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January 05, 2006

Irish Fear New US Immigration Law

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News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 01/05/06 Irish Fear New US Immigration Law
IN 01/05/06 AK47 Loyalists May Still Be Jailed
IT 01/05/06 Former North Secretary Rees Dies Aged 85
UT 01/05/06 Obituary: Lord Merlyn-Rees
IN 01/05/06 Review Of Parades Body Announced
IE 01/05/06 Noraid's Alive
IN 01/05/06 Fresh Push To Restore Stormont Devolution
BB 01/05/06 Plan Opposing Council Move Passed
IN 01/05/06 DUP Motion 'Homophobic' Says Sinn Fein
IN 01/05/06 N's Murder Rate Halved As Republic's Soars
BT 01/05/06 Crime Figures Soar In Ulster
IN 01/05/06 More Funds To Solve Troubles Killings Sought
BB 01/05/06 Family Say Attack Was Sectarian
IN 01/05/06 St Patrick's Day Festivities Protest Fails
BB 01/05/06 GAA 'Wants Council Land For Free'
BB 01/05/06 Bishop Calls For Lisa Information
BT 01/05/06 Families Recall Kingsmills Massacre
BT 01/05/06 Kingsmill: Blood In The Rain
BT 01/05/06 Appeal For Education Plans To Be Put On Hold
BT 01/05/06 Irish Signs Plea Is Put On Hold
NL 01/05/06 Opin: Let The Truth Reign Supreme
BT 01/05/06 Opin: Fear Is Holding Up Progress
BB 01/05/06 Scientists In Move Over MRSA


Irish Fear New US Immigration Law

SDLP asks Taoiseach to get support in Senate

Jarlath Kearney

The SDLP has called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to challenge
personally US President George Bush over fears that illegal
and undocumented Irish immigrants in the States will be
"criminalised" by new laws.

South Down assembly member PJ Bradley yesterday echoed
concerns which have already been expressed by Irish-
American leaders about the implications of the new laws for
the Irish community.

Mr Bradley revealed that he had written to Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern about the developments and he appealed for the Irish
government to make formal representations before the US

Labelled 'Sensbrenner/King' after the two Republican
Congressmen who proposed different aspects of the
legislation, the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and
Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) could
have a significant negative effect on the plight of illegal
Irish immigrants.

Among those opposing the legislation is former Congressman
Bruce Morrison.

As a key figure in the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform,
Mr Morrison is strongly supporting alternative legislation
proposed by Republican senator John McCain and Democrat
senator Edward Kennedy.

The 'McCain/Kennedy' proposals include an option of "earned
legalisation" for undocumented illegal immigrants.

Mr Morrison previously led a successful campaign to
ringfence thousands of American visas for young Irish
people under an annual immigration programme.

Councillor PJ Bradley said the new anti-immigration
legislation would have "unbelievable repercussions for tens
of thousands of undocumented Irish living and working in
the United States".

"I asked the Taoiseach to make representation on behalf of
Irish exiles from all 32 counties, as there are large
numbers from the six counties, including many from my own
constituency of South Down, also living and working across
the United States," Mr Bradley said.

"If the act, as presently drafted, becomes law, those
working without visas in America will be criminalised.

"There is a great onus on the Irish government to do all in
its power to prevent this happening to the estimated
100,000 undocumented Irish currently based in America."

Citing the "historical links" between Ireland and America,
Mr Bradley said that "the current generation of Irish
exiles, working and paying their way in America" should be
given the opportunity to protect themselves.

"Also future generations of Irish boys and girls will be
denied the opportunity to work in the USA and to continue
with the working tradition established more than 300 years
ago if the proposed Draconian measures are implemented by
the US government," Mr Bradley said.

Praising the work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform, Mr Morrison said: "I recognise that those making
representation on behalf of the undocumented are
undertaking a very difficult engagement given the US
government's attitude to terrorism but unless the
representation is made at the highest level, ie the Irish
government, all other efforts might be weakened without
that support, thus my reason for appealing to the Taoiseach
and the Irish government."


AK47 Loyalists May Still Be Jailed

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

THREE loyalists who walked free after pointing an AK47
assault rifle at a motorist and police may be imprisoned
after all.

The attorney general has ruled that their suspended
sentences were too lenient and in less than two weeks the
Court of Appeal will decide whether to jail them.

Stephen Maternaghan (23), John McDonald (28) and his
brother Gary McDonald (22) – all of Innishrush Road,
Portglenone, Co Antrim – escaped jail in October after
admitting using the deactivated weapon to stop vehicles in
the village on the Twelfth of July 2003.

They pointed the weapon through the window of a van but the
driver fled and alerted police.

They later confronted a second vehicle but ran off when
those inside identified themselves as police officers.

Suspending their sentences, the judge said the men – who
claimed to have been protecting an Orange arch previously
destroyed by fire – would not have acted that way in a
"normal society".

The case sparked demands for zero tolerance of those
convicted of gun crimes.

Possession of a real, deactivated or imitation firearm with
intent to cause fear of violence carries a maximum penalty
of 10 years in prison.

SDLP North Antrim assembly member Sean Farren said the
original sentence had been too lenient.

"I trust that in the higher court the case will receive the
serious consideration that it deserves," he said.


Former North Secretary Rees Dies Aged 85

Last updated: 05-01-06, 12:19

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Merlyn-Rees has died
aged 85.

Lord Merlyn-Rees, who served as Merlyn Rees in Labour Party
governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the
1970s, died this morning in St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth,
south London.

He had suffered a number of falls and lapsed into a coma
from which he never regained consciousness, his family

He spent most of his 30 years in the House of Commons on
the front bench, either in government or opposition, and
his decision in the early 1980s not to seek re-election on
to the shadow cabinet made him one of the most experienced
and seasoned back-benchers on either side of the House.

He became Northern Ireland Secretary in 1974, taking over
at a time when the power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive
had been in existence.

