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December 17, 2005

Ahern's DC Visits AttractsCritical Eye

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 12/17/05 Ahern's Capital Visit Attracts Critical Eye
TO 12/17/05 Spy Operated At Heart Of SF For 20 Years
BT 12/17/05 Strange Twist: Bertie Ahern Remains Sceptical
II 12/17/05 Unionist Shock At Twist To Entire Scandal
BT 12/17/05 DUP Pressure On Blair And Hain For Answers
BT 12/17/05 SDLP Tells Of Cover-Up Fears On Spy Affair
BT 12/17/05 Silence As Cards Fill Letterbox At No 16
EX 12/17/05 Spy Faces Life On The Run After Being Unmasked
BT 12/17/05 'Touts' Turned On IRA
II 12/17/05 Cloak And Dagger Drama
BT 12/17/05 A Key Component In The Sinn Fein Machine
II 12/17/05 Damage To Party May Be Beyond SF's Reach
BT 12/17/05 A Shiner For The Shinners
BT 12/17/05 Stormont Still Since Day Of Dramatic PSNI Raid
BT 12/17/05 Time For The Truth
NH 12/17/05 Family Want Truth Over ‘71 Brit Army Murders
II 12/17/05 White House Role In Making SF/IRA End Their War
GU 12/17/05 Harkin Meets Adams For Lunch
HH 12/17/05 PSNI Crime Stats Lack Credibility
BT 12/17/05 DUP Man's Anger At Multi-Faith Calendar
BT 12/17/05 Black Santa Hits Out At Direct Rule 'Dictators'
BT 12/17/05 £188,000 Grant For Women's Centre
BT 12/17/05 Internet Book Swaps Thriving


Ahern's Capital Visit Attracts Critical Eye

By Ray O'Hanlon

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has flown the Atlantic
seven times this year and U.S. immigration reform has been
one of his most consistent reasons for doing so.

Not surprisingly, this is now attracting some U.S. press

Ahern was in Washington. D.C. last week where, among other
things, he discussed the prospects for reform with Senator
Edward Kennedy, co-sponsor of a bill that has been loudly
supported by both houses of the Irish parliament.

Meanwhile, a new lobby group intended to secure reform on
behalf of thousands of is set to start work. The Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform will outline its intent and
ambition at a public meeting Friday in a Manhattan hotel.

The meeting between Ahern and Kennedy focused on the
McCain/Kennedy reform bill, one of a bundle of proposals
now before Congress.

The bill includes a possible path to legalization for
millions of undocumented and an estimated 25,000 to 50,000

"Americans deserve better than the broken immigration
system that we have in this country. But so far all we've
heard from President Bush is talk and no action," Kennedy
said at the meeting with Ahern.

"It's time for a new and comprehensive strategy, like the
plan that Senator McCain and I propose to secure our
borders, strengthen our economy, and respect our history as
a nation of immigrants," Kennedy said.

"It is time to show that America can be both a nation of
immigrants and a nation of laws," Kennedy added.

In a story headlined "Ireland backs U.S. legalizing illegal
aliens," the conservative-leaning Washington Times reported
that the Irish government wanted the U.S. to "legalize
Irish illegal aliens in the United States."

The paper covered the Ahern/Kennedy and reported Ahern's
sentiments in support of McCain/Kennedy.

"We do support it completely and on an all-party basis, and
I want to tease out with him [Kennedy] how he sees this
matter progressing, particularly given the recent
developments, not least the speech by President Bush,"
Ahern was reported as saying.

The paper also reported Steven Camarota, research director
at the Center for Immigration Studies as stating that
illegal Irish immigration was very small.

"And government estimates shows that it's trivial, well
less than a hundredth of a percent, and the estimate shows
it's falling," Camarota told the paper.

He added that it didn't make sense that Ireland would take
a position in the immigration reform debate.

A spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, co-sponsor of the main
rival bill to McCain/Kennedy in the Senate, said that the
Irish endorsement of McCain/Kennedy would not affect a
debate that could spring to life any time after the Senate
Judiciary Committee deals with the Judge Alito Supreme
Court nomination.

A hearing on that is set for Jan. 9.

"We are a lot more concerned about what the people in Texas
have to say, frankly," the Cornyn spokesman said.

The Times report noted that "even as Ireland pushes for
looser U.S. immigration laws, it has been doing the
opposite at home, passing laws aimed at combating illegal
immigration, increasing the number of deportations and
ending birthright citizenship for anyone born on its soil."

Meanwhile, the ILIR inaugural meeting is set for Friday,
Dec. 9, at the Clinton Room in the Affinia Hotel, 31st. St.
and Sixth Ave. at 7.30 p.m. The main speakers will be
former congressman Bruce Morrison and Esther Olivarria,
Sen. Kennedy's General Counsel on Immigration.

This story appeared in the issue of December 14 - 20, 2005

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British Spy Operated At Heart Of Sinn Fein For More Than 20 Years

By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

THE closed and secretive world of Irish republicanism was
thrown into turmoil last night after one of Gerry Adams's
most trusted lieutenants admitted that he had been a
British agent for 20 years.

Denis Donaldson, who was acquitted last week of charges of
leading an IRA spy ring in the "Stormontgate" affair that
ended Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive three
years ago, was a member of Belfast's republican elite,
whose credentials in the fight to end British rule in
Ireland would, until now, have been regarded as

But after he was "outed" yesterday and thrown out of Sinn
Fein by Mr Adams, who shared a cell block with him during
the 1970s when Mr Donaldson, 55, was welcomed into the
inner sanctum of "Young Turks" who took control of the
republican movement, the question raised in West Belfast
was: "If Denis, then who else?" Mr Donaldson's
extraordinary confession came a week after he and two other
men, including his son-in-law, were sensationally acquitted
of charges of possession of sensitive security documents,
which resulted in the forced rehousing of 2,000 people at a
cost of £300 million.

In one remarkable — and, for Mr Donaldson, extremely lucky
— respect, his expulsion from Sinn Fein, the political wing
of the Provisional IRA, also marks a significant departure
from the traditional fate of a republican charged by his or
her own comrades of "working for the Brits".

It is not unreasonable to suggest that only six months ago,
prior to the IRA's statement that it was ending its armed
campaign to end British rule in the north of Ireland, Mr
Donaldson would have suffered the fate of scores of earlier
"volunteers" condemned to death for spying and been shot
through the back of the head, his hooded body left on a

At a press conference in Dublin, Mr Adams said that Mr
Donaldson had admitted to being a paid British agent for
the past 20 years. Last night Mr Donaldson said that he
deeply regretted his activities, adding: "I was recruited
in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable
time in my life. Since then I have worked for British
intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch."

According to Mr Adams, Mr Donaldson had approached Declan
Kerney, the party's Northern chairman, after being warned
by police that he was going to be exposed and that his life
was in danger. At a subsequent meeting with Mr Kerney and
Leo Green, another Sinn Fein official, he admitted to being
a British agent and was expelled from the party.

