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November 30, 2005

AI: UK Should Create Indpndt Finucane Inquiry

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News About Ireland & The Irish

AI 11/30/05 AI:UK Create Indpndt Inquiry Into Finucane Case
IE 11/30/05 IAUC Talks Go Somewhere
BB 11/30/05 Four Freed In 1972 Bomb Inquiry
BB 11/30/05 £26m Bank Raid Suspect Released
IE 11/30/05 Spicer: Belfast, Now Baghdad?
IT 12/01/05 Playwright Forced Out By Loyalists
IT 12/01/05 Award-Winning Dramatist
BB 12/01/05 Ex-Orange Leader On Parades Body
CB 11/30/05 New Parades Commission Make-Up Revealed
SF 11/30/05 OTR Legislation ShouldNot Apply To Crown Forces
IT 12/01/05 Fugitives Pardons Plan 'Constitutional'
SF 11/30/05 SF To Meet Taoiseach In Government Buildings
UT 11/30/05 Police 'Undermining Peace Process' - Adams
IT 12/01/05 Annan Praises Irish Role In The UN
AC 11/30/05 Differing At Mountnugent Peace Conference
UT 11/30/05 Loyalist Flags To Be Removed Before Funeral
UT 11/30/05 Pele To Attend Best Funeral
AI 11/30/05 AI's Secretary General Meets McCartney Sisters
DJ 11/30/05 Sorcha Cusack In Devlin Role At Forum
UT 11/30/05 Majority Of Belfast's Births Outside Marriage
BB 11/30/05 Help At Hand For Phobia Victims
IT 12/01/05 Archive Includes Drafts Of 1937 Constitution
IT 12/01/05 Ó Cuív Has Inside Track On de Valera Rail Line


UK: Take Action For An Independent Inquiry Into The Finucane Case

Amnesty International is urging those members of the
judiciary who may be approached by the UK authorities and
sked to sit on an inquiry into the case of Patrick Finucane
under the Inquiries Act 2005 to decline to do so.

The organization is launching a world-wide appeal on its
website encouraging members of the
public to write to senior judges in the UK, as well as to
the heads of the judiciary in countries with common law
systems (Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand,
South Africa, Sri Lanka and USA) to inform them about
Amnesty International's concerns regarding such an inquiry.

Amnesty International considers that any judge sitting on a
Finucane inquiry held under the Inquiries Act 2005 would be
presiding over a sham.

Patrick Finucane, a human rights lawyer, was shot dead in
Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Loyalist paramilitaries. In
the aftermath of his killing, evidence emerged that police
and military intelligence agents had colluded with loyalist
paramilitaries in his murder, as well as allegations of an
official cover-up of such collusion. In April 2004 an
independent report concluded that "only a public inquiry
will suffice" in the Finucane case.

Amnesty International is calling on the UK authorities to
establish immediately a truly independent public inquiry
into the Finucane case:

"An inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 will be controlled
by the executive which is empowered to block public
scrutiny of state actions."

To take action, go to:

See also:

UK: Amnesty International urges judiciary not to partake in
inquiry sham

UK: The Inquiries Bill - the Wrong Answer

UK: The government must withdraw the Inquiries Bill and act
on its promise


IAUC Talks Go Somewhere

The Irish American Unity Conference has drawn renewed
confidence from its recent panel discussion in Washington
dealing with the Northern Ireland peace process.

"In my many years of working in Irish affairs, this is the
first time I have experienced a meeting of Irish political
parties and government officials where people with both
common and many opposing opinions could discuss, in a
constructive manner, methods of resolving these problems,"
IAUC national president Bob Linnon said after the one day

"It gives our organization great optimism that with
continued hard work these parties can be part of a
government that benefits all the people of Ireland," Linnon

The discussion took place at the Georgetown University Law
Center and was jointly moderated by former congressman
Bruce Morrison and attorney Ed Lynch of the Lawyers
Alliance for Justice in Ireland.

Panelists included representatives of the Irish, U.S. and
British governments, U.S.-based activists and
representatives of the SDLP, UUP, SDLP and Alliance Party.


Four Freed In 1972 Bomb Inquiry

Four people who were arrested over an IRA bombing in 1972
have been released without charge, police have said.

Nine people, including three children, were killed when
three car bombs exploded in Claudy, County Londonderry.

Sinn Fein assembly member Francie Brolly and freelance
sports commentator Seamus Mullan had been detained along
with another man and a woman.

Police said a report was being prepared for submission to
the Public Prosecution Service.

The arrests were made on Tuesday morning.

A 58-year-old woman in Dungannon was one of those arrested
by police re-examining the no-warning bombing in the

Police said two men aged 67 and 60 were detained in
Dungiven, and a man, 50, was detained in the Portglenone

Police said on Wednesday evening that all four had been

'Raise the issue'

Mr Brolly is an assembly member for the East Londonderry

Seamus Mullan is a freelance journalist who reports on
Gaelic games for a number of media outlets, including BBC
Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, condemned
the arrest of Mr Brolly.

He said the party would be raising the issue with the
British and Irish governments and called for his immediate

The party's Mitchel McLaughlin also called the arrest of Mr
Brolly "political policing".

Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid said new lines of
enquiry had emerged as a result of reviewing the case.


"As a police service we are mindful of, and always uphold
and protect the human rights of any individual we arrest,"
he said.

"Every person has a right to be deemed innocent until
proven guilty and the police service is careful not to
publicly disclose the names of those suspected of

"Equally we are mindful of the responsibility we have to
investigate these events and to uphold the rights of those
whose lives were taken from them in Claudy in 1972, the
rights of loved ones who were bereaved and those whose
lives were changed forever as a result of injury and loss."

In December 2002, the police said a priest, who had died,
was involved in the Claudy bombing.

It also emerged that both the Catholic Church's cardinal at
the time, William Conway, and the then Secretary of State,
William Whitelaw, met to discuss the matter.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/30 22:45:02 GMT


£26m Bank Raid Suspect Released

A 22-year-old female Northern Bank employee being
questioned by police probing the £26.5m robbery in Belfast
has been released without charge.

Detectives have been granted a further three days to
question a 24-year-old man, understood to be bank employee
Chris Ward.

Both were arrested at different addresses early on Tuesday.

After the bank robbery, Mr Ward described on television how
he was held captive in the run-up to the raid.

The details were given in an interview with the BBC's
Spotlight programme.

Missing millions

Mr Ward described in detail how he and a male colleague
were forced to facilitate the theft of millions of pounds
from the cash centre of the Northern Bank's headquarters.

Police Land Rovers arrived at the Ward family home in the
Poleglass area of west Belfast at about 0600 GMT on

Earlier this month, police investigating the robbery
arrested several people.

Of the 10 people questioned to date in connection with the
robbery, three have already appeared in court.

The robbery happened at the bank's Northern Ireland
headquarters at Donegall Square West just before Christmas
last year.

Some money seized in County Cork last February was linked
to the robbery, but virtually all of the missing millions
remain unrecovered.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde subsequently blamed the IRA
for the raid.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/30 20:31:15 GMT


Spicer: Belfast, Now Baghdad?

Uproar over Iraq shootings linked to Spicer company

By Ray O'Hanlon

A security company run by controversial former British army
officer Tim Spicer has been linked in a newspaper report to
alleged shootings of civilians in Iraq.

Aegis Defence Services is working in Iraq with funding from
the U.S. Defense Department.

The London-published Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported
that a "trophy video" appeared to show security guards in
Baghdad "randomly shooting Iraqi civilians"

The video, which has been seen by the Echo, shows four
separate clips in which automatic fire is directed from the
rear of an SUV.

In one of the clips, a Mercedes car traveling behind the
SUV is hit and rams into another car stopped on the road.
People are seen running from the car that was struck by the
Mercedes - but nobody gets out of the Mercedes itself.

Another clip shows fire being directed, seemingly at
random, at the street surface and then directed at a car
again driving behind the SUV. The car pulls in to side of
the road and this time a man gets out.

Yet another clip clearly shows bullets striking the hood of
a car and the car lurching to halt. Nobody is seen getting

At one point a spent bullet round appears in the video
camera lens inside the SUV. Voices speaking English are
also heard inside the SUV.

The four clips are accompanied by an Elvis Presley

The Derry-based Pat Finucane Center has raised the
allegations surrounding the video clips with the U.S.
consul general in Belfast.

The Sunday Telegraph stated that the video initially came
to light on a website that had been "linked unofficially"
to Aegis Defence Services and was apparently set up by and
for current and former employees of the company.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, all of the shooting
incidents apparently took place on "Route Irish", a route
that runs between Baghdad and its airport.

Route Irish, considered the most dangerous stretch of
highway in the world right now, got its name from New
York's Fighting 69th regiment which recently returned to
the U.S. after a tour of duty in Iraq.

The famed unit was operating in the Baghdad area where it
was assigned to patrolling and convoy duty on what duly
became known "Route Irish."

The Telegraph story included its own descriptions of the

In one of the videotaped attacks, the paper reported: "a
Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards
before it crashes in to a civilian taxi.

"In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with
machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security
company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle
before it comes to a slow stop."

The report added that there were "no clues" as to the
shooter "but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard
in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley's Mystery
Train, the music which accompanies the video."

Since the Sunday Telegraph report the shootings have been
linked on various websites to a South African member of an
Aegis "Victory Team."

Aegis Defense Services has denied that there is any
evidence linking the video clips to the company, but it is
carrying out an investigation into the allegations

The British Foreign Office has stated that the allegations
are the concern of the U.S. authorities because Aegis was
contracted by the Pentagon.

Civilian security companies working under contract in Iraq
must conform to the same rules as the U.S. military when it
comes to opening fire.

The Sunday Telegraph reported a senior Iraqi interior
ministry spokesman as saying that there had been numerous
claims of private security company personnel opening fire
on civilians.

"When the security companies kill people they just drive
away and nothing is done. Sometimes we ring the companies
concerned and they deny everything. The families don't get
any money or compensation. I would say we have had about
50-60 incidents of this kind." Capt Adnan Tawfiq told the

Spicer and Aegis were last year granted a $293 million
contract by the Pentagon for security and reconstruction
work in Iraq.

