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November 26, 2005

Extradition Treaty Will Be Election Issue

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 11/26/05 Activists Vow Treaty Will Be Election Issue
ST 11/27/05 'Stakeknife' Probed Over IRA Killings
SB 11/27/05 Unionists Furious Over Re-Partitioning Of North
SH 11/27/05 Before Immunity Truth Is Not Too Much To Demand
ST 11/27/05 Gillespie Rejects Offer To Clear Name
ST 11/27/05 Ministers Voice Unease At Anti-Corruption Body
SB 11/27/05 MRSA 'Myths' Scaring People Off Operations
SB 11/27/05 Connemara Hotel Shocked By Appntmnt Of Receiver


Activists Vow Treaty Will Be Election Issue

By Ray O'Hanlon

The controversial revised extradition treaty between the
United States and United Kingdom will be made an issue in
the 2006 congressional mid-term elections, Irish-American
activists have vowed.

The treaty was due for discussion and a decision by the
Senate Foreign Relations committee last week but was
sensationally pulled back from a vote at the last minute.

Moments before the 18 members of the committee were due to
begin deliberations, committee chairman Senator Richard
Lugar spoke to those seated in the hearing room in the
Senate Dirksen Building.

"The Committee is aware that particular interest has been
expressed about the treaty with the United Kingdom," Lugar

"The Committee will carefully consider this treaty and
expects to hold an additional hearing next year to hear
from witnesses outside our government.

"Today, we want to establish a record of the
administration's views on the treaty to which the committee
and all interested parties can refer as we continue our
deliberations," the Indiana Republican added.

And the committee proceeded to do that as it listened to
testimony from lawyers representing the departments of
State and Justice.

But there was no vote at the end of the statements.

"We did not know what was going to happen until Lugar
spoke," Francis Boyle, a law professor at the University of
Illinois and a leading opponent of the revised treaty, told
the Irish Echo.

Boyle had prepared a written statement in opposition to the
treaty which, he said, was entered into the record at the
hearing. He was also ready to speak in opposition to the

Boyle, however, was delighted that he didn't have to
immediately testify.

"This was a great victory as this treaty is not now going
to be railroaded. Opponents will now have the opportunity
to speak," he said.

Boyle said that "technically" the revised treaty did not
require a committee hearing before going to the full Senate
for an up or down vote.

"Our concern was that they would have done this so we're
considerably relieved that there is now an orderly
process," Boyle, a former board member of Amnesty
International, said.

Boyle said that just after Lugar made his statement, one of
the committee members, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut,
also came out and said much the same thing.

"He was wearing a bright green tie so we took that as a
clear indication as to where he stood," said Boyle.

The hearing proceeded with Sen. Lugar directing questions
at the government's lawyers.

Boyle described the answers from the attorneys as
"completely dissembling" and said that based upon their
responses there would be revisions made to the objections
lodged with the committee by groups such as the Ancient
Order of Hibernians and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The answers from the lawyers did not allay any of our
fears but at least we now have them on record. We held a
strategy session afterwards on how to kill this thing,"
Boyle said.

"Killing" the treaty will include making the revised treaty
an election issue in the run up to the 2006 congressional
mid-term election when 33 Senate seats will be voted upon,
Boyle indicated.

Several members of the foreign relations panel, including
its chairman, will be running for reelection next November.

"We are going to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire and
warn Republicans that they will be toast if this treaty
goes through," Boyle said.

Being able to make the revised treaty an issue in all 33
races will be a tall order, even with the combined efforts
of the leading Irish American organizations.

However, AOH National President Ned McGinley is not alone
in pointing to a 1991 U.S. Senate vote in Pennsylvania when
former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney General,
Richard Thornburgh, lost to unfancied Democrat Harris

The Hibernians actively campaigned against Thornburgh over
his prosecution of the Joe Doherty deportation case.

To this day Hibernians who took part in that campaign,
including Ned McGinley, assert that their efforts were a
key factor in sending Thornburgh into an earlier than
planned political retirement.

"We will be meeting in December to formulate an attack on
this treaty," McGinley told the Irish Echo this week.

