News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

December 07, 2005

Lawyer: End Daily Ireland Advertising Ban

To Index of Monthly Archives
To December 2005 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 12/07/05 Lawyer Calls To Drop Daily Ireland Ad Ban
BB 12/07/05 Bank Raid Accused In Frame Claim
IT 12/08/05 Police Followed Suspect To Canary Islands
BB 12/07/05 Officer Criticises Fugitive Plans
BT 12/07/05 Opin: Biggest Anomaly Is The Offences Bill
DI 12/07/05 City Pimp Accused Is Ex-SDLP Candidate
DI 12/07/05 Ahern Accepts Word Of US On Torture
BB 12/07/05 200m Euros Of Funding Is Proposed
IT 12/08/05 CPI Inquiry Centre Meets As Funding Withdrawn
IT 12/08/05 CPI Centre Faces Closure
IT 12/08/05 CPI Statement: Atlantic Philanthropies
IT 12/08/05 CPI Statement: Frank Connolly
IT 12/08/05 CPI - McDowell's Dáil Reply
SF 12/07/05 CPI - Questions Raised Over Garda Leaking Files
IO 12/07/05 Bank Raid Gang 'Prepared To Kill Hostages'
IT 12/08/05 President And The Queen Both Visit Belfast
DI 12/07/05 Official Refuses To Answer In Irish
IT 12/08/05 Defence Forces Organise 1916 Commemoration
IT 12/08/05 Plan For New €4m Bridge For Achill
IT 12/08/05 Man (34) Drowned Trying To Save Dog
IV 12/08/05 Timothy Rooney Named Grand Marshal
TS 12/08/05 Chair Of English Department Releases New Book


Lawyer Calls On Hain To Drop Daily Ireland Ad Ban

Prominent Irish-American lawyer Ed Lynch yesterday called
on the British government to place classified advertising
in Daily Ireland until the results of its review of
advertising in the North is complete.

In a letter to secretary of state Peter Hain, Mr Lynch said
the ban on job and public notice advertising in had
"created a perception of discrimination". "Mr Hain has
received wide support here in the United States for his
forthright analysis of the need to promote private
development in the North of Ireland in concert with the
ongoing economic progress in the South," the New Jersey
lawyer said.

"Unfortunately, the denial of government advertising
revenue to a deserving start-up private enterprise such as
Daily Ireland runs directly counter to the secretary's

"No good reason exists why the government places all of its
classified advertisements in The Belfast Telegraph, The
Irish News and the News Letter.

"These three publications have received government
munificence without having to stand scrutiny of a value-
for-money test or competitive bidding. To suggest that
Daily Ireland should wait until April 2006 for a possible
opportunity to compete for business makes no sense. Because
the government has chosen to freeze out Daily Ireland from
advertising revenue, the burden should be upon the
government to demonstrate the justification for such a
benighted policy."

He said Daily Ireland should get recruitment and public
notice advertising "while the review is pending".

"You posit the case for maintaining the status quo pending
review of government advertising policy. If the present
policy was producing good value for taxpayers' investment,
then this argument might be persuasive. However, I am
unaware that there is any outstanding review which
justifies the monopoly granted by the government to the
three daily papers based upon efficiency and financial
values," he said.


Bank Raid Accused In Frame Claim

A bank worker charged with a £26.5m robbery has accused
police of "hounding and torturing his family and friends"
in order to "frame" him.

Chris Ward, 24, from Colinmill, Poleglass, has been charged
with the 2004 Northern Bank robbery in Belfast.

He was also accused of using a gun to carry out the
robbery. Mr Ward is expected to apply for High Court bail.

He appeared at the city's magistrates' court on Wednesday
where he spoke only to confirm he understood the charge.

But the court heard that when charged, he said police had
held him "longer than the hostage takers" to frame him.

"Police have bugged my house (and) a holiday in Spain, went
through all my phone records, my bank accounts, hounded my
friends - even going as far as Australia," he was reported
to have said, when he was charged at Antrim police station
on Wednesday.

"They have tortured my family in an attempt to frame me
with the Northern Bank robbery.

"Police have failed in all these attempts. They have held
me longer than the hostage takers who seized me last year."

A detective inspector told the court he could connect Mr
Ward with the charges.

He confirmed that the case against him was circumstantial.

The court was told that the case was based on four main
areas: his actions on 18 and 19 December; his actions on 20
December, the day of the raid; his original account of what
happened and a works rota.

During cross examination by defence lawyer Niall Murphy,
the inspector accepted that Mr Ward had informed police
about a trip to the Canary Islands and that he had no
criminal record.

Mr Murphy also told the court that evidence gathered from
surveillance devices placed during his holiday in
Fuerteventura and at his home were put to Mr Ward during

Ten out of 60 interview tapes, amounting to three and
three-quarter hours, involved police going through a
detailed analysis of Mr Ward's bank account with a
detective from the Financial Investigations Unit, he said.

"Regarding the rota, the police case is that my client
manipulated the rota to create a window of opportunity," Mr
Murphy said.

When the detective agreed with this assessment, the lawyer
told the court: "The rota my client created on the 16th had
neither my client nor Kevin McMullan on duty on the day of
the robbery."

Stressing that Mr Ward "absolutely denied" the offence, Mr
Murphy said he would applying for High Court bail.

Mr Ward was remanded in custody to appear by video link
next month.

He was arrested just over a week ago at his home.

The bank robbery was the biggest cash theft in UK history.

Three men have already been charged in connection with the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/07 16:10:50 GMT


Police Followed Northern Bank Worker Suspect To Canary Islands

Police mounted a surveillance operation in the Canary
Islands on a man they suspected of the £26.5 million
Northern Bank robbery, a detective told a court in Belfast

The undercover operation was mounted in Fuerteventura after
Christopher Ward, a 24-year-old Northern Bank employee,
told police he was going there on holiday, a PSNI detective
confirmed at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Mr Ward, from Colinmill, Poleglass, west Belfast, has been
charged with the robbery at the Northern Bank's Belfast
headquarters a year ago, and of using a gun to carry out
the robbery.

Det Insp Sean Wright said that when Mr Ward was charged, he
replied: "Police have bugged my house, a holiday in Spain,
went through all my phone records, my bank accounts,
hounded my friends, even going as far as Australia, and
have tortured my family in an attempt to frame me with the
Northern Bank robbery.

"Police have failed in all of these counts, they have held
me longer than the hostage-takers who seized me last year.

"Indeed, they held me in a police station for longer than
anyone else in the history of the North of Ireland."

The court was told that the case against Mr Ward was based
on his actions on December 18th and 19th last year; his
actions on December 20th, the day of the raid; his original
account of what happened, and a works rota.

Det Insp Wright, who said he could connect the accused to
the crime, told the court that surveillance would have a
direct impact on at least one of these areas.

He confirmed to defence solicitor Niall Murphy that Mr Ward
had no criminal record and that during 60 interviews he had
denied any involvement in the robbery.

Det Insp Wright said that when Mr Ward went on holiday to
Fuerteventura a surveillance operation was mounted.

During cross-examination by Mr Murphy, Det Insp Wright
accepted that Mr Ward had told police about the trip to

Mr Murphy told the court that evidence gathered from
surveillance devices placed during Mr Ward's holiday in
Fuerteventura and at his home was put to Mr Ward during

Ten of the 60 interview tapes, amounting to nearly four
hours, involved police going through a detailed analysis of
Mr Ward's bank account with a detective from the Financial
Investigations Unit, Mr Murphy added.

Stressing that Mr Ward absolutely denied the offence, Mr
Murphy said he would be applying for High Court bail.

Mr Ward was remanded in custody to appear again by video
link on January 4th.

© The Irish Times


Officer Criticises Fugitive Plans

A senior police officer has criticised the controversial
on-the-run legislation and said policemen and soldiers
should not be covered by it.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton also said it would
only affect a small number of cases being investigated by
the Northern Ireland Cold Case Review.

It would not have a major impact upon about 2,000 unsolved
murders, he said.

Senior officers have criticised plans to allow paramilitary
fugitives to return without serving a prison term.

Mr Leighton made his remarks when pushed by SDLP and DUP
politicians at a meeting of the Policing Board.

He told members: "If you are asking me as a police officer
do I like legislation that proposes that people who would
be put before a court are going to walk away, then the
answer is clearly no.

"It's not why any police officer becomes a police officer,
but I don't write it - I don't put it through. That's for
politicians to do.

"I don't like it and I don't think any police officer likes
the thought of this legislation, but we will have to live
with whatever legislation is passed."

The first hearing in the committee stage of the Northern
Ireland (Offences Bill) took place on Tuesday.

The plan covers up to 150 people wanted for crimes
committed before 1998.

Proposed law

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 government and Sinn Fein argue that it clears up "an
anomaly" left by the release of those already in jail after
the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

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
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.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/07 16:22:41 GMT


Opin: The Biggest Anomaly Of All Is The Offences Bill

Lindy McDowell
07 December 2005

In attempting to justify his Offences Bill which will
introduce the legislation to provide amnesty for terrorist
fugitives, Tony Blair has said it was about resolving an

The IRA argument - sorry - Tony's argument is that with
prisoners released early under the terms of the Agreement,
it would be an "anomaly" if those terrorists who are
currently on-the-run should not also be able to avail of a
"get out of jail free" card.

Except of course, that they haven't actually been in jail
in the first place.

So before we even start, here's another anomaly.

Given that the OTRs are being given carte blanche, isn't it
a bit on an anomaly that terrorists who actually did time
should have criminal records?

How long before Sinn Fein - sorry - Tony Blair spots that
"anomaly" and decides that the only way to sort it is to
wipe the slate clean (and possibly even provide
compensation) for all those who were released early under
the terms of the Agreement?

This is the big problem with anomalies.

Spot one and suddenly they're everywhere.

Isn't it a bit of an anomaly, for example, that someone who
committed mass murder won't have to face a court? While
someone who accidentally drove in the wrong direction down
a one-way street will?

Isn't it a bit of an anomaly that someone who murdered a
police officer in one part of the UK won't even get a
ticking off, while someone who murdered a police officer in
another part of the UK will get life?

Isn't it an anomaly that it's the family of the victims who
will have to face the court - while the terrorist who
committed the crime can sit down the club sipping

Isn't it an anomaly that the same Government that believes
in letting terrorist killers walk free, is determined to
see imprisoned a pensioner whose crime was to withhold
council taxes on principle?

Isn't it an anomaly that those suspected of inciting
terrorism in London are expelled from the country, while
those known to have committed acts of terrorism in Belfast
are about to be welcomed back with open arms?

And isn't it an anomaly that someone blowing smoke on your
face in the workplace is seen as intolerable and an assault
on your human rights while having to bear someone who
murdered your child strutting around scot free is not?

We would be here all day if we were to consider all the
anomalies, Tony.

But, given that opposition to it is almost universal...
given that, with the exception of Sinn Fein, members of
every single political party in Westminster opposes it...
given that it has caused outrage and real hurt not just on
both sides of the community in Northern Ireland but on both
sides of the border... and given that media and
commentators throughout the British Isles have signalled
their revulsion to it... we'd have to start with the most
obvious, objectionable anomaly of all.

Your truly offensive Offences Bill.


City Pimp Accused Is Ex-SDLP Candidate

By Ciarán Barnes

A man accused of running brothels in Belfast is a former
SDLP council election candidate.

Dominic Marsella, from Chichester Avenue in the north of
the city, appeared in Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday
charged with two counts of controlled prostitution and one
of trafficking people.

The PSNI shut down suspected brothels he had allegedly been
running at the Lucas Building on Ormeau Avenue and
Margarita Plaza on Adelaide Street on September 24. A
defence solicitor said all the charges would be contested.

The case was adjourned until January 9, with Mr Marsella
released on continuing £1,000 bail. At a previous court
appearance on October 17, a police officer said he could
connect the accused to the charges.

