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November 24, 2005

Special Branch Accused Of Protecting Killers

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News about Ireland and the Irish

DI 11/24/05 Special Branch Accused Of Protecting Killers
DI 11/24/05 Convicted UDA Men Faces Grilling On Murder
BT 11/24/05 Hain Hints At Changes After Storm Of Outrage
DI 11/24/05 Untouchables - Getting Away With Murder...
DI 11/24/05 Opin: State Forces Slip Under The Radar
UN 11/24/05 Ahern & Hain Hold Talks With SDLP And UUP Today
UN 11/24/05 SF General Secretary Defends Molloy Suspension
IO 11/24/05 Suspended SF Mayor 'Will Get A Fair Hearing'
NL 11/24/05 Molloy A Serious Loss
BT 11/24/05 Opin: Why SF Members Must Tow Party Line
BB 11/24/05 Cross-Party Move To Save Hospital
SF 11/24/05 SF To Hold Major Conference On Irish Unity
BT 11/24/05 Opin: The Victims, The Fugitives And Justice
NH 11/24/05 Opin: Limit To What SF Can Do For Irish In Brit
DI 11/24/05 Opin: Blank Cheque For Hain Is Unwise
UN 11/24/05 GAA Reveals Groupings For Leagues
BT 11/24/05 George At End Of Long Road
BT 11/24/05 Pope Urged To Honour Irish Saint, Columbanus
BT 11/24/05 Irish Dirty Dancing


Special Branch Accused Of Protecting Killers

Ciarán Barnes

A Belfast man who survived two loyalist murder bids has
accused Special Branch of protecting his would-be killers.

John Flynn has broken his 15-year silence over the attempts
on his life after learning that the Ulster Volunteer Force
(UVF) members who tried to kill him are police informants.

The Police Ombudsman will now be asked to investigate the
Special Branch connection to the murder bids and whether
detectives had prior knowledge that the 45-year-old was
being targeted.

The paramilitaries who tried to kill Mr Flynn were involved
in a dozen murders in north Belfast between 1990 and 2001.

On each occasion, their Special Branch handler covered up
their involvement in return for them providing information
on other UVF operations.

The first UVF attempt on John Flynn's life occurred in 1990
outside Whiteabbey Hospital in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

He had just arrived at the hospital in his car to pick up a
friend when a hooded man tried to shoot him.

The weapon jammed and Mr Flynn attacked the gunman,
throwing him against and smashing a hospital window, before
wrestling the .44 Magnum pistol from the gunman's grasp.

Mr Flynn tried to shoot his attacker in the back as the man
fled to a waiting car but the gun jammed a second time.

Looking back on the incident, Mr Flynn said he was
convinced it had not been investigated properly. He said he
believed that Special Branch had covered up the attempted
murder to avoid compromising the identity of its mole
within the UVF.

Mr Flynn said: "The police took away the gun and a top that
I was wearing, which was covered in blood.

"I was told at the time that there was blood on the top
that wasn't mine. I took this to mean that it belonged to
the man who tried to murder me.

"But no one was ever arrested for the attempt on my life. I
have no doubt, if the blood on my top had been forensically
tested, it would have confirmed the identity of the man who
tried to kill me."

The identity of the Special Branch informer who tried to
murder Mr Flynn is known to Daily Ireland.

He is currently involved in a high-profile court case and
was responsible for the murders of the Catholic taxi driver
Sharon McKenna, the UVF informer Tommy Sheppard and the
Reverend David Templeton. In 1997, he ordered the murder of
Raymond McCord Jr from his jail cell.

The paramilitary who killed Mr McCord was the driver of the
getaway car on the night that the UVF tried to murder Mr
Flynn outside Whiteabbey Hospital. That man too is a police
agent. Mr Flynn said he believed that this man's first name
was Willie.

He added: "When I was wrestling with the gunman on the
ground outside the hospital, he was shouting: 'Come and
help me, Willie.'"

A few months after the hospital incident, the UVF put a
booby-trap bomb under Mr Flynn's car outside his home in
Belfast's Bawnmore estate.

Local teenagers noticed the device and contacted Mr Flynn,
who alerted the RUC. The following day, he received a
sympathy card in the post from the UVF. It read: "Third
time lucky".

The identity of the UVF man who placed the bomb under Mr
Flynn's car is also known to Daily Ireland.

He is a Special Branch informer who murdered the Catholic
grandfather Seán McParland in 1994 at the victim's
daughter's house in the Fortwilliam area of north Belfast.

The paramilitary killer is the current boss of the UVF in
north Belfast's Mount Vernon estate.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is preparing a report on the
role of Special Branch informers in eight UVF murders in
north Belfast during the 1990s. The three men who tried to
murder Mr Flynn form a crucial part of this investigation.

The ombudsman's findings will be published next year. She
is expected to recommend prosecutions against the Special
Branch detective who ran these UVF informants and who gave
them a free hand to commit murder.

The man retired from the police in 2001. His identity is
also known to Daily Ireland.


Convicted UDA Men To Face Grilling On Sectarian Murder

Ciarán Barnes

Two Lisburn loyalists convicted of hiding a huge Ulster
Defence Association (UDA) weapons haul could have crucial
information about the murder of a Catholic in the city,
Daily Ireland has learned.

Detectives are understood to be planning to grill Darren
Kenneth Grant and Anthony Madden about the sectarian
killing of James McMahon in Lisburn two years ago.

The 21-year-old was bludgeoned to death by a gang of masked
loyalists on November 20, 2003 as he walked home after a
night out. Members of the UDA are believed to have carried
out the murder.

Less than 24-hours after Mr McMahon's death, and under
orders from the UDA, Darren Grant (27) and Anthony Madden
(24) moved a stockpile of weapons to what they believed was
a safe house in the Hillhall estate in Lisburn.

The arsenal consisted of six sub-machine-guns, 2,000 rounds
of ammunition, three pipe bombs, blank firing weapons,
accelerant powder, weapons cleaning materials and pick axe
and sledge hammer handles.

Madden returned to the house on November 22 with a third
man, reminding the owner that something had been hidden in
his attic which he was to say nothing about.

Two weeks later the PSNI took the homeowner in for
questioning about the McMahon murder.

He admitted that something had been hidden in his attic by
loyalists and a follow up search unearthed the weapons

Grant and Madden were later arrested and charged with
possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives with
intent to endanger life.

The pair were sentenced to eight years in prison at Belfast
crown court last week. During their trial they admitted to
acting as "bagmen" for the UDA.

Daily Ireland understands that after realising its members
had murdered Mr McMahon, UDA bosses ordered a number of
arms dumps in Lisburn to be cleared.

The organisation feared the PSNI could learn of the
weapons' location if a UDA member suspected of involvement
in the McMahon killing broke during questioning.

A senior Lisburn loyalist said: "The McMahon murder wasn't
sanctioned, but UDA men were involved.

"The cops were going to crack down on us after that and the
weapons had to be moved."

During PSNI interviews Grant and Madden consistently
refused to reveal the name of the UDA chief who ordered
them to move the weapons.

It is understood this paramilitary holds the key to
discovering the identities of the three men who beat Mr
McMahon to death. Detectives are hoping either Grant or
Madden will agree to give evidence against this man.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said its officers are still
actively pursuing Mr McMahon's killers.

A total of four people have been questioned about the
murder, however no one has been charged.


Under Fire Hain Hints At Changes After He Faces A Storm Of Outrage

By Brian Walker
24 November 2005

Peter Hain has said he is willing to consider changes in
the Offences Bill that would backtrack on a deal given to
Sinn Fein four years ago to allow on-the-runs and other
offenders to escape a prison sentence without having to
turn up at a legal hearing.

He made his apparent concession after facing a storm of
anger and recrimination from all Opposition parties and
without a single speech of straightforward defence from his
own Labour side.

If this were to happen, it would mark the first time that
the Commons has forced Tony Blair to go back on a
concession to Republicans.

Yesterday's debate, which united all Opposition in
Parliament against the scheme, launched the Offences Bill
on its stormy passage through Parliament.

In last night's wind-up, Security Minister David Hanson
confirmed that the Government would consider any changes
suggested to the vexed question of the need for suspects to
appear in person, but this is unlikely to placate the
Bill's critics.

While expected to pass through the Commons comfortably,
without radical change the Bill could be blocked for the
best part of a year by the combined forces of Tory and Lib
Dem peers.

It is certain to retain the enmity of most Ulster parties.
And instead of speeding up the return of devolution as
Ministers were hoping, it is far more likely to delay it.

Ian Paisley gave a strong hint that political progress
could not be made under such legislation. Gerry Adams needs
to get the message "loud and clear that there cannot be a
"different law for his people".

"We stand for every man equal under the law," he said.
"When Northern Ireland gets that we will see real agreement
and real peace and real prosperity for its people."

Aside from the DUP-led fury, the real moment of shock came
from the unlikely source of Paul Murphy, Mr Hain's
predecessor, who signalled unease at the Bill as it stands,
while defending it on principle.

The Government should consider amendments exempting
witnesses from attending tribunal hearings, said Mr Murphy.

"I do hope the Government will listen," he said. "People
voted for the Good Friday Agreement knowing it contained
prisoner releases, but now the context is different."

It was also important to consider other things in a
package, like compensation for the RIR, he added.

"But victims are paramount and unless criminality is proved
to be finished by the IMC, all this legislation is of

In spite of Mr Murphy's cautious support for part of the
Opposition case, Tory and other critics remain doubtful
that Tony Blair will be willing to go back on what a hard-
pressed and visibly unhappy Peter Hain only just avoided
admitting had been a cast-iron guarantee to Gerry Adams.

Ulster-born Kate Hoey goaded him into a damaging admission.

Pressing Mr Hain on why this "shoddy little agreement" was
necessary, she asked: "If Parliament turns this down, are
you saying that the war is on again?"

Without going that far, the Secretary of State said that
without the on-the-runs deal, "there would have been no
guarantee at all that we would have seen an end to the
IRA's terrorist campaign".

Mr Hain's case took a terrible drubbing from repeated
interruptions in the Commons.

His claim that the OTRs deal was somehow part of the
Belfast Agreement process was shot down by Mark Durkan.

The Bill was a betrayal of victims, said the SDLP leader.

At the time of the Agreement, they had been told that all
outstanding cases would go to court and those convicted
might have to spend only two years in jail.

Reneging on such promises corrupted the Agreement, he

Challenged on it, the Prime Minister had told the SDLP:
"The trouble with you guys is you haven't got guns."

Even Mr Hain's attempt to win favour by extending the on-
the-runs procedures to the security forces landed him in
boiling water with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith,
who had served as an Army officer in Northern Ireland.

The Bill was "grubby and reprehensible" and one step too
far, said a passionate Mr Smith.

"It is not right for the Government to use soldiers as a
shield against what is wrong," he added.


Untouchables - Getting Away With Murder...

'Those who reorganised and rearmed the UDA, UVF and Ulster
Resistance have never been on the run from any one. In fact
many still hold senior positions in the NIO, British army,
the PSNI and British government itself' – An Fhírinne
spokesperson Robert McClenaghan

Jarlath Kearney

Victims of state violence and collusion in the North have
attacked the British government for attempting to create an
amnesty for state agents and officials.

