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October 05, 2005

Six Held Over Loyalist's Killing

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 10/05/05 Six Held Over Loyalist's Killing
BT 10/05/05 Gray: Did He Know Too Much?
BT 10/05/05 Death Sparks Feud Fears
BT 10/05/05 The Bling Brigadier And His Fallen Empire
TO 10/05/05 Time Runs Out For UDA's 'Doris Day'
TO 10/05/05 Politicians Condemn Murder Of Jim Gray
BB 10/05/05 Women Escape Harm In Orange Hall Attack
BB 10/05/05 Man Injured In Petrol Bomb Attack
IO 10/05/05 Adams Dismisses Nonsense Of Retained Guns Claim
BB 10/05/05 Adams Briefs MEPs On Developments
SF 10/05/05 Adams Calls For EU Support For Peace Process
TL 10/05/05 MEPs To Quiz Adams On IRA Arms Move
SM 10/05/05 Adams Urges EU To Approve Funds
UT 10/05/05 Brits Govt Warned Over Amnesty Fear
SO 10/05/05 Opin: Precedent For Release Of Prisoners
UT 10/05/05 Tourism Industry Urged To Grab Growth Potential


Six Held Over Loyalist's Killing

Detectives investigating the murder of former loyalist
leader Jim Gray have arrested six people, police have said.

Detective Superintendent George Hamilton said the arrests
followed a number of searches.

He said that the involvement of the Ulster Defence
Association was a "major line of inquiry" in the

Gray, 47, the flamboyant former leader of the UDA in the
east of the city, was shot outside his father's house on
the Clarawood estate.

Gray was expelled as UDA leader in east Belfast last March.

He was recently released on bail on charges of money
laundering, and was living at his father's home in
Knockwood Park while awaiting his court appearance.

He was shot behind a car parked outside the house on
Tuesday night at about 2000 BST.

DS Hamilton said Gray was not under police surveillance or
dedicated protection, but had to report to police five
times a week under his bail conditions.

He had also been warned that he was under threat since his
release on bail.

"Police have complied with their obligations under the
European Convention on Human Rights to advise Mr Gray of
the threats against him and provide him with personal
security advice."

"This was the brutal killing of a man by another human
being - in any civilised society that is unacceptable,"
said DS Hamilton.

The four men and two women detained following Gray's death
are being questioned at the serious crime custody suite in

DUP local MP Peter Robinson said there was no excuse for
the murder.

In April, just over a week after being expelled from the
UDA leadership, Gray was stopped by police near Banbridge,
County Down.

He was travelling in a car towards the Irish border, and
police suspected he was trying to leave the country.

The police found a bank draft for 10,000 euro and nearly
£3,000 in cash in his car.

Gray claimed the money had come from the sale of two pubs
in east Belfast.

However, police believed it was obtained through crime
including extortion and drug dealing.

He was charged with money laundering and possessing the
proceeds of crime and was remanded in custody.

As the police investigation continued, detectives seized
more than 100,000 documents and raided council offices,
planning offices and premises used by solicitors, estate
agents and accountants.

He continued to apply for bail which was granted last month
on condition that he lived at the address where he was shot
on Tuesday.

'Doris Day'

Gray had a reputation for dressing flamboyantly and wearing
heavy gold jewellery.

This earned him a number of derisory nicknames including
'Doris Day' and the 'Brigadier of Bling', while the group
surrounding him were branded the 'Spice Boys'.

Northern Ireland Officer minister David Hanson condemned
those responsible for the killing.

"Whoever it is, the government's commitment is to tackle
that criminality to make sure that we deal with that
criminality in a wider sense, to make sure that we take on
board the type of issues to make that type of murder stop
occurring," he said.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said there was no excuse
for the killing.

"Those who take the law into their own hands have nothing
to contribute to society," the East Belfast MP said.

"There is no excuse for acting as judge, jury and

'No retaliation'

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers has appealed for no
retaliation for the shooting.

"Regardless of what the victim has been accused of doing,
no-one has the right to take the law into their own hands,"
he said.

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood has also condemned the

He said he hoped the situation would not escalate to a
point where others, including innocent people, might be
killed or injured.

In September 2002, Gray was shot in the face as he arrived
at a house in the Garnerville area of east Belfast.

At the time, police said the shooting was "loosely related"
to the murder of Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Stephen
Warnock, who was shot dead as part of a feud between
loyalist paramilitaries.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/05 11:18:49 GMT


Gray: Did He Know Too Much?

