
Provisional IRA's stranglehold.

John "Grug" Gregg, who led a murder attempt on Gerry Adams
in the 1980s, was killed in an internal feud in 2003. Jim
"Jimbo" Simpson earned the derisory nickname "the Bacardi
Brigadier" and was also swept aside. Billy "King Rat"
Wright was killed in jail. That leaves Andre Shoukri, known
as "The Egyptian", as the leading loyalist tabloid subject,
with Irish newspapers for months relating stories about his
£10,000- a-day gambling addiction.While their nicknames may
reduce them to cartoon proportions, the danger they pose to
the public may have diminished but cannot be written off.
As a local radio commentator, voicing the sentiment on the
street, said of Gray yesterday: "He's been taken out — who
cares so long as it's only the bad elements killing one


:: Jim "Doris Day" Gray, 47, killed on Tuesday. Former UDA
brigadier East Belfast

:: John "Grug" Gregg, 45, UDA brigadier for South East
Antrim. Killed February 2003 on his way home from a Glasgow
Rangers football match. UDA "C Company" blamed

:: Andre "The Egyptian" Shoukri, 26, North Belfast UDA
brigadier. The son of an Egyptian Copt who settled in
Northern Ireland and married. His gambling habit is said to
be threatening his position. Served part of a six-year
sentence for possession of a gun. Keen amateur boxer

:: Billy "King Rat" Wright, 37, was a member of the Ulster
Volunteer Force but, disaffected by the peace process,
formed the breakaway Loyalist Volunteer Force. He was
killed by republicans in jail in 1997


Paramilitary-Linked Murders: This Year's Victims

Gerry Moriarty

January 30th: IRA members murdered Robert McCartney after
a dispute in Magennis's pub in Belfast.

March: Stephen Nelson (55), from east Belfast, died as a
result of injuries he received when loyalists beat him up
the previous September. He had tried to stop them dealing
in drugs at a hotel on the outskirts of north Belfast where
he worked.

July 1st: Jameson Lockhart (25), from east Belfast, was
shot dead by the UVF outside the Avenue Bar, which Jim Gray
formerly owned on the Newtownards Road in Belfast, marking
the re-eruption of the UVF-LVF feud.

July 11th: Craig McCausland (20), from the Dhu Varren
estate in Belfast, was shot dead by the UVF. His family
insisted he had no LVF connections.

July 30th: Stephen Paul (19), from Wheatfield Crescent,
Belfast, was shot dead at his home by the UVF in the
continuing feud.

August 10th: 15-year-old Thomas Devlin from Somerton Road,
Belfast, was set upon and stabbed to death as he walked to
his home with friends after buying soft drinks and sweets
in a nearby garage. No motive was established for the
murder of the Catholic teenager, although police say one
line of inquiry is that he was killed in a loyalist
sectarian attack.

August 15th: Mick Green (42), from Ballysillan in north
Belfast, was shot dead at close range by two UVF gunmen on
a motorcycle as he arrived to work at Gilpin's furniture
store on Sandy Row in south Belfast. It was part of the
LVF-UVF feud.

Tuesday night: Jim Gray (right) was murdered. The UDA was

© The Irish Times


Two Held In McCartney Probe Are Released

05/10/2005 - 18:40:58

Two men arrested in connection with the murder of Belfast
father-of-two Robert McCartney were tonight released.

But police confirmed the men will be reported to the Public
Prosecution Service in connection with the killing and the
attempted murder of Mr McCartney's friend.

The 33-year-old forklift driver was beaten and stabbed
outside Magennis's pub in Belfast city centre in January.

A police spokeswoman said: "Two men have been released and
will the subject of a report to the PPS in relation to
offences surrounding the attempted murder of Brendan Devine
and the murder of Robert McCartney."

The McCartney family have accused IRA members of carrying
out the attack and have been subjected to a campaign of

In June, two men were remanded in custody charged in
connection with the murder.

One man has been charged with Mr McCartney's murder and is
expected to stand trial next year.

A second is accused of attempting to murder Mr Devine.

Mr McCartney's fiancee and five sisters have waged a high
profile campaign for justice over the killing, meeting
senior politicians in the United States, Europe and the
Irish Republic.

In March, they met US President George Bush at a St
Patrick's Day reception in the White House.

They have also held talks with senior European Commission
officials and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.


TDs Get First Hand Account Of Sectarian Attacks
2005-10-05 17:00:11+01

A North Antrim local authority must stop using public funds
to finance Protestant marching season bonfires, it was
claimed today.

Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney said that Ballymena
Borough Council currently uses revenue from ratepayers to
pay for prizes awarded for the best local bonfires during
July 12 events.

Cllr Digney, who won the first-ever Sinn Féin seat on the
DUP-dominated council in May, was part of a delegation of
North Antrim residents who today visited Dáil TDs to
highlight sectarian attacks in local nationalist aras.

She said in Dublin: "Even nationalist rate-payers have to
currently fund prizes like £350 (€516) for the best bonfire
and so on down the line."

She complained that nationalists still cannot attend their
local Catholic churches on Sundays and urged North Antrim
unionist leaders to strongly condemn all sectarian attacks.

The five-member delegation of residents met a group of TDs
and Senators before holding talks with Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern.

Farmer and school caretaker Liam O'Neill from Ahoghill said
two local estates both had about 40 nationalist families 20
years ago, but they were now all driven out due to

He added: "If kids miss the school bus in the morning,
they're afraid to walk to school through certain areas.

He told TDs: "You're very lucky not to live in North
Antrim. We can't bring up our children there."

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said he
telephoned the PSNI when he witnessed loyalist youths
throwing eggs at local schoolgirls one day.

