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December 23, 2005

DUP Pokes Fun At Easter Rising

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News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 12/23/05 DUP Councillor Pokes Fun At Easter Rising
DI 12/23/05 New US Laws Will Force Out The Irish
IO 12/23/05 Govt’s Action If US Lied About Shannon
IO 12/23/05 Call For Blanket Ban On CIA Planes
BB 12/23/05 Pope Praises NI's Peace Progress
SF 12/23/05 Policing Has Failed To Hide Political Policing
BT 12/23/05 Stormontgate: Ministerial Input Had No Bearing
DJ 12/23/05 Bradley: Republicans Damaged By 'Stormontgate'
DJ 12/23/05 Vitriol As Durkan-Mcguinness Exchange Insults
NH 12/23/05 Informers – An Unsavoury Fact Of Life
DI 12/23/05 Opin:Donaldson & Connolly Not National Security
DJ 12/23/05 North's Only Para Spotted In Drumahoe
IC 12/23/05 Christmas Spent Playing The Troubles Endgame
BT 12/23/05 DUP Warns Of OTR Link To Political Progress
BT 12/23/05 Border Fox Is Given Parole
DI 12/23/05 Omagh Families Angry At Release
DI 12/23/05 Imprisoned Dad Refused Leave To Attend Funeral
DI 12/23/05 Street Protest Over Spyring
DI 12/23/05 Republicans Emerged Victorious In Tragic Times
JT 12/23/05 Irish Zionist Slur Blasted By Israel
IC 12/23/05 We Love... The Pogues


DUP Councillor Pokes Fun At Easter Rising

Lisburn party should be shunned by Kildare over
remarks, says SF

Ciarán Barnes

Cross-border links between councils in Co Antrim and
Co Kildare are in danger of breaking down following
comments made by a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

At a meeting of Lisburn city council on Wednesday
evening, hardline unionist Paul Girvan said he enjoyed
taking part in a recent visit to Kildare because it is
where the leaders of the Easter Rising were shot, and
that is what they deserved.

Nationalists on the council reacted angrily to the DUP
man's comments, warning they could destroy flourishing
relations with Kildare County Council.

They also pointed out that Mr Girvan was in need of a
history lesson as the leaders of the 1916 rising were
executed at Kilmainham jail in Dublin and not in Co

When contacted by Daily Ireland yesterday the DUP man
said he was standing by his statement, despite its
historical inaccuracies. He refused to comment any

In response to Mr Girvan's gloating over the Easter
Rising dead, Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler has
written to Kildare County Council urging it to sever
all links with Lisburn.

Over the last year both councils have developed a
strong relationship. In November, unionist councillors
visited Kildare as part of a sporting exchange
programme. The Lisburn delegation's trip took them to
the Curragh, where Mr Girvan wrongly believed the
Easter Rising leaders had been executed. Sinn Féin
believes these exchange visits should now be a thing
of the past.

"It is our view that discriminators in Lisburn should
not be rewarded with trips to Kildare, but rather
exposed and isolated until they change their ways,"
said Mr Butler.

"Kildare council is clearly not aware of the extent of
discrimination that Lisburn council practises against
its Catholic community. We will be sending councillors
in Kildare a dossier on discrimination by Lisburn
council, which we have also sent to the Irish

"Lisburn council is run and controlled by undemocratic
and bigoted unionists for unionists," added Mr Butler.

Former Fine Gael mayor of Kildare, Billy Hillis, said
he was offended by Mr Girvan's comments.

The county councillor said: "I hope he wasn't trying
to rub our noses in it. I'll be raising this matter
with Mr Girvan the next time we meet.

"I hope these comments don't damage links between the

Mr Girvan's comments about the Easter 1916 leaders are
not the first time he has courted controversy.

During the summer he claimed the best days of prison
officers' lives were dealing with republican "animals"
during the 1981 Hunger Strikes when ten IRA and INLA
volunteers died.


Warning New US Laws Will Force Out The Irish

New anti-immigration legislation going through the US
Congress could create criminals out of illegal Irish
people, it was claimed last night.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said the Border
Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration
Control Act (2005) may have disastrous consequences
for tens of thousands of undocumented Irish.

He urged the Irish Government to lobby Washington
politicians to ensure the maximum possible level of
protection for Irish citizens.

"The Bill has now passed through the House of
Representatives and if it is passed by the Senate in
its current form, its impact will be to criminalise
the estimated tens of thousands of Irish people
resident in the US without proper documentation," Mr
Rabbitte said.

"Many of these people have been in the US for a
considerable period of time, have put down roots and,
in some cases, have homes and families there.

"They may now find themselves facing arrest and
deportation, or even imprisonment."

Mr Rabbitte said there had been a long history of
emigration from Ireland to the US but there have
always been those who operated outside of the system.

"The US authorities were often prepared to turn a
blind eye, but in the new post-September 11 climate,
hardworking, honest people now find themselves
regarded as potential criminals.

"While I accept that Ireland is not exactly a shining
example to the rest of the world in regard to how we
treat people without proper documentation in our own
country, I would urge the Taoiseach to lobby President
Bush and the members of the Senate to ensure that as
many people as possible are given the opportunity to
regularise their positions, rather than face

Urgent action is now required by the Irish government
in co-operation with members of the Senate who are
sympathetic to the plight of the Irish, the Labour
leader added.


Govt Pledges Action If US Lied About Shannon

23/12/2005 - 14:46:34

The Government today insisted they would take all
necessary action if it emerged that US security
agencies were carrying prisoners through Ireland.

With the Irish Human Rights Commission calling for
inspectors to check CIA aircraft, officials from the
Department of Foreign Affairs claimed they had clear
and explicit assurances that no laws were being

They insisted they had not permitted so-called
extraordinary renditions.

"It has also been made clear that the appropriate
authorities will act if there is specific and credible
information regarding particular aircraft of the type
in question," it stated.

"Once again, however, the Government recalls that it
has, on numerous occasions, received explicit,
unambiguous and unqualified assurances from the US
authorities that no prisoners have been transported
through Irish airports, nor would they be, without the
express permission of the Government.

"These assurances have recently been reiterated at a
very high level."

The IRHC urged the Government to urgently seek an
agreement with US authorities to allow inspections of
aircraft suspected of involvement in so-called
extraordinary renditions.

In a statement the Department said they would study
the recommendations.

But anti-war activists demanded the Government go
further and bring in a blanket ban on CIA and American
war planes at Irish airports.

Ed Horgan, retired army commandant and peace
campaigner, said: "We welcome, belatedly, the
pressure. But I would go further than that – all US
military aircraft should be banned.

"I believe it is very likely that prisoners were
transported through Shannon at some stage in the past
and CIA planes were being used in the process of
taking prisoners to be tortured.

"The CIA should be banned from going through for past

Mr Horgan, who was arrested and detained at Shannon
yesterday as he travelled to England, said he was very
concerned about reports that 2,000 unnamed and
undocumented prisoners had been moved out of Europe in
the last few weeks.

Dr Maurice Manning, IHRC president, said Irish
officials had an obligation to prevent actions on our
soil which could facilitate torture.

"In the Commission's view, and in light of Ireland's
international legal obligations in this field,
reliance on diplomatic assurances is not sufficient to
protect against the risk of torture and other forms of
ill-treatment," Dr Manning said.

"Given the fact that the obligation on the state to
protect against all forms of torture, inhuman and
degrading treatment is an absolute one, and given the
gravity of the allegations that have been made to date
and which are under active investigation by the
Council of Europe, it is not sufficient for the
Government to rely on such assurances."