Asked if he suspected that there had been an informer, Mr
Adams said: "I was very, very suspicious and some of us
were very suspicious when the events of 2002 unfolded, when
we saw this hugely orchestrated operation at Stormont,
because we knew there was no Sinn Fein spy ring at

Only a week ago Mr Adams appeared shoulder to shoulder with
Mr Donaldson outside Stormont after the spying charges were
dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions "in the
public interest". The case was heard at an unlisted hearing
at Belfast Crown Court as the Queen and Prince Philip made
a visit to the city, prompting charges that the timing was
not coincidental. Unionists have demanded that the "public
interest" in dropping the charges be explained.

It is likely that yesterday's developments may go some way
to explaining what seemed, even by Northern Ireland's
standards, a murky decision.

Mr Adams sought to divert attention from the news that his
movement was penetrated at the highest level by blaming
"securocrats" and the British Government for "political
policing" that damaged the institutions of the Good Friday
Agreement. "The fact is that the collapse of the political
institutions was a direct result of the actions of some of
those who run the intelligence and policing system of the
British," he said. "The fact is that the key person at the
centre of those events was a Sinn Fein member who was a
British agent. This is entirely the responsibility of the
British Government.

"If Britain's war is over then the British Prime Minister
needs to come to terms with the fact that he has to end the
activities of the securocrats."

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said:
"Police do not confirm or deny whether an individual is or
was an informant."

Unionists were astonished by the expulsion. The Democratic
Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "This has certainly
given an added twist to the entire Stormontgate scandal and
confirms our view that the reasons the court decided not to
prosecute was because to do so would have compromised an
agent of the state and sensitive security documents. It
raises the question that the decision not to proceed was
politically motivated."

William Mackessy, one of the three men cleared of the
spying charges, once worked as a security guard in the
offices of Sir Reg Empey, then a minister in the
powersharing executive at Stormont. Sir Reg, now leader of
the Ulster Unionist Party, said that he would be seeking an
urgent meeting with government officials.

Sir Alasdair Fraser, Northern Ireland's Director of Public
Prosecutions, declined to comment. But Sir Reg said: "If
this was the person who was being protected by the DPP,
then there is no reason why these prosecutions cannot
proceed. It actually debunks the claims by Sinn Fein there
was no spy ring operating inside Stormont, when in fact
there was."


Strange Twist: Bertie Ahern Remains Sceptical

Ahern says Donaldson allegations are bizarre

By Ed Carty
17 December 2005

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern last night described the reports
that a senior Sinn Fein figure was a British agent as being
bizarre as it gets.

Following the expulsion of top republican Denis Donaldson
from the party's ranks, Mr Ahern said it would take a
strange twist of imagination to accept that such a key
player had been spying for the British Government.

"Mr Donaldson, who would be known to the Irish Government,
effectively was one of the heads of the Sinn Fein
administrators in Stormont.

"If what we are hearing now, that one of Sinn Fein's top
administrators in Stormont turns out to be a British spy,
this is as bizarre as it gets," Mr Ahern said.

"We have always had our doubts about Stormontgate but I
would just like to hear all sides of it before I can pass a
judgment on it, and I am not in a position to do that now,"
Mr Ahern told RTE Television.

He said he had already raised the spy ring controversy with
Prime Minister Tony Blair last week.

"Stormontgate never made much sense to me, the dropping of
the charges made less," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Ahern was speaking in Brussels where he is attending
crunch talks on the future of the European Union budget.

"This is just a bizarre twist, if what we are being asked
to believe that the senior Sinn Fein administrator in
Stormont turns out to be an agent of the British Security
service, that takes some twist of even my imagination," he

"On Stormontgate, it was a huge issue, it brought down the
executive, it wasn't maybe the only thing but it was a huge
part of it. I would just like to hear what everybody says
during the evening."

Mr Ahern added that Sinn Fein had contacted his office in
Dublin and that he would make a further statement on the
matter after weighing up all the information.

Last week Mr Ahern had expressed bafflement over the
collapse of the case. Speaking after talks with Tony Blair
in Downing Street he said: "This brought down the
institutions and created huge grief for me and for the
Prime Minister. We had hundreds of troops descending on the
Stormont building for what we were told at the time was
irrefutable evidence. It vanished yesterday with no
prosecutions. It was a lot of grief for no prosecutions. I
think it is all very interesting and I don't quite


Unionist Shock At Latest 'Twist To Entire Scandal'

UNIONISTS said last night they were astonished by the Sinn
Fein man's expulsion.

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "This has
certainly given an added twist to the entire Stormontgate
scandal, and confirms our view that the reasons the court
decided not to prosecute was because to do so would have
compromised an agent of the State and sensitive security

"It also raises the question that the decision not to
proceed was politically motivated."

William Mackessy (47), one of the three men cleared of the
spying charges, once worked as a security man at the
offices of Sir Reg Empey, then a minister in the
powersharing executive at Stormont.

Sir Reg, now leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said he
would be seeking an urgent meeting with government

Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Alasdair Fraser has
declined to comment on the affair

But Sir Reg said: "If this was the person who was being
protected by the DPP, then there is no reason why these
prosecutions cannot proceed.

"It actually debunks the claims by Sinn Fein there was no
spy ring operating inside Stormont when in fact there was,"
Sir Reg said. Suspicions

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said: "We suspected
that the public interest argument was a way of covering up
for an informer.

"We don't know whether Denis Donaldson was that particular

"There is the distinct possibility, like so many cases in
the past, that he is being used as a scapegoat to cover
someone else," he said.

"There is now deep scepticism about what goes on in
elements of the British Government and the Provisional

"The British Government cannot retain credibility and
continue to duck behind smokescreens called public

In recent days, both unionists and nationalists at
Westminster have pressed the Prime Minister, the Attorney
General Lord Goldsmith and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain for a Parliamentary statement explaining why the
Public Prosecution Service withdrew the court case
involving Mr Donaldson.

The calls grew even louder in the wake of yesterday's
dramatic revelations in Belfast.


DUP Keeps The Pressure On Blair And Hain For Answers

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
17 December 2005

NEWS of Denis Donaldson's expulsion from Sinn Fein came as
pressure was intensifying on Ministers over the cost of the
'Stormontgate' controversy.

The Northern Ireland Office had just been urged to disclose
whether the Irish Government - where Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said the case had caused "a lot of grief" for nothing - had
been consulted.

Shortly before yesterday's twist in the Stormontgate saga,
the DUP had bombarded the Government with a new series of
questions over the alleged Stormont spy-ring scandal. The
party said last night that the formal written queries
remained relevant.

The questions were put to Prime Minister Tony Blair,
Secretary of State Peter Hain and Solicitor General Mike
O'Brien after the charges against three men were dropped
"in the public interest".

Mr Blair, who has indicated he will examine whether further
information can be made public, was asked when he was
consulted over the decision and "what representations he
received prior to the cessation of the case".

Mr Hain, who earlier this week said it was time to draw a
line under the issue, has been asked to divulge full legal
costs of the case and, the costs of the case to the police
- estimated at £30m.

He has also been urged to divulge who he consulted with and
who consulted with him before the case was discontinued and
how many cases in Northern Ireland have been stopped
"because its continuation would not have been in the public

DUP MP Nigel Dodds also questioned the Solicitor General on
behalf of the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith about what
constitutes the public interest, what criteria are used to
determine the public interest and how many times the public
interest has been used to halt cases in England and Wales.
Ministers have also been asked to reveal the extent of
discussions between the Attorney General, the Director of
Public Prosecutions and senior prosecution counsel about
the case.

