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December 02, 2005

Trophy Video Could Cost Aegis

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News about Ireland & the Irish

AW 12/02/05 Trophy Video Could Prove Costly For Aegis
BT 12/02/05 Early Release For Finucane Killer Delayed
BB 12/02/05 Loyalist Peace Moves Put On Hold
BT 12/02/05 Man (50) Arrested In Northern Bank Probe
BT 12/02/05 Car Explosive Reveals Return Of IRA Bomber
UT 12/02/05 SF: 'Thousands Denied Right To Vote'
DI 12/02/05 Brolly Released Without Charge
BB 12/02/05 Police Preparing 1972 Bomb Report
DI 12/02/05 Opin: Adams Rounds On Anti-Peace Securocrats
DI 12/02/05 Opin: Wearying Arrests Routine Continues
BT 12/02/05 Amnesty For UK Forces Causes Deep Hurt Adams
DI 12/02/05 Anti-Collusion Group Wants Unity On OTRs
DI 12/02/05 Parties Clash Over OTR Pardons
NL 12/02/05 Sinn Fein Pushing For New Year Power-Sharing
DI 12/02/05 Parade Body A Unionist 'Sop'
SF 12/02/05 SDLP Come Clean On Parades Commission Deal
SF 12/02/05 Mary Lou Selected As Dublin Central General
DI 12/02/05 Opin: Unionism Cannot See Nationalist Suffering
BT 12/02/05 Ethos Of CCMS Must Be Retained: Bishop
DI 12/02/05 Catholics In Dire Need Of A Revolution
BT 12/02/05 British And Irish Armies Play In Tune


Trophy Video Could Prove Costly For Aegis

by Tom Griffin

A new spotlight has been thrown on the army of private
military operators in Iraq, following the emergence of
footage that appears to show security guards shooting up
civilian cars on "Route Irish," the notorious Baghdad
Airport road.

The so-called trophy video now circulating widely on the
Internet shows a series of clips of shots being fired from
the back of a utility vehicle, set to a soundtrack of the
Elvis Presley song "Mystery Train." In one clip, Iraqi
civilians are seen fleeing after a targeted car swerves and
crashes into another vehicle.

Anti-mercenary campaigners have condemned the footage,
which first emerged on a Web site belonging to a former
employee of Aegis Defense Services, one of the largest
private security companies operating in Iraq.

"If the video does turn out to involve Aegis personnel, it
provides a clear demonstration that such mercenary services
have little to do with providing 'security' for ordinary
Iraqis, and everything to do with profiting from war at the
expense of human rights and innocent lives," said Mike
Lewis of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. "Private
military companies are even less accountable than regular
armies – privatizing war makes it even harder to stop the
abuse and killing of innocent civilians. It's time that
private military companies were properly regulated, not
actively encouraged by the UK and U.S. governments."

Aegis announced this week that it has established a formal
board of inquiry, in cooperation with the U.S. military
authorities, to investigate "whether the footage has any
connection with the company and, should this prove to be
the case, under what circumstances any incident took

"Aegis is contracted in Iraq by the U.S. government to
provide a wide variety of services including, critically,
the protection of both civilian and military personnel
traveling throughout the country, in a very hostile
environment under circumstances of often great personal
danger," the company said in a statement.

"Typically in one week, Aegis carries out over 100 escort
assignments covering approximately 18,000 miles. Aegis'
personnel have substantial military and peacekeeping
experience and all operate under strict and accountable
Rules of Engagement of the Coalition Military (CENTCOM),
and the U.S. Department of State, as well as Coalition
Provisional Authority Order Memo 17."

"These Rules of Engagement allow for a structured
escalation of force to include opening fire on civilian
vehicles under certain circumstances. All incidents of the
use of such escalation of force which includes the use of
firearms are logged and investigated to ensure that there
has been strict adherence to the Rules of Engagement.
Should any incident recorded on the video footage have
involved Aegis personnel, this too will be subject to
scrutiny by the Board of Inquiry."

The trophy video scandal comes at a damaging time for
Aegis, which has been trying to shake off the mercenary
image of its founder and chief executive Lt. Col. Tim
Spicer. The company recently acquired a new chairman, the
former chief of the UK Defense Staff, Lord Inge, who heads
an expanded board that also includes former U.S. National
Security Adviser Robert McFarlane.

The company was named "Small Consultancy Firm of the Year"
in the British International Expertise Awards on Nov. 24,
just days before the trophy video story broke in the
British press.

The video had been available for some months at, an unofficial Web site whose
existence was originally only known to employees of Aegis
and other contractors.

The site's contents include a purported message from Lt.
Col. Spicer that warns,

"[W]hilst I am not concerned about this site as yet, if it
develops into something other than a light-hearted pressure
valve I will take a much greater interest.

"Remember that your job and those of your colleagues
indirectly relies on the maintenance of our contract.
Refrain from posting anything which is detrimental to the
company since this could result in the loss or curtailment
of our contract with resultant loss for everybody."

Lt. Col. Spicer's fears appear to have been borne out as
the site developed. Posts on its message board included
claims of poor weapons handling by Aegis staff, along with
allegations of widespread drink and drug abuse, and
critical commentary on the trophy video.

One post states, "Respectively, that footage is the most
damning footage of trigger happy body count hunters that I
have witnessed, it has done nothing but show the company
and the lads it employs in a bad light, and if I was
looking to employ a company that would certainly ensure
that Aegis didn't get the contract."

The message board was pulled from the site after its
address emerged in the press, but not before it had come to
the attention of longtime critics of Aegis.