"We want to make this an American issue because the new
treaty makes it very difficult for you to defend yourself.
It's a danger to all Americans, not just Irish Americans so
it will be an election issue," McGinley said.

The objections lodged by Prof. Boyle specifically highlight
the new treaty's elimination of the traditional political
offense exception.

In addition, he argues that the treaty wipes out a number
of constitutional and procedural safeguards including any
statute of limitation, the need for any showing of probable
cause and makes it irrelevant if the person targeted for
extradition has actually acted within the bounds of U.S.

"Most outrageously," wrote Boyle, responsibility for
prosecution would be transferred from the courts to the
executive branch of government.

"The United States Senate must refuse to give its advice
and consent to the proposed treaty for any reason. There is
no way this proposed treaty can be salvaged by attaching
any package of amendments, reservations, declarations, and
understandings. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must
reject this treaty outright," Boyle's written testimony

"This treaty is a British dagger pointed at the heart of
Irish America," he stated.

"You can't get a U.S. citizen by deportation, only
extradition so this new treaty is designed to get to Irish
American citizens and silence us after the fact," Boyle
told the Irish Echo.

He said that while the decision by the committee to hold a
hearing next year was a good one, it was only a beginning.

"We have a lot of work to do, legally and politically,"
Boyle said.

This story appeared in the issue of November 23 - 29, 2005


'Stakeknife' Probed Over IRA Killings

Liam Clarke

STAKEKNIFE, the most important British agent within the IRA
during the Troubles, is being investigated for two murders
and a kidnapping and the investigation is being widened to
include dozens of other killings, senior police sources
have revealed.

The Northern Ireland historic cases review, which is
examining unsolved murders during the Troubles, is planning
to investigate all deaths attributed to the IRA's security
team, which was headed by Stakeknife.

But none of the agent's handlers in British military
intelligence are likely to face charges in relation to
these killings. Despite a finding by Sir John Stevens, a
senior British police officer, that there was collusion in
the murder of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, nobody
from the security forces will face charges for that either.

Dave Cox, a former commander in the Metropolitan police who
is in charge of the review, said: "The allegation is that
Stakeknife is an (army) agent involved in murders. We are
looking at all the murders of alleged touts (informants)
and then seeing which ones it would be appropriate to
investigate him for."

Cox confirmed that Stakeknife is currently on police bail
for "two murders and one kidnap" and added: "Our focus is
going to change; we are looking at all the deaths
attributable to the IRA's security team."

Stakeknife is the intelligence service codename for Freddie
Scappaticci, a west Belfast republican who was a senior
figure in the IRA's internal security division responsible
for rooting out informants. While he worked in this role he
was himself an agent for the Force Research Unit (FRU), a
British special forces unit responsible for handling
informants and agents within paramilitary groups.

Scappaticci agreed to work for FRU in 1978 after he became
disillusioned with IRA violence. He was unmasked by the
press in 2003. The IRA had suspected his role since the
early 1990s and denied him access to sensitive information.
They never attacked him physically or identified him
because of the embarrassment it would have caused.

Scappaticci had been promoted and trusted by many senior
republicans and his treachery reflected badly on their
judgment. He was a close friend of Gerry Adams, the Sinn
Fein president, for many years.

One of the murders for which Scappaticci is being
investigated is Joseph Fenton, and the kidnapping is that
of Alexander "Sandy" Lynch, an informer captured by the IRA
but rescued by the British army before he could be killed.

Fenton, a west Belfast estate agent, was found dumped in
the Lenadoon estate in 1989. An RUC Special Branch agent
since 1982, he had supplied houses to the IRA to use for
meetings, but allowed the security forces to bug them.

Following a tip-off, probably from Scappaticci, the police
told him the IRA had uncovered his role and offered him
assistance to move to England in order to save his life.
Once there, Fenton contacted an MP to protest at being
moved. The MP, who has asked not to be named, said: "He
insisted on returning to Northern Ireland."

Defying advice, Fenton returned to Belfast where he was
kidnapped and murdered.

Lynch was held and interrogated in the same house as
Fenton. He told police that, during his abduction,
Scappaticci questioned him on behalf of the IRA but left
the house minutes before the army arrived. Scappaticci's
fingerprints were found on a battery in an electronic
scanner that had been used to check Lynch for listening
devices. Despite this, he was never charged in connection
with the abduction.

