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January 15, 2006

Fortified Remains

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SL 01/15/06 Fortified Remains
BB 01/15/06 Assembly 'Must Have Full Powers'
II 01/15/06 No Ruckus From Irish-American Reliables
SL 01/15/06 Spooks Strategy To Behead Loyalist Terror
IO 01/15/06 UK Under Fire Over Extradition Delay
IN 01/15/06 ‘Brother’s Death Did Not Justify Assault’
LL 01/15/06 SF: Release Prisoners & Campaign For Unity
DU 01/15/06 Rossport 5 Man Praises People Power
SL 01/15/06 Hunger-Striker Thrown Out Of Jail
SL 01/15/06 Provo Mob Returned 'To Finish Robert Off'
IO 01/15/06 Govt Accused Over 'Culture Of Secrecy'
IN 01/15/06 Opin: Time Running Out For Expnsv Jamboree
NY 01/15/06 Opin: Gaming Belfast's Patriot Game
CD 01/15/06 A Plea For Miner Executed In 1877
DI 01/15/06 Rare Percy French Artwork Under The Hammer
UT 01/15/06 Ms Justice Carroll Dies Aged 71


Fortified Remains

Cops reject bid to remove stations anti-terror

15 January 2006

The threat from dissident republicans is so high that
cops say they can't continue dismantling security
measures at a Co Down police station.

Police have said they cannot agree to scaling down or
removing blast walls surrounding the base, in

The SDLP has been pressing to have the fortifications
removed, but during a meeting with the divisional
commander, Superintendent Ralph Taggart, they were
told it would not be safe nor wise.

The station - in Irish Street - had the unique
distinction during the Troubles of being the only one
in Ulster with rocket caging over the main streets
surrounding it as a counter-measure against IRA mortar

After the second IRA ceasefire in 1996, the caging was

But now - 10 years later - attempts to have other
measures taken down have been rebuffed.

Peter Craig, the former SDLP chairman of Down District
Council, who led a delegation of councillors to meet
Supt Taggart, said: "We pressed hard to have the blast
wall in Irish Street taken down.

"It has been there too long. We want to get traffic
moving and get Downpatrick normalised.

"He informed us this would not be possible as there is
still a threat.

"It is disappointing - but we have to accept that his
intelligence is telling him that there is still a
threat to life."

The wall - specially designed to throw any blast
outwards - was built out into the middle of the street
as part of a series of intricate measures in 1990 at
the same time as the IRA killed Patsy Gillespie, in
Londonderry, in a so-called 'human bomb' attack.

The measures including the erection of the rocket
caging and the acquisition of nearby shops.

But the base continued to be a regular IRA target, and
was the scene of its last major bomb-attack before its
August 1994 ceasefire.

In recent years, dissident republicans, who have a
strong presence in the Ballyhornan and Castlewellan
areas, have launched attacks on the base in 2002, and
on stations in nearby Ardglass and Castlewellan.

These two sub-stations have since closed.

The long-term plan is to replace the existing
Downpatrick station on a new site by 2010.



Assembly 'Must Have Full Powers'

The SDLP will not consider any measures short of
giving the Northern Ireland Assembly back its full
powers, party leader Mark Durkan has said.

Speaking on the Politics Show, Mr Durkan said interim
arrangements being proposed by the DUP were

"A two-stage process isn't open. If you start saying
we are just going to go for a fallback, and then
starting with a fallback that is just holding back.

"Let's test it and see how far parties are willing to

He added: "We want the assembly restored. If parties
aren't willing to form an inclusive executive, we then
have to look at what other options there are short of
suspension and direct rule again.

"But parties are only going to get real about how far
they are going to go in circumstances where the
governments are saying very clearly that there is a
definite date for restoration."

Last week, NI Secretary Peter Hain said he wanted to
hold talks on restoring devolution in February.

Mr Hain said elections due in May 2007 had to be

"We therefore need to make progress urgently. We
cannot let things drift," he told the Commons.

"I am therefore asking each of the political parties
to agree dates for substantial discussions in early
February with the British and Irish Governments to
give their views on the way forward to restore the
political institutions."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/15 13:51:18 GMT


No Ruckus Rustled Up From Irish-American Reliables

'IT'S the police, stupid." That was the Christmas
message to republicans from the US administration.
They're making a feeble fist of rebutting it.

Mitchell Reiss - the tough US special envoy to
Northern Ireland - put it straightforwardly: "Today,
Sinn Fein is the only political party in Europe that
does not support policing. Gerry Adams often talks
about parity of esteem [which] implies parity of
responsibility. We think Sinn Fein has a
responsibility to tell its constituents they should
co-operate with the police - without fear of
retribution. By denying republicans and nationalists
proper policing and justice, Sinn Fein has condemned
them to a ghettoised existence."

Even more woundingly, he went on to point out that for
insurance purposes, republicans deal with the police:
"Mark Durkan, the leader of the SDLP, recently
observed that, 'The Sinn Fein leadership admit they go
to the police if they have car accidents. So now we
know. They put their no-claims bonuses ahead of a
child's right to justice and protection. So much for
their Ireland of equals.'"

If there's anything more offensive to republicans than
being accused of being spies or hypocrites, it's
quoting the leader of the SDLP - a guy who Sinn Fein
had bragged would be toast after the May general
election. Instead, the upstart MP is standing up to
Sinn Fein and actually being listened to in Washington
by the people who matter.

