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December 16, 2005

Are Undocumented Irish Workers Felons?

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IL 12/16/05 Are Undocumented Irish Workers Felons?
FG 12/16/05 US-Irish Group Welcome Move For Irish
NH 12/16/05 Huge Volume Of Evidence Forces Nelson Inquiry

DI 12/16/05 Opin: Paisley & McDowell Placed Above Law
DI 12/16/05 McDowell: Laughing Up His Sleeve
DI 12/16/05 Opin: Looking Beyond The Double-Speak
BT 12/16/05 Dallat Is Quizzed In UFF Death Squad Inquiry
BT 12/16/05 Order 'Disingenuous' Over Meetings
NH 12/16/05 DPP Intent On Continuing With Old Practice
DI 12/16/05 No One Was Killed In Riots After Orange Parades
UT 12/16/05 Buses Attacked In Ballymena
SF 12/16/05 Disgraceful Attacks On Bus Services- McGuigan
DI 12/16/05 Big Fall In Voter Numbers
BT 12/16/05 Commons Pledge On 'Stormontgate'
BB 12/16/05 OTR's Law 'Raises Serious Issues'
BB 12/16/05 DUP Raises 50-50 Issue In Europe
DI 12/16/05 'OTR' Law Blasted By Brother Of Para Victim
BT 12/16/05 Opin: Time Now To Redraft The Fugitives Bill
BT 12/16/05 Policing Prtnrshp Members Get A Hike In Expnses
WN 12/16/05 Serious Questions Must Be Asked Of Sinn Fein
EX 12/16/05 CIRA Issues Chilling Threat To Drug Dealers
II 12/16/05 Flynn Escapes Conviction Over Pen Gun
BB 12/16/05 Firm Holds Talks Over Job Losses
WP 12/16/05 Stepping Back From Torture
DI 12/16/05 1st Irish-Amrcn Nwsppr To Sell In 32 Counties
BT 12/16/05 Strictly NO Dirty Dancing At Off Party Please
DI 12/16/05 Top Actors To Star In Irish Films


Do You Think Undocumented Irish Waitresses And Construction
Workers Are Felons? Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Does.

He has introduced a bill which would make the crime of
unlawful presence an aggravated felony, meaning the entire
undocumented population, including 1.6 million children,
would be permanently barred from the U.S.

The House will likely vote on this bill on Thursday,
December 15. It is very important for us to mobilize before
Thursday so please take action today!

Tell your local representative that you are opposed to
Sensenbrenner's Bill.

All you need to do is contact your local representative's
office by phone, email or fax before Dec 15.

Tell them your name and tell them you're opposed to the
bill. That's all. You are entitled to call even if you're

Follow this link to send a form email (provided by New
American Opportunity Campaign)

Find your local representative's details at

But Act Fast, Time is Running Out

Bill info: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal

Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437)

Please email us if you have any questions; or click this link;

More than 100 people attended the launch of the Irish Lobby
for Immigration Reform at the Affinia Hotel in Manhattan on
Friday December 9.

Niall O'Dowd, the publisher of Irish America and the Irish
Voice, has been appointed chairman of the new group.

The meeting heard from Esther Olivarria, general counsel on
immigration for Senator Edward Kennedy and former
Congressman Bruce Morrison, architect of the Morrison

Read the Irish Voice for a full report. Click here

In the meantime, we have developed an online toolkit to
help identify your local senator or representative and see
how they vote on immigration issues. Click here for

Several Irish American leaders have signed up for the
advisory board of the organization, including Ned McGinley,
the national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians,
Seamus Dooley, chairman of the New York GAA, and three
prominent businessmen, Charles Feeney, founder of General
Atlantic, Denis Kelleher, chairman of Wall Street Access,
and Declan Kelly, CEO of Financial Dynamics. (Click here or
see below


Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Advisory Board (still in

Denis Kelleher, Chairman, Wall Street Access
Charles Feeney, Founder, Atlantic Philantrophies
Declan Kelly, Chairman, Financial Dynamics
Ned McGinley, National President, Ancient Order of
Bart Murphy, President of the Coalition of Irish
Immigration Centers
Father Colm Campbell, President, Irish Center New York
Adrian Flannelly, Chairman, Flannelly Promotions
Frank Durkan, Partner, O'Dwyer and Bernstien Law firm
Kieran Staunton, Co-Founder, Irish Immigration Reform
Attracta Lyndon, Chairman, Irish Business Organization
Debbie McGoldrick Senior Editor, Green Card Columnist Irish
Aine Sheridan, President, Flannelly Promotions
Jack Irwin, Irish Liasion, Governor George Pataki
Jeff Cleary, Asst Commissioner for Government Affairs for
Governor George Pataki
John Dearie


Comprehensive pro-immigration legislation is under
consideration in Washington for the first time since 1990.
That year, building on two rounds of successful lobbying
for Donnelly visas, the Irish-American community achieved
the Morrison visa program. What's more, Irish-Americans
provided a crucial part of the coalition for the entire
reform bill passed by the Congress.

Now history has come full circle. Another crop of young
Irish find themselves without a route to legal status in an
even more hostile post-9/11 environment. The move for
comprehensive reform can provide the rescue that they need.
But this will only happen if the Irish-American community
once again applies its considerable political muscle to the
immigration reform task. It will be those at the table
whose issues are addressed in whatever legislation is

"It is time for the Irish to get organized and get to the


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Fine Gael National Press Office Press Release

Leinster House Contact: Sen Paul Bradford
Dublin 2 Joanne Lonergan Foreign Affairs
Ireland 087 2379458

Saturday, 10 December 2005

US-Irish Lobby Group A Welcome Move For Undocumented Irish – Bradford

Fine Gael Seanad Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Senator Paul
Bradford, has today (Saturday) welcomed the formation of
the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, saying that a
strong, co-ordinated lobby group working in the United
States was the most effective way to secure legislative
change for the undocumented Irish.

"The formation of this group is most welcome news. Past
experience has shown us that the most effective lobbyists
in the 1980s and 90s were the Irish Americans working on
the ground in the United States, in particular the Irish
Immigration Reform Movement.

"Irish politicians are working very hard on this issue but
it is absolutely essential that a strong, co-ordinated
effort is working within the States where it can ensure
that Irish immigrants are represented at the highest level
and their interests are looked after in forthcoming
legislation. The next six months will be crucial with
various immigration Bills up for debate and it is vital
that we ensure that the undocumented Irish are looked after
and that their status is regularised.

"The President has indicated that he will be cracking down
on immigration but it is essential that the Irish
community, which plays a significant part in the American
economy and society, have their status upgraded so that
they have the flexibility to travel home for visits when
they choose. While Fine Gael and many others have been
working very hard on this issue here in Ireland the missing
piece of the jigsaw has been the existence of a group like
the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and its formation is
very welcome. I hope that the Irish Government will offer
this group every support and assistance, including funding
if necessary, as there is no doubt that it will provide the
most effective voice for the undocumented Irish."


Huge Volume Of Evidence Forces Public Inquiry Delay

(Steven McCaffery, Irish News)

The public inquiry into the loyalist murder of solicitor
Rosemary Nelson in 1999 is to be delayed by a year, with
officials signalling that they underestimated the scale of
the task.

The inquiry team probing allegations of security force
collusion in the killing began its work in April and hoped
to start public hearings into the high-profile murder by
the beginning of next year.

But yesterday (Wednesday) it issued a statement revealing
that the "complexity of the issues" and the volume of
material had forced a delay until January 2007.

Colm Owens, solicitor for Mrs Nelson's mother Sheila Magee,
said the family had recently been told the inquiry start-
date was likely to slip from the spring of next year until
the autumn.

Noting that the decision to set up the inquiry was
announced in November 2004, he said: "We already expressed
our disappointment when it was indicated that it would not
start in the spring of '06. This has come as a further

London-based human rights group British Irish Rights Watch
has been closely associated with Mrs Nelson's case.

