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December 15, 2005

MPs' Phone Tap Ban May Be Lifted

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News about Ireland & the Irish

GU 12/15/05 MPs' Phone Tap Ban May Be Lifted
UT 12/15/05 Police Vindicated Over Parade Riot Action
SF 12/15/05 SF Organises Protests Over Political Policing
EE 12/15/05 Former Soldier Found Dead In Cell
BB 12/15/05 Rosemary Nelson Inquiry Is Delayed To 2007
IT 12/16/05 McDowell Told Of Decision Not To Prosecute
SF 12/15/05 McDowell Delivers Fairytale & IA Calls For Sack
EX 12/15/05 Opin: Replacing Our Democratic System Of Gvt
IE 12/15/05 Echo Editorial: McDowell Should Resign
UT 12/15/05 Fresh Demands Over 'Spy Ring' Case Collapse
UT 12/15/05 Northern Ireland Fugitives Bill Denounced
IT 12/16/05 On-The-Runs Bill To Be Amended
IT 12/16/05 Judge To Head Inquiry Body On Garda
DI 12/15/05 Ahern Meets Cindy Sheehan
DI 12/15/05 Disruption Planned For Dublin Loyalist Parade
DI 12/15/05 Bank Arrest Man's PSNI Son
BB 12/15/05 Textile Firm Cuts Half Workforce
IT 12/16/05 Deputies Adjourn For Modest 40-Day Break
IT 12/16/05 €107,000 For First Edition Of 'Ulysses'
IT 12/16/05 'John Bull's Finger Press' Stays Here
UT 12/16/05 Keane Signs For Celtic


MPs' Phone Tap Ban May Be Lifted

Julian Glover, political correspondent
Friday December 16, 2005
The Guardian

Tony Blair yesterday indicated that he may scrap or change
a longstanding ban on tapping of MPs' phones brought in by
his Labour predecessor at No 10 Harold Wilson.

MPs were given a government guarantee that their phones
would not be tapped by police or the security services,
"whatsoever the circumstances", by Wilson in the late

Prime ministers including Mr Blair have regularly confirmed
to parliament that the rule remains in place. Although the
ban, known as the Wilson doctrine, does not carry statutory
backing, MPs must be told by the prime minister if it is to
be changed.

Yesterday Downing Street appeared to take steps towards
that in a written statement to MPs. In it, the prime
minister said he had received advice about the implications
for the ban of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act,
passed by parliament amid much controversy in 2000.

The statement said the new advice had come from Sir Swinton
Thomas, the interception of communications commissioner,
and that Mr Blair was considering "possible implications".

Last night a Downing Street official confirmed a decision
on whether the Wilson doctrine would be changed was
expected in the new year but refused to reveal details of
Sir Swinton's advice.

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, yesterday
called for the protection that MPs currently enjoy to
remain in place. He has repeatedly called on the government
to reveal whether any MPs have had their phones tapped.

In 2003 it was suggested in parliament that the phones of
at least one Sinn Féin MP had been bugged.

After making the guarantee, Wilson became convinced in his
second spell as prime minister that he was himself being
monitored by the security services.


Police Vindicated Over Parade Riot Action

Police were justified in firing nearly 260 baton rounds
during two outbreaks of ferocious rioting in Belfast, a new
report said today.

By:Press Association

A dossier compiled by human rights advisors to the Northern
Ireland Policing Board into the violence surrounding
flashpoint Orange Order parades at Ardoyne in July and
Whiterock in September vindicated the security operations.

But despite finding police met their responsibilities under
human rights legislation, lawyers Keir Starmer QC and Jane
Gordon also urged Chief constable Sir Hugh Orde to study
footage allegedly depicting two cases of officers beating
or kicking people at the scene of the disorder.

Their 10 recommendations arising from the 65 page document
also includes the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
obtaining modern screening equipment to keep rival factions
apart and ensuring all officers wear identification
markings in public order situations.

The investigation was centred on the worst street disorder
seen in Northern Ireland for years.

When nationalists mobs went on the rampage during a Twelfth
of July march through Ardoyne, North Belfast, 105 police
officers and at least eight members of the public were
injured. Security lines were attacked with blast and petrol

Police used water cannon and discharged 21 Attenuating
Energy Projectiles (AEP impact rounds) in a bid to quell
the trouble.

Two months later, rioting at the bitterly disputed
Whiterock parade was even worse, with 150 live rounds fired
at police and military by loyalist paramilitaries.

Hundreds more blast and petrol bombs, paving stones, bricks
and bottles were also thrown, leading to another 93
officers injured, two soldiers wounded and an unknown
number of civilian casualties.

The PSNI discharged six live rounds and 238 AEPs, as well
as using water cannon heavily. The army also fired five
live rounds and 140 AEPs during the violence which started
on September 10th and spread across the city for several

In their report, Mr Starmer and Ms Gordon said: "That no
one was killed and that there were so few serious injuries
to police officers, the military or members of the public
is remarkable."

And after completing what they described as the first
definitive account of all that happened during the chaos,
the pair concluded: "In respect of each parade, we are
satisfied that the policing operation was carefully planned
and executed.

"The human rights implications of all the key decisions
were considered at every stage and the use of force overall
complied with the requirements of the Human Rights Act

"All senior command decisions taken in relation to
authorisation for the issue, deployment and use of AEP
impact rounds and water cannon were justified,
proportionate and in accordance with the PSNI policy
guidelines in place."

They added: "The human rights of paraders and their
supporters, protesters, residents, police officers and the
military were taken into account at all stages of the
planning process and the senior command responsible for
both operations reacted to the changing circumstances of
the operations as events unfolded with care and diligence."