Under domestic and international law Ireland is
obliged to ensure prisoners do not travel through the
state en route to countries where they may be

Dermot Ahern, Foreign Affairs Minister, pressed US
secretary of state Condoleeza Rice on the matter in
Washington earlier this month.

She insisted prisoners where not being transported
through Shannon.

Richard Boyd Barrett, Irish Anti-War Movement
spokesman, welcomed the recommendation but insisted US
aircraft should no longer have free run of Shannon.

"The report makes it clear that it is not acceptable
to turn a blind eye to the fact that Shannon may have
been used to facilitate torture," he said.

"It looks fairly clear that the US is involved in
organising a very elaborate systems of kidnap and
torture. It is good that there is more pressure on the
Government to end its shameful connection with the US
military at Shannon."


Call For Blanket Ban On CIA Planes

23/12/2005 - 13:19:45

Anti-war activists today demanded the Government bring
in a blanket ban on CIA and American war planes at
Irish airports to prevent the torture of foreign

As the Irish Human Rights Commission called for
aircraft to be inspected, retired army commandant and
peace campaigner Ed Horgan said prohibiting US
military was the only way to ensure Ireland could
abide by international obligations.

"We welcome, belatedly, the pressure. But I would go
further than that – all US military aircraft should be
banned," he said.

"I believe it is very likely that prisoners were
transported through Shannon at some stage in the past
and CIA planes were being used in the process of
taking prisoners to be tortured.

"The CIA should be banned from going through for past

The IRHC urged the Government to urgently seek an
agreement with US authorities to allow inspections of
aircraft suspected of involvement in so-called
extraordinary renditions.

Mr Horgan, who was arrested and detained at Shannon
yesterday as he travelled to England, said he was very
concerned about reports that 2,000 unnamed and
undocumented prisoners had been moved out of Europe in
the last few weeks.

Dr Maurice Manning, IHRC president, said Irish
officials had an obligation to prevent actions on our
soil which could facilitate torture.

"In the Commission's view, and in light of Ireland's
international legal obligations in this field,
reliance on diplomatic assurances is not sufficient to
protect against the risk of torture and other forms of
ill-treatment," Dr Manning said.

"Given the fact that the obligation on the state to
protect against all forms of torture, inhuman and
degrading treatment is an absolute one, and given the
gravity of the allegations that have been made to date
and which are under active investigation by the
Council of Europe, it is not sufficient for the
Government to rely on such assurances."

Richard Boyd Barrett, Irish Anti-War Movement
spokesman, welcomed the recommendation but insisted US
aircraft should no longer have free run of Shannon.

"The report makes it clear that it is not acceptable
to turn a blind eye to the fact that Shannon may have
been used to facilitate torture," he said.

"It looks fairly clear that the US is involved in
organising a very elaborate systems of kidnap and
torture. It is good that there is more pressure on the
Government to end its shameful connection with the US
military at Shannon."

Under domestic and international law Ireland is
obliged to ensure prisoners do not travel through the
state en route to countries where they may be

Dermot Ahern, Foreign Affairs Minister, pressed US
secretary of state Condoleeza Rice on the matter in
Washington earlier this month.

She insisted prisoners where not being transported
through Shannon.

Michael D Higgins, Labour Party foreign affairs
spokesman, said: "While the Government may have been
able to disregard the concerns of members of the Dáil
and NGOs, it cannot dismiss the concerns of a body
such as this, without further damaging its own
credibility and undermining the role of the IHRC," Mr
Higgins said.

"It is clear that the Government's position of
unquestioningly accepting 'the assurances of a
friendly nation' is not sufficient to meet our
obligations under international law."


Pope Praises NI's Peace Progress

The Pope has praised the efforts of all sides involved
in the "progress towards achieving peace and
reconciliation in Northern Ireland".

He said the most visible sign of the growth of mutual
trust was the recent decommissioning of weapons by the

Pope Benedict XVI was speaking as he accepted the
credentials of new UK Vatican ambassador Francis

The 35-year-old from County Down is the first Catholic
appointed UK ambassador to the Vatican since the

Pope Benedict also said the wounds resulting from four
centuries of separation between the Anglican Church
and Rome could not be healed without determined
efforts, perseverance and prayer.

He added that the search for unity among separated
Christians was not simply a matter of concern to
Christian communities themselves.

Overcoming divisions

He said it was an essential part of overcoming
divisions between nations.

On Friday, the Pontiff accepted the credentials of Mr
Campbell, who is the first Northern Irish Catholic to
hold a UK ambassadorial post since the Republic of
Ireland gained independence in 1921.

BBC correspondent David Willey said heads of the
diplomatic mission in Rome were normally at the end of
their careers and that Mr Campbell was "a career
diplomat of a new breed".

He "has the ear of Downing Street" as a former adviser
on European affairs to Prime Minister Tony Blair,
David Willey said.

The job was advertised in a newspaper in July - the
first time an ambassadorial post had been put out to
open competition in an advert.

The previous ambassador, Kathryn Colvin, left in
September after three years at the Vatican.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/23 12:48:01 GMT


Policing Establishment Have Failed To Hide Political Policing

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty today said that
despite the best efforts of those within the policing
establishment to divert attention away from the
reality that elements within the British system
collapsed the democratic institutions as each day
passes a little more light is shone upon the political
detectives in the PSNI.

Mr Doherty said:

"Since the irrefutable evidence emerged that Denis
Donaldson was at the heart of an operation designed,
controlled and managed by elements within the British
system hostile to the peace process, to collapse the
political institutions, those within the policing
establishment have desperately been trying to divert
attention away from this reality.

"From Peter Hain, to Hugh Orde, through the SDLP and
the Policing Board all have tried to throw up
distractions and diversions aimed at concealing the
reality of political policing in the north and the
role of the securocrats in collapsing the
democratically elected institutions.

"This effort has failed. People throughout this island
and beyond are now talking about political policing
and the dangers it poses to the peace process and the
task of rebuilding the political process early in the
New Year. Instead of trying to defend the indefensible
it would suit the policing establishment better if
they got their house in order. They now have a big job
of work to try and convince nationalists and
republicans that they are capable of operating in an
accountable and acceptable fashion.

"The PSNI Special Branch have been caught out. The
revelations of the past week have validated absolutely
the Sinn Féin position on policing and proved beyond
any doubt the negative role being played by elements
of the RUC old guard within the PSNI in directing and
formulating policy and direction" ENDS


Stormontgate: Ministerial Input 'Had No Bearing'

By Noel McAdam
23 December 2005

Cabinet ministers were consulted in relation to the
Stormontgate controversy, it has been confirmed.

They were asked for any information in relation to the
Director of Public Prosecutions decision to drop the
charges against three men including unmasked British
spy Denis Donaldson.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said cabinet
colleagues were asked whether they had "information
that might bear on the consideration of the public
interest by the DPP".

But, in a letter to DUP leader Ian Paisley, he said
the information obtained from ministers had played no
part in the decision to drop the charges - taken "in
the public interest".

With Tony Blair expected in Belfast early in the New
Year to launch a push towards political talks, Mr
Paisley said he would continue to press the Government
for a fuller explanation.

Ulster Unionists also insisted the controversy will
not go away. Assembly member Michael McGimpsey said:
"There appears to have been a significant level of
political meddling in this situation.

"There is little point in the Prime Minister landing
over here early in the New Year talking the big talk
while the questions still hang in the air unanswered
and public confidence in the political process is at
an all-time low."