In an anonymous interview with ITV's Cook report in 1993
Scappaticci gave a description of the interrogation of
informers. He said: "When (the IRA) have anyone, the
standard procedure is to strip them and de-bug them, just
to see if they are wired up. Then they usually put a boiler
suit on them. They put them in a chair facing the wall, and
go from there."

The IRA murdered 60 alleged informants during the Troubles,
35 of them while Scappaticci was involved in the security
team. Many of those who died had no involvement with the
security forces.

Scappaticci is believed to have saved the lives of many
more. But the families of some of those murdered as
informers are convinced that they were sacrificed by the
intelligence services to protect higher-level agents.

Phil James, a Detective Superintendent who is working with
Cox on the review of Troubles murders, said that none of
Scappaticci's army handlers have been interviewed.

James and Cox worked on the Stevens inquiry into collusion
between the security forces and paramilitary groups in
Northern Ireland. In that role, James interviewed Brigadier
John Gordon Kerr under criminal caution in connection with
Finucane's murder.

Kerr, who is currently British military attaché in Beijing,
was head of FRU at the time of Finucane's murder in 1989.

James and Cox have both pointed out that if charges are
brought against Stakeknife or any member of the security
forces, they will not have to appear in court or serve a
sentence if the Northern Ireland Offenses Bill, which
passed its second reading in the House of Commons last
Wednesday, passes into law.


Unionists Furious Over 'Re-Partitioning' Of The North

27 November 2005 By Colm Heatley

Almost 90 years after Michael Collins put forward the idea
that unionism could be dealt a fatal blow by redrawing the
border to make the North too small to be viable, unionists
have accused the British government of 'repartitioning' the
North to favour nationalists.

The government has proposed a radical restructuring of the
North's system of local government, which would reduce the
number of councils from 26 to seven, cut the number of
councillors from 600 to 350 and strengthen the powers of

The controversial seven council model will evenly split
local government power between unionists and nationalists.

The three councils west of the river Bann will be
nationalist controlled, the three east of the Bann will be
in unionist hands and Belfast council will be almost evenly
split between unionists and nationalists.

An alternative 15 council model favoured by the SDLP and
unionists would have left nine councils in unionist hands
and six in nationalist control.

The proposal's opponents have claimed it will 'balkanise'
the North by creating an invisible border dividing west and
east. But, the plan's supporters said it reflects the
North's demographics.

DUP MP Peter Weir, said his party felt there was an element
of re-partitioning behind the proposals.

"Undoubtedly this will 'balkanise' Northern Ireland and
there is a suspicion that the province is being redrawn to
suit a different agenda," he said.

"We now have a nationalist bloc of councils west of the

Sinn Féin is the only party backing the plans. The SDLP and
unionist parties have argued the plan will create a
democratic deficit in the North at the expense of isolated
rural communities.

Under the plans, councils in rural areas will make
decisions for a district including urban centres such as
Derry, Portadown and Ballymena.

The SDLP has said it also opposes the proposed increase in
powers because of the refusal of unionist-dominated
councils, such as Ballymena, to share power with

But Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey said the seven council model
was the fairest.

"Under the seven councils, the minority, whether they be
unionist or nationalist, will have around 25 per cent
representation which will give them access to decision-
making positions," he said.

Meanwhile, a single health authority will replace the four
health boards and a single education authority will replace
the five education boards, which serve the North.

The British government expects the move to save around
stg£200million per year. However, that figure is some way
short of the North's estimated annual deficit of stg£5

The Northern Ireland Federation of Small Business welcomed
the proposals. Around 68 per cent of the North's economic
activity revolves around the public sector, compared with
38 per cent in the Republic, and the federation hopes the
reduction of public government will lead to more scope for
private enterprise.

But there has been no indication as to the number of job
losses there will be in the public sector and the trade
union, Unison said it was anxious because the British
government had given no guarantees on the issue.