In the 1997 local government elections, Mr Marsella stood
unsuccessfully for the SDLP in the Castlereagh Central ward
of Castlereagh borough council.

It was the first time the party fielded a candidate in the
area, with the 57-year-old polling 224 votes.

After his failed election attempt he drifted away from
politics to concentrate on teaching languages in different
schools in the Belfast and south east Antrim areas.

A spokeswoman for the North Eastern Education and Library
Board confirmed he had been an employee.

She said he had taught English as an additional language at
schools in the board area until being made redundant on May
31. Mr Marsella refused to speak to the press as he left
court with his solicitor.

A spokeswoman for the SDLP confirmed he had been a council
candidate, but that his party membership had lapsed "years


Ahern Accepts Word Of US On Torture

By Jarlath Kearney

The US ambassador to Ireland should be asked to appear at
the Oireachtas to discuss the alleged use of Shannon
airport by the Central Intelligence Agency, it was claimed
last night.

Fine Gael foreign affairs spokesman Bernard Allen has asked
the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee to invite US
ambassador James Kenny to appear before it in order to
discuss the use of the Republic's airspace by CIA-chartered

Mr Allen made his comments after the Taoiseach said his
government accepted the word of the US authorities over
alleged torture flight claims.

Irish opposition parties and human-rights groups have
claimed in recent months that terrorism suspects may be
transported by the CIA through Shannon airport in Co Clare
on their way to interrogation camps in eastern Europe and

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is facing
controversy on the issue as she visits Berlin, Bucharest,
Kiev and Brussels on a tour of Europe.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil yesterday that the
rendition of suspects was the primary reason his foreign
affairs minister Dermot Ahern had sought a meeting with Dr
Rice in Washington last week.

He said: "We cannot and will not in this country allow any
aircraft to engage in what are known as 'extraordinary
renditions', to land and refuel in any Irish airport.

"Ireland has not and will not facilitate torture of
prisoners by any state. Any use of torture wherever it
occurs would be wrong and deeply reprehensible."

Mr Allen said it was estimated that there may have been 38
landings of CIA chartered airplanes in Ireland since 2002

"It would be intolerable if it were shown that Irish
facilities were used to covertly transfer prisoners to
countries where they could be subjected to illegal forms of
interrogation, torture or ill-treatment," said Mr Allen

"As a fundamental principle, the Irish Government should
make absolutely clear that the use of any Irish facility
for the transfer of prisoners, from any country, to any
country, and undertaken by any country, must be in
accordance with Irish and European law. The covert transfer
of detainees cannot be supported under any circumstances,
and Ireland has important legal obligations to ensure that
this does not take place on our territory."

Mr Ahern yesterday said all possible governmental powers
would be exercised to stop the United States from using any
of the Republic's facilities where there were substantial
grounds for believing that a prisoner was being tortured.

He said the Irish government subscribed to the accepted
international definition of torture but the state accepted
the repeated assurances of the US authorities.

The Taoiseach claimed that no evidence existed of illegal
practices but that any evidence uncovered should be passed
on to the gardaí.

Amnesty International last night challenged foreign
minister Dermot Ahern over allegations that the CIA was
using Shannon Airport.

Focusing on Mr Ahern's acceptance last week that CIA
flights landing in the state were not being used for
"untoward" purposes, Amnesty's director in the North,
Patrick Corrigan, said new evidence had been obtained that
required investigation.

"Flying detainees to countries where they may face torture
or other ill treatment is a direct and outright breach of
international law with or without so-called diplomatic

"These assurance are meaningless. Countries known for
systematic torture regularly deny the existence of such
practices," Mr Corrigan said.

According to Amnesty, six different CIA-chartered
commercial executive jets landed at Shannon airport 50
times between September 2001 and September 2005.

Records for the same period show just 35 takeoffs from
Shannon. Amnesty suggested this anomaly demonstrates that
"some flights were kept secret".


200m Euros Of Funding Is Proposed

The government has proposed that 200 million euros (£134m)
should be allocated to European peace funding in Northern
Ireland between 2007 and 2013.

The proposal for PEACE III funding has been welcomed by
Sinn Fein and the UUP.

Ministers will meet in Brussels to decide whether or not to
ratify the third tranche of peace money later this month.

The EU has allocated almost one billion euros to community
groups under two peace and reconciliation schemes.

However, the second tranche of funds, PEACE II, is due to
run out next year.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre De Brun said it is now imperative
that European ministers ratify the proposal when they meet
later this month.

"Work still remains to be done to ensure a further round of
peace funding is secured," Ms De Brun said.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said it was "a welcome
proposal but we must await the outcome of budget
negotiations at the European Council summit in Brussels
next week".

He also said it was "time for unionist community groups to
start applying for funding" and "get their fair share of
what they are entitled to".

However, Jim Dougal, the former head of the European
Commission office in Belfast and London, said the funding
was a smaller amount than was originally mooted.

He said it was an indication that "Europe has other

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the EU on the PEACE II
scheme has said it is "making a positive difference" in
Northern Ireland.

The programme has supported activity in areas affected by
the conflict, including projects that develop activities
for old and vulnerable people, the disabled, victims of the
conflict and domestic violence and the young unemployed,
the report said.

However, it said "recent problems in the NI peace process
have brought into sharp focus the ongoing challenges faced
by those involved in building lasting peace and

Those problems emphasised the "long term nature of the
solution", it added.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/07 18:12:38 GMT


CPI Inquiry Centre To Meet As €4m Funding Withdrawn

The board of the Centre for Public Inquiry is to hold an
emergency meeting today or tomorrow to discuss the
withdrawal of its €4 million funding by Irish-American
philanthropist Chuck Feeney. Paul Cullen reports.

The decision was prompted by claims by Minister for Justice
Michael McDowell that the director of the centre, former
journalist Frank Connolly, travelled to Colombia on a false
passport together with a convicted IRA member in 2001.

The Centre for Public Inquiry, chaired by retired Mr
Justice Feargus Flood, was set up to investigate matters of
Irish public importance. Mr McDowell has linked Mr Connolly
to a "well-organised sinister enterprise" by which the
Provisional IRA provided Farc guerillas in Colombia with
explosives training for large amounts of money Farc raised
from the cocaine trade.

Mr Connolly yesterday rejected Mr McDowell's allegations
and claimed he was the victim of a "witch-hunt".

The board of Atlantic Philanthropies, Mr Feeney's
charitable trust, withdrew funding at a meeting in New York
on Tuesday, before Mr McDowell made his allegations after a
Dáil question by Independent TD Finian McGrath.

The Irish Times understands Mr Feeney offered last month to
continue funding if Mr Connolly were replaced. However, the
board, in discussions about media allegations concerning Mr
Connolly, declared its confidence in him. As a result,
Atlantic opted to terminate its €800,000-a-year funding.

Mr McGrath said he would make a complaint to the Ceann
Comhairle over what he claimed was the Minister's abuse of
Dáil privilege.

Sinn Féin also accused Mr McDowell of an "outrageous" abuse
of privilege by using the Dáil question to place on the
record "unsubstantiated allegations".

Centre faces closure after withdrawal of funding: page 11

© The Irish Times


CPI Centre Faces Closure After Withdrawal Of Funding

Paul Cullen

Reaction: The Centre for Public Inquiry is facing closure
after a decision by Atlantic Philanthropies, the trust
founded by Irish-American millionaire Chuck Feeney, to
withdraw funding.

Minister raised concerns over Frank Connolly with CPI's
patron, Chuck Feeney, months ago

Atlantic's decision to terminate its €800,000-a-year
funding followed an attack by Minister for Justice Michael
McDowell on the director of the CPI, former journalist
Frank Connolly.

Mr McDowell claimed Mr Connolly was involved in an IRA plot
to teach Farc rebels in Colombia how to use explosives. In
a written answer to a Dáil question he also claimed Mr
Connolly had travelled to the South American country on a
false passport with a known IRA member.

Mr Connolly strongly denied the allegations yesterday and
accused the Minister of trying to destroy his reputation.
He declined to say where he was on the dates he was alleged
to have been in Colombia, saying he would deal with these
matters if and when the DPP decided to take a case against

Speaking early yesterday, he also rejected as "rubbish"
claims that Mr Feeney had withdrawn funding. However, by
evening Atlantic had issued a brief statement saying that
funding was being withdrawn "after several weeks of
discussion with the Centre for Public Inquiry".

While the decision to pull funding was made before Mr
McDowell's Dáil broadside, it has emerged that the Minister
raised his concerns about Mr Connolly in a private meeting
with Mr Feeney several months ago.

The board of CPI, which is chaired by former tribunal
chairman Mr Justice Feargus Flood, discussed the
allegations against Mr Connolly on several occasions this
year but each time members expressed confidence in the

In his Dáil statement Mr McDowell said it appeared that no
"adequate and sustained attempt" was made by the board to
address the "genuine issues of public concerns" that arose.

Contacted last night, a palpably upset Mr Justice Flood
declined to comment, as did another board member, solicitor
Greg O'Neill. Attempts to reach other members, who include
broadcaster Damien Kiberd and theologian professor Enda
McDonagh, were not successful.

Alice Leahy of the homeless charity Trust, who served as a
director from January to June this year, said she had
resigned from CPI because of pressure of work. She declined
to say if the controversy surrounding Mr Connolly had been
discussed by the board during her tenure, but said she had
only attended one meeting.

According to Garda information cited by Mr McDowell, Mr
Connolly, his brother Niall and IRA member Pádraig Wilson
were identified by Colombian authorities entering the
country using false passports in April 2001. This was three
months before the "Colombia Three", who were travelling on
false passports and included Niall Connolly, were arrested
there. Mr McDowell said gardaí were "fully satisfied" about
the accuracy of the identification of both parties.

Asked yesterday on RTÉ radio about his alleged picture on
the false passport, Mr Connolly said: "That was not me."
Asked if he could show he was elsewhere in April 2001, he
replied: "When the DPP, if he ever does, decides to forward
a case against me, I will deal with all the issues. I'm not
going to be interrogated as if I was in a Garda station on
an RTÉ programme."

© The Irish Times


CPI Statement: Atlantic Philanthropies

The following is the full text of a statement released
today by the Board of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

At its scheduled meeting yesterday and after several weeks
of discussion with the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI), the
Board of The Atlantic Philanthropies decided to cease
funding CPI.

CPI has today been informed of Atlantic's decision to cease


CPI Statement: Frank Connolly

The following is the full text of a statement released
today by Frank Connolly.

Frank Connolly

Since 2002 false allegations have appeared in certain
elements of the media, chiefly those controlled by
Independent News and Media, asserting that I had travelled
to Colombia using false travel documents.

When and where I felt it appropriate, I have issued
forthright denials of these false and malicious statements.

The campaign of vilification descended to a more vicious
level since my appointment as executive director of the
Centre for Public Inquiry.

The Centre for Public Inquiry has been targeted by certain
elements in Irish society who are hostile to a body
established to carry out independent scrutiny.

The centre has produced two well-received reports on Trim
Castle and the Corrib Gas controversy.

On November 26th and 27th, in what was patently a
considered and timed response to the publication of the
report on the Corrib Gas controversy from those seeking to
protect vested interests, the same false allegations were
again published by Independent Newspapers concerning me.

Further, the Minister for Justice, Mr Michael McDowell,
participated in the attacks and has now repeated the
allegations under Dáil privilege.

The Minister has purported to usurp the functions of An
Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions and
seeks to destroy my reputation by publicly making charges
of a criminal nature against me.

The Minister has sought to interfere with, if not
jeopardise, my employment as executive director of the
Centre for Public Inquiry.

By disclosing confidential information from Garda files to
a member of the board of Atlantic Philanthropies, which
funds the CPI, which is clearly insufficient to support a
prosecution against me, he has intended to damage my
reputation and my career as an investigative journalist.