Mr Dodds said: "It is insufficient for the Government to
continue to evade giving us adequate answers into why a
legal case into the gathering of intelligence at the heart
of Northern Ireland's Government has discontinued in
secretive circumstances with no real prospect of charges
being brought against anyone else.

"We are not prepared to let this matter lie and will leave
no stone unturned in unearthing the truth." Hundreds of
thousands of pounds were spent in re-housing or securing
the homes of people allegedly being spied upon by the
Provisional IRA.


SDLP Tells Of Cover-Up Fears On Spy Affair

17 December 2005

THE SDLP said last night that even prior to yesterday's
sensational twist in the Stormontgate affair, it had
thought an informer was being protected.

The nationalist party's deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell
said: "We suspected that the public interest argument was a
way of covering up for an informer.

"We don't know whether Denis Donaldson was that particular

The South Belfast MP added: "There is the distinct
possibility, like so many cases in the past, that he is
being used as a scapegoat to cover someone else.

"There is now deep scepticism about what goes on in
elements of the British Government and the Provisional

"The British Government cannot retain credibility and
continue to duck behind smokescreens called public

He added: ``We can now understand why Gerry Adams was so
eager to move on from this affair last week, but
fortunately the media and others didn't let him and
continued to ask questions.

``It is time for Sinn Fein to stop trying to cover up for
the past and for themselves, as they are doing with the on-
the-run deal. Now that the truth is coming out we hope they
will also face up to the truth of the Stakeknife affair and
admit who knew what and when.

``There is now deep scepticism about what goes on in
elements of the British Government and the provisional
leadership. The British Government cannot retain
credibility and continue to duck behind smokescreens called
public interest."


Brooding Silence As Unopened Cards Fill Letterbox At No 16

By Linda McKee
17 December 2005

NEIGHBOURS of Denis Donaldson were arriving home with their
Christmas shopping as the TV cameras descended on Aitnamona
Crescent, seeking Donaldson's reaction to his shock
expulsion from Sinn Fein.

Seasonal lights glimmered in windows all along the peaceful
residential west Belfast street yesterday evening, but
number 16 lay dark and silent.

With Donaldson facing a future away from Belfast after
admitting being a British spy for 20 years, the blinds were
drawn at his deserted house in a quiet street off the
Monagh Bypass.

Last night, the mailbox at the side of the terraced house
was stuffed with unopened Christmas cards.

Although a silver Volkswagen Golf car and trailer waited in
the paved area outside the front door of the home of Sinn
Fein's former head of administration at Stormont,
neighbours said there had been little sign of life for the
past few days.

Some were reluctant to comment at all on the neighbour who
had been at the centre of the Stormontgate crisis - the
political controversy that brought down the Northern
Ireland Assembly.

One described him as being a quiet older man who wore

Another, referring to Donaldson and his wife Alice, said:
"They kept themselves to themselves.

"I haven't seen them for a week or so."

Other locals were at keen to stress that outsiders were not
welcome in their street, which lies in the republican

One neighbour was terse, saying: "I keep myself to myself
and he keeps himself to himself."

A former close associate commented: "I presume now he will
have to blow - how could you look people in the eye after

"It is his wife Alice and his daughter I feel sorry for."

As the first evening newscasts came, curious residents at
Aitnamona were gathering at their doors to watch the
unfolding drama outside as the flashes went off and the TV
cameras began to roll.


Spy Faces Life On The Run After Being Unmasked

By Ian Graham

A LIFE on the run, hiding from angry republicans, faced
Denis Donaldson last night.

The blinds on the windows of the former Sinn Féin member's
home were tight shut.

The terraced house at Aitnamona Crescent, west Belfast, was
deserted as Donaldson pondered a future well away from
Belfast after being branded a British spy by Gerry Adams.

There was no sign of Donaldson. A neighbour remained tight-
lipped about him, saying: "I keep myself to myself and he
keeps himself to himself."

Another made it quite clear outsiders were not welcome in
the street, which lies in the republican heartland.

A former close associate said: "I presume now he will have
to blow how could you look people in the eye after this? It
is his wife Alice and his daughter I feel sorry for."

The IRA may have laid down its weapons, but remaining at
home is hardly the option for a man wanting to stay out of
harm's way.

"Is this a death sentence for Mr Donaldson?" asked
Democratic Unionist Party security spokesman Ian Paisley

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are serious repercussions
as a result of this revelation and maybe this is the
opening of the can of worms that is Stormontgate," he said.

Donaldson, 55, was the Sinn Féin head of administration at
the Northern

Ireland Assembly at Stormont when he was arrested in 2002
and charged with having documents likely to be of use to

His arrest, along with that of his son-in-law and a civil
servant, became known as Stormontgate a republican spy ring
at the heart of government.

It caused the collapse of the devolved power-sharing
administration and suspension of the Assembly.

More than three years on, there is little sign of the
British and Irish governments making progress in reviving

The latest turn of events indicates that far from being a
republican spying on the government, he was a British agent
working at the heart of Sinn Féin.

The announcement from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sent
shockwaves through the republican movement. But it was not
for the first time. Down through the years, republicans
have been unmasked as agents.

Many were killed with IRA bullets. The last survived.
Freddie Scappaticci, deputy head of the IRA's internal
security unit, was unmasked as a British agent accused of
being Stakeknife in 2003. He skipped out of Northern
Ireland just in time.

If possible, Donaldson's double life is even more of a
shock. He was a key aide to Gerry Adams and the Sinn Féin

He was the linchpin of their political operation, privy to
secrets and plans, and it was he who ensured the smooth
running of the party's Stormont machine.

He was well known to the other political parties a regular
visitor to their offices as he discussed the business of
the house with them.

Donaldson was arrested after police raided Sinn Féin's
offices at Stormont as part of an investigation into
republican intelligence- gathering in October 2002.

Two days later, he appeared in court on five charges, and
exactly 10 days after the raid, devolution collapsed.

During a High Court bail application, it was claimed
Donaldson had risked his life to help free Beirut hostage
Brian Keenan.

Mr Keenan held hostage in the Lebanon between 1986 and 1990
sent a letter of reference to the court. It said Donaldson
had talks with an advisor to the Hezbollah group holding

"For the whole period of my incarceration, only two human
beings put their lives at risk on my behalf one was Terry
Waite and the other was Denis Donaldson," Mr Keenan said.

Last week, a surprise court hearing was told the Director
of Public Prosecutions was not proceeding with the case
against any of the three men involved in Stormontgate.

No reason was given. Donaldson's lawyers said it was
because they had been seeking documents from the Crown
relating to claims that the security services had a spying

This operation, it was claimed, had secretly copied files
stolen by the IRA from the British government's main
offices at Stormont.

The lawyers were alerted by a journalist who said that
Operation Torison was part of a major British intelligence
gathering exercise involving a mole high up within the
republican movement.

Special Branch and MI5 had traced documents which went
missing from government offices at Castle Buildings,
Stormont, copied them at police headquarters and then
returned them to where they had been hidden by the IRA, it
was alleged. The operation ended when Donaldson and his co-
accused were arrested and charged, it was claimed.

The day after the charges were dropped, Donaldson sat in a
press conference back at Stormont flanked by Gerry Adams
and Martin McGuinness.

