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December 03, 2005

Aegis, Spicer & Murder of Peter McBride

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 Tim Spicer
Tim Spicer under arrest in 1997


Jean McBride

News about Ireland & the Irish

GR 12/03/05 Aegis, Spicer & Murder Of Peter McBride
BB 12/03/05 Raid Suspect Can Be Held Longer
DI 12/03/05 Swoop 'Overkill' Says GAA
DI 12/03/05 'Collusion' Row Rumbles On
SB 12/04/05 Earlier 'On-The-Runs' Ignored By RUC
ST 12/04/05 Police Chiefs Slate Hain Bill As 'Odious'
DI 12/03/05 'Admit Wrong-Doing'
SB 12/04/05 O'Loan To Publish Rprt Into McConville Shooting
ST 12/04/05 Justice Projects Linked To Police
RT 12/03/05 Fine Gael Support Up Find Surveys
DI 12/03/05 US Citizen Arrest Warning
SB 12/04/05 US Wants Garland Extradited Over Counterfeiting
II 12/04/05 A Few Blips In An Otherwise Great Show
UT 12/04/05 Extraordinary Funeral For A Footballing Legend
SH 12/04/05 From The Chalkface To Angela's Ashes


Aegis Defence Services, Lt Col Tim Spicer And The Murder Of Peter McBride

Track Record of British Mercenary Outfit in Iraq

By Pat Finucane Human Rights Centre
December 4, 2005
Pat Finucane Human Rights Centre

October 4, 2004

This open letter has been sent to the Comptroller General
of the US Government Accountability Office, (GAO), Mr David
Walker and to the General Counsel, Mr Anthony Gamboa,
following the GAO decision to deny a protest against the
awarding of a $293 million dollar Iraq private security
contract to Aegis Defence Services, the British firm led by
former Scots Guard officer Tim Spicer. Please contact these
individuals and request that the contract be reviewed.

Suggested text: - I wish to add my voice to those
protesting the awarding of a $293 million dollar Iraq
private security contract to Lt Col Tim Spicer of Aegis
Defence Services.

The Comptroller General Mr David Walker can be phoned at
202 512 5500 or email his office at

The General Counsel Mr Anthony H Gamboa can be phoned at
202 512 5400 or email his office at

Open Letter to Mr David M Walker, Comptroller General of
the US Government Accountability Office AND Mr Anthony H
Gamboa, General Counsel to the US Government Accountability

Washington DC 20548
Pat Finucane Centre for Human Rights
October 4 2004 Derry, Ireland

Aegis Defence Services, Lt Col Tim Spicer and the murder of
Peter Mc Bride

Dear Mr Walker and Mr Gamboa,

In a decision dated September 13 2004 your office denied a
protest lodged by Dyncorp International against the
awarding of a $293 million dollar private security contract
in Iraq to the British based company Aegis Defence
Services. Your decision was that Dyncorp lacked the direct
economic interest necessary to pursue these challenges.

With respect you have completely missed the point. We
believe the contract should and must be reviewed from a
human rights and rule of law perspective. Our concern is
that a contentious contract has been awarded to a company,
Aegis Defence Services, led by an individual, Lt Col Tim
Spicer, who is totally unfit in our view to be put in
charge of armed individuals in conflict situations. As you
will be aware Tim Spicer has been linked to mercenary
activities in Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone. His close
associate in Sandline International, Simon Mann, is
currently serving a prison sentence because of his
involvement in an attempted coup.

Of specific concern to us is his earlier employment as a
commanding officer of a regiment of the British Army, the
Scots Guards, in Belfast in 1992. Soldiers under his
command murdered an unarmed teenager, Peter Mc Bride, and
were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Disgracefully, these soldiers, Mark Wright and James
Fisher, were granted early release outside the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement and allowed to rejoin their regiment.
One of the senior officers involved in that decision,
retired General Sir Roger Wheeler, is currently an advisor
to Aegis Defence Services (see Aegis website). The
retention of these soldiers, which has caused a furore in
Ireland and abroad, is currently the focus of ongoing legal

Immediately following the murder, Spicer intended to send
the soldiers straight back on patrol, contrary to British
Army regulations. In his view this was akin to "getting
straight back on a horse when you have been thrown." On a
number of occasions since, including in his biography, he
has asserted that his soldiers did no wrong and should
never have been charged. Despite the findings of a court of
law he has sought to portray an entirely untruthful version
of the incident and has made false and wildly inaccurate
allegations about the incident and the deceased, Peter Mc
Bride. This has caused great hurt to the family of the

To summarise;

Lt Col Tim Spicer asserts that the soldiers who shot an
unarmed teenager in the back, having searched him, did no
wrong. In our view this is a totally unsuitable individual
to be awarded such a potentially controversial contract in
Iraq. Individuals linked to private security companies have
been linked to allegations of torture and murder in Iraq.
The US Government and President Bush can ill afford the
possibility of future scandals in particular where you have
been forewarned that private security in Iraq is the
responsibility of a company led by an individual who
asserts that soldiers under his command and who commit
murder should not be subject to the rule of law. This
administration and the Government Accountability Office
will not be in a position to plead ignorance to a future
Congressional or Senate Committee should it find itself
investigating allegations of human rights abuses by private
security companies.