Yesterday marked the second reading of the controversial
Northern Ireland Offences Bill in the House of Commons. The
legislation was ostensibly supposed to remedy the situation
of individuals currently on-the-run in other jurisdictions
regarding pre-1998 political offences that took place in
the North.

However concern is mounting that the British government is
trying to create an amnesty for state agents and officials
who have not yet even been questioned – never mind charged
– in relation to illegal activities such as collusion.

"Families of victims of British state collusion with
unionist death squads have been deeply angered by the
attempts of the British government to use the on-the-run
legislation to provide an escape clause for their agents
involved in the murder of our relatives and friends,"
Robert McClenaghan of anti-collusion group, An Fhírinne,
said yesterday.

"Those who reorganised and rearmed the UDA, UVF and Ulster
Resistance have never been on-the-run from anyone. In fact,
many still hold senior positions in the NIO, the British
army, the PSNI and the British government itself.

"British agents involved in collusion may attempt to run
away from their past. But they will not be able to hide
from the truth forever. We, the relatives of those
murdered, will continue to campaign until the truth is
openly told for all to see," Mr McClenaghan said.

Speaking as he met London mayor Ken Livingstone yesterday,
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams insisted that the British
government is attempting "to conceal the truth about its
involvement in the killing of citizens".

"The scheme that we negotiated was published by the two
governments at Weston Park in 2003 and related only to 'on-
the-runs'. It did not include members of British state
forces," Mr Adams said.

"Indeed, one of the key factors in Sinn Féin rejecting the
position produced by the two governments at Weston Park was
the British government's refusal to agree to an independent
judicial inquiry as called for by the family of Pat

"Sinn Féin's position is absolutely clear. We are opposed
to the inclusion of British state forces in the current
legislation. Sinn Féin will continue to confront the
British government on the denial of truth about collusion.

"Our party activists, including elected representatives,
were a primary target in this policy of state murder. Only
last week, I was again told that my details, compiled by
British intelligence agencies, had been passed to loyalist
death squads.

"This is an urgent and immediate issue for Sinn Féin and we
will continue to support the victims of collusion and state
violence. The British persist in denying their policy of
collusion. They must acknowledge the truth and those who
directed this policy, including senior British political
figures, must be held to account," Mr Adams said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan attacked Gerry Adams, claiming the
West Belfast MP "has no credibility". Mr Durkan was
speaking in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.

"The fact is that the British government has admitted that
it was negotiating these plans with Sinn Féin over the
summer. I say again Sinn Féin do not negotiate for the
Irish people. They do not negotiate for the Agreement or
the common good. They negotiate for themselves," he added.


Opin: State Forces Slip Under The Radar

Despite the fact that at no time were members of the
British security forces discussed in relation to how to
deal with those – generally known as On-the-Runs (OTRs) –
who did not fall under the Good Friday Agreement's prisoner
provisions, the British government is now cynically
attempting to slip them under the radar. That is something
that should be strenuously opposed.

At first glance it might seem perfectly reasonable that
members of the British army, for instance, who were
involved in murder or targeting during the conflict should
be subjected to the same process as IRA members involved in
violent acts. But the fact is that the current legislation
required a lot of hard work and delicate negotiation – the
kind of negotiations, in fact, that are likely to cause
real difficulties for republicans among their base.

Subsequently, the outcome was the Weston Park agreement
published by both the Irish and British governments in
2003. Nowhere in this scheme were members of British state
forces mentioned. For the British government now to display
such blatant bad faith not only threatens to cut the legs
from under those who negotiated the Weston Park deal in the
first place, it also calls into question the very point of
debating difficult issue with the British if the result is
going to be an unrecognisable outcome suitable to London
and nobody else.

Regardless of what they are accused of, those OTRs believed
to be affected by the new scheme – all of them republicans
and thought to number somewhere around 20 in all – have
earned the right to be included in a comprehensive and
imaginative deal that would see a tricky and important
matter dealt with once and for all. To be 'on the run' is
effectively to serve a prison sentence. It means separation
from family and community; it means constantly moving and
looking over the shoulder; it means a lifetime of
uncertainty and trepidation waiting for the knock on the
door or the gun on the neck. Those former members of the
various armed agencies of the state who have carried out
crimes and who have never been questioned, much less hunted
down, have been allowed return to their families and
friends, basking in the approbation of the British state
and often decorated for a job well done.

Worse still, there are those still in the employment of the
British state who have carried out the most heinous of
crimes and who hold positions of increasing power and
influence in the British armed forces. Former republican
prisoners, meanwhile – and this will apply to OTRs – are
hamstrung by an unending succession of official roadblocks
on the road towards a new life: incapable of obtaining a
licence to drive a taxi, for instance, or of fostering or
adopting a child. If the British government is really
interested in dealing with those who have broken the law
while on its payroll, let them come to the table and put
their propositions forward, to be debated, accepted or
rejected by other parties – as happened in the process that
led to the Weston Park OTR scheme.


Ahern And Hain To Hold Talks With SDLP And UUP Today

08:43 Thursday November 24th 2005

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern and Northern
Secretary Peter Hain are due to hold talks with the SDLP
and UUP today as part of efforts to restart the peace

The talks are part of a series of meetings the two men are
holding with the main players in the process to see if
fresh talks are possible in the New Year.

The prospects for such talks appear dismal as the DUP
boycotted talks with Mr Ahern and Mr Hain last week, saying
the two men were already aware of its position.

The DUP is insisting it will not even consider entering
negotiations with Sinn Fein until it is satisfied the IRA
has honoured its promise to decommission and end all

Even then, the party also wants a raft of concessions from
the British Government to restore unionist confidence in
the peace process.