Furthermore, confidential documents from a Garda
investigation file were copied to Independent Newspapers to
the damage of a citizen, who is entitled to the presumption
of his innocence and to the protection of his good name.

The Minister has done a grave injustice and damage to me.
He has joined what has become a veritable witch-hunt
against me.

He has also done incalculable damage to the integrity of
his own office.

It is patent to me, however, that the real target of the
venom and mendacity which has been visited upon me is the
Centre for Public Inquiry.

While it is difficult for me as one citizen of a State to
defend myself when my character is attacked by a Minister
of Government and a powerful newspaper group, I will always
defend my integrity.

Signed: Frank Connolly

© The Irish Times


CPI - McDowell's Dáil Reply

What the Minister put on the record

To the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

QUESTION: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law
Reform his views on and recent attempts to undermine a
centre (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make
a statement on the matter.

- Finian McGrath

ANSWER: I take it that the deputy has tabled the question
to me in the light of concerns which I have expressed about
the position of Mr Frank Connolly, the executive director
of the Centre for Public Inquiry - Fiosrú An Phobail.

According to its website, the Centre for Public Inquiry was
established in February 2005. The Centre for Public Inquiry
is funded by Atlantic Philanthropies which has provided
funding of 4 million over five years to assist its work.

The centre's claimed mission is "to independently promote
the highest standards of integrity, ethics and
accountability across Irish public and business life and to
investigate and publicise breaches of those standards where
they arise". The board of the centre is chaired by Mr
Justice Feargus Flood and includes Prof Enda McDonagh,
Damien Kiberd and Greg O'Neill.

The board of the centre has appointed Frank Connolly to be
its executive director.

I have said publicly that Mr Connolly has many major
questions to deal with in respect of his travel to Colombia
under an assumed identity with a known subversive in
advance of the subsequent visit of the "Colombia Three".

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that following the
arrest in August 2001 of James Monaghan, Martin McAuley and
Niall Connolly - who became known as the "Colombia Three" -
the Colombian authorities had established that on April
10th, 2001, three people in possession of false Irish
passports had earlier entered the Farc-controlled region in
Colombia. The three persons who entered in April were
subsequently identified as Frank Connolly, Niall Connolly
and Pádraig Wilson.

Niall Connolly, who was identified as being part of both
parties, is the brother of Frank Connolly and was described
by the government of Cuba in August 2001 as the official
Sinn Féin representative to the Cuban government and as
resident in Havana.

The Garda authorities have informed me that they are fully
satisfied as to the accuracy of the identification of all
the members of both parties.

In relation to the party who travelled to the Farc zone in
April 2001, investigations have revealed that false
passports were obtained for each of the members of the
party as follows: An Irish passport bearing the photograph
of Pádraig Wilson had been issued in the name of James
Edward Walker on the 19th day of May 2000.

An Irish passport bearing the photograph of Niall Connolly
had been issued in the name of Ralph McKay on the 18th day
of December 2000.

An Irish passport bearing the photograph of Frank Connolly
had been issued in the name of John Francis Johnston on the
1st day of November 2000.

In relation to the "Colombia Three" party which was
arrested in August of the same year, the three persons in
question, James Monaghan, Martin McAuley and Niall Connolly
formally admitted in the course of legal proceedings in
Colombia that they were in possession of three false
passports as follows: James Monaghan was travelling on a
British passport bearing his photograph and issued in the
name of Edward Joseph Campbell.

Martin McAuley was travelling on a British passport bearing
his photograph and issued in the name of John Joseph Kelly.

Niall Connolly was travelling on an Irish passport bearing
his photograph and issued in the name of David Bracken, a
deceased person.

I do not propose to rehearse here the gravity of the
charges against the "Colombia Three" but it clearly strains
credulity to suggest that the two visits were unconnected.

This is all the more so when the persons on both trips had
access to false passports which could only have been
obtained in such quantities as part of a well- organised
sinister enterprise. Niall Connolly, the brother of Frank
Connolly, travelled on both occasions on a false passport.

I do not accept that the purpose of the visit on either
occasion was to study the peace process in Colombia.

Pádraig Wilson was a known senior IRA member and has been
convicted in Northern Ireland of explosives offences and
conspiracy to murder, and of IRA membership.

James Monaghan was a known senior IRA member and has been
convicted of numerous explosives and firearms offences, in
this jurisdiction and in the UK, and of IRA membership.

Martin McAuley was a known IRA member and has been
convicted of possession of a firearm.

On the basis of intelligence reports furnished to me, the
visits appear to have been connected with an arrangement
whereby the Provisional IRA furnished know- how in the use
of explosives.

The consideration received by the Provisional IRA under the
arrangement is believed to be the payment of a large amount
of money by Farc, which finances its activities by its
control of the cocaine trade in the area of Colombia which
it controls.

I am aware that - despite the commitment of the Centre for
Public Inquiry to "independently promote the highest
standards of integrity, ethics and accountability" - Mr
Connolly has proved very reticent in answering any detailed
questions about the subject of his presence in Colombia.

I have to say, too, that I believe many people will find it
surprising, given the public attention that this matter has
received, that no adequate and sustained attempt appears to
have been made by the board of the Centre for Public
Inquiry to address the genuine issues of public concern
which arise.

© The Irish Times


CPI - Questions Raised Over Leaking Of Confidential Garda Files

Published: 7 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said grave
concerns have been raised by what appears to have been the
leaking of confidential Garda files to individuals outside
the Department of Justice in relation to three individuals,
including the head of the Centre for Public Inquiry, Frank
Connolly, who Minister McDowell named in a Dáil reply last

Deputy Ó Caoláin also described as "an outrageous abuse of
Dáil privilege" the allegations made by the Minister last
night about the three men in a written reply to a
Parliamentary Question from Deputy Finian McGrath.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "Michael McDowell's comments, made
in the Dáil last night through a written reply to a
question, are nothing short of an outrageous abuse of Dáil
privilege. That he used a Dáil mechanism to put on record
unsubstantiated allegations marks a very sinister
development in his ongoing campaign against the Centre for
Public Inquiry.