As reported last year, the company's contract
with the Pentagon has encountered strong opposition on
Capitol Hill because of Lt. Col. Spicer's record in
Northern Ireland, where two soldiers under his command were
convicted of murdering an unarmed 18-year-old, Peter

Irish human rights group the Pat Finucane Center (PFC) also
raised Spicer's record with his previous firm Sandline,
which breached a UN arms embargo in Sierra Leone and
embarked on a failed intervention in Papua New Guinea that
led to a military coup.

As a result of lobbying by the PFC and the Irish National
Caucus, U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, John
Kerry, Christopher Dodd, and Charles Schumer demanded an
investigation of the contract in August last year.

"In light of the recent revelations of abuses of detainees
in Iraq, it is important that U.S. actions, whether by
military personnel or contractors, have respect for the
law," the five senators wrote in a letter to Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "It is troubling that the
government would award a contract to an individual with a
history of supporting excessive use of force against a
civilian population."

The lobbying campaign has since continued. PFC staff
returned from their most recent trip to Washington last
month, only days before emergence of the alleged Aegis

"A number of members of Congress expressed concern and
indeed shock at the circumstances surrounding the
contract," PFC spokesman Paul O'Connor said this week. "The
latest allegations will certainly increase the fears that
this contract has been awarded to the wrong person and the
wrong firm."

"We have contacted the U.S. consul-general in Belfast
today, and directed his attention to the allegations, and
to the message board on the unofficial website, where there
are allegations of high rates of drug and alcohol abuse by
mercenaries on contract to the U.S. government."

Although Aegis holds one of the largest private military
contracts in Iraq, there are signs that the company is
becoming isolated within the sector. It has reportedly been
rebuffed in an attempt to join industry group the
International Peace Operations Association.

The latest controversy looks set to further damage Aegis'
ability to win allies at a time when it is facing the
prospect of regulation in its home market.

The British Foreign Office is due to produce a white paper
on private military companies early next year. The footage
of security guards blasting civilians on the highways of
Iraq may now provide the backdrop to that debate.


Early Release For Finucane Killer Delayed

Still no date for hearing: lawyer

By Chris Thornton
02 December 2005

The lawyer for the man jailed for killing solicitor Pat
Finucane has reinforced his client's complaints about a
delay to an early release hearing.

Ken Barrett, sentenced to life last year, told the Belfast
Telegraph this week he wants the same treatment as hundreds
of other prisoners released for "Troubles crimes".

He said cannot understand why his application for early
release "has taken so much longer than anyone else's".

The Government has objected to Barrett's release on the
grounds that he could be a danger to society and over
concerns he could rejoin the UDA.

The case was scheduled to have a hearing before the
Sentence Review Commissioners next week, but the Government
requested and received a delay until the New Year.

The Prison Service told the Commission the delay was needed
because they had "just been advised" that secret
intelligence could form part of the case against Barrett.
If intelligence is used, it would require a special process
to screen the information from Barrett and his legal team.

The Prison Service also argued more than one day was needed
for the hearing. Joe Rice, Barrett's solicitor, said he
could not understand how the Government just found out
about secret intelligence.

"They have known for the best part of a year this hearing
would take place and they only find out now that damaging
information might be included," he said. "Mr Barrett has
now been in custody for two-and-a-half years and the Prison
Service are still not ready to bring this to a hearing.

"What they are doing is dragging their heels. This is a
classic piece of obfuscation.

"We have no criticism of the Commission in this. The
Commission has a real responsibility to protect the public.

"In this case there is not a scintilla of evidence that
we're aware of that Ken Barrett is a danger to the public.

"We do know he can never live in Northern Ireland if he is

"And he will never be taken back into the organisation he
pleaded guilty of membership of. He wants to go back to
making a normal life with his partner and family outside of
Northern Ireland."

A Prison Service spokesman said the Commissioners "have
sought a range of material about this case, some of which
is still being assembled".

He added: "It may contain damaging information but this has
yet to be confirmed.

"Only one day had been set aside for the hearing, but it
has become apparent that more than one day will be

Barrett is under 24-hour lock-up at Maghaberry Prison. Last
year he pleaded guilty to murdering the solicitor in 1989.

The Government has approved an inquiry into the Finucane
murder, but it has yet to be scheduled.

Mr Finucane's family have objected to the new legislation
drafted for the inquiry and campaigned to discourage judges
from taking up its chairmanship under the new rules


Loyalist Peace Moves Put On Hold

The government was prepared to appoint an independent panel
to assist loyalist paramilitaries to move forward, it has

The idea followed recent discussions between Downing Street
and senior Ulster Unionists.

It is understood David McNarry and David Campbell met Tony
Blair's chief of staff about moving paramilitaries from
violence to "peaceful politics".

Loyalists, however, have not indicated a wish to cooperate
with such a panel.

Following the discussions between the Ulster Unionists and
Jonathan Powell, the government explored the creation of a
three-strong panel as a way of improving communication with
loyalist paramilitaries.


BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said the panel would
have consisted of Mr Campbell, who was recently elected as
Ulster Unionist chairman, the Church of Ireland bishop Alan
Harper and the Northern Ireland Office's former Security
Director, John Steele.

This initiative followed a public appeal by Ulster Unionist
leader Sir Reg Empey at his annual conference for loyalists
to disarm and "call it a day".

However, after recent meetings within loyalism, the panel
idea seems to have been shelved, with the paramilitaries
concentrating on continuing their own internal
consultations about how to respond to the IRA's decision to
call off its armed campaign.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/02 09:11:15 GMT


Man (50) Arrested In Northern Bank Probe

By Deborah McAleese
02 December 2005

Detectives investigating the Northern Bank robbery have
arrested a Carrickfergus man.

The 50-year-old was arrested this morning under the
Terrorism Act and is being questioned at the Serious Crime
Suite in Antrim Police Station.

He is the 11th person to be arrested in connection with the
£26.5m heist. Three people have been charged.

The arrest comes just days after the detention of Northern
Bank employee Chris Ward who was held hostage during the
heist with his work colleague Kevin McMullan from
Loughinisland in Co Down.

Detectives have until Sunday to either charge Ward or apply
for a second extension to continue questioning him.

A bank worker, Seaneen McKenna, is issuing civil
proceedings against police after she was arrested during
the week along with Ward. Ms McKenna has since been


Car Explosive Reveals Return Of IRA Bomber

Tom Brady
02 December 2005

Gardai have identified a former top Provisional IRA
explosives expert as the manufacturer of an under-car bomb
seized by detectives in Dublin last week.

The bomb was primed and ready for use against a targeted
renegade republican in a feud between dissident splinter
groups in the capital and on the border.

The identification of the bomb-maker has heightened
concerns among senior anti-terrorist officers about the
role of former Provisional activists in criminality in the
wake of the Northern peace deal.

The explosives expert is from outside Newry but lives in
Dundalk. He played a major role in the IRA's terror
campaign along the border in the 1980s and 1990s and was
believed to have been heavily involved in the mortar attack
which killed nine RUC officers at Newry police station in
February 1985.

He spent some time behind bars. But after the internal row
among leading Provisionals at a meeting in Falcarragh, Co
Donegal, he split from the organisation and eventually
joined the dissident Real IRA.

Since then, he has been heavily involved in organising
robberies and was suspected of being linked to a couple of
murders as well as drugs trafficking.

In recent months he has headed up a criminal outfit that
comprised members of the Real IRA in Dundalk, the INLA in
south and west Dublin and ordinary criminals.

But a falling out over the proceeds of "fund raisers" has
led to a bitter feud between the dissidents and the under-
car bomb was intended for a senior INLA man in Dublin.

Gardai think the likely target was the former INLA leader
in the South.

Heavily armed members of the Garda's Emergency Response
Unit seized the bomb when they intercepted a vehicle on the
M1 motorway at Cloghran, Co Dublin, a week ago.

The bomb, which contained under half a kilo of explosive,
was primed and included a magnet to attach it to the
undercarriage of the target car.

It was fitted with a mercury tilt switch which meant it
would detonate when the car moved - similar to the
assassination of the former Conservative MP and close
associate of Margaret Thatcher, Airey Neave.

The Cloghran bomb was also fitted with an anti-handling
device to ensure the safety of the man transporting it from
county Louth to Dublin.

Gardai believe the bomb was taken from Dundalk to Drogheda
where it was handed over to the man in charge of delivering

But detectives moved in before it had reached its intended
destination and the bomb was defused by Army ordnance

In follow-up inquiries detectives recovered more than 100
rounds of assorted ammunition at an industrial estate in
Blessington, Co Wicklow.


SF: 'Thousands Denied Right To Vote'

The British government today faced demands for a permanent
rolling electoral register after claims that 100,000 voters
in Northern Ireland remain disenfranchised despite the
compilation of a new list.

By:Press Association

Sinn Fein national director of elections Pat Doherty was
unimpressed by Electoral Office claims that the number of
voters on the register, which is compiled every year, had
risen by one per cent after an autumn canvass of

The West Tyrone MP said: "The electoral register published
today unfortunately confirms once again what Sinn Fein has
been saying for some years about the flawed process in
compiling the document.

"Well over 100,000 people have been deliberately
disenfranchised and had their votes effectively stolen by
the British Government through this process.

"I have to say that after the Electoral Office spending
over £2 million on this process in the past few months I am
decidedly unimpressed by the final effort which falls well
short of an accurate figure of those entitled to vote.

"There is a clear need for a permanent rolling register to
be established and I look forward to the new legislation
being passed in the new year."

In Northern Ireland, voters are required to register every
year with the Electoral Office.

However Sinn Fein has been highly critical of the process,
claiming it had resulted in a shredding of the register
with some voters assuming once they had registered one
year, they were eligible to vote the next.

The province`s chief electoral officer, Denis Stanley,
revealed today a total of 1,157,052 electors were on the
new list.

He attributed the rise mostly to 95,120 electors being
carried forward in this year`s list.

"I would like to thank the public for their help and co-
operation in this year`s canvass," he said.

"The work of compiling an accurate record is an enormous
piece of work and I would also pay tribute to both my full-
time and part-time staff for the dedication to completing
the task on time.

"Anyone who has not been included in this year`s canvass or
needs to change their details can still do so under the
Rolling Registration facility.

"Registration forms are available from a range of sources,
including the Electoral Office website at"

Mr Doherty said today`s document should be the starting
point for future registers.

The Sinn Fein vice president argued: "The current proposal
from the British Government to start the new process with a
blank register is a recipe for disaster and we will
continue to raise this point with the minister responsible
David Hanson in the coming months."


Brolly Released Without Charge

'These arrests are the most blatant examples of political
policing by the PSNI I have ever experienced' - Martin

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness blasted the
PSNI for carrying out a policy of political policing after
four people arrested in connection with a bomb in Claudy,
Co Derry, 33 years ago were last night released from
custody without charge.

The men included respected Sinn Féin MLA for East Derry
Francie Brolly.

Arrested alongside Mr Brolly was Seamus Mullan, a well-
known GAA member and freelance journalist.

A 50-year-old man from Portglenone and a 58-year-old
Dungannon woman were also released last night.

Mr McGuinness said: "It was clear from the outset that
these men should never have been arrested. These arrests
are the most blatant examples of political policing by the
PSNI I have ever experienced."

All four were for held for 24 hours at the PSNI's serious
crime suite in Antrim.

Mr Brolly is a former Limavady councillor and a member of
the civil rights movement.

Speaking at a a rally in support of Mr Brolly on Tuesday
night Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin said the arrests
were part of a PSNI "dirty tricks" and "political policing"


Police Preparing 1972 Bomb Report

Police have begun preparing a report on the 1972 Claudy
bombing to be submitted to the Public Prosecution Service.

Nine people, including three children, were killed when
three car bombs exploded in Claudy, County Londonderry.

Four people held on Tuesday have been released without
charge, including Sinn Fein's Francie Brolly and freelance
sports commentator Seamus Mullan.

Mr Brolly said that he had nothing to do with the atrocity
and had no foreknowledge of what would happen.

Mr Brolly said he believed he was arrested simply because
he had been a republican living in the area at the time.

"Without going into any detail of how the interviews went,
fundamentally, the only evidence, if you can call it that,
they were putting forward for my possible knowledge of what
happened in Claudy was that I live in Dungiven, which is 10
miles from Claudy. It was as ridiculous as that."

Mr Brolly said it had been a "character assassination"
which had harmed himself and his family.

"When I read in the paper somebody has been released
without charge, that doesn't impress me," he said.

"I'm asking: 'Why were they arrested in the first place?"'

Mr Brolly said the arrest had made him rethink his position
within Sinn Fein as one of those moving towards an
acceptance that policing in Northern Ireland had changed
for the better.


The arrests were made on Tuesday morning.

A 58-year-old woman in Dungannon was one of those arrested.

All four were released without charge on Wednesday evening.

Police said a report was being prepared for submission to
the Public Prosecution Service.

The service will examine the police report and assess
whether there are sufficient grounds to merit a trial.

Mr Brolly is an assembly member for the East Londonderry

Seamus Mullan is a freelance journalist who reports on
Gaelic games for a number of media outlets, including BBC
Northern Ireland.

In December 2002, the police said a priest, who had died,
was involved in the Claudy bombing.

It also emerged that both the Catholic Church's cardinal at
the time, William Conway, and the then Secretary of State,
William Whitelaw, met to discuss the matter.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/01 14:03:50 GMT


Opin: Adams Rounds On Anti-Peace Securocrats

Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams last night insisted that
"there are still securocrats who want the Agreement, power-
sharing and negotiations for a new policing to fail".

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at
government buildings today, Mr Adams also said that recent
events demonstrate the SDLP "accepted too little" and
"jumped too soon" on policing.

Sinn Féin is expected to raise with Mr Ahern the recent
threat warnings to scores of nationalists after a security
document "disappeared" from Castlereagh barracks in east
Belfast in July 2004. Tuesday's arrest of Sinn Féin
assembly member Francie Brolly and the Irish Ferries
dispute will also be discussed at the meeting.

Describing "widespread anger" at Mr Brolly's arrest, Gerry
Adams continued: "The Castlereagh collusion case is but the
latest example of the policy of collusion and a reminder
that it is not a thing of the past. There have also been
political raids and arrests, with the same old pattern of
media leaks and misinformation from the PSNI.

"Hugh Orde said in early 2003 that there are some in the
PSNI who want him to fail. I believe that there are still
securocrats who want the Agreement, power-sharing and
negotiations for a new beginning to policing to fail.

"In the new beginning to policing which Sinn Féin is
determined to achieve, there will be no safe haven for
politically-motivated policing. In negotiations on policing
and justice since the Agreement, we have made huge
progress. The core outstanding issue now is the transfer of
powers on policing and justice away from London and out of
the hands of British securocrats. Only in that way can
policing be made democratically accountable and a new
beginning to policing on this island be attainable," Mr
Adams said.

Criticising the SDLP's endorsement of the current policing
arrangements, Mr Adams said "they must carry some of the

"They portray the SDLP as getting policing right, when
nationalists and republicans are still victims of political
policing and collusion which is wrong," Mr Adams said.

"In four years on the Policing Board, they have failed to
hold the political detectives publicly to account and
failed to end collusion and political policing. In
Westminster two weeks ago, their MPs voted for the
reintroduction of 28-day detention orders, taking us back
to the days of the old Special Powers Act opposed by the
Civil Rights movement."

SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness reacted to Mr
Adams by stating "the SDLP will raise these cases on the
Policing Board".

"If the police have evidence of wrongdoing, then they must
charge those they have arrested.

"If they do not, they must release them. It is
extraordinary that Sinn Féin attacks the SDLP on collusion
after they have sold out the victims of collusion.

"It was not the SDLP that came out of Leeds Castle waving a
paper on a Finucane inquiry that allowed a Finucane inquiry
to be muzzled by the British government. It was Gerry
Adams," he said.


Opin: Wearying Arrests Routine Continues

How many times does the PSNI have to visit the media well
before it finds it dry? The answer clearly is many, many
times indeed. It's become clear that all it takes is a
well-placed phone call for the television cameras and the
newspapers to come running to cover whatever harebrained
scheme the faceless officers in backrooms come up with

By now the routine is wearyingly familiar: convoys of
vehicles, large search teams doing not much except make
sure they get in camera range, plenty of outdoor activity,
widely-publicised arrests including at least one member of
Sinn Féin, the more senior the figure the better. How often
have we seen this? Yet although the arrest of a number of
people in relation to last year's Northern Bank robbery and
the Claudy bombing of 1972 fits the template perfectly,
there's no diminution of the media coverage, no loss of

If the PSNI was to be paid on results they'd be out on the
streets this Christmas, but they needn't worry because
while there's intense interest in the raids, there's very
little interest in what subsequently happens to those who
are arrested.

The overwhelming majority of people are quietly released
without charge (and without fanfare) while those few who
are charged find themselves up on counts that are as
confusing as they are incomprehensible. Experience,
moreover, tells us that there's a good chance that those
charged can expect to spend an amount of time on remand
which is the equivalent of a hefty jail sentence.

It would be nice to think that some people are concerned
enough at what's happening in relation to policing to say
or do something about it – the Police Ombudsman's office
and the Irish government spring to mind.

Meanwhile, it's evident that the real damage being done to
the prospect of a resolution of the policing issue is being
done by the PSNI and not by those who continue to oppose
the present arrangements.

There is a profound sense of disapproval and suspicion of
what is going on among ordinary nationalists and
republicans, and if Chief Constable Hugh Orde can't see
that then he is either blind or unwilling to see.

For an immense amount of effort and money the PSNI in
recent years has produced slim pickings indeed and as long
as the force continues to show more interest in the stage-
managed photo opportunity than it does in basic police
procedure then disapproval and suspicion will continue to
deepen. Away from the cameras, the PSNI continues to
perform abysmally, with people now a lot more concerned and
worried about their personal safety on the streets and in
their own homes then they were during the worst days of the

Quite apart from the legal implications of setpiece
policing, it's clear that huge chunks of the PSNI's budget
are being squandered on operationally worthless but
politically destructive large operations such as those we
have witnessed this week and countless others that we have
seen before.


Amnesty For UK Forces Would Cause Deep Hurt, Says Adams

By Gene McKenna
02 December 2005

Sinn Fein has strongly opposed British proposals to allow
members of UK security forces to benefit from any "on-the-
run" legislation.

Party leader Gerry Adams made this clear in Dublin
yesterday where Sinn Fein had a 90-minute meeting with
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He said granting amnesties to British soldiers and security
personnel would cause "deep hurt" to victims of their
alleged crimes.

He claimed hundreds had been killed by British forces and
their inclusion in an amnesty Bill would be a "cover-up".

He said: "We put it to the Government today that it needed
to persuade the British government to remove this from the
legislation. It is in breach of the Joint Communique issued
after Weston Park.

"If this isn't resolved, it will cause even greater hurt to
those who have been bereaved or injured as a result of
actions by the British in Dublin or Monaghan or in my own
constituency or any part of the Six Counties."

The Taoiseach raised the case with Mr Adams of the death of
Dublin man Joseph Rafferty whose murder his family blame on
the IRA.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will today head a party
delegation to meet Mr Paisley at Stormont.


Anti-Collusion Group Wants Unity On OTRs

By Jarlath Kearney

A leading campaigner for victims of state violence and
collusion in the North last night called for an end to
"party political infighting" over the British government's
controversial Northern Ireland Offences Bill.

Robert McClenaghan of the anti-collusion campaign An
Fhírinne also said relatives would be "deeply disturbed" at
comments by a leading SDLP member in Derry.

During a debate with Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming on
BBC Radio Foyle yesterday, SDLP assembly member Pat Ramsey
said: "Rather than blame the SDLP, the British government
have pulled a flanker in negotiations and they [Sinn Féin]
have to take their oil on it."

Tension between Sinn Féin and the SDLP erupted during a
council debate about the new legislation in Derry on
Tuesday night, with both parties complaining about counter-
allegations by each other. The SDLP walked out of the
council alleging that a specific allegation had been
levelled at one party member by a Sinn Féin representative.
Sinn Féin reacted angrily, pointing out that the SDLP has
been publicly accusing the republican leadership of
collusion with the British government.

Despite the fact that it was only supposed to deal with
those people who were 'on-the-run', under the new law the
British government tried to give its agents and agencies a
blanket indemnity.

"No political party can be held responsible for British
government duplicity in trying to cover-up their mass
murder campaign of the last 35 years," Mr McClenaghan said.

"Rather than political parties fighting each other, we
would advise that they focus their attention on the root
cause of this problem, which is the British government and
its agents and agencies who organised a mass-murder
campaign through the rearming and reorganisation of the
UDA, UVF, and Ulster Resistance.

"What is needed is maximum consensus and unity to force the
British government to admit the truth about murder and
state violence," Mr McClenaghan said.

Despite An Fhírinne's plea for consensus, SDLP leader Mark
Durkan yesterday sustained his party's attacks on Sinn Féin
over the British government's legislation in Westminster.
Accusing republicans of colluding with the British
government, Mr Durkan said: "Sinn Féin and the British
Government have to take responsibility for this. All Sinn
Féin have to do is call on Tony Blair to call the whole
thing off and go back to the drawing board – as the victims
of collusion are demanding."

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness repeated his
party's view that the British government has again breached
its commitments.

"As both the British and Irish governments have admitted,
the inclusion of British state forces in the current
legislation was never discussed with Sinn Féin. It was
never agreed by Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin has made clear to the
British government that the legislation should apply only
to OTRs and not to British state forces," Mr McGuinness

In a joint statement yesterday, Relatives for Justice, the
Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten attacked
the British government's new legislation.

The three groups highlighted a range of concerns about the
proposed legislation including lack of international
involvement; no proper provisions for relatives; and the
arbitrary power of the Secretary of State in establishing
and overseeing all aspects of the process.

Relatives for Justice spokesperson Mark Thompson said the
three groups were united in opposing the legislation.

"Together these groups represent hundreds of families who
have lost loved ones from as far back as 1969 and as
recently as last year, from throughout the North, in the
Dublin and Monaghan bombings, in the Murder Triangle and in
hundreds of other individuals incidents," Mr Thompson said.

"Let no one be fooled, the principal beneficiary is the
British state. They drew up the legislation and it is they
who are pushing it through their parliament. Two principles
must apply.

"The rights and needs of families must be at the core of
any proposal. Relatives have a right and need to know the

"This legislation makes no allowance whatsoever for a truth
recovery process linked to certification.

"The only truth recovery process that will enjoy cross-
community and cross-Border support is one that has
international involvement from the outset," Mr Thompson


Parties Clash Over OTR Pardons


The "bi-partisan approach" between the major opposition
parties and the government towards issues dealing with the
peace process seems to be in doubt following sharp
exchanges in the Dáil yesterday.

Both Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Pat
Rabbitte were strongly critical of the Taoiseach's plans to
establish a system where onthe-runs (OTR) in the South will
be granted a presidential pardon.

Deputy Enda Kenny again charged the Taoiseach with making
agreements with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams "in secret

"When it comes to a choice between justice for the victims
or the appeasement of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams seems to win
on each occasion with you," Deputy Kenny told Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern.

He accused the Taoiseach of "dragging the president down
the road of dubious constitutionally".

Deputy Kenny said any OTR should at least go before a court
of law to "admit" their guilt before any pardon should be

Deputy Pat Rabbitte echoed many of the points made by the
Fine Gael leader. He compared the issue to the Tax Amnesty,
introduced by Bertie Ahern when he was minister for finance
in the early 1990s.

He argued that in the case of the Tax Amnesty people had to
come before the authorities and admit their guilt before
they got an amnesty. That was not the case with the
proposed OTR system, said Deputy Rabbitte.

Deputy Rabbitte also criticised the British legislation
dealing with the OTR issue before the House of Commons
which he said will see "members of the security forces get
off scott free".

The Taoiseach denied that there had been any "secret deals"
with Sinn Féin on the issue. He said that the OTR issue had
been discussed and dealt with at the Weston Park talks. He
said that only the details of the "process" of how it was
to be dealt with were not decided upon at Weston Park.


Sinn Fein Pushing For New Year Power-Sharing

Friday 2nd December 2005

Sinn Fein last night began pushing for a New Year plan to
restore power-sharing government.

The party said it was time for both prime ministers to
grasp the momentum, it claimed was created by the IRA
ending its armed campaign and decommissioning its weapons
during 2005.

Gerry Adams said: "The real problem at this point in time
is that the political institutions are not in place and we
need to bring forward proposals to put them in place."

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness added: "The
big objective for everybody is a plan by the two
governments, given the enormous events of this year, to see
the institutions restored as quickly as possible.

"There is a reasonable expectation among the people of
Ireland, that, come the beginning of next year, that the
two Governments actually have a plan that they put, not
just before themselves, but also before the DUP."

Mr McGuinness said that the DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley
had told the British and Irish governments during nine
months of talks in 2004 that the only issue concerning him
was IRA arms.

"The big question is whether Mr Paisley, who tells us he is
a man of God, is also a man of his word," Mr McGuinness

He also spoke of the day when a face-to-face meeting
between Gerry Adams and Mr Paisley would move the process


Parade Body A Unionist 'Sop'

Ciarán Barnes

Nationalist residents' groups opposed to loyalist parades
have described the new-look Parades Commission as a "sop"
to unionists.

Appointees to the seven-strong body to be confirmed today
include prominent Armagh Orangeman David Burrows, former
Ulster Unionist election candidate Don McKay and District
Policing Partnership members Ann Monaghan and Alison Scott-

The sole nationalist representative is former SDLP West
Belfast MP Joe Hendron.

Businesswoman Vilma Patterson will also take up a seat as
will Englishman Roger Poole, a former assistant general
secretary of Unison, who is chair of the new-look group.

The seven Parades Commission appointees will be tasked with
deciding whether controversial marches, the vast majority
of which are loyalist, should pass through areas where they
are opposed by locals.

With no representation on the new body, nationalist
residents' groups are fearful that there could be a
sizeable increase in the amount of loyalist parades
permitted to go through their areas.

Garvaghy Road residents' spokesman Brendan MacCionnaith hit
out at the absence on the Parades Commission of people from
communities affected by loyalist parades.

He said: "The appointments have been politically motivated.

"They are a clear response to pressure from the Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP), and will create anger in vulnerable
communities like that on the Garvaghy Road."

Speaking yesterday on the make up of the new commission, Mr
Hain said: "I am particularly pleased that two people with
personal experience and understanding of the Orange Order
and the cultural importance of parades have been appointed
to the commission."

The DUP has yet to respond publicly to the new
appointments, however it is believed they have gone down
favourably with the party's hierarchy.

The SDLP has been lukewarm in its response, complaining
that a number of former members failed to be reappointed.


SDLP Should Come Clean On Parades Commission Deal

Published: 2 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has
called on the SDLP to come clean on the deal they done with
the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to secure Joe
Hendron's appointment to the new Parades Commission which
is clearly biased in its make up.

Mr O'Dowd said:

" There can be no argument that the new Parades Commission
is biased in favour of the unionist position in terms of
its make up. What has yet to be clarified is the role of
the SDLP in bringing this situation about.

" It seems that the SDLP have done a deal with Peter Hain
to secure the appointment of senior party figure Joe
Hendron while agreeing to turn a blind eye to the obvious
imbalance with the rest of the Commission.

" Once again it seems that the SDLP have put their own need
to secure positions for their own people before the needs
and entitlements of working class nationalist and
republican communities who have suffered and continue to
suffer through the demands of the loyal orders to force
sectarian parades through their areas.

" Sinn Féin will continue to stand by and support
nationalist communities threatened with the prospect of
unwanted sectarian parades and will not, like the SDLP,
enter into deals which clearly raise the prospect once
again of Orange Order parades being forced through areas in
the absence of real and meaningful dialogue and
discussion." ENDS


Mary Lou McDonald Selected As Dublin Central General
election candidate

Published: 2 December, 2005

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has been selected as Sinn
Féin's candidate to contest the Dublin Central constituency
at the general election. Ms McDonald was nominated by
Councillor Nicky Kehoe and seconded by Councillor Christy
Burke at the election convention which took place in
Dalymount Park last night.

Speaking following her selection, Ms McDonald said:

"Three years ago, Sinn Féin came very close to taking a
seat in Dublin Central when Nicky Kehoe came within 74
votes of being elected. Huge effort was put in and people
throughout this constituency responded to our work in the
community, our role in the peace process and for Irish
unity and our agenda for change. And whenever the next
election is called I believe that, with growing support
right across this constituency, we can return a Sinn Féin
TD for Dublin Central.

"There has been a lot of speculation about whose seat Sinn
Féin is after in Dublin Central. Let me clear that up
straight away. The only seat we want is a Sinn Féin seat.
We want to be part of a Sinn Féin team not just in Dublin
but across Ireland who are committed to bringing about real

"Dublin Central is one of the most diverse constituencies
in the country. The IFSC towers above East Wall with huge
amounts of money being made by private investors while
communities in the surrounding north inner city struggle to
get by. And while we are struggling for new services here
we are in danger of losing others with the possible move of
Temple Street Hospital out of the area, something Sinn Féin
will strenuously oppose at every level.

"This is also an increasingly ethnically diverse community
and especially in the city centre the presence of new and
vibrant cultures in Irish society needs to be welcomed. We
can see from the Irish Ferries dispute how big business is
trying to set immigrant workers against Irish workers,
knowing that they will be the only ones to profit.

"I believe that the next general election has the potential
to fundamentally change the direction of this country. I
believe that growing numbers of people oppose the strategy
of this government and coalition of Fine Gael and Labour
which has almost identical policies to the current
government. It is a disgrace that, given the prosperity of
recent years, there is still huge inequality, that it is so
hard to afford a home, that it is so difficult to access
medical services. It is a disgrace that so many families
are working long hours and are still struggling to get by.
There is the wealth in the economy to do things very
differently and that is what Sinn Féin is about." ENDS


Opin: Unionism Cannot See World Of Nationalist Suffering As Real And Painful As Their Own

Jude Collins

The British House of Commons has witnessed some memorable
scenes. There was the time Michael Heseltine grabbed the
ornamental mace and swung it round his head, the time
Bernadette Devlin clawed the face of Reggie Maudling, the
time some pro-hunt chappies charged in and leaped about for
a while. Last week, though, it saw a unique event – the Rev
Willie McCrea on the brink of tears.

Mr McCrea's tears came as he spoke about the day he had to
identify the body of his cousin killed by the IRA. The MPs
listening to him were moved, and honourable members from
both sides of the House were soon jumping up and denouncing
Peter Hain's plans to allow on-the-runs (OTRs) to return to
the North of Ireland. Some shared the Rev Willie's
contention, that to do so would be to bury justice
alongside his cousin. Others were incensed that members of
the British security forces, who will also receive what is
in effect an amnesty, should be lumped in with republican

Was Willie right to feel that letting OTRs come home is a
denial of justice? Well if you believe that every
deliberate killing should be punished in a court of law,
yes. Those returning will effectively receive an amnesty.
However, not every killing is considered deserving of
punishment. If you were to knock on the Rev Willie's front
door and ask him" "Reverend Willie, would you like to see
the soldiers who killed 14 innocent people in Derry in 1972
tried and imprisoned?" the Rev would probably give you, at
best, an ambiguous answer. But then, if you denounce
terrorism while happily sharing a platform with a
paramilitary multiple murderer, ambiguity is probably a
word you're at ease with.

Some MPs were enraged not so much by the idea of permitting
OTRs to return home as by the idea of an equivalence being
drawn between them and members of the British army/UDR/RUC.
They have a point, of course: the two groups are quite
different. Members of paramilitary organisations are
committed to breaking the law; members of the British army
and the police are committed to maintaining the rule of
law. When paramilitaries commit acts of violence, it's seen
as par for the course – what they do. When the guardians of
the law turn law-breakers, trust in the state is put in
jeopardy and anarchy beckons. So yes, the misdeeds of the
British army/UDR/RUC should not have been set alongside the
actions of former paramilitaries.

Perhaps the most puzzling feature of the outcry against
opening the door to OTRs is the sudden shock expressed by
those opposed to it. Very odd: everyone knew this was
coming. "This was an arrangement that was made four-and-a-
half years ago exactly – it was very publicly announced at
that time," Bertie Ahern pointed out this week.

So what was it about the OTRs that caused this crescendo of
protest in the Commons?

In part it was natural grief, that those believed
responsible for the death of loved ones should go
unpunished. Seeing something painful coming your way
doesn't necessarily make it any less painful when it
arrives. However, some of those protesting loudly at Peter
Hain's plans don't actually give a damn about the pain felt
by relatives or anyone else. Their principal concern is to
use this suffering as a lever with which to bend the
history of the past 35 years.

If republican OTRs could be fixed in the public mind as
common murderers of innocent people, then it would follow
that they should be made to face a court of law and at the
least admit their vile deeds and even apologise for them.
Were that to happen, a significant step would have been
taken to define the past 35 years as an orgy of
sectarianism and blood-lust, orchestrated by the IRA.