Sinn Féin To Organise Weekend Of Protests Over Political Policing

Published: 15 December, 2005

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said
that Sinn Féin is organising a weekend of protests across
the Six Counties to highlight political policing and the
threat it poses to democracy.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Political policing continues to be a huge impediment to
political progress. Since the inception of the northern
statelet from the RIC, the RUC and still today with the
PSNI policing has been used as a political weapon.

"From the involvement in sectarian murder campaigns,
through collusion in arming, training and directing
loyalist murder gangs to the direct political interventions
of the PSNI that have been exposed in recent days it is
clear that there is an agenda that is anti-republican,
anti-change and anti-peace process.

"The ongoing attempts to cast aspersions about the 3
innocent men used by the PSNI to protect unionism and pull
down the political institutions, the arrest and release of
Francie Brolly, ongoing political arrests, the fiasco of
the northern bank 'investigation' and offensive Casement
Park raid all highlight the serious problem that remains
with political policing.

"No one should be in any doubt - political policing and the
influence of the RUC special branch in the PSNI presents a
real and live threat to democracy.

"There is a lot of anger out there about the ability of
political policing to rob us all of the political
institutions and the failure of the British and Irish
governments to stand up to the anti-agreement securocrats.

Note to Editors: Political policing Protests

Friday 16th December
Derry - Strand Road RUC Barracks 1pm
Fermanagh - Lisnaskea RUC Barracks 6pm
South Derry - Magherafelt RUC Barracks 7pm

Saturday 17th December
Upper Bann - Lurgan RUC Barracks 12 noon
East Derry - Dungiven RUC Barracks 11am
South Down - Newcastle RUC Barracks 1pm
Belfast - North Queen Street RUC Barracks 1pm
Belfast - New Barnsley RUC Barracks 1pm
Armagh - Armagh RUC Barracks 2pm
South Tyrone - Dungannon RUC Barracks 2pm
North Antrim - TBC
Newry - Ardmore RUC Barracks 3pm
South Armagh - Crossmaglen Barracks 3pm
Derry - Guildhall Square 3.45pm
Omagh - Gortin Road Barracks 7pm
South Antrim - TBC


Former Soldier Found Dead In Cell

15/12/2005 - 19:16:40

A former soldier jailed over the loyalist murder of two
Catholic workmen was found dead in his cell today.

Investigators were called in to Maghaberry Prison, near
Lisburn, Co Antrim after John Marsden's body was

Marsden, 30, who served with the Royal Signal Corps before
being dismissed, was jailed for life for supplying the gun
used in the double sectarian killing in May 1994.

Armagh men Eamon Fox, 44, and Gary Convie, 24, were shot
dead by an Ulster Volunteer Force gunman as they ate lunch
in a parked car near a building site at Tigers Bay, north

Marsden, who was 19 at the time of the murders, was said to
have collected the weapon and later hid the killer's

He was released in July 2000 under the Good Friday
Agreement early release scheme for paramilitary prisoners.

But in September of this year Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain ordered him to be put back behind bars because
he was seen as a danger to the public.

Marsden, believed to be from the Ormeau area of Belfast,
had been charged with driving while unfit and drugs

But he decided to stay with other life sentencers, rather
than go onto the separate Erne House wing with loyalist

The Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed he was found
dead in his single-bed cell shortly before 9am today.

A spokesman said: "The next of kin, Coroner and police have
been informed.

"In compliance with procedures introduced in September
2005, the Prisoner Ombudsman's Office has been asked to
investigate the circumstances surrounding the death."

However, it is not being treated as suspicious.

Loyalist sources said Marsden, who was thought to have been
appealing his return to prison, had distanced himself from
the UVF since his conviction.


Nelson Inquiry Is Delayed To 2007

The inquiry into the murder of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary
Nelson is to begin its full hearings in 2007, nearly a year
later than originally planned.

One of the lawyers acting for the Nelson family said the
delay had been expected as it was taking a long time to
gather and sift through evidence.

Mrs Nelson died after loyalists planted a booby-trap bomb
underneath her car outside her Lurgan home in March 1999.

The inquiry intends to begin the full hearings on Tuesday,
16 January, 2007.

In a statement the inquiry said a "further year of hard
work" would be needed to prepare properly for the full
hearings in Belfast.

The inquiry into the murder opened at the Craigavon Civic
Centre in County Armagh in April.


A Catholic solicitor who came to prominence representing
high profile cases

These included working for the nationalist Garvaghy Road
Residents' Coalition in the dispute with Orangemen over

The 40-year-old mother-of-three was killed in a booby-trap
car bomb near her home on 15 March 1999

A splinter loyalist group, the Red Hand Defenders, said it
carried out the murder

There have been allegations of security force collusion in
the killing of the 40-year-old solicitor because of her
role as the legal representative for the nationalist
Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition and other high profile

Retired judge Sir Michael Morland is chairing a three-
strong panel examining the allegations.

Sir Michael and his colleagues - ex-chief constable of
South Wales Sir Anthony Burden and Dame Valerie Strachan,
former chair of the board of Customs and Excise - will
examine claims that police ignored death threats against
Mrs Nelson.

Her murder was carried out by the Red Hand Defenders, which
is a cover name for the Ulster Defence Association and
Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The government agreed to set up an inquiry into Mrs
Nelson's death following the recommendations of retired
Canadian Judge Peter Cory.

In May, a retired senior English police officer was
appointed to head a small police team set up to assist the

Robert Ayling, a former acting chief constable of Kent
police, also led the Police Complaints Authority
investigation into the Metropolitan Police's handling of
Stephen Lawrence's murder.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/15 07:35:09 GMT


Gardai Told McDowell Of Decision Not To Prosecute

Mark Hennessy Political Correspondent

Gardaí informed the Minister for Justice, Michael
McDowell, that they would not be proceeding with a
prosecution of Frank Connolly before the Minister went
public on allegations that Mr Connolly had travelled to
Colombia on a false passport.