He insisted the spy-ring charges he had faced were
"politically inspired."

And he said: "There was no spy ring at Stormont. There
never was."

Now it seems there was spying at Stormont but not in the
way people thought.


'Touts' Turned On IRA

By Alan Erwin
17 December 2005

DENIS Donaldson was last night the new name on the IRA's
so-called rogues' gallery of alleged touts.

The republican movement has been plagued by agents working
for the British security services while also being card-
carrying members of Sinn Fein.

Normally informants are interrogated, hooded and shot.

There have been scores over the years, although some of
them have lived to tell the tale - but well out of sight.

They have been banished from their communities, and even
though the IRA's campaign of terror has officially ended,
none of them will ever dare return home.

Mr Donaldson had last night disappeared from his Belfast

Here are some of those who have been found out by the


THE former IRA man was battered to death in his home town
of Newry, Co Down in January 1999. He had renounced
violence, turned informer and wrote an explosive book,
Killing Rage, that revealed the organisation's violence.


SAID to be a former senior member of the IRA's internal
security unit, Scappaticci was alleged to be the highest
ranking British agent working inside the Provos.

Codenamed Stakeknife, he quit his west Belfast home
following newspaper allegations in May 2003. The agent is
believed to have spent decades at the heart of the
republican movement while working for the military's
shadowy force research unit.

Scappaticci, a burly man in his late 50s, gave a brief
Press conference after the allegations were made to deny
the claims. But since then he has vanished from public


THE IRA murdered all three and dumped their bodies by
roadsides in south Armagh in July 1992.

It was claimed the men were police and MI5 informers who
had been tried and executed by the organisation.

Their bodies were found in ditches, naked and hooded. They
had been beaten and each shot once through the back of the


TWENTY years ago the west Belfast man, who was one of the
IRA's top men at the time, turned Special Branch informant.

Police believed his evidence would be enough to bring down
the Provisionals.

Lean revealed dozens of names before he was moved into
Palace Barracks near Belfast. But his conscience got the
better of him and he escaped, returned home and confessed
to his former associates. They immediately ordered him to
leave the city. Lean has never been heard or seen since.


Cloak And Dagger Drama

THERE was a touch of stage management about the way
yesterday's sensational revelations about the spy in the
Sinn Fein camp unfolded. If indeed there was a touch of the
John Le Carre about it all, it's not hard to see who
benefits from the cloak and dagger drama.

Sinn Fein were taking all the bows yesterday.

Nevertheless, some of the efforts on both sides of the
camp, republican and unionist, to make political capital
out of bizarre affair are almost comical.

Sinn Fein can make political capital out of the allegation
that Denis Donaldson, the party's former head of
administration, was actually a British agent. Donaldson, of
course, was one of three men cleared of spying charges
eight days ago. So Sinn Fein can argue, with credibility,
that the collapse of the power sharing government in the
wake of unionist allegations of a republican spy ring
operating in Stormont was engineered by Special Branch
agents, presumably with the blessing of mysterious men in

Did the British government know what was going on? Did the
PSNI, when its officers raided Stormont?

What London could have gained from this extraordinary
exercise is anybody's guess - no credit, that's for sure.
The raid put a halt to all progress on devolution, the very
opposite, we assume, of Britain's political ambition.

Gerry Adams yesterday reclaimed a spot of high moral
ground. And how wonderful it must to vent all that
indignation about political policing. It far outweighs
being made to look pretty stupid for having embraced an
agent of the crown as one's head of administration.

On the other hand, Jeffrey Donaldson (no relation, we
sincerely hope) of the DUP could find some justification
for the unionist line in the revelations. If the other
Donaldson was a spy, he argued with weird logic, then the
unionists were right all along. If one of the three men
acquitted eight days ago was a spy then there was a spy
operating in Stormont. We told you so.

Exercising its usual sublime public relations skills, Sinn
Fein has once again placed everyone else at a disadvantage.
It's one of the oldest PR techniques in the book - and one
employed many times in the past by Sinn Fein when they
paraded pathetic "informers" at press conferences.

Make everyone else react to your version of events. Get
your story out there first.Mystery of the moving crib


A Key Component In The Sinn Fein Machine

17 December 2005

DENIS Donaldson was a key aide to Gerry Adams and the Sinn
Fein machine.

He was the linch-pin of their political operation, privy to
secrets and plans, and it was he who ensured the smooth
running of the party Stormont machine.

He was well known to the other political parties - a
regular visitor to their offices as he discussed the
business of the house with them.

Donaldson was arrested after police raided Sinn Fein's
offices at Stormont as part of an investigation into
republican intelligence-gathering in October 2002.

Two days later he appeared in court on five charges, and
exactly 10 days after the raid, devolution collapsed.

During a High Court bail application it was claimed he had
risked his life to help free Beirut hostage Brian Keenan.

Mr Keenan - held hostage in the Lebanon between 1986 and
1990 - sent a letter of reference to the court.

It said Donaldson had talks with an advisor to the
Hezbollah group holding him.

Keenan said: "For the whole period of my incarceration,
only two human beings put their lives at risk on my behalf
- one was Terry Waite and the other was Denis Donaldson."


Grasping Extent Of Damage To Party May Well Be Beyond Sinn Fein's Reach

STORMONTGATE, as it became known, marked a watershed in the
long, torturous path towards the implementation of the
Belfast Agreement.

In October 2002, confidence in the fledgling power-sharing
executive, involving Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party
and the DUP was shattered after allegations of a spy ring
operating from the Stormont Parliament buildings.

The central claim was that documents seized in the Sinn
Fein offices in the parliament showed that the IRA and Sinn
Fein leadership were using Stormont as a cover for
continued intelligence gathering on individuals and other
potential targets.

Stormont was almost deserted on the morning of October 4,
2002, when a fleet of PSNI land rovers arrived. Officers
raided the Sinn Fein offices and seized hundreds of
documents and computer records.

Within days the executive was suspended and the British
government reinstated direct rule. Three members of Sinn
Fein, including Denis Donaldson, the party's head of
administration at Stormont were arrested and charged with
spying offences.


When the case against them collapsed last week it re-opened
questions about the entire police operation with Sinn Fein
claiming it vindicated their contention it was a set-up by
"securocrats" to collapse the power-sharing executive.

It certainly did that. By October 2002 the strains within
the executive over the lack of progress on IRA
decommissioning were reaching breaking point. The "spy-
ring" allegations tipped it over the edge within days.

When the Executive and the Assembly hit the rocks it
brought the political process to a standstill with
Unionists insisting that they would have no further truck
with Sinn Fein until all issues relating to the IRA were
dealt with once and for all.

What followed was described by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
earlier this week as "a lot grief" as the Irish and British
governments painstakingly tried to find a solution that
brought the parties back to power-sharing.

In 2003 the British government initially postponed new
Assembly elections but when they were held in November of
that year. Sinn Fein and the DUP emerged as the winners,
transforming the political landscape. Moreover, political
momentum gathered intensity into the Autumn of 2004 and in
December last year all parties came close to a deal, only
for it to be scuppered by the DUP when the IRA would not
agree to photographic proof of decommissioning.

