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December 22, 2005

Adams Demands End To Political Policing

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 12/22/05 Gerry Adams Demands End To Political Policing
IO 12/22/05 Stormontgate Dominates Ahern-Orde Talks Today
SF 12/22/05 Orde Briefing An Insult To The People Of Dublin
NH 12/22/05 Police Raid Cannot Be Justified Insists MLA
BT 12/22/05 SDLP Man Calls For New Spy Ring Inquiry
II 12/22/05 SF Supporters Scuffle W/ Gardai During Protest
WS 12/22/05 Spy Scandal: Questions Sinn Fein Must Answer
BT 12/22/05 Opin: Sting Is Out Of This Conspiracy Tale
YD 12/22/05 Opin: Shadowy Alliance Haunts Stormontgate
BT 12/22/05 Security Forces Must Not Be Included, He Says
NL 12/22/05 Murder Accused Granted Bail For Amsterdam Trip
II 12/22/05 Murderer Macarthur Getting Out For Christmas
BT 12/22/05 Is This Justice?
BT 12/22/05 £400,000 Of Assets Are Frozen By Agency
BB 12/22/05 McCartney 'Killer Plans US Move'
DI 12/22/05 Blair Urged To Push SF
BB 12/22/05 US Envoy Confident On NI Process
BB 12/22/05 'Fugitive Bill Must Be Scrapped'
BT 12/22/05 Northern Bank Heist Accused Is Freed On Bail
BB 12/22/05 Court Freezes £400,000 In Assets
EX 12/22/05 Opin: Right To Know Does Not Await Due Process
RT 12/22/05 North Parades Cost PSNI Over €13m
IO 12/22/05 Man Quizzed Over Loyalist Blackmail Claims
BT 12/22/05 Orange Hall Is In Big Demand For Tourists
BT 12/22/05 Johnny Lines Shane Up For Behan Role


Gerry Adams Demands End To Political Policing

Sinn Féin is this morning holding a series of pickets in
Belfast, Dublin, Derry and Cork to highlight the ongoing
issue of political policing.

Speaking outside PSNI Headquarters at Knock Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams said:

"Yesterday I spoke to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair
and told him that at the core of the current crisis is an
element of the British policing and intelligence system
which vehemently opposes the peace process and the Good
Friday Agreement. Their actions were responsible for the
collapse of the democratically elected government in
October 2002.

"Mr Blair bears the sole responsibility for tackling this

"Ending political policing and the negative activities of
British agencies is his responsibility.

"As we face into the New Year and another attempt to put
the political institutions together, these same forces will
be working to undo our collective efforts. In order to stop
them Mr Blair must end political policing." ENDS


Stormontgate Scandal To Dominate Ahern-Orde Talks Today

22/12/2005 - 08:03:21

The so-called Stormontgate scandal is set to dominate talks
in Dublin today between the Taoiseach and the chief
constable of the PSNI.

Bertie Ahern and Hugh Orde are meeting at government
buildings less than a week after leading Sinn Féin official
Denis Donaldson admitted he had been a British spy since
the 1980s.

Mr Donaldson was arrested by the PSNI following a high-
profile raid on Sinn Féin's offices at Stormont that led
directly to the collapse of the North's power-sharing
institutions in October 2002.

He was later charged in connection with an alleged IRA spy
ring within Stormont, but the charges against him and his
two co-accused were dropped earlier this month.

Sinn Féin has responded to the latest developments by
accusing the PSNI of engaging in a deliberate political
campaign to collapse the North's institutions.

Mr Orde has denied the charge and has insisted that the IRA
was operating a spy ring inside Stormont.

He claimed this was evident as documents stolen from
Stormont were found in west Belfast during the

However, Sinn Féin has pointed out that the documents were
found in Mr Donaldson's house and were therefore in the
possession of a British agent, not the IRA.


Hugh Orde Briefing An Insult To The People Of Dublin

Published: 22 December, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has described today's visit
to Dublin by PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde as a shoddy
attempt to justify the use of British agents on this island
and said it was an insult to the people of Dublin. Speaking
outside Government Buildings where the party was holding a
protest Ms. McDonald said "If the British government are
serious about advancing the peace process then they need to
bring an end to political policing and halt the activities
of anti Agreement securocrats.

Ms. McDonald said:

"The idea that PSNI Chief Constable would come to Dublin to
meet the Taoiseach to justify the use of British agents on
this island is a complete and absolute nonsense and is an
insult to the people of Dublin. It will be lost on nobody
in this city that it is the PSNI and British authorities
who to this very day are refusing to co-operate with the
Dublin Monaghan inquiry and who are refusing to tell the
truth about the role of their agents and agencies in that

"It is time for the era of political policing to come to an
end. It is time that the activities of those within
Britain's Intelligence Agencies who are working against the
peace process and the Good Friday Agreement are brought to
an end. It is now clear that it is their actions that
brought down the power sharing institutions in the north in

"If the British government are serious about advancing the
peace process after Christmas then they need to bring an
end to political policing and halt the activities of anti
Agreement securocrats in their Intelligence Agencies."ENDS


Police Raid Cannot Be Justified Insists MLA

(William Graham, Irish News)

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly yesterday (Tuesday) insisted that
the police raid of his party's offices at Stormont in 2002
was "unjustifiable".

The North Belfast assembly member accused Chief Constable
Sir Hugh Orde of trying to defend the Special Branch
operation that led to the democratically elected
institutions' collapse.

Mr Kelly said the primary justification appeared to be that
the PSNI had recovered documents at a house in the west of
the city.

"What Hugh Orde neglects to tell the public is that the
documents were recovered from the home of Special Branch
agent Denis Donaldson," Mr Kelly said.

"Denis Donaldson was at the heart of a British spy ring and
a securocrat conspiracy which brought down the elected
government. He was not acting on behalf of republicans or
our peace process agenda.

"He was at all times working to the agenda set by the
British state who employed him.

"It is clear that the British state agencies who mounted
this entire operation knew that there was no value – other
than political theatre – to raid the Sinn Féin offices in

"No documents or evidence were recovered in that raid. The
two disks taken at random and removed were returned to the
party within days.

"Hugh Orde is unable to justify the raid on Stormont
because it was unjustifiable."

However, Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds welcomed Sir
Hugh's comments.

He said the chief constable's intervention had strengthened
arguments for transparency from the British government
about the Stormontgate affair.

"It seems from his comments today that Hugh Orde is clearly
angry that IRA/Sinn Féin are able to wriggle out of
responsibility for the spy ring at Stormont," he said.

"The chief constable's remarks today only strengthen the
case for a full statement from government ministers about
the whole affair."

After a meeting with Secretary of State Peter Hain, Ulster
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey also warned that public
confidence in the political process was low following the
Stormontgate affair.

"It is clear to me, following my meeting, that the
secretary of state and government intend to batten down the
hatches and refuse a public inquiry," he said.

"The chief constable confirmed this morning, beyond any
reasonable doubt, that a major and so-phisticated spy
network existed right at the heart of government.

"Sinn Féin were infiltrated and caught red-handed with
their hands in the till. All of this spells a huge job of
work for politicians to restore credibility in the

Meanwhile, An Fhirinne, a group campaigning for families of
victims of security-force collusion with loyalists,
yesterday called for an inquiry into the government's
actions over Stormontgate.

December 22, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 21, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


SDLP Man Calls For New Spy Ring Inquiry

22 December 2005

AN SDLP Assemblyman has said the Police Ombudsman may have
to retrace her inquiry into the 2002 Stormont raids
following Denis Donaldson's spy revelations.

The politician's remarks come after a lawyer acting for one
of the men at the centre of the affair raised doubts about
Nuala O'Loan's original investigation.