His comments came as PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde said the exposure of former Sinn Fein Stormont
administrator Donaldson as an informer had led to a
"huge witch hunt" in the republican movement.

The claim followed a confidential briefing Mr Orde
gave to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Irish Foreign
Minister Dermot Ahern in Dublin yesterday,
encountering a Sinn Fein protest against "political

Welcoming the sharing of information, the SDLP's Alex
Attwood claimed Sinn Fein was attempting to divert
attention from the growing number of hard questions
they had failed to answer.

"The big one is that, given that they say there was no
IRA spy ring, why was nothing done when stolen
documents ? including papers belonging to the SDLP,
but not one page belonging to Sinn Fein ? were found
in Denis Donaldson's house," the Policing Board member

"The only credible explanation for taking no action
three years ago was that the provisional leadership
knew there was a spy ring."


Bradley Insists - Republicans Badly Damaged By 'Stormontgate'

Friday 23rd December 2005

Republicans have been dealt a heavy blow by the
'Stormontgate' spying scandal, Policing Board deputy
Denis Bradley said this week.

Mr. Bradley spoke out as the North's Policing Board
rejected Sinn Fein claims that the spy scandal at
Stormont was no more than a politically-fuelled fraud.

After republicans hit out at PSNI chief Hugh Orde's
reassertion that hundreds of documents were stolen
during an intelligence-gathering operation that
brought down the power-sharing executive and has now
led to the unmasking of a Sinn Fein aide as a mole,
the watchdog insisted the Chief Constable's actions
were justified.

After briefings from the Chief Constable, Secretary of
State Peter Hain and the Northern Ireland Police
Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, Mr. Bradley and Board chief
Desmond Rea insisted they were still convinced the
police action was appropriate.

Mr. Bradley insisted republicans had been dealt a
major blow by the affair.

Stressing that spying was still going on in 2002 as
part of a so-called intelligence dirty war, he said:
"It's done enormous damage to Sinn Fein from the point
of view that this intelligence war has gone on for far
too long."

He added: "While this is a major crash and crisis in
confidence within the public, it's also an opportunity
to leave these things behind."

Mr. Rea, chairman of the Policing Board, also
declared: "The revelations of the last week and the
claims of Sinn Fein do not square up."

He urged the Chief Constable to go even further in
disclosing details of the searches and material seized
by his officers during the investigation in October
2002 into an alleged republican intelligencegathering

He added: "In order to maximise public confidence in
policing, Board members would urge those involved to
put as much information as possible in the public

With the furore over the affair showing no sign of
relenting, Hugh Orde this week insisted bundles of
papers including details on politicians, civil
servants and police and prison officers were recovered
during searches in West Belfast.

"These documents exist. They are real," he stressed.
"There is also a large number of documents relating,
for example, to discussions between the Prime Minister
and the President of the United States, discussions
between Government and the Northern Ireland political
parties, with the exception of Sinn Fein --we have not
recovered anything in relation to that party."

His assertion brought a furious reaction from senior
Sinn Fein representative Raymond McCartney, who
claimed the documents were found at the home of Denis
Donaldson, the party official revealed on Friday to be
a British agent.


Vitriol As Durkan-McGuinness Exchange Insults

Friday 23rd December 2005

Derry's two MPs - the SDLP's Mark Durkan and Martin
McGuinness, of Sinn Fein - are locked in a bitter war
of words over controversial 'on the runs' (OTRs)

Foyle MP and SDLP leader Mark Durkan claimed that Sinn
Fein's "new-found" opposition to the Northern Ireland
(Offences) Bill was "about as sincere as their
socalled support for the McCartney family".

Martin McGuinness, MP for Mid-Ulster, countered with
an equally scathing attack on the SDLP and, in
particular, its leader.

Accusing the Foyle MP of "distortion, dishonesty and
downright lies", Mr. McGuinness said Mr. Durkan's
"vitriolic attack" on his party was "despicable".

The OTRs legislation --currently making its way
through the British Parliament - has clearly run into
difficulties with all of the North's political
parties, including Sinn Fein, now calling for it to be

Earlier this week, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO)
insisted there was no vehicle other than the NI
(Offences) Bill for dealing with the issue.

And, at his monthly news conference this week, British
prime minister Tony Blair emphasised that it was not
just Sinn Fein's concerns that needed to be addressed.

Yesterday, the row over the OTRs legislation rumbled
on with some particularly bitter exchanges between the
SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Mark Durkan, speaking to the 'Journal', criticised
Tony Blair for his failure to announce the immediate
withdrawal of the Bill.

He said: "Tony Blair should have done the right thing
this week. He should have announced that this Bill is
being scrapped. He should have said we are going back
to the drawing board to design a proper system for
truth and dealing with the past.

"There is the real danger that the collusion between
Sinn Fein and the NIO is still going on. Many are
concerned that Sinn Fein's call for the legislation to
be withdrawn a whole six weeks after it was published
is a con job, and that they really want it to proceed.

"Sinn Fein say they have been negotiating with the
British government on this issue for six weeks. They
need to urgently disclose what it is precisely they
have been negotiating. Have they been talking about
withdrawing this Bill completely or are they just
looking for separate schemes for OTRs and state

"If all parties in the North really are opposed to the
legislation, it is impossible to see how Tony Blair
could proceed with it. His only excuse to date for the
legislation has been that he agreed it with Sinn Fein.

"So, if it is still being pushed forward it can only
mean that Sinn Fein hasn't really backed off the deal.
It can only mean that their new-found opposition to
the Bill is about as sincere as their so-called
support for the McCartney family."

In response, Martin McGuinness branded Mr. Durkan's
remarks "despicable".

"Recent comments by the SDLP and, in particular, Mark
Durkan's vitriolic attack on Sinn Fein are
despicable," he told the 'Journal'. "The SDLP appear
determined to attack Sinn Fein for everything that
happens, regardless of the facts.

"The reality is that the British state orchestrated
state killing through collusion. The British state
continues to cover-up collusion. The same British
state agencies operated the spy-ring at Stormont and
brought the political institutions down. And what is
the SDLP response? They blame Sinn Fein."

He said the SDLP's "current" interest in collusion was
in stark contrast to their "silence" when collusion
was bringing death and suffering to many families.

"The SDLP failed to raise this issue in Westminster or
in Europe. In fact, when victims of collusion lobbied
MPs and MLAs, the SDLP ignored them. How does Mark
Durkan explain that? Not one SDLP MLA turned up to
meet the victims of collusion.

"Yet, now they accuse Sinn Fein, which was a primary
target of the death squads, of collusion to hide the
truth. At both a political and a personal level, I
deeply resent their dishonesty on this issue. I lost
close friends and colleagues as a result of collusion
at a time when the SDLP was supporting the RUC and
dismissing collusion as Sinn FÈin propaganda.

"The SDLP record in tackling the issue of collusion is
abysmal when compared with Sinn Fein's. The reality is
that the SDLP, through heir support for the PSNI and
their membership of the Policing Board, are now part
of the policing establishment," concluded Mr.


Informers – An Unsavoury Fact Of Life

(Jim Gibney, Irish News)

I first met Denis Donaldson, or rather I met his name,
a few days after June 27 1970. The word on people's
lips on the streets of the Short Strand was that he
and a few other teenage members of the local IRA saved
the people of the Strand from a loyalist pogrom.

The battle of St Matthew's, as the attack became
known, gave birth to the modern IRA.

Denis Donaldson was a local hero.