Questions raised over who shot ex-UDA chief

By David Gordon and Jonathan McCambridge
05 October 2005

Speculation was today growing that loyalist Jim Gray was
gunned down over rumours that he was helping police
investigations into former allies in the UDA leadership.

Forty-seven-year-old Gray - known as 'Doris Day' - was shot
dead at point blank range by two gunmen outside the house
he was sharing with his father in the Clarawood estate in
east Belfast last night.

It is only three weeks since the former leader of the east
Belfast UDA was released on bail from prison where he had
been awaiting trail on money laundering charges.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde will today be quizzed about
the murder at a public meeting of the Policing Board where
it is expected that he will be asked about claims that Gray
was being given police protection following intelligence
that his life was under threat.

A journalist who spoke to Gray on Monday said there was no
visible police protection around him.

While the murder has once again raised tensions within
loyalism it is not expected to ignite new feud fears as
Gray had become an increasingly isolated figure.

The flamboyant paramilitary was deposed as the UDA's east
Belfast boss in March this year, and it is widely believed
that he met his death at the hands of the loyalists who
once counted him as a leader.

One source close to the UDA said there had been allegations
circulating that Gray had been passing information to the
security forces.

"It was being suggested that there would be court
appearances on the back of this information," he claimed.

Another loyalist source said: "The UDA could have done this
to protect itself.

"There has been some talk about a big push against the UDA
leadership by the security forces.

"There may have been fears that Gray would do a deal with
police and provide information against people."

Another theory not being discounted is that Gray was shot
dead by loyalists with a personal grudge.

He made several enemies as east Belfast UDA boss and was
alleged to have been personally linked to murders.

"Someone could have taken advantage of the fact that he
doesn't have the protection of the UDA anymore," a well-
placed source said.

Gray was the most flamboyant of the UDA godfathers, known
for his loud clothes, heavy gold jewellery and permanent

He was heavily involved in the lucrative drugs trade and
also said to have had a serious cocaine habit himself.

If the UDA is linked by police to Gray's murder then the
Government could come under pressure to de-specify the
terror group's ceasefire.

Gray was stood down from the UDA leadership after being
accused of "treason".

It is understood his life was spared on that occasion on
the understanding that he would cut his ties with loyalist

Within days of him being deposed, he was arrested by police
on money laundering charges.

Police stopped him between Loughbrickland and Banbridge, as
he headed for the Republic with a bank draft for €10,000
and £3,000 in cash in his car.

Gray was regularly spotted around east Belfast after his
release from prison.

"He was not showing up at the places you would have seen
him previously. There was none of the flamboyant lifestyle
he was known for in the past," one loyalist source said.


Death Sparks Feud Fears

Belfast loyalists in turmoil

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
05 October 2005

THE murder of Jim Gray has plunged the loyalist community
in Belfast into further turmoil and heightened fears of a
new paramilitary feud.

The flamboyant former UDA godfather was gunned down in the
east Belfast heartland from where he once ran his crime
empire before he was stood down by the organisation this

Loyalist sources were last night pointing the finger at
Gray's former allies in the UDA.

Gray had been out on bail awaiting trial on money
laundering charges after being arrested by police as part
of an investigation into serious crime.

He was granted bail on the understanding that he stayed at
home at night and reported to police five times a week.

Ian Paisley Jnr, of the DUP, said he would be quizzing the
chief constable about the murder of Gray at today's
Policing Board meeting.

East Belfast DUP MP Peter Robinson condemned the killing.

He said: "This murderous attack must be condemned by all
right-thinking people.

"Those who take the law into their own hands have nothing
to contribute to society.

"There is no excuse for acting as judge, jury and

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers added: "It is terrible that
there is another murder as, regardless of the victim's
background, this can only add to the tensions that exist in
the loyalist community."

East Belfast Alliance MLA Naomi Long said: "I totally
condemn what appears to be a paramilitary execution.

"I would appeal again for an end to all paramilitary and
criminal activity in our society and for people to respect
the rule of law."

SDLP Policing Spokesperson Alex Attwood said he hoped the
murder does not presage a new round of paramilitary

"Whatever the motive, the SDLP strongly hopes that the
situation does not escalate in any way to a point where
other people, including innocent people unconnected to
anything, might be injured or killed," he said.


