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January 06, 2006

Hain Paves Way For Transfer of Policing

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 01/06/06 Hain Paves Way For Transfer Of Policing
SF 01/06/06 McGuinness - Time To End British Direct Rule
IN 01/06/06 Give 1916 Letter Back To Ireland
UT 01/06/06 Unionist Anger Over IRA Medal
BT 01/06/06 Briefing On IRA For The Monitors
BB 01/06/06 Petrol Bombing 'Was Sectarian'
IN 01/06/06 Court Told Threats Were Not Sectarian
IN 01/06/06 Bullet Left In Locker Of IRA Man's Son:Tribunal
IN 01/06/06 Parades Body Faces Legal Action
DU 01/06/06 North Belfast MP Comments On Parades Commission
II 01/06/06 Almost 200 Foreigners Pass 1st Major Garda Test
IO 01/06/06 Travellers Still Living Like 2nd-Class Citizens
BT 01/06/06 Interview With Former RUC Johnston Brown
BT 01/06/06 Legacy: Merlyn Rees Divides Opinion In Ulster
EX 01/06/06 Opin: Taoiseach Now Aware Of Problem With PSNI
IN 01/06/06 Opin: Flashing At People Really Is Illegal
BB 01/06/06 Council Gives GAA Land For Free
IO 01/06/06 Protesters Plan Picket Over US Military Flights
IO 01/06/06 Schoolmates Distraught As Girl Disappears
UT 01/06/06 100 Dogs Rescued In 'Puppy Farm' Raid
UT 01/06/06 Radio Talkshow Caller Dies On Air
IO 01/06/06 New TV Channel Secures €14m In Funding
BB 01/06/06 Borrow & Spend More As Boom Fuels Confidence
BT 01/06/06 Want A Better Sex Life?. Then Head For Republic


Hain Paves Way For Transfer Of Policing

By Chris Thornton
06 January 2006

The Government is about to lay the ground work for Northern
Ireland to get its own Minister for policing and justice.

Legislation giving Secretary of State Peter Hain the power
to transfer responsibility for justice to Stormont will go
before Parliament next month.

Mr Hain will retain those powers until Stormont can be
restored, but the new law will allow him to turn them over
with the stroke of a pen.

Government sources say the "enabling legislation" will be
accompanied by a discussion paper about what the transfer
of powers will mean, such as the possible shape of a
Stormont Department of Justice.

The move is seen as a crucial building block for efforts to
restore power sharing at Stormont, because Sinn Fein says
it will not consider support for the PSNI until they have a
hand in policing powers.

Sinn Fein says it needs to see legislation and a specific
time frame for handing over policing powers before it holds
a special ard fheis to consider supporting the PSNI.

The Government is hoping to begin talks in the next few
months about restoring Stormont.

A central part of those talks will be the shape of a
Justice Ministry - especially since the DUP and Sinn Fein
are unlikely to trust each other to run the department on
their own.

When the power-sharing Executive was established by the
Good Friday Agreement, policing and justice powers were
left out of the functions handed over to the Belfast

Those powers were retained by the NIO throughout the period
of devolution, which collapsed in 2002.

Unionists have generally supported the idea of transferring
powers to Belfast, but are extremely wary of ending up with
a Justice Minister who has a history of IRA involvement.


McGuinness - Time To End British Direct Rule

Published: 6 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking in
advance of a meeting of the party Ard Chomhairle in Dublin
tomorrow, said that the time to replace the British Direct
Rule Administration had long since past.

Mr McGuinness said:

" I get a real sense from people throughout the six
counties that they have had enough of unaccountable British
Direct Rule Ministers taking decisions on big issues
affecting our heath service, our education provision and
our taxation.

" The reality is that the British Direct Rule Ministers
could have been replaced by democratically elected
politicians long ago. They remain in position because the
DUP still continue to refuse to share power with the rest
of us in the basis of equality and respect.

" However an opportunity to make rapid progress in the time
ahead now exists. The IRA have dealt decisively with any
unionist concerns about their intentions. The issue of IRA
arms has been resolved.

" What we now need to see is the two governments pushing
the process forward and the DUP accepting their political
responsibilities to deliver for the people who elect them.
The opportunities created by the IRA initiatives of last
year cannot be squandered. We must now all make a
collective effort in the coming weeks to see the political
institutions re-established and the other outstanding
matters resolved." ENDS


'Give 1916 Letter Back To Ireland'

By Staff Reporter

Sinn Fein has called on the British government to hand back
a surrender letter rebel leader Padraig Pearse gave to an
English general after the Easter Rising.

Cllr Christy Burke also wants an all-party Dublin City
Council delegation to go to the UK National Archives in
Surrey to check for more 1916 artefacts.

Mr Burke said the letter should be put into a Easter Rising
museum planned for No 16 Moore Street where Pearse and his
fellow volunteers finally surrendered.

Sinn Fein expects all-party support for a motion on the
issue at next week's monthly meeting.

The letter given to General WHM Lowe after Pearse agreed to
an unconditional surrender on April 29 1916.

Mr Burke said yesterday: "The British are claiming that the
letter is part of their history but it's rightful resting
place should be Ireland."

The letter says: "In order to prevent the further slaughter
of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of
our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered,
the members of the Provisional government present at
headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and
the commandants of the various districts in the city and
county will order their commands to lay down arms."

The Moore Street building became a brief headquarters for
the Rising leader after they abandoned the GPO on Friday
April 28th 1916.

Padraig Pearse made the decision to surrender along with
Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Sean MacDermott and William
Pearse when they were gathered around the bed of the
wounded James Connolly in the building on Easter Saturday.