Thirty-five years later by his own admission he has
entered the hall of infamy as an informer; a traitor
to his country, the movement he helped set up, his
comrades, his friends and most of all his devoted

I can hardly believe I have just written the previous

Those of us close to Denis Donaldson were rocked by
the informer revelation.

The people of the Short Strand are in shock. It will
take time to overcome the personal and the political
implications of it all.

But we will.

I am not a stranger to informers. On the three
occasions I have been to jail informers put me there.
They are an occupational hazard, an unsavoury fact of
life. They never stopped me being a republican and
never will.

I should not be surprised, but I am, that Denis
crossed to the other side.

Freedom struggles carry a heavy price tag.

Every part of me has been tested to its outer limits
by the demands of the struggle.

I have walked behind the coffins of teenage comrades
of mine.

I visited men and women in prison on hunger strike and
watched men dying in the H-blocks.

Behind bars I watched youths grow to men in their
middle years.

I saw families' grief-stricken when loyalist killers
claimed a child of theirs.

I experienced the pressure used to break people in
interrogation centres.

I know how difficult it is to maintain one's composure
under such pressure.

There is no shame in breaking under interrogation. The
shame is in what Denis did when he left the
interrogation centre.

He had options and unbelievably he chose to betray
everything those who knew him thought he believed in.

Over the last week the word betrayal has been used
most frequently by those closest to Denis. It is how
we feel.

If there ever was a stereotypical mould for an
informer then Denis Donaldson broke the mould.

He was charming, entertaining, witty and clever. He
used these fine qualities to conceal his double life
of treachery.

I could not count the number of times I shared
political ideas with him.

It hurts deeply now to think he passed my thoughts to
others for money.

For those close to him the hurt runs deep because it
is personal.

For others the cost is measured politically.

A friend described Denis as a 'listening device' for
the Special Branch.

Rarely did he suggest an original idea. He was not
close to Gerry Adams. He was not part of the small
group of people in the national leadership of Sinn
Féin who developed the peace process.

He did not contribute to shaping the strategy, which
led to the IRA's first cessation.

He was not part of the group handling the day-to-day
negotiations with the British and Irish governments
over the last 10 years.

The informer revelation starkly confirms what Sinn
Féin has been saying for years.

Inside the British system there are powerful
individuals who are a law onto themselves.

These are the same people who killed human rights
lawyer Pat Finucane and hundreds of innocent Catholics
because it served their interests.

It is now clear there was a spy ring at Stormont. It
was a British spy ring run by British intelligence

They organised a coup and overthrew a democratically
elected government.

The issue now is will Tony Blair do anything about his

If Peter Hain's comments are anything to go by then it
is likely we have not seen the last of the

There is a very simple message in all of this drama:
informers come and informers go.

The struggle for a united Ireland, which they
desperately seek to bring down, carries on regardless.

December 23, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 22, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Opin: Hullabaloo Over Donaldson And Connolly Has Nothing To Do With National Security

Jude Collins

Breathtaking – that's the only word. I normally
approach political life with a healthy cynicism, at
the back of my mind the deathless words of Jeremy
Paxman: 'Why is this lying bastard lying to me?' But
this past week has still left me empty of breath.

I'm not talking about the revelation that Denis
Donaldson was a spy. It may be hard to grasp how
Donaldson lived as he did for 20 years and why he
lived as he did. The notion that the ranks of Sinn
Féin should contain a long-term informer (and for
God's sake stop saying 'informant', would you, Hugh!)
is easily comprehended – could have been predicted,

As Damien Kiberd pointed out on this page earlier this
week, the men who executed Robert Emmet were spies.
The supergrass trials of the 1980s are still fresh in
the minds of many, and the stale smell of people like
Sean O'Callaghan still lingers in the nostrils. To be
surprised that a Denis Donaldson could exist is to be
starry-eyed. Prostitution is the oldest profession,
treachery a close second.

What is puzzling is what status Denis Donaldson held
within the republican movement. Some reports – many,
in fact – have him as director of communications in
the Sinn Féin offices at Stormont, privy to every
important republican decision and strategy for the
past ten years or more. I find that hard to believe.

I met Denis Donaldson on two occasions, the first when
I went to Stormont to interview Gerry Adams some eight
years ago, the second about four years later when I
interviewed Martin McGuinness. On both occasions,
having cleared security, I was left waiting at the
bottom of the stairs while word was sent to the Sinn
Féin offices; and on both occasions it was the small,
friendly figure of Denis Donaldson who came down,
greeted me and brought me up. That done, he disappared
until it was time to see me back to the main door

Now maybe Sinn Féin is different, but in any other
organisation I've visited – the Orange Order, the
Ulster Unionists, the BBC – the person who comes down
and greets the guests and brings them up to their
appointment is invariably a junior member – a gofer, a
runner. That was the impression I got of Denis
Donaldson on both occasions. But hey, maybe I misread
the signals. Or maybe Sinn Féin were playing a merry
prank on me, leading me to see Denis as less important
than he was. Or maybe the spy rose through the office
hierarchy at some speed over the last four years or
so. But I doubt it. So when I read of him as being a
top Sinn Féin person and the huge damage his treachery
will do to that party, I remember the little man who
brought me up the Stormont stairs.

No, it's not Donaldson's existence that's
breathtaking; rather it's the reaction to it.

Consider the facts. In 2002 a boots-and-baseball-caps
PSNI raid takes place at Stormont, a republican spy-
ring at the heart of government is announced, and the
elected government of this constipated corner of
Ireland is collapsed on the grounds that republicans
have been pretending to engage in politics while in
fact engaged in spying. They are a shower of no-goods,
the institutions must fall.

Spin forward to 2005. Now we discover that far from
there being a republican spy-ring at the heart of
government, there really was a British spy-ring at the
heart of government. Rather than republicans spying on
the British, it's been the other way round all the
time. While pretending to engage in politics, the
British government has in fact been engaged in spying.

What is the reaction to this among other political
parties and many sections of the media? Do they give
republicans an apology for the unfounded bad things
that were said about them and is the all-clear given
for the re-establishment of the institutions? Hah.
Perish the thought, my little one. What we have is Ian
Og Paisley addressing the microphones and declaring
that this has set back ANY prospect of a restoration
of the power-sharing institutions, since it shows that
republicans are not to be trusted. Reg Empey says me
too on that one. Mark Durkan says me too, ah… too.

Eh? Am I hearing aright? Breathtakingly, it seems so.

It's not just politicians. Hugh Orde, head of the same
PSNI that thundered into Stormont to expose the non-
existent spy-ring – Hugh comes on TV and says wait a
minute, we can't say if Donaldson was or was not a
spy, mum's the word, company policy and all that. But
we can say we the PSNI, found hundreds and hundreds of
documents, transcripts of private phone calls
including Bush chatting to Blair, details of prison
officers' lives – God knows what. It was very very
serious, Hugh says. We had to spend millions moving
people to new safe addresses. There was a republican
spy-ring, Hugh says these documents were found in a
house in west Belfast. You must decide which you
trust. Hugh says my word as the chief constable of the
PSNI, or a bunch of lying republican paddies. All
right, he didn't say the last bit about the paddies.
But he looks so neat and white-collared, with his hair
freshly-combed after another long run in the Mournes
or maybe at that PSNI sports club where they found the
Northern Bank money – he looks so respectable, you
think he might have something. If hundreds of
documents were found in somebody's house in west
Belfast, that does look like republicans were doing a
bit of spying, doesn't it?

