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January 22, 2006

Independent Probe Demand

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News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 01/22/06 Independent Probe Demand
GU 01/22/06 Ahern And Orde Clash On IRA Crime
TO 01/22/06 Report ‘Won’t Clear IRA For Power Sharing’
SB 01/22/06 Monitoring Body Report To Detail IRA Crime
SH 01/22/06 Bloody Sunday Marchers Attacked
DI 01/22/06 Hogg Confronted Over MI5 Killing
SB 01/22/06 Policies To Attract Businesses
TO 01/22/06 Gardai Set To Deliver Rafferty File To DPP
AR 01/22/06 Fianna Fáil Gains Points In Ireland
DI 01/22/06 Belfast May See Tribute To James Connolly
DI 01/22/06 Opin: History Will Judge Cold Case Team
TO 01/22/06 Opin: Opening Up On Croker
MD 01/22/06 US/UK 2003 Extradition Treaty Perspective?
TO 01/22/06 Opin: Flattered By Labour
RT 01/22/06 Casey Still At Centre Of Garda Probe (V3)
SB 01/22/06 Derry Solicitor Prompted Judge Resignation

(Poster’s Note: I received several comments liking the new format. Clare recommended that if you objected to the lines being too LONG on your screen, that reduce the size of the screen (the box between the minus (minimize) and the x (closing)) and then drag the width of the screen the size that makes you happy. I appreciated that suggestion. It works. Jay)


Independent Probe Demand

By Connla Young

Victims’ groups have called for the establishment of an independent international inquiry to investigate murders carried out by members of British security forces.

The calls came after the PSNI revealed that its Historical Enquiry Team, which is to begin its work next Monday, will report directly to Chief Constable Hugh Orde instead of departmental heads.

Despite the shift in policy, relatives of people murdered by British soldiers last night voiced doubts over whether the new team would will deliver the truth about the circumstances surrounding the murder of their loved ones.

Details of the investigations team were revealed yesterday at a press conference hosted at a PSNI station in Sprucefield, Co Antrim.

The new unit will examine 3,268 unsolved killings dating back to 1969.

Case details will be taken in chronological order.

In total, £30 million (€44 million) has been set aside to support the team, which will have a staff of almost 100.

Several former RUC men have been recruited to the team. They will work alongside former and serving police officers from England, Scotland and Wales.

The team will probe the murder of civilians by British soldiers but will not examine any murders carried out by the PSNI. Controversial killings involving the PSNI will be referred to Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.

The branch head of the team is David Cox, a former Metropolitan police Service commander and member of the third Stevens inquiry.

He said last night that his team had been removed from the operational ambit of the PSNI Crime Operations Department and would report directly to Hugh Orde.

“I will report directly to the chief constable in exactly the same way if I was heading up a team called in from the outside.

“The decision was taken a couple of months ago as part of our process of setting up. It was through contacts with some non-government organisations with some very helpful advice from interested parties — like the British-Irish Rights Watch, CAJ [Committee on the Administration of Justice] and the Pat Finucane Centre — who said: ‘Look, there’s a perception issue here.’

“And we listened and we went to the chief and we decided that we would be differently structured.”

The inquiries team head said no serving members of the PSNI Special Branch — also known as the C3 unit — would be attached to his team.

“There is nobody on this team who answers to anybody except me.

“There are no serving Special Branch officers on this team. We have recruited some ex-officers who have the required security clearance to look through material,” he said.

Inquiries team chiefs yesterday acknowledged that the team’s work did not constitute a truth and reconciliation process.

They said prosecutions would be recommended in relation to unsolved murders if the necessary evidence was gathered.

Despite the team’s attempts to build confidence within the nationalist community, groups representing the relatives of state murder victims have continued to call for an independent international inquiry.

An Fhirinne spokesman Robert McClenaghan said there was no faith in the new team within nationalist communities.

“As relatives of those murdered as a result of collusion between the British government and unionist death squads, we do not believe that the HET will ever get to the truth of who murdered our loved ones. Those accused of murder are being asked to reinvestigate themselves,” he said.


Ahern And Orde Clash On IRA Crime

Police chief rejects Taoiseach's claim that senior officers believe Provisionals are going straight

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday January 22, 2006
The Observer

Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, last night flatly contradicted claims by Bertie Ahern that the IRA was no longer engaged in crime.

Orde denied he had briefed the Taoiseach before Christmas that the Provisionals had halted all illegal activity. During a trade mission to India, Ahern claimed the chief constable had given him a different view from that of his Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid, who told the north's Policing Board last week the IRA was still involved.

The Taoiseach, speaking in New Delhi, rejected Kincaid's analysis, alleging that Orde, 'the most senior police officer', had given him a different view.

Asked if Ahern's account of his meeting with the chief constable before Christmas was correct, a spokesperson for Orde said the Taoiseach 'is mistaken to say that the Chief Constable gave a different view'. The two men had not discussed the issue.

It is understood Orde stands 100 per cent behind Kincaid 's analysis that all paramilitary groups, including the IRA, are still involved in crime. His spokesperson stressed that Orde would not say anything to pre-empt the next International Monitoring Commission (IMC) report later this month.

Kincaid's assessment also contradicted the views of the Northern Ireland Security Minister, Sean Woodward, who claimed all IRA activities were over. The chairman, Des Rea, has admitted the minister and the police remained 'clearly at odds'.

British Ministers, including Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, are pinning hopes of restoring devolution on the new IMC report in the hope it will confirm all IRA activities have ceased.

Hain told The Observer that the north's politicians should take a lesson from Nelson Mandela and forgive their enemies. South Africa had five times as many people killed as died in the Troubles yet Mandela still shook hands with his jailers. The minister asked why the province's politicians could not do the same.

Hain said he was encouraged by the prospects for key talks on 6 February aimed at reviving the deadlocked devolution process. Proposals from the Democratic Unionist Party to revive a highly limited form of devolution could, he suggested, provided a starting point for negotiations.

Hain expected that a report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, due shortly, would indicate the IRA surrender was 'for real'. But he admitted the IMC must decide how many of its members were still involved in crime.

'At some point, Northern Ireland has got to get to the South Africa moment of forgiving but not forgetting,' he said. 'If you have lost a husband or a child or other loved ones it's not for me to say that you can ever forget the past, and you can't ever have closure. But I think Northern Ireland has to look forward.

'If Nelson Mandela can - having spent 10,000 days of his adult life in prison can say "I can shake the hand of my former jailer, I can extend my hand to the people who were killing my people", why can't Northern Ireland's politicians?

The DUP will submit proposals to Downing Street this week for a resumption of the assembly, but without restoring the power-sharing executive. Hain did not favour this but if other parties did 'that could lead to a good result'. He warned: 'Years more limbo is not an option.'

Hain admitted leaks last week of a police report on the IRA's criminal activity had been a 'spanner in the works' but said the report from the IMC should help restore confidence. 'They will never in the end be able to provide an absolute 100 per cent cast-iron picture because most of what their assessment is based on intelligence, which is fragmentary.'