Kevin Winters, a solicitor for Ciaran Kearney, said issues
had arisen in relation to material provided to
investigators by the PSNI.

Dominic Bradley and Mr Winters are both asking if the
Ombudsman knew that Mr Donaldson was an informer during her
probe into the PSNI raids.

Her investigation found that the raids at the homes of
republicans in west Belfast and Sinn Fein's Assembly office
were justified.

Mr Winters believes legal issues arising out of the
investigation need to be examined.

He told Daily Ireland that these matters included the
material provided to Mrs O'Loan as part of the probe.

Republicans believe that the Ombudsman was not told of Mr
Donaldson's role as a spy so that the raids would be judged

Mr Donaldson admitted that he had been a British agent for
20 years shortly after charges of being part of an alleged
spy ring at Stormont were dropped against him, Mr Kearney
and Billy Mackessy.

Demands for a public inquiry into Stormontgate have been
rejected by NI Secretary Peter Hain.


SF Supporters Scuffle With Gardai During Dail Protest

11:58 Thursday December 22nd 2005

A small number of Sinn Fein supporters have engaged in
minor scuffles with Gardai during a protest outside
Government Buildings in Dublin this morning.

The scuffles broke out while PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde
was arriving to brief the Taoiseach about the latest
developments in the so-called Stormontgate scandal.

Up to 20 republicans had mounted a protest against what
they describe as "political policing" by the PSNI.

were protesting about political policing as the Chief
Constable of the P-S-N-I, Hugh Orde, arrived for talks on
security matters in the North.

Gardaí had to hold back some demonstrators who tried to
breach security at the Taoiseach's office to get closer to
Mr Orde's car.

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald says the protest was
designed "to make it clear to Hugh Orde that he and the
British administration have very serious questions to
answer around what's come to be known as Stormontgate".


Northern Ireland Spy Scandal: Questions Sinn Fein Must Answer

Statement by the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)
22 December 2005

The exposure of leading Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson
as a British spy raises profound questions.

On Friday, December 16, Donaldson made a public confession
alongside Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams that he had been
an agent and an informer for British and Northern Ireland
security forces for two decades.

In his televised statement, Donaldson apologised to his
"former comrades" and his family, saying he "was recruited
in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable
time in my life".

Donaldson's confession immediately throws light upon the
"Stormontgate" spy scandal that brought down the Northern
Ireland power-sharing executive in 2002. In October that
year, police raided Sinn Fein's offices at Stormont and
seized hundreds of apparently stolen documents. They
arrested Donaldson, head of administration at Sinn Fein's
headquarters, and two others.

All three were charged with running a republican spy ring,
gathering information on their political opponents. Citing
security concerns raised by the discovery of the documents,
more than £30 million was spent relocating Northern Ireland
security personnel and prison officers, whose safety had
allegedly been compromised. Ten days after the raid, the
pro-British Unionists walked out of the assembly, saying
that the scandal proved that Sinn Fein could not be
trusted. The British government then suspended the
assembly, thus restoring direct rule from London.

The intelligence leading up to the raid was said to have
been discovered in the course of investigations into an IRA
raid on Castlereagh police station in March 2002.

But last week the spying charges against all three were
dropped on the grounds that the case "was no longer in the
public interest," whereupon Adams hailed Donaldson as a
hero, declaring that the spy ring had been an invention of
the security forces.

Subsequently, Donaldson was forced to confess his real role
after he was visited by the security forces and told that
he was about to be outed as an agent. Fearing for his life,
he went to Sinn Fein and confessed and agreed to expose how
he had participated in setting up Stormontgate. In his
televised statement he described the alleged spy ring as "a
scam" and said that British security had "created it."

The Donaldson affair confirms that the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement that set up the power-sharing arrangements in
Northern Ireland has not produced any let-up in the dirty
tricks carried out by British imperialism over decades.

Allegations of Sinn Fein spying were aimed at discrediting
the organisation under conditions where the Agreement was
facing mounting opposition from within both the major
Unionist parties and the police and security services. Sinn
Fein has insisted that the raid on its Stormont office was
engineered by "securocrats" to undermine the power-sharing

Merely raising this point, however, ignores far graver
dangers faced by the working class in Northern Ireland. The
activities of Britain's security services have gone far
beyond black bag jobs to discredit their political
opponents. In 2003 Freddie Scappaticci, the former head of
IRA internal security known as Stakeknife, was outed as a
British agent. Scappaticci was responsible for internal
discipline within the organisation, including executions.
It thus transpired British imperialism was fully informed
that such summary justice was being meted out and could
even have played a role in deciding who was targeted.

If anything, the revelation that Donaldson was an agent is
a more serious breach of security for Sinn Fein and the
IRA. Moreover, it has international ramifications.

Donaldson was in the highest echelons of the Republican
movement for 25 years. In 1971 he was convicted over plots
to blow up British government buildings and sentenced to 10
years in the Maze prison, of which he served four years.
During his time in jail he was photographed alongside
leading IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

When he was released, he became a top official in Sinn
Fein's leadership, representing the party on numerous
fundraising trips to the US, and running the Noraid office
in New York—charged with fundraising for the party. As a
senior IRA intelligence officer he also travelled
extensively throughout Latin America and the Middle East,
meeting with the PLO, Hezbollah and others. Throughout this
time, and especially during his period in Sinn Fein's
headquarters, he had unlimited access to names and
documents, which he could pass on to his controllers.

Additionally, Donaldson, like Scappaticci, was able to
directly intervene in the internal political life of Sinn
Fein, the IRA and its support network.

The British government has refused to countenance any
investigation into the Donaldson affair because it would
serve to expose the extent of the complicity of the
security forces in spying, manufacturing political scandals
and possible assassinations. Blair has refused to comment
at all, while Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has
rejected calls for an inquiry.

Given these facts, the most politically disturbing aspect
of the Donaldson affair is the ongoing efforts by Sinn
Fein's leadership to downplay its implications. Adams met
with Hain prior to the Northern Ireland minister's refusal
to organise an inquiry. Both he and his second in command
Martin McGuiness have maintained a friendly tone towards
the British government, politely requesting that it rein in
the security services.

Demands for an inquiry have been raised by all parties in
Northern Ireland except for Sinn Fein. Moreover, the
organisation has made no pledge to mount an internal

This runs entirely contrary to the response of others
within the republican movement. There are reports of
consternation within the rank and file of both Sinn Fein
and the IRA and concerns that Donaldson is only the tip of
an iceberg. Several commentators have noted that Britain
only reveals its agents in order to defend someone higher

One of the most telling statements was made by former
Noraid publicity director, Martin Galvin to the Sunday
Tribune. Galvin warned not only of the security
implications of Donaldson's role, but also his political

Claiming that he had raised "serious doubts" about
Donaldson 15 years ago, which were dismissed, he told the
newspaper, "I was told that Donaldson's credentials were
impeccable, that he was beyond reproach, and that he had
the full confidence of the Sinn Fein leadership in

McGuiness has dismissed all concerns regarding broader
state penetration of Sinn Fein. Acknowledging, "You would
have to be very foolish to ignore the possibility that the
British have got other agents working right through the
entire process," he continued, "for every informer or agent
that turned up over the years, there are thousands and
thousands of people who aren't and thousands and thousands
of people who would never contemplate putting themselves
into the type of situation that Denis Donaldson got himself

Such complacency is extraordinary from the leader of an
organisation that has been subject to constant state
provocations, arrests, imprisonment and assassinations. It
has not passed without notice. Jonathan Freedland, writing
in the Guardian, states that the exposure of Stormontgate
reveals widespread operations by "agents of the British
state" that "are out of control."