The Bling Brigadier And His Fallen Empire

Jonathan McCambridge and David Gordon examine the turmoil
within loyalism that preceded Jim Gray's murder

By Jonathan McCambridge and David Gordon
05 October 2005

JIM Gray was the UDA's flamboyant east Belfast brigadier
known for his 'bling' jewellery and colourful dress sense -
before his terror empire came crumbling down around him.

His murder is the latest instalment in a saga that would
not look out of place in a big-budget gangster movie.

A few short years ago, six men ruled the UDA. These self-
styled 'brigadiers' made up the group's inner council.

Two of the paramilitary godfathers are now dead - Gray, who
led the UDA east Belfast along with a shadowy business
associate and John 'Grug' Gregg, who bossed south-east
Antrim from his headquarters in the Rathcoole estate.

A further two of the 'brigadiers' have meanwhile been
forced into exile.

Former west Belfast UDA chief Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, a
one-time folk hero in loyalist circles, now lives in Bolton
where he recently pleaded guilty to beating up his wife

Former north Belfast UDA boss Jim 'Jimbo' Simpson was also
pushed out of his patch, and was given the derisory
nickname 'the Bacardi Brigadier'.

Gray, Gregg, Adair and Simpson all fell foul of fellow
loyalists rather than republicans.

Just last month former associates of Gray were said to be
in hiding, amid growing fears that he was set to spill the
beans on their terrorist careers.

A senior loyalist source said then that Gray's old pals
feared he was on the verge of providing police with crucial
evidence, relating to unsolved UDA murders and armed

Some of Gray's other ex-associates, who stood by him when
it was revealed he was coming under pressure from the UDA
leadership, are also thought to have been worried about his

In June, bulldozers flattened the Avenue One bar, on the
Newtownards Road - which bleach-blond Gray ran before
selling up earlier this year.

For years it was the unofficial UDA HQ in east Belfast.

Printed on a wall, beneath a now empty frame, were the
words "In Memory of JJ Gray", a tribute to the ex-UDA
boss's 19-year-old son, Jonathan.

The teenager tragically died from a suspected drugs
overdose while holidaying in Thailand with his father, in


Time Runs Out For UDA's 'Doris Day'

By Times Online and PA News

Jim Gray infuriated other loyalists with the way he
flaunted his wealth (Alan Lewis)

Jim Gray was living on borrowed time ever since the Ulster
Defence Association ruthlessly kicked him out to fend for

The arrogant and bullying ex-terror boss's murder was
predicted from the day he was stripped of control of his
East Belfast stronghold. It finally happened last night,
when he was shot at point blank range by two gunmen at his
East Belfast home.

Former associates sickened by Gray's vanity and lavish
lifestyle funded by a drug dealing operation that raked in
up to £250,000 a week may have been plotting for months,
security chiefs claimed today. One source said: "This came
from within the organisation. Jim had built up some serious

Gray, 47, was one of six so-called brigadiers running
Northern Ireland's largest loyalist terror grouping until
he was toppled in March.

With his bleach-blond hair, heavy gold jewellery and all-
year-round tan, he rivalled Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair as the
most striking UDA chief. His looks earned him the derisory
nickname Doris Day, or the Brigadier of Bling, while his
men were branded the Spice Boys.

But there was nothing funny about the violence he would
inflict on anyone who crossed him. On one occasion a
wedding reception at a hotel near Belfast was disrupted by
Gray and a mob of drunken loyalists. When the bride's
father asked them to be quiet, the UDA chief ordered his
henchmen to drag him outside where he was beaten savagely.

Gray was finally removed from control of the East Belfast
unit after complaints reached leadership level. Since then
he was arrested and charged as part of a major police probe
into an alleged money-laundering scam in the city.

Gray had just been released on bail, although detectives
had feared he may be murdered as soon as he returned to the

"That was his biggest mistake. He was safer in jail," one
of those who dealt with him said today. But after surviving
an earlier assassination attempt two and a half years ago,
loyalists said Gray regarded himself as invincible.

On that occasion a gunman shot him in the face as he went
to the home of a murdered rival at the height of a loyalist
feud that claimed several lives. The attack in September
2002 came soon after Adair and Gray fell out during the
power struggle. Now Gray is dead and Adair is in exile in
Lancashire where he was last heard of allegedly beating up
his wife Gina.