On August 25 2004 Senators John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy,
Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer wrote to
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to express concern at this
contract and specifically at Spicer's role in the Mc Bride

According to their letter,

"The United States Government requires all contractors to
be "responsible bidders". Contractors have to "have a
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics" (48
CFR 9.104-1(d)). We would like to know whether the
government considered human rights abuses - or an
individual who vigorously defends them - as part of this

Additionally, the United States Government requires
consideration of the contractor's "past performance" (48
CFR 15.304(c)(3)). We would like to know whether the
contracting team adequately reviewed the contractor's
record, identified past human rights abuses or defense of
abuses, and whether the contractor received a poor past
performance rating on that basis.

We would also like to know the extent to which these
factors were evaluated in awarding this contract to Aegis.
If they were evaluated, we would like to know the rationale
for awarding the contract.

In light of the recent revelations of abuses of detainees
in Iraq, it is important that U.S. actions, whether by
military personnel or contractors, have respect for the
law. It is troubling that the Government would award a
contract to an individual with a history of supporting
excessive use of force against a civilian population."

We urge you to reconsider the awarding of this contract to
Aegis Defence Services, not from the narrow criteria
outlined in your decision but from a human rights and rule
of law perspective.


Paul O'Connor
Project Co-ordinator

The murder of Peter McBride
The PFC Centre:


Raid Suspect Can Be Held Longer

Detectives investigating the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery
in Belfast last year were on Saturday granted an additional
60 hours to question a man.

Chris Ward, 24, an employee of the bank, was arrested last
Tuesday. On Thursday, police were given an extra three days
to question him.

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

On Friday, a 50-year-old man held over the raid was
released without charge.

He was arrested in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

A police search at Gaelic Athletic Association grounds in
west Belfast on Friday is also understood to have been
linked to the Northern robbery.

The GAA expressed shock at the investigation at Casement
Park, which a police spokesman said was part of an
investigation into serious crime.

Chairman of the Antrim County Board Joe O'Boyle said
Casement Park Social Club had already co-operated with

He said Chris Ward worked there part-time.

Of the 11 people questioned to date in connection with the
raid, three have appeared in court.

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

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

Police on both sides of the Irish border subsequently
blamed the IRA for the raid.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/03 16:16:06 GMT


Swoop 'Overkill' Says GAA


The GAA last night described a PSNI swoop at one of
Ireland's top football grounds as "overkill".

PSNI officers raided Casement Park in Belfast as part of
what the force described as an ongoing probe into illegal
paramilitary activity and removed a number of items.

The GAA also distanced itself from the activities of three
of its members arrested over two separate incidents in the
North in the past week.

Yesterday, the PSNI raided the Antrim county ground at
Casement Park in west Belfast in connection with the
Northern Bank robbery.

On Tuesday, two of its Derry members, including Sinn Féin
MLA Francie Brolly, were arrested allegdly in connection
with the 1972 Claudy Bomb.

The Antrim County Board has lodged a complaint with the
Police Ombudsman, while the Gaelic Athletic Association in
Dublin has made complaints to Dublin Castle.

The two prominent Derry GAA figures were released without
charge amid claims by Francie Brolly that his high-profile
arrest was "political policing at its best".

Fifteen PSNI Land Rovers and numerous personnel descended
on the offices and social club at Casement yesterday

Officers had warrants to search both premises at the park
and told GAA staff the raid was part of an investigation in
to "organised terrorist activity".

Files and documents relating to staff wages and accounts,
including cheque books, were taken from the offices.

Vice-Chair of the County Antrim Board, Gerry McClory said:
"This was complete overkill. There was something sinister
in their gung-ho approach.

"It was an attempt to discredit our members as being
involved in terrorism. We have assisted the PSNI with their
investigation before when they asked. We have absolutely
nothing to hide.

"Do the police think we have £26 million (€38.5 million)
hidden in the changing rooms?"

Christopher Ward, one of three people currently being held
in police custody in connection with last year's heist,
works in Casement Park Social Club part-time.

The 24-year-old Northern Bank worker was held hostage while
the thieves carried out the biggest robbery in Irish

He is being held under the Terrorism Act and police have
until Sunday morning to either release him or charge him
after they applied for an extension to the time available
for questioning him on Thursday.

GAA officials have hit out at the arrests claiming the
arrests of three of its members in one week as "overkill".

President of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Seán Kelly,
said: "We know what the PSNI are doing. Even if it is
coincidental we are not happy. It is too much."

Earlier a statement on the official GAA website stated they
had reported the matter at the "highest level to the Dublin

"These people weren't arrested as GAA members but as
individuals who can belong or engage in other voluntary
activities, like they belong to the GAA.

"GAA supporters across the country aren't going to be
influenced by such actions by the PSNI," he added.

A 50-year-old Carrickfergus man was released without charge
last night after being arrested earlier in the week in
connection with the robbery.

Mr Ward's girlfriend was also arrested on Tuesday but
released without charge.


'Collusion' Row Rumbles On

by Ciaran O'Neill

A meeting yesterday between SDLP and Sinn Féin councillors
aimed at ending a bitter dispute on Derry City Council
ended without agreement.

The row erupted this week after SDLP councillors walked out
of a council meeting following remarks made by a Sinn Féin
councillor. The walkout took place during a debate on the
proposed 'on-the-runs' (OTRs) legislation which would allow
fugitives to return to the North.

The SDLP councillors were furious at remarks by a Sinn Féin
councillor who alleged that an SDLP member had colluded
with the PSNI in relation to a specific matter.

