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 11, 2005

Police Attacked By Petrol Bombers

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

BB 12/11/05 Police Attacked By Petrol Bombers
SL 12/11/05 'I'll Tell The Police Who Killed Sharon'
SF 12/11/05 Concern Expressed @ Miami Showband Reports
BB 10/15/76 Bckgrund: UDR Men Jailed For Showband Killings
SB 12/11/05 Funding For SF-Backed Group May Lead To Deal
DI 12/11/05 DDP Keen To Keep A Lid On Raid Case – SF
DI 12/11/05 Opin: PSNI Used In Coup D'état: Same Old Story
TO 12/11/05 'Not Enough Evidence' Against Journalist
II 12/11/05 Provos Use FARC Drug Money To Take On Republic
SB 12/11/05 Kiberd Labels McDowell A 'Bully' And 'Yellow'
SB 12/11/05 Feeney Action After Meeting McDowell
SB 12/11/05 Billionaire Hoped For New Investigative Force
SL 12/11/05 Bank Suspect In Republican Jail Wing Bid
IO 12/10/05 Man Charged Over M50 Bombv
BB 12/11/05
'No Interference' In Spy Charges
TO 12/11/05 Identity Protection Stopped 'Spy' Case
SL 12/11/05 Sidekick Of Gray Can't Sell Assets
SL 12/11/05 Bid To Have PSNI's 'SF/IRA Uniform Changed
SB 12/11/05 Opin: We Can Not Ignore Evidence Of US Torture
SL 12/11/05 The IRA Has A Lot Of Bridge-Building To Do
BG 12/11/05 In N. Ireland, Some Wounds Are Still Raw
TA 12/11/05 Echoes Of Ulster In Our Knee-Jerk Terror Laws
IV 12/11/05 Rewriting The Irish Conflict
IV 12/11/05 Dobbs Rants On
SB 12/11/05 Google To Create 700 Dublin Jobs
BR 12/10/05 Northern Ireland Issues Bond North Jersey Group
NY 12/10/05 Irish Echo Wants Mother Country To Read It


Police Attacked By Petrol Bombers

Police have been attacked while investigating petrol bomb
attacks on an estate in Londonderry.

Officers were called to the mainly Protestant Fountain
estate following reports of youths throwing petrol bombs
into the area at 2100 GMT on Saturday.

When they arrived petrol bombs were thrown at police Land
Rovers. There are no reports of any injuries.

"Police maintained a presence in the area throughout the
night," a police spokeswoman said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/11 09:34:48 GMT


'I'll Tell The Police Who Killed Sharon'

Special Branch agent was behind sectarian slaying - claim

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
11 December 2005

A CAMPAIGNING dad has vowed to provide cops with crucial
information on the brutal sectarian slaying of a young

Raymond McCord, whose son, Raymond jnr, was battered to
death by loyalists in 1997, will make a statement to cops
this week about the murder of Sharon McKenna.

Catholic Sharon (27) was gunned down by the notorious Mount
Vernon UVF gang in 1993 at the Belfast home of a pensioner
she was cooking dinner for.

Although Mr McCord has a death threat hanging over him, he
has agreed to tell police probing unsolved murders of the
Troubles the names of the men he claims were responsible.

The north Belfast man, who is set to meet Secretary of
State Peter Hain later this month to discuss Police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's investigation into his son's
murder, has also offered to meet Ms McKenna's family.

He made the offer after solicitors acting for the murdered
woman's relatives met Mrs O'Loan last week to discuss her
investigation into the police's handling of agents inside
the UVF in the early 1990s.

Mr McCord believes the man who murdered his son was also
responsible for gunning down Sharon McKenna.

Said Mr McCord: "The man who murdered my son was a Special
Branch agent and I have also no doubt that he was
responsible for killing Sharon McKenna.

"The driver of the getaway car was also a Special Branch
agent and I think the only reason he wasn't questioned was
because he probably would have spilled the beans on other
agents who were more important to the Branch."

He added: "The threat may have increased against me in
recent days, but I just feel I should come forward with the
information I have on Sharon's murder.

"I am willing to meet with the McKenna family's legal team
to discuss the murder at any time."

Sunday Life can reveal that Mrs O'Loan's investigation into
Raymond McCord jnr's murder has now been completed and has
been sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

The report is set to be published later this month.

It is believed it could lead to the prosecution of senior
UVF figures and - possibly - their handlers.

Some of the organisation's most senior members have come
under close scrutiny, during the two-year probe to examine
the role of police informers in the McCord murder and
others over the past 20 years.


Murphy - Concern Expressed At Miami Showband Papers Reports

Published: 11 December, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy today said
that he is extremely concerned at media reports suggesting
that the British government papers relating to the Miami
Showband killings, due to be released under the 30 year
rule, have been suppressed.

Mr Murphy said:

"It has already been established that many of those
responsible for the Miami Showband killings were serving
members if the British Army. What has yet to be established
is how far up the British chain the planning of this
operation went.

"Some of the answers may well be held in these British
State papers due for release under the 30 year rule.
However weekend media reports suggest that the British
government will suppress these papers, apparently offering
the reason that they are being held in a building
containing asbestos and therefore cannot be accessed.

"People will simply not believe this excuse, it is not
credible and it will not be accepted. It seems that the
British securocrats, masters in the art of covering up
their involvement in state killing, have once again set out
to suppress the truth and frustrate the families of those
killed in their search for the truth." ENDS


Background: UDR Men Jailed For Showband Killings

Oct 15, 1976: Two men from the Ulster Defence Regiment
(UDR) have each been jailed for 35 years in connection with
the murders of members of the Miami Showband.

The UDR soldiers were members of the outlawed paramilitary
organisation the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Imposing the longest life sentences in Northern Ireland
history, the judge said "killings like the Miami Showband
must be stopped."

Thomas Raymond Crozier and Rodney Shane McDowell, both from
Lurgan, Co Armagh, were sentenced for their part in a UVF
ambush when three members of the cabaret band were shot

Players were returning from a gig in Belfast in July 1975
when their minibus was flagged down near Newry at what
appeared to be a military roadblock.

Two terrorists were killed by their own bomb as they tried
to plant it in the back of the band's van. Three of the
players were then summarily executed.

Police said they were dismayed that the gang of UVF
militants had also been locally recruited into the British
Army's UDR.

In court the judge said the death penalty would have been
imposed had it not been recently abolished.

"A few years ago the question of mere imprisonment would
not have arisen."

Harsh sentences

He said he was imposing more severe sentences because
lesser penalties had had little effect.

Speaking from Dublin about how the ordeal affected him, a
surviving band member, Des 'Lee' McAlea, said he would not
be returning to Northern Ireland.

"Life goes on and I have to make my own life now
unfortunately...Our happiest days playing in the band were
in Northern Ireland."

But he added: "Sometime in the future if the situation in
Northern Ireland should get better, we could sit down and
talk about going back."

In Context

The Miami Showband was one of the most popular touring
cabaret bands from the Republic of Ireland.

It transpired that the UVF, a Loyalist paramilitary group,
were attempting to frame the band as members of the IRA by
planting a bomb in their minivan.

Two UVF men died when the bomb they were trying to plant
exploded prematurely. The remaining gunmen opened fire on
the players. Tony Geraghty, Fran O'Toole and Brian McCoy
died at the scene.

Republicans have accused the British government of
complicity in the Miami Showband ambush.

Such a link has never been proven in this particular
instance, but the 1990 Stevens Inquiry into collusion
between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries
concluded there was evidence in other cases.


Funding For SF-Backed Group May Lead To Deal

11 December 2005 By Colm Heatley

In the same week that the Police Service of Northern
Ireland's case against the 'republican spy-ring' at
Stormont collapsed, the British government has made
policing overtures to republicans by offering funding and
official recognition to Community Restorative Justice

CRJ is a Sinn Féin-backed community organisation that seeks
to resolve antisocial problems in republican areas of the
North through mediation and refuses to recognise the
legitimacy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI). It was established in 1998 as an alternative to the
police and to IRA punishment attacks.

So far, the group has been funded by American billionaire
Chuck Feeney, but under proposals announced by the Northern
Ireland Office's David Hanson on Monday, the British
government will bankroll CRJ under specified criteria.

Many of the proposals, such as the barring of ex-prisoners
from working in CRJ and the harmonisation of CRJ and the
PSNI, have been rejected by the group.

However the real significance of the proposals lies in the
fact that CRJ, with British government recognition, could
act as a conduit between republican communities and the
PSNI, which is regarded as alien and hostile to Catholics
by many Northern republicans.

The arrangement has echoes of 1975, when republican
'incident centres', which monitored the then truce and
which later morphed into Sinn Féin centres, were recognised
by the British government.

Sinn Féin is expected to endorse publicly policing
arrangements by next spring, should the British government
devolve policing powers to a restored Stormont Assembly.

However, even such an endorsement would do little to
encourage grassroots republicans to embrace the PSNI.

Recent developments, such as the collapse of the police
case against the 'Stormont 3', which republicans claim is
evidence of 'political policing', the perceived eagerness
of the PSNI to fire plastic bullets at nationalist
protesters and long-standing claims of collusion with
loyalist paramilitaries continue to alienate nationalists
from police in the North.

On top of that is a widespread acceptance among Northern
nationalists that the police have, since the inception of
the state, been the 'armed wing of unionism', with a 90 per
cent plus Protestant membership.

However, Hanson's plans envisage CRJ acting as a buffer, if
not a conduit, between a hostile republican community and
the PSNI.

Even if Sinn Féin endorses the PSNI next spring, which
would signal the endgame of the peace process, it will take
a 'leap of faith' for grassroots republicans to follow

In that instance, the role of CRJ will be of huge benefit
to those seeking the integration of the PSNI and republican

Although the proposals hold out the prospect of funding for
CRJ, just as Feeney's funds run dry, they also place an
expectation that the organisation will toe the line.

Among the most controversial elements of Hanson's Northern
Ireland Office (NIO) bill is that ex-political prisoners
can play no part in CRJ.

CRJ will also have to report and take referrals from the

"This is about ownership of CRJ, and that will not happen,"
said Jim Auld, director of CRJ. "Even if Sinn Féin signs up
to policing, we are a long way from acceptance of the PSNI
in nationalist areas.

"The real test will be when young republicans join up and
are accepted by people in their own communities, and that
would take a huge step.

"As for former political prisoners not being included, that
is nonsense and doesn't recognise the make-up of republican

"The communities we work with have been humiliated and
beaten by the police for decades, something neither the
British government nor the PSNI recognises.

"What we will be able to do is to create a conduit between
the republican community and the PSNI. If agreement is
found on policing, then the PSNI can become involved, but
on equal terms only."