Asking how the prime minister would explain this state of
affairs, he continues, "Well, so far he hasn't had to—
because no one is really asking the question. And that is
the strangest aspect of this strange saga. Sinn Fein, who
should be climbing the roof of Belfast's Waterfront Hall
screaming their vindication, are oddly muted."

Freedland concludes the article by noting "that a strange
kind of common interest, if not collusion, has evolved
between Downing Street and Sinn Fein."

How is this common interest in suppressing the truth to be

Politically, it is clear that Sinn Fein does not want
anything to cut across its on-going efforts to secure a
place for itself within the power structures in Northern
Ireland. Adams and McGuiness are well aware that revealing
state operations against Sinn Fein would inevitably call
into question its cooperation with the British state and
its agreement for the disarming of the IRA.

Moreover, many will draw their own political conclusions
from the fact that a British agent was firmly supportive of
the course taken by the Adams leadership.

Even so, the possibility of more sinister reasons for Sinn
Fein's passivity cannot be excluded.

In his own remarks, McGuiness dismissed claims of broader
infiltration of the republican movement, saying they
emanated from Sinn Fein's opponents. It is certainly the
case that statements have been made to this effect by
former members, who have either also worked as British
agents or have become politically hostile.

Former IRA member turned informer Devin Fulton said that
Donaldson was "only one of many agents in Sinn Fein" and
that "there are many bigger hitters than him still sitting
out there doing their business." He also alleged that Sinn
Fein had been aware that Donaldson had been an agent "for
some time."

Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner who is an opponent
of the Adams leadership, also suggested Donaldson could
have been sacrificed to protect someone more important.
"They let him go, because they were determined to protect
someone else high up," he said. "I believe there is
extensive infiltration from top to bottom."

McIntyre argues in the Irish Times December 21 that "agents
have for long been central to British state attempts to
shape the IRA and in particular nudge it towards a peace
process." He describes Donaldson as "one such agent of
influence" and draws attention to an interview with Martin
Ingram on Ireland's Today FM.

Ingram is the pseudonym for a former operative in Britain's
undercover Force Research Unit that colluded with loyalists
to target republicans for assassination and had Scappaticci
as one of its agents in the IRA. Ingram testified before
the inquiry before then Metropolitan Chief Commissioner Sir
John Stevens into the 1989 of Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane. On Today FM he reportedly told presenter Matt
Cooper that there are senior Sinn Fein household names
presently working for the British. McIntyre concludes, "Far
from the British 'securocrats' moving to undermine Sinn
Fein, they are seemingly striving to protect it from
serious investigation."

The Socialist Equality Party is politically opposed to Sinn
Fein, which is a bourgeois nationalist organisation that
represents the interests of an aspiring middle class
stratum seeking their share in the exploitation of the
Irish working class. Equally, we hold no common ground with
the republican dissidents who hanker for the IRA to return
to its policy of armed struggle. Neither do we seek to join
in the attempts by other bourgeois parties, Unionist and
republican, to make opportunistic use of Sinn Fein's

However, it is a question of principle for the workers
movement that the activities of spies and agents are
exposed. This is vital, both in politically educating the
working class and in protecting workers from state

Most commentators on the possible role of "agents with
influence" within Sinn Fein have concentrated on efforts to
steer the organisation towards an accommodation with
British imperialism. This ignores the crucial role of
sectarianism in dividing the Irish and British working
class and maintaining capitalist rule. There is already
ample evidence that the IRA's terror campaign was allowed
to proceed under the watchful eye of the security services
because of the valuable political role it played in
justifying state repression and disorienting the working
class. The presence of agents also means that such
activities could have been encouraged and planned by the
British state. This remains the greatest crime that can be
attributed to the security forces.

Moreover, Sinn Fein is the largest nationalist party in
Northern Ireland and in all likelihood will return to
governmental office. For decades it enjoyed the support of
a significant layer of the Irish working class. Many
workers and youth joined its ranks in the belief that it
was waging a genuine anti-imperialist struggle. Many will
have lost their lives and liberty as a result of British
spies within their own ranks.

It is imperative, therefore, that a full investigation is
made into Donaldson's role, who he worked with, who
recommended he be elevated into senior positions, what
impact his activities had in Ireland and internationally
and that the bona fides of those with whom he was in
contact are also examined. Without compromising its own
security, Sinn Fein is obliged to make such an accounting
before the working class.


Opin: The Sting Is Bound To Go Out Of This Sorry Conspiracy Tale

By Brian Walker, London Editor
21 December 2005

STICKING my neck out a little but not too far, I can't see
how the Stormontgate saga much affects the prospects for
restoring the Assembly one way or the other.

Whether it was an authentic IRA intelligence gathering
operation or a Special Branch sting or a bit of both, the
distinction hardly seems to matter much, the more you look
at it.

Sinn Fein playing the role of the injured party still wants
political talks to start as soon as possible, Gerry Adams
having graciously absolved Tony Blair of all personal

The DUP and the SDLP are again thrust into alliance over
Stormontgate as they are over the OTRs. Whether this can
develop into a challenge to Sinn Fein and bipolar politics
may turn out to be one of the surprise main themes of the
coming year.

For now, the two parties must know their chances of getting
at the whole truth are around nil. Just as Sinn Fein must
know that even if Tony Blair were to swear on the high
altar of Westminster Cathedral that MI5 was being
withdrawn, its agents will nevertheless continue to
operate, as will the reorganised Special Branch.

These are among the enduring if not much talked about facts
of any new settlement.

Stormontgate is part of the detritus of the Troubles we
need to leave behind after a good rant or few.

If anyone were to be found trussed up and dead in a ditch
in the coming weeks or so, that would change everything
utterly. It would throw us back far further than we were a
year ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Northern Bank

The McCartneys' visit to Tony Blair yesterday was another
reminder of that other piece of unfinished business that
must be weighed in the balance before political talks bear

The two Premiers will meet next month to try to kick start
the whole process back into life, hopefully without any
unsettling shocks or sensations during 2006.

Which brings us to the devolution of justice and policing.
Mind boggling as it may seem even after the IRA's July
statement and decommissioning, the Government's plans
include handing over those powers to an Assembly after a
May 2007 election.

After a Bill is introduced in the Commons in a few weeks'
time, Sinn Fein will sign up to support the police. That's
the theory.

In the aftermath of Denis Donaldson's outing, we won't have
long to wait before we find out if Gerry Adams tries to up
the price of joining the Policing Board.

The next step in the crab-like process will be the
International Monitoring Commission's report next month or
early February, relying heavily as usual on Special Branch
assessments of IRA activity.

How will Sinn Fein respond if the IMC awards them an
(almost) clean bill of health, courtesy of the Branch, I
wonder? Say thank you?

ALTHOUGH the sales in Oxford Street are in full swing
already, you can hear the "long withdrawing roar" of the
retreat of the Christian Christmas, just like the Sea of
Faith itself in Matthew Arnold's great poem Dover Beach.

We hear of carols about the birth of Jesus being banned in
public car parks while songs about Santa stuck up the
chimney are OK and the Salvation Army being told they can't
play in the odd shopping centre.

Some of this simply describes Britain straining at being a
multi-cultural, secular society. But a big part of it is
about expressing a growing fear of fundamentalist religion,
particularly since 7/7.

Moslem fundamentalism is the real target, although most
Brits involved are too mealy-mouthed to say so and include
Christianity in their attack to deflect a charge of racism.
Of course the rise of creationists in the US and the asses
the Churches are making of themselves over all types of sex
don't help.

Still, blaming all Christians including CS Lewis for a
malevolent or wilfully ignorant large minority is terribly
unfair, like blaming Charles Darwin for the repulsive
"survival of the fittest" race theories that led to the
Holocaust. Only the perverse and pretentious will refuse
the greeting I now give you in the old style. Merry

HOW proud I was to see Northern Ireland showing off a
positive face again to the world, with the celebration of
the UK's first civil partnership between Shannon Sickles
and Grainne Close at the City Hall.