'On-The-Run' Legislation Unfair Say Senior Police

Liam Clarke

POLICE officers who are reinvestigating murders during the
Troubles have described aspects of the British government's
on-the-run legislation as "unfair". They say it should be
amended so that suspects they charge are forced to answer
questions publicly at a tribunal.

They have also predicted that no member of the security
forces will be charged with the murder of the solicitor Pat
Finucane, although it has been established that members of
the army colluded in his killing.

Dave Cox, a former Metropolitan Police commander, and Phil
James, a detective superintendent on secondment from the
Met, are leading the Northern Ireland Historic Cases Review
team, known as C8, which will review 1,800 unsolved murders
and 320 disputed security force killings during the

They are building up a team of 50 detectives, forensic
scientists and other staff throughout Britain and Ireland.
One garda is among the applicants.

The Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which passed its second
reading in the House of Commons last week, will allow
anybody guilty of a security force or terrorist killing
before the signing of the Good Friday agreement to be dealt
with by a special tribunal, with no need for them to turn
up in person.

In contrast, witnesses and victims can be subpoenaed to
attend and can be cross-examined by the accused's lawyers.
Any suspects found guilty will immediately be released on

Cox and James worked for the Stevens inquiry, which
investigated security force collusion in killings. The
remaining elements of that inquiry have been subsumed by
C8. Stevens will retain an oversight role on parts of the
inquiry where collusion is suspected.

Cox says he agrees with comments made by Paul Murphy, the
former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, that the
legislation should be amended.

James said: "Anyone who gets to the point where they are
going to be charged for one of these historical offences
can then also apply to be dealt with by this tribunal. We
have been cops a long time and we are used to working with
the law as it is, but it would seem unfair that a defendant
doesn't have to appear while a witness does. There is
unfairness in that."

Their criticisms reflect widespread concern in political
and security circles about the legislation. Hugh Orde, the
PSNI chief constable, has proposed that, rather than being
allowed to wait to see if they are charged, suspects should
be given a fixed time in which to apply for the

"There is no incentive at the minute for anyone to come
forward," he said.

Lord Rooker, the Northern Ireland Office minister
responsible for steering the legislation through the House
of Lords, has described the bill as "evil but necessary"
and conceded that it will have to be amended.

In a BBC interview he said: "This bill will not pass the
Lords as it is currently drafted . . . (it) is not
acceptable to the majority of the people . . . The fact is
changes may be made in the Commons and some left till it
gets to the Lords, but it will get a very rough ride."

Cox and James also say that it is unlikely that any member
of the armed forces will be charged in connection with the
murder of Finucane, although they hope that more loyalists
will. Finucane's murder in 1989 has been investigated by
Stevens since 1999 and James has been centrally involved.
Cox has headed the Stevens team on a day-to-day basis for
the past three years.

Cox said: "Our focus is going to change, we are looking at
all the deaths in the Troubles."


Before Immunity For Crimes, Truth Is Not Too Much To Demand

Before handing Ulster terrorists immunity from conviction for their heinous crimes, surely the truth is not too much to demand

Ian Bell

IF Northern Ireland's Troubles ever proved anything
remotely useful, it was this: wars on terror are never
"won". They are settled, or forgotten, or negotiated
towards some sort of makeshift conclusion. But if any group
of people decide they have a grievance worth violence, the
conventional responses available to the state will always
fail. If the grievance spans generations, the cycles of
attack and defence, the hatreds and the atrocity auctions,
need have no limit.

It is a foolish statesman, then – and this is stating the
blindingly obvious – who talks as George Bush likes to
talk. Al-Qaeda may pose a demonstrable and enormous threat
to America and the other democracies: we need only take the
movement at its word and count the corpses. Yet if Bush
truly wishes to understand the challenge he has accepted he
would be better employed studying the history of Palestine
before he once again dons his fake battle dress and makes
another speech boasting about his strength of will.

This is how it happens, and this is how it goes: Israel has
not been defeated by a dispossessed people. Israel, the
evidence says, will never be defeated militarily in the
Middle East. But in what sense has Israel ever won? Only
when, sometimes, haltingly, amid carnage and reverses, it
has recognised the need for justice. And only when, with
glacial slowness, some Palestinians have recognised that an
endless war is a truly pointless war, that the suicide bomb
is nihilism-as-ritual.