Cue for Adams to call for help from Irish-America. In
the Irish Echo - a New York organ now being printed
and distributed here by the Andersonstown News, a
media group that has inter alia perpetrated the
whingefest that is Daily Ireland, is (ahem, how shall
I put it, lawyers?) sympathetic towards Sinn Fein and
is subsidised by the poor old British taxpayer - Adams
accused Reiss of writing in "an unhelpful and partisan

With breathtaking effrontery/ brass neck/ double
standards/ pot-kettlery, he explained that the RUC had
been "a political paramilitary militia, which engaged
in the most disgraceful abuse of human rights which
included torture and murder" and that the Special
Branch, which had been "at the heart of this malign
force", was still active in the PSNI and had been
behind Stormontgate.

However, if the British government honoured its
"commitments on policing, including the transfer of
power" and the DUP concurred, Sinn Fein would "hold a
special conference to debate this matter out fully to
arrive at a democratically agreed position".
Translation: if republicans are guaranteed control of
the police and the justice system and the amputation
of the PSNI's intelligence arm, we'll join the police

This is a deal which Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair - who
talk about law and order at home and sell out the law-
abiding in Northern Ireland - would happily accept, as
would the apartheid-minded wing of the DUP. However,
Ambassador Reiss has principles, is neither a sap nor
a mug and is paying close attention to the voices of
nationalism and unionism that oppose a sectarian
carve-up of Northern Ireland and the emasculation of
the PSNI.

In olden days, the full chorus of Old Irish-American
Reliables would have been raising a ruckus on Capitol
Hill, but informed opinion agrees with Reiss.

At ground level there is disarray among the troops,
most of whom can make no sense of the Denis Donaldson
revelations since they know Donaldson did wonders for
the party in America and laid the groundwork for
Friends of Sinn Fein, which has been raising around
$1m annually. As Niall O'Dowd put it in the other
Irish-American organ, the Irish Voice, "For an
admitted British agent, Donaldson actually dampened
down dissension in America rather than causing it to
flare up, as the British surely wanted." They didn't,
of course, since they are in cahoots with the
republican leadership, but O'Dowd's confusion reflects
that of Irish-America, which is awash with conspiracy

So Adams had to fall back on the dim-witted faithful
of the Third Eleven (representatives of, eg, the
Brehon Law Societies, the Ancient Order of Hibernians,
the Irish Parades Emergency Committee), who wrote an
open letter to Blair accusing his government of being
responsible for bringing down the Assembly and
demanding he "immediately" reinstate the political
institutions "and make the Good Friday Agreement

As if.

In an email to me, an old Washington hand described
the letter as "scurrilous anti-Brit rubbish from
ageing Irish-Americans who know they would not get
away with this stuff if they wrote about their own
country in such terms. What empty lives they must

Reiss couldn't be in a stronger position to influence
events. If he's really tough, he'll tell Adams
privately that there will be no fund-raising visas and
no invitations to the White House until Sinn Fein
endorses the PSNI.

Ruth Dudley Edwards


Spooks 'Snake' Strategy To Behead Loyalist Terror

15 January 2006

MI5 is turning up the heat on UDA and UVF godfathers
in a bid to force them to stand down - or be shut

Sources have told Sunday Life that the Security
Service has taken over a small section of Palace
Barracks outside Holywood to direct the operation
against loyalist terror bosses and their criminal

It is understood that the Government has decided to
target UDA and UVF leaders in the wake of last July's
historic statement by the IRA formally announcing the
end of its armed campaign.

One security source said the failure of the two main
loyalist groups to follow the IRA's lead and their
reluctance to stand down were seen as major obstacles
which had to be tackled.

Said the source: "The Security Service [MI5] has been
given the job of shutting down the UDA and UVF.

"Intelligence is the key to the success of this
operation. The service will be gathering and collating
intelligence on loyalist drug-dealing, prostitution,
extortion - everything they are at."

He added: "There will be no hiding place for the
paramilitary bosses.

"When the UDA and UVF refused to follow the IRA lead
last year, their days were numbered."

Our source compared the MI5 operation against loyalist
paramilitaries to "cutting the head off a snake".

"Once the head is cut off, the body might wriggle a
bit, but it dies in no time.

"They [loyalist leaders] will be approached and shown
what the state has against them.

"It will be a straightforward, non-negotiable choice -
pack it all in now or we'll put you away for 20 years.

"It's an offer none of them will be able to refuse."


UK Under Fire Over Extradition Delay

15/01/2006 - 12:47:31

The British government was today challenged to explain
a three and a half year delay in seeking the
extradition of a key suspect in a Northern Ireland spy

Democratic Unionist Party MP Peter Robinson pledged to
confront Attorney General Lord Goldsmith about Larry
Zaitschek, a former chef at Special Branch
headquarters in Belfast raided by the IRA in March

Even though a police file recommending the American
should be brought back to Northern Ireland was sent to
the prosecution services within six months, no
decision has yet been taken.

And legal sources close to the authorities studying
the papers have disclosed it would be months, rather
than weeks, before there is any movement.

The apparent torpor over a case where the code names
of scores of Special Branch detectives and details on
their informants were allegedly seized by the
Provisionals, as well as its direct link to the
collapse of the Stormont power-sharing Executive,
astonished Mr Robinson.