But if republican OTRs are allowed to return to their homes
and their relatives without punishment, this essentially
concedes that the past 35 years was not mindless murder but
a war. Like all wars it involved injury and death,
sometimes of innocent people; and like all wars, the people
involved in the fighting would, under different
circumstances, have led peaceful lives. Oddly, some of
those who have called loudest and longest for the IRA to
declare that the war is over, are people who resist at
every point the definition of the violence here as war.

Several weeks ago I listened to George Galloway speaking to
a crowd of over a thousand people in Belfast. He said that,
at core, the problems of the Middle East and Iraq came down
to one thing: the British and US governments valued the
blood of some people above the blood of others. The blood
of those who died in the 9/ll attack was valued more highly
than the 6,000 Iraqi children who died each month during
the British/US embargo of Iraq; the suffering of Jewish
settlers removed from their homes on the Gaza Strip was
considered more important than the sufferings of
Palestinian families whose homes and lives are routinely
destroyed by Israeli soldiers.

He was right. What's more, at core, that's what our present
stalemate is all about. Unionist leaders and some British
MPs are trapped in the prison of unionist suffering. It is
an exclusive prison, allowing only unionist pain. And so
secure is the lock on that prison, the leaders of unionism
cannot make the short walk that would show them the world
of nationalist and republican suffering, every bit as real
and painful as theirs. Until unionism and British MPs can
escape from that prison, we're all held captives of the

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


Ethos Of CCMS Must Be Retained: Bishop

By Kathryn Torney
02 December 2005

The Bishop of Down and Connor has spoken of his "serious
concerns" over plans for the future of the Council for
Catholic Maintained Schools.

Bishop Patrick Walsh, one of the founding fathers of CCMS,
spoke out about the impact of the Review of Public
Administration on the Catholic school sector in a speech
during the council's milestone 100th meeting yesterday.

It was announced last week that CCMS will be downgraded to
having just an advisory role within the new single
Education Authority for Northern Ireland.

Bishop Walsh said: "It is imperative that the trustees'
capacity to fulfil our legal rights is not diminished or

"I refer in particular to the appointment of teachers
committed to the ethos and aims of our schools and as the
legal owners of the schools to the planning and provision
of the Catholic school estate.

"We take some reassurance from the fact that in her
statement the Minister did speak of the ethos of schools
and school provision, and gave an assurance that the new
arrangements would not weaken or undermine the role of

"We will be seeking clarification from the Minister as to
how she will fulfil her assurances to the trustees."


Catholics In Dire Need Of A Revolution

Ana Ní Shúilleabháin

Does anyone pay attention to the rantings of the Catholic
Church any more – really? This week the Vatican published a
document which stated that practising homosexuals should be
barred from entering the priesthood.

This is a gross attempt to use homosexuals as scapegoats
for its sexual abuse scandals. There is no link between
homosexuality and paedophilia.

Clerical abusers chose their vocation because it provided
them access to children.

They used clerical teaching schools to access children, and
being clergy, they were free from suspicion.

They make a distinction between "deep-seated" gays and
"transitory" tendencies.

Is there an equivalent in heterosexual terms?

Are there 'deep-seated' straight people, and those who have
transitory tendencies?

This wholly un-natural attitude to sex is at the root of
the church's problems.

Unfortunately this latest report doesn't indicate that the
church is facing up to the institutional failure behind
clerical sexual abuse.

The church is in crisis, and the first step that should be
taken is to admit that priests are human, with human

It is certainly on its last legs and this document may tip
it further in the direction of its ultimate demise.

There are plenty of people who would not be upset to
witness such.

It is a ridiculous premise.

How do they intend to enforce this rule? What method do
they intend to employ to discover who is gay, and who is

This is one of the first major documents Pope Benedict has
approved for release since being elected Pope.

It immediately alienates a huge section of the community,
both those who have a vocation and practising gay

Scottish Anglicans threatened to deepen worldwide divisions
in the church over homosexuality by declaring that
practising gays should not be prevented from becoming
priests. The Scottish Bishops said they had always welcomed
gays in their congregations.

This is just one in a series of provocative statements
issued by the church.

They have told people in countries stricken by AIDS not to
use condoms because they are permeable to HIV – potentially
exposing thousands of people to risk.

Martin Luther dealt the symbolic blow that began the
Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the
door of the Wittenberg Church.

That document contained an attack on papal abuses.

No one could argue that the church is not corrupt.

Catholics now need a revolution, and Benedict is not the
one to deliver it.


British And Irish Armies Play In Tune

By Noel McAdam
02 December 2005

The British and Irish armies are joining forces to beat the
band for Christmas in Northern Ireland.

The Band of the Irish Guards and the Band of the Irish
Defence Forces will come together to perform in a special
Yuletide concert in Belfast.

It is the first time the Irish Guards band, now based in
London, and the Republic's Defence Forces band will have
played together in the United Kingdom.

Organisers of the Gala Celebration of Christmas Peace at
the Waterfront Hall have thanked the GOC Northern Ireland
Lieutenant General Sir Redmund Watt, the Ministry of
Defence and Irish Minister of Defence, Willie O'Dea for
allowing the bands to make music together.

"They made the necessary arrangements for the two bands to
come together," said Presbyterian Minister the Rev Alan
Mitchell, the man behind the annual concerts.

The bands will also be joined by the London Community
Gospel Choir, and Ruth Graham, the daughter of renowned
American evangelist, Dr Billy Graham at the event on
December 12.

There are two performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

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