Tony Blair is smarter, by most measures, than the US
president. That doesn't make him clever, exactly, but it
makes his talent for self-contradiction less forgivable.
Blair, for one thing, does not need an education in history
and the inevitable passage of wars on terror. He has a
patch of the island of Ireland for guidance, a 30-year-long
story during which more innocents perished than were lost
in the twin towers. He knows the narrative as well as
anyone: three decades in which a few hundred driven men and
women tied down the British state and army, stopping at
almost nothing, costing billions and causing grief.

The Provos, in their turn, did not "win", unless you happen
to believe that a transition to representative politics
within the British state was always the aim of armed
republicanism. I don't think so: futility, as the IRA
discovered, becomes exhausting after a couple of
generations. But then again, when did you ever hear anyone
in Britain claim that this particular war on terror was
brought to a victorious conclusion? Where were the
surrender ceremonies, the victory parades?

The Good Friday agreement was as messy as it gets in
politics, the aftermath messier still. Travelling through
the north as people prepared to vote in the referendum on
the deal, I came across very few who were exulting, fewer
still, on either side, who were prepared to risk unguarded
optimism. The feeling was that just about everything else
had been tried, so what the hell? They might as well give
it a go, for what else remained? Yet as one old man in
Derry remarked, the word "over" doesn't get used much in
the north of Ireland, and not half as often as the word

He was right, of course. Since 1998, there has been a lot
of talk of compromise, but usually with an unspoken
subtext: "You first." The British government, led by Blair,
has finessed deals whose collapse it has then ignored. It
has launched a programme of devolution and then pulled the
plug on what is, by any standard, a very modest degree of
self-government. If you believe Unionists and loyalists, it
has pandered to republicans; if you believe Sinn Fein, it
has plotted with old enemies to destroy nationalism.
Mostly, however, it has become adept at turning a blind

The rationale is obvious enough. It has persuaded many, on
both sides of the water, sometimes belatedly. What's worse?
A few bickering politicians who can barely stand to be in
the same room, or charred bodies in the streets? What would
the ordinary people in the north prefer? I've asked more
than a few, even in wounded Omagh, and the answer is near-

Where Blair and Britain are concerned, you could call it
pragmatism. You could, as some might, call it grotesque
hypocrisy. All those years of tough talk and what remains?
To simplify grossly, Good Friday came down to this: "Let's
just drop it, shall we, and sweep an enormous pile of
historical and human debris under the carpet."

In principle, I couldn't agree more. Observing last week's
debate on the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, however, I
couldn't help but wonder at the ever-moral Mr Blair's
ethical elasticity. This man can stretch a point beyond any
logical breaking point. Here we are, tough as hell on
terror, attempting to lock up people without charge for 90
days while denying that this has anything to do with Iraq
or, worse, might simply encourage a new generation of
terrorists. Here we are with a bill, meanwhile, that says
to an estimated 150 pre-1998 suspected Irish
paramilitaries: "Fancy a get-out-of-jail-free card?"

They could face the judgement of a special tribunal, but
nobody will oblige them to attend a hearing. They could be
found guilty of heinous crimes, given a criminal record, be
fingerprinted and have a DNA sample taken, but they will
not be locked up. They could be police or soldiers under
suspicion of involvement in criminal conspiracies to murder
in person or by proxy, but they will be allowed the same
liberties as paramilitaries. Slates will be wiped clean all

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland minister, admitted last
week that the bill, due for a battering next year in the
Lords, is hated by the victims of terrorist violence. He
understates the depth of their feelings more than he
realises. Many of those bereaved by paramilitary murders
want nothing more than for the killings to stop. But they
also want something more profound. They want to know what
happened, and why. Some just want to know where the remains
of their loved ones lie. Some also believe that if Britain
is fighting terror wherever it is found, justice should,
surely, be seen to be done.

Unionists argue, predictably, that all of this is a sop to
republicans. They believe that the IRA has succeeded in
blackmailing the British government. The Provos may have
dumped their arms – though certain Unionists remain to be
convinced – but in return, they say, Britain has sued for
peace with a deal that destroys any idea of the rule of
law. Even a murder no longer counts, it seems, if you have
political muscle.