Unionist Anger Over IRA Medal

A police recruit wore a medal honouring the old IRA at a
passing out parade in Northern Ireland, it emerged today.

By:Press Association

Ulster Unionists were outraged today that the Black and Tan
medal, commemorating IRA members who fought British
soldiers (known as the Black and Tans) during the 1917-21
campaign for Irish independence, was pinned to the chest of
a graduate during a ceremony in November.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member Tom Elliott
claimed the wearing of the medal was offensive to police
families who lost relatives following Provisional IRA

"It is frankly disgusting that a new recruit has been
allowed to wear an IRA medal at a graduation ceremony for
the PSNI," the UUP Assembly member said.

"It is highly insensitive given the history of the Police
and their respected role in holding the line against the
IRA over many years here. It is also grossly insulting to
the families of many policemen and women who were murdered
or maimed by the IRA.

"I am calling on the PSNI to ensure that this situation
never happens again. They must take action to ensure that
medals worn are appropriate, legitimate and obviously not
of a paramilitary or terrorist nature."

A picture of the officer wearing the medal was published in
last month`s Police Gazette.

The medal was issued in 1941 by the Irish Government to
honour those who had fought in the battle for Irish

It has a black and tan ribbon and is emblazoned on one side
with the image of a revolutionary soldier with a rifle
slung over his soldier and the word "Eire".

Four coats of arms representing the Irish provinces -
Munster, Connacht, Ulster and Leinster - also surround the

It also has the inscription in Irish "Cogadh na Saoirse"
meaning "War of Independence".

On the other side, the medal has a garland of palm leaves
inscribed on it.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said today that its
policy allowed officers whose relatives had been honoured
by the British Government or any other national government
to wear their medals at a graduation ceremony.

"It is an accepted tradition for an officer to wear medals
which have been awarded by a state to a close relative on
the right chest during appropriate ceremonies," the PSNI


Briefing On IRA For The Monitors

By Chris Thornton
06 January 2006

The PSNI is about to give the Independent Monitoring
Commission its latest assessment of IRA arms and activity.

The police intelligence will be delivered as final
preparations continue for the IMC's crucial report on the
state of the IRA.

That report - expected at the end of January - could could
be a crucial step in establishing talks to restore
Stormont, if it confirms that the IRA is sticking to its
pledge to end all activity.

The report is also expected to give an assessment of the
IRA's third act of decommissioning, which General John de
Chastelain said removed the "totality" of IRA arms.

Yesterday the Irish government denied a Dublin newspaper
report saying Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has had a British
intelligence briefing saying the IRA has retained some
pistols to protect its leadership.

London and Dublin hope an all-clear for the IRA in the IMC
report will be enough to tempt the DUP into talks about a
return to power-sharing.

However, unionist sources have suggested that the DUP will
want more time and more IMC reports before committing to
talks. The party has yet to meet Sinn Féin.

It also possible that the IMC report will not deliver the
clean sheet for the IRA that the governments want. While
IRA links to punishment attacks appear to have halted since
their July announcement ending "all activity", the IMC's
last report indicated the IRA continued to gather

A PSNI spokesman would not comment on the content of the
briefing for the IMC.


Petrol Bombing 'Was Sectarian'

Police believe a petrol bomb attack on a house in the
Waterside area of Londonderry was sectarian.

The device hit the step of the house on Lapwing Way in
Clooney, but only caused minor damage.

The attack happened shortly before midnight. The occupants,
who the police said were Catholic, were inside the house at
the time.

It is the second petrol bomb attack on a house in the
Waterside area within two days.

On Wednesday, a Protestant family escaped injury when a
device hit the porch of their house in the Fountain estate
causing scorch damage. No-one was hurt.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/06 11:28:59 GMT


Court Told Threats Were Not Sectarian

By Staff Reporter

A 36-year-old Co Antrim man who told a Catholic neighbour
in Ahoghill that she had 48 hours to leave her home has
been given a nine-month suspended prison sentence.

Stephen John McDowell, of Brookefield Gardens, threw a
brick at the front of the house before issuing the threat,
Ballymena Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

The unemployed man, who had been in custody, admitted
attempted intimidation.

Prosecution counsel told the court that the incident had
taken place at about 2.20am on March 27 last year.

"The injured party states she heard something sounding like
a brick at the front of her house. She went to the front
door and saw the defendant standing in the driveway," the
court was told.

Defense counsel John Hunter QC said McDowell had a "gallon
of beer in him" and he described the incident as "moronic,
stupid and drunken behaviour".

Mr Hunter said there was no sectarian element to what had
occurred and that McDowell was not responsible for the
woman's decision at a later date to move to another part of
north Antrim.

Prosecution counsel told the court that following similar
incidents in Ahoghill police had a number of individuals
"in their sights".

He said police did not link McDowell to any of the
subsequent incidents.

Resident Magistrate Harry Coll said he was perturbed by
cases of this nature and that while McDowell might not have
been part of a larger conspiracy the incident brought the
village some notoriety.

"I cannot overlook the fact that this is an extremely
serious charge. It is a charge of the utmost severity and
can have untold consequences, not just for the individuals
involved but for all of us," he said.

When Mr Hunter admitted that the case did not merit
immediate imprisonment and that police, prosecution and
defense accepted it had been "a single stupid act of
behaviour", the magistrate replied that in the past single
acts had resulted in death.

Mr Coll said he was persuaded, somewhat against his better
judgement, not to impose an immediate prison term and he
suspended operation of the sentence for 12 months.