The Irish Times has confirmed that Mr McDowell, along with
the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Seán Aylward,
told Atlantic Philanthropies' chairman Mr Chuck Feeney, and
senior vice-president Mr Colin McCrea, about the bogus
passport application linked by the Minister to Mr Connolly
at a meeting on September 2nd in Dublin.

Near the end of the meeting, Mr Feeney asked about the
status of the information they had been given and whether
it could be made available to anyone else, or whether it
had to be kept confidential.

The Minister and Mr Aylward asked that the details be kept
confidential because they were not sure at that stage
whether the Garda would try to press charges against the
then executive director for the Centre for Public Inquiry,
Mr Connolly.

However, Mr Aylward released the two men from a pledge of
confidentiality last month after Atlantic Philanthropies
contacted the Department of Justice again to check on the
status of the information given at the September meeting.

Following that request from Atlantic, Mr Aylward spoke to
senior Garda officers who told him that they would not be
pursuing a prosecution against Mr Connolly, The Irish Times
has learned.

During the September 2nd meeting, Mr Feeney was given a
copy of a bogus passport application, made falsely in the
name of John Francis Johnson, Andersonstown, Belfast,
accompanied by a forged signature of a Belfast priest, Fr
Thomas Tarney.

A copy of the application was subsequently given by Mr
McDowell to the Irish Independent in late November which
reported the information on November 26th.

Besides linking the bogus passport application to Mr
Connolly, Mr McDowell and Mr Aylward also told Mr Feeney
about Mr Connolly's 1983 two-year suspended prison sentence
for rioting and his involvement with a group called
"Revolutionary Struggle" while he was at college.

Following the second approach from Atlantic about the
confidentiality of the information, Mr Aylward checked the
status of the Garda investigation against Mr Connolly.

The Secretary General was then told by senior Garda
officers the Garda would not be pursuing a prosecution for
the illegal possession of a passport against Mr Connolly
because there was not enough evidence on which to proceed.

Mr Aylward then spoke again to Atlantic Philanthropies
"during the course of November but before a copy of the
bogus passport application was given to the Irish
Independent ", The Irish Times was told last night.

During this conversation, Mr Aylward released Atlantic from
its pledge of confidentiality, telling them they could
release the information to Mr Connolly and to the CPI's
chairman, ex-High Court judge Feargus Flood.

The controversy caused by the allegations against Mr
Connolly, who has refused to say where he was in April 2001
at the time of the withdrawing its funding last week for
the CPI.

During the September 2nd meeting, Mr McDowell stressed his
own nationalist background, describing himself as an Irish
republican, and pointed to his grandfather, Eoin McNeill.

In a written Dáil reply to Independent TD Finian McGrath on
December 6th, Mr McDowell charged that Mr Connolly had
travelled to Colombia in April 2001 along with his brother,
Niall, and a convicted IRA member, Pádraig Wilson.

Citing intelligence reports, the Minister said the three
men were involved in an IRA bid to earn millions of dollars
from left-wing Farc guerrillas in return for bombmaking

© The Irish Times


McDowell Delivers Fanciful Fairytale While Irish America Calls For Bertie To Sack Him

The Taoiseach on Tuesday defended the Minister McDowell
when he stated the Minister acted in defence of the
security of the State in relation to his allegations
against the Centre for Public Inquiry and its Director,
Frank Connolly. Bertie Ahern would not elaborate or give
reasons for that belief, or outline the threat to the
security of the State.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday during Leaders Questions
the Sinn Féin leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD accused the
Minister for Justice of delivering "a fanciful fairytale".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The Minister repeated without
substantiation his claim that a named citizen, Frank
Connolly, was in Colombia on a false passport. Mr. Connolly
has not been charged with this offence or any other offence
which I know of, let alone convicted of it. The Minister
linked his allegations to the Colombia three, and he went
on to claim that the purpose was to train FARC guerillas in
return for large amounts of money for the IRA. He then
compounded his allegations against Frank Connolly, again
without a shred of evidence, by claiming he was central to
this plot. I believe the plot to be a figment of the
Minister's imagination."

Recalling the trial of Colombia 3 Deputy Ó Caoláin said,
"that even the corrupt judicial system in Colombia could
not convict the three men of the training of FARC
guerillas. The case collapsed ignominiously and it (the
Colombian Government) had to resort to a secret appeals
process, where the defendants were not even represented, to
overturn a verdict reached in open court."

Irish American paper calls for Bertie to sack McDowell

Meanwhile, a leading Irish American Newspaper, The Irish
Echo, added their voice to the growing demands for Bertie
Ahern to sack his Justice Minster saying that Michael
McDowell was "unfit to hold office" and had "abused his

The paper's Editorial said McDowell had pursued a
"vendetta" against Frank Connolly, the executive director
of an independent watchdog group established with the
backing of Irish-American industrialist Chuck Feeney, the
Center for Public Inquiry.

The paper said that McDowell had, "undermined the police
and the judicial system, victimized an Irish citizen and
succeeded in persuading Feeney into withdrawing funding --
at least temporarily -- from a useful independent

The paper added that McDowell is either "a fantasist
cowering before a non-existent bogey-man or a unionist-
leaning blusterer who attempted to deceive the Dáil with a
post-facto justification for carrying out a political with-


Opin: The Star Chamber Is Replacing Our Democratic System Of Government

By Pat Brosnan

LIKE myself and the wider world, you may have been under
the illusion that this country was democratically run by
the Government on a cabinet basis.

Instead, it comes as a startling surprise to learn that the
Government is run like a court of star chamber which has
now abrogated, or taken over, the role of the judiciary.

Not just the judiciary, but it considers itself to be the
country's jury as well, whereby anybody it does not like,
and against whom there's nothing to build a criminal case,
can be convicted by our Government.