I say "again" because the last time it happened was in the
very different circumstances of George Best's funeral.

If TV reported it right, even the protest demo was fairly
restrained, suggesting the limits of their influence
compared with the menace of the old days. Ms Close gave as
good as she got and the reverend took it politely; not a
blackthorn in sight.

Some of my Westminster colleagues were tickled to see that
the old 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' slogan still survives,
just like ads for Ovaltine and Marmite.

I have this hunch that when we get over a few of the bigger
humps of the Troubles, the ice packs of sectarianism will
start to melt - if not "like snow in June," in Bertie
Ahern's phrase for how the Stormontgate charges were
dropped - then in a gradual but quickening thaw, as the
problems of the human condition take over


Opin: Shadowy Alliance Haunts Stormontgate

Paul Bew

Paul Bew is Professor of Irish Politics at Queen's
University, Belfast.

WHAT on earth is going on in the latest phase of the so-
called Stormontgate saga?

In October 2002, the Government announced that it had
uncovered an IRA spy ring at the heart of the Northern
Ireland Office and the devolved institutions.

Highly sensitive documents – including conversations
between President Bush and Tony Blair – were discovered in
Republican West Belfast.

Up to a few days ago, it was confidently assumed that three
people were to face charges in court in this connection.
Then it was announced that it was not in the public
interest to carry on with the trial and the three
defendants were found not guilty, with no stain on their

Sinn Fein was delighted, as it had denied all along that
there had been any spy ring. Then, Denis Donaldson – whose
relationship to Gerry Adams is similar to that of Downing
Street chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell to Tony Blair – outed
himself as a 20-year-long British spy.

Sinn Fein immediately got out its narrative, and sections
of the media gave it credibility.

Mr Adams insisted that this was further proof that the spy
ring had never existed and that the whole affair had been
got up by so-called securocrats – senior officials in the
Northern Ireland Office and elsewhere, who were working to
undermine Tony Blair's agenda.

But is this even remotely likely? In the first place, those
whom Sinn Fein named as securocrats gave every sign of
being inconvenienced by the Stormontgate affair. It was
their job, after all, to deliver the institutions of the
Good Friday Agreement and to keep Mr Adams locked into the
peace process.

In that sense, there has been, for many years now, a
profound commonality of interest between the British
security establishment and Mr Adams.

Far from launching the Stormontgate affair to "save Dave" –
to give then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble an excuse
to walk away from power-sharing – the securocrats took the
view that Mr Trimble should ignore the spying scandal and
stay in government with Sinn Fein. Today, they take exactly
the same view: that this current unfortunate incident
should be forgotten about.

Think about it. Even if it is accepted, and it is strongly
denied, that Mr Donaldson was an agent provocateur, he
could never have launched such an elaborate operation on
his own, and would have had to "go upstairs" in the Sinn
Fein movement to get clearance.

In the last couple of days, the Sinn Fein narrative has
begun to crumble, to be replaced by another question: how
many more agents are there in the Republican leadership and
what does this say about an agenda of tacit co-operation
with the British state?

This, after all, is historically how Britain achieves peace
in Ireland. In 1920-21, the police and army regularly made
raids on leading Sinn Fein figures, only to discover that
they were under the protection of other parts of the
British state.

Those arrested were rapidly released even when
incriminating material was found; in one famous case, that
of Erskine Childers in 1921, a senior British official
carried his bags out of jail.

What is the political fall-out? The Government continues to
be optimistic about devolution, although it appears to be
publicly assuming that it will not happen in 2006.

There is an element of rationalisation in this. Neither
British nor Irish governments can afford to say that they
were handed a political miracle – the Good Friday Agreement
– and bungled it. Instead, it is so much more comforting to
insist that a DUP-Sinn Fein deal is possible. In fact, it
is possible because the modernising wing of the DUP is
determined to marginalise Ian Paisley's family and gain

But, as the so-called comprehensive agreement document of
the projected DUP-Sinn Fein deal of 2004 revealed, this is
not the Good Friday Agreement, either in detail or in
reconciling spirit. The Prime Minister is widely perceived
to be in the grip of "legacy-itis" in Northern Ireland, and
though he may not have noticed this, the local population
certainly has.

The row over Stormontgate has intensified the lack of trust
between the two communities. Unionists feel that the IRA
still thinks it can get away with lying to them, as with
the bank robbery. Emotions of anger on this score have now
been sharply revived.

On the other hand, many nationalists believe that wicked
British spies have perpetrated yet another offence against
decent Irish patriots.

The point to note is that the current political agenda
contains two issues, the amnesty-type proposals for the
republicans' so-called "on-the-runs" and, more importantly,
the issue of restorative justice which the SDLP sees as
British Government willingness to hand the "hood" over to
the "hoods", which will continue to poison the debate well
into 2006.

Into this mix, the Government plans to devolve policing and
justice and thus enhance Sinn Fein's power in this highly-
sensitive sphere.

It is, in fact, possible, however, that Mr Blair is more
realistic about Northern Ireland policy than Secretary of
State Peter Hain and the Northern Ireland Office can afford
to be.

Mr Blair may, in his heart of hearts, have grave doubts
about the DUP's capacity to do a deal that is worthwhile.
He may even believe that he has, in effect, achieved his
Northern Ireland work by the "de-fanging" of the republican

If devolution comes, it would be a bonus, but the big
objective of British policy has already been achieved, and
there is always the possibility of an Anglo-Irish Agreement
mark two to complete the Northern Irish political

This does, however, leave a problem for Peter Hain, a
naturally ambitious politician.

Paul Murphy's recent removal broke the rule of thumb
whereby every Northern Ireland Secretary who was not
actually retiring moved on to another Cabinet position,
usually a promotion, as a reward for a hardship stint.

Mr Hain was brought in to provide an activist contrast to
Mr Murphy's genuine decency and more measured and cautious
approach. He has certainly provided the contrast, but with
a conspicuous lack of success. He must be worrying that the
Prime Minister has landed him with an impossible task and
that he will personally take the rap for failure.

22 December 2005


Security Forces Must Not Be Included, He Says

OTR exile backs Sinn Fein over rejection of Bill

By Sarah Brett
22 December 2005

A SINN Fein councillor on the run in Donegal for 23 years
has said he is content to remain in exile until the
controversial 'On The Runs' legislation excludes the
security forces.

Londonderry native and Letterkenny Town councillor Gerry
McMonagle said he fully backs his party's decision to
revoke its support for the proposed law, which in its
current form would see a conditional amnesty for republican
and loyalist fugitives, as well as security force members
suspected of serious crimes during the Troubles.

Mr McMonagle spent 19 months on remand for the shooting of
a UDR officer in Strabane in 1982 before a judge found him
not guilty at his trial. He was rearrested almost
immediately and brought before a magistrate who also
released him.

Mr McMonagle claimed that police tried to rearrest him
again as he left court, leading him to leave Strabane and
take his family to Donegal where he is now a councillor.

He denied yesterday that his party had performed a U-turn
on the legislation for fugitives, claiming the Government
had employed "sleight of hand" tactics to amend it.

"I spent 19 months in prison for something I did not do,"
Mr McMonagle said. "I was sometimes bitter about it
certainly. Situations, for example, like my dad dying in
Derry, weddings and other family events that I could not

"But I've got no problem staying here until this
legislation is got right.

"Peter Hain has publicly admitted that Sinn Fein did not
know about the Government including British forces
personnel in the OTR legislation.

"We met with him yesterday and as a result of that the
party withdrew their support.

