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February 14, 2006

Collusion Cases In Limbo As PPS Delays

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IN 02/14/06 Collusion Cases In Limbo As PPS Delays
BN 02/14/06 SF & SDLP Slam Lack Of Charges Over Collusion
DI 02/14/06 Troops ‘May Join For War’
IN 02/14/06 Finucanes’ 1st Meeting With DUP ‘Cordial’
BB 02/14/06 PSNI Complaints 'Not Political'
IN 02/14/06 SF Defiant In Face Of Calls To Resign
BT 02/14/06 Border Links 'Not A Threat' To Unionists
DI 02/14/06 SDLP Document Is Plan For Extensive Engagement
BB 02/14/06 Family Meet Killer In New Series
BT 02/14/06 'A Life-Changing Event For All Who Took Part'
BT 02/14/06 Face To Face With Murder
IN 02/14/06 Minister Gets Card Marked On Rights
BT 02/14/06 Former SB Man In Court On Bullets Charges
SF 02/14/06 Sinn Féin Call On Hain To Examine NIO Costs
SF 02/14/06 South Dublin Mayor Accused Of Censorship
SF 02/14/06 DUP Face Up To The Responsibility Of Leadership
BT 02/14/06 Spying Game: Who's Pulling Strings In Ulster?
IN 02/14/06 Opin: Remove ‘Security’ Roadblocks To Peace
IN 02/14/06 Opin: Lowlife More Sense Than Unnsm’s ‘Leaders’
BT 02/14/06 Opin: Making The Difference Make Sense
IN 02/14/06 Score For Anthem May Leave Ireland
BT 02/14/06 Wikipedia Under The Microscope Over Accuracy
DI 02/14/06 Guns Don’t Hurt People – US V-Ps Hurt People
IT 02/14/06 8% Of Garda Applicants Are Non-Nationals
BB 02/14/06 Forget Paris: Dublin Is The City Of Love


Collusion Cases In Limbo As PPS Delays

By Barry McCaffrey

THE Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has still not decided
whether 20 pol-icemen and soldiers will face trial for
alleged collusion in loyalist murders – despite a delay of
nearly three years.

In April 2003 Lord Stevens asked the PPS to decide whether
20 members of the security forces should face criminal
charges re-lating to alleged collusion in a series of UDA

However, nearly three years later the PPS has still not
decided whether any will stand trial.

The Stevens Inquiry, his third into security-force
collusion with loyalists, is believed to have cost £9
million since 1989.

But while the Stevens team confirmed collusion in the
murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, none of the 20 files they
passed to the PPS relate to security-force members
implicated in that case.

There was huge public concern in April 2003 when Lord
Stevens released extracts of his report confirming

“I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe
that the murders of Pat Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert
could have been prevented,” it read.

“I also believe that the RUC

investigation of Pat Finucane’s murder should have resulted
in the early arrest and detection of his killers.

“I conclude there was collusion in both murders and the
circumstances surrounding them.”

Now, as Mr Finucane’s family in-sist that they will not

ate with a British government-controlled inquiry into his
murder, nationalist politicians have raised concerns that
the PPS

has yet to make any decision on the other cases raised by
Lord Stevens.

In 2003 the PPS said it would give “careful and expeditious
consideration” to the Stevens files.

However, a PPS spokesman last night confirmed that no
decision had been taken on any of the 20 security-force
members alleged to be involved in collusion.

The spokesman insisted that files were still under “active
consideration” but blamed the delay on a combination of the
“size and complexity” of the cases.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said: “You would have
expected a decision to have been taken in at least some of
these cases before now.

“It is very disappointing and frustrating that the public
is still waiting for some kind of determination after
nearly three years

in what is arguably one of the most high-profile and
important investigations in the history of the state.”

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said nationalists
would be concerned that members of the security forces
alleg-edly involved in collusion had not been brought
before the courts.

“There will be a strong belief that the continued delay is
be-cause of political interference,” Mr Kelly said.

“The families involved deserve the truth and Sinn Fein will
continue to support their fight for justice.”


SF And SDLP Slam Lack Of Charges Over RUC Collusion

14/02/2006 - 11:51:46

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have both criticised the delay in
bringing charges against 20 RUC officers accused of
complicity in murders carried out by loyalist

Three years ago an inquiry overseen by Metropolitan Police
Commissioner John Stevens recommended that prosecutions be
taken against 20 officers suspected of colluding in
loyalist murders.

The alleged collusion was uncovered while Mr Stevens was
investigating claims that the RUC and British army had
helped the UDA to murder Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in

However, no charges have been forthcoming in the case and
SDLP spokesman Alban Maginness is now vowing to raise the
matter with the British Attorney General.

Mr Maginness said he was frustrated and disappointed by the
inexcusable delay, while Sinn Féin's Alec Maskey said he
was concerned that some of the officers involved may still
be serving with the PSNI today.


Troops ‘May Join For War’

Irish soldiers may fight with British paras

by David Lynch

Irish troops could be fighting alongside members of the
British Parachute Regiment in the new European Union battle
group formations, a leading justice and peace group has

Opposition to last week’s decision by defence minister
Willie O’Dea to allow Irish troops to join the EU battle
groups has continued to grow. Action from Ireland (Afri)
has become the latest group to condemn the move.

The move has already been roundly condemned by Sinn Féin,
the Green Party, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, and the
Irish Anti-War Movement.

Mr O’Dea said last Thursday that he had authorised his
officials to open exploratory discussions with potential EU
partners on the Republic’s participation in a battle group.

He insisted that such participation would not undermine the
Southern state’s traditional position of neutrality.

Action from Ireland spokesman Joe Murray told Daily Ireland
that he was “appalled but not surprised by the Irish
government’s proposed membership of the European battle
groups, announced by defence minister Willie O’Dea.

“Afri has long been pointing out the dramatic nature of
this government’s shift away from a peacekeeping and peace-
promoting role and towards an ever more aggressively
militaristic stance. This has been met with accusations of
scaremongering by the government, which has now almost
completely abandoned any attempt at being a force for peace
and reconciliation in the world and has opted instead for
being an enabler of war, through Shannon particularly, and
as part of an aggressive European military stance.

“This includes participation in battle groups alongside,
among others, members of the British Parachute Regiment.”

Mr Murray said Mr O’Dea had stated that the battle group
concept would not undermine neutrality. However, the Action
from Ireland spokesman added that there were several other
controversial things that the Irish government seemed to
believe “do not undermine our neutrality”.

“These include Irish participation in the Nato-sponsored
Partnership for Peace. This was signed up to despite a
Fianna Fáil pledge not to do so without first holding a
referendum on the issue. The commitment of Irish troops to
the EU’s fledgling rapid reaction force and the
participation of Irish soldiers in EU military co-
ordination bodies, such as the Political and Security
Committee and the Military Advisory Staff,” he added.


Finucanes’ First Meeting With DUP Leader ‘Cordial’

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

THE widow of murdered Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane
described her first meeting with DUP lead-er Ian Paisley
yesterday as “very open and very cordial”.

Geraldine Finucane and her sons Michael and John, along
with lawyer Peter Madden and Jane Winter of the group
British Irish Rights Watch, attended the talks at Stormont,
which lasted almost an hour.

It came a day after the 17th anniversary of the Mr
Finucane’s killing.

The DUP did not comment on the meeting – one of many the
family has held with political and Church leaders in
Belfast, London and Dublin in recent weeks – and the
Finucanes did not disclose what was discussed.

However, Mrs Finucane said it had been “a very good

“It was very open and [Mr Paisley] made it very clear that
he was there to hear what we had to say and indeed we
discovered by the end of the meeting that we had a lot in
common,” she said.

“At this particular point in time Mr Paisley has decided
not to speak to the media about our meeting and we have
agreed that we will do the same... The meeting was very
open and very cordial. Dr Paisley and the rest of the
members of the DUP that were there were more than willing
to listen to what we had to say.”

The family have rejected plans to hold an inquiry into Mr
Finucane’s murder under the controversial Inquiries Act,
insisting it will hamper efforts to uncover the full truth.
The Finucanes and human rights campaigners have argued that
the legislation gives the British government power to
withhold sensitive information and censor a final inquiry

Asked if the DUP leader, right, was ready to back her
family’s campaign, Mrs Finucane said: “I wouldn’t be having
a meeting with anyone unless I thought they could help.”

Her husband was shot dead by the UFF in front of her and
their children at their north Belfast home in February
1989. Allegations of security force collusion in the
killing emerged soon afterwards.

It was confirmed in 2003 by then Met-ropolitan police chief
Sir John Stevens, after a lengthy investigation, that
members of the RUC and British army colluded with loyalist
paramilitaries in the murder and in that of Protestant
teen-ager Adam Lambert in 1987.

The British government announced an inquiry into the
Finucane killing and a number of other controversial cases
following recommendations by retired Canadian judge Peter

The SDLP’s Alban Maginness welcomed yesterday’s meeting.

“We hope that the DUP now have a better understanding of
the family’s campaign and what is required for truth and
justice to be delivered,” he said.

“The DUP should now do the right thing and back the calls
for a full inquiry. It is clear that the Inquiries Act is
simply a cynical measure to hide the truth.”


PSNI Complaints 'Not Political'

Most people who complain about the police do not support a
political party, a poll by the Police Ombudsman's Office
has indicated.

The survey suggested that the majority of complainants were
Protestants while the number of Catholics using the system
had fallen slightly.

From November 2000 until March last year, the ombudsman's
office received 14,028 complaints about the police.

More than 4,000 people provided details of their background
for the survey.

The research came from a survey which the office carried
out to meet equality obligations.