Personally, I'd still call that a price worth paying, on
balance. I would also point out that Hain's bill covers
members of loyalist gangs. If "rewards for violence" are
truly the issue, why should such people be granted the gift
of liberty? They have yet to decommission. They have
certainly not, as a fractured movement, declared an end to
their increasingly thuggish violence. Some Unionists (they
do not call themselves loyalists, publicly) have personal
losses to contemplate, thanks to the Troubles. Last week,
their anger was molten. But unless they are calling for
Prod drug dealers and arsonists to receive the same
punishments as IRA killers, their fury does not amount to

Blair's double standards aside, what is missing from this
latest, necessary Irish compromise is a thing both simple
and profound: what happened to the truth? Old Belfast hands
will tell you that a peace and reconciliation commission on
the South African model will never work in the north simply
because the political wings of the contending factions are
forbidden even to contemplate the idea. Perhaps so. But
what prevents a British government, especially one
determined to eradicate terrorism, from imposing truth?

In other words, Hain's tribunals should each become a truth
commission in its own right. As things stand, there is the
horrible possibility that the bereaved will be obliged to
give evidence while the accused will be excused even from
turning up. Grant the need for compromise, as grant it we
must, but a price should still be paid for the
extraordinary promise of immunity from conviction.

What did you do? Why did you do it? Be remorseful or proud,
but tell the truth to the world. For anyone who has spent a
life on the run, there are worse fates. For movements being
granted wholesale exemptions from Blair's draconian
onslaught on civil liberties, the chance to speak honestly
sounds like a luxury.

Do we have to wait another 30 years, meanwhile, before our
latest war on the latest wielders of terror as a weapon
reaches a similar, messy resolution? Of course we do.
Before the fever of hatred can break, every remedy must be
used. Blair could probably mention as much to his friend in
the White House before talk turns again to the bombing of
TV stations.

27 November 2005


Gillespie Rejects Offer To Clear Name

Lynne Kelleher and Liam Clarke

THE wife of an Irish government minister jailed in 1975 on
explosives charges says her case was a miscarriage of
justice similar to the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four.

Ann Gillespie, wife of Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, said the
Home Office promised her solicitor that it wouldn't contest
an application to have the conviction overturned, but she
decided against it.

In an interview on TG4's Comhra programme, to be shown
tomorrow, the Donegal woman says she doesn't want to go
through the British legal system again. Along with her
sister Eibhlin, Gillespie served nearly 10 years of a 15-
year sentence for terrorist offences.

"I never thought I had to prove anything to anyone," she
said. "I may be a republican but I had nothing to do with
the explosions. I was charged with conspiracy. It's very
difficult to disprove.

"The Home Office got in contact with Gareth Peirce, our
solicitor. They said if we wanted to put our appeal
together and send it to them that they wouldn't contest

Peirce told The Sunday Times yesterday that there was clear
evidence on which Gillespie's case could have been re-
opened, and she believes it would have been successful, but
she respects Gillespie's decision not to pursue it.

"Annie had done an awful long time in prison and it would
have been right for her to be exonerated but I understand
why she didn't want to proceed," said Peirce, who secured
acquittals for the Birmingham Six and Judith Ward.

From An Bun Beag in Co Donegal, Gillespie moved to
Manchester in 1962 as a schoolgirl. The day before she was
arrested in 1974, she and her sister visited a family in
Manchester, searching for a garage in which to store their
brother's car. "I had a word with a boy I had met at a
dance hall and he told me to call to his sister's house
down the road as I could leave it in there," she said.

"They were making explosives in the house and one went off.
We didn't know there was a bomb there. We were never in the
house before. The house belonged to the boy's sister. I had
met him twice before."

The Gillespies helped to bring injured victims from the
house. The next day they were about to board a ship for a
holiday in Ireland when they were stopped by police. "We
told them the truth, but they didn't believe us," she said.