Its director, Jane Winter, said the priority must be a
thorough investigation.

"Although a further delay is obviously disappointing for
the family, we think it is important that this inquiry is
done well, rather than done quickly," she said.

News of the delay is the latest development in a long-
running controversy, the origins of which pre-date Mrs
Nelson's tragic death.

Rosemary Nelson, a 40-year-old mother-of-three who ran her
own legal practice in Lurgan, Co Armagh, became involved in
a number of high-profile cases in the mid-1990s.

She was killed on March 15 1999 when a bomb exploded
beneath her car as she drove to work.

Prior to her death she alleged that her life was threatened
by members of the security forces, with RUC officers
accused of making threats against her while interviewing
her clients.

Her complaints attracted widespread media attention when
she brought them before a committee of the US Congress.

The prominence of her case failed to deter her killers. The
attack was claimed by the loyalist splinter group the Red
Hand Defenders.

But Mrs Nelson's allegations of police harassment ensured
there were immediate allegations of security force
collusion in the killing.

Her murder came two days before St Patrick's Day and
increased tensions at a sensitive time.

Northern Ireland's political leaders were in Washington on
the day of the murder amid intense attempts to implement
the Good Friday Agreement signed a year earlier.

Mrs Nelson was legal representative for the Garvaghy Road
residents' group and had become a hate figure among
loyalists who supported the Orange Order's Drumcree
marching protest.

She also represented relatives of murdered Portadown
Catholic Robert Hamill, killed by a loyalist mob while RUC
officers were in the area.

Another of her clients was Lurgan republican Colin Duffy
who was cleared of the murder of a soldier after it emerged
that a key police witness was a loyalist paramilitary.

Calls for an independent inquiry in the immediate aftermath
of her death were refused despite an international campaign
and the support of notable United Nations figures.

A police investigation led by Norfolk deputy chief
constable Colin Port, but which maintained a RUC element,
spent millions of pounds in a major murder hunt but failed
to charge anyone.

Four loyalists are currently facing serious charges based
on evidence gathered by the Port team, although these are
all unrelated to Mrs Nelson's case.

In the wake of the failed police probe Mrs Nelson's murder
figured among a number of cases reviewed by retired
Canadian judge Peter Cory.

Mr Cory recommended Mrs Nelson's case for public inquiry.

He made similar recommendations over the murder of Robert
Hamill, Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, loyalist
paramilitary leader Billy Wright, and the IRA killings of
two senior RUC officers.

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry held a preliminary hearing on
April 19 this year and predicted that its hearings, when
witnesses would testify in public, would begin in spring

A statement issued by the inquiry yesterday pointed out
that since April it had recruited solicitors to gather
witness statements and selected a team of former police
officers to review the Port investigation.

It added: "In the course of the nearly eight months of work
which the inquiry has undertaken since the opening hearing,
there has been a marked increase in the complexity of the
issues which the inquiry will have to consider within its
terms of reference and in the amount and range of the
documentation and other material pertaining to those issues
which has been disclosed to the inquiry."

It said that as a result it was now apparent that the
inquiry would "need to obtain witness statements from
several hundred witnesses".

"Secondly, the process of analysing and ordering the
material disclosed to it and of assessing the implications
for the inquiry and others of that part of the disclosed
material which is sensitive, has proved to be a huge and
continuing task," the statement said

It continued: "It is clear to the inquiry that it will not
be possible to begin its full hearings in the spring of
next year."

Estimating that the task would "require a further year of
hard work", it added: "The inquiry believes that there is
merit in fixing a date for the start of the full hearings
at this stage.

"This will help to focus the efforts of all those who are
involved in or affected by the work of the inquiry. It will
also assist them with their future planning and

"The inquiry intends to begin the full hearings on Tuesday
January 16 2007 in Belfast."

The inquiry team, led by retired English High Court judge
Sir Michael Morland, appealed for anyone with relevant
information to come forward.

December 16, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 15, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Paisley And Mcdowell Have Arrogantly Placed Themselves On A Moral Height Above The Law

Jude Collins

Back in the bad old days, when the IRA was active,
politicians on all sides were loud in their calls for
republicans to abandon violence and follow a democratic
path. If they did, they were assured, their voice would be
listened to and their objectives would be more likely of


So the IRA did the double-unthinkable: it ended its armed
campaign and it decommissioned its weaponry. Rubicon-
crossing stuff, you'd think. The kind of irreversible
action that, once performed, would cause the door to
democratic participation to swing open.

Hah, and double hah. What republicans forgot was that, in
matters legal and linguistic, the DUP lives in a different
world from the rest of us.

Faced with the fact of decommissioning, Paisley's party has
acted – how can I say this delicately – in a supra-legal
fashion. They position themselves on a moral height above
the law and look down on it. So even though General John de
Chastelain was given the job of monitoring progress towards
decommissioning by all the paramilitaries (Yes, Virginia,
there are unionist paramilitaries), and even though a brace
of clergymen was thrown in for double reassurance on IRA
decommissioning, none of this came anywhere near the moral
heights on which the DUP sit. For a man who has never had
any dealings with armed groups, not even on an Antrim
hillside, Mr Paisley's knowledge of arms and their
decommissioning is considerable – far superior to that of
any general or run-of-the-mill clergyman. For a man whose
sole reading interest is the Good Book, Mr Paisley has an
astonishing control over the English language. Remember the
Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland? She said: "A word means
what I want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less," That's
the Big Man to a t. If he says what happened wasn't
decommissioning, then it wasn't decommissioning. Got that?

Unfortunately the British and Irish governmments, instead
of telling Mr Paisley to take a running jump at himself,
shake their collective heads and murmur of the need to
build unionist trust. The lesson has not been lost on the
acolytes of the Ballymena ayatollah. MP Jeffrey Donaldson
and MEP Jim Allister were on TV and radio this past week,
impressing on us their depleted trust by treating with open
contempt the elected representatives of Northern

They're a greedy pair, Jeff and Jim. The fact that the DPP
has managed to hang a huge question mark over the heads of
Denis Donaldson, Ciaran Kearney and William Mackessy by
declaring them innocent but only because trying to find
them guilty would not have served 'the public interest' –
for most political opponents, that kind of smearing would
have been enough.

Not the DUP.

Jeff and Jim don't want to see men declared innocent
relabelled as semi-guilty: they want to see them labelled
totally guilty. Why? Because the people running the legal
system haven't a clue. From their lofty moral height, it's
clear to Jeff and Jim that the legal system has taken a
wrong turning and must mend its ways. Evidence doesn't
enter into it, nor verdicts of not guilty. If Jeff and Jim
say people are up to their necks in a spy ring, they're up
to their necks in a spy ring. Got that?

Meanwhile, south of the Border, Justice Minister Michael
McDowell is busy doing his own Red Queen act by explaining
via parliamentary privilege and the Irish Independent that
journalist Frank Connolly is a threat to the security of
the state. "When there are substatial reasons to believe
that a threat to the state's democracy and authority
exists, it is the right and duty of a minister for justice
to act in the interests of the State." That was at the
weekend. By Tuesday Mr McDowell had gone beyond an alleged
false passport application and was into talk of importing
weapons and tens of millions of pounds and… whew! Heavy

Except that not everybody agrees with the meaning Mr
McDowell attaches to words like 'right' and 'duty' and
'evidence'. Mr Justice Feargus Flood, for example, is
chairman of the Centre for Public Inquiry (of which Frank
Connolly is executive director), and Mr Justice Flood says
the way the Minister for Justice is carrying on, he seems
to be trying to override the constitution. Accoridng to the
constitution, justice must be administered in the courts,
not by a politician. Mr Justice Flood believes that Mr
Connolly, like all citizens, is innocent until proven

Professor Dermot Walsh, director of the Centre of Criminal
Justice at the University of Limerick, takes a similar
view. He's very unhappy at the sight of a minister for
justice assaulting the reputation of a citizen and then
asking the public to trust him because he and the gardaí
know something the public don't and won't and can't ever
know about this citizen.

