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January 01, 2006

NY Hit By Irish Exodus

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News about Ireland & the Irish

ST 01/01/06 New York Is Hit By An Irish Exodus
SF 01/01/06 Adams Challenges Reiss Attack On SF Policing
UT 12/31/05 IRA Statement In Full
SL 01/01/06 Loyalists In Gold Coast Turf War
SM 01/01/06 Scots Sent Explosives To Loyalist Groups
DI 12/31/05 Unionists Warn Minister Over Devolution Talks
IO 01/01/06 McAleese Hails New Landscape Of Peace
SL 01/01/06 McCord: Ex-Branch Men Spill Beans To Ombudsman
SL 01/01/06 SF Spy 'Not Blackmailed'
SB 01/01/06 Republicns Accuse Brits Of False Informer Leaks
ST 01/01/06 Republican 'Spies' Get PSNI Tip-Off
GU 01/01/06 Suspected IRA Spies Face Death Threats- Police
DI 12/31/05 Hunger Striker Dies
ST 01/01/06 Changes In NI Terror Bill To Buy Off Opposition
SL 01/01/06 Why We Tories Refuse To Back OTR Amnesty
ST 01/01/06 New Search Call For The Missing
SL 01/01/06 UDR Families Get Tribute Go-Ahead
SL 01/01/06 New Calendar... Same Old Agenda
ST 01/01/06 Lodge Bans Orange For Parade In Dublin
II 01/01/06 Charting Mortar's Greatest Hits
SB 01/01/06 1975: Political Turmoil Of 1975
SB 01/01/06 1975: Sifting Through Sunningdale
SB 01/01/06 1975: O'Reilly Ordered No Support For Haughey
SB 01/01/06 1975: Brits Refused To Share Dublin Bombers
SL 01/01/06 A Year To Remember... And One To Forget
BB 01/01/06 Leaders Share Hopes For New Year
DI 12/31/05 Opin: Looking Forward To The New Year
DI 12/31/05 Opin: Stormtroopers Out Early For Christmas ‘06
SL 01/01/06 Opin: Hain Has Hard Road Ahead
DI 12/31/05 Number Of CCTV Cameras To Multiply In Towns
IM 12/31/05 Saoirse - Irish Freedom


New York Is Hit By An Irish Exodus

Dearbhail McDonald

ILLEGAL Irish immigrants are leaving New York in droves,
with many moving to London in the hope of finding
construction jobs on the 2012 Olympic Games project.

The exodus from Irish enclaves such as the Bronx and
Queens, two of New York's suburbs, peaked last summer, but
a new wave of exiles left over the Christmas holidays.
Illegal Irish immigrants are under pressure because of
security restrictions introduced after the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. People without a valid social security number
cannot now apply for a driver's licence or seek a job.

"It's impossible," said Sean Nash, 23, a carpenter from
Dundalk, Co Louth, who is considering a move to London to
join friends who have already fled New York.

Nash, a part-time disc jockey, has been living illegally in
Manhattan for five years. He said Irish-owned construction
companies are now refusing to hire Irish workers because of
the clampdown on illegal immigrants.

"If you're not legal, it is difficult to get paid in cash,"
he said. "Our driving licences have been taken away. Irish
companies have been shut down by the union and others are
being investigated for paying people under the table. So
your own won't even touch you unless you're legal.

"People look at Sex and the City and think we are living
the life in New York, but we're not. All the lads are
leaving because they realise they can have the same
lifestyle in any city in Europe without the hassle of New

More than 75 families are booked to leave the Yonkers area
of the Bronx by the end of February, many of them bound for
London. "You miss all the faces," said Rory Dolan, the
owner of a bar on McLean Avenue in Yonkers, who is hosting
weekly leaving parties.

"9/11 has done a lot of damage and every newspaper you read
says Ireland is the only place to be. But the young lads
are heading for London. Although fortunes have reversed,
many young families are finding it very hard to get ahead
at home because it is so expensive to live there, so
they're heading to England."

Record numbers of undocumented Irish, an estimated 25,000
people, have left America in recent years, reversing a 200-
year trend of immigration. The exodus is partly due to the
success of the Celtic tiger economy, which lured many
people home.

The fabric of the close-knit Irish-American community in
New York has been damaged by the departures, with help
centres reporting an increase in divorce, depression, drug
and alcohol abuse, suicide and domestic violence among the
Irish diaspora.

It has also had a severe impact on the GAA. Last year four
Gaelic football teams folded because they couldn't find
enough players, and many more are expected to drop out when
rosters are drawn up later this month.

"The Irish community is shrinking drastically out here;
we're in trouble," said Frank Brady, professor of education
at Long Island University.

Brady, from Manorhamilton, a former chairman of the Leitrim
GAA board in New York, said January would be a "watershed"
for many New York clubs, whose players travelled home for
Christmas but may not return.

"It could reach crisis point. The driving licence
restriction has had the greatest impact, especially for
tradesmen and construction workers," he said.

"It has had a major impact on the New York GAA scene. The
quality of the players and the standards of the game have
all been reduced as a result."

Between 1820 and 1920, about 4m people emigrated from
Ireland to America, including the ancestors of Henry Ford,
the car manufacturer, and presidents John F Kennedy and
Ronald Reagan.

"It is just so sad," said Danny Moloney, vice-president of
Liffey Van Lines, the Irish-owned removal company helping
families to relocate to Britain and Ireland.

"We have two full containers going out on a daily basis —
that means two families. In Yonkers or Woodlawn on a
Saturday we have three or four full containers ready to go.
Sometimes it is four or five families in one day. And it is
not just New York. We moved three families home from
Florida last weekend as well."


Gerry Adams Challenges Mitchell Reiss Attack On Sinn Fein
Policing Position

Published: 1 January, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP responding to an artcle
by US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss in the Irish Echo
newpaper last week criticising the Sinn Fein position on
Policing said:

The United States has played a pivotal role in the Irish
Peace Process. President Clinton and President Bush's
evenhanded approach contributed to creating the climate
where progress was possible. In his article last week
Mitchell Reis acknowledges the contribution to the peace
process of the IRA's historic decision to end its armed
campaign and to complete the process ofputting its arms
beyond use. These were 'top of the list' of positive and
hopeful developments in 2005.

But then in an unhelpful and partisan manner he attacks
Sinn Fein's position on policing and gives succour to
Unionist politicians still determined to oppose the Good
Friday Agreement. His soft focus on Unionist refusal to
share power and his airbrushing of loyalist violence and
its consequences for many in the north this year is in
stark contrast to his attack on republicans. Apparently
unionism and loyalism are not responsible for any of the
difficulties in the peace process. They 'have a sense of
grievance', are 'disenfranchised' and 'poorly educated'.
This is at best a superficial analysis of unionism - at
worst disingenuous and misleading.

In contrast his comments on Sinn Fein and the issue of
policing carry accusations which are untrue and offensive.
In addition Mr Reiss throws out unproven claims of
lawlessness in nationalist areas. The fact is that the
north of Ireland has the second lowest crime rate in Europe
It is less than half of the average in Britain. There is no
'rampant crime' in nationalist or republican communities.
On the contrary the nationalist and republican people are
good, decent people who despite not having had a proper
police service have remained law abiding. Republicans and
Nationalists, will not be badgered or forced into accepting
less than the new beginning to policing promised in theGood
Friday Agreement. This Agreement addressed the issue of
policing for a very good reason. The RUC was never a police
service. It was a political paramilitary militia which
engaged in the most disgraceful abuse of human rights which
included torture and murder. Those who were at the heart of
this malign force ˆ the Special Branch- are still active
within the new policing service.

Witness the deliberate planned overthrow of a
democratically elected government by these elements three
years ago and their use of agents within Sinn Fein. Despite
all of this Sinn Fein remain determined to achieve the
reconstruction of the power sharing government and all
Ireland institutions. We are committed to being part of a
new policing dispensation. Last December we almost reached
this point. We had succeeded in building on the progress
made on this issue in recent years in negotiations with the
British, particularly on the key issue of transfer of
powers of policing and justice from London to Belfast. But
it fell apart at the last moment because of the position of
Ian Paisley's party, the DUP.

The historic decision taken by the IRA in recent months,
the end of its armed campaign and the putting of arms
beyond use have removed any excuse or pretext for further
delay. In January the British and Irish Governments and
Sinn Fein intend making a serious effort to resurrect the
government and institutions. The British government has
given commitments on policing including the transfer of
power. I have made it clear that if the British honour
their obligations, if the DUP agrees to share power and the
model into which policing and justice will be transferred,
then Sinn Fein will hold a special conference to debate
this matter out fully to arrive at a democratically agreed

I believe the New Year is full of hope and that real and
meaningful progress is possible. We need the continued help
of Irish America to achieve all this. The peace process
also needs the support of the United States Government.
Mitchell Reiss‚ current position is not helpful. Making
progress and resolving issues like policing are shared
goals. We need to work together to achieve them. I hope
also that President Bush's administration returns to the
successful and even handed policies which helped to create
the Peace Process in the first place." ENDS


IRA Statement In Full

This is the text of the IRA's New Year message released to
the republican newspaper, An Phoblacht:

By:Press Association

"The leadership of Oglaigh na h-Eireann sends New Year
greetings to our friends and supporters at home and abroad.

We send best wishes especially to republican prisoners and
their families and we commend those presently working for
their early release.

We salute the discipline and commitment of IRA volunteers,
particularly following the momentous decisions by the Army
leadership this year.

We remain wedded to our republican objectives.

We are confident that these objectives will be achieved.

We fully support and commend everyone working for these
goals, especially our comrades in Sinn Fein.

We send greetings to the republican activist base which has
been so steadfast in the face of severe provocations this
last twelve months.

We appeal for continued unity and determination in the year

We are mindful that 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of the
hunger strikes and 90th anniversary of the Proclamation of
the Republic in 1916.

We look forward to popular celebrations and commemorations
of these events.

There is an onus on all political leaders to play their
part in achieving the essential political progress desired
by all the people of Ireland.

P. O Neill
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin."


Loyalists In Gold Coast Turf War

By Staff reporter
01 January 2006

THE UVF and UDA are battling to take control of the LVF's
old stomping ground in North Down.

Loyalist and security sources say the two major loyalist
terror gangs are locked in a struggle to stamp their
authority in the Holywood area.

There have been minor fights between members of the groups
in and around the town over the last three months.

And, UDA men attacked two youths who are not involved with
any group in the car park of a local hotel on Christmas

A key area of the power struggle is the Loughview estate,
in Holywood, from where a notorious drug dealing family
once ran the now disbanded LVF.

The UVF, which previously drove the LVF out of nearby
Garnerville, in east Belfast, is putting pressure on
individuals in Loughview, and local sources say the UDA is
becoming concerned.

"The UDA is taking a big interest in what is going on in
Holywood and has put more people in there.

"They're not prepared to allow the UVF to take over the
turf that the LVF controlled, and there's a bit of a battle
going on.

"The UDA is putting men into the area because they don't
want to see the UVF extend its influence from nearby
Garnerville down to the town.

"The UVF in east Belfast thinks that it should be their
turf, but the UDA, in Bangor, and Dundonald thinks they
should have control of the rackets and whatever else is run
on the criminal side, so it has potential to escalate," one
loyalist warned.


Scots Loyalists Sent Explosives To Loyalist Groups

By Raymond Hainey

LOYALISTS in Scotland supplied Northern Irish terrorists
with explosives, according to secret Irish government

The Irish government spied on the Orange Order and Loyalist
groups in Scotland in the 1970s.