Gillespie says police used evidence from Dr Frank Skuse,
the Home Office forensic scientist who helped convict the
Guildford Four and Birmingham Six. "He said there were
traces of explosives on our hands. It was all lies," she

The sisters were held in solitary confinement at Risley
remand centre in Warrington while they awaited trial on
charges of conspiring to cause explosions and possessing
explosives. They knew they would be found guilty when they
heard the guards taking bets on the length of their
sentences. Sentencing them, the trial judge called the
Gillespies "sinister and evil IRA bombers".

Gillespie says life has been good since she was released in
the mid-1980s and met Gallagher, a Fianna Fail TD, a few
years later. "We lost out on a lot — our youth and the
years of socialising," she said. "I was older when I got
married. Had I been younger we may have had a family.
Eibhlin was three years younger and married before me. She
has two children and we share them.

"I met Pat at a dinner dance at An Clochan Liath. We knew
each other a little before we got together. I wasn't
interested in marrying anyone until I met Pat." The couple
were married in December 1989 at a church near their homes.

While the sisters were in jail, Gallagher campaigned to
have them transferred to Ireland to complete their
sentences. When their romance was revealed, the Fianna Fail
TD said: "Ann is a very nice girl and she has suffered
enough. She served nine years in prison and deserves a
chance of a normal life."

Gillespie concluded: "Most of the people Skuse gave
evidence against were freed and given a pardon. We also
wanted to get a pardon. But we didn't want it dragged up
again. We did our time and were back home. We were
delighted to be home. We didn't want to go though it

Comhra will be shown on TG4 tomorrow at 8pm


Ministers Voice Unease At Anti-Corruption Body

Richard Oakley and Siobhan Maguire

AN international charity providing the funding for the
Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI) is understood to be
concerned at the activities of the self-styled anti-
corruption body.

There is also unease among senior government ministers both
at the CPI's agenda, and the controversy surrounding Frank
Connolly, its director. Connolly, a brother of one of the
Colombia Three, has been accused of travelling to Bogota on
a false passport in the company of a senior IRA figure.

The visit, in April 2001, preceded that of the Colombia
Three. They were subsequently arrested and charged with
training Farc guerillas in terrorist techniques. Connolly
has dismissed the false-passport claim as "completely

Both Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, and Michael McDowell, the
minister for justice, are believed to have expressed their
concerns about the CPI in separate meetings with Chuck
Feeney, the duty-free shop billionaire who is funding the
body through his Atlantic Philanthrophies charity.

Feeney, who gave Sinn Fein thousands of dollars to open an
office in America in the 1990s, is one of the biggest
contributors to third-level institutions in Ireland, giving
more than €600m in total.

McDowell, who criticised Connolly publicly this week end,
is understood to have shown Feeney documents relating to
his alleged use of a false passport.

The justice minister said: "I have the greatest misgivings
about why this self- appointed investigating body has such
an executive director, a person who has many major
questions to deal with in respect of his travel to

A government source claims that Feeney has indicated he
will cease funding the CPI once the current four-year
programme ends in 2009. Feeney has pledged to pay $750,000
(€639,000) a year.

The Sunday Times has learnt that Atlantic Philanthrophies
has written to the CPI to express its concern about a
number of issues.

Yesterday Connolly said he "did not want to comment" on the
reports relating to his trip to Colombia, but he said the
CPI "would respond to McDowell in its own good time".
Attempts to contact him later to discuss the contents of
the letter sent by Feeney's charity were unsuccessful.

Feargus Flood, the former high court judge who chairs the
CPI, insists there is no tension between Feeney and the CPI
Last week the CPI pre-empted an independent, government-
funded report on Shell's Corrib gas pipeline with its own
research, which was highly critical of the project. It was
written by an American expert who failed in a bid to win
the government contract to carry out its safety review of
the pipeline in north Mayo.

Richard Kuprewicz, an American authority on pipelines, was
hired by the CPI in September after his company, Accufacts
Inc, failed to win the government contract in August. It
went to a company called Advantica. Their official report
has been completed and is expected to be issued to
residents in Mayo within two weeks.

Connolly refused to state how much Kuprewicz was paid for
his report but said his status as an independent expert was
unquestionable. He also said the fact that Accufacts had
applied for the government safety review was already in the
public domain as the company was listed in government
documents. The CPI, he added, used that list of tenderers
when choosing its consultants.