That smacks of police state tactics, Professor Walsh
thinks. Anybody might be targeted next.

Well they might, but assaults of this kind tend to be
carefully targeted. Frank Connolly is not just any citizen.
He's a brother of Niall Connolly, one of the Colombia

He's also a journalist with a track record for exposing
corruption – most famously perhaps among the gardaí in
Donegal, where he shone a light on the case of Frank
McBrearty, an innocent man framed by the police for a
murder that never happened. He's also been prominent in
exploring the Corrib gas pipeline case, where locals are
trying to withstand the might of an arrogant multinational.
And he's been examining plans for a proposed new prison in
north County Dublin, a project close to Mr McDowell's heart
but objected to by local people.

So Frank Connolly isn't an ordinary Joe – he's a Joe with a
habit of probing political and police wrongdoing, and he's
the brother of Niall Connolly. Which puts the opposition in
the Dáil in a terrible quandary. On the one hand they'd
love to nail the government minister for having acted in a
constitution-flouting way; on the other hand, they hate the
thought that they might be passing up a golden chance to
bash Sinn Féin by linking them via Frank Connolly via Niall
Connolly via the Farc in Colombia to paramilitary activity.
Fine Gael's Nora Owen was on TV two days ago, sounding so
much like a cat wanting to catch fish without getting its
paws wet, she was practically miaowing.

In short, the DUP is not alone in their amazing mastery of
the legal and linguistic system. Ian Paisley says
decommissioning is not decommissioning. That's nothing,
Michael McDowell says, look at this: I can finger a man as
supremely guilty without ever having to produce a thread of
evidence. All right, says Mr Paisley. What about where a
court says three men are not guilty and with just a few
words I can turn that into them very probably being guilty
AND deride the judicial process as well? Give me a minute,
Michael says. I'll think of something. The Paisley/McDowell
ability to sail high above the world of facts and conjure
up a surreal white-is-black-and-vice-versa Wonderland is
hilarious – perhaps the funniest double-act since Vic and
Bob were at their saucepan-whacking best.

Unfortunately, while they float around in their morally-
elevated Wonderland, the rest of us are left below, stuck
with increasing public contempt for the political and legal
systems, north and south. And that's not one bit funny.

Jude Collins is an academic, writer and broadcaster. His
latest novel is 'Leave of Absence' (Townhouse, £6.99)

n Correction

There was a mistake in yesterday's feature by Danny
Morrison, 'Durkan Admits No Secret Deal over 'On The Runs'"
which changed the emphasis he wished to make. The last
lines in his feature should have read as follows:

"It is debatable if the British government would be forced
to abandon the legislation if Sinn Fein were to call for
the Bill to be withdrawn.

"But it is debatable.


Laughing Up His Sleeve

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said yesterday he was
'highly amused' when questioned over his role in the Frank
Connolly saga

Connla Young

Journalist Frank Connolly has broken his silence on the
Michael McDowell controversy just hours after the Irish
justice minister said he now finds being questioned about
the saga by the press amusing.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Ireland last night Centre for
Public Inquiry (CPI) head Frank Connolly says he's
heartened by the number of messages of support received
from colleagues and the public since the storm broke over
allegations by Michael McDowell that he took part in an IRA
mission to Colombia.

Mr Connolly, who has denied ever applying for a false
passport, as alleged by Minister McDowell, or travelling to
Colombia to meet with Farc rebels, says the campaign
against him has become "Kafkaesque".

"I'm like a butterfly in a tsunami at the minute but it's
clear that there's an awful lot of support out there.

"Messages of support, by phone, text and email, have been
coming to me personally and to the centre over the past few

"A quick look at the letters page of the Irish Times shows
that the public knows this is a witch-hunt by Michael
McDowell. This is an issue of human rights and the public
sees it that way."

Mr Connolly said he may issue a comprehensive statement in
coming days.

The board of the CPI yesterday issued its first statement
since the controversy broke in the Dáil.

Centre chairman Fergus Flood has already said that he's
keen to meet with American philanthropist Chuck Feeney
whose Atlantic Philanthropies decided on December 7 to
cease further funding for the investigative body. It's
believed Mr Feeney, who declines press interviews, is in
Ireland this week.

Mr Connolly's remarks came just hours after Mr McDowell
told a Dublin radio reporter he was amused that journalists
should continue to question him about the Connolly affair.
The minister for justice also endorsed an article in
yesterday's Irish Times by Kevin Myers which supports his

"I read the papers the same as your self, I am not
discussing this issue here today. Listen, I am highly
amused by people asking me now to deal with issues when
they were all screaming at me about talking about this
issue. One recommendation to all of you, read Kevin Myers,
put it up on your wall, and memorise it."

Mr McDowell continues to stand by his claims despite
reports that a private investigation company hired by Chuck
Feeney to look into Mr Connolly's background gave the
former Sunday Business Post journalist a clean bill of


Looking Beyond The Double-Speak

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

We're gratified to report in today's paper that Frank
Connolly has been heartened by the number of messages of
support he has received in recent days from journalistic
colleagues and from the public after his Dáil mugging at
the hands of Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

Even for someone as used to Frank Connolly to the vigorous
cut and thrust of journalism and politics, it must have
been a bruising week. We share his satisfaction – and, most
likely, his relief – that there are people out there who
are keeping cool heads in the midst of the madness and are
clear-sighted enough to see the grave damage that Mr
McDowell has inflicted,and continues to inflict, on the
concepts of natural justice and due process.

In the fullness of time we are confident that the judicial
system, and indeed the constitution, are on a firm enough
basis to resist the depredations being wrought by the
Justice Minister and his government supporters, convinced
or reluctant. In the meantime, though, a man's reputation
is repeatedly traduced by dint of material not deemed
strong enough to warrant a charge, and his livelihood and
that of his colleagues is about to be taken away.

Mr McDowell may not be concerned about this; Bertie Ahern
may not be concerned about this; but we are, and so, we
contend, is a majority on this island who are wise enough
to see beyond the obfuscation and double-speak to see the
cold, hard facts of the matter.

Doubtless Mr McDowell's wobbly performance will have been
steadied somewhat by the entirely predictable support he
has received from certain elements of the Irish media who
will slaughter any sacred cow – justice, the constitution,
whatever – if it means inflicting harm on their republican
enemies. Their line is that journalists who seek
information should not be surprised if information about
them is released into the public domain, as if a reporter
whose job is to fill white space is invested with the same
duties and responsibilities as a minister solemnly sworn to
defend the state and protect its citizens.

Mr Connolly tells Daily Ireland today that the campaign
against him has been "Kafkaesque" and that he feels like "a
butterfly in a tsunami". He says he may issue a statement
in a few days, but clearly he is a conflicted man.

He's torn between a desire not to rise to the McDowell bait
by answering these cynical 'when did you stop beating your
wife' questions and a very human need to bring his ordeal
to an end once and for all. He is right to take his time in
deciding how best to handle his ordeal.

When the dust of this particular battle clears, who's to
know who will be left standing. Although he's a man
outrageously wronged, Frank Connolly knows more than most
the awesome power that the state and its highest servants
have at their disposal. But the past few days will have
provided him with some comfort in the realisation that he
does not stand alone.


Dallat Is Quizzed In UFF Death Squad Inquiry

By Clare Weir
16 December 2005

An Assembly member has been questioned by the Police
Ombudsman over alleged police collusion in the Castlerock
and Greysteel massacres.

SDLP East Londonderry Assembly Member John Dallat said he
was quizzed over information he gave to police about the
killer gang thought to be behind both atrocities.

Four workmen were shot dead by UFF gunmen at Castlerock in
March 1993. The following October eight people were
murdered in the Rising Sun bar at Greysteel - crimes that
Dallat said last night "could have been averted" because of
information he gave about Torrens Knight, one of the UFF
men convicted for the Greysteel murders.