This year witnessed the Northern Bank robbery, the savage
murder of Robert McCartney and then the historic decision
of the IRA to completely decommission.


The two governments were slowly beginning to lay the ground
work for a new political initiative in 2006.

Last night's sensational development with Gerry Adams
announcing that Mr Donaldson, the senior ranking party
figure who was charged, has admitted that for the past 20
years he has been a paid British spy could have profound
implications in the coming weeks.

It is, by any measure, an extraordinary development and one
that will have serious repercussions within Sinn Fein and
on the broader political landscape.

Mr Donaldson was privy to the inner workings of Sinn Fein
and this development will unsettle many within republican

For instance, if it is correct that Mr Donaldson has been a
paid agent it raises questions about whether he merely
alerted the British to a so-called "spy-ring" or whether he
had a deeper role in setting up a sting operation.

And all that, of course, assumes that Gerry Adams' version
of the events is accurate and correct.


After all, having worked closely with Mr Donaldson and
never suspecting him of being an agent, Mr Adams and other
Sinn Fein leaders may not even be able to contemplate the
extent to which their inner workings have been penetrated
and compromised.

Worse, it begs the question whether other people in senior
positions within the party have been British spies for a
long, long time.

Even after the charges were withdrawn last week a statement
from the PSNI, while acknowledging the three men were
entitled to be presumed innocent, still insisted there had
been an IRA spy ring.


A Shiner For The Shinners

Are republicans feeling twitchy as another spy is
uncovered? asks laurence white

By Laurence White
17 December 2005

NORTHERN Ireland's 'dirty war' has taken yet another
bizarre, even surreal, twist.

Denis Donaldson, the self-confessed British agent, was one
of Sinn Fein's top 'cold warriors' - this will spook

Just over a week ago, Mr Donaldson was one of three men
facing charges of spying for Sinn Fein inside Stormont

It was his arrest in October 2002 and the arrest of two
other men, one his son-in-law, the other a porter at
Stormont, which effectively brought down the power-sharing
Assembly and has left the province in political limbo for
around three years.

The charges were dropped nine days ago after the
prosecution service said it would not be in the public
interest to proceed.

Well the public is well and truly interested now.

Political opponents of Sinn Fein will be rubbing their
hands with glee as another alleged 'traitor for old
Ireland' is unmasked.

Following on from the outing of the agent code-named
Stakeknife who was the head of the IRA's security division,
a second very senior member of the republican movement has
been uncovered working for the British intelligence

Both are west Belfast men and both would have been seen as
close to the northern leadership of the movement.

That is something which is bound to unnerve even the poker-
faced Gerry Adams.

Just what will other senior republicans in places like west
Tyrone, south Armagh, Kerry or Dublin be thinking?

Adams, Martin McGuinness and their northern colleagues
carefully worked their way to the top of the republican
movement and just as carefully sidelined others who did not
share their vision of the way ahead.

What must those who favoured the bullet over the ballot box
think of the leadership now?

In the bad old days of the Troubles those caught, or even
suspected of, working for the police or Army were treated
without mercy even though most were low-level operatives
who had been turned because of some personal weakness.

But Stakeknife and Donaldson were of a different order.
They had much more influence and knowledge. Indeed now many
republicans will be asking just how much influence did they

Even more chillingly, at least to republicans, many will be
wondering if there are more agents in influential positions
in the republican movement.

Donaldson said yesterday he had been working as an agent
since the 1980s, so it is hardly stretching the imagination
to think that others have been equally busy.

This all would be fascinating enough if it was just a
simple Brits v Shinners dirty war. But it isn't.

We all have been caught up in the fall-out. We don't have
an Assembly even though we keep electing more than 100
members to it. We don't have a say in how this province is
run, even though we have more elected politicians than we

Instead we have a group of imposed Direct Rule ministers
who are railroading through water charges, huge rate rises,
sweeping education, health and political reforms without
any fear or hindrance.

We are paying double because of this dirty war - paying for
politicians who are doing nothing and (soon) paying through
the noses for water which falls in such copious from our
skies that it continually floods our homes.

And, ultimately, there is the highest price of all - we
have lost all confidence in the political process.

All of those involved in dirty wars end up being soiled and
most people don't want to share in that contamination.


The Halls Of Stormont Still Since The Day Of Dramatic PSNI Raid

By Laurence White
17 December 2005

THE enduring image of the Stormontgate affair is of grim-
faced police officers in boiler suits marching out of
Parliament Buildings after carrying out a raid on a Sinn
Fein office on October 4, 2002.

But that was only the most public phase of raids which
began at 5am that day and involved around 200 officers
searching homes of republicans in west and north Belfast.

Even in 2002, the whole PSNI investigation was said to have
stretched back more than a year before that. It was said to
have been launched after concerns over the IRA's

At the time the Assembly was riven with dissent as then
First Minister David Trimble was under severe pressure from
his party to bring down the government unless there were
cast iron assurances from Sinn Fein that all IRA activity
would cease and that arms would be decommissioned.

The then Secretary of State John Reid warned republicans
that they could not continue to "ride two horses -
democracy and violence".

The television pictures of the police raid at Stormont were
beamed around the world, although the actual operation
apparently concentrated on a single desk and resulted in
the seizure of two computer disks while an Assembly
official looked on.

But the raid had huge implications for the peace process.

At midnight on October 14 the Assembly was suspended and
later dissolved on April 28 the following year.

Since then the power-sharing experiment has been mothballed
and direct rule has been reimposed.

At the time the raids brought predictably opposing reaction
from republicans and unionists.

Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy (now MP) described them as a
"politically inspired intervention by the PSNI as part of
their wider anti-Sinn Fein and anti-Irish republican

But Ulster Unionists Jeffrey Donaldson (now with the DUP)
and David Burnside both welcomed the arrests and raid on
the Sinn Fein office at Stormont.

Mr Donaldson said: "I think it is important that police
should have access to the Sinn Fein offices at Stormont if
they believe that there is evidence there of some
misdemeanour or wrong doing or the involvement of people
who are employed in those offices in crime."

The DUP's Peter Robinson claimed the raids were "another
tangible indication" of the links between Sinn Fein and the

No-one then was guessing that the raids would uncover -
allegedly - another tangible indication of links between
Sinn Fein and British intelligence.


Time For The Truth

Call for public inquiry into who knew what

17 December 2005

THERE were growing demands for a public inquiry today into
the Stormontgate affair after the sensational expulsion of
a prominent republican from Sinn Fein - for spying for
British intelligence.

Unionists led the demands for a wide-ranging probe into the
affair after Denis Donaldson, a 55-year-old former head of
administration for Sinn Fein at Stormont, admitted working
as a paid agent for the British security services for 20

DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley said that there "must be no
attempt at further cover-up" from the Government.

The UUP said a public inquiry was now essential to explain
the bizarre events. Mr Donaldson's west Belfast home
appeared deserted this morning. Speaking from a Dublin
hotel last night, he said: "I was not involved in any
republican spy ring in Stormont. The so-called Stormontgate
affair was a scam and a fiction, it never existed - it was
created by Special Branch."

Mr Donaldson said he "deeply regretted" his activities with
British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch.

"I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result of my
activities as well as to my former comrades and especially
to my family who have become victims in all of this."