But whoa. Steady. Hold on. Did you say in somebody's
house, Hugh? So could you maybe tell us, Chief
Constable, in whose house in west Belfast these
hundreds of documents were found? Er um, cor blimey,
well stone the crows and would you Adam and Eve it,
they found these documents in DENIS DONALDSON'S HOUSE
in west Belfast!

Well now. Either Hugh Orde believes what he is saying,
that finding confidential documents in the home of a
British spy proves there was a republican spy-ring, in
which case the dimmest Constable Plod would look like
Einstein beside him; or the Chief Constable doesn't
believe what he's saying, in which case he has a view
of the intelligence of his listeners which is
breathtaking in its contempt.

I'll tell you what the whole Donaldson thing is about.
And the Frank Connolly thing. And the hullabaloo about
the drafting of the on-the-runs bill. Nothing to do
with national security, north or south. Nothing to do
with ending criminality. Nothing to do with developing
trust between the parties. The tripartite commotion
has one determined purpose: to damage a successful
political party called Sinn Féin, preferably mortally.

Happy Christmas.

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


North's Only Para Spotted In Drumahoe

Friday 23rd December 2005

The British army yesterday confirmed that the only
serving member of the Parachute Regiment currently in
the North was on duty outside Derry earlier this week.

Several people had contacted the 'Journal' after they
were stopped at a British army checkpoint in Drumahoe
to report that they had seen at least one member of
the Parachute regiment with a dog at the checkpoint.

One man said: "I was a bit surprised to see the
distinctive red beret when I was stopped at the
checkpoint as I had not seen it since Bloody Sunday
and I would hate to think of that regiment coming back
to Derry. The other soldiers at the checkpoint were
not paras but I am convinced that there was at least

Other callers expressed concern about the presence of
the paras in the city and said that that particular
regiment of the British army was definitely not
welcome on the streets of Derry.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the British army said:
"At present there are no Parachute regiments serving
in the north, nor are there any parachute units or sub
units serving here.

"There is one dog handler who is stationed in
Ballykelly. The dog is a sniffer dog for searching for
explosives and this man was on duty at Drumahoe. Our
increased presence is due to the heightened threat
from dissident republicans."

The parachute regiment has not served in Derry since
Bloody Sunday although several years ago one battalion
was stationed at Ballykelly. The very presence of a
parachute regiment in the city has caused anger and
concern among local people. The British army have
never confirmed that there is a unofficial ban on the
paras serving in Derry but in the 33 years since
Bloody Sunday the fact that none have been stationed
in the city would suggest that such a ban exists.


Another Christmas Spent Playing The Troubles Endgame

Dec 23 2005
By David Powell In South Armagh, Daily Post

JONATHAN Jones, a Royal Welch Fusilier from Holyhead,
scans the road for threats to two patrolling Northern
Ireland policemen on a dank, wintry afternoon.

They're outside the heavily-fortified police station
at Newtownhamilton in South Armagh - or bandit country
near the Irish Republic's border - where terrorists,,
sectarian violence and stone-throwing youths remain

Ex-Holyhead High School pupil Jones, 21, said: "My
uncle was in the Royal Welsh Regiment in the 1970s
when all the rioting was kicking off. Now it's gone

It's true this patrol is uneventful but one of the
policemen, constable Robert Miller, 33, is still
grateful for Jones' armed escort..

In his distinctive Northern Irish twang he says: "The
Welch Fusiliers protect us on our patrols. They're a
professional outfit and a good bunch of guys. It's
great to have a Celtic connection with them - we talk
about rugby."

Despite the risks, Jones and his comrades know the
province is slowly getting safer.

"It's an interesting time to be here," says lieutenant
colonel Gerhard Wheeler, the 1st Battalion Royal Welch
Fusiliers' commanding officer at Bessbrook Mill
barracks near Belfast.

"We are at the end of a period of conflict resolution.
How we deal with the endgame will help to ensure we
hopefully get peace in Ireland.

"But I suspect it's not as exciting as it was for the
troops as Iraq last year. They're not being attacked."

The Army hopes to withdraw its troops from about 9,000
to 5,000 in 14 bases as the province gets safer.

However, his 400 Royal Welch Fusiliers still need
vigilance for this tour, due to end in January.

To find out more, colour sergeant Andy Jones, 36, of
Mold, and I climb aboard a Puma helicopter and fly
from Bessbrook Mill to a base in notorious

Inside are reminders of those dangers. Plaques on one
wall honour British soldiers killed by bomb blasts and
snipers. Poppy wreaths lie in front of them near a row
of riot shields.

We fly back over hilltop observation towers staffed by

Col Sgt Jones shouts over the engine's roar: "We used
to take soldiers to towers by road but helicopters are
safer. Eventually we'll only use the helicopters for

From those towers, fusiliers peer into night vision
cameras which can take a picture at 2kms. They spot
suspicious cars' registration plates and colours, and
check on a computer they haven't been switched or

But as the peace process thrives, these towers are
being dismantled by Royal Engineers - guarded by

So it's a mixed picture: a safer province stalked by a
latent terrorist threat.

We land back at Bessbrook Mill, a converted Victorian
flax mill, where Capt Andy Rowlands, 29, is in his

The former Ysgol Y Berwyn student from Bala is the
Fusiliers' intelligence officer.

He says: "It's a lot quieter than when I was last
here. There were public order incidents at Holy Cross
School and in the marching season in Drumcree.

"My job now is to support the police in identifying
possible criminal activities, or even terrorist
activities." Fuel smuggling is as likely as gun-

Sandhurst graduate Rowlands weighs up tip-offs from
informants who ring a confidential number before
passing them to police.

For soldiers, though, daily life is often dull.
Fusilier Simon Roberts, 23, of Holywell, served in
Basra last year.

He said: "I'd like to experience a bit of drama. It
gets a bit repetitive here, like Groundhog Day."

He doesn't miss the horrors of Iraq though. "Two
suicide car bombs hit

our camp on the same morning. Nine Iraqi policemen
died. Forty civilians and four British soldiers were

"I was getting into bed when I heard the first
explosion. The windows went through and the door flew
open in our base next to a police station. We pushed
outside the camp to secure it and the second bomber
drove into the crowd and blew himself up. I was pretty
close to that one."

Fusiliers perform many jobs to run Bessbrook Mill.

Corporal Jason "Max" Maxwell,, 34, of Colwyn Bay,
says: "I wash an average of 50 or 60 bags of uniforms
and civilian clothes per day. I've got 14 washing
machines and 14 dryers."

And the ex-Ysgol Bryn Elian student adds: "I've been
called Dot Cotton but it's an important job. Take out
certain facilities in Bessbrook Mill and it won't

Sergeant Major Mike Champlin , 34, of Wrexham says
Happy Christmas to his wife Jane and sons Ben, 12, and
Aaron, eleven.

Sergeant Danny Griffiths , 39, of Llanllyfni near
Caernarfon, sends a message to wife June, son Aaron,
11, and daughter Leanne, 15: "I hope you have a nice
Christmas. I'll see you all soon."

Corporal Jason Maxwell , 34, wishes Happy Christmas to
his mum Maureen, the warden at a home in Parciau
Close, Old Colwyn, and the rest of the family. He
says: "I love you and miss you. I can't wait to see
you. Everything is OK. See you soon."

Corporal Lloyd Williams , 31, of Bangor, says: "Happy
Christmas to my mum and dad, Dilys and Les, and
fiancée Siobhan Dooney, 19. I love you loads and I'll
see you in the New Year."