With the British government already under pressure to
reveal why espionage charges were dropped against top
Sinn Féin official-turned British agent Denis
Donaldson, the DUP deputy leader claimed it may be to
protect informers.

He said: “The police obviously thought they had
sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution and passed
it to the prosecution service.

“It’s unconscionable that they should be sitting on
such an important case for such a long period of time
without offering the least explanation for this feet

“It’s either wrapped up with consideration of
extradition issues or it’s wrapped up in some of the
evidence from sources they did not want to identify.

“I will be putting questions to ask if the Attorney
General has been consulted on this.”

Mr Zaitschek, 38, was publicly identified as a suspect
in the St Patrick’s Day break-in at the Castlereagh
security base.

He emphatically denied any involvement in the raid,
stressing that he had fully co-operated with the
police investigation before returning home to New

The chef, who was in the gym at Castlereagh on the
night of the raid, is also an acquaintance of Mr
Donaldson, dramatically unmasked last month as a paid
police and MI5 mole.

Mr Donaldson was one of three men accused of
intelligence gathering following a police surveillance
operation, codenamed Torsion, launched after the
Castlereagh security breach.

They were arrested and charged by detectives who
carried out high profile searches at Sinn Féin offices
in Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The raid provoked uproar and brought down the devolved
administration in Belfast, with unionists refusing to
sit in a coalition cabinet alongside republicans.

But the case against Mr Donaldson, one of Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams most trusted aides, and his co-
accused was dropped when the authorities announced in
December prosecution would not be in the public

Within days Mr Donaldson had confessed to a 20-year
career as an informer.

His links to Mr Zaitschek remain under scrutiny, and
with the political storm over Stormontgate showing no
sign of relenting, the prosecution service is facing
pressure to make a decision.

The New Yorker’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, has written
to the Public Prosecution Service demanding to know if
it was still seeking his extradition.

Mr Winters also expressed concern over his client’s
legal fight to gain access to his son he has not seen
for nearly four years, stressing that he faces arrest
if he returns to Northern Ireland.

“At its most charitable, the child is being used as a
pawn in a wider political process,” the lawyer

“In terms of getting a response about what’s happening
this case is unusual.”

A senior PPS lawyer is still assessing the file on Mr
Zaitschek before deciding if he should be prosecuted
and his extradition sought.

It must also be agreed by the Director of Public
Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Sir Alasdair Fraser.

A spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service today
declined to comment on the case.


‘Brother’s Death Did Not Justify Assault’

By Staff Reporter

Three “sectarian” teenagers who att-acked a
motorcyclist and later got involv-ed in a
confrontation with police were detained for six
months, after agreeing to spend a further year on

Belfast Crown Court heard that 18-year-old Steven
McDonald and 19-year-olds Lee Haveron and Gary Taylor
attacked the motorcyclist on the Whitewell Road, a
notorious flashpoint interface area in north Belfast,
the day before a memorial parade was to be held for
McDonald’s dead brother Thomas.

Alison McKeown (34) was convicted of 16-year-old
Thomas’s manslaughter after she chased him in her car,
knocking him from his bike close to Gunnell Hill after
the teenager had thrown a brick at her car in 2001.

Yesterday Ian Tannahill prosecuting lawyer told the
court that from the CCTV footage of the incident in
September 2004 the three could be seen attacking Mark
Young, knocking him from his scooter, pulling his

helmet off and kicking and punching at him.

The lawyer added that immediately after that attack
“there was a confrontation between these Protestant
youths” and a rival nationalist faction further down

the road.

He said that two police officers who arrived on the
scene tried to use their car “to establish a barricade
between the groups” but that one of the officers “felt
it necessary to draw his fire arm for his own

The court heard that from the CCTV footage of the
incident the trio were identified by a number of
police officers and were arrested the following

Taylor from Ross House in Mount Vernon and Haveron
from the Whitewell Road, both Belfast, each pleaded
guilty to charges of affray and inflicting actual
bodily harm on Mr Young. McDonald from Lindsey Street
in Belfast denied involvement in the incident but was
found guilty of the charges last month by Judge Denise
Kennedy, sitting without a jury, after a three-day

Yesterday defence lawyer for McDonald, Taylor Campbell
told the court that the “horror” of his brother's
death “got him involved in things he would not
otherwise have done”.

He said that taken out of

the sectarian context the offences were not “the worst
type of assault or affray that has come before the
courts”, however, it was “disgraceful that anyone is
assaulted in this way."

Defence lawyer for Haveron Mark Farrell said that
probation would help to address “sectarian attitudes”
which he holds.

Fiona Friars defence for

Taylor said that he had “difficulties in relation to
sectarianism” and had “aggressive tendencies” after
taking drink and drugs.

She added that he came from a “strained” family
background and revealed that after an argument his
family had emigrated to South Africa without telling

Detaining them, Judge Kennedy said “violent,
unprovoked assaults are very serious offences” and
they were committed in an area “where sectarian
violence is commonplace”.

Turning to McDonald the judge said that his actions
had “all the hallmarks of sectarian conflict” and
added that although his brother’s death was “tragic”
it did not justify such behaviour.


Sinn Fein: Release The Prisoners And Campaign Actively
For Unity


Foggy dew... The colour party and a section of the
crowd at the Republican Plot for the Sinn Fein Sean
South commemoration (LL)

THE Irish Government should release all political
prisoners under the terms of the Good Friday agreement
and actively campaign for a 32-county Ireland,
according to a Sinn Fein Councillor at yesterday's
Sean South commemoration in the city.

Despite the cold conditions, over 150 people marched
to Mount St Lawrence's cemetery, led by the Ballyseedy
Martyrs Band, from Kerry.

Wexford Councillor and general election candidate John
Dwyer gave the graveside oration at the Republican

"I am calling on British and Irish Governments to
fully honour the commitments laid down by the Good
Friday Agreement."

"It is time for them to put their money where their
mouth is, and not allow for any other political
prisoners to be taken hostage under the Good Friday
Agreement," said Cllr Dwyer, to rapturous applause.

He said now was a time for action on all sides.

"The Irish Government can no longer sit on the fence,
it is time they actively started moves toward a 32-
county Ireland," he said.

He told the gathered crowd, which included Sinn Fein
members from Limerick and Clare, that it was their
duty to resist moves to prevent the creation of a
united Ireland.

"There have been attempts to criminalise us, but
people only do so, because they fear us, they fear our
unity. We are calling on more Irish people to join our
march, because we are unstoppable. We are moving into
a different phase, but we cannot be stopped," he said.

Former IRA prisoners and members of "The Balcombe
Street Gang" Harry Duggan and Eddie Butler, who were
arrested in 1976 after a series of bombings in London,
attended, as did Brixton escapee Nessan Quinlivan.

Maurice Quinlivan, chairman of Sinn Fein Limerick and
a candidate in the next general election, told the
gathered crowd that plans were already underway for
next year's Sean South commemorations-which will mark
the 50th anniversary of his death.

"We will have a national political leader here to
speak and we have begun to put together a programme of
events," he said.

Republican Sinn Fein, which rejects the Good Friday
Agreement, held their own march and graveside oration
on New Year's Day which attracted Republicans from
Limerick, Cork and Tipperary.


Rossport Five Man Praises Rise Of ‘People Power’


A member of the Rossport Five said in Dublin last
night that “people power was beginning to assert
itself” across Ireland.

Speaking at a well-attended meeting, organised by the
People before Profit Alliance last night, Vincent
McGrath said: “People power is beginning to assert
itself now. Somebody said that this is not a
revolution, it’s an evolution and I think that’s

“People in Ireland are starting to question the old
status quo. They are beginning to see there is a
different way, based on common justice.”

Mr McGrath thanked activist from other campaigns who
had helped the Rossport Five during their time in
jail. “You, our supporters, have conducted yourselves
through-out with great restraint and dignity,” he

He defended the campaign he is involved in, saying
that it had helped to highlight the deal done between
the government and Shell.

“If we have done nothing else we have highlighted this

“A deal would suggest some sort of bargaining would
have gone on.

“A proper deal has to be done, not the sort of
arrangement that took place in this case.

“You may be certain that if this deal is not re-
negotiated to the satisfaction of the people there
will be trouble ahead.

“The campaign is still strong in Rossport down in

Mr McGrath said that there were decisions coming ahead
for the government.

“There is only one real decision for them, whether to
go ahead with the project or whether not to go ahead.”

“The only way they can go ahead with it is by pushing
it ahead without the consent of the local people.”

Along with Mr McGrath, the meeting was addressed by
Eamonn McCann, the journalist and socialist activist
from Derry as well as Rita Fagan, a Community Worker
from the St Michael’s Estate in Dublin

Further workshops, as part of the People before Profit
conference, will take place today in the Teacher’s
Club on Parnell Square and Trinity College.

Registration takes place on Saturday morning with
meetings and workshops taking place through out
Saturday until 4pm.

In June last year, the Rossport Five were sent to jail
for refusing to obey a High Court order not to
interfere with construction of the Corrib Gas
pipeline. They were eventually released after a
nationwide campaign.

Concerns continue regarding environmental issues
arising from the pipeline.


Hunger-Striker Thrown Out Of Jail

Visitor denied access for being drunk

Alan Murray
15 January 2006

A former IRA hunger-striker was thrown out of
Maghaberry jail - after she was told she was TOO DRUNK
to visit a republican prisoner.

Dolours Price, who married Hollywood actor Stephen Rea
following her release from jail for her part in the
1973 Old Bailey bombing, was marched from the high-
security prison on Friday after a two-hour dispute
with warders.

Sources at the category A jail said Price smelled of
alcohol and was unsteady on her feet at the prison's
visitors' centre.

It's understood she had driven to the prison to visit
dissident republican prisoner John Connolly - jailed
for having a 'barrack-buster' mortar on Remembrance
Day, 2000.

Connolly (29), from Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, was
given a 14-year sentence for his role in the planned
Poppy Day attack.

Price, who used her married name Dolours Rea when she
entered the jail, was prevented from entering the
visiting area where Connolly was waiting.

Two officers were instructed to approach her and it's
understood she admitted drinking wine at lunchtime
before becoming abusive towards the officers.

The former hunger-striker was then told that, because
of her condition, she would not be permitted to visit
Connolly and that she should leave the prison.

It's believed Price continued arguing with prison
officers until members of the jail's control and
restraint unit (CRU) were summoned to escort her onto
a minibus for the journey back to the car-park.

Said one senior prison source: "She (Price) was
restrained by a prison officer on each arm, with a
third holding her head and a fourth following behind
with a protective riot shield.

"This all began just before three o'clock and it was
around 10 minutes to five before the whole incident
was over and then she was left in the car park.

"She was verbally abusive and threatening and was in
no condition to be allowed into the visiting area.

"The electronically-controlled door to the visiting
room was put in the locked position at one stage when
she tried to force her way in."

In a statement yesterday, the Prison Service said a
female visitor had been ejected from the prison.

It said: "On Friday afternoon, a female visitor to HMP
Maghaberry was refused entry to the visitor centre as
staff had reason to believe that she was in an
intoxicated state."


Provo Mob Returned 'To Finish Robert Off'

Stephen Breen
15 January 2006

Shocking new details about the brutal killing of
Belfastman Robert McCartney can today be revealed for
the first time.

Sunday Life has learned the 33-year-old received TWO
vicious beatings before being murdered by a republican

The murder victim's sisters, who have vowed to step up
their campaign for justice in 2006, were only told
about the development by cops on Thursday.

We can also reveal the campaigning family are set to
launch a website - - over the
coming weeks in a bid to raise awareness about the

The dad-of-two died after he was stabbed and beaten
outside the now-closed Magennis' Bar on January 31,

Said Paula: "We couldn't believe it when the police
told us that Robert was actually attacked twice by the
mob on the night he was murdered.

"They attacked him and left him for dead and then they
came back to finish him off.

"We think that if they had just left him the first
time then me might be alive today."

It has also emerged police want to speak to the driver
of a large blue vehicle, who is believed to have
stopped at traffic lights when the 33-year-old was
being attacked.

It is understood the driver may have 'revved' his
engine in a bid to make the mob aware that he had
witnessed the attack.

The police will make a fresh appeal for the driver to
come forward on the first anniversary of the murder.

Speaking to us from her new home in south Belfast,
Paula told us her family will spend Robert's
anniversary reflecting on the events of the last year.

The mum-of-five also told us she is considering an
offer by police for her to make a fresh appeal for
information outside Magennis's.

Said Paula: "My sisters can't go anywhere near the bar
because of all the bad memories it holds for us, but I
am considering whether or not to stand outside on
Robert's anniversary.

" I would plead with anyone who has been afraid to
come forward to search their hearts and tell police
what they know.

"We are determined to see more people in court for our
brother's murder."


Govt Accused Over 'Culture Of Secrecy'

15/01/2006 - 17:39:48

The Government has created a culture of secrecy within
public bodies by repeatedly trying to gag the Freedom
of Information Act, it was claimed today.

The Labour Party, which introduced the legislation in
the mid-1990s, vowed to extend its powers if elected
into office.

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly earlier called for the
immediate inclusion of the Garda Siochana, the
Adoption Board and the Central Bank under the remit of
the Act.

Labour’s finance spokesperson Joan Burton accused
Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats of doing
everything possible to undermine the legislation since

“Despite having no mandate to do so and never having
raised the matter in either party’s election
manifesto, the government introduced amending
legislation in 2003 which excluded whole areas of
information to which the public had been entitled
under the original Act,” she said.

“They then followed this up with massive increases in
charges for applications under the Act. The whole
impact of this has been to seriously undermine the
value of the original legislation,” she added.

Ms O’Reilly, a former journalist, made her calls for a
wider remit for the Act in an unpublished report to
the Oireachtas Committee on Finance last week.

Ms Burton continued: “Ms O’Reilly quite properly
points to the culture of secrecy that continues to
surround many public bodies.

“It is significant that many of the bodies and areas
that remain outside the remit of the Act come within
the area of responsibility of the Minister for
Justice, Michael McDowell.

“Almost ten years after the original Act came into
operation, there is no excuse for the continued
blanket exclusion of the gardai.

“Neither is there any excuse for the decision to
exclude the new Private Security Authority or the
reported plan to exclude the Office of the Garda

The Dublin WestTD claimed that the tampering with the
Act by the Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats
Coalition would be one of the failures for which the
administration will be most remembered for.

“The assault on the principle of freedom of
information is one of the worst legacies of nine years
of Fianna Fáil/PD government.”

Ms Burton said her party would allow the legislation
to revert to what it was originally intended to do, if
elected in a power-sharing government with Fine Gael
at the next election.

“The Labour Party in government is committed to
ensuring a return to the spirit of the original Act
and the highest possible standards in regard to
freedom of information,” she added.

The Green Party also accused the Government of
ignoring transparency and criticised it for delaying
the enactment of the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill.

“I share the Ombudsman’s frustration. But I suspect
that this Bill will not see the light of day before
the next general election, as this is a government
that wants for itself the right to choose what
information it reveals and how, often in highly
suspect ways,” finance spokesman Deputy Dan Boyle

He added that the administration was “smugly content
with its previous gutting of Freedom of Information
legislation, and callously indifferent to having to
properly account for its activities, or for the
activities of major state institutions.”


Opin: Time Running Out For ‘Expensive Jamboree’

By James Kelly

Time flies. It’s difficult to believe that it was away
back in October 2002 that our keystone cops invaded
the Stormont assembly and surprised the outside world
with the long running farce dubbed ‘Stormontgate’ and
it’s even more surprising sequel with reports of
republican spies under the bed. Secretary of state
Hain has at last announced to a bored house of commons
that enough is enough and the time has come to pull
the plug on that expensive Stormont jamboree, costing
a total of £78 million with its 108 assembly members
paid salaries and allowances of £85,000 on average
while awaiting the recall that never came.

“Countless times,” said Hain “voters in Northern
Ireland have asked me: how long can this go on? I want
to tell the house today – not many months more.”

He said it would be “traducing democracy” to have
elections for a second time to an assembly that does
not exist.

Elections were due in May 2007 so they could not let
matters drift.

The upshot of all this is that talks with the
political parties begin here next month but judging
from the reaction to date of the parties, the prospect
of a breakthrough in time for another election in May
is remote and there is talk instead of fall-back
proposals. SDLP leader Mark Durkan wants a firm date
for restoration of devolution or if that falls
through, the appointment of a panel of administrators
until such time as the backsliders wake up and are
faced with the alternative of ‘get on or get out’ from
a fed-up electorate.

Significantly, the DUP boss Ian Paisley has been
silent on the restoration issue leaving it to his
sidekick Peter Robinson to suggest a covert return to
the failed convention idea of a talkshop assembly
monitoring continued direct rule by Westminster. An
attractive proposition for DUP MPs and unionist
members of the House of Lords, swanning around over
there as elder statesmen, but just another attempt to
delay the inevitable implementation of the sheet-
anchor Good Friday Agreement.

Meantime working-class Protestant communities,
especially in Belfast, are awakening to the fact that
they have been let down by their political
representatives’ stupidity. The NIO minister, David
Hanson, let the cat out of the bag this week when he
confessed that while deprivation was more prevalent in
the north’s nationalist areas, loyalist communities
often found it harder to tackle problems because they
weren’t “as well-equipped” to deal with them.

“A pound of government money on Belfast’s Shankill
Road will not buy the same output as a pound spent in
nationalist areas like the Falls Road,” he said. In
the wake of the recent loyalist riotous attempt to
defy the ban on a march through the Catholic
Springfield Road the reason is not hard to seek.

Observers of history over the years will have noted
that when loyalist politicians are under pressure to
mend their ways invariably help will appear from the
unionist orange underworld. For example we all know
that it was a gang of extremist thugs in the Belfast
shipyard labelling themselves as the ‘Ulster Workers
Strike’ who smashed the first power-sharing Stormont
government formed after the Sunningdale Agreement.
Paisley, West and the other cowering local politicians
only joined in when, to their surprise, the defeatist
labour secretary of state the late Merlyn Rees failed
to take a strong line against what was in fact a
fascist-style conspiracy to prevent workers leaving
their homes for their places of employment.

This was no strike. Hooded men with cudgels even broke
up a pathetic trade union march to work. Afterwards,
Mr Rees made a fool of himself at an Oxford Union
gathering by pleading that he, a Welsh miner’s son,
could not prevail against a ‘worker’s strike’. How do
I know? Well, I was there. I heard his excuse and by
permission of the chairman Lord Longford put the
record straight in my first and last speech to the
Oxford Union. Merlyn was angry but the truth had to be

Well, to get back to the present, with Paisley and
company under pressure to emerge from their political
hidey hole, the date for the talks has been set for
early in February. Is it a coincidence or a piece of
superb timing that under flaring headlines in The News
Letter we are told that the date for a ‘Unionist
Protest rally’ in Dublin has been set for Saturday
February 25?

The rally, which sounds suspiciously like another
Drumcree piece of Orange coat-trailing, is supposed to
help ‘IRA terror victims’ but how the plan to stage a
march of loyalist bands, DUP politicians, Orangemen,
wearing either Orange lilies or LOL collarettes from
O’Connell Street to a protest demonstration outside
the Dail against the peace process can help the
unfortunate victims, has not been told. We are
informed that thousands from the north are expected at
the event which is part of the ‘Love Ulster’ campaign.

A statement about the march says: “We expect there
will be those who will seek to deny us our rights in
Dublin. However, we now state that we are intent on a
peaceful assembly and will be working closely with the
Garda Siochana assistant commissioner for the Dublin
metropolitan area.”

As one who for many years reported the Twelfth
procession along Belfast’s Royal Avenue I am wondering
about those loyalist bands. I recall those cultural
contributions by certain rowdy bands such as “the
Lilyo: do you think that I would let an oul fenian git
ruin the colours of the Lily-o”. Or another with a
Lambeg drum and a screeching flute which ran “Slither
slaughter, Holy water, chase the papishes everyone”.

Does the Garda assistant commissioner know something
we don’t?

An ecumenical contribution with the loyalist bands
playing hymns all the way? Ah well, if not, perhaps
some fine day in happier times?


Opin: Gaming Belfast's Patriot Game

By Francis X. Clines
Published: January 15, 2006

The Irish have a word for it - gobsmacked - that
properly describes the astonishment of Representative
Peter King and other Irish-Americans at the news that
Denis Donaldson, long a trusted leader in Ireland's
rebel movement, has been spying for Britain for

"Don't you remember him?" asked Mr. King, a New York
Republican close to the Irish peace process. He was
recalling a noisy night 19 years ago at a Belfast
social club - a bastion protected by battle-ready
guards and barbed wire - where supporters of the
outlawed Irish Republican Army drank lager and whiskey
and sang rebel songs. Mr. Donaldson was one of the
throatiest at our table in singing of Irish liberty
and the British yoke.