The contract sparked a transatlantic controversy because of
Spicer's past record in Northern Ireland where, in the rank
of lieutenant colonel, he commanded the Scots Guards
regiment during a tour of duty in the early 1990s.

Soldiers in that regiment shot and killed Belfast teenager
Peter McBride in September of 1992. Spicer subsequently
defended the actions of his men.

Two members of the regiment were tried for murder,
convicted and sentenced to life. However, they were
released after six years and reinstated in the unit.

Earlier this year, Spicer threatened to sue the Irish Echo
and a member of the British parliament in the London High

The threat followed in the wake of a report in the Echo
that, among other things, pointed to U.S. criticism of the
manner in which Aegis has been operating in Iraq.

A strongly critical report by the Office of the Special
Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has cited Aegis
for not complying with a number of requirements contained
in the contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The criticism rested in part on rules concerning guns and
their use.

The report stated that Aegis had been unable to provide
correct documents to verify that its employees were
qualified to use weapons.

The basis for the Pat Finucane Center's objection to the
Iraq contract is rooted solely in the death of Peter

Spicer was not present at the scene of the shooting which
took place September 4, 1992 in Belfast's Upper Meadow

McBride was shot in the back moments after being searched
by a sergeant attached to the same patrol as the soldiers
who fired their weapons. No weapon had been found on the
teenager prior to shooting and none was found after it.

Despite his absence from the scene, Spicer's position as
commander of the regiment was to draw him to the center of
the furious controversy that followed the death of the
teenager, a controversy that continues to this day.

In its stated objection to the Iraq contract, first relayed
to the Pentagon last December, the PFC stated that the
"allegation" against Spicer was not that he advocated for
the release of the two soldiers from prison after the
shooting of McBride.

"The issue is that he opposed their arrest and opposed
their being charged with any offense whatsoever. In a sworn
affidavit, and again in his autobiography, Spicer has
sought to portray an entirely fictitious and untruthful
version of the events preceding, during and following the
actual murder," the center stated.

Spicer defended the actions of the two soldiers in a letter
to the Times of London on the grounds that both believed
they were involved in a terrorist incident and had
accordingly acted in good faith, in accordance with the
law, the rules of engagement, and their military training.

The Pentagon has rejected challenges to the Aegis contract.

The Department of The Army wrote five U.S. senators stating
that the decision to award the contract to the Spicer-run
Aegis Defense Services in May, 2004 was a "well founded"

The five senators, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Edward
Kennedy, Chris Dodd and John Kerry wrote Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld in August, 2004 calling on him to
investigate the granting of the contract to Aegis.

In the letter, the senators pointed to Spicer's record in
Northern Ireland and allegations of his involvement in
illicit arms deals in Africa.

The response to the senators' letter came not from
Rumsfeld, but from Sandra Sieber, director of the U.S. Army
Contracting Agency.

Sieber wrote that neither Aegis nor Spicer were on the U.S.
General Services Administration list of parties excluded
from federal contracting. She said that the contracting
officer responsible for selecting Aegis had not been aware
of human rights allegations against Spicer and Aegis at the
time the contract decision was made.

"However, our post-award review of the facts surrounding
these matters did not establish that Mr. Spicer's advocacy
on behalf of his former soldiers had any bearing on his or
Aegis's record of integrity and business ethics," Sieber

The Pat Finucane Center said in a statement this week that
it was not yet possible to ascertain exactly which private
security contractors were involved in the video clips.

"But two issues are of note from our perspective. Aegis has
been tasked by the Pentagon to co-ordinate all private
security transports in Iraq. Either the company was unaware
of the incidents in question, which should raise concerns
about how the contract is being fulfilled, or Aegis was
aware of the allegations and chose to do nothing," the
statement said.

"The second issue concerns the response of the British
Foreign Office (FCO) to the allegations. It seems strange
that allegations that British citizens are involved in
human rights abuses should be a matter for a foreign
government," the statement added.

The center's Paul O'Connor, who was in Washington last week
attempting to drum up congressional support for a
rescinding of the Aegis contract, told the Echo that the
"unofficial" website contained a message board which
indicated widespread use of drugs and alcohol by Aegis
employees in Iraq.

He said that there indications of "alcohol runs" by
security convoys and also "dummy runs" to pick up people
who simply did not exist.

"If these allegations bear out they will be pretty
damaging. We don't have proof that Aegis employees were
involved, but the video and the message board needs to be
investigated. We have advised the U.S. consul in Belfast on
this," O'Connor said.

One of messages on the message board refers to the video
and reads in part: "Let me explain how the public is going
to see this: It looks like adolescent jerkoffs playing
Grand Theft Auto and killing people that try to pass their

"There is no indication in the video that they are
escorting a convoy, or that targets are given any sort of
warning besides flying lead. When the convoy comes to a
stop on the empty highway and still shoots at people
approaching way too fast to read any warning signs or even
know what the f... is going on, it looks like the Aegis
guys are intentionally slowing down to f... with these
people and do them harm.

"But the cream of it all is the soundtrack. Music that says
'just another day at the grindstone, shooting at people
taking their kids to school'. Ha ha, I didn't start this
post to rip you guys up but it just occurred to me, you're
being paid to INCREASE security in Iraq? This is what
increased security looks like? Security for who,

This story appeared in the issue of November 30 - December
6, 2005


Playwright Forced Out By Loyalists

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Belfast playwright Gary Mitchell and his family have been
forced out of their home in Glengormley in Newtownabbey by
loyalist paramilitaries. His parents were recently forced
to leave their home in Rathcoole, also in Newtownabbey, by
the same "rogue" elements, according to the writer.

The family has been subjected to a spate of attacks by
paramilitaries, partly motivated by their aversion to the
manner in which the playwright depicted loyalism in plays
such as the award-winning In A Little World of Our Own,
notwithstanding the fact Mr Mitchell comes from such a
background himself.

Last week Mr Mitchell's Glengormley home was petrol-bombed
by loyalists while he, his wife, Alison, seven-year-old son
Harry and his disabled father Chuck were in the house.

Alison described on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme
yesterday how her terrified son said to her, "I am going to
die, aren't I?" and how, during the ordeal, Chuck Mitchell
had a heart attack. The playwright and his family were
ordered to leave the home and not return. They are now
staying with relatives.

Chuck Mitchell and his wife Sandra were forced from their
home in Rathcoole seven months earlier after a campaign of
intimidation, said Gary Mitchell.

His grandmother was also intimidated but she refused to
leave her home. She died last week. The Mitchells had to
have a police escort to attend her funeral because of the
paramilitary threats, which were also directed at his
uncle, said the playwright.

He believed "rogue" paramilitaries were involved and that
the attacks were as a result of how he depicted loyalism
and also because of a domestic event that had got out of
hand. "I do know that there are petty jealousies and people
want to settle, maybe, scores [ at] how they were depicted
or how they feel loyalism is depicted," he said.

"But I think this is more to do with a domestic situation
that has gone very, very wrong, and this has escalated now
to rogue paramilitaries threatening my whole family who are
not involved in this in any shape or form."

© The Irish Times


Award-Winning Dramatist

Deirdre Falvey, Arts Editor

From a working-class, Northern Protestant background,
Gary Mitchell came to notice in the Republic in 1997 with
Connall Morrison's production of his In A Little World of
Our Own at the Peacock.

Its gripping and unflinching portrayal of loyalist culture
won it an Irish Times Theatre Award for best new play, and
it later went to Belfast as part of an Abbey tour. The
following year the Peacock produced As The Beast Sleeps.

He has said it was difficult to have his plays produced in
Belfast, and his works have also premiered at London's
Royal Court.

He won the prestigious Stewart Parker Award for Independent
Voice; other accolades include the George Devine Award and
the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most
Promising Playwright.

© The Irish Times


Ex-Orange Leader On Parades Body

A former district master of the Orange Order in Portadown
has been appointed to the Parades Commission.

David Burrows came to prominence during the Drumcree parade
dispute but resigned from a senior post in the Order this
year for personal reasons.

However, Mr Burrows still remains a member of the Orange

In a joint statement, the loyal orders said they intended
to engage with the government on the parades issue in the
New Year.

The Orange Order, the Royal Black Institution and the
Independent Loyal Orange Institution issued the statement
following the announcement of new appointments to the

The institutions said it was their intention to engage with
the government and other stakeholders "in a positive way to
enable a permanent resolution of the issues surrounding

The new chairman of the commission has been named as Roger
Poole, a former trade unionist from England, who will lead
a new team of six other commissioners.

Mr Poole is a former assistant general secretary of the
Unison union.

He also had a prominent role as a chief negotiator of the
national ambulance strike of 1989 to 1990.

He was also a key player in the merger of trade unions NUPE
and COSI which formed Unison.

It is understood Mr Poole is already in Belfast preparing
for his new role.

Donald MacKay, an Orangeman and former Ulster Unionist
councillor on Craigavon Borough Council who is now a member
of the DUP, has also been appointed, as has former SDLP MP
Joe Hendron.

There was not a single woman on the outgoing Parades
Commission, however, Ann Monaghan, who once stood for the
Women's Coalition, Vilma Patterson and Alison Scott-
McKinley have been appointed.

All of the new appointments will take up their posts in

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has challenged the
new commissioners to "make contentious parades a thing of
the past".


"I am appointing this commission with a mandate to work
itself out of a job by helping to create an environment in
which accommodations on parades can be made between the two
communities without the need for formal determinations," he

"I am confident that Roger's down to earth approach and
willingness to engage with people will help move parades
towards a new era and that he will be ably supported by the
rest of the commission."

Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey said many
nationalists would be concerned at Mr Burrows' appointment.

"Mr Burrows has been to the forefront of the campaign to
force an unwanted and unwelcome sectarian parade through
the nationalist community in Portadown," he said.

Breandan MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents
Coalition claimed the appointments lacked balance.

