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February 10, 2006

Finucane Probe Call Intensifies

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News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 02/10/06 Finucane Probe Call Intensifies
DI 02/10/06 Bang Goes Neutrality
DI 02/10/06 Commemoration For SF Councillor
DI 02/10/06 Real IRA Threat For Victim’s Relatives
DI 02/10/06 Unionist Council In Equality Probe
DI 02/10/06 Opin: Going To War Is A Decision For Us All
DI 02/10/06 Opin: Hunger Strikers At Guantánamo Force-Fed


Finucane Probe Call Intensifies

By David Lynch in Leinster House

The Irish government has been called on to take firm action
with the British government to ensure that the family of
murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane gets a fair inquiry
into his murder.

The cross-party call was made following a meeting yesterday
of the Joint Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Sub-committee in
the Dáil with members of the Finucane family and lawyer
Peter Madden.

Outlining the family’s continued opposition to the British
stance, that an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s 1989 murder
could only take place under the terms of the controversial
Inquiries Act, his son, Michael Finucane, said pressure
needed to be put on the British government.

“An alternative must be found and they [the British
government] must find it, and pressure must be put on them
to make sure they find it,” he told the committee.

“We have learned so much during this 17-year campaign, and
that makes this not a failed campaign. We now know the
nature of the collusion that went on, we now know the
details of the collusion and the type of things that were
kept hidden.

“We have not yet reached our end goal, but we have achieved
many things.

“There have been successes, but in many ways the British
government has still to face up to what it has been accused

“But it is clear that they are going to have to come to
grips with it.

“If they do not come to grips with it voluntarily then they
will have to be pushed.”

The Finucane family met with secretary of state, Peter
Hain, on Tuesday in a meeting that was described by the
family as “disappointing”.

Michael Finucane told the committee yesterday that during
Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Hain insisted that an inquiry into
Pat Finucane’s 1989 murder by loyalists could only take
place under the terms of the controversial Inquiries Act.

The British government’s position is based on an alleged
need to protect “national security” considerations.

However, Michael Finucane said yesterday that his family
could not be involved in an inquiry that was not going to
be “transparent and fair”.

He said that under the Inquiries Act, there would be no
independent panel to look at the evidence and there would
be too much political involvement on the part of the
British government.

“What we would have would be a government-controlled
inquiry, controlled by the intelligence services.

“The people in the room could be the very people who
created the security monster. I will not participate in
such a sham.”

A motion moved by Labour Party TD, Michael D Higgins,
calling on the Irish government to take “firm action” to
express its opposition to any inquiry into the murder of
Pat Finucane under the Inquiries Act, was passed by the

“It seems to me that this is an open and shut case here. I
regret the cynical approach that has been taken by the
British government to this issue. I personally believe that
this is a red-line issue in the area of human rights,” said
Mr Pat Carey TD (Fianna Fáil).

Independent TD, Tony Gregory, said he believed that the
Finucane case seemed to be “an utter cover-up”.

Sunday marks the 17th anniversary of Mr Finucane’s murder.

Five of the loyalists directly involved in the murder have
since been exposed as agents working for different branches
of the British intelligence services, including RUC Special

At the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001, the
British government agreed to implement any recommendation
made about the case by Canadian judge Peter Cory.

After Judge Cory conducted his independent review of the
facts, he found strong evidence of state collusion in Mr
Finucane’s murder and recommended a full independent

However, last year the British government introduced the
Inquiries Act to provide for an inquiry under terms
controlled by a government minister rather than an
independent tribunal.


Bang Goes Neutrality

Landmark decision by Defence Minister Willie O’Dea to allow
Irish troops to participate in controversial ‘European
army’ is blasted by neutrality alliance

By David Lynch

Irish troops will in the future be directly engaged in
“imperial war” a leading peace activist has said following
yesterday’s landmark decision by Defence Minister Willie
O’Dea that gave the green-light to Irish participation in
the controversial EU battlegroups.

Roger Cole, chairperson of the Peace and Neutrality
Alliance (Pana), slammed Minister O’Dea’s announcement.

“The reason why the EU battlegroups are called battlegroups
is because they are designed not for UN peacekeeping but
for war, for battle, by the EU,” Mr Cole told Daily

“The government has already ensured that Irish neutrality
has been totally destroyed by allowing nearly 400,000 US
troops to use Shannon on their way to the Iraq war and this
decision means that, in the future, Irish troops are going
to be directly engaged in Imperial wars.

“The EU military policy is already one of supporting
preemptive war without a UN mandate... and since the
battlegroups are designed to work together, it would mean
none of them could operate. Since the government already
supports an imperialist war in Iraq, there is not a
snowball’s chance in hell of this right-wing FF/PD
government doing anything other than supporting the
battlegroups going to war.”

However, yesterday Minister O’Dea rejected such claims from
opponents of the battlegroups.

“These units very clearly do not constitute a European army
in any shape or form. I am fully satisfied that our
participation in the battlegroup concept in no way weakens
or undermines Ireland’s traditional policy of military
neutrality. Nor does it give rise to any constitutional
issues,” said Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea.

“I have reiterated on many occasions, that our
participation in peace support operations would continue to
require UN authorisation.”