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

The great threat, therefore came from the combined
political and military forces of the Loyalists. This led to
the Loyalist strike during which he refused to talk to
Loyalist workers yet also refused to act against them.

The mutual dislike between Mr Rees and the Rev Ian Paisley,
the Democratic Unionist leader, reached a climax in 1975
when Mr Rees stormed out of a meeting with him and locked
the door on him, after Dr Paisley accused him of cooking up
a deal with the IRA.



Obituary: Lord Merlyn-Rees

Lord Merlyn-Rees, who has died aged 85, served as Home
Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary in the Labour
governments of the 1970s.

He was an unspectacular but effective minister, whose
natural instinct was to unify and moderate in the face of
conflict and extremism.

He spent the great bulk of his 30 years in the House of
Commons on the front bench, either in Government or
Opposition, and his decision in the early 1980s not to seek
re-election on to the shadow cabinet made him one of the
most experienced and seasoned back-benchers on either side
of the House.

The former Merlyn Rees - he changed his name by deed poll
to Merlyn-Rees on becoming a life peer in 1992 - was an
orator who spoke with feeling.

He entered Parliament at a by-election in 1963 in the Leeds
South seat, which became vacant by the death of Hugh
Gaitskell. It quickly became apparent that Merlyn Rees was
to be a worthy successor to the former Labour leader.

Lord Merlyn-Rees was born in Cilfynydd, South Wales, on
December 18, 1920. He was educated in elementary schools in
South Wales and Wembley, Middlesex, Harrow Weald grammar
school, the London School of Economics, London and
Nottingham Universities.

His political propensities first became apparent at Harrow
Weald. He was also good at acting, was in the First XI at
every sport, and had an excellent Welsh singing voice.

In 1935, he stood as Labour candidate in the school`s mock
election. The school magazine reported that he was "heard
very well for the simple reason that he spoke quickly, thus
giving nobody the chance to cheer (or jeer)." But he was
nevertheless beaten by the Tory.

His education was interrupted by war service in the Royal
Air Force from 1941 to 1946. He was a ground controller of
forward units during the invasions of Sicily, Salerno,
Anzio and the South of France, ending as a squadron-leader
at the age of 25.

Lord Merlyn-Rees was remembered at University as "level-
headed, enormously thorough, reliable, very serious, and of
durable personal loyalties".

Those virtues shone through his long and active
parliamentary career. He spent 11 years teaching at his old
grammar school - where he met his wife Colleen - and was
active in Labour circles before taking over Hugh
Gaitskell`s seat.

Gaitskell had known and admired him. His earliest mentor in
the Commons was James Callaghan, who picked him as
parliamentary private secretary when he was Chancellor.

Then, after four unspectacular years as Defence Under-
Secretary, Rees rejoined Callaghan at the Home Office in
1968 as Race Relations Minister. There he acquired a
reputation as an inflexible minister, keeping down
immigration, invariably sustaining the decision of Home
Office officials, even though the Act allowed him
discretion to intervene on humanitarian grounds.

In Opposition in 1970, he became Callaghan`s Number Two as
home affairs spokesman. Two years later, he was elected to
the shadow cabinet.

He was already well-briefed when he became Northern Ireland
Secretary in 1974. but he took over at a time when the
power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive had been in
existence. But the general election had produced a
Protestant parliamentary victory opposed to the whole
principle of power-sharing.

The great threat, therefore came from the combined
political and military forces of the Loyalists. This led to
the Loyalist strike during which he refused to talk to
Loyalist workers, yet also refused to act against them.

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

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

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

At the Home Office, Rees took an unexpectedly hard line
over crime. And, in conflict with Labour Party thinking
generally, he once said he had never been against the idea
of "the sharply-administered wallop" on vandals.

His experience at the Northern Ireland Office made him
particularly keen on security, and he implemented several
initiatives to give MPs and Ministers more protection.

Rees presided over a period when crime rose, but not at the
astonishing pace when subsequent Conservative Governments
were in power.

He also clashed with prison officers over a pay claim which
threatened to prevent the admission of new prisoners. But
the worst was averted.

After the Tories regained power, Rees became shadow home
secretary, followed by a period as shadow energy secretary.

He remained loyal to Neil Kinnock and was a leading figure
in trying to reform Labour`s constitution in the wake of
the 1979 and subsequent general election defeats.

After his decision not to seek re-election to the shadow
cabinet, Rees became active in the campaign to prosecute
alleged Nazi war criminals living in Britain.

He did not fight the 1992 general election in his seat
which, through boundary changes, had by then become known
as Leeds South and Morley. He was made a life peer in the
subsequent dissolution honours.

Lord Merlyn-Rees continued to be active in the House of
Lords right into his 80s, even though he developed
Parkinson`s Disease.


Review Of Parades Body Announced

By Barry McCaffrey

THE new Parades Commission is to review its operating
procedures, after meeting officially for the first time

Announcing a wide-ranging consultation of its guidelines,
procedural rules and code of conduct, the commission's new
chairman, Roger Poole, said he had spent the past month
meeting several political parties.

"That was a worthwhile experience and that dialogue will
continue and indeed be extended in the early part of 2006,"
he said.

However, Mr Poole said the new commission believed that
dialogue and mediation were the main basis on which
progress over the par-ades issue could be made.

"It is clear that among those associated with parades,
including the parade organisers and residents groups, there
have been some concerns expressed around the procedures
through which the commission operates," he said.

"Issues such as the transparency of the process and the
manner in which evidence is taken on board have been raised
in the past. We have taken this into consideration and at
the first meeting of the commission we have decided to
review those procedures."

He said the commission would write to the loyal orders,
residents groups, political parties and others to offer
them an opportunity to take part in the review.

He also said he intended to visit each of the contentious
marching areas in coming months to meet interested parties.


Noraid's Alive

Irish Northern Aid chairman Paul Doris has denied
speculation that the long-standing U.S. fundraising
organization has been told to stand down.

Reports circulating in New York in recent days have pointed
to an end for a group that was set up to aid the families
of Republican prisoners during the worst years of the
troubles but which was more than once accused of being
involved in more dubious activities, especially by the
British government.

However, Noraid chairman Paul Doris told the Echo Tuesday
that such reports were unfounded.

"It's totally untrue," the Philadelphia-based Doris said.

Doris said that too much had been read into the fact that
Noraid would not be soon holding its annual dinner in New
York, an event that in past years was held in late January.

"We will be holding a big testimonial dinner in April to
commemorate the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes,"
Doris said.

He said that a number of meetings involving Noraid members
would be held in the coming weeks with a view to staging
the event.

Doris said reports that he had received a letter from
Republican leaders in Ireland ordering a Noraid stand down
was without foundation.

"There is no letter. Very little has changed. Indeed in the
months ahead we will be working to put on more political
pressure in the U.S.," he said.

Doris said that one of the reasons for moving the group's
annual dinner out of January was because there had more
than once been problems with attendance due to bad weather.


Fresh Push To Restore Stormont Devolution

By William Graham Political Correspondent

As the northern political parties prepare for new talks,
the Irish government has warned there is "no plan 'b'" if
powersharing is not restored in 2006.

Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern told the parties that
the time had come to decide whether they wanted to work
together in a devolved government.

Yesterday the SDLP urged the British and Irish governments
to deliver tough messages to Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Sinn Fein said that 2006 must be the year that the DUP
finally displayed the confident brand of unionism they
promised two years ago and showed they were capable of
sharing power.

But the DUP said they would not go into government with
Sinn Fein "until they are cleaner than clean."

Mr Ahern said that dragging negotiations into 2007 would
create separate difficulties for the British and Irish

"There is no plan 'b'. We don't countenance failure in this
because we were very close to it back in December 2004.

"But we see 2006 as the window of opportunity because of
the fact that once you turn into 2007 you will be in
election mode in the Republic in the first half of the year
and also the political instability in the UK.

"Everyone would agree that 2007 may very well be a
difficult year in the UK."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson yesterday referred to the stated
reluctance of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to enter government
with Sinn Fein in the Republic during present

"We have to wait on the IRA to come clean. I don't want to
put the IRA into government," Mr Donaldson said

"We're not going into government with Sinn Fein until they
are cleaner than clean."

The Independent Monitoring Commission is due to deliver a
long-awaited report on the activities of paramilitaries
this month.

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood called on the
governments to set down clear markers before talks begin.

He said these should include, what he called:

:: acts of completion on policing by "the provisional
movement" now not later

:: standing by the Good Friday Agreement and not the DUP/
Sinn Fein planned comprehensive agreement of 2004

:: agreeing with victims and survivors on how to deal with
the past including abandoning the Northern Ireland
(Offences) Bill relating to 'on the runs' and members of
the security forces who have committed crimes n being
forthright about organised crime both by illegal groups and
individuals inextricably linked to such groups

:: devolution of justice proposals which safeguard the new
policing arrangements and the transfer of powers to the
fullest extent.

Mr Attwood said: "The two governments must move beyond warm
words of encouragement and onto tough messages."

Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty said the people of
Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement and needed to
see it implemented.

"The DUP must now do their share of the heavy lifting and
demonstrate that they are willing and capable of sharing
power on the basis of equality and respect," Mr Doherty


Plan Opposing Council Move Passed

Belfast city councillors have backed a proposal to oppose
government plans to reduce the number of councils in
Northern Ireland from 26 to seven.

The motion was put forward by the Ulster Unionist leader
Sir Reg Empey and passed by a vote of 26 to 12. Only Sinn
Fein councillors opposed it.

Sir Reg said that there was no political support for the

"I think the secretary of state just can't ignore the views
of all the parties," he said.

The government announced it was reducing the number of
councils from 26 to seven in November of last year.

It predicted £200m a year savings through the plan which is
expected to be implemented over four years.

Sir Reg said that the government had been quick to list
what it said were the advantages of the changes, but not so
quick to list what the cost of implementing it would be.

"We're all for efficiency, we're all for reducing the
number pf councils, but there has to be a balance and
that's the one thing missing from these proposals," he

"At the end of the day we are people who work in local
government, so we know quite a lot about it and I have to
say the secretary of state doesn't.

"I think that many of the people who are coming up with
these ideas have absolutely no hands-on experience of local
government whatsoever."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 07:57:56 GMT


DUP Motion 'Homophobic' Says Sinn Fein

By Margaret Canning

LISBURN risks being known as the "homophobic capital of the
north", if a DUP motion on the drawing-up of civil
partnerships is passed, Sinn Fein claimed yesterday.

The motion would allow council workers to exercise 'freedom
of conscience' and refuse to carry out work associated with
civil partnerships, without fear of being disciplined.

It also states that job applicants would not be
discriminated against if they are opposed to civil

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler said: "Lisburn council
have already made fools of themselves over their attempts
to ban same-sex couples from The Cherry Room. Now they are
trying to ban the gay community through the back door."

After receiving legal advice, the council lifted a ban on
civil partnership ceremonies in The Cherry Room, where
civil marriages are held.

But DUP councillor Allan Ewart, who proposed the latest
motion, denied that the intention was to freeze out the gay
community or sabotage civil partnerships.

"It will just allow anybody who has objections of
conscience or religious objections not to take part in
civil partnership ceremonies. It will apply equally to
Protestants and Catholics who have religious objections and
give them protection."

Mr Ewart said he did not believe any present council staff
objected to civil partnerships.

The motion is expected to come before the personnel
committee of the council, which has a majority of unionist
councillors, later this month. If passed, it will come
before the full council meeting to be voted on next month.

Betty Campbell, one of three Alliance Party councillors who
opposed the use of the Cherry Room for civil partnerships,
said the party had not discussed its reaction to the

But UUP councillor Basil McCrea said enabling civil
partnerships to go ahead was a matter of staying with the

"Not everyone agrees with them, but this is what happens in
a democracy," he said.