However, in response, Sinn Féin said the SDLP had wrongly
accused their party leaders of colluding with the British
government in allowing the OTR legislation to also provide
an amnesty for state killers.

Following the walkout, the SDLP's leader on Derry City
Council, Pat Ramsey, said his party would not take part in
council meetings until the allegations against his
colleague were withdrawn.

Mr Ramsey claimed the allegations could lead to attacks on
SDLP members and their homes.

At this week's meeting, Sinn Féin had proposed a motion
which sought to reject all attempts by the British
government to extend the OTR legislation to cover state
killers. The party criticised the SDLP for failing to
support the motion. The SDLP is the largest party on Derry
City Council but a council spokeswoman this week confirmed
that "a quorum on some committees can be achieved" despite
the SDLP boycott. Senior members of both parties yesterday
held a meeting to discuss the dispute.

However, SDLP councillor Helen Quigley said the talks had
ended without agreement.

"We have agreed to meet again in the near future. We are
not looking to embarrass anyone and are simply seeking to
have a rather dangerous allegation withdrawn," he added.

Sinn Féin councillor Maeve McLaughlin confirmed that
efforts to end the row would continue.


Earlier 'On-The-Runs' Ignored By RUC

04 December 2005 By Anton McCabe

Despite the current controversy over the proposed pardons
for 'on-the-runs' in the North, de facto amnesties have
been in place since the Northern state was set up.

Donal Donnelly escaped from Crumlin Road jail in 1960 while
serving a 10-year sentence, and took refuge in Dublin.

"It was 29 years until I got home, but that was before the
ceasefires," said Donnelly.

"In 1989 my solicitor in Dublin wrote making
representations to the Northern Ireland Office.

"I got a reply that I was free to travel to the North, but
the sentence still stood."

Danny McElduff's father, Jimmy, a wanted man after the War
of Independence, returned North in the mid-1920s.

"There was a kind of an unofficial thing; there were hints
from the police he wouldn't be touched," said Danny

"When he drifted home there was no attempt to re-arrest
him. There was an 'it's over' attitude, 'as long as they
don't rise any trouble they won't be lifted'."

Monsignor Denis Faul facilitated the return of about four
dozen 'on the runs' in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Fellows would approach you, and then you would approach
the police of a senior rank and say, 'have you anything on
the books against Mr so-and-so'," Monsignor Faul said.

"To be fair to the police, they said yes or no.

"Nobody who came back was ever arrested.

"The RUC could have captured fellows – they never broke
their word."

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy was on the run in the late 1980s.
"I was aware there was an arrest-on-sight warrant from the
RUC for me," he said.

"I stayed in the south for a number of months. I met Pat
Finucane in Dublin, we talked through the circumstances.

"He felt there was no evidence to convict me.

"We talked through whether we should challenge the warrant.

"A while after, I was arrested on my way to a funeral in
Tyrone, held for five days.

"I wasn't arrested subsequently. If I hadn't decided to
challenge that, I could be still sitting in the south."


Police Chiefs Slate Hain Bill As 'Odious'

Liam Clarke

SENIOR police officers will today join the widespread
opposition to the Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which
frees anyone guilty of murder or other crimes during the
Troubles of the fear of imprisonment.

Chief superintendent Stephen Grange has warned that the
bill risks undermining public confidence in the entire
criminal justice system. Grange, who is the police
commander in south Belfast, made his comments in a
submission by the Superintendents' Association of Northern
Ireland to David Hanson, the security minister, which will
be made public today.

Grange said his members had been particularly incensed by
provisions in the bill that grant members of the security
forces the same benefits and privileges as terrorist

"We are not aware of any officers who are outside the UK
avoiding justice. Any police officer or soldier who has
broken the law should undergo due process like any other
citizen," he said.

The bill, which enters committee stage in the House of
Commons this week, is the result of a 2003 agreement
between the British government and Sinn Fein to allow on-
the-run terrorist suspects (OTRs) to return home without
fear of imprisonment.

It provides for anyone in a paramilitary group on
recognised ceasefire who is suspected of a Troubles-related
offence to be tried by a special tribunal. The bill allows
the suspects full legal aid and does not require them to
attend the tribunal or answer questions. If they are found
guilty, the conviction goes on their record but they are
immediately released on licence.

When he introduced the bill last month Peter Hain, the
secretary of state, said that in order to be even-handed he
would allow any members of the security forces who were
charged with collusion or other offences committed before
the signing of the Good Friday agreement to be treated in
the same favourable way.

The superintendents' association is enraged by the
concession, which it condemns as an "odious linkage, indeed
equivalence" between "terrorist suspects who have fled
justice" and "serving/former police officers, or members of
Her Majesty's armed forces".

Opposition to the bill now extends to all political parties
in Northern Ireland. Even Sinn Fein, which was alone in
welcoming the bill, now says it does not agree with its
present form. It is also opposed by all the opposition
parties in the House of Commons and influential Labour
backbenchers including Kate Hoey and Paul Murphy, Hain's

Both nationalist and republican victims' groups have
demanded that the act be scrapped, and senior British
government officials privately concede that amendments will
have to be made.


'Admit Wrong-Doing'

Campaign group An Fhírinne have called on members of the
British security forces to come forward with the truth
about state violence.