"One thing that is very striking is the lack of balance in
the appointments to this commission," he said.

"Given that you have two members of the loyal orders, you
have two people who are involved in District Policing
Partnerships and no-one who can be said to be coming from
any of the communities directly affected by contentious

The UUP's Michael Copeland said appointing new members
without changing the legislation would not assist in making
the Pardes Commission any more acceptable.

"I'm reserving judgment on the make up of this new
commission," he said.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions
on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on
controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/30 22:34:15 GMT


New Parades Commission Make-Up Revealed

Published on 01/12/2005

A former nationalist MP and a prominent Orangeman are to
serve on the next Parades Commission in Northern Ireland.

Doctor Joe Hendron, a former SDLP MP, who unseated Sin Fein
president Gerry Adams, in west Belfast in 1992, was among
three men and three women chosen for the new look
commission which will be chaired by former trade unionist,
Roger Poole.

But he will also be joined by David Burrows, a Portadown
Orangeman, who was barred from marching down the
nationalist Garvaghy Road in the Drumcree parades dispute
from 1998.

It is also understood that Northern Ireland Secretary,
Peter Hain, has appointed to the commission Anne Monaghan,
a former Women's Coalition election candidate and
independent member of Belfast's District Policing

Other commission members include Donald MacKay, a fireman
for 26 years who has been a member of the Orange Order, and
the Royal Black Institution, Vilma Patterson, a former
chair of the Women in Business Network and Alison Scott-
McKinley, a lay magistrate and former independent member of
Magherafelt District Policing Partnership.

Mr Poole will take over from Tony Holland as chairman of
the Parades Commission in the New Year.

He is a former Assistant General Secretary of the health
unions, NUPE and Unison. In 1989 and 1990, he was the
public face of the ambulance dispute as a chief union

Mr Poole also played a key role in the merger of three
trade unions to form Unison and in 1999, he was part of the
team established by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to examine
the future of the Co-operative Movement.

Following the appointments, Northern Ireland Secretary,
Peter Hain challenged the new members of the commission to
help make contentious parades a thing of the past.

"These appointments bring a completely new dynamic to the
Parades Commission," he said.

Mr Hain said the best way to resolve disputed parades was
through local dialogue and agreement based on respect for
each other's rights, traditions and sensitivities.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said he had asked the
commission to look afresh at its procedures and practices
and work itself out of a job.

He said violence following a parade in the Whiterock area
of west Belfast in September cost millions of pounds of
taxpayers' money, but had an even greater cost in terms of
community relations.

Three of Northern Ireland's Protestant marching
organisations tonight issued a joint statement claiming the
Commission still had deep flaws.

But the leaders of the Orange Order, Royal Black
Institution and Independent Orange Institution - who have
refused to talk with the body - pledged to work with the
Government to resolve the problems.

Barry Weir


Legislation On OTRs Should Not Apply To Crown Forces

Published: 30 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness today said
that the legislation required to deal with the small number
of OTRs should not apply in any way to members of the
British State Forces.

Mr McGuinness said:

" Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the inclusion of British
state forces in the current OTR legislation. The British
government is responsible for British state killings and
the policy of collusion with unionist death squads. The
British government is responsible for the decades of cover
up and concealment which have accompanied this policy.

" Sinn Féin members were a primary target of the policy of
collusion and political assassination operated by the
British state. When others were in denial about this policy
Sinn Féin was the only party which stood by the families.
That remains our unswerving position.

" As both the British and Irish governments have admitted,
the inclusion of British state forces in the current
legislation was never discussed with Sinn Féin. It was
never agreed by Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin has made clear to the
British government that the legislation should apply only
to OTRs and not to British state forces." ENDS


Fugitives Pardons Plan 'Constitutional'

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The Government's plans to have President Mary McAleese
pardon paramilitary on-the-runs is constitutional, former
taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald said.

Disagreeing with Fine Gael's objections to the
controversial plan, Dr Fitzgerald told The Irish Times: "I
think [ Fine Gael] are wrong on this one." The former
taoiseach is a member of the Council of State, which can be
called on by President McAleese for advice on difficult

However, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, speaking in the Dáil
yesterday, has hinted that the Government may alter its
proposals "if valid reasons" are put forward.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform may
consider imposing a time limit on the pardon scheme, which
is now open-ended.

Under the current plan, ex-paramilitaries could claim a
pardon at any point in the future if they came under
suspicion for crimes committed up to April 1998.

"The fact that there isn't [ an end date] doesn't mean that
there won't be one. No final decision has been taken," said
a department spokeswoman.

"It is an ex-gratia scheme. We can put in a date whenever
we want. The eligibility body [ which will make
recommendations to the Government] is not going to remain
in office indefinitely."

Mr Ahern yesterday defended the plan, which will see
paramilitaries enjoying a lifetime guarantee of freedom
from prosecution. "It does not turn back the clock of time
and treat what occurred as if it never took place. It does
not undo the wrong.

"The power of pardon is separate and distinct from the
power to commute or remit the punishment. Moreover, the
power of pardon is not an administration of justice but an
act by the President acting on the advice of the
Government," he told Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Article 13.6 of the Constitution states: "The right of
pardon and the power to commute or remit punishment imposed
by any court exercising criminal jurisdiction are hereby
vested in the President, but such power of commutation or
remission may also be conferred by law on other

Mr Ahern rejected Mr Kenny's charge that the on-the-runs
legislation was agreed during "secret talks" with Sinn

Mr Kenny said: "I would have expected that the Government,
rather than dragging the presidency down a route of dubious
constitutionality, would have made arrangements for the
persons in question to attend before a court to proclaim
their guilt before being released on licence which could be
revoked if, under unfortunate circumstances, matters were
to reverse. A presidential pardon is irreversible and

The 45 paramilitary prisoners released by the Government in
the wake of the Belfast Agreement were all released under
licence, and can be sent back to jail with no need for a
further trial if suspected of illegal activity. The
Taoiseach said other countries, such as the US,
"frequently" used presidential pardons. Acknowledging that
on-the-runs must be dealt with, Labour leader Pat Rabbitte
said people should be required to come forward, admit their
guilt and then be released.

British soldiers and ex-RUC officers guilty of "dozens and
dozens of murders" will now get off "scot-free" because
they will also be able to qualify because of a "secret
deal" between Sinn Féin and the British government.

However, Mr Ahern defended Sinn Féin: "Whatever else I
accuse Sinn Féin of, and I have accused them of many
things, I do not think that they were in a side-deal trying
to arrange amnesties for British soldiers."

Last night, The Irish Times was reliably told that the
Government only learned of the British plan to grant an
amnesty to soldiers and police the day before the
legislation was put before the House of Commons.

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach refused to defend the British
decision: "The British decided that they had to do those
things and they are doing so, but I will not sign up to
matters on which I had no discussions."

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin To Meet Taoiseach In Government Buildings

Published: 30 November, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will lead a party
delegation to meet with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in
Government Buildings at 2pm tomorrow, Thursday 1st
December. Also on the Sinn Féin delegation will be Martin
McGuinness MP, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Mary Lou McDonald
MEP and Caitríona Ruane MLA.

Among the main items to be discussed are efforts to restore
the political institutions in the Six Counties and the
Taoiseach's proposals for northern representation in the

Sinn Féin will also raise the blatantly political policing
which resulted in the detention of MLA Francie Brolly and
the ongoing controversy regarding the fact that details of
hundreds of republicans and nationalists were stolen from
Castlereagh PSNI base and handed to one of the unionist
paramilitary groups.

Mr. Adams also intends to raise the issue of Irish Ferries.


WEDNESDAY 30/11/2005 17:54:27

Police Officers 'Undermining Peace Process' - Adams

Some police officers in Northern Ireland opposed to power
sharing and the Good Friday Agreement are intent on
undermining the process, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
claimed today.

By:Press Association

As Sinn Fein Assembly member Francie Brolly continued to be
questioned by detectives investigating an IRA triple car
bomb attack which killed nine people in Claudy, Co
Londonderry in 1972, Mr Adams claimed political policing
was being allowed to go unchecked in Northern Ireland.

He also said the remaining challenge for the British
Government was to make policing more accountable by
transferring policing and justice powers from Westminster
to a new devolved administration at Stormont.

As he confirmed more republicans in west Belfast had been
told their lives were in danger following the discovery of
a security forces dossier containing their personal details
in loyalist hands, Mr Adams said: "Hugh Orde said in early
2003 that there are some in the PSNI who want him to fail.

"I believe that there are still securocrats who want the
Agreement, power-sharing and negotiations for a new
beginning to policing, to fail.

"The evidence of the last three years shows that many of
them are still in the PSNI."

In November 2001, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was
overwhelmingly Protestant, became the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) following reforms introduced by the

In a bid to increase Catholic and nationalist numbers, half
of all PSNI recruits are drawn from the Catholic community
while hundreds of RUC officers also left the force under a
severance package.

With police accountability regarded a key issue for
nationalists, Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde and his officers are answerable to a Policing Board
made up of locally elected politicians and independent
members and to local district policing partnerships.

Complaints against the police are also investigated by the
Police Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan`s investigative team.

The nationalist SDLP, Irish government and Catholic bishops
have backed the reforms and the Irish sporting
organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association lifted a ban
on police officers playing Gaelic football and hurling.

However, Sinn Fein has withheld its support, claiming the
reforms do not go far enough.

Mr Adams today accused the SDLP of jumping too soon to
endorse policing and said the party was to blame for
political policing.

"In four years on the Policing Board, they have failed to
hold the political detectives publicly to account and
failed to end collusion and political policing," he said.

"In Westminster two weeks ago, their MPs voted for the
reintroduction of 28-day detention orders, taking us back
to the days of the old Special Powers Act opposed by the
Civil Rights movement."

The Sinn Fein leader said his party wanted to ensure there
would be no safe haven for politically-motivated policing
in the future.

The West Belfast MP reported: "In negotiations on policing
and justice since the Agreement, we have made huge

"The core outstanding issue now is the transfer of powers
on policing and justice away from London and out of the
hands of British securocrats.

