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

January 31, 2006

DUP Protests Religious Hatred Legislation

To Index of Monthly Archives
To January 2006 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 01/31/06 DUP In Religious Hatred Move Protest
IN 01/31/06 Campaign To Stop DUP’s ‘Secular Slide’
UT 01/31/06 DUP Suggests Assembly Options
BT 01/31/06 Unionists: Break Logjam With Offer To SDLP
IN 01/31/06 Dublin/Monaghan Victims To Meet Police Team
IN 01/31/06 3 Decades After Bombings Hope For Truth
IN 01/31/06 Legal Challenge To New Parades Body Make-Up
BN 01/31/06 Hain: No & So 'Must Work Together To Prosper'
BT 01/31/06 Hain's Vision For Ulster's Schools
SF 01/31/06 MLA Challenges Hain On Education Spending
IN 01/31/06 Religion Has Place In Schools Insists Church
IN 01/31/06 Religion In Schools As Important In The North
IN 01/31/06 Exams To Go Ahead Despite Arson At RC School
BT 01/31/06 Principal Slams Arsonists Who Damaged School
BT 01/31/06 School Budgets Shock Revealed
BT 01/31/06 Sp Br Altered Log To Cover Up Menezes Blunder
DI 01/31/06 Ex-Off: Ministers Must Have Known Of US Flights
IN 01/31/06 Govts Exam IMC Report Prior To Public Release
NL 01/31/06 'Fuel Scam Claims Cannot Be Proved'
BT 01/31/06 McCartneys Plead For End To Silence
IN 01/31/06 Hain Refuses To Enter Row Over Throne
IM 01/31/06 Indiana Prof Defies Bush Anti-Terror Policy
EX 01/31/06 Two Plead Guilty To Explosives Offences
RT 01/31/06 Former Commissioner Giving Ludlow Evidence
IN 01/31/06 Officer’s Driving ‘Disgraceful’
IN 01/31/06 Opin: Driving Case Reflects Changing Times
BT 01/31/06 Opin: High Time Loyalists Too Gave Up Guns
BT 01/31/06 Opin: Black And White Or Shades Of Grey?
BB 01/31/06 First Peek At Maze Masterplan
IN 01/31/06 Irish Catholics Turning To Other Religions
BN 01/31/06 Govt Exmnng Need For Irish Tsunami System
RT 01/31/06 Son Of Cathal Brugha Dies Aged 88


DUP In Religious Hatred Move Protest

By Brian Walker
31 January 2006

A major demonstration outside Westminster is expected to
greet a final Commons vote tonight on a controversial new
law banning religious hatred.

The Government is moving to close a gap in the law to
shield Muslim belief from hateful attack, as Muslims of
many races are not covered by a racial hatred law against
single races.

But protesters outside the Commons and about 30 Labour MPs
and the DUP within, claim the Incitement to Religious
Hatred Bill stifles free speech including a robust defence
of religion.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds, opposing the bill, declared the
Government's treatment of the issue "despicable and

"The threat of a maximum prison sentence of seven years
simply for stating your religious belief could be enough to
curtail preachers and others from saying anything at all,"
he said.

There was earlier speculation that years ago the young Ian
Paisley could have been prosecuted under such a law for
some of his fiery sermons attacking Catholicism.

But the Paisley issue was avoided today by Home Office
Minister Paul Goggins in an interview on the Radio 4's
Today programme.

"The key thing is not debate or strong language but where
people set out with the intention of stirring up religious
hatred," said Mr Goggins, when asked if Mr Paisley could
have been prosecuted.

MPs are voting to strike down Lords' amendments restricting
religious hatred to threatening words and behaviour, rather
than a wider definition of insults and abuse.

Under Government changes, a person "reckless as to whether
religious hatred would be stirred up" could also be

An unlikely alliance of humanists, Christian evangelicals
and some Muslims have united to oppose the bill.

Comedy star Rowan Atkinson, a leading campaigner, said it
was unlikely he would be prosecuted because he was too well
known, but he was "deeply concerned for all performers and
entertainers, because the climate in which we work will be
very different if the Government gets its way in the House
of Commons today."


Campaign To Stop DUP’s ‘Secular Slide’

By William Scholes

A CAMPAIGN to “save the DUP” from a slide into
secularisation and political pragmatism has been launched
with the promise of a “polite, peaceful and prayerful”
protest at the party’s conference.

Leaflets sent anonymously to party members bewail the
“marginalisation and ridicule of born-again believers
within the party” and the DUP’s “downward trend as regards
moral issues”.

Issues cited on the leaflet include civil partnerships –
“the lack of any moral leadership, and indeed any kind of
leadership, from the party as regards the use of council
facilities for homosexual partnership ceremonies”.

“We wish to see the party saved from its current trend of
secularisation, and that born-again Christians with a
strong moral conscience will not be ignored or marginalised
by the party core,” states the leaflet.

Those behind the leaflet say they will hold a protest at
Saturday’s DUP conference.

A DUP spokesman last night confirmed that the party was
aware of the leaflet campaign.

“We are aware of the circulation of this leaflet by some
anonymous individual,” he said.

The leaflet campaign was a sign of strain between the DUP’s
‘spiritual’ and ‘political’ wings at “grass-roots level”,
according to a party source.


DUP Suggests Assembly Options

The British government was urged today to consider a number
of models for reviving the Northern Ireland Assembly even
if an inclusive power-sharing government featuring Sinn
Fein and the Democratic Unionists could not be formed in
the short term.

By:Press Association

In its 16-page Facing Reality document published today, the
Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP said it was certain the power-sharing
executive could not be formed at Stormont currently.

In that context, the party argued that Northern Ireland
could either mark time waiting for Republicans to transform
their movement into a peaceful and democratic organisation
or find another way forward that did not require Sinn Fein
to be in government.

The DUP outlined a number of options which would see the
Assembly operate.

"Setting aside executive devolution as a prospect for the
foreseeable future leaves a range of possible structures
which can be considered which include low-responsibility
bodies such as a shadow Assembly," the document said.

"Then there are mid-range models which solely provide for
either legislated devolution or administrative devolution.

"In the 1970s and `80s the DUP had advocated legislative
devolution while the Ulster Unionist Party had supported
administrative devolution.

"It is possible to construct a legislative devolution model
drawn upon the practices of the EU, where the task is
shared between the Council of Ministers and the Parliament.

"The Northern Ireland Office ministers would comprise a
college or council of ministers.

"They, or the Assembly (through committees or as a unitary
body), could propose legislation.

"All legislation on transferred matters would be subject to
a co-decision procedure, whereby to be enacted the approval
of the college of ministers and the Assembly would be

The DUP also noted that constitutional arrangements were
softening up in the UK which would enable MEPs to sit on
committees with MPs.

The party suggested that a similar facility could be
extended to members of regional Assemblies.

The document also said there were a number of high-range
devolution options which would give the Assembly full
devolved power without having an executive or a ministerial

The Assembly could operate as a corporate body.

Permanent secretaries, the most senior civil servants in
Government departments, could be made accountable to the
Assembly under one model, the DUP suggested, and subject to
the will of MLAs in much the same way as council officers
were responsible to district councils.

The party continued: "There is even the possibility of
introducing progressive devolution using elements from
several options.

"For example, it is possible to devise a scheme which
commences with a low-range model offering a deliberative
Assembly and progressively grafting on to it other
functions and responsibilities as trust grows."

This form of phased devolution would require an amendment
to the Northern Ireland Act 2000 to allow the Assembly and
its committees to meet without an executive being formed.

Under the plan, the Northern Ireland Secretary would have
executive authority and at a later stage consideration
could be given to permitting Assembly members to legislate.

Assembly committees would shadow the work of Government
departments and Direct Rule ministers would have to appear
before them from time to time.

MLAs would also pass a programme for government which would
serve as a powerful direction to Northern Ireland Office
ministers of what they should do.

The document said: "The DUP has a view of the best option
and would advance this in any subsequent negotiations
rather than appearing to set the parameters beforehand.

"It is sufficient, at this stage, to say: waiting for the
conditions required for executive devolution to arrive is
likely to cause the opportunity for any form of devolution
to pass, given the need to have the Assembly operating
before May 2007.

"We have a preference for a start-up model which allows
local politicians collectively to exercise the maximum
rather than the minimum power which is consistent with
prevailing circumstances.

"We would wish to negotiate both the entry level and the
ultimate level of devolution of whatever type now.

"We want the entry level to be considered only as a
preparatory point and not as an alternative to executive

"We believe the community as a whole would prefer tangible
progress, however limited, in taking important decisions
away from the control of Direct Rule ministers."

Describing its proposals as pragmatic and sensible, the DUP
said they could allow time for the bona fides of
republicans to be properly tested.

They would provide a role for democratically elected
politicians in Northern Ireland while ensuring the
community was content with the arrangements before moving
up to the next stage.

As Northern Ireland awaited the publication tomorrow of the
four-member Independent Monitoring Commission`s latest
report on paramilitary activity, Mr Paisley said there was
no point in the Government trying to force unionists down a
road they would not go.

"The very idea of a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein,
given all of their ongoing criminality and the existence of
their terror organisation, is just not tenable," the North
Antrim MP said.

"Unlike the previous situation when the UUP led for
unionism, the Government will find that we will not be
budging on our assessment of the situation.

"We will not be browbeaten or forced into submission on
this point.

"We have outlined a realistic and viable process that will
allow for the democratic community in Ulster to move
forward with confidence.

"We are not setting expectations so high as to be
unrealistic. Neither are we prepared to settle for
something so low that it is without meaning or

Mr Paisley said the Good Friday Agreement`s failed way
towards devolution would not be retraced by his party.

"If it is devolution the parties want, it will be on this
basis or else no devolution will occur.

"The choice is there and it is now over to others to make
that choice, to face up to reality and to grasp the
opportunity before them."


Unionists Attempt To Break The Logjam With First Vote Offer

By Noel McAdam
31 January 2006

Ulster Unionists would offer the SDLP first vote in a
resumed Assembly as part of attempts to restore devolution
short of a fully-functioning Executive, it was confirmed
last night.

Under the tentative proposal, the SDLP would be allowed to
put its plan for specially-appointed civic administrators
to Assembly members first.

But, if that fails, the UUP believes the nationalist party
could then be persuaded to support an Assembly able to
exercise legislative duties, including scrutiny of Northern
Ireland Parliamentary Bills - but without Executive

The UU plan is believed to have been put to the SDLP at a
meeting with senior Ulster Unionists.

Party leader Sir Reg Empey said: "We will just have to wait
and see. The SDLP are certainly holding on to their model
which is for a form of administration short of full

"What we have said is that they should have the opportunity
to put that option to an Assembly and have it debated and
voted upon to find whether it's possible to find a model
people can support."

The proposal, contained in the party's 'breaking the
logjam' document, concludes a full return of the 1998-style
Executive and Assembly is "unattainable at present" because
of unionist opposition.

A voluntary coalition is also likely to prove unattainable
unless parties are prepared to share power or consider
opting for opposition.

But an Assembly with legislative and financial powers,
while Direct Rule Ministers remain in position "might be
capable of attracting SDLP support if that party has first
had the opportunity of putting its own model to the vote in
the Assembly".

The UU paper suggests, however, the civic administrators'
idea is unlikely to win the support of other parties and it
argues the attitude of the DUP to a legislative/financial
Assembly model is "uncertain at this stage".

The document, already sent to the Government, points out
that, under current Assembly rules, "a 50% plus one result
is only required for a vote for the First and Deputy First

"All other cross-community votes can pass with 40% of
unionists and 40% of nationalists voting if a 60% of all
Assembly members voting is achieved.

"In the existing Assembly, UUP and SDLP members
respectively constitute over 40% of the unionist and
nationalist members. This fact tends to dilute the ability
of DUP and Sinn Fein in a working Assembly unless they
combine together to vote measures down."


Dublin/Monaghan Victims’ Group To Meet Police Team

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

RELATIVES of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan
bombings – which inflicted the largest death toll of the
Troubles – are to meet the police team set up to
investigate historic cases.

Justice for the Forgotten will meet members of the
Historical Enquiries Team (HET) in Lisburn on February 28 –
the same day that leading criminal lawyer Patrick McEntee
is to release the findings of his investigation into the

The moves come amid growing hopes of progress on the case.
The taoiseach has indicated that British sources may now
cooperate with efforts to probe claims of security force
collusion in the loyalist attacks.

The Historical Enquiries Team is a PSNI initiative set up
last March to review unsolved murders, with a budget of up
to £32 million.

Justice for the Forgotten spokeswoman Margaret Urwin said:
“We hope that the HET could help move things forward. It
has been tasked and funded to investigate all unsolved
murders in Northern Ireland and while the ‘74 bombings took
place in the Republic they were planned and executed in the

“We understand that the team is prepared to investigate any
aspects of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that took place
in the north. We would be perfectly happy if that were the
situation,” Ms Urwin said.

“We intend to cooperate with the HET because while we would
all love to see a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with
international members, there is no knowing when and if that
is going to happen.

“We want some kind of truth for people while they’re still

“There’s no point in saying we’ll get something in five or
10 years time – that will be too late for a lot of people,”
Ms Urwin said.


Three Decades After Bombings Families Hope Truth Will

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

The injured and bereaved of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan
bombings have staged a lengthy battle to discover the truth
behind the atrocity – but there may finally be a chink of
light at the end of the tunnel. Southern Correspondent

Valerie Robinson reports

FAMILIES affected by the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings
hope that February 28 may be a decisive date in their
campaign for truth.

Thirty four people, including an unborn baby, lost their
lives in the loyalist car bomb attacks in the capital and
border town on May 17 1974.

It has taken three decades for the injured and bereaved to
reach a point where they hope to learn the truth
surrounding the attacks and the ensuing garda

There is widespread speculation that senior counsel Patrick
McEntee, who chairs the commission investigating the Dublin
and Monaghan bombings, may be about to engage with the
British authorities. The speculation arose after Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern told the Dail that he had extended the
deadline for Mr McEntee’s report until February 28, after
being informed that a number of “entities” had expressed a
willingness to meet the lawyer.

While the criminal barrister and the taoiseach were
unwilling to identify the “entities” it has been suggested
they are linked to the British secret services. Many
suspect that loyalists paramilitaries worked hand-in-hand
with British agents to carry out the attacks.

Cooperation from UK sources would be decisive as Mr Justice
Henry Barron’s three year investigation was greatly
hampered by the British and Northern Ireland authorities’
unwillingness to hand over vital information and

The former Supreme Court judge openly criticised the UK
authorities for their lack of action, claiming it had been
impossible for him to arrive at a definitive conclusion
without key materials.

He also criticised garda handling of the investigation and
said security forces’ collusion could not be ruled out.

Behind the scenes, the Justice for the Forgotten group has
also been feeling a sense of urgency to move things

Spokeswoman Margaret Urwin told The Irish News the group
planned to meet the police Historical Enquiries Team (HET)
in Northern Ireland – coincidentally, also on February 28.

Set up by the British government in March last year, the
specially funded PSNI initiative is reviewing the unsolved
murders linked to the Troubles, with the aim of bringing
closure for the victims’ families.

Cases involving allegations of security force wrongdoing
could be passed to the Police Ombudsman for consideration,
though that office has yet to secure government funding for
the task.

“We hope that the HET could help move things forward. It
has been tasked and funded to investigate all unsolved
murders in Northern Ireland and while the ’74 bombings took
place in the Republic they were planned and executed in the

“We understand that the team is prepared to investigate any
aspects of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that took place
in the north. We would be perfectly happy if that were the
situation,” Ms Urwin said.

Relatives are particularly satisfied that a ‘special cases’
unit within the team, set up to consider allegations of
collusion, does not include any past members of the RUC or
serving members of the PSNI.

“We intend to cooperate with the HET because while we would
all love to see a Truth and Recon-

ciliation Commission with international members there is no
knowing when and if that is going to happen.

“Our cases date back to the 1970s, people are dying every
month. The parents of [1974 victim] Marie Phelan, who was
20 when she died, both died within six weeks of each other
last year. We want some kind of truth for people while
they’re still alive. There’s no point in saying we’ll get
something in five or 10 years time – that will be too late
for a lot of people,” Ms Urwin said.

Initially, her group had been opposed to the McEntee
inquiry, set up in the wake of the Barron report. The
inquiry was asked to investigate the alleged failure of
garda detectives to follow up potentially vital leads.

Campaigners continue to seek a full tribunal of public
inquiry with the power to subpoena witnesses and documents
but decided to cooperate with McEntee “because it was the
only show in town”.

“We realised that if we didn’t cooperate with McEntee and
we were unhappy with the final report we would be in no
position to criticise it. Our solicitor has been liaising
with the inquiry and our impression is that McEntee is
doing a very thorough job,” Ms Urwin said.

Bertie Ahern has already ruled out any move by the Irish
government to bring a case on the British government’s lack
of cooperation with the Barron probe to the European Court
of Human Rights. The court previously rejected two
complaints on the matter made by Justice for the Forgotten.

He has already raised the matter with Prime Minister Tony
Blair and successive northern secretaries and told the Dail
last Wednesday that the government would “continue to
explore every possible legal and political avenue open to
us. We are looking at a number of ways in which we can
follow this up”.

It seems that campaigners and the government are of one
mind – that the book must not yet be shut on the attack
that represents the Troubles’ largest single loss of life.


Legal Challenge To New Parades Body Make-Up

By Staff Reporter

THE make-up of the new Parades Commission is facing a High
Court challenge from a resident of Portadown’s Garvaghy

John Duffy was granted leave yesterday to apply for a
judicial review of the appointment of Orange Order members
David Burrows and Donald MacKay.

Mr Duffy is claiming a conflict of interest between their
membership of loyal orders and the Parades Commission,
which has to rule every year on the contentious Drumcree
parade in Portadown.

Lawyers have said the commission has only one nationalist
representative – former West Belfast MP Dr Joe Hendron –
and none representing Catholics living in areas affected by
contentious parades.

It is claimed this breaches a statutory requirement to
ensure as far as practicable that commission members are
representative of the entire community.

Mr Duffy is seeking a declaration that the appointments
were unlawful and therefore invalid and also wants a court
order prohibiting the commission as currently constituted
from discharging its functions until the appointments are

The full application for judicial review is expected to be
held next month.


Hain: North And South 'Must Work Together To Prosper'

31/01/2006 - 10:10:22

The economies of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic
must forge closer links if they are to prosper in an
increasingly competitive world marketplace, a British
Cabinet Minister claimed today.

With more manufacturing and service jobs being outsourced
to countries like China and India, Peter Hain insisted the
North needed to develop a high-value skills economy in
conjunction with the Irish Republic.

The Northern Ireland Secretary told the Fabian Society at
Stormont that meant developing a common inward investment
strategy and companies on one side of the border expanding
in the other.

He argued: “The island of Ireland faces common external
threats from globalisation which, by working together, we
can help overcome.

“The Republic’s enormous success has led to some of its
companies being prevented from expanding because of a lack
of additional capacity and skill shortages. They should be
encouraged to outsource in the North.

“More Northern Ireland-based businesses should follow those
which have successfully expanded into the South.

“In addition, both governments should have a joined-up
strategy to attract inward investment, especially
maximising the South’s strong relationship with Irish
American business to showcase opportunities in the North.

“We should also work on a joint audit of opportunities for
further economic co-operation to mutual advantage both
sides of the border, bearing in mind, for example, the
Republic’s proposed €7.5m investment in the City of Derry
Airport which will benefit Donegal as much as the north-
west of Northern Ireland, and which is an integral element
of the €100bn investment plans for the island’s
infrastructure over the next 10 years.

“I believe all of this is good, common-sense co-operation
on matters of mutual interest across both jurisdictions.”

While unemployment levels in the North had been halved and
reached an historic low at 4%, Mr Hain said the level of
economic inactivity among adults of a working age remained
alarmingly high at 27.4%.

Northern Ireland, he said, had a much higher percentage of
long-term unemployed than the UK – 33.8% compared with the
national average of 20.7% - while 23% of the working
population had no qualifications whatsoever, compared with
13% nationally.

“Only 15% of the Northern Ireland workforce has a degree or
equivalent, compared to 18% in the UK,” he observed.

“Therefore, it is vital to invest in opportunities and
skills, with greater access to vocational education,
training and apprenticeships, to ensure no young person is
left behind.

“The recently revised curriculum must ensure that children
leave primary school with a strong grasp of the literacy,
numeracy and ICT skills that all employers need.

“And the new post-primary arrangements must provide pupils
with a minimum entitlement at Key Stage 4 and post-16
regardless of the school, and a wider choice of schools –
including more emphasis on vocational courses, not least in
the new specialist schools.

“Higher education, which will be benefiting greatly from
the new fee income, must focus on subjects that will
produce fulfilling employment and a more competitive

“But university expansion must not be at the expense of the
vital further education sector, where there may be an even
greater need to expand to fill disturbing gaps in technical

Mr Hain said he would soon announce details of two funds
which would help address those challenges.

The £61m (€89.4m) Children and Young People’s Fund would,
he said, over the next two years extend the role of schools
before and after the traditional school day, including
additional early years provision.

The £35m (€51.3m) Skills and Science funding package would
also over the next two years enhance investment in skills
and training and help tackle economic inactivity.

The minister said Northern Ireland’s economy also had to
wean itself off its current over-dependence on the public

Public expenditure accounted for around two-thirds of the
North’s GDP, he said, whereas the UK average was around

The private sector remained under-developed, with the
public sector accounting for almost a third of all jobs in
Northern Ireland compared with the UK average of a fifth.

Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP was significantly
higher in Northern Ireland than elsewhere – accounting for
some two-thirds of regional GDP, compared with the national
average of around 40%.

“The currency of the future will be high productivity, high
value-added activity and highly developed skills,” he

“For much more must be done if Northern Ireland is to
become a world leader in the fastest growing and most
wealth-creating sectors – a place where people want to
locate and expand their businesses, and a place with which
people want to trade.

“That requires investment in research and development and
the promotion of innovation and creativity, encouragement
of enterprise, the right skills for future employment
opportunities, and a modern infrastructure to support
business and consumers.”


Hain's Vision For Ulster's Schools

Reforms could signal end to segregation

By Chris Thornton
31 January 2006

Secretary of State Peter Hain set his sights on "a new
model of schooling" today in response to falling pupil
numbers - one that could lead to greater "sharing" across
the Catholic, state and integrated sectors.

In a major policy speech at Stormont, Mr Hain announced a
review of education policy aimed at dealing with the "high
price" of separate schools and growing number of empty

With the school population expected to drop by 30,000 over
the next decade, Mr Hain said "radical reform" of the
education system is needed. "The current level of provision
is simply not sustainable," he said.

"The segregation of schools into the numerous sectors in
Northern Ireland comes at a high price," he added.

In his speech to the Fabian Society, a left wing think
tank, Mr Hain dealt with a broad range of proposals for
social and economic reform in Northern Ireland.

And he announced a 'year zero' review of Government
spending in Northern Ireland.

Government departments will be asked to justify their
entire range of spending, and Mr Hain expects to find
savings that will fund programmes for young people and
alternative energy.

He linked the review to his drive to "rebalance the
economy" and make it less reliant on the public sector.

"If 'education, education, education' has been our
Government's mantra, then Northern Ireland's has been
'bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy'," the Secretary of
State said.

"We cannot deliver high quality public services whilst
funding the enormously wasteful costs and duplication that
flow from separated communities, and global warming and
climate change does not respect political, religious or
geographic divides," he added.

Mr Hain also floated the idea of congestion charges and
road pricing for Northern Ireland - saying the Province
should have the same look at those traffic taxes that are
ongoing in the rest of the UK.

But a central section of the speech concentrated on
education reform, and he announced "a root and branch
review of education spending".

He said the independent review "is not an attempt to
interfere with the ethos of schools".

But he added: "The segregation of schools into the numerous
sectors in Northern Ireland comes at a high price.

"We need to see whether a new model of schooling, sharing
across sectors, could help us achieve higher standards,
better facilities, and a better use of resources.

"School rolls have been falling for nine years."

Turning to transport, Mr Hain said deficiencies are having
"a serious impact on economic competitiveness".

He suggested the private sector could be brought in "to
build and manage transportation schemes".

And he said he intends to ensure "that Northern Ireland is
fully signed up to the work being done in other parts of
the UK on congestion charging and road pricing to help
tackle congestion and reduce traffic pollution."


MLA Challenges Peter Hain On Review Of Education Spending

Published: 31 January, 2006

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has
claimed that the review of public spending announcement
expected from Peter Hain today in respect of Education will
need to move beyond the rhetoric.

The Education System is haemorrhaging teachers, over 225 in
the last two years and already the SEELB are planning to
shed another 80 this coming year. The Government have used
'falling rolls' as an excuse to erode our education system
instead of support the new curriculum changes announced for
post primary education. This will continue while British
Direct Rule Ministers are in place and not local Ministers
at our own Assembly.

Commenting on Peter Hain's forthcoming statement Michael
Ferguson said,

" Falling Rolls offers the Department of Education great
opportunities to improve the school provision that we offer
but instead the British Government have used it to erode
the educational entitlement of our children and young
people and redirect investment to schools in England and

"Falling rolls should allow us the opportunity provide
better teacher pupil ratios but instead while pupil numbers
are falling class room sizes are rising.

"Falling rolls should allow us to better integrate special
needs children into mainstream education as required under
the new legislation but instead we have one class in
Poleglass with 30 children and 19 of them have special

"Falling Rolls should allow us to address the numeracy and
literacy deficit in our schools but we are haemorrhaging
teachers loosing 225 in the last two years with hundreds
more expected to go as a result of further cuts and last
year 23% of school leavers had no qualifications.

"We need our own local Assembly and a local accountable
Minister to deliver a real budget top support education and


Religion Still Has A Fundamental Place In Schools Insists

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

Religion still has a place in schools despite calls for
Holy Communion and Confirmation to be taken out of the
classroom, the Catholic Church has insisted.

It follows calls by a union representing the Republic’s
primary school principals to scrap lessons on the two
sacraments.The Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN),
which begins its three-day annual conference on Thursday,
said schools must adapt to the state’s emerging
multicultural society.

National director Sean Cottrell said there is increasing
diversity in cultures and religions in today’s classrooms.

He added that responsibility for religious education and
preparation for sacraments should be taken away from the
school and given back to the parents.

But Rev Dan O’Connor, general secretary of the Catholic
Primary School Managers Association (CPSMA), said
increasingly the school, parents and parish were working
together to prepare children to take sacraments.

Referring to a survey

which was conducted by the Irish National Teachers
Organisation (INTO), Fr O’Connor said 80 per cent of
teachers felt religion was an “important” part of the
school curriculum, while 60 per cent said they were still
willing to be involved in the “religious education and
religious formation” of children.

The cleric said children were never expected to attend
religious instruction that their parents did not approve

“What’s happening in Cath-olic schools is that during the
school day, parents of other faiths who wish to have their
children instructed bring into the schools their own
religion teacher while Catholic children are being taught
religion. That is working successfully,” Fr O’Connor said.

He added that an influx of Catholics into the country
through immigration – in particular 100,000 Polish people –
meant there was a growing demand for religious instruction
and young parents had also become more involved

in their parishes in recent years. Fr O’Connor insisted
Cath-olic schools would continue to have a Catholic ethos
but parents would not be forced to send their children for
religious instruction. He pointed out that there was a
school in the Diocese of Killaloe where the Catholic and
Church of Ireland bishops are both patrons in Roscrea, Co
Tipperary. Religious instruction is delivered in both
faiths during the school day.


Religion In Schools Just As Important In The North

By Staff Reporter

Most Catholic parents in Northern Ireland take their role
in forming their children’s religious faith “very
seriously”, according to a prominent cleric.

Rev Paul Fleming, head of religious education at St Mary’s
University College in west Belfast, said Catholic schools
and colleges at all levels “by their very nature require
the facility for the integration of faith and culture and
the integration of faith and life”.

“Central to this philosophy is that Catholic schools and
colleges work in partnership with parents and the parish –
and teachers in schools are doing phenomenal work in this
regard,” he said.

The cleric added that teaching children about faith was “a
shared task” and parents must accept their responsibility.

Student teachers in St Mary’s are prepared for a
certificate of religious education – required by all
teachers in Catholic-run schools in the north.

“To teach in a Catholic school requires an understanding
and a willingness to be a partner in the faith formation of
children – and as the preparation for and the celebration
of the sacraments are significant events in the faith
formation of children, it is appropriate that Catholic
schools play a major role in these events,” Fr Fleming

Meanwhile, in a pastoral message entitled Nurturing Our
Children’s Faith, Catholic bishops have said they

intend to give encouragement to all those involved with
assisting children to “grow

in faith”, including “grandparents, teachers, chaplains,
diocesan/parish workers, clergy, religious and members of
our faith community”.

Bishop of Galway Dr Martin Drennan, chairman of the
Catechetics Commission of the Irish Bishops’ Conference,
said the future of the Church depended on today’s children.
“If we are to build up young people’s faith in themselves,
as well as their faith in a God who has faith in them, we
need to strengthen the links between the home, the school
and the parish,” Bishop Drennan said.

The bishop said there were increasing signs of growth in
the Church in Ireland, with a resurgence in pilgrimages and
parish-based programmes, as well as young people’s
involvement in prayer groups.


Exams To Go Ahead Despite Arson Attack At Catholic School

By Suzanne McGonagle Newry Correspondent

A-LEVEL examinations are due to go ahead at a south Armagh
school today, a day after a suspected arson attack forced
its closure.

Fire crews were called to the blaze St Joseph’s High School
in Crossmaglen at around 3am yesterday after a window was
broken in the kitchen and a fire started.

Vice principal John Jones said the canteen area had been
“completely gutted”.

The school, which has around 600 pupils, remained closed
yesterday, while examinations of the scene were carried

Police were last night continuing to investigate the
suspected arson attack at the Dundalk Road school.

It is estimated that the damage will run into thousands of

Fire district commander Victor Spence said: “The fire
itself was confined to the kitchen area where the ceiling
suffered smoke and water damage.

“Most of the equipment in there will not be able to be used
for quite a period of time.

“You are talking about thousands of pounds worth of

Mr Jones said everything was being done to ensure minimum
disruption was caused to today’s examinations.

“It will cost us a lot of money to sort out the damage
caused here,” he said.

“The canteen area has been completely gutted and most ofthe
kitchen machinery may have to be replaced.

“The kitchen area could be closed for a number of months
and it means that we’ll have to share with the local
primary school.

“It is unreal what has happened. I think the children
really realise the wanton vandalism that has been caused.

“We will be operating tomorrow [today] as we have an A-
Level exam and we’ll be ensuring that the students get to
sit the exam.”

Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty described it as “a
devastating blow not only to the school but the entire

SDLP councillor Geraldine Donn-elly said it was
“disappointing to think that someone could do this damage
to the school”.


Principal Slams Arsonists Who Damaged School

Head says attack affects the entire community

By Michael McHugh
31 January 2006

The head of a Co Armagh school targeted by arsonists last
night correct slammed those behind the attack.

St Joseph's High School principal Kevin Scally said he was
disappointed the Crossmaglen school had been targeted and
said he was confident that it enjoyed the full support of
the local community.

Four fire appliances from Newry, Crossmaglen and
Newtownhamilton were called to the blaze on the Dundalk
Road in the early hours of Monday morning. It took them
half-an-hour to bring it under control and the school was
closed yesterday.

Mr Scally said they would open as usual today.

"I feel that it is very disappointing. I don't believe that
it is a pupil at the school, I am quite certain about
that," he said.

"Six weeks ago we had an inspection which described
relations as excellent and behaviour as exemplary.

"I feel that someone outside the school has targeted us.
This is an attack not just on the school but on the entire
community here. This school was built at a time when money
was short and the community came together."

A spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Service said arson was
suspected and added that entry had been forced to the
school's canteen, where the blaze started.

The kitchen in the canteen was badly damaged, with smoke
and water soiling to other parts of the dining area.

Mr Scally added: "Most local people send their children
here and the inspection report said the school enjoyed the
strong support of the community.

"This is an isolated incident and an isolated individual is
behind this. It is very disappointing but we will be open
for business as usual tomorrow for fourth years and above."

The SDLP has condemned those behind the incident, which
came as pupils were preparing for GCSE examinations.

Newry and Armagh Assemblyman Dominic Bradley said: "I
utterly condemn the wanton destruction that happened at St
Joseph's. This is a key time of year for students preparing
for GCSE and other examinations.

"It is imperative that the department of education, the
SELB and the other key agencies involved do everything in
their power to ensure disruption to teaching and learning
in the school is kept to a minimum."

A police spokeswoman appealed for anyone with information
about the suspected arson to contact detectives.


School Budgets Shock Revealed

More than five times the allocated cash was spent

By Kathryn Torney
31 January 2006

An Ulster primary school spent five times the budget it was
allocated during the last financial year, it can be
revealed today.

St Joseph's Primary, in Ahoghill, is one of almost 600
schools across Northern Ireland which significantly over or
under spent during the 2004-05 year.

St Joseph's was allocated £25,094 but ended up spending a
total of £130,443.

School spending details have been released to the Belfast
Telegraph by the education and library boards following a
Freedom of Information request.

The highest amount of money a school carried into the next
financial year was £960,700 - retained by Fort Hill
College, in Lisburn, and equivalent to 26% of its overall
budget for the year.

La Salle Boys' School, in west Belfast, which recently
settled a long-running dispute over funding for its split
site, went £784,700 over; St Patrick's Primary in Ahoghill
went 149% over budget; Bangor Academy and Sixth Form left
£749,137 not spent; Glenlola Collegiate retained £668,200;
Vere Foster Primary in Belfast spent 72% (£290,600) more
than its budget and Scoil an Droichid left 54% of its
budget not spent.

Marian Getty, principal of Fort Hill College, said that her
school's surplus had built up over nine years and that the
school had actually spent over its allocated budget for
2004-05. Money had been carried over to prepare for costs
associated with the new curriculum and the demographic

"As a school we have to cater for all of our children long
term. We have to try to be very prudent, wise and forward
thinking," she added.

A spokesman for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
said: "CCMS is aware of the deficit situation facing St
Joseph's Primary School in Ahoghill and has addressed
budget management with the principal and board of

"In 2005 a process of discussion and consultation has been
on-going with parents, trustees and the council regarding
the provision of primary education in the parish of

"The civil unrest in Ahoghill during 2005 has led to a need
to consider further an appropriate way forward."

Special report - see the education page in tonight's Public
Sector Jobfinder


Special Branch 'Altered Official Log' To Cover Up Fatal
Menezes Blunder

By Maxine Frith
30 January 2006

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent
Brazilian shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station
last July, have demanded a public inquiry into his death
following allegations that Special Branch officers changed
vital evidence in an attempt to cover up fatal blunders in
the case.

An undercover surveillance team altered an official log to
hide the fact that they had wrongly identified Mr Menezes
as a suspect in the failed July 21 bombings in London,
according to a leaked copy of the official report into the

Mr Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was shot seven times
in the head. Armed officers mistakenly believed he was a
suicide bomber as he boarded a Tube train on 22 July.

Earlier this month a confidential report into the case by
the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was
passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide
whether any of the officers should face criminal charges.

A leaked copy of the report obtained by the News of the
Worldsaid the IPCC found that the undercover surveillance
team saw Mr Menezes coming out of a house in Tulse Hill
and, according to a first draft of a police control room
log, identified him as Hussein Osman, a suspect in the July
21 attacks. Commander Cressida Dick, the Scotland Yard
officer responsible for the firearms team, then instigated
Operation Kratos, the anti-terrorist strategy that permits
suspected suicide bombers to be shot.

The IPCC report found that 10 hours after the shooting, by
which time it was known the dead man was innocent, the
Special Branch team attended a debriefing meeting in which
they were allowed to make alterations to the log. A line in
it was changed from saying the team said Mr Menezes "was
Osman" by the insertion of the word "not" - passing the
blame to the Scotland Yard team.

The amendments were supposed to be signed and accompanied
by an explanation, but this was not done, in an apparent
attempt to pass off the revised log as the original.
According to the newspaper, the IPCC report concludes:
"This looks like an attempt to try to distance Special
Branch from the decision [to shoot Mr Menezes]."

The alleged changes were made 14 hours before Sir Ian
Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, was told that
the dead man was the victim of a tragic case of mistaken
identity. The surveillance team has reportedly denied
changing the log and claims that elsewhere it makes clear
that doubts had been raised about the identification.

Asad Rehman, who represents the family, said: "From the
family's perspective this is just one more in a long line
of lies and deception. It makes them more adamant to learn
how and why he died. The only way that can be done is by a
full public inquiry."

The family has called on the CPS to reach a decision on
whether to prosecute by 16 February.


Ex-Officer: Ministers Must Have Known Of US Flights

By David Lynch In Kildare Town

A retired commandant of the Irish Defence Forces has said
he believes that some Irish government ministers were aware
that the US military had taken prisoners through Shannon

The controversy surrounds what the US government terms
“extraordinary rendition”, where prisoners are sent to
countries other than the United States for imprisonment and
interrogation and, some critics allege, torture.

Ed Horgan, a retired commandant of the Irish Defence
Forces, has served with UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus
and the Middle East. He was speaking at the Action from
Ireland Féile Bríde conference in Kildare town last

He said he opposed the searching of CIA planes, which many
opposition party spokespersons have demanded.

“People might be surprised to hear me say that but I do not
think there should be any US military flights through
Shannon at all. We need to stop them all,” he said.

The Irish government has repeatedly said that it has no
hard evidence that the CIA has transported prisoners
through Shannon airport. The government has accepted many
assurances from the US administration on this matter.

“It is inconceivable that those planes were not carrying
prisoners for torture to and from Guantánamo Bay in
particular,” said Mr Horgan.

“The idea that the Irish government has accepted the US
government’s assurances on these issues are lies, I
believe. Because I believe that particular ministers in the
Irish government are aware that prisoners were transported
through Shannon airport on those planes on several

“These are among the cold facts that we must be aware of.”

Mr Horgan called for greater activism among Irish people on
the issue. He said that Ireland “is participating in the
killing of 100,000 people in Iraq” because of the “Irish
economic national interest”.

“It is about jobs at Shannon airport, it is about American
direct investment and a whole load of other things.

“We must change what we are doing. Within months of the
Irish government participating in the war in Iraq the Irish
people turned around and elected them back into government.
How irresponsible can we be? I am not anti-Fianna Fail or
pro-Fine Gael.

“But if a government behaves in a grossly improper manner
it’s for us to put them out of office.

“We have a responsibility, those of us who know what is
happening in Iraq and those of us who know what is
happening in Shannon, to act.”

Mr Horgan said that he had been called a “traitor” by some
of his former colleagues, “‘how dare you challenge what the
Gardai are doing, and what our government is doing’ I have
been told.”

“As a soldier and an ex-officer I have been told I should
be silent.”

There was a call from the floor of the meeting for Irish
people to support the major march in Dublin against the war
set for late March.

The Afri conference was addressed by a number of speakers
regarding issues such as the Corrib Gas-Line in Rossport
and the US use of Shannon.

Organisers told Daily Ireland that they considered it a


Governments Examining IMC Report Prior To Public Release

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

THE Irish and British governments were last night poring
over the Independent Monitoring Commission’s (IMC) latest
assessment on paramilitary activity.

The delivery of the dossier at 5pm yesterday came ahead of
it being put before Parliament and of its public release,
which may be as early as tomorrow.

There has been much speculation over the content of the
IMC’s latest report which, as well as focusing on the IRA,
will outline the activities of other republican and all
loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Its release comes amid a fresh attempt by the two
governments to initiate talks to restore the power-sharing

It has already been reported that the four-member IMC team
will not give the IRA a full clean bill of health.

Shortly after senior PSNI officers briefed the Policing
Board on the latest security assessment earlier this month,
an assessment that the IRA was still involved in ongoing
activity, particularly organised crime was leaked to the

The IMC is expected to agree with this view and also with
the police belief that the IRA is moving in the right
direction after destroying its weaponry and declaring an
end to its armed campaign.

It has also been suggested that the IMC will state that
loyalist paramilitaries are reducing, but have not halted,
their activities.

There have been a number of reports over recent months on
the intentions of the UVF, Red Hand Commando and UFF/UDA.

Last October the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), which had
been embroiled in a bloody feud with the UVF, announced it
had “stood down”.

In recent days it was reported that the UVF and UDA will
cooperate in moves to abandon all violence.

Both groups have been in internal discussions over their
future following the IRA’s announcement last year, although
imminent decommissioning is not said to be on the agenda.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy reiterated his party’s view that
the “IMC is little more than a tool of British securocrats
hostile to the development of the peace process”.

And he claimed: “It compiles reports based totally on
information supplied by the political detectives, the same
people who engineered the collapse of the political
institutions in 2002.

“The IMC operates entirely outside the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement. It is attempting to exercise a veto over
the democratic rights and entitlements of people on this
island and the time has long since passed to end the
negative role this body plays in the wider peace process.”

However, SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell, MP for
south Belfast said: “People in the north will see through
the DUP/Sinn Fein fog around the forthcoming IMC report –
the DUP claiming all is wrong and Sinn Fein claiming all is
right should convince no-one.

“People should calm down and wait to see what it says.
Everyone should acknowledge, encourage and welcome the
circumstances where any illegal group ends activities. But
no-one, no party and no government should deny or diminish
where any illegal group and its members continue their

“This is the best course for the future and the best
response to whatever the IMC says.”


'Fuel Scam Claims Cannot Be Proved'

By Philip Bradfield
Tuesday 31st January 2006

The most recent Government figures show that around 66 per
cent of Northern Ireland filling stations are involved in
selling illegal fuel.

However, Ray Holloway of the Petrol Retailers' Association
has challenged the conclusions as "impossible to

The News Letter looked into two of the latest reports on
the subject from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee,
with tomorrow's Independent Monitoring Commission report
expected to find the IRA is still heavily involved in fuel

In the NI Affairs Committee 2003 report on Cross-Border
Fuel Price Differentials, the Government said it was
"particularly concerned" about 200 operators who are
tempted to take "the odd load of illegal fuel to stay

"Customs estimate that approximately one third of retail
sites in Northern Ireland sell predominantly illicit fuel,
while a further third sell illicit fuel on a regular
basis," the report said.

A year earlier, another committee report concluded: "While
we heard some anecdotal evidence that direct pressure had
been placed on filling station owners to accept such fuel,
the effects on the market from the ready availability of a
cheaper option in many cases provide sufficient incentive
to filling station owners to acquiesce rather than lose
their business.

"This led to an appalling situation in which nearly two
thirds of the remaining petrol stations in Northern Ireland
are partially involved in the illegal trade."

An Assistant Chief Constable told the committee: "Once you
purchase or take your first load of laundered fuel you are
hooked from there on in. There is no means of getting you
out... if we do not tackle it in a very hard and wholesome
way we are condemning the Northern Ireland business
infrastructure to a very substantial uphill struggle to

He said 39 filling stations in Northern Ireland closed from
1994 to 2002 due to illegal fuel and legitimate cross-
border shopping.

But Mr Holloway said yesterday it was " impossible" to
substantiate the figures. "The Government was looking at
the volume of fuel use that was disappearing. And if you
are smuggling fuel it has to be sold somewhere," he said.

"But they were talking about 700 filling stations at that
time and now there are only around 400 left."

Mr Holloway added that buying from reputable brands of
filling stations and hypermarkets is the best method of
avoiding illegal fuel.


McCartneys Plead For End To Silence

By Jonathan McCambridge
31 January 2006

Police and the family of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney
today made an emotional plea for the wall of silence over
his killing to end one year on.

A new appeal centres around the driver of a large blue car
who may have seen the Short Strand father-of- two being
stabbed outside a Belfast city centre bar.

Mr McCartney (33), died 12 months ago today after he was
found unconscious outside Magennis's bar in Cromac Street.

His killing led to a year long campaign for justice by his
family which took them to the White House and the European
Parliament. They claimed the killers were being shielded by

The IRA claimed it had expelled three of its men over the
attack and even offered to shoot those responsible. Sinn
Fein also suspended 12 members and urged all witnesses to
tell the authorities what they saw.

Mr McCartney's sisters and fiancee were due to return to
his Short Strand home today as they mark the first
anniversary of the killing.

Sisters Paula and Catherine and Detective Inspector Philip
Marshall this morning appealed for the driver of a large
blue car seen in the area at the time Robert was knifed to
come forward.

Paula said: "The car revved its engines at the traffic
lights. It may be that whoever was in the car did not know
what was going on, hopefully now they will come forward.

"We know the information is out there and it just needs one
person to come forward and tell police what they know about
that night."

One man has been charged with murdering Robert McCartney.
One man has also been charged with attempting to murder
Brendan Devine, who had his throat cut during the row in
Magennis's Bar.

However, the McCartney family believe 15 men were directly
involved in the attack. Police have taken more than 150
statements over the killing.


Hain Refuses To Enter Row Over Throne

By William Scholes Religious Affairs Correspondent

Secretary of State Peter Hain has declined to become
involved in a row over whether a centuries-old piece of
“blatant anti-Catholic” legislation should be repealed.

Mr Hain was asked if the Act of Settlement 1701, which bans
Catholics from ascending to the British throne, should be

In an interview with Hermann Kelly of the Irish Catholic
newspaper, Mr Hain said he was “not getting into” the

“It is a matter which goes beyond my responsibility of
secretary of state for Northern Ireland,” he said.

“That is a UK-wide matter. You are talking about very
complex matters to do with the relationship between Church
and state.”

Mr Hain said he had a track record “going back many years”
of “working against apartheid as a champion of human
rights, equality and liberty”.

“I have enough on my plate solving problems in Northern
Ire-land,” he said.

While debate over the discriminatory nature of the Act of
Settlement has been relatively muted in Northern Ireland,
it has been a potent political issue in Britain.

The Co Antrim-born head of the Catholic Church in Scotland,
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, last year said that as moves to
“eradicate the blight of sectarianism” from society were
intensifying, it was time to change the laws which exclude
Catholics from sitting on the British throne.

Cardinal O’Brien, from Ballycas-tle, made his remarks as he
congratulated the Prince of Wales on his engagement to
Camilla Parker Bowles.

“As the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, I
am saddened to think that were Mrs Parker Bowles a
Catholic, the Prince of Wales would by marrying her,
automatically losing his right to accede to the Throne – as
The Act of Settlement 1701 does not allow those who “are or
shall be reconciled to, or shall hold communion with, the
See or Church of Rome, or shall profess the popish
religion, or shall marry a papist” to become king or queen.

Conservative MP Edward Leigh, a Catholic, last year
described the ban as “illogical and discriminatory” in the
House of Commons.

“Surely in this day and age it is intolerable for the
constitution to pick out any minority on grounds of
religion,” he said.


Indiana Professor Defies Bush Anti-Terror Policy

by Vincent McKeon
30 Jan 2006

Robert W. White, Professor, and Dean, School of Liberal
Arts, Indiana university, by being the keynote speaker at a
New York City fundraiser for the Continuity Irish
Republican Army is offering a direct challenge to the Bush
anti-terror policy.

Dean at Indiana University fundraises for terror-support

The Irish National Freedom Committee(INFC) is a New York
City-based support group for the Continuity Irish
Republican Army/ Republican Sinn Fein.(CIRA/RSF).

Republican Sinn Fein is the political wing of the
Continuity IRA. The Continuity IRA continues to wage a
campaign of bombing in Ireland.

Both CIRA and RSF have been designated as terrorist
organizations by the U.S. State Department.

It is a criminal offense to give material support to
terrorist groups

On January 27th in New York, the INFC held its annual
fundraiser in support of Continuity IRA prisoners.

The keynote speaker was Robert W. White, Professor and
Dean, School of Liberal Arts, Indiana University.

Professor White is well-known within the ‘terrorist expert’
community. He writes frequently for such publications as
‘Terrorism and Political Violence’, a journal edited by

Professor Paul Wilkinson of the world-renowned Centre for
the Study of Terrorism at St. Andrews University, Scotland.

Professor White has written a biography of Ruairi O
Bradaigh, President of Republican Sinn Fein.

The book is to be used as a premium in a fundraiser for
Radio Free Eireann, a program on WBAI radio, New York City.
Radio Free Eireann is hosted by John McDonagh, a leading
spokesman for the INFC.

Professor White is the first ‘terrorism expert’ to give
material support to an organization designated terrorist by
the U.S State Department: he is posing a direct challenge
to the conduct of the Bush administration’s war on terror.


Two Plead Guilty To Explosives Offences

Two men arrested during a Special Branch investigation into
the activities of dissident republicans pleaded guilty at
the Special Criminal Court today to explosives and
ammunition offences.

Francis Mc Geown (aged 64), of Cedarwood Park, Cox's
Demesne, Dundalk and Pascal Burke (aged 42), of Marrowbone
Lane, Dublin 8 admitted the unlawful possession of an
explosive substance - 0.776 kilogrammes of black powder
consisting of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur - at
Smithstown, Julianstown, Co Meath on January 21, 2005.

They also both pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of
100 rounds of ammunition on the same date.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O' Connell SC told the court
that charges against both men of membership of an unlawful
organisation could be struck out.

A third man , Ciaran Dunne (aged 23), of Elmbrook Avenue,
Lucan, Co Dublin pleaded guilty earlier this month to the
same charges.

All three men were remanded for sentencing at a later date.


Former Commissioner Giving Ludlow Evidence

31 January 2006 12:09

Former garda Commissioner Larry Wren has started speaking
to the Justice sub-committee on the Barron Report into the
murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Mr Wren says he does not accept the conclusion in the

He is expected to challenge the assertion in the account,
that, it was 'most probable' that the decision not to
interview four loyalists, suspected to be responsible for
the murder of Seamus Ludlow, was made by him.

Former Detective Superintendent John Courtney finished
answering questions at the Justice Sub-Committee earlier.

He repeated his claim, outlined in the report, that
Detective Sergeant Dan Boyle told him in 1979 that former
Garda Commissioner Wren had advised that no further action
was to be taken in the case.

Superintendent Courtney wanted to interview four named
loyalists in Northern Ireland who the RUC suspected were
responsible for the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

Mr Ludlow, a 47-year-old single man, was shot dead as he
walked home from a pub on 2 May 1976.

The Barron Report on his murder sharply criticised the
garda investigation into his death.

The report also concluded that Mr Ludlow had nothing to
connect him with any subversive organisations.


Officer’s Driving ‘Disgraceful’

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

A FORMER policeman who drove at a nationalist crowd
protesting over a contentious Orange par-ade in west
Belfast put women, children and his own colleagues at risk,
a judge has said.

Ex-constable Alan Leckey, who had been a full-time
reservist for 21 years, was yesterday fined £400 and banned
from driving for 18 months.

This was the same sentence for dangerous driving originally
im-posed on the 40-year-old when he was found guilty at his
first trial.

That conviction was quashed on appeal but he was found
guilty again at a retrial.

Leckey, whose contract with the PSNI was not renewed on
health grounds – was in Belfast County Court yesterday for

Although Judge Piers Grant ac-knowledged that the officer
had been in an “extremely hostile environment” during the
demonstration against the march on the Springfield Road in
west Belfast on June 29 2002, he branded Leckey’s driving
“quite disgraceful”.

He said the reservist had endangered not only women and
children on waste ground who had “nothing to do” with the
incident but also his own colleagues in the police vehicle.

“It is with some considerable re-gret that I conclude that
the driving has all the appearance of an act designed to
frighten those on waste ground, as a parting shot to those
left behind,” the judge said.

Leckey, whose address was given as Musgrave Police Station,
was first convicted of dangerous driving in December 2003.

Charges were brought following a probe by the Police
Ombudsman’s Office after complaints were lodged by two US
observers who supplied video footage.

Judge Grant said the video showed police vehicles being
attacked by rioters but that by late afternoon the trouble
had died down.

The court was told that Leckey’s Land Rover was the last in
a column but that instead of following the PSNI convoy he
drove across waste ground, forcing people get out of the
way quickly.

“It follows that even if he considered himself or his
vehicle to be at risk the force used was not reasonable in
the circumstances,” the judge said.

“If concerned he should have taken the clear route
available to him and should not have driven on to the waste
ground, placing those who were present – and indeed the
occupants of his vehicle – at risk.”

Leckey’s barrister said his client had no previous
convictions and had a “blameless” reputation in public and
within the force.

John Larkin QC said Leckey had suffered to a “very
considerable” extent during his time as a police officer,
including from the incident in question.

“It is an unfortunate paradox that the only person finding
himself be-fore the court arising out of some hours of
sustained criminality is a police officer who was doing his
duty and has done so for 21 years without reproach or
blame,” Mr Larkin said.

Mr Larkin criticised the “inordinate” delay in the case and
the “good deal of delay” in the ombudsman’s investigation.

Last May a retrial was ordered after Leckey was cleared on
appeal but he was later found guilty again.

The maximum penalty in the magistrates or county courts for
dangerous driving is six months in jail, a fine or both and
an automatic ban.


Opin: Driving Case Reflects Changing Times

By Staff Reporter

Policing during civil disturbances presents many challenges
for officers, but it is essential that they act within the
law at all times.

If their conduct goes beyond reasonable guidelines, they
must face the consequences of their own actions.

At Belfast County Court yesterday, a former reserve
constable, Alan Leckey, was fined £400 and banned from
driving for 18 months after evidence was given that he
deliberately drove his Land Rover at a nationalist crowd in
west Belfast.

There had been rioting in the area in the aftermath of an
Orange march, in June, 2002 but evidence was given that it
was effectively over when the dangerous driving offence
took place.

Leckey was behind the wheel of the last vehicle in a police
convoy when he suddenly swerved towards women and children
who were standing on waste ground.

The judge said his actions had been “disgraceful”, and
seemed to have been intended to frighten the bystanders who
ran out of his way.

There was a time when such a case would have been highly
unlikely to come before the courts but yesterday’s verdict
sent out a strong message that different standards are now
in place.


Opin: High Time Loyalists Too Gave Up Guns

31 January 2006

Many will complain that it is happening too slowly, but
there has been a general welcome for the news that the
loyalist paramilitary organisations are preparing to stand
aside and, perhaps, to decommission their weapons. They
delayed, while the IRA remained a threat, but now there is
no room for paramilitarism of any kind.

The republicans belatedly showed the way, with their "stand
down" statement last July, and a new, positive era has
dawned, especially since their decommissioning event. The
UDA and UVF always claimed they would respond, in their own
time, and clearly they are getting all the right signals
from government sources, as well as from John de
Chastelain's decommissioning body.

The membership of all the loyalist organisations, including
the LVF, must realise that any justification they had for
acting as community defenders has long since disappeared.
Many are eager to cut their ties, while their leaderships
are feeling the heat of increased surveillance by the PSNI
and the Assets Recovery Agency.

Hardly a month goes by without senior loyalists appearing
in court or having their assets seized, on drugs or
extortion charges. Morale has been plummeting, as criminal
empires are exposed, and the much-maligned Loyalist
Commission - including church and unionist representatives
- has helped concentrate minds on an exit strategy.

The Government, too, has played its part, recognising the
difficulties for paramilitary organisations whose reason
for existence has been overtaken by events. They want to
re-invent themselves, like the republicans, as forces for
change in their communities - and they have to be shown how
to bring this about, if they renounce both terrorism and

There has long been a perception that republicans are much
more effective at getting their fair share of financial
support from governmental and other agencies than
loyalists. Even the Government has acknowledged this, by
setting up a high-powered inter-departmental delivery team,
and their plans for regeneration - and jobs, essentially -
must assist the normalisation process.

At the same time, the Government must be wary of opening up
a lengthy dialogue - just as it did with the IRA - during
which the UDA and UVF would demand a long list of
concessions. While they may need help to change, they must
realise that all criminality - and "shows of force" of any
kind - have to be abandoned, totally.

If this was the case, and all guns were taken out of the
equation, Northern Ireland could look forward to a brighter
future. Politics would come into its own, based on
democracy alone, and power-sharing would become a real
possibility. To get there, much confidence-building will be
needed, on all sides.


Opin: Black And White Or Shades Of Grey?

Crime is one of the main aspects of IRA activity to be put
under the spotlight in this week's IMC report. But could
the Denis Donaldson affair also raise questions about the
Provos' intelligence unit? Chris Thornton reports

31 January 2006

When the IRA leadership made their commitment to end "all
activity" last July, it was fairly easy for them - and
anyone else following events after the Northern Bank
robbery - to see that a lot of attention would turn to

As PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde pointed out last
week, criminality offers a potentially huge "grey area" in
assessing whether the IRA is active or inactive, as the
Independent Monitoring Commission has done in a report that
will be made public later this week.

Sir Hugh indicated that there will be inevitable questions
about "whether people are doing this on behalf of the
organisation or on behalf of themselves".

"That is going to seriously confuse the issue," he said.

The IRA could see that coming. What they probably couldn't
predict - and what could throw up another impediment to the
Government's ideal of a clean bill of health for the IRA -
was the turn of events that saw Denis Donaldson admit to
being a British agent.

The fact that Donaldson, Sinn Fein's administrator at
Stormont, didn't turn up dead afterwards is evidence of how
the IRA has changed. Episodes like his used to end along a
border road.

But since he admitted being an informer inside the
republican movement for more than two decades, there have
been persistent reports of the IRA looking for more

Parts of this search have been passive reviews of what
Donaldson did and what he may have compromised. But if the
reports are true other parts are inevitably active -
including the questioning of a number of republicans who
fell under suspicion.

So does this qualify as "activity", as in that thing that
the IRA no longer does?

The IMC hasn't said yet. But the IRA's intelligence unit
was one part of the organisation that the commission paid
special attention to in its last report. "There are
indications that the organisation's intelligence function
remained active though its focus may be becoming more
political," that October report said.

That last distinction may be crucial. Those involved in
Donaldson's debriefing were Sinn Fein officials, Northern
chairman Declan Kearney and Leo Green, who was Bairbre de
Brun's special adviser at Stormont.

That could qualify the Donaldson review as a purely
political affair. But Mr Green has an IRA pedigree and that
could influence the intelligence agencies that report to
the IMC. It also seems likely that Donaldson would have
been questioned about his own role in the IRA.

It's the IMC's view on what happened next that could be
decisive. Some of the post-Donaldson "witch hunt" has been
overstated - one longtime Sinn Fein figure was seen in
Belfast the day he was reported to have fled - but it is
clear Donaldson has created republican ripples of one sort
or another. There has been at least one other admission of
being an agent and Gerry Adams has predicted more.

The Donaldson affair happened at the end of the timeframe
under IMC scrutiny, which may make it difficult for them to
draw firm conclusions. But at some point they may have to
indicate whether a hunt for informers is a legitimate
political function or evidence of IRA activity. Or they
could conclude it is one of those grey areas best decided
by the passage of time.


First Peek At Maze Masterplan

By Gareth Gordon
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

There used to be barbed wire, high concrete walls and
dangerous inmates from all of Northern Ireland's warring
paramilitary groups.

Now the government's vision for the once-troubled Maze
Prison site, the ultimate marriage of sports and politics,
is finally unveiled.

Until now, the Maze masterplan, drawn up by the company
which designed the template for the London 2012 Olympics
bid, has been known only to a select band of designers,
officials and a few politicians, but a copy has been
obtained by the BBC.

It shows how the plan's two most controversial elements - a
42,500-seater stadium and a conflict transformation centre,
featuring some of the old prison's most controversial
history - are to be married together.

To complete this picture, add a 5,000-seat indoor arena; a
rural excellence and equestrian zone featuring an
international exhibition centre and showgrounds; an hotel;
offices; cafés and restaurants and a multi-screen cinema
alongside an industrial zone with the potential for up to
6,000 jobs; housing and parkland.

The plan also outlines how the government intends
countering the other main reservation expressed about the
Maze: its location.

The design shows a new junction and link road onto the site
from the M1 to the south. And to the north, the Blaris Road
to Lisburn will be upgraded.

There are also plans for a rail link and park-and-ride
system close to the stadium, though these will not be ready
by the stadium's planned opening date in 2010.

The thinking is that two entry and exit roads will be
required to the site to avoid, for example, problems which
have been encountered by fans using the Reebok Stadium in


42,500-seater stadium
Conflict transformation centre
Indoor arena seating 5,000
Rural excellence and equestrian zone with international
exhibition centre and showgrounds
Cafés and restaurants
Multi-screen cinema
Industrial zone
Housing and parkland
Rail link and park-and-ride system
Upgraded surrounding roads

The Maze consultation panel, which includes representatives
from all four main parties, reached agreement on a way
forward for the Maze/Long Kesh site in February 2005.

In June, the Reinvestment and Reform Minister, Jeff Rooker,
appointed the London-based design specialists EDAW to draw
up the masterplan.

The work also involved the architecture firm HOK, the
company which designed the Arsenal and Wembley stadiums.
They worked on the part of the plan linking the external
stadium design with the rest of the site.

For this they drew up plans for a podium - just like at
Arsenal and Wembley.

Underneath will be underground parking for 3,000 cars and
service areas.

Above will be a large public space tying the stadium to the
exhibition halls and the indoor arena, which are earmarked
for sports like basketball, tennis and boxing.

The equestrian zone may become the new home for the Royal
Ulster Agricultural Society, which currently stages the
annual Balmoral Show at its headquarters in south Belfast.

The equestrian zone may also perform another very important
function - it would separate the stadium from the
International Conflict Transformation Centre (ICTC), a
distance of more than half a mile.

For officials concerned about the sensitivities of housing
both these facilities on the same patch of earth, the
distance is important.

For Sinn Fein, preservation of at least part of the old
prison site was key to them agreeing to the overall Maze

But for some unionists the idea is anathema. It has even
been derided as a "hunger strike museum" by some.

It is known that one of the old H-Blocks, H6, will be
preserved - along with the prison hospital where the 10
republican hunger strikers died, as well as the
administration block and two old aircraft hangars which
date back to Long Kesh's time as an airfield in World War

Sources say that whatever form the ICCT finally takes, it
must be agreed by the Maze Panel.

"In other words, the DUP will have a veto on what appears
there, so it can hardly be viewed as something which will
glorify republicans," said one.


But a glance at the popular Northern Ireland football fans'
website, Our Wee Country, shows that plans for the centre
explain some of the opposition from a vocal group of
supporters who do not want a stadium at the Maze.

Nevertheless, the decision by the Irish Football
Association - along with the rugby and GAA authorities - to
agree in principle to the Maze as a location, allows the
government to move to the next stage which should see the
three sports involved in the stadium design.

Sports Minister David Hanson would like to announce a
decision within two months - though the tortuously slow
progress to date suggests that timescale may be optimistic.

It's hoped the stadium will be ready by 2010 - allowing two
years for design and procurement and two years to build.
The absolute cut-off point if it is to stage some soccer
games in the 2012 Olympics is 2011.

There are still many potential obstacles which could make
the Maze a non-runner.

But the OK from the three sports, albeit in response to a
government deadline, and now the appearance of the Maze
masterplan means the referee is closer to putting his
whistle to his mouth.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/30 19:10:09 GMT


‘Catholics Turning To Other Religions’

By Staff Reporter

The numbers of Irish people turning to evangelical churches
has dramatically increased over the past 25 years with
congregations soaring to around 30,000, it emerged

Over 400 evangelical churches have been established in the
Republic – up from 150 in 1980.

Sean Mullan, the national director of Evangelical Alliance
Ireland (EAI), said that the amount of people joining the
church from a traditional Irish Catholic background has

“There is a great mixture of people within evangelical
churches, so two-thirds of them are Irish and the

other third are a whole variety of people from

many different nations,” he said at the launch of new
research into the growth

of the religion in the Republic.

“The numbers of people who have come from a traditional
Irish Catholic background have increased as well. Almost
half of the people in the evangelical church would have
come from that kind of background.”


Govt Body Examining Need For Irish Tsunami Warning System

31/01/2006 - 08:07:22

The Geological Survey of Ireland is reportedly examining
the possibility of putting a tsunami warning system in
place around the Irish coast.

Reports this morning said the Government agency believed
the probability of a tsunami was very low, but precautions
had to be taken in the wake of the Indian Ocean disaster
just over a year ago.

The main tsunami threat to Ireland is posed by a volcano on
the Canary Islands that could slide into the sea and cause
a massive tidal wave.

There are also concerns that a huge sediment build-up off
the west coast could collapse and push the sea inland.

This morning's reports said the GSI wanted Ireland to
prepare for these possibilities by becoming part of a
tsunami warning system that UNESCO is planning to establish
in the north-east Atlantic in the coming years.


Son Of Cathal Brugha Dies Aged 88

Former Fianna Fáil TD dies aged 88

31 January 2006 11:15

Ruairí Brugha, a former Fianna Fáil TD and son of Cathal
Brugha, has died in a Dublin hospital.

Mr Brugha was married to Máire MacSweeney, the only child
of Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSweeney.

His father Cathal Brugha was Minister for Defence in the
first Dáil, and went on to oppose the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
He was killed during the Civil War.

Ruairi Brugha, 88, was elected Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin
South in 1973 and was also appointed the European
Parliament in 1977, he served in the Seanad until the

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To January 2006 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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