"It's far from a U-turn, it's sleight of hand by the
British Government. No member of the British forces has
ever been on the run so how can they be included in this


Murder Accused Granted Bail For Amsterdam Trip

By Gemma Murray Security Correspondent
Thursday 22nd December 2005

A 38-year-old Belfast man accused of the murder of a former
associate of ousted UDA boss Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair, has
had his bail varied so he can go on a Christmas holiday.

Stephen Paul McFerran, from Haywood Avenue, Belfast, was
yesterday granted the change in his bail so he can spend
Christmas and New Year in Amsterdam.

Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice Hart ordered McFerran
- who has been on remand since March 15, 2005 - to return
his passport to police after his Dutch holiday.

The bizarre "holiday-leave" has been met with amazement by
DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who branded the Northern Ireland court
system "a joke".

He said the decision is " dispiriting for the police and
insulting for people who are victims of crime".

"I think some of these judges do not live in the real
world. They demand they are driven about with police
escorts, they live in gated houses with security fencing,"
he said.

"I find the story amazing and yet I shouldn't, because
there have been so many other times when judges have been
seen to take these bizarre decisions."

McFerran denies the murder of 32-year-old Roy Green, who
was shot as he left a bar in the Ormeau Road area of the
city on January 2, 2003, at the height of a loyalist feud.

At the time, the UFF claimed that Mr Green was murdered for
passing on false information to Adair, which led to the
shooting of an innocent man.

UUP Assemblyman for North Belfast, Fred Cobain, said it was
also outrageous that someone could remain that length of
time on remand.

"The police provide the evidence and you would think the
DPP would prosecute the case so we would not get ourselves
into the situation we are in now," he said.

"You would think in cases that are as serious as this there
would not be variations of the bail until the case is
actually tried.

"It is very difficult to explain to the public that someone
who has been charged with murder is having his bail varied
so he can go on holidays."

SDLP assemblyman Alex Attwood said: "On face value, this is
very disturbing. At a time when there are so many people in
the north who will be feeling particularly upset with the
loss of a loved one, the notion that a person charged with
murder could be given the freedom to go on a holiday will
be hurtful and, some would say, bizarre."


Murderer Macarthur Getting Out Of Prison For Christmas

Tom Brady

Security Editor

NOTORIOUS murderer Malcolm Macarthur will eat Christmas
dinner outside prison walls for the first time in 23 years.

Macarthur is being allowed out of jail for a few hours on
Christmas Day as part of the seasonal paroles sanctioned by
Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

However, the decision to let out Macarthur was taken by
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, as Mr McDowell has
disqualified himself from any review of the killer's case
because, as a barrister, he was a member of the legal team
that defended him in 1982.

The arrest of Macarthur (58) sparked off a political crisis
after he was found by a garda team, including the current
commissioner, Noel Conroy, in an apartment owned by then
Attorney General Paddy Connolly, who had not been aware of
his behaviour.

Macarthur was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life
imprisonment for the murder of nurse Bridie Gargan (27),
who was battered to death in the Phoenix Park because he
had decided to steal her car.

He also killed farmer Donal Dunne after arranging to meet
him to buy his shotgun.

The events surrounding the killings and his arrest were
later described by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey as
"grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented"

Macarthur is the longest serving prisoner in the State's
jails, apart from Englishmen John Shaw and Geoffrey Evans,
who were sentenced to life in 1978 for the murders of Mary
Duffy and Elizabeth Plunkett.

Two years ago Macarthur was transferred to an open prison
at Shelton Abbey, outside Arklow, Co Wicklow, on a
recommendation from the Parole Board.

A transfer to an open prison is usually the first step in
preparing a long-term prisoner for release back into the

But this is the first time that he has been approved for
temporary release, and a decision on his permanent release
is not likely to be considered for some time.

The IRA killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, however,
will be spending their Christmas in the Grove bungalow
complex that is part of Castlerea prison in Co Roscommon.

Senior security advisers to Mr McDowell were against parole
for IRA gang leader Kevin Walsh and his associates, Pearse
McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill.

The four were convicted by the Special Criminal Court of
killing Garda McCabe during an abortive raid on a post
office van at Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

The killers have been let out of jail for limited periods
of temporary release in the past but the authorities have
taken a tougher line in the past couple of years and they
have consistently been denied Christmas parole.

Four years ago Tanaiste Mary Harney personally intervened
when it appeared that the Government was on the verge of
granting them parole for a few days.

Mr McDowell is expected to sanction temporary release for
around 300 prisoners for periods ranging from a few hours
on Christmas Day to up to 10 days. Those being let out
account for less than 10pc of the prison population and
many are nearing the end of their sentences, while others
are serving relatively short terms.


Is This Justice?

By Jonathan McCambridge and Claire Regan
22 December 2005

QUESTIONS were being asked about bail and remand policies
in Northern Ireland today after a man accused of murder was
given permission to travel abroad for a Christmas holiday,
while a distraught father serving a sentence for robbery
was told he must watch his daughter's funeral from behind

Bernard Rooney, who is serving his sentence at Maghaberry
Prison, has been refused permission to attend the funeral
of his daughter today.

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Lee Rooney was one of two people who
died in a horrific car smash on the Falls Road in west
Belfast at the weekend.

The Rooney family took a judicial review in court to
attempt to gain parole for their devastated father, but
instead he will only be allowed to watch the service by
video link in the prison in the company of a chaplain.

It is thought the decision was made over fears Rooney would
abscond, but this morning his relatives described it as

Their anger was intensfied with news that 38-year- old
Stephen Paul McFerran, from Haywood Park, Belfast, who is
accused of the murder of a Johnny Adair associate, has had
his bail conditions varied yesterday so he can go to
Amsterdam for Christmas and the New Year.

McFerran denies the murder of 32-year-old Roy Green, who
was shot as he left a bar near the Ormeau Road in January

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday Mr Justice Hart varied
McFerran's bail conditions - this is the second time he has
been allowed to travel abroad since he was charged.

In the Rooney case, speaking on behalf of Jamie Lee's
mother Margariette from the family's Springfield Park home,
a family spokeswoman said: "It is just ridiculous - we
couldn't believe it when we heard.

"Why should a murder suspect be allowed out of prison to
spend Christmas abroad but a heartbroken father cannot go
to say goodbye at the funeral of his daughter?

"It just doesn't make sense to us.

"Bernard and Jamie Lee worshipped the ground each other
walked on. She absolutely adored him. We fought this
decision as hard as we could but we've just had to accept
that Bernard will not be there. This will kill him."

A Prison Service spokesman said: "The judge considered the
evidence in court and we will abide by his decision."

The Church of the Annunciation opened shortly before 9am
today to allow the video equipment to be installed ahead of
the 11am Mass.

DUP Policing Board member, Ian Paisley Jnr, said he was
astounded by the different attitude the courts had taken in
the two cases and described the decision to allow McFerran
to travel abroad as "atrocious".

He said: "Our penal system is more about comfort and
convenience than punishment and contrition.

"Once again today the public will be rolling their eyes in
disbelief at the inconsistent decisions being made by our

SDLP justice spokesman, Alban Maginness, said the public
would find it difficult to understand the different
approaches to the two cases.

"First of all these are separate - one man is in prison
serving a sentence while the other is on remand and the
judges look at each case individually.

"However, there is obviously a sharp contrast between the
two cases and that is what will confuse the public. This is
the sort of thing which makes people ask questions."


£400,000 Of Assets Are Frozen By Agency

ARA claims Kells man was involved in loyalist rackets

By Claire Regan
22 December 2005

ASSETS worth more than £400,000 have been frozen on a Co
Antrim man with alleged links to loyalist paramilitary
activities including loan sharking and extortion.

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) revealed last night it has
been granted an interim receiving order at Belfast High
Court on assets belonging to Melville Matthews of Steeple
Road in Kells.

A statement issued by the agency said that the assets
frozen, which have a current net value of £406,000,

Property situated at Steeple Road, Kells

A plot of land adjacent to that property

Two plots of land situated in the townland of Caulside, Co

A property at Oaktree Drive, Parkhall, Antrim

A BMW 523i SE, a Mitsubishi Shogun, a Toyota Rav 4 GX, an
Audi A4 TDi and a Honda motorcycle

Money in a range of bank accounts together with the
proceeds of the sale of previously owned property.

In its case to the High Court, ARA alleged that Matthews
"has been closely involved in illegal activities including
loan sharking and the collection of protection monies, as
well as other activities typically associated with loyalist

The agency also told the High Court that it believes
Matthews had been involved in other unlawful activity,
"namely false accounting, obtaining a pecuniary advantage
by deception, and income tax evasion and has enjoyed an
extravagant lifestyle, despite having only a very modest
legitimate income".

Its statement also said that Matthews has previous
convictions for wounding with intent, and possession of a
firearm and ammunition with intent.

ARA assistant director Alan McQuillan said: "The PSNI
referred this case to ARA and have worked closely with us
to provide the information needed to convince the High
Court that these assets should be frozen.

"It sends out a clear message to those involved in any form
of serious and organised criminal activity that ARA
together with its law enforcement partners will do
everything in their power to put them out of business.

"We are determined to rid society of those with parasitic
lifestyles who are intent on feeding off the most
vulnerable in our community.

"We are working hard to make sure that criminality and
gangsterism do not pay.

"It is also further evidence of the effectiveness of a
multi-agency approach within the Organised Crime Task Force
in tackling serious and organised crime in Northern

An interim receiver has been appointed to take control of
the assets to ensure that the property is managed and

The statement added that part of the receiver's
responsibilities in managing the frozen property will be to
ensure that Matthews and his family have appropriate living
expenses, "a responsibility which the court will
undoubtedly expect to be sensitively carried out at this
time of year".


McCartney 'Killer Plans US Move'

The person who ordered the killing of Belfast man Robert
McCartney is planning to emigrate to the US, the murdered
man's sisters have claimed.

Catherine and Paula McCartney made the claim in an
interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Mr McCartney, 33, was fatally stabbed outside a bar in
Belfast city centre in January.

"The person who we believe ordered it is high up in the
IRA: it's all to protect him," said Catherine.

"This person is bigger than the IRA, he's bigger than the
whole movement."

Paula added: "He's being allowed to be bigger than the
whole movement."

Mr McCartney's family claim they have been intimidated by
the IRA.

Earlier this week, the two sisters met Prime Minister Tony
Blair formally for the first time to update him on their
campaign for justice.

They said they wanted to dispel a "misconception" that
those involved in Mr McCartney's murder were "rogue
elements" in republicanism.

They told Mr Blair that they felt Sinn Fein was not doing
all it could to help them.

In March, they had separate meetings with Senator Ted
Kennedy and President George Bush, both of whom refused to
meet Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the time.

Two people have been charged in relation with Mr
McCartney's murder.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/22 07:29:03 GMT


Blair Urged To Push SF

A sister of Belfast murder victim Robert McCartney last
night demanded Tony Blair ask Sinn Féin leaders about their
members' 'lack of co-operation' with an inquiry.

The British Prime Minister should ask them "very serious
questions" about party members' reluctance to co-operate
with the inquiry into the murder, said Catherine McCartney.

She was speaking after meeting Mr Blair in Downing Street.

Ms McCartney said her family needed answers rather than

"For members of a political party to not co-operate in a
murder investigation, I just won't accept that that should
be tolerated by anybody," she said.

"What we want is very simple and we should not have to lead
this campaign.

"It is a disgrace that we are having to stand here outside
Downing Street and seek justice for my brother.

"What we want is people to come forward with the evidence
they have so the people involved in my brother's murder can
be brought to justice."

Mr McCartney was stabbed outside a bar in January during a
confrontation between republicans and his friend, Brendan

His friend survived the knife attack.

The McCartney sisters and his partner, Bridgeen Hagans,
have accused republicans of cleaning up the murder scene
and forcing witnesses to remain silent since his murder.

Two men were charged in connection with the murder in June.


US Envoy Confident On NI Process

The United States remains committed to the peace process,
and is generally optimistic for 2006, Mitchell Reiss has

However, President George Bush's special envoy said there
were still two "worrisome" issues.

In an article for the Irish Echo newspaper in the US he
said there was a crisis of confidence in unionism and urged
Sinn Fein to sign up to policing.

"Parity of esteem implies parity of responsibility," he

"We think Sinn Fein has a responsibility to tell its
constituents they should co-operate with the police -
without fear of retribution - whenever dissidents, thugs
and degenerates terrorise their communities."

He said he feared "another year, at least, of lawlessness
in republican and nationalist communities".

Mr Reiss said the IRA decision to destroy its weapons and
end its armed campaign was "a truly great moment" for the
Northern Ireland peace process, but said "we still have
some way to travel".

He said many of the loyalists who rioted in September were
poorly educated, have bleak employment prospects and feel
alienated from the political process.

He said others are nostalgic for the "good old days" of
Protestant ascendancy, and feel the British government has
conceded too much to nationalists.

"Unionism needs to do more to prepare itself and its
members for the time when we may have agreement on all
outstanding issues," he said.

"They need to move towards a position when they can take
"yes" for an answer and stand up the Stormont assembly."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/22 07:57:01 GMT


'Fugitive Bill Must Be Scrapped'

The government should scrap the "on-the-run" legislation
and not agree to any Sinn Fein proposed changes, the Ulster
Unionist Party has said.

Sinn Fein wants the bill scrapped after saying that
allowing anyone involved in Troubles-related crime to avoid
prison was not what they had agreed.

But UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said he did not want "any more

The Northern Ireland Office has said there is no other
vehicle for dealing with the "on-the-run" issue.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein vice-president Pat Doherty said the
legislation was "far removed" from what had been agreed
during 2001 talks with the government at Weston Park.

He also accused the government of "sleight of hand" in that
the law would grant amnesty to security forces who
committed murder during the Troubles.

However, a Northern Ireland Office spokesman said Sinn Fein
were "deluding themselves", if they thought that there was
an alternative to the bill.

Mr Doherty met Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain at
Stormont on Tuesday and urged him to withdraw the

"We are now calling for it (the legislation) to be rejected
and we are withdrawing from anything to do with it," he


Mr Doherty said Sinn Fein would also be advising
republicans "on the run" not to seek registration under the
legislation should it go through.

The plans cover up to 150 people wanted for crimes
committed before 1998.

They would have their cases heard by a special tribunal
and, if found guilty, would be freed on licence without
having to go to jail.

Mr Doherty led a delegation of party members and victims'
groups to meet Mr Hain on Tuesday to give their views on
the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill which is currently
going through Parliament.

Sinn Fein initially welcomed it, but now realise it will
not only give an amnesty to IRA members but also to any
soldiers or police officers who committed murder during 30
years of violence.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said there was now no
reason for the government to proceed with the "obnoxious
and obscene" bill.

"Democratic representatives from Northern Ireland who sat
on the committee scrutinising the on-the-run bill have been
completely united in their opposition to this judicial
farce," he said.

"Now is the time to scrap this sickening legislation and
for the government to make sure it never again gets into
such a mess," he said.

Sir Reg said: "The legislation should indeed be scrapped,
but government must not enter into any future negotiation
with republicans that will result in even worse

"This distasteful side-deal which should never have seen
the light of day in the first place must now be consigned
to the dustbin where it belongs, never to be resurrected."