CRJ has 14 offices spread across Derry, Belfast and Armagh.
Most of its monthly caseload of around 160 problems (85 per
cent) revolves around issues that fall outside the criminal
justice system, such as neighbourly disputes and nuisance

Despite that, CRJ works with social services and the
probation board and refers any sexual or domestic abuse
cases to social services. For its part, Sinn Féin has
remained coy on the relationship between CRJ and the wider
policing issue that faces republicans.

"Community Restorative Justice is not about policing," said
Gerry Kelly, policing spokesman of Sinn Féin.

"It is not an alternative to a fully accountable police
service, but a community-based mediation service, and such
initiatives are an important innovation.

"It is a community-based and non-violent response to many
local problems. It is on this basis that these schemes
deserve and require funding from central government and
have operated successfully over the past five years across
the North."

Republican endorsement of policing, the last major issue to
be resolved, would signal the endgame of the peace process
but would also create difficulties within the republican

Despite the Patten reforms, the PSNI remains 'beyond the
pale' for most republicans, who still regard the police as
the 'armed wing of unionism'.

However, the most vociferous criticism of CRJ has come not
from unionists, but the SDLP which, since the early 1970s,
has urged nationalists to support the police and British

Alex Attwood of the SDLP has accused CRJ of acting to
"usurp the lawful authority of the state and create an
opportunity for people where they don't get their way under
the rules of the state to try and get their way under the
rules of restorative justice''.

The policing issue in the North has proven the most
intractable problem to bedevil the peace process. For CRJ,
which is at the centre of the storm, there are more
immediate problems.

"People who were ordered out of the country will be looking
to return home at Christmas,'' Auld said.

"That will create obvious friction between the alleged
perpetrators and the local community, and if it is
something we are asked to intervene in, we will.

"We will try to mediate to ensure that things go peacefully
within the community."

Final submissions on the NIO proposals will be accepted in
late February.


DDP Keen To Keep A Lid On Raid Case – SF

By Jarlath Kearney

A senior Sinn Féin member found not guilty of high-profile
charges has accused the prosecution of acting "in their own
self interest" by stopping the case.

Denis Donaldson was Sinn Féin's head of administration at
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, when the PSNI launched a
wave of arrests and raids on October 4, 2002. Along with
his co-accused, Ciarán Kearney and Billy Mackessy, Mr
Donaldson attended a high-profile Sinn Féin press
conference at Stormont yesterday morning. It was Mr
Donaldson's first attendance at Stormont since his arrest
more than three years ago.

During a controversial PSNI raid of Mr Donaldson's Sinn
Féín office in Parliament Buildings in 2002 the PSNI seized
just two computer disks, both of which were returned to
Sinn Féín within days.

On Thursday, the three innocent men were found not guilty
by direction of Justice Hart at Belfast Crown Court in
relation to allegations that they possessed information
useful to terrorists.

Flanked by Sinn Féin leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry
Adams, alongside East Derry assembly member Francie Brolly,
the three men vigorously defended their innocence at

"I wasn't surprised, because we weren't guilty. There was
no spy-ring at Stormont. There never was," Mr Donaldson

"What it all added up to was politically-inspired charges
which should never have ben brought. The fact that the
media was here on the morning that our office was raided
testifies to that. It was part of the 'Save Dave' campaign
initially and it was also designed to bring down the
institutions – which it did."

Questioned by the media about the Crown's statement that
evidence should not be furnished against the three
defendants "in the public interest", Mr Donaldson accused
the prosecution of acting "in their own self-interest" by
stopping the case.

Referring to the Special Branch operation codenamed Torsion
which preceded the arrests in October 2002, Mr Donaldson
said that the prosecution was afraid of disclosing the full
background to the case. He also reminded the media that
Justice Hart found all three defendants "not guilty".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams told the media that a
"definite and definitive pattern" of political policing was
now evident in the North.

"You will remember, because some of you were here at the
time and some of you were here by invitation, that the raid
on this building, the raid on the Sinn Féin offices, was
conducted in a glare of publicity," Mr Adams said.

"I think that has very clearly become a pattern – a pattern
of political policing.

"Our certain view, and we said this at the time, is that
there are elements within the Special Branch, within the
old RUC, some of whom are active today in the PSNI, who
continue to be at war with Irish republicans, and who are
opposed to the peace process.

Speaking after meeting British prime minister Tony Blair in
London, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he could not understand
the Crown's handling of the case.

"This brought down the institutions and created huge grief
for me and for the prime minister [Blair]," Mr Ahern said.

"We had hundreds of troops descending on the Stormont
building for what we were told at the time was irrefutable
evidence. It vanished yesterday with no prosecutions. It
was a lot of grief for no prosecutions. I think it is all
very interesting and I don't quite understand," Mr Blair

The North's public prosecution service (PPS) has faced
considerable pressure from the SDLP, Ulster Unionist Party
and Democratic Unionist Party to provide further
explanation about the background to the collapse of the

However, a PPS spokesperson said yesterday that no comment
would be made.


Opin: PSNI Muscle Used In Coup D'état: The Same Old Story…

BY Gearoid O Caireallain

I had just finished watching the television news reports
when a colleague from Galway rang.

He was in a quandary over the RUC raids on Sinn Féin
offices at Stormont, the allegations that the IRA had been
caught in the middle of the biggest political spying
operation since Tinker Tailor, and the arrests of two Sinn
Féin workers – one of whom was a former prisoner and
current head of the party's operation at the seat of

Because my bemused friend had worked in Belfast and knew
the lay of the land here, punters were looking to him to
explain what was going on.

On the face of it, the Provos had got nabbed red-handed,
Sinn Féin were in the thick of it, all this take about
going political was just baloney, there was no difference
between the party and the volunteers, Sinn Féin/IRA,
Trimble was right all along, Paisley was right all along,
it's all just a big conspiracy, they never meant a word of
the Good Friday Agreement and the unionists had no choice
but to pull out and let those lying, republican so and sos
stew in their own fat.

So I advised him to look again, closer this time. There may
have been 100 Land Rovers roaring up past Carson's statue,
they may have confiscated computers and disks and a million
pieces of paper. They may even have raided houses all over
the place and taken suspects in for questioning, but what
was their evidence?

Nothing, I said. The only conspiracy here is the one that
the police themselves are taking part in, aimed at
discrediting Sinn Féin and stalling, yet again, the
progress towards equality and justice that the party has
been spearheading.

Okay, he retorted. But what about the two boyos they have
lifted? What are they going to do, just let them out again
on the QT when no one is looking?

Well… yes, I replied.

As it turned out, Stormontgate stormed in the media for
weeks, months, even. The unionists walked out and the
political institutions were collapsed by the British
government for the third time. Over three years later they
still have not been recalled, with the Assembly and the
power-sharing Executive lying idle and the political
institutions in the North of Ireland once again run by
absentee overlords.

And what was the cause of it all? Not a master spy
operation, anyway. Not political espionage.

The PSNI yesterday were still insisting that the IRA were
involved in all this John Le Carré stuff but, despite all
the arrests, the raids and the confiscations of documents,
their investigation has come to what it was always going to
come to: nothing.

'Stormontgate' was more than a conspiracy, it was a coup
d'état. Elements within the British security services,
operating on behalf of, and in conjunction with unionist
and pro-British elements within the political and civil
service sectors, and with the strong arm of PSNI muscle,
conspired to bring the government of the North of Ireland
down, and they succeeded.

Their aim was to give Trimble an excuse to walk out and to
have the political institutions here set aside, and the
British government – functioning as usual as the behest of
the unionists – were happy to oblige. As this column has
pointed out on numerous occasions, a majority of unionists
would prefer to languish under direct rule than to have to
share power with Sinn Féin.

There is, of course, no chance of getting an official
inquiry set up into Stormontgate. The PSNI stated that they
acted on foot of allegations that the IRA were engaged on a
spying mission.

Who made those allegations? What were the nature of those
allegations? What evidence was presented to convince Hugh
Orde that the allegations should have been acted upon as
they were?

There is no chance of getting a public inquiry into
'Stormontgate' and even if one was set up, it would
probably last ten years, cost €20 million and tell us
nothing in the wind up.

Ciarán Kearney was right on Thursday when he said that it
is of the utmost importance that the police can never be
used again for political purposes. What kind of society
would we have if the police force was at the beck and call
of politicians and warlords every time they decided that
the government should be brought down?

Well, actually the answer to that one is simple enough –
the kind of society that existed in the six counties since
the formation of the state.

We might get at the truth when the responsibilities of
justice and policing are devolved from the British
overlords to local, Irish politicians. When elected
representatives can walk into the vaults of their own
departments and instruct the civil servants – including the
police – to show them the documentation, the memos, the
instructions and the orders that led to the 'Stormontgate'
raids, then we might get at the truth.

When our own people can sit down with representatives from
Daily Ireland and other media and piece together the
timeline of events that resulted in the collapse of
government, then we might get to the truth.

When elected representatives from the Falls Road and
Crossmaglen, from south Derry and west Tyrone, when the
elected representatives of the oppressed are actually in
charge of the police service, then we may well be able to
make sure that political policing in the North of Ireland
becomes a thing of the past.

'Stormontgate' is now over, but the team behind it is still
alive and kicking. Well alive and kicking.

The startling similarities between 'Stormontgate' and the
investigation into the Northern Bank robbery are there for
all to see. Yet again the PSNI declared the IRA to be the
guilty party. Yet again they have conducted raids and
carried out arrests and confiscated computers and documents
to back their case up.

Again the amount of actual hard evidence amassed amounted
to diddly squat.

For almost a year now, the PSNI have been spearheading the
campaign to hinder the progress of Sinn Féin.

The Irish government and various pro-unionist elements in
the North are on the bandwagon and laughing their heads

No one could be expected to do business with bank robbers.
Sinn Féin are not fit for government.

How long do you think it will be before all charges against
everyone held arising out of the Northern Bank heist will
be dropped?

Dropped quietly, dropped suddenly, and dropped after the
damage has been done…


'Not Enough Evidence' Against Journalist

Richard Oakley and Enda Leahy

FRANK CONNOLLY, the former journalist at the centre of a
row with Michael McDowell, the justice minister, will not
face charges over his alleged use of a false passport to
travel to Colombia with a senior IRA figure.

Sources close to the case have said the Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) has decided that the current file does
not contain enough evidence to prosecute Connolly, the
executive director of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI).

McDowell used Dail privilege last week to provide details
of the false passport Connolly is alleged to have used, and
linked him to an IRA plot to sell terrorist expertise to
Farc guerillas.

Connolly has denied the allegations and insisted he has
never been to Colombia. He has said the person in the CCTV
footage is not him and the allegations were a bid to damage
the CPI, which recently released a report critical of the
Corrib gas pipeline.