An Fhírinne delegates from across the North will travel to
the European Parliament in Brussels this week in a bid to
internationally highlight cases of state collusion with
loyalist death squads.

Sharon Pickering from An Fhírinne said that it is time for
the truth to emerge and justice to be done.

"The families want the truth, they need the truth and they
deserve it," she said.

"On behalf of An Fhírinne I would like to make the appeal
that all former and serving members whether it be the RUC,
the PSNI, Special Branch, the British army, the UDR, RIR,
those who have a conscience, now is the moment in time to
give the families the truth."

At a press conference held in An Chultúrlann yesterday a
panel including Fr Des Wilson, John Finucane, Teresa Slane,
Robin Livingstone, Mark Thompson and Hugh Jordan spoke
about their particular cases and called for the truth about
collusion to finally be told.

Fr Des Wilson, human rights activist and co-organiser of
the Springhill Massacre Inquiry called for the truth to
come out.

As a result of the Springhill massacre on July 9, 1972,
five people were gunned down by the British army: "There
are people in this room who have suffered greatly from this
evil," said Fr Wilson.

"One of the issues that we must bring forward to the
European Union and everyone else is how far are they
prepared to tolerate hoods and lawbreakers being a normal
part of the state apparatus.

"What we are saying is that the loyalist groups were a
normal part of the British reaction.

"The most important people here are the families and they
need closure and they need the truth," he added.

Robin Livingstone Group Editor of the Andersonstown News
spoke about the murder of his 14-year-old sister Julie by
the British army on 13 May 1981.

"Personally speaking on behalf of my own family this isn't
about sticking people in jail," Mr Livingstone said.

"I imagine the guy that killed my sister isn't that much
older than me, has a young family, is living somewhere in
Wales and is probably getting on with his life and he is
entitled to do that but I think that I am entitled to hear
him tell me why he killed my sister.

"I would also like to hear from the witnesses who not only
weren't heard but who were threatened with dire
consequences if they went to Woodbourne barracks to make
statements about the killing. I would also like to know and
this is where it gets shadowy, what was the media's role in
all of this, this is not just a question of what happened
20 or 30 years ago, but this is a question of what happened
this week when we see the forces of state conspiring with
the media."

John Finucane, son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, who
was killed on 12 February 1989 by the UDA said that his
family have been campaigning for truth from the outset and
have called for a full international judicial public

"Recent developments in the case are that the British
government have finally conceded that this case warrants an
enquiry after years of being told that there was no such
thing as collusion," Mr Finucance said.

"We have come a very very long way and we are no longer at
the stage where nobody rolls their eyes or tuts when you
mention collusion, our own community has known this for a
long time but I think that the international community
needs to know this as well."


O'Loan Set To Publish Report Into Mcconville Shooting

04 December 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The North's Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, is about to
publish the first report on the shooting dead of a Catholic
man by members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland

The killing of 21-year-old Neil McConville in Ballinderry,
Co Antrim, in 2003 was the first police-inflicted casualty
in the North since the reform of the RUC. The Sunday
Business Post has learned that O'Loan has finalised her
report into the incident and that its publication is

The report is likely to prove controversial regardless of
its findings. McConville's family have claimed that the
shooting bore all the hallmarks of a "shoot-to-kill''
policy. This is denied by the PSNI.

On April 29, 2003, a PSNI unit rammed McConville's car and
then fired into the vehicle, killing McConville and
wounding his passenger, David Somers. Neither man was
armed, but Somers was later charged with possession of a
sawn-off shotgun that was found concealed in the car.

The incident was the first involving the use of lethal
force by the police since the shooting of Pearse Jordan in

Human rights groups have questioned why the PSNI did not
arrest McConville. The PSNI claims that McConville's car
was forced up onto an embankment by a PSNI vehicle, and
then rolled backwards and struck a PSNI officer - leading
to an opening of fire.

McConville was shot twice in the arm and once in the chest
and Somers was shot twice in his left arm.

The PSNI also claims that the car had earlier refused to
stop at a police checkpoint.

McConville's family have alleged that there was a
surveillance operation involving PSNI officers and a
British army helicopter prior to the killing.


Justice Projects Linked To Police

Liam Clarke

RESTORATIVE justice projects in Northern Ireland are to be
denied funding by the government unless they operate under
police supervision and share information with the PSNI.

New guidelines to be issued tomorrow by David Hanson, the
Northern Ireland security minister, will seek to dispel
suggestions that such projects can function as a front for

Restorative justice projects mediate between the victims of
crime and the perpetrators. An independent body, with
police input, is to be set up to select and vet applicants
to operate the schemes. Those involved in organised crime
or paramilitary activity will be barred. Former prisoners
may be allowed to take part.

The schemes will not be allowed to decide the guilt or
innocence of suspected offenders and will not be allowed to
investigate crimes.

There are two main restorative justice organisations in
Northern Ireland. The Community Restorative Justice (CRJ)
operates in nationalist areas of Belfast and Londonderry,
and Northern Ireland Alternatives operates in loyalist
areas. The organisations bring the perpetrators of crime
face to face with their victims to agree an appropriate

Both organisations have been funded by Atlantic
Philanthropies, a charitable trust founded by Chuck Feeney,
the Irish-American tycoon who made millions on duty-free
shops and is one of the world's most generous charitable

The Atlantic Philanthropies grant aid ends next April, and
that will force the schemes to seek government funding.
However, CRJ has already secured some European Union money.

Northern Ireland Alternatives has accepted police
involvement and has PSNI representatives on its management
committees. However, CRJ refuses to deal with the police.
Last month Jim Auld, who heads the organisation, said: "We
are talking generations before the PSNI is accepted as a
police force."

His organisation is one of four that has an application for
funding with the British government.

The decision to attach strings to the money will be a blow
to Sinn Fein, which had argued that restorative justice
should provide a community alternative to the formal
criminal justice system. Paramilitary groups often tell
those convicted of offences by their kangaroo courts to go
to CRJ as an alternative to being beaten or shot. Under the
new guidelines such threats will have to be reported to the

CRJ has been linked in the popular mind to Sinn Fein and
the IRA. It grew out of discussions between community
activists and republicans in 1993-94 just before the IRA
ceasefire, which aimed to provide the IRA with an
alternative to punishment beatings of suspected offenders.

The SDLP and other parties say that if suspected offenders
did not accept the penalties proposed by CRJ, then the IRA
would step in again to punish them, so CRJ settlements are
backed by IRA muscle. About 15% of its workers are former
paramilitary prisoners.

The Belfast Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre said that
"members of community justice schemes have threatened women
and attempted to cover up crimes committed by those with
IRA/Sinn Fein or CRJ connections".


Fine Gael Support Up Find Surveys

03 December 2005 18:35

Two opinion polls for Sunday newspapers tomorrow show a
continued increase in support for Fine Gael.

One survey for the Sunday Tribune found support for Fianna
Fáil has dropped by 4%. However, the other poll in the
Sunday Business post shows a modest increase in those
backing the party.

Both polls reflected the continuing rise in Fine Gael
leader Enda Kenny's fortunes.

In the Millward Brown IMS poll for the Tribune, Fine Gael
are up 5% to 24, and in the Red C survey for the Business
Post support is up 2% to 27.

There is little change in the support levels for the other
parties which may disappoint Sinn Féin in particular in the
wake of the IRA decision to disarm.

While on these figures the next election seems wide open,
it is 18 months away and the IMS poll shows Fianna Fáil's
Bertie Ahern remains the most popular leader with a 51%
satisfaction rating.


US Citizen Arrest Warning

BY Ciarán Barnes

An American citizen who the PSNI want to question about the
Castlereagh break-in has lodged a complaint with the Police

Larry Zaitschek, who left the North for his native New York
five days after the high-profile burglary, has been warned
that he faces arrest if he returns.

The 36-year-old worked as a chef at the PSNI's Castlereagh
holding centre in Belfast at the time of the break-in when
dozens of highly sensitive Special Branch files were
allegedly stolen.

The PSNI believe Mr Zaitschek facilitated the burglary that
occurred on March 17, 2002, and which senior officers have
blamed on the IRA.

Sinn Féin has rejected these claims, insisting the break-in
was the work of elements within the security services
determined to derail the peace process. Despite publicly
announcing that the American is a prime suspect, the PSNI
has yet to provide the prosecution service with enough
evidence to request his extradition.

Mr Zaitschek has a young son living in the North, but fear
of arrest is preventing him seeing him. In light of this
the New Yorker has lodged a complaint with the Police
Ombudsman though respected human rights organisation
British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW).

BIRW director Jane Winter said: "We have sent a complaint
to the Police Ombudsman on behalf of Laurence Zaitschek
about the PSNI's failure, more than three years after the
mysterious "break-in" at Castlereagh, to provide the
Director of Public Prosecutions with enough evidence to
decide whether or not Laurence Zaitschek should face

"Laurence Zaitschek maintains that he is wholly innocent,
but the fear of arrest should he return is preventing him
from having access to his small son."

Sinn Féin policing and justice spokesman, Gerry Kelly, said
the Castlereagh break-in fits into a litany of recent
cases: "It starts with a high profile raid, continues with
a Special Branch briefing to selected journalists, and
ultimately ends in a legal cul-de-sac with those targeted
in the original raid spending years trying to unravel the
mess created," said the North Belfast assembyman.


US Wants Garland Extradited Over Counterfeiting Controversy

04 December 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The US is to demand that the government extradite Workers'
Party president Sean Garland in the coming weeks for his
alleged role in a North Korean conspiracy to make
counterfeit US dollars.

Garland jumped bail in the North two weeks ago, and is
believed to be at his home in Co Meath. The veteran
political figure had been arrested by the Police Service of
Northern Ireland on foot of a warrant issued by the US

Officials at the US Attorney's Office said they planned to
made a formal request for Garland's extradition as quickly
as possible. "We have yet to make a formal request, but it
is our intention to have him extradited," said one of the
officials, Channing Phillips.

Garland was the subject of a three-year investigation by
the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and the US State Department.

He is accused of conspiracy to distribute millions of
forged US dollars.

Garland has denied the allegations, claiming that they are
an attempt to undermine the Workers' Party.

The US justice department claims that the US dollars "were
manufactured in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
under the auspices of the government, and transported
worldwide by North Korean individuals acting as ostensible
government officials''.

An article published in the Washington Times in 2001 cited
a US intelligence report that noted a meeting between
Garland and Chinese Communist Party official Cao Xiaobing.

It stated that Garland was "suspected of being involved
with counterfeiting US currency, specifically the
supernote, a high-quality counterfeit $100 bill''.