L/Cpl Phil Bird , 29, of Maesydre, Wrexham, says: "I
wish my mum and dad, Sue and Mason Bird, sisters
Marie, 30 and Amanda, 31, and brother Royston, 28, a
very Merry Christmas. Looking forward to being with

L/Cpl Huw Evans , 29, of Aberystwyth, wishes mum and
dad, Sian, 55, and Ken, 61, a happy Christmas. Nurse
Sian works at Ysbyty Bronglais in Penglais and Ken
owns a building firm.

L/Cpl Dewi Jones , 34, of Dinorwig, says "Happy
Christmas. Miss you lots" to girlfriend Louise Jones
and children Ceinwen, five, and Hari Wyn, aged 20

Fusilier Paul Maclean , 24, of Abergele, says: "Merry
Christmas to my mum and dad, Laura and Neil, and wife
Samantha, 21, sisters Dawn, 28, Mandy, 26, Angela, 21,
and brothers Daniel, 18, and Peter 13. Missing you
all. See you soon."

Fusilier David Lines said: "Happy Christmas mum, Sue,
dad Harry and sister Gemma, and Shane, Ellie and
Taylor, sister Nikki, and all my family. I'm a bit
gutted I'm going to be here. But there will be plenty
of time to meet my family in the New Year."

Fusilier Tony O'Donnell , 18, a former Holywell High
School pupil, of Greenfield, Holywell, says "Happy
Christmas" to his mum Alma and dad Brian, nain Mai and
taid Sam.

Fusilier Russell Palmer , 19, a former Ysgol Emrys ap
Iwan student in Abergele, sends seasons greetings to
his parents Shirley and Robbie, and his girlfriend
Dannylle Jennings, 18, all in Rhyl.

Fusilier Anthony Ullah , 18, a former Rhyl High School
student, said: "Happy Christmas to my mum Lynda, 40,
and stepdad Gary Izzard, brother Michael, 21, and
sisters Chantel, 16, Sarah, 13 and Leah, 11."

Fusilier Jonathan Jones , 21, of Holyhead, sends
Christmas wishes to his family, including parents Bill
and Sylvia Jones, and all his friends.

Captain Andrew Rowlands , 29, said: "I'd like to wish
a Merry Christmas to my wife Catherine in Carmarthen,
my brother Stephen, 26, father Brad and all the lads
in Bala."

Merger and move for Fusiliers

IN a merger on March 1 2006, the 1st Battalion The
Royal Welch Fusiliers becomes the 1st Battalion The
Royal Welsh (Royal Welch Fusiliers). Soldiers will
wear the Prince of Wales feathers on the cap badge and
white hackle of feathers on the new beret. They will
move from Aldershot to Chester, with some also serving
in Cyprus.

Lt Col Gerhard Wheeler said: "We won't have to move
around as a battalion. One problem with moving every
two years is older soldiers find it difficult to put
roots down, buy properties, put their children through


DUP Warns Of OTR Legislation Link To Political Progress

By Noel McAdam
23 December 2005

A Government attempt to meet Sinn Fein concerns over
the On The Runs legislation will ensure there is no
political progress, the DUP warned today.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson also directly appealed to
Sinn Fein to explain why it thinks only IRA members
should be included in the scheme linked to pre-1998
Troubles crimes.

His challenge came amid fears the Government could
seek to frame the scheme to benefit only republicans,
after Sinn Fein withdrew support for the present

But Mr Robinson said: "The inevitable resultant
outrage would ensure there would be no prospect of
future political progress."

Sinn Fein has admitted it had attempted privately to
change the Governments' mind over recent weeks - but
will now advise republicans not to take part in the
controversial scheme.

The Government has indicated it intends to press ahead
with the Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which it
views as a key mechanism for drawing a line over the
past in Northern Ireland and helping the political
process to move forward.

Mr Robinson said, however: "Sinn Fein needs to explain
to the community at large the logic of why they think
only the murderers in their own ranks, who
deliberately set out to cause death and destruction in
Northern Ireland, deserve to be permitted to get away
with murder."

The legislation is due to reach report stage in the
House of Commons early in the New Year when Direct
Rule Minister David Hanson is due to come forward with
new proposals around the area of the scheme which does
not require individuals to appear at the special


Border Fox Is Given Parole

Notorious terrorist chief gets a week's Christmas

By Marie Foy
23 December 2005

Border Fox Dessie O'Hare, a former head of the INLA,
is to be released from jail tomorrow for a week-long
Christmas break.

O'Hare was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment in 1988
- one of the longest terms ever handed down in the
Republic for an offence other than capital murder.

He was jailed after being found guilty of a string of
charges including kidnapping and mutilating Dublin
dentist John O'Grady the year before.

O'Hare, who was also the prime suspect in 27 murders,
sprang to public notoriety when he and other members
of an INLA gang kidnapped Mr O'Grady.

O'Hare used a chisel to cut off the tops of two of Mr
O'Grady's fingers, which were sent to gardai with a
ransom demand.

Gardai eventually rescued Mr O'Grady and O'Hare went
on the run.

Three weeks later, after a shoot-out, he was arrested
and imprisoned.

The terror chief, from Keady, Co Armagh, is among a
group of high-security prisoners being let out of
Portlaoise prison.

O'Hare is 17 years into his sentence, most of it at
Portlaoise, but is expected to be released shortly
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is also thought that ex-Real IRA deputy leader Liam
Campbell, who was jailed for eight years in 2004 for
membership of an illegal organisation, may also be
allowed out for the festive season.

The Christmas parole scheme is sanctioned by the
Republic's Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The Prison Service said that public safety was
paramount in their reviewing of temporary release

Ulster Unionist Newry and Mourne Assembly member Danny
Kennedy said O'Hare's release would cause wide concern
in the Protestant community.

"He shouldn't be allowed parole. It will give concern
to a lot of my consitituents.

"He has a notorious record and there is no indication
that he has ever expressed regret or any degree of

"There is no indication that he has moved on. I would
question whether he is ready to be rehabilitated into
the community."


Omagh Families Angry At Release

Man being sued by bomb relatives is to be freed for

Ciarán Barnes

The father of an Omagh bomb victim has described a
decision by the Irish government to free a Real IRA
leader on Christmas parole as a "slap in the face".

Liam Campbell, who is being sued by families who lost
loved ones in the bomb, is one of 12 hardline
dissident republicans being released from Portlaoise
prison for ten days over the festive period.

Joining him will be INLA veteran Dessie O'Hare, the
former leader of the INLA in Dublin, and a man
described as the second in command of the Munster Real

The men are expected to be let out on Christmas Eve
following a decision taken by Minister for Justice
Michael McDowell.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among the 29
killed in the 1998 bombing, described Campbell's
release as "farcical".

He said: "Decisions like this really hurt the families
of those who died. It is a real slap in the face.

"Although the governments seem to have jailed most of
the Real IRA leadership its members are still being
treated with kid gloves. Real IRA leaders being let
out on Christmas parole is just another example of

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said
Christmas parole releases were a matter for the Irish
Prison Service.

Although contacted, no one from the Irish Prison
Service was available for comment.

Liam Campbell has been in solitary confinement in
Portlaoise on a landing shared by criminals since a
summer fall-out with Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt.

He refuses to join the E3 landing shared by his Real
IRA faction and the hard-line Continuity IRA, the only
republican military organisation not to call a

Campbell was jailed for eight years in May 2004 after
being found guilty on two counts of being a member of
an illegal organisation.

The 43-year-old denied the charges relating to two
dates, October 3, 2000 and July 29, 2001. He was
arrested in Bettystown, Co Meath, in July 2001 and
jailed for five years that October.