Conservative NI spokesman David Liddington said he believed
the government was "stuck" with the bill.

"I hope they will think again. They have given some
indications that they are prepared to look at amendments to
this bill as it continues through Parliament," he told BBC
News on Wednesday.

Two stages

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland urged the prime
minister to "take Sinn Fein at its word" and withdraw the

Federation Chairman Irwin Montgomery said: "Now is the
opportunity to do the right thing - even if it is for the
wrong reason of Sinn Fein hypocrisy in not wanting the
legislation to apply to military or police personnel.

"Withdrawing the legislation will also preserve the
integrity of the historic case review process. I urge this
government to do the decent thing and abandon the bill."

The proposed law would set up a two-stage process. First
someone who will be known as the certification officer will
decide if someone is eligible for the scheme.

This could be a paramilitary on-the-run, someone living in
Northern Ireland who is charged with an offence before 1998
or a member of the security forces accused of an offence
committed when they were combating terrorism.

The case would then go to a special tribunal, consisting of
a retired judge sitting without a jury. The tribunal would
have all the normal powers of the Crown Court but accused
would not have to appear for their trial.

If found guilty they would get a criminal record but would
be freed on licence. They would have to provide
fingerprints and DNA samples to be granted their licence.

The scheme will be temporary but a precise cut-off period
is not specified in the bill - instead its expiry is linked
to the lifetime of the chief constable's historic cases
review team, which is looking at unsolved murders during
the Troubles.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/21 12:22:39 GMT


Northern Bank Heist Accused Is Freed On Bail

By Paul O'Hare
22 December 2005

AN employee accused of the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in
Belfast was moved to the republican wing of Maghaberry
Prison after fears for his safety, a court heard yesterday.

Chris Ward (24), was freed on bail totalling £120,000 at
the High Court in Belfast after lawyers challenged the
decision of a lower court judge to remand the bank worker
in custody.

Lord Justice Campbell granted the application but ordered
Ward, of Colinmill, Poleglass, west Belfast, to report to
police twice daily, observe a curfew and surrender his

Belfast High Court heard Ward's solicitor had requested he
be kept away from loyalist prisoners at the Co Antrim jail
and be moved to the republican wing.

Frank O'Donoghue QC told the court the transfer, which took
place last week, followed concerns over his client's

During the one-hour hearing yesterday, Lord Justice
Campbell acknowledged the seriousness of the robbery last
December, the biggest in British history, but said Ward had
to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He said: "This case is one of circumstantial evidence and
it is not my task to comment on the strength or weakness of

The judge told the court Ward, who appeared via video link,
had a clear record, as did his parents, with whom he lives.

He also noted that he had been considered fit to have a
position of responsibility at the Northern Bank, for which
he had worked since January, 1999.

Gordon Kerr QC, counsel for the prosecution, had claimed
there was a chance witnesses or evidence could be
interfered with and that Ward might not show up for his

But the judge said he did not believe that to be the case
and granted bail.

Lord Justice Campbell ordered Ward to observe a curfew from
9.30pm to 7.30am, report twice daily to police, surrender
his passport and not apply for a new one.

The judge also said Ward must not enter any property owned
by the Northern Bank and not go within a one-mile radius of
Belfast City Hall, which is next to the bank's

He was told he must not enter Loughinisland, Downpatrick or
Drumkeeragh Forest - where his co-hostage's wife was
dropped off after her ordeal.

Bail was set at £10,000 but it also included two
independent £10,000 sureties and £45,000 each from Ward's
parents, with the title deeds to their home as security.

Ward is due to reappear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on
January 4.

He became the second man accused of the robbery, which
police have blamed on the IRA, after being questioned for
eight days, during which about 60 interviews were carried

Soon after the raid, when the vaults of the Northern's HQ
were cleared, Ward gave a television interview in which he
spoke of his ordeal.

Building contractor Dominic McEvoy (23), of Kilcoo, Co
Down, was the first man to be charged with the robbery.

He was remanded in custody last month after also being
accused of holding bank worker Kevin McMullan and his wife
hostage and possession of a gun or imitation firearm.
McEvoy has since been released on bail.


Court Freezes £400,000 In Assets

A man alleged in the High Court in Belfast to be a loyalist
racketeer has had bank accounts and property totalling
£406,000 frozen.

The Assets Recovery Agency was granted an interim order on
the assets of Melville Matthews of Steeple Road, Kells,
County Antrim.

The order affects his home, an adjacent plot of land, two
other plots in Antrim and a property at Parkhall, Antrim.

Four cars, a motorcycle and a range of bank accounts were
also frozen.


In its case to the High Court, the agency alleged Mr
Matthews was closely involved in "illegal activities
including loan sharking and the collection of protection
monies," as well as other activities "typically associated
with loyalist paramilitarism".

The agency's assistant director, Alan McQuillan, said they
had worked closely with the PSNI to provide the information
needed to "convince the High Court that these assets should
be frozen".

"It sends out a clear message to those involved in any form
of serious and organised criminal activity that ARA,
together with its law enforcement partners, will do
everything in their power to put them out of business," he

"We are working hard to make sure that criminality and
gangsterism do not pay."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/22 08:25:49 GMT


Opin: When The People's Right To Know Does Not Have To Await Due Process

By Noel Whelan

AT THIS stage, most readers probably feel there is little
more to be said about the recent controversy between
Michael McDowell and Frank Connolly. The issues have been
fairly well aired on both sides.

However, as the saga draws to a close, at least for the
Christmas break, there is one contribution I'd like to add
and that is to refute two bizarre notions which seem to
have gained some currency during the last week or so.

Firstly, it has been suggested that, irrespective of the
quality or extent of the information he or she has, a
minister cannot allege that a person was involved in a
criminal act unless that person has had the opportunity of
due process in a criminal court where the offence against
him or her has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The second is that what Michael McDowell has done in his
spat with Frank Connolly is unprecedented or somehow a
dangerous precedent. Neither assertion stands up to close

There have been many precedents for a member of the cabinet
doing something similar to what the Minister for Justice
has just done. Firstly, Michael McDowell himself has done
it before.

Last February, initially in a radio debate on Today FM and
later in comments to other media, McDowell named Gerry
Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris as members of
the IRA army council. He cited security briefings as the
source of his information.

In doing so he was making a very serious charge of
involvement in terrorist and criminal activity against a
sitting Dáil deputy and two people elected to the Northern
Ireland Assembly and the Westminster parliament.

However, notwithstanding the drastic nature of what he had
done, McDowell's action was met with general approval
across the political spectrum (with the obvious exception
of Sinn Féin) and was the subject of largely positive
editorial comment.

The three men in question denied the allegation vehemently,
but the minister persisted. Many people who now attack
McDowell over what he recently said about Frank Connolly -
including some in Fine Gael - applauded him last February
for making this more serious allegation against Martin
Ferris, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Michael McDowell is not the only minister ever to put
security information into the public domain. Bertie Ahern
has also done this kind of thing.

Earlier this year, the Taoiseach made an even more dramatic
allegation of criminal activity against both Adams and
McGuinness - and again he cited security information as the
basis for his claim.

Speaking on the radio news programme This Week last
January, Bertie Ahern said it was his information that
leading figures in Sinn Féin with whom he had been
negotiating in the peace process must have known in advance
about last December's Northern Bank robbery.

The Taoiseach thereby accused them of advance knowledge of
a very serious crime which not only involved the robbery of
millions of pounds but also kidnapping and abduction. At
times the Taoiseach's remarks were typically disjointed,
but among the phrases he used when talking about the
robbery were the following: "I do think the information I
have now is fairly extensive... it would be my assessment
that the people I was talking to must have known... this
was an IRA job. This is a job which would have been known
to the leadership; this is a job which would have been
known to the political leadership."