One former drinking partner said that those who served
under Gray became fed up with his leadership style. He
never tried to blend in with his fiercely working-class
surroundings. While husbands and fathers trudged through
East Belfast's backstreets to clock in for long hours at
the shipyards, he acquired a taste for the jet-set

During his UDA heyday, Gray stayed at five-star hotels in
Spain, the Canary Islands, London and Dublin. He also
adored golf and many believe that he had enough talent to
turn professional had he not been bent on a life of

His appearance set him aside from the typical loyalist
hardman. Even Adair, whose own fashion statements often
provoked ridicule, took offence at some of Gray's outfits.

"Jim would arrive at meetings in his pink jumpers and
Johnny would go mad," one source said. "He'd be ranting,
'That's some image for our organisation'."

Despite his reign of thuggery and racketeering, police
believe he never personally carried out any murders. "I
don't think he ever killed anyone in his life," a security
source who interrogated him insisted. He was put up as a
brigadier, a front-man. Jim was a criminal all right, but
not a killer."

The consensus in Belfast today was that the shooting would
not have any impact on the police process, but was a bit of
UDA "housekeeping". "This is something which really only
affects the UDA," said one loyalist source.

"There is a sense that things are coming to an end in
Northern Ireland and maybe this is a case of people tying
up the remaining loose ends."


Politicians Condemn Murder Of Former UDA Man Jim Gray
2005-10-05 11:40:02+01

Politicians from across the sectarian divide in the North
have condemned the murder of former UDA 'brigadier' Jim
Gray in east Belfast last night.

The flamboyant 47-year-old paramilitary was shot dead
outside his home in the Clarawood estate by two gunmen who
called to his front door.

Gray, who was deeply involved in drug dealing and
extortion, was expelled from the UDA earlier this year and
is believed to have made many enemies among his former
paramilitary colleagues.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said today that there was
no excuse for his murder, while Ulster Unionist council Jim
Rodgers called for no retaliation.

SDLP Assemblyman Alex Atwood also said he hoped the murder
would not spark another escalation in loyalist violence,
while Sinn Féin president blamed the killing on a political
vacuum caused by the suspension of devolved government.


Women Escape Harm In Orange Hall Attack

Two groups of women have escaped injury in a petrol bomb
attack on an Orange hall in north Belfast.

Police said a device, thrown at the building on Whitewell
Road, landed on a grassy area and burnt itself out. They
are treating the attack as sectarian.

Ron Martin from the Greencastle Orange Lodge said members
of the women's lodge and a line dancing class were in the
hall at the time.

"Most of them are elderly women and they were very
frightened," he said.

"There was no damage at all just the fright more than
anything. The security doors stopped it getting into the

"We actually notify the police what time we go in at, what
time we come out, but unfortunately they're never there."

He said that stones had been thrown at the hall on Monday
evening when the men's lodge was meeting as well as Tuesday
night's attack.

Police said a number of items were removed from the scene
for examination.

The DUP North Belfast MP, Nigel Dodds, condemned the

"This is an odious and appalling attack on ordinary
people," he said.

"It was clearly sectarian and another example of the
republican agenda of ethnic cleansing of Protestant culture
and communities. It was a mercy that no one was killed or
seriously injured."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/05 06:20:06 GMT


Man Injured In Petrol Bomb Attack

A man has sustained burns in a petrol bomb attack in County

Five men with bats smashed windows and doors of the house
at Hillside Avenue in Hamiltonsbawn on Tuesday and threw a
petrol bomb into the living room.

Four people were inside at the time. A 23-year-old man was
treated for superficial burns to his face and neck after he
tried to put out the fire.

Police have not established a motive for the attack, but it
is not thought to have been sectarian or racist.

People in the area said they suspected paramilitaries may
have been involved in the attack, which happened shortly
after 2100 BST.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/05 10:14:15 GMT


Adams Dismisses 'Nonsense' Of Retained Guns Claim

05/10/2005 - 12:08:29

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today dismissed as
"nonsense" claims that the IRA has held back about 300 guns
despite its commitment to a full de-commissioning of

Mr Adams, on his first visit to the European Parliament in
Brussels, said he fully accepted the report of the
independent de-commissioning body which had made it "very
very clear" that all IRA weapons were now "beyond use".

He added: "But let there be no doubt that there are lots of
guns out there - guns in the hands of the British army,
guns in the hands of Unionist paramilitaries, as used last
night to kill Jim Gray, and guns in the hands of the PSNI
(Northern Ireland police)."