Many of these concessions are extremely unpalatable to
nationalist and republicans.

Today's talks are expected to be dominated by new British
legislation allowing paramilitary fugitives to return to
the North without fear of imprisonment.

The new law, which was passed last night, has caused huge
anger among the unionist parties and SDLP, who are unhappy
that it covers police and soldiers accused of colluding
with loyalist paramilitaries.


SF General Secretary Defends Francie Molloy Suspension

13:50 Thursday November 24th 2005

Sinn Fein general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has defended
the party's decision to suspend veteran republican Francie
Molloy due to his stance on local government reform.

Mr Molloy, an MLA for mid-Ulster and mayor of Dungannon,
was suspended earlier this week pending a disciplinary
hearing into his decision to go against the party line on
the issue.

Sinn Fein supports the British Government's moves to reduce
the number of local councils in the North from 26 to seven,
but Mr Molloy has said he believes this will harm the peace

He said the move was designed to give unionists and
nationalists control of three councils each, with Belfast
shared between the two sides.

Mr Molloy believes this will harm efforts to achieve
reconciliation between the two communities.

However, Mr McLauglin defended the suspension today and
insisted that Mr Molloy would have a fair disciplinary


Suspended SF Mayor 'Will Get A Fair Hearing'

24/11/2005 - 13:55:09

Suspended Sinn Féin mayor Francie Molloy will be given a
fair hearing when he appears before the party's
disciplinary committee, it was claimed today.

Mr Molloy, mayor of Dungannon District Council, Co Tyrone,
was suspended earlier this week after he defied party
strategists and spoke out against plans to slash the number
of councils in the North from 26 to seven.

But Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin vowed
the case of the Mid-Ulster MLA will be dealt with

Mr McLaughlin said: "I am absolutely constrained by the
requirements that this matter is dealt with in the manner
of fair play to everyone.

"The question of whether or not an individual has followed
the party's structures will be decided in this disciplinary
process, which will be a fair process, as Francie Molloy
himself has acknowledged.

"I am constrained to get into the detail of it other than
to make it clear that the party's decision-making process
in this is very open and democratic but it is necessarily
an internal affair."

Mr Molloy was informed of the suspension by Mr McLaughlin
but the general secretary refused to give any further
details about the move.

The veteran party member spoke out against the review of
public administration announced by Secretary of State Peter

Mr Molloy called for the number of councils to be reduced
to 15 whereas Sinn Féin have backed plans to cut the number
to seven.

The party's rivals condemned the decision to suspend Mr
Molloy and accused Sinn Féin of running a dictatorship.


Molloy A Serious Loss

By Billy Kennedy Local Government Correspondent
Thursday 24th November 2005

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association has
described Sinn Fein's suspension of Dungannon Mayor Francie
Molloy as a set-back for local government.

Long-time republican Mr Molloy was suspended by the party
for stating that he was in favour of a 15-council structure
for Northern Ireland, not the seven backed by the
Government and Sinn Fein.

NILGA chief executive Heather Moorhead said: "NILGA members
are massively disappointed and saddened by Francie Molloy's
suspension from Sinn Fein and subsequently his position in
the association.

"Since the suspension, many members across the board have
contacted NILGA and offered their support to Francie. I am
sure that speaking on behalf of all NILGA members and
officers throughout the local government sector, his
presence and strong leadership will be sorely missed."

Echoing these remarks, Craigavon Ulster Unionist councillor
and NILGA vice-president Arnold Hatch said Cllr Molloy was
a valued member of NILGA.

He said: "We are very disappointed to lose him in this way.
He has got to be admired for his determination and adhering
to the NILGA position on the subject of 15 councils. "Since
the association was established in October 2001, Cllr
Molloy has made a huge contribution to NILGA and he has
been instrumental in helping the association progress in
stature and leadership.

"The association has always prided itself on consensus-
building work between the 26 local authorities and across
the political groups. Never has this been as important as
we now move into a historical new era.

"We are delighted that all NILGA political groups remain
committed to working together collectively in the interests
of the local government sector."

"It is very unfortunate that Mr Molloy has been suspended,
but we have to respect Sinn Fein's decision. We understand
that he has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

"Therefore, we urge the party to possibly reconsider their
decision to sanction Francie, considering his long service
and commitment to local government."

Cllr Molloy has been an executive member and vice-president
of NILGA since its establishment.

He was the first Sinn Fein president of the association,
from September 2004 to September this year, and has served
20 years as a Dungannon Sinn Fein councillor.


Opin: Why SF Members Must Tow The Party Line, On Everything But The Economy

Eamonn McCann

24 November 2005

I suppose Francie Molloy can count himself lucky that it's
only from Sinn Fein membership that he's suspended and not
from the end of a rope.

Francie was accused at lunchtime on Tuesday of not only
thinking things which Sinn Fein chiefs hadn't approved, but
of expressing them within earshot of voters. Within 90
minutes - give or take - Mitchel McLaughlin had conducted a
preliminary hearing in his head and decided that Bobby
Sands' director of elections had a prima face case to
answer. So he's been cast beyond the Pale, pending a full

Mitchel helpfully explained yesterday that it's his job as
general secretary to take these difficult disciplinary

This came as something of a surprise to those of us who'd
been reminded by Tuesday night's Spotlight programme that
in the wake of the killing of Robert McCartney, Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams had personally suspended seven
members of the party without, apparently, feeling a need to
consult anyone else.

Are President Adams and General Secretary McLaughlin the
only Sinn Fein officials with this awesome power to remove
party members from the organisation at will? Or are there
others? Could Sinn Fein, please, publish a list?