He has accused McDowell of usurping the functions of the
gardai and the DPP. He said the minister was seeking to
destroy his reputation by publicly making allegations of a
criminal nature.

McDowell is understood to have discussed the file with
Atlantic Philanthropies, the charity founded by billionaire
Chuck Feeney, who was bankrolling the CPI, a self-styled
ethics and anti-corruption watchdog, to the tune of $4m
(€3.38m) over four years.

Following last week's revelations by McDowell, Atlantic
Philanthropies announced that it was withdrawing its
financial support with immediate effect.

Sources said the DPP had reviewed the garda file on
Connolly and found it insufficient to support a criminal
prosecution in its current form. It is understood the DPP
believes CCTV footage that shows a man, alleged to be
Connolly, entering Bogota is not of a high enough quality
and wouldn't be strong enough to use as evidence in a
trial. Connolly did not want to discuss the matter
yesterday, but said he was not aware of the DPP's position
and that he should have been told about it.

The board of the CPI, chaired by Feargus Flood, a former
high court judge, is to meet this week to discuss the
implications of Feeney's funding being withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for McDowell yesterday responded to criticism
of his use of Dail privilege to detail garda intelligence
on a member of the public.

"The Official Secrets Act 1963 allows a minister to provide
official information when it is in the interest of the
state to do so," she said.

Jim O'Keefe, Fine Gael's justice spokesman, said he had
"grave concerns" about McDowell's handling of the matter. A
spokesman for the Labour Party said McDowell had "created a
very dangerous precedent by quoting garda intelligence
under the privilege of a Dail question".

A political source close to McDowell said: "Frank Connolly
has not challenged McDowell to repeat the allegations he
made under Dail privilege. If this were to happen, Connolly
could sue for libel on the basis that they were false as he


Provos Plan To Use FARC Drug Money To Take On The Republic

A SECURITY check on the application form lodged in the UK
passport office in Belfast of a "James Edward Campbell" in
May 2000 raised the first inkling of suspicion that led to
the exposure of the whole IRA-Farc training for money
affair in Colombia which led, in turn, to last week's
withdrawal of funding for Frank Connolly's Centre for
Public Inquiry.

The photograph accompanying the application form for "James
Edward Campbell" was identified by the PSNI Special Branch
as James "Mortar" Monaghan, one of the IRA's top bomb-

Monaghan's movements were observed and he was found to be
visiting Martin McAuley at his home in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
McAuley was also a bomb-maker by trade. Checks quickly
revealed that McAuley, too, had acquired a passport, under
the name John Joseph Kelly.

The second IRA ceasefire was three years old and there was
no intelligence to suggest that the IRA was about to
restart its terror campaign. The PSNI suspected that the
two intended to travel abroad illegally, probably to the
US, from where they were excluded because of their
convictions for terrorist offences.

What the PSNI did not know was that yet another of the
IRA's top bomb-makers, Padraig Wilson, who had just been
released from prison under the Good Friday Agreement, had
also acquired an Irish passport under a false name. Wilson
was granted a passport under the name James Edward Walker.

It is not known if the PSNI information about Monaghan,
Wilson and McAuley was communicated to the Garda Crime and
Security Section at the time. The gardai seemed to have
been genuinely unaware that false passports were being
acquired through applications arriving in the Department of
Foreign Affairs from Belfast under assumed identities.

As the Minister for Justice confirmed on Wednesday in the
Dail, two passports were applied for and granted at the end
of 2000. One was granted to Niall Connolly in the name of
Ralph McKay and the other to his brother, Frank, in the
name of John Francis Johnston.

The illegal acquisition of an Irish passport - the offence
is actually one of felony - did not come to the attention
of the Garda Siochana until after the arrest of Niall
Connolly, Monaghan and McAuley as they attempted to board
an Air France jet at Bogota airport in August 2001. Their
first-class flights to Paris were the first leg of their
journey home after having spent three months training
members of the Farc guerrilla group.

Inquiries into Niall Connolly's false passport, in the name
of a dead man with a birth date similar to his, led to the
discovery that six weeks previously, another passport had
been granted, to "John Francis Johnston", the stolen
identity of an innocent Belfast man used by Niall's brother

Frank Connolly adamantly denies that the photograph on the
passport application is his - something he stated to two
senior detectives investigating the case when he was
questioned in March 2002. He also denied last week ever
having been in Colombia but refuses to say where he was in
April 2001 when the three false passports of "James Edward
Walker" (Padraig Wilson), "Ralph McKay" (Niall Connolly)
and "John Francis Johnston" (identified by the Minister for
Justice this week as Frank Connolly) arrived at Bogota
airport on an Air France flight.

Detectives who investigated the movements of "John Francis
Johnston" determined that earlier on the day of the Air
France flight to Bogota, Frank Connolly, using his own
Irish passport, travelled from Dublin Airport to Charles de
Gaulle airport, Paris. He also used his own passport on the
return leg from Paris to Dublin.

Although details of these travel arrangements were
published in the Sunday Independent in June 2002, no other
major news organisation in Ireland cared to carry out
investigations into the affair.

RTE and the Irish Times carried the story for the first
time last week after the Minister for Justice gave details
of the Connolly affair in an answer to independent TD
Finian McGrath. Under Dail reporting privilege, news
organisations were then free to report the minister's
statement without fear of defamation procedings. Both
accompanied the minister's statement with Mr Connolly's

Both RTE and the Irish Times had continued to accept the
bona fides of Frank Connolly as a journalist and
subsequently as executive director" of the Centre for
Public Inquiry. The CPI's two reports - on planning matters
in Co Meath and on the Shell pipeline in Co Mayo - were
both treated with near deference by both news
organisations. The reports are impressive-looking
documents, with expense not spared. The allegations about
planning matters in Co Meath were robustly denied by the
hotelier named in the CPI report and, it emerged, the
detail in the report on the Shell came from an American
company which had been the under-bidder in a contract for
the Mayo pipeline.

Neither news organisation mentioned the fact, as reported
earlier in the summer in the Sunday Independent, that an
attempt by Connolly to affiliate his organisation with the
highly-reputable Center for Public Integrity in Washington
was turned down by its founder-director, Chuck Lewis,
former producer of CBS's Sixty Minutes.

Lewis was approached on a number of occasions by Connolly
to become associated with his Dublin-based group but
refused. It is understood he told Connolly that having
inquired about his background he would have nothing to do
with his group. Lewis declined an offer to be flown to
Dublin along with his wife for a holiday paid for out of
Connolly's budget. He also declined an offer to meet a
delegation of board members led by Connolly.

Connolly's Centre for Public Inquiry has the same initials
as the Washington-based group which provides bursaries for
reputable and experienced journalists to take time away
from daily journalism to concentrate on major investigative
stories. Work produced by journalists under the Washington
CPI has received many accolades including Pulitzer prizes,
and all of its staff and workings are open to public
scrutiny. By contrast, little is known of the workings of
Connolly's secretive organisation.

By the middle of this year the Minister for Justice had
received sufficient intelligence reports to have grown
concerned at Connolly's intentions with the CPI. The
Minister met the CPI's funder, the Irish-American
billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney, andadvised him of
his and the Government's concerns.

Mr Feeney's organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the
vehicle used to dispose of his fortune to charitable and
also non-charitable groups, is understood to have
instigated its own private investigation. Based on both the
Government's findings and its own advice, Atlantic
Philanthropies is understood to have offered to continue
its funding only on the basis that Connolly resigned. The
CPI Board, chaired by Mr Justice Feargus Flood, declined
this and last Wednesday Atlantic Philanthropies withdrew
its US$4m funding.

Which leaves the question hanging of what was the intention
behind the CPI. Its stated opinion of itself was that it
was 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".

Gardai believe, as do senior figures in Government, that
Connolly's agenda with the CPI was, unbeknownst to its
reputable board members, to use the organisation as a
vehicle with which to gather and disseminate embarrassing
information about institutions of the State, private
business and sections of the media.

That he had succeeded, until last week, in promoting this
campaign is remarkable given that his involvement in what
Mr McDowell told the Dail was a "well-organised sinister
enterprise" in Colombia with the IRA, had been exposed over
three years ago.

What Mr McDowell's statement to the Dail also revealed is
that despite the revelations in this newspaper, a large
section of the Irish media continued to treat Connolly and
his associates who visited Colombia under false passports
as though they were engaged in a legitimate exercise.

The "Colombia Three" as they became known were also treated
with near deference by sections of the media here, some of
which enthusiastically attacked the Colombian government's
record on human rights while referring to the "three
Irishmen" held in prison in Bogota.

Sections of the media also accepted the claims by Sinn Fein
that the three were being held in appalling prison
conditions. In fact, the Colombian authorities kept them
isolated from other prisoners for fear there would be
retribution against them by anti-Farc prisoners and they
had fresh food brought into their cells daily including, it
was reported, steak breakfasts cooked at a local hotel.

What the Government and the US and British governments
believe, backed up by very good intelligence, forensic and
ballistic evidence, is that the IRA visitors to Colombia
were selling their military technology in the field of
"improvised explosive devices" to the Farc guerrilla

The links to Farc were developed in the late Ninties
through the Basque terror group Eta, with which the
Provisional IRA has had close links since the Seventies.
With the ending of the IRA's terror campaign it had excess
technological know-how which was greatly in demand by
terrorist groups around the world.

The IRA's improvised weapons were of exceptional quality
and included mortars which were accurate at up to a
kilometre. They were also experimenting with a new and
devastating type of bomb known as a "fuel-air bomb" which
involves a primary detonation to vaporise fuel and a
secondary detonation which ignites the cloud of inflammable

This technology was also in the hands of the dissident Real
IRA who used it in Omagh town centre in August 1998 to
appalling effect. The Provisional IRA was also in a
position to pass on its tactics in mounting double and
treble landmine attacks on military patrols, a technique
used to kill 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint in August

Farc also picked up tactics on the use of high-powered 0.5
sniper rifles and has been using them in exactly the same
way the IRA's "Border sniper" team did during the early

One of the most striking pieces of evidence revealing the
hand of 'Both RTE and the 'Irish Times' had continued to
accept the bona fides of Frank Connolly as a journalist and
subsequently as executive director of the CPI'

the IRA, however, was the discovery of timer-power units
(TPUs) - the devices used to prime and detonate bombs and
mortars. TPUs recovered by the Colombian army after Farc
attacks are identical to those perfected by people like
James Monaghan for the IRA.