The conviction was quashed by the Court of Criminal
Appeal in January 2004 but Campbell was retried on
both the original and a subsequent charge the
following May.

He was jailed for four years on both charges to run
consecutively with the final 18 months suspended. The
sentence was backdated to May 1, 2001.

Campbell, from Dundalk, is one of five men being sued
in a landmark £10 million (€14 million) civil action
by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.

The others are Michael McKevitt, Seamus Daly, Seamus
McKenna and Colm Murphy.


Imprisoned Dad Refused Leave To Attend Funeral

A west Belfast father, who is serving time in prison,
was yesterday unable to attend his 15- year-old
daughter's funeral.

Jamie-Lee Rooney died in an horrific two-car smash on
the Falls Road in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Her grieving mother Marguerite walked behind the
cortege as it made its way from her house in
Springfield Park to the Church of the Annunciation in
New Barnsley.

But Jamie-Lee's father Bernard was absent.

He is currently serving a sentence for robbery in
Maghaberry Prison and was refused compassionate leave.

At the same time in another church just a few miles
away the funeral of the other crash victim was taking

The service for 22-year-old Paul McCrory, from Gransha
Drive, was held at Corpus Christi Church in nearby
Turf Lodge.

Eight people were injured in the crash, six of them
are still in hospital.

Two people are still seriously ill in hospital,
another four are described as stable.

Meanwhile, one man died and two people were injured in
a road accident in County Tyrone.

The accident happened at about 9am on the A5 between
Omagh and Ballygawley.

The PSNI are appealing for anyone who witnessed the
crash, thought to have involved two vehicles, to
contact them.


Street Protest Over Spyring

Connla Young

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams took part in a picket
of the PSNI's Belfast HQ yesterday to demand an end to
political policing. The demonstration was one of a
number organised throughout Ireland to highlight the
involvement of paid PSNI Special Branch informer Denis
Donaldson in the alleged Stormont spy-ring affair.

Dozens of demonstrators turned out in Belfast, Dublin,
Derry and Cork yesterday to highlight the role of the
British agent in bringing down the power-sharing
executive and the role played by the PSNI in the
October 2002 operation. The Sinn Féin President said
he told British Prime minister Tony Blair that his own
security forces are responsible for the current
political crisis: "Yesterday I spoke to the British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and told him that at the
core of the current crisis is an element of the
British policing and intelligence system which
vehemently opposes the peace process and the Good
Friday Agreement."


Republicans Emerged Victorious In Tragic And Glorious Times

Tommy McKearney

Incredible as it may seem to younger readers, the
British government attempted 30 years ago to defeat
republican Ireland by embarking on a strategy that
involved defining the struggle for democracy here as
nothing other than inter-tribal warfare at best or a
vulgar, criminal conspiracy at worst.

Having failed in 1974 to persuade Northern Irish
unionism to accept a reformed, 'power-sharing' local
administration, the then Labour government opted for a
more traditional British approach in this country and
sought to crush the progressive forces.

With centuries of experience as an imperial power,
Britain's senior civil service recognised the
importance of claiming the high moral ground (however
undeserved) in a colonial war. London had learned from
the Black and Tan period the dangers of losing a
propaganda battle. Not only had international opinion
then turned against Britain but crucially too, so did
significant sections of its own media and population.

The British offensive of the mid-1970s was to take a
multi-faceted 'beans and bullets' approach. In an
effort to appease, efforts were made to stimulate the
local economy. Money was poured into the ill judged
DeLorean factory and funding distributed to pro-
establishment charities. On a different level, the
tactics were political/military. Hoping to create the
impression of civil society under attack, internment
was ended and a quasi-legal system established in its
place while to further this illusion, the RUC was
ostensibly to have supremacy for security.
Simultaneously, state sponsored terror was unleashed
under the guise of loyalist sectarian attacks in order
to demoralise the republican community and spread the
lie of 'feuding Ulster tribes'.

However, to provide a highly visible photo opportunity
that would physically demonstrate the supposed
degeneration of Irish republicanism into criminality,
the British government decided to remove political
status from prisoners of the conflict. The plan was to
dress and treat them as 'mere criminals' in the newly-
built cellular H-Blocks and thus allow Britain to
pretend that its role in Ireland was purely

Had Britain succeeded, the republican struggle would
have been destroyed. Not only would the physical
movement have been defeated but the philosophy would
also have been damned as pernicious. This is the
context in which the prison struggles of the period
should be viewed and that is why many hundreds of
republicans refused on principle to accept prison
rules and acquiesce with the criminalisation policy.

No one should underestimate the hardship this course
of action caused. For refusing to conform to the
prison regime, republican prisoners were confined to
their cells with only a blanket for warmth. The prison
authorities were, moreover, extremely hostile – and
violence from the prison guards was an ever-present
concern for all protesting prisoners.

When a prolonged and intensive series of semi-official
negotiations failed to move the newly-elected Tory
government led by Margaret Thatcher, republicans in
the H-Blocks sought and gained permission from the IRA
Army Council for that last resort of any prisoner, a
hunger strike.

Seven men were selected from among the many who
volunteered and on 27th October, 1980, the strike
began. The seven, led by Brendan Hughes, included Leo
Green, Raymond McCartney, Tom McFeely, myself, Sean
McKenna and John Nixon. Fifty-three days later the
strike ended.

Controversy surrounds the ending of the hunger strike.
With Sean McKenna hours from death and myself
declining rapidly, Brendan Hughes decided that in
light of existent promises it would be unwise and
irresponsible to allow the situation to drift. He
believed that the British government had conceded
sufficient ground to allow the prison situation to
progress gradually towards a satisfactory outcome. A
sophisticated and pragmatic thinker, Brendan Hughes
recognised the improbability of an initial total
triumph and understood that political reaction in
Britain to a hunger striker's funeral would most
likely not allow for flexibility in Downing Street.
Under such circumstances, decisions are rarely easy
and never clear-cut.

It is now common knowledge that Britain reneged on the
assurances and thus brought about the second hunger
strike when ten prisoners died in the H-Blocks. It is
tautological to say that had the first hunger strike
succeeded in gaining political status, the second
event would never have taken place. What is not so
clear is whether the Thatcher government had ever any
intention of negotiating honestly with Irish
republicans. This, after all, was the government that
deliberately sank the Argentinean ship General
Belgrano in order to prolong the South Atlantic war
and calculatingly drew the National Union of
Mineworkers into a debilitating year- long strike.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is now reasonable to
hold the view that a perfidious British government
sought to annihilate Irish republicans in a
destructive final pitched battle and therefore acted
duplicitously at all times.

Victory in the struggle for political recognition came
eventually to republicans, not so much from material
conditions gained but from standing and fighting. The
apex of this struggle came during the tragic and
glorious year of 1981. The first hunger strike of 1980
was one of the lesser, although significant battles in
that hard-fought campaign.


Irish Zionist Slur Blasted By Israel

Posted: 12/22
From: Jewish Telegraph

IRELAND sparked a diplomatic outcry last night by
refusing to back Jewish rights to a homeland.

An aide to Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told the
Jewish Telegraph that Zionism was a religious issue
and refused to take a position on "an Old Testament

The Israeli government hit back, comparing the
Republic to the hardline Iranian regime.

"I am very sorry that Ireland takes this position
because in doing that they support [Iranian President
Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," blasted a senior aide to
premier Ariel Sharon.

Last month Ahmadinejad told a "World without Zionism"
conference that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

We are lifting the lid on these explosive comments
after Mr Ahern refused to go on the record to denounce
claims by former Irish minister Justin Keating that
Jews have mounted a "self-serving and untruthful
Zionist myth" to lay claim to Israel.