"Kuprewicz is a worldrenowned expert on pipelines and he is
independent," said Connolly.

Connolly said the CPI, a body which promotes transparency,
was under no obligation to discuss the cost of any
contracts. "We don't discuss our commercial transactions.
When we release our annual report you can look at it," he


MRSA 'Myths' Scaring People Off Operations

27 November 2005 By Susan Mitchell

Myths about the so-called hospital superbug MRSA are
causing patients to cancel operations, a consultant surgeon
has said.

Paul O'Byrne, who is qualified in microbial genetics and
owns Barringtons private hospital in Limerick, said:
"Patients who are booked in for serious procedures are
afraid to come in to hospital. People are being frightened
off by over-the-top headlines and inaccurate reporting."

O'Byrne said the public and the media were misinformed
about MRSA, and the myths about the superbug needed to be

"Contrary to popular belief, MRSA is not caused by bacteria
or poor hygiene. In fact, MRSA's biggest enemy is actually
dirt and other microbes, such as bacteria, in the
environment," he said.

"MRSA is all about DNA, not bacteria," said O'Byrne.

"We hear that hospital-associated infections have escalated
in recent years. They have not. Most of the infections that
occur in hospitals arise from organisms present in our own
body. That point is not often got across to the general

"We hear that all infections are preventable. They are not.

"We are told that MRSA is the sole problem or that it's a
killer bug - it is not," said O'Byrne.

"It is not the case that MRSA cannot be treated; it can be
with certain antibiotics.

"MRSA is widespread outside hospitals, and is carried by a
great many people in the community who will be unaware they
are colonised and for whom it will pose no danger."

MRSA occurs when an organism on all skin types mutates due
to the overuse of antibiotics. The danger of contracting
MRSA is heightened by sick patients and crowded
environments, said O'Byrne.

MRSA often infects surgical wounds, and has been encouraged
by the increasing complexity and invasiveness of hospital

O'Byrne described the structure of the Irish healthcare
system as "a potential microbial threat''.

"People are sick and immuno-suppressed. Elective surgery
patients need to be kept well away from other patients.

"It's as simple as that," he said.

O'Byrne said that while he welcomed tax breaks for
investors in private healthcare, encouraging private
developments on public hospital sites was questionable.

"When you make a decision to put elective surgery units
into emergency centres, you are ignoring the science and
paving the way for an onslaught from more superbugs," he

"Politicians, economists and administrators must accept
this and plan accordingly.

"There is little to gain from putting large centres of
excellence under one roof, when other countries are
dismantling such centres due to microbial resistance."


Connemara Hotel Owner 'Shocked' By Appointment Of Receiver

27 November 2005 By Ian Kehoe

The owner of Peacockes Hotel at Maam Cross, Co Galway, has
expressed his shock and disappointment at Anglo Irish
Bank's decision to appoint a receiver.

Basil Keogh said the hotel had recently "turned a corner
after a tough couple of years'' and was now performing

Keogh said he was confident the company could have traded
out of its difficulties if the bank had not foreclosed on
its loan.

Anglo Irish Bank appointed Dublin accountant Tom Kavanagh
as receiver on November 16 and the hotel shut its doors on
the same day.

The bank is owned about €9 million.

"We still feel there is a viable business here. I have been
running this hotel for 25 years and it is a massive part of
the local community," said Keogh.

Keogh said he had recently been granted planning permission
for a 22-house holiday village across the road from the
hotel, which would generate significant revenue in the
future. Seventeen of the houses had already been sold, he

The hotel recently completed a €6.5 million renovation,
which includes 25 bedrooms, a conference centre, a 20-metre
viewing tower and a craft shop.

The hotel employs 30 full-time staff plus 70 part-time and
seasonal employees. Peacockes is one of the best known
hotels in Connemara. It organises an annual charity event,
the Bogman's Ball, to celebrate the end of the turf-cutting

In 2002, the hotel invited 100 pupils and their parents
from Holy Cross school in Belfast for a free holiday.

Keogh also owns a cattle mart behind the hotel and a petrol

"We try and provide a service to the locals and to the
community," he said.

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