Mr Dallat also expressed concern that the OTR legislation
currently going through the Westminster parliament may
scupper an investigation into possible collusion in both

"Both Greysteel and Castlerock could have been averted had
this been dealt with properly. The police officers I was
dealing with were good honest men but they were up against
an intelligence network.

"I raised serious concerns about the existence of a UFF
gang headed by Torrens Knight whom I knew was based in
Macosquin," he said.

Although he said a police raid took place, the Castlerock
shooting followed.

He added: "In the period between March and October I was
repeatedly assured that the killer gang was being carefully
monitored in its movements and this appeared to be backed
up by a 24-hour checkpoint on both bridges in Coleraine for
a prolonged period.

"Unfortunately the plan failed and a further eight people
lost their lives at Greysteel before arrests were made."

Mr Dallat added that his calls for investigation into
claims that Knight was a member of the Force Research Unit
formed part of the Police Ombudsman's inquiry.

The Police Ombudsman confirmed yesterday that Mr Dallat had
been interviewed and that more witnesses could be
questioned in the coming days.


Order 'Disingenuous' Over Meetings

By Chris Thornton
16 December 2005

Members of the Orange Order have been involved in "umpteen"
meetings with the Parades Commission in spite of the
group's official ban on contact, outgoing Parades
Commission chairman Sir Anthony Holland reveals today.

The Commission chairman, who finishes almost six years of
leading the marching body on New Year's Eve, said the Order
has been "disingenuous" about its position.

In an interview in today's Belfast Telegraph, he also
accused some residents' groups of throwing up "artificial
barriers" to parades and indicated he is not "wildly
enthusiastic" about the presence of two Portadown Orangemen
on the new Commission.

Sir Tony said former Portadown District Master David
Burrows is the only member of the new Commission he had met
previously - as part of the "unofficial contacts with the

"We've had secret meetings, private meetings, non-
attributable meetings, all sorts of meetings with members
of the Orange Order, sometimes as members of the Orange
Order, sometimes in different capacities," he said.

He said some residents' groups have turned meetings with
marchers into a stalling process.

"But they get away with that, in inverted commas, because
until there's proper engagement from the Orange they don't
have to actually crystallise the arguments and the
rationale they've got against the parade," he said.

Asked about the presence of two Portadown Orangemen on the
new Commission, Sir Tony said: "There used to be a saying
you used to see in Yes, Minister: 'That's a brave decision,
Minister', meaning of course that the civil servant wasn't
wildly enthusiastic. "I think it's a brave decision,

"But it could work."


DPP Intent On Continuing With Old Practice

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

Stormontgate is not the first time the DPP and the British
attorney-general have decided not to proceed with a
prosecution. Far from it.

Indeed, public dissatisfaction with the arrogant and
condescending approach of the DPP's and attorney-general's
offices was what led to the Criminal Justice Review (CRJ)
recommending in 2000 that the DPP provide "as full an
explanation as is possible without prejudicing the
interests of justice or the public interest".

As you see, that was about as weak a recommendation as you
could devise. The CRJ added that the DPP's "presumption
should shift towards giving reasons where appropriate".

Really radical stuff eh?

Even so, it was too much for the British administration
here, which accepted the CRJ's proposals 'with
qualifications'. In other words, there was going to be no
change. Last week confirmed that.

There was another reason for the CRJ's interest in the
prosecution service.

For decades the old DPP's office had worked hand-in-glove
with the RUC, with the Special Branch being very much the
hand in the glove.

In fact nationalists regarded the DPP's office and its
strange decisions as evidence that it was pretty much the
RUC's puppet. Hence the demand in the Good Friday Agreement
for a truly open, independent prosecution service.

Judging from the reaction of both unionist and nationalist
politicians last week it seems what we have is a case of
plus ca change. The DPP decides what the public interest is
but won't tell anyone else or explain why and that's that.

What did the prosecution lawyer's cryptic reference to the
public interest and human rights legislation mean? The
evidence, if you can use that word in connexion with this
case, seems to be the following.

The solicitor for the 'Stormont 3' heard that there was a
secret PSNI operation called Torsion going on for most of

The suggestion is that as part of Operation Torsion an
agent acting for the PSNI or MI5 secretly entered private
premises and spirited away documents which might later have
been presented as evidence. These documents were then
returned to the private premises.

The solicitor applied last February for material referring
to Operation Torsion to be revealed. The Crown applied for,
wait for it, a Public Interest Immunity Certificate to
prevent this material being released to the defence. In
short they were arguing that it was not in the public
interest to reveal it. Geddit?

Now, regardless of claims that the security services were
protecting the identity of an agent within the IRA or
anywhere else, the simple fact is that, as every first-year
law student knows, if evidence has been taken away and
returned 'the chain' has been broken.

Such documents are worthless as evidence because they could
have been added to, subtracted from or otherwise tampered

Human Rights legislation and the Police and Criminal
Evidence Order require disclosure of such information to
the defence. Had that been done the case against the
Stormont 3 would have instantly collapsed.

It seems therefore that the security services and PSNI in
2002 were continuing their old practices of bugging and
burgling without regard to changes in legislation
introduced in the 1990s. The wonderful shiny new PSNI had
ruined the case for the prosecution.

Of course we'll never know the details because the DPP
seems intent on continuing the old practice of claiming to
act in the public interest without revealing to anyone what
the public interest is.

Does the public not have a right to know if the security
services wrecked the case by tampering with evidence?

Now that the case ended in acquittal, why is it a secret if
they did?

What conclusion can we draw from this morass? It's quite
simple. The sooner the legislation to devolve powers over
justice and policing to locally-elected people which Sinn
Féin is demanding is passed the better. It's promised for

The legislation should also include provision for a local
attorney-general who is answerable to an assembly or a
minister of justice.

Without such machinery the DPP here can thumb his nose at
local politicians while his boss the British attorney-
general can ignore them.

That machinery is SF's price for supporting the PSNI.

December 15, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 14, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Remarkable' No One Was Killed In Riots After Orange Parades

Policing Board urged to investigate two incidents of
alleged police brutality

Human rights advisers have said it is "remarkable" no one
was killed during intense rioting following two Orange
Order marches in Belfast earlier in the year.

A report published yesterday focusing on violent parades at
Ardoyne on July 12, and on the Springfield Road on
September 10, ruled that the PSNI was justified in firing
nearly 260 plastic bullets.

However, human rights advisers to the Policing Board did
call on Chief Constable Hugh Orde to investigate two
alleged incidents of PSNI brutality.

In images captured on camera officers are seen kicking and
beating men in two separate incidents on the loyalist
Shankill Road.

Other recommendations include the PSNI obtaining modern
screening equipment to keep rival factions apart, and
ensuring all officers wear identification numbers.

During both riots the PSNI fired close to 260 plastic
bullets and used water cannons extensively. The British
army fired five live rounds and 140 plastic bullets.

The report found that in Ardoyne nationalists threw blast
and petrol bombs at the PSNI, while on the Springfield Road
officers had 150 live rounds fired at them by loyalists
along with hundreds of blast and petrol bombs.

Commenting on the disturbances lawyers Keir Stamer and Jane
Gordon said: "That no one was killed and that there were so
few serious injuries to police officers, the military or
members of the public is remarkable."

SDLP South Down MP and chairman of the Human Rights and
Professional Standings Committee, Eddie McGrady, said: "The
board, as part of its role in monitoring complaints against
the police will be consulting the Police Ombudsman
regarding complaints made following both the Ardoyne and
Whiterock parades and any major policy issues arising.

"The Police Ombudsman will also investigate and report on
the firing of all AEP impact rounds [plastic bullets] and
these reports will be sent to the board in due course."

Chairman of the Policing Board, Professor Des Rea, believes
the violence on the streets after both parades was among
the worst witnessed in years.

"We cannot afford a rerun of what happened this year next
year," he added.