John Kennedy, a foreign policy adviser to Mr Ahern,
said the Republic would recognise Israel only in its
modern form and would not comment on any historical
claims on the land.

Mr Kennedy said: "Support for Israel isn't premised on
Zionism. Our support for Israel is that its effect in
being. Zionism may be what brought it to be there, but
Zionism is essentially a religious issue - a faith
issue. I don't think you're going to get the Taoiseach
to take a position on that."

He added: "Zionism is not part of relevant official
policy here. Even within Judaism you get a division on

"Some people support it and some people have a
profoundly held theological basis to reject it. It's a
theological issue, we're not going into that."

He claimed that Ireland has not been "well served" by
Zionism because the migration to Israel in the 1950s
and 60s had left behind a "non-viable community".

In our series of conversations Mr Kennedy also
maintained: "People who say that they have an Old
Testament mandate to be there in their historic
homeland, we haven't addressed that issue.

"I haven't seen anyone here taking a policy position
on that. Our recognition of Israel and our exchange of
ambassadors is all in the modern age, it's in an age
where we simply recognise Israel as effect in being, a
state of the modern world, one of the community of

Mr Kennedy, a civil servant who looks after non-EU
foreign policy for the Taoiseach, reiterated their
stance: "You can take a view on the State of Israel,
quite independently of Zionism."

The two countries only established full diplomatic
relations in 1975, but the Israeli government says the
Irish position, exposed by the Jewish Telegraph, is
unacceptable, because it denies the legitimacy of

"It is not enough," blasted Raanan Gissin, an aide to
Mr Sharon. "There is a culture of hatred that says the
Jews have no right to live here as an entity. We are
here as our birthright not as a conqueror."

Mossad head Meir Dagan, who was listening to our
interview, pointed out: "We were here 1,600 years
before the Arabs."

Mr Gissin added: "If you don't support Zionism ipso
facto you are actually saying, in the logical
progression, we don't support the right of the Jewish
people to have a state of their own, in their own
ancestral homeland.

"There's no Zionism if Jews have a state in Alaska or

As comments by the Iranian president caused growing
international revulsion this week, Mr Gissin further
equated them with the Irish position we have

He stormed: "Ahmadinejad is trying to erase Israel off
the map by not recognising that Jews have a

Mr Gissin added: "We are having to teach the same
lessons to Ahmadinejad and Ireland.

"It is not a religious issue and you cannot erase
history. The moment you equate Zionism with Judaism
you deny any aspect of national sovereignty for the
Jewish people.

"That is the problem with the Arabs, they recognise
the entity of Israel, but don't recognise the fact
that they have an inherent right to a homeland."

"Zionism is the national liberation movement of the
Jewish people. We are an ancestral tribe who have
walked the face of the earth for 4,000 years. We have
proof of our existence."

The Jewish Telegraph has spent a fortnight trying to
obtain comments from Mr Ahern following a series of
outrages in against Israel in Ireland this year.

In June the Jewish Telegraph witnessed IRA extremists
targeting Israeli football fans with "Sieg heil" and
"Death to Israel" taunts before a World Cup qualifier
in Dublin.

And veteran politician Justin Keating wrote in last
month's Dubliner magazine: "The Zionists have no right
in what they call Israel."

As we went to press last night, words attributed to
the Taoiseach were finally issued, which failed to
address the Zionist issue.

"Ireland has excellent relations with Israel, at all
levels," the Taoiseach maintained.

"We are actively committed to supporting the Roadmap
for a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict."


We Love... The Pogues

Dec 23 2005
Gareth Morgan, Western Mail

IT was Christmas Eve, baaaaabe ... in the drunk tank
... an old man said to me, we won't see another one...

Not quite the stuff of merry Christmas hopes and
dreams, but the unforgettable opening lines to
arguably the greatest seasonal song ever penned.

At a time when our ears are filled with oral cotton
candy about Santa hurrying down the chimney and love
and understanding, Shane MacGowan and the Pogues offer
the perfect antidote.

Their Christmas classic, Fairytale of New York, was an
unlikely hit for the bunch of London-Irish folk-punks
in the mid-1980s.

And ever since it has been a guaranteed tear-jerker
for Irish emigrants, or indeed anyone who does not
quite feel filled with festive joy at this time of

It reached number two in the charts in 1987, beaten
only by what one member of the band described as "two
queens and a drum machine" - The Pet Shop Boys and
their cover of Always On My Mind.

The song has an almost symphonic quality, from the
delicate opening piano bars to the reeling Irish-style
passage that forms the bulk of the tune.

Add in the late Kirsty McColl's stunning duet with
MacGowan, and you have the perfect antidote to
Christmas sentimentality.

Although the song is not devoid of romanticism,
drawing literally on fairytale images of an imagined
Ireland and an imagined New York as its inspiration.

But the Pogues were more than one-hit wonders and
although Fairytale of New York is being re-released
this week, they should be remembered for more than
just this one song.

Emerging from the tail end of the London punk scene,
they produced a genuinely fresh sound by merging the
speed and delivery of punk with the lilt of Irish folk
groups like the Dubliners and the Fureys.

Whereas many rock groups have used Black American
blues as their source of inspiration, The Pogues
looked to a lesser-mined vein of rock heritage in the
tunes of historic Ireland.

MacGowan's slurred delivery and wild-man antics only
added to the group's reputation as they played London
clubs in a time haunted by IRA bombings, when it
definitely was not considered cool to be Irish.

"For every club that we got barred from, we seemed to
get a bit more famous," remembered the singer.

In August 1984 Stiff Records released their debut
single, Dark Streets Of London; two months later, came
their debut album Red Roses For Me. But it was the
band's striking second album, Rum, Sodomy and The
Lash, that really stood out. It featured a jawdropping
rendition of Eric Bogle's The Band Played Waltzing
Matilda, still the Pogues' most poignant moment.

Suddenly folk-rock was back in the limelight and the
Pogues were leading the charge, but by the tail end of
the decade MacGowan's wayward habits were becoming

To fulfil live commitments Clash front man Joe
Strummer was brought in to substitute, and in 1991,
MacGowan finally quit. The band persevered with 1993's
under-rated Waiting For Herb, but subsequently split.

But this Christmas, the line-up have been back
together for a series of live shows across Britain and
Ireland, including stopping off at the CIA.

As was to be expected, their offerings were never
polished gems and MacGowan's on-stage antics remained

Yet when the band clicks, as they first did more than
20 years ago, the Pogues remain the only outfit that
can make you tap your feet and shed a tear at exactly
the same time.

Sally MacLenane

Half love song, half story about trying to make your
way in the world, and a pinch of old folks shuffling
off this mortal coil. Features the singalong, "Buy me
beer and whiskey cos I'm going far away"

If I Should Fall From Grace With God

The classic, rollicking Pogues sound epitomised. And
it's basically about dying and being buried, which is
typical MacGowan material

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Penned by the peerless Eric Bogle this banjo-led track
tells the horrific story of an amputee returning,
disillusioned, from the front lines at Gallipoli

Fairytale of New York

The seasonal classic tells the story of two down-on-
their-luck Irish emigrants having a right old barney
on Christmas Eve. But like all good fairytales it
means so much more...

Streams of Whiskey

One of MacGowan's most unapologetic drinking songs
ever, including the line "When the world seems too
dark and I need a light inside of me, I walk into a
bar and drink 15 pints of beer"

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