Last month, the German Ministry for Defence announced that
the EU battle groups may be sent to the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) during their election period in April.

Each battlegroup will be composed of 1,500 combat soldiers
plus support. It is desired that each battlegroup should be
ready for launch in ten days from command, and be in the
theatre of operations in 15 days. It must be sustainable
for at least 30 days, which could be extended to 120 days
with rotation.

Minister O’Dea said yesterday he has authorised his
officials to open exploratory discussions with potential EU
partners on Ireland’s participation in a battlegroup: “The
UN is asking us to continue to make the expertise, and
commitment of our Defence Forces available to them,
including through the EU battlegroups. Not to do so would
be to depart from our traditional policy of full support to
the UN,” concluded Mr O’Dea.

However, the chief of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation (Nato) has expressed views about the nature of
the battlegroups that are sharply divergent to that of
Minister O’Dea. In March last year Nato general secretary,
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that the EU battlegroups “are
not going to rebuild schools”. The Nato chief said that he
believed that the EU’s battlegroups will be used in armed
conflicts. When commenting on the European Union’s High
Representative Javier Solana’s claim that the EU’s
battlegroups would never go to war, the Nato chief was
quoted saying: “I don’t believe that to be true. Why do you
think the EU is creating battlegroups? It’s not just so
that they can reconstruct a country. The battlegroups are
not going to rebuild schools,” he told the newspaper El
Pais .

Participation in the battlegroups has been strongly opposed
by Sinn Féin.


Commemoration For SF Councillor

By Connla Young

Republicans from across Counties Derry and Antrim will
gather this weekend to mark the 17th anniversary of the
murder of Sinn Féin councillor John Davey.

The veteran republican was murdered in the lane way of his
home at Gulladuff, Co Derry, on St Valentine’s Day, 1989 as
he returned home from a monthly meeting of Magherafelt
District Council.

The Ulster Volunteer Force later claimed responsibility for
his murder.

Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor Sean McPeake said there
was collusion between Mr Davy’s killers and the security

“John Davey was a well-respected public representative
whose murder was a result of collusion between unionist
paramilitaries and the British security services. The
people who controlled and directed the loyalist death squad
that murdered John are the same British securocrats who
last week provided the information to write the IMC report.
Their war against republicans has not ended.

“The British government have a duty and an obligation to
get their house in order. They need to bring these anti-
peace process elements to heel if progress is to be made in
the coming period and they need to come clean on their role
in the conflict here and begin to provide answers for this
family and the hundreds of other families who suffered at
their hands.”

Members of Magherafelt District Council recently voted to
erect a plaque at the council’s headquarters in memory of
John Davey and council colleague Bernard O’Hagan who was
also murdered by loyalists.

Sunday’s commemorative event which will be addressed by
Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, Barry McElduff, starts at
2.30pm at St Mary’s Churchyard, Lavey,


Real IRA Threat For Victim’s Relatives

Murdered man’s family speaks


Relatives of a west Belfast man who was brutally stabbed
to death last week have received death threats, Daily
Ireland can reveal.

PSNI detectives called to the Devlin family home in the
Ballymurphy estate on Tuesday to warn them they are being
targeted by a number of people.

Later that day, a group of men took over two empty houses
in the area. This incident was linked to a series of petrol
bomb attacks that followed the murder of 39-year-old Gerard

The father of six was fatally wounded on Whitecliffe Parade
on February 3. Four men from the same extended family have
been charged with his murder.

In the days after the killing, a number of homes in
Ballymurphy were damaged in petrol-bomb attacks.

Daily Ireland understands around 15 men took over two
houses on Tuesday amid fears they would be targeted by

They eventually left after being confronted by concerned
members of the community.

This was after the PSNI had called to the Devlin home
warning his relatives they were under threat.

Mr Devlin’s aunt, Bernadette O’Rawe, called on those behind
the threats to leave the family alone to grieve in peace.

“The people making these threats are well-known. Why can’t
they leave my family in peace? Can they not see we are

Mr Devlin’s family still has no idea when his remains will
be returned home. Lawyers for those charged with murdering
him are insisting on a second autopsy being carried out on
the body.

Two cousins, Paul Burns (23) from Dermott Hill Park and
Francisco Notarantonio (18) from Whitecliffe Parade,
appeared in Belfast Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged
with murdering Mr Devlin.

The men are the nephews and cousins of Christopher
Notarantonio and William Notarantonio who appeared in court
earlier in the week charged with the same murder.

Mr Burns is charged with murdering Mr Devlin and of causing
an affray. When charged the defendant replied: “Not guilty,
I have given a full account of what happened.”

Mr Notarantonio is charged with murdering Gerard Devlin,
the attempted murder of another man and causing an affray.
When charged he replied: ”I have given a full account. I am
sorry to hear that Gerard Devlin is dead.”

In court, Burns, dressed in a black suit, and Notarantonio,
dressed in a navy jacket and dark trousers, looked at the
floor during proceedings. The defendants spoke only to
confirm that they understood the charges.

A PSNI Detective Inspector told the court that she could
connect the accused to the charges.

The PSNI officer, when questioned by defence solicitor
Aidan Deery agreed that the defendants had gone voluