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January 07, 2006

British Army Is Racist

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News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 01/07/06 Victims' Body Calls British Army Racist
IA 01/07/06 The 2006 Irish Agenda
SB 01/08/06 Sinn Fein Keeps Calm On New 'Informers' Claims
ST 01/08/06 Stormont Spy Ring Targeted Sex Secrets
BB 01/07/06 Loyalist Bailed On Money Laundering Charge
SB 01/08/06 Taoiseach Guards Information On CIA Flights
BB 01/07/06 Row Over MLA's Payment 'Threats'
DU 01/07/05 DUP With FF To Keep Out Increasingly Popular SF
DI 01/07/06 BBC 'Revisionism' Charge
ST 01/08/06 Tutu Chairs TV Attempt At Reconciliation
DJ 01/07/06 Rees Remembered For Failed Powersharing -Durkan
SH 01/08/06 From Designer To Gun Runner To MI5 Agent- Robb
BT 01/07/06 The Yob Culture
SH 01/08/06 Celtic: 'IRA Chant Video May Be Fake'
UR 01/07/06 Force Feeding Raises Memories For Republicans
SB 01/08/06 The World Considers Its Nuclear Options
GU 01/08/06 Gay Delight At Rainbow Shamrock
BT 01/08/06 Opin: Room For Apathy In War On Crime
ST 01/08/06 Opin: Welcome Chomsky & Respect Right To Speech
ST 01/08/06 Opin: Tough Questions For Journalism- Chomsky
IN 01/07/06 Opin: Time To Grab Nettle Of Past In Firm Hand
SB 01/08/06 Officials Probe CIA Denials On Prisoner Planes
IO 01/07/06 Activists Demonstrate At Shannon
SB 01/08/06 New Paper Will Target Young Irish-Americans


Victims' Body Calls British Army Racist

Soldiers expelled for assault in England while Belfast
victim's murderers stay in army

Jarlath Kearney

The family of Belfast teenager Peter McBride – murdered by
the British army in September 1992 – have expressed anger
after two Household Cavalry soldiers were expelled from the
army following convictions for assault.

Kelly McBride, along with her family and supported by the
Pat Finucane Centre, has spent 13 years campaigning for the
army to discharge two soldiers who shot her 18-year-old
brother in the back.

Instead, Scots Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright were
readmitted to the British army on the grounds of so-called
"exceptional circumstances" after their early release from
prison in 1998.

Both soldiers returned to active service and British prime
minister Tony Blair has since described the case as an
"internal employment matter" for the British army.

Despite Belfast High Court concluding on two separate
occasions that there were no exceptional circumstances in
the case, the British government has refused to intervene.

By contrast, the Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday
that two soldiers have been expelled by the British army
after receiving convictions for actual bodily harm. The
convictions related to an early morning affray in Norwich
last July. No statement has yet been made about a third
soldier who was also convicted in relation to the incident.

All of the soldiers received suspended sentences for their
actions. Two of the trio previously spent time with their
regiments in the North and in Bosnia.

"The decision to discharge is made by the commanding
officer after a great deal of consideration. It may happen
quite often that they are discharged, certainly for a crime
such as this, but it is not necessarily a foregone
conclusion," a MoD spokesperson said yesterday.

Kelly McBride last night told Daily Ireland that the
British army's preferential treatment of her brother's
murderers stemmed from "a racist mentality".

"These soldiers were discharged because the assault took
place on their own home ground," Ms McBride said.

"I am really shocked by this. There is a racist mentality
involved because if my brother had been a local teenager
killed over there [in England] I'm sure Fisher and Wright
would have been discharged.

"It kind of grabs you by the heart that my brother's life
meant basically nothing because he was Irish, yet something
like an assualt happens over there and the soldiers are
discharged," Ms McBride said.

The campaign for justice in Peter McBride's case has
received widespread cross-party and international support,
including the backing of London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

In a statement to Daily Ireland last night, the British
army's press office in the North said: "We can't discuss
individual cases but MoD policy is quite clear. Where a
soldier receives a custodial sentence, he or she will be
discharged from the army unless there are exceptional
circumstances, ie. Fisher and Wright.

"However, if a soldier receives a non-custodial sentence,
ie. a suspended sentence, fine or probation, then the
matter is referred back to his or her commanding officer
who may decide to discharge the soldier depending on the
circumstances of the particular case."


The 2006 Irish Agenda

THERE are two dominating issues in the activist Irish
American political sphere over the next 12 months. The
first is immigration reform, the second the restoration of
accountable government in Northern Ireland.

We will know by the end of January where the immigration
debate is going. President George W. Bush will discuss the
issue in his State of the Union address on January 31, and
the Senate is expected to take up debate on the matter a
few days later.

To say this is a critical issue for Irish America is no
exaggeration. At stake is not just the future of tens of
thousands of young Irish who are here undocumented, but
also the very survival of the Irish community ethos in
major cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia,
Chicago and San Francisco.

Already organizations such as the GAA have begun to feel
the pinch of the restrictive immigration laws. This year,
no doubt, more teams will be in danger of folding as the
number of players from Ireland continues to drop.

It is only a matter of time before many other Irish
organizations begin to show the strain of the new laws
which make it next to impossible for young Irish to
emigrate or to regularize their status.

Emigration in each generation has been the lifeblood of
Irish communities everywhere in the U.S. The influx of the
1980s created a spectacular ripple effect right across the
U.S. on Irish communities everywhere, and for a time the
communities flourished as new blood replenished many older

Now we are in danger of seeing that advance fade away
forever. The immigration laws at present are bad enough,
but a new immigration bill like the one passed in the House
before Christmas may well add a whole new set of strict

That is why the Irish must find a voice at the table. We
have championed the new organization, the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform (ILIR), in these pages over the past few

We urge all community activists from California to the East
Coast to get involved in the fight for fair immigration
reform, which so many did so splendidly in the 1980s.

The other issue, of course, is Northern Ireland, and here
again the American influence is critical.

There are no great figures such as President Bill Clinton
or Senator George Mitchell involved any more, but there is
no question that the current Bush envoy Mitchell Reiss has
a deep and abiding interest in the issue, which is

But it is disheartening to see in recent times that Reiss
has been so willing to take the British government analysis
of the situation, especially as it affects policing.

The fact is that as the recent Stormontgate debacle clearly
shows, the British have, by and large, been the instigators
of many of the problems that have bedeviled the peace

It now seems incredible but true that the British security
apparatus took down the freely elected Northern Ireland
Assembly by creating a bogus spy ring headed by one of
their informers, Denis Donaldson.

We have heard precious little from Reiss on this topic as
he seems obsessed more with the issue of Nationalists
signing off on policing than any other part of the process.

Acceptable policing is a worthy goal, but it must be
evident now that Reiss is seen more firmly as being in the
anti-Nationalist camp than he should be.

The letter in this issue from the heads of Irish
organizations in America (opposite page) is an effective
and direct way of showing where Irish American concerns
must lie. The impact must be felt too in the outworking of
the Bush administration policy on Ireland this year.


Sinn Fein Keeps Calm On New 'Informers' Claims

08 January 2006 By Colm Heatley

Damage limitation is underway in the North after an
unprecedented series of 'outings' of republicans as British
informers over the past ten days.

"This isn't about the credibility of Sinn Féin," said one
Belfast republican. "It's about the credibility of the
British intelligence services and whether they are merely
trying to delay political change."

Since Christmas, four republicans have been visited by the
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and told that the
IRA suspects them of informing. Among those named was Sinn
Féin's leader on Belfast city council, Tom Hartley.

Last Wednesday, Hartley attended the council's monthly
meeting, the clearest sign yet that republicans are giving
no credence to the allegations.

The party has refused to elaborate on the claims, except to
say that those behind them - the Special Branch and MI5 -
have an anti-peace process and anti-Sinn Féin agenda.

"These claims are coming from people who in the past have
tried to murder members of our party, who are opposed to
the peace process, opposed to change and who are still
working to that agenda," said a Sinn Féin spokesman. "They
should be given no credence whatsoever."

But republicans are understood to be conducting their own
investigations into events going back to the early 1970s.

Those investigations are presumably to weed out any
longstanding informers, and avoid a repeat of the outing of
Denis Donaldson as a British informer.

The common thread linking all the republicans named
recently is that they were active in the earlier stages of
the Troubles. One is now a pensioner, another is in his
sixties, while Hartley has been confined to council
politics at Belfast City Hall for the past decade.

None has exerted a noteworthy influence on Sinn Féin's
political decision-making in the past decade.

Perhaps coincidentally, the outings have followed the
establishment of the PSNI's 'cold cases review team' to
investigate Troubles-related murders.

The detectives heading the team are starting at the
beginning of the Troubles and working their way forward.
While republicans are confident that the allegations will
fizzle out, they are anxious that public attention will not
be diverted from politics to spy stories.

Sinn Féin's political opponents, particularly the SDLP,
have been quick to make political capital from the claims.

Some SDLP members have accused Sinn Féin of being riddled
with British informers.

Others claim that police sources are using the informer
allegations to keep the Stormont Assembly mothballed.

By calling to the homes of republicans and warning them
that the IRA suspects them of informing, the PSNI has
implied that IRA activity is ongoing, just weeks before the
report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

Unionists have insisted that only IMC confirmation that IRA
activity has ended can open the door for even moderate
political progress with Sinn Féin. Senior republicans have
displayed a united front, but the latest claims have
unsettled them, if only because they, too, are in the
firing line.

However, Sinn Féin strategists believe that the best way
forward is through political progress. The current
political vacuum, they argue, suits those who are hostile
to the peace process and to political change.

The informer allegations have the potential to stall
republican endorsement of policing in the North, the last
great hurdle of the peace process.

The Special Branch would be the police unit most affected
by the creation of new policing structures after a
comprehensive political deal.

Unlike MI5, Special Branch would be answerable to the
Stormont Assembly and forced to recruit members from the
growing percentage of Catholics in the PSNI.

If Sinn Féin endorsed policing, the Special Branch's powers
would be curtailed and their accountability increased.

When the peace process began, many in the British
establishment believed the IRA ceasefire would lead to a
major split within republicanism, which has not yet

But IRA decommissioning provided the dissidents with
succour for their 'sell out' claims, and the informer
'revelations' will entrench that belief.

Critics of the Special Branch point out that the
normalisation of Northern politics and the end of armed
activity will terminate the careers of many Special Branch
members. Unlike MI5, the Special Branch cannot redirect its
resources to other areas.

The Special Branch is also due to be on the receiving end
of a Police Ombudsman's report into its links with loyalist
paramilitaries and its role in UVF murders in Belfast in
the 1990s.


Stormont Spy Ring Targeted Sex Secrets

Suzanne Breen Northern Editor

SINN Fein politicians and employees looked for compromising
sexual and financial details on unionist party members
during a year-long Sinn Fein/IRA spying campaign at

Details of the alleged spy ring, the existence of which has
always been denied by Sinn Fein, have been given to the
Sunday Tribune by a member of the party's Stormont team.
They suggest that the spy ring was very active and was not
a fabrication by British 'securocrats', as Sinn Fein has

The source claimed the party's Assembly representatives and
administrative staff at the time knew of the spy ring's
existence and were asked to gather intelligence on unionist
politicians. He described the party's ongoing denials that
no Sinn Fein spy ring existed as "completely untrue" and
said it was time to tell the truth about events at

The source claimed the spy ring was "an open secret" among
the Sinn Fein team and began a year before the 2002 arrest
of Denis Donaldson, the party's Stormont administrator who
was outed as a British agent last month.

Donaldson wasn't the spy ring's leader or organiser.

According to the source, an Assembly member, whose name is
known to the Sunday Tribune, instructed other Sinn Fein
representatives and staff to gather information on unionist
Assembly members.

"We were told to find out any weaknesses they might have .
. . how much they drank, where they drank, who they drank
with, " the source said.

"We were told to find out if they had a gambling problem or
money difficulties, if they cheated on their wives, who
they were sleeping with, if any of them were gay."

Some of the Sinn Fein members and employees cooperated but
others refused. Ulster Unionist politicians were the
targets as the DUP wouldn't talk to Sinn Fein. "Barriers
were breaking down between us and the UUP. People would
find themselves naturally chatting to UUP colleagues during
a tea-break in a committee meeting or in the members' bar,
" the source said.

Information gathered was relayed back to the Assembly
member organising the spy ring, who liaised with a Sinn
Fein staff member whose name is known to the Sunday

It is understood the Sinn Fein staff member then reported
the information to the director of intelligence of the
IRA's GHQ (general headquarters) staff, the west Belfast
man who masterminded the Northern Bank robbery.

Some Assembly members objected to the spy ring, believing
it contradicted Sinn Fein's stated aim of building trust
with unionists.

The source stressed unionists were never in danger of
assassination from the IRA.

"The operation was to build intelligence and to placate
foot-soldiers in the movement who had doubts about even
entering Stormont. It was to relay the impression 'we might
be in here but the war goes on'."

The source also claimed that Donaldson had accessed
pornographic material at Stormont on computers used by Sinn
Fein, but had stopped after complaints from a female member
of Sinn Fein's staff who feared that his internet habits
would damage the party if they were discovered.

A Sinn Fein spokesman yesterday denied the party operated a
spy ring at Stormont.

"There was a spy ring, at the centre of which was a British
agent, Denis Donaldson, " he said.


Loyalist Bailed On Money Laundering Charge

An alleged loyalist paramilitary has appeared in court on
charges linked to money laundering.

Lawrence Kincaid, 33, from Cogry Hill in Doagh, is charged
with 34 offences between August 2003 and August 2005.

He denies 24 charges of entering into an arrangement to
acquire criminal property and seven of obtaining services
by deception.

He faces two counts of perverting the course of justice and
one of obtaining money by deception. Bail was granted.

It is alleged that the accused used laundered criminal
proceeds to buy a property at Cogry Hill, a diamond ring,
motorbikes and cars, laptop computers and a holiday in the

A detective told Belfast Magistrates Court he believed he
could connect Mr Kincaid to the charges.

False accounting

He said he was objecting to bail because he believed
Kincaid was "a member of a loyalist paramilitary
organisation" and there was the potential for witness

However, under cross-examination from the accused's
solicitor, the detective conceded that Mr Kincaid had
"given explanations" for having the money and the
transactions and had also given an affidavit regarding
items seized from him.

Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon released Mr Kincaid on his
own bail of £5,000, with one surety of £5,000 and ordered
him to surrender his passport and to sign at Ballyclare
Police Station three times per week.

The accused is due to appear in court again on 3 February.

The charges are understood to follow a probe by the PSNI's
Financial Investigation Unit.

Six other men are to appear at the same court on Tuesday
charged with money laundering and false accounting.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/07 13:09:13 GMT


Taoiseach's Office Guards Information On CIA Flights

08 January 2006 By Paul T Colgan

The Taoiseach's office has refused to release any
information it has about the CIA's 'extraordinary
rendition' flights, on the grounds that to do so may
compromise the security, defence or international relations
of the state.

The Council of Europe this weekend said that CIA jets
travelling through Irish airports should be searched by
gardai to ensure that prisoners are not being carried. A
report published by the Irish Human Rights Commission
(IHRC) last month had recommended that gardai board such

Extraordinary rendition involves the abduction of suspected
militants from foreign countries by members of the CIA
using privately-leased aircraft. Several of the aircraft
are known to have landed at Shannon and many of those
abducted claim to have been taken to torture centres.

The Department of the Taoiseach turned down requests under
the Freedom of Information Act for access to documents on
the matter. It cited Section 24, a wide-ranging clause that
takes in the security, defence and international relations
of the state.

However, the Department of Foreign Affairs released a
number of documents relating to rendition, including
correspondence signed by the Taoiseach and communications
with officials from his office.

The government maintains that it has repeatedly sought and
obtained assurances from the US government that it is not
using Irish airports to transport prisoners.

Pressure is likely to grow, however, for greater
transparency on the matter. The IHRC said last month that
US statements should not be taken at face value and that
the Irish government, in agreement with the US government,
should arrange for flights to be boarded. The Council of
Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Alvaro Gil Robles
expressed his support for the IHRC last week.

"Insofar as so-called extraordinary rendition flights are
concerned, states must be in a position, where there is
doubt, to establish who is on board planes transiting via
their airports, whether they are travelling freely or are
detained, and, if the latter, under whose authority they
are being transported and for what purpose," he said.


Row Over MLA's Payment 'Threats'

The NI secretary has been criticised for saying MLAs'
payments may be stopped if no progress is made towards
restoring devolution by the summer.

Peter Hain said he may halt salaries and allowances if
there is no movement.

Alliance leader David Ford said it was a "cheap shot"
whilst SDLP leader Mark Durkan called it a "flaky threat".

Ian Paisley Jnr, DUP, said unionists had "no appetite" to
share power with republicans. Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said
the suspension was "not tenable".

Last month, Mr Hain said real movement was needed if
assembly elections due in 2007 "are to have any meaning".

However, in an interview for BBC Radio Ulster's Inside
Politics programme on Saturday, he said he may go even

Mr Hain said assembly members were getting "£32,000
salaries... to do a job which they won't take
responsibility for doing".

"I'm not giving a particular month, but I am saying that if
we haven't seen progress by the summer, the first decision
I'm going to have to make is over continued payment of
salaries and also allowances," he said.

David Ford refuted the criticism saying: "For the secretary
of state to talk about MLAs 'refusing' to do the job for
which they were elected is blatantly untrue.

"Alliance MLAs work to represent their constituents. We
have attended every meeting to which ministers have invited
us - and many more have been requested.

"We have put forward constructive and positive suggestions
for getting the assembly up and running."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Mr Hain's
"threats are going to have no effect on most senior
politicians who get their money from Westminster."

He added: "The real question is whether the government is
serious about progress or is it prepared to indulge some
parties further?"

Mr Durkan said: "The SDLP don't need threats, lectures or
hectoring from Peter Hain or anybody else.

"A clear sense of purpose and direction from the two
governments would go a lot further than flaky threats from
the secretary of state.

"The two governments should be putting it up to all the
parties that the institutions will be restored, and parties
will than have the opportunity and responsibility to show
what they are up for."

Ian Paisley, jnr, said his party had put a number of
proposals to the government to advance political


"There is no appetite within the unionist community for a
power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein and the DUP," he

"Lets face the reality, Sinn Fein are not ready for
democracy because they have proved themselves to eschew
every democratic principle in the book."

Gerry Adams said his party had worked with both governments
to try to get the political institutions revived.

"You can't have political institutions voted for by people
on both states in this island being kept indefinitely in
mothballs," he said.

"It is just not tenable that you have three years of
suspension of what almost amounts to a farce. Either we
have working institutions or we don't."

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in
October 2002 following the arrests of three men over

In December 2003, the House of Lords agreed that assembly
members would continue to receive a reduced salary of
£31,817 a year as they had "representative" duties and
constituency offices to run.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/07 17:13:40 GMT


DUP Aligned With Fianna Fáil In Their Desire To Keep Out An
Increasingly Popular Sinn Féin


Jeffrey Donaldson set out his party's stall in an RTÉ
interview this week. The DUP would gladly go into a
coalition government tomorrow and have the institutions at
Stormont up and running again the next day, provided Sinn
Féin were excluded from taking part. If it was only the
DUP, the UUP and the SDLP in the Cabinet there would be no

The reason Jeffrey gave for insisting on Sinn Féin's
exclusion were twofold: one, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has
stated that Sinn Féin is not a fit partner for government
in the 26 counties, so how could it be otherwise in the six
counties; two, Minister O'Donoghue stated just last week
that despite last July's announcement, the IRA still exists
and continues to operate as a private army. How could this
be acceptable North of the border, but not so in the South?

I almost got depressed listening to Jeffrey. In fact, I was
forced to remind myself that politicians – even DUP
politicians – often exercise blatant economy with the truth
in media interview situations, and that they often use an
interview to reinforce a particular view or emphasise a
particular line for the benefit of a particular
constituency while at the same time developing a totally
different policy to be revealed at a future date.

Sometimes, even, politicians feel they need to spin their
own base a yarn in order to create the space in which a new
departure can be launched. No, you're right… it's much more
likely that Jeffrey Donaldson's one and only policy is that
the DUP should be allowed to form a voluntary coalition
government with the UUP and the SDLP.

That would, of course, be neanderthal unionist heaven, a
return to the old days of a pre-1969 Stormont but with the
added attraction of having the SDLP as a green dickie.

Needless to say, Jeffrey's dream is never going to come
true, and for a number of reasons; for a million reasons.
For a start, the system that Jeffrey hankers after does not
exist in the six counties any more. It will never come
back. For over 30 years the simple message to the unionists
has been, share power in government or go without

For a second start, if the SDLP were ever foolish enough to
enter into such a 'voluntary coalition' with unionists,
while excluding Sinn Féin from power – and I fully accept
that there are forces within that party who would find such
a proposition more than tempting – it would be the end of
them. The plain fact of the matter is that Sinn Féin is the
majority, nationalist party in the six counties and it is
the one which will represent the bulk of Northern
nationalists if and when regional government gets going
here again.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State, Peter Hain came out with a
very strange statement over the holiday period, when he
indicated that unless the DUP and Sinn Féin managed to come
together and reform the Stormont Assembly and Executive, he
would cancel the elections that are set to be held in 2007.
Strange because he seems to be telling the DUP to hold on
as they are and they will get everything they want.

The DUP do not want to do business with Sinn Féin. As
Jeffrey Donaldson said this week, the DUP do not want to
form a government with Sinn Féin and would much prefer to
have the whole system of a regional parliament scrapped
altogether, rather than be forced into a powersharing
coalition with the main nationalist party.

Hain seemed to be saying that if the DUP continue to refuse
to take part in the system they don't want for another
year, then they will be rewarded by being allowed the
system they do want. Strange because there is no incentive
for the DUP to sit down with Sinn Féin.

An ultimatum can only work if the recipients are left in no
doubt that the alternative to doing as requested will be
much worse for them. The Secretary of State seemed to be
telling the DUP that the alternative to reforming the
institutions at Stormont with Sinn Féin will be much better
for them!

Similarly, Sinn Féin can no longer take a sharp intake of
breath and look serious and worried and infer that if
progress is permanently stalled the situation may
deteriorate. The Republican movement has committed itself
to seeking to achieve its aims by solely democratic and
non-violent means, and there is no alternative that would
be worse for the Brits. No matter how frustrating the
situation may become, nor how slow-moving political
developments may be, nor how unlikely it may seem that they
get fair repayment for the IRA's decision to dump arms,
decommission and fade to black, still Sinn Féin can only
grin and bear it and plod on.

They can expect no help from the Irish government.

The last thing Bertie Ahern wants to see is a successful
powersharing Executive at Stormont with Martin McGuinness
as the Deputy First Minister and two or three other Sinn
Féin ministers running exemplary offices. Such a sight
could only help Sinn Féin attract votes and win more seats
in the Dáil next year, Sinn Féin seats which would be won
at the expense of Fianna Fáil.

Officially there is no Plan B, and all efforts are to be
devoted to achieving the reincarnation of the Stormont
institutions. Was Peter Hain inferring that should he be
forced to scrap the Assembly, the next step will be to
empower the seven, new district Councils?

The new local government set up will result in three
nationalist councils, three unionist and Belfast in
between. If they were given powers similar to that of
councils in the Republic, they could provide the basis for
government of the people by the people.

Imagine the councils west of the Bann, empowered and able
to co-operate with their counterparts in Donegal, Sligo,
Leitrim, Cavan Monaghan on issues such as health,
education, tourism and economic development. There I go
again, trying to read the minds of politicians…


BBC 'Revisionism' Charge

Relatives for Justice say programme was 'grossly
insensitive' in papers coverage

Jarlath Kearney

BBC Northern Ireland has been heavily criticised by
Relatives for Justice (RFJ) for alleged "gross
insensitivity" in television coverage of the 1975
government papers.

RFJ represents scores of relatives and victims affected by
state violence in the North. RFJ yesterday accused the BBC
of adopting a "revisionist agenda" regarding the content of
Cabinet Confidential broadcast on Wednesday night.

An RFJ spokesperson made the comments after receiving
complaints from victims' relatives who were upset by the

Wednesday's BBC programme featured film footage and pop
music from 1975, alongside commentary about the secret
government papers made public under the 30-year rule.

Accusing the BBC of having "airbrushed out" the role of
British soldiers and RUC in violence during 1975, RFJ said:
"One would have forgiven for thinking that British state
forces had killed no one."

"Similarly a scene detailing the attack on the Miami
Showband failed to state that members of the British army
were involved in the killings. Given the amount of loyalist
killings in which collusion is now evidenced, especially
within the mid-Ulster murder triangle from 1975, the fact
that the issue was not addressed in the overall context or
that it didn't even merit a mention is appalling."

The RFJ spokesperson also accused the BBC of displaying
"gross insensitivity" by accompanying footage of rescue
services digging through bomb rubble with a song by The
Eagles featuring the words 'I swear I'm going to find
you... I've been searching'.

"Our office received several calls from bereaved relatives
who were very upset, some of whom we have been visiting and
supporting throughout the day – their loved ones being
killed in bomb explosions.

"The BBC as a public body has yet to be designated under
the terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the
equality provisions which in effect would allow for a
series of measures aimed at achieving a more equitable,
balanced and representative public broadcasting body. Above
all, such a move would allow for public accountability.

"It is in this context that the victims of British state
violence, including state collusion, impact the least on
the BBC news agendas.

"There needs to be a push on both designation and change at
the BBC if it is ever to gain the confidence of the entire
community as a fair and impartial broadcaster," the RFJ
spokesperson said

Responding to RFJ's concerns, a BBC spokesperson told Daily
Ireland: "The programme is restricted to covering the
contents of the Cabinet papers of the time and is not
intended to be an investigative programme about the events
of 1975. The music chosen for Cabinet Confidential was
generic to that year and was not intended in any way to be


Tutu Chairs TV Attempt At Reconciliation

Jan Battles

A SERIES of meetings between Northern Ireland terrorists
and families of their victims has been organised for a
British television series by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Nobel peace prize winner has acted as a broker in
bringing victims and perpetrators of violence in the
Troubles together for the first time. Among those taking
part in the BBC2 series, Facing the Truth, is loyalist
killer Michael Stone.

The South African cleric, who headed his country's Truth
and Reconciliation Commission, was asked by the BBC to
chair six face-to-face encounters between those affected by
the conflict.

Tutu travelled to Northern Ireland last year to chair the
meetings, after the BBC spent a considerable time
persuading people to take part. He secretly met Stone and
relatives of Dermot Hackett, a Catholic killed by the
former terrorist, in October.

Hackett was 37 when he was shot 15 times as he drove his
bread van along the Omagh-Drumquin road in May 1987. Stone
was later convicted of this and five other killings.
Hackett's widow and brother confronted the former loyalist
paramilitary in a meeting.

The former Ulster Freedom Fighters hitman also launched a
grenade attack on mourners at an IRA funeral at Milltown
cemetery in 1988 targeting Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness
and Danny Morrison of Sinn Fein for assassination. Stone
was sentenced in 1989 to 684 years imprisonment for six
murders and six attempted murders, but was released under
the Good Friday agreement.

The BBC, which is still editing the footage from the
confrontations, said: "In these compelling encounters,
victims question perpetrators directly as they try to get
to the truth."

The broadcaster said the programmes do not try to achieve a
reconciliation between the parties involved but there was
some catharsis. "Victims tell their stories about the human
costs of what the perpetrators have done; and perpetrators
acknowledge the pain and suffering they have caused,
revealing crucial details about their acts of violence," it

The secrecy surrounding the meetings has been criticised by
some victims' groups who said it would have been better to
have the confrontations conducted in the open.

A BBC spokesman would not reveal any other of the
participants in the show but said people "from all sides of
the conflict" would feature. It is believed a former IRA
member, a police officer and a British soldier are among
those who will meet victims or their relations in the
series. Tutu was not available for comment.

Facing the Truth, which will be presented by Fergal Keane,
is to be screened in March.


Rees Remembered For Failing Powersharing - Says Durkan

Friday 6th January 2006

Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Lord Merlyn-Rees
- who died yesterday aged 85 - will be remembered for his
'lack of purpose' in underpinning powersharing, SDLP leader
Mark Durkan told the 'Journal' last night.

Lord Merlyn-Rees, who served as Merlyn Rees in the
governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, died in
St. Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth, south London.

The politician had suffered a number of falls and lapsed
into a coma from which he never regained consciousness, his
family said.

He was already wellbriefed when he became Northern Ireland
Secretary in 1974. But he took over at a time when the
powersharing Northern Ireland Executive had been in

But the general election had produced a Protestant
parliamentary victory opposed to the whole principle of

The great threat, therefore, came from the combined
political and military forces of loyalism.

This led to the loyalist strike during which Rees refused
to talk to loyalist workers, yet also refused to act
against them.

By the end of the strike, the Ulster Workers' Council had
effectively taken control of the entire country and
shattered the delicate balance of political power.

Then, Rees moved towards an all-party convention, but he
was criticised for indecision and especially for failing to
communicate to the loyalists the need for them to make
concessions if they wanted the Union to survive.

He was, however, determined to complete his policy of
ending detention without trial. This was eventually done a
few weeks before Christmas, and along with that the ending
of special status for prisoners - his "proudest personal

Derry MP Mark Durkan told the 'Journal': "While all who
dealt with Merlyn Rees record him as being genial and nice,
he is not generally remembered as a strong Secretary of

"His lack of purpose let the Sunningdale Agreement go. He
subsequently failed to assert the basic principles of
power-sharing and North-South cooperation. His decisions in
the security field sowed the seeds of later problems.

"Neither was his record as Home Secretary a distinguished
one when it came to miscarriages of justice cases - such as
the Guildford Four, Guiseppe Conlon and the Birmingham Six
- and he was even neglectful in political relations with
the Irish Government.

"I recognise that he was well regarded in the Labour Party
and British politics for his other political contributions
and his gracious manner."


From Graphic Designer To Gun Runner To MI5 Agent ... The
Strange Life And Ugly Death Of Lindsay Robb


HE was a gun-runner, a loyalist terrorist, a Nazi
sympathiser, a Special Branch and MI5 agent, a suspected
drug dealer and a man with shadowy connections to
Scotland's underworld. Lindsay Robb's life, times and
crimes increased the chances that he would one day meet a
violent, ugly and early death.

On Hogmanay, Robb, originally from Northern Ireland,
finally did meet that violent and early end when he was
butchered in the street in the east end of Glasgow –
stabbed to death in front of dozens of shoppers. The 38-
year-old ended his life in a pool of blood. His last words
were: "I'm dying, I'm dying".

Despite the brutality of his life and death, Robb was also
a loving father, a devoted son, a devout Christian and a
man who denied every allegation of wrong-doing ever laid
against him.

Robb came to public attention when he appeared as a Crown
witness in Northern Ireland against prominent Irish
Republican Colin Duffy, who was charged with the 1993
killing of an ex-soldier in Robb's home town, Lurgan in
County Armagh. In 2000, Robb finally admitted in an
interview with the Sunday Herald that the evidence he gave
had been concocted in a deal hatched between Ulster
police's Special Branch and the UVF to put the notorious
Duffy behind bars. Robb said that RUC officers approached
the UVF after the IRA killed former soldier John Lyness and
asked them to provide a "clean" witness who would implicate
Duffy in the murder.

At this point, Robb was working as a graphic designer. He
was clean-cut, well-educated, intelligent, articulate and
charming. Underneath this, however, he was a dangerous
player in the UVF.

The UVF had tried to kill Colin Duffy on a number of
occasions and he was also loathed by Special Branch. When
police approached the loyalist terror gang and asked them
to help come up with a fake witness to put Duffy behind
bars, Robb was the first choice.

Following his testimony, Duffy was jailed, although his
conviction was later quashed when Robb was sensationally
convicted of gun-running by a Glasgow court in 1995 – at
the time he was a key peace negotiator for the Progressive
Unionist Party.

After the Duffy prosecution, Robb had been advised by
police to go to Scotland "until the heat died down". Later,
in Perth prison, still looking every inch the respectable
young man making his first steps on the path of a promising
political career, he denied completely that he had been
involved in gun- running. "Why would someone who was trying
to bring about peace get involved in running guns?" he

Robb hinted that he had been set up by the RUC and British
intelligence. Whatever the truth, Robb was certainly a
member of the UVF. The jail term, however, was to change
his life forever. At the time he said presciently: "My
conviction has ruined my life."

Later, Robb was transferred from Scotland to serve out the
rest of his sentence in Ulster prisons. Within months, he
had turned from a clean-cut young man into someone who
looked like a shaven-headed, muscle-bound thug. Robb had
transformed into one of the "killer clones" – the young
loyalist prisoners who adopted the hoodlum looks and
attitudes of the big para military players on the inside.

Robb was the first loyalist prisoner released under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. A bright man,
he was refused admittance to Stirling University to study
politics because of his past.

His last days were spent in relative poverty eking out a
living as a jobbing builder and gardener. Claims that Robb
had a large amount of money with him at the time he was
killed have been dismissed by the police as nonsense.

Stirling University was perhaps Robb's last chance to free
himself from a life of crime, danger and violence. He had a
wife and young children by then and wanted to fulfil what
he saw as his real potential. But once his chance of an
education was scuppered he reverted to his old ways.

In 2002, he was among 26 Rangers fans charged with match
violence. After prison, he was dogged by claims that he was
linked to organised crime and drug dealing – allegations
that he passionately denied. He also became increasingly
paranoid, believing that he was constantly under state

Certainly, he had much to be paranoid about, including his
unwitting treachery not only to his own side, but also to
the man he said was his mentor and whom he hero-worshipped:
Billy Wright, the notorious killer and loyalist leader.

Intelligence sources have told the Sunday Herald that a
plot was established in 1995 – when Robb was part of the
Progressive Unionist Party's peace talks team – to jail

Once Robb had agreed to give evidence against Colin Duffy
for the killing of the ex-soldier in Lurgan he was "in the
intelligence system" and the British security apparatus had
its hooks into him. British intelligence encouraged him to
become more involved in UVF activities, and to increase his
credibility within loyalist paramilitary circles by using
his new base in Scotland to assist the UVF.

An intelligence source told the Sunday Herald: "The more
Lindsay's ego grew the easier he was to manipulate. He was
out of his depth and didn't realise it. He never realised
he was simply the means to catch a bigger fish – Billy

British intelligence suggested to Robb that he boost his
reputation with Wright by "getting some kit" – in other
words, guns – for the UVF through his connections in
Scotland. Thus was born the gun-running operation which
would lead to Robb's arrest and imprisonment.

But the UVF were getting suspicious about Robb, and Wright
was tipped off by trusted lieutenants to keep well away
from him. The plot failed to snare the loyalist godfather,
although it ended with Robb being convicted for gun-
running. Billy Wright was later murdered in prison by
republicans. The killing has also been dogged by rumours of
state collusion.

An intelligence source said: "Robb thought he would walk
away from the charges but he became the victim of internal
housekeeping. Once it was realised that Wright was
suspicious, the major target of the operation had gone so
something had to be salvaged. Robb was the fall guy – it's
as simple as that.''

Robb's final days were not marked by happiness. One close
friend, a prominent Scottish neo-Nazi, said that Robb had
asked to borrow money from him not long before his death
and was worried about the ill-health of one of his

"He was a good friend and a comrade who supported racialist
[sic] politics. I was supposed to be working with him on
the day he died, but couldn't due to family reasons.

"He was dropping a few friends off in Glasgow after work
and was going to collect his wages when he was killed. I'll
remember him as a man who could articulate his politics
intelligently, and I will miss him."

08 January 2006


The Yob Culture

Thousands of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been made in
England and Wales. But less than 10 have been served in
Northern Ireland. Crime Correspondent Jonathan McCambridge
examines the controversial legislation

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
07 January 2006

Teenagers in high-powered tractors recently caused a stir
by annoying residents in sleepy Ballycastle, Co Antrim, by
revving their engines outside homes in the early hours of
the morning. Last summer rioting youths caused millions of
pounds of damage in north and west Belfast when they went
on the rampage during the marching season, leading to
scores of arrests and injuries to hundreds of police

While on the surface it might seem that these two sets of
events are at separate ends of the crime scale, they might
have a common resolution. Controversial Anti-Social
Behaviour Orders (Asbos) have been suggested to control and
deter both the Belfast rioters and the tractor boys.

Asbos were introduced in England and Wales as part of the
1998 Crime and Disorder Act as one of the major planks of
New Labour's 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime'
agenda. They were designed to help prevent graffiti,
abusive and intimidating language, excessive late night
noise, dropping litter or drunken behaviour on the streets.

They were the Government's attempt to hit back against the
lawless youth culture best represented by Little Britain's
Vicky Pollard - the teenage delinquents who hang outside
off-licences trying to persuade those passing-by to buy
them 10 fags and a bottle of strong cider.

Asbos involve a court order which can include restrictions
on entering a geographical area or impose a ban on a
specific act. The original legislation determined that
juveniles, usually protected by law from being named, would
be identified to ensure the community involved knew about
the Asbo. An Asbo is not a criminal sanction but breaches
of the order are punishable by up to five years in jail and
they can be used against children as young as 10.

The gimmicky Asbos immediately proved both hugely popular
and hugely controversial in England, with police and the
local councils taking out thousands of the civic orders.
Their "name and shame" principles were a delight to the red
top media brigade.

Some communities who had previously been terrorised by
gangs of young thugs, reported that their lives had been
transformed overnight since an Asbo had been served.
Critics argued however that Asbos were merely displacing an
anti-social problem, rather than solving it.

According to figures obtained this week 6497 Asbos have
been issued in England and Wales since their introduction
in 1999. Of these 2,057 have applied to children aged 10 to

Inevitably - as with most high profile legislation -
pressure grew for the laws to be extended to Northern
Ireland, also suffering from the scourge of yob culture.

The Government announced Asbos were to become law in
Northern Ireland in August 2004.

However, almost from the beginning, the laws ran into
problems on this side of the Irish Sea. Several human
rights groups sought a judicial review to block Asbos,
claiming they had been introduced without a proper
consultation process. A legal challenge was launched and
subsequently rejected in court.

There were also concerns that Asbos could criminalise
children through the back door and possibly leave them
exposed to paramilitary punishment attacks, although the
Northern Ireland legislation included provision which gave
magistrates discretion not to name children.

It also emerged that some local police commanders were, at
best, lukewarm about the new Asbos. Several told their
local district policing partnership meetings that they did
not think the orders were the solution to low level crime.
But at the same meetings more and more people were coming
forward to tell how their lives were being ruined by the
scourge of young people engaged in anti-social behaviour -
exactly the problem Asbos were supposed to solve and which
police otherwise have limited powers to deal with.

In the six months after Asbos were first introduced in the
province not a single order had been served, causing much
anger within the political parties who had lobbied hard for
their introduction.

Following months of preparation work by the PSNI, Housing
Executive and local councils, a small number of Asbo
applications were eventually brought to court.

One of the first cases was against a south Belfast resident
who, neighbours complained, was playing his music too

Another was against members of the Travelling community who
were prohibited from entering the centre of the town of
Larne in a vehicle following complaints of illegal camping.

There have also been calls for Asbos to be used against
unruly students who created havoc in the Holy Land area of
Belfast during Saint Patrick's Day celebrations.

While the number of Asbos served in England and Wales has
soared to over 6,000, in Northern Ireland only six Asbo
applications had been made in courts towards the end of

However, the Belfast Telegraph can now reveal that police
have recommended to the Public Prosecution Service that
Asbos should be used against rioters who brought shame and
disgrace to Belfast last summer.

Serious disorder erupted in the Ardoyne area of north
Belfast on July 12 last year as nationalist youths attacked
police following the passing of an Orange parade.

In August loyalists rioted following police searches on the
Crumlin Road at the height of a paramilitary feud. Even
more serious violence erupted later in the summer following
unionist outrage at the re-routing of the Whiterock Parade
in West Belfast. Hundreds of police officers were hurt over
the summer and scores of plastic baton rounds were
discharged - the first time they had been used in almost
three years in the province.

One factor which linked all the riot situations was the
youth of those who were involved in the violence. Police
recorded hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and dozens of
charges have since followed. Police have now recommended to
the courts that eight of the people who have been charged
with riotous offences in north Belfast should be served
with Asbos if they are convicted. This could see them
prohibited from entering areas where riots have taken place
or barred from taking part in actions deemed aggressive.

North Belfast Chief Inspector Nigel Grimshaw said police
believed Asbos could be "useful and beneficial" in the area
of riotous disorder.

A PSNI spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph that police
had made the recommendation over Asbos but a final decision
would rest with the Public Prosecution Service and the
magistrate in court.

However, Asbos could also be used to tackle more low level
public nuisances - including the bizarre problem of noisy
tractors in a Co Antrim seaside town. Teenagers in high
powered tractors in Ballycastle have recently also been
warned that they too could have Asbos slapped on them.

Police in the town have received complaints about tractor
drivers out socialising. There have been reports of loud
engines and loud music being played.

Chief Inspector Paul Bailie said: "People say they are
being tormented by young fellas driving tractors at night,
playing music, revving engines and shining spotlights in
the Ballywillan Park area.

"What we intend to do is that people like these tractor
drivers will get maybe two warning letters, then an
Acceptable Behaviour Contract. If that fails, then we will
enter the Anti-Social Behaviour process as this tractor
driving behaviour is anti-social."

As the tractor example shows, Asbo legislation is flexible
and can be used against any activity which is judged in
court to have caused "harassment, alarm or distress".

Famously North London's Camden council once attempted to
slap Asbos on the bosses of Sony Music following complaints
about illegal fly-posting.

The council took the unprecedented action in 2004 following
more than 1,000 complaints from local residents. Sony
originally denied they were involved in illegal fly-posting
while the council claimed the company saved millions in
advertising costs by fly-posting on everything from shop
hoardings to pillar boxes.

Sony only escaped the Asbo after their bosses promised not
to commission any more illegal fly-posting in the borough.

Former UDA terror boss, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair was also
threatened with an Asbo after he admitted in court beating
his wife Gina in Bolton. The once-feared figure faced the
humiliation of having his face on posters plastered all
around his new home in the north-west of England.

Lately it has emerged that the Labour Government is now
studying plans to introduce 'Baby Asbos' aimed at children
under 10 years of age. The idea has proven even more
controversial than the original Asbos as it will target
children below the age of criminal responsibility.

Despite the ongoing controversy, the Government points out
that many of the so-called yobs who are ruining peoples'
lives are juveniles - and they insist they are often under
10 years of age. While the solution might seem extreme when
dealing with very young children, it is worth remembering
that police reported that kids as young as five were
involved in rioting in Belfast last year.

And although Asbos have been used sparingly so far in
Northern Ireland they could become a routine part of our
law and order system. Police in Banbridge were recently
called to the Brookfield estate in the town 16 times in one
week because of anti-social activities and have warned that
Asbos may be served.

A public meeting was recently held in Derry to discuss
Asbos, Coleraine council has sent out nine warning letters
and Lisburn police have discussed the difficulties in
obtaining an Asbo with their local District Policing

As public anger over yob culture increases, it seems that
the pressure for more and more Asbos to be served will
become irresistible.


Celtic: 'IRA Chant Video May Be Fake'

Footage of Hartson and Pearson featuring sectarian shouts
'could have been doctored'

By Liam McDougall, Home Affairs Editor

CELTIC are investigating claims that a film showing two of
its players taking part in a drunken sing-song was
overdubbed with sectarian chants.

The Sunday Herald understands that the club have had
footage of striker John Hartson and winger Stephen Pearson
analysed and believe that the clip was doctored to include
shouts of "IRA!" and "Sinn Fein!"

Fury erupted last week after it emerged that the two
international footballers were filmed at a late-night party
with fans who appeared to shout support for the Irish
terrorist group during pauses in a rendition of the club
anthem, The Fields Of Athenry.

Politicians attacked the players over the footage and anti-
sectarian charity Nil By Mouth said it had written to
Celtic demanding that the club investigate the matter. But
last night sources revealed that the club had received word
that the footage, which first came to light after it was
posted on football supporters' websites last week, had the
sectarian shouts added later. The sources also said that
the club believed that the copy was "not of a high

The incident happened at a testimonial party in Donegal in
Ireland for former Celtic captain Jackie McNamara. Hundreds
of fans turned up alongside players and backroom staff at
the four-star Clanree Hotel in April to pay tribute to the
Scotland star.

In the grainy film clip, taken on a mobile video phone,
Pearson is seen joining in with the Irish folk tune as
revellers in the background shout sectarian slogans during
pauses in the song. Hartson, wearing a black striped shirt,
is also shown on the film hugging fans and bouncing around.
Both players have admitted singing along to the terraces'
favourite, but have strongly denied any IRA shouts.

The claims that two high-profile players were caught up in
a sectarian storm are especially embarrassing for Celtic,
who, along with Rangers, have been at the forefront of
anti-sectarian drives. The club has also stated its
opposition to the promotion of paramilitary organisations.

Last night a source suggested that it was easy to doctor
film clips. He said: "You can buy software for around £30
that can allow you to manipulate sound and images on video
phones. It does not take much technical expertise to
overdub sound on these things."

A Celtic spokesman would only say that the club had
launched an inquiry into the possibility that the players
had been involved in the anti-sectarian shouts. A spokesman
said: "We are investigating various aspects of this. I am
not in a position to comment further."

Donald Gorrie, the Liberal Democrat MSP who campaigned for
anti- sectarian laws, said: "The clubs have to lead on
putting out the message that enthusiastic supporters are a
good thing, but there has to be a limit."

Patrick Sweeney, who organised the function, said: "The
players were a credit to Celtic football club that night. I
don't recall IRA chants."

Both the players' agents have rejected any claims of
wrongdoing. Yesterday Celtic also said that any suggestion
their players had taken part in sectarian behaviour was
"utterly laughable".

The spokesman added: "The club and players are both
considering their legal options. Both players freely admit
they joined in the singing of The Fields of Athenry, a
well-known and popular Irish folk song, at a supporters'
event in Ireland. But they absolutely did not join in any
sectarian chanting."

A spokesman for Nil By Mouth urged Celtic to fully
investigate the matter and publicise its findings.

08 January 2006


Guantanamo Bay Force Feeding Raises Painful Memories For
Irish Republicans

Evan Short,
January 6, 2006

Former prisoners of recent British penal history recall the
trauma of torture and forced feeding, now happening to
Muslim hunger strikers

January 11 marks the fourth anniversary of detainees being
held in the US Military Detention Centre in Guantanamo Bay.

In what has become one of the most contentious issues
surrounding the so-called war on terror, men and boys who
were arrested by the US Army after the invasion of
Afghanistan and labelled "unlawful combatants" were
transferred to the camp in Cuba.

The UN special rapporteur on torture has revealed that
there are allegations that Guantanamo hunger strikers are
being force-fed in a cruel manner.

Manfred Nowak's comments came after it emerged that the
number of detainees refusing food at the prison camp had
more than doubled since December 25.

Some 84 inmates are now refusing food, according to the US

But a Pentagon official said there was no evidence that
they had been treated in an inappropriate way.

Denied access to a judicial process and forced to live in
what human rights groups have described as 'dog kennels'
that offer little protection from the elements, prisoners,
some believed to be as young as 13, have in the words of
Amnesty International been involved in a "travesty of

Such shocking abuses bring back painful memories for New
Lodge man Sam Millar. The former republican prisoner – now
a major selling author – was the longest man on the blanket
protest. He said watching the scenes from the horror camp
were extremely distressing.

"When I look at what is going on in Guantanamo Bay and
compare it with what happened to us, the parallels are
frightening. It is worse than internment what is going on
out there."

Sam Millar believes the issue of Guantanamo goes beyond the
question of Afghanistan.

"I think there should be absolute outrage at what's going
on, but for some reason it just doesn't seem to be a big
issue. The way it is portrayed as well, they make you
become immune to it."

He said he also fears for ordinary Americans, who he
believes will suffer because of the country's policies.

"The telephone transcripts that have been released of the
prisoners on the phone would break your heart. I am afraid
this will alienate ordinary Americans from the rest of the
world because of what their government is doing," he said.

In recent weeks, as we approach the fourth anniversary of
the camp opening, chilling new reports have emerged that
forced with a growing hunger strike campaign by the
detainees, the military has instigated a new regime of
force feeding.

Described by the US military as "providing appropriate
nutrition through nasal tubes" the grim reality of force
feeding was described in detail by Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly
in an interview with the North Belfast News in 2004.

"They press their knuckles into your jaws and press in
hard. The way they finally did force feed me was getting
forceps and running them up and down my gums," he said.

"I opened my mouth, but I was able to resist after that,"
said the Sinn Féin man in the interview.

"Then they tried – there's a part of your nose, like a
membrane and it's very tender – and they started on that.
It's hard to describe the pain. It's like someone pushing a
knitting needle into the side of your eye. As soon as I
opened my mouth they put in this wooden bit with a hole in
the middle for the tube. They rammed it between my teeth
and then tied it with cord around my head.

"Then they got paraffin and forced it down the tube. The
danger is that every time it happens you think you're going
to die. The only things that move are your eyes.

"They get a funnel and put the stuff down."

Affidavits from the prisoners in Guantanamo describe how
the torture victims vomited up "substantial amounts of
blood" while being fed through their nose.

The US Military has denied that torture takes place in
Guantanamo Bay and says there was not truth in the

However, by admitting to force feeding prisoners for
republicans like Gerry Kelly, these words will have a
hollow ring to them.

January 6, 2006


The World Considers Its Nuclear Options

08 January 2006 By David McWilliams

Just when the two governments are more or less singing from
the same hymn sheet on the North, Ireland and Britain are
on the brink of the mother and father of all rows. The
issue is nuclear power, Sellafield and the likelihood that
Tony Blair is going to signal huge investment in Britain's
nuclear power programme for the first time since the 1960s.

According to one of the most senior British diplomats in
Dublin, the only major remaining faultline between the two
nations is Sellafield and, if Britain goes ultra-nuclear in
May, this problem will get much worse.

Before this week, many in London regarded more nuclear
investment as almost a sure thing. In its New Year
forecast, The Financial Times suggested that a new nuclear
drive was practically guaranteed.

The events of recent days have greatly enhanced the
credibility of the pro-nuclear argument. Russia's bellicose
decision to block gas supplies to Ukraine and, as a result,
to undermine the stability of gas supplies to the EU, sent
shockwaves through western capitals - even if the cracks
were papered over in a deal between the two.

The main geopolitical reason for Britain and others
renewing their love affair with nuclear power is the
instability of global supplies of energy. Areas with
mineral resources, particularly oil, are more volatile than

From Iran to Venezuela, many of the world's major oil
producers are at best unfriendly to the west and, at worst,
openly hostile. Russia, on the other hand - which will hold
the presidency of the G8 in February - is keen to present
itself as a supplier that the west "could do business

That proposition has been greatly weakened by its move
against Ukraine last week, which has more to do with
adolescent smarting over Moscow's loss of influence in Kiev
following the Orange Revolution, than the profits of
Russia's gas giant Gazprom. This view is made more concrete
by the fact that Russia still sells its gas to its pliant
client state, Belarus, for half nothing.

But Russia's behaviour only seems irrational to non-
Russians. If you are sitting in the Kremlin, your world
view is shaped by Napoleonic and Hitlerian nightmares of
invasion from the west. So when the nice cuddly EU moves
into your backyard and flirts with your former chattel
Ukraine, you get nervous.

You do not see the innocent march of western democracy, you
see yet another threat to Russia's security. So you react
with the only weapon you have - energy.

And you know what, the west suddenly wakes up!

Back in Downing Street, how would you read the situation?
You might conclude that, with Iran threatening to "wipe
Israel off the face of the earth'', Venezuela on a
collision course with Uncle Sam, and Russia now sabre-
rattling on the Dnieper, securing your own energy resources
has never been more critical.

Add to this the fact that the Chinese government, via its
largest companies, has spent the past four years buying up
major positions in global commodities organisations and you
will realise that there is a new arms race on the horizon -
it is the race for control of resources.

Although you denied it at the time and hid behind the
charade of WMD, your move into Iraq was based on the same
energy premise. So why not time your military pullout from
Iraq to coincide with an announcement of renewed nuclear
investment at home? In away, there is perfect symmetry
between both moves, that which you could not secure abroad
(dependable energy supplies), you can at least guarantee at
home (through nuclear power).

Britain is not alone in going for the nuclear option. China
has announced 27 new nuclear plants and, in all, 50 new
nuclear power plants have been announced worldwide in the
past two years.

We have also seen 60 new uranium plants opening in the same
period. Even when these 27 new Chinese plants come online,
uranium will only provide 4 per cent of China's energy

China's moves are prompted by the same fears that are
driving the British. By 2030,China expects to be depending
on unstable oil imports for 82 per cent of its energy

India's position is even more precarious - on present
trends it will be importing 94 per cent of its oil by 2030.

Other countries, such as environmentally friendly Finland,
are citing environmental rather than geostrategic reasons
for a new-found love affair with nuclear power. The
depletion of the ozone layer is well known and caused by
the illegal use of CFCs. Estimates vary, but most indicate
that ozone depletion over the North and South Poles ranges
from 45 per cent to 20 per cent. Skin cancer, the rampant
killer of the past 20 years would be considerably less
common had this not been the case.

And what about global warming?

Have you ever experienced a Canadian winter? Apparently, it
gets very cold for long periods. And yet here in balmy
Dublin, we are actually further north than freezing
Montreal. However, as we all learned in "nature class'' in
national school, the warm gulf stream keeps us toasty in
winter. This is now threatened.

The gulf stream is a large conveyor belt that drags warm
Caribbean water up to us and a crucial part of the process
that displaces cold with warm water is the ocean's

Because of global warming, resulting from the burning of
fossil fuels, the polar ice caps are melting.
Oceanographers are worried that, as the polar ice caps
melt, the resulting increases in freshwater into the seas
will affect the sensitive balance that drives this oceanic
conveyor belt.

So what are we to do? Having written on this subject
before, I realise that it prompts significant emotions, all
of which are legitimate. However, debate is not served by
sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that the
world is not re-examining nuclear power as a real option.

There is equally little point in trying to influence an
argument that frequently moves from the narrow parameter of
whether nuclear power is an option to a full-on shouting
match about so many ancillary issues that the core point
tends to get lost. Suffice to say that all sides on the
Sellafield issue are girding their loins for an explosive
barney when Britain, as expected, unveils its new nuclear
programme in May.

One angle worth exploring is the personal financial
implications of this new nuclear age. In the financial
markets, the price of spot uranium has risen from a low of
$8 in 1999 to a high of $35. Uranium stocks are rising
rapidly and they have, from the investor's perception at
least, the advantage of being largely based in Canada, the
US and Australia.

The market is clearly signalling a boom in nuclear-related
stocks and, given that it takes so long for plants and
demand to come on-stream, this may go on for some time. So
it may well be worth a punt. There's one home for your
maturing SSIA cash that you might not have thought about!

David McWilliams' book The Pope's Children – Ireland's New
Elite, published by Gill & Macmillan, is in shops now.


Gay Delight At Rainbow Shamrock

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday January 8, 2006
The Observer

In a move designed to make St Patrick's Day a more neutral
celebration, Belfast City Council is to ditch the
traditional green shamrock with its republican connotations
and introduce a multi-coloured version at this year's

The council forgot, however, that the colours of the
rainbow also make up the flag of the gay community across
the world, prompting delight from the city's gay rights
campaigners. Others accuse councillors of being
'politically correct' and 'daft'.

The rainbow shamrock, suggested by the St Patrick's Day
Carnival Committee, is one of a series of changes
instigated by City Hall. Irish tricolours, Glasgow Celtic
tops and republican bands will not be welcome; the red-and-
white Cross of the St Patrick flag will be.

James Knox, a policy director at the Belfast-based gay
pressure group the Rainbow Project, described the shamrock
colour change as 'hilarious, but also an opportunity.' It
is said to be encouraging the gay community to apply to
march in the parade on 17 March.

Sinn Fein councillors at City Hall said it would be
'brilliant' if the gay community joined the carnival.

But Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers, a former lord
mayor of the city, called the rainbow Shamrock 'silly and
politically correct'.

For the first time in its history Belfast City Council
passed a motion last week calling for financial support for
the carnival. A combination of Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance
votes secured £100,000 for the festival's organisers. In
return they agreed to a set of guidelines aimed at making
the carnival more politically and culturally neutral.


Viewpoint: No Room For Apathy In War On Crime

07 January 2006

Although paramilitary activity is receding, crime remains a
major problem in Northern Ireland. Data published by the
Police Service for the period from April to November shows
that in certain areas, crime rates have shown an alarming

After several years in which the figures reflected an
improving picture, there will be concern that the overall
crime rate is starting to increase. On average, 340 crimes
are being reported to the PSNI every day, 3% higher than
last year.

Of most concern will be the steady rise in violent crime,
which has gone up by 5%. This covers incidents such as
robbery and sexual offences, cases which invariably leave
the victim shocked and traumatised.

As ever, these statistics are a mixed bag. In some parts of
the province crime is down but in others there has been an
exponential rise.

Sometimes this can be explained by exceptional
circumstances - such as in the case of west Belfast where
the 24.2% increase is in large part accounted for by the
trouble which followed the Orange Order's Whiterock parade
in September.

But in general, these figures will do nothing to allay the
worries many people have about their personal safety. Many
people, particularly the elderly, live in a state of fear
in their homes, fearful of venturing out after dark.

Despite the major investment in the PSNI, it is still
uncommon to see police out on the beat, either in city
street or suburban avenue. While the Dixon of Dock Green
days are gone for ever, the sight of officers on patrol can
still have a huge impact in deterring criminals and
reassuring the law-abiding public.

Cracking down on crime is a complex issue, and something
that involves not just the PSNI but the entire community.
People should reduce their exposure to crime by locking
doors and cars, while parents need to ensure that their
children are not mixing in bad company.

Politically, the PSNI is still hampered in its operations
in nationalist areas by the Sinn Fein boycott, an issue
which must be addressed this year. Every community needs
proper policing, and anyone who imagines that paramilitary
justice can offer a satisfactory alternative is deluded.

For its part, the PSNI must improve response times, which
are still unacceptably lengthy. And the courts need to
ensure that when criminals are brought to book, the
sentence is a sufficient deterrent.

The Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, has told the Policing Board
that an increase in crime is to be expected. But these
figures show that neither he nor his senior officers have
any room for complacency.


Opin: Let's Welcome Noam Chomsky And Respect His Right To Free Speech

Diarmuid Doyle

YOU can tell how often a man is right by the noise of
jeering when he gets it wrong.

So said a wise old sage.

Actually, I just made it up, and I don't think it'll make a
book of quotations anytime soon, but it'll do as good as an
introduction to yet another column on a genuine wise old
sage, Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky, as you'll surely be aware by now, is scheduled to
make a visit to Ireland next week to give the Amnesty
International lecture at Trinity College, Dublin. In
advance of his visit, he was persuaded to make some mild
observations on Irish foreign policy, accusing the
taoiseach of being a poster boy for the US and of shining
George Bush's shoes. Personally speaking, I thought he was
being far too polite, and he might have addressed a few
words in the direction of Dermot Ahern, the government's
shoeshiner-in-chief, but he made his point well, and will
no doubt return to the subject during his lecture.

Other than the Irish Independent's decision to make
Chomsky's criticisms its lead story, the reaction to what
the professor said was fairly predictable. Those on the
left, who'd been saying much the same for the last few
years, shrugged and got on with enjoying their Christmas
holidays. Those on the right, for whom Chomsky's mainly
accurate, though often savage, criticism of US foreign
policy, represents the unacceptable face of free speech,
recycled the usual untruths and falsehoods about his
career, and invented a few others.

He is not an uncontroversial man, in other words.

If you've not followed his career, either as a professor of
linguistics . . . his day job, if I can put it like that .
. . or as a critic and commentator on world events,
especially in so far as they are influenced by US foreign
policy, it's difficult to provide a clear sense of just how
controversial he is. Suffice it to say that he believes
that most of the recent US presidents could, if you applied
the standards of the Nuremberg trials, be tried for war
crimes. The US assault on Fallujah in November 2004, in
which hundreds of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered by US
troops, involved "war crimes for which the political
leadership could be sentenced to death under US law", he
wrote last year. (You can read much of his writing on, which also includes some of the many
interviews which have been done with him around the world,
including the hostile ones. ) The reaction from the usual
right-wing nutters on the internet is hostile, to say the
least. Conspiracy theories abound. Chomsky is accused of
supporting mass murder, and lazy remarks he made in the
1970s about the nature of the genocide in Cambodia are
treated as definitive proof that he is some kind of
terrorist. (He has since amended those remarks, and now
agrees that what happened in Cambodia was genocide, but his
critics prefer to hold him to account for his original
remarks, rather than the clarified version. ) The most
recent controversy involving Chomsky to be chewed over on
the internet involves an interview he gave to The Guardian
newspaper in London a few weeks ago. The Guardian
subsequently pulled the interview, which was done by a
journalist called Emma Brockes, from its website, following
complaints from readers and from Chomsky himself.

To the anti-Chomskyites, these complaints were a sign that
their nemesis was unable to take the kind of criticism
which he regularly doles out himself. Brockes, who was, to
say the least of it, sceptical about Chomsky, was held up
as a heroine for her chutzpah in taking on the great man;
The Guardian was vilified for removing the interview from
the website.

What actually happened was that Brockes invented a quote
from Chomsky, whom she presented as having raised doubts
about the massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war.
She quoted him as saying that the "massacre" was probably
overstated, and then accused him of putting the word
massacre in quotation marks to undermine the importance and
seriousness of what had happened. "In print at least, " she
wrote, "it can come across less as academic as witheringly
teenage; like Srebrenica was so not a massacre."

Chomsky never denied there was a massacre at Srebrenica,
never used quotation marks when writing about it. The
furthest he ever went was to defend the right of an author
called Diana Johnstone to express controversial views on
the Bosnian war. There were other problems with The
Guardian interview and its presentation, and ultimately the
newspaper apologised as well as withdrawing the article
from its website. That, of course won't stop the
antiChomskyites from claiming for years to come that the
professor denied there was a massacre at Srebrenica.

Chomsky has a reputation as being a man of the far left,
although it seems to me that his views are more mainstream
than they have ever been. Where once he seemed like a
radical, he is now in a position where the warnings he has
issued for decades about the imperial, acquisitive and
dangerous nature of US foreign policy have become widely
accepted fact.

He has stayed true to himself and watched as events
unfolded more or less as he predicted them. He has been
wrong on occasion . . . of course he has . . . but he is
more accurate in his analysis than his critics would have
you believe.

That is the man who will fly into Dublin next week, not
some crypto-terrorist on a mission to undermine democracy
and the rule of law.

You don't have to agree with him, but he deserves your
respect and the favour of not having his views
misrepresented at every turn.


Opin: Tough Questions For That Demigod Of Irish Journalism, Noam Chomsky

Richard Delevan

THE only time, in Ireland, I've heard Noam Chomsky
interrupted was about three years ago. I'd taken a shortcut
through Trinity's campus when something broke the Delphic
walkman soliloquy.

The interlocutor was Newstalk's George Hook; the
interjection sounded like a long, satisfying belch but was
in fact an extended "rrrrrrrrf" of affirmation, punctuating
Chomsky's wheeze on sinister American plans to dominatef
outer space.

What the Bush Death Star would actually look like I didn't
mind, though I later checked the website of Project for a
New American Galaxy. Rather, I was agog that nearly a half-
hour had passed before the hopeless Hook reassured us he
had not expired in an ecstatic aneurysm, prostrate before
the Elvis-Che-Jesus-Bono of the academy.

Let's not be unfair to Hook, however. Chomsky has graced
the phone lines of most top Irish current affairs
programmes, and never has anyone in the Irish media, to my
knowledge, made any attempt meaningfully to challenge him
or even contextualise his comments for listeners with some
reminders about the professor's past statements.

(Except for past iterations of the sole message Chomsky has
peddled since 1967 . . . only America can do wrong, and all
wrong is done by America. Anyone who disagrees with Chomsky
is not just wrong, but evil. ) So I have some advice for
the Irish government after the long distance bitch-slap
Chomsky gave it last week, accusing Bertie of being Bush's
boot polish boy for allowing the US use of Shannon. Relax.
Consider the source. Wait till he's here.

Because unless Chomsky plans to repeat his 2002
"appearance" at UCD and webcam it in, he may be here long
enough actually to answer some questions not posed from a
kneeling position. That might bear uncomfortably close
resemblance to journalism, rather than hagiography.

In a 2002 Irish Times "interview" with Chomsky under the
byline of Johnny Ryan, Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying
that only undergrads take Chomsky seriously. I've never
seen the quote elsewhere, but I accept the attribution may
be accurate. Certainly the statement is true.

That the Johnny Ryan the Irish Times sent to interview
Chomsky was, in fact, a graduate student should also be
unsurprising, if ironic. That so many alleged grown-ups in
the Irish media melt at the mention of Chomsky, like a
sophomore with a crush on the lecturer, should be a cause
for concern.

No wonder he loves it here. For all his status as the Great
Thinker of Our Time, with nipple-pierced, doublebarrel-
named, Dalkeyreared anti-globalisation skate rats toting
identical copies of the fun-sized Chomsky' brand 9/11 tome
available at the Tower Records till with the other socially
conscious impulsebuy fashion accessories, the must-have
Little Red Book for the Naughties to signal your authentic,
unique, nobody-but-Noam-knowsthe-depths-of-me defiance of
all authority, the real Chomsky isn't one for being

So I'm offering some new questions for the lucky presenter
and producer who get Chomsky. (Print journalists are
unlikely to get a shot, after Chomsky made the Guardian
pull their November interview with him. The professor
apparently didn't like being revealed as dissing victims at
Srebrenica and dismissing Bosnian Muslims as the "Balkan
clients" of the US. ) First, a question for the lecture's
sponsors, Amnesty International. How do you justify
awarding this prestigious speaking platform to an
unrepentant Khmer Rouge apologist who, in a 1977 Nation
article arguing that reports of genocide in Cambodia's
killing fields were so much US propaganda, insisted that
those slaughtered "numbered at most in the thousands",
citing nonexistent studies in, among other places, the
Economist, when your own organisation put the number at 1.4
million dead, and others put it closer to two million?

(Chomsky still defends the statement. ) The rest of the
questions are for Chomsky.

In the preface you wrote to the 1980 memoir of French
Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, you judged him an
"apolitical liberal". You've also said you find nothing
anti-Semitic in Faurisson's denial of the existence of the
Nazi gas chambers or the Holocaust itself. Do you still
hold those beliefs?

Do you now admit you erred when you predicted the US
response to 9/11 in Afghanistan would lead to a "silent
genocide" with millions dead from starvation, when in fact
the collapse of the Taliban regime led to more food aid
reaching Afghans?

Do you regret the hypocrisy of placing the multimillion-
dollar earnings from your books and speaking fees . . .
which you reportedly raised by 33% within weeks of 9/11 . .
. into "irrevocable trusts" to protect your wealth, using
the very tax shelters you condemn when used by other
capitalists even more successful than you?

There are plenty of other questions for and about Chomsky,
almost all of which will be entirely new to Irish
audiences, because no one here has seen fit to ask them.
Email me for the rest of them.

If no one else has the stomach actually to put them to
Chomsky, I'm free.

Not because I'm any oratorical match for yer man. I'd
almost certainly be humiliated by the "eighthmost quoted
author" in history. But for once we'd hear something in a
Chomsky item other than adoring sighs . . . or agreeable


Opin: Time To Grab Nettle Of Our Past In Firm Hand

By Denis Bradley

I grew up in short trousers.

So did all my friends. We quickly learned that if we
brushed against a nettle, we got stung.

The adults liked to tell us young ones that if you grasped
a nettle hard, it wouldn't sting. The problem was that they
always told us that after we had already been stung and I
have no memory of ever seeing an adult firmly grasp a

Sinn Fein recently brushed against the nettle that is the
legacy of the last 35 years of death and they got badly
stung. They should take some comfort from the knowledge
that they are not the first. Everyone else who has been
foolish enough or brave enough to get in amongst that
particular legacy has also been stung.

The pity is that, having been stung, Sinn Fein took fright
and ran for cover. If they had stood their ground, borne
their pain and grasped the nettle even tighter, they would
have done themselves and the rest of us a great favour.

The British government and Sinn Fein had agreed legislation
to deal with what has been described as 'on the runs'.

When it reached the House of Commons, the Northern Ireland
(Offences) Bill not alone dealt with those 40 or so
republican men and women but anyone from the loyalist
groups and the security forces retrospectively found guilty
of similar illegalities.

It has aspects that are inappropriate and insensitive. It
is not necessary to have an open-ended timeframe and the
option of the accused to decline an appearance at the
tribunal is insensitive and probably verging on the amoral.

But, on the whole, it is by far the best stab the
government has made to grab this nettle. It is the closest
thing to an amnesty that we have come.

It would have been better if the legislation had gone the
whole hog and imposed an amnesty. It would have been better
to have gone the distance and drawn a line that forced
everyone, including the victims, to accept that the wrongs
and the horrors of the Troubles have to be laid to rest.

As per usual the Northern Ireland Office was as subtle and
as competent as a bull in a china shop.

And our former secretary of state Paul Murphy was no help.
He was well warned that everyone, the political parties and
all the victims groups, needed to be consulted and even
confronted with the possibilities, the difficulties and
ultimately the impossibility of dealing with and healing
the sores of the past.

Instead, Paul Murphy flew off to South Africa. I am not
totally clear what he learned there but I would have little
doubt that he discovered that the South Africans were well
and truly stung in their most honourable effort to embrace
truth and reconciliation and I would suspect that he was
advised to get rid of this nettle with as much dignity and
propriety as possible.

Successive Irish governments have been no great help. They
take a minimalist line.

Just do enough to keep the pressure on the British, while
warding off the horror of more tribunals that would delve
into their past.

It would be far healthier if all of us would admit that, so
far, we have made a mess of this area of our history.

In the vacuum created by the absence of politics, we have
allowed the sorrows and the hurts of the past to claim and
sustain an undue influence.

The two unionist parties are clear about their opposition
to the legislation that is now being discussed in the
Commons, but they are far from clear what their own
proposals are to deal with this mess.

They are relying on the SDLP to take the lead and make the

I think what they are proposing is well intentioned but I
have no idea and I believe they have no idea what the
consequences of their proposals are.

They talk about positive proposals for truth, recognition
and remembrance that put victims' rights at their heart.
Those are fine words but they could imply anything from a
victims' remembrance centre to 400 or more inquiries.

And, in my opinion, to put victims at the heart of this
issue is foolish and cruel.

It is not good therapy and it is worse politics.

The British should not remove the bill unless they are
going to replace it with a far more radical one.


Officials Probe CIA Denials On Prisoner Planes Landing Here

08 January 2006 By Paul T Colgan

Officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs have amassed
a large volume of documents on the CIA's 'extraordinary
rendition' programme, amid repeated claims that the US is
using Irish airports for covert operations in its so-called
'war on terror'.

Numerous aircraft, leased by the CIA and known to have been
involved in the abduction and transportation of suspected
al-Qaeda members, have passed through Shannon and Baldonnel
airports in recent years. Many of those abducted by the CIA
claim to have been taken to countries such as Egypt and
Afghanistan, where they have been tortured.

The US calls the practice 'extraordinary rendition'. The
Irish government's official position is that it is happy to
accept US assurances that no prisoners have been taken
through Irish airports, but foreign affairs officials
continue to monitor reports from around the world about the

In addition to seeking repeated clarifications from US
officials in Dublin and Washington, government staff have
collated information on the CIA operation from a wide range
of sources. They include records obtained from the US
Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), newspaper reports from
around the world and even information contained on
'blogging' websites.

Documents obtained by The Sunday Business Post under the
Freedom of Information Act show that the department has
been keeping a close eye on the affair since it was first
reported by this newspaper 17 months ago. Among the
documentation are scores of pages downloaded from websites
such as Indymedia, a left-wing blogging site that has
focused on landings at Shannon.

Also included is the lengthy script of the Swedish
television documentary that first helped to expose the CIA

The department refused to release a number of files,

:: background notes prepared by the department's security
policy section,

:: notes on meetings with US officials,

:: e-mails to and from US officials,

:: e-mails to and from the Irish embassy in Washington,

:: an e-mail from the permanent mission to the United
Nations in Geneva and

:: internal discussions between officials from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of

Specific information on US flights into Baldonnel military
airfield was also denied. An email between government
officials about flights into the base has the dates on
which specific planes landed blacked out.

It was reported recently that rendition flights have been
using Baldonnel for so-called "gas and go'' visits. The
Taoiseach's department refused to disclose any information
it had about extraordinary rendition on the grounds of
national security.

Internal e-mails and memos released from the Department of
Foreign Affairs reveal that officials at Iveagh House, the
Department of Transport, the Department of Justice and the
Department of the Taoiseach have worked closely on
government responses to the issue.

At some point early last year or in late 2004, officials
decided not to engage in discussion about the legality of
the CIA operation. A number of prominent legal experts and
human rights organisations have said that rendition
(meaning to surrender or hand over an individual) is banned
under international law.

They claim that, were Ireland to allow such flights through
its air space, it would be effectively facilitating torture
and kidnap.

While devising a draft reply to a question submitted by
Labour Party TD Ruairi Quinn, an unnamed official in
foreign affairs' political headquarters informed its legal
department that "we are proposing to answer this question
without delving into legal detail, consistent with the
approach we have taken to previous PQs [parliamentary
questions] on the subject''.

Following queries from this newspaper in November 2004
about the re-registration of one of the jets used by the
CIA, department officials made their own inquiries into the

The Gulfstream V jet, used by the CIA while flying through
Shannon, sometimes called the 'Guantanamo Bay Express', had
been re-registered with the US aviation authorities.

The re-registration meant that the plane's identification
number was changed from N379P to N8068V. Records show that
government officials trawled the FAA's online database to
confirm for themselves whether the jet, which was by then
landing in Ireland unnoticed, was the same jet originally
spotted refuelling in Shannon.

Minister for Transport Martin Cullen had told the Dáil
earlier that month that flights by N379P into Ireland had
ceased in 2003 and that none had taken place in 2004. He
did not mention that at least three flights by N8068V had
been logged at Shannon earlier that year.

In an e-mail from the Department of Foreign Affairs to
Cullen's department on November 22, 2004, an official said
the Irish embassy in Washington was seeking answers from
the FAA on the issue.

The e-mail discussed how to respond to questions about the
re-registration in the meantime.

Keen to avoid giving the impression that the government
believed the two jets to be the same, the official stated:
"If you and [blacked out] are inclined to go with the text
below, perhaps you might qualify the statement by referring
to 'an aircraft with registration number N8068V', rather
than 'this aircraft'."

The following week, speaking points for Dermot Ahern were
drafted by the security policy section at the Department of
Foreign Affairs.

Speaking points are used by ministers to prepare themselves
for questions that may later come up in the Dáil.

The points carried a note saying: "The US authorities have
confirmed to our embassy in Washington that Irish airports
have not been used for the transit of prisoners to and from
Guantanamo." This exact phrase is repeated in later
speaking points.

The vast majority of media reports, while noting the
presence of N379P at Guantanamo, instead focused on claims
that the plane was mainly used to transport prisoners to
locations in the Middle East and eastern Europe - not

The specific reference to Guantanamo leaves open the
possibility that the US authorities may not then have been
in a position to deny that the planes had carried prisoners
through Shannon to other locations, as alleged in numerous
media reports.

A Department of Transport information note faxed to the
Department of Foreign Affairs' security policy division six
days earlier had stated: "On no occasion did the aircraft
go from Shannon to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba," but it noted
that "the aircraft flew to airports or airbases in the UK,
USA or Canada''.

Ahern's speaking notes concentrated, however, on
allegations relating solely to Guantanamo. The same
document also notes that the US government had failed to
inform the Irish authorities about the plane's presence at

It stated: "No notification or application to operate this
aircraft was received by either the Department of Transport
or the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Department of
Transport is making further enquiries about why the airline
did not inform the Irish authorities about its operations
into Ireland."

The Irish Human Rights Commission has called on the
government to inspect any US flights through Shannon that
are suspected of carrying prisoners. It said the US
government should agree to inspections "as a matter of

Last week, it was revealed that 330,000 US troops passed
through Shannon in 2005, up from 158,549 in 2004.


Activists Demonstrate At Shannon

07/01/2006 - 18:27:09

Dozens of peace campaigners gathered at Shannon Airport
tonight for a vigil to mark the third anniversary of the
founding of a peace camp in protest against the use of the
airport by US troops.

The campaigners set up an overnight peace camp on the
approach road to the airport to commemorate the founding of
the original camp in 2003.

Mary Hughes, one of the organisers, said music and
entertainment would take place at the camp rather than an
active protest.

"We felt it was important to hold the vigil as it was three
years ago the original peace camp was formed. The same
thing is still happening. There are still US military and
their weapons and cargo going through Shannon Airport," she
said, adding there were very serious materials being
brought through the airport. "It is quite important these
things are brought to light again."

The organisers planted a cherry tree in memory of a
campaigner, Emma Carroll, who took part in the original
protests but died after a long battle with cancer last

The documentary by Margaretta D'Arcy 'Big Plane, Small Axe'
about activist Mary Kelly was also being shown at the make-
shift camp.


New Paper Will Target Young Irish-Americans

08 January 2006 By Laura Noonan

A new Irish-American newspaper, The Irish Examiner USA,
will hit news-stands across the US on January 17.

The venture is being backed by two US investors, who are
understood to have invested $2 million.

It is not linked to The Irish Examiner, which is owned by
Thomas Crosbie Holdings.

The Irish Examiner USA will be published every Tuesday with
a print run of 10,000 copies and a cover price of $1.

It will have national distribution, using a system already
used by one of its backers' other publications.

Barry Lynch, the paper's director of sales, said The Irish
Examiner USA would target young Irish Americans.

"Young people feel there is a void," he said. "They want
something with more of a lifestyle feel. Our paper won't be
as strong on politics as the other papers on the Irish
scene - young Irish in the US are not interested in

"Surveys show that the biggest interests of young Irish in
the US are arts and entertainment and Irish business in
America. We are going to focus on that."

The paper will cover Irish news, Irish and American sports
and Hollywood gossip on Irish stars.

The Irish Examiner USA has ten staff based in New York, and
most of the writing will be done by contributors.

Lynch said advertising interest in the paper had been high,
and that the first two issues were sold out.

The paper will also be available online at

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