Agents found the Scots went from sending food parcels to
sending explosives after a bomb at an Orange hall in South
Armagh killed five people in 1975. The spies also said the
Orange Order sent a delegation to Belfast to make contact
with the UDA and other paramilitary groups.

A memo, written by Irish foreign affairs official David
Donoghue, said: "The commonest contribution of Scots UDA
and UVF is to send gelignite."

The memo, written in 1976, claimed explosives were usually
handed over at sea in the dark. The Scots had been sending
food packages during the 1974Ulster Workers Council general
strike. Donoghue insisted that almost all Scots Loyalists
belonged to the Orange Order but that the Order's magazine
"regularly condemns violence".

Irish agents revealed some Orangemen formed links with

Donoghue said UDA and UVF units in Scotland sent arms and

Last night, a Scottish spokesman for the Orange Order said:
"There's no place in the Orange Order for anyone who
supports paramilitary activities


Unionists Warn Minister Over Devolution Talks

The British government was last night challenged to deal
with unionists who refuse to share power after the
Democratic Unionists vowed not to bow to pressure to revive
the North's political institutions swiftly in 2006.

Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin said British
secretary of state Peter Hain knew what was needed to get
the power-sharing institutions back up and running.

"Peter Hain knows that the real problem is the refusal of
unionists to share power on the basis of equality. It is
this reluctance that the British secretary of state needs
to tackle head on.

"The British government could and, Sinn Féin have argued,
should lift their unilateral suspension of the institutions

"This would put immediate pressure on unionists to engage.
It is this sort of leadership that is required. It is not
nationalists or republicans who are reluctant to move
forward but unionists," he said.

Unionists yesterday vowed to resist pressure to reinstate
the North's assembly.

Mr Hain was yesterday told to face up to the reality that
unionists would not re-enter a devolved government under
the conditions in place before the suspension of the
Stormont assembly three years ago.

Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds was responding to an
ultimatum from Mr Hain for the North's politicians to make
meaningful progress in 2006.

The Belfast North MP said: "Peter Hain has allowed Sinn
Féin a veto over political developments, stymieing any form
of devolution or political movement which does not involve
an executive with Sinn Féin.

"After the Northern Bank robbery and other evidence that
republicans simply cannot be trusted, the government and
others refused to accept any proposal for local democracy
or accountability because they wanted to wait on Sinn Féin.
It's time Peter Hain woke up and smelled the coffee.

"Yes, we do want devolution and local decision-making by
local assembly members but the old-style executive
devolution with Sinn Féin in cabinet positions is not on
the horizon."

In July, British and Irish government hopes of a political
breakthrough in the North rose when the IRA announced it
was standing down all its units and had ordered them to
dump arms. That was followed in September by the completion
of the IRA disarmament programme.

However, the Democratic Unionists and their leader Ian
Paisley have insisted that confidence-building measures
will have to be introduced for the unionist community
before they can even contemplate going into talks to revive

Unionists have reacted cautiously to the IRA's recent moves
and have insisted they want proof that the transformation
in republicanism is genuine before they will consider
returning to a power-sharing executive with Sinn Féin.

Officials in London and Dublin hope a report at the end of
next month by the four-member Independent Monitoring
Commission will demonstrate that the IRA is sticking to its
word and that this will provide a springboard for talks to
revive devolution in 2006.

Mr Hain warned in his New Year's message yesterday that
there would be little point in having elections to an
assembly in 2007 if there was no meaningful devolution. He
said unionists needed to know that republicans were serious
about their commitments to totally lawful means.

He also acknowledged that nationalists wanted to know that
unionists were serious about sharing power on a genuinely
equitable basis.

The British and Irish governments' bid to revive devolution
has been complicated in recent weeks by the dramatic
collapse of a spying case against three men accused of
intelligence gathering for republicans at Stormont in 2002
and the revelation that one of them, Sinn Féin official
Denis Donaldson, was working as an agent for the British
intelligence services.

Former SDLP finance minister Seán Farren said people in
North were frustrated by the constant political stalemate
and were enraged by a string of bad decisions, side deals
and shabby deals made by British ministers.

"All political parties in the North, along with the Irish
and British governments, must finally get politics working
for the people again," the North Antrim assembly member

'There can be no excuses, no more stalling and no more
squabbling. The people of the North deserve something
better. They deserve real politics and local politics."


McAleese Hails New Landscape Of Peace

01/01/2006 - 14:00:35

A new landscape of opportunity for peace in Ireland has
been created by the IRA's decision to renounce violence,
President Mary McAleese said today.

Speaking after a Mass in Dublin to mark World Day of Peace,
the President said 2005 had been the most successful year
in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

Mrs McAleese said huge efforts had already been made to
turn the province away from violence and called on people
to use the opportunities presented by events such as

"We have seen in Ireland what a huge investment you have to
make to turn the tide of history away from conflict, away
from violence, and how difficult that is.

"Already an enormous investment has been made in peace-
making by hundreds of thousands of people on this island.

"They have been singularly successful and I think there has
been no year of greater success than this year when we saw
the IRA in particular turn its back on violence for ever.

"That's history in the making and it happened as a result
of that huge investment that has been made over a very
considerable time," she said.

Mrs McAleese said the day of prayer across the world was an
invitation to everyone to consider what they could do to
bring peace to countries and communities.

"It's an invitation to everybody to ask themselves what
they can do to contribute to peace, and not just consider
peace in the global sense of thinking in terms of war and
conflict, but peace in our homes, peace on our streets,
peace in our communities, peace in our country because
wherever peace is absent it means people are behaving

"If you're in a home where there's conflict, or in a
community where there's conflict it's an invitation to
become the peace-maker," she said.

Mrs McAleese also said the Irish had a great tradition of
generosity and kindness, which should not be forgotten now
that the country was wealthy.

She said the effort made by people in Ireland through
volunteering was extraordinary and she hoped 2006 would see
even more of such work.

Earlier the congregation at the Mass heard that the
continuation of the peace process was a great positive for
the country.

Delivering the Homily, Father Enda Lloyd, Episcopal vicar
of the Dublin Diocese, said it was the obvious desire of
every Irish person to leave political violence behind for

Fr Lloyd said it was heartening to see people in Ireland
and on the world stage dedicated to peace, despite setbacks
and hardships, but he said violence was still visible in
towns and cities and on television.

Fr Lloyd asked for God's blessing on those working for
peace in Ireland and urged them to continue their work for
what he called the great prize.

Mrs McAleese was joined at the service at St Mary's Church,
Haddington Road, by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and members of
the Government and diplomatic corps.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin also attended the
special Mass.


McCord Probe: Ex-Branch Men Spill Beans To Ombudsman

By Stephen Breen
01 January 2006

A NUMBER of ex-Special Branch officers have provided Police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan with new information about the
murder of Raymond McCord jnr.

Senior security sources told Sunday Life that the former
cops have recently made statements to Mrs O'Loan's office.

Her investigators are probing the police handling of agents
inside the UVF in the early 1990s.

Although her report has been completed and is now in the
hands of the Public Prosecutions Service, the new
information could be added to the dossier.

Said one security source: "The Ombudsman has already taken
statements from disgruntled officers about the McCord
killing and other cases. Some Special Branch officers
aren't happy that their former colleagues have broken ranks
and spoken to Mrs O'Loan.

"They have provided sensitive information about a whole
range of things, including the activities of handlers and
their agents."

Mr McCord's father, also Raymond, said he believed Special
Branch officers will end up in court this year.

He said: "I had a great meeting with Mrs O'Loan and I can't
thank her and her staff enough for everything they have
done. I think I will get justice.

"I welcome the fact that other Special Branch officers have
come forward. I'm confident the full truth about the
activities of Special Branch and their agents will come out
after the report is published."

Mr McCord also met Secretary of State Peter Hain and gave
him the names of a number of republican and loyalist

One of the names is a second leading Sinn Fein member who
is set to be exposed as a British agent, and another is the
current UVF 'chief of staff'.

The former was identified to Sunday Life by separate
security sources in the wake of Denis Donaldson's shock
admission that he was a British agent.


SF Spy 'Not Blackmailed'

By Alan Murray
01 January 2006

SINN Fein spy Denis Donaldson was not blackmailed or
compromised into becoming a Special Branch agent.

Senior security sources revealed that talkative Donaldson
(above) was recruited following a standard Special Branch
approach to republican activists.

A well-placed source said the "brilliant capture" was paid
handsomely. He revealed Branch officers deliberately
targeted Donaldson as a potential intelligence source.

"These approaches are tried or were tried all the time.
Donaldson wasn't blackmailed or threatened, he was
discretely approached and invited to discuss the political

"He did, and once contact had been established and he
didn't run away, the relationship was developed.

"He was jointly run with MI5 because of his distinct
political dimension.

"When they came on board, then the money came to Denis
because they had a big budget."


Republicans Accuse British Of False 'Informer' Leaks

01 January 2006 By Colm Heatley

Republicans have accused the British Intelligence Services
of trying to subvert the peace process and causing
dissension within republican ranks by leaking the names of
alleged "informers".

Since the unmasking of senior Sinn Féin official Denis
Donaldson as a British agent a fortnight ago, five
republicans in west Belfast have been told by the media
they are to be "outed''.

However, Sinn Féin and senior republicans have claimed that
the allegations are completely untrue and insist they
regard the latest wave of claims as "a deliberate ploy by
British securocrats to undermine the republican movement''.

In one instance the media camped outside the home of one
west Belfast republican whose name had been circulating in
the North as a possible informer.

"This is complete fantasy stuff on the part of British
Intelligence, they are putting people's names into the
public arena in the hope that republicans will react," said
a senior republican source.

"What it shows is the need for Tony Blair to rein in his
securocrats who are clearly trying to undermine the peace
process. They want to spread paranoia and fear amongst the
republican community as a follow-up to the Donaldson

"That simply won't happen, republicans have been here
before and are treating these developments as a black
propaganda campaign."

In the months following the unmasking of Freddie
Scappaticci as the informer "Stakeknife'' in 2003, the
media named two other republicans as long-term British

The claims were subsequently shown to be untrue, but the
tension was heightened in an already paranoid republican

Although republicans have put across a united front in the
face of the latest claims, there is little doubt that
suspicion has increased.

In recent days there has been a marked increase in patrols
by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the
tightly-knit communities of west Belfast and republicans
claim that well-known Special Branch members have been seen
in the district.

So far, west Belfast, the political heartland of Sinn Féin,
has borne the brunt of the allegations.

"Every time a [police] Land Rover stops outside someone's
house people are wondering what it means. There is no doubt
the PSNI and the spooks are trying to make the most of the
situation," said one republican.

Republicans are also anxious that should any 'informers'
leave Belfast it will be interpreted as evidence that the
IRA is still active and used against them in the crucial
report on IRA activity by the Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC), which is due to be released next month.

Sinn Féin has said the peace process cannot be sidetracked
by the Donaldson affair. However, it will make the party's
task of selling a deal on policing to grassroots
republicans more difficult.

Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty, said the Stormontgate affair had
highlighted the issue of "political policing''.

"People throughout this island and beyond are now talking
about political policing and the dangers it poses to the
peace process and the task of rebuilding the political
process early in the new year," he said.

"Instead of trying to defend the indefensible, it would
suit the policing establishment better if they got their
house in order.

"They now have a big job of work to try and convince
nationalists and republicans that they are capable of
operating in an accountable and acceptable fashion."

It emerged last week that Donaldson had been talking to
republicans about his work as a British informer over a
period of more than 20 years.

At that stage he was still in Ireland, but it is unclear if
he has since left the country.

Although Donaldson's unmasking was deeply embarrassing to
republicans, it also compromised British intelligence.

His role has highlighted the influence of Special Branch
and MI5 in the peace process and increased the pressure on
the British government to curb the powers of its agents.


Republican 'Spies' Get PSNI Tip-Off

Liam Clarke

UNIFORMED PSNI officers have visited the homes of at least
four Belfast republicans warning them that they are
suspected by the IRA of being informers and offering
security advice.

The visits were made in the run-up to Christmas and even on
December 25. They followed the dramatic outing of Denis
Donaldson, Sinn Fein's head of administration at Stormont,
as a Special Branch agent. Donaldson was approached and
warned by the PSNI in a similar manner last month.

Republicans regard the police visits as an attempt to
weaken morale. There are well-founded suspicions that at
least one and possibly more spies are still active within
Sinn Fein's ranks.

A party spokesman revealed yesterday that the BBC had given
him the names of two well-known republicans who had
allegedly been warned by the police that they were under
suspicion as informers. The Sinn Fein officer said when he
approached the pair, they denied it. He named them as Tom
Hartley, a former Belfast city councillor, and Richard
"Dickie" Glenholmes, a former IRA operations officer.

Glenholmes served 10 years in jail in Britain for
attempting to spring Brian Keenan, a former IRA chief of
staff, from Brixton prison using a hijacked helicopter.
Glenholmes's daughter, Eibhlin (Evelyn), is one of the IRA
"on-the-run" terrorist suspects for whom Sinn Fein is
seeking freedom from prosecution.

Hartley, who was general secretary of Sinn Fein from 1984
to 1991, once led protests against the RUC. He has stepped
back from a frontline position in Sinn Fein in recent

Donaldson has admitted working as a British intelligence
agent for the past 20 years. His outing and confession has
sent shock waves through the republican movement and cast
doubts on the judgment of the leadership that promoted him.

He is believed to be co-operating with the republican
leadership, who are debriefing him in an effort to gauge
the damage he did, and want help identifying other
intelligence leaks. The IRA already has clues to the
identities of most of the agents in Belfast from documents
it stole from Special Branch headquarters.

"Every time a jeep stops rumours are going round, but
nobody has come to Sinn Fein to say they have had an
approach (from the police)," a party representative said.
"Nobody since Denis (Donaldson) has confirmed it."

Despite this, both a senior security source and a well-
known west Belfast republican confirmed that police
warnings were issued to a number of individuals whom they
refused to name.

"After Donaldson they visited three or four houses," the
republican source said. "The cops gave a form which had a
one-line message saying 'We have information that
republicans believe you to be an informer. For further
details please contact', or words to that effect, and
giving a number in New Barnsley police station."

The republican added that when the solicitor of one of the
men who had been approached rang the number supplied, the
police would not provide any more details to support their
claim. "They just said 'we have heard it'," he said.

Issuing warnings of a security threat is now standard PSNI
procedure, which is open to scrutiny by both senior
officers and the police ombudsman. In recent months dozens
of republicans were given similar warnings that their names
and personal details were in the hands of loyalists.

A senior security source confirmed that a number of people
had received warnings but refused to give details. A PSNI
spokesman said: "These are questions we can't answer, we
cannot comment on the personal security of individuals."

Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA commander in south Belfast
who is now a historian, said: "At times I feel like I
joined a regiment of the British Army when I thought I was
joining the IRA. It is clear that there has been extensive
infiltration of the IRA just as there was with the
loyalists. If you think of the sheer length of the
campaign, it was probably inevitable that it was going to
produce this sort of thing.

"Sinn Fein will lie about it and conceal it. They will
cover it up because it makes the leadership look stupid."

In a new year statement issued yesterday, the IRA made no
reference to spies in its ranks. It saluted "the discipline
and commitment of IRA volunteers, particularly following
the momentous decisions by the army leadership" last year.

"We remain wedded to our republican objectives and are
confident they will be achieved," the message said. "We
fully support and commend everyone working for these goals,
especially our comrades in Sinn Fein . . . There is an onus
on all political leaders to play their part in achieving
the essential political progress desired by all the people
of Ireland."

Martin Ingram, a former military intelligence officer who
handled agents within the IRA, said that the Sinn Fein
leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams had negligently
promoted British agents within the IRA over many years. The
Force Research Unit, for which he worked, had been able to
exploit the fact that "the republican leadership had
ignored basic security procedures," he said.

Ingram said Adams and McGuinness had allowed the IRA's
intelligence department to be controlled by a single agent,
Freddie Scappaticci, for 20 years. McGuinness had promoted
another agent, Frank Hegarty, who had recently joined the
IRA, to a senior position in charge of weapons, against the
advice of other senior IRA members.


Suspected IRA Spies Face Death Threats, Warn Police

Henry McDonald
Sunday January 1, 2006
The Observer

Three senior Belfast republicans have been visited by
detectives who warned them they were in danger of being
exposed as long-term British agents.

The Observer has learnt that the trio were visited on
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by PSNI officers. The men
were told that the IRA now believed they had been working
as informers for either Special Branch or MI5 inside the
republican movement.

One of the republicans has been a Sinn Fein councillor;
another has been involved in the IRA since the early
Seventies and played a leading role in the Provisionals'
bombing campaigns. The former is a one-time close personal
confidant of Gerry Adams. One of the trio under suspicion
has left his west Belfast home and has not been seen since.

Last week a number of IRA members concerned about the
existence of a group of agents inside the republican
leadership contacted The Observer. They claimed the IRA was
'in total disarray' over the recent revelation that Sinn
Fein's chief administrator at Stormont, Denis Donaldson,
had been a British agent for two decades. The group of IRA
men also confirmed the existence of a further three agents
whom they said had been contacted by the police about their
personal safety over the Christmas period.

'No one in the organisation bothers even to turn up to
meetings anymore because no one knows who to trust. The
volunteers on the ground just don't know what's going on,
who will be next to be outed as an informer, or how long
this has all been going on,' one of the IRA group said.

They added that speculation is rife in republican areas
about the identity of the latest alleged informers. They
dismissed claims in the pro-republican press that the
visits on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were an elaborate
plot by the PSNI to de-stabilise the republican movement
even further.

A police spokesman said: 'We do not comment on the personal
security of individuals. Where we receive information that
a person needs to review their personal security we take
steps to inform them.'

Meanwhile mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Donaldson
and his wife since the former Sinn Fein director of
international relations made his last public appearance in
Dublin on 16 December. The Gardai in Dublin have no idea
where Donaldson has been since he admitted publicly on RTE
television that he had been a British agent for more than
20 years.

Donaldson was exposed as a British agent shortly after the
collapse of a trial involving him, his son-in-law and a
civil servant who were accused of operating an IRA spy ring
in the heart of government at Stormont.

Republican and security sources claimed yesterday that
Donaldson had been subjected to two separate de-briefings
by the IRA's internal security team although they stressed
no physical violence was inflicted upon him.

The former IRA prisoner and comrade of Bobby Sands decided
to own up because he could not face a third interrogation.
On the advice of a relative by marriage who is also a
senior backroom figure in Sinn Fein, Donaldson contacted
his solicitor and made a statement inside the party's Falls
Road headquarters.

The Observer has also learnt the government instructed the
Director of Public Prosecutions to drop the case because
under the rules of disclosure sensitive documents about
agents inside the IRA and Sinn Fein would have been made
public. This documentation related not only to Donaldson
but also to other British spies.

In its New Year message the Real IRA ruled out any hope of
a ceasefire in 2006. The terror group said: 'Our position
is clear and unambiguous. The IRA constitution will be
upheld; the republican position will be defended.'

It claimed Sinn Fein's 'undemocratic and unrepresentative
leadership has been exposed and has been used successfully
to implement British policy in Ireland'.


Hunger Striker Dies

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness last night led
tributes to former 1981 hunger striker Matt Devlin.

Mr Devlin will be laid to rest in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, this

He was one of the H-block hunger strikers alongside Bobby
Sands in 1981. He fasted from July 15 until September 4
that year. He died on Thursday aged 55 after a long
struggle with illness.

Mid-Ulster MP Martin Mc Guinness last night expressed his
sadness on hearing of the death of the former blanket man,
hunger striker and Sinn Féin activist.

"It was with sorrow and sadness that I learned of the death
of Tyrone republican Matt Devlin. Matt was a dedicated and
committed republican who will be sorely missed by all who
knew him.

"Matt was one of many Irish republicans who sacrificed much
so that our children and our children's children will enjoy
equality, justice, freedom and peace in a united Ireland.

"He endured much hardship because of his ideals and
political beliefs, having participated in the blanket
protest in Long Kesh before embarking of a hunger strike
lasting 53 days, from which it is believed he never fully
recovered," said Mr McGuinness.

The Sinn Féin MP extended his condolences to Mr Devlin's
partner Geraldine, son Matthew and stepson Declan and to
his extended family and former comrades.

Mr Devlin had been living in Tang, Co Westmeath, in recent
years. He contested the last local elections for Sinn Féin.

Paul Hogan, the first Sinn Féin councillor to be elected in
Athlone, paid tribute to Mr Devlin.

"He was chairperson of the Seán Costello/Martin Hurson
cumann in Athlone, and he will be dearly missed," said Mr

"He gave great guidance and leadership to Sinn Féin in
Athlone and to me personally."

Coiste na nIarchimí chairman Raymond McCartney, another
former hunger striker, also paid tribute to Mr Devlin.

"He was an esteemed colleague and someone who made a huge
contribution to the struggle in the H-blocks. I extend my
condolences to the family," he said.


Big Changes In NI Terror Bill To Buy Off Opposition

Liam Clarke

THE British government is preparing to ditch key provisions
of the legislation that grants a virtual amnesty for "on-
the-run" terrorists and members of the security forces who
committed offences during the Troubles. Later this month it
will scrap or amend large parts of the Northern Ireland
Offences Bill in an effort to buy off widespread political

All the parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein,
as well as the police, the Northern Ireland Human Rights
Commission and victims groups, oppose the bill in its
current format. It has also attracted criticism from all
the opposition parties in British parliament and a number
of influential Labour backbenchers including Paul Murphy,
former secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

As the bill stands, anyone who committed a scheduled
offence before the Good Friday agreement can apply to be
dealt with by a special tribunal. They need not appear or
answer any questions, but are entitled to legal
representation and, if convicted, to be immediately
released on licence.

When the bill enters the report stage in the House of
Commons towards the end of this month, the government will
agree to opposition demands on a time limit for the bill.
This means that offenders can take advantage of it only if
they apply before a certain date.

If they are caught after that, or of they omit to mention
some offences, they may serve up to two years in jail under
the early release provisions of the Good Friday agreement.

The government will also specify that those applying for
inclusion must appear at the special tribunal and answer
questions under the same rules as in a crown court.

Peter Robinson, deputy leader of the DUP and a strong
opponent of the bill, said: "We have also been assured that
there will be no limitation on civil proceedings and
evidence gathered can be used in civil proceedings in the
same way as it is in the crown court."

This means that if evidence emerges at the special
tribunals it can be used by victims to take action for
damages against offenders, in the same way as some of those
bereaved by the Real IRA bombing at Omagh are suing those
they believe to be responsible.

Robinson is confident that the government will accept an
amendment that would specify that anyone guilty of torture
would not benefit.

"This is likely to be accepted because the European human
rights convention and the United Nations convention against
torture require the government to impose the appropriate
penalty against anyone responsible for torture," he said.

While Sinn Fein initially supported the legislation, it did
a U-turn on the issue following pressure from victims of
state violence. The bill extends its provisions to members
of the security forces found guilty of collusion with
loyalists, murder or other Troubles-related offences.