In the Wild West it was called a lynch mob. Here, in 21st
century Ireland, it's called a coalition of Fianna Fáil and
the PDs. Both have one thing in common - the cowboy!

Frank Connolly may not actually have been strung up, but he
was hung out to dry by the Government, acting in the most
outrageously undemocratic fashion.

The CIA's covert practice of kidnapping and flying suspects
to third countries where they allegedly torture them is
called 'extraordinary rendition'.

What the Government did in the case of Frank Connolly was
overt and simply extraordinary.

Mr Connolly has been charged with absolutely no offence,
yet he has seen funding of the Centre for Public Inquiry
(CPI) withdrawn by Chuck Feeney whose charitable
organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies, was its main
financial backer.

Which means that funding for the probe into the €30m site
for Thornhill Prison will probably dry up, too.

It seems that Chuck Feeney hired a private investigator to
look into the allegations surrounding the supposed covert
trip to Colombia. The investigator, from Risk Management
International, told Atlantic Philanthropies that the gardaí
had nothing on passports, according to the Irish Times, and
that the CPI was considered by security contacts to be an
"august body."

Is it just a coincidence that Connolly's CPI was
investigating the €30m purchase by Justice Minister Michael
McDowell's department of the Thornton Hall site in Co
Dublin for a new prison?

According to Professor Dermot Walsh, director of the Centre
of Criminal Justice at the University of Limerick, there is
something legally uncomfortable about a minister for
justice asking the public to trust him on the basis of
information supplied by the gardaí and known only to him.
Ask the McBreartys about taking the word of the gardaí.

The fact is, Frank Connolly has not been charged with
anything by the Director of Public Prosecutions, but he has
most certainly been dragged before the forum of public
opinion by our self-righteous justice minister.

What Mr McDowell has done, for whatever reason, is to wage
war against Mr Connolly and to blacken his name and
reputation. In that he has succeeded.

Much has been made of where Mr Connolly was in April 2001,
but it is none of the minister's business, nor that of the
public, as he has been charged with nothing related to that
time. If he were to be charged, and if there is anything to
charge him with, then let that be done under due process.

Mr McDowell has accused him of travelling to Colombia with
a convicted IRA man, but Mr Connolly has categorically
denied he was ever in that country.

Former High Court judge Feargus Flood, who is chairman of
the CPI, has no problem with Frank Connolly, but he
obviously has with the conduct of the minister.

The former judge has come out publicly to support the
journalist. He has given the minister a lecture on one of
the rudiments of the law, and you wouldn't need to be a law
student to grasp it.

All citizens of this country are innocent until proven
guilty in accordance with the rules of law administered by
the courts of justice, which is provided for in the
Constitution, and which cannot be over-ridden by the
minister. It may be news to the minister that he can't
override the constitution, but that's the way it is. At
least, that's the constitutional way.

THE minister leaked the information to the Irish
Independent on the rather ridiculous assertion that our
democratic system and institutions were under threat. What
a way to defend them!

Just imagine stacks - mountains even - of free Indos on the
odd street corner, as they regularly appear in Cork, to
ward off the threat to the institutions of the State.

This is a publication out of the same stable as the Sunday
Independent, which the Taoiseach accused of leading the
'race to the bottom' of the appalling standards set by some
newspapers in the reporting of Liam Lawlor's tragic death
in Moscow. It also happens to be owned by an honorary
knight of the realm. Nice one, Michael!

If just one minister was at fault it could be assumed he
was off the wall. Unfortunately, that's not the case
because the entire Government is involved. The Taoiseach,
Bertie Ahern, has defended Mr McDowell for having "dealt
with this matter at all times in a proper way."

He obviously agrees with a minister leaking information to
a newspaper, despite the fact that the same minister
insisted on legislation whereby gardaí who did likewise
could be fined or imprisoned.

Our Taoiseach was facetious enough to advise Frank Connolly
to sue if he felt defamed by the Government. In repeating
his support for his justice minister, Bertie Ahern said:
"If somebody feels aggrieved at, and maligned by, anything
said inside or outside the House, there is a way to
vindicate himself or herself through the courts."

The last time I checked, anything said inside the House -
the Dáil - is covered by parliamentary privilege and is
protected from the courts.

Or maybe our Taoiseach didn't know that. Instead of issuing
spurious challenges or faulty advice, he might get Michael
McDowell to repeat them without that privilege. Or he might
care to repeat them himself outside the Dáil or Seanad.

Mr McDowell has also admitted telling "the plain,
unvarnished truth" about Mr Connolly to Chuck Feeney, the
Irish-American billionaire whose charitable organisation
was funding the CPI.

Since Mr McDowell's version of the unvarnished truth, the
€800,000 provided by Mr Feeney has dried up.

In the words of Mr Justice Flood: "By this Christmas, by
the end of this year the funds in hand will have been
exhausted, the staff will have to be let go... because of a
statement made in privileged circumstances where it cannot
be tested. If you want to test it, then why not go down to
the DPP?"

Why not indeed?


Echo Editorial: McDowell Should Resign

Many Irish Americans are shocked at the recent behavior of
Ireland's Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

McDowell has pursued what amounts to a vendetta against
Frank Connolly, the executive director of an independent
watchdog group established with the backing of Irish-
American industrialist Chuck Feeney, the Center for Public

In September, McDowell browbeat reluctant police officers
to travel to Colombia, where, as they had originally
feared, they found no information useful enough to make a
case against anyone.

Last week, he used parliamentary privilege to make
allegations against Connolly that the authorities had
already determined would not stand up in court. Then he
selected documents that formed part of the confidential
Garda investigation, and slipped them to a favored

In doing all of this, McDowell abused his power, undermined
the police and the judicial system, victimized an Irish
citizen and succeeded in persuading Feeney into withdrawing
funding -- at least temporarily -- from a useful
independent watchdog.