Buses Attacked In Ballymena

Tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused
in an attack at an Ulsterbus depot in Ballymena.

Vandals smashed 53 windows on seven buses.

It is the third time there has been such an attack at the
Galgorm Road depot in the past year.

In October, 18 buses were damaged. And in May, vandals
caused damage estimated at £50,000.


Disgraceful Attacks On Bus Services Mush Stop - McGuigan

Published: 16 December, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has said he
is 'disgusted and baffled' why anyone would wish to cause
such damage to a service that is vital for our local
community to function.

His comments come in light of the recent attack on
Ballymena Ulsterbus station were to date £150,000 worth of
damage has been caused this year.

Mr McGuigan said:

"This act can only be described as mindless thugery and
those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
Unfortunately this isn't the first occasion that the buses
have been attacked.

"Most right thinking people will be baffled to find any
motivation behind these destructive attacks. Thankfully due
to the good work of Translink there has been no disruption
to the services for the local community this morning.

"If these attacks continue however, the cost of the
disruption will be passed on to us as service users." ENDS


Big Fall In Voter Numbers

SF blames British government's Electoral Fraud Act for 12
per cent decrease in voters

Almost 100,000 fewer voters turned out for last May's
Westminster and local government elections in the North
than in 2001. The shocking figures were published in a new
report yesterday and found that 93,644 fewer people turned
out to vote than in 2001, representing a decrease of almost
12 per cent.

The Electoral Commission's official election report also
found that over 20,000 ballot papers were spoiled at the
elections, largely as a result of voter confusion by having
two elections, using different voting systems, taking place
on the same day.

The commission reported that polling day was largely
successful and incident free with no allegations of fraud
by any party reported to the PSNI.

More than 20 recommendations were made in the report, which
was informed by a large number of sources including public
opinion research, analysis of the media's coverage of the
elections and the views of the political parties and
candidates who contested the elections.

However, last night, Sinn Féin's national director of
elections, Pat Doherty MP, was quick to make the connection
between the Northern Ireland Electoral Fraud Act, which was
introduced in 2002, and the fall-off in voter numbers. The
legislation was introduced after concerns from unionists
and the SDLP of multiple voting in previous elections.
However, it meant that people in the North had to re-
register every year if they wanted to be included on the
electoral register, leading to a decline on the register.

"This report from the Electoral Commission showing a 12 per
cent drop in voter turnout in the last Westminster
elections demands prompt action," said the West Tyrone MP.

"The fact that 93,644 fewer people voted in the last
election compared with 2001 is hugely worrying.

"I believe this drop has been created, in part, by the
British government's interference in the electoral system.

"The electoral register published this month again
confirmed what Sinn Féin have been saying for some years
about the flawed process in compiling the document. Well
over 100,000 people have been deliberately disenfranchised
and had their votes effectively stolen by the British
government through this process.

"There is a clear need for a permanent rolling register to
be established and I look forward to new legislation in the
new year. This has come about after a sustained campaign by
Sinn Féin to try and undo the damage of the current
procedures introduced at the behest of the SDLP and the


Commons Pledge On 'Stormontgate'

Pressure by parties pays off

By Noel McAdam
16 December 2005

The prospect of a new Government statement over the
'Stormontgate' spy ring allegations has increased, despite
Secretary of State Peter Hain's intention of drawing a line
under the controversy.

The Leader of the House of Commons, Geoff Hoon, has pledged
to ensure any further information on the issue is made
available to Parliament.

Responding to DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson, he said:
"The message has not really changed. This is a matter for
an independent prosecuting authority."

But he added that Prime Minister Tony Blair had indicated
he will look hard to see what further information can be
made available.

"That will take a little time, but I shall ensure that the
information is made available to the House at an
appropriate stage."

During business questions Mr Robinson also asked Mr Hoon to
ensure that any statement is made in the House from the
Dispatch Box so that MPs can ask questions.

Mr Hoon said the East Belfast MP had been "assiduous" in
raising this issue.

Earlier this week Mr Hain said he saw no reason for a
parliamentary statement on the collapse of the case and it
was time to "draw a line under that point".

But just over a week after the charges against three men
were dropped "in the public interest", the demand for
further explanations from the SDLP and Ulster Unionists
also continues.

Sinn Fein's head of administration Denis Donaldson and his
son-in-law Ciaran Kearney along with William Mackessy had a
total of seven charges against them dropped at an unlisted
Crown Court hearing last Thursday.

They were arrested after a police raid on Sinn Fein's
offices at Parliament Buildings on October 4 three years
ago, leading to the collapse of the Assembly and power-
sharing Executive, when documents and computer discs were


OTR's Law 'Raises Serious Issues'

The controversial paramilitary 'on-the-runs' legislation is
incompatible with international human rights, an NI
watchdog has said.

The Bill raises questions over investigations of rights
abuses, the NI Human Rights Commission has said.

The position and rights of victims, the right to fair trial
and freedom from arbitrariness of the criminal justice
system were all in question, it said.

The legislative plan covers up to 150 people wanted for
pre-1998 NI crimes.

The commission expressed "serious concerns" about the
independence of the process from the government and the
"excessive powers" of the secretary of state.

This was particularly in relation to disclosure of
information and evidence, it said.

Chief Commissioner Professor Monica McWilliams said her
organisation was "concerned with the lack of clarity in
relation to the rights of victims and their involvement in
the process" as proposed in the Bill.

The commission regards the Bill in its current form as
incompatible with the state's obligations under
international human rights standards

"The commission does not consider that the limited
provisions of the Bill establishing a requirement of
liaison with victims are sufficient to address their
concerns," she said.

"We look forward to hearing from the minister (David
Hanson) on how he hopes to address these concerns.

"However, the commission regards the Bill in its current
form as incompatible with the state's obligations under
international human rights standards."

On Thursday, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said the
government was considering changes to the legislation.

It was reassessing the clause absolving applicants from
appearing in person before a tribunal, said the MP.

Special tribunal

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

The proposed law would set up a two-stage process. First a
"certification officer" would decide if someone was
eligible for the scheme.

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

The case would then go to a special tribunal, consisting of
a retired judge sitting without a jury.

The tribunal would have all the normal powers of the Crown
Court, but the proposed legislation as it stands says the
accused would not have to appear for their trial.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/16 11:51:10 GMT


DUP Raises 50-50 Issue In Europe

The DUP has taken its campaign against the 50-50 recruiting
of Catholics and Protestants in the Police Service of
Northern Ireland to the European Union.

The party's MEP, Jim Allister, delivered a dossier on the
issue to the EU commissioner with responsibility for equal
rights, Vladimir Spidla.

Mr Allister also raised the issue during a debate in the
European Parliament on human rights.

He said the "outrageous discrimination" in PSNI recruitment
must be ended.

The Patten Report recommended the 50-50 policy as a key
element of the Good Friday Agreement.

It means 50% of all new recruits to the PSNI must be from
the Catholic community.

Mr Allister said the European Union should not extend a
special derogation to the UK exempting it in this instance
from a directive on equal treatment in employment and


"I want to focus this debate on a flagrant breach of human
rights perpetuated within this European Union and
specifically within the United Kingdom," Mr Allister told
the parliament.

"Hundreds of exceptionally qualified young Protestants have
been refused admission to the police, not on merit, but
because there is not a matching quantity of applicants from
the Catholic community.

"So before this house and the EU parades its human rights
credentials, let it set about righting this wrong,
implementing the directive banning religious discrimination
in employment in its entirety and ending this outrageous
discrimination against the majority community in my

In March, the government admitted that the PSNI recruitment
policy had led to 440 Protestant applicants being
discriminated against.

However, the then NIO security minister Ian Pearson said
the policy was an exceptional way of addressing what he
called an historical imbalance.

He also said the government was on target to achieve 30%
Catholic representation in the PSNI by 2011.