Mr Adams said it might take some time for the media to
absorb the full impact of the IRA's de-commissioning of
arms, but it was "a new vista".

"It is a singular achievement – the first time we have
brought militant Republicanism to the point where it de-
militarises itself," he said.

On the murder of the UDA man, he said: "I have only just
heard about this so I don't know about the circumstances.

"But like all democrats, I condemn all of these murders. I
think each of them diminishes the body politic, and
politicians have to make sure the peace process works, and
that the vacuum that currently exists is brought to an end
as quickly as possible."

Asked about claims by the family of murdered 29-year old
Joseph Rafferty that the killer was a Sinn Féin worker, Mr
Adams replied: "I am quite ready to meet the family of Jo
Rafferty if they wish. We repudiate the killing."

He said it was the responsibility of Sinn Féin and everyone
else to ensure "due process". He urged anyone with
information about the Dublin killing to go the Garda.

"This is a matter for the Garda. Jo Rafferty's killing was
a very, very brutal murder – one of a series of such
murders in Dublin in the recent past."

Mr Adams was in Brussels following the de-commissioning
announcement to meet MEPs, EU Regional Commissioner Danuta
Hubner and other EU officials.

He said it was partly a "listen and learn" trip, with the
emphasis on strengthening and expanding existing EU funding
for Ireland and the peace process.

"I am pleased to be here to brief people and to thank them
for their support for the peace process in Ireland and to
talk about what has to be done in the time ahead."


Adams Briefs MEPs On Developments

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has begun a day-long series
of public and private meetings in Brussels.

Mr Adams has been updating MEPs, the commission and other
agencies on recent developments in the Northern Ireland
political process.

They were exploring ways in which the EU can further assist
peace in Ireland.

Mr Adams was accompanied by MEPs Bairbre de Brun and Mary
Lou McDonald, in meetings with MEPs from a range of
political groups and countries.

They were also due to meet Danuta Hubner, Commissioner for
Regional Development, to discuss the need for a Peace III

The meetings came a 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.

Mr Adams has urged both the British and Irish governments
to "move quickly" towards re-establishing devolution in
Northern Ireland.

He has said unionists would need time to absorb the
"completeness" of the IRA's disarmament.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/05 11:35:21 GMT


Gerry Adams Calls For Continued EU Support For The Peace Process

Published: 5 October, 2005

The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP is in Brussels today
where he is holding a series of meetings with political
groups, as well as the Regional Development Commissioner
Danuta Hubner. He is accompanied by the Party's two MEPs
Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brun.

Mr. Adams said:

"Today's series of meetings is an opportunity for me to
brief people on the peace process, to seek practical
support for our efforts to bed down that process, including
the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and
to raise the key democratic goal of an end to partition.

"Sinn Féin is aware of the important role the EU has played
in assisting the development of peace in Ireland, primarily
through the financial contributions to the Peace Programmes
and the International Fund for Ireland.

"It is now time to strengthen and expand this support in a
number of ways.

"Key to this is the promotion of dialogue between all

"The EU can also play a key role in helping to ensure that
the British and Irish governments live up to all of there
commitments as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement.

"Clearly there is a strong case and pressing need for a
Peace III programme which would build on the successes of
earlier rounds of peace funding. Such a fund, which could
run from 2007 to 2013, could greatly assist the bedding
down of the peace process. A peace III fund would also
assist in dealing with the legacy of conflict in terms of
tackling social and economic exclusion, and discrimination
and building local and national reconciliation. Such a fund
must be additional to existing levels of government
expenditure and allocated on the basis of need.

"There is also a case for extending to Ireland some of the
rehabilitation programmes which are run by the External
Affairs Directorate of the Commission.

"The reality is that there is now the potential to develop
strategies and policies which can positively change the
future of Ireland, and reshape the type of country that we
want to live in for future generations as well as this
generation. The EU can play an important role in this.

"Sinn Féin's focus in the time immediately ahead will be on
consolidating the peace process and seeking the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS


MEPs To Quiz Adams On IRA Arms Move

5 October 2005

Gerry Adams must state whether the IRA will end all
criminal activity when he faces MEPs in the European
Parliament on the peace process, Unionist MEPs have

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson and Democratic Unionist
MEP Jim Allister responded sceptically to Mr Adams' visit
to the parliament in Brussels.

The West Belfast MP will face questions on last week's
announcement that the IRA has completed its disarmament
programme when he attends an event hosted in the parliament
by Francis Wurtz, the president of the United European
Left/Nordic Green Left.

The United European Left/Nordic Green Left is the fifth
largest group in the parliament and includes Sinn Fein's
two MEPs, Bairbre de Brun from Northern Ireland and Mary
Lou McDonald from Dublin.

In a reference to the failure of the decommissioning body
and the IRA to produce a detailed inventory of all the
Provisionals' decommissioned weapons, Mr Allister said:
"Perhaps they (Sinn Fein) hope in a culture which thrives
on lack of transparency, their non-transparent
decommissioning will impress.

"I expect though that outside the far left Stalinist group
to which they belong, thinking members (of the European
Parliament) will be looking for much more.

"Total abandonment of all their criminality is the next
step all democrats will demand from Sinn Fein."

Mr Nicholson said MEPs attending the question and answer
session needed to be aware of the Sinn Fein leader's
unwillingness to answer questions about IRA activity.

"Before Mr Adams seeks to cover himself in glory, we should
wait for genuine confirmation that all the weapons have
been destroyed," he said.

"We also need to know whether or not the IRA is going to
end all its other activities and dismantle its vast
criminal empire? Anybody attending the meeting should be
aware that Mr Adams just doesn't answer such questions."


Adams Urges EU To Approve Funds

The European Union was urged to bolster recent progress in
the Northern Ireland peace process by approving more
special funding for peace and reconciliation projects.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams issued the call in Brussels
where he and his party's two MEPs, Bairbre de Brun and Mary
Lou McDonald were due to meet EU Regional Development
Commissioner Danuta Hubner.

The West Belfast MP insisted: "Clearly there is a strong
case and pressing need for a Peace III programme which
would build on the successes of earlier rounds of peace

"Such a fund, which could run from 2007 to 2013, could
greatly assist the bedding down of the peace process.

"A Peace III fund would also assist in dealing with the
legacy of conflict in terms of tackling social and economic
exclusion, and discrimination, and building local and
national reconciliation. Such a fund must be additional to
existing levels of government expenditure and allocated on
the basis of need.

"There is also a case for extending to Ireland some of the
rehabilitation programmes which are run by the External
Affairs Directorate of the Commission.

"The reality is that there is now the potential to develop
strategies and policies which can positively change the
future of Ireland, and reshape the type of country that we
want to live in for future generations as well as this
generation. The EU can play an important role in this."

The European Union's Peace programme was approved in 1994
as a response to the IRA and loyalist ceasefires following
lobbying from Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian
Paisley, former nationalist SDLP leader John Hume and
Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson.

A total of 500 million euros (approximately £350 million)
was allocated in the first programme, which ran from 1995
to 1999, to projects in Northern Ireland and six border
counties of the Irish Republic (Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim,
Cavan, Monaghan and Louth).

Peace and reconciliation projects encouraging social
cohesion, job creation and economic development, urban and
rural regeneration and cross border co-operation all

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2005, All Rights


British Government Warned Over Amnesty-For-Fugitives Fear

The British government was warned today that there is deep
concern across communities in Northern Ireland that
paramilitaries who fled Northern Ireland during the
Troubles to avoid arrest could be given an amnesty in a
deal with Sinn Fein.

By:Press Association

Cross community Alliance Party leader David Ford claimed
opposition to the plan to allow so-called on-the-run
paramilitaries to return to Northern Ireland extended
beyond the anti-Good Friday Agreement unionist community.

The South Antrim Assembly member, who raised the issue with
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain at a meeting in
Hillsborough Castle last night, joined Conservative
spokesman David Lidington and the Democratic Unionists`
Sammy Wilson in insisting paramilitary fugitives from
justice must appear before the courts on their return.

"I do not believe that Ministers appreciate the deep
concern that exists in the community about any measure that
would allow criminals to return home without a proper
judicial procedure," Mr Ford said.

"That concern is not confined to anti-Agreement unionists.
It exists right across the law-abiding community.

"For many, early release for prisoners was difficult to
swallow. An effective amnesty for on-the-runs, as promised
to Sinn Fein four years ago, is simply not acceptable.

"It is not good enough to set up a special tribunal that
allows on-the-runs to avoid even appearing in court.