It is surely not healthy to have party members walking
around not knowing whether it's safe to look sideways at
Barry McElduff.

I raise these matters only because no Sinn Fein member whom
I managed to consult in the pub last night was clear about
the procedures which had been followed in the Francie
suspension. None could quote the party rule or policy
decision which had conferred these unusual powers on the
President and the General Secretary (and possibly on a
range of others.)

I have to wonder, too, whether my old friend Mitchel isn't
being a mite foolhardy in exercising his disciplinary
muscle with such evident alacrity.

I'd proceed with a certain circumspection, if I were in his
defiantly unfashionable brogues.

It is Sinn Fein policy not to welcome or facilitate new
investment in Northern Ireland unless the inward investor
meets a number of conditions to do with ethical practice
and workers' right to trade union membership and

The policy was enthusiastically endorsed a few years back
by Sinn Fein's supreme decision-making body, the Ard Fheis,
the motion having been proposed by a Derry delegation led,
if memory serves, by, er, Mitchel McLaughlin.

And yet, long hours fine-tooth-combing through Mitchel's
many subsequent pronouncements on economic policy have
failed to yield a single example of this particular party
policy being espoused.

Indeed, many may have formed an impression from Mitchel
that there's isn't an unbridgeable gap between Sinn Fein
policy on investment and workers' rights and the policy of
the DUP - or even of New Labour.

Is Mitchel not running the risk of finding himself sin-
binned with Francie?

I suppose he's safe enough if it's only President Adams
who'd have the clout to declare him non grata.

After all, Generalissimo Gerry isn't averse to the odd solo
run himself when it comes to economic matters.

There's been a major kerfuffle down south in the past
fortnight about the chances of the Shinners going into
government with Fianna Fail.

Bertie Ahern says he won't hear of it, on the ground that
Sinn Fein economic policy would be fatal for the Celtic

"Marxist," the policy was described as, to the delight of
those Shinners who are chuffed to be thought of as

Right enough, higher income tax, higher capital gains tax,
higher corporation tax, a 30% tax on banks, a desire to tax
property and opposition to greater European integration -
the policy mix would be bad medicine for Fianna Fail's
business friends.

But then I read in the Sunday papers that no less a person
than General Adams himself has been giving "private
briefings" to Dublin media outlets making it clear that
it's the peace process and the "equality agenda" which will
be make-or-break for Sinn Fein in relation to coalition -
not the party's economic proposals, which will be

Something of a pattern here, is there not?

When it comes to communal questions, issues of Orange
versus Green, party members must offer no backchat, take
their lead from the top, and stay in tune as they all sing
the same song.

But on economic questions, on class issues, policy is there
only for the optics. You can say anything you like,
especially if it advances the party towards power.

Thus it was just days ago that Peter Hain gave an interview
to a New York newspaper explaining that Britain now wanted
to solve its Northern Ireland problem by privatising the
whole place, and the only aspect of the interview which
exercised Sinn Fein (or the DUP) was whether we are to be
sold off on our own or as a job lot with the Republic.

Still. At least things are being clarified, are they not?


Cross-Party Move To Save Hospital

Politicians from the main NI parties are travelling to
London to fight plans to downgrade Tyrone County Hospital.

Health minister Shaun Woodward proposed earlier this year
to remove acute surgery and accident and emergency services
from the Omagh hospital.

Services would be provided in a new Enniskillen hospital.
In October, he announced six weeks public consultation on
the issue.

The politicians will present a petition at Downing Street.

Danny McSorley, chairman of the Hospital Campaign Steering
Group, said a downgraded facility would put lives at risk.

'One voice'

"If this decision is not changed by the minister, people
will die or will have to put up with unnecessary
suffering," he said.

"We feel so strongly about this that our MLAs are going
together to work as a group and speak with one voice to
lobby the prime minister to have this decision reversed."

The County Tyrone delegation includes Thomas Buchanan of
the DUP, the UUP's Derek Hussey, Eugene McMenamin of the
SDLP, Pat Doherty, who is the area's Sinn Fein MP, and his
party colleague Barry McElduff.

Dr Kieran Deeny, who was elected to the assembly as an
independent on the single issue of the hospital's future,
is also heading to Downing Street.

Donna Marie McGillion, who was seriously injured in the
1998 Omagh bombing, is travelling with the delegation and
she will also hand in a letter to Tony Blair.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/24 06:18:20 GMT


Sinn Féin To Hold Major Conference On Irish Unity

Published: 24 November, 2005

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin was today
joined by Clones Mayor Cllr. Pat Trainor and Fermanagh
South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew to revel details of a
mjor party conference to be held in Monaghan this weekend
to coincide with the date 100 years ago when Sinn Féin was
first formed.

Mr McLaughlin said:

" This weekend, to mark the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin,
the party is hosting a major conference 'An Ireland of
Equals' in County Monaghan. The event is being hosted by
Mayor of Monaghan Pat Treanor and will discuss the shape,
form and nature that a re-united Ireland will take.

" We need to start discussing the practical steps that need
to be taken to complete the journey to Irish independence
and unity and the challenges and opportunities facing all
of us on the island. Following the launch of our campaign
earlier this year to get the Irish government to bring
forward a Green Paper on Irish unity, we have seen the
opening up of the debate right across the island. The
government are re-instating the commemoration for the
Easter Rising, Fine Gael are celebrating the 100th
anniversary of Sinn Féin and last month we had the first
ever debate on Irish unity in the Dáil. Irish unity must be
more than an aspiration or an objective, however sincerely
held, if we are serious we need to work together towards
Irish unity.