"I mean, he was so socially and culturally one of
them," said Mr. King, gobsmacked indeed at Mr.
Donaldson's confession last month and the ensuing
uproar it caused for his former colleagues in the
leadership of Sinn Fein, the republican political

Mr. Donaldson was arrested four years ago on suspicion
that he was spying against Britain from his Sinn Fein
post within the Northern Irish peace process. That
sensational arrest helped scuttle the delicate power-
sharing venture by the warring factions in Ireland's
modern Troubles. And now comes word from Mr. Donaldson
that, in truth, he was taking money all along to spy
in behalf of the queen's intelligence operatives.

"No one in Irish America knows quite what to make of
it," wrote Niall O'Dowd, publisher of Irish Voice on
this side of the Atlantic. Mr. O'Dowd well remembered
the important Sinn Fein missions to New York by Mr.
Donaldson - "the little man with the big smile and
smooth talk."

Mr. King thinks the Irish are so far along the peace
road that discovery of a Celtic Pimpernel will hardly
return them to sectarian strife. "But you've got to
wonder: even a novelist wouldn't think of this sort of
stuff," he said rather appreciatively.

Historically, insurgent movements the world over
suffer this sort of treachery. The novelist Liam
O'Flaherty memorably conjured up an Irish version 80
years ago in "The Informer," in which Gypo Nolan, a
failed policeman, sells out his rebel buddy to the
British authorities for passage to America.

Mr. Donaldson said he became a spy after "compromising
myself during a vulnerable time in my life." This
echoes Gypo Nolan's weepy despair in the movie version
after he was caught and marked for execution: "Isn't
there a man here who can tell me why I did it?" Gypo
cries out to his fellow Irishmen, gobsmacked all.


A Plea For Miner Executed In 1877

A descendant seeks a pardon for John Donahoe, hanged
in the Molly Maguire era, on grounds his trial was

By Mario F. Cattabiani
Inquirer Staff Writer

JIM THORPE, Pa. – It took seven minutes for John
Donahoe's heart to stop once the platform slipped from
under him.

The coal miner, a father of eight and a convicted
killer, twitched violently as he struggled to reach
for the hemp noose around his neck.

Now, nearly 130 years after the gallows floor dropped
in the prison, Donahoe's great-great-granddaughter is
leading a fight to persuade Pennsylvania to officially
pardon the member of the infamous Molly Maguires known
as "Yellow Jack."

He was not the cold-blooded killer of a mine boss in
the 1870s, insists Margaret Mary Traynor. And at the
very least, local and national scholars say, Donahoe
never got a fair trial in the anthracite mining
region, which considered him and other Irish
immigrants thugs and miscreants.

The Molly Maguires were a group of Irish mine workers
who tried to jump-start a labor movement. It was a
violent time, when working the mines meant long,
dangerous days for little pay.

In the process, people turned up dead. And the Molly
Maguires were fingered for the crimes.

Donahoe was one of 20 men hanged for a series of
headline-grabbing murders of mining officials in
Schuylkill and Carbon Counties.

In October, the state Board of Pardons agreed to hold
a hearing on the request - the first hurdle in the
pardons process for Donahoe. A hearing is scheduled
for March, and efforts to set the record straight
about the Molly Maguires has drawn the attention of
the state's political leaders. If successful, the
pardon will be only the second awarded posthumously in
Pennsylvania, officials believe.

Traynor, who lives outside Harrisburg, declined to be
interviewed, citing the advice of her attorney in the
pardons case. But in her application, she wrote
passionately about Donahoe, the injustice he faced,
and how her family has struggled with the stigma.

"What my family has endured over the years is not
acceptable. I want the John Donahoe family to stand
tall and proud," she wrote. "The present generations
as well as the future generations must not have to
keep quiet about what my great-great-grandfather stood
for and why he was forced to give the ultimate

Kevin Kenny, a Boston College history professor who
wrote Making Sense of the Molly Maguires, said in an
interview that law enforcement's pursuit of the secret
society had been tainted by cultural bigotry and the
heavy hand of industrial leaders.

Historians agree that mine owners hired a private
detective who infiltrated the Molly Maguires and
provided much of the evidence against the group, which
had struggled on behalf of labor rights in that

The prosecuting attorneys worked for the coal mines
and railroads. Catholics were excluded from the jury,
which was made up mostly of German farmers, some of
whom barely understood English.

"Sixteen people were killed. There were 16 bodies.
Somebody killed them," Kenny said of the crimes the
Molly Maguires were accused of committing. "I don't
know what Yellow Jack did, and I will never know that.
But to get him a pardon, you don't have to prove his
innocence. You only have to look at the conditions of
how he was tried."

Said former Carbon County Judge John P. Lavelle, "The
trials were indeed a travesty to justice... even by
the standards of that time."

In 1993, Lavelle reenacted the trial of one of
Donahoe's codefendants with actors reading from court
transcripts. A jury came up with a very different
result: acquittal.

Lavelle, now a senior judge in Lehigh County, said in
an interview that the outcome of a fair trial no doubt
would have been the same for Donahoe.