"More serious though, and a matter which is of grave
concern is the question of whether or not the Minister or
his department was responsible for the leaking of
confidential Garda files to persons outside his Department
and who shouldn't have been in possession of or had access
to these files or the information contained therein.

"People should be rightly concerned at the increasingly
brazen and reckless behaviour of the Minister. This
Minister has shown scant regard for due process in the past
but this latest development, even for him, is a new low.

"No other Minister in government would be allowed to act
with such scant regard for the law. It is time that Michael
McDowell was reined in." ENDS


Bank Raid Gang 'Prepared To Kill Hostages'

06/12/2005 - 12:51:49

The IRA gang which carried out the £26.5m (€38m) Northern
Bank robbery in Belfast was ready to murder its hostages,
Chief Constable Hugh Orde has claimed.

He also insisted in a new book out today that the heist
last December was sanctioned by the Provisionals'

BBC Northern Ireland Security Editor Brian Rowan included
an intelligence assessment that suggests at least four of
the organisation's active service units were involved in
the raid.

The job was run by the IRA's most senior operational
managers, including its chief of staff and its Belfast-
based director of intelligence, he was told.

"The officer who gave this assessment named both men,"
Rowan said.

"He was clearly confirming that this was a job that had
come out of the IRA's top drawer – that it had the sanction
of the leadership."

Millions of pounds later seized during raids in Cork in
February as part of the investigation were still in bundles
of used £20 notes, an intelligence officer told him.

"All the Ulster Bank (notes) were together, all the Bank of
Ireland… Now the things that were stolen out of the
Northern Bank were actually already made up into those
bundles," the intelligence officer said.

"All they did was re-package them."

The book focuses on how close Ian Paisley's Democratic
Unionists came to striking a power-sharing deal with their
sworn enemies in Sinn Féin.

Although the robbery at the Northern's Belfast HQ just
before Christmas shattered confidence and wrecked attempts
to revive the Stormont Assembly, the book also focuses on
the IRA's decision this year to call off its campaign and

But Mr Orde gave a grim assessment of the lengths the
raiders were ready to go to after taking over two
households, one in west Belfast and the other in
Loughinisland, Co Down, and ordering bank employees to help
clear the vaults while their families were held at

"This was being seen as a great success within certain
republican circles, and what was being forgotten was that
there were some real victims in this," he told Rowan.

"People could have died. If people hadn't complied they'd
have happily killed them. This is what PIRA do.

"So, it was a particularly brutal and vicious robbery… This
was a crime at the top end of violence. People will not
recover from this. It was that brutal.

"This wasn't some Robin Hood effort. This was people
robbing people using maximum violence and fear of death to
achieve their advantage."

Several men have since been arrested and charged over the
robbery, including one accused of the raid itself. He has
denied any involvement.

Days after the robbery Sir Hugh publicly blamed the IRA,
and he told Rowan that no- one has seriously challenged him
on his view.

"This (the IRA) is an organisation which is almost
Stalinist in nature… The notion that a job like that could
be carried out without authority is just off beam," he

Asked if it was sanctioned from the top, the Chief
Constable added: "It had to be, had to be."

But in an interview for the book, Sinn Féin's chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness denied the IRA was involved.

The Mid Ulster MP said: "Whoever did the bank job were no
friends of the peace process and were no friends of the
Sinn Féin leadership. Obviously that was hugely damaging.

"Whatever about what was going on in Cork, the fact is that
the two governments, the two police forces, have failed to
connect the IRA to that robbery."

The book also reveals Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
was given the IRA's July statement declaring an end to its
armed campaign a day early in order to secure Shankill
bomber Sean Kelly's release from jail.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams gave a copy of the text to
Mr Hain and his political director, Jonathan Phillips, at
Hillsborough Castle amid efforts to persuade the British
government to free a man reviled by unionists for the 1993
strike on a packed fish shop that killed nine people and an
IRA colleague.

"The Sinn Féin president wanted them back," Rowan said.

"It meant that Phillips had to copy it down in long hand
and, later, it was faxed to Downing Street.

"The words of P O'Neill (IRA nom-de-plume) were now in the
British political system."

:: Paisley And The Provos, by Brian Rowan, is published by
the Brehon Press price £7.99.


President And The Queen Both Visit Belfast

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The Irish and British heads of State are visiting Belfast
today. President Mary McAleese will be in the city for a
number of engagements, including the Irish premiere of the
film Chronicles of Narnia, while Queen Elizabeth also has a
number of official appointments in the greater Belfast

The queen was last in Northern Ireland two years ago, while
the President is a regular visitor to the North.

The Northern Ireland Office last night confirmed that the
queen will be in the North today, with her husband Prince
Philip, for a series of engagements but, in accordance with
normal protocol and for security reasons, did not release
details of these events.

Mrs McAleese will carry out a number of functions in
Belfast today. One of her main engagements will be
attending the Irish premiere of the film version of CS
Lewis's film Chronicles of Narnia in the Odyssey Arena in
Belfast this evening. Afterwards, she will attend a gala
dinner at Queen's University in Belfast, which is hosting
the film.

The President will attend the screening in the company of
Senator George Mitchell. Senator Mitchell, who chaired the
talks leading to the Belfast Agreement and was original
head of the decommissioning body, is the chancellor of
Queen's University.

Mrs McAleese will also join the film's director, Andrew
Adamson, and Mark Johnson, president and chief executive of
the Walt Disney Company. Mr Adamson was director of the
box-office hits, Shrek and Shrek II, while Mr Johnson is an
Academy Award-winning producer.

The premiere of Chronicles of Narnia is the final
fundraising event for the university's new £44 million (€65
million) library, which will feature a special reading room
dedicated to Belfast author CS Lewis who wrote the much-
loved children's books.

The Walt Disney Company and Walden Media have provided the
design of the wardrobe doors used in the film for use in
the CS Lewis Reading Room.

Senator Mitchell said last night, "It gives me great
pleasure that Queen's University and the Walt Disney
Company have come together for this unique celebration. CS
Lewis has inspired so many children throughout the world
that it is appropriate the Irish film premiere of his much-
loved book be held in his home town."