Mr Paisley said: "The silence from the Government and their
refusal to make a statement on the issue has been shaken by
the news that a top aide to Gerry Adams has been on the
payroll of British intelligence."


Family Want The Truth Over 1971 British Army Ardoyne Murders

(Áine McEntee,

The British government's Historical Enquiries Team are set
to re-examine the case files of Ardoyne men Joseph 'Jo Jo'
Parker and Barney Watts who were brutally murdered by the
British Army in 1971.

The sister of Jo Jo Parker and wife of Barney Watts has
spoken for the first time about how the British soldiers
who gunned down two of the most important men in her life
have never been brought to justice.

"I'll never see justice in my lifetime for what they did to
Jo Jo and Barney.

"No one has ever been prosecuted and I don't think anyone
ever will," said Theresa Watts.

"It was murder plain and simple. Its what happened in those
days. It was swept under the carpet."

Theresa Watts was only 26 when her life was torn apart at
the height of the Troubles.

Her husband Barney was shot dead in February 1971 by
British paratroopers in Chatham Street and less than ten
months later, on December 12 her brother Jo Jo was shot
dead in Toby's Dance Hall by the British Army.

Theresa had just finished dancing with her brother when
soldiers entered the Butler Street dance hall saying there
were 'wanted men' inside.

A row broke out and the British soldiers, according to
Theresa from the Royal Irish Fusiliers shot into the air to
disperse the crowd.

The British army units outside the dance hall thought their
men were being shot at and rushed in shooting.

It's now 34 years later and the pain of losing two of the
most important men in her life is as fresh as it ever was.

"I remember it as if were yesterday.

"I just couldn't believe it when I was told it was 34 years
ago this week that Barney was shot dead and Jo Jo."

Both murders will now be investigated by the PSNI's
Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which is due to start work
on January 28, 2006.

The British government announced earlier this year that
they were setting up a team to investigate over 2,000
deaths, which occurred throughout the Troubles.

The team will be headed up by Dave Cox and Phil James, who
previously worked with John Stevens on his investigation
into the murder of Pat Finucane.

The HET will operate chronologically starting with cases in
1968 and working towards 1998.

Tom Holland of the Ardoyne Commemoration Project said it
was time the Parker family was told the truth.

"No inquiry was ever set up to investigate the
circumstances of Jo-Jo's killing. No one was held
answerable for the tragic events that fateful night.

"In the on-going debate over whether there should be a
truth recovery process, and if it is the right time to deal
with the past and talk of amnesties for British security
force members, the Parker family's simple quest for the
truth, like hundreds of others throughout the North, needs
to be properly addressed."

December 17, 2005

This article appeared first on the web
site on December 16, 2005.


White House Role In Making Sinn Fein/IRA End Their War

'They haven't gone away, you know'. That was the cryptic
observation of a senior Sinn Fein-IRA spokesman concerning
reports of a - then very limited - surrender of IRA arms
some years ago.

And they still haven't gone away. True, the context has
greatly changed since the election of George W Bush for his
second term as President of the United States. Almost
immediately after his triumphant re-election, Bush publicly
reiterated his commitment to a 'war on terrorism'.

Very shortly after doing so he used the always decisive
influence which every Government of the US can exercise
whenever it chooses to do so over the Government and legal
institutions of Colombia, whose courts had previously
acquitted the IRA of training terrorists, while holding
them on lesser charges.

This was done in order to induce Colombia to reverse its
previous decision on the major charge and to try the Sinn
Fein-IRA operatives, as they had originally intended, on
charges of terrorism.

It seems that someone in the Colombian administration,
knowing what was coming, tipped off the Sinn Fein-IRA
representatives - then still in a sort of limbo semi-
comfort in Chile - as to the imminent danger that they were
in. They immediately escaped -no doubt with some Cuban
collusion - to Cuba where Fidel Castro, recognising them as
enemies of the United States, welcomed them cordially and
provided them with plush accommodation. Castro was willing
to put them up as long as necessary.

President Bush, on a courtesy visit to Ireland, informed
the Irish authorities of the attitude he was taking to the
IRA, which was now an illegal organisation in the eyes of
the US.

He conveyed no explicit message to the Governments of
Ireland and of the United Kingdom. He didn't have to send
any such personal message to either Government. The CIA was
talking to the senior representatives of the Gardai and the
Irish army, and giving essentially the same message to the
senior representatives of the British armed forces.

These appear to have checked with their own embassies in
Washington, which duly confirmed that the President's
message to the two Governments had to be taken seriously
because the American armed forces in Europe had received
the same message and were prepared to act on it, and
informed the senior officers in the British and Irish armed
forces of the position.

In these circumstances the IRA decided to declare that the
war is over, which as far as mainland Britain is concerned,
it actually is because an attack on Britain would be
ruinous to both the IRA and Sinn Fein.

As long as these conditions prevail, the IRA can continue
in the areas which it at present dominates in Northern
Ireland, and possibly even slightly expand these areas. The
British Government cannot be expected to do anything about
all that except to accept, as they do, the assertions of
the IRA leadership that they have abandoned all violence.

Any violence that continues is either the work of
Protestant zealots or some breakaway group linked to the
IRA. Fighting by Protestants against Catholics continues,
but the faction on the Protestant side that seems to be
winning favours peace with Catholics as well as the
British. So the sooner they win, the better.


Unifying force

James Harkin Meets Gerry Adams For Lunch At An Unlikely Location

Saturday December 17, 2005
The Guardian

The first thing you notice when having lunch with Gerry
Adams is that people are prone to stare in the most
peculiar way, as if the president of Sinn Féin were part
celebrity and part leper. We have, however, chosen to eat
at one of the restaurants in the House of Commons. Given
that many of our fellow diners are parliamentarians and
their guests, and that Adams's comrades have devoted much
of their lives to blowing them and their government to
kingdom come, they have more reason than most to be giving
us a sideways look.

It is fitting that we have chosen the Strangers' Dining
Room because it is not often that the member for West
Belfast makes it over to his Westminster office. He was
supposed to be travelling to America several weeks back to
attend a Sinn Féin fundraising dinner, but had to pull out
when the US slapped restrictions on his visa for failing to
speak positively about the new, Protestant-dominated Police
Service of Northern Ireland. Given the havoc it's playing
with his travel arrangements, I wonder if he feels inclined
to say anything nice about the PSNI, or even give it his
approval. "Of course progress has been made," he says. "But
we have a right to be policed by our peers in a transparent
and democratically accountable way."

Surely that leaves a hiatus over policing in Catholic areas
of Northern Ireland, given that the IRA has been stood down
but the PSNI has not yet been approved by Sinn Féin? Not at
all, says Adams. The devil, he thinks, is in the detail. "I
think certainly if the British government gets to the point
of doing what they are supposed to do, then republicans
would be challenged." Will that be a huge issue? "Probably
the biggest."

To talk to Adams nowadays is to be privy to the strange
dialect and theological subtleties of peace-process
politics. It is like lip-reading, like learning a new
language. Despite the scepticism of just about everyone
outside his circle, Adams continues to deny that he was
ever a member of the IRA, and that the IRA had anything to
do with the Northern Bank robbery last December. To press
him on the subject would be fruitless: Adams will not
budge. Years of interrogation by journalists - and before
that, the RUC and the British army - make it unlikely he
will tell you anything he doesn't mean you to hear.
Sláinte, he says, raising his glass of house red with the
traditional Irish toast, and follows it with something else
in the Irish language that I don't understand. Like Adams,
I'm a Catholic from Belfast, but I tell him I was kicked
out of Irish class after a year - that the teacher had
called me a lemon. "A lemon? That's a big disclosure. And
it's on the record - I have this recorded, you know."
Adams's sense of humour is drier than dust.

Since the Good Friday agreement of 1998 declared that
Britain has no selfish interest in Northern Ireland and
that it could become part of the Irish Republic if a
majority of its citizens wished it, the place has been
stuck in a kind of constitutional limbo. It is no longer an
ordinary part of the UK, but neither is it not a part of
the UK. The Good Friday agreement, he says, recognises that
the state needs to be embedded in an all-Ireland political
architecture. But so did the Anglo-Irish agreement back in
1985, I say. It is not the same, he replies. "There are now
Irish civil servants working every day of the week in

Adams says the relationship between Northern Ireland and
the UK reminds him of a couple who decide to divorce but
agree to wait until the children are grown up. It is a
clever and persuasive analogy, but it is also an
unfortunate one, as it reduces the people of Northern
Ireland to children, and that is how they are too often
portrayed. The problem with the new arrangements, I
suggest, is that they add a new kind of sectarianism to the
old. At least in principle, during the bad old days, the
battle was between Irish republicans and the British state,
even if the rural Protestants who were often on the
receiving end of it did not see it that way. But under the
new dispensation, Adams wants the British government to
become "persuaders for Irish unity" among the Unionists.

Will this further flame suspicion between orange and green?
Adams doesn't see it. In his latest book The New Ireland: A
Vision for the Future, he describes the arrangements as a
"new phase" - but how long is this new phase going to last?
"It is a work in progress," he says. "We could be, for all
of our active political lives, involved in various phases.
There are so many factors." You have to look, he says, at
where the situation is today compared with 1968 to see how
much progress has been made. "In the history books, this
last decade will be reduced to a single page."

Many Unionists are convinced that secret deals have been
made, that the inscrutable Adams has more up his sleeve
that he is letting on. But whatever people's grievances
about the past, it is obvious that Adams and the political
machine that surrounds him have turned from poachers to
gamekeepers within the new Northern Irish state.

Can he envisage the circumstances in which Sinn Féin might
take its seats at Westminster? "No," he says, "there is
just no point." It is a pragmatic answer. For all its proud
history and its apparently rigid dogmas, Irish
republicanism has always been a pragmatic animal, endlessly
malleable under the weight of different historical
circumstances. How much have circumstances changed, and how
much has the strategy of Irish republicans changed? "I
would argue that the objectives remain the same, that the
broad principles remain the same. Of course the tactics
have changed. But the classic republican position and the
strategic position was always to get the maximum number of
people to your position. Now Sinn Féin is the largest pro-
agreement party in the north of Ireland and the third-
largest party on the island of Ireland."

The history of Irish republicanism is also the history of
betrayals or perceived betrayals on the part of the
leadership. I wonder whether Adams ever fears being seen as
another Michael Collins, as someone who compromised on the
idea of a united Ireland and was subsequently viewed by
many of his peers as a sell-out. "Like any thinking human
being," he says, "I have doubts about many things. But a
lot of what happened in Ireland was as a result of the
militaristic tendency being in the ascendancy most of the
time. I don't want to glamorise, but there was a lot of
bravery, determination and courage. But what was the
outcome? A divided Ireland. What was lacking was the
political ideology, the unity of purpose, the coherency of
a vision and of objectives." It is, I think, the closest
Adams will get to an admission that the years of armed
struggle failed.

Adams is part of a generation of republicans whose
political education was forged in the Maze prison in the
mid-1970s. Their internment taught them to be less
parochial and more worldly in their politics, and one
school of thought suggests that, as they got older and the
international political scene changed, they started to
accommodate the possible. The raciest of these accounts,
such as that in the journalist Ed Moloney's recent book A
Secret History of the IRA, has Adams singlehandedly
plotting to steer the IRA towards peace over the past few
decades, even when he was talking war. Does he see any
similarity in the roles played by him and Tony Blair in
nursing their respective organisations through a long
period of difficult change? Adams concedes that it might
contain a tiny grain of truth. "There are obviously matters
of broad political management, issues which are common to
all organisations which are in a process of change." He
says he "absolutely" respects the prime minister and has a
good working relationship with him. "He made the Labour
party electable and he gave them a huge majority."

We have finished our food, and it is nearly closing time.
We walk out of the House of Commons to look for the
photographer. As soon as we find him, he asks Adams and I
to chat while he takes his pictures. Adams wants to talk
about music - he's an opera fan, apparently - and so I ask
him to give me a few bars of the famous Protestant ballad
The Sash. Gallantly, Adams proceeds to sing a little of it
through his fixed smile for the photographer. He has a good
voice, but he's singing it in Irish, and as I don't know
the words he knows I won't be able to sing along.


PSNI Crime Stats Lack Credibility

(Áine McEntee,

SF councillor says crime figures are 'artificial' and are
much higher than PSNI claims

Robberies up by 100%

Criminal damage cases up by 10%

Fresh figures released by the PSNI which show North Belfast
is the criminal damage and robbery capital of the city are
only the tip of the iceberg Sinn Féin has said.

Oldpark Councillor Carál Ní Chuilín has questioned the
accuracy of the figures released by the PSNI which show a
10% increase in the amount of criminal damage offences
recorded in the north of the city on this time last year.

The figures also show more than a 100% increase in the
number of robberies carried out, with a massive hike from
107 to 217 incidents.

According to the statistics there have been 1659 cases of
criminal damages recorded in North Belfast from April until
October as opposed to 1504 for the same period in the
previous year. In comparison only 955 cases were recorded
in East Belfast while there were 1379 cases in West Belfast
and 1456 cases in the south of the city.

Sinn Féin Councillor Carál Ní Chuilín said the figures
"lacked credibility".

"I would say these figures are artificial like many police
figures which are released by the PSNI – we do not feel
they reflect the reality of the situation in North Belfast.

"A lot of people in North Belfast would tend not to report
crime simply because they do not have faith in the police
service. At present we have a political police force and
our position has always been that we need a police, which
has complete trust of both communities.

"There have been too many years of bad policing in North
Belfast with many people here having lost people through

"We understand there is high crime in North Belfast, so
it's important we work collectively to resolve the problem
of criminality."

SDLP councillor and member of the North Belfast District
Policing Partnership, Pat Convery, said members of the
community needed to report crime to the PSNI .

"The only way we can reduce these figures is by cooperating
and engaging with police to highlight the problems within
local community," Pat Convery said.

The councillor said he was aware that a significant portion
of criminal damage was carried out late at night. But he
said by not engaging with the PSNI, the community was
allowing crime to increase.

"Lots of criminal damage is carried out late at night and
very seldom is it observed, so it's an issue that is
extremely worrying for everyone.

"It's something that we as a community need to work on to
help reduce, and reduce permanently.

"We need to double efforts within the community to make
sure that behaviour like this is unacceptable.

"Residents within the community have to realise that crime
is causing hardship to others. If they want a responsible
community then they have to act responsibly."