In 2004 the office also asked a number of additional
questions of people, including one about their political

The figures for people from the Protestant community have
remained fairly steady over the years, while there was a
slight drop in the number of Catholics using the system

Nuala O'Loan Police Ombudsman

Most of the 41% who responded said they did not support any
political party.

Of those who said they had an interest in politics, 26%
said they supported the DUP.

The figures for the other main parties were SDLP 11%, UUP
8% Sinn Fein 7 %, Alliance 3% and other, 4%.

The figures for the five years since the office opened
showed that a total of 49% of respondents said they
belonged to one of the main Protestant denominations.

Catholics made up 38% of respondents while the remainder
described their religion as 'other' or 'none'.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said the figures indicated
that the people using her office were "broadly reflective
of the composition within the community".

"The figures for people from the Protestant community have
remained fairly steady over the years, while there was a
slight drop in the number of Catholics using the system,"
she said.

"What may be of particular interest, however, is the fact
that the proportion of people who said they did not follow
any religious belief has risen from less than 1% to 9%."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/13 20:37:50 GMT

DUP Policing Board member Sammy Wilson said the findings
bore out other surveys which had shown greater
dissatisfaction within the Protestant community with the

“This bears out what other surveys have indicated,” the
East Antrim MP said.

“There has been a big loss in confidence in the police
among the Protestant community.

“This is partly due to anger about the different ways
public order situations have been policed.

“If you look at the way disturbances in the Whiterock and
Ardoyne areas (of Belfast) were policed last year, it
strikes you that it took 40 minutes to fire baton rounds
during republican riots in the Ardoyne while it took five
minutes before they were fired at loyalists in the

“The dissatisfaction can also be attributed to the feeling
in unionist areas that less attention is being paid to
ordinary crime by the police and also frustration that
police appear to be targeting driving offences more heavily
in unionist areas.”

“One of the interesting things is that that frustration is
spilling over into complaints by Protestants to Nuala
O’Loan’s office.”


SF Defiant In Face Of Calls To Resign

By Margaret Canning

A SINN FEIN councillor in Co Kerry has rejected calls for
her resignation following a controversial appearance on a
chat show.

During an interview on The Late Late Show, Queen’s
University Belfast law graduate Toireasa Ferris (25) said
she was “not authorised” to condemn the IRA killing of
Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.

Her father, Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris, has also attracted
controversy after being photographed during a prison visit
to the men convicted of his manslaughter during a botched
robbery on a Limerick post office.

Defending her comments last night, Ms Ferris – chairwoman
of Kerry County Council – said: “I didn’t feel I had the
authority to condemn individual actions or murders during
the conflict. Three thousand people died and that pain was
no more or no less for any individual. I could not condemn
the killing of an individual and not others.”

Senator John Minihan of the Progressive Democrats has
called for Ms Ferris to resign.

“As the first citizen of Co Kerry, it is unacceptable that
she is not willing to condemn this killing,” he said.

Ms Ferris was also criticised in a Sunday newspaper
editorial for the skirt she wore on the top-rated show.

She admitted last night there was “more flesh than I would
have liked” on display but claimed a still circulated by
RTE showed her after her skirt had been “caught”.

“It was a respectable knee-length skirt... but no matter
what I had been wearing, no-one has the right to label me a
slapper and a tart,” she said.

“I have had phenomenal support in my own constituency,
especially in regard to that editorial.”

Ms Ferris graduated from Queen’s in December with a masters
degree in law after finishing a thesis on the treatment of
prisoners in Portlaoise jail in the 1970s and 80s, a period
when her father was jailed there.

She denied that her studies affected her work in her Tralee
constituency, saying she had neglected academia in favour
of local issues.

Responding to criticism for describing herself as ‘mayor’
of Kerry, she also insisted last night that the titles of
mayor and cathaoirleach (chairman) are interchangeable.

Jerry McCabe’s widow Anne has called on Sinn Fein to
condemn the killing of her husband.

Following Ms Ferris’s appearance on RTE, she told a radio
station in Kerry: “It won’t bring Jerry back but at least
they should have the decency to speak up and speak the
truth. But then again, you don’t get the truth from them.”


Border Links 'Not A Threat' To Unionists

By Noel McAdam
14 February 2006

Unionists have "nothing to fear" from stronger cross-border
links - including security and policing issues, the SDLP
insisted last night.

Travelling to launch a detailed blueprint in both Belfast
and Dublin, leader Mark Durkan said: "People who are
unionist, nationalist or neither should have nothing to
fear from dynamic North South co-operation.

"We are all losers without it.

"We believe in North-South not just as Irish nationalists
but as taxpayers, as service users, and as citizens. Not as
a way of whipping up unionist fears or stirring up
nationalist emotions - but so that we can fully exploit the
potential of co-operation for unionist and nationalist

The party's blueprint calls for an all-Ireland Intelligence
Agency staffed by both the PSNI and Garda as well as:

:: Island-wide police training.

:: A joint Law Commission.

:: An all-Ireland sex offenders register to prevent
criminals exploiting the border.

It also demanded an all-island Criminal Assets Bureau -
based on the stronger powers of the CRA in the South -
ending the "bureaucratic difficulties" caused by the
limitations on the powers of the ARA which can only handle
cases passed to them by the PSNI.

Dismissing any suggestions the party was attempting to
'out-green' Sinn Fein, Mr Durkan argued the collapsed
Comprehensive Agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP had
been weak on cross-border issues and development.

But last night Sinn Fein welcomed the SDLP document, North
South Makes Sense, and said there was now a consensus
between the parties on many issues.

Northern chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said: "We've had
enough rhetoric and promises; it's now time for action.

"I look forward to working with the two governments, the
SDLP and others in delivering on this agenda."

Mr Durkan argued however there had been a reluctance by
both governments and the other parties to face North-South
issues going back to the 2003 review of the Good Friday
Agreement and before and since the Leeds Castle talks.

The proposals document asked: "When it comes to such
proposals, the real question has to be 'why not?' more than

An all-Ireland economic policy unit should be set up along
with the development of a north-south strategy to maximise
overseas investment, added Mr Durkan.


SDLP Cross-Border Document Is Plan For ‘Extensive

Call for all-Ireland criminal assets bureau to target all-
island crime

By Eamonn Houston

The leadership of the SDLP yesterday unveiled a cross-
border policy document that party leader Mark Durkan
described as an “outworking of extensive engagement”
covering a range of bodies on the island.

In a 24-page document entitled North-South Makes Sense, the
party called for an all-Ireland Criminal Assets Bureau to
target criminals and paramilitaries who have been profiting
from cross-border crime and an all-island sex offenders
register to prevent criminals from exploiting different

The document was launched in Belfast and Dublin yesterday.
Mr Durkan told Daily Ireland that the policy document was a
result of a wider SDLP campaign.

Sinn Féin welcomed the publication as part of a growing
“nationalist consensus”.

Mr Durkan said: “This document not only updates and
consolidates what we have been consistently arguing on
North-South — it also reflects what we have been hearing.

“It benefits from the thinking we have exchanged with
people in all the different sectors, including at our
North-South conference held in Derry last October, which
was addressed by a range of speakers including Dermot
Ahern, Liz McManus, David Gavaghan from the SIB [Strategic
Investment Board] and Kate Burns from Icban [Irish Central
Border Area Network].

“We embarked on the North-South Makes Sense campaign early
last year because of our concern and frustration that
others were being unduly inhibited about making the case
for progressive developments in Strand Two [of the Good
Friday Agreement].

“In the review talks, such as they were, and then in the
negotiations at Leeds Castle and after, the SDLP were the
only ones setting out the case for new areas of co-
operation, better implementation and more strategic

“The so-called comprehensive agreement of December 2004
secured nothing new on North-South. Against that
background, the SDLP set out to underscore a very basic
premise that we had put into the [Good Friday] Agreement —
that North-South makes sense.”

Mr Durkan launched the document with senior SDLP policy
maker Seán Farren.

The SDLP leader said his party had often “felt alone”
during negotiations at Weston Park and Leeds Castle.

“We found the governments reluctant to explore what was
agreed in Strand Two of the Good Friday Agreement,” he
said. Strand Two of the Agreement deals with North-South
relationships across a range of issues, including
agriculture, health and waterways.

Mr Durkan said the suspension of the North of Ireland
assembly had frustrated the development of cross-border co-
operation enshrined in the Agreement.

“We believe deeply in the power of all-Ireland co-

“We believe in North-South. It is not just as Irish
nationalists but also as taxpayers, as service users and as
citizens who want the best public services and economic
prospects,” he said.

Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin said
nationalists on the island were closer than ever to a
consensus on an all-Ireland agenda.

“On many of the issues we addressed, there is a clear
consensus between the SDLP and ourselves. This is very
important. It means that, together and with the two
governments, we can work to achieve progress.

“Peter Hain recognises the need to move ahead on the all-
Ireland agenda.

“Dermot Ahern has called for the development of
infrastructural, economic, energy, educational and social
structures on an all-Ireland basis,” he said.

The SDLP proposals include:

:: A new all-Ireland transport and infrastructure body;
:: An all-Ireland approach to truth and reconciliation that
is victim-centred and victim-led;
:: An all-Ireland research alliance;
:: Maximising shared use of and access to specialist health
:: Acceleration of the all-Ireland energy market;
:: An all-Ireland animal health strategy;
:: An islandwide strategy to promote the waste-management
concept of “reduce, reuse and recycle”;
:: A public safety body;
:: An all-Ireland anti-poverty strategy.


Family Meet Killer In New Series

Loyalist killer Michael Stone is due to meet the relatives
of one of his victim's in a new BBC Two series.

In Facing the Truth - to be televised in March - the
victims and perpetrators of the NI Troubles meet in the
presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The archbishop chairs a meeting between the east Belfast
gunman and the widow and brother of a man he murdered.