Defending his actions, McDowell claimed that, although not
a single charge has been made against Connolly, the man was
part of a labyrinthine IRA conspiracy involving leftist
guerillas in Colombia, narcotics, forged passport
applications, and "tens of millions of euros."

McDowell's said he was legally permitted to behave in this
fashion solely because of his own belief in these claims,
and that they represented a major threat to the security of
the Irish state.

However, as even the usually-hawkish Fine Gael party has
pointed out, no such threat exists; the IRA has long stood
itself down, and the CPI's reports have proved, if
anything, a little dull.

This means that either McDowell is a fantasist cowering
before a non-existent bogey-man or a unionist-leaning
blusterer who attempted to deceive the Dáil with a post-
facto justification for carrying out a political with-hunt.

The taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, should decide which -- either
way, he is unfit to hold office.

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


Fresh Demands Over 'Spy Ring' Case Collapse

The Government today faced fresh demands for a House of
Commons statement on the collapse of a case against three
men accused of operating a spy ring at Stormont.

By:Press Association

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter Robinson made the
call during Business Questions at Westminster.

The East Belfast MP said: "The Prime Minister agreed
yesterday that he would look to see how much more
information could be put into the public domain concerning
the decision of the DPP to collapse the case of the
Stormont spy-ring.

"Will the Leader of the House of Commons indicate to us
when we might have a statement and will he make sure that
the statement is made at the dispatch box in the House of
Commons so as members can have their questions answered?"

Unionists and moderate nationalists have been pressing
Prime Minister Tony Blair, his Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain and the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith for a
statement on the decision by prosecutors last week to no
longer proceed with a case against Sinn Fein`s head of
administration Denis Donaldson, his son-in-law Ciaran
Kearney and civil servant William Mackessy.

At an unlisted hearing at Belfast Crown Court, the Public
Prosecution Service declared it was no longer in the public
interest to pursue a case against the trio, whose arrests
in October 2002 were accompanied by a raid on Sinn Fein`s
offices at Stormont and led to the suspension of

Following their acquittal, Mr Donaldson and Sinn Fein MP
Martin McGuinness denied there had ever been a spy ring at

They said the three men had been the victims of a political
policing operation designed to bring down the power-sharing
executive, with republicans getting the blame.

A DUP delegation led by the Rev Ian Paisley, a nationalist
SDLP delegation led by Mark Durkan and Ulster Unionist MP
Lady Sylvia Hermon all held separate meetings with Lord
Goldsmith yesterday and accused him of stonewalling on what
was meant by the prosecutions not being in the public

Sinn Fein today announced plans for two days of protests
outside police stations across Northern Ireland as it
continued to accuse the PSNI of mounting politically
motivated operations against republicans.

The party`s general secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin, said the
first protests would take place tomorrow in Londonderry,
Magherafelt and Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.

The Foyle Assembly member said: "Since the inception of the
northern statelet from the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary),
the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and still today with
the PSNI, policing has been used as a political weapon," he

"From the involvement in sectarian murder campaigns,
through collusion in arming, training and directing
loyalist murder gangs to the direct political interventions
of the PSNI that have been exposed in recent days it is
clear that there is an agenda that is anti-republican,
anti-change and anti-peace process.

"The ongoing attempts to cast aspersions about the three
innocent men used by the PSNI to protect unionism and pull
down the political institutions, the arrest and release of
Francie Brolly, ongoing political arrests, the fiasco of
the Northern Bank `investigation` and offensive Casement
Park raid all highlight the serious problem that remains
with political policing.

"No one should be in any doubt - political policing and the
influence of the RUC special branch in the PSNI presents a
real and live threat to democracy.

"There is a lot of anger out there about the ability of
political policing to rob us all of the political
institutions and the failure of the British and Irish
governments to stand up to the anti-agreement securocrats."


Northern Ireland Fugitives Bill Denounced

The Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill was tonight labelled
one of the worst pieces of legislation produced by a
British government in the province.

By:Press Association

In a hard hitting attack following the completion of the
Bill`s committee stage at Westminster, nationalist SDLP
leader Mark Durkan denounced the government for agreeing to
look again at only one issue - whether people accused of
murder during the Troubles should be forced to take part in
special tribunals considering their cases.

The Foyle MP said: "That exposes the British government`s
total intransigence in its defence of this Hain/Adams Bill.

"It shows their blatant contempt for the real feeling of
backbench MPs since all have objections to it.

"The fact is that this remains one of the worst pieces of
legislation on Ireland ever proposed at Westminster.

"It still covers state killers. It still allows loyalists
to benefit without having decommissioned a single bullet or
ended their activity.

"It still robs victims of any chance of truth. Because
there is no time limit, killers can afford to sit back and
see if the police come knocking on the door - knowing that
if they do, they will still not face a day in prison.

"It still allows on-the-runs to come back, even though
exiles can`t.

"It still does not give victims even the right to be
informed that somebody has applied under this legislation."

The Bill proposes that people suspected of offences before
the 1998 Good Friday Agreement can apply for a special
licence to ensure they will never be arrested or sent to
jail in Northern Ireland.

They must apply to a certification commissioner who will
ask the police if the individual is suspected of a crime
during the Troubles.

If they are, applicants will be issued with a certificate
listing the offence they are suspected of and guaranteeing
they will not be arrested if they set foot in Northern

The certificate will also set in train a special tribunal,
with its own judge and legal team, which will hold public
hearings to consider whether the applicant is guilty or

In the original legislation there was no obligation in the
Bill on the suspect to appear at the tribunal.