Bullet Left In Locker Of IRA Man's Son, Tribunal Told

By Staff Reporter

A bullet was left in the locker of a former IRA commander's
son as part a campaign of sectarian intimidation which
started with graffiti death threats, an employment tribunal
heard yesterday.

Ivor Bell (43) was close to tears as he recalled a two-year
ordeal which he claimed began when he was asked by a
training officer if he was related to a former paramilitary

His father, also called Ivor Bell, was a former IRA leader
in Belfast and a one-time associate of Gerry Adams.

He left the organisation after a fal-ling out in the 1980s,

Speaking at the Fair Employment Tribunal hearing, Mr Bell,
a production operator, said he believed the death threats
he received at the Montupet aluminium production plant on
the outskirts of west Belfast were directly related to a
revelation of his father's identity.

Mr Bell told the hearing, where he is claiming
discrimination on grounds of religious belief and political
opinion, that the most terrifying episode happened in May
2004 when he opened his locker before a weekend shift to
find a bullet.

Mr Bell, who has since battled depression and alcoholism,
said: "The graffiti I can handle, or I thought I could, but
that [the bullet] brings it to another level."

Mr Bell, from Belfast, told the tribunal he believed the
threats could be traced back to a training course he
attended with fellow shop stewards and senior company
management in October 2002.

He said the trainer, Brendan Doyle, asked members of the
group to introduce themselves.

Mr Bell said: "When I introduced myself as Ivor Bell, he
[Mr Doyle] said 'I know another Ivor Bell. Anything to do
with you?' I just wanted Mr Doyle to shut up. I said
'that's my father could you please stop'."

Mr Bell reported the matter to a shop steward and to the
company's head of human resources.

The first threat emerged in May 2003 when he was informed
that graffiti about him had been scratched on a toilet

It read: "Fat Ivor PIRA scum RIP OV."

The same night Mr Bell's locker was broken into and letters
and notebooks were stolen. Three further graffiti threats
were reported to Mr Bell.

Mr Bell was granted voluntary redundancy from Montupet last

Barrister Martin Wolfe told the tribunal that his client
had not suffered any bullying or harassment during his five
years with the company prior to the training course

Under cross-examination Mr Bell said he did not make a
complaint to the Fair Employment Tribunal.

He said he felt the matter could be dealt with by the

The tribunal chairman said he would take between four and
six weeks to consider whether the case should proceed to a
full hearing.


Parades Body Faces Legal Action

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

A NATIONALIST resident is to mount a legal action against
the appointment of two Orangemen on the new-look Parades

The development comes as the body prepares to issue its
first ruling on the contentious weekly Drumcree parade by
Portadown LoL – with David Burrows a member of both

The former Portadown district master is expected to attend
a commission meeting in the next fortnight to decide if
Orangemen will be allowed to march down the nationalist
Garvaghy Road in Portadown on Sunday January 29.

Although the weekly protest march is more low-key compared
to the summer's Drumcree parade – both which have been
consistently banned from the Garvaghy Road – it is being
viewed as the body's first major test.

The make-up of the newly-app-ointed body, which includes
loyal order member Donald MacKay, has been criticised by
the Gar-vaghy Road Residents Coalition.

Last night spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith confirmed that a
resident has been granted legal aid to challenge the
British government over the appointments.

"I would say the papers for that will be lodged prior to
any decision being made by this new commission," he said.

"It is to do with the imbalance within the Parades
Commission. The legislation which set up the Parades
Commission was very clear, that it had to be representative
of the community in the six counties. Having two Orangemen
from an organisation which claims its membership is about
50,000, could be viewed as not being in compliance with
what was stated in the legislation."

Last night a commission spokes-man said it would be
inappropriate to comment on a case it was not "involved"
in. It has already been confirmed the body will review its
operating procedures.

Mr Burrows who, as Portadown district master until he
stepped down last July, participated in the marches, has
not ruled out taking part in this summer's parade.

Although he could not be contacted for comment, a fellow
Orangeman, lodge spokesman David Jones was asked if there
were tensions between Mr Burrows and his fellow brethren.

"We have not had anyone come on to us to say that he should
be removed from Portadown district or anything like that,"
he said.


North Belfast MP Comments On Parades Commission

Commenting on the announcement that the Parades Commission
will review its operating procedures North Belfast DUP MP
Nigel Dodds warned that cosmetic changes to the way the
commission conducted its business would fall far short of
what is required in order to remedy the parades problem and
build confidence in the community. The North Belfast MP

"The appointment of a new Parades Commission and the
announcement that it intends to review it own procedures
does not take account of the fact that the root of the
parades problem lies in the legislative framework within
which it operates. The regime which gave rise to the
Commission and the framework within which it operates has
been demonstrated to be fundamentally flawed. Time and
again we have pointed out that the Commission has made
inconsistent determinations, punished those who obey the
law by banning their parades and rewarded those who engage
in violence.

There can be no meaningful review of the issue of parades
without root and branch reform of the legislation that
underpins the workings of the Commission. The Government
is well aware of our concerns and can be in no doubt of our
view that cosmetic changes to the Commission will not build
confidence within the Unionist community.

Solving the parades problem is a key component to
establishing stability in our society and making political
progress. This issue must be comprehensively resolved in a
satisfactory fashion. Fundamental root and branch reform
is what is required."


Almost 200 Foreigners Pass The First Major Garda Test

Tom Brady
Security Editor

ALMOST 200 non-nationals have successfully completed the
first hurdle to join the Garda.

They represent 7pc of a group of 2,872 applicants who
passed the aptitude test.