Omagh district councillor Tom Buchanan said a similar
motion was not being drafted for the area.

"It is my understanding that it would be sorted out
internally and if any staff do not want to get involved
then it will not cause them any embarrassment or hardship,"
he said.

In December, Scottish ministers said they would fly in
registrars to conduct civil partnership ceremonies in the
Western Isles in the Outer Hebrides, after officials in the
region said they would not conduct them.

However, the officials eventually said they would meet
their obligations to register civil partnerships.


North's Murder Rate Halved In Five Years As Republic's

By Bimpe Fatogun

THE number of murders in Northern Ireland has halved in
five years, police figures have revealed.

The murder rate in the north is at its lowest level since
2000 – and this at a time when the number of killings in
the Republic stands at the highest since the Civil War.

In 2005 there were 26 murders in the north, compared with
52 in 2001.

There were 60 murders last year in the Republic.

And this year, for the first time in more than five years,
there have been no murders during the festive period.

The fall comes despite a deadly loyalist feud in which four
people were killed, in a year that saw the assassination of
former UDA leader Jim Gray in October.

The latest figures show a reduction in murder rates every
year since 2001 – with 2005 representing the greatest fall
to date.

Twelve of the murders happened in Belfast – although there
were no killings in the west of the city in 2005.

The north Belfast police district command area saw more
murders last year than any other place in the north, with
five killings.

One of the most high profile of these was the death of
north Belfast schoolboy Thomas Devlin, stabbed to death
near his home in Somerton Road in August.

Two men are believed to have been involved in the attack on
the teenager who, along with two friends, was set upon as
he walked home from a petrol station where they had bought
sweets and soft drinks.

Thomas's 18-year-old friend was injured in the attack.

Four people were killed in south Belfast in that period and
three in the east of the city – with a further murder in
nearby Castlereagh.

Dungannon, Foyle and Newtownabbey each had two murders,
while killings were also carried out in Ards, Armagh,
Ballymoney, Ferman-agh, Magherafelt, Newry and Mourne and
north Down.

Paramilitary killings have continued to push figures up,
with four victims killed in the loyalist feud alone and
res-ponsibility for two more linked to members of such

Michael Green and Craig McCausland, who police said were
not connected to any loyalist groupings, both lost their
lives to the feud, along with Stephen Paul and Jam-eson

Bangor woman Lisa Dor-rian (25) is believed to have been
killed by loyalists linked to the LVF and Red Hand

No-one has yet been charged with these murders or those of
Thomas Devlin or Jim Gray.

A spokesman said police were "striving to improve all
clearance rates".

"The police service has restructured its approach to murder
investigations in the last few years with the establishment
of 10 major investigation teams across the province," he

"However, great care must be taken when interpreting murder
statistics. Some murders present a greater challenge than
others but the police service remains committed to doing
its utmost to solving as many as possible."

The SDLP's Alban Maginness said it was "a heartening trend
that murders are actually on the way down".

"Nonetheless, 26 murders is still far too high in a small
community like our own," Mr Maginness said.


Crime Figures Soar In Ulster

Fermanagh and west Belfast hit by huge rises

By Jonathan McCambridge
05 January 2006

Reported crime in west Belfast has soared by almost 25%
while there are on average 35 victims of criminals in the
south of the city every day, new police figures today

PSNI statistics for the period between April and the end of
November 2005 show large local variations in the battle
against crime - 19 District Command Units showed a rise in
reported offences while 10 showed a decrease.

Overall crime in Northern Ireland is starting to climb
again following several years when it decreased. There were
83,025 reported crimes between April and the end of
November 2005 - a rise of 3% from the previous year.

That means there are an average of 340 crimes reported to
the PSNI every day in the province.

Violent crime has also risen again. There were 23,125
reported offences in the eight month period, up more than
5% from the previous year. These crimes include robberies,
sexual offences and offences against the person.

South Belfast - which includes the city centre - remains
Northern Ireland's most prolific area for criminals.
Despite a drop of over 10% in the crime rate, the largest
decrease in the province, there were still 8,764 reported
crimes in eight months - an average of 35 crimes every day
in the area.

West Belfast showed a huge increase in reported offences
although much of this can be attributed to violence which
flared following the Whiterock parade. In the west of the
city the number of crimes rose from 3,472 to 4,332 - up

North Belfast reduced its crime rate by 4.4% but in the
east of the city it rose by 1.4% and in Castlereagh crime
was up by 7.9%.

Many of the largest increases in reported crimes came in
rural areas of the province. In Fermanagh the number of
crimes rose from 1,648 to 2,170 - an increase of 31.7%.

In Magherafelt the crime level increased by 24.3%, while in
Down it rose by 17.7% and in Cookstown by 16.4%.

In Foyle the number of reported offences has increased from
5,280 to 5,758 - an increase of 9.1%.

Antrim had one of the largest drops in crime in the
province, down 9.7%, while there was a drop of 6.8% in
Strabane and 5.9% in Newtownabbey.

Across Northern Ireland the PSNI is clearing 27% of all
crimes, according to the statistics. Almost half of all
violent crimes are being solved.

At the most recent meeting of the Policing Board, Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde said some increase in reported
crime levels should be expected after several years of
reducing crime.

DUP Policing Board member, Ian Paisley Jnr, said that he
believed the statistics did not reflect the fear of crime
people have in Northern Ireland.

"The police are very good at recording crime but people
want to know what they are doing to tackle these


More Funds To Solve Troubles Killings Sought

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

THE Police Ombudsman remains locked in negotiations with
the British government to secure additional funding to re-
investigate Troubles-related killings.

The massive task of re-examining such cases involving
alleged police misconduct ranging from investigative
failures to implication into murder, will run into the
millions, although no exact figure has yet been thrashed

Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, pictured, has sought more cash to
resource the doubling of her historic cases workload –
files referred from the PSNI's new team set up to review
the thousands of deaths spanning three decades of the

An ombudsman spokesman said: "We are in discussions with
the NIO regarding funding for any of the historic cases
which are referred to us."

Last night the NIO could not indicate when a decision would
be made only saying: "Discussions are ongoing on possible
resources implications for the police ombudsman."

In the next few weeks the PSNI will disclose further
details on the workings of the new Historical Enquiries
Team, which has so far been allocated a budget of up to £32

The special unit will take at least six years to complete
its massive task.

Last night a police spokeswoman said: "Plans for a formal
launch for the historical enquiries team are at an advanced
stage. The team will review all deaths attributable to the
security situation from 1968 to 1998."

At a meeting of the Policing Board last December, Deputy
Chief Constable Paul Leighton said cases of killings by
police had been handed over to the ombudsman.

Mrs O'Loan recently told The Irish News: "There are some
very tragic cases where police officers pulled triggers and
there is no conviction for murder... Every death is back in
the pot."

The police review of such cases – which will be covered by
proposed new legislation – will proceed amid the furious
row over aspects of the Northern Ireland Offences Bill
which will enable paramilitaries and security force members
to avoid jail.

In yesterday's Irish News three families – two of whom lost
a total of six loved ones in loyalist killings involving
alleged security force collusion – told of their continuing

Two of the cases – the UVF murders of John Martin Reavey,
his brothers Brian and Anthony at their south Armagh home
on January 4 1976 and the killings 10 minutes later near
Gilford of brothers Barry and Declan O'Dowd and their uncle
Joe – are two of the many cases Mrs O'Loan is seeking
funding for.


Family Say Attack Was Sectarian

A family has escaped injury in a petrol bomb attack in

The device hit the porch of the house in the Fountain
estate causing scorch damage at about 2130 GMT. No one was

William Jackson, who was at home with his wife and three
children at the time of the attack, said the house was also
stoned at the weekend.

Mr Jackson said he believed they had been targeted because
they were Protestants.

"We are a well known family within the Fountain," he said.

"Even the nationalists who stone us actually call us by

"They threatened: 'Jacksons, we are going to burn you out'.

"As long as they are only talking it and not trying it. But
this, unfortunately tonight, is them saying they are going
to do it sooner or later.

"But until then, I am prepared to stick my ground."

DUP assembly member William Hay condemned the attack

He said he had been discussing the situation with the
security minister and wanted improved CCTV coverage of the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 06:58:12 GMT


St Patrick's Day Festivities Protest Fails

By Staff Reporter

A last-minute attempt to stop Belfast City Council from
funding St Patrick's Day festivities failed last night.

It will be the first time in the history of the local
authority that a council-funded event will be held on March
17 in Belfast.

DUP councillor Sammy Wilson proposed an amendment
withdrawing support from the proposed open-air celebration
at Custom House Square citing fears over "security and
other issues".

He said he had concerns as to who would police the crowd to
ensure no political flags or football shirts would be

The Ulster Unionists backed the amendment but it was
defeated by the combined votes of the SDLP, Sinn Fein and
the Alliance party.

The SDLP's Carmel Hanna said the issue had been fully
discussed with cross-community groups and there was support
from some unionists.

Sinn Fein councillor Michael Browne said unionist
opposition was "predictable".

"The reality is that we have plenty of time to work on this
and focus our attentions and energies on these concerns and
have them properly addressed," he said.

It is thought that around 5,000 people will be allowed into
Custom House Square for the open-air event.

The St Patrick's Day Carnival Committee welcomed the news,
calling it a "major breakthrough" in its nine year-long

Committee spokesman Conor Maskey said: "We welcome the
decision to fund this year's event to the tune of


GAA 'Wants Council Land For Free'

Derry City Council is divided over plans to give away
valuable land to a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club
for free.

The eight acres in Creggan is worth almost £250,000.

Nationalist councillors in the city want to give the field
to the Sean Dolan GAA club, but unionists are opposed to
the move.

The club was offered the site 10 years ago for £10,000. It
did not have the money to develop the site then.

Now it has, but the same plot is now worth about £240,000.
The club has asked Derry City Council to give it the site
for free.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein want to hand over the field for
nothing, but unionists said it was too valuable.

Club chairman Hugh Brady said: "This land, at this moment
in time, is nothing but a dumping ground.

"It is worth an absolute fortune to this club and this
community and the development of gaelic games over the next
20 years."

DUP councillor William Hay is opposed to the move.

He believes the field should be sold off and the money used
to ease the burden on ratepayers.

"I don't believe that we can just hand over land that is
now valued at a huge amount of money," he said.

"Secondly, we have got to ask is that a good way of
spending public money."

However, the SDLP's Pat Ramsey said it was "a wise move"
and "a sound investment for the council".

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

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

The issue is due to be discussed at a meeting of the
council's development committee later on Thursday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 09:54:22 GMT


Bishop Calls For Lisa Information

A Church of Ireland bishop has added his voice to those
calling for help to find a murdered Bangor woman.

Lisa Dorrian, 25, went missing last February and despite
extensive searches her body has never been found.

The Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, said anyone
with information about where her remains may be must come

"It is morally unacceptable to leave a family not knowing
where their loved one is to be found," he said.

He said no-one wanted "her family and loved ones to face
another year in a vacuum of uncertainty".

Earlier this week, the family of the missing woman said a
website set up to help find Lisa's body had been visited by
people "close" to the alleged suspects.

The family launched the website before Christmas and have
said it has received about five million hits.

Her sister Joanne said the family had been heartened by
messages of support.

Lisa was last seen at a party on a caravan a site in
Ballyhalbert, County Down, on 28 February 2005.

Detectives believe her body may have been hidden in water.

Police believe members of the paramilitary Loyalist
Volunteer Force may have been involved in Lisa's killing.

The Lisa Dorrian website contains a page where information
about her disappearance can be given anonymously.

It also features information about Lisa, from her childhood
to the day she disappeared, as well as a section for
messages of support for the family.

A forensic scientist looking at the cases of the
Disappeared is also working on Lisa's case.

The scientist is being funded by the British and Irish
governments to help locate the remains of five people
abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA during
the Troubles.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 06:48:31 GMT


Families Recall Kingsmills Massacre

By Chris Thornton
05 January 2006

Relatives of ten Protestant workmen murdered in the
Kingsmills massacre were due to gather at the scene of the
attack for a memorial service today, the 30th anniversary
of the killings.

Another service is due to be held in Bessbrook, the Co
Armagh village where nine of the victims lived, on Sunday.

The ten men were gunned down by the IRA on January 5, 1976,
as they returned home from work in a cloth factory in

They were ordered off the bus and shot after the only
Catholic on the bus had been singled out and ordered to run
off. Of the 11 men who remained, only one survived the
shooting - despite being wounded 18 times.

The massacre was the terrible culmination of months of
sectarian attacks, which had seen six members of two
Catholic families fatally wounded the night before.

Today's service was being held as a former loyalist
paramilitary recalled that the UVF planned "particularly
gruesome" attacks in response to Kingsmills.

William McCaughey, who operated as a police officer and
loyalist paramilitary in Armagh, said the UVF had organised
guns and cars to murder nuns at a convent in Newry. He said
the attack was called off because of the weight of public

"After Kingsmills there was never the same intensity on
either side," McCaughey said. "It was quite obviously the
worst period of the Troubles in that, regardless of the
killing rate, fear was at its height."

The murders are due to be reinvestigated by the PSNI's
historic review team.

Victims' group Fair claims it has new evidence about the
murders, but will not give the material to police unless
the Government drops its planned OTR legislation.


Kingsmill: Blood In The Rain

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Kingsmills
Massacre, when a wave of murders in Co Armagh culminated
with a hilling attack that left ten men dead. Chris
Thornton reports

05 January 2006

There were as many funerals as there were hours of
daylight. They buried nine in Bessbrook three days after
the gunfire stopped, while a couple of thousand people
stood covered by sleety rain, a heavy mist and bewildering
grief. One funeral was already over, and once all ten men
were in the ground, they were left with just the terrible
wait for whatever happened next.

It had rained, too, the night of what could only be called
a massacre. The talk that day, January 5, 1976, at John
Compton's cloth factory, Glenanne, had been of the murders
the night before, the sudden awful deaths that visited the
homes of the Reavey and O'Dowd families in Whitecross and
Gilford. "It horrified us all," said one of the workers, a

Then it was home time, and in the dark minibus ride, after
the last women had been dropped off near their homes, the
remaining 12 men talked of other things like the
comparative benefits of Leeds United and Manchester United,
both battling Liverpool at the top of the English First

Just after the van cleared the rise of a hill, there was a
man standing in the road and flashing a torch. They stopped
and there was the sudden, ominous movement of 11 other men,
all armed emerging from the hedges around them. The first
thought was that it was the Army, but the gunmen were

A man "with a pronounced English accent" did all the
talking. He asked their religions. There was only one
Catholic left on the bus, Richard Hughes. According to one
account, some of his Protestant workmates, assuming that
they had been stopped by a loyalist gang and he was their
target, squeezed his hand to indicate he shouldn't identify
himself. But he was identified and ordered away from his
Protestant workmates. He was able to run off.

The lead gunman spoke one other word - "Right" - and the
shooting began.

Alan Black was a typical victim in that he was shot 18
times in the vicious burst of gunfire that lasted perhaps a
minute. He was the only one to survive.

After the initial screams, he recalled years later, "There
was silence. I was semi-conscious and passed out several
times with the deadly pain and cold. I must have been lying
at the roadside waiting on the ambulance for up to 30
minutes. It was like an eternity.

"When help arrived I could not get the words out quick
enough. I was afraid I'd die and nobody would ever know
what happened. I was hysterical and wanted to tell everyone
- the ambulance men, nurses, doctors, police."

William McCaughey, an RUC officer later jailed for a
sectarian murder, was in the first police Land Rover to
arrive at the scene. "When we arrived it was utter
carnage," he said. "Men were lying two or three together.
Blood was flowing, mixed with water from the rain.

"There was a thick thorn hedge with two men stuck in it.
They were that desperate to escape they'd tried to run
through the hedge. They had to be pulled from it.

"When I got home, I noticed the bottom of my trousers, big
heavy police trousers, were soaked. I squeezed them out on
the kitchen floor and I think there was as much blood as
water. I had a lot of bad experiences but that was the
worst, certainly in terms of human suffering."

The heart was cut out of Bessbrook, a small, Quaker model
village that the Troubles had turned into an Army base.
Nine of the men lived in Bessbrook. They had 14 children
between them.

They were Joseph Lemmon, whose wife was standing over their
tea as he died; Reginald Chapman, a Sunday school teacher
who played football for Newry Town; his younger brother
Walter Chapman; Kenneth Worton, whose youngest daughter had
not even started school; James McWhirter, who belonged to
the local Orange lodge; Robert Chambers, still a teenager
and living with his parents; James McConville, who was
planning to train as a missionary; John Bryans, a widower
who left two children orphaned; and Robert Freeburn, who
was also a father of two. The van driver, Robert Walker,
came from near Glenanne.

Alan Black said later that in the months after the attack,
he stopped leaving his house "because I kept expecting to
bump into my mates who were dead". Bessbrook was that kind
of place - a walk out for the papers would normally put you
in the path of friend. Their absence left holes.

The next day, the murders were claimed by a caller on
behalf of the South Armagh Republican Action Force, the
same group that had claimed another sectarian attack in
Tullyvallen Orange Hall.

He said that the murders had been committed in retaliation
for the Reavey and O'Dowd killings and there would be "no
further action on our part" if loyalists stopped their
attacks. "We are a complete and separate organisation and
have no connection with the Provos," the caller added.

Few, if any, believed him. The IRA was officially on
ceasefire, but the truce had become worthless and would be
ditched two months later: the Provos had increasingly
become involved in ceasefire violence, especially in a
sectarian war with loyalists.

The suspicion was that the IRA was the group with the means
of mounting such a large scale attack. Six years later the
recovery of an Armalite used in the massacre seemed to
confirm it.

The Government announced that the SAS would be deployed in
Northern Ireland for the first time. The UVF also had

According to William McCaughey - and reinforced by other
loyalists of the time - retaliation on "particularly
gruesome" targets was planned. McCaughey says the convent
in Newry was to have been attacked. A Catholic school was
also mentioned. Guns and cars were organised, but the
attack was called off at a late stage.

"After Kingsmills there was never the same intensity on
either side," McCaughey says. "It was quite obviously the
worst period of the Troubles in that, regardless of the
killing rate, fear was at its height.

"I think Kingsmills forced people to ask themselves where
they were going, especially the Protestant support base,
the civilian support base - the people who were not members
of the UVF but would let you use a building or a field.

"Those people, many of them withdrew. It wasn't because of
anything the UVF did. It was fear of retaliation as such."

Changes came that year at the highest levels: the leaders
of the RUC and the NIO were replaced, police primacy
followed and 'Ulsterisation' saw the level of violence
fall. But not before Kingsmills set the mark for the second
worst year for terrorist-related deaths in the Troubles.

Those funerals in Bessbrook were not the last in Northern
Ireland because of the Troubles - another 290 were to
follow before the calendar turned again.


Appeal For Education Plans To Be Put On Hold

Unionist urges caution on reform

By Kathryn Torney
05 January 2006

Plans to scrap academic selection in Northern Ireland's
schools should be put on hold while talks continue in an
attempt to restore the Assembly, it was claimed today.

Ulster Unionist education spokesman David McNarry has also
called for public consultation on the controversial Draft
Education Order - which provides for banning schools from
selecting pupils on the basis of their academic ability -
to be extended to 26 weeks.

The Department of Education's 12 week consultation period
is due to end on March 7.

Mr McNarry said: "My party views education as a priority
issue at the talks table and a crucial element within the

"We would take a dim view of the Government therefore
railroading these most unpopular reforms through Parliament
when political talks could be at an advanced state.

"With the aim being to restore devolution or some form of
legislative autonomy to the Assembly, it is surely
reasonable to argue that education would be high on the
list of issues to talk about.

"So I demand that education should not be written out of
the talks agenda.

"My direct public appeal to the Secretary of State is to
wait until a clear picture emerges over the Assembly's
future. To allow my party to put education on the talks
table and argue that its future warrants the merit of being
debated and assessed by the Assembly."

Mr McNarry said it is imperative that good faith is shown
by the Government by not rushing the education reforms
through Parliament "in indecent haste and against the
wishes of significantly large numbers of growing public

"Had the Assembly been working it would not have endorsed
these misguided Government proposals," he claimed.

"I am finding that, contrary to the views of certain
teachers' unions, support for the proposals are not backed
by sizeable numbers of teachers and parents have made their
opposition clear. What is also noticeable are the new
voices of anxiety being expressed to me by Catholic parents
and teachers.

"My call today is because I strongly believe that these
draft order proposals are unworkable, undemocratic, unsafe
and likely to be detrimental to the education of
generations of our children."


Irish Signs Plea Is Put On Hold

By Nevin Farrell
05 January 2006

A call for the Ballymena area to have its first Irish
language road sign has been put on hold by the council.

A resident of Ballyscullion Road, near Toomebridge, has
asked the DUP-controlled council to put up a bilingual

It has now emerged that when the matter came before a
council committee in December it was agreed to defer the
issue for further consideration and get legal opinion on
what constitutes majority opinion among those consulted on

Research is also to be carried out on the Irish language
interpretation of Ballyscullion Road.

Council records show that during the debate it was said
that many street names in the district were originally
derived from Irish.

It was claimed that the number of people speaking Irish is
in decline and the cost of erecting signs was also

Other councillors pointed out that signs in languages such
as Chinese, Russian and Spanish may also have to be erected
in the council district.


Opin: Let The Truth Reign Supreme

Thursday 5th January 2006

In the autumn of 2002, a huge detachment of police invaded
Sinn Fein offices at Stormont. Republicans were angry, and
many others were dismayed by what they were witnessing.

Then we had the abrupt ending of the Stormontgate trial as
"it would not be in the public interest" to proceed.
Unionists were angered, and many others were dismayed. More
recently we learn that a leading Sinn Fein official has
been a British spy for some 30 years and, not surprisingly,
the people at large want to know precisely what has been
going on at the centre of government in Northern Ireland.

It sounds quite rich for the Secretary of State and Irish
foreign minister Dermot Ahern to imply that to deny us the
truth is a means of ensuring that the peace process will
not be knocked off course. The effect is further compounded
when we are told that "the past is the past, so let us get
on with the future".

Drawing 'lines in the sand' became a ritual in 2005. Anyone
who has studied Irish history must know that the future is
the outcome of the past, and that wherever there has been
attempt to obscure the truth such will, at some time in the
future, exacerbate social and political tension whenever it
erupts again.

For a long time now the New Ireland Group has been
emphasising the recurrent nature of the Anglo-Irish, Irish
sectarian conflict. We believe that obscurantism creates
falsehoods which sow seeds of further conflict in
generations to come.

Truth is the antidote to falsehood and, as such, it
undermines the potential for violence generated by
fabrication and other forms of inarticulate communication.
Let the truth reign supreme in 2006, let it be communicated
and let there be an end to the refusal to disclose it.

John Robb,
New Ireland Group


Opin: Fears Of Damaging The Agreement Is Holding Up

Eamonn McCann
05 January 2006

One constructive development in 2005 was the fraying of the
consensus in support of the Belfast Agreement.

It is possible now to draw attention to the sectarian basis
of the Agreement without attracting derision or hostility.

Think-tanks and commentators who in 1998 and through most
of the intervening period refused to debate - or, in many
cases, even to acknowledge - the anti-sectarian argument
against the Agreement now concede that the argument may
have merit after all.

Few have been as forthright as the conservative southern
commentator Bruce Arnold who, in a column in the Sunday
Independent last March, wrote of those who had espoused and
promoted the Agreement: "How wrong we were."

Far from the Agreement bringing Protestants and Catholics
together, he observed, the opposite had happened.

In the course of the stop-start negotiations which had
filled the years since 1998: "Demand and counter-demand
were an augmentation of the sectarian divide, quite the
opposite of what was intended."

In the Irish Times in September, Fintan O'Toole, one of the
most eloquent advocates for the Agreement at the time of
the June, 1998, referendum, confessed that, as a means of
resolving problems arising from sectarianism, it had turned
out "a gamble that was worth trying but that has been

"The hope was that even though sectarianism was built into
the power-sharing system by the requirement for
simultaneous majorities on the unionist and nationalist
sides, the experience of working the new institutions would
in fact diminish it.

"But there has been no momentum and the divisions have been
formalised, entrenched and deepened."

In October, the director of the Belfast think-tank
Democratic Dialogue, Robin Wilson, made his disillusion
clear in a piece in Open Democracy which appeared at one
point to argue that the Agreement might best be abandoned
altogether and efforts concentrated instead on re-
invigorating grass-roots civic society.

In the Irish News on the last day of the year, Patrick
Murphy wrote that the Agreement had "brought in a new form
of State-sponsored sectarianism," and added: "With the
greatest optimism in the world, it is difficult to see how
a sectarian system can produce normal politics."

All that this means is that 2005 was the year when
scepticism about the Agreement went mainstream.

Perhaps 2006, then, will see political debate which isn't
focused mainly or entirely on how to "get the institutions
up and running again" and who's to blame for the fact that
nothing of the sort seems in prospect.

The Agreement was always certain to consolidate
sectarianism in that it established a system based on
striking a balance between the wishes and interests of "the
two communities."

This ensured that the battle within each community
concerned which party could be counted on to vindicate and
advance its interests vis-a-vis the interests of the other

This is the "fundamental flaw" which appears to have become
more visible to some over the past year but which others
among us had thought glaringly apparent on the day the
detail of the deal was made public.

Back in those days, however, to suggest that the document
be subjected to the sort of scrutiny which might routinely
be applied to a car purchase agreement was widely regarded
as "playing into the hands of the Paisleyites" - or,
alternatively, into the hand of "dissident" republicans.

(The Agreement was reviewed in some quarters as a work of
transcendent genius. In fact, it was/is poorly-drafted,
badly structured, with neither sense of history nor vision
of the future. The banal nature of the process by which it
was clearly conveyed in talks chairman George Mitchell's
1999 book, Making Peace, which well re-pays re-reading

If the shift in attitudes detectable last year is to prove
positive, it is important to ensure that major issues
unfolding over the coming months are not discussed with the
template of the Agreement - does such and such an attitude
help or hinder in the Sisyphusian task of getting the
institutions up and running again?

The matters arising will include the publication within the
next few weeks of the Ombudsman's report on collusion
between State forces and loyalist paramilitaries in north
Belfast, including on the killing of 22-year-old Raymond
McCord in Newtownabbey in November 1997 and the release of
the Saville Report into the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in

Both these matters can, at a push, be fitted into the
conventional sectarian paradigm of Northern politics and
debate on them subsumed into on-going controversy over
whether and how - here it comes again - we might get the
institutions up and running again.

To the extent that debate focuses on the implications for
the Agreement, the main point will have been missed.

And the chances of (last time) getting any institutions up
and running again are more likely to be damaged than

It is in the interests of every citizen that the State be
held fully to account and the full truth told when the
forces of State have been involved in the murder of any

One constructive move we might make in the coming year is
to keep that dimension of our political situation front and
centre and consign the Agreement to the margins of our


Scientists In Move Over MRSA

Scientists in Northern Ireland say they have made a
breakthrough which they hope will kill the superbug MRSA.

The bug not only costs lives - the health service spends
thousands of pounds on trying to keep it out of hospitals.

Pharmacists at Queen's University in Belfast say they have
developed a new way of killing MRSA.

It is due to be tried out on patients as early as next

For many years antibiotics have been used to kill bacteria,
but bugs like MRSA are resistant to antibiotics, so now
scientists are turning the clock back.

Dr Ryan Donnelly, of Queen's School of Pharmacy, said: "The
ability of light to kill bacteria was first discovered
about 100 ago, but because of the antibiotic era it was
largely forgotten.

"It is only recently with the emergence of antibiotic-
resistant bacteria that this has come to the fore again and
many different groups involved in treating the likes of
MRSA are trying to use this technology now."

A new gel is used to put a drug where it is needed.

Dr Paul McCarron, also of Queen's, said: "I saw my son,
Niall, who was playing with kiddies' slime and I was just
looking at the way it flowed between his fingers.

"I thought it had the correct flow properties, to press
into a leg ulcer for example. In other words, it can be
pressed in and it will slowly flow to fill the cavity.

"More importantly, whenever you remove it, it can be
removed all in one go."

The gel deposits a drug into the wound or ulcer and then it
is lifted out, leaving behind the drug.

The drug makes MRSA and other bugs sensitive to light -
much more so than the human cells, so when a powerful light
is shone on the wound, it is the bugs like MRSA that will
be killed.

Dr Donnelly said: "Certainly, from the work we have done so
far, we would like to think that this technology could be
successful in eradicating MRSA from wounds and burns in
patients in the clinical situation."

BBC Northern Ireland health correspondent Dot Kirby said
tests were due to begin on patients in Belfast City
Hospital in the next 12 to 18 weeks.

"If this technique does work, its cost is likely to be
small," she said.

"The drugs are cheap and the light units are expected to
cost around £15,000. Each light unit could serve a whole

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 07:16:47 GMT

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