If the suspect is found guilty, they will be issued with a
licence similar to that given to prisoners released early
from jail under the Good Friday Agreement, which will
guarantee they will not have to serve time behind bars
unless they become involved again in terrorist activity.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Democratic Unionists,
SDLP, Ulster Unionists, the cross community Alliance Party,
victims groups and human rights organisations have all been
fiercely critical of the Bill.

A bitter war of words has, in particular, erupted between
nationalists, with the SDLP accusing Sinn Fein of
negotiating a scheme which would not just allow on-the-run
IRA members to return to Northern Ireland but also enable
members of the security forces who colluded in loyalist
murders to avoid jail.

Sinn Fein has insisted it never approved or discussed with
the British and Irish governments the inclusion of Royal
Ulster Constabulary or British soldiers in the scheme.

The Government`s commitment to look again at the issue of
suspects appearing before special tribunals was welcomed by
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson and cross community
Alliance Party leader David Ford.

But they warned the Government it did not make the
legislation acceptable, with Mr Ford insisting ministers
must link the scheme to the safe return of people exiled
from Northern Ireland by loyalist and republican

During his first visit to Belfast as Conservative leader,
David Cameron insisted those suspected of crimes appear
before the special tribunal.

Mr Cameron said: "My party in parliament has been very,
very clear that people who have committed dreadful crimes
in the past must appear in court and I think that this has
been a real block.

"I gather the government is making some moves on that and
we will respond constructively to them."


On-The-Runs Bill To Be Amended

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The North's political development minister, David Hanson,
has signalled he will amend the so-called on-the-runs
legislation so that IRA and other fugitives must appear in
court if they are to avoid jail sentences.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has withdrawn such a party
amendment to the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill on the
expectation that this change to the legislation will be
made by the British government.

The Bill as currently worded means that cases against IRA
and other on-the-runs would have been dealt with without
the fugitives having to appear in court.

On UTV last night Mr Hanson said he could not make a
specific commitment at this stage but said he was hopeful
of bringing in this amendment in the new year.

"I am very hopeful that I will be able to meet the
objections that have been made in committee and at second
reading and indeed by people such as relatives and others
outside of the House," he said.

Mr Robinson said Mr Hanson informed him the British
government would consider bringing its own amendment on the
issue at the report stage of the Bill.

Mr Robinson described the minister's move as "the first
chink of light in a very dark room". He said unionists
would not find the Bill acceptable if it were changed. "It
would merely be less unacceptable," said Mr Robinson.

David Cameron, who yesterday made his first visit to
Northern Ireland as leader of the Conservative Party, said
people suspected of offences should appear in court.

"My party in parliament has been very, very clear that
people who have committed dreadful crimes in the past must
appear in court. I hear rumours today that the government
is making some moves on this legislation and we will
respond constructively to them," added Mr Cameron.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said he had no particular comment to
make at this stage to Mr Hanson's hint of an amendment
because the party was more interested in seeking the
scrapping of the element of the Bill that provided an
effective "amnesty" for British army and police officers
guilty of crimes.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said regardless of the amendment
the Bill remained one of "the worst pieces of legislation
on Ireland ever proposed at Westminster". "The fact is that
this Hain/Adams Bill works wonders for the British army and
the IRA. And it delivers a bonanza to loyalists. But for
victims and the public it delivers nothing. It doesn't even
deliver the truth," he added.

© The Irish Times


Judge To Head Inquiry Body On Garda

Liam Reid,
Political Reporter

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has announced the
appointment of Mr Justice Kevin Haugh of the High Court to
chair the new three-person Garda Ombudsman's Commission.
The former editor of The Irish Times Conor Brady and
director of Consumer Affairs Carmel Foley have also been
appointed to the body.

The new commission will have the power to carry out
independent investigations into complaints against
individual gardaí using its own staff, with powers to
access files and other materials and to interview

It can also investigate incidents where no complaint has
been made but where a garda may have committed an offence,
in addition to investigating "any practice, policy or
procedure of the Garda Síochána with a view to reducing the
incidence of related complaints".

Announcing the appointments, Mr McDowell said it was "vital
that we have an independent complaints mechanism to
maintain public confidence in, and support of, An Garda

"I am delighted with the calibre of the people who have
agreed to serve on the ombudsman commission," the Minister

"Judge Haugh, who has agreed to chair the body, is a judge
of high standing, Ms Foley brings a particular expertise to
the position given her background as a highly respected
public servant and her experience as director of Consumer
Affairs, while Mr Brady's unique experience as a journalist
and management experience as editor of The Irish Times will
be extremely valuable to the commission in their important
work on behalf of the State."

The Garda Ombudsman's Commission was established in the
wake of the first report of the Morris tribunal and
replaces the existing Garda Complaints Board which was
described by the tribunal as inadequate.

© The Irish Times


Ahern Meets Campaigner

David Lynch in Dáil Éireann

United States anti-war campaigner Cindy Sheehan
congratulated Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern for
meeting her on Tuesday.

Ms Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey was shot dead in Iraq,
told over 200 people at a public meeting in Dublin on
Tuesday that she told the Minister that the Irish
government had to stop the US military from using Shannon

"Firstly, I think that it is brave that your minister met
me. For one thing, if your government is in the pocket of
our government then it was a brave move. Because nobody
from my government will meet me," Ms Sheehan said.

"I want to tell the people of Ireland to resist their
government in any way they can from being complicit in this
and being accomplices in the crimes my government is
committing in Iraq.

"One of the things your minister told me is that Shannon is
being used because that is the way it's always been, even
during the Vietnam war. I said: 'Great! You allow them use
your airport for one immoral illegal war and now you allow
them use it for another'," she said.

In related news, the United States Embassy confirmed to the
Irish government that its military used the chemical weapon
white phosphorous during the siege of the Iraqi city of
Falluja last year but only on "military combatants".

The Irish government had contacted the US Embassy about the
issue, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern told the
Dáil yesterday.

Minister Ahern said that the nature of the use of the
weapon "does raise concerns". In terms of use of the weapon
and civilians, he said that it was his understanding that
Falluja was a city of 300,000 citizens and they were asked
to evacuate before the siege. He said that he understood
approximately 30,000 civilians remained during the siege.

Deputy Michael D Higgins (Labour) said that it was
unacceptable "to ask 300,000 people to leave a city and
then when 30,000 civilians remain then to break
international law" and use white phosphorous.

Deputy Higgins said it was "incredible" to think that white
phosphorous was used in civilian areas, which he said was
against international law.

He said that the US government had consistently lied about
the use of white phosphorous in Iraq.


Dissident Republicans Planning To Disrupt Loyalist Parade In Dublin

Ciarán Barnes

Dissident republicans are planning to disrupt a loyalist
march through Dublin next month.

Continuity IRA sources have told Daily Ireland there is "no
way" the organisation will allow unionists to parade along
O'Connell Street before holding a rally outside government
buildings or the Dáil.

Around 1,000 supporters of the Love Ulster campaign have
already informed the Garda of their intentions.

They believe next month's rally will highlight their
concerns with the peace process and opposition to the Good
Friday Agreement.

Although the Continuity IRA is vehemently anti-Good Friday
Agreement and shares Love Ulster's concerns at the peace
process it has vowed to disrupt the rally.

A senior source told Daily Ireland the planned parade will
not go ahead.

"If a bunch of loyalists think they are going to march
through the Irish capital with banners and flags they are
seriously mistaken," said a CIRA source.

"The parade in its current form will be prevented from
taking place. The days of loyalist parades in Dublin ended
a century ago."

The Continuity IRA's political wing, Republican Sinn Féin,
is equally opposed to the rally.

Vice-president Des Dalton described it as an insult to
Dubliners who died in loyalist bombs in the city during the

He said: "In allowing such a march on the streets of Dublin
the 26 county administration is effectively turning its
back on all of those, north and south who have suffered at
the hands of loyalist death squads and their British

Speaking earlier in the week Love Ulster member Willie
Frazer insisted his group would co-operate with the Garda
to avoid disruption.

"There will be around half-a-dozen bands, though many more
were interested in taking part," he said.

"In the region of 200 to 300 victims will go and Orangemen
too. We would expect to take around 1,000."

A Garda spokeswoman said contact regarding arrangements for
a Love Ulster march in Dublin early in the New Year had
been made.

"Requirements in terms of traffic disruption are being
assessed," she added.

Love Ulster rallies similar to that organised for Dublin
are being planned for London and Brussels.

In October the group held a rally on Belfast's Shankill
Road, attracting a crowd of 30,000 loyalists.

Love Ulster says it wants to spread the message of unionist
discontent beyond the North.

Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader Jackie McDonald
helped launch the campaign in August.

His involvement drew widespread condemnation from
nationalists and victims campaigners.


Bank Arrest Man's PSNI Son

A 50-year-old Carrickfergus man arrested on December 2 in
connection with the Northern Bank robbery has a son serving
in the PSNI.

The well-known Catholic resident of the strongly-unionist
town was arrested from his home in the early hours of
Friday, December 2 by a large force of PSNI officers
travelling in up to ten armoured vehicles.

The man was released later the same day after being
questioned about the multi-million-pound heist which netted
the robbers over £26 million (€37 million). It emerged that
the man had met with robbery accused Chris Ward when they
were both on holiday in the Canary Islands at the start of
the year.

"It was a shocking experience," said a family source, "made
all the worse by the fact that his son had just started on
patrol with the PSNI in south Belfast. Anyone who thinks
this man could have been involved in any way with the
Northern Bank robbery is living in cloud-cuckoo-land. It
raises real questions over the investigation of the PSNI
and has led to a lot of hard thinking by everyone in our
extended family – all of whom are strong supporters of the

Mr Ward, an employee of the Northern Bank whose Poleglass
home was taken over by the robbers, has been charged with
the heist. Earlier this month, Newry man Peter Kelly, who
had been arrested as part of the Northern Bank
investigation, had charges against him withdrawn. Mr Ward
denies all the charges against him. It emerged at his
arraignment that he had been placed under surveillance
while on holiday and his home had been bugged.


Textile Firm Cuts Half Workforce

One of Northern Ireland's best known textile firms is to
cut half its workforce, the BBC has learned.

Trade union Amicus said it believes Ulster Weavers will
shut its Dungannon plant with the loss of 60 jobs. No-one
from the firm was available to comment.

A further 10 posts may also go at the company's
headquarters in Banbridge.

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

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

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

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

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/15 21:59:34 GMT


Deputies Adjourn For Modest 40-Day Break

Dail Sketch/Michael O'Regan: Minister for Education Mary
Hanafin saw out some of the last period of yesterday's end
of Dáil term for this year.

With Minister of State Síle de Valera, she took Education

Later the Dáil adjourned until 2.30pm on Wednesday, January
25th, a break for our legislators from plenary sessions
which make the generous teachers' holidays look trivial.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent gave a negative end-of-
term report, demanding that the House return on January

"There is a general mood in the public mind that the Dáil
is not delivering and not succeeding in responding to the
issues that affect people in their day-to-day lives," he

Labour's Emmet Stagg was concerned that, despite the long
break, he will not be free of the sound of bells tolling.

Thanking the Ceann Comhairle Dr Rory O'Hanlon for his
Christmas card, he noted that it has an image of the bell
on his desk.

"My wife, greatly respecting the Ceann Comhairle's office,
insists on putting the card in the centre of the
mantelpiece," he added. "I must look at the bell for the
whole yuletide fireside season."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern suggested: "The
deputy does not like the bell because it is a reminder to
him." Mr Stagg is no stranger to the occasional rebuke from
Dr O'Hanlon, sometimes with the bell ringing out a warning.

Meanwhile, Dr O'Hanlon returned to the disappearance of his
remark, "Frig it, Enda . . . " from the official Dáil

In a formal statement, he said the Dáil official report was
published as unrevised and deputies had up to 14 days after
publication to bring corrections to the notice of the
editor of debates, who was responsible for ensuring the
accuracy of the report.

Members who had raised the matter in a jocose way on
Wednesday, were not casting any reflection on the chairman
or the professionalism of the editorial staff who did
tremendous work, often very late at night, to produce the
report of the debates in a short turnaround time, he added.

Fine Gael's Richard Bruton said his party shared the Ceann
Comhairle's view that they were well served by the
editorial staff.

Nobody, said Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, had cast any
aspersion on the professionalism and extraordinary
diligence of the editorial staff. He though the statement
"unnecessarily precious".

Mr Rabbitte was worried about the archivists and historians
who would not have access to the "linguistics being tried
out in this House".

Labour's Michael D Higgins suggested a seminar, while Fine
Gael's Bernard Durkan said it could last a week. "In-
service courses," observed Ms Hanafin.

Mr Higgins remarked that "they could be teaching the
difference between a metaphysical and ontological outlook
in linguistics in February".

Meanwhile, some Fianna Fáil backbenchers had a faraway
look, contemplating, no doubt, the junior ministerial
vacancy which Ms Harney said the Taoiseach would fill in
January. The word is that mobile phones will not be
switched off, even on Christmas Day.

© The Irish Times


€107,000 For First Edition Of 'Ulysses'

A copy of James Joyce's Ulysses has sold for €107,000
(£66,000) at an auction in London.

The first edition fetched more than twice its guide price
at Sotheby's sale yesterday of English literature and
history books in New Bond Street.

UK book trading firm London Trade bought the literary work,
which was put up for sale by an anonymous vendor.

"There was very competitive bidding as it made over twice
its guide price of £30,000 [ €50,000]," a Sotheby's
spokesman said.

The biannual sale also saw a copy of Joyce's Dubliners make
£4,500 (€7,300). The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde fetched
£10,200 (€17,000).

Another Ulysses first edition signed by Joyce set a world
record when it sold for €460,000 in Christie's in New York
in 2002.

Ulysses follows the travels its main character Leopold
Bloom around Dublin during one day on June 16th, 1904. - (PA)

© The Irish Times


'John Bull's Finger Press' Stays Here

Fiona Gartland

An ink press that took the fingerprints of the leaders
executed after the 1916 Rising was sold in England for
£12,000 yesterday.

"John Bull's Finger Press" was bought by the chairman of
the Kilmainham Gaol Museum, Damien Cassidy, with the
backing of an unnamed financier. Mr Cassidy also bought a
copy of the 1916 Proclamation and other related documents.

The items were sold by Mullock Madeley, auctioneers based
in Ludlow, Shropshire.

The ink press is in its original wooden casket and bears
the inscription: "A tribute from the National Aid
Association, Dublin, to the memory of those who showed
great self-sacrifice and signatories on behalf of the
provisional government during the Easter Rising, 23rd April

Mr Cassidy said he was delighted his purchases would not be
going out of Ireland.

"I gave a lifetime of work to the establishment of
Kilmainham and it would be utterly ridiculous if a part of
its furniture was outside the country, it is part of our
heritage," he said.

"I couldn't get any State backing to purchase the press and
so I had to ask a financier to come in on the bid."

He added it was up to his backer whether the press would go
to Kilmainham or to one of the universities.

Richard Westwood-Brookes of Mullock Madeley said it was
always his hope that the press would go to the right place
and he was very pleased that it was bought by someone from

© The Irish Times


Keane Signs For Celtic

Roy Keane has completed his move to Celtic after signing an
18-month deal.

Keane, who ended his Manchester United career last month by
`mutual consent`, was linked with Real Madrid earlier this

But, when the Spanish giants cooled their interest in the
34-year-old Irishman, Celtic seized their chance.

Keane`s deal is believed to be worth £40,000 a week, with
Parkhead majority shareholder Dermot Desmond reported to be
paying for half of it.

The midfielder will be eligible to make his Hoops debut
against Hearts in the Bank of Scotland Premier League at
Tynecastle on New Year`s Day.

Keane`s sensational departure from Manchester United was
confirmed on November 18, with the club and player parting
company by mutual consent.

The Irishman was reported to have been critical of a number
of his United team-mates in an MUTV programme which was
pulled from the schedules because of its content.

No sooner had his departure been confirmed than a number of
clubs expressed an interest in signing the 34-year-old.

Celtic, who had always been considered as the most obvious
next move for Keane, made welcoming noises in a statement
on the club website

"Roy Keane was a magnificent player and servant for
Manchester United but he also knows all about Celtic," it

"If at any time Roy would like to speak to us about his
future and Celtic`s, we would be only too happy to speak to
him, but as yet there have been no discussions."

Hoops chairman Brian Quinn made it clear his club would not
be able to come close to matching Keane`s United wages,
believed to be £90,000 a week.

Italian sides Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina were at various
points linked with the player, while Manchester City boss
Stuart Pearce admitted any club in the Premiership would be
happy to have a leader like Keane in their ranks.

Latterly Everton and Bolton emerged as contenders, their
cause aided by the fact that moving there would allow Keane
to stay in the north-west, but Real Madrid seemed
favourites when a club spokesman revealed he was "on a list
of possible signings" earlier this week.

However, Real president Florentino Perez offered a cooler
response, insisting transfer targets would not be discussed
until the club had completed their 2005 Primera Liga

The saga has now moved full circle, with Keane sealing a
move to Parkhead today.

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