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November 29, 2005

SF Francis Brolly Questioned Over Claudy Bombing

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 11/29/05 SF Man Quizzed In Relation To IRA Bomb Murders
SF 11/29/05 Anger After SF Member Arrested In Morning Raid
TO 11/29/05 Bank Worker Held In £26.5m Heist Probe
SF 11/29/05 Gvnt Should Begin Preparations For Irish Unity
NL 11/29/05 Garda's Widow To Fight OTRs At Westminster
IN 11/29/05 'Legislation Is An Amnesty' Says Paisley
NH 11/29/05 Republican Hits Out At SDLP
IN 11/29/05 Driver 'Inches From Being Shot'
IN 11/29/05 Minister Hears Of Confidence In Glenbryn
UT 11/29/05 House Prices Rising While Economy Slows
IN 11/29/05 Opin: Don't Let Facts Get In Way Of A Good Jibe
DI 11/29/05 Opin: Paisley Pales As Hain Shifts Boundaries
NL 11/29/05 Opin: Lords Can Still Smash OTR Legislation
IN 11/29/05 Opin: DUP: SF Wants Equality Except Protestants
IN 11/29/05 Tributes Paid To Clonard Priest
IN 11/29/05 Playwright Brian Friel Captures Top Award
ST 11/29/05 Hussain Trl: 10 Reasons Justice MayNotBe Served
IO 11/29/05 2/3 Of Young People Favour Compulsory Irish


Sinn Féin Man Quizzed In Relation To IRA Bomb Murders

29/11/2005 - 11:34:47

A Sinn Féin Assembly member was among four people being
questioned today about an IRA atrocity which claimed the
lives of nine people 33 years ago.

East Derry MLA Francis Brolly was among three men and a
woman arrested today by police investigating the triple car
bomb attack which ripped apart the village of Claudy in

One of those detained is a pensioner, and all are in their
late 50s or 60s.

No-one has ever been brought to trial for the murders.

The youngest victim of the attack was eight-years-old.

The Police Service said those arrested were a 67-year-old
man and a 60-year-old man, who were both detained in
Dungiven, Co Derry, a 50-year-old man arrested in the
Portglenone area of Co Antrim, and a 58-year-old woman
detained in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Police launched a fresh probe into the bombing under a
senior detective in 2002 when they revealed a local
Catholic priest had been part of the IRA gang which bombed

Father James Chesney, who died in 1980, was named as the
priest concerned.

Police alleged a cover-up had been hatched between the
British government and the then Catholic primate Cardinal
Conway to keep the priest's involvement secret when rumours
began that he was linked to the bombing.

Cardinal Conway moved the priest across the border to Co
Donegal where he died eight years later.

His name became public after a letter detailing his
involvement, written by a "Father Liam", emerged in 2002.


Anger After Sinn Féin Assembly Member Arrested In Early Morning Raid

Published: 29 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has described
the arrest this morning of party Assembly member Francie
Brolly as 'one of the most blatant examples of political
policing seen here in recent times'.

Mr McGuinness said:

" This morning heavily armed PSNI members arrested East
Derry Assembly member Francie Brolly from his home in
Dungiven. This is the latest and among the most blatant
examples of political policing seen here in recent times.
As has become the norm with this type of political policing
selected media outlets were briefed about the identities of
those arrested.

" Francie Brolly is an elected representative and a key
participant in the peace process. His arrest is completely
motivated by an anti-peace process and anti-Sinn Féin
agenda operating at the heart of the Special Branch.

" Sinn Féin are demanding the immediate release of Francie
Brolly and we will be raising this issue with both the
British and Irish governments." ENDS

Editors Note: Republicans will hold a protest outside
Dungiven PSNI Barracks at 2pm today demanding an end to
political policing and the release to Francie Brolly.

Sinn Fein General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin will attend
the protest and be available to speak to the media


Bank Worker Held In £26.5m Heist Probe

By Simon Freeman

An employee of the Northern Bank in Belfast who told police
he had been taken hostage during the £26.5 million raid
last Christmas was arrested today.

Chris Ward, 24, and a woman of 22 were being questioned
following a fresh operation by detectives investigating
Britain's biggest cash robbery, which has been widely
blamed on the IRA.

Mr Ward, who lives in Poleglass, a Catholic area of west
Belfast, originally told police how his family were held
hostage by the robbery gang in advance of the heist at the
bank's headquarters, five days before Christmas last year.

He described how he had been taken at gunpoint to the home
of a second employee, Kevin McMullan, before both were
given orders to attend work as normal.

At the end of their shifts, the pair - who were both key-
holders - were instructed to open the underground vault to
give members of the gang access. They had been told that
their families would be executed if they failed to comply.

Mr McMullan's wife Karen was blindfolded and driven to a
remote forest where she was abandoned. It was only when Mrs
McMullan, suffering hypothermia, reached the door of a
farmhouse that the alarm was raised. By then, the gang had
escaped with around £26.5 million, mostly in newly-printed

Several weeks after the bank vaults were cleared, Mr Ward
relived his ordeal in a television interview.

He described how he was ordered to stuff £1.2 million in
cash into a sports bag and carry it from the bank in a
dummy run. After a handover to one of the gang, the two
employees then filled up to 24 green boxes with cash and
took them to a loading bay.

At the time he said: "The media don't say it directly but
there is an insinuation that because I am a west Belfast
Catholic man that I must have been part of the robbery."

Ten people have since been arrested and three people
charged in connection with the robbery, but no-one has yet
been charged with physically carrying out the raid.

Mr Ward, a supervisor in the cash centre, is still employed
by the bank but has been on sick leave since the robbery.

At 6am, four armoured police Land Rovers arrived at his
modern end-of-terrace house this morning. Police stood
guard while forensic experts carried out a detailed search.

Neighbours in the close-knit nationalist community remained
tight-lipped about what had happened. Most were still
asleep when the police carried out their raid. Anyone who
saw anything stayed silent.

One woman said: "They're neighbours, I don't want to say
anything about them. The family keeps themselves to

Accusations over the heist, and the murder a month later of
Robert McCartney, combined to place enormous pressure on
the IRA to sever its criminal links which ultimately led to
the group's pledge in July to down arms.

A small number of the stolen Northern Bank notes cash were
seized by police across the border in Cork but the bulk has
never been recovered. The Northern Bank issued redesigned
currency to render the stolen money worthless.


Government Should Begin Preparations For Irish Unity

Published: 29 November, 2005

Responding to Michael McDowell's assertion that it was his
belief that there would be a united Ireland in the coming
years and that it was his desire that it should come about,
the Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD
said, "It will take more than rhetoric" to make a united
Ireland a reality. The Cavan/Monaghan TD added that it
would need "serious strategic planning to bring it about."

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "If Michael McDowell is to be taken
seriously in his latest pronouncement on the merits of a
united Ireland it will take more than rhetoric. If he has
any genuine desire to see a united Ireland then he would be
actively engaged in a process to bring it about.

"The project of reunification is a massive task that faces
us all on the island of Ireland. It will need serious
strategic planning to bring it about.

"Therefore Michael McDowell should explain to the people of
Ireland why his Government rejected the recent Sinn Féin
Dáil motion on the issue. We specifically called on the
Dáil to prepare politically, economically, socially and
culturally for Irish unification, identifying steps and
measures, including a Green Paper, which can assist a
successful transition to a united Ireland. A United Ireland
will only come about through careful planning, which
addresses the concerns of all the people of the island,
including the unionist community.

"Minister McDowell's call for a diverse and multi-cultural
Ireland is also ironic given the punitive policies he
pursues on immigration and asylum and his record of
deporting Irish children."


Garda's Widow To Fight OTRs At Westminster

By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent
Tuesday 29th November 2005

The widow of murdered Garda detective Jerry McCabe is to
travel to Westminster in the New Year to oppose the on-the-
runs legislation.

Ann McCabe had already given her backing to the all-party
campaign at Westminster against the Northern Ireland
Offences Bill which will grant an amnesty to IRA suspects
believed to have carried out murder and other acts of
violence during the Troubles.

Now it has been revealed she is so angered by the Bill and
the similar "pardon" to be granted to terrorists in the
Republic, that she is going to London to confront the
British Government.

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird of Artigarvan last night
told the News Letter: "The killers of Ann's husband and
those still on-the-run but wanted in connection with the
murder will not be included this dirty deal.

"But she is angry about it. She identifies very strongly
with the victims of IRA terror in Northern Ireland and
feels for their plight.

"So she has confirmed she will show solidarity by coming to
Westminster around the time the Bill reaches the House of

Lord Laird said her involvement would increase the profile
of the OTRs campaign in the south, where he said people had
not fully cottoned on to the fact that other terrorists,
such as the perpetrators of the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings, which killed 33 people, would be granted a pardon

"It's time people in the Republic woke to the pure evil of
this Bill," he said

Mrs McCabe told the Observer newspaper at the weekend: "I
heard the British Government comparing this legislation to
the process in South Africa where people convicted of
crimes were given an amnesty. "It is not like South Africa
in any way, because there those responsible had to own up
to their crimes in an open, public forum. That's not going
to happen with this legislation.

"Those responsible for terrible crimes are getting the
slate wiped clean, without taking responsibility for the
past," she said, referring to the fact they will not have
to appear in court.

Yesterday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern reiterated his
determination to press ahead with granting presidential
pardons to paramilitary fugitives.

The mechanism to grant amnesties to OTRs from the Republic
has been criticised too by the south's opposition parties,
for being constitutionally dubious and hurtful to victims
of unsolved crimes.

But Mr Ahern said the issue of pardons for OTRs had been in
the pipeline since 2001 and had to be resolved to continue
momentum in the Northern Ireland peace process.

"This was an arrangement that was made four-and-a-half-
years ago exactly. It was very publicly announced at that
time. What was agreed at that time is now going through the
legislative process, so Mr Blair is going ahead with that,"
he said.

Mr Ahern said that only a handful of people were likely to
qualify for pardons under the Irish mechanism to deal with
the issue.

Under the Irish government's plans, an eligibility board
will receive and vet applications before passing them onto
the Justice Department for consideration.

The cabinet will then study candidates before finally
referring them to President McAleese to grant the pardons.

* DUP councillor Robin Newton has placed a motion before
Belfast City Council expressing opposition to the OTRs
plans and claiming they are not in the interests of either
Northern Ireland as a whole or Belfast in particular.


'Legislation Is An Amnesty' Says Paisley

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

THE police ombudsman is in "denial" in her belief that new
'on the run' legislation is not an amnesty, the DUP claimed
last night.

In an interview in yesterday's Irish News, Nuala O'Loan
insisted the proposed legislation – allowing paramilitaries
and security force members to avoid jail for offences
committed before 1998 – is not an amnesty because they
would have criminal convictions.

She also warned that the entire criminal justice system
runs the risk of "very, very serious compromise" if
publicly-funded community restorative justice (CRJ) schemes
are not independently accountable.

DUP Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr was last night
critical of Mrs O'Loan's comments relating to the on-the-
run (OTR) legislation.

"She misses the point completely on the issues of
convictions because after all, these people will have a
conviction at the end of the process but they will never
have to turn up to court to receive that, or serve a day in
prison as a result of that conviction. In my books that is
an amnesty. She is in denial on that point."

Sinn Fein is the only party to have backed the legislation,
but has criticised its inclusion of security force

Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said: "Sinn Fein opposed
this approach and we sought to ensure the scheme would not
hinder the search for the truth or provide immunity for
members of the British state forces who carried out or were
responsible for state killings and collusion.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness he believed the public
generally regarded the OTR legislation as offering an
amnesty and "many people find that repugnant".


Republican Hits Out At SDLP

(Sharon O'Neill, Irish News)

A veteran republican has hit out at SDLP claims that
legislation governing 'on-the-runs' represents a form of

The fall-out continued yesterday (Sunday) from the
controversial Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which will
allow paramilitaries and security force members who
committed crimes prior to the signing of the Good Friday
Agreement to avoid serving time in jail.

The legislation, which will cover the PSNI's review of
historical cases, is not confined to on-the-runs (OTRs) –
either those convicted or wanted for questioning by police
– but also includes other persons yet to be charged.

Although the cases will be heard before a special tribunal,
defendants do not have to attend.

Victims' families, unionist politicians and the SDLP have
criticised the bill, as has prominent human rights group
British Irish Rights Watch.

Sinn Féin welcomed it but later hit out at its inclusion of
British army and police personnel.

It was reported yesterday that senior officers tasked with
reviewing historic cases predicted that no member of the
security forces will be charged with the 1989 loyalist
murder of Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane.

Former Metropolitan police chief Lord Stevens has already
found that the RUC and British army colluded in the

A number of Stevens' files on security force personnel are
still with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Speaking at the unveiling of a republican memorial garden
in Ballymurphy in west Belfast yesterday, Brian Keenan –
who was reputedly the IRA's go-between with the
decommissioning body – was scathing of the SDLP.

"What a disgraceful position the SDLP are taking – that
they try to say that republicans have done some sort of a
deal to have the murderers of the British crown forces and
pro-unionist forces included in the on-the-runs
legislation," he said.

"It ill beholds the SDLP to take that position because you
know that the republican leadership would never be involved
in such an underhand thing.

"We have too much respect both for the people in this area,
the people right across, who sustained this war for so

However, SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness last night
said: "It is quite clear that Sinn Féin are now deeply
embarrassed by the OTR legislation which has given police
and army and escape route from justice for their activities
during the Troubles.

"Sinn Féin would have been aware of the British
government's attitude during the course of their
negotiations and if they weren't then either they were
duped or too stupid to realise what the government was
playing at.

"Once again the selfish interests of the Provisional
movement in getting their people off and home comes before
the interests of justice and truth for the victims of the

November 29, 2005

This article appeared first in the November 28, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Driver 'Inches From Being Shot'

By Staff Reporter

A driver was inches away from being shot by a police
officer as he sped away from a Catholic church, a jury
heard yesterday.

The Belfast Crown Court jury also heard that almost a year
after the incident in June 2001, the back-seat passenger in
the car had a piece of lead removed from his arm after a
bullet passed through the car.

In the dock denying charges of attempted wounding and
possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life was
Constable Michael Coote (45).

Ken McMahon QC, prosecuting, said undercover officers and
mobile support units had been deployed around St MacNissi's
Church in Mossley in Co Antrim after receiving intelligence
reports that it would be burnt in an arson attack.

He told the jury that in the early hours of June 29 2001,
the driver of the Peugeot 106 car – Dennis Walker, who was
with his two friends Darren Goodman and Craig Dalziel – had
parked it close to the church and they were looking through
magazines they had stolen from the Abbey shopping centre in
Newtownabbey when they "saw figures begin to emerge from
the bushes behind the car".

The lawyer said they heard shouts of either "'stop or we
will shoot' or 'stop or we will shoot you'", but the
friends believed "these people were paramilitaries or
hoods" and started the car.

However, he added that the car had "moved very little, if
at all, when there was the crack of a gun and the rear
windscreen shattered".

Mr McMahon said Mr Dalziel, who was in the back seat,
"heard a whistle past his head" while the driver "felt and
heard a zooming sound" close to his left ear and, realising
they had been shot at, accelerated away to Mr Dalziel's
nearby flat.

The lawyer said two of the men had heard two shots, and
when the car was examined, a forensic firearms expert found
a bullet had also been fired at the passenger side wheel
arch as well as the shot that passed through the car.

When the friends got to the flat, they made a 999 call,
after which the car was seized and examined.

Mr McMahon told the jury that following that examination,
the expert believed that one officer had fired the shot
which struck the wheel arch while Mr Coote had fired the
shot which shattered the rear windscreen and passed through
the front window.

Mr McMahon said that from examining the scene and the car,
the firearms expert was able to determine that Mr Coote's
shot had been fired from behind and to the left of the car
but "cannot say from what range".

The jury heard the matter had been investigated by the
Police Ombudsman and that during interviews, Mr Coote –
whose address was given as no fixed abode – admitted that
he had been at the scene and had "discharged his firearm".

"The Crown case is that Constable Coote, who fired the shot
through the car, was trying to shoot the driver Dennis
Walker," Mr McMahon, said.

He added that "we say he had no legal justification" for
the shooting,

The trial continues.


Minister Hears Of Renewal Of Confidence In Glenbryn

By Allison Morris

Residents of the Glenbryn area in upper Ardoyne spoke of a
renewed sense of confidence yesterday as NIO minister with
responsibility for social development David Hanson visited
the area.

The minister was in north Belfast to see at first hand the
work carried out in the area following a major
neighbourhood renewal strategy that began in 2003.

David Hanson MP was accompanied on a walkabout of the
mainly loyalist area by Ulster Unionist MLA Fred Cobain and
community worker Jim Potts.

Mr Potts said the area had been through hard times but
residents were now feeling positive about the future.

"There has been a transformation and we have now got
families with young children wanting to move back into the
area. We will soon have a new youth facility and a health
and wellbeing centre is also in the pipe line.

"This area has been through a difficult time but hopefully
we are coming out the other side and working towards a
better future."

Mr Hanson said the investment would help to develop
"confident communities".

"Since 2003 we have provided £500,000 to greater
Ballysillan and upper Ardoyne for a range of activities,
including skills-building and leadership programmes,
community relations training and an after-schools

"Today I have had detailed discussions about the many
concerns of local people.

"Not all of these can be settled overnight but we are
working to establish a local neighbourhood partnership to
ensure this area benefits more fully from government

The minister added: "It is clear to me that real progress
will not be made until the weakest areas of Northern
Ireland have begun to enjoy the benefits of peace."


House Prices Rising While Economy Slows

The Northern Ireland economy has weakened during 2005,
according to a report published today.

By:Press Association

But despite a fall in consumer confidence experts claim
house prices in the province are rising at 20% per annum.

First Trust Bank also said the slackening of economic
growth has not impacted upon the local labour market with
rising employment and falling unemployment.

The Economic Outlook report forecasts:

:: Slower economic growth in the province over the next
three years.

:: A new public capital investment programme, to be
launched next month, will boost construction activity in
the years ahead.

:: Consumer spending growth is expected to remain sluggish
over the next 12 months.

:: The Northern Ireland economy should follow the expected
upturn in the national economy towards the middle of 2006.

:: Public expenditure growth will decline over the next two
years while property tax is expected to rise.

Economists said business owners should be aware that public
expenditure can no longer be expected to be the prime mover
in economic growth, while there is no escape from higher

It also said consumer confidence and spending are not

Instead their rate of growth has slowed down and will
remain sluggish into 2006.

But the report said the massive public capital investment
programme will provide many opportunities for local


Opin: Don't Let Facts Get In The Way Of A Good Jibe

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

In his failed attempts to undermine Sinn Fein's growing
popularity, SDLP leader Mark Durkan hit a new low in his
party conference speech a few weeks ago.

Claiming his party are champions for truth and justice for
the relatives of those killed by the crown forces, he
turned the truth upside down to score a cheap political
point against Sinn Fein.

He claimed Sinn Fein and the British government cobbled
together legislation which delivers an amnesty for members
of the crown forces involved in killings during the

Why let the facts get in the way of a good jibe is the
order of the day for the SDLP leader.

In his speech, Mark Durkan called for the past to be dealt
with on a "moral basis", then ignored his own advice.

He manufactured a self-serving version of events dealing
with those known as 'on the runs'.

The SDLP leader ignored the British government, the
architects of the legislation, and criticised Sinn Fein.

He failed to consider the impact his misleading comments
would have on the relatives of those killed by the crown

This is a constituency of vulnerable people numbering in
their thousands living out their lives traumatised by the
death of loved ones.

Loosing a relative is difficult to come to terms with. To
have to campaign for truth and justice and be met with
indifference by the agency responsible, the British
government, adds to the trauma.

Did Mark not pause for reflection on how his comments would
be received by relatives of those killed?

Of all the parties Sinn Fein is most publicly identified
with the relatives' cause.

The unionist parties, the British government, the SDLP show
little interest in the issues raised by the relatives.

To attack Sinn Fein on the very ground where the party has
built up a credible reputation with the relatives is bad
enough. To base the attack on false claims is disgraceful.

I can only conclude his broadside against Sinn Fein is an
attempt to drive a wedge between the party and relatives'

Why else would he use the very word 'collusion' which
emotionally means so much to relatives and pervert it by
accusing Sinn Fein of collusion with the British

'Collusion', in case Mark Durkan does not know, is where
the state at arms-length assassinates individuals. Here the
British government used loyalists to kill Catholics.

His monstrous proposition is that Sinn Fein is siding with
the British government to deny or prevent relatives from
getting the truth about the deaths of their loved ones.

At a time when relatives need support and solidarity the
leader of the SDLP is playing with their emotions, trying
to instil doubt in their minds about Sinn Fein, the one
organisation they can rely on.

The indisputable facts surrounding this situation are as

In 2001 the British and Irish governments agreed to address
the issue of people 'on the run'.

In 2003 the British government published its proposals.

These proposals did not include members of the crown

The British government, unknown to Sinn Fein, added a
clause into the legislation which covers their forces.

This only became known two weeks ago when the detail of the
legislation was revealed in Westminster.

At no stage in the last four years did the British
government mention their armed forces.

In fact the British government protect their armed forces
and refuse to accept they did wrong.

By including them in this legislation the British
government are admitting for the first time they ran death
squads, a startling admission, which must not be lost in
this controversy.

The reality is that the British government is responsible
for the policy of collusion.

They are responsible for covering it up and for denying
justice, truth and closure to the relatives.

In his speech Mark Durkan mentioned Sinn Fein 15 times, the
IRA six and the British government twice.

The emphasis should have been the other way around.

The relatives need Sinn Fein and SDLP support to achieve

Mark Durkan knows this.

He should set party politics aside and help force the
British government to come clean on their covert war, state
murder and collusion.


Opin: Paisley Pales As Hain Shifts Boundaries

Damien Kiberd

Northern Secretary Peter Hain is not a man for turning.
Some years ago when market researchers and opinion poll
takers told him that the people of Wales were likely to
turn down the idea of devolution – and with it the creation
of a Welsh Assembly – Hain responded in the way that all
gut politicians would: he went on the stump to sell his
ideas to the people of Wales. And he won.

His plans for local government reform in the North display
a similar level of courage. He recognises an overblown
state apparatus when he sees it and he is willing to take
on the challenge of cutting it down to size.

There is a famous old joke in the Middle East. It goes as

Question: How do you define a moderate Shia Muslim in Iran?

Answer: One whose Kalashnikov is out of bullets.

So when you see a prominent member of the Ulster Unionist
Party – authors of the biggest and most protracted
gerrymander in West European political history -–complain
that "ghettoisation" will flow from Hain's reforms, you
realise that the Northern Secretary is really doing a top
class job. Are these not the same people who herded
citizens into ghettoes so that artificial majorities might
be preserved in local government over a period of five

When you hear The Irish Times refer to Hain's plans as
sectarian, you realise that this simply means that Hain's
reforms won't suit the political parties favoured by The
Irish Times – the beat-up SDLP and the beat-up Ulster
Unionists. .

Some years ago, prior to the ceasefires, I was invited by
members of the northern establishment to an hotel in
Fermanagh, to present a paper on the future of the northern

The primary concern of those in attendance was that the
local economy was unduly dependent on the public sector,
was beset by quangos and had a private sector that had
opted to invest in the wrong areas (sunset industries).

I spoke with some trepidation about the success of the
southern economy in promoting real investment and suggested
that an all-island economy with a common tax regime could
be a roaring success.

I expected a sharp and frosty response to my ideas. My
fears were unfounded. Nobody was even remotely rude about
what I had said.

The real trouble began when people from different arms of
the northern state and its huge array of state agencies
began knocking strips off each other, accusing each other
of making mendacious statements in public and even of

At one point a man leapt to his feet and said that his
father had fought for five years against Hitler and he "was
not about to accept this form of abuse".

What really astonished me was the plethora of organisations
that were charged with promoting the economic interests of
the north: it was akin to a Tower of Babel.

Hain wants to cut the number of organisations dealing with
health, education and local government from 67 to 20 by

Given that he is seeking to serve a population of about
1.6m this makes complete sense. But that has not stopped a
leader writer in The Irish Times from referring to Hain's
proposals as "disruptive, partitionist and playing to
sectarian divisions". The newspaper's concerns are risible.

Anyone who wishes to explore the pointless nature of local
politics in the North up to now should simply read Máirtín
Ó Muilleoir's excellent work The Dome of Delight concerning
the operation of Belfast City Hall over a period of

Let us say that the dramatis personae in this particular
account – among them those who

advocated forced sterilisation of travellers and the
routine exclusion of the press from council meetings –
would not be unfamiliar to those who work in the upper
reaches of The Irish Times. And they are not nationalists.

Hain's reforms envisage the creation of seven councils, one
health authority and one education authority.

They will lead to savings of £200m (€342m) per annum, which
presumably could be applied to enhancing the level of
public services.

The number of elected councillors would decline from just
under 600 to about 350 – a merciful reform that could well
be copied in the South. The dual mandate, where people can
sit as

Assembly members and as local councillors, would be

Dr Ian Paisley was quick to respond. He said it was "a
clear attempt to split the province. Nationalists will be
able to develop their united Ireland policy in the councils
that they dominate".

He added that "unionists will be forced into a non-
democratic system whereby their wishes will be thwarted".

What Paisley sees is that two thirds of the land area will
now be governed by councils which are effectively run by
Sinn Féin and that these councils will seek to explore
economic links with Dublin and with the EU, where Paisley
has served as MEP for decades.

The psephologists claim that control of the Belfast area
would rest with the Alliance Party, but are they right? It
seems, given recent demographic trends, that nationalists
would exercise sway in Belfast.

Effectively the unionist parties could control County
Antrim, parts of Armagh and the bulk of County Down. The
alternative, of course, would be for the DUP to explore the
possibility of reaching a working arrangement with Sinn
Féin in the Belfast Assembly. But this is unlikely to

Sir Reg Empey responded to the Hain reforms in such a
ludicrous way that he referred to them as a "gerrymander"
and "a further step in the Balkanisation of the province".
Perhaps he might summon up the ghosts of his predecessors
in office to explore the whole notion of Balkanisation. Do
we need to go back to the botched Collins-Craig pact?

Peter Hain has been derided in segments of the media as a
part-time NIO secretary. He has been roundly abused in some
quarters as being only partially committed to his role.
Unionists seem to see him as some sort of day tripper and
have complained about him having a permanent tan.

The reality is that he is a serious and substantial
politician who understands words like "sectarian" or even
"racist". He is trying to deal with what he perceives to be
an embedded problem: the sectarian geography of the North.

Hain may not want to spend the rest of his days in Belfast.
But he is trying to do a good job under the circumstances.
Coming from his background within the anti-apartheid
movement, he will know how to recognise sectarian ideas and
sectarian mentalities from a long distance.

At the tip of Ulster unionism, there are people who express
their political views by attacking people of Chinese,
Indian and even Portuguese origin.

But any reasonable analysis would confirm that the bigotry
does not stop there. Any Catholic will do.

Damien Kiberd is a writer and broadcaster. A presenter for
NewsTalk 106 in Dublin, he was previously editor of The
Sunday Business Post.


Opin: Lords Can Still Smash On-The-Run Legislation

Tuesday 29th November 2005

The squalid prisoner "on-the-runs" legislation for Northern
Ireland may have passed a second reading stage at
Westminster, but opponents of the Bill remain hopeful that
it will get short shrift in the Lords or, at the very
least, be radically amended of its more offensive parts.

The Government, in the persons of Prime Minister Tony Blair
and Secretary of State Peter Hain, has been on message with
the demands of Sinn Fein and the IRA, alienating by far the
greater number of people in Northern Ireland who are
appalled that ruthless terrorists guilty of the most
heinous crimes will walk free as a result of this amnesty.

The struggle goes on at Westminster to have this Northern
Ireland Offences legislation taken out of commission and,
while the Government has the numbers to force it through
the Commons, members of the Lords will not be as easily
persuaded about its relevance to the political process in
Northern Ireland.

Peter Hain faced a torrid time from all sides of the
Commons last Tuesday during an emotional debate on the
legislation, and he also came face to face with relatives
of security force personnel and other innocent victims of
the terrorists who will benefit most from this tawdry Bill.

Mr Hain and his Government will be further embarrassed and
held to ridicule when Ann McCabe, widow of murdered
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, travels to Westminster to
record her loathing of the Bill.

Mrs McCabe is so revulsed by the legislation that she
readily agreed to travel to London to directly confront
Tony Blair and his Government and reinforce the support for
the all-party campaign opposed to this side deal with

IRA killers of Garda McCabe remain in prison, serving out
their sentences, and, while Irish premier Bertie Ahern has
made tentative moves to have them released, public opinion
in the South has forced him to make a very hasty retreat
and take a contradictory line to that adopted by the
Westminster Government.

The "on-the-runs" legislation is a scandal, totally out of
keeping for any selfrespecting Government, and the sooner
it is binned the better.


Opin: SF Wants Equality For All, Except Protestants

By David Simpson of the DUP

Yesterday the Irish News carried two platform pieces about
Irish Republicanism – one by Carmel Hanna MLA, and the
other by Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein.

In her article Caitriona Ruane said:

"Republicanism is about much more than reuniting Ireland.
It is about equality for all the people of Ireland in ever-
growing diversity and utilising the resources of the
country in the interests of all of us."

I imagine that she wrote those words intending us to
believe that she and her party agreed with them. There is,
however, just one problem with it: it lacks any basic

In the eyes of Sinn Fein to be a Protestant, a Unionist or
of British ethnic origin is to forfeit all rights save one
– the right to be treated as a legitimate target. Let no
one be in any doubt – just as loyalists killed people
solely because of their religion – so too did the
Provisional IRA.

On 7th July 2005 Islamic extremists attempted to murder
hundreds of people in London. I was present at the time and
witnessed first hand the fear and panic.

The Provos attempted precisely the same thing. Some years
ago they planted a no warning 500lb car bomb outside River

River House is situated in High Street, Belfast.
Immediately opposite is the HiPark and Inshops shopping
centre, and the Passport Office. River House is a 13-storey
office block which at the time housed the headquarters of
the Police Authority, plus the Land Registry among others.

On any day there would have been approximately 500 people
working in River House. On any day there would have been
several hundred people in both the Inshops and Passport
Office. On any day there would have been several hundred
people in the shops on and along the length of High Street.
On that day the Provos attempted to kill hundreds of people
in one fell swoop.

In 1970 more than 13,000 Protestants lived on Londonderry's
west bank – today, less than 1,000. In Newry Protestants
once formed some 20 per cent of the population, today just
five per cent. In 1970, 870 Protestants lived in
Coalisland, today it is about 20 families – less than one
per cent of the population. And here in Portadown more than
1,600 Protestants have left the Garvaghy Road over the past
30 years.

When the IRA announced its 'stand down' order in July it
did so claiming "We reiterate our view that the armed
struggle was entirely legitimate."

Sinn Fein has given unquestioning support to it at each and
every turn. For every murder, every atrocity and every
massacre, Sinn Fein gave political cover and vocal support.

For the claim that their litany of bloodshed and death
perpetrated against their neighbours was 'entirely
legitimate,' Sinn Fein offered warm applause.

Caitriona Ruane may write words and make noises, but the
silent graves, empty chairs, repeat prescriptions, burnt
flesh, withered limbs and seared memories cry out that it
is not so.

David Simpson is Democratic Unionist MP for Lagan Valley


Tributes Paid To Clonard Priest

By Allison Morris

TRIBUTES have been paid to the oldest member of the
Redemptorist order in Ireland following his death in his
native west Belfast.

Born in Earlscourt Street in the shadow of Clonard, Brother
Hugh Murray (99), pictured, had been a member of the order
since 1926.

For the last 35 years he was based in Clonard Monastery,
having spent time in missionary work and serving in
Limerick, Dundalk and Dublin before returning to west

Fr Peter Burns, who was with him when he died on Friday
night, said he would be remembered as a "quiet, unassuming

"Brother Hugh will be sadly missed here at Clonard – he was
such a presence for such a long time," he said.

"He was in his 100th year and his philosophy in life was to
take one day at a time. His passing was a very peaceful

"In life he was a very quiet but also a very witty person.
He was from this area and would have been well known."

Born in 1906, Hugh Murray attended St Peter's Primary
School before starting work as a barber.

Fr Burns added: "Brother Hugh was a simple, hard-working
man all his life and his loss will be felt greatly here at

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at Clonard Church at
11.30am today with burial afterwards in the Redemptorist
plot in Milltown Cemetery.


Playwright Brian Friel Captures Top Award

By Staff Reporter

Brian Friel, has scooped the prize for 'best play' at a
major theatrical awards ceremony.

The Co Tyrone-born playwright (76) was honoured for The
Home Place, fending off competition from Bloody Sunday by
Richard Norton-Taylor.

The Home Place, which premiered at Dublin's Gate Theatre,
is Friel's first new Irish play since the turn of the

Set in Co Donegal in 1978, it is another in his cycle of
historical tragedies depicting the effects of the
Plantation of Ireland.


Hussain Trial: Ten Reasons Justice May Not Be Served

Reasons why Saddam might be acquitted

By Robert Verkaik
28 November 2005


Saddam Hussein has been held in custody by the US since
December 2003. Under international law, a defendant facing
a criminal prosecution must be brought before a court as
quickly as possible. But his first appearance before the
Iraqi tribunal was not until July 2004, seven months after
his capture.


The death penalty is not prohibited under international
law. But it has been outlawed in Europe for 50 years, and
Britain is one of more than 40 countries that are
signatories to the protocol of the European Convention of
European Rights which outlaws the death penalty. If Saddam
is found guilty and then sentenced to death, his execution
will be seen as a stain on international justice.


International human rights groups fear that the trial is
not about Saddam's guilt or innocence. In their attempts to
justify the invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair and George Bush
have made inflammatory statements about Saddam. Contempt of
court rules that should restrict prejudicial coverage of a
criminal trial have been ignored. Pictures of the crime
scene of the village of Dujail, accompanied by assertions
of Saddam's guilt, have were beamed around the world long
before the case opened yesterday.


The Iraqi Special Tribunal that will try Saddam was
established under the Coalition Provisional Authority. But
many believe the US State Department, the Pentagon and the
US Department of Justice have been guiding it behind the


Questions remain over the selection, experience and
impartiality of the five judges. Only the presiding judge
has been identified. At least two of the others have never
sat as judges before.


Not all the witnesses are expected to be identified - which
may, given the security threats to them, be a proportionate
response. However, it could handicap the defence. Saddam's
legal team also claims it has been denied time and
resources to examine the case against him.


The charges boil down to Saddam signing death warrants in
his capacity as President, raising the question of whether
the tribunal can convict him for an offence of obedience to
Iraqi law.


The standard of proof in British courts and many other
European jurisdictions is "beyond reasonable doubt". But
the Iraqi court rules are silent on the standard of proof
to be adopted in this case. The judges could convict Saddam
on a much lower standard of proof.


Unlike the UN war crimes tribunals in Rwanda and the former
Yugoslavia, the Iraqi court will have no international
representatives, undermining its authority to hear such
heinous crimes.


The murders of defence lawyers has undermined assurances
from the coalition and the Iraqi government that they can
guarantee the security of participants. It has also led to
a temporary boycott of the trial by the lawyers and
strengthened calls for the trial to take place outside


Two Thirds Of Young People Favour Compulsory Irish

29/11/2005 - 07:34:18

Almost two thirds of young Irish people are in favour of
Irish being compulsory in schools, according to a survey
carried out by the Irish language newspaper Foinse.

The newspaper said a telephone survey carried out last week
found that 64% of people under the age of 34 believed
pupils should be forced to study Irish.

However, that figure fell dramatically to just 26% in the
over-34 age group.

The debate over compulsory Irish resurfaced earlier this
year when Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he favoured
making the subject optional at Leaving Cert level.

Hundreds of people marched on Fine Gael's offices earlier
this month to protest at the proposal.

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