Meanwhile the Policing Board have released their latest
figures on how the PSNI is being received by Protestant and
Catholic communities.

The results have been taken from a survey of 996 people and
they show a fall in confidence in the PSNI's ability to
deal with public order situations while only nine% of those
asked felt the overall standard of policing in their area
had improved.

December 17, 2005

This article appeared first on the web
site on December 16, 2005.


DUP Man's Anger At Multi-Faith Calendar

Protestant dates are 'missing'

By Linda McKee
17 December 2005

NOT everyone in Ulster celebrates Christmas - and a timely
reminder of this comes in the form of the Northern Ireland
Multi-Faith Calendar 2006.

But the calendar, which sets out the main feast days,
festival and holy days of nine world religions as an aid to
Ulster employers, has prompted an angry response from a DUP
Assembly member who claims the Protestant faith has been

Festivals listed in December include Christmas, pan-African
celebration Kwanzaa, the Jewish festival Hanukkah and
Zarathost Diso, commemorating the death of the prophet
Zarathushtra Zoroastrian.

East Antrim MLA George Dawson said Diversiton, the makers
of the calendar, failed to represent a truly diverse view
of religious faith.

However Des McCabe, chief executive of Diversiton, said the
calendar was being supported by the PSNI, the NIO and
around 30 other organisations in Northern Ireland as a
workplace resource to help employers plan round important

"We are trying to address the realities of life and make it
much easier for people to be accepted and settle in here,"
he said.

But Mr Dawson said that the calendar excludes many
important Protestant dates including Reformation Sunday.

He said questions must now be asked about the publishers'
true intentions, as dates such as Assumption and Immaculate
Conception were included as being "generally Christian".

"Such dates are undoubtedly important to Roman Catholicism,
but they are theologically nonsensical to Protestants," he

"Indeed, the description of Christianity itself, with its
emphasis on holy places and pilgrimages, is clearly rooted
in one religious tradition and exclusive of many

"I am sick and tired of those who, while claiming to
promote diversity, are in effect promoting a tasteless,
homogeneous, bland sameness."

Mr McCabe said the Protestant denominations were consulted
when the calendar was designed, but he would take Mr
Dawson's comments back to the churches for a response next
time round.

He said he has had plenty of positive feedback from human
resources staff who found that the calendar was useful in
preventing training courses being scheduled at times when
staff would also be seeking time off for religious


Houston: we have a problem

Black Santa Hits Out At Direct Rule 'Dictators'

By Brian Hutton
17 December 2005

THE senior clergyman who stages the annual Black Santa sit-
out has launched a remarkable and blistering attack on
Northern Ireland's direct-rule Ministers - accusing them of
governing as a dictatorship.

In an unusually scathing outburst, Church of Ireland Dean
of Belfast Houston McKelvey compared the current
administration to the Afrikaaner rulers who imposed
apartheid in South Africa.

The carefully directed broadside was issued by Dr McKelvey
at the beginning of this week before he began his annual
Black Santa appearance outside St Anne's Cathedral for
charity. His comments will not be lost on Secretary of
State Peter Hain - himself a South African, exiled from the
country for his family's anti-racist activism.

The NIO has described the comparison as "bizarre in the

Mr Hain's Ministerial team - David Hanson, Lord Rooker,
Angela Smith and Shaun Woodward - were also collectively
criticised by the cleric.

Apparently compelled by last week's announced education
reforms, Dr McKelvey told his congregation that it was with
"grave reluctance" that he spoke out. During his recent
sermon, he also referred to the contentious issues of
proposed water rates and hospital downgrades in Northern

He highlighted suggestions from political sources that the
NIO ministers were allegedly introducing unpopular policies
to force unionists and nationalists to work together.

Turning his attention to planned schools reforms, he
accused Education Minister Angela Smith of "blatantly
disregarding" the overwhelming opinion of Northern Ireland.

"As a democrat and a Christian, I am deeply perturbed by
this confrontational disregard of well-documented public
preference," he said.

"This definitely is government by diktat which is directed
at the very soul and heart of this community."

Dr McKelvey said he had "immense moral and spiritual
reservations about this style of political behaviour"
which, he implied, had struck at the integrity of the NIO

In a barbed sideswipe at Mr Hain, the dean recalled the
Secretary of State's time as a leading campaigner against
the former regime in South Africa.

"I say publicly that government by diktat in my homeland of
Northern Ireland is as morally wrong as it was in South
Africa. Likewise, it is politically indefensible," he said.

"Government by diktat, in what is meant to be a democracy,
cannot but do other than corrosively erode public
confidence in that very government."

An NIO spokesman said: "To compare apartheid South Africa
of the 1970s to Northern Ireland in 2005 is bizarre in the
extreme as is the suggestion that people can be 'forced'
into devolved government.

"The Government wants to see a fully functioning devolved
power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland and the
Secretary of State and his ministerial team are working
tirelessly to bring that about.

"However, until that day comes, decisions have to be taken
to ensure that all children - not just some - have access
to a good education, that the sick are treated quickly and
effectively, that unnecessary and expensive bureaucracy is
removed and that much needed extra investment is put into
front-line services."


£188,000 Grant For Women's Centre

By Marie Foy
17 December 2005

THE Footprints Women's Centre in west Belfast has received
a cash boost of almost £188,000 from the Department for
Social Development's (DSD) Belfast Regeneration Office.

The money will protect 10 jobs and help the centre develop
its services for women in Poleglass, Twinbrook, Kilwee and

The services include training, education, personal
development, parenting, childcare, counselling and cross
community activities.

DSD Minister David Hanson, said: "The Footprints Women's
Centre is doing an important job of regenerating the
community in which it is based both economically and

He added: "I am particularly impressed by their efforts to
improve their own sustainability through the creation of
the catering facility run by the community for the

Footprints Women's Centre is the largest local employer
outside of industry in the area, with 33 staff. The area
ranks within the top 10% of disadvantaged areas in Northern


Internet Book Swaps Thriving

By Deborah McAleese
17 December 2005

HUNDREDS of free books are up for grabs by Ulster's book
lovers thanks to a new internet craze.

Bookworms across the UK are now swapping free books over
the internet with complete strangers. The craze has already
taken America by storm and is rapidly catching on here.

Three new UK-based book swap sites have gone live in the
last year alone ? worldwide, there are many more.

All book lovers have to do is join a site, register books
no longer wanted and then offer to swap with other users.

Most sites charge a small sign-up fee but the website is completely free and currently has
500 members.

Site co-founder Neil Ferguson said: "We wanted to create a
site that would enable people to gain access to hundreds of
books without having to spend any money."

The explosion of sites has been welcomed by book charities
and conservation organisations and the National Literacy
Trust is currently directing book lovers to several book
swap shops via its website.

The trust also ran a campaign Swap a Book earlier this year
to encourage book-swapping. As well as readitswapit, other
sites currently offering book swap services include and

The Book Cooperative, Swapz and Swap-O-Shop are other
running sites and users are also signing up to US based
Paperback Swap, Book Relay and Title Trader.

Each site offers a slightly different service.

While some offer direct exchanges with other users, others
work on a credit system, allowing users to swap books for
credits that they can then use to acquire books, or other
products at a later date.

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