They will now go forward for interview before being
recruited into the Garda College in Templemore.

Around 8,400 men and women applied to join the force in the
recruitment campaign last October and 4,900 of those were
called to undergo an aptitude test.

The successful group, including the 193 non-nationals,
represent the first batch sent for interview.

The figures were disclosed last night after a British
Sunday newspaper claimed that only one non-national
applicant had been successful.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said last night this was
an encouraging result in response to the new recruitment

The campaign had been radically overhauled to make the
Garda more diverse and attractive to all sectors of

He hoped many of the group would eventually become members.

Candidates who pass the aptitude test and interview will
then undergo a two-year training course.

The Government aims to increase the strength of the force
to 14,000, including recruits, by the end of 2006.

Almost 6,800 candidates indicated their background on the
application form and these suggested that a total of 588
Asian Chinese and 114 'other' Asians had sought a job in
the force.

Other applicants included 75 described on the forms as
'black Africans', another five 'other Africans', 322 from
Eastern European countries, 119 'others', 112 in 'no other
category', and 5,416 'white Irish', including seven


Many Travellers Still Living Like Second-Class Citizens

06/01/2006 - 07:36:24

Many Irish Travellers are still living like second-class
citizens, according to a new report from the Department of

The report says 8.6% of Traveller families continue to live
on unauthorised sites along the sides of roads, with a
further 13% living in basic halting sites.

As well as accommodation problems, they also continue to
have poorer health and less education than the settled

The report was drawn up to assess progress in the
implementation of recommendations made 10 years ago to
improve the situation of Travellers.

It says the Travelling community still faces widespread
discrimination, with many settled people having no respect
for their culture.


If It's A State Secret To Protect Killers From Conviction,
I Think It's Time That Was Exposed...

His best-selling book brought him warnings and death
threats - but Johnston Brown is already working on a
follow-up. David Gordon talks to the former RUC detective
and wife Rebecca

06 January 2006

It was another turbulent year for retired RUC detective
Johnston "Jonty" Brown. 2005 ended with a fresh
paramilitary threat, this time from the UVF - a warning
from his ex-employers about the Official Secrets Act and
strong sales figures for his newly published book.

This year doesn't look like being much calmer.

For a start, he's planning a second book and maybe even a

Meanwhile, some of the notorious cases he was involved in
during his career are proving to be far from concluded.

So a quiet retirement looks unlikely for a while yet.

The book, "Into the Dark", charted Brown's career of just
under 30 years in the RUC.

Its shocking revelations on the UVF in north Belfast, and
the Special Branch informers within it, obviously
infuriated the paramilitary organisation.

Brown was subsequently warned by police about his personal

The contents of the book may not be entirely to the liking
of the PSNI either.

The force despatched a letter to him around the time of
publication, reminding him of his legal responsibilities
under the Official Secrets Act.

He's unrepentant, believing that he had to "set the record
straight" and spell out in detail his accusations about RUC
Special Branch protecting informers who murdered.

"If it's a state secret to protect killers from conviction,
I think it's time that was exposed," Brown says.

"There are too many former Special Branch people out there
bad mouthing me.

"I can stand over every allegation in this book. It's an
indictment of them that I can write a second book and a
third book if I want to."

He adds: "What I am trying to say is that this is what
happened and let the Northern Ireland public make up their
own minds if it was right or wrong."

The next book will contain a detailed account of the police
investigation that put Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair behind bars.

Jonty Brown, of course, was at the heart of that operation,
pretending to befriend the Shankill UDA boss and using his
boasts to nail him for directing terrorism.

Adair is one of the high profile figures from Brown's past
who won't go away.

He's still in exile in Great Britain under a UDA death
sentence, but the ex-detective sergeant who brought him
down says he should not be written off.

"Adair is a spent force only as long as they can keep him
across the water," he says.

"He wants to come back and live in mid-Ulster. He won't
move until he's sure of how many men he can have around

"At the minute that runs into hundreds, not dozens.
Hundreds of men will stand by him if he comes back here."

Adair's UDA allies are believed to have been behind a pipe
bomb attack on Brown's family home in Ballyrobert,
Newtownabbey, in 2000.

The detective retired from the force the following year,
after a career spanning almost three decades.

While clearly missing the buzz of the job, he insists the
time was right for him to walk away.

It followed his decision to give evidence to the team
headed by Met Police chief Sir John Stevens that was
probing alleged collusion between paramilitaries and
elements of the security forces.

"After co-operation with the Stevens team, that was the end
for me. It was my time to go. You were a pariah in your own
police force.

"People who could never challenge you professionally and
were never any threat to you could look down their nose at
you because they thought you'd given evidence against your
colleagues in Special Branch. That wasn't the case. I'd
given evidence to the Stevens team about Ken Barrett only."

Brown told Stevens' investigators that UDA man and police
informer Ken Barrett had boasted in the early 1990s of
being the gunman who murdered Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane in 1989.

This occurred on tape but was not acted on by Special
Branch, who had an officer present at the time and had the
clout to block any move against Barrett, the detective

In September 2004, the UDA man was jailed for murder,
following fresh investigations by the Stevens team.

Barrett, however, is bidding for early release from prison
and his case is likely to be heard early this year.

Other paramilitaries with whom Brown tangled in the past
are also going to be in the news in 2006.

They are leading UVF men from the Mount Vernon estate in
north Belfast.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is finalising a report into
claims that the head of a murderous Mount Vernon UVF gang
was a long standing Special Branch informer.

Mrs O'Loan's inquiry was launched after a complaint against
police from Belfast man Raymond McCord, who alleges his son
Raymond Jnr was beaten to death in 1997 on the orders of
this paramilitary big shot.

Armed with his own knowledge of the UVF in the area, Jonty
Brown makes it clear that Mr McCord should be taken

"People should listen to this man. He is right on the
nail," he says.

That's yet another of the compelling stories still waiting
to be told in full.

÷Into The Dark: 30 Years in the RUC, is published by Gill &
Macmillan, price £16.99.


Legacy Of Merlyn Rees Era Divides Opinion In Ulster

By Brian Walker
06 January 2006

Merlyn Rees, who has died aged 85, will be remembered by
moderate nationalists as the Secretary of State who failed
to face down the rebellion of the Ulster Workers Council
strike of 1974, thus delaying power-sharing for at least a
further 30 years.

For most unionists, he was the minister who faced reality
by recognising that a political deal was impossible without
unionist consent and a complete end to violence.

Pitchforked into office by the defeat of the Heath
government in the February 1974 election over "Who Governs
Britain" and overweaning union power, Rees and his left-
wing senior minister of state Stan Orme misunderstood the
Ulster strike as something similar to the miners' dispute
in England which had brought down Heath, rather than the
shadowy paramilitary rebellion it in fact was.

An RAF wartime officer who was outranked by Frank Cooper,
later his permanent secretary, Rees was overshadowed by his
civil servant who masterminded secret contacts with
republicans which led to a shortlived IRA ceasefire at the
start of 1975.

As the 1975 British and Irish State papers just released
confirm, this caused consternation in the Irish government
and the SDLP and for different reasons, within unionism, as
it provoked fears of a British withdrawal on the grounds
that the province had become ungovernable.

In style and manner, Rees was well-meaning and hesitant,
reflecting British policy at the time. His dogged decency
helped to bring some stability to a grim situation after
the 1974 political collapse and the failure of the 1975
Convention to produce the voluntary coalition, surprisingly
backed by the strike leader William Craig.

After that, Merlyn Rees was all there was in Northern
Ireland politics and Direct Rule became semi-permanent.

Ian Paisley and Rees were always political enemies. On one
famous occasion Rees hid under a desk in Stormont Castle,
rather than brave the wrath of the DUP leader.

Confronted with ongoing violence from both sides - around
300 people were murdered in each of Rees' three years in
office - he finally ended internment by the end of 1975 and
legalised Sinn Fein.

The UDA remained unbanned although a ban on the UVF was

The beginning of 1976 saw the horrific tit-for tat
Whitecross and Kingsmills massacres, leading to the
deployment of the SAS in south Armagh after a TV
announcement by PM Harold Wilson.

In September 1976, Rees was appointed Home Secretary by the
new PM, his personal mentor Jim Callaghan. His replacement
Roy Mason was loathed by nationalists for over-relying on a
security clampdown and spurning political initiatives.

In his old age, and despite suffering from the effects of a
stroke and Parkinson's disease, Lord Merlyn-Rees, as he
became, could be seen attending the odd Northern Ireland
debate in the Lords and chatting in the bar to Gerry Fitt,
the nemesis who helped bring the minority Callaghan
government down in 1979. With the death of both men within
six months, the first, short-lived age of power-sharing
recedes further into history.


Opin: Taoiseach Now Aware Of Problem With PSNI

THE Taoiseach was one of the few politicians who expressed
disappointment and bewilderment at the Stormontgate fiasco.

More than any other politician in the South, he must now
understand nationalist difficulties in trusting a police
force which harbours a special branch involved in underhand
political activities.

Bertie Ahern's request for a more public disclosure by PSNI
chief constable Hugh Orde has been met with a stony and
significant silence.

However, it would be unfair of Sinn Féin supporters to
point a disapproving finger at Denis Bradley, or indeed at
any member of the policing board. I believe Mr Bradley and
his colleagues were genuinely not aware of what was going
on. But this is a different scenario. Now they know. Mr
Bradley, in particular, knows he was duped. Unless he is
prepared to speak up now and demand public assurances, it
is difficult to see how he can remain on the policing board
as a nationalist representative.

Brendan Coffey
Abbey Court
Co Dublin


Opin: Flashing At People Really Is Illegal

The Friday Column
By Andy Wood

Here's a funny thing – you could be breaking the law if you
tell people not to break the law.

Confused? Read on.

Lorry driver Charles Glendinning was pulled by police in
Somerset, who claimed he was flashing oncoming motorists to
warn them about a speed trap.

Mr Glendinning claimed – rather implausibly – that his rig
was suffering mechanical failure and he was simply warning
other motorists that he was slowing prior to pulling into a

The magistrates didn't believe him either – he was found
guilty of obstructing police in the course of their duty.
But he was then cleared on appeal when a higher court ruled
that the police could not prove any motorist had actually
slowed down as a result.

The Crown Prosecution Service wants that loophole closed
and is seeking leave to appeal to the House of Lords.

Parking (in a manner of speaking) the legal niceties, let's
have a look at what Mr Glendinning was doing – or not doing
(if you prefer).

His action (as established to the magistrates'
satisfaction) was intended to "obstruct the police etc
etc", even though it would also stop other drivers breaking
the law.

Okay, it would also help to keep points off their licence
and pounds in their wallet as well. But the principal
effect would be to increase compliance with road traffic

Laudable, public-spirited even, I'd say, and entirely in
keeping with the advert which used to run over here urging
'Slow down boys'.

And Mr Glendinning was doing it for free. Can you fault him
for that?

Now, suppose there is not a speed camera (static or manned
or otherwise in the vicinity) and you're driving along a
road you know to have a 50mph limit.

It's a dark winter afternoon and you've just left a built-
up area and some goon is hurtling towards you at a cool 70
and you know the school down the road is just turning out:
should you flash him or wave at him to slow down?

Of course you should – criminal not to I'd say. Ditto if
he's coming at you, regardless of speed, with no lights on.
Ditto if you're stuck behind one of those morons who leave
their rear fog light on.

Here's another puzzler: if you're the speeder and you act
on a flashed warning (which is, remember, illegal), are you
breaking the law by extension?

Shouldn't you just continue on your soon-to-be-not-so-merry
way and plough on until the law pulls you over?

In other words, shouldn't you continue to act – and drive –
illegally because to do otherwise would be, er, illegal?

And another thing... so two officials at the Co-op Bank in
Manchester ripped off three Manchester City players who,
because they were from overseas and didn't use their
accounts regularly, seemed an easy touch.

All credit to the Co-op's internal auditors who uncovered
the scam, but is 'Bank robs man' news?

I do not suggest that the banks of these islands are all
harbouring light-fingered cashiers – perish the thought –
but the extent to which these organisations find other ways
to part you and your money makes you wonder.

Ten days before Christmas I sent a cheque to a man in
London: he'd advertised a painting on the net and my wife
and I agreed to buy half each as a mutual Christmas

You might think we'd have got it in time for Christmas. But
no. Not wishing to accuse the vendor of being an internet
'fence', we stifled our disappointment and held off
inquiries until the middle of last week.

The cheque went into his account on December 19, the funds
finally came out of our account on December 29.

Okay, so we had the false glow of more money than we
thought over Christmas but the bottom line is that the
seller was – wisely from his viewpoint – unable and
unwilling to complete the transaction.

The painting should have arrived yesterday: the banking
industry should note that is three weeks after I'd 'paid'
for it.

Or thought I had.


Council Gives GAA Land For Free

Derry City Council has agreed to give away a valuable plot
of land to a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club free of

The Sean Dolan club in Creggan is planning to develop a
pitch on the land which is worth almost £250,000.

The council now has to seek ministerial permission before
it can hand over the field which is located beside the

The SDLP said it was the right thing to do, but the DUP was
opposed to the move which a council committee approved.

The club was offered the site 10 years ago for £10,000, but
it did not have the money to develop the site at that time.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell said his party also
believed the club should get the land.

However, unionists said they were worried about demands the
council may now face from other clubs looking for land.

Thomas Conway of the SDLP said: "This is land which is
recreation land only.

"It is costing Derry City Council £20,000 at the minute
because it is a dump.

"This is not money that we can recoup by selling the land -
it is money that it has been valued at.

"What we are asking is that the valuation is reduced to
zero, because here is a club which is going to provide a
facility for the young people of this city that we can't

However, DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the
council was not adopting the same approach to other
sporting clubs.

"There are a series of other clubs on the east side of the
river, who are in other sporting disciplines, who have
applications in and who were told from today's (Thursday's)
meeting they will be looked at 'whenever we come to them'.

"The west bank proceeds with a gaelic club now, at a
quarter of a million pounds, with no benefit to the
ratepayers whatsoever and handed over for nothing - that is
not on."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/06 10:06:43 GMT


Anti-War Protesters Plan Picket Over US Military Flights

06/01/2006 - 07:01:35

Anti-war activists are to picket the offices of the Irish
Aviation Authority in Dublin today over the ongoing
refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport.

More than 330,000 US troops passed through the Mid-West hub
during 2005 – more than double the number for 2004.

Pressure has been mounting on the Government to search the
flights for military weapons or terror suspects en route to
alleged CIA interrogation camps.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern has insisted that the
Irish Government accepts the assurances of US authorities
that nothing untoward is taking place.

He called for credible evidence of any wrongdoing to be
passed onto the Gardaí.

Pitstop Ploughshare spokesman Ciaron O'Reilly, who
organised today's protest, said the use of Shannon Airport
was increasing Ireland's involvement in the war in Iraq.

"The Government is pulling the country deeper and deeper
into complicity for the illegal war," Mr O'Reilly said.

Anti-war protesters previously staged a sit-in at the
Aviation Authority building during the Ramadan festival in

A new Peace Camp is to be re-established at Shannon Airport
this weekend.

Local Co Clare councillor Martin Conway has called for
members of the Defence Forces to be deployed at the airport
to search US military aircraft.

Influential US academic Noam Chomsky has also questioned
whether Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is following the will of the
Irish people or following orders from Washington by
allowing the stop-overs of US warplanes.

Speaking in an interview recorded last May but published
last week, Dr Chomsky added: "It [refuelling of US military
aircraft] can only be justified if the goal of the
Government is to be the obedient servant of the global
superpower [the US]."


Schoolmates Distraught As Cruise Girl Disappears

06/01/2006 - 11:07:03

Distraught classmates of an Irish teenager missing from a
cruise ship in the Caribbean were gathering at her school
today to comfort each other.

Lynsey O'Brien, from south Dublin, is feared drowned after
she disappeared early yesterday while on a family holiday.

It is understood the 15-year-old was discovered missing
from her cabin and the alarm was raised by another family

A search of the boat was initiated immediately, but she
could not be found.

As news of her disappearance reached classmates at Loreto
High School, Beaufort, Rathfarnham, principal Liz Cogan
described the situation as "terrible".

"It's a very difficult time for all of us," Ms Cogan said.