The only known posthumous pardon in Pennsylvania came
in 1979 when Gov. Milton Shapp granted one to John
"Black Jack" Kehoe, the leader of the Molly Maguires.
In a 1970 movie about the Molly Maguires, Sean Connery
played Kehoe.

Louise Williams, a pardons board member who voted to
grant Donahoe a hearing, said she did not discuss
pending cases as a matter of policy.

But this one is different, given that 13 decades have
come and gone since Donahoe's execution.

"I think it has enough merit for me to hear more,"
said Williams, a retired district justice and the
appointed victims' advocate on the board. "It's a very
interesting case, especially how things were handled
back then."

Still, Williams stressed that her support for a
hearing did not necessarily reflect how she would

If the board grants a pardon, the case will be
forwarded to Gov. Rendell, who has the final say.

Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill (R.,
Lebanon) has written a letter of support. And last
month, the state House unanimously passed a resolution
declaring that the 20 convicted members of the Molly
Maguires did not get fair trials.

"To say that due process and constitutional rights
were lacking in these trials would be an
understatement," said the resolution, sponsored by
Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.).

Ned McGinley of Wilkes-Barre, national president of
the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said that the group
had lobbied legislators off and on for such a
resolution for more than a decade, but that the effort
had intensified in the last several months.

"It's really about time that all this false
information about them being terrorists be corrected,"
McGinley said. "This needs to be corrected and
corrected in a big way."

Not everyone supports the pardons effort.

Gary Dobias, who said he had prosecuted thousands of
cases in his 15 years as Carbon County's district
attorney, informed the board that he believes applying
today's court standards to those of the 19th century
would set a dangerous precedent.

Dobias said he had reviewed the transcripts and
believes Donahoe received a fair trial. Jury
selection, he said, lasted two days, and the trial
took a week. Several experienced lawyers represented
him, and the case went all the way to the state
Supreme Court.

"Due process requirements of the 1870s were met and
afforded Mr. Donahoe," Dobias said. "A hundred years
from now, I wouldn't want people reviewing my cases
because due process then is different than it is now."

Tom McBride, who owns the old Carbon County prison in
Jim Thorpe, where Donahoe was hanged, also has read
most of the Molly Maguire transcripts and believes
that "probability says that some of these men were

"But based on the trials, there should have been
reasonable doubt," McBride added during an interview
at the foot of a re-created gallows in the prison, now
a museum. "Even if they were guilty, they weren't
proven guilty."

Donahoe and three others were convicted of killing
Morgan Powell. All four were hanged simultaneously on
June 21, 1877, as 150 people looked on.

An account in The Inquirer the next day described
Donahoe as "the most brutal of the quartet of
assassins" and "the terror of the prison as he had
been of the mines."

As he was led to the gallows, Donahoe crossed himself
often and kissed his crucifix. Asked for his last
words, he said, according to the paper, "I have
nothing to say."

But his great-great-granddaughter does.

"Unfortunately, there will always be prejudice, but
ignorance is totally unacceptable," Traynor wrote in
her application. "If society would take a few steps
back in time, seek the truth and learn not to judge
and or condemn a person based on opinion, hearsay,
racial background and religion, the world would be a
better place."


Rare Percy French Artwork To Go Under The Hammer


A rare painting by the Irish songwriter Percy French
is to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London next

The watercolour, entitled Irish Landscape was painted
in 1906. It is signed by Co Roscommon-born French, who
wrote The Mountains of Mourne. The painting has a
guide price of £1,500 (€2,200).

It is included in next Thursday’s auction of 19th
century British and continental paintings at the
Olympia saleroom.

One of French’s most famous songs is Are Ye Right
There, Michael. The song ridiculed the West Clare
Railway and later led to a failed libel action by the
rail company.

Sotheby’s expert Michael Grist said: “French was quite
a character as he often used to paint pictures on a
whim to pay room bills. He had a great love for the
Irish landscape and it featured strongly in his early

A civil engineer by profession, French worked as an
inspector of drains in Co Cavan while writing most of
his songs.

He died from pneumonia in 1920 at the age of 65. He is
buried in Formby, in Lancashire.

Next week’s sale also features a painting by the
Belfast-born artist James Humbert Craig, which has a
guide price of £5,000 (€7,300).

Sotheby’s set a world record price for an Irish
painting in 2001 when Portrait of Gardenia St George,
by Sir William Orpen, sold for £1,983,500 (€2.9


Ms Justice Carroll Dies Aged 71

High Court judge Mella Carroll has died at the age of
71 following a long battle with cancer.

Ms Justice Carroll was called to the Irish bar in 1957
and was the first woman to be appointed as a High
Court judge.

The Taoiseach says Justice Carroll made an outstanding

In a statement today Bertie Ahern said: " On behalf of
the Government I extend our deepest sympathies to the
family and friends of the late Ms Justice Mella

"On a sad occasion such as this, it is important to
acknowledge her inestimable contribution to public

"She has given decades of service to the Irish people.
She was the first female Judge of the High Court,
where she served with great distinction.

"In addition Ms Justice Mella Carroll served as an
international judge and jurist and brought great
credit to the country.

"Her involvement with the Commission on Nursing and
the Council for the Status of Women enabled Irish
society to benefit from her wisdom, and sense of
fairness and justice.

Her death is a great loss to all of us."

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