"Only in that way can policing be made democratically
accountable and a new beginning to policing on this island
be attainable."

Nationalist SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness MLA
said it was extraordinary that Sinn Fein was attacking the
SDLP on collusion after their leadership had sold out the
victims of collusion in the Northern Ireland Offences Bill.

The North Belfast MLA said: "It was not the SDLP that came
out of Leeds Castle waving a paper on a Finucane inquiry
that allowed a Finucane inquiry to be muzzled by the
British Government. It was Gerry Adams.

"It was not the SDLP who said that it was naïve to expect
state killers to be brought to justice. It was Martin
McGuinness on `Hearts and Minds` on 10 November.

"As for 28 day detention, the SDLP had to vote in favour of
this tactically to stave off 90 day detention. Mark Durkan
was asked by Tony Blair to just stay away from the vote and
abstain, like Sinn Fein do.

"We refused to do so. People know that."


Annan Praises Irish Role In The UN

Denis Staunton in New York

United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan described
Ireland as one of the most effective UN member states, at a
lunch at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday to mark
50 years of Ireland's membership of the organisation.

"Ireland has been very active in the UN, especially in
peacekeeping. As we speak, you have brave Irish men and
women working with the UN peacekeeping operation in
Liberia. . . I don't know what the UN would have been like
over the past 50 years without your contribution," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said the UN has been
the cornerstone of Ireland's foreign policy and that the
State's participation in the European Union's emerging
foreign and security policy complements and enhances its UN

"The United Nations is as indispensable today as it was the
day it was founded. It represents the entire human family
and can at different times reflect all that is noblest and,
unfortunately, all that is most base in humanity. We cannot
ignore its shortcomings. But neither should we turn away
from it because of them," he said.

Yesterday's lunch, which was organised by Glucksman Ireland
House, came at the start of Mr Ahern's seventh visit to the
US this year. In Washington today, he will meet secretary
of state Condoleezza Rice, Senator Edward Kennedy and US
special envoy for Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss.

Mr Ahern will seek fresh assurances that no aircraft
involved in "rendition" - transferring prisoners to third
countries for interrogation - have landed at Irish
airports. "We have no evidence that any plane of that sort
came to Ireland and we've made it clear to the Americans
that we would not support that. . .We will not allow our
territory to be used in breach of international norms and
laws," he told The Irish Times.

Mr Ahern welcomed a proposal from President George W Bush
to increase the number of green cards offered to immigrants
to the US but said he was disappointed that Mr Bush's plan
for temporary worker visas did not include an automatic
path to citizenship.

The Minister welcomed the formation of a new Irish-American
immigration lobbying group, led by Irish Voice publisher
Niall O'Dowd and former congressman Bruce Morrison. The
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform hopes to use the
political influence of Irish-America in support of
immigration reform that could benefit undocumented Irish

© The Irish Times


Agreeing To Differ At Mountnugent Peace Conference

Crover House Hotel was the venue for the Peace &
Reconciliation Síocháin Project Conference titled `Agree to
differ` hosted by the Kilnaleck & District Community Co-Op
Society and supported by the European Union. Back; Doris
Galligan, Brian Boylan (London Emmigrants) Joe McLoughlin
(Co. Council) Alan Brecknell (speaker) Sean Lynch (speaker)
Anthony O`Reilly (Speaker) Front; Patricia Acheson, Sheila
Rooney, Pauline MaCauley, Frank Galligan, Marie O`Reilly

By Sean McMahon

Picture the scene, a former IRA volunteer in the same room
as the wife of a former RUC man at a peace and
reconciliation conference, and the Republican publicly
acknowledging that a soldier from the British Army saved
his life in Fermanagh, fairly convincing evidence that
talking has replaced war in Ireland.

The conference, organised by the Kilnaleck & District
Community Co-Op Society was a great success and the
poignant stories from victims of various bombing incidents
made compelling listening in Crover House on Saturday last.

This Siochain Peace and Reconciliation project was funded
by ADM/Combat Poverty Association under the EU Peace 11
programme and part financed by the Irish Government. Under
the Peace 11 programme to date §4.7 million has been
committed to 22 projects in County Cavan.

Prisoner recalls

Ex Republican prisoner and IRA Volunteer, Sean Lynch from
Co. Fermanagh said he was walking through the wings of Long
Kesh in Christmas week, 1986 and facing 25 years in jail.
He was recovering from the incident in which he was

Sean Lynch told the gathering that he joined the Republican
Struggle in the early 1970's.

"In April, 1986, while on active service for the IRA,
myself and another IRA volunteer were ambushed by the SAS
on the Roslea/Monaghan Border. The other volunteer was
actually captured and was executed after he was questioned.
I was not captured for a couple of hours, but I was severly
injured, I was shot six times".

He told those present that at the time a lot of republican
sympathisers would have rejoiced in the killing of British
soldiers. "But, it was a British soldier who actually saved
my life that day in the field and I will acknowledge that.
I have never met him, but I will acknowledge that he
actually saved my life".

Sean Lynch said that Republican prisoners used Prison and
the facilities to enhance their lives and be ready for a
return to society. He studied for a degree in social
science and learned the Irish language.

He told an enraptured audience that around 100 republican
prisoners obtained degrees while he was in prison. Some of
them went on to study for their Masters degree. "We had
access to computers, long before people had them outside".
They also studied about other struggles, including South

"Unless we look at where everyone else is coming from, we
will not be able to resolve the conflict. We do need to
solve it, otherwise in 30 or 40 years, sombody else will
lift a gun, and we are all back in the same situation". He
told the audience that he was now on the Board of Governors
of a very thriving Irish Language School in Lisnaskea.

He said there were 30 Sinn Fein negotiators involved in the
Good Friday Agreement, and 28 of them were ex-prisoners.

Mr Lynch expressed the view that the Island was coming
together. "I think we have to sit down and talk and
outreach to our Protestant neighbours. Most Protestants
don't trust the British Government, and quite a few of them
will acknowledge that the Island of Ireland is coming
together. We are saying to them that they are going to be a
very important sector of people in the new Ireland".

RUC officer's wife

Sheila Rooney said she was speaking as the wife of an RUC
Officer who served for 16 during the troubles. She also
revealed that she was the victim of an IRA pub bomb on New
Year's Eve, 1975, when three people were killed.

She related that her husband joined the RUC because it was
a good job, and not because he hated anyone or wanted

A bomb was placed under their car and she has tried to
imagine over the intervening years, the mindset of those
who decided to make and plant that bomb. "I could have got
into that car with my children". Her husband sustained
serious leg injuries in that blast. "He refused to let the
surgeon remove his legs, and thankfully, almost 26 years
later, he still has them, eventhough the backs were blown
off them".

"I'm not saying that I am bitter. I did not have time to be
bitter. I felt that if I had become bitter, I would become
like the ones who planted the bomb", she said.

Her solution was to move on to a higher plane and rise
above it. "The first night I said to my son's to pray for
the people who did it. They needed the forgiveness".

She also related an occasion when her husband had to
recover body parts from a tree following another bombing.
"There was no support or counselling. From my point of view
as the wife of an injured police officer, we got no

Sheila said she loved the Irish culture and said that she
was propably a nationalist protestant. She also pointed out
that her Irish identity was robbed from her because she was
the wife of an RUC Officer.

Leave the past behind

Alan Brecknell whose father was murdered with two others at
Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge, South Armagh urged everyone
to leave the past behind them and move on. "As I said
before, we all played a part in the conflict. British and
Irish Governments also played their part and it is up to us
all to acknowledge our part in our history, and work
together to ensure that this never happens again on this

He added to achieve "this goal of reconciliation we must
therefore have an appreciation of what did happen over the
25 years of the troubles. I believe to get this
appreciation we have to ask the hard questions and demand
the answers from those who participated".

He added that the road to reconciliation was a difficult
one. "However, for the sake of future generations, it is a
road that we must definitely take and must remember that
the longest journey commences with the smallest step.
Dealing with our troubled past is one of the first steps we
have to take".

Anthony O'Reilly, Drumacon, Belturbet revealed that his
sister Geraldine was killed in the Belturbet Bomb in 1972,
together with young Patrick Stanley from County Offaly.

Anthony's wife Marie addressed the conference and quoted
from a speech drafted by both her husband and herself;
"They say that time heals, but in this case, without
justice, it can't", said Marie.

She added that Justice needs to be seen to be done and the
blame put where it belongs, - on the shoulders of the
terrorists and they should be named and shamed.

"It is time to put down arms and give talking a chance and
let the politicians to the job they are paid to do".

Marie said that through the ongoing advance of time and
reconciliation programmes "we are able to leave the
memories of that tragic time there and move on. For Anthony
and I to move on with life, we have to leave these things

The Justice for the Forgotton Commission is providing
funding to have a memorial erected in Belturbet, in memory
of the two young people who were killed.

Marie reminded the audience that these were two innocent
young people who were not into politics and their lives
were snatched away.

From the audience T.P. Ennis suggested that "we are living
in a very tolerent community. We have a village here where
a 50 per cent addition to the population comes from Eastern
Europe, and I think it is fair to say that not a hard word
was uttered to one of them in the past five years".

Councillor Charlie Boylan said that during the 30 years of
conflict, "I was greatly satisfied, that during that period
that no incident took place in County Cavan, which one
could say was of a serious sectarian nature". He added that
there was very little sectarianism in this county. "As
someone who has worked alongside protestants for a long
number of years and has a good relationship with them, I am
very proud to say that the republican people of Cavan,
together with our friends and neighbours, were able to keep
their cool and look forward to something better in the
future. I have no doubt as things stand today, that
progress can and will be made.

He complimented the Kilnaleck group on their initiative and
said that "meetings like this will help to further that
better future", he concluded.

Brian Boylan said that he worked with elderly Irish
emigrants in London from both persuasions. There are
800,000 Irish born people in the UK.

"We have all the rights of UK citizens and it seems
remarkable to me that in the whole attempt to get different
perspectives and to consult with the different groups with
a view to resolving the problems in Northern Ireland, we
alone are excluded", he said.

The Irish living in England had a unique experience and yet
"they have no voice". He added that the Irish in England
"are a forgotton hidden people".

"Just because we were living over there, did not mean we
were immune to what was going on here. When a Bomb went off
in the UK, we felt the reverberations. We had to keep our
heads and voices low, and maybe that is a contributary
factor in us never demanding a voice".


Loyalist Flags To Be Removed Before Best's Funeral

All loyalist flags and graffiti will be cleared from the
Belfast estate where George Best's funeral begins,
paramilitary chiefs pledged tonight.

By:Press Association

The Ulster Volunteer Force revealed an agreement had been
reached to clean up the streets surrounding the family

Any tattered emblems along the funeral route are also to be
taken down, a senior representative claimed.

He said: "We know the world`s media will be there on
Saturday and we don`t want Belfast or Northern Ireland to
be portrayed as moronic.

"We are sympathetic to the Best family and we will be doing
everything we can to make the funeral go according to

The Manchester United legend`s coffin will leave his father
Dickie`s home on the Protestant Cregagh estate after a
private service on Saturday.

It will be taken along a three-mile route lined by hundreds
of thousands of mourners for a ceremony at Stormont.

But away from the grandeur of Parliament Buildings, where
the footballing elite and celebrities will gather with
relatives, moves have been made to remove any offensive

The UVF has already allowed nine of its militaristic murals
in east Belfast to be replaced with cultural images.

As well as paintings reflecting the district`s shipbuilding
history, an iconic depiction of Best on the city`s
Woodstock Road has been turned into a memorial since his

The UVF has also been in talks with the Northern Ireland
Housing Executive, along with the Ulster Defence
Association and Red Hand Commando, about getting rid of
more flags in that part of the city.

Although the organisation stressed it could take months to
complete, a major effort would be made for the funeral.

"We are not people with horns, we are ordinary guys," the
UVF chief said.

"I loved George Best. they talk about Maradona, Cruyff and
Eusebio, but none of them could have laced his boots.

"The flags and graffiti in the estate will be removed.

"Most of us are family men and we know the score on

Sammy Douglas, an east Belfast community activist who has
been involved in cleaning up some hardline political street
slogans, praised the loyalists for taking the initiative.

He said: "A lot of these people are big time George Best
supporters and they know the world`s focus is going to be
on here.

"We want to present a good image that east Belfast is
moving forward."


Pele To Attend Best Funeral

It has been confirmed that Brazilian football legend Pele
will attend George Best's funeral at Stormont on Saturday.

There will be a family service at Best`s family home in
Burren Way in Belfast, after which the coffin will be
transported to Stormont grounds by a police escort via
Cregagh Road, the Knock Dual Carriageway, and the Upper
Newtownards Road.

The hearse will enter the Stormont grounds at the main
gates. It will then proceed along the Prince of Wales
Avenue to the Parliament Building.

There will be a commemorative service in the Great Hall
that will be attended by approximately 300 family, friends
and dignitaries.

The Service will be relayed via 'big screen' and loud
speakers to an expected audience in the grounds of the
Stormont Estate, which will be limited to 30,000 people.

After the service the funeral procession will proceed back
down the Prince of Wales avenue and makes its way to the
cemetery at Roselawn where a private burial will take
place, via the Upper Newtownards Road, the Knock Dual
Carriageway and the Ballygown Road.

The funeral arrangements will be coordinated by Castlereagh
Borough Council and involve the: Best family, a number of
Government Agencies, Wonderland Promotions, the PSNI and
St.John's Ambulance / the Red Cross.

The Mayor of Castlereagh, Councillor Tommy Jeffers said:'I
had the fortunate pleasure of meeting with George Best a
few years ago and found him to be an absolute gentleman.

"He will be sadly missed by all in Northern Ireland and
across the world. A true football legend. I am sure many
will want to come and pay their last respects to George on

"On behalf of Castlereagh Borough Council I would like to
pass out condolences to the Best Family at this difficult


Amnesty International's Secretary General Meets McCartney Sisters

Today, Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene
Khan, and Amnesty International UK's Director, Kate Allen,
met with three of the sisters of Robert McCartney -
Catherine, Paula and Gemma.

At the meeting, the Secretary General pledged the
organization's full support for the McCartney family's call
for justice and not revenge for the murder of Robert

The McCartney family's call for justice, rather than
revenge, is a commendable demonstration of courage in
today's world, and the organization supports the family and
fiancée of Robert McCartney in their campaign to ensure
that the perpetrators of his killing in Belfast on 30
January 2005 are brought to justice

The search for justice by the sisters and fiancée of Robert
McCartney is a powerful reminder to us all of how
individuals, motivated by a sense of justice, can help a
society embrace fundamental change and lead to better
respect for human rights

Last week one man was charged with the murder of Robert
McCartney, and another with the attempted murder of his
friend Brendan Devine. However, like the McCartney family,
Amnesty International believes that a number of others were
also involved in the attack, including those who were
responsible in a cover-up operation which apparently took
place in its immediate aftermath. Amnesty International
believes that they too should be brought to justice

The organization condemns unreservedly any intimidation of
witnesses who wish to provide information to the
authorities in connection with the killing of Robert
McCartney and any other criminal acts. The rule of law can
only be upheld if witnesses are able to present
information, free from the fear or threat of intimidation
or reprisal

Amnesty International has also condemned unreservedly the
threats made against the McCartney sisters in mid-May 2005.
The organization calls on the UK authorities to take all
necessary measures to ensure the safety of the McCartney
sisters and their family members.


Robert McCartney was killed in Belfast, Northern Ireland,
on 30 January 2005 as a result of an attack outside a pub
near the town centre. His friend, Brendan Devine, was also
seriously injured in the attack.

According to the PSNI, the attack was carried out by
members of the Provisional IRA, although not sanctioned by
the group.


Sorcha Cusack In Devlin Role At Forum

By Erin Hutcheon
Tuesday 30th August 2005

Like most Irish people, Sorcha Cusack will never forget the
events that occurred in Derry on January 30, 1972.

A university student at the time, Sorcha vividly remembers
returning home to find her mother weeping after discovering
that 13 people had been shot in Derry.

"My mother had been very sick at the time of Bloody
Sunday," explained the Irish actress.

"And I remember her weeping when I arrived home. She kept
saying '13 of my people have been shot this afternoon.'

"She was distraught. "My mother was born and bred in Derry,
and she often talked about it. "Her reaction to the news of
Bloody Sunday really affected me that day and left me
shocked. I'll never forget it.

"But because my mum was from Derry I always felt a special
association with the city and had a real feeling of what
the place was like."

Sorcha will proudly take to the stage of the Millennium
Forum next month, to play the part of Bernadette Devlin in
'Bloody Sunday - Scenes from the Saville Inquiry.'

The show is being brought to Derry by the Tricycle Theatre
Company which previously produced the acclaimed documentary
'The Colour of Justice - The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.'

Sorcha revealed how excited she was to be playing the role
of Bernadette Devlin.

"There are many roles in the show which people won't
identify with on an individual level, such as the
soldiers," she said.

"However Bernadette is a woman who had a big public profile
and (English) people recognise her from the newspapers and

"Because she was so well known it was important to me that
I portray her image absolutely correctly, and capture her
spirit and mind.

"I think this was also true for the person who played
Bishop Daly."

Sorcha has already completed a run of the show in London
but says she is especially pleased to bring the show home
to Ireland.

"Derry is THE place where we want this to be seen," she

"I suppose we want to see what the reaction will be from
the people of the city.

"We've had a great response to the show in London and most
of the national papers have given us four and five star

"It can often be the case that people in the U.K. are a bit
jaded about the history of Northern Ireland and don't fully
understand it. "With this show the audience has truly been
shocked and amazed to see this piece of history
encapsulated into one evening.

"I feel it's important that the show has come out.

"We're making people more aware of what happened at the

"Our director Nick Kent already has experience with a show
like this as he also directed 'The Colour of Justice - The
Stephen Lawrence Inquiry' which was also brought out before
the findings of the Tribunal were revealed.

"The show is not a dramatisation of the Tribunal, it is
100% factually correct. Each word that is spoken is taken
verbatim from the transcripts."

'Bloody Sunday --Scenes from the Saville Inquiry' has won
critical acclaim since it first opened in London.

'The Times' newspaper described it as " devastating" while
the 'Daily Telegraph' said: "We can't praise this
enthralling production too highly."

Since March 2000, the Saville Inquiry has heard evidence
from more than one thousand witnesses. 'Bloody Sunday -
Scenes from the Saville Inquiry' is a dramatic overview of
some of that evidence.

With a cast of 23 this reconstruction moves swiftly from
painful eyewitness accounts of how people died, to the
cross-examination of the soldiers who fired.

'Bloody Sunday --Scenes from the Saville Inquiry' will run
in the Millennium Forum on Friday, 16th and Saturday, 17th

Tickets are now available from the Box Office. Telephone 71
264455 for bookings and enquiries.


Majority Of Belfast's Births Outside Marriage

More than half of the babies born in Belfast last year were
born to unmarried mothers, it was revealed today.

By:Press Association

Across the province as a whole, 35% of all live births were
outside marriage, according to the annual report of the
Registrar General.

There were wide variations, while 54% of babies born in
Belfast did not have married parents, in Omagh, Co Tyrone
it was just 20%.

Despite the figures, marriage was proving ever more
popular, with a seven per cent rise to 8,328 in the number
compared with the previous year.

While the majority of marriages continue to be solemnised
by religious ceremony, the numbers of civil ceremony`s
taking place in Register Offices grows apace.

In 2004 32% of marriages were civil, compared with 12% in
1981 and just 5% in 1961.

On the downside the number of divorces rose to a record

The report showed the Northern Ireland population is
getting bigger and older, and in 2004 had the lowest number
of deaths on record.

The size of the population increased by 0.5%, 7,700 people,
to 1,710,300.

Northern Ireland continues to have the youngest age
structure of the countries making up the United Kingdom.