The issue of on-the-run IRA terror suspects has been a key
negotiating issue for republicans.

Following last week`s move by the IRA to decommission all
its weapons, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is expected to
press British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a meeting in
London tomorrow for them to be allowed to return to
Northern Ireland without being imprisoned.

At a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in
Blackpool yesterday, Shadow Northern Ireland spokesman
David Lidington warned Mr Hain his party would oppose any
scheme for on-the-run paramilitaries which did not factor
in a role for the courts.

"If the legislation you bring forward this autumn does not
contain a proper judicial process that involves those
returning to Northern Ireland appearing in court and being
held accountable for their crimes in the normal way, we
will oppose the legislation," the Aylesbury MP warned.

Mr Lidington also signalled the Tories would resist any
government move which handed over the policing of
republican or loyalist areas to those who had been active
in paramilitary organisations.

Mr Ford said it was unacceptable for the British government
to make arrangements for on-the-runs while those forced out
of Northern Ireland by republican and loyalist paramilitary
groups remained fearful about what would happen to them if
they returned.

"Alliance wants to see this issue resolved, but it must be
in a way that provides some comfort for the victims of
violence," the South Antrim MLA insisted.

"That requires reassurance for the exiles that they are
safe to return home.

"It requires a Court appearance and a finding of guilt
where appropriate.

"It requires any release to be on licence, subject to the
good behaviour of the individual and the organisation.

"We will be taking up the Secretary of State`s offer of
further in-depth talks with David Hanson, the Minister
responsible for this legislation. We will also be holding
talks with Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers
in the coming weeks."


Opin: Republic's Precedent For Release Of Prisoners..

An avid reader of histories, Danny Morrison raids the
Republic's bloody origins and argues that Fine Gael had
leading members of the old IRA within it's ranks well into
the forties, that is now being hypocritical in its
opposition to having Sinn Fein in government. It's
available in today's print version of Daily Ireland

By Danny Morrison

Last March the IRA prisoners in Castlerea (some serving
time in relation to the killing of Gárda Jerry McCabe in
1996) issued a statement. They said that they deeply
regretted the death of Jerry McCabe and the wounding of
Gárda Ben O'Sullivan during an IRA operation in Adare in
June 1996.

"We deeply regret and apologise for this and the hurt and
grief we have caused to their families."

They pointed out that they were "qualifying prisoners"
under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, signed and
approved after their conviction, that this had been
confirmed by the High Court and Supreme Court and that the
government had an obligation to release them.

"They [the government] have refused to do so and are now
presenting our release as an obstacle to negotiations and
agreement." Consequently, "we do not want our release to be
part of any further negotiations with the Irish

Last year when it emerged that the Dublin government was
ready to release the prisoners as part of an overall deal
it came in for widespread criticism. So when that deal
collapsed over Ian Paisley's demand for decommissioning to
be photographed Bertie Ahern quickly announced that their
release was "off the table and would never return."

It was sheer opportunism and it was cowardly.

However, the party which criticised the Irish government
the most - particularly warning against the future release
of the prisoners as part of a Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail deal
over coalition - is a party which had no problem itself
with releasing convicted killers so that it could get its
hands on coalition power.

I refer to Fine Gael.

Gárda Jerry McCabe left behind a widow and five children.

But so did Gárda Detective George Mordaunt: a widow and one

On the night of 29 October 1942 a cordon of detectives
surrounded a house in Donnycarney, Dublin. Inside were IRA
men Harry White from Belfast and Maurice O'Neill from Kerry
who tried to escape. There was a shoot-out. Mordaunt was
killed, O'Neill caught and White escaped. Charged and
convicted with the murder of Mordaunt O'Neill was executed
by firing squad in Mountjoy Jail one month later. White
wasn't captured and charged until October 1946. He was
sentenced to hang on 3 January 1947.

His lawyer was Sean MacBride (a former IRA Chief of Staff)
who launched a successful appeal campaign which resulted in
White's sentence being commuted. In fact, just as in the
case of Gárda McCabe's killers, the charge was reduced to
manslaughter and White was sentenced to 12 years.

A year earlier – Sinn Fein being fairly marginalised –
MacBride, with the support of many IRA sympathisers, set up
a political party, Clann na Poblachta, opposed to Fianna
Fail. It quickly garnered support. In the February 1948
general election one of its slogans was "Release the
Prisoners". It won ten seats and it and several smaller
parties held the balance of power.