As Mr McDowell said on Wednesday, the purpose behind this
information exchange was not purely out of solidarity with
Farc or to observe the failing Colombian peace process.
Farc, which controls a substantial portion of Colombia's
cocaine production, was paying in cash. The exact amount is
unknown. One senior intelligence source is known to have
reported that the IRA provided Farc with 14 training
"modules" each of which cost US$2m, giving a total of

There are also suspicions that in order to help in the
development of improvised weapons for Farc the IRA shipped
unknown quantities of Semtex plastic explosive from its
arsenal and smuggled it into another Central American
country and then into the Farc-controlled areas of

And it is most likely that the movement of this cash went
through Cuba, whose communist government supports Farc and
where Niall Connolly was Sinn Fein's representative. The
intelligence branch of the Cuban army is believed to have
become one of the biggest drugs-money laundering operations
in the region.

What the Minister for Justice, Government and gardai
believe is that the IRA was selling secrets to Farc who, in
turn, paid with drug money. That money was then being used
to fund the latest phase of the Provisional republican
movement's campaign, known internally and even referred to
in its newspaper, Republican News, as "the re-conquest of
the South". The newspaper sneeringly refers to the
"gombeenism" of the "26-county" Government.

According to both Garda and republican sources, this "re-
conquest" by the largely northern-led movement will involve
the subversion of constitutional political parties in the
Republic; the infiltration of the media to promote Sinn
Fein propaganda, and the infiltration of trade unions to
promote industrial discord.

Gardai have already exposed an IRA spy ring which had been
attempting to uncover potentially embarrassing information
about members of Government and TDs. They are also aware of
Sinn Fein's involvement in public campaigns designed to
embarrass and undermine the Government, and of figures
formerly prominent in Sinn Fein now holding down positions
in public institutions and the trade union movement.

Until recently the Government's inclination was to give
Sinn Fein and the IRA the benefit of the doubt on its
intentions towards the Republic, so long as the
IRAceasefire continued and there was a hope of a political
settlement in the North. Revelations this year about the
IRA's involvement in the Northern Bank raid and continu-
ing intelligence reports of itssubversive activities south
of the Border have changed thatoutlook.

The written answer to Deputy Finian McGrath's Dail question
on Wednesday underlined that fact.

Jim Cusack


Kiberd Labels Mcdowell A 'Bully' And 'Yellow'

11 December 2005 By Simon Carswell

A board member of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI) has
launched a verbal assault on Minister for Justice Michael
McDowell for his Dáil attack last week on the centre's
executive director, Frank Connolly.

Broadcaster Damien Kiberd, a former editor of The Sunday
Business Post, said McDowell sought "to deprive Frank
Connolly of his right to earn a living as a journalist and
by extension to support his wife and children''. Kiberd
said: "Like most bullies he [McDowell] is completely
yellow." However, a spokeswoman for the minister said that
he stood over what he told the Dáil last week.

McDowell claimed that Connolly travelled to Colombia with
his brother Niall and Padraig Wilson, a convicted IRA
member, in April 2001 on a false passport.

Three months later, Niall Connolly and two other Irishmen,
later to become known as the Colombia Three, were arrested
in Colombia while travelling on false passports.

McDowell said last week in a reply to a Dáil question that
both parties had been involved in a "well-organised
sinister enterprise'' in which the Provisional IRA provided
explosives training for Farc guerillas in return for large
payments of money raised from the cocaine trade.

Connolly, a former Sunday Business Post journalist, has
vehemently denied McDowell's allegations, accusing the
minister of joining "a witch-hunt''.

This weekend, Kiberd said: "The minister's office confirmed
to the Irish Examiner in an article last Friday that there
was no possibility of a prosecution being taken against
Frank Connolly.

"Therefore, the minister has no evidence to sustain a
criminal prosecution against Connolly and has created a
lynch mob to destroy him.

"Effectively, the minister's behaviour seeks to deprive
Connolly of his right to earn a living as a journalist and
by extension to support his wife and children. This is not
an isolated case.

"The minister also accused Daily Ireland of being a Nazi
organisation. They sued him and he said he would see them
in court. When they got to court last week, the minister
advanced what is known as the Pinochet defence - he said he
should be immune from prosecution.

"Like most bullies, he is completely yellow. I regard the
whole thing as completely outrageous."

In response to Kiberd's comments, a spokeswoman for
McDowell said: "The minister stands over every word of his
statement to the Dáil last week."

Kiberd edited The Sunday Business Post while Connolly
worked as a reporter at the paper.

Atlantic Philanthropies, the charitable trust founded by
Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney, said last week
it was ceasing its €800,000 a year funding to the CPI.

The board of the CPI will meet this week to discuss the
withdrawal of Feeney's funding. The CPI employs five
people, including Connolly, and may have to close unless it
finds other funding.

The decision of Atlantic Philanthropies to withdraw funding
arose after McDowell raised concerns about Connolly earlier
this year and the minister's comments in the Dáil last

The CPI, which is chaired by retired High Court judge
Feargus Flood, was set up to investigate matters of Irish
public importance. It has so far issued reports on a
planning matter in Co Meath and the Corrib gas pipeline in
Co Mayo.


Feeney Action After Meeting McDowell

11 December 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The decision by US billionaire and philanthropist Chuck
Feeney to withdraw funding from Frank Connolly's Centre for
Public Inquiry (CPI) followed several meetings with senior
members of the government, in which serious questions were
raised about the former journalist.

Feeney's organisation Atlantic Philanthropies, which had
pledged to fund the CPI to the tune of €4 million, had
already decided to pull its support before Minister for
Justice Michael McDowell claimed Connolly had travelled to
Colombia on a false passport. While much attention has
focused on Feeney, with some reports suggesting he had
demanded that Connolly step down as executive director of
the organisation, it is understood that John Healy, head of
Atlantic Philanthropies, expressed misgivings about its
continued financing of the CPI.

According to reliable sources, Healy argued strongly that
Atlantic take a step back.

Dubliner Healy runs Atlantic's worldwide operations and is
widely regarded as Feeney's touchstone on many issues.
Healy met Feeney while working at the Irish American
Partnership, a charitable organisation which supports
cross-community initiatives in the North.

The two men have remained close ever since.

Healy's office said he would not be commenting on the

Connolly, a former Sunday Business Post journalist, has
strenuously denied claims that he travelled to the South
American country in the company of a senior IRA member in

McDowell, speaking under Dáil privilege, made the
allegations last Tuesday in response to a parliamentary
question tabled by Independent TD Finian McGrath.

Connolly accused McDowell of usurping the functions of the
gardai and the DPP in an attempt to damage his career and
undermine the CPI. It was the not the first time that the
allegations have surfaced.

In 2002, the Sunday Independent reported Connolly had been
photographed by the Colombian authorities in Bogota.
However, after gardai questioned Connolly, the DPP decided
not to press charges.

It is unclear whether Feeney, along with other members of
Atlantic Philanthropies, were aware of the claims against
Connolly before choosing to back the CPI.

While the claims have circulated in Dublin media circles
for over three years, they were not widely known in the
United States. However, it is known that Feeney had sought
clarification on the issue from the Irish government in
recent months.

Feeney met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in August. The meeting
was not arranged to specifically discuss the work of the
CPI, but while the work of the centre was discussed, there
was a discussion of Connolly.

The philanthropist also conducted a recent meeting with
McDowell at which Connolly was again discussed. McDowell
presented Feeney with documentation pertaining to the

According to sources close to Feeney, the billionaire
relayed this to Connolly during a meeting in Mayo.

Connolly denies that Feeney asked for his resignation, but
would not comment any further on the matter when contacted
last week.

McDowell has questioned the CPI's credibility before and
last month was reported as saying that Connolly had
questions to answer about the alleged trip to Colombia.

He was commenting in response to the first report issued by
the CPI - an investigation into the controversial Corrib
gas pipeline project in Co Mayo.

"I have the greatest misgivings about why this self-
appointed investigating body has such an executive
director," said McDowell.

"[Frank Connolly is] a person who, for starters, 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."

The CPI has been dogged by the persistent reporting of
Independent Newspapers in recent months.

The Ulster Unionist peer and public relations advisor Lord
Laird has also used parliamentary privilege in the British
House of Lords to comment on the CPI.

Earlier this year Laird described the CPI as a "Sinn Féin
intelligence gathering operation'', a claim strongly denied
by Connolly.

The CPI board members - former tribunal chairman Justice
Feargus Flood; journalist Damien Kiberd; Enda McDonagh the
chairman of the board of University College Cork, solicitor
Greg O'Neill and Thora Mackey, deputy director of Unicef
Ireland - will meet later this week to discuss the future
of the centre.

It will prove extremely difficult for the body to continue
its work in light of last week's events. The organisation
depended almost entirely on the money provided by Atlantic
Philanthropies and is unlikely to find any other
significant benefactor in the near future.


Billionaire Hoped For New Investigative Force

By Niall O'Dowd

The current furore over the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI)
in Ireland has been deeply painful for American billionaire
Chuck Feeney, whose Atlantic Philanthrophies funded the

The Feeney-funded Atlantic Philanthropies last week
withdrew its €800,000 a year funding for the centre, which
employs five people.

The decision was made after concerns raised with Feeney by
the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, who alleged in
the Dáil last week that the centre's executive director,
Frank Connolly, a former journalist, had travelled to
Colombia in April 2001 on a false passport. Feeney had
envisaged an organisation much like the US Centre for
Public Integrity and a similar group in Australia, where
the scrutiny of public officials and unveiling of influence
peddling have become their trademark.

Feeney heavily subsidised both those operations.

In the US, the Centre for Public Integrity was the first to
report on the scandal involving the Clinton administration
essentially selling access to the Lincoln Bedroom at the
White House for favoured clients.

It also uncovered the fact that scandal torn Enron was the
largest contributor to George W Bush's political campaigns.

The centre in Washington, run by its founder Charles Lewis,
has won innumerable awards and is regularly cited as the
most effective watchdog of government abuse in the US.

The Irish branch was expected to be the same. Feeney is a
notorious opponent of corruption, especially in the
political process. He has refused to invest in many
countries specifically for that reason.

On a personal level, when he became involved in the Irish
peace process, he made it clear early on that any money he
donated would be scrutinised very carefully as to how they
were used. He came away suitably impressed after one
meeting with Sinn Féin in Belfast, where the decrepit state
of the office, with plaster falling from the walls and the
obvious lack of personal wealth of those he was speaking to
made a huge impression.

He bases most of his lightning quick judgments on whether
individuals who seek funding pass what he calls "the smell
test'', especially when it comes to honesty.

His embrace of Sinn Féin, funding their office in
Washington while they put a peace strategy in place, was
based largely on his sincere admiration of Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness and what he saw as their obvious

His strong ties to Ireland and his massive philanthropic
investments, including $700 million to educational
institutions, has meant that he feels he has a real stake
in good governance there. He had become increasingly
convinced, in the wake of numerous financial scandals over
the past decade, that there was an overwhelming need in
Ireland for a centre for public inquiry.

Because he had seen the corrosive impact of corruption in
so many countries where he had had dealings, Feeney was
particularly concerned that there would be similar problems
in Ireland in the future.

He believed that the Celtic Tiger economy could quickly
evaporate if the stench of corruption increased and the
price of doing business there began to impact on foreign

Contrary to many reports, he did not have an axe to grind
over who or what was investigated. He once noted that in a
normal week there were at least five stories in the Irish
Times, across the spectrum of business and politics, that
merited further investigation.

Attempts to paint the CPI as an instrument of Sinn Féin
were very far off the mark.

So also was the charge that the CPI was a group of self-
appointed inquisitors. All newspapers and media
organisations are self-appointed when it comes to that and
Feeney's supporters point out that he had invested more in
Ireland than any other person.

Feeney was a strong admirer of Frank Connolly's
investigative journalism over the years and became friendly
with him, so it was hardly a surprise that Connolly was
appointed to head the new institute. Again, it is highly
unlikely there was any political agenda, other than getting
the right man for the job. Anyone who knows Feeney well
would recognize that aspect of him right away.

The centre's first two reports, one on planning issues in
Trim, Co Meath, the other on the safety risks posed by the
Corrib gas pipeline, hardly betrayed any political bias or
targeting, certainly compared to many Irish newspapers In
the end though, Feeney has built an incredible legacy
around the world as one of the greatest philanthropists of
all time which is how, doubtless, he wants to be

The CPI matter had begun to take up huge amounts of his
time, completely out of proportion to his other priorities.

These days, 73-year-old Feeney talks a lot about what he
calls RAT or "remaining allotted time'' he wants to spend
time on several huge philanthropic projects, which include
giving away his $4 billion dollar fortune, which he mostly
built up from the sale of Duty Free shops. It is a huge
undertaking that regularly sees him crisscross the globe
from Australia to Vietnam to Cuba to London to Dublin to
New York and San Francisco.

He has major projects underway in all of these places.

Spending an inordinate amount of time on the crisis at CPI
in Ireland was never on.

Still there is no question that if Connolly had been able
to produce irrefutable evidence that he was not in Colombia
on the days that McDowell and others claimed he was, the
institute would still be funded by Feeney.

One close observer said Connolly should have been more
forthcoming to Feeney on the Columbia events.


Bank Suspect In Republican Jail Wing Bid

Exclusive by Alan Murray
11 December 2005

NORTHERN Bank raid suspect Chris Ward has asked to be moved
to the republican wing at Maghaberry jail, Sunday Life can

Ward (24), requested "separated" status at the top-security
prison on Friday so he can be housed with IRA, Real IRA and
Continuity IRA inmates while on remand.

The Prison Service refused to comment last night on bank
employee Ward's request for "separated" status.

But Sunday Life sources at the jail confirmed he has asked
to be held alongside republicans pending his trial.

Said one senior source: "He [Ward] will probably be moved
to Roe House on Monday, where republicans are held.

"He would have been moved there on Friday, but staff
weren't available to complete the paperwork and make the
necessary cell arrangements."

Ward was remanded in custody last week accused of robbing
the Northern Bank's Belfast HQ of £26.5m last December.

He denies the charge and has protested his innocence.

In a statement read to the court, Ward claimed his home and
a holiday apartment had been bugged by the police.

Ward had told cops that the raiders took over his parents'
home and warned him that, if he didn't follow their orders
to the letter, his family would be killed.

The next day, Ward and fellow bank employee Kevin McMullan
were forced to empty the bank vault of more than £26m.

Mr McMullan's wife, Karen, was forced to crawl to safety
after the IRA gang released her in a pitch-dark forest
miles from her home after the raid.

Karen was severely traumatised by her ordeal and said her
abductors had boasted that they would only get 15-year
prison sentences if they killed her and Kevin.

Ward was remanded in custody until January 4, but is
expected to make an application for bail in the High Court
before then.


Man Charged Over M50 Bomb

10/12/2005 - 16:01:31

A Dublin man appeared at a special sitting of the Special
Criminal Court today in connection with the discovery of a
bomb in a car at the Westlink toll bridge on Thursday

Martin O'Rourke (aged 22), of Sheepmore Grove,
Blanchardstown was charge with the unlawful possession of
an improvised explosive device at the Westlink Toll Plaza,
Castleknock on Devember 8.

He was also charged with membership of an unlawful
organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army,
otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on the
same date.

Detective Garda Brian Cagney of the Special Detective Unit
gave evidence of arresting O' Rourke at Clondalkin Garda
Station. The court remanded O' Rourke in custody until
Tuesday next.


'No Interference' In Spy Charges

There was no political interference in the decision to drop
charges linked to an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont, NI
Secretary Peter Hain has said.

Mr Hain said the attorney general knew the prosecution
would be offering no evidence "in the public interest".

The arrests in October 2002 led to the collapse of the
power-sharing assembly.

Mr Hain said he too had been told but was not consulted
days before. He said the idea the DPP could be influenced
by any minister was "preposterous".

"This was a decision for the director of public
prosecutions exclusively: as an independent Northern
Ireland prosecution service they took that decision," he

"The idea that they would be influenced by any politician
and certainly any minister is preposterous."

He said suggestions that there was an attempt to deflect
attention from the announcement by making it on the same
day the Queen was visiting Belfast were "equally

Sinn Fein's Denis Donaldson, son-in-law Ciaran Kearney
along with William Mackessy had a total of seven terrorism
charges against them dropped on Thursday.

Mr Donaldson said there had been no spy ring and the
charges were "politically-inspired".

'Huge grief'

Irish PM Bertie Ahern said the affair caused him and Tony
Blair "huge grief".

The three were arrested following a police raid on Sinn
Fein's offices at Parliament Buildings on 4 October 2002,
when documents and computer discs were seized.

The arrests led to the power-sharing executive at Stormont
being suspended, after the DUP and Ulster Unionists, led at
that time by Mr Trimble, threatened to collapse the
executive with resignations.

However, at an unlisted hearing at Belfast Crown Court, the
three were told all charges were being dropped after the
prosecution offered no evidence "in the public interest".

Mr Donaldson said they were now consulting legal
representatives about what course of action they could
follow in connection with the arrests.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the collapse of the case
once again underlined the need to "face up" to elements
within the PSNI who, he claimed, were opposed to political

Both the DUP and the SDLP are seeking meetings with
Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to clarify the reasons for
the charges being dropped.

The Public Prosecution Service said it would be making no
further statement in relation to the decision to drop the

A spokesman would not respond to allegations that the
service had bowed to political pressure.

He would not clarify what it regarded as the nature of the
public interest which led to the charges being dropped.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/11 13:24:01 GMT


Identity Protection Stopped 'Spy' Case

Liam Clarke

THE collapse of the Stormont "spy ring" prosecutions last
Thursday followed a decision by the security forces to
protect the identity of a civilian informant who gave RUC
Special Branch access to IRA intelligence records.

Three years ago a high-profile police raid on the Sinn Fein
offices in Stormont and the arrest of Denis Donaldson, a
senior Sinn Fein official, led to the collapse of the power
sharing assembly. It was alleged that a sophisticated IRA
spy ring was operating within Stormont and that Sinn Fein
was involved.

Last week, however, the prosecution decided to give no
evidence when they learnt that they would have to divulge
details of the informant as well as a range of bugging and
surveillance operations that were run against IRA suspects
over a three-month period.

The informant was not a high-level agent within the IRA but
a local person who reported suspicions about the activity
to the police. The source later gained access to a store of
IRA intelligence material and passed it on to the police
who copied and returned it.

Former chief superintendent Bill Lowry, then head of
Special Branch in Belfast, decided to monitor the material
and wait for senior IRA figures to come and lift it.

MI5, the British security service, advised against making
arrests and felt the police should seize the papers. It
argued that the main objective was to disrupt the IRA's
spying operation and recover the stolen material.

Instead John Reid, then secretary of state, authorised the
tapping of several phones and the planting of bugging
devices to monitor the IRA suspects and the material.

The police had to wait until October 2002 before they could
pounce. They did not manage to get their main IRA target
but did arrest Donaldson, Sinn Fein's head of
administration at Stormont, and several others, all of whom
have now been acquitted.

The decision to drop the case was taken after Madden &
Finucane, solicitors representing the accused, found that
the police had access to many of the papers and a computer
offered in evidence. This raised the question of whether
the documents had been fabricated or tampered with by the
police, who were asked to produce a "chain of evidence"
showing who had handled it and what measures had been taken
to prevent it being interfered with.

Hugh Orde, the PSNI chief constable, will face questioning
on the case in America this week when he attends a meeting
on policing. Father Sean McManus of the Irish National
Caucus said that there was a widespread feeling that the
arrests and raids were politically motivated to bring down
the power sharing administration.

However, Orde can point to two reports by Nuala O'Loan, the
Northern Ireland police ombudsman, which reviewed all the
intelligence material. She concluded that the operation was
fully justified although the number of police used to
search the Sinn Fein offices at Stormont had been

She said the report had "found no evidence to suggest that
the search was politically motivated or that it was
designed to damage Sinn Fein and the peace process".


Sidekick Of Gray Can't Sell Assets

By Ciaran McGuigan, Chief Reporter
11 December 2005

ASSETS belonging to slain crime boss Jim Gray's closest pal
have been restrained by police.

Cops have been granted an order under the Proceeds of Crime
Act preventing Gary Matthews disposing of his assets before
a High Court hearing, due to be heard early next year.

Sunday Life understands that the restraining order is
related to a police investigation into alleged money
laundering during which Jim 'Doris Day' Gray, his
girlfriend Sharon Moss and Belfast estate agent Philip
Johnston were all charged.

Now police have moved to prevent Matthews disposing of
money and assets.

It is not clear whether his assets include paintings which
Milltown murderer Michael Stone claims were stolen from him
by Jim Gray in 2002.

As Sunday Life revealed last week, killer-turned-artist
Stone believes Gray stole two of his canvases and passed
them on to his friends as gifts.

Matthews was Gray's 'business partner' and owned shares in
the slain crime lord's former Belfast bars, the Bunch of
Grapes and the Avenue One.

He was also his second-in-command in the UDA's east Belfast
brigade until the pair were booted out of the loyalist
terror group.

The pair had spent time in jail together in the early 1990s
while awaiting trial on blackmailing charges.

The case against them collapsed, however, due to the
unreliability of the main prosecution witness.

And when they walked free from court, Gray and Matthews
returned to east Belfast to take over the running of the

The pair were back in court last year when they tried to
sue the Axa Insurance Company for more than £60,000
following a fire at the Bunch of Grapes in January, 2001.

The claim was broken down into £45,000 for repairs and
£15,000 for loss of revenue.

Cops investigating the murder of loyalist hitman Geordie
Legge shortly before the fire probed a possible link
between the blaze and Legge's horrific death.

The claim for damages was eventually withdrawn after Axa
stated that Gray had failed to disclose his involvement
with the UDA .

Matthews stayed away when his pal was buried in October
after being gunned down by their former pals in the UDA.


Police farce

Cop's Legal Bid To Have PSNI's 'Sinn Fein/IRA Uniform Changed

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
11 December 2005

THIS is the Ulster cop who faces a whopping £10,000 legal
bill if he loses his case to have police dump their GREEN,
WHITE and GOLD uniform!

In an extraordinary hearing before an Industrial Tribunal
in Belfast last week, Constable Philip Crawford accused
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde of "political and religious"
discrimination over the colour of the police uniform.

Crawford - a cop since 1983 - believes the police-issue
green pullover, white shirt and gold badge is
representative of "Sinn Fein and the IRA".

But PSNI barrister Neasa Murnaghan told the tribunal that
Crawford's case was "patently misconceived".

Crawford - who is representing himself - made his first
complaint in April 2002 after the new police uniform was

The tribunal's ruling is expected early in the New Year. If
Crawford loses his case, he has been told by the tribunal's
chairman, Duncan Buchanan, that he will have to pay the
legal costs.

Although police bosses took a decision to introduce a gold
insignia, the colour was changed to silver after the
Policing Board introduced the PSNI's new crest.

But Crawford went ahead with his case because a number of
the jumpers with the gold insignia were - and remain - in

The case finally went ahead last week following a number

Crawford told the hearing: "I am of the Protestant faith
and from a unionist background, but that does not mean I
want a red, white and blue uniform.

"I have carried several murdered colleagues to their
graves, watched pictures of the Queen being taken down and
the name of the RUC being changed.

"But I was angry and frustrated when I saw this uniform. I
think the colour-scheme is representative of Sinn Fein and
the IRA and it causes offence and injury to my feelings
when I see it being worn.

"The whole force was not surveyed and there was no question
on the questionnaires sent out on the new uniforms about
the colour combination.

"I think the colours on the uniforms should be amended
because they have caused offence to me and others. The
Catholic officers have no difficulty complying with the

But Ms Murnaghan told the tribunal: "The claimant has
failed to demonstrate how the colour co-ordination could
amount to better treatment for other members of the force.

"The claimant has spectacularly failed to prove that there
was some sinister motivation to appease a certain section
of the community with the colour combination.

"The colours green, white and gold are also not used on any
election literature by Sinn Fein or the Irish government.
His claim is fundamentally wrong."

And she added: "The claimant's objection to the colour co-
ordination is neither reasonable or justifiable.

"The claim is so patently misconceived that there must be
an order of costs made in favour of the respondent (PSNI).

"The manner in which witnesses were also cross-examined on
matters which did not assist the tribunal only prolonged

The tribunal also heard evidence from Assets Recovery
Agency boss Alan McQuillan, who helped oversee the
introduction of the new uniform during his time as
Assistant Chief Constable.

Mr McQuillan told the tribunal: "A series of police
roadshows about the new police uniform were undertaken and
there were no objections.

"And of the 3,000 officers who responded to a survey which
was sent to 12,000 officers, only 40 officers raised
concerns about the uniform.

"The uniform was just an issue of aesthetics and wasn't
seen as controversial. The colour scheme had been for use
in the RUC for years."


This Country Can No Longer Ignore Evidence Of US Torture

11 December 2005 By Tom McGurk

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant
state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the
concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary
military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and
gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the
public; an act intended to consolidate American military
and economic control of the Middle East masquerading as a
last resort, all other justifications having failed to
justify themselves as liberation.

"A formidable assertion of military force responsible for
the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of
innocent people."

I am quoting from the acceptance speech of this year's
Nobel literature prize winner, Harold Pinter. Because of
illness, Pinter was unable to travel and was forced to
record his speech for the awards ceremony in Stockholm,

The speech was principally a formidable critique of US
foreign policy since World War II, a devastating exposé of
the Pentagon's adventures in Southern and Central America,
South East Asia and now the Middle East.

Pinter continued: "The United States supported and, in many
cases, engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in
the world after the end of the Second World War.

"I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay,
Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and,
of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted
upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be

"Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout
these countries. But did they take place? And are they in
all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is
yes they did take place and they are attributable to
American foreign policy.

But you wouldn't know it.

"It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it
was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was
of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been
systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few
people have actually talked about them.

"You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite
clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading
as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even
witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

Pinter, who is gravely ill, has - uniquely as a Nobel
winner - chosen the vast international stage of the Nobel
prizegiving ceremony to deliver a passionate cry for
international justice.

As his speech was shown last week, the appalling morass
that is the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq was

More suicide bombings, more murdered hostages, more bodies

As we approach the third anniversary of the American
invasion of Iraq, it is now clear that the US has started a
bush fire (pun intended) that it cannot contain.

When they douse it in one place, it breaks out elsewhere.

Since the beginning, public opinion in Ireland had been
unwaveringly opposed to the war. It began with the largest-
ever anti-war demonstration in Dublin in February 2003.
Opinion has, if anything, hardened ever since.

There was also growing opposition to the use of Shannon
Airport as a US military refuelling base, but at the time,
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, argued that
the airport was simply servicing transatlantic traffic as
it had always done.

In a sense, he was correct and I tend to agree with him
that taking action in those circumstances would have been
seen as a hostile act towards the Bush administration and
wouldn't have been in the national interest.

For example, the Soviets were allowed to use Shannon for
years and to make an example of the US would have been
clearly provocative.

But the situation now is very different.

As part of its 'war on terror', the US has played cat-and-
mouse with international laws governing the arrest, holding
and interrogation of prisoners. There is now considerable
evidence that Shannon was used to facilitate illegal

In factual terms, since the Irish authorities do not know
what is being carried on US military aircraft landing at
Shannon, we cannot categorically claim that the US has
breached international law.

But, in the first instance, it should be pointed out that
its so-called 'rendition policy' of grabbing suspects
throughout the world and then transferring them to other
countries for interrogation is actually kidnapping.

It is just as illegal as the actions of the current squads
of kidnappers in Iraq. The US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice has explained that rendition exists but,
of course, not in these terms.

But how long can our government ignore the evidence of
recently-released detainees subject to rendition and

The case of German citizen Khaled al-Masri is particularly
instructive. Al-Masri was kidnapped while on holiday in
Macedonia in December 2003, held for three weeks
blindfolded and incommunicado and then secretly flown to

His rendition involved the German, Macedonian, Albanian and
Afghan authorities and EU airspace. Arrested because his
name was the same as that of one of the 9/11 hijackers, al-
Masri was held for five months in Afghanistan where he
claims he was tortured.

When his innocence was finally established, al-Masri was
secretly flown to Albania and simply dumped at night by the
side of a road.

Further evidence is also being discovered by various
international human rights bodies. For example, Human
Rights Watch identified the Kogalniceanu military airfield
in Romania and Poland's Szczytno-Szymany Airport as
probable secret CIA prison sites, based on flight logs of
CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004.

Other airports the group thinks were probably used include
Palma de Majorca in Spain's Balearic Islands, Larnaca in
Cyprus, and Shannon.

Nor can the growing body of evidence from now-released
Guantanamo Bay detainees be ignored.

One detainee, Mamdouh Habib - an Egyptian-born Australian
citizen - who was seized by the CIA in Pakistan in October
2001 - claims he was sent to Egypt and burned, electrocuted
and beaten until he bled in his sleep from his nose, mouth
and ears.

Another, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian and former
Canadian resident, was taken by the CIA to Jordan for
interrogation for eight months.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian
imprisoned by Indonesian authorities in January 2002, was
flown to Egypt for interrogation, returned to the CIA four
months later and then held for 13 months in Afghanistan.

Maher Arar, a naturalised Canadian citizen, kidnapped in
New York in September 2002,was taken to Syria where he
claims to have been held in a coffin and tortured with
whips before being released.

All of these men ended up in Guantanamo. Uzbekistan has
also been in the news.

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador there, told US
television that Uzbek citizens, captured in Afghanistan,
were flown to Tashkent on an American plane on a regular

Alleged Uzbeki torture techniques include drowning,
suffocation, rape and immersion in boiling liquid.

Is it too much for our government, even if they are afraid
of isolating themselves from the US on the Shannon issue,
to seek a wider EU approach to this whole crisis?

Couldn't they at least hide in a pack? Or are we all still
in the thrall to what Harold Pinter called in Stockholm
"the American act of hypnosis''?


The IRA Has A Lot Of Bridge-Building To Do

By Alan McBride
11 December 2005

I WAS speaking at a church in north Belfast recently when
someone raised the question of whether the IRA was
committed to peace.

The questioner wanted to know if the IRA was committed to
peace for the sake of peace - or were they using the peace
process to further their political objective of a united

I have to acknowledge that this is certainly not the first
time I have heard this question raised - sometimes it's put
slightly differently, but the connotation is always the
same: namely that Sinn Fein's support for the Good Friday
Agreement (GFA) is really just a continuation of the 'war'
by other means.

Now, maybe I am missing the point.

But surely, so long as those 'other means' remain entirely
peaceful, then it doesn't really matter what political
objective it is trying to achieve.

The desire for a united Ireland, whether one likes it or
not, is a legitimate political aspiration - even if it is
not shared by the majority of the citizens of Northern

That said, I for one do not believe this objective has been
advanced by the mindless violence of the past 30 years. I
know there are many who would suggest we are further down
that road than ever.

But hold on a minute. A case could also be made that the
crowning glory of the GFA was the principle of consent
being built into the process.

In other words, the Union is safe as long as the majority
here wish it to be so - that's democracy at work.

The only thing that IRA violence has achieved is to drive a
wedge between the two main communities in Northern Ireland
and it will take many years to repair the damage.

Rather than uniting the country, it has left behind a
legacy of bitter resentment.

This has not been helped by its failure to demonstrate
'genuine remorse' - its statement of July 28, while
declaring that the 'war' was over, went on to praise the
IRA volunteers for their 'courageous war fought against the

What was courageous about the Enniskillen bomb or the one
at La Mon House or on the Shankill Road?

It seems to me that the IRA has a lot of bridge-building to

Even if, one day, its political objective is realised by
out-breeding the unionist community, the country will never
be united while so much anger and resentment remains


In N. Ireland, Some Wounds Are Still Raw

Many victims are reluctant to forgive IRA

By Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post December 11, 2005

MARKETHILL, Northern Ireland -- Thirty-three years after
Sam Malcolmson was shot by a gunman from the Irish
Republican Army, the wound in his side is still open and
leaking fluid. He has to change the dressing constantly. He
takes morphine four times a day for blinding pain caused by
bullet shards lodged in his spine.

He has spent thousands of sleepless nights pacing his house
on crutches, often thinking of his mother, who died of a
heart attack at his hospital bedside the day after he was

''People tell me I should forgive and forget so we can all
move on," said Malcolmson, who was a 22-year-old police
recruit when the IRA ambushed him in 1972. ''They are
asking an awful lot."

The British government is asking for such forgiveness on
the grounds that it will help seal the peace in Northern
Ireland after more than three decades of sectarian
violence. In London, Parliament is debating a bill that
would allow fugitives who committed violent crimes during
the 30-year conflict, such as the man who shot Malcolmson,
to return home with guarantees that they would not serve
time in prison.

Prime Minister Tony Blair told Parliament that the bill was
''a very difficult" but essential part of peacemaking. The
measure would follow the IRA's announcement in July that it
had laid down its weapons for good.

''I don't minimize the anger there will be in some
quarters, or the anguish if you are the relative of a
policeman in Northern Ireland who was killed," Blair told
legislators. ''But I also genuinely believe we need to get
this out of the way and dealt with so we can get on with
the really tough" task of rebuilding the province's
government and institutions.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, Blair's top official
for the province, said in an interview that the fugitives
bill was ''painful but necessary to bring closure on the

''The history of conflict resolution and this world is that
sometimes you have to do things you ideally wouldn't want
to, to bring closure," Hain said. Asked what he would tell
victims' families, he said he would say that he understands
the ''appalling horror" of their experience but that ''at
least you can have the comfort of knowing that there won't
be more victims like you in the future."

The measure has met ferocious opposition from people who
say Blair is asking too much in the name of peace.

During debate recently in the House of Commons, David
Liddington, the Conservative Party's top official for
Northern Ireland issues, said the bill ''undermines the
rule of law" and betrays victims. Iain Duncan Smith, the
former Conservative Party leader, called it ''grubby and
reprehensible." Commons backed the bill, 310 to 262, on a
preliminary vote last month; a final vote is expected early
next year.

Northern Ireland's war pitted so-called loyalists, who
support continued British rule of the province and are
mostly Protestant, against republicans, most of them
Catholic, who want to unify Northern Ireland with the
Republic of Ireland to the south. The war claimed more than
3,600 lives.

The 1998 Good Friday peace agreement that forms the basis
for the peace process provided for the release of hundreds
of prisoners on both sides who had been convicted of crimes
during the war. But it did not deal with people suspected
of crimes who had fled, largely to Ireland or the United
States, before they could be tried.

It is unclear how many people would be covered by the
legislation. Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA,
estimates the number to be a few dozen. Government
officials have said it is about 70; opponents of the bill
have suggested 150.

Under the plan, fugitives suspected of committing crimes
before the Good Friday agreement could apply to have their
cases considered by a special tribunal. Police and
witnesses would give evidence, but the fugitive would not
have to attend in person. If found guilty, defendants would
be given suspended sentences and probation. They would be
required to serve a sentence only if they committed another
crime while on probation.

While officials said the vast majority of such people are
IRA members, the measure would also cover loyalist
paramilitary fighters or anyone else who committed crimes
''in connection with terrorism" in the province before the
Good Friday agreement. Officials said that could include
British soldiers and police who sometimes covertly backed
illegal Protestant paramilitary groups.

Some family members of victims support the fugitives bill
and favor reconciliation over justice. But Malcolmson and a
victim's advocacy group, Families Acting for Innocent
Relatives, are strongly opposed to it.

Interviewed in the group's office, Malcolmson said he was
sure he knew who shot him and his partner as they drove
along a country road. Malcolmson said the man is a well-
known IRA member who fled south to Ireland years ago.

''I could be standing in some shop with the guy who shot
me. That's hard to take," said Malcolmson, constantly
shifting in his chair, wincing from pain that shoots down
his left leg, which is held straight by a steel brace.
''They want us to just swallow hard and accept back the
gunmen. If this is peace, I don't want any part of it."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


Echoes Of Ulster In Our Knee-Jerk Terror Laws

December 11, 2005

After growing up in Northern Ireland, Mary Costello finds
frightening parallels in modern-day Australia.

Not Melbourne, Belfast. Early morning, July 31, 1972.
Twelve thousand British soldiers moved into Catholic west
Belfast in Operation Motorman, to smash the no-go areas set
up following the introduction of internment without trial
the previous year.

Under house arrest, we watched from windows as soldiers
searched every home and turned back residents foolhardy
enough to try to get to work. They got round to us mid-
morning. They questioned my father, stood him against the
wall and took his photograph. They did not take him away.
When he was a young man, he may have had cause for concern;
this time round he was innocent.

But in Northern Ireland innocence was no defence before the
law. Under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act of
1922, the security forces had the power to enter and search
homes, with force and without warrant, to arrest and
interrogate, to imprison without charge or trial, and,
usefully, to prohibit the circulation of any newspaper.

Police states need oppressive legislation. Fighting terror
is a messy business, and there tends to be a lot of
collateral damage. Motorman opened up the no-go areas, but
most active IRA men had long gone, and many innocent people
were lifted instead.

And to no good purpose. Internment backfired spectacularly;
the injustice of it became the IRA's most potent recruiting
tool, their campaign escalated accordingly and normal life
disintegrated around us.

For years Ulster Catholics endured body searches,
roadblocks, curfews, house raids and worse. We sympathised
with the IRA, if not their methods, and so were guilty by

Australian-Muslim women who have been insulted or assaulted
will know what that feels like; you have to prove your
innocence, again and again.

Fed up with living in fear and dread, I shook the dust of
Ulster off my feet and emigrated, seeking freedom and
peace. They say you marry your father, but I'd married a
very different man. He was of a different race, colour,
culture, spoke a different language and followed a
different religion.

But I miscalculated; I married a Muslim. Twenty-five years
ago that wasn't an issue. But in Howard's Australia, post-
9/11, Bali, Iraq, and with the anti-terror laws looming,
it's a liability. My husband isn't religious and has no
contact with the Muslim community.

He's not just a Muslim, he has opinions. He believes that
George Bush is more lethal than non-existent WMDs, that the
Iraq war was unjust, that Guantanamo is another Long Kesh,
and that he has the right and the duty to protest. But he,
too, has lived in Belfast; he knows how suppression works.

Under the new laws, to express his opinions might cause
alarm to his fellow Australians, and he might find himself
dobbed in for sedition. If, say, he called the Prime
Minister a lying rodent, would that be an insult or an act
of terror?

At work, the lads on the factory floor call him "Osama", in
a spirit of Aussie playfulness. "Your lot's been at it
again," they'll say, meaning Muslims anywhere engaged in
terrorist activities. After 23 years here he's beginning to
feel uncomfortable. His anger and anxiety at the
stigmatising of Muslims as terrorists spills over into the
rest of our lives. I feel I've stepped back 30 years. I've
married my father after all.

The new laws - better suited to 1922 than 2005 - won't
work, however many are imprisoned under them. Peace in
Northern Ireland didn't come through military victory over
the terrorists. A political solution became possible only
after political, economic and social injustices were

And mistakes will be made. The supposedly disciplined
professionals of the British security forces imprisoned and
killed innocent people on many occasions - remember Bloody
Sunday, the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six?

During the Troubles, my nerve-shredded mother threatened to
chain herself naked to the gates of Buckingham Palace if
her husband or sons were interned. She'd lost a breast to
cancer and felt that novelty value would guarantee good
media coverage.

I don't think I'd have the nerve; but it might be time to
start wearing PJs.

Under the new laws, to express his opinions might cause
alarm to his fellow Australians, and he might find himself
dobbed in for sedition. If, say, he called the Prime
Minister a lying rodent, would that be an insult or an act
of terror?

At work, the lads on the factory floor call him "Osama", in
a spirit of Aussie playfulness. "Your lot's been at it
again," they'll say, meaning Muslims anywhere engaged in
terrorist activities. After 23 years here he's beginning to
feel uncomfortable. His anger and anxiety at the
stigmatising of Muslims as terrorists spills over into the
rest of our lives. I feel I've stepped back 30 years. I've
married my father after all.

The new laws - better suited to 1922 than 2005 - won't
work, however many are imprisoned under them. Peace in
Northern Ireland didn't come through military victory over
the terrorists. A political solution became possible only
after political, economic and social injustices were

And mistakes will be made. The supposedly disciplined
professionals of the British security forces imprisoned and
killed innocent people on many occasions - remember Bloody
Sunday, the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six?

During the Troubles, my nerve-shredded mother threatened to
chain herself naked to the gates of Buckingham Palace if
her husband or sons were interned. She'd lost a breast to
cancer and felt that novelty value would guarantee good
media coverage.

I don't think I'd have the nerve; but it might be time to
start wearing PJs.


Rewriting The Irish Conflict

If you are interested in a complete rewriting of the
Northern Ireland conflict then David Ensor's report on CNN
this week fitted the bill. Ensor, the network's national
security correspondent, did an hour long CNN Presents
special on how other countries handled terrorism.

Of course, when it came to the British, the Northern Irish
situation loomed large. Ensor decided to show how the
British had defeated the IRA terrorists by clever use of
carrot and stick tactics.

The two witnesses he brought forth would certainly speak
for a miniscule portion of Northern Ireland's population.
Well-known informer Sean O'Callaghan and well-known
dissident Marion Price provided all the cover that Ensor
needed for his proposition.

Price, who is a member of the dissident Republican wing,
stated that she believed that the British had won the
battle hands down — well she would, wouldn't she?

O'Callaghan spoke of the horrific atrocities he committed
as part of the IRA and how the brave British forces
defeated them. No other voices were heard apart from a
former senior RUC officer who made his force sound like a
bunch of teddy bears in the face of awful provocation.

Another "unbiased" witness was the former head of MI5, Dame
Stella Rimington, who, surprise surprise, extolled the
virtues of her organization and their intelligence

We're sure there is a considered debate to be had over who
won what in Northern Ireland, but this extremely one-sided
view was not it.


Dobbs Rants On

As we are on the subject of CNN, it appears that Lou Dobbs,
who presents Lou Dobbs Tonight every weekday night, has
become unhinged on the question of illegal immigration.

Every night Dobbs pounds away at the issue with the most
blatant and racist reporting that you can find on any

It is hard to know how the reporters who weekly go out to
report and interview every extremist on this issue can
stomach working for a man who has long ago crossed the line
to outright racism on this subject.