Twenty two per cent of the population is aged under 16 and
35% under 25, compared to 19% under 16 and 31% under 25 in
the UK as a whole.

However in absolute terms the number of children has fallen
34,000 in the past decade to 383,300, down from 25% to 22%.

In contrast the trend of an increasing number of pensioners
continues. It is estimated there were 275,200 people of
pensionable age last year, in excess of 25,000 up on the
decade. They represent 16% of the population compared with
15% in 1994.

Welcoming the report Finance Minister Lord Rooker said the
comprehensive data it contained helped identify key
demographic trends in the province.

"These in turn, are crucial to helping us pinpoint the
priorities for Government policy," said.


Speaking Up For Justice

Lawyer, former Bar Council chairman and United Nations
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and
Lawyers and now president of Transparency International,
Malaysia chapter, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, 64, is well-
known not just in the local legal fraternity but
internationally as well. He speaks with JENNY NG on a 38-
year career in law, Transparency International and the
current administration's fight against corruption, and his
nine years as UN Special Rapporteur.

International recognition

During his tenure as UN Special Rapporteur, Daruk Param
Cumaraswamy intervened in more than 100 countries where
judicial independence or the independence of lawyers were
reported to have been put at risk. His efforts earned him
the first International Peace and Justice Award from the
Irish American Unity Conference in 1999; the Justice in the
World Prize from the International Association of Judges in
2002 and the Peter Gruber Foundation's Justice Prize,
awarded in July this year.

You took over from Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim as
president of Transparency International [TI] in March this
year. What were the pressing issues facing TI Malaysia then
and what remains the most important battle for the
organisation now?

When I took over from Tunku, there was media momentum — the
media was responding to the Prime Minister's call to combat
corruption. There was so much public discussion and the
media was giving space for this. This was interesting
because despite the constraints the media were subjected
to, for once, we saw some space, some opening in the media.
This gave us an opportunity and more encouragement to
intensify our public-awareness programmes and all forms of
campaigning needed to bring the message about the evils of
corruption in society across.

In our office, from one staff, we now have four — it's a
very modest office we have. Our exco members are all kept
very busy, attending to programmes, projects and addressing
public fora. We work closely with the Integrity Institute
of Malaysia and participate in programmes of the Anti-
Corruption Agency. Of late, I've seen our work being
intensified, there's no doubt about it…

The most important battle, and it's going to be a
continuing battle, is to change the mindset of those in
public administration about the evils of corruption and at
the same time, win the hearts and minds of the rakyat, the
people, to get their cooperation in this fight. Unless the
public has the full confidence that the government is
sincere, honest and committed to this cause and the leaders
themselves are setting examples for the public to follow,
you cannot win that confidence. So this is something which
is a kind of a two-way traffic, one coming from the
political masters themselves and the other from the people.

Do you feel that after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi took over, it's easier for TI to carry out its
work? Has there been any change?

Certainly, we have a little more access than in the past to
deal with the authorities. There's a little more openness
and this you can see from the media reports on the fight
against corruption. Hence, to that extent, Abdullah [Ahmad]
Badawi's government is beginning to be seen as a little
more open than the previous administration. This, we saw
even yesterday [Oct 13] in Parliament, when the Members of
Parliament came out to protect the independence, integrity
and dignity of Parliament. That clearly shows there is more
openness in the government than before.

TI's mission statement is to create change towards a world
free of corruption. What progress do you see in Malaysia?

From the very response we're getting now from the media,
the kind of public discussions on corruption, anti-
corruption measures, the kind of public fora organised by
various groups, undoubtedly progress is beginning to be
seen. If you ask the members of the public, of course
they'll say there's a lot of rhetoric from the political
masters but we, as an NGO working in this field, are
beginning to see some light and I was really happy this
morning when I woke up and saw in the newspapers what
happened in Parliament yesterday. Even the Members of
Parliament are beginning to respond to our calls for
creating transparency and accountability across the board.
And I think this is something that we should really
capitalise on and persevere for realistic changes.

It has been said that corruption is becoming a culture in
Malaysia. What do you think led to this?

Simply because from about 1985, our system of checks and
balances began to deteriorate. It all began in 1986, when
the Official Secrets Act was amended, when the mandatory
one-year minimum sentence was provided for the publication
of anything that is stamped "secret" in the public
administration. That legislation began to discourage
investigative journalism. It affected freedom of the press
and the media — which is a kind of a public watchdog,
exposing maladministration and shortcomings in the
government — could not effectively do their work. That was
the first salvo.

Then came Operation Lallang in 1987, when 108 prominent
people, including leaders of the Opposition, were taken in
under the ISA. That was the period I remember I did the
calculation — 10% of our electorate were not represented in
Parliament because these MPs were detained. It was during
that period of public tension, in early 1988, that the
Constitution got amended and judicial power — a very basic
structure of the Constitution that was vested in the two
High Courts of Malaysia — was virtually removed from the

With Operation Lallang, there was also the banning of four
newspapers, including The Star. A culture of fear began to
prevail in the country. It was during that period we had
the Police Act amended. Just about that time, the Printing
Presses and Publications Act got amended, with more
restrictions. Then, we had the worst scenario, which was
the assault on our independent judges — the 1988 judicial
crisis. Judicial independence, even up to now, has not
completely recovered. We suffered a severe blow then. That
was followed by the amendments to the Constitution with
regards to the monarchy.

Now, what is the end result of these events? The executive
arm of the government consolidated for itself so much power
at the expense of the other two — Parliament and the

What were the consequences of this? Our Constitution
provided for separation of powers so that power is not
concentrated on one organ, governmental power will be
properly balanced and vested in Parliament, the executive
and judiciary. Of course, there's a King who is the
constitutional monarch. These organs that were supposed to
be checking on each others' excesses were no longer
effective, particularly the legislature and the judiciary.
Power was concentrated in the executive. Transparency,
accountability and integrity in public administration were
the casualties, opening the gateway for bribery and

I recall when civil society groups campaigned in 1986
against the amendments to the Official Secrets Act. We
called for a freedom of information legislation. We still
haven't got one.

And recently, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department,
[Datuk Mohamed] Nazri [Abdul Aziz], told Parliament that
the government has no intention of initiating any such
legislation. We don't have a whistleblower's protection
legislation. And without these tools, we're still quite far
from restoring and restructuring what we have lost over the
years, particularly under the previous administration.

Do you think the people are showing that they want to fight
or are they too comfortable?

No, this is the apathy of the people that has been created
over the years. That's why their mindsets need to be
changed. Very often, when you speak to the average man or
woman on the street, they say 'Look, we're reasonably
comfortable, if they want to be corrupt or if we have to
pay something, let us pay and get away with it. We don't
want trouble.' But that is a short-term attitude.

But if the people know that the leaders themselves want a
clean administration now, then they will respond and
cooperate fully. That's why it's so very important for the
leaders themselves to set the example and it's in this
context that we at Transparency International have been
calling for the declaration of assets of all public
administrators, including all our ministers. But this is
something, again, being resisted.

We called for an independent body like an ombudsman to be
set up but this is being resisted. And the very fact that
there's resistance to freedom of information legislation
indicates that they are still not ready to go all the way
in the fight against corruption.

… Basically, they [the public] would like somebody to lead
them. Give them that kind of leadership. They rely a great
deal on the intelligentsia, the professionals, those who
are better educated, those who can understand the
intricacies of the law, the Constitution and so on, to give
them the leadership.

But I must say again, in the last few months, what the
public have been reading in the newspapers give some
encouragement that there is a slight wind of change. And
I'm quite confident that you'll find them rallying around
for positive changes in the fight against corruption.

What are the top three things the government should do?

First, we need institutional changes to bring back and
restore the checks and balances in the system. These
changes are important. The enforcement agencies,
particularly the Anti-Corruption Agency, must be made
independent of the executive. The Official Secrets Act must
be amended to what it used to be prior to 1986. A freedom
of information legislation and a whistleblowers protection
legislation are imperative.

Second, an enforceable code of ethics for all senior public
servants, including Members of Parliament and ministers,
must be formulated. It should include a provision for
periodic declaration of assets by these public servants.

Third, the Constitution should be amended to establish an
office of an independent ombudsman, who should be empowered
to monitor and enforce the code of ethics and to whom the
asset declarations should be submitted. He should also be
empowered to receive and investigate public complaints
against the public administration. The present Public
Complaints Bureau may not be effective in this regard as it
is, after all, another government agency and will not be
perceived as independent.

You may think these are all very idealistic but these are
what we should aspire for if we want to… I won't say to
eradicate corruption but to minimise corruption. The
government's target is to reach 6.5 on the CPI [TI's
Corruption Perception Index] in five years' time or so but
talking about that, I think very often we become very
complacent by comparing ourselves with countries like
Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, where there's so much
corruption. We have reached a level of economic development
where we should now be aspiring to compete and be compared
with more developed countries — Scandinavia, Australia, New
Zealand and Singapore — and see how they managed to achieve
low incidence of corruption.

I think the Prime Minister has certain ideas but the
various initiatives he started are still in the initial
stages. It'll take time. Sometimes we need to be patient.
Corruption has become so endemic. To bring about positive
changes, it'll take a long time because these structures
are damaged — they are not destroyed — they are damaged.

When you were serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on the
Independence of Judges and Lawyers from 1994 to 2003, you
assessed judiciaries around the world. Would you say we in
Malaysia have a sound and relatively corrupt-free

You've got to look at certain periods in our history. I've
been in practice for 38 years. When I began practice, we
never heard about corruption in the judiciary or that
judges can be bought. It was seen as a very independent and
impartial judiciary with judges of integrity. The 1988
judicial crisis was a severe blow to our justice system.
Our judiciary is still not perceived as completely
independent as it used to be prior to 1988 and this is most
unfortunate. And I think our worst period was between 1988
and 2000.

It was in connection with what I said about the judiciary
at that time I was sued for RM180 million in defamation
suits and finally, my matter went up to the World Court and
the World Court found in favour of my UN immunity. From the
analysis I did and the facts I collected, I was convinced
that there were judicial improprieties prevalent and it was
one of my very big disappointments that the culprits at the
time who were responsible for all the travesty of justice
were never brought to justice.