Garland has denounced the journalist who wrote the story as
a "raving right-wing anti-communist''.

Garland claimed that the Washington Times was renowned for
its anti-communism.


A Few Blips In An Otherwise Great Show

Sunday December 4th 2005

THE Hidden History documentary on the burning of Cork by
the Crown forces in 1920 on RTE One last Tuesday contained
some excellent footage of the event.

It also had a memorable account of the events leading up to
it, notably the killing of the Lord Mayor (and IRA
commander) Tomas MacCurtain, Tom Barry's ambush of the
Auxiliaries at Kilmichael and the seven-day hunger strike
that culminated in the death of Terence MacSwiney,
MacCurtain's successor as Lord Mayor of Cork.

Especially moving was the interview with MacSwiney's only
child, Maire Brugha, who

'Little, if any, of the property belonged to people
sympathetic to the IRA so the Auxiliaries were not getting
at their real enemies'

was only an infant when her father died. It was impossible
not to admire her objectivity and lack of bitterness that
will be known already to those who have read her delightful
memoir History's Daughter, published last month. A great

She made the point that her father, unlike MacCurtain, was
not in the IRA. It was interesting to be reminded by her
that those responsible for the funeral mass in London
dishonoured their undertaking to the Bishop of Southwark
not to turn it into a political demonstration.

What was not clear from the programme was the specific
issue on which MacSwiney went on hunger strike or how it
came about that he was alone among republican prisoners.
The reaction of the church authorities to an action at
variance with church teaching would also have been worth

The programme must be faulted for a lack of balance in
pinpointing atrocities committed by the Crown forces while
glossing over heinous actions on the part of the IRA. The
conduct of the Crown forces in Ireland in 1920 and 1921 was
inexcusable and, incidentally, damaged nobody more than
moderates who wanted good relations with England.

But this inexcusable conduct has to be placed in the
context of the campaign of assassination of defenceless
Irish policemen and other horrible acts that preceded it
and was ongoing.

Relatively fair fights, such as the ambush of armed
Auxiliaries at Kilmichael, were not the whole story of the
war waged by the IRA.

The justified indictment of the behaviour of the Crown
forces in this period is made less credible when it becomes
apparent that the more discreditable acts on the other side
have been edited out.

What was most difficult to understand is why the Crown
forces, or more specifically the Auxiliary cadets, should
have burned the middle of Cork.

Little, if any, of the property belonged to people
sympathetic to the IRA so the Auxiliaries were not getting
at their real enemies.

In the long run the Government was going to have to pay for
the damage.

Assassination of IRA suspects made some sense in military
terms; the burning of the middle of Cork made none. What
needed to be explored further was the command structure of
the Crown forces in Ireland and in the Government
responsible for them that allowed such a counter-productive
episode to occur.

The programme ended on an inaccurate triumphalist note when
it claimed that the episodes portrayed led to the
establishment of an Irish republic.

This was simply not so. After all the fighting, nationalist
Ireland had to settle for a 26-county state within the
empire. While a republic was eventually achieved, it was
not the all-Ireland republic proclaimed in 1916 and
reasserted by the Sinn Fein government after 1919.

Doubtless, it was a military achievement then, as more
recently in Northern Ireland, for the IRA not to be
defeated by the Crown forces.

But it is self-delusion to present such an outcome as a
victory, when it led to a conclusion well short of the
original war aim and little, if anything, in advance of
what could have been achieved without war.

Charles Lysaght


Extraordinary Funeral For A Footballing Legend

Football legend George Best today made his final journey
though the streets of his home city in an extraordinary
funeral for an extraordinary man.

By:Press Association

The Manchester United and Northern Ireland icon`s
remarkable life, which took him from Belfast`s working
class Cregagh estate to the theatre of dreams, Old
Trafford, was celebrated by about 300 family and friends in
an emotional ceremony at Stormont`s Parliament Buildings.

But it was also shared publicly by 32,000 people who packed
into the Stormont estate and thousands of others who lined
the streets of Belfast to pay their last respects.

Fans from all corners of the United Kingdom, Ireland,
Europe and around the world paid their own tribute to the
football genius, applauding the funeral cortege one more
time as the coffin made its way from the Stormont estate to
Roselawn Cemetery for a private family ceremony.

A piper played Amazing Grace while admirers threw scarves
and flowers at the cortege as it left the Stormont estate.

Undoubtedly the most touching tribute at Stormont came in
the form of a poem read by George Best`s 24-year-old son
Calum during the funeral ceremony.

Written by Belfast woman Julie McClelland, the poem read by
a tearful Calum said: "Farewell our friend, but not
goodbye, Your time has come, your soul must fly. To dance
with angels, find the sun, But how we`ll miss our special

There were also emotional tributes from George Best`s
sister Barbara McNarry, his friend and Manchester United
teammate Denis Law, and the medical staff who treated him
in London`s Cromwell Hospital as he fought his final

Among the mourners were Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain, Irish Sports Minister John O`Donoghue and many
Northern Ireland politicians including Sinn Fein`s Martin
McGuinness, Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter
Robinson and his wife Iris and the Progressive Unionist
leader, David Ervine.

From the world of sport, Manchester United manager Sir Alex
Ferguson, England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, boxers Barry
McGuigan and Dave McAuley and former world snooker
champions, Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor attended.