" This weekend Sinn Féin will be discussing a number of key
themes: Framework for governance in a re-united Ireland
Practical planning in the transition to Irish unity A
constitution for new Ireland Social inclusion, human rights
and participatory democracy

" The all-Ireland aspects of the Good Friday Agreement need
to be strengthened and built upon. The Irish government
needs to bring forward a Green Paper on Irish unity. They
should be initiating and sustaining a planned programme of
all-Ireland social and economic development which aims to
remove the obstacles created by partition, strengthen the
links between the people in all parts of Ireland and
integrate the economy and society.

" Sinn Féin is setting out our vision of an inclusive
Ireland - an Ireland where diversity is valued and the
greatest possible participation of the people of the island
in the civil and political life of the country is a primary
objective. Republicanism is about much more than re-uniting
Ireland. It is about equality and utilising the resources
of the country in the interests of all of us who live here.

" Addressing the conference will be Gerry Adams, Martin
McGuinness, Caitríona Ruane and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. There
will also be a wide range of speakers including: Trade
Unionists Inez McCormick and Mick O'Reilly, Kate Burns -
Cross Border Corridor Group - ICBAN, Daithi Joyce - Irish
Travellers' Movement, Sanna Brolin - Swedish Left Party and
a number of speakers from the community sector and human
rights organisations.

" 1905 was a time of renewal and rebirth in Ireland and
Sinn Féin was the political expression of that new
confidence. There was a coming together of republicans,
nationalists, the Trade Union movement, the Women's
Suffrage movement, the Gaelic League. If Irish unity is to
be achieved we need to see the coming together of all those
who want to bring it about." ENDS


Viewpoint: The Victims, The Fugitives And Justice

24 November 2005

Of all the measures taken by the government to ease the
passage from conflict to normality, the legislation dealing
with on-the-run fugitives from justice is one of the
hardest to swallow. Opposition has united against it - from
victims' relatives to police forces across Europe and
virtually all the political parties, except Sinn Fein.

What brings them together is revulsion against an
artificial form of justice that allows fugitives to be
"tried" for their crimes and automatically freed on licence
- without having to set foot in court. Murderers can come
out of hiding, wherever they are, and return home without
personally answering to their crimes.

The government's argument is that it is comparable with the
freeing of some 400 paramilitary prisoners - many convicted
of mass murder - as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Tony
Blair told MPs this week: "Sometimes governments have to do
very difficult things, this bit of legislation included, to
end conflict."

Yet there is a big difference between an amnesty for people
convicted in a court of law and what amounts to the same
thing for fugitives who have never been tried or who have
escaped from prison or jumped bail. Victims will not even
see them in court, before the erstwhile fugitives are freed
to live as near to them as they choose.

The issue of the on-the-runs has been under discussion
since 2001 and clearly the present "solution" was part of a
deal that persuaded the IRA to end its war and decommission
its weapons. The question is whether it needed to provide
such an easy escape route for the fugitives, and whether
enough conditions have been attached to it.

Can the public be sure that those who are freed to return
home, either temporarily or permanently, are unable to live
in close proximity to their victims' families and will be
monitored to see if they breach their licences? Will those
who have been exiled by the paramilitaries be able to
return without fear?

Although most paramilitary organisations are committed to a
ceasefire, their interpretations of it differ widely. There
are allegations that the IRA is still involved in
intimidation, surrounding the Robert McCartney murder, and
certainly his sisters and partner have had to move house,
as a result.

If deals have to be done, to convince the paramilitaries
that politics is the only way forward, they have to be
drawn up as tightly as possible, and strictly monitored.
Otherwise, peace is being bought at too high a price and
will inevitably break down. The controversial legislation
deserves line-by-line scrutiny, with the feelings of the
victims far more to the fore.


Opin: There Is A Limit To What Sinn Féin Can Do For The Irish Living In Britain

(by Paul Donovan, the Irish Post)

Should Sinn Féin now reverse its policy of not swearing the
oath at Westminster and actively take up its five seats?

The question now becomes pertinent due to the desire of the
party to take a more active role in supporting Irish people
in Britain and the closeness of the recent anti-terror vote
in the Commons.

The closer relationship desired with the Irish community in
Britain was evidenced this week with a fact finding trip to
London led by Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh. Sinn Féin has
been upping its profile here for some time but now it
appears ready to take forward some of the problems of the
Irish community in legislative forums.

Issues like the plight of those who came to Britain to work
on the construction sites and the like during the 1960s and
70s and did much to keep Ireland afloat with the money they
sent home. Many of these men now flounder homeless and
penniless on the streets of London.

Then there are the rights of Irish people living in Britain
to vote in elections at home.

This is a basic right that British, American and other
countries citizens living abroad enjoy. Sinn Féin want to
raise this issue with the Irish government and Dail because
it will help increase the profile of the problems of the
Irish community in Britain.

There is a limit to what Sinn Féin can do for the Irish
living in Britain. After all, it is an Irish based party,
though due mainly to the peace process there are now a
number of different political pressure points to access.
There is the Dail, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the
European Parliament, the councils in Ireland, the cross
border bodies and the direct line to the British Prime
Minister through the peace process talks. Never slow to
spot a political opportunity Sinn Féin has seen how it can
use these avenues to benefit the Irish at home and abroad.
In the case of the Irish living in Britain they have also
probably spotted how the community here can exercise
influence on politicians and government to the benefit of
the party.

Groups like the Agreed Ireland Forum, Friends of the Good
Friday Agreement, the Wolf Tone Society and the Connolly
Association have all played roles in putting pressure on
the British Government in various areas. There have been
the individual contributions of MPs like John McDonnell,
Jeremy Corbyn and previously Kevin McNamara. So there has
always been a ready Irish political diaspora to tap into at
Westminster. Peace has ofcourse helped to open up the
avenues that Sinn Féin is now proceeding down.