He went on: "I waited at the scene for 45 minutes and
nobody came. I was at home when I eventually got a call
back from an officer about two-and-a-half hours later."

Fianna Fáil Senator Camillus Glynn said: "This shatters the
myth of an impartial police force."

Sinn Féin's North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan, who recently
compiled a dossier of local sectarian attacks on
nationalists between June and September, said: "People can
only get the leadership of those they elect and at the
moment, unionists leaders are not offering positive

He said DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley no longer had
excuses not to engage with nationalist politicians after
IRA decommissioning.

"He needs to be constantly challenged on the issue of
sectarian attacks now," he added.

Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh told the residents at today's
meeting: "Sectarianism is a huge cancer in society and only
serves to further polarise people."

"There must be a zero tolerance attitude to sectarian
attacks among police and politicians," Independent TD
Finian McGrath commented.

He added: "It's not just a Northern Ireland issue. It's a
national, all-island issue."

Fianna Fáil Senator Labhras O Murchu blamed escalating
sectarian attacks on a "conspiracy of silence" among the
media and politicians.

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain criticised Fine
Gael and Labour for not meeting the North Antrim residents.

Seanad leader Mary O'Rourke, who attended the meeting, said
she would raise the issue with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when
he speaks on Northern Ireland issues in the Seanad


Loyalist Attack Victims Ask TDs For Help

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Loyalist paramilitary attacks on nationalists in north
Antrim, which have been ongoing since last April, are being
co-ordinated to distract loyalist supporters from the feud
amongst the paramilitaries, Sinn Féin has claimed.

A number of north Antrim nationalists, including Kathleen
McCaughey who quit her home in Ahoghill in July after an
arson attack, yesterday travelled to Leinster House for
meetings with TDs.

Questioned before the meetings, Ms McCaughey (51) urged
politicians in the Republic to learn about the attacks: "I
would like them to speak up for the nationalists in the
north of Antrim."

Unionist politicians, including the Democratic Unionist
Party's Dr Ian Paisley, had done nothing to stop the
attacks, she said. "The only support that [ we] got is from
Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

"My Protestant neighbours were more than good. Ninety-eight
per cent of them didn't want me to go. A Protestant
neighbour saved my life at the time of the petrol bomb," Ms
McCaughey told journalists.

However, she claimed that her rescuer had since been
"intimidated out of the village, along with two of his
brothers" since his Good Samaritan rescue, while other
relations of his have had their windows broken.

Sinn Féin North Antrim Assembly member Philip McGuigan tied
the attacks directly to the ongoing loyalist feud that
claimed the life of former UDA commander Jim Gray late on

"Traditionally when loyalist feuds are taking place
loyalist paramilitaries also attack nationalists in some
way to reassure their own community. The attacks are almost
certainly orchestrated and co-ordinated," he said.

Urging the Government to put more pressure on unionist
politicians to use their influence to bring the violence to
an end, the 32-year old Dunloy-based politician said the
Government is "a co-signatory of the Good Friday agreement.
This was an agreement that was supposed to provide a future
where we could all live free of sectarian harassment. The
Irish Government in particular has a huge onus to use any
influence that they have.

"The lack of visibility by southern politicians has been
well noticed, excluding a few.

"People do feel let down. As people living in north Antrim
we are Irish citizens and we expect to be treated in the
same manner as people living in Dublin, Cork or anywhere

© The Irish Times


Time For War Is Over: IRSP

Connla Young

DISARM: INLA's political wing accuses dissident republican
groups of having no strategy

"They should lay down arms and engage with other
republicans. I would call on these organisations to talk to
the IRSP and other republicans, especially anti-Good Friday
Agreement republicans"

The Irish Republican Socialist Party has called on anti-
Agreement republicans not on ceasefire to bring their armed
campaigns to a close.

The call was made at the annual Séamus Costello
commemoration in Bray, Co Wicklow, last weekend by IRSP
national executive member Eddie McGarrigle.

Mr McGarrigle, who is based in Strabane in Co Tyrone, said
during his address that it was time for the Continuity IRA
and Real IRA — militant groups opposed to the Good Friday
Agreement — to call off their respective campaigns.

"There is no support for them within working-class
communities. They are not alone in having misgivings about
the Good Friday Agreement and there are many who believe it
will not lead to a lasting settlement but armed struggle is
not the way to go about bringing change.

"These groups have got to get back to politics. British
intelligence is so much ingrained in these organisations on
the ground that they have no strategy at all. For these
republicans to retain their dignity, they have to call a
ceasefire now.

"Their pretence of an armed struggle has clouded issues
affecting working-class communities. They are in danger of
letting the republican cause down by further action.

"They should lay down arms and engage with other
republicans. I would call on these organisation to talk to
the IRSP and other republicans, especially anti-Good Friday
Agreement republicans.

"Republican prisoners always had a place where they had a
voice. Both they and their families need to be consulted
North and South and need to be involved in dialogue. Their
prisoners have got to be consulted," he said.

The ceasefire call from the IRSP, which offers political
advice to the Irish National Liberation Army, will be seen
as significant by political observers.

The comments come 28 years to the day since the founder of
both groups, Séamus Costello, was gunned down in Dublin by
members of the Official IRA.

While adopting a strong position against the Good Friday
Agreement, the INLA has been on ceasefire since August
1998. At that time, it abandoned its "no first strike"
policy in favour of a complete end to hostilities.

Mr McGarrigle said there was no longer an appetite for a
militant campaign against British forces within nationalist
and republican communities.