Report ‘Won’t Clear IRA For Power Sharing’

Liam Clarke

SENIOR security sources believe the report of the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) due to be released next week is unlikely to give the IRA a clean bill of health. A negative report will be a blow to the Irish and British governments, which are anxious to draw a line under the IRA’s activities and restore Northern Ireland’s political institutions.

The IMC has received assessments from the gardai, the PSNI, the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) and customs officers. There is unanimous agreement that the IRA remains a significant force in activities such as money laundering, smuggling and other offences.

The IMC, whose members are paid £600 (€870) a day, relies on assessments from the security forces. It has the power to ask for and examine the raw intelligence underlying the assessments and to interview sources to check the security force analysis.

If, as expected, the commission accepts the security force assessment it will be a huge embarrassment for Shaun Woodward, the Northern Ireland security minister. Questioned last December, Woodward claimed that “the IRA is no longer involved in crime” and that the organisation was “keeping its word”.

He spoke as the police continued to pursue the proceeds of the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in December 2004, which the IRA is still attempting to launder, and days after raids by the ARA and the Criminal Assets Bureau aimed at recovering funds.

Woodward has since been contradicted by Sam Kinkaid, Northern Ireland’s most senior detective, Sir Hugh Orde, the PSNI chief constable, and Desmond Rea, the chairman of the Northern Ireland policing board.

Kinkaid told a meeting of the policing board that the IRA’s criminal activity continued, though improvements had been made. In answer to questions at a Young Unionist meeting on Thursday evening, Orde said he supported Kinkaid’s assessment and called for the press and public to “hold the minister to account for what he says”.

Orde added: “There is no evidence to suggest that they (the IRA) are going back to an armed struggle. The people watching this will form their own view on how quickly any organisation, be it the UDA, the LVF, the UVF or the provisional IRA can move in that direction.

“You cannot be open for business one day and closed the next. The IMC report is so important. It will assess if the organisation is going in the right direction.”

IMC members have also told politicians in private meetings they will not be able to give the IRA an entirely clean bill of health but will be able to report progress and improvement.

All this makes it unlikely that unionists will move quickly into government with Sinn Fein. Instead the search is on for an interim arrangement that will allow the Stormont assembly to get up and running in the hope that power sharing can be fully restored after May 2007, when the next assembly elections are due to take place.

Both the UUP and DUP will this week give Tony Blair proposals for a legislative assembly that would not include locally elected ministers in the short term.

Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist leader, said: “There is a general concern that we really don’t know what is coming out of the woodwork next, and people want to wait and see how the republicans behave. That means interim measures.”

He suggested an assembly with similar powers to the US Congress.


Monitoring Body Report To Detail IRA Crime

22 January 2006 By Paul T Colgan

Crunch talks between the British and Irish governments will take place this week amid concerns that an upcoming report on IRA activity will say that republicans are involved in organised crime.

Government sources said they expected the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) to report that members of the IRA had been involved in criminal activity since the group announced an end to its armed struggle last July.

Republicans have denied the claims and said that members of the British security forces are attempting to damage the political process through malicious briefings against the IRA.

The IMC report is due early next month and is deemed crucial to attempts to restore power sharing between Sinn Fe¤ in and the DUP in the North. Without such a report, neither British prime minister Tony Blair nor Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be able to convince unionists to engage in political discussions.

Sources said the governments would still seek to ‘‘kick-start’’ political movement and that a series of important meetings were planned towards the end of the week before the publication of the IMC report.

Ahern and Blair plan to make a joint keynote speech in the days after the report’s publication, while the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, will join Northern secretary Peter Hain in hosting exploratory talks with the parties.

One of the North’s highest-ranking policemen, Sam Kinkaid, told members of the Policing Board last week that the IRA was involved in organised crime. Ian Paisley’s DUP has seized on the remarks as justification for keeping Sinn Fein out of the political process.

Republicans have rejected Kinkaid’s claims, saying his briefing was a deliberate attempt by the PSNI to scupper political progress.


Bloody Sunday Marchers Attacked

By Paul Delgarno

ELEVEN people were arrested after 400 protesters attempted to charge an Irish Republican march in Glasgow yesterday morning.

More than 1000 people took part in the Cairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland) parade through the centre of the city to mark the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry in 1972.

As the procession reached the city’s George Square, around 400 protesters threw lighters and bottles at the march ers from behind police lines.

Despite warnings from Strathclyde Police for troublemakers to stay away, the scenes mirrored those at last year’s parade, during which three people were arrested.

March organiser Jim Slaven said the police’s approach in the lead-up to the march had contributed to the unrest.

“We saw people on the march suffering abuse and incredible provocation,” he said.

“We’ve been asking for people in positions of responsibility to try and calm the situation around this issue, but we think the police have done the opposite.”

Fellow marcher Jean Cairns, from Cardonald in the south of Glasgow, said she had considered bringing her family on the march but felt intimidated from the start.

“I don’t know why there was such a big police presence,” she said. “It was meant to be a peaceful march to commemorate what happened in Ireland. I just don’t get why the police have saturated it.”

Bloody Sunday campaigner Gerry Duddy, who spoke at a rally after the parade, said the violence had detracted from the true message of the day. He pointed to the publication later this year of the Saville Report into the deaths of 14 men and boys on Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972.

“We expect the report to state clearly that the British soldiers committed murder on the streets of Derry,” he said. “Receptions like the one we got going past George Square will never cease to amaze me.”

Strathclyde police confirmed there was an “element of organisation” to the counter-protest, but could not comment on claims that the protesters were linked to the British National Party or the Scottish Orange Order.

Assistant chief constable Kevin Smith added that many of the marchers had antagonised protesters in George Square.

“Unfortunately, but expectedly, racist and sectarian abuse was evident,” he said. “Had it not been for the significant police presence, there would have been much more serious disorder and disruption to the parade.”

He confirmed that officers had dealt with incidents such as missile-throwing and that arrests had been made for breach of the peace, assault and possession of a knife.

A parades review, carried out by former Strathclyde Police chief constable Sir John Orr last year, recommended that a march should be banned if it gave a risk of intimidation to the local community or of serious disruption.

Spokespeople for the British National Party and the Scottish Orange Order denied any involvement in the protests.

22 January 2006


Hogg Confronted Over MI5 Killing


Former Conservative Home office minister Douglas Hogg has admitted he was privately briefed by RUC Special Branch on multiple occasions in the run up to the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Douglas Hogg QC made the startling comments during a trip to Belfast this week to act as legal representative at the inquest into the death a British intelligence soldier, shot during a training exercise at Ballykinlar army base.

Members of anti-collusion group An Fhírinne and the murdered solicitor’s son John yesterday confronted the Tory MP about his comments as the inquest into the death of 42-year-old Warrant Officer Harry White came to a close.

Just weeks before the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane the Conservative MP told the House of Commons that some solicitors in the North were “unduly sympathetic” to the cause of the IRA.

He later went on to become a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.

His comments in the House of Commons were investigated by John Stevens during his report into alleged collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

In reference to his questioning by the Stevens team, Douglas Hogg revealed this week that he had had so many meetings about Pat Finucane it would have been “impossible for me to remember them all”.

Mr Stevens later concluded that Mr Hogg’s comments had “not been justified” when the then minister made them during a Commons debate on anti-terrorism legislation on January 17, 1989.

Pat Finucane was gunned down by loyalists in his north Belfast home on February 12, 1989. Douglas Hogg, who was a Home Office junior minister at the time, later said he had made the comments after a briefing by RUC members.

During a break in the inquest proceedings this week, he admitted that he had been unable to recall the dates and times of the secret RUC briefings when asked by John Stevens because the meetings had been so frequent.

The former minister added that he had had to refer back to his parliamentary diaries to confirm the details of his meetings with RUC Special Branch.

The Tory MP was this week acting as Queen’s Counsel for the family of the late sergeant Harry White, who was fatally wounded during a live-fire exercise at Ballykinler army base.

As coroner David Hunter yesterday concluded his judgment on Mr White’s death, protesters holding pictures of Pat Finucane confronted Douglas Hogg.

The MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham looked shocked and stunned as the protesters called out: “What about justice for Pat Finucane?” and “Do you still stand by your comments?” from the public gallery of the Old Town Hall courthouse in Belfast.

Court officials led Mr Hogg out a back door of the courthouse.

Speaking outside the court, Pat Finucane’s son John said it was time for the Conservative MP to come clean about his private meetings with RUC Special Branch in the run up to the Belfast solicitor’s murder.

“We have never been given answers by Douglas Hogg about his briefings with the RUC,” said John Finucane.

“He has never apologised or even recognised the impact that his comments had and the distress they caused my family.

“I think it says a lot about his lack of remorse that he is willing to come to Belfast and practise law in the very place where a solicitor was killed following his inflammatory comments.”


Policies To Attract Businesses

22 January 2006 By Alison O’Connor

Caoimhghin O Caolain rejected the notion that businesspeople should be afraid of Sinn Fein in government. In recent weeks, the party has repositioned its policies on enterprise and job creation but O Caolain said he saw no reason why they would not be welcomed by industry.

‘‘I have never ever believed we are ‘scary’ to business people,” he said. ‘‘I have an excellent working relationship with business people in my constituency as does our party with all sections of society on the ground. I have no doubt that is replicated throughout the country.

‘‘People in business have absolutely nothing to fear from the idea of Sinn Fein being in government. We have demonstrated that in terms of our input directly in terms of governance north of the border. But I have no doubt we will demonstrate the required skills and commitment to the roles which may at any time be entrusted upon us.”

The party said recently that the corporation tax rate was not punitive and should rise to 17 per cent from 12.5 per cent as part of a wider programme of reforms.

It pointed towards the Nordic example and said that these countries had shown it was possible to be competitive internationally and yet have good quality public services, paid for by high tax rates.

What Sinn Fein wanted, said O Caolain, was a ‘‘society of equals’’.

‘‘We do believe that people in business are no less mindful or responsive to the needs of the less well off or the marginalised in our society,” said O Caolain. ‘‘People in business, captains of industry – describe them as you will – in my opinion, they are not excused from their responsibility of having to ensure that healthcare is available to all on the basis of need and not on the basis ability to pay. Childcare is critical to the type of society we want.

‘‘If you look at the situation in relation to housing, people in industry and business want to see housing waiting lists addressed, I believe, just as we do.”


Gardai Set To Deliver Rafferty File To DPP

GARDAI investigating the murder of Joseph Rafferty, who was shot dead last April by a suspected member of the IRA, will send a file to the DPP within the next 10 days, writes Enda Leahy.

Twenty arrests were made and some 600 statements were taken in the course of the investigation. Rafferty, 29, had been threatened several times following an altercation with a neighbour whose mother was in a relationship with a member of the IRA. Rafferty’s family believe that he was killed by the IRA man who now lives on Dublin’s northside.

Esther Uzell, Rafferty’s sister, has accused Sinn Fein and the IRA of protecting the killer and of failing to co-operate with the garda investigation. Uzell will travel to America next month to meet politicians including Senator Hillary Clinton in order to raise the profile of the case.

The murder will also be included in the next report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). Rafferty’s family and gardai from the crime and security branch have briefed the IMC committee on the killer’s IRA links.

One detective familiar with the murder investigation, which is being run from Lucan garda station and is separate from an inquiry into the man’s membership of the IRA, said that the file will go to the DPP by the end of the month.


O Caolain: At One With His Party

22 January 2006 By Alison O'Connor

Caoimhghin O Caolain laughs when asked how much media training he has undergone in his 20 years as a Sinn Fein elected representative.

In recent years a caricature-like picture has emerged of party representatives singing from the same hymn sheet.

The resulting performances ended up convincing most observers that all Sinn Fein public performers had undergone intense media training.

But this is not the case, according to O Caolain. The unity of the party message is actually due to the cohesiveness built up during intense struggles fought over many decades, he insisted.

‘‘I’ve never had any media training whatsoever. I do recall on one occasion one of our colleagues in the press office in Dublin, a member of the party with a little handheld video camera,” he said.

‘‘We did a questioning exercise and ran it back, a dummy interview situation. The person on the other side of the camera had no more experience than I had and it was totally in-house.”

O Caolain described Sinn Fein as ‘‘a cohesive organisation’’.

‘‘People have come to their respective points of view out of long years of deliberation, contact with each other, brainstorming,” he said.

‘‘We come to an understanding and consensus on a raft of issues. We understand when issues present exactly what our position is and will be.

‘‘It’s not to do with media training. It’s down to an acute developed sense of Sinn Fein’s politics and where we stand on any given issue as it presents.”

O Caolain is Sinn Fein’s leader in the Dail and a representative of Cavan Monaghan. He was the only Sinn Fein TD returned to the Dail after the 1997 general election.

After the 2002 general election he was joined by four colleagues.

While Sinn Fein is generally envied by many of its political opponents for the party’s support network on the ground, the party’s TDs have been criticised for not performing well or making the impact that might have been expected of them.

O Caolain rejects this criticism.

‘‘I believe that all five of our TDs have performed very, very well indeed. Our back-up team which makes up the full staff group - there is no political party that puts in the hours and work that each and every one of them does.”

He would be more than happy with a doubling to ten TDs after the next election but ‘‘any advance’’ on the five would be ‘‘very welcome’’.

The party hopes to contest most if not all 42 constituencies.

He said there was significant potential for growth in Dublin, not least with the high-profile Mary Lou McDonald in the Taoiseach’s Dublin Central constituency.

According to O Caolain, the three other candidates to watch are Larry O’Toole in Dublin North East, Dessie Ellis in Dublin North West and Daithi Doolan in Dublin South East.

He then turns his attention to Pearse Doherty in Donegal South West and Padraig MacLochlainn in Donegal North East.

‘‘Donegal is looking good to deliver two T Ds for Sinn Fein,” he said.

Joe Reilly, who ran in the Meath by-election, will move to the new Meath West constituency.

Further south, two European parliament candidates, John Dwyer in Wexford and David Cullinane in Waterford, are mentioned. In Cork, Jonathan O’Brien in North Central is also name-checked. O Caolain has been involved with the party since the early 1980s, first getting actively involved with the 1980-1981 hunger strike.

In 1981, while still working as a bank official, he was director of elections for the successful election campaign of hunger striker Kieran Doherty in Cavan/Monaghan.

‘‘I didn’t leave the bank until 1982,” he said. ‘‘I remember it was the last weekend in October 1982. I pulled the door of the bank after me on a Friday, and on the Monday morning I walked into 44 Parnell Square [Sinn Fein Dublin headquarters], as the new general manager of An Phoblacht, a job which I did for three years.”

Does he think his interest was linked with living so close to the North?

‘‘I don’t,” he said. ‘‘People tend to explain you away so to speak - ‘that fella is from Monaghan, what else would you expect’ - but I don’t think so.

‘‘There are people just like me from every county in Ireland who have strong views and who have been touched by events and have taken a conscious decision to give of their time. I know people throughout the length and breadth of the island who have taken a similar course in life.”

It was political opponents, said O Caolain, who tried to foster a suspicious image of Sinn Fein as a secretive and dangerous organisation.

‘‘It is they who try to foster that imagery,” he said. ‘‘Working in Sinn Fein has been great. I do not regret for a moment the decision I took almost a quarter of a century ago. I have been full-time [for the party] ever since.

‘‘I would probably say that I regret not making the decision earlier.”

There was no mystique, he said, as to Sinn Fein’s success.

‘‘It was done over a long number of years and hard, hard work,” he said. ‘‘When I got involved in Sinn Fein in Co Monaghan, there was a sitting Sinn Fein councillor, a town councillor on Clones town Council.

‘‘There was a vacant seat in Monaghan town council where the sitting Sinn Fein town councillor was in Portlaoise prison.

‘‘That was the entire Sinn Fein elected representation in Co Monaghan in 1985. Go forward then to the 2004 local elections - Sinn Fein is the largest political party in Monaghan.

“It has more seats - 23 council seats.

‘‘In the north Monaghan area it outpolls FF and FG combined.”

O Caolain said the party has built up this support base through hard work.

‘‘There is no other formula for it,” he said.

‘‘Is all that because Monaghan is a border county? No it could be done, I argue within the party, in any county in Ireland, if you apply yourself to the task.

‘‘One of the key things is to get respect so that you get support.”

O Caolain said while there was an opinion that Sinn Fein would most naturally coalesce with Fianna Fail, this would not be his view.

‘‘I believe Irish politics deserves to develop along amore traditional left/right basis,” he said.

‘‘I happen to believe that the Labour party continues to make serious mistakes in offering a crutch to Fine Gael instead of letting them just die off naturally.

‘‘I do believe there are left-of-centre and other progressive voices who in the future might be able to offer a more effective and more focused left-of-centre alternative government,” said O Caolain.

‘‘The point I am making is that there is not only one possible option here.

‘‘The electorate obviously have the key, but the type of project I am suggesting - that I might be more comfortable with - is set back every time Labour go into bed with Fine Gael.

‘‘The Labour Party do a disservice to what they themselves espouse, or allegedly espouse.”

O Caolain said he did not have any personal ambition to be a cabinet minister.

‘‘It’s not that I wouldn’t be interested in it,” he said.

‘‘Whatever is asked of me to do by the party, I am here to give long-term service. I’m willing to continue to do that for some years to come.

‘‘If I am honoured to be asked, if the opportunity presents, I would be delighted to take on the job.”


Fianna Fáil Gains Points In Ireland

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – The governing Fianna Fáil party continues to dominate Ireland’s political scene, according to a poll by TNS mrbi published in the Irish Times. 37 per cent of respondents would vote for the Soldiers of Destiny in the next parliamentary election, up five points since June.

Since 1997, prime minister Bertie Ahern leads a coalition government encompassing Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.

Fine Gael—led by Enda Kenny—is second with 24 per cent, followed by the Labour party with 16 per cent, Sinn Fein with nine per cent, the Green Party with four per cent, and the Progressive Democrats with three per cent. The next legislative election is tentatively scheduled for May 2007.

Last year, Fine Gael and Labour discussed the possibility of a pre-election policy and voting agreement. Over the past few weeks, some members of the current government—including Ahern—have suggested a formal coalition between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Labour parliamentarian Kathleen Lynch called the strategy "pure mischief-making by Fianna Fáil. (They are) trying to cause some friction and instability in the Labour party, which is the one thing people going out to vote don’t want to see."

Polling Data

What party would you support in the next general election?

Jan. 2006 Jun. 2005

Fianna Fáil / Soldiers of Destiny (FF)
37% 32%

Fine Gael / Family of the Irish (FG)
24% 25%

Labour Party / Páirti Lucht Oibre (Lab.)
16% 14%

Sinn Fein / We Ourselves (SF)
9% 11%

Green Party / Comhaontas Glas (GP)
4% 4%

Progressive Democrats /
Dan Pairtí Daonlathach (PD)
3% 3%

Source: TNS mrbi / The Irish Times
Methodology: Interviews to 1,000 Irish voters, conducted on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17, 2006. No margin of error was provided.


Belfast City Hall May See Tribute In Stained Glass To James Connolly

By Ciarán Barnes

A stained-glass window commemorating the life of Easter Rising leader James Connolly could be erected in Belfast’s City Hall.

The city council’s policy and resources committee is preparing a report on the proposal and a series of others to commemorate the 1916 Rising, all made by Sinn Féin.

The party has agreed to back plans by unionists to stage a series of events to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which thousands of Belfast men lost their lives. In return, Sinn Féin councillors have asked unionists not to oppose the Easter Rising commemoration plans.

Before moving to Dublin, James Connolly played a key role in the formation of trade unions in Belfast and the development of workers’ rights. Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann said that, for this alone, he should be honoured in City Hall.

“James Connolly was a champion of the rights of all workers in Belfast,” said Mr McCann.

“He worked for people across the religious and class divide, and he firmly believed too that the way to improve the rights of workers was through British disengagement and the unification of Ireland. As a man who made a great contribution to Belfast, he deserves be honoured in the City Hall.”

A plaque marking Connolly’s stay in the city is mounted at the front of his old home on the Falls Road in west Belfast.

If a stained-glass window commemorating his achievements is fitted in City Hall, this would be the first monument to a republican to go up in the famous building, which celebrates its centenary this year.

Last April, an image of Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the United Irish rebellion of 1898, was included in a portrait of former SDLP mayor Martin Morgan. The inclusion of the Protestant republican leader angered hardline unionists, who called for the painting to be removed.


Opin: History Will Judge The Cold Case Team


It’s difficult to view the Historical Enquiries Team, which began its work yesterday in the glare of the TV lights, as anything other than a publicity stunt. The team is to review 3,268 killings which took place between 1969 and 1998 and its budget is £30 million (€44 million). If we do the math, as they say in the United States, it quickly becomes clear that this is a very small amount of money to carry out a an awful lot of work.

Even if the team were to be given ten times that amount, the scale of the task is so vast that it would still struggle to achieve enough to justify its existence.

Of course, the ‘cold case’ investigations are not being carried out in order to put people in jail who have never been brought to justice. They are being carried out to placate those who claim that the peace process has denied justice to those many families who have buried their loved ones and then waited in vain for the killers to be brought to book.

Should a grieving widow ask a British government minister why her husband’s killer should be allowed to go free, he can say that that’s not the case and that the Historical Enquiries Team is on the job.

What the minister will not say is that the widow has more chance of winning the lottery than she does of seeing her husband’s killer in the dock.

Secretary of State Peter Hain says that he thinks it’s quite possible that people will end up in jail as a result of fresh investigations.

Two almost insuperable difficulties face the team as it goes about its work. The first, of course, is time. After so many years, it becomes difficult if not impossible to put the jigsaw back together. Memories fade, evidence disappears, people age – and should anyone face charges as a result of an investigation that has been based on evidence that’s 20 or 30 years old, any lawyer worth his or her salt would relish the challenge of blowing the case out of the water.

The second difficulty that the teams face is the poor quality and unprofessionalism of the RUC investigations – something that will quickly become apparent when the dust is blown off the first file.

The murder of GAA stalwart Sean Brown in Bellaghy was highlighted by a recent Police Ombudsman’s as a textbook example of how not to conduct an investigation. If that is how the RUC went about its business as recently as 1997, what can be expected from investigations that took place in the dark days of the early 1970s?

Very little is the answer.

Officers from outside the North, we’re told, will investigate killings which are believed to have involved the RUC or the British army. So far, so good.

When you read on and find out that they will be reporting directly to the Chief Constable, then we’re entitled to ask, why bother bringing the bobbies here in the first place?


Opin: Opening Up On Croker

The argument is over, the dates fixed: Ireland will play rugby and soccer at Croke Park in 2007. Here, we get four perspectives on history. Interviews by Michael Foley

The sceptic

John Arnold

Congress weekend last April? I was nowhere near Croke Park. I was at home in Cork — mid-April is a busy time if you’re a farmer and with Bride Rovers in the All-Ireland scor finals for the first time there was last-minute rehearsals to attend to.

When I heard the decision I was gutted. I’ve never held high office within the GAA but I’d put a lot of work into getting the arguments against change out there through the media. I thought my arguments were sound but the delegates went on and accepted the change. That’s democracy. That’s fine by me.

It was an unusual time. Some very good friends of mine were in favour of opening Croke Park for excellent reasons and some friends were against it for bad reasons. I received hate mail from people who obviously hadn’t bothered to study my arguments against changing Rule 42. I was accused of being anti-English, of hating soccer. One letter said that people like me and the Catholic Church were trying to drag Ireland back deep into the 20th century.

None of that had anything to do with my thinking. I didn’t think the financial inducements added up and I still don’t. I felt opening Croke Park gave rugby and soccer an added advantage in exposure and resources. I still do. In fact, some objections I had have come to pass so quickly, I can’t believe it.

With the announcement last week of the predicted financial windfall for the GAA, the GPA were already insisting the GAA had no excuse but to provide some financial rewards for players. It was always going to be hard to have an All-Ireland final fill Croke Park only for a soccer international to fill it again a week later, and to expect the GAA players to accept the soccer players getting payment while they didn’t. As time goes on, it’ll be harder to resist that mode of thinking.

We’re already being accused of hypocrisy. Why is there one rule for Croke Park while other GAA grounds remain closed? We’ve been told the money gathered from the international games will go back into the grassroots. I’d be cynical about that. Extra money might go into coaching but, if the deal provides €5m or €6m for GAA coaching, it will provide much more money to the rival associations. The GAA has poured money into infrastructure in recent years while the FAI and IRFU have concentrated on coaching. Now we’re increasing even further the money available to them to get more coaches on the ground.

I’m not saying GAA people are true Gaels or some kind of perfect specimen of Irishness but when we speak of Croke Park now we think of GAA. In a few years’ time could it be that when we say Croke Park the first reaction could be: “That’s where Wayne Rooney missed the penalty and Ireland won 2-1 to reach the European Championships.” It’d be a great result, but it does dilute our image of Croke Park.

People taunt me that if I don’t go to soccer and rugby matches in Croke Park that shows I’m anti-soccer, anti-rugby. I won’t be there but that’s because I know plenty of hard-working rugby and soccer people who deserve a seat more than I do. I’ve seen people at All-Ireland finals over the years who never should’ve been there. There’s no animosity between me and any other code but in the end I want to see kids of 11 and 12 choosing to play hurling and football. Opening Croke Park doesn’t help that aspiration.

The advocate

Sean Quirke

I’M THE Wexford County Board chairman and at our county convention in 2004 the topic of Rule 42 triggered one of the best debates I can remember. It was healthy, robust, often passionate and in the end 85% of the delegates voted in favour of a temporary opening. At Congress, the result reflected that groundswell of support.

Come next February GAA people will be able to hold their heads high when France arrive for the first rugby international in Croke Park. It will show to the world what we’ve achieved. After a couple of games I think the decision will be seen as a hugely positive one.

Some 80% of our population enjoys sport and in Wexford the barriers are almost non- existent. As proud as we are of our GAA teams, we’re also proud of Gordon D’Arcy. When he was with the Lions last year, Gordon kept track of Wexford’s progress and has always been a passionate supporter of the hurlers and footballers. Kevin Doyle has made a marvellous start to his soccer career in England and comes from a family steeped in GAA around Adamstown. As a Wexford man, I’ll be proud to see them represent their country in Croke Park.

The GAA wouldn’t have agreed in the absence of a good deal, and for that the negotiating team should be commended. The extra money will release finances in other areas and benefit the GAA with a new income stream.

To GAA people, Croke Park will always be Croke Park. It will still be the ambition of any young child to play there for their county. Soccer and rugby are already beaming into their homes through television and other media. Staging those games in Croke Park isn’t going to make a discernible difference. The way the world is gone, it’s good to see kids playing any sport.

All the sports need to co-exist and help each other as best they can. Over the years our county teams have trained on rugby grounds in bad weather. I appreciate where those against opening Croke Park were coming from but, when the vast majority of GAA people wanted it open, democracy had to be seen to be done.

Now that it’s open and the fixtures are being set, let’s use this magnificent resource for our benefit.

The local resident

Pat Gates

I’M THE chairman of Croke Park Residents Alliance and I’ve always been a GAA man. Years ago I played football for Brackaville Owen Roes outside Coalisland. My kids have played GAA and over the years I’ve seen the good the GAA does in the community. My issues aren’t with the GAA as a whole, they’re with Croke Park.

I’ve lived on James’ Avenue for 18 years. My house is situated close to the Cusack Stand gates and for vast tracts of the summer our lives are hugely disrupted by events at Croke Park. While soccer and rugby games in Croke Park represent lots of things to lots of people, to the 20,000 people who live around the ground they just promise more upset and inconvenience.

An average match-day for us can involve fans tapping on windows and doors and litter in our front gardens. We have persistent trouble with the security personnel manning the barriers around Croke Park as we try to get to and from our homes. People who see us driving our cars past the barriers towards our homes have been known to kick the cars as they pass.

Outside the barriers, there are problems with traffic congestion, poor parking, litter and on-street drinking. After 15 years of dialogue with Croke Park, they continue to treat us with total disrespect and disregard. They have made promises on an array of issues and delivered on very little. There have been agreements to improve the quality of life for the residents around Croke Park, witnessed and signed by local politicians including the Taoiseach, but the Croke Park authorities have failed abysmally on every front. Their basic approach seems to be: to hell with the local residents and our quality of life.

People ask why we don’t expect these problems when we live beside a stadium. We obviously accept there is going to be some disruption from 80,000-plus people coming into our community.

We have residents in these streets who can trace their lineage back to the time of Bloody Sunday. The notion that residents, old or young, have their basic rights taken away when they move in beside a stadium is preposterous. We don’t want to get rid of Croke Park. We want the GAA to listen to our issues and help resolve them.

With soccer and rugby on the way, everyone’s talking about the financial windfall for the GAA. Croke Park is situated in one of the most disadvantaged areas in Ireland, yet there’s no mention of some of this windfall being invested in the local community, say, in helping with streetscaping and general improvements.

If the GAA were pulling their weight, we would have no problem with the extra games. As far as we’re concerned, Croke Park is already operational all year round. It hosts business and social functions at night and residents on the Jones’ Road side have reported problems with drunken revellers leaving late at night. Evening soccer matches are going to cause problems, from the glare of the floodlights to the increased crowds in the area at rush-hour.

We will object but in the past our voice has been pretty much ignored. When we do object we’ll also be seen as begrudgers and whingers. We’re expected to grin and take all this hassle for the public good. We’d like some of the Croke Park executive to come and live here for a while to get a real sense of our problems. Up till now, the GAA just haven’t been good neighbours. A little empathy from them would go a long way.

The rugby man

Trevor Ringland

HAVING grown up the son of an RUC officer, I could never bring myself to attend any GAA matches in Croke Park while the ban on RUC members playing Gaelic games existed. It didn’t make me anti-GAA. When I was in Queen’s University we had great success in hockey, rugby and Gaelic football teams, and we enjoyed each side’s triumphs. My problem with the GAA was isolated to what I saw as a sectarian rule. Once it was done away with, I secured a ticket for the 2002 All-Ireland football final and happily headed for Croke Park.

The stadium blew me away, Armagh won on a fantastic day and as a unionist I thought it an excellent promotional exercise that I didn’t need to put my hand in my pocket in any of the bars we frequented. I travelled down a unionist, was made perfectly welcome, and safely came back home a unionist.

I haven’t heard any adverse discussion in Ulster rugby circles about the prospect of Ireland playing in Croke Park, and I can’t imagine any true Ulster rugby fan would have any major issues with it. Anyone who hasn’t been in Croke Park before will be really impressed, and should recognise the gesture the GAA have made in opening up the ground. Any Ulster people who have preconceptions about going to Croke Park will quickly overcome them. It’s up to everybody on this island to step through barriers, real or perceived. The GAA have made this gesture. It’s only right that Ulster rugby fans reciprocate.

I’m co-chairman of the One Small Step campaign, a drive to promote a shared future for Northern Ireland where all communities can work together, and gestures like this all count for something. Hurling and Gaelic football have always been All-Ireland sports, but not necessarily sports for all the people of Ireland. As people now start to come out of the trenches and engage with each other, the GAA have taken that on board with decisions like this.

Things are changing. A few years ago I was involved with CIYMS in Belfast when a young player was seriously injured. In an effort to help raise funds we got a call from Ballygalget GAA club, out on the Ards Peninsula in Co Down. As a result we had a charity night where we played a game with first half Gaelic football and the second a form of rugby. Small steps are being taken everywhere. Belfast Harlequins have just recently entered a form of groundsharing agreement with a local GAA club in south Belfast. Entities who once demonised each other are now finding much in common.

To see Ireland play rugby there next February will be a fantastic experience. This whole process is an example of what can be achieved with strong leadership. There were financial reasons to open Croke Park, but there was more at play. Making the ground available says something about the kind of leadership we need and the relationships we want between all communities.

On my trip three years ago I remember falling into many conversations with Armagh and Kerrymen where we agreed to disagree on some things, but shared the same views on plenty of others. Sometimes it’s good to focus on those things that bind us together. Next February we’ll be able to add one more strand.


United Kingdom: The US/UK 2003 Extradition Treaty - An American Perspective?

Free Weekly Newsletters
20 January 2006
Article by Anand Doobay


The most recent extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States was signed in Washington on 31st March 2003 ("the 2003 Treaty").

The 2003 Treaty was signed by David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, for the Government of the United Kingdom. Parliament was not consulted and the text of the treaty was only made public after it was signed. Even though the 2003 Treaty does not substantially differ from the 1972 Treaty between the US and the UK1 (as supplemented by the 1985 Treaty2) there was an outcry in the UK over the fact that it was negotiated and signed in secret3 as it removed the fundamental protection of providing evidence for those in the UK facing extradition requests from the US.4

The 2003 Treaty has been ratified by the UK and in accordance with the Ponsonby Rule5 it will have been laid before Parliament for at least 21 sitting days before its ratification. However, there is no requirement for any positive action on the part of Parliament prior to ratification as the power to make treaties is a Prerogative power vested in the Crown.

The 2003 Treaty was sent by the US President George Bush to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in April 2004. It has not yet been ratified by the US and during a House of Lords debate last July, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Minister for the Criminal Justice System, said that the US might not ratify the 2003 Treaty until 2007.

The UK’s extradition arrangements with the US have come under the spotlight because of two high profile extradition requests made by the US- the first for three former Natwest bankers alleged to have engaged in a fraud with former senior officers of Enron6 and the second for Ian Norris, the former chief executive of Morgan Crucible, alleged to have taken part in cartel activity in the US and to have perverted the course of justice by seeking to frustrate the subsequent criminal investigation in the US.7 All of these individuals have been ordered to be extradited and the outcome of the appeals in both cases is expected shortly. Our interest in extradition arrangements with the US has been heightened by emerging details of the US practice of engaging in rendition which allows the return of suspects without affording them the protections which are part of extradition arrangements.

Much has been written in the UK to explain the controversial aspects of the 2003 Treaty from a UK perspective. The most significant development has been the decision of the Government to give effect to the provision of the 2003 Treaty removing the need for the US to provide prima facie evidence to support an extradition request despite the failure of the US to ratify the 2003 Treaty.

However, little attention has been paid in the UK to the reasons why the Treaty has not yet, some two and a half years after it was signed, been ratified by the US. This article seeks to explore some of the arguments which have been used to oppose ratification of the 2003 Treaty in the US.

Reasons for Introduction of the 2003 Treaty

The aim of the treaty was to modernise, streamline and accelerate the extradition process between the US and the UK by removing hurdles and barriers. One of the reasons given for the 2003 Treaty was the need for the fast-track extradition of terrorists and the Prime Minister Tony Blair commented that the new treaty was "justified and right in a post September 11 context." Although terrorism may not have been the genesis for the 2003 Treaty, it is probably true to say that the negotiations were speeded up as a result of the attacks.

Reasons for the reluctance to ratify in the US.

A number of issues have been raised by those who oppose the ratification of the 2003 Treaty by the US.

In a report prepared for Congress in 2004, a number of these criticisms were explained. It was said by those who opposed ratification that the 2003 Treaty:

Eliminates the political offence exception for any offence allegedly involving violence or weapons, including any solicitation, conspiracy or attempt to commit such crimes;

Transfers responsibility for determining whether the extradition request is politically motivated from the courts to the executive;

Allows for extradition even if no US federal law is violated;

Disregards any US statute of limitation;

Removes the need for the UK to show facts sufficient to prove the person requested is guilty of the crime charged - mere unsupported allegations are sufficient;

Allows for "provisional arrest" and detention for 60 days upon request by the UK;

Applies retroactively for offences allegedly committed even before the ratification of the treaty.

These reasons are considered briefly below:

Elimination of the political offence for any offence allegedly involving violence or weapons, including any solicitation, conspiracy or attempt to commit such crimes

The 2003 Treaty has already been the subject of opposition by a number of civil rights organisations in the US, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Irish-American organisations. A large Irish-American lobby in Washington was particularly concerned to block this change as it was argued that it might allow in extraditions in political cases. The lobbyists were trying to persuade legislators that the 2003 Treaty went against everything that the Declaration of Independence stood for as the new treaty removed the safeguard in the 1976 treaty that "extradition shall not occur if the person sought establishes to the satisfaction of a competent judicial authority by a preponderance of the evidence that the request for extradition has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions." The 2003 Treaty also reduces the type of offences that will qualify as political offences and thus not be sufficient to form the basis for extradition.88

Transfer of the responsibility for determining whether the extradition request is politically motivated from the courts to the executive

Article 4(3) of the 2003 Treaty states that extradition shall not be granted if the competent authority in the country receiving the extradition request determines that the request is politically motivated. In the US the executive branch has been designated as the competent authority for the purpose of this Article. There has been concern that decision making has been removed from the Courts. It is not clear what procedure the executive would adopt in dealing with any submissions on this issue or what burden or standard of proof would apply. There is also a perceived difficulty in the US executive making this determination given ongoing diplomatic interaction between the US and the UK. Any finding that a request made by the UK was politically motivated would be sensational and would have obvious ramifications for the relationship between the UK and US Governments.

Allowing for extradition even if no US federal law is violated

Like the 1976 treaty, the 2003 Treaty limits extradition to conduct unlawful in both countries. The 2003 Treaty also requires extradition for extra-territorial offences if the country receiving the extradition request would have extra-territorial jurisdiction for the conduct which is the subject of the request. However, even if the country receiving the request would not have extra-territorial jurisdiction then it is still be able to grant extradition if it wants to do so.9 Therefore the US would be permitted to grant a British extradition request for an individual charged with a violation of British law on the basis of conduct committed entirely within the US (even if the conduct were completely lawful under US law). This has led to concerns in the US but the inclusion of this power is understandable given the increasing use by the US of its extra-territorial jurisdiction as seen in the case of Norris mentioned above. The US seems to wish to allow the possibility that it could extradite a person from the UK for conduct committed entirely outside of the US and which would be lawful in the UK.10

Statute of limitation

No account can be taken, under the 2003 Treaty, of any expiry of a limitation period for prosecution. The UK does not have a statute of limitation for criminal offences. However, the 1972 Treaty allowed extradition to be refused if the extradition offence was barred by lapse of time in either the country making the request or the country receiving the request. There has been opposition in the US to what is seen as the removal of a necessary protection for those facing extradition requests from the UK.

Elimination of the need for any showing by the UK of facts sufficient to show the person requested is guilty of the crime charged - mere unsupported allegations are sufficient

The 2003 Treaty does insist that the documentation accompanying a request from the UK includes information to provide a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offence for which the extradition is requested. The main concern in the US seems to be that the 2003 Treaty removes the need for evidence to be provided by the UK.11

Allowing for "provisional arrest" and detention for 60 days upon request by the UK

This refers to the authority to arrest the individual sought for extradition before receiving the formal request required to initiate extradition proceedings. The 2003 Treaty is very precise in its description of the information that must accompany a request for provisional arrest. The most significant change in the 2003 Treaty is that release of an individual after the 60 period has elapsed without the formal request being received is now discretionary. Under the 1972 Treaty a person had to be released if the formal request was not provided within the 60 day period. There is an obvious and understandable concern that without the requirement to discharge a person if the request has not been received within 60 days a person may end up remaining in custody for a significant length of time and no request may in fact be made.

Applying retroactively for offences allegedly committed even before the ratification of the treaty.

This is not an abnormal provision in extradition treaties. However, it is normal that for offences alleged to have been committed before ratification, the relevant conduct must have been unlawful at the time it was said to have been done. Given the earlier comments under (3) above, there is concern about the lack of such a restriction in the 2003 Treaty.


The concern that the 2003 Treaty has generated in the US is somewhat surprising. The 2003 Treaty does not contain a large number of radical changes to the previous treaties. However, perhaps the difficulties experienced in the US are more attributable to the system used to ratify treaties. The US system allows for detailed scrutiny of the treaty and provides time and opportunity for interested parties to comment on unwelcome changes. Conversely the UK system for ratification offers no such opportunity. It is perhaps for this reason that the US has not yet ratified the 2003 Treaty whereas the UK has ratified it and has given effect to one of its most controversial provisions.

The challenge to the decision to ratify the 2003 Treaty in the UK has in fact come in the form of a judicial review brought by the lawyers acting for Mr Norris. His application has recently been heard and we will await the ruling with interest.


1 The 1972 Treaty was given effect to in the UK by United States of America (Extradition) Order SI 1976/2144.

2 The 1985 Treaty was given effect to in the UK by United States of America (Extradition) (Amendment) Order SI 1986/2020

3 See "The mysterious case of the new US extradition scheme" Paul Garlick QC [2004] NLJ 738

4 Article 8.

5 See further,0.pdf

6 The Government of the United States of America v Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew

7 The Government of the United States of America v Norris

8 Article 4(2)

9 Article 2(4)

10 However, this does not take account of the UK’s domestic legislation governing extradition, the Extradition Act 2003, which will probably not allow this.

11 See comments above on the removal of the need for the US to provide evidence or even information which provides a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offence for which extradition is requested.

Anand Doobay is a partner in the Extradition and Mutual Assistance Team at Peters & Peters. He is co-author of the recently published Jones and Doobay on Extradition and Mutual Assistance. He would like to thank Alex Forbes for her help in writing this article.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


Comment: Sue Denham

Opin: We’re ‘Flattered’ By Labour — Even When We Take A Potshot At Rabbitte

Perusing the Labour party’s new policy document on immigration, Sue’s eye was arrested by a sentence explaining the case for unrestricted labour movement. “Without those immigrants, the economy would stall, wages would rise to ever more uncompetitive levels and the prosperity of the past decade would soon be a distant memory...” said Labour.

With a strong feeling of déjà vu, Sue flicked back to an editorial in The Sunday Times on January 8. It argued that immigrants were essential for the economy because “without them, it would stall, wages would rise to even more uncompetitive levels and the relatively short-lived prosperity of the past decade would soon be a distant memory”.

You know what they say about imitation and flattery, but the rub is that our editorial was decidely unflattering about Pat Rabbitte. Here’s one sentence from our piece that Labour didn’t rip off: “Unless (Rabbitte) can raise his game, and recognise that government brings with it the responsibility to act in the national, rather than party, interest, (he) may as well run up the white flag now.”

Sue wonders how they missed that one.

When Vincent Browne calls a kettle black it’s time to admit defeat

Vincent Browne has proposed that nobody be allowed to own or control more than a single media outlet in Ireland. “This would open the way for diverse media voices,” argued Browne.

Could that be the same Browne who is columnist with The Irish Times, a columnist with the Sunday Business Post, a presenter of a nightly show on RTE Radio, and editor of Village magazine, for which he writes reams and reams of, erm, copy? Deep sigh.

The Carrickdale hotel at Carrickarnon, just south of the border near Newry, is one of Sue’s favourite coffee spots whenever she has to stop off and freshen up on the road north. Who should she spy on her last visit but Rita O’Hare of Sinn Fein, one of the OTRs who would have qualified for the amnesty that never was. The former republican spin doctor is still wanted for questioning about the shooting of a British soldier during the Troubles.

Until the legislation is revived, the border is still as far north as the lovely Rita dares go.

The Irish mounties all too occasionally get their man

In 1998, a garda mounted unit was established on a “trial” basis. Six trained police horses were purchased, with equipment, at a cost of about €50,000. The unit has since grown like Topsy, with no fewer than 13 horses, two sergeants, 16 gardai and two grooms now being employed. Can you remember a single criminal being apprehended by the mounties? Sue neither. Still, according to a Department of Justice memo, the gardai insist the unit is proving “a success, not only in preventing and detecting crime, but also in strengthening the links between the gardai and the communities”. So the plod reckon that by riding into sink estates in Finglas, Darndale or Neilstown, and letting the youngsters pat the horses’ heads, they are less likely to be stoned next time they come in, by car, to arrest a drug dealer.

Meanwhile, crime doesn’t pay like it used to. What other conclusion to draw from finding none other than Martin Foley, “the criminal known as The Viper”, in Stubbs Gazette.

Massey Brothers undertakers have won a judgment against Foley for €5,673.11 plus costs of €253.14. Perhaps they could send a garda on horseback out to Cashel Avenue to collect it.

The Prince of Peace parish in San Antonio, Texas, was stunned last week by news that its former priest, Fr Maurice Dillane, had fathered a child in Ireland.

One parishioner, David Castilleja, said: “He was very caring and gracious in everything he did. One of his traditions was to sing a song to all mothers in the parish on Mother’s Day.”

Let’s hope the holy father is as good at the lullabies.

Francie Brolly, the Sinn Fein MLA who was arrested and questioned about the Claudy bombing last November, was asked by BBC’s Talkback last week if the IRA was involved in criminality.

Brolly’s reply wasn’t one bit encouraging: “I couldn’t be sure that my mother wasn’t involved in criminality,” he said.

Poor Mrs Brolly! No doubt the only thing she ever laundered were his dirty clothes.

Isn’t it time the government spread the net a bit when it comes to picking judges? Last week the High Court case of a teacher suing St Gerard’s, a private school in Wicklow, had to be adjourned because they couldn’t find a judge without some sort of connection to the posh school.

This was the third time the case had to be postponed because there was no beak available who either hadn’t been to the €4,400-a-year school or wasn’t sending his kids there or wasn’t mates with someone on the board of governors.

Lady Sylvia Hermon is the best leader the Ulster Unionists never had. Her latest campaign is a typical piece of lateral thinking — Asbos for prostitutes to stop them loitering in red light districts. “If they are made subject of Asbos and it’s made a criminal offence for them to go to their place of work, we will soon see how many are willing to risk a substantial custodial sentence,” said Lady S.

Why stop at the supply side? Kerb-crawling professional and business types who proposition respectable women like yours truly deserve the same medicine. That would put the leer on the other side of their faces.


Casey Still At Centre Of Garda Probe (V3)

21 January 2006 22:40

Nine News: Joe Little, Religious & Social Affairs Correspondent, details the life of Dr Casey since it was revealed in 1992 that he had fathered a child

Nine News: Jim Fahy, Western Correspondent, reports that there is widespread support in Galway for Eamon Casey

Six One News: Jim Fahy, Western Correspondent, reports on the confirmation that Dr Eamon Casey will soon return to Ireland after 14 years in exile

Former Bishop of Galway Dr Eamon Casey, who is set to return to Ireland, is said to be still at the centre of a garda investigation following a complaint made by a woman.

He will continue to be monitored by gardaí and English police until the investigation is completed.

The current Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, has said Eamon Casey would have no ministry in Ireland, would continue to be under supervision here and would not be allowed unsupervised access to children.

Bishop Drennan tonight welcomed the news that Dr Casey is to return and said no obstacles had been put in his way by either the Irish hierarchy or the Vatican.

Dr Casey visited the parish of Shanaglish near Gort in Co Galway last week. He is set to live in retirement in the area.

There has been a broad welcome to the confirmation that Dr Casey is to return to live in Ireland.

The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, said he hoped that Dr Casey's retirement would be a private and peaceful one.

The city's mayor, Councillor Brian Walsh, was among the first to welcome the news that the former bishop is to return.

Dr Casey resigned from office and left the country in 1992 after it was revealed that he had an affair with Annie Murphy, an American divorcee, and that he had fathered a child.


Derry Solicitor Prompted Hussein Judge Resignation

22 January 2006 By Eamonn McCann

A legal submission drafted by Derry solicitor Des Doherty helped prompt the resignation of the judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

Efforts are continuing to persuade judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin to rescind his resignation of 12 days ago and resume his role when the trial reopens on Tuesday. However, Saddam’s lawyers expect Amin to stand firm.

The 70-page defence submission, mainly drafted by Doherty in Derry last September and October, was delivered to the court in Baghdad the week before Christmas. Doherty argues that the court has no legal validity and Amin has ‘‘taken the honourable path’’ by resigning.

The defence argues that the court was effectively appointed by an occupation power and that this is forbidden in international law. The court was set up in late 2003 by the US-appointed Iraqi governing council to try members of Hussein’s regime. It argues that the mechanisms for appointing judges are invalid.

The defence team was assembled by London-based Iraqi lawyer Abdul Haq al-Ani, instructed by Saddam’s daughters, Raghad and Rana, now living in Jordan.

As well as Doherty, the defence team includes former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke. Doherty represented one of the Bloody Sunday families at the Saville Inquiry and families in the Dublin-Monaghan and Omagh bomb inquiries.

Saddam and seven others have been charged with crimes against humanity. The court has sat for seven days of hearings since the trial opened on October 19.

Doherty questions media speculation that Amin resigned because of ridicule by officials of the new Iraqi administration over his alleged leniency towards Saddam’s court outbursts.

‘‘That would be more likely to make him stick the course.

“Events confirmed the validity of the case we were making. I think he took the honourable path.”

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