During the encounter the archbishop declared: "It is God
who is present in this moment".

The archbishop oversees the meetings, enabling
unprecedented dialogue between those responsible for
violence and those who were hurt during the conflict in
Northern Ireland.

Archbishop Tutu draws on his experiences to enable the
individuals to tell their stories, face-to-face with people
once considered adversaries.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate - who led South Africa's
post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission - said
there were some "extraordinary moments" making the series.

"I think human beings are incredible... and I've seen
examples here of the fact that it really is possible that
we will see a resolution of the problems and people will
say, as we did in South Africa, why were we so stupid for
so long?" he said.

"I have a good sense that Northern Ireland is going to be
held up one day as a place where we thought the problems
were intractable and you see they were intractable - just
look at how well they're getting on together."

Stone became notorious when television cameras captured his
gun and grenade attack on mourners at an IRA funeral in
Milltown cemetery in 1988 killing three people.

When questioned by police about the attack, Stone confessed
to another three murders including that of Dermot Hackett.

Stone claims his target was legitimate because he was shown
files that "proved Mr Hackett was an IRA man", an
allegation the family firmly deny.

Other encounters in Facing the Truth include Clifford
Burrage - a British soldier who shot and killed 22-year-old
Michael McLarnon - and Mary McLarnon, his sister.

Speaking at the press launch in Belfast, Roly Keating,
Controller BBC Two, said the programme was "groundbreaking
current affairs"

"It promises to be powerful event television and we've
placed it in the heart of the BBC Two schedule for three
consecutive nights to create maximum impact with as wide an
audience as possible," he said.

BBC executive producer Jeremy Adams said "the participants
all said it had been a worthwhile, even helpful

"We were waiting for the first person to say they wished
they had never done it, but that didn't happen," he said.

"Some were astonished that, while painful, it had helped
them move forward. Desmond Tutu said it had been one of the
most important things he had ever been involved in and that
he too felt it offered a way forward."

Each of the encounters was filmed at a country house in
Ballywalter, near Newtownards.

Facing the Truth is to be shown in the week commencing
Saturday, 4 March.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/14 07:19:18 GMT


'A Life-Changing Event For All Who Took Part'

By Cathy Loughran
14 February 2006

Loyalist killer Michael Stone sits across the table from
the widow and brother of a man he murdered in 1987 and
talks candidly about the killing of Dermot Hackett and his
feelings, 18 years on.

At one point, the man who gained notoriety after he
murdered three men at Belfast's Milltown cemetery during an
IRA funeral, explains: "I don't want to come across as
hard-hearted, as some kind of psychopath."

Dermot Hackett's widow Sylvia asks Stone why her Catholic
husband was gunned down on his way to work, before she
collapses with grief, feet away from the former
paramilitary hitman, comforted by her brother-in-law and
observed by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond
Tutu - the broker in this almost unbelievable encounter.

BBC Northern Ireland has just made public the first scenes
in its remarkable series Facing the Truth, which is made up
of six face-to-face meetings between victims and
perpetrators from the Troubles, overseen by the man who
headed South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and
Reconciliation Commission.

Stone was released in 2000 from the Maze prison where he
was serving life sentences for six murders and five
attempted murders, as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

He was convicted of killing Hackett after the 37-year-old
bread delivery man had allegedly been identified as a
member of the IRA in security files, something the dead
man's family bitterly deny.

Stone is one of the men of violence who meet their victims,
hear their traumatic stories, acknowledge the pain they
have caused and reveal crucial details of their crimes.

Jeremy Adams, executive producer of the series, is
articulate on the ethical and editorial issues behind a
high risk, innovative piece of current affairs television
that he says is bound to have repercussions.

Facing the Truth began life a year ago, as part of BBC
Northern Ireland's increasing contribution to network
output. Adams, who runs TV current affairs in Belfast and
edits the RTS and Bafta award-winning weekly programme
Spotlight, was asked by current affairs in London to put up
for commission some form of truth and reconciliation
project involving Desmond Tutu.

"From the start, Tutu was adamant that it would be
inappropriate to present the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission as a universal panacea which South Africans
could impose on other situations. It had had its faults,
Tutu argued, and it was created specifically for South

Adams asked the archbishop what lessons could be drawn that
could relate to the post conflict situation in Northern
Ireland. Tutu pointed to the way individuals gained the
dignity of telling their stories in their own words, and in
having some dialogue with people who were once their
implacable foes.

"So that's what we brought back with us, that was our
starting point," he says.

"Desmond Tutu agreed to take part, holding firmly to the
priorities of people telling their own stories on a
voluntary basis - something that happened only occasionally
at the South African commission itself, and then only to
get immunity from prosecution - and proposing this kind of
dialogue as just one path for Northern Ireland to take, not
a prescriptive solution to decades of conflict."

Not surprisingly, the most difficult thing was persuading
the victims and perpetrators to take part.

"In the ten years since the ceasefires, segregation has, if
anything, got worse. People are prisoners of their own
history, and there is a terrible legacy of grief and hatred
to be resolved," says Adams.

"We tried to explore that legacy from the human perspective
- not with politicians, not inviting rhetoric, just people
saying to others who have done them harm: these are the
consequences for me, how do you feel about that now?"

It was clearly a bold and controversial way for a current
affairs programme to tackle huge and important issues, so
often approached only in political terms.

The hardest question for Adams, and indeed Tutu, to answer
was, would it actually do any good?

"I hesitated on that. My responsibility is to make
programmes that put important issues in the public domain,
not to solve the peace process. One feared that one might
actually do harm to the individuals concerned. That was a
huge concern, and for Desmond Tutu himself. We took every
measure we could to support the people who agreed to take

He hired Nomfundo Walaza, the former executive director of
the South African trauma centre for the victims of violence
and torture, to work on the series as a consultant,
alongside Donna Hicks, the high-profile Harvard conflict
resolution expert and Lesley Bilinda, whose husband was
killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

"Counsellors were available to the participants throughout,
a production team visited individuals to discuss their
involvement and they turned up for the meetings supported
by family and friends. Desmond Tutu himself has a
tremendous presence and a sense of healing and concern.

"We hired a country house in Ballywalter, near Newtownards
where our people came for the day and had their own rooms.
The place took on an extraordinary atmosphere.

"At the end of it, the participants all said it has been a
worthwhile, even helpful experience. We were waiting for
the first person to say they wished they had never done it,
but that didn't happen. Some were astonished that, while
painful, it had helped them move forward. Desmond Tutu said
it has been one of the most important things he had ever
been involved in and that he too felt it offered a way
forward," Adams recalls. "It has been a life-changing event
for all of us who took part; producers, crew, security
guards were all deeply affected."

Presented by Fergal Keane, the series is produced by a team
from Spotlight and journalists based in Northern Ireland
who are now dedicated to network current affairs output.
Adams believes Facing the Truth is an example of TV current
affairs taking risks but sticking to its core purpose of
examining big issues in a way the public will understand:
"I couldn't be more proud of what we've done."

He expects strong reaction in Northern Ireland itself. "I
think there will also be amazement that a dialogue of this
nature is possible at all and I hope that our six
encounters will lead to a wider debate here about victims,
justice and truth."


Face To Face With Murder

Can we Face the Truth in Northern Ireland? Can we even find
it? JANE BELL watches a breathtaking encounter between
freed Loyalist killer Michael Stone and the widow of a man
he gunned down over 18 years ago, at a face-to-face meeting
hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the man who headed South
Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission

By Jane Bell
14 February 2006

In a darkened, hushed and elegant room, freed loyalist
killer Michael Stone sits across a polished table from the
widow of a man he shot dead 18 years earlier. It is a face-
to-face encounter that none of those involved will ever
forget. And one that it is hard to believe could ever
happen in Northern Ireland.

Even before we hear Sylvia Hackett speak, we listen to her
sobs, as she enters this 'safe space' and takes her place
at the round table, supported by brother-in-law Roddy.

When they are settled, if not yet fully composed, Michael
Stone, heavy-set, with close-cropped hair, trimmed beard
and wearing a black leather jacket, enters the room,
walking with the aid of a stick, and takes his seat

They are all greeted warmly and courteously by the broker
of this unlikely forum, the Anglican Archbishop of
Capetown, Desmond Tutu, the man who headed South Africa's
post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

All are here to Face the Truth, or, at the very least,
search for it.

"You have taken a very courageous and important step
forward by being together at the same table," the
Archbishop tells them.

The deeply moving exchange being played out here is one of
a series of six powerful and controversial meetings filmed
by BBC NI and due to be screened on BBC2 shortly. It makes
compulsive viewing.

You can feel the tension in the air as the Hackett and
Stone encounter starts and falters, as those at the heart
of the matter circle each other. The very word 'truth' is a
prickly issue from the outset.

"I'm here today to ask Mr Stone a few questions. I don't
know whether I'll get the truth or not," Sylvia Hackett

Her husband's killer stares back, any emotion revealed only
by the muscles of his jaw clenching, visible throughout
this taut exchange.

Archbishop Tutu gently intervenes: "We expect, obviously,
that all who come here unburden themselves by telling us
the Gospel truth as far as they are concerned."

Stone, at last, replies: "I'm a lot of things but I'm not a

This meeting is remarkable for many reasons, not least the
dignity and restraint displayed by both sides.

It will be fiercely criticised in some quarters for giving
a platform to a convicted killer who - in front of the
bereaved - can describe his murdering a husband and father
as "justified", though "regrettable".

Asked by an intermediary whether he could claim
justification, Stone replied: "At that time, and, as I
said, the circumstances and the fact that I was willing,
would have been willing, to take a man's life, yes, it
would have been justified. It's regrettable."

And today? "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You become
jaded and you become less politicised. And I've
grandchildren now and that's one thing I have difficulty
with ... Mr Hackett's daughters and his grandchildren. He
never got a chance to see those. But I don't get a chance
to see my own grandchildren, for security reasons. Three
out of five grandchildren I've never seen."

Needled by the hint of self pity, Sylvia Hackett
interjects: "That was your choice. It was not Dermie's
choice. You had yours, he didn't have his."

At this point there's a reference to Stone's claim that his
victim Dermot Hackett, the 37-year-old bread delivery man
gunned down on his way to work, had allegedly been
identified as a member of the IRA on security files -
something the dead man's family vehemently denies.

Says Stone: "All I can say is I was acting on what I read
and it was no different to stuff I'd read for 16 years on
different Republican targets, on legitimate targets."

Mrs Hackett's rising indignation drives away her tears and
she demands to see these files. Stone replies, "They come,
they go. I've seen files on Gerry Adams and Martin

She retorts: "Yes, I'm sure you have. But I'm not worried
about Martin McGuinness and that. I'm worried about
Dermie's file. Were you the last person to have that file
before Dermie was shot?"

Stone replies simply: "I don't know."

Later, he tells the family how he set out to 'de-humanise'
a victim in order to make it possible to kill them.

"I don't seek sorrow or redemption. I have my political
beliefs. They are in the past. You can become jaded
throughout the years."

He explains how he 'switched off' emotionally before a
killing. "In the context of de-humanising an individual you
don't want to think that he has someone back home waiting
for him, just as you are out on operations and you might
not come back, you might run into the Army, something might
happen, you lose your own life. It's an emotional thing."

His notoriety was, he told them, a "terrible burden".
"That's the path I chose when I was 16. I don't wish to
come across as hard-hearted or as some sort of psychopath.
I'm known as 'the Milltown Cemetery killer' and that's a
terrible burden and I brought that upon myself and that's
something I have to live with. It's more for my kids - 'Is
your father the Cemetery killer?' - you feel like Freddie

Roddy Hackett looks directly at Stone when he says: "As you
see now, we are the human side of what you've actually
done. Maybe it's time you did look and see the human side
of what it does do. Life has always been held very cheap in
Northern Ireland, it's proven by all the atrocities. We
could ream them off bit by bit."

While the encounter wasn't going to bring Dermot Hackett
back, it had given them "a wee bit of ease". Then,
remarkably, he tells Stone: "I'm glad to meet you now,
though we're heartbroken, heavy-hearted about it. As they
say, perhaps in the days and weeks to come it'll get easier
and easier."

Sobbing in her brother-in-law's arms, Mrs Hackett says,
almost inaudibly, "I'm lost."

In the edited BBC preview disc, Stone never once says the
word "sorry". He does, however, look Roddy Hackett straight
in the eye and pays the family his own tribute.

"You are a better man than me and Mrs Hackett is a better
person, a more Christian person. There are times, even
today, I'm still angry about things. But you are better
people than I am."

Perhaps that's as close to reconciliation as we can hope


Minister Gets Card Marked On Rights

By Staff Reporter

NIO minister David Han-son is due to receive a Valentine’s
card today from campaigners calling for the introduction of
a bill of rights for Northern Ireland.

More than 100 people posed with a huge card in Belfast city
centre yesterday with the message “Northern Ireland would
Love a Bill of Rights”.

The Northern Ireland Hum-an Rights Commission was asked, as
part of the Good Friday Agreement, to consult with the
public and advise government on the scope for defining
additional rights to those already guaranteed under the
European Conven-tion of Human Rights (ECHR).

These, reflecting particular circumstances of Northern
Ireland, would be added to the ECHR to make a bill of
rights for the north.

Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan said: “We are
calling on the government to show leadership on this issue
and to establish a round-table process to help create a
bill which would strongly protect the rights of all.”


Former Special Branch Man In Court On Bullets Charges

By Deborah McAleese
13 February 2006

A former Special Branch police officer who found himself at
the centre of an alleged whistleblowing controversy stood
trial today for possessing an unauthorised quantity of
bullets for his legally held handgun.

Peter William Adamson (50), formerly Ferndale Avenue,
Portstewart is accused of being in possession of 25 more
bullets than he was authorised to possess.

The bullets were discovered during a police raid at
Adamson's home in April 2003 during an investigation into a
breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Last year Adamson was cleared of breaching the Secrets Act
by disclosing information to a journalist, after no
evidence was submitted.

Antrim Crown Court sitting in Ballymena today heard that at
the time of the raid Adamson was in possession of a legally
held pistol for his personal protection.

His firearms certificate entitled him to have 25 rounds of
ammunition. However during the search 25 extra rounds were

A police witness told the court that when the bullets were
discovered Mr Adamson said that that quantity had come with
the weapon when he purchased it.

At hearing.


Sinn Féin Call On Hain To Examine NIO Costs

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin has
called on the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to
examine the annual costs of the NIO and MoD to release
efficiency savings that can be targeted on improving
frontline public services. Mr McLaughlin said:

"The latest expenditure figures for the NIO and MoD are
£1,025 million and 682 million respectively. Peter Hain
says he wants to look at the expenditure of all government
departments, and while many are suspicious that this is not
good news for public services, the logic must be that he
also examines the £1.7 billion expenditure in this area.

"The return of the local institutions and progress on
demilitarisation would suggest that there is a huge amount
of potential in cutting back on the NIO and military
spending in order to direct money into frontline public


"No-one can escape the reality that much of the opposition
to political progress is directed by the spooks and spies
operating from within the NIO.

These are clearly people with a vested interest in blocking
political progress because they recognise that as we move
forward that their jobs will become superfluous.

"Further progress on the transfer of policing and justice
powers to locally accountable ministers will further strip
away the need to maintain the NIO.

This only reinforces the perception that it is these vested
interests that are standing in the way of progress,
particularly through the use of the corrupt political
elements within the policing and security system.

(Table not included here)


South Dublin Mayor Accused Of Censorship

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Tallaght Councillor Cathal King has accused Mayor
of South Dublin County Council Fine Gael's Therese Ridge of
censorship after she personally intervened to prevent a
motion on Irish re-unification from being discussed at
Monday's meeting of the Council.

Councillor King said:

"Last week the Fine Gael Mayor of South Dublin County
Council personally intervened to prevent a motion on Irish
re-unification from being discussed at this weeks meeting
of the Council. It is very disturbing that the Mayor has
acted in such a party political fashion and goes against
the normal practice whereby a wide variety of issues are
discussed by Councillors week in and week out.

"The motion had been accepted as a proper motion by the
previous Mayor and it is only following Mayor Ridge's
intervention that it was taken off the agenda for this
meeting. The excuse used was that motions should 'relate
to the reserved functions and policy matters of the
Council'. However if this rule was to applied across the
board then a motion on healthcare which has been submitted
by Mayor Ridge for discussion at this weeks meeting should
not be taken.

"If this Council is to truly represent the people who elect
us then we can't act as if we live in a cocoon. Decisions
are taken every day by the government, by the other
councils across Dublin and by many other groups, businesses
and organisations which have a direct impact on the lives
of people right across this council area. It is our duty
as elected representatives to use our collective voice to
the best advantage - not just on the limited range of
issues which the Council is responsible for but on key
issues which affect the lives of the people we represent.

"It will be lost on nobody that Mayor Ridge took this
decision in the same week that there is so much debate
internationally in relation to freedom of speech. And
indeed the timing of her decision also co-incided with the
government announcement on its plans to commemorate the
1916 Rising . I passionately believe that this Council
should be discussing all of the issues of concern to the
people of Dublin. We should also be discussing our own
plans to commemorate the Rising. I believe that we should
be discussing what we can do to improve the lives of all of
the people who live within this Council area to make the
demands of the 1916 leaders a reality. That includes
calling on the Irish government to begin preparations for
Irish re-unification - something which is in the best
interests of all of the people of the island."ENDS


DUP Have To Face Up To The Responsibility Of Political

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP today said
that ‘it was vital progress was made in the coming period
and that the DUP had to face up to the responsibility which
comes with political leadership‘.

Mr McGuinness said:

“The two governments have already indicated that
significant progress has to be made in the coming period.
Efforts in regard to this will continue in the coming days.

“The current situation where we have an Assembly which has
never met and British Direct Rule Ministers taking bad
decisions is unsustainable and unacceptable.

“It has long since past the time when the DUP begin to stop
hiding behind rhetoric and begin to accept the
responsibility which is demanded from those in political
leadership.” ENDS


The Spying Game: Who's Pulling The Strings In Ulster?

As the Government makes plans to devolve policing to
Northern Ireland politicians, the Belfast Telegraph reports
on how London is keeping control of intelligence powers

14 February 2006

In official language they are known as catastrophic
incidents - the moments that show why intelligence
gathering agencies are a bit like internal organs, noticed
most when they fail.

"When it goes wrong," says one intelligence expert, "it
usually means someone's getting buried."

Northern Ireland has had its fair share of such moments
over the years. Pat Finucane's murder slowly threw light on
what intelligence handlers could do when their aims and
objectives went beyond the law.

Omagh, the bomb and its aftermath, put scrutiny on the way
intelligence can hoard information, even when it might be
useful to investigators.

The implications of Stormontgate are still being sifted,
but there are at least serious concerns over the role of
Denis Donaldson, the man first cast as an IRA intelligence
handler and later revealed to be a British agent.

But the most staggering and mysterious of recent
intelligence breaches may also be the most far-reaching.
The fact that three men could walk into Castlereagh police
station, home to Belfast's urban police command, take over
and burgle a Special Branch office on St Patrick's Day in
2002 was sensational.

It also marked a turning point for state intelligence
gathering in Northern Ireland, and not just because the IRA
was reckoned to have made a mockery of security in the new

In fact, the identity of the perpetrators has never been
adequately proven: the investigation of the crime
languishes in a lawyer's office in Belfast with the request
for the extradition of American chef Larry Zaitschek, a
request that has taken almost four years to write.

The Government's reaction was not nearly so slow.

Sir John Chilcot, former permanent secretary of the NIO and
the man secret agents turn to when they're feeling ennui
about the job (he was staff counsellor until 2004), was
commissioned to write a report on the implications of the

The detail of his findings are secret, but one central
recommendation of the report is known and was adopted: that
primary control of intelligence gathering operations in
Northern Ireland should be taken from the PSNI and given to

Some would argue that MI5 has already been running the show
or pulling the strings that count. Suspicion about powerful
influence is one of the perils - or advantages - of

But it is known that the Security Service, as the agency is
officially called, has long had some presence in Northern

For years, the agency's acknowledged role has concerned the
monitoring and co-ordination of the intelligence gathered
by the police and Army, especially with the aim of
receiving intelligence about potential IRA attacks in Great

MI5 - known as Box to those who work in the spying arena
(after its one-time address in London, PO Box 500) - has
also supplied the gadgets and expertise for bugging
operations and other electronic surveillance.

The bug found embedded in a ceiling of Connolly House, a
Belfast office of Sinn Fein two years ago, was acknowledged
by the current director general of MI5, Dame Eliza
Manningham Buller, as belonging to the agency. MI5 is also
believed to have run some agents directly and - crucially
in terms of its influence here - to have trained many
Special Branch operatives and handlers.

Whatever the exact extent of its work, its Irish links are
clearly substantial - two years ago a quarter of its
resources were devoted to Irish terrorism. Currently that's
about a fifth.

Since police primacy was established in 1977, police
officers are supposed to have called the shots about
intelligence work. Some have also said that MI5 has long
been interested in changing that position.

Ian Phoenix, an RUC Special Branch officer who died in the
1994 Mull of Kintyre crash, repeatedly said that Box was
trying to garner more control. Indeed, according to
published parts of his diaries, when he and 24 other
intelligence operators got on board the ill-fated Chinook
to travel to an intelligence summit, one of the issues to
be discussed was an expansion of MI5's role in Northern

A decade later, Chilcot's report accomplished that.

The Government was slow to acknowledge that the change was
taking place - two years ago a House of Commons committee
secretly criticised a delay in announcing the change,
saying it was inhibiting plans for the transition. The
Government eventually made the announcement a year ago,
long after the change had been decided, and primacy will be
officially turned over next year.

The reasoning for the change, according to last year's
announcement, was to provide "a consistent and coordinated
response to international terrorism" across the UK.

MI5 has had the lead role in England, Scotland and Wales
since 1992, so the argument is that it makes sense here.
The national Government, it is said, should be responsible
for national security.

There was another important but unstated effect of the
announcement: it meant that by the time justice powers
travel from London to Belfast, intelligence primacy will
have gone the other way over the Irish Sea.

Ultimate political control will remain in London, out of
the hands of local Ministers - especially, from the
Government's point of view, Sinn Fein Ministers.

Steps in that direction are expected to be taken later this
week, when the Government publishes a Bill preparing for
the devolution of justice. An accompanying document is
expected to repeat that intelligence primacy will pass from
the PSNI to MI5.

According to sources familiar with the transition, it is
well under way. Police and MI5 are currently running
intelligence operations on a joint basis. The PSNI
officially still holds control, but MI5 has direct input in
nuts and bolts like the choice of operations and the
handling of agents.

The recruitment of new MI5 officers is well under way; many
of them are local and some are assumed to be former Special
Branch officers. It is said that a local accent and local
knowledge are invaluable. In addition, according to
Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, MI5's
budget is being increased to deal with the expansion of its
operations, although the Committee has pushed the
Government to speed up that funding.

But Islamic terrorism is increasingly making demands upon
MI5. In two years its operational spending has increased by
about 25%, mostly because of the Islamic threat. About half
that money is spent on dealing with al-Qaeda and its

The bomb attacks in London last July 7 have, according to
sources outside MI5 who have spoken to the Belfast
Telegraph, reinforced that concentration.

Those sources say there is a direct effect on the
transition in Northern Ireland, and that for the immediate
future at least MI5 plans for operations here have been
reined back to concentrate on the Islamic threat.

If Northern Ireland slips down MI5's priorities, that is
likely to increase the practical concerns that some critics
have about the transition. Because national security
threats and organised crime are thoroughly mixed in
Northern Ireland, there are worries that information useful
to police might not get passed on.

Additionally, if those sorts of problems do emerge, the
ways of finding out about them are limited. After years of
crafting and cultivating safeguards over Special Branch,
next year may see a return to the old, uncomfortable
question about spying in Northern Ireland: who is watching
the watchers?


Opin: Remove ‘Security’ Roadblocks To Peace

The Tuesday Column
By Breidge Gadd

It must be years since I had reason to drive up to
Stormont. Turning in the gate, the long imposing drive with
the stately building at the top of the hill still charms
with its architectural symmetry. But what was this?
Security barriers and a checkpoint – surely not?

The organisation most likely to have considered the
possibility of damaging Stormont declared a ceasefire more
than 10 years ago.

In fact its political representatives seem to have taken to
the place and now work diligently to get back in there.

Never mind ceasefires and peace processes, I was asked to
produce photographic evidence of myself, and when I
couldn’t, very politely invited to step out and open my car
boot. I have no idea what potential threat, I, a middle-
aged woman posed to the Stormont estate last week. Of
course I wasn’t being singled out but why is this level of
security necessary for anyone at all when other public
buildings and business premises have long since cast off
their security cordons and established security provision
consistent with normality?

Presumably the excuse given will be that dissident
republicans are not on ceasefire and therefore are a threat
to government safety. But there is as well, a stringent
level of searching before entry to the buildings similar to
that in airports, more than for most other public buildings
and adequate to protect individuals. Looks like there are
some double standards around when state leaders urge us all
to move the peace process forward, to embrace modern
economic and social changes and then they themselves hang
on to the level and intensity of security provision that
was necessary when the paramilitary threat was at its

In a similar vein why don’t those who called most
vociferously for the destruction of IRA weapons now echo
that demand with regard to the huge number of guns legally
issued as personal protection weapons. It was reported last
week that the total number of legally held weapons is
almost 150,000. Within this staggering total obviously are
a number of shotguns which I presume farmers need but what
about the guns issued to individuals who feared that they
were IRA targets. A decade is surely long enough to show
that this threat has long gone. Why have these guns not
been recalled?

Then there are the not insignificant numbers of personnel
who receive 24/7 protection – again because of a long-gone
IRA threat. Of course, it only takes one mad gunman to be
in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, we are told
that dissidents are in disarray. They must be so
infiltrated by now that it would be easier and probably
cheaper to track each one of them and make sure they don’t
cause harm, rather than maintain the expensive edifice of
state protection from them.

Another practice well past its sell-by-date is the secret
process of security vetting for a wide range of jobs in
Northern Ireland – some closely allied to the security
services and some not. In a country that has worked so hard
at and come so far down the road of equality of opportunity
this hidden process, based not on hard evidence but on
intelligence (which can be inaccurate, outdated information
or both) should be reviewed and revised as a matter of

The nationalist and the republican communities have come a
long way over the past 20 years. The overwhelming vote
supporting the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement
was strong evidence that this broad constituency was
prepared to wholeheartedly make Northern Ireland work.
While there has been much accusation and counter accusation
of spy rings and the like (with a bewildering absence of
any hard evidence) in this case actions speak louder than
words. And for years we have had freedom from attack for
people who live here, certainly from the republican side,
that is. In British government confidence-building moves,
attention so far has focused on the normalisation of army
institutions here. There is a lot more that the state could
do in returning some of its practices to normality to show
publicly that it confidently believes that the war is
indeed over.


Opin: ‘Lowlife’ Had More Sense Than Unionism’s ‘Leaders’

By Susan McKay

What you saw with Billy McCaughey wasn’t always entirely
what you got. I saw him wearing a “Harryville on tour” T-
shirt at a protest during one of the bad Drumcree years but
every time I met him since, he’d laugh about how I was “the
girl” who’d written about the T-shirt that never existed. I
stopped saying, “but I saw you”. He’d just laugh and shake
his head.

He died last week. It must have been hard for the relatives
of those who died at the hands of McCaughey and his like,
joint members of the RUC or the UDR and the loyalist
paramilitaries, to hear his praises sung as a man of peace.

“It’s all very well to say he’d made his peace with God,
but that doesn’t help us in our search for the truth,” one
of them said to me yesterday.

McCaughey was part of a gang which tricked the kindly
shopkeeper, William Strathearn, out of his bed one night in
1977 to get medicine for a sick child, only to be murdered
on his doorstep.

His ‘Special Patrol’ group is known to have taken part in
several notorious multiple murder attacks and there may be
many more incidents about which the truth has never
emerged. McCaughey was a ruthless sectarian murderer and he
has undoubtedly taken grim secrets to his grave.

And yet I was sad to hear of his death. In recent times,
although there were things about which he lied or was
evasive or silent, and atavistic beliefs he still held,
he’d struck me as a man who had genuinely good intentions.
Last summer he spoke out against the loyalist thugs forcing
Catholic families out of Ahoghill, the Co Antrim village in
which he’d murdered William Strathearn all those years ago.
He still denied he’d been involved in the outrageous
Harryville church protest in 1997, though I believe he was
one of its architects. But he did support the 2005 move by
local Protestants to erase fresh sectarian graffiti from
the church.

What I most valued about McCaughey was his clear-sighted
analysis of unionism. He had the full measure of the DUP.
He told me the trouble in Paisley’s heartland last summer
really flared after Paisley jnr broadcast a warning that
there would be trouble if a republican parade was allowed
to go ahead in Ballymena.

“The message received by the community was – ‘they want
violence’ – and they got it,” McCaughey said.

“I’m not saying that is what he wanted to happen but he
should have kept his mouth shut.”

Not long after this, Paisley snr issued his now notorious
warning that if the Orange Order wasn’t allowed to march
without restrictions down the Whiterock Road in Belfast,
“this could be the spark that kindles a fire there’ll be no
putting out”. We can all remember how this message was
received. As the smoke cleared, Paisley said he wasn’t to
be blamed. He’d made a prediction and it had come to pass.

“The analysis given by unionist leaders is defensive and
negative and that creates a lot of insecurity,” McCaughey
told me.

“If you want to be Machiavellian, you could say they did it
deliberately because an insecure people is easily led.

“I’ll be benevolent and call it incompetence. “Unionists
find it very difficult to articulate an acceptable outcome
to the conflict.”

He saw the DUP’s behaviour on Ballymena council as symbolic
of the party’s hankering after a return to majority rule.
“If that is the heart and soul of the DUP then power
sharing is impossible,” he said.

As a Progressive Unionist Party man, McCaughey knew he
stood no chance of ever being elected.

McCaughey had heard and heeded “ancestral voices,
prophecising war” himself. He’d seen no contradiction
whatsoever in being a member of the UVF and an officer in
the RUC. The hands of the security forces were tied, he
said, so the paramilitaries were needed to fight the IRA.

In recent years, he refused to take part in the Barron
inquiry into loyalist atrocities and was dismissive of the
admission by his former colleague, John Weir, that
collusion was endemic. Weir considered McCaughey to be a
lowlife liar and was unconvinced he had changed.

The SDLP’s Declan O’Loan faced a gang of heavies led by
McCaughey during a policing meeting last summer – yet he
paid tribute to him last week.

He was, he said, “way ahead of most unionist politicians in
this area”.

That, sadly, says a lot about the state of unionism.


Opin: Viewpoint: Making The Difference Make Sense

14 February 2006

Frustrated by the lack of political progress, the SDLP are
bidding to recover their position as the leading
nationalist party with their document, "North-South Makes
Sense". It makes sense to show that, unlike Sinn Fein, they
have practical plans for improved co-operation, but it will
have limited appeal for unionists.

That is the perennial problem, since the nationalist and
unionist parties are addressing different constituencies,
with different aims in view. While nationalists want to see
all the institutions of state, north and south, co-
operating more closely, so that the border becomes
irrelevant, unionists are wary of weakening the British
link for the very same reason.

The unionist fear still remains, 85 years after partition,
that in the absence of devolution, the British and Irish
governments will attempt to push Northern Ireland towards
Irish unity. Although the Good Friday Agreement guarantees
that the constitution remains unchanged until a majority
votes otherwise, there are other ways of dissolving cross-
border differences - and the SDLP document could be seen as
a first blueprint.

What is striking is the comprehensive nature of the
proposals for co-operation, from policing to waste
disposal. Among the new institutions would be an all-
Ireland intelligence agency to tackle terrorism and crime,
an all-Ireland Law Commission, an all-Ireland Criminal
Assets Bureau and an all-Ireland sex offenders register.

Does a North-South approach to common problems make sense?
Undoubtedly, particularly in economic matters, and it
should be possible to draw a distinction between cross-
border co-operation with and without political
implications. Both sides can benefit from joint trade
missions, to exploit overseas markets, and the SDLP's plea
for a common corporation tax of 12.5% - compared to the
UK's 30% - would be supported by many unionists, as well as

More controversial would be the development of all-Ireland
policing and justice, through joint police training and a
Law Commission to promote the harmonisation of laws. The
SDLP want more exchanges of personnel, involving police,
prison officers, court clerks and even members of the

The intention must be not only to raise the SDLP's
nationalist profile, when it is lagging behind Sinn Fein,
but to demonstrate that there are practical steps that can
be taken even before a deal on devolution. Some of the
suggestions make a lot of sense - like much more co-
operation in agriculture, health and education - and
Dublin, as well as London, should be anxious to help the
cause of moderate nationalism.

Unionists will always be wary of all-Ireland ambitions, but
that should not rule out co-operation that works. A start
was made, before the Assembly collapsed, and it must be
resumed, to mutual benefit, sooner or later.


Score For Anthem May Leave Ireland

By Staff Reporter

While political parties argue over which is the rightful
heir to the 1916 Easter Rising,

Kieran McDaid reports on how key links to the era could be
sold to foreign collectors

THERE are fears that the original handwritten words and
music of Ireland’s nat-ional anthem – and a string of other
important artifacts – could leave the country after an
auction in April.

Penned by Peadar Kearney in 1907 on two pieces of paper,
Amhran na Bhfiann is expected to attract bids of up to e1.2
million (£820,000) when it goes under the hammer.

Poignant last letters from Easter Rising revolutionaries
will also be sold in the auction, one of the most
historically significant ever to take place in Ireland.

Auctioneer Fonsie Mealy said he was worried that the anthem
could be sold to a collector from abroad.

“Of supreme national importance, it will naturally be of
interest to many Irish collectors and we would hope to see
it stay in the country,” he said.

“However, having already been offered to the state on
different occasions, we are concerned that it could leave
Ireland because of huge international interest.”

Ireland’s leading auction houses, James Adam & Sons and
Mealy’s Auctioneers, are joining forces to host the sale,
which will be held in April to coincide with the 90th
anniversary of the 1916 rising.

Amhran na Bhfiann was popularised after the rising and
formally adopted as the national anthem in 1926.

Stuart Cole, director of James Adam & Sons, said the sale
would be unique in every respect.

“No sale of such national importance has ever been held
before – and we imagine it won’t be matched for a long time
after,” Mr Cole said.

“Many of the items consigned for auction are one-offs.
Previously unseen and entirely irreplaceable, they derive
from important Irish families directly involved in the
Easter Rising and the battle for Irish independence.”

Mr Mealy, director of Mealy’s Auctioneers, Castlecomer,
said it was difficult to place estimates on some of the

“A case in point is the recently sold handwritten letter by
Padraig Pearse asking volunteers to surrender, which
fetched 10 times its estimate at Adam’s, making e700,000
(£479,000) on the night,” he said.

The national anthem will be auctioned alongside items that
track the history of the Irish revolution – from the spark
of 1798 through to the British government’s telegram
announcing the declaration of the Irish Free State.

The independence sale is to take place on April 12.

Of the 400 lots catalogued for sale, other key items

• Sean McDermott’s handwritten letter on the eve of his
execution addressed to John Daly, mayor of Limerick

• an archive of papers from the period 1880 to 1916,
written by and relating to Thomas Clarke, the first
signatory of the proclamation, including his final letter,
before execution, to his wife Kathleen Clarke

• the first communication that Ireland was to become a free
state – a telegram from the Duke of Devonshire, informing
the Irish secretary of state, WT Cosgrave, that the king
had just agreed to grant independence;

• The tricolour believed to have flown over the GPO during
the 1916 Easter Rising

• Irish revolutionary Thomas Francis Meagher’s last letter
written before deportation to Tasmania

• collections of Padraig Pearse’s letters and poetry,
including an autographed unpublished manuscript – also
signed by Thomas McDonagh

• original architect’s watercolour drawings showing the
elevations of the GPO building

• an original proclamation dating to the 1916 rising

• Michael Collins’s typewriter and an essay he wrote on
Ancient and Modern Warfare aged 14


Wikipedia Under The Microscope Over Accuracy

The website (pronounced wikee/pee/dee/er) is one of the
world's great co-operative ventures, an online encyclopedia
compiled by thousands of global users - or is it just
another unreliable website full of mistakes, misconceptions
and misleading entries? Martin Hickman and Geneviève
Roberts investigate an internet phenomenon (with the help
of eight experts looking up their areas of expertise)

13 February 2006

If your encyclopedia told you that David Beckham was an
18th-century Chinese goalkeeper, that the Duchess of
Cornwall carries the title Her Royal Un-Lowness or that
Robbie Williams earns his living by eating pet hamsters in
pubs "in and around Stoke", you might consider seeking a
second opinion.

Despite its breakneck journey toward becoming a global
internet phenomenon, such questions of accuracy have dogged
the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, launched five years ago.

Fresh concerns about the ease with which Wikipedia's
entries can be manipulated have been raised after US
politicians were caught altering their profiles to make
them more flattering.

Alarm bells rang last month when newspapers in
Massachusetts discovered that the staff of Congressman
Marty Meehan had polished his biography by, for instance,
deleting his long-abandoned promise to serve only four
terms and praising his "fiscally responsible" voting

Detective work by Wikipedia found that other offices on
Capitol Hill had engaged in skulduggery - not all of them
with flattering results, such as the false reference to
Oklahoma's Tom Coburn being voted "most annoying senator".

Wikipedia said it was reversing changes to several of the
politicians' entries, and by so doing, added to the list of
controversies about its veracity.

One of the best known happened in December when the US
journalist John Seigenthaler complained that his Wikipedia
entry implicated him in the assassination of US President
John Kennedy. The decision of a member of the public, Brian
Chase, to insert the claim "as a joke" to fool a colleague
exposed the flaw at the heart of Wikipedia - its openness.

Unlike a conventional encyclopedia employing full-time
editors, Wikipedia accepts entries submitted by anyone. And
anyone can edit existing entries, rendering them inaccurate
or offensive.

Wikipedia believes that this constant editing of an entry
will lead to its ultimate perfection. Others see it as a
process ripe for misinformation and they do not hold back
in their disparagement.

Robert McHenry, a former editor-in-chief of Encyclopaedia
Britannica, said: "My thesis has been that, contrary to the
Wikipedia idea of constant improvement, it is far more
likely that on average bad articles will get better, good
ones will get worse, and the mass tend to the mediocre.
There are no standards of writing or research. At any given
time one can easily find articles that are so badly written
as to be unintelligible, while others are quite good. Some
that are rife with error, while others seem authoritative.

"The problem for the ordinary user is that it is often not
possible to distinguish the one sort from the other."

In the very spirit of openness that provides such
ammunition for the snipers, Wikipedia freely admits its
weakness. In its own entry, the encyclopedia states that
there has been "controversy over its reliability" and lists
its perceived problems as "systematic bias, difficulty of
fact checking, use of dubious sources, exposure to vandals,
privacy concerns, quality concerns, fanatics and special
interests, and censorship".

But it also points to its strengths, principal among them
the sheer, extraordinary mass of information - some 3.3
million entries - available to the public totally free. It
is available in more than 100 languages, and thousands of
new entries are added every day.

Wikipedia is one of the biggest experiments in the web's
democracy, communality and usefulness, and arguably its
most successful exponent of those virtues.

Check on the Battle of Waterloo and find a sober, succinct
account of Napoleon's downfall, explore the culinary use of
chrysanthemums or delve into the early life of the
Babyshambles' singer Pete Doherty. Even the non-league club
Burton Albion is honoured with a 702-word history,
including its current manager, the name and capacity of its
stadium and its home and away strip.

Such global dominance was built from unpromising
beginnings. Wikipedia (wiki wiki means "quick" in Hawaiian)
was founded in January 2001 as a sideline to the Numedia
encyclopedia being written by experts for an American
company, Bomis. Under its chief executive, Jimmy Wales,
Bomis ran a search engine that included links to
pornographic sites and also for a time sold erotic
photographs of women.

Mr Wales, an options trader born in Alabama, spent $100,000
(£60,000) of Bomis's money developing Wikipedia before
creating a not-for-profit organisation to run the
burgeoning encyclopedia. The Wikipedia Foundation is funded
by public donations and has just three employees, a lead
software developer, Mr Wales's assistant and an intern. But
an army of between 600 and 1,000 unpaid administrators,
developers, stewards and bureaucrats maintain the site. A
bigger pool of 13,000 regular contributors edits at least
five entries a month each. Such checking leads to a daily
battle of wits with the cyber-wreckers who insert
erroneous, ludicrous and offensive material into entries.

How frequently entries get messed about with depends on
their subjects. The entry "Muslim" is currently being
attacked dozens of times a day in the continuing row about
cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, with angry denunciations
of suicide bombing and claims of hypocrisy.

Tony Blair's entry is a favourite for distortion with new
statements casting aspersions on his integrity. One
concluded a list of his various jobs such as First Lord of
the Treasury with the line "and most of all George Bush's
Bitch Boy".

Despite the constant battle to mainntain the probity of
entries about controversial subjects, studies attest to
Wikipedia's accuracy. Nature reported in December that
Wikipedia was about as reliable on science subjects as the
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Nature found on average that
Wikipedia had four inaccuracies per entry compared with
three for its more conventional rival. The magazine noted:
"Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of
important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles
reviewed, four from each encyclopedia." In an evaluation of
66 articles, a German computer magazine, c't, rated
Wikipedia 3.6 out of 5 for accuracy, beating two other
online encyclopedias, including Microsoft Encarta (3.1).

But Wikipedia still does not have the sheen of
respectability for academics. Antony Beevor, the historian,
says: "With Wikipedia's entries, there is a lack of
satisfaction, not so much through inaccuracy but there are
a lot of vague statements which you cannot really disprove
but which you don't think are necessarily helpful."

Definitions of the word "Muslim"

* Controversy over the Muslim reaction to cartoons of the
Prophet Mohamed, first published in a Danish magazine, is
reflected on Wikipedia. Yesterday, the entry "Muslim" was
changed 12 times. Over the past week, it was changed more
than 50 times. Almost half of the changes were reverting to
previous articles after distorted and insulting remarks
were made about Muslims. Yesterday, these ranged from the
puerile: "The Muslims god [sic] is Farad Muhammad born
Wallace Fard," to suggestions which are deliberately
offensive. One of these entries suggested that a Muslim is
"an adherent of Islam, or blows up innocent civilians by
the means of suicide bombing". Wikipedia, which constantly
checks that changes improve rather than insult, reverted to
the previous entry in less than a minute.

The Russian Revolution, 1917

"The entry on the Russian Revolution reads like the work of
a second-rate undergraduate student. It raises an issue
because Wikipedia is used by a lot of people as a basic
source of information, but this is bland, simplistic and
misleading. To say the Russian Revolution was "a political
movement" is an odd statement; it was a series of movements
and chaotic social disturbances. Wikipedia states
"Widespread inflation and famine" contributed to the
famine, which is misleading. Russia was a fast-growing but
new industrial power. There was no widespread famine
between 1914 and 1917 in Russia; the food supply problems
were not because of food production. Russia was exporting
vast amounts of food. To say "peasants still resented
paying redemption payments to noble landowners" is
inaccurate, they made the payments to the state. Their goal
was not to secure "ownership of the land" but the desire
for communal tender of the land. Peasants had freedom of
movement, whereas this piece suggests that Russia was
stagnant and feudal. It is a simplistic account." - Orlando
Figes, professor of history at Birkbeck College, University
of London

Kate Moss, model

"Factually, this is dead accurate, though it is cloaked in
po-faced language. You can read into it that she is
fabulous and successful, or that she is a bisexual,
formerly drug-taking, not-very-bright model. But while the
account of Moss is factually accurate, it does not mention
that she never gives interviews and has never been known to
purposefully utter a word in public, and would lose every
bit of mystique if she did. It also does not give the
context - that bad girls are extremely popular and it can
pay off in the 21st century. She is a lousy role model but
a great model." - Marcel D'Argy Smith, former editor of
'Cosmopolitan' magazine

Ann Widdecombe, politician and writer

"I think overall that the entry is much better than Dod's
parliamentary guide. But the sentence explaining why I went
to a convent in Bath, saying that my 'rather strict parents
wanted to ensure that [I] received a good education in a
virtuous and sex-free environment', is a ludicrous over-
interpretation. They were not particularly strict, but
wanted me to get a good education in a single-sex school -
'sex-free' did not come into it.

The references to the 2001 leadership election are
categorically wrong. Wikipedia says: 'She supported the
unsuccessful leadership campaign of Ken Clarke, and
afterwards refused to serve in a [Iain] Duncan Smith
cabinet', whereas at the start of the leadership campaign,
on a Hackney housing estate, I said that I did not have the
support to run for leader and simultaneously said that I
would be retiring from the front bench. It was not
determined on Mr Duncan Smith winning, but was announced
well in advance. The entry is pretty good though, I would
give them 9.5 out of 10." - Ann Widdecombe

Tony Blair, Prime Minister

"The changes that are made to Wikipedia briefly, and then
reverted, such as 'Blair is gay', are puerile and very
silly. That is the problem with Wikipedia - most of it is
very good and reliable, but it depends on people interested
in a subject being able to pontificate.

Being pedantic, Mr Blair is not the youngest prime minister
since William Pitt the Younger. Lord Liverpool, who became
prime minister in 1824, was younger.

The statement, 'He has deployed British armed forces into
four conflicts, in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and
Iraq, also a record for a Labour leader, despite Blair
being a devout Christian', is comment. It is opinionated
and written from an anti-war point of view, with statements
such as, 'What many perceive to be an illegal and immoral
invasion of Iraq in 2003' and, 'Blair has shifted
justification for the invasion away from WMD'. There were
more reasons to go to war than the weapons of mass
destruction. Also, Mr Blair never publicly said, 'He would
serve only two terms in office'. It is speculated that he
hinted privately to Gordon Brown that there would be only
two terms.

There are always arguments about biased articles in
traditional encyclopedias, but I treat Wikipedia with
circumspection, and would check it against a more reliable
source." - John Rentoul, biographer of Tony Blair

In vitro fertilisation

"I have always been dubious about Wikipedia, so was
interested to review one or two entries. I was surprised by
the excellent section 'In vitro fertilisation'. It gives a
precise, accurate overview of the state of this technology
and most of the newer developments in the field.

This would undoubtedly serve as a useful introduction for
those with little idea about the subject; this entry would
actually be more useful to the average inquirer with its
links than would anything in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Checking the entry on the British 'House of Parliament'
gave further evidence of the Wikipedia's accuracy and focus
on relevant points of information. Of The Independent,
Wikipedia says: 'While it apparently tries to genuinely
represent contrasting political opinions, its politics are
probably closest to those of Liberal Democrats.'