Would you say that was one of the low points in your

Not a low point in my career. It was just that I was
subjected to tremendous persecution. Earlier, before that,
I was charged in 1985 with sedition. I was acquitted after
a six-day trial. The judiciary then was seen as

I look upon the whole exercise as an exercise in harassment
and intimidation to try to break me down economically
because as a result of all that publicity in the
newspapers, I had to leave my law firm and set up my own. I
just didn't want my partners, lawyers and staff to suffer.

You were with Shook Lin & Bok?

Yes, I was with about 60 lawyers; I was the chief executive
partner then. Never mind, that's all past. Ah… but the
manner in which it was done and I know who was responsible
for this and I leave it to him and God, the manner in which
the judicial system was used to dispense judicial injustice
was really very apparent during that period. I've always
said there are injustices every day, everywhere in the
world, [but] the worst form of injustice is injustice
perpetrated through the judicial process, and I've seen
this in my own country. Of course, I have seen this in
other countries as well during my term as Special
Rapporteur and I exposed all those things. Of course, I
became unpopular in some countries [shrugs] but that was my
job. It didn't matter to me at all. In presenting their
reports annually to the UN Commission on Human Rights, if
Special Rapporteurs think they will get a pat on their
backs, forget it. I always thought that if governments
attack me, that's a great honour — it means they are

In this case, it's very sad that my own country, my own
government, went all out to persecute and undermine me. In
the end, I'd say this, it became an embarrassment to the
government itself, not to me. I came out walking tall but
the government didn't come out that way in the eyes of the
international community.

I was on the mandate [of Special Rapporteur] for nine
years. In the end, I became a slave to the mandate — it
took about 85% to 90% of my time. Every month I was in the
air, two, three times flying from country to country.

Were you the first Special Rapporteur?

There were other mandates but on judicial independence, I
was the first one.

Towards the end of my mandate, I was very much involved in
developing the Bangalore Principles on Judicial Integrity,
a code of ethics. That was a tremendous exercise. Because
of the widespread concern about judicial corruption around
the world, we felt that there must be international
standards or code of ethics for judges to enhance their
integrity. I worked with a group of very eminent judges
around the regions. It began as a common law project but I
insisted that if it were to go to the United Nations, it
must have the input of the other systems.

So, I was very happy when the Council of Europe agreed and
we had meetings with the judges of the Council of Europe in
Strasbourg and we then finalised the text at a meeting at
the Hague International Court of Justice with some of its
judges and other eminent judges from the regions. I took it
to the Commission for endorsement and the Commission
unanimously endorsed it. And now, the Code is being used as
a standard document around the world to enhance judicial

Was that one of your most gratifying moments as the Special

That was very much so but I think there were [other]
instances where I was able to make a difference in some of
these countries. I was able to instil in the minds of
parliamentarians how they should support judicial
independence. One particular case was in Slovakia, where
the president of the Supreme Court was under siege by the
minister of justice. I don't know much about their system
[but] it was very urgent, just before Christmas time. I
managed to get an urgent meeting with the government
officials, [and] rushed to Bratislava. You see, Slovakia
was just coming out of the Russian tradition and they
didn't have an understanding of the fundamentals of
judicial independence. And I met all the judges and
everyone concerned, had arguments with the minister of
justice. I conducted a press conference and gave my views
on the issues. I came back and prepared an urgent report,
which got published. All parliamentarians had notice of the
report. Despite that, the minister went ahead to move the
Bill in Parliament to remove the president of the Supreme
Court. Parliament changed its mind and said no and the
minister lost and the judge was saved. That was a
tremendous boost for the United Nations High Commissioner's
office to protect judicial independence.

During the Clinton administration, I criticised him openly
before the Commission for interfering with the courts when
he was reported to have threatened to remove a judge, but
at least Clinton apologised on TV. The Bush administration
was a bit difficult. Some of my comments became the subject
even of articles written by [chuckles] academics… I was
surprised to learn an article was written in one American
journal on what I said about the counter-terrorism measures
and the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. These
were all some of the most gratifying moments for me.

There was, however, one great disappointment. I could not
protect and save the life of the courageous Irish lawyer in
Belfast, Rosemary Nelson. I did a mission in the UK and, in
particular, Northern Ireland, in connection with the
defence lawyers in Belfast who were under threat by the
police. She was one of the lawyers targeted. Since I first
met her and talked to her, I knew her life was in danger. I
wrote letters to the UK government calling for her
protection. In February 1999, her car was bombed and she
died. It was murder. I called for a public inquiry as there
was compelling evidence of state security forces' collusion
in the murder. There were many more similar calls from
several organisations. I am glad the British government has
since agreed and set up such an inquiry headed by a High
Court judge. The inquiry is scheduled to commence early
next year.

Were you based in Geneva?

No, I was travelling. Everyone thought I was away because
the reports were published in Geneva but actually, I was

You have been challenged by governments for the comments
you have made. Have you ever been threatened?

No, however, I must show you a letter. What Zimbabwe said
about me in a complaint to the High Commissioner for Human
Rights. Mugabe was attacking the judiciary, he in effect
sacked the chief justice there. That was the only country
where I sent nine interventions in two years. This is what
they said in a three-page letter, a scathing attack on me
[reads from a letter.]

'The simple fact that he is a Special Rapporteur does not
give him the right to insult governments, peddle half
truths and outright lies and generally behave as if he's an
international judge who runs the judiciaries of countries.
The government of Zimbabwe shall oppose the election or re-
election of those of the likes of Mr Cumaraswamy who
appears to have no respect whatsoever for international
principles in whose name they pretend to operate.'

The High Commissioner gave me this and told me to reply. He
did not want to respond. They were all so fed up with
Zimbabwe. But these are the kind of attacks you get.
Indonesia, after they saw my report on corruption, they
also had some criticisms but they don't write this way.
Some governments, like even the US, later on, they quietly
virtually apologised.

What do you mean by interventions?

When we get information that the judiciary is under some
form of attack in a country, we immediately write to the
government and ask for some form of response. In any
serious case, we make an urgent request for permission to
go in to the country to see what is going on.

Do you investigate first?

Oh yes. That's why it takes a lot of time. Particularly in
systems you do not know well, the civil law system. You've
got to read their Constitution, you've got to familiarise
yourself, get enough information about the history and the
background to the problems. Writing the reports in the end
is a tedious exercise and we've got time frames [in which]
to finish the reports and rush and print the reports
because the UN prints in six languages.

You have received numerous awards from abroad, in
recognition of your contribution to the fight for human
dignity and the independence of the judiciary. Do you feel

You know, when I began all this work, I was a bit
apprehensive whether I could deliver as Special Rapporteur.
All these awards came at the end of my mandate and they
were completely unsolicited and surprised me. In fact, when
I received the e-mail from the Master Treasurer of the
Middle Temple in London — and I was not from Middle Temple,
I was from Inner Temple — he said he had spoken to the
Treasurer of Inner Temple and got permission to make me an
Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, I was taken aback.
Only a very few are invited to be Honorary Benchers. In
Malaysia, I think Tun Suffian [Hashim] was the other one;
[Sultan] Raja Azlan Shah is Lincoln's and recently [Datuk
Gopal] Sri Ram, Lincoln's. Malek [Ahmad] is with Inner
Temple and Tunku Abdul Rahman was the other one from Inner
Temple, if I'm not mistaken. About the same time, the Law
Society of England and Wales made me an honorary member of
that society, I was the first Malaysian to receive that

Another one was the recognition from the International
Association of Judges when they awarded the International
Justice of the World award 2002. It is generally given to
judges, I was the first non-judge, and the first Asian. I
was again taken aback. The award ceremony was in Madrid. It
was a moving experience.

The latest one is the Peter Gruber Award in the US. The
little I did amid some of the problems and persecution I
went through in my own country was recognised. I felt that,
hmm, in the end I managed to deliver something though I
accepted the mandate in 1994 with a lot of apprehension.

In Madrid, when I addressed the judges in my acceptance
speech, I said that it was an honour I accepted on behalf
of all the judges who paid the heavy price of persecution
all around the world. It was their sacrifices which led the
Commission on Human Rights to create this mandate on the
independence of judges and lawyers. There were many attacks
on judges, some who were murdered, around the world. If it
wasn't for the kind of sacrifices all these people made,
the international community through the United Nations may
not have created this mandate.

Why did you become a lawyer?

It was all way back in England when I was studying, where I
met a lot of lawyers. I was very much taken up by the whole
concept of justice. That was my motivation.

I used to be involved in commercial law here but my
training in London, where I used to mingle with [a] civil
liberties group, I became very conscious of the kind of
injustices that people suffer around the world. I felt that
the legal profession and the justice system should be the
last bastion to fight these causes.

Soon after I came back as a young lawyer, I remember
[chuckles], the first law conference in 1971, just three
years at the Bar, I went up and said 'Look, we need a
watchdog committee to protect civil liberties in the
country.' There was a lot of debate on that. One judge said
the Bar Council should be the fighter for civil liberties
for the people. The New Straits Times carried this debate
on the second page the next day. Tun [Abdul] Razak was the
prime minister. He quickly formed the Public Complaints
Bureau but we wanted something else. Slowly, [it]
snowballed from there, I became absorbed.

Then, I was involved in regional work and I became the
president of Law Asia. For two years, I got a lot of
exposure in Beijing and other cities in the region. It was
1995 when I stepped down as president. I became Special
Rapporteur in 1994.

Then, I was in the International Commission for Jurists,
for 15 years. I just stepped down a few months ago. They
were the beacon for judicial independence. That was a great
exposure for me.

Why did you choose law as your field of study?

It's just that you see what's happening around you… of
course, sometimes you watch TV programmes like Perry Mason,
and it makes you feel that you can fight for justice. But
generally, it was the environment and the exposure I got…
but I think I became really involved when I got back and I
felt I could do something more in the struggle for justice.