Former Northern Ireland team-mates Gerry Armstrong, Derek
Dougan, Pat Jennings, former Celtic boss Martin O`Neill,
Billy Hamilton, Alan McDonald, current international squad
manager Lawrie Sanchez and Best`s former manager Billy
Bingham were among the mourners.

Best`s Manchester United team-mates Harry Gregg and Paddy
Crerand smiled as Denis Law recalled their close friendship
during his contribution to the funeral.

From the world of entertainment, another famous east
Belfast son Van Morrison and Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke
sent floral tributes.

The Duke of York also sent white roses, bearing the
tribute: "An inspirational footballer from Northern Ireland
whose skills captured the imagination of fans from around
the world."

However as he embarked on his last journey through Belfast
to Roselawn Cemetery where he will be buried alongside his
mother Ann, the focus of the ceremony switched to the Best
family circle.

Calum`s mother, and George`s first wife, Angie, touched the
coffin as it left the marble Great Hall of Parliament

His second wife, Alex also paid her last respects.


From The Chalkface To Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes may have made him a household name, but
Frank McCourt was already known to thousands of New Yorkers
– as their teacher. Here, he talks about his time at school
… and the years since

By Barry Didcock

TO most of us, Frank McCourt is the author of Angela's
Ashes, a memoir about an Irish-American childhood scarred
by (in no particular order) poverty, death, alcoholism and
rain. He's also a Pulitzer Prize winner and the man who set
in motion the gold rush that saw publishers throw book
deals at anyone with a painful upbringing. Without McCourt
there would be no Dave Pelzer, no Augusten Burroughs.

But before his elevation to the bestseller list at the age
of 66, McCourt had another profession entirely. For 30
years he taught English at some of New York's toughest
schools, starting at McKee Vocational and Technical High
School on Staten Island and winding up at Stuyvesant High
School on the Lower West Side. To the 12,000 students who
passed through his classrooms over the years, he isn't
Frank the author, he's Mr McCourt, teacher man.

"I became a storyteller in the classroom," he says as he
sits down, a sprightly figure despite his 75 years. Indeed,
many of the tales that form Angela's Ashes and its sequel,
'Tis, were first aired for the benefit of McCourt's pupils
as he sought to turn their habitually glazed facial
expressions into something a little more animated.

Making that leap from disconnection to engagement was
McCourt's daily mission and his failures and successes are
detailed in Teacher Man, his third volume of memoirs. The
book is about his inner life, the turmoil of his marriages,
his casual infidelities and the literary and academic
aspirations he harboured as he slogged away at the
chalkface. But in the main it's about what it means to
teach and about the gulf between the Socratic quest for
knowledge and the rigours of a curriculum becoming ever
more results-based.

We're chatting in the Thames Room of the Savoy. It was here
that McCourt finished writing Teacher Man in May, towards
the end of a three-month stint as writer-in-residence . "I
got an e-mail from my editor," he says in an accent which
is still pure Limerick. "She said she had the most
intriguing proposal – writer-in-residence at the Savoy
Hotel in London, would I consider it?" He raises an eyebrow
as if to say, "Silly question". "I leapt at it."

It is, indeed, the most luxurious of playgrounds and he
seems pleased to be back here. All the waiters seem to
remember him, and when they stop to fill our water glasses
he always has a "Hi, how ya doin'?" for them.

Sadly this visit is shorter than his last but there are
compensating factors . He and his wife, Ellen, are staying
in the suite which for 10 years was home to another
Limerick man, actor Richard Harris, an Irish hellraiser of
the old school and a kindred spirit, perhaps, to McCourt's
alcoholic father, Malachy. Like father like son? No, says
McCourt. He was never much of a boozer and he now has a
gluten intolerance which means he can't drink Guinness at
all. "I drank, yes, but I didn't have the capacity, I
suffered too much," he says. "I couldn't be an alcoholic,
I'm not strong enough."

But there was another good reason to stay off the black
stuff . "You go into a classroom with a hangover and the
kids'll be at you. 'Yo, Mr McCourt, you don't look too good
…' " Looking back, McCourt recalls his days in the
classroom with the nostalgia of a soldier remembering a
battle. "The attrition rate for new teachers in New York is
50%. Half of them are gone within five years, they can't
take it any more. So you have to play different roles.
You're drill sergeant, philosopher, rabbi, mother, father,
uncle to all of these kids. And at the same time you're
trying to teach what they call a subject."

When he started out as a teacher, he thought things would
get better. Instead, they got worse. The left-leaning
teaching unions were broken by McCarthyism and never
recovered. Today, he says, you only see teachers on
television in America when a politician wants a classroom
photo-op, and even then they're brushed to one side. " I
think that's the great weakness of education," he says.
"The teachers don't control their profession; the
politicians do."

Another thorny issue that has raised its head in US
education is creationism. Televangelist Pat Robertson
recently castigated the city of Dover, Pennsylvania, for
voting creationists off its education board. "This is the
kind of thing that's going on in this day and age," he
spits. "But if I was designing a curriculum I'd say, 'Bring
it in.' What are the things that separate us? Race, still;
religion, still; this thing, creationism versus Darwinism.
So bring it into the classroom, let the kids hammer it out.
Present two sides of the story. It forces the kids to
think, to listen to other people."

McCourt's own approach was often just as unconventional. On
his first day as a teacher, in March 1958, a boy called
Petey threw a baloney sandwich at him. McCourt picked it up
and ate it. It was delicious. On another occasion he found
a pile of old excuse notes in his drawer and, knowing that
most of them had been written by the pupils rather than by
their parents, had an idea.