And finally I immodestly visited an entry on myself and was
disconcerted how it is mostly accurate and very up-to-date.
Though I expected to be dismissive of Wikipedia, I am
considerably impressed with the quality of information -
definitely a useful resource and a reasonable way of
getting information about topics one might want to research
in more detail." - Robert Winston, fertility expert and
television presenter

Philip Larkin, poet

"A good and fair account. It sounds approving of Larkin,
which is nice, but it is overall a dispassionate account,
as one would expect from a dictionary. The reference to
Coventry as a 'provincial city in the English Midlands' is
hilarious, but probably necessary for American readers. The
piece does not sound that American overall. The reference
to Larkin's personal life, 'He never married, preferring to
share his life with a number of women - Monica Jones, Maeve
Brennan and Betty Mackereth' implies a settledness to the
relationships. Larkin did not quite share his life, but
that is a matter of interpretation. The way Larkin's
reputation is described after Philip Larkin: A Writer's
Life was published [by Motion] is fair. There was a huge
rumpus when the book came out, but the reputation of the
books has survived undimmed. People are canny about
separating life and work. It notes Martin Amis's dismissal
of the revelations - I disagree with Amis, not with Wiki.
Technically, Wikipedia should refer to 'Larkin's literary
executor, Anthony Thwaite' as 'one of Larkin's literary
executors'. Though I can see there is an opportunity to
whitewash with Wikipedia, the few times I have used it, I
have been impressed with it." - Andrew Motion, Poet

Radio 1

"Accurate, but with an odd conglomeration of facts without
a clear idea of what purpose Radio 1 serves or who listens
to it. The odd mixture of facts does not tell you about the
wider picture. It reads a little like a 15-year-old's media
essay; it is all there, but cobbled together, probably from
various pieces on the internet, without any analysis. To
use more than half the entry with current Radio 1 listings
is, again, odd, but I like the use of changing logos at the
bottom of the entry. You would learn more about Radio 1 if
there was a link to all the old jingles from 1967 onwards,
than from this particular entry. If you were really
interested, you would follow the links from the page, and
as an introduction, this is just about passable." - Simon
Garfield, author of 'The Nation's Favourite: The True
Adventures of Radio 1'

Punt racing

"I am impressed by the amount of information on punting;
the two key books on punting are mentioned, as are the
clubs. When Wikipedia states, 'Racing is normally done in
narrow punts that are only 1ft (30 cm) or 2ft (60 cm) in
beam', the reference to 1ft is too narrow; the narrowest
punt is 1ft 3 inches. The reason given for racing punters
to stand in the middle of the punt, 'Because it is faster
to turn round at the end of each leg of a race by stopping
the punt and punting back in the other direction instead of
attempting to turn round the whole punt', is slightly
bizarre. It is the tradition and no one would consider
turning their punt around. But this is not a general
subject, a lot has been put into this piece and it has been
thought out. I am impressed. It works on the presumption
that by and large people will correct things, and I changed
one small thing on my own biography." - Sandy Nairne,
director of the National Portrait Gallery


Guns Don’t Hurt People – US Vice-Presidents Hurt People

Jim Dee Daily Ireland USA correspondent

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the United States’ most

19th-century poet.

In 2003, Dick Cheney went hunting in Pennsylvania and shot
down 70 pheasants in one outing. Last Saturday, he switched
venues to Texas and shot up a 78-year-old millionaire
lawyer instead.

Cheney was reportedly aiming for a covey of quail when he
accidentally blasted Harry Whittington, who was wearing a
bright orange safety vest, in the head and chest.

“The Vice-President didn’t see him,” eyewitness Katharine
Armstrong, who owns the 50,000-acre (20,200-hectare)
Armstrong Ranch, told The Associated Press on Sunday.

“The covey flushed and the Vice-President picked out a bird
and was following it and shot. And, by God, Harry was in
the line of fire and got peppered pretty good.”

In a curious disparity, Armstrong later told the Houston
Chronicle that Whittington was “bruised more than bloodied”
by the shooting and that “his pride was hurt more than
anything else”.

The elderly lawyer had to be airlifted to a hospital, where
he was placed in an intensive care unit.

The incident was not reported until midday (6pm Irish time)
on Sunday, some 18 hours after it occurred — a delay that
prompted the Chicago Tribune to ask on its website: “How is
it that Vice-President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit
accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the
American public not be informed of it until today?”

Cheney is proud of his alleged prowess with a gun.

In November 2003, he angered animal rights activists by
taking a group of nine friends on a “canned” pheasant shoot
at Pennsylvania’s posh Rolling Rock Club. Cheney and
company shot 417 out of the 500 pen-raised birds released
that morning. The Vice-President himself blew away 70

Cheney, who goes shooting at the Armstrong Ranch once a
year, was said to be “very apologetic” after shooting

Hunting accidents in the United States have dropped by
about 30 per cent in the past decade, according to the
International Hunter Education Association, which
represents safety co-ordinators for fish and wildlife
agencies and tracks incident reports by state.

In 2002, the last year for which there is data available,
there were 89 fatal and 761 non-fatal hunting accidents

In 26 of those cases, including one fatality, quail was the
intended target.

Cheney has long been a staunch opponent of gun control.

In 1985, he was one of just 21 members of Congress who
voted against a ban on so-called cop-killer armour-piercing

In 1988, he was one of only four members of the House of
Representatives to oppose a ban on plastic guns — weapons
that could not be detected by airport security machines.

Cheney opposed the ban even though the National Rifle
Association, the United States’ chief gun lobby, did not.

That same year, Cheney also voted against a proposed
national seven-day waiting period for buying handguns.

Cheney is far from alone in his love of guns.

According to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives, in 1999 there were 215 million privately
owned guns among the country’s 294 million citizens.

The NRA claims that half of all US households have a gun —
ownership that is protected by the second amendment to the
US constitution.

Cheney, who is notoriously anti-press, has been predictably
tight-lipped about Saturday’s shooting. However, the
incident has been a godsend to internet bloggers.

For instance, on the DailyKos site, one blogger twisted the
NRA’s famed “Guns don’t kill. People do” log to read “Guns
don’t hurt people. Megalomaniacal insane vice-presidents
hurt people.”

Another blogger noted that Cheney was “merely exercising
his second amendment rights on a 78-year-old man”.


8% Of Garda Applicants Are Non-Nationals

Last updated: 14-02-06, 13:11

Almost 200 people from ethnic minorities who applied to
join An Garda Síochána have made it through to the
interview stage, it was confirmed today.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy said 8 per cent of all
applicants in the latest Garda recruitment campaign were

Of those, 193 have made it through to the interview stage.
Mr Conroy, speaking in Armagh at the announcement of a
cross-Border police training programme designed to improve
relations minority communities, said gardaí were working
towards building strong links within ethnic communities.

"It is very important to reach a multicultural society," he
said. "We have always had diversity in Ireland. However in
recent years it has become more varied and complex.

"Experience has shown that accommodation diversity requires
careful planning and ongoing commitment from all concerned.
This commitment is required not only at an organisational
level but also at a personal level."

© 2006


Forget Paris For Valentine's Day: Dublin Is The City Of

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Dublin is Europe's true city of

The remains of St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers,
lie in the 182-year-old Whitefriar Street Church in
Dublin's city center. About 300 people are expected to
attend the church's two services today to remember the man
reputedly clubbed to death and beheaded on the orders of
Emperor Claudius III on Feb. 14, 269.

``Dubliners take it for granted now,'' Father Chris
Crowley, the prior of Whitefriar Street Church, said in a
telephone interview. ``It's still a special day for us.''

Historians say there's no conclusive explanation for the
link between the saint and the tradition of exchanging love
tokens. One theory is that St. Valentine was a priest who
was punished for marrying couples. The emperor, also known
as Claudius the Cruel, had banned marriage because he
thought a reluctance to leave sweethearts caused a shortage
of soldiers.

``It's not clear how much is legend and how much is
truth,'' said David Hutchinson Edgar, a lecturer in early
Christianity at Trinity College Dublin. ``But it's a good
story, and sometimes a good story is more powerful than

Fact or fiction, St. Valentine is commemorated today by a
holiday of gift-giving. Consumers in the U.S. will spend
$13.7 billion on Valentine's Day gifts this year, the
National Retail Federation in Washington said. In Ireland,
a third of the 4 million population plan to spend as much
as 100 euros ($119) on gifts, according to a survey of
1,152 people by, a Web site.

Wooden Box

The remains of St. Valentine are said to be in a wooden
box, tied with a red ribbon and sealed with wax seals, that
has been placed in a casket beneath a marble altar shielded
by an iron and glass gate. Above the altar, a life-sized
statue of the bare- footed saint nestles into a marbled
mosaic alcove.

``I'm known for being an old romantic,'' said Tony Eakins,
60, a retired graphic designer from Surrey, England, in the
church's coffee shop after visiting with his wife, Jill.

A large pad for visitors to write requests of St. Valentine
lies on the altar. Some entreaties are made in French,
others in Italian, still more in Polish. Some ask for good
health, jobs, even houses. Many, mostly unsigned, are of a
romantic nature, such as one seeking help in finding a
loving, generous, caring, trustworthy, loyal partner.

Will You?

The coffee shop itself also has seen romantic gestures,
with at least one proposal of marriage.

``He got down on one knee after mass,'' said Bridget
Corrigan-Daly, 42, the shop's manager. ``I thought, `What's
he doing on the floor?'''

Each Valentine's Day, the reliquary is moved to the
church's high altar from beneath the side altar. Masses are
held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., including a blessing of rings
for those about to marry. A U.S. couple renewed their vows
at Whitefriar on Feb. 12, Crowley said.

St. Valentine was buried at the Church of Praxedes near the
cemetery of St. Hippolytus in Rome. In the early 1800s, his
remains were found, along with a small vessel tinged with
his blood, according to a guidebook produced by the Dublin
Carmelites, present in Ireland since about 1275.

In 1835, an Irish Carmelite, Father John Spratt, arrived in
Rome to preach at the Jesuit church, the Gesu. Impressed by
Spratt's oratory, Pope Gregory XVI presented him with the
remains of St. Valentine to take back to his church,
Whitefriar, named after the white cloaks worn by the

A year later, a reliquary, used to store sacred relics,
arrived in Dublin, accompanied by a letter in Latin to
certify that Pope Gregory had authorized Spratt to have the
remains. Some other parts of St. Valentine may be interred
at The Church of Praxedes in Rome, while the Blessed John
Duns Scotus church in Glasgow also claims to have some of
the remains, Father Crowley said.

``We're Catholics,'' said Crowley. ``It's a broad church.''

To contact the reporter on this story:

Dara Doyle in Dublin at

Last Updated: February 13, 2006 19:19 EST

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