"She was a popular, great youngster, who loved dancing and
drama and sports such as basketball."

She said Lynsey, who was in transition year, had a sister
in the 5th year and another due to start at the school

"We all know her family very well – it's terrible," she

Students were coming in to the school this morning to offer
comfort to Lynsey's classmates, Ms Cogan said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said
Irish Embassy staff in Mexico were offering consular
assistance to the family of a girl who had disappeared from
the boat.


100 Dogs Rescued In 'Puppy Farm' Raid

Animal welfare officers believe they may have broken up a
puppy farm in Northern Ireland during a joint operation
with the police.

By:Press Association

The discovery of 100 dogs was made in farm buildings in the
Katesbridge area in Co Down.

The puppies, a range of breeds from boxers to Jack
Russells, were removed during a six-hour operation by the
PSNI and the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals.

A USPCA spokesman said: "We believe that this significant
operation has helped break up a puppy farm.

"Both the police and ourselves are trying to establish who
owns the dogs.

"The puppies have been taken to various locations and are
currently being examined by vets."

The operation began last night after dogs were seen feeding
from the carcass of a cow.

The USPCA spokesman said the puppies were not emaciated but
were living in appalling conditions.

During the operation, which lasted until 4am, power
supplies to the farm buildings were cut.

Around five USPCA officers and five police were involved in
the operation.

Nationalist SDLP MP Eddie McGrady and Democratic Unionist
Assembly member Jim Wells today called on the Government to
introduce more effective animal welfare laws following the

Mr McGrady, the MP for South Down, tabled an early day
motion in the House of Commons in October calling for the
mistreatment of animals to be made a criminal offence.

He said today: "Society is rightly shocked to hear of
animal neglect and mistreatment, as it reveals to us the
very worst in human characteristics, which are failing to
protect those who depend on us, the vulnerable and frail.

"I will continue with the campaign to see effective
legislation introduced to deal with this crime."

Mr Wells, an Assembly member for South Down, said current
animal welfare laws were weak and outdated.

The Democratic Unionist MLA said: "I have three areas of
concern - puppy-farming, dog-fighting and the keeping of
guard dogs in very cramped conditions.

"The law urgently needs to be strengthened if the police
and USPCA are to do something about it."


Radio Talkshow Caller Dies On Air

A late night radio talkshow host spoke of his shock today
after a listener died live on air while taking part in a

The caller, known only as "Terry", was taking part in a
debate on Liverpool-based Magic FM 1548 when the line
suddenly went silent.

DJ Pete Price was so concerned he abandoned his show and
raced around to the man`s house.

He said: "It was awful, when I got there the ambulance was
already outside his house.

"Apparently he was found in his chair with the phone by his
side. I was flabbergasted.

"Terry was a regular caller to the show and I knew
something was wrong when the line went silent, I just had a
gut instinct.

"He told me before the show that he was looking forward to
taking part in the phone-in so I`m just glad he died doing
something he enjoyed. We all heard his last words."

The drama unfolded shortly after 10.30 last night as Terry
and two other callers took part in the open debate show.

When the line went dead the show`s producer called the
police but was told it was not a priority matter.

So Mr Price took matters into his own hands and appealed to
his listeners for help.

A neighbour, who was listening to the show, broke into
Terry`s house in the Old Swan area of Liverpool and found
him dead in a chair. It is thought he suffered a heart

Meanwhile Mr Price had tracked down Terry`s address from
one of his listeners and abandoned his studio to race
around to the house to help.

He said: "I was very concerned for Terry and just wanted to
do what I could, it seemed the right thing to do, to leave
the show and try to help."

It is not the first time the DJ has been called into action
following a phone-in.

In February 2004 he abandoned his show to help a teenage
boy who called in and threatened to kill himself.

The DJ persuaded the boy to meet him and convinced him not
to harm himself.


New TV Channel Secures €14m In Funding

05/01/2006 - 12:21:33

Ireland's newest national television station has secured
€14m in funding from investors, it was claimed today.

Channel 6, due to be launched this spring, will provide a
broad range of movies, music, drama and comedy aimed at the
15-to-35 age-group.

The Dublin-based service will be the first national station
in the Republic since TV3 in September 1998.

Channel 6 confirmed today it had secured €14m in funding
from ACT Venture Capital, Delta Partners, Claret Capital,
the Barry Family and the Gowan Group.

The broadcaster will also include local programming with
fresh new home-grown talent.

Michael Murphy, founder and director of programmes said:
"We are delighted to have the funding in place and we are
looking forward to launching the channel in the near

"Channel 6 is committed to offering viewers and advertisers
a home-grown, exciting, new national alternative by opening
up the Irish television market.

"We look forward to offering viewers a vibrant programming
schedule that showcases the best of international and local
talent and critically, offers viewers an attractive, Irish

Details of Channel 6's schedule will be released in the
coming weeks.

Walter Hobbs of ACT Venture Capital said: "In leading the
investment into Channel 6, we were persuaded by the huge
depth of experience of the management team in the
television and advertising industries and their clarity of
focus on the market opportunity to better serve the 15-to-
35 age-group with a new domestic television channel."

Pat Donnelly, Channel 6 executive chairman, added that the
station offered a good investment opportunity as the Irish
television market is ripe for a new entrant.

"Channel 6 will provide advertisers with an effective
platform to reach a highly-desirable demographic that is
currently being serviced predominantly by foreign channels
with no added value being offered to advertisers," he

Recruitment of key management positions and employees is
already underway and the channel shortly expects to
announce a launch date in the spring.