The recent Anti-Terror bill vote, revealed how the
abstentionist policy adopted by Sinn Féin could now be out
of date. By failing to take up the seates Sinn Féin
effectively turns the the Labour Government's majority from
66 into 71. So has the time not come to actively use those
seats to win concessions out of the government? The
precedent about not taking up the seats goes back to
partition but much has changed over recent years. Remember,
it was also a post partition position not to take seats in
the Dail or the Northern Ireland Assembly. Things have
clearly changed.

Given the party's desire to serve all parts of the Irish
community at home and abroad, maybe the time has come to
change the policy. Since the republican movement decided
poltics should be the sole way to advance its agenda,
surely all means of obtaining those goals must be

There is also the incentive of the new political terrain
where it looks as though the Labour Government with its
much smaller majority is going to have to fight all the way
to get its policies through. The five Sinn Féin votes could
suddenly become a very potent tool in dealings with the

Sinn Féin would certainly have every right to pursue its
agenda through the Westminster Parliament as Scottish and
Welsh MPs do for their constituents. As a result of
devolution, there has already been the sight of Scottish
MPs voting through policies to apply in England that don't
operate north of the border. Given the friction that this
has already caused, it could be argued by the republicans
on purely strategic grounds that playing an active role at
Westminster could accelarate the break up of the union and
ultimately advance the creation of a united Ireland. There
is certainly it would seem a strong case for Sinn Féin now
actively taking up those Westminster seats.

November 24, 2005


This article appears in the November 26, 2005 edition of
the Irish Post.


Opin: Blank Cheque For Hain Is Unwise

After much prevarication, Direct Rule Secretary of State
Peter Hain yesterday took the axe to the burdensome
bureaucracy which strangles public life in the North.

To go, at last, are the overlapping education and health
boards which serve high-paid senior staff rather than
schoolchildren or hospital patients.

Any move to divert monies from the brigades of paper-
pushers and their elite overseers into frontline services
must be welcomed.

Similarly, members of quangos — which have served more as
sinecures for pro-government coat-carriers than efficient
government bodies — will shortly have their collars felt.

Dividing services such as dog-catching and health
inspections into 26 council divisions across the North is
just plain daft and fewer councils should translate into
more cost-efficient and more effective services.

However, by reducing the number of councils, the dangerous
democratic deficit in the North will be exacerbated. True,
councils are responsible only for bins, bodies and bogs,
but their real role in recent years has been to afford
ordinary voters a voice.

The North needs more fora for discussion and debate not
less. Those distinct communities, such as that of the Glens
of Antrim presently represented on Moyle Council, will be
particular losers under the new proposals. And one suspects
that the nationalist councils of Newry and Mourne and
Armagh , which have been praised for their powersharing
principles, will be dragged backwards into sectarian
bunfights by the decision to link them with the unionist
bearpits of Craigavon and Banbridge.

While politicians are inclined to push for powers to be
centralized, invariably it's in the interest of the
ordinary ratepayer for there to be more opportunities to
have their opinions heard. In fact, the best value-for-
money of all council activities was the service delivered
by the hardworking councillor. Under the Hain plan, the
number of councillors will be drastically reduced.

The model proposed by the British Secretary of State is an
interesting one but it is not necessarily the best one for
six Irish counties nor is it based on best European
practice. Indeed, it's not uncommon in progressive European
countries to have small councils, with limited powers,
operating in minor municipalities, small towns or even

Francie Molloy of Sinn Féin yesterday branded the proposals
an exercise in "repartition", dividing east and west of the
Bann between unionists and nationalists. For his troubles,
he was suspended by his party and now faces an internal
disciplinary hearing.

Many nationalists may, justifiably, feel that a dose of
repartition with the creation of new, nationalist-dominated
super-councils in the west is a good thing for the body
politic. However, where nationalists, and unionists, will
really lose out under the new proposals is in the erosion
of local democracy. That's a price not costed into Mr
Hain's local government blueprint but then democracy in
Ireland was never Britain's strong suit.


GAA Reveals Groupings For Hurling And Football Leagues

09:08 Thursday November 24th 2005

The GAA has revealed the groupings for the opening stages
of next year's national hurling and football leagues.

Cork, Clare, Wexford and Waterford have been kept apart
from Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway and Limerick in the top
two divisions of the hurling side of the draw.

In football, meanwhile, Tyrone, Dublin, Kerry, Mayo and
Cork all feature in a strong Division 1A alongside
Fermanagh, Offaly and Monaghan.

Division 1B contains Down, Meath, Armagh, Kildare, Derry,
Galway, Laois and Longford.


George At End Of Long Road

Best is hours from death, says doctor

By Claire Regan
24 November 2005

George Best is coming "to the end of the long road" and is
not expected to live another 24 hours, his consultant said

Professor Roger Williams was close to tears as he said the
59-year-old footballing star's "hours are numbered".

Visibly upset, the leading consultant said the
deterioration in the former Northern Ireland player's
severe lung infection had got to the stage where there is
no hope of survival.

Speaking to the Press at 1pm outside the Cromwell Hospital
in west London, where Best has been bravely battling for
his life in the intensive care unit, Prof Williams said he
would be very surprised if the footballing legend "lasted
the next 24 hours".

"I'm afraid that Mr Best is coming to the end of the long
road with his ill health," he said.

"The intensive care team have managed to keep control of
all the complications except one - the internal bleeding.

"Although that is being replaced, it has now affected his
lungs and other parts. There is no return from that
situation. It is just not possible to recover.