Fine Gael entered into discussions with MacBride to
persuade him to go into coalition with it to oust Fianna
Fail. It was about the only thing the two parties had in

MacBride's price was the release of the political

Fine Gael agreed.

MacBride became Minister for External Affairs. The new
Minister for Justice, General Sean MacEoin - a Fine Gael TD
and former member of the IRA who had once been sentenced to
death by the British - freed the IRA prisoners within

Those released included Thomas MacCurtain, who had been
sentenced to death for killing Detective Gárda John Roche,
a married man, in Cork in January 1940 (the sentence
commuted to penal servitude for life, out of deference to
his murdered father, the Lord Mayor of Cork); Harry White,
who had been sentenced for the killing of Detective Gárda
George Mordaunt; and Liam Rice who had been convicted of
the attempted murder of several gárdai.

No doubt some smartass revisionist from Fine Gael or a
newspaper of record will attempt to explain that there is
no parallel between then and now, no comparisons
whatsoever. Perhaps they will tell us that the IRA of the
1940s is distinct from the IRA of today and that's why, for
example, Belfast man Harry White, sentenced for the
manslaughter of Mordaunt, was given early release by Fine
Gael, while Strabane man Pearse McAuley, sentenced for the
manslaughter of Gárda McCabe, must remain in jail.

Fine Gael TD General Sean MacEoin, who was also the party's
presidential nominee in 1945 and 1959, came to the Ministry
of Justice with a past which Fine Gael honours. In the Tan
War the IRA killed almost 500 members of the RIC. When
MacEoin was the leader of an IRA Flying Column in Longford
in 1920 he had been responsible for killing up to two dozen
of his fellow Roman Catholic Irishmen in the RIC. A small
sample includes: 23-year-old John Kelleher from Cork who
had only been in the RIC four months; 45-year-old Constable
Peter Cooney, a married man, shot in the back whilst
returning from leave; and 30-year-old District Inspector
Thomas McGrath, a single man from County Limerick, shot
through the head by MacEoin when he knocked on MacEoin's

Men like MacEoin shot and bombed British soldiers and RIC
men, killed them where they could – on holiday, on leave,
in bed with their wives, at their dinner tables, on patrol
and in the barracks.

Fine Gael is proud of IRA men like MacEoin. After all, he
brought them to power. He fought the British in his country
– though mistakes were often made and innocent people were

It has happened throughout Irish republican history.

And that is why Fine Gael and any other party opposed to
the release of the Castlerea prisoners rightly stand
accused of double standards and hypocrisy.

For political gain Fine Gael released those convicted of
killing guards in the 1940s. And for perceived political
gain today – taking a tough stance against Sinn Fein - it
refuses to support the release of prisoners in the same
category, prisoners committed to peace and the Belfast

First published in Daily Ireland today.

Mick Fealty @ 05 October 2005 11:55 AM


Tourism Industry Urged To Grab Growth Potential

Northern Ireland's tourism industry is now in an
unprecedented position to make a huge contribution to the
wider economy, the Government said today.

By:Press Association

Tourism Minister Angela Smith told the industry it must
grasp the opportunities for growth if it is to compete with
the best in the world.

She issued her challenge as she opened the Northern Ireland
Hotels Federation annual `Hospitality Exchange` conference
in Belfast.

Saying the industry had an unprecedented opportunity to
make a huge contribution to the economy, Ms Smith said:
"The infrastructure is rapidly developing. We now have
direct air access from nine European locations and from the
USA for the first time ever."

She pointed out work was proceeding rapidly on signature
projects including the Giant`s Causeway, the walled City of
Derry and the Titanic Quarter.

"It is more important now than ever that all tourism
providers, from hotels to visitor attractions, ensure they
are seen in the international marketplace, through a range
of promotions offered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board
in conjunction with Tourism Ireland," said the minister.

"I encourage everyone in the industry to use these as a
platform to raise awareness of your products," she added.

The industry needed to respond to customer expectations
with innovation, by rethinking its flexibility,
streamlining customer service and improving language
skills, she said.

"We must speak the customer`s language - in person and in
print. Customers are no longer prepared to accept what`s on
offer unquestioningly, they demand quality at an affordable

"In short, we need to be more international in our
perspective," said Ms Smith.

The two day Hospitality Exchange conference includes
exhibitions from up to 50 companies supplying the industry
with goods and services.

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