In November, the vice-chairman of the Policing Board Denis
Bradley, said the policy could not be continued in the
longer term.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/16 11:56:30 GMT


'OTR' Law Blasted By Brother Of Para Victim

Eamonn Houston

The brother of a young man killed by British paratroopers
in one of the worst massacres of the Troubles last night
called for the scrapping of the proposed Northern Ireland
Offences Bill as controversy surrounding the planned
legislation deepened.

Under the proposals of the new legislation people currently
classified as 'On the Runs' will not have to serve time in
prison for offences committed before the signing of the
Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.

Their cases would instead be heard by a tribunal and if
found guilty they would not be imprisoned but would receive
a criminal record.

There are believed to be around 20-30 OTRs living mainly in
the Republic.

However the legislation proposed by the British government
last month also covered all members of the British security
forces involved in state killings or in collusion with
loyalist paramilitary murder gangs.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody
Sunday, said that the families of those whose loved ones
had been killed by state forces would never accept
legislation that allowed the killers to escape court.

His comments came after newly installed Tory leader, David
Cameron, on a visit to Belfast, said that so-called 'On the
Runs' must appear in court as part of the legislation.

DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, also claimed the British
government was considering alterations to the proposed

In his strongest attack on the legislation to date, John
Kelly told Daily Ireland: "It should be scrapped – pure and
simple. This is a diabolical piece of legislation and the
security forces have been removed from it.

"There's no sense in beating about the bush on this one any

"The soldiers who killed our loved ones should not only be
brought before a court, but prosecuted as well."

Meanwhile new Tory leader David Cameron has stated he would
support the peace process during a visit to Lagan College,
the North's first integrated secondary school for Catholics
and Protestants.

He said his party would work with the government to bring
peace and progress to the North but stressed his inaugural
visit as leader was designed to listen to people's


Viewpoint: Time Now To Redraft The Fugitives Bill

16 December 2005

Not before time, there are signs that the Government may be
willing to amend its controversial On the Run legislation.
Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson has indicated during
the committee stage at Westminster that the provisions of
the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill are not yet cut and

While it is too soon to call this a concession, it is
encouraging that the wave of protest which greeted the
original proposals is hitting home. Reservations have been
expressed not just by the unionist parties but also by
backbench Labour MPs and most notably, by the former
Secretary of State, Paul Murphy.

The undertaking by Ministers to bring forward proposals to
alter the Bill is a welcome sign that the Northern Ireland
Office has read the signals. Now the Government must come
up with amendments which will sweeten what is a
particularly bitter pill.

The key issue is what requirements should be placed on
fugitives who wish to return to Northern Ireland. A major
weakness of the present Bill is its failure to force OTRs
to present themselves at a tribunal and publicly
acknowledge their crimes.

The Government's current proposal that fugitives need only
make a private appearance before a certification
commissioner falls well short of the mark. To allow such an
exercise to take place behind closed doors and without any
hint of censure is a denial of justice.

In addition, it would act as a further insult to the
families of victims. If they are to secure any sense of
closure from this process - and presumably that is one of
the objectives - they will need to be able to see and hear
the culprits accept responsibility at a tribunal for their

Even if changes are made, the Government should be in no
doubt that this measure will remain one of the most
unpopular pieces of legislation to have resulted from the
peace process. It may never win the backing of the unionist
parties, but an attempt must be made to give the Bill more

Predictably, Sinn Fein has warned the Government against
making any changes, but the party would be better focusing
its attention on the IRA. That organisation's failure to
give a categorical assurance to exiles that they are safe
to return is an indictment of the republican movement.

Given that the prisoners were set free, there is a logic to
clearing up the OTR anomaly. But it must be done in a way
which does not leave the victims and their families feeling

By acknowledging the need for change, the Government has
taken a step in the right direction. Now Ministers must go
further and redraft the Bill to provide for a tribunal
process which will be open and transparent. Natural justice
demands no less.


Policing Partnership Members Get A Large Hike In Expenses

By Jonathan McCambridge
16 December 2005

Members of Northern Ireland's newly formed district
policing partnerships will be able to claim annual expenses
of between £2,400 and £8,400, it can be revealed today.

The allowances for the new DPPs are a sharp increase on
what was permitted to the members of the previous policing
partnerships when they were formed in 2002.

Earlier this month, the Policing Board announced the make-
up of the 26 newly constituted DPPs which include political
and independent members.

The bodies are responsible for liaising with local PSNI
commanders and monitoring the implementation of policing
plans and developing public consultation arrangements.

When DPPs were first formed in 2002, members received a
standard annual allowance of £1,850, with the chairman of
each body being paid £4,250 and the deputy chairman £2,750.

But now the new DPP members will receive a standard annual
allowance of £2,400 with the chairman paid £4,800 and the
deputy chairman £3,600.

Members of the Belfast DPP are entitled to higher
allowances because it is the largest partnership and has
four sub-groups covering the four district command units in
the city.

The chairman of the Belfast DPP is entitled to an annual
allowance of £8,400 while the deputy chairman can claim

The chairmen of the four Belfast sub-groups can claim
£4,500 while the rest of the DPP members are entitled to

When the first DPPs were set up in 2002, the Belfast
chairman's allowance was £5,250 with his deputy receiving
£3,750 and members £2,850.

DPP members hold a number of private and public meetings
throughout the year. They have faced a number of
difficulties which include threats against nationalist
members. Sinn Fein have also refused to take up their
positions on the partnerships.


Serious Questions Must Be Asked Of Sinn Fein

By Aileen Mulhall

THE McCartney sisters have urged Waterford people
considering voting for Sinn Fein in the next general
election to challenge the party on its stance on the murder
of their brother, Robert, and what it's doing to bring his
killers to justice.

Nearly a year after the murder of their brother in a
Belfast pub where many Sinn Fein activists were present,
his family say the party has done nothing tangible to help
police with their investigations into his death.

Catherine McCartney made these comments after she and her
sister Paula accepted a Peace & Justice Award for their
family's campaign for justice for their late brother. They
accepted it on behalf of their other sisters Gemma, Donna
and Claire and their brother's fiancée Bridgeen Hagans.

Paula McCartney told the awards ceremony it was special for
them that the Peace & Justice Group at St. Angela's
recognised their campaign as far back as June and they were
deeply grateful for that.

In her address to the ceremony, Catherine said her family
had been let down by the Republican movement.

When asked afterwards what she would say to Waterford
people considering voting for Sinn Fein, she said she
wouldn't tell people what way to vote but she would
certainly ask those considering voting for Sinn Fein in the
South and in the Northern to challenge the party on where
it stood on her brother's murder and what it was doing to
bring his killers to justice.

"They have given out plenty of public statements saying
they support the family but ask them about tangible
evidence of what they have done, like: 'Have your party
members co-operated with the police' and the answer would
be no," she said.

To date, two people have been charged in connection with
Robert McCartney's murder.

But his family believe up to 15 people were involved in the
murder and its cover-up.

"For us, it has always been about holding everyone of them
to account," said Catherine.

She said the investigation in her brother's murder was very
slow and outlined why.

"In terms of witnesses coming forward, in terms of Sinn
Fein's party members directly helping the police and in
terms of the IRA not threatening witnesses, none of that
has changed at all from the early months."

The family has received threatens because of the stance
they have taken. Catherine says while she doesn't fear for
her own safety, she and her sisters and Bridgeen do fear
for their children.

"But at the same time you can't allow that do stop you.
Ultimately I believe the IRA know they are wrong and Sinn
Fein know they are wrong. If they want to bring any
credibility back into their own ideals they are going to
have to be seen to give this family justice."


CIRA Issues Chilling Threat To Dublin Drug Dealers

The Continuity IRA has reportedly issued a chilling threat
warning drug dealers and other "anti-social elements" to
leave the country within 24 hours.

Reports this morning said the organisation had issued the
warning to a newspaper last night using a recognised code

The Dublin brigade of the dissident republican group
reportedly said any drug dealers who had been previously
warned had 24 hours to leave the country or face the

This morning's reports said the caller had indicated that
there would be no more "hoaxes or warnings".