"His hours are numbered. It is very upsetting for all of

Prof Williams, who oversaw the former Manchester United
star's liver transplant in 2002, warned he could "die at
any time".

He said the patient's family, including his son Calum, were
gathered together at the hospital.

"We have been sitting down together and we have talked at
great length. They accept what is going to happen."

When asked if Best had been able to say goodbye to his
loved ones, the doctor replied: "He is not conscious. He is
not in any pain but he is still alive."

Fears over Best's survival first rose sharply this morning
after doctors struggled to stabilise him during the night
after his condition suffered a very sharp deterioration.

Family members, including his father Dickie (87), were at
the star's bedside this morning in what was said to be a
very emotional gathering.

Prof Williams told the Belfast Telegraph earlier today that
his patient had reached his "lowest ebb yet" in his battle
against a severe lung infection.

He said Best was "locked in a vicious circle which was
pulling him down".

Sky News quoted hospital sources as saying today would be a
"sad day" for fans of the football legend.

Best has been in intensive care since October 1 when he was
admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms.

He rallied last week and was taken out of intensive care
before suffering another setback on Friday.

Doctors had been hoping for an improvement after his
condition deteriorated yesterday. Fans' hopes had been
raised on Tuesday when the star's condition improved
slightly when doctors removed sedation and he could be
taken off ventilation.

Dr Akeel Alisa, one of the medical team treating Best, said
today:"We must be prepared for the worst. He's very, very


Pope Urged To Honour Irish Saint, Columbanus

By Eddie McIlwaine
23 November 2005

The Pope is to be asked to make Columbanus the Patron Saint
of Europe, it was revealed today.

The approach to the Pontiff will come from Ireland's
President Mary McAleese and Dr Ian Adamson, the former Lord
Mayor of Belfast.

The pair are in Paris today to attend the unveiling of a
statue of Columbanus, who played a leading role in the
restoration of Christianity to the continent in the seventh
century after he sailed from Bangor Abbey accompanied by 12

"Columbanus died on November 23 so that is an appropriate
date for the unveiling of the statue and the approach to
the Vatican - St Columbanus Day," said Dr Adamson, who is a
board member of the Ulster Scots Agency and the founder
president of the Ullans Ulster Scots Academy.

The Columbanus statue stands at the Irish College, the
Centre Culturel Irlandaise in the French capitol.

There is a statue to him already at Luxeuile in northern
France where Columbanus founded his first monastry.

President McAleese and Dr Adamson, who is also chairman of
the Somme Association, are to be guests of Wesley
Hutchinson, from Harryville in Ballymena, Professor of
Irish Civilisation at the Sorbonne.

"Wesley is a highly respected figure in Paris and it is
largely due to his efforts that the statue has been
erected," said Dr Adamson.

But the original idea for honouring St Columbanus came from
the Farset cross-community youth project in Belfast, which
was founded by Dr Adamson and his colleagues Jackie Hewitt
and Barney McCaughey.

"In the 80s the young people of Farset travelled all over
France, Germany, Austria and Italy following in the
footsteps of the saint to shoot a film of his journey,"
said Dr Adamson.

A copy of the movie will be presented to Helen Carey of the
Irish College in Paris at the unveiling ceremony by two
members of the Somme Association, Carole Walker and Craig

And Dr Adamson will present President McAleese with a copy
of his book Bangor Light Of The World first published in
1979 and the story of the religious history of Ulster.


Irish Dirty Dancing

Traditional moves prove too sexy for US judge

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
24 November 2005

State officials in North Carolina are to appeal a federal
judge's ruling that a form of Irish dancing is erotic and
that strip clubs should not face discrimination.

Judge N Carlton Tilley accepted "convincing" evidence by a
dance expert that the rhythm of Irish set dancing - which
involves a group of people dancing together with rigid
upper bodies and pounding legs - replicated the rhythm of
sex, even though it is considered a sexless form of dance.

In ruling in favour of two erotic dance clubs, Judge Tilley
quoted the evidence of University of Maryland
anthropologist and dance expert Dr Judith Hanna, who has
studied the sexual meaning of Irish set dancing and other
dance types.

He said set dancing could be associated with the act of sex
and described Dr Hanna's testimony as "credible and

In a landmark ruling on the US constitution's freedom of
expression provisions, Judge Tilley struck down some
provisions of a state law banning erotic dancing and said
that it was so broad that the sexually- charged
performances of Madonna or Brittany Spears could be
prosecuted under the law.

However, the chief counsel of North Carolina's Alcohol
Beverage Control Commission, Fred Gregory, said that the
ruling was flawed and that the North Carolina Attorney
General's Office would appeal.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, Noelle
Tulley, told the Belfast Telegraph that appeal papers had
been lodged and they are awaiting an appeal date.

The strip clubs had hoped the ruling would end a five-year
battle by erotic dancing clubs against a state law that
forbids professional dancers from touching their bodies

State inspectors had prosecuted a strip club in North
Carolina after inspectors saw some of the dancers move
suggestively on stage.

The club faced a 30-day suspension of its permit before it
decided to fight the case.

After it won the first round before Judge Tilley in 2002,
the state assembly rushed through an updated law that
banned erotic dancers from dancing in a manner that
mimicked sex or that included suggestive fondling of body

However, Judge Tilley said that even a fully clothed person
could be prosecuted if their dance routine appeared to
mimic sexual acts.

"The prohibitions would likewise apply to fully clothed
customers wishing to do the shag or other popular dances
such as those seen on the TV show Soul Train or the movies
Dirty Dancing or Saturday Night Fever," Judge Tilley ruled.

Hip-hop dancers could also be prosecuted.

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