The appeal to other militant republican groups to lay down
their weapons comes just over a week after the IRA put its
arms beyond use. The disarmament move followed a statement
released in July that brought a halt to the organisation's
35-year campaign. The IRA had been on ceasefire since 1997.

The Real IRA called a ceasefire on September 8, 1998 in the
aftermath of the August 1998 Omagh bombing, which led to
the deaths of 29 people. Within two years, the organisation
abandoned its ceasefire with the launch of a bombing
campaign in Britain.

The organisation was also responsible for the killing of
civilian worker David Caldwell. He died after lifting a
booby-trap device at a Territorial Army base in August

In December 2004, the Real IRA was responsible for a fire-
bomb blitz that caused thousands of pounds of damage in
stores across the North.

The organisation has also been responsible for a number of
failed attacks on British security forces since 1998.

The Continuity IRA has been in existence since 1986. It was
responsible for a blast-bomb attack on members of the PSNI
during heavy rioting in Ardoyne in July this year.

"For these republicans to retain their dignity, they have
to call a ceasefire now.

"Their pretence of an armed struggle has clouded issues
affecting working-class communities. They are in danger of
letting the republican cause down by further action.

"They should lay down arms and engage with other
republicans. I would call on these organisation to talk to
the IRSP and other republicans, especially anti-Good Friday
Agreement republicans.

"Republican prisoners always had a place where they had a
voice. Both they and their families need to be consulted
North and South and need to be involved in dialogue. Their
prisoners have got to be consulted," he said.

The ceasefire call from the IRSP, which offers political
advice to the Irish National Liberation Army, will be seen
as significant by political observers.

The comments come 28 years to the day since the founder of
both groups, Séamus Costello, was gunned down in Dublin by
members of the Official IRA.

While adopting a strong position against the Good Friday
Agreement, the INLA has been on ceasefire since August
1998. At that time, it abandoned its "no first strike"
policy in favour of a complete end to hostilities.

Mr McGarrigle said there was no longer an appetite for a
military campaign against British forces within nationalist
and republican communities.

The appeal to other republican groups to lay down their
weapons comes just over a week after the IRA put its arms
beyond use. The disarmament move followed a statement
released in July that brought a halt to the organisation's
35-year campaign.

The IRA had been on ceasefire since 1997.

The Real IRA called a ceasefire in the aftermath of the
August 1998 Omagh bombing, which led to the deaths of 29

Within two years, it abandoned its ceasefire with a bombing
campaign in Britain.

The Continuity IRA has been in existence since 1986.


Opin: INLA On The Verge

DailyIreland Editorial
Editor: Maria McCourt

The appeal by the Irish Republican Socialist Party to anti-
agreement republicans to lay down their arms and bring
their campaigns to a close will be welcomed right across
this island.

The call was made in a speech by IRSP National Executive
member Eddie McGarrigle at the annual Seamus Costello
commemoration and is the clearest indication to date that
the INLA may be on the verge of making a major move to
further consolidate the peace process.

Mr McGarrigle has restated his party's opposition to the
Good Friday Agreement, but he has made it clear that any
such opposition must be expressed by entirely peaceful

His comments are the clearest indication to date that a
debate is now going on in the ranks of the IRSP and the
INLA similar to that conducted earlier this year by the IRA
leadership prior to its July 28 initiative.

Mr McGarrigle also appealed to the remnants of the armed
republican groups currently not on ceasefire to recognise
the reality that there is now no support within the
nationalist community for a return to armed conflict.

In fact the IRSP man has bluntly told the micro republican
groups that their vulnerability to infiltration by British
intelligence has robbed them of any ability to form a
viable strategy.

Already there are elements of intransigent unionism which
are using the continued existence of these groups as yet
another stumbling block to political progress.

Meanwhile they continue to turn a blind eye to the ongoing
loyalist violence which claimed the life of former UDA boss
Jim Gray last night.

A bold move by the INLA and the other republican groupings
would strip these naysayers of their already threadbare
refusal to engage in politics and lay their bigotry bare
for all the world to see.

Lost in translation

A dream of buying a property overseas could closer than you
think, especially if you decide to deal with Galway-based
firm Property Partners.

This firm of estate agents classes the North as 'overseas'
which is a pretty grandiose description of Lough Erne. The
upside is that people living in the Republic looking for a
retirement home abroad can buy in the six counties and stay
at home at the same time. Derry is also referred to as
'Londonderry', begging the question of where they sourced
their technical expertise.

The company explains the descriptions on their website as a
'technical hitch'.

Anyone dealing with Property Partners might be well-advised
to hire an independent surveyor to make sure the house they
want to buy is in the right town - in the same country they
think they already live in.


No Funds Raised At McGuinness Events

By Susan Falvella Garraty

IRA decommissioning was the spur, but a glitch in
fundraising plans became the most talked about aspect of
the visit to the U.S. last week by Sinn Féin chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness.

According to U.S. officials, decommissioning alone was not
enough to restore the fundraising component to the visas
issued to visiting Sinn Fein party leaders.

McGuinness, as a result, had to scrap plans to attend a
series of West Coast engagements where fundraising for his
party was a primary goal.

McGuinness went ahead with the engagements but no money was

The restrictions placed by the State Department immediately
raised questions over a major fundraising visit next month
by party president Gerry Adams.

The centerpiece of the visit is a $500-a-plate dinner in
Manhattan, this year's being particularly significant given
that it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin.

Larry Downes, president of Friends of Sinn Féin, the group
that spearheads the party's fundraising effort in the U.S.,
said that the dinner plans were unchanged.

Downes said that the snafu that came up during the
McGuinness visit was more a visa issue than a fundraising

"There's no doubt that our big dinner in New York will go
ahead as a fundraiser," Downes said.

But a State Department official did express some doubt.

"We're just not sure right now what the decision will be,"
said the official.

"Every time Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness comes over
here they have to ask to raise funds and that's not
happening right now," the official added.

The uncertainty arises from the fact that the Bush
administration wants to look at the upcoming report from
the Independent Monitoring Commission which will examine
whether the Provisional IRA has stopped its intelligence
operations, training, and recruiting practices, in addition
to the already verified acts of arms decommissioning.

The first of two anticipated IMC reports is expected in a
matter of days.

"This is a lot about criminality," said a senior Bush
administration official on condition of anonymity.

A strong supporter of Sinn Fein, Congressman Joseph
Crowley, defended the right of Sinn Fein to continue to
raise funds in the U.S.

"My understanding is this was not a ban on allowing Sinn
Fein to fundraise in the U.S. but a technical visa issue
related specifically to Martin McGuinness's trip to the
United States," said Crowley.

"Sinn Fein continues to be the party to push for peace
while unionists have come no farther in meeting this [Good
Friday] agreement," Crowley added.

Crowley was one of a number of legislators from both houses
of Congress who met with McGuinness during his stopover in

The White House yanked permission for Sinn Fein fundraising
by visiting party officials last February in the aftermath
of the Robert McCartney killing.

But the restriction only applied to visiting party leaders.
Friends of Sinn Féin has not been prevented from raising
money and can take in contributions on any given day and
outside formal fundraising events.

McGuinness had an easier time north of the border where he
was the keynote speaker at an unrestricted fundraiser in
Calgary organized by Friends of Sinn Féin Canada.

Meanwhile, a number of Irish American groups met Tuesday at
the State Department with the Bush administration's special
envoy to the North, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss.

The meeting went "very well," according to one participant
who preferred not to be identified.

-- Ray O'Hanlon in New York contributed to this report.


Orde Slams 'Mafia State' Predictions

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde today hit
back at claims from a predecessor that the province faces
the prospect of becoming part of a Mafia controlled state.

By:Press Association

Sir Hugh dismissed the comment from West Yorkshire Chief
Constable Colin Cramphorn after Democratic Unionist
Policing Board member Ian Paisley claimed the public
perception was that organised crime was increasing in the

The North Antrim MLA referred to a quote by Colin
Cramphorn, who served in Northern Ireland before Sir Hugh`s
arrival, in a newspaper interview in August.

However in his interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post,
Mr Cramphorn predicted there could be a united Ireland in
15 years time, which would resemble the Mafia controlled
state of Sicily.

Mr Paisley said: "If you talk to the public, if you talk to
community, you get the sense that elderly in their homes
feel unsafe, young people feel vulnerable to crime.

"We know about serious organised crime by paramilitaries.

"Whilst crime recording rates are very interesting, are you
going to be the crime beating, crime detecting police that
the public wants you to be?

"Or are we more and more falling into the trap, as (West
Yorkshire Chief Constable) Colin Cramphorn, your
predecessor indicated, that we are slowly becoming a Mafia
controlled state with serious implications for crime and
the police`s ability to detect and defeat that crime?"

Sir Hugh said the 1,200 police officers dealing with
serious and organised crime knew what they were doing.

"Comments from across the water by chief officers who left
here don`t add huge amounts of value," he said.

"Indeed if you look at crime levels in West Yorkshire they
are way, way above the crime levels in Northern Ireland. I
know where I would rather live is over here. It`s a lot

Sir Hugh said he saw far more officers patrolling the
streets of Northern Ireland than in south London which was
more dangerous.

"I have absolute confidence in my officers and what they
are doing. I am very proud of what they are achieving.

"We realise they can do more but these figures are not made
up. At the risk of sounding boring, they are not invented
by some part of my organisation. They are what people are
reporting to us."

He added: "I don`t think it is particularly helpful
referring to Northern Ireland as a Mafia controlled state
when the Sunday Times only last week referred to us as the
safest place to live in the civilised world, whatever that

Sir Hugh and senior police chiefs were given a dossier by
independent member Tom Kelly at today`s meeting raising
concerns about the police`s response to crime.

The document included concerns about a Belfast business
which had been broken into 38 times over two years but had
only had one arrest and two incidences of feedback from the

Mr Kelly said: "The three areas that I think concern the
community, while you take comfort in increases in the
reporting of crime and increases in the detection of crime,
it`s response time to crimes committed in people`s homes or
businesses, feedback is critical and obviously, clearance.

"What I have passed is a dossier which I think is quite
damning on all three fronts on that.

"A Belfast business in two years had 38 robberies, 15
locations, one arrest and two elements of feedback and even
on occasions where they took action and put in CCTV, the
clear evidence, the video evidence wasn`t enough for
convictions or arrests which makes the reality on the
ground very very different."

Sir Hugh and Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland
said they would study the dossier.

However while the Chief Constable acknowledged fear of
crime was a big issue for the community, he said the crime
statistics were fact.

"These figures are not made up," he said.

"There are a number of issues, I think. You are right -
fear of crime is a key issue.

"It is something we do a lot to address - it is not just
the responsibility of police officers to reassure the
public about the reality of crime, it is the responsibility
of everybody in policing, and that includes this board, to
reflect what the reality is and what is going on.

"In terms of response times, it is something we are clearly
interested in. There is currently a huge project you may be
aware of on call management to make sure we can get more


EU Can Not Solve Ulster Troubles

Brussels cannot solved the Anglo-Irish conflict Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams told EU officials on Wednesday.

In his first visit to the European Parliament, Adams said
international forums would be mistaken to think they held
the solution to Northern Ireland's troubles.

"The peace process can only be solved on the ground - by
the combatants," he explained.

"The international community can aid the process but it
would be mistaken to think it holds the answer."

Adams arrives in Brussels to meet MEPs and EU Regional
Commissioner, Danuta Hubner as part of a one day "listen
and learn" trip focussing on securing more funding for the
peace process.

A new vista

Little more than a week after General John de Chastelain,
head of the arms decommissioning body, said the IRA had put
all of its weapons beyond use, Adams hailed a "new vista"
for Northern Ireland.

"This is a singular achievement," the Sinn Fein leader

"This is the first time ever that militant republicans have
been de-militarised."

"All guns are beyond use and this has been verified by
independent witnesses."

"It may take sections of the media some time to process the
fullness of the IRA promise," he insisted.

Ulster Unionist MEP, Jim Nicholson said he would seek
"genuine confirmation" that all weapons have been

"We also need to know whether or not the IRA is going to
end all its other activities and dismantle its vast
criminal empire," he added.

No red carpet

Unionists are dismissing the Adam's visit as a "non-event."

"This trip is nothing to get worked up about. There is no
red carpet for Gerry Adams in Brussels," an Ulster Unionist
official told EUpolitix.

Critics suggest Adams was refused meetings with President
of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso as well as
Franco Frattini.

Sinn Fein is rejecting this assertion and claims no body
they approached refused to meet them.

"I am not certain why we could not meet Barrosso," a Sinn
Fein spokesman replied.

"We would be keen to meet him and it is certainly not the
case that he refused to meet us."

Barroso's office confirmed Sinn Fein did ask for a meeting
- but say the president's schedule was too busy to oblige
their request.


European Support For IRA Move

Bairbre De Brún

The IRA's initiative found broad political support in
Strasbourg last week.

Those who expressed their support were united in the call
for the return of the political institutions and the need
for the Democratic Unionist Party to engage with Sinn Féin.

General John de Chastelain's announcement on Monday last
week was a major topic of conversation.

Interestingly, apart from Sinn Féin and independent MEP
Marian Harkin, not one other Irish MEP spoke in the
parliament on the significance of what had happened.

We made a point of recognising publicly the important role
of the European Union in contributing to peace-building in
Ireland, both politically and financially.

Gerry Adams can be expected to return to this theme in his
visits to the European parliament and European Commission

The Strasbourg session also saw the arrival of 53 national
parliamentarians from both Bulgaria and Romania as
observers in the European parliament.

The observers will play a full role in their groups, take
part in committee meetings and attend plenary sessions
without voting rights.

This is intended to ensure that the 53 new MEPs who enter
the European parliament after the next enlargement in 2007
can integrate as smoothly as possible

From Strasbourg, I travelled to Co Cork for the National
Ploughing Championships. This event attracts thousands of
people, and is the premier rural/agricultural event in the

The Sinn Féin tent attracted a huge amount of interest,
with a steady stream of people wishing the party well.

On the Wednesday, Gerry Adams was practically mobbed by
media and well-wishers alike, a further indication of his
popularity as party leader and the resounding echo that
last week's move has found in Irish people across the

Rural communities are a Sinn Féin priority, and I took this
message to the Ploughing Championships. We are working in
Europe, through our TDs, our Assembly team and our network
of councillors across the island to see that the framework
for delivering money through the rural development
programmes is right and to ensure that there is a greater
sense of urgency about the crisis facing farm families and
rural communities.

It was great to hear and see the Rossport Five address the
rally outside Leinster House in Dublin on Saturday in

The men all emphasised that their fight was just starting
following their release from prison on Friday. The men also
stressed their willingness to talk to Shell or anyone else
to ensure the safety of their homes.

The stand taken by the men and their families and small
community has touched hearts right across Ireland and
beyond. They deserve our thanks and our continued support.

On September 22, I participated in a conference in Brussels
highlighting the issue of asbestos. I presented a report on
the current situation regarding asbestos in Ireland.

It is believed that up to 3,000 former workers in the
Belfast shipyards could still be affected by asbestosis.

Environmental exposure, as well as work exposure, is a
point of contention across Europe.

According to recent research, more than 8,000 people can be
expected to die each year in Europe from 2015 onwards from
mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos.

Asbestos-related disease is clearly an issue for the
present and future, and not just the past.

Bairbre de Brún is a Sinn Féin MEP.


Guidelines On Justice By New Year

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Justice Minister David Hanson has told the BBC that he
hopes to publish new guidelines on restorative justice in
Northern Ireland "before the early New Year".

Mr Hanson said his officials had been talking to groups
involved in restorative justice and individuals within the
criminal justice system about guidelines which could
provide a benchmark for how such schemes should operate.

However, the minister says he won't formally issue any
guidelines before discussing them with members of the wider

Supporters of restorative justice schemes argue that they
provide a positive alternative to paramilitary beatings and
attacks in loyalist and republican areas.

But critics express concern that they may create a two-tier
justice system.

Fourteen schemes are currently in operation in republican
areas, administered by an organisation called Community
Restorative Justice.

Five operate in loyalist areas, run by an group called
Northern Ireland Alternatives.

Northern Ireland Alternatives works with the police, who
sit on their management committee.

But Community Restorative Justice does not cooperate with
the police, reflecting Sinn Fein's argument that the PSNI
is still not trusted in republican areas.

All the schemes are funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, a
charity set up by the US millionaire Chuck Feeney who has
in the past given money to Sinn Fein.

However, this private funding for restorative justice is
expected to run out at the end of the financial year in

Both the loyalist and republican groups have applied for
state funding without success.

It's believed any future funding is being tied to the
groups' acceptance of the new guidelines.

Northern Ireland Alternatives accepted previous drafts from
the government.


But Community Restorative Justice rejected the suggested

Its director Jim Auld said the previous guidelines were
nonsense because they would not have allowed his scheme to
take any cases from the community, but only to work with
referrals from the police.

Mr Auld accuses the Northern Ireland Office of "political
vetting", saying there is no reason why Community
Restorative Justice should not get funding for non-criminal

However he holds out little hope of his group changing its
attitude towards the PSNI.

Tom Winston of Northern Ireland Alternatives expresses
frustration that his schemes are being lumped together with
those in republican areas.

He says restorative justice has been politicised whilst
"everyone waits on the big bang" of Sinn Fein changing its
policy on policing.


Mr Winston says his schemes follow three broad principles.

They enable victims to meet offenders who might be asked to
provide either an apology or financial compensation.

Offenders may also do something for the community, like
cleaning graffitti off walls or tidying up gardens in their

Finally a support worker will try to ensure someone does
not re-offend.

Community Restorative Justice has lobbied Sinn Fein to
raise its case for funding with the government.

However, the SDLP is unhappy about the prospect.

This week the SDLP's Alex Attwood said "it would be
dangerous folly" if the government funded such projects
before all parties, including Sinn Fein accepted the new
policing structures.

Mr Attwood said this would "create a sense, and some argue
the reality, that there are two policing worlds, that of
the PSNI, due process and the rule of law, and that of
others, their processes and their law".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/05 12:27:44 GMT


Bradley 'Committed To Job Despite Attack'

Northern Ireland Policing Board vice chairman Denis Bradley
remains committed to his role despite suffering a brutal
beating in a bar in Londonderry last month.

By:Press Association

Mr Bradley did not attend the monthly Policing Board
meeting in Belfast today after sustaining a head injury in
the assault on the Leckey Road.

Dissident republicans were blamed for attacking him with a
baseball bat in a bar on the Leckey Road where he had gone
to watch a football match on television with his son.

Policing Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea told the public
session of the monthly meeting attended by Chief Constable
Sir Hugh Orde and his senior officers that the former
priest had been subjected to a cowardly and vicious attack.

"Last week I saw Denis," he said.

"I am pleased to report he is in good spirits.

"He needs time off but I can tell you he remains fully
resolved and committed to his work on the board."

The beating was condemned by Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain, the Irish Government, nationalist SDLP leader
Mark Durkan in whose Foyle constituency the assault took
place and the Ulster Unionists.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, whose party
had clashed with Mr Bradley and others over their refusal
to endorse police reforms, also insisted the attack was
wrong and unacceptable.

Mr Bradley has in the past received death threats from
hard-line republicans for his work on the board and his
home has also been attacked with petrol bombs.

Sir Desmond said the violence and intimidation Mr Bradley
and others on district policing partnership boards would
not deter them from making a positive contribution to the

With the fourth anniversary of the Policing Board
approaching, the chairman also paid tribute to politicians
and independent members on the board and staff, claiming
their work on issues such as the resolution of the row over
the Omagh bomb investigation, the agreeing of an emblem for
the PSNI and recently on the Northern Bank robbery,
loyalist paramilitary feud and the murder of Robert
McCartney had earned widespread admiration.

However he also expressed his wish that Sinn Fein would
also have a change of heart on its participation in

"It is our hope that the standing down of the IRA and the
acts of decommissioning last week provide a new platform
for talks on the political institutions, the restored
Assembly and policing and we hope they reach a successful

Sir Desmond also paid tribute to the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, saying the way it had delivered radical
changes in policing had to be admired and applauded.


Opin: Disarmament Intensifies FF/SF Electoral Rivalry

By Paul Colgan

IRA decommissioning may have concentrated minds on the
possibilities of power sharing, but one unforeseen
consequence has been the unfolding battle between Fianna
Fail and Sinn Fein for the mantle of true republicanism.

Fianna Fail always knew it would have a fight on its hands
once the republican movement ditched the armed struggle for
good. Sinn Fein strategists recognized a long time ago that
the retention of the IRA's arsenal meant that the party was
fighting elections with one hand tied behind its back.

While many observers have surmised that the decommissioning
move was designed to restore power-sharing government at
Stormont, it was more likely contrived to enhance
republican electoral prospects in the republic.

Now that the guns issue is apparently sorted out, Fianna
Fail can no longer object in principle to Sinn Fein's
involvement in a southern government. Bertie Ahern said he
believes General John De Chastelain's statement that all
IRA weapons have been put beyond use.

With the International Monitoring Commission expected to
report that the IRA ceases to exist as a functioning
organization, Fianna Fail has run out of excuses why Sinn
Fein should be excluded from government.

However now that the historic deed is done, and once the
euphoria dies down, watch as Fianna Fail takes the gloves
off with regard to Sinn Fein policy. The party has adopted
a twin-track approach -- it will attack Sinn Fein's
policies as potentially damaging to Irish prosperity whilst
promoting itself as the true voice of modern republicanism.

The first of the broadsides came from none other than
minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern at the weekend.

It was just a year ago that Ahern had offered his opinion
that it was only "a matter of time" before Sinn Fein
entered Government Buildings as a coalition partner. Ahern,
while not explicitly lending Sinn Fein his party's
endorsement, was lumbered with the perception that he
personally favored such a collaboration.

Quoted on Sunday, Ahern described Sinn Fein economic policy
as a mixture of "secondary school Marxism and Mussolini
protectionism." He said the notion that you could build a
32-county republic on the basis of Sinn Fein policy was

He added: "We will not countenance any arrangement with
Sinn Fein after the next election on the basis alone of
their economic policy and their anti-EU views, even if they
get a clean bill of health on decommissioning, end of
criminality and paramilitarism," he said

Little ambiguity there it would seem. Meanwhile, Seamus
Brennan -- minister for Social Welfare -- was calling for a
revival of Fianna Fail's republicanism.

Predicting that a united Ireland would be "a wonderful
economic, social and cultural unit," he said Fianna Fail
should not feel guilty for openly promoting Irish unity.

"It is a message to Sinn Fein, too," he said. "We have
hidden or played down this aspiration of ours for very
responsible reasons - because the taoiseach wanted to
negotiate progress in the North and get the institutions
back up and running without that tone in the middle of it.

"So, for very responsible reasons, we played down that, but
it would be wrong to continue that now.

"Our own party needs to realize that the Good Friday
Agreement is party policy, and that it allows persuasion to
bring about a united Ireland. It allows us to persuade
people to come to that position the same way the agreement
allows unionists to move to the opposite position," he

Again, little room for misinterpretation.

Fine Gael and Labor are not buying it. Fianna Fail, if
needs be, will jump into bed with anyone -- even the
Shinners, they say.

Fianna Fail denies this and claim that it will not put the
pursuit of power ahead of the country's best interests.
Suspicions abound however that, if Sinn Fein is in the mood
to modify its economic proposals, Fianna Fail could easily
reach an agreement with Gerry Adams.

Despite the hardening of Fianna Fail's rhetoric, most
recognize that it is something of a stretch to describe
Sinn Fein's economic agenda as "secondary school Marxism."

The party's 2002 election manifesto did propose an increase
in corporation tax, but only one that would ensure that
Ireland retains the lowest in Europe. Meanwhile its
proposed employers' PRSI increase would have only brought
it back to the level it was in the late 1990s.

Sinn Fein has shown itself to be incredibly adept in
refining party policy. Republican shibboleth after
shibboleth has been discarded down through the years to
facilitate the party's development. Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness have not allowed themselves to be restrained by
the sacred cows that impede political growth.

The task of delivering IRA disarmament, a mere seven years
after the organization declared "not an ounce, not a
bullet", surely puts the matter of minor manifesto
alterations in the shade.

The reality of Fianna Fail's hard words is that they are
designed to protect Bertie Ahern's flank against the
opposition coalition.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny knows that he can make
political capital out of any notion of a Fianna Fail / Sinn
Fein coalition. The last thing Fianna Fail wants to do is
to give him a stick to beat it with in the run up to a Dail
general election.

Ahern knows that many of his backbenchers are not adverse
to the idea of government with Sinn Fein -- indeed many
view it as a type of prodigal son recently returned to the
constitutional nationalist fold. Keeping such views out of
the public discourse will be one of his main preoccupations
over the coming months.

Who knows where Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will be when the
votes are finally counted.

This story appeared in the issue of October 5 - 11, 2005


Christy: Live At The Hostel

Alex Crumlin

Irish singing legend Christy Moore gave an impromptu
concert at a men's residential hostel in North Belfast
yesterday morning.

Residents and staff at the Rosemount House hostel were
delighted when the balladeer sat down and had a chat with
everyone before pulling out his guitar and treating them to
a lively session.

Moore reeled off several of his favourite numbers
including, The Contender, Ride On and City of Chicago.

He soon had his audience joining in as he belted out Joxer
Goes To Stuttgart and Fairytale of New York.

The singer and his entourage left Dublin at 6am to attend a
charity breakfast at west Belfast's Whitefort Inn.

Dan Kelly, a night worker at the hostel for people
recovering from alcohol addiction, recruited Moore to help
in the hostel's appeal fund for a minibus.

"I had approached Arder Rooney for a donation towards the
minibus and he suggested the celebrity charity breakfast

"Arder started the donations with a magnificent £1,000

"I got in touch with Christy and he had no hesitation in
pitching in.

"His only request was that he got to meet the residents and
staff of the hostel after the breakfast do.

"Everyone was absolutely delighted and the singalong
session was a big, big bonus."

Charlie McGarry, manager of the hostel praised the singer:
"What a man," he said.

"Not only did he break off from a promotion tour for his
new CD, Burning Times, to support our appeal but he
travelled up from Dublin very early this morning.

"Everyone at the hostel will remember this day for ever."

Moore spent over an hour singing and talking to residents
and staff.

As an extra treat Christy's long-term friend and veteran
tenor Liam Dunne travelled all the way from Achill Island
and treated the gathering in the hostel to a great
rendition of The West's Awake.

Christy told a few yarns and had everyone laughing when he
told how the staff had driven him from the Whitefort to
north Belfast via the Shankill Road and insisted that he
returned the same way and was not rerouted.

The famous singer/songwriter said he was only too glad to
help the fund and said: "We came, we sang and we ate the


'The Fighting 69th' Makes History, Yet Again

By Gerry Regan


NEW YORK -- More than 150 years after its founding, the
69th Infantry continues to make history, today in
conjunction with members of Louisiana's National Guard, its
one-time Confederate foes. The storied regiment, part of
the New York Army National Guard, has just completed a
nearly year-long tour of duty in Iraq, where it made
frequent headlines in New York newspapers. The 69th was
brigaded with Louisiana units, fighting and dying side by
side, sharing camaraderie and respect with the Southerners.

It was only 140 years or so ago that men from these two
locales were pitted against each other during America's
Civil War, so their shared destiny in Iraq, along with the
subsequent ravages of Katrina, adds more poignancy to these
soldiers' newly completed homecoming. WGT Managing Editor
Joe Gannon elaborates on those bonds, both past and
present, in a newly minted feature, headlined "Dying
Together: From Bull Run to Baghdad."

Also creating some news copy this month is Michael
Corcoran, no matter that he's been dead for more than 141
years. Admirers of the former Fenian leader, the 69th's
most famous commander during the so-called Southern War for
Independence, are in town raising funds and generating buzz
for their effort to honor him and the 69th with a monument
and research center in Ballymote, County Sligo (population
981, up from 975 in 1837). We'll have more on the effort in
the coming months, but meanwhile, check our archives to get
up to speed on Corcoran's heroics.

But back to today's 69th: Amicable ties with Louisiana,
among the most Irish of Southern states, undoubtedly began
much earlier, but Louisiana donated a fire pumper, dubbed
the "Spirit of Louisiana," to the city of New York after
the attacks of Sept. 11th. A contingent from the Fire
Department of New York, long a haven for Irish-Americans,
recently drove the truck to New Orleans, where more than
300 volunteers from the FDNY contributed to the relief

The 69th proudly claims them as brothers-in-arms.

The 69th, too, as one might imagine, pitched in after Sept.
11, dramatically coming to the notice of a new generation
of New Yorkers, serving in lower Manhattan and at West
Point, providing New Yorkers with an additional sense of
security as the city worked to recover the remains of those
killed in the incident. As well, its armory became a
processing center for those searching for loved ones caught
in the attack, becoming a frequent backdrop to news

The regiment, when founded in 1849, attracted Irish
immigrants new to New York who looked for opportunities
denied to them in Ireland. Bristling at centuries of
British oppression of their homeland, they welcomed the
opportunity to train militarily, to both prove themselves
worthy participants in American democracy and to gather
skills they hoped to use to overthrow British rule in
Ireland. By 1860, the 69th had become the premier Irish
regiment in the New World.

It was Confederate commander Robert E. Lee who first called
the regiment "The Fighting 69th," providing the regiment
with the sobriquet that it carries proudly forward into a
new century. It was a title that would find its way onto
theaters marquees across the United States in 1940, when
Jimmy Cagney and Pat O'Brien and County Dublin native
George Brent helped further the regiment's hallowed
traditions in the popular film, "The Fighting 69th."

The film underscores the unit's pedigree as one of the U.S.
Army's best-known regiments. During World War 1, the 69th
was assigned to the Rainbow Division, along with National
Guard units from many other states, including those from
the former Confederacy. In a memorable scene, Cagney and
other Irish-American soldiers find themselves face to face
with that legacy as Alabama guardsmen tell the New Yorkers
"We whup your pants" at Marye's Heights, during the
December 1862 battle of Fredericksburg.

The 69th lost 34 soldiers there, one in seven engaged, as
they attempted to dislodge Confederates from behind the
stone wall. WGT Contributing Editor Liam Murphy tells us
more about the film, and how it reflected both the ongoing
national reconciliation and the 69th's already formidable

There certainly was no love lost between North and South by
the Civil War's close in 1865. Lincoln worked to quell the
North's desire for retribution, but his assassination
fueled the very forces he set out to temper.

The 69th, one of Fox's legendary "300 Fighting Regiments,"
squared off with units from the late Confederacy on
battlefields throughout the Civil War, and perhaps no
soldiers provided stouter resistance than those from
Louisiana, which, by the way, had no shortage of Irishmen
in its ranks. Louisiana, in fact, according to Louisiana
state Ancient Order of Hibernians historians Terrence
Fitzmorris and John D. Fitzmorris III, was second only to
New York as a point of entry for Irish entering the United
States from 1847 to 1853, the darkest years of An Gorta
Mor, The Great Hunger (aka, The Famine).

This shared history came full circle in Iraq, as the 69th
was assigned to duty with the Louisiana-based 256th
Infantry Brigade Combat Team, aka the "Tiger" Brigade, from
the Louisiana Army National Guard. In fact, nine members of
the Louisiana National Guard died while assigned to the
69th, as part of Task Force Wolfhound (the regimental
mascot). The 69th proudly claims them as brothers-in-arms,
forever part of the heritage of "The Fighting 69th."

As the unit flew home piecemeal in the first weeks of
September, the poignancy of their service comes into
greater relief. Their losses in Iraq include 19 killed and
17 wounded in Iraq, and so the unit's homecoming was
bittersweet for the family of those who died. Meanwhile,
Hurricane Katrina struck as the unit prepared their return.
Their comrades in arms, men from the Louisiana National
Guard, return to a region devastated by Hurricane Katrina,
trading the death and destruction in Iraq for that in
greater New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.

Some of the Louisiana soldiers have lost their homes to
Hurricane Katrina. According to a report on, all
will qualify for a 14-day leave and then be eligible for
demobilization. The first contingent stopped at Shannon
Airport for their jet to refuel, and, over beer and cognac,
watched TV images of the destruction in Louisiana.

More help is on the way, much of it green, of course, but
some of it also coming from "The Wearin' of the Green."
Looking to assist New Orlean's hundreds of thousands of
refugees, relief organizations have raised more than $500
million to funnel into the disaster area. Among those
helping is the national Ancient Order of Hibernians, which
has established its own Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. The
AOH Charitable Gift Corp. has announced that it would work
with the Louisiana National Guard to target assistance to
Katrina's victims. (To find out more, go to

By the way, look for the 69th's official homecoming
ceremony at the regiment's armory March 17, the day the
unit traditionally leads New York's parade up 5th Avenue.

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