In case there was any doubt who he was talking about, at
the end of that section of the interview he confirmed that
the people he was saying knew about the bank robbery were
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly. Again these
three men strongly denied the Taoiseach's allegation, but
Bertie Ahern has not retracted it.

The occasions when security information or information
gathered during a criminal investigation are put into the
public domain other than during a court case have been
rare, but it has been done and it is not solely a recent

On May 6, 1970, the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, issued a
press statement at about three o'clock in the morning
informing the nation that he had sacked two of his
ministers, Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey. Later that day,
Lynch told the Dáil he had acted because security forces
had informed him about an alleged attempt unlawfully to
import arms from the continent.

THE Arms Trial crisis is one of the most controversial
events in this country's recent history and there are many
different versions of what actually happened in the weeks
leading up to May 6, 1970. However, it subsequently emerged
that the then Fine Gael leader Liam Cosgrave, to whom word
of the plot had been leaked by security sources, had
informed Lynch about the matter a few hours before the
Taoiseach sacked the ministers.

Mind you, some have suggested that Lynch was not surprised
by what Cosgrave told him because he knew about it already
from Peter Berry, secretary of the Department of Justice.
Some have also contended that Cosgrave went to Lynch with
the information about the arms importation plot only after
he (Cosgrave) had unsuccessfully attempted to get two
newspapers to print the story.

However, what is not disputed is that Lynch took the
drastic step of sacking two cabinet ministers even though
neither minister had been convicted of a criminal offence,
or had the opportunity to avail of the due process which
some now suggest must be extended before such an allegation
can be made.

Later that month, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, together
with three others, were charged with conspiring to import
arms in contravention of the Firearms Act 1925. However,
none of them was ever convicted. The charges against Blaney
were subsequently dropped at district court level and the
following October, Haughey and the other three defendants
were acquitted.

To my mind, Lynch was right to sack Blaney and Haughey in
May 1970 and to put the information he had about the
alleged arms importation plot into the public domain.

To my mind, Bertie Ahern was right to put into the public
domain the information he had about the Sinn Féin
leadership's advance knowledge of last December's Northern
Bank robbery.

To my mind, Michael McDowell was right last February to put
the information he had about Martin Ferris, Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness being on the IRA army council into the
public domain. He was also right in recent weeks to put the
information he had about Frank Connolly into the public

Of course putting security information or information
gathered from criminal investigations into the public
domain outside of a courtroom should make us uncomfortable.
There are times, however, when our democracy dwells in
uncomfortable circumstances. A minister's power to do it is
not absolute, since he will rightly be held politically to
account if his information is wrong or if he overstates it.
This kind of thing should be done rarely, but sometimes it
does need to be done.


North Parades Cost PSNI Over €13m

22 December 2005 10:43

Police in Northern Ireland say they spent the equivalent of
more than €13 million this year on policing Orange Order
and other parades.

The Orange march which sparked rioting in Ardoyne in north
Belfast on 12 July cost almost €1 million in police costs

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said the money could be
better used to fund other policing needs and priorities.

He appealed to parade organisers to consider this and
engage in dialogue.

Ian Paisley Junior of the DUP said the figures reflected
the threat posed to Orangemen when they marched.

Alex Atwood of the SDLP said the costs should bring the
Orange Order to its senses.


Man Quizzed Over Loyalist Blackmail Claims

22/12/2005 - 11:57:50

Two men were being questioned today about suspected
loyalist paramilitary blackmail and extortion.

The pair, aged 20 and 44, were arrested close to a hotel in
east Belfast on Wednesday.

Officers from the Police Service's Organised Crime team
carried out the planned operation.

A PSNI spokeswoman added: "They are currently assisting
police with their inquiries."


Man About Town: Why An Orange Hall Is In Big Demand For Tourists On Safari

By Ian Hill
22 December 2005

THE word safari conjures up many images. Upwardly mobile
friends from north Down's 'Gold Coast' getting up to white
mischief in their Karen von Blixen clothes in far off
Kenya? Brave chaps hunting down King Kong? Or Abbot and
Costello in an old movie, wrestling mangy lions?

But, as Marion Dalton explained in Donegall Place's tourist
Welcome Centre at the Belfast Visitor and Convention
Bureau's Members' Christmas 'do', her Belfast safaris do
something quite different.

Not for her company the usual retired teachers or
academics' wives as visitors' guides. Instead, hers are
'ordinary' city folk, bringing back pride to their part of
town and turning the tourist dollar or euro.

Cited on the guest list as being from Land Rover
Experience, David and Walter Corr kept up the safari theme,
as too could have Steven Brown and Donal Kelly of Highpoint
who run management team building courses in the Mournes.

But most of BVCB's members, as introduced by Lisa McMurray
the Bureau's Director of Communications, were more to be

Talking to Lisa's CEO Gerry Lennon were Lynda McCrory of
the City Airport, Julie McCrory from Days Hotel, Louise
Scott of the Ramada, Alistair Risk - just new to the city's
Holiday Inns - along with the Bureau's Mary Jo McCanny.

Orla Ross and Alanna Gibson were from Ardmore, the Bureau's
ad agency. Cathy Martin runs high end PR round the
embassies of Paris. Barry Robinson reminded the Bureau's
Una Donnelly and the University of Ulster's Ken O'Neill
that his company Exclaim fitted out the actual Welcome

As photographer Brian Thompson, who's just formed a new
photo agency called Press Eye with Kelvin Boyes, William
Cherry and Bob McCambridge, took shots of the Bureau's
Marketing Director John Walsh, Santa appeared in the form
of BVCB chair Ciaran Rogan and his 'little helper' Lisa

His big present was news that the 400 members' fees - which
run from over £100 for art galleries such as Michael
Hughes' to £1,800 for a transport company such as Ciaran's
Translink - are being put to good use. Backed by matching
funding from city and state, a total of £3m plus has played
its part in bringing in half of Northern Ireland's 12
million visitors a year, who spend £1m in the city's shops.

But many were still focused on Marian Dalton's safaris. She
has reps in the east, south and north of the city. The
west, it seems, looks after itself. And what's the new
attraction most cherished by her hundreds of overseas
clients, particularly the media? Why it's no other than
Ballynafeigh Orange Hall.


Johnny Lines Shane Up For Behan Role

By Linda McKee
22 December 2005

JOHNNY Depp has pencilled in Pogues legend Shane MacGowan
for the role of hellraising writer Brendan Behan in his
next film.

The Hollywood star is a long-time fan of the singer and
hopes to persuade him to take the part in the film of 'The
Ginger Man'.

Depp has also asked JP Donleavy, who wrote the book, to
adapt it for screen.

MacGowan played a small part as a drunken minstrel in
Depp's most recent film 'The Libertine', but his role was
lost from the final cut.

If Shane takes on the role of Behan, whom he paid tribute
to in Streams of Whiskey, it will carry a lot of resonance
with his own life.

The writer of the celebrated 1958 book 'Borstal Boy' drank
himself to death at the height of his fame.

It's a fate many expected for MacGowan, who turns 48 on
Christmas Day.

But a few weeks ago, Depp - who played guitar and starred
in the video for MacGowan's 1994 single, That Woman's Got
Me Drinking - hailed his hero's artistic contribution.

"His intake has been pretty impressive over the years,"
said the film star. "But he has produced some of the most
beautiful lyrics that are a great gift to the world."

MacGowan has just re-released his Christmas anthem
'Fairytale of New York' to raise money for the Justice for
Kirsty MacColl campaign.

MacColl, who duetted with MacGowan on the festive hit, died
in December 2002 when she was run over by power boat while
scuba diving in Mexico.

Her family are demanding that the Mexican authorities re-
examine the case, claiming the original inquiry was riddled
with corruption.

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