"I said these excuse notes are examples of great American
writing. So I got them to do more and they were good at
it." Among the essays he received were excuse notes from
Adam, Judas, Eva Braun and Al Capone. Later on, he would
use cookbooks to similar effect. Visitors to his classes at
Stuyvesant High School would have found a student reciting
a recipe for tiramasu as if it were a Shakespeare sonnet,
accompanied by another on bongos or tuba. "We even had
discussions about which instrument was appropriate to which
recipe," he laughs.

The intellectual traffic wasn't all one-way. McCourt
learned from his pupils too. "The black kids introduced me
to rap. One kid introduced me to Grandmaster Flash about 20
years ago. I was fascinated. I forget the kid's name …" He
pauses for a moment, apparently unwilling to continue until
he can find it, as if doing so would demean the boy's
memory. Then it comes to him: Guy.

"So I said to him, 'There's nothing new about this. The
troubadour poets were doing this 10 centuries ago,
wandering around France singing ribald songs and drinking.'
Then I hauled out this American poet, Vachel Lindsay, whose
poetry was written to be recited like this …" He bangs
rhythmically on the table, dredging up half-remembered
lines of Lindsay's poetry. It sounds like some sort of
amphetamine-fuelled sea shanty. "And Guy was fascinated by
that ."

Born in New York in 1930 to Irish parents, McCourt moved to
Limerick as a small child and returned to New York when he
was 19. In 1970 he crossed the Atlantic again to spend two
years working on a thesis at Trinity College Dublin. By his
own admission he floundered there. When he returned in
print in Angela's Ashes, he portrayed Limerick as a place
where the weather was wicked, the nuns were worse and the
living conditions went some way beyond Dickensian. The way
McCourt tells it, his family was dealt only cruelty and
reproach by institutions like the supposedly charitable St
Vincent de Paul Society. From the priests came only

Such a picture didn't endear him to the Irish. Particularly
incensed were the citizens of Limerick who, by the late
1990s, had embraced the idea of Ireland as the Celtic Tiger
and wanted only modernity, change and growth. Tales of
typhoid, rats and outside lavatories were not welcome .
With that in mind I ask McCourt about his relationship with
the country now. He chews on the question for a few

"It's easier than it ever was," he says, finally. " I go on
my own terms. When I went before it was like a sort of re-
entry and it didn't work. I always felt more at home in New
York. I never fitted in with the Irish." But even in New
York, his ethnicity troubled him. In his eyes, the Irish-
American identity of St Patrick's Day parades and green
Guinness was not to be celebrated .

"I didn't like the ethos – the drink, the bullshit, the
latent Catholicism. When I wrote Angela's Ashes, people in
bars would attack me verbally because of what I said about
the Catholic Church. I was always more at home with the
Jews – and Jewish females especially – than I ever was with
the Irish. I was more of a non-Irish New Yorker in that

And yet, he has retained his accent. "I don't know why I
kept it," he says. "Friends who grew up in the same
circumstances lost theirs . I tried to, because there are
times you don't want people to say, 'Oh, you're Irish.' But
it didn't work. It's embedded in my gullet. Is it a kind of
stubbornness?" he muses.

Talk of Ireland leads to talk of religion. McCourt never
will be reconciled to the faith he was born into and which
received broadside after broadside from him in Angela's
Ashes. "I don't believe in it," he says. "I'm fascinated by
faith, it's a great comfort when you find it but it leads
you to suicide bombing. " The one thing the Catholic Church
did give him was a sense of mystery.

He once met the last Pope, in the company of his wife, an
Israeli friend and the former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Jim
Rogers, "a hard nut Protestant". McCourt turns raconteur .
It was a Monday morning at the Vatican. The Pope had to be
wheeled in, recalls McCourt. "He could barely lift his arm
to give the blessing, there was a great rope of saliva
dangling from his mouth. They put him on this mini-throne
and everyone lined up to meet him – Muslims, Protestants,
atheists, all kinds. Then they beckoned to us. 'Well
Jimmy,' I said, 'How's this going to look at home when they
see you with the Pope?' He said, 'Ach, my term ends in two

McCourt, the lapsed Catholic, shuffled forward, aware this
was a once-in- a-lifetime experience, but knowing too that
to make obeisance would be an act of hypocrisy. So what did
he do?

"I kissed his ring," he says. "I don't know why I did it.
The little Catholic boy inside of me told me what to do.
But I felt exalted. I walked on air for a while. Was it a
breakthrough or was it a relapse? I don't know. But I did

Today, Frank McCourt seems happy, as well he might. He made
his name out of misery but it brought him the writer's life
he had craved, and acclaim and wealth into the bargain. He
waited, served his time as a teacher, and was rewarded for
it. "The rich stuff comes later on," he says. "Look at me,
I'm the icon of what I call the social security set."

Now he can tell stories about his former neighbour in
Connecticut, the late Arthur Miller, and talk like an
insider rather than an onlooker. But even at 75, he's
looking forward. He's finished with memoirs now and wants
his next book to be a novel.

"I have to find some mode of free expression," says the man
who taught creative writing to Hip Hop Guy and Baloney
Pete. "I want to fly, baby."

Teacher Man (4th Estate, £18.99) is out now

04 December 2005

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