Channel 6's sales team is already in place and further
personnel announcements will be made in the near future.


Irish Borrow More And Spend More As Jobs Boom Fuels

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Tommy Keenan, who sells hot tubs in
Ireland for as much as 15,000 euros ($18,000), expects
record revenue this year after demand climbed 15 percent in

``I'm pretty confident there will be a big jump again,''
Keenan said in a telephone interview. ``Demand is coming
from all over the country, not just Dublin.''

Irish shoppers, confident amid record employment, are
taking on debt to finance a spending spree for high-ticket
goods such as plasma-screen televisions and sport-utility
vehicles. Ireland may be the most indebted of the 12
nations using the euro by later this year, according to
Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.

``I have been in the business for 30 years and I've never
seen anything like it,'' said Maura Leavy, manager of the
Pamela Scott women's fashion store on Dublin's Grafton
Street, in a telephone interview. ``That applies to both
the pre-Christmas period and the first week of the sales.''

Irish consumers may spend 5.3 percent more this year, three
times the euro-region average, after a 5 percent increase
in 2005, the Brussels-based European Commission says. The
economy, which has expanded an average of 5.1 percent
during the past five years, has grown about twice as fast
as the U.K.'s.

``The consumer is now the engine behind the boom,'' Philip
O'Sullivan, an economist at Goodbody, said in an interview.
``We are seeing a real rise in credit-card debt in

Ballooning Debt

Irish debt may rise 18 percent this year to 297 billion
euros, or about 200 percent of gross national product, from
170 percent last year, overtaking the Netherlands and
Portugal, Goodbody says. Ireland was the ninth-most-
indebted euro country in 1994. Debt will climb to 333
billion euros by 2007, Goodbody forecasts.

Irish homes selling for more than 1 million euros at
auction surged 52 percent last year, according to Sherry
Fitzgerald, a Dublin-based real estate agency.

At a Peats electronics store on Parnell Street in the north
of Dublin, shoppers browse for LCD and plasma TVs, MP3
players and Bose Corp. home entertainment systems. A
Panasonic 42-inch plasma TV, at 3,549 euros, is among the

``Christmas sales were up 14 percent on last year, and this
reflects the annual growth trend,'' said Ivan White, a
spokesman for Peats, which has nine Dublin outlets. ``We're
expecting another good year in 2006.''

Low Unemployment

Ireland's unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in November
compares with an average of 8.5 percent for the 25-nation
EU in October.

Companies including Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. hire in
the country. Mountain View, California-based Google, the
most- used Internet search engine, said last month that it
would recruit 600 workers for its European headquarters in

Foreign direct investment into Ireland has averaged 18
billion euros a year since 1998, spurred by a 12.5 percent
tax on profits and a tax break on research and development

An additional 5.2 billion euros may enter the economy in
this year's second half, as a government savings incentives
plan matures.

The five-year savings plan, which was started in 2001,
gives people 1 euro from the government for every 4 euros
they save over a five-year period. The first withdrawals
can be made in May, which may extend the surge in consumer

``If you're going to get an extension built, get it built
now,'' said David Went, chief executive at Irish Life &
Permanent Plc, the third-biggest retail bank in the
country, at a press conference Jan. 4.

Debt Concerns

Some economists say the rise in debt leaves people
vulnerable to a rise in interest rates, unemployment or a
slowdown in the economy. The European Central Bank last
month raised borrowing costs for the first time in five

``The main vulnerability here is the high and growing level
of indebtedness,'' said John Hurley, head of the Irish
central bank and Ireland's European Central Bank council
member, in a Nov. 1 report. ``This poses dangers because,
notwithstanding current robust economic growth in Ireland,
there are domestic and external risks to the economic

Shoppers aren't concerned yet. Car sales climbed 11 percent
last year, the biggest increase since 2000. SUVs, which
cost as much as 117,500 euros, accounted for 6 percent of
car sales, up from 3 percent in 2003.

``I've spent around 40,000 euros over the last three years
on a car, holidays, even Christmas presents,'' said Evan
Moore, a cab driver in Dublin. ``I put around 5,000 euros
on my credit card last year alone. I'm up to my eyes in

To contact the reporter on this story:
Dara Doyle in Dublin at
Last Updated: January 6, 2006 02:24 EST


So You Want A Better Sex Life?... Then Head For The

By Ashleigh Wallace
06 January 2006

Couples in the Republic are enjoying their sex lives more
than their counterparts in Northern Ireland, according to a
new survey.

The study revealed that a New Year's resolution of many
people on this side of the border is to improve things in
the bedroom.

The research was conducted by Boots. It found 40% of people
in Northern Ireland wanted to improve their sex lives in
2006 - compared with just 26% in the Republic of Ireland.

The findings also showed that over five times as many men
as women want to change things in the bedroom.

Those questioned in the Republic claim to be more stressed
than those in the north, with 68% in the south saying they
wanted to de-stress in comparison to 39% of those surveyed
in Northern Ireland.

The people of Ireland were also asked whose celebrity lives
they would most like to live in 2006.

In Northern Ireland, the most cited celebrities were ex-
Emmerdale star and I'm A Celebrity runner-up Sheree Murphy,
GMTV's Lorraine Kelly and celeb chefs Gordon Ramsey and
Jamie Oliver.

In the Republic, the most cited celebrities were Hollywood
actress Catherine Zeta Jones, Gordon Ramsey and actor
George Clooney.

The most aspired-for celebrity bodies were those of Brad
Pitt and David Beckham for Irish men and Catherine Zeta-
Jones' and Victoria Beckham's for Irish women.

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