Recently Dobbs went a step further, suggesting that the St.
Patrick's Day Parade in New York City, be cancelled because
Americans should be Americans only, and should forget about
ethnic roots.

Even his guest, whose name escapes me, who was also a rabid
anti-immigrant advocate, found that too much to stomach,
but Lou was sticking to his convictions.

Dobbs was once a great financial reporter and analyst. Now
he has become a cipher of every lunatic fringe extremist on
immigration these days.

A Balanced View

If you want a very balanced view on the immigration debate
look no further than the November issue of the American
Prospect magazine which devotes its entire issue to the

American Prospect is a Democratic leaning publication
(, so its views are considerably to the
left of Dobbs as can be imagined.

However, there is an outstanding contribution by Doris
Meissner, former head of the INS under President Clinton,
who revisits the 1986 immigration reform bill known as

Nowadays it is fashionable to dismiss IRCA as a failure,
but as Meissner points out it was incredibly successful in
lifting millions out of the shadows and contributing to
American life.

Her point was that the employer sanctions never worked,
because quite simply, there were too many powerful
employers who did not want them to. That looks like being a
problem again this time.

Meissner was the wife of Chuck Meissner, Clinton's economic
envoy to Ireland who was tragically killed in a plane crash
that also took the life of Ron Brown, Clinton's secretary
of commerce.


Google To Create 700 Dublin Jobs

11 December 2005 By Pat Leahy and Gavin Daly

Internet search giant Google will create 700 new jobs in
Ireland, providing a post-budget boost for the government
and a major coup for IDA Ireland.

Google will shortly announce plans to expand its European
headquarters in Dublin, where it already employs 500
people. The decision by the search engine, the world's
biggest internet firm, was described by one source this
weekend as a "very significant expansion''.

There is strong satisfaction in government and official
circles about the investment, as attracting high-value jobs
at firms such as Google is a key part of the government's
industrial strategy. Google did not respond to calls for
comment last Friday.

A spokeswoman for IDA Ireland said she could not comment on
the agency's discussions with any of its clients.

Google's Dublin office is the firm's largest outside the US
and has grown rapidly since it was first announced in 2003.

At the time, the firm said it would create 200 jobs over
three years, but earlier this year it reserved extra office
space in Dublin. Accounts filed by Google Ireland show it
had turnover of €603million last year, up from €7.5 million
in 2003.

Its parent firm, Google Ireland Holdings, spent $120.5
million (€102 million) on research and development. Google
was founded in 1998 by university students Larry Page and
Sergey Brin. It floated on the Nasdaq last year and is now
valued at $82.5 billion.

Since Google set up in Ireland, other internet firms
including eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon have also set up
operations here.

Meanwhile, the government and IDA Ireland are continuing
discussions with Amgen, a US biopharmaceutical firm, about
a project that could create up to 1,000 jobs in Cork.

Amgen has shortlisted Ireland and Switzerland as possible
locations for a manufacturing plant, according to industry

"My understanding is that it is a straight fight between us
and Switzerland, but we are certainly not past the post,"
one source said.

Amgen is not expected to make a decision on the investment
until early next year.


Northern Ireland Issues Bond North Jersey Group

Sunday, December 11, 2005

By Elizabeth Llorente
Staff Writer

When the outlawed Irish Republican Army recently announced
that it had disposed of its vast weaponry, hope rose that
peace between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland
would finally become reality.

But at a meeting on the disarmament this fall, there was no
celebration. The men and women gathered said they feared
that violence would escalate if Protestant extremists felt
emboldened by the newly vulnerable Catholics.

"There's been more human rights abuses since the IRA
decommissioned," said Margaret Townsend, citing reports by
Irish human rights organizations about a rise in attacks on
Catholic neighborhoods.

This wasn't a meeting in Northern Ireland. It happened in

There, once a month, a group of Irish-Americans who are
passionate about Northern Ireland hold intense discussions
about the conflict in the province. For them, Northern
Ireland is a place that commands as much of their interest
as taxes, education and other matters in their North Jersey

A few of them were born in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
Most, however, were born in the United States, yet feel a
tight connection to the province that lies thousands of
miles away.

"I was born here, but I'm 100 percent Irish," said Carol
Russell, an Essex County art teacher and critic. "I used to
see my ancestral homeland mostly as a source of music,
culture and poetry. I had a romantic view of Ireland and
Northern Ireland until the hunger strikes."

Indeed, many Irish-American activists point to the 1981
hunger strike by members of the IRA and other paramilitary
groups who were jailed in a Northern Ireland prison as the
wake-up call that stirred their interest in the sectarian

Thousands of lives have been lost in the bloody conflict
between the Protestants, who mainly support British rule,
and the province's Catholic minority, who oppose it and
want to see Northern Ireland reunited with Ireland.

The first to die in the hunger strike was Bobby Sands, who
became a symbol of the Catholic struggle against British
rule in Northern Ireland.

Although many Irish-Americans had followed news of the
conflict before the hunger strike, Sands' death struck a
nerve with many Irish-Americans who had not paid much
attention to what is commonly called "The Troubles." Many
Irish-Americans became intrigued that a group of young
people would give their lives for a cause, and then felt
compelled to learn about the conflict and the desperate
living conditions of Catholics in the province.

"I thought, 'Wow, they're giving up their lives for their
country,'Ÿ" said Kathleen Fearon, a Ridgewood resident
whose parents were born in Northern Ireland. "It was my
wake-up call. From that moment on, I attended protest
marches in [New York City] as well as in Washington, D.C."

Russell was similarly stirred.

"I was struck by the courage it took for those 10
individuals to give their lives," Russell said. "But the
press coverage here of the hunger strike was terrible and
unfair. They were repeating Maggie Thatcher's statements
that these men were criminals and should be treated like

It was Irish-Americans, Russell said, who helped set the
record straight.

They wrote letters to editors, and visited congressional
offices. "We felt strongly that the voices of the people
over there had to be heard, and that we could help by
advocating for equality, civil rights and a form of
democracy that would allow part of that society to
determine its own sovereignty," Russell said.

Getting support from the American public, and political
leaders, however, is not always easy - particularly since
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made Americans more critical
of groups that are linked to attacks that kill innocent
bystanders. The Bush administration didn't invite Gerry
Adams, the head of Sinn Fein - the IRA's political arm — to
the White House on St. Patrick's Day for the first time in
a decade. For years, Adams even was denied a visa to enter
the United States.

And despite the activists' best efforts to fight it, the
U.S. government has moved to deport several Irish nationals
living in the United States who were found to have had
links to the IRA. The government says the so-called
deportees were engaged in terrorism; the activists say they
was freedom-fighting in a civil war.

Many Irish-American activists typically have been reluctant
to publicly criticize the IRA. But Peter Quinn of Tenafly
conceded that he has felt upset by some of the IRA's

"I was very opposed to the bombing," Quinn said. "Shooting
someone takes out one person who is supposed to be taken
out because of something bad they may have done. But when
you throw a bomb, innocent people get killed. It's just not

Some Irish-Americans who are not wrapped up in Northern
Ireland issues condemn the poor treatment of Catholics in
the province. But at the same time they firmly assail the

"I believe life will get better now in Northern Ireland,
now that the IRA has given up its arms," said Carolyn
Shannon, a Saddle River resident whose grandparents came
from Ireland. "Giving up the arms has been a long time in
coming. The IRA, I guess, came to realize people don't want
all these killings. I'm not for the IRA, they've done a lot
of things wrong. People are tired of all the violence from
both sides. Enough already."

Most Irish-Americans who make Northern Ireland a focus of
their lives are generations removed from the province and

"When people are forced out of their homeland, there
remains a certain amount of resentment about that," said
Quinn, one of the few in the local group who was born in

Though local Irish-Americans have remained determined to do
what they can - over time and distance - to support
Catholics in Northern Ireland, they say they'll feel
misgivings so long as the Unionists remain the majority and
remain armed.

"They're [Unionists] still under the impression that
Catholic people are under the auspices of Rome, of the
Vatican," Quinn said. "The ones who got the best deal were
the opposite side, when they got the IRA to give in to
them. When they gave up their arms, they gave up everything
they had."



An Irish Paper Wants The Mother Country To Read All About It

By Jake Mooney
Published: December 11, 2005

When The Irish Echo was founded in 1928, more than 200,000
Irish-born people lived in New York, a result of a wave of
migration that started 80 years earlier amid famine,
joblessness and British colonial rule. Since the paper's
founding, that number has shrunk steadily, but The Echo,
which is a weekly based in Midtown Manhattan with a
circulation of 20,000 in the United States, most of it in
New York, has continued to chronicle the lives of the Irish
who left home for a new life across the Atlantic.

Now, for the first time, the newspaper is focusing on those
headed back. Responding to a strong Irish economy that has
natives returning and Irish-Americans moving to the island
for the first time, the paper printed 5,000 copies of its
Nov. 30 issue in Ireland for local distribution.

According to Sean MacCarthaigh, the managing editor, the
move was welcomed in Ireland as the latest sign of the
country's technology-fueled resurgence. "This is a New York
paper, and this is the first time we've ever, ever been
printed anywhere else," Mr. MacCarthaigh said. "It's
treated in Ireland as part of a socioeconomic story, which
is a transformation of the Irish economy to the point that
now for the first time pretty much ever, Ireland now has
immigrants as well as emigrants."

Ireland's jump into the European Union in 1973, along with
aggressively pro-business economic policies, has
transformed it from one of the poorest countries in Europe
to one of the richest in the world.

The country's turnaround, Mr. MacCarthaigh said, gained
momentum in the mid-90's, when companies like I.B.M. began
setting up large operations on the island. Since then, the
number of jobs in the country has doubled, and because
anyone with an Irish-born parent or grandparent is eligible
for citizenship, many Irish-American employees of these
companies have found it relatively easy to relocate. The
ride is swelled by independent businesspeople who work on
both sides of the ocean.

"It's quite incredible - you meet these fellows and they're
shuttling back and forth," said Mr. MacCarthaigh, a 41-
year-old Dublin native. "They treat the flight from J.F.K.
to Dublin the way we treat the Long Island Rail Road."

He added: "These people are our readers, and they've said
to us, 'We want to stay in touch with America.' "

Not that technology workers are the only Irish people
interested in news from New York. Mr. MacCarthaigh also
cited what he called the country's "army of inveterate
shoppers." One article described a wave of bargain hunters
planning pre-Christmas trips from Ireland, armed with the
strong euro and fleeing Ireland's 21 percent sales tax.

In response, The Irish Echo prints a weekly guide to
stateside sales, complete with reminders to tip taxi
drivers. As Mr. MacCarthaigh put it, "We try to give them
shortcuts so that the moment they arrive, they're sort of
an instant New Yorker."

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?