In 1985, I was already the vice-president of the Malaysian
Bar. Things were already deteriorating. I felt the severe
injustice — here's a man, a labourer [Sim Kie Chon], who
never committed any other crime, he was just found in
possession of a revolver and he was sentenced to death
because the law said so and his petition to the Pardons
Board was refused, whereas two years earlier, a minister
who shot and killed a political opponent, his death
sentence was commuted by the Pardons Board.

That's why I said that in our system of justice, the people
should not be made to feel that the severity of the law is
only meant for the poor, the meek and the unfortunate,
whereas the rich, the powerful, the influential, can
somehow get away with it. They thought that was seditious.

Similarly in 1977, a 14-year-old boy in Penang was found in
possession of a pistol. Someone asked him to deliver
something wrapped up in newspapers and he was sentenced to
death. I wrote a strong letter to the Prime Minister. The
boy was a minor but the Essential [Security Cases]
Regulations didn't provide the distinction between minor
and adult.

They hounded me to charge me for sedition because I said
the court was like a circus, the boy was presumed guilty
even before he was properly tried. I was taken to the
police station, my statement was taken.

The more I saw that kind of injustices, I followed one
principle — when you can do something, don't allow it to go
by default, try it. I'm a lawyer, if I don't stand up in
such circumstance for these people, who else would? Look, I
didn't know this little boy, I just read it in the
newspapers and issued a press statement and sent a note to
the prime minister in my Bar Council capacity. Similarly, I
didn't know Sim Kie Chon in 1985 but the facts were so
glaring, you can't allow such things to happen without

Always remember, when things are ill done, silence is not
an option — you must speak up and do what you can. That's
why later on, when I had a little more clout as Special
Rapporteur, I was able to do more around the world.

I was a marked man in the 1970s and 1980s. I would receive
calls in the middle of the night, they harass you — 'Ketuk
you punya kepala. Jangan bising.' I used to get cards with
a picture of a phantom with red ink denoting blood [with
the words] 'You bloody immigrant, don't talk too much.
Leave the country if you don't like it.'

The 1980s, early 1990s were the most difficult period for
many people who stood up for human rights in this country
and I sometimes wonder how we managed to get through all
these — the harassment and intimidation. At the height of
these problems when I faced the sedition trial, the
ambassadors used to ask me, why aren't you concerned and
consider leaving the country? I said 'What can I do in your
countries? [The] problems are here, we can still continue
to try and make a change.' I'll never leave the country, I
was born here. I [have] always considered myself a
Malaysian, I never considered myself an Indian or anything

I lived with neighbours — Malays, Chinese, we ate from each
others' kitchens as young children. I never wanted to live
in another country and watch what is happening in my own

What advice do you have for young lawyers today? Do you
think the legal profession has lost some of its shine?

Generally, there's always a surfeit of lawyers everywhere
and it's the survival of the fittest in the end. There are
a lot of complaints about the standards of the profession,
that's why we need to address the quality of lawyers.

We complain about the quality of judges but at the same
time we must look at ourselves, whether we are producing
the right quality of lawyers. One advice I'd like to give
and this is from my own experience: never be greedy. Don't
aspire to drive your Mercedes or BMW before you can afford
to drive a Kancil. One important thing is, if you want to
make an honest living at the Bar, and it can be a good
living, you must be patient enough to work hard for it.
Don't take short cuts. If you want to take short cuts, get
out of the practice and go into the commercial world.

With 12,000 to 13,000 lawyers, if every one of them wants
to be in practice, if there's not enough legal work going
around, it becomes a cut-throat profession where standards
fall, ethics fall. Lawyers will completely overlook [the]
code of ethics and all that. Therefore, we need to see that
we — just like what we're doing now, talking about fighting
corruption and inculcating ethical values — similarly in
the legal profession, we need to inculcate these
professional and ethical values to see that the dignity,
the honour, integrity of the profession are maintained by

What are your interests outside of issues of justice, law
and transparency?

For some time, I was living out of suitcases, hopping in
and out of planes and hotels. Now, I am making up for the
lost time at home. I enjoy the evenings at home with my
wife Davinder and am trying to catch up with some
outstanding reading.

Updated: 08:26AM Sat, 26 Nov 2005


Help At Hand For Phobia Victims

It is estimated almost one in five NI people have a fear of
going out to such an extent that if affects their ability
to function, says a leading charity.

A new bus advertising campaign aims to raise awareness of a
helpline for people with phobias.

Delia McCartan of the Northern Ireland Agoraphobia and
Anxiety Society said a certain amount of anxiety and fear
was normal.

However, people with phobias will sometimes have panic

"When people suffer panic attacks they actually feel that
they are going to have a heart attack," said Ms McCartan.

"That is how it feels to them.

"They will get someone on the end of the helpline who
understands that, who can listen to them and support them.

"They can give them advice and explain to them that what
they are feeling is normal and will pass.

"They will perhaps help them with breathing techniques to
get them through that sense of fear and that sense of

The helpline number is 0845 122 8630.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/30 08:41:44 GMT


62% Believe Irish Should Not Be Compulsory

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

Almost two-thirds of voters believe Irish should no
longer be a compulsory subject for the Leaving Certificate
examination, according to a TNS mrbi survey conducted for
Fine Gael.

Some 62 per cent believe it should become a subject of
choice after the Junior Certificate, 34 per cent that it
should remain compulsory and 4 per cent have no opinion.
The proportion favouring the retention of compulsory status
is highest among the 18 to 24 age group (52 per cent),
followed by the 25 to 34 group (37 per cent). It falls to
30 per cent among those aged 35 to 54, 25 per cent in the
55 to 64 age group and 30 per cent among the over 65s.

The poll also shows more men than women favour the ending
of compulsory status. Among men, 68 per cent believe it
should be a subject of choice, 28 per cent that it should
remain compulsory and 4 per cent have no opinion. Among
women, 57 per cent believe it should be a subject of
choice, 40 per cent that it should remain compulsory and 3
per cent have no opinion.

The telephone poll was conducted between November 15th and
24th, among 962 interviewees. It was taken immediately
after Fine Gael proposed in a policy document that
compulsory Irish be dropped from the Leaving Cert.

Responding to the poll, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it
"confirms my instincts in relation to public attitudes to
the teaching and presentation of the Irish language in our
schools". He called for a national audit to assess the
level of usage of Irish, public attitudes to the language,
and the potential for the language to develop.

He said Fine Gael would organise a conference next March to
examine these issues.

© The Irish Times


Archive Includes Drafts Of 1937 Constitution

Joe Humphreys

Early drafts of the 1937 Constitution and secret British
intelligence reports allegedly "suppressed" after the 1916
Rising are among the documents contained in a newly
catalogued collection of papers belonging to Éamon de

The papers were donated by the former taoiseach and
president in his will to the Franciscan Library in
Killiney, Co Dublin, which in turn transferred them for
safekeeping to University College Dublin in 1998.

It is only now, however, that a full catalogue has been
completed of the 200 boxes of public and private material.

UCD principal archivist Séamus Helferty said that while the
collection was in good physical order "the size of it was a

Some of the most revealing files relate to de Valera's
fundraising tour of the United States in 1919-20, and
papers showing the former Fianna Fáil leader's thought-
processes on Bunreacht na hÉireann.

"You have successive drafts of the Constitution and a lot
of correspondence and discussion documents. You can trace
the evolution of the thing, and various changes of mind,"
said Mr Helferty.

He also cited the intriguing discovery of 133 intelligence
reports and dispatches between successive commanders-in-
chief of British forces in Ireland, or their various
officers, in 1916-17. Among these was a secret
communication concerning Maj Gen LB Friend's presence in
England on leave of absence the day on which "disturbances
in Dublin commenced".

The same letter addressed the decision of certain officers
of the Irish Command to attend a race meeting in Baldoyle
on the same day.

There was also a report by Gen Sir John Maxwell on the
Easter Rising, and the process of the rebels' surrender.

Mr Helferty said: "There might not be any great new
revelations in these documents but the fact that they are
originals is significant." He noted some historians had
speculated that the files were removed from official
archives in London by "someone who was aware of their
significance", and later came into de Valera's possession,
possibly in the 1960s.

A copy of the catalogue was presented yesterday to Minister
for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin at a
function at Newman House to mark the formal establishment
of the School of History and Archives.

The school replaces the old department of archives and
school of history at UCD under recently-announced
institutional reforms. Queries about accessing the de
Valera archive can be addressed to

© The Irish Times


Ó Cuív Has Inside Track On Rail Line Used By de Valera

Michael O'Regan

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon
Ó Cuív found himself answering a question about a train
line once used by his grandfather, Éamon de Valera.

The Green Party's Dan Boyle asked what efforts the Minister
had made to secure the railway line between Charleville and
Limerick. "Currently, there is a planning application to
build a bungalow on the line at Bruff in Co Limerick," he

Mr Ó Cuív replied he was familiar with the railway line
from Bruff to Charleville. "I have a particular interest in
the line because my grandfather used to travel on it in the
mornings. Unfortunately, there was no train back in the
evenings so he had to walk the six or seven miles home from
school. I suggest the deputy raise the issue of the line's
ownership with the Minister for Transport. I do not even
know if it is owned by Iarnród Éireann."

Mr Boyle said the line was still in existence, although the
rails were gone. Planning permission had been given to
build on it.

Meanwhile, Mr Boyle suggested that the "much-vaunted
initiative on the western rail corridor" actually concerned
a western rail hallway.

"It does not come close to being a corridor, which would
extend from Cork to Sligo. At present, given the
continuation of a radial system in and out of Dublin, one
should not be obliged to go from Cork to Limerick via
Tipperary or from Cork to Galway via Portarlington."

Mr Ó Cuív said the only circumstances in which the deadline
for the project was unlikely to be met was if the current
Government was no longer in power. "Work on the western
rail corridor will commence next year."

Mr Ó Cuív insisted the commitment in respect of the western
rail corridor constituted the biggest reopening of a
railway line undertaken in the Republic.

© The Irish Times

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