© The Irish Times


Official Refuses To Answer In Irish

By Concubhar Ó Liatháin

A letter from one of the North's top civil servants to an
Irish-language rights group has been described as evidence
of the need for language legislation that would guarantee
the rights of Irish speakers in their dealings with the

Chief electoral officer Denis Stanley sent the letter to
the Irish-language umbrella group Pobal, making it clear
that he wanted correspondence to his office in English

Speaking to Daily Ireland's sister paper Lá yesterday, Mr
Stanley said he did not have Irish and that he would not be
able to deal personally with correspondence in the

He was asked whether anyone in his office had Irish to deal
with correspondence.

"I am the chief executive and, if you are dealing with my
office, then you are dealing with me, not with anyone
else," he said.

He was asked to explain why he was unable to use the
executive's language branch, which provides translation
services for government offices. He did not answer the

Also yesterday, a committee of language experts was in
Belfast to speak to organisations and with the civil
service about the operation of the Council of Europe's
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Speaking after a meeting between Pobal and the committee,
Pobal chief executive Janet Muller said Mr Stanley's answer
was only the latest example of the sort of attitude towards
Irish in the civil service.

"This begs the question — the British government signs off
on this international legislation, they tell the civil
service that it is done and then civil servants like Mr
Stanley come forward to say that they won't operate it.

"The system has no teeth to deal with this type of refusal,
and legislation is needed to make sure that this can't
happen again," Ms Muller said.

She said she would complain to David Hanson, the minister
for culture, arts and leisure, and call on him to direct Mr
Stanley and civil servants to do their duty under the
Council of Europe charter.

In Scotland or Wales, if a letter was sent to Mr Stanley's
counterparts in Scottish Gaelic or Welsh, he would have to
answer it in the same language.


Defence Forces Set To Organise 1916 Commemoration

Michael O'Regan

The Defence Forces will be centrally involved in the
organisation of next year's Easter Rising commemoration,
the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

Mr Ahern was asked by the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, if
the commemoration would be a State occasion. He replied
that the arrangements should be as for any State occasion.

"It will, however, be based primarily on the organisation
of the Defence Forces, who have expertise in this area."

He said a working group is preparing plans for the
commemoration. The group would consider various proposals
and "will prepare a plan for next year and for a centenary
programme that takes account of all the suggestions".

Repeating that he believed the Fianna Fáil Ardfheis was an
inappropriate venue at which to announce the commemoration,
Mr Kenny said the Taoiseach should have insisted on a
parade many years ago, "when others claimed to be the true
Óglaigh na hÉireann and he had to affirm in the House on
many occasions that there was only one Irish Army".

He asked what proposals had been made so far. "Will
consideration be given to the fact that it might clash with
St Patrick's Day, depending on the fall of Easter?" Mr
Ahern said the working group would need to consider that.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF, Cavan-Monaghan) asked what other
initiatives, if any, the Taoiseach was considering to mark
the legacy of all the various strands of Irish activism
that took part in the Easter Rising.

© The Irish Times


Plan For New €4m Bridge For Achill

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

A €4 million plan for a new bridge between Achill island
and the Mayo mainland has been drawn up by Mayo County

The local authority is hoping to secure funding from the
departments of Environment and Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs for the bridge, which will replace the
existing structure.

It dates back to 1886, was reconstructed in the 1940s and
is now showing signs of wear and tear, according to the
local authority.

The bridge is fitted with a swinging mechanism to allow
large vessels through Achill Sound, but is not always
reliable. It is also under considerable pressure from
traffic to and from the island, where the population has
increased significantly in the past decade.

Local councillors were given sight of the new design this
week and the plan will undergo a consultative procedure
under the Planning Acts in January.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
says it has not been formally notified as yet of the plan,
however, it is understood the Minister, Éamon Ó Cuív, is
aware of its existence. Mr Ó Cuív is to visit the
neighbouring island of Inishbiggle tomorrow, where there
has been a long-running demand for a cable car link to the

An 8 per cent increase for island funding in next year's
Budget Estimates is earmarked for a number of island
schemes, including three pier projects for the Aran islands
and airstrips on Inishbofin, Co Galway, and Tory island, Co

Mr Ó Cuív's department also aims to fix a maximum price
payable by islanders for ferry transport.

© The Irish Times


Man (34) Drowned Trying To Save Dog

A 34-year-old Co Fermanagh man was swept away and drowned
after he jumped into a swollen river in an attempt to
rescue his dog, an inquest heard yesterday.

Martin Gerald Logue, of Glen Road, Drumquin, was out for
his regular Sunday afternoon walk along the banks of the
River Bannagh, near Kesh, with his wife, son and nephew,
when tragedy occurred last April.

His widow, Donna, told the inquest in Enniskillen that, at
about 5pm they were taking their walk with the dog and, as
usual, the dog had gone for a swim in a rock pool.

However, the inquest heard, after incessant rain, the river
was swollen and fast flowing.

"The dog was swept away by the current. He was obviously
tying to fight the current and swim back, but couldn't."
She said her husband said he would wade in to try to get
the dog, but she told him not to.

Her husband waded in anyway, she said. "The water was below
his knees. There was a life ring nearby and I went to get
it, but, when I turned back, Martin must have slipped and

"He came back up and went under again. This happened a few
times." Ms Logue said she shouted to her son and nephew to
run and raise the alarm. "A few moments later I saw Martin
floating down the river. He was face down and on the other
side of the river." She said she ran to dial 999 and raise
the alarm.

A search was mounted and an RNLI lifeboat was called in.

Police Constable Gordon Lee told the inquest there had been
"heavy, incessant rain" and the river was "heavily swollen
and fast flowing". He said the search went on through the
evening but was called off at 9.30pm without Mr Logue being
found. It resumed again the next day and the body was
recovered within 30 minutes.

Coroner John Leckey recorded that Mr Logue had died from
freshwater drowning. "He was attempting to rescue his dog,
the river was swollen by heavy rain and he was swept away,"
he recorded.