This is particularly relevant with the finding of the
Bloody Sunday tribunal due out by Easter. It may find
members of the British Army responsible for murder or


Agenda Special: Why We Tories Refuse To Back OTR Amnesty

By David Lidington MP, Shadow Secretary of state for
Northern Ireland

01 January 2006

TONY Blair, like John Major before him, has devoted time
and effort to the cause of building peace in Northern
Ireland. He was right to do so. The Conservative Party has
supported the Government wherever possible.

Sometimes we have given them the benefit of the doubt and
we have sought always to steer clear of partisan point-
scoring over Northern Ireland.

But bi-partisanship does not mean giving ministers a blank

We opposed the scheme for "On-the-Runs" when it was first
announced in 2001. This scheme, now embodied in the
Northern Ireland Offences Bill, is unjust, undermines the
rule of law and denies justice to the victims of terrorism.

Ministers offer two explanations of their policy. First,
they say that it was indispensable to secure an end to IRA

But the commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful
politics was central to the Belfast Agreement.

It was hard for victims and others to see convicted
prisoners released early, but early release had been
promised in the Agreement and approved in a referendum.

That was not true of the OTR scheme.

Indeed, Mark Durkan told the Commons that ministers at the
time assured victims that fugitives from justice would
still face arrest and trial.

The Government's second argument is that the Bill is
Northern Ireland's equivalent of South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission - a means to draw a line under

That would be an honourable motive. The trouble is that
this Bill is wrong in both timing and content.

Take the timing first. Republicans still refuse to support
the police or recognise the courts.

The murderers of Robert McCartney have not been turned in;
instead, his relatives have been driven from their homes by

Others, exiled from Northern Ireland by paramilitary
threats, are still unable to return.

I welcome the important steps that republicans made in
2005, but I also note that both the IMC and the Taoiseach
speak of the IRA's ability to turn violence and crime on
and off like a tap.

The Bill is horribly flawed. It would allow people who had
committed some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles to
walk free without serving a day in prison or even appearing
in court. A loyalist murderer could benefit without his
organisation decommissioning one bullet of its arsenal.

Anyone found guilty by the special tribunal would be freed
on licence without serving even a minimum prison term.

He could then commit other serious crimes, but his licence
would not be revoked unless he received a future prison
sentence of five years or more.

The Bill provides no penalty for concealing the whole
truth. In South Africa, failure to admit every action was
an imprisonable offence.

Here, the terrorist can sit back, waiting to see how much
of a case the police have, keeping the victims dangling,
confident that he has a get-out-of-jail-free card to play
whenever the need arises.

The defendant also gets full legal aid. His lawyers can
subpoena witnesses, perhaps including victims, and cross-
examine them. Not once, however, will he have to appear in

This is of more than just procedural importance. It denies
victims even the symbolic justice of seeing the person who
wronged them appear in court in person, either to own up
publicly to what he has done or to have responsibility
imposed on him by the judgment and subsequent sentence of
the court.

This Bill is opposed by unionist, nationalist and Alliance
in Northern Ireland and by every Opposition party at

I hope that Ministers, even now, will pay heed to what is
being said and will think again.


New Search Call For The Missing

Liam Clarke

THE Irish and British governments will get a report this
week recommending further searches for the body of a man
who was murdered and secretly buried by the Irish National
Liberation Army (INLA) in Paris in 1985.

The report, by an investigative scientist, will also
recommend action to recover the remains of several other
people murdered during the Troubles. The scientist is
working for the Independent Commission for the Location of
Victims' Remains (ICLVR), a joint British/Irish body headed
by Sir Ken Bloomfield, the former head of the Northern
Ireland civil service, and John Wilson, the former

Bloomfield said yesterday that he and Wilson would shortly
forward the report to the two governments with
recommendations for action. He refused to disclose the
recommendations before the two governments had been

"John Wilson and I have to talk to the governments. It is
conceivable that there could be useful action taken by them
outside the remit of the commission," he said.

That remit is limited to nine people who disappeared
without trace in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the IRA
vehemently denied involvement in these killings, the
organisation changed tack in March 1999 when it admitted
responsibility, branding the victims "informers". The IRA
also promised to help recover the bodies in return for
immunity from prosecution for those involved in the
killings and burials.

Special legislation was then passed in Dublin and London
stipulating that information gathered by the commission
could not be used for the purposes of prosecution. Corpses
recovered cannot be forensically examined except for
purposes of identification. Since then the remains of four
people have been found.

The specialist consultant working for the ICLVR, who was
appointed following a suggestion from Sinn Fein, has now
widened the scope of his inquiries to cover a number of
other missing people. These include Seamus Ruddy, murdered
by the INLA in Paris in 1985 in a row over weapons; Charlie
Armstrong, a South Armagh man who disappeared in 1981; and
Gerard Evans. The IRA has denied murdering Armstrong and

Bloomfield wrote to bereaved relatives on December 21
stating that the commission had received an initial report
from the expert who he described as an "investigative

The Department of Justice said: "We are aware of the report
and the minister hopes to receive a copy within days. He
will then wish to discuss it with the Northern Ireland


UDR Families Get Tribute Go-Ahead

By Sunday Life reporter
01 January 2006

THE families of four murdered UDR soldiers are to be
allowed to erect their own commemoration after a memorial
to the men was repeatedly desecrated.

The four soldiers were killed in a landmine attack near
Downpatrick in Holy Week 1990 in one of the bloodiest days
in the regiment's history.

Within days, a makeshift tribute was erected by locals and
former UDR comrades.

But, over the years, hammers have been used in an attempt
to smash the tiny granite memorial. Floral tributes have
also been desecrated at the spot, at Ballydugan Road.

Another attack in May last year - first revealed by Sunday
Life - has proven to be the final straw for some of the

However, they have now been given permission by Ards
Borough Council to erect a memorial in Newtownards to their
four sons who came from the Ards and Castlereagh areas.

Said DUP MLA Jim Shannon: "The council is pleased to be
able to help the families who want to erect their own stone
plinth with a plaque at the memorial gardens in

"The families felt unsafe going to the memorial at
Ballydugan Road after it was vandalised and damaged over
the years by republicans."

A request to the council to allow a memorial to be erected
- alongside other tributes to police officers and soldiers
- in the flower beds within the shadows of the town's war
memorial was approved by Ards councillors.

Final agreement on the siting was reached at a meeting
involving a family representative on Christmas Eve.

Added Mr Shannon: "The Ballydugan Road memorial will
remain, but this will allow the families a place where they
can honour their sons and husbands in peace and safety."

The four who were killed were John Birch (28), John Bradley
(25), Michael Adams (23) and Steven Smart (23).

They were travelling in a Land-Rover from Ballykinlar UDR
base to Downpatrick when the IRA detonated a 1,000lb
landmine bomb hidden in a culvert.


New Calendar... Same Old Agenda

By John McGurk
01 January 2006

IT MAY be 2006 - but republican and loyalist calendars for
the New Year are firmly rooted in the past.

While most folk in Northern Ireland are looking forward to
a happy new year, it's old images of the dead and gone
which makes up the pages of the paramilitary supporting

Although loyalists and republicans are polar opposites in
their politics and philosophy - between the sheets of their
respective 2006 Calendars, they are, ironically, strange

For both Loyalist Images 2006 and the Republican Resistance
Calendar 2006 fill their pages with people from the distant

The face of Sir Edward Carson, an Orange Order B Specials
banner and a mural to UVF killer Brian Robinson are just
some of the pictures which dominate the Loyalist Images
2006 calendar - selling at £4.

Its cover features a gurgling, happy Orange sash wearing

But elsewhere it's a diet of drum-banging bandsmen, giant
pallet-stacked Twelfth bonfires and Springfield Road parade

And most contentiously, September's calendar 'star' is UVF
man, Brian Robinson who shot north Belfast Catholic man
Patrick McKenna dead, before HE was killed by an undercover
female soldier.

The Republican Resistance Calendar 2006 is even more
dominated by pictures of people and places from the past -
in a 25th anniversary commemoration of the hunger strikes.

It features photos of global H-Block hunger strike parades
and the 10 dead IRA men from the controversial 1981
protests - as well as black and white images from as far
back as 1916.

Republican calendar 'stars' include the female pallbearers
from the 1981 funeral of IRA hunger striker Kieran Doherty
and a smiling snap of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with
a young Irish dancer.

Commenting on demand for the Loyalist Images calendar, a
Union Jack Shop assistant in east Belfast said: "There are
only a few left. We didn't get the calendars that we
usually get in. But this one still did well."

Meanwhile, across the city at the Sinn Fein Centre in west
Belfast, a saleswoman reported that all but a handful of
its stock of 500 Republican Resistance calendars had been
snapped up - within the past week.


Lodge Bans Orange For Parade In Dublin

Liam Clarke

THE Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has refused permission
for Orange collarettes to be worn at next month's Love
Ulster parade in Dublin.

The ban follows moves from the Dublin and Wicklow Orange
Lodge who feel that it could put their members under
pressure. The Continuity IRA has already threatened to halt
the parade, which is scheduled for February 11.

The organisers say that they will ignore the ruling on
collarettes but may allow an Irish tricolour to be carried
in order to make the parade more inclusive and welcoming to
those nationalists who oppose the IRA.

The worshipful master of the Dublin and Wicklow Lodge, who
asked not to be named, said: "It is completely
inappropriate for Orange regalia to be carried at an event
like this.

It only takes one person to throw a bottle for serious
trouble to start and we are the ones living here."

The lodge has about 30 members and hopes to hold its own
Orange march in Dublin at some stage. Its last attempt, in
June 2000, was called off after a series of abusive letters
and telephone calls.

The lodge celebrates July 12, the anniversary of King
William's victory at the battle of the Boyne, by attending
a reception in Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence
of President Mary McAleese, where period music is played.

The lodge master says that if a Union Jack is being carried
in the parade, it might also be appropriate to carry a

Willie Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives
(Fair), one of the organisers, vowed to wear his own Orange
collarette. He believes that others will do the same.

"I can understand the Dublin people not wanting pressure
but Orange culture isn't something that should be hidden or
that we should be ashamed of," he said.

People injured or bereaved by the Farc terrorist group in
Colombia may also attend the rally, which will be addressed
by Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP MP for Lagan Valley.

The victims say that Farc was supplied with the technology
to injure them by the IRA and the Colombia Three.

A theme of the rally will be opposition to Sinn Fein in
government, north or south. Michael McDowell, the Irish
justice minister, has been invited to join Donaldson and
Frazer on the platform outside Leinster House but a
Department of Justice spokesperson said he had no plans to
do so.


Charting Mortar's Greatest Hits

OF course people will believe anything about the audacity
of the Colombia Three these days. Hence front-page reports
during the week that they were to appear as a cabaret act
in a Republican watering hole in Letterkenny didn't
surprise people too much.

We can exclusively reveal today that the poster on the
Wolfe Tone pub announcing the imminent appearance of the
Three is a kind of a long-standing joke.

But let me tell you, nobody is more disappointed than me. I
know a good band when I see one, and in my capacity as a
talent-spotter I had big plans for the Colombia Three's
musical career.

My idea was that the lads would tour the country performing
appropriate material - anything from Wings' Band On The Run
to trad classics like The Men Behind the Wireless Devices.
Or indeed they could just play it safe and revisit Mortar
Monaghan's greatest hits.

I was going to sell that as the antidote to U2's How to
Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I had anticipated a certain
difficulty getting Mortar to admit to his hits, but we
could have got over that.

My other big idea to put bums on seats for the Fun-Loving
Criminals tour was that the Three would be reunited for the
tour with their very own Pete Best, the so-called "Fourth
Colombia Three", Frank Connolly. I was hoping too the boys
would be accompanied by their man in the Dail, Finian
McGrath, who might give a few bars of Leroy Brown.

There would be other difficulties too.

How could we convince people that this was the real
Colombia Three, and not just a tribute band? I thought of
suggesting they could show their passports but that
wouldn't really work, would it? Perhaps P O'Neill could
issue a press release - or a warning as it used to be

Then I got to wondering if this should be a musical evening
at all. Perhaps the Colombia Three should stick to what
they know and simply travel the country holding workshops
in terrorism and murder in return for cash. Maybe this is
how the guys actually operated in Colombia, appearing in
local pubs showing off traditional Irish crafts, 'Fun With
Fertiliser' featuring Mortar Monaghan. Maybe the night
should be styled more as 'An Audience with The Colombia
Three' where the lads could showcase their work and then
throw the floor open and refuse to answer questions from
the audience.

On a personal note, I might just say that I think I speak
for everyone on You're A Star when I say that if the
Colombia Three would like to try for musical success, we'll
try and find a slot for them in tonight's wildcard show
(RTE 1, 6.30pm).

I would caution them that image is very important, so if
they decide to turn up I think people would like to see
Mortar in a miniskirt and Niall Connolly in a belly top. I
know their natural instinct is to cover up but Frank
Connolly would surely be encouraging transparency.


1975: Paper Trail Reveals Political Turmoil Of 1975

01 January 2006

The release of the state papers for 1975 in Ireland and
Britain show that the year was dominated by political
turmoil over the deteriorating situation in the North and
the economic crisis in the Republic. Historian Rory Rapple
sifts through the documents released by the National
Archives in Dublin and London to see how British and Irish
politicians, civil servants and diplomats reacted to the
events of the year.

1975 was a year marked by political division and economic
crisis. Although the Fine Gael-Labour coalition, which was
led by Liam Cosgrave, remained united, it was wary of the
British government's intentions in the North and the
European Economic Community (EEC).

The demise of the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement a
year earlier had left a political vacuum in the North.
Elections to a Constitutional Convention which was designed
to discuss possible directions for Ulster politics left the
SDLP faced with a Unionist bloc opposed to sharing power
with nationalists. The initiative was bound to fail.

An IRA ceasefire, combined with the British Army's low
security profile in Catholic areas, seemed to indicate that
the British prime minister Harold Wilson had done some sort
of deal with the Provisional IRA.

However, the escalating republican violence at the end of
the year told a very different story.

In the Republic, the success of Ireland's six-month
presidency of the EEC was counterbalanced by a faltering

Almost 10 per cent of the labour force was unemployed and
inflation was running at 16.8 per cent.

On the opposition benches, a reshuffle brought Charles J
Haughey in from the wilderness to be Fianna Fail's
spokesman on health.

It was widely rumoured that the party's wounds inflicted by
the Arms Trial had not yet healed.

In 1975 . . .

Fine Gael and Labour were in power

Fianna Fail was in opposition

Liam Cosgrave was Taoiseach

Garret FitzGerald was the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Conor Cruise O'Brien was the Minister for Posts and

Jack Lynch was the leader of Fianna Fail

Charles Haughey became Fianna Fail's spokesman on health

The British Labour Party was in power and Harold Wilson was
prime minister

Merlyn Rees was the secretary of state in the North

Sir Frank Cooper was the permanent secretary of the
Northern Ireland Office

Sir Arthur Galsworthy was the British ambassador to Ireland

Gerry Fitt was leader of the SDLP

John Hume was an SDLP MP

Seamus Mallon was an SDLP MP

Ruairi O Bradaigh was the leader of Provisional Sinn Féin

Daithi O Conaill was the chief of staff of the Provisional


1975: Sifting Through Sunningdale

01 January 2006 By Rory Rapple

The political situation in Northern Ireland in 1975 is
painted in a bleak light in the state papers that have just
been released by the National Archives in London and Dublin
under the 30-year rule.

That year, the Irish and British governments and the
political parties in the North were picking over the
wreckage left by the fall of the Sunningdale power-sharing

Despite the collapse of Sunningdale, 1975 began with some
hope as a result of the Provisional IRA truce - the
paramilitary group's Christmas ceasefire was extended until

The Christmas truce was extended indefinitely starting from
February 10. However, the ceasefire became more tenuous as
the year dragged on.

British government officials in 1975 were constantly
looking for reasons to help the "doves'' in the Provisional
IRA to "go political'', despite the fact that the RUC,
British Army and SDLP believed the IRA were "on their
knees'', according to the 1975 state papers.

The state papers, which are normally kept secret for 30
years, provide a fascinating window into how politicians,
senior civil servants and diplomats dealt with the affairs
of the time.

Details of basic agreements or contacts between the British
government and the IRA which facilitated the truce have not
emerged in this year's release, but it is certain that
there was discord within the British administration and the
Provisional IRA's army council about the ceasefire.

The IRA army council was divided between "hawks'' and
"doves'', with the doves holding a fragile upper hand,
according to an analysis by the British.

According to a secret British document written in early
January 1975, the British, in entering into an
understanding with the Provos, had two aims - firstly, "to
string [the IRA] along to the point where their military
capacity went soggy and where Catholic community support
disappeared'', and secondly, "to give the doves the excuse
to call it all off without [the British] making substantial

It was assumed that the IRA was losing support as a result
of the war-weariness of the Catholic population, as well as
the widespread revulsion caused by the Birmingham bombing
in 1974.

The document showed awareness of the IRA's overriding
desire not to split, saying that "because the army council
usually ends up united, the doves had to concede that so
far they have got nothing out of a ceasefire''.

The "hawks'', on the other hand, had to allow the "doves''
to offer the British government the possibility of further

Prior to the temporary collapse of the IRA's initial
cessation in late January, the document recommended that
contact be made with the Sinn Féin president, Ruairi Ó
Brádaigh, because "every day of peace weakens the
Provisionals [and] it would strengthen the hands of the
doves versus the hawks for the next round of bargaining
which is bound to come''.

Written on the back of the partially destroyed final page
of the document composed within the Northern Ireland Office
is a personal note: "Michael is very worried that
everything you say can clearly be heard outside in the
corridor, on the stairs etc."

Obviously within Stormont Castle, even in 1975, secrecy was
difficult to guarantee. The left hand of the administration
wasn't meant to know what the right hand was doing.

At those early stages, the North's secretary of state,
Merlyn Rees, was frustrated most of all by those who he
felt were "queering the pitch for the delicate exploratory
discussions that Northern Ireland Office officials were
having with the Provisional Sinn Féin''.

Chief among these figures was Dr John O'Connell, later a
Fianna Fáil health minister, who had arranged a meeting
between Harold Wilson and the IRA two years earlier.

O'Connell, according to Rees, "was [still] clearly in touch
with the PIRA [Provisional IRA] at some level'', but Rees
said secretly that "in all his dealings with Northern
Ireland, nothing had made him more angry than Dr
O'Connell's recent machinations and well-publicised claims
to be acting as an intermediary between the PIRA and the
British government''.

Later, SDLP leader Gerry Fitt told Rees that the IRA army
council had voted to end the ceasefire briefly in January
by the smallest of margins: four to three. Leading
Provisionals deemed to be in support of the cessation
included Ó Brádaigh, Daithi Ó Conaill and Seamus Twomey.

Once the truce was reinstated in February, a new secret
document on security was drafted which outlined that the
best approach against the IRA, even if its ceasefire ended
with a "bang'', would be a "selective'' one.

"We should speak loudly and carry a small stick," the
document said. "We want to catch the violent men, not those
who exert a moderating influence."

In the event of a more gradual end to the truce the
document recommended that "arrests should ideally be
related to the bringing of criminal charges against those
responsible . . . we shall want to pick up battalion or
brigade staff members who we believe to be hawks."

Regional differentiation in the response was also deemed
important. In Derry, the local IRA men were disaffected by
the movement's strategy, and had to be treated with caution
and without a provocative police response, the document

By May, the SDLP's John Hume had told officials from the
Northern Ireland Office that the IRA was unpopular in
Derry, and "the presence of Martin McGuinness in the
streets while people were still in detention had angered a
good deal of Republicans . . . but in a Doomsday situation
the Provisionals would be in a good situation to show
themselves as the defenders of the Catholics."

Seven incident centres, often manned by members of Sinn
Féin, and facilitated by civil servants in the Northern
Ireland Office, were set up in nationalist areas to monitor
the truce, to dispel rumours that would inflame the
situation and to act, in some ways, as welfare centres.

Seamus Loughran, a leading member of Provisional Sinn Féin,
hinted that, in conjunction with the muted army presence,
the centres effectively provided a framework for local

Enoch Powell, at this stage an Ulster Unionist MP,
denounced the centres, saying they had been "set up for the
purpose of swapping yarns about outrages . . . no severer
censure can perhaps be passed upon this device than that it
was described by the Liberal party as 'imaginative'."

Most other Unionists, according to the British government,
"saw [the centres] as a cover for negotiating with the IRA,
undermining the authority. . .of the RUC [and] by-passing
the properly elected representatives of Northern Ireland."

Rees countered these allegations by pointing out that the
police were continuing to bring charges against anyone who
had broken the law.

In August, Hume complained to Dublin that, whereas SDLP
involvement in the constitutional convention had been a
liability for his party, the centres had effectively
resuscitated the IRA's stature in the nationalist

The steady release of internees by Rees was deemed by
Catholics to be a direct result of the IRA's contact with
the British government.

The same month, Fitt told Harold Wilson he had heard
stories that staff at the centres were being paid, "and one
member of the IRA had told Mr Airey Neave [the Tory
spokesman on Northern Ireland] that they were being paid
£30 a week''.

The Cosgrave administration in the Republic,
uncompromisingly harsh in its attitude to republicanism,
was almost as suspicious as unionists that secret
concessions were being granted to the IRA by the British.
There was no let-up in the Garda Special Branch's pursuit
of republicans or appeasement towards the status of IRA
prisoners in the 26 counties.

Disaffection within the IRA during the period of the truce
found expression in a number of ways. There were sporadic
breaches during the summer and early autumn in Belfast.

Sectarian attacks by the "South Armagh Republican Action
Force'', in response to the sustained "Protestant Action
Force''/UVF offensive in the "murder triangle'', showed
that the Provisional IRA had problems of internal
discipline. In September, the IRA's bombing campaign in
England started again, along with renewed feuding against
the Official IRA in Belfast.

Much of this activity had been anticipated in a secret memo
on security written by the British government on September
5. "A low-key bombing campaign in Great Britain would suit
their purpose very well," it stated, "[and] would prove a
salutary jolt to Her Majesty's government and avoid strong
public reaction against their cause."

Significantly, the memo presumed that political contact
with the Provisional movement would continue, despite the
rise of unrest in Belfast and Armagh. "They can participate
in, even promote, tit-for-tat sectarian killing without
affecting their posture or with luck, their credibility
with us," said the memo.

The British Army, according to the memo, was "much happier
in a war situation and their official line seems to be a
repetition of old themes. And they seem ready to deploy
their forces especially out of Belfast more readily than

Fitt told the head of the Northern Ireland Office, Sir
Frank Cooper, on September 25 that "he had it on the
authority of the Garda Special Branch that Daithi Ó Conaill
had deliberately given himself up [because] he knew he
could not hold the Provisional movement throughout 1975.

"He was therefore best out of it and his plans were to
reemerge early in 1976. . .and reassume the leadership. He
deliberately telephoned the Garda Special Branch to arrange
to be picked up having, of course, ensured that he had
nothing of any serious nature on him or in the house in
which he was arrested."

The IRA's Derry brigade blew up the city's incident centre
on November 10, an indication of the republican movement's
rejection of the truce.

Dr Rory Rapple is a Fellow in History at St John's College,


1975: O'Reilly 'Ordered Editors Not To Support Haughey'

01 January 2006 By Rory Rapple

Tony O'Reilly was explicitly pursuing an agenda opposed to
Charles J Haughey in 1975 when the businessman was chief
executive of Independent Newspapers, according to
dispatches sent to London by the British Embassy in Dublin.

Michael Daly, an official at the embassy told the Foreign
Office in Whitehall, that on January 8 O'Reilly had
"instructed his editors at lunch that no support whatsoever
was to be given to Haughey's efforts to return to
'respectability' and [to] the Fianna Fáil front bench''.

Daly, whose source was "a journalist in the Independent
Group'' speculated that the bad feeling between O'Reilly
and Haughey was "partly the result of a row between [them]
and that O'Reilly's view, as expressed to his editors, was
that Jack Lynch was a 'decent man' who was above [reproach]
and should be protected from Haughey's machinations''.

Daly predicted O'Reilly's ownership of regional newspapers
might counter Haughey's attempts to secure support among
Fianna Fáil's grassroots throughout the country.

Daly said O'Reilly's directive might also affect the
political views of the country's businessmen "who have
taken the line that 'Charlie may be a bit of a villain but
he talks good sense on economics'."

They would not "be so keen to push it if O'Reilly - who is
a far more successful businessmen than Haughey - takes a
critical view of poor Charlie'', he said.

Daly said the directive was the first occasion to have been
reported of O'Reilly giving his editors instructions "on
the handling of a political subject'', adding that "if he
intends to make a habit of this, at least he has started

An official in London noted in the margin of the dispatch
that "O'Reilly has been reported to be not without
political ambition himself. His interest in keeping Haughey
down may not be entirely for Jack Lynch's sake''.

Another official said: "I should have thought that the
return to position and power of a man of Haughey's calibre
was almost inevitable, especially in a country which has no
excess of such talent."

The embassy kept a close eye on Haughey's political
resurrection after the arms trial including his
reappointment to the Fianna Fáil front bench by Lynch in
February 1975 as health spokesman.

Another embassy despatch described Haughey as being "in
another league'', saying that "he has all the personal
wealth he needs (although there have been reports that like
many otherwise respectable financial institutions, he has
liquidity problems) and his sole remaining ambition is

Haughey's supposed republican credentials caused some
unease among British diplomats, but one said: "There are
those who think that Haughey will not merely abandon his
republican horse when it suits him but will probably shoot
it at the same time."

His elevation was interpreted by the British as a sign of
Lynch's waning power, but the diplomats commended the
Fianna Fáil leader's skills as a "sly political
manipulator'' because he had put obstacles in Haughey's
path to the leadership, notably Des O'Malley, who they
described as "the new heir-apparent''.

At the same time as he reinstated Haughey, Lynch demoted
David Andrews from the justice portfolio to social welfare.
The British regarded Andrews, who was appointed Minister
for Foreign Affairs in the 1990s, as "unambitious and lazy,
and rather relieved at his move''.

Later in the year, the embassy noted Haughey's speech at
the ard fheis received a two-minute standing ovation, while
Lynch received a three-minute standing ovation which was
"no doubt carefully orchestrated to exceed Haughey's''.

While Haughey was languishing on the opposition benches,
Garret FitzGerald as Minister for Foreign Affairs was
hosting the presidency of the European Economic Community
(EEC) in Dublin.

The British embassy noted that the success of the
presidency was something of a surprise.

The official British report on the presidency noted that
"unkind voices murmured in advance that the word 'chaos'
would acquire a new meaning in Dublin between January and
June 1975.

In the event the Irish tenure was marked by meticulous
administrative planning, and in their steering role, they
revealed good sense, tact and sometimes, though perhaps not
often enough, firmness''.

Fitzgerald's "effervescent'' approach to the presidency,
especially its "institutional questions'', was noted and
Arthur Galsworthy, the British ambassador, mused that the
"one man effort'' was "seen with admiration by some of his
colleagues, but critically by others (probably including Mr
Cosgrave) [the then Taoiseach]".

His overall assessment of the six-month presidency was that
the Irish had "set their minds to do this job properly and
succeeded, laying the ghosts of Irish fecklessness and
inefficiency in the process''.

"We shall be entitled from now on to conclude that in the
more sensitive areas of Anglo-Irish relations 'can't' means
'don't want to'," Galsworthy said.

The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Conor Crui s e
O'Brien, who was described by Galsworthy as one whose
"pronouncements on the North are normally refreshingly
realistic and usually timely'', angered northern Catholics
when he said in a radio interview that power-sharing was
impossible after the overwhelming success of anti-power-
sharing Unionists in the Constitutional Convention
elections in May.

Sean Donlon of the Department of the Taoiseach happened to
be with John Hume as the interview was broadcast. Donlon
reported that Hume told him he found it "unacceptable that
a Dublin government spokesman should announce within 24
hours of the election results that the policies to which
the government had been committed are now unattainable and
the alternative is a continuation of direct rule without
any consultation with, or advance notice to the SDLP''.

Furthermore, Hume said O'Brien had "underestimated the
capacity and potential of the IRA to influence developments
in Northern Ireland and [had] a mistaken impression of the
general attitude of the minority community''.

Seamus Mallon of the SDLP tersely described the interview
as "manna from heaven for loyalists''.

Galsworthy took some interest in the country's reaction to
Eamon de Valera's death on August 29, 1975.

He said Liam Cosgrave's "characteristic laconic expression
of regret at his passing, though quickly criticised as
ungracious, was equally speedily defended on the grounds
that if you cannot praise it is better in such
circumstances to say nothing''.

However, the former Fine Gael taoiseach, John A Costello,
according to the ambassador, had "felt no such inhibitions
in a televised interview when virtually the only good thing
he could say about Mr de Valera was the backhanded
compliment that he had 'slavishly' adopted the
parliamentary customs of Westminster''.

Fine Gael's reticence to praise the dead president
contrasted with the bullish remark made by the Minister for
Defence, Paddy Donegan, to the media from his yacht on
December 30, 1975, when he said that he had wanted to go to
Franco's funeral earlier that year.

"They say I'm the only fascist in the cabinet," he said,
"they would not let me go.

"They decided I could not go.

"Maybe it's just as well."


1975: British Government Refused To Share Identities Of
Dublin Bombing Suspects

01 January 2006 By Rory Rapple

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) decided in April 1975 not
to tell the Irish government the identities of those it
believed were responsible for the previous year's Dublin
bombings, despite a request from the then Taoiseach Liam
Cosgrave to do so.

The British ambassador in Dublin asked Sir Frank Cooper of
the NIO whether "the suspected Dublin car bombers'' could
be named in meetings with Irish officials scheduled for
early May.

Cooper responded: "However sincere the Irish may be in
their undertakings to safeguard the security of this
information, there is always the possibility of it emerging
in circumstances of the greatest embarrassment to the

Cooper said in his letter that the information could "lead
to cases in the courts, where in the absence of evidence of
the quality required by the law, the outcome of the case,
both legally and in terms of publicity, might be
detrimental to government policy''.

He also said that the information would be "on files''
available to "a less friendly government'' in the future
and could be "deliberately'' used against the British

Cooper said that Cosgrave's government was "friendly'', but
expressed concern that "this sort of information, falling
short, as it does, of the degree of certainty which is
required for criminal proceedings is of a kind better not
passed to other governments because it would set us a
precedent for the passage of information about individual

Dermot Nally of the Department of the Taoiseach discussed
the matter with John Hickman, a British diplomat, on May 7.
Nally, according to Hickman's report of the meeting,
accepted the reasons for the British government's
reticence, and said "that the Taoiseach had never intended
that the names should be passed from government to

Nally asked whether the information could be passed from
the RUC to the Gardai and Hickman replied that "it would be
in no way surprising if the Gardai asked the RUC [about
it]" and undertook to report the suggestion to Cooper in
Belfast. The 2003 Barron Report on the Dublin-Monaghan
bombings was severely critical of the handling of the case
by the Garda.

Meanwhile, the NIO was wrong-footed by the constant
criticism coming from the Dublin government and the
Catholic primate Cardinal Conway, the Archbishop of Armagh,
about the unevenness of its official response to sectarian

Initially, internal memos at the British Foreign Office
showed irritation at Conway's doggedness about the issue.

One letter to the NIO from AGL Turner of the policy
department of the foreign office on April 16 accused the
cardinal of isolating "from the total spectrum of violence
in Northern Ireland that limited portion labelled
'sectarian'" and of using "the fact that within this
limited field Catholics may more often be victims than
culprits to imply that generally Catholics are the innocent

Turner accused Conway of overlooking "the difference
between provocation and retaliation''. The IRA bombing
campaign in Britain had resulted, he argued, in a situation
where there was "provocation without retaliation''.

Turner stressed that the number of sectarian murders since
1968 cited by Conway on April 9 (350) should be seen in the
context of casualties in the Troubles as a whole (1,200).

When the NIO eventually amassed the statistical data Dublin
requested on sectarian assaults, it was recommended that it
be given to the Irish ambassador in London who would send
it directly to Cosgrave, thereby bypassing Garret
FitzGerald, the Irish foreign minister.

The British ambassador to Ireland, Sir Arthur Galsworthy,
wrote in June about the "futility of the kind of meetings
which NIO ministers habitually have to endure with
FitzGerald in which he occupies all the available time
gnawing away at old bones of contention'', one of which was
the alarmingly low level of convictions for sectarian
killings in the North.

Douglas Janes of the NIO recommended that the statistics on
convictions sent to the British foreign office should not
be given to the Irish.

"The more we have looked at this the more uneasy we feel
about any of this information being passed over. It is too
easily misinterpreted. I hope it need not go any further,"
he said.

The initial solution to the continuing sectarian violence
suggested by the NIO had both long term and short term
aspects. Segregation of the communities was to be tolerated
and the incorporation of "security features'' in
residential areas was to be encouraged.

"Householders particularly at risk are being encouraged to
fit peepholes to their front doors, to provide stout locks
and perhaps to fit armoured glass [and] future housing
schemes should have the concept of 'defensible space'
included'', the report pessimistically suggested.

However, the NIO believed that government grants to improve
security would be abused and that the fortification
recommended by the government would not be done.

There was also some disagreement among the British Army and
RUC about the analysis offered by the NIO that "when the
Protestants feel threatened (particularly those in the
poorer areas of east and north Belfast) they turn to a
campaign of murder.

"This violence does not seem to be particularly 'political'
in origin; it seems rooted in fear and frustration stemming
from old attitudes, poor economic and social prospects and
a tradition of violence''.

Major General David Young at British Army headquarters in
Lisburn countered that.

"The Protestant community, rather than necessarily feeling
fear, are frustrated in their suspicions that the PIRA [the
Provisional IRA] are winning by devious tactics and that
there will be a 'sell out'.

"The tension created by this feeling is relieved by the
violent actions of the Protestant paramilitary groups," he


A Year To Remember... And One To Forget

A review of the news in 2005

Compiled by Cairan McGuigan
01 January 2006


THE fallout from the Northern Bank robbery continued with
first Martin McGuinness insisting that the IRA was not
behind the £26.5m heist, and then the IRA itself denying

More intense pressure on republicans was to follow at the
end of the month when Robert McCartney (left) was murdered
by IRA members outside Magennis's bar.

Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair was freed from Maghaberry Prison and
flown - courtesy of the taxpayer - by helicopter to join
the rest of his family in their Bolton bolthole.

Meanwhile, rival loyalists in the UVF and LVF locked horns
in what became known as the 'taxi wars' and which would
later explode into another bloody feud.

Noel Dillon, one of the chief suspects in the horrific
killing of David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb at the height of
an earlier feud, took his own life.


AS political pressure on Sinn Fein grew, the IRA announced
that it was withdrawing the offer to decommission its

Later in the month, the organisation expelled three members
believed to have been involved in the McCartney murder.

But the crisis facing republicanism grew when an alleged
money-laundering racket was uncovered in Co Cork.

It is suspected that some of the money uncovered in raids
in the county came from the Northern Bank raid.

Lisa Dorrian (above) went missing from a Co Down caravan
park and it is feared the 25-year-old was murdered, with
the finger pointing at loyalist paramilitary figures. Her
family launched a campaign to have her body returned.

Johnny Adair returned to his old Shankill Road stomping
ground to taunt the people who drove him out of Ulster.
However, he only returned under cover of darkness, and fled
again before his former UDA pals could catch up with him.


THE family of Robert McCartney (left) were surprise guests
at Sinn Fein's ard fheis, and received a standing ovation.

But they continued in their very public fight for justice
for their brother, bringing their campaign to the US. While
Northern Ireland's political parties were snubbed, Mr
McCartney's five sisters and his fiancée were invited to St
Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House.

The UDA's east Belfast 'brigadier', Jim Gray, was thrown
out of the terror group, while an ex-copper with links to
LVF drug dealers had £5m worth of assets frozen by the
Assets Recovery Agency.


POPE John Paul II died aged 84. Millions flocked to Rome
for the funeral (right). Former Bishop of Munich, Cardinal
Ratzinger, was chosen to be Pope Benedict XVI.

Prince Charles finally married Camilla Parker Bowles, the
new Duchess of Cornwall, at a civil blessing in London's
Guildhall. The pair, who had committed adultery together,
then pledged to be faithful to each other in a blessing at
St George's Chapel in Windsor.

Jim 'Doris Day' Gray appeared in court on money-laundering
charges along with his girlfriend, Sharon Moss. Estate
agent Philip Johnston also appeared in court to deny
charges related to the same investigation.

The GAA annual conference voted to amend Rule 42 and open
the gates of Croke Park to other sports, albeit only

And rival fans (below) fought on the pitch following the
final whistle as Glentoran beat Linfield in a crucial
league match at The Oval.


THE General Election saw the Ulster Unionists almost
obliterated by the DUP.

Lady Sylvia Hermon was the only UUP candidate to win a
Westminster seat - an electoral performance that cost David
Trimble (below) his job.

The SDLP fared better than some commentators had predicted,
holding on to three seats.

But Sinn Fein and the DUP confirmed themselves as the
biggest parties with five and nine seats respectively.

Runners in the Belfast Marathon were diverted by a suspect
device, and ended up running almost an extra mile.

And Liverpool (above) performed the finest ever footballing
comeback to win the European Cup against AC Milan in
Istanbul after trailing 3-0 at half-time.


SIR Reg Empey (left) was selected to replace David Trimble
as leader of the beleaguered Ulster Unionist Party.

Violence flared in north Belfast when rival mobs clashed as
an Orange parade passed Ardoyne.

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly was returned to jail amid claims
he was still involved in IRA activity.

Meanwhile, the main witness in the Robert McCartney murder
- Brendan Devine - was jailed for his part in the armed
robbery of a security van.

The body of Gareth O'Connor (right) was recovered from
Newry Canal, over two years after he disappeared. His
family blamed the IRA for his murder.


THE IRA announced that it had decommissioned its weapons in
front of churchmen Fr Alec Reid and Rev Harold Good, and
General John de Chastelain.

However, unionists reacted with scepticism. They also
attacked the decision of Secretary of State Peter Hain to
free Shankill bomber Sean Kelly, just hours before the IRA

Loyalist weapons showed no signs of being decommissioned as
the UVF gunned down three men with alleged links to the
LVF. Jameson Lockhart, Craig McCausland and notorious
criminal Stephen Paul were all murdered by the terror gang.

London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games, but 24 hours
later was devastated by al-Qaida attacks on its transport
system. More than 50 people died as the Underground and a
bus were targeted by suicide bombers. An innocent Brazilian
man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot by police in the
capital after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.


THE so-called Colombia Three (left) re-appeared in Ireland
. . . to the predictable political storm.

James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly
voluntarily went to gardai after they re-appeared and the
Colombians demanded their extradition.

Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation (right) on the
southern states of the US. Hundreds of thousands across
Louisiana and Mississippi were left homeless in the wake of
the nation's worst natural disaster.

Former SDLP leader Lord Fitt (79) died following a lengthy
illness and former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam (55) died
in hospital following a fall at her home.

Celebrity chef Robbie Miller died following a road accident
in Co Down.


BELFAST was hit with the worst rioting seen for many years
when police and the Army (left) came under fire from
loyalists after the Orange Order's Whiterock parade was re-

Blast bombs and live ammunition were used during violence
that lasted several days.

The rioting was followed by daily protests which brought
Belfast's busiest roads to a standstill.

The Government finally specified the UVF, declaring that it
no longer recognised the terror gang's ceasefire after it
had murdered four people and continued to be involved in

Northern Ireland won a famous victory over England with
David Healy's wonder strike at Windsor Park.

And Tyrone (right) captured their second All Ireland in
three years with a win over Kerry.


JIM 'Doris Day' Gray was gunned down in the Clarawood
estate in Belfast by his former UDA pals.

The despised 'brigadier of bling' (below) was buried after
just 14 mourners turned up for his funeral.

The Assets Recovery Agency took over the hunt for Gray's

It also moved against republican criminality with raids on
a Manchester property company with suspected links to IRA
boss Thomas 'Slab' Murphy. Properties worth a total of £30m
were involved.

Workers Party president Sean Garland was arrested for his
alleged role in a massive international counterfeiting
scam. Authorities in the US want him extradited.

'Trick or Treat' killer Stephen Irwin was jailed for four
years for slashing another fan at the 2004 Irish Cup Final.
Irwin will have to serve out the eight life sentences he
received for his role in the Greysteel massacre, after his
licence was revoked.


ANOTHER UDA 'brigadier' was in trouble as Andre Shoukri
appeared in court charged with blackmail and money-

The UDA boss (left) was joined in court by his second-in-
command, John 'Bonzer' Borland, after the pair allegedly
tried to blackmail a north Belfast businessman.

A major shake-up of local government was announced with 26
councils being replaced by seven so-called 'super
councils'. Critics of the system believe it would simply
carve up Northern Ireland along sectarian lines.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was told he is one of some
400 republicans whose details ended up in the hands of
loyalist paramilitaries after documents went missing from
Army offices at Castlereagh.

Football legend George Best died in a London hospital after
a long battle against alcoholism and associated illnesses.


CLOSE to 100,000 turned out to pay their final respects to
George Best (right) at his Stormont funeral (left). Later
in the month, as many as 1,000 people were filing past his
grave each day.

Northern Bank employee Chris Ward became the latest person
to be charged in connection with the £26.5m heist.

Charges against the three men accused in the 'Stormontgate'
affair that collapsed the Assembly were suddenly dropped in
the "public interest".

It soon emerged THAT public interest may have involved the
role of Sinn Fein's head of administration, Denis
Donaldson, as a British agent for over 20 years.

Donaldson was kicked out of Sinn Fein after admitting to
his colleagues that he had been spying on them. However, he
has since continued to debrief them fully.


Leaders Share Hopes For New Year

Politicians and church leaders have been giving their New
Year messages to the people of Northern Ireland.


"As a new year dawns, hope and confidence must be key words
for our whole community.

"The problems which confront us are many, but so are the
possibilities for progress at every level.

"No one can deny the lessons we have learned from our past
of failed initiatives at a political level, no one can take
pride in failure - but we can all benefit from the
knowledge of why those attempts failed.

"Let us pray that fresh efforts to find stability in
government and administration of this province will make
real progress in 2006."


"Within Europe, it is my hope that the ongoing attempts by
Euro-federalists to revive the proposed EU Constitution
will fail and suffer the same rejection as inflicted by
France and Holland in 2005.

"Certainly, I will be directing my energies to thwarting
all attempts to further centralise the EU and impose an
unwanted and unnecessary Constitution.

"If the centralising forces in Europe have as bad a year in
2006 as they had in 2005, then I will be well pleased.

"Within Northern Ireland, I hope for further exposure of
the duplicity and machinations of Sinn Fein/IRA."


"After a 2005 marred by unprecedented political events
which have left most people not knowing what to expect
next, we must re-double our efforts to make 2006 a year of
genuine opportunity for our province.

"It is going to be an uphill task to turn around a jaded
general public whose faith in the political process is
almost at rock bottom.

"People have to be given an encouraging signal, one that
spells out that ordinary law-abiding citizens will have
their voice heard for a change.

"Government needs to shift its focus away from placating
the bank robbers and hoods who are regularly given
headlines and political leeway."


"2006 must be the year that we leave the past behind on a
moral basis.

"The British government must heed the call now made by all
the political parties in the north to withdraw the Northern
Ireland Offences Bill.

"Instead we need to work on positive proposals for truth,
recognition and remembrance that put victims' rights at
their heart.

"2006 must also be the year that everybody accepts the
lawful society.

"That means working with the police and accepting that the
law applies equally to everybody - not backing vigilante
networks that cover up the misdeeds of their own members."


"In January the British and Irish Governments and Sinn Fein
intend making a serious effort to resurrect the government
and institutions.

"The British government has given commitments on policing
including the transfer of power.

"I have made it clear that if the British honour their
obligations, if the DUP agrees to share power and the model
into which policing and justice will be transferred, then
Sinn Fein will hold a special conference to debate this
matter out fully to arrive at a democratically agreed

"I believe the New Year is full of hope and that real and
meaningful progress is possible."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/01 12:01:43 GMT


Opin: Looking Forward To The New Year

2005 has been a bruising year and few will be sorry to see
its back as we look forward with optimism to a new
beginning. The fallout from the Northern Bank robbery, the
cold-blooded murder of Robert McCartney, an explosion of
Orange madness over a blocked parade, and political
stalemate were all peace process low points over the past
12 months.

However, there were high points too. The IRA's decision to
go out of business and decommission its weapons may yet be
seen by future generations as the moment when the tide
turned inexorably in favour of a united Ireland.

Certainly, it has now made it possible for republicans to
posit an irrefutable argument for the implementation of the
power-sharing and all-Ireland institutions promised under
the Good Friday Agreement.

The year has ended with fighting talk from Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and Peter Hain. 2006 will tell whether they can match
their words with actions.

In the Republic, the wheels threatened to come off the
economic wagon with the thuggish approach by Irish Ferries
to the restructuring of the company. Partnership agreements
were thrown overboard in the rush to drive down wages and
working conditions while boosting the bottom line at a
company that made profits of €20 million (£13.7 million)
last year.

It was an unsavoury chapter in Irish labour relations but
the response in the negotiating rooms and on the streets
sent out the clear message that economic prosperity must
lift all boats. Similarly, surveys that show that Ireland,
among developed nations, has one of the greatest gaps
between rich and poor sounded a warning signal that
government ignores at its peril.

Though beset by internal problems and a lack of strength in
depth, the Fianna Fáil-PD government battled on against an
uninspiring opposition that seems to bare its claws only
when its leaders smell republican blood. This is why the
McCarthyite campaigns of Michael McDowell have gone largely
unchallenged in the Dáil. Not so, however, in the Frank
Connolly fiasco, where the reaction of the ordinary public
seems to have put some lead in the opposition pencil.

Perhaps in 2006 that same people power will ensure that the
hapless PDs are subject to public ridicule every time their
self-important underperformers adopt a position on the
peace process that is to the right of the DUP.

The hope must be that political progress in the peace
process will be swift in 2006. Those who endure the
nationalist nightmare deserve a life free of the worst
excesses of Paisleyism.

And, of course, everyone deserves the truth — no matter how
painful that may be for Irish or British, unionist or
republican. First up should be Peter Hain and Hugh Orde,
who tell us, on the one hand, that trust is a prerequisite
for political progress but, on the other, that those who
have been spied on and informed on for three decades and
more cannot have the truth. Both men should be told there
can be no trust without truth.


Opin: Stormtroopers Out Early For Christmas 2006

This column had a good Christmas. A quiet soujourn with
friends and family. A cup of festive cheer raised with the
neighbours. A Christmas morning visit to the crib with
younger relatives. The pleasure of opening presents.

A Stephen's Day wander through the gravestones of absent
friends and loved ones. All very civilised. Meanwhile, back
i lár na cathrach, it was a different story.

Very little peace and quiet here. The capital was booming.
In the days since Christmas, it was as if there was some
compulsion to spend, spend, spend. Not that this column can
be counted among the sales stormtroopers.

Daily Ireland rates are strictly of the window-shopping
variety. But on saunters among the masses this
Christmastide, it seems as if the whole purpose of life for
the throngs who filled the city was to buy, buy, buy.

The days after Christmas appeared to be as frenetic as the
days before. This column presumes the shoppers were
shopping for themselves. Unless they are shopping early for

And why not, I hear our Chamber of Commerce remind us. It's
only 350 shopping days to Christmas.

A crystal ball?

What suprises, shattered hopes, tragedy and success will be
served up in the political life of this nation in the next
12 months? That's what many of our politicians will be
wondering about.

This column does not have a crystal ball so predictions
here have no claim at all to any certainty.

Only one thing is for certain. There will surely be a
surprise or two for the political classes. Bertie Ahern, my
sources tell me, has no intention of going to the polls
before 2007. That may well be his intention and he may
succeed in running a full term, as he did last time.

But then events, dear boy, events. They could trip him up.
However, unless something totally catastrophic occurs, this
column's money is on Bertie struggling along.

He has his eyes on the prize. A third term. It might seem a
long shot to you but don't underestimate the possibilities.

To do so requires overestimating the opposition, and this
column sees no reason to do that.

Paisley says 'yes'?

The fact that Bertie is not planning an election for 2006
means he is planning to have another go at sorting out the
North. That would be the biggie for him. He knows that Tony
Blair is crucial for this.

Now that Blair has the European Union presidency out of the
way, he will have more time to give to his Irish
enterprise. Expect him and Bertie in Belfast before the end
of January to signal up their intentions. Blair was
planning to make a "big" speech. And so he might. But
Whitehall's idea of a big speech and this column's are very
different animals indeed. And if Bertie and he are here for
the same event, what are we to expect? A duet?

This column's guess is that the Shinners are already
working hard to make sure that 2006 is a make-your-mind-up
year for Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party.

If Ian keeps to the habits of a lifetime, a No this time
will last to the end of his leadership. Both Bertie and
Blair know this, so expect some interesting manoeuvres as
they attempt to put things in place so that a "no" changes
to a "yes".

Or even a "no, but…"?

Blair must go?

Bertie knows that Blair is intent on staying as prime
minister in Britland for another year or so.

However that turns out, Blair surely will not be around for
too much longer. The DUP knows this also. The DUPers have
different views on how they should proceed. Some rule out
any possibility of power sharing with Sinn Féin.

Others, including Paisley, have conceded that principle.
Which is not to say that Ian will share power. This column
does not know if he will or not.

Neither does anyone else — including, it can be said, maybe
even Ian himself.

At any rate, it is a safe bet that he will delay as long as
possible. Some DUPers are even suggesting that they should
wait until Gordon Brown takes over at Downing Street.

Amazingly, Grumpy Durkan seems to have bought into that
proposition. This column's sources at Westminster are
reporting that the SDLP is putting it about that Blair is
not to be trusted and that Brown would be better for the
Irish peace process.

This column understands that Blair's direct-rule ministers
at the NIO are deeply offended by this intemperate and, as
they see it, unprovoked pillorying of their boss.

Blair certainly has his detractors but, unless the upcoming
local government elections are a complete disaster for him,
he will be around long enough for one more big effort.

Blian úr faoi mhaise daoibh

Blian úr faoi mhaise daoibh. So good luck to all of them.
And good luck especially to watchers of this column. One
thing is for certain: 2006 will not be boring. 2005
certainly wasn't.


Opin: Hain Has Hard Road Ahead

01 January 2006

HOPE springs eternal as a new year begins but only a
supreme optimist could be confident about the prospects for
early political progress in Northern Ireland in 2006.

It had been hoped that last year's historic decision by the
IRA to decommission its weaponry and abandon all forms of
criminal activity would provide the catalyst for the
restoration of devolved government in the province.

But events on the ground culminating in the sensational
disclosures about "Stormontgate" last month have thrown a
spanner in the works.

And the virulent opposition to the "On-The-Runs"
legislation, which is now opposed, for various reasons, by
every political party in the province is another vexatious
fly in the ointment.

Just what Secretary of State Peter Hain and his ministerial
team can do to try to inject fresh impetus to the process
and begin the essential task of rebuilding a degree of
trust remains to be seen.

But try they must, given the scale of impending political
decision making which will have a direct impact on the
lives of everyone living here.

Mr Hain shows no sign of procrastinating on key policy
issues which would be much better dealt with by locally
accountable politicians.

His frank warning this week that the 2007 Assembly
elections could be postponed if there is no agreement on
devolution this year is aimed at concentrating minds.
Whether this tactic will work or not is open to debate.


CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who turned up at Down Royal on
Tuesday and defied the terrorists.

Hopefully the thugs responsible for the chaos will be
caught and punished appropriately.


Number Of CCTV Cameras To Multiply In Towns

The number of security cameras in towns is to increase
dramatically next year after grants were awarded to dozens
of projects.

Closed-circuit television camera systems are to be
installed shortly in 13 towns, including Drogheda in Co
Louth, Sligo, Tralee in Co Kerry, and Waterford.

Another 24 towns have been granted preliminary funding
under the community CCTV scheme.

Justice minister Michael McDowell, who had expressed
frustration with the slow roll-out of CCTV systems by
gardaí, said the scheme allowed communities to press ahead
with CCTV systems themselves.

"Many communities are willing and eager to take a proactive
approach to improving the safety and wellbeing of their
area in co-operation with the Garda Síochána.

"CCTV has proved extremely successful in the prevention and
detection of crime and is part of a series of measures
aimed at tackling street assaults and public disorder," he
said.The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has expressed
concern about the effect of CCTV on a person's right to
privacy but there has been strong demand for the systems in
towns such as Letterkenny in Co Donegal.

Letterkenny is one of the 13 towns that will receive up to
70 per cent funding under the €1.5 million (£1 million)
community CCTV scheme. The maximum grant is capped at
€100,000 (£68,000).

Around 15 per cent of the cost must be raised by the
community group applying for the scheme. The remainder can
be raised from public bodies such as local authorities.

Some of the towns that are installing CCTV systems, such as
Ballinasloe and Tuam in Co Galway, and Athy in Co Kildare,
are designated as disadvantaged under the Revitalising
Areas by Planning, Investment and Development (Rapid)
scheme. They will receive a matching CCTV grant from the
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Community affairs minister Éamon Ó Cuív said: "Anti-social
behaviour is a major challenge in Rapid areas and can
affect the everyday lives of people living there.

"CCTV has proven to be a very effective measure in reducing
anti-social behaviour and therefore improving the quality
of life of our most vulnerable citizens in Rapid areas."

The Department of Justice has also given up to €5,000
(£3,400) in preliminary funding for the installation of
CCTV systems in areas such as Blackpool in Cork city. In
Dublin, nine community groups in the inner city and suburbs
such as Tallaght have received grants.


Saoirse - Irish Freedom

by SAOIRSE Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005 at 6:18 PM


Keep informed on Irish Republican activism--Read SAOIRSE!

Saoirse – Irish Freedom is the voice of the Irish
Republican Movement. The monthly newspaper of Republican
Sinn Féin, it takes its name from Irish Freedom – Saoirse,
a Fenian paper which first appeared in November 1910 and
continued as a monthly publication until December 1914 when
it was suppressed by the British authorities. Among the
contributors to that paper were Bulmer Hobson, PS Hegerty,
Terence McSwiney, Pádraig Pearse, Ernest Blythe, Piaras
Beaslaí, Pat Devlin, Fred Cogley, JW Good and Roger

Saoirse – Irish Freedom grew out of the split in the
Republican Movement in 1986 when a reformist majority at
the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis voted to recognise and, if elected,
participate in, the institutions of the 26-County State.
(Bearing in mind that Sinn Féin was formed in 1905 with the
purpose of denying the British right to rule in Ireland by
refusing to participate in British assemblies which
exercised that right; and that, following the creation of
the British-imposed six and 26 county partition parliaments
in the 1920s, Republicans extended that principle to the
partition assemblies, the move by Provisional Sinn Féin was
such a break from the past as to make it a recognisably
different organisation to any preceding organisation called
Sinn Féin. The minority at the Ard-Fheis withdrew and re-
organised themselves, maintaining the same constitution of
Sinn Féin and advocating the same principle of
abstentionism as Sinn Féin in 1905 and carried on the
struggle as Republican Sinn Féin. Saoirse is the voice for
authentic revolutionary Republicanism.

By subscribing to Saoirse, you will be enabling yourself to
be informed on issues ignored by the mainstream press, such
as enviromental issues, workers rights, sectarian/racist
attacks, and the ongoing struggle for Irish freedom. Learn

*The EIRE NUA program, a comprehensive peace formula, that
would as a basic requirement, reunite the British occupied
six counties of Ireland with the rest of Ireland in an all-
Ireland federation comprised of the four historic provinces
of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. Genuine People
power, not just a slogan!

*The SAOL NUA, the Republican Movements Social and Economic
Programme. Irish Republicans want to build a new society,
that is rooted in the idea that the People come first.The
welfare and well-being of all, meeting the real needs of
human nature . . . not merely satisfying the wants created
by the consumer society. A new society based community,
with strong emphasis on enviromental concerns.

*The need to protect Irish neutrality. Saoirse was the
first paper to speak out against the on going misuse of
Shannon airport by US/Anglo forces in their illegal war on
Iraq. Contributers to Saoirse have included renowned peace
activist Mary Kelly, among others.

* Saoirse points out in articles that a key ingredient
missing from the Stormont Agreement is justice for all the
Irish people. The "solution", so-called, leaves the people
in the 26 Counties stranded in a neo-colonial State, which
by nature is heavily centralised (it is only now seeming to
go contrary to its centralist nature at the behest of its
European masters in order to receive maximum grant aid),
with a political system contaminated beyond repair by an
ethos of cronyism. In the Six Counties a new assembly is
being set up; a successor to the old Stormont parliament
which was overthrown by the peoples struggle in 1972. The
added prop to the new British assembly, which was missing
from the old parliament, is the active participation of
nationalist parties. This agreement, if it runs its course,
promises many more decades of working class alienation and
institutionalisd sectarianism. The sooner it falls, the

Saoirse is published monthly, and an annual subscription is
only $30.00.

Make out check or money order to "Saoirse".

PO BOX 1241
Laurence Harbor
New Jersey

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