Flynn Escapes Conviction Over Possession Of Pen Gun

12:23 Friday December 16th 2005

Former government advisor and trade union official Phil
Flynn has escaped a criminal conviction for possessing a
weapon and ammunition.

Mr Flynn, who was vice-president of Sinn Fein in the 1980s,
was charged with the offence after a so-called pen gun and
two rounds of live tear-gas ammunition were found in his
offices in Dublin earlier this year.

The offices were raided by the Criminal Assets Bureau as
part of an investigation into alleged IRA money-laundering.

A pen gun is a small-calibre, single-shot firearm that
looks like a fountain pen.

Mr Flynn's lawyers said their client had a long history of
service to the State and it had escaped his mind that
possession of the weapon and ammunition was unlawful.

The courts put him on probation today and ordered him to
pay €5,000 to the Fr Peter McVerry charity.


Firm Holds Talks Over Job Losses

Textiles company Ulster Weavers has said it is in talks
with union leaders over proposals to cut jobs.

The firm said it plans to close its Dungannon factory which
would lead to the loss of 60 jobs and cut a further 10 to
12 jobs across its business.

It is holding a 30-day consultation process, but said it
was unlikely to be able to keep the Dungannon plant open.

Managing director Declan Gormley said rising costs in the
province make it difficult to remain competitive.

"It's the age-old story in textiles at the moment - the
pressure from the Far East," Mr Gormley said.

"Falling prices right across the board and of course rising
costs in Northern Ireland make it very difficult to
continue to run a manufacturing base in Northern Ireland.

"Certainly we'll be doing everything in the consultation to
look at options that could prevent that or certainly
mitigate against it," he added.

"It's difficult in face of what's going on to see that we
would come up with an alternative proposal, but we're
certainly open to any suggestions that might help to do


Staff have said they are angry the redundancies are coming
at Christmas, and when the company is involved in research
and development in China.

In February this year, the company announced it was closing
two of its four production plants in the province, with the
loss of almost 80 jobs.

The Armagh factory closed with the loss of 38 jobs, and the
plant at Castlewellan in County Down was also shut down,
with the loss of 39 jobs.

Further jobs were lost at the company's head office near
Banbridge in County Down.

At the time the firm blamed strong competition from low-
cost manufacturers and increasing costs in Northern

Dungannon Mayor Francie Molloy said it was unfortunate the
news had come so close to Christmas and "with little or no
build-up to it".

'Great concern'

The Sinn Fein assembly member said Dungannon District
Council would be pursuing the issue and would do all it
could to help.

"I know management have to run a business, but in the mouth
of Christmas, this type of decision is very unfortunate."

SDLP councillor Vincent Currie said staff at the plant were

"A lot of these people have mortgages and we are coming up
to Christmas," he told BBC News on Friday.

"To be told - when you are 52, 53, 54 years of age - that
your job is gone, then naturally it is a cause of great
concern for them.

"It is a cause of great worry for them and I would be
asking Invest Northern Ireland to get in there and try and
resolve this matter."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/16 09:27:36 GMT


Stepping Back From Torture

By David Ignatius
Friday, December 16, 2005; Page A35

It's not about who our enemies are, it's about who we are.
That has been Sen. John McCain's refrain as he campaigned
for a ban on cruel interrogation techniques, and his
success in convincing the Senate, the House and now
President Bush may mark a small turning point for the
country. The United States is beginning to find its way out
of the moral thicket into which it stumbled after Sept. 11,

The strongest argument for the compromise McCain and Bush
reached yesterday is, to my mind, a national security one.
Bush realized that harsh negative perceptions of America
abroad were harming the country. The torture issue had
become the most noxious symbol of what the world saw as
America's arrogant lawlessness. But to Bush, it was also a
symbol of his vow to do whatever it took to make the United
States safe. So the two most stubborn men in America,
McCain and Bush, struggled to find language they could both
live with.

I credit Bush for realizing that he had to give ground. He
needed to do something on the torture issue to protect the
country's standing in the world -- even something that he
rightly believed carried risks for the United States. The
man who famously never wants to change course or admit
mistakes finally did both. In formally renouncing the
anything-goes mentality that followed Sept. 11, he has
begun restoring America's badly tarnished image.

And what of McCain, the man who felt the outrage of torture
on his lacerated skin and broken bones in a Vietnamese
prison? I think he sealed his place in American history
this week, whatever happens to him down the road. He simply
would not give up on this issue. He took it to the
president personally in a phone call in early November, all
but pleading with the White House to change course. Bush
responded by instructing his national security adviser,
Stephen Hadley, to begin confidential negotiations,
something that wasn't easy for the garrulous McCain.

Some advocates of the torture ban have argued that we're
not really giving anything up, because torture never works.
If that were true, this wouldn't be a genuine moral choice.
But in fact, America will lose some leverage in
interrogations. There's no escaping the reality that people
may die in future terrorist attacks because we have opted
for a moral choice.

To understand what difference a ban on torture will make, I
spoke this week with British sources about the
interrogation techniques used against the Irish Republican
Army in the early 1970s. The British were facing a hideous
IRA bombing campaign, and to stop the bombers, the British
army and police in Northern Ireland tried to squeeze
information from their IRA prisoners.

The British recognized what every cop knows -- that
interrogation is much easier if the prisoner is
disoriented. So the British put hoods on their IRA
prisoners, just as U.S. interrogators have done in Iraq.
The British approved other, harsher methods: depriving IRA
prisoners of sleep, making them lean against a wall for
long periods, using "white noise" that would confuse them.

The clincher for British interrogators was mock execution.
The preferred method in the mid-1970s was to take hooded
IRA prisoners up in helicopters over the lakes near Belfast
and threaten to throw them out if they didn't talk.
Sometimes, they actually were thrown out. The prisoners
didn't know that the helicopter was only a few yards above
the water. I'm told that technique nearly always worked.
(So, too, with the "waterboarding" that U.S. interrogators
used to break al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed.) The
British eventually had to give up their extreme techniques
because of public outcry, and I'm told they got less
information. But they eventually prevailed against the IRA.

What of the extreme case that should haunt us all, when an
al Qaeda prisoner may know the location of a ticking
nuclear bomb? Here, too, the right answer is the rule of
law. Under the new rules, an aggressive interrogator who
discovers information that prevents a nuclear attack may
still be charged with a crime. But I doubt any judge or
jury would ever convict him. That's the essence of a lawful
society -- that hard decisions are left to courts, not to
individuals. McCain got it exactly right when Newsweek
asked him about this ultimate test. "You do what you have
to do. But you take responsibility for it."

It's a long walk back from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay,
but President Bush took a first step yesterday, prodded by
the man who has been his greatest political rival. Their
partnership, in itself, is encouraging.


First Irish-American Newspaper To Sell Weekly In 32 Counties

"There are now a growing number of people who have
investments on both sides of the Atlantic, and their
shuttling back and forth." – Sean Mac Cárthaigh

JIM DEE Daily Ireland USA correspondent

After more than three quarters of a century of updating
Irish immigrants and Irish-Americans about all things Irish
in the US, New York's Irish Echo newspaper has decided its
time to find new readers – in Ireland itself.

As of November 30, the weekly Irish Echo became available
at newsagents across Ireland's 32 counties for the first
time in its 77-year history.

Sean Mac Cárthaigh, the Echo's managing editor, said that
the change is a reflection of the fact that there is an
evolving two-way trans-Atlantic migration of many of its

"What's happened basically is that, for the first time
ever, there are now significant numbers of emigrants – not
just coming from Ireland to the United States, but also
coming from the United States to Ireland," Mr Mac Cárthaigh
told Daily Ireland.

Mr Mac Cárthaigh said that there are at least three types
of readers who would be interested in picking up the Echo
in Ireland: Irish who've lived for a while in the US and
want to follow goings-on in Irish America; Irish- Americans
who've moved to Irelan to work in the booming economy; and
Irish-Americans who've crossed the Atlantic because they
have an Irish spouse who wanted to move home.

"And there are other things as well," added Mac Cárthaigh

"There are now a growing number of people who have
investments on both sides of the Atlantic, and their
shuttling back and forth. It's nothing to them to get on a

Mac Cárthaigh said that there is also another group of
frequent flyers who keenly follow the Echo – shoppers.

"They want to know what the bargains are in New York.

"It used to be just Christmas, and know we find that there
are people coming over here shopping all the time," said
Mac Cárthaigh.

"It's quite fascinating. We actually do a single page each
week which is devoted to telling where this week's sales
and bargains are. And it's high fashion stuff. They're not
coming to shop in Wal-Marts. They're coming to shop in Saks
Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf-Goodman, etc."

"So for all those reasons we felt that we basically
couldn't go on serving Irish-America, unless we were in
Ireland as well," Mac Cárthaigh added.

"It's almost the last part of the socio-economic jigsaw for
us that we have to be available in Ireland, because part of
Irish-America is now in Ireland."

The Irish Echo began publishing in New York in 1928, and it
is the city's oldest English-language weekly serving an
ethnic community. For decades the paper was a vital source
of information for Irish immigrants seeking to carve out a
new life after leaving behind economic hardship back home.

In the years when the mass-media paid scant attention to an
island tucked away in the North Atlantic, the Echo became
was also essential reading for anyone seeking news from
back home.

Ned McGinley, the Pennsylvania-based president of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, said that: "The Irish Echo has
always been the paper that Irish-Americans used to learn
about Ireland and to find out what was going on in this
country that related to the Irish. And until the Irish
Voice appeared, it was the only paper that did that."

McGinley said that when the conflict erupted in the North
in 1969, the Echo "became kind of the organ of the Irish-
American groups, where we would get out information. There
was no internet then, and you never got anything on the
television or radio then. So it really was the only source
at times for information about Ireland."

He said the paper filled the void by giving readers a
broader understanding of the conflict than the mainstream
media often provided.

"The only time that it ever made headlines was if Irish
republicans blew up something," said McGinley. "They were
portrayed as the only bad guys. I can remember when things
changed later on and people here were shocked that there
were loyalist paramilitaries."

McGinley said that in the past it's always been "sort of a
one-way street", in that Irish-Americans were the ones
seeking news about Ireland.

"But now with the changes, and people going back to Ireland
who were maybe in the states years ago, you're going to see
a market for American news in Ireland that you haven't seen
before," said McGinley.

Sean Mac Cárthaigh said that the Echo's decision to sell
copies in Ireland is just the latest move spurred by the
ever-changing global media market.

"Over the last five years or so, maybe more, with the
technology and more and more people getting broadband
internet connections, we found that part of the role of the
Echo, of telling people the news that has been happening in
Ireland, has been diminishing," said Mac Cárthaigh

"Because if somebody is completely captivated about what's
going on in Ireland, they're going to log-on to the
internet everyday and view the news on RTÉ, or read Daily
Ireland, or read the Irish Times," he added.

"So what we try to do in the Irish Echo is to give people a
reasonably comprehensive and cogent wrap of what happened
that week, and maybe have some analysis of where the thing
is going."


Strictly NO Dirty Dancing At The Office Party Please

By Brian Hutton
16 December 2005

Thousands of workers at a Northern Ireland health trust
have been warned they could be disciplined for dirty
dancing at Christmas work parties, it emerged today.

The Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust has also banned
jokes considered to be in bad taste during festive office
bashes because of the threat of sexual harassment cases
being brought against it.

The 'party policy' has been issued to more than 6,000
healthcare workers in a memo - leaked to the Belfast
Telegraph. One worker has described it as "political
correctness gone mad."

The memo, from the human resources department, states that
the health trust views the traditional Yuletide work
celebrations as "an extension of the workplace."

It cautions that "any staff member found to be guilty of
misconduct on such an occasion will be subject to the
normal disciplinary procedures."

If the offence is considered grave enough employees could
lose their jobs.

Included among a list of types of behaviour branded as
unacceptable by the health chiefs are:

Engaging in unwanted touching of any description
Explicit or social identity related jokes
Rude sexual physical gestures or lewd horseplay or dancing
Engaging in verbal or physical abuse of any kind
Discussing matters subject to confidentiality restrictions.

The list also notifies staff not to mimic or ridicule
fellow workers on the basis of disability, race or "social

Bosses add that the examples are not exhaustive and that
they "reserve the right to deem other inappropriate
behaviours as misconduct."

One employee said workers were stunned by the instructions.

"We thought this was a joke when it first came through. But
they are serious.

"It's ridiculous that adults and professional people should
have to be told how to behave themselves at a Christmas

"This is the one time of year that we all let our hair down
and enjoy ourselves. Now we are being told that we can't do
this, that and the other thing," the worker said.

A trust spokeswoman said many organisations have faced
industrial tribunal cases over behaviour at Christmas

"It is entirely appropriate to remind staff of their
obligations under the trust employment policies at this
time," she said.

"The trust recognises that the vast majority of staff
behave in an entirely appropriate manner during this period
of festivities.

"However, only one successful complaint of the type of
behaviour set out in the memo could result in significant
legal costs and penalties imposed by tribunals."


Top Actors To Star In Irish Films

Catalogue of new movies to be shot in Ireland unveiled by
arts minister

Robert Carlyle, Donald Sutherland and Matthew Macfadyen are
some of the actors lined up to star in Irish films next
year, it has been announced.

Arts Minister John O'Donoghue launched the Irish Film
Board's production catalogue featuring the slate of new and
upcoming films which will be completed or go into
production in the new year.

Films to be shot next year include Dragnet, which is
written and directed by Steve Hudson and stars The Full
Monty's Robert Carlyle, and Becoming Jane, which is
directed by Kinky Boots director Julian Jarrold, the board

Dragnet will be filmed on a trawler off the coast of Co
Cork and Co Wicklow.

A number of other films will be completed in 2006 including
Middletown, with Pride and Prejudice leading man Matthew
Macfadyen, and Puffball, starring Donald Sutherland.

Unveiling the catalogue, Mr O'Donoghue said: "This industry
is a young industry and an energised industry which has
considerable interest from a number of talented young
people, who have been inspired by not so young people who
are still very active in the industry.''

At the launch, the minister announced a 20 per cent
increase in the funding for the Film Board next year.

"This is a very tangible expression of the importance the
government attaches to the Irish film industry,'' he said.

The talent behind Irish hits The Mighty Celt and Man About
Dog – Pearse Elliot – said his next film Shrooms would be
shooting around Ireland in the early months of next year.

He described working with actors such as Carlyle, Ken Stott
and Gillian Anderson on the Mighty Celt as a superb
experience, but said that film had never been designed as a
big-budget blockbuster.

"We wanted to be making an artistically strong film, so you
just put out the best thing you can do,'' he said.

"There's great talent coming through - we just have to
support the talent, that's the main thing.''

Following the recent Golden Globe nomination of Cillian
Murphy for his role in Breakfast on Pluto, it is hoped the
Neil Jordan film will be a success when it is released in
January 2006.

And Studs, a comedy about a struggling football team
starring Brendan Gleeson, is also tipped to do well.

Actor Liam Carney, who stars in Studs, said: "The film is
about the journey the manager takes them on, through the
championship and the league.

"It's not so much about football, it's about people's
dreams and aspirations and hopes.''

The Irish Film Board's chairman James Morris said 2006
promised to be a busy year for the film industry in

"We'd like to thank Minister O'Donoghue for his ongoing
support and are delighted to be in a position to be able to
continue to finance a diverse slate of distinctive and
interesting films.

"Throughout the last year Irish talent has been recognised
at major film festivals all over the world, and we hope to
continue to develop and build upon these successes in
2006,'' he said.

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