He said it was the instinct of dog owners to try to rescue
their pets in such circumstances. But he added: "So often
the person attempting the rescue dies and the animal
survives. On this occasion, however, the dog was never
recovered." - (PA)

© The Irish Times


Timothy Rooney Named Grand Marshal

By Debbie McGoldrick

Next year's New York City St. Patrick's Day parade will be
led by businessman Timothy Rooney, who was named as grand
marshal at a gathering hosted by the parade committee at
the New York Athletic Club on Tuesday night.

The Rooney family is prominent in business and sporting
circles. Timothy Rooney is the third son of Arthur J.
Rooney, who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team. The
Rooney family bought Yonkers Raceway, which hosts harness
racing, in 1972, and since that time, Rooney has served as
the track's president.

Rooney, 68, has been active in Irish American circles. He
was honoured by the New York-based United Irish Counties in
1975, and the Rooney family has been honoured by the
American Ireland Fund in New York and Palm Beach.

In 2004 the Knights of St. Patrick presented Rooney with
its lifetime achievement award. He has been on the
receiving end of many other civic honours as well,
including the Terence Cardinal Cooke Award from the New
York City CYO.

Rooney's business interests are equally varied. He is also
president of Delta Electric, a Westchester County
electrical contracting corporation. He's also a director of
the Pittsburgh Steelers and the American Ireland Fund.

His interest in the racing industry has been well-
documented. Rooney owns a stud farm in Co. Kildare with the
Dargan family, and he is a director of the U.S. Trotting
Association. He is the business manager of the family-owned
Shamrock Farm in Maryland, one of the oldest horse breeding
farms in the state.

Yonkers Raceway is currently closed for live racing, as the
facility is being refurbished with video gaming machines
that are expected to bring in millions in new revenues.

Rooney graduated from Duquesne University in 1961 as a
finance major. He was a partner in an investment banking
firm before taking over the presidency at Yonkers.

Rooney and his wife June have five children, 17
grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

The 2006 St. Patrick's Day parade will march up Fifth
Avenue on Friday, March 17.


Chair Of English Department Releases New Book

By: Rebecca Cannon
Issue date: 12/8/05 Section: News

Dr. Beverly Schneller rescued Anna Parnell from slipping
away into oblivion. After four years of research and
writing, Dr. Schneller's labor of love has given birth to
the book, Anna Parnell's Political Journalism: Contexts and
Texts, which came out in July of 2005.

"The book is a combination of history and history of
journalism in the field of Irish-American studies," said
Dr. Schneller, chair of the Millersville University English
Department. "The Parnell family is a very well-known
patriotic family in the History of Ireland because Charles
Stewart Parnell was the leader of the Home Rule movement
into the 1870's through the early 1890's."

While Fanny Parnell, one of Charles' sisters, is a well-
known poet, their other sister, Anna, was not as well-
received. Anna was the founder of the Irish branch of the
Ladies' Land League in the 1880's, a group devoted to Irish
land reform. "Because [Anna] didn't follow the tradition
track of Victorian women's behavior: writing poetry and
staying at home and keeping a relatively low profile, was
somewhat treated badly, especially by 20th century Irish-
American and Irish historians."

This was one of the main reasons that Dr. Schneller decided
to look at Anna Parnell's political career. "I didn't
really know about her too much until I read about her in
Ireland's Patriot Sisters… I'm interested in obscure women
or lost women or whatever is the politically correct term;
women in need of recovery," she said.

Dr. Schneller has been connected to Irish studies since she
was in college. Her love of Irish culture and history is
evident in her office, which is decorated with Celtic
pictures and a bright Celtic tapestry.

After finding an autobiography on the Parnell sisters that
only quoted bits and pieces of Anna's essay, Dr. Schneller
was compelled to see if she could find the works in their

She began rooting around, looking for letters and telegrams
in Irish-American newspapers that would help her discover
more about Anna. "Essentially it's sort of recovery
scholarship and women's studies because I put her back into
Irish politics and into Irish-American politics but as
American readers would have seen her," said Dr. Schneller,
who earned her Ph.D. at Catholic University of America with
the first American dissertation on publishing history.

One of the most important features of her book was that Dr.
Schneller was able to reprint, through micro-film copies,
the actual articles from the Celtic Monthly that Anna
Parnell wrote, some of her correspondence including two or
three paragraphs of the speeches Parnell gave, seemingly
the only existing documentation of them left. This book is
also ground-breaking in that it is the first book ever
written whose main focus is on Anna Parnell. "What I did
for the book was construct a very brief history of American
news and American news with an Irish and Irish-American
slant, and then I put Anna Parnell into that story of the
Irish-American newspapers, and then I stepped back to do an
analysis of her political career based largely on the
materials that she published or the news coverage of her in
Irish- American newspaper," Schneller said.

The book took almost three years to write, starting with a
grant Dr. Schneller received in January of 2002. "It took
about a year, I would say, to do the research, because the
largest issue at the beginning was figuring out what
newspapers I needed and if I was going to be able to get
them and then waiting for them to come in the mail,"
Schneller said.

She laughs at the memory of finding the first really big
piece of information she was looking for: "You would have
thought I'd scored a touchdown for the Super Bowl."

For Dr. Schneller, the research was either hit-or-miss.
"You have to read every word and every column, and you have
to look in every possible place and then some… and then you
have to go back and re-read them two or three times," she
said, explaining the researching process.

However, she didn't see it as tedious. "I've been doing
this kind of stuff for a long time, and I realize it's
peculiar, but I like it a lot," she admitted. To keep her
research localized, she narrowed her choices down to one
major paper in New York, one major paper in Boston and
several in Chicago as well as a couple of monthly magazines
and about thirty periodicals.

When asked if there are any other women she plans on
rescuing, her eyes light up. "Oh, there are thousands I'd
love to do!" Her next project will be a book about Delia
Stewart Parnell, Anna's mother.

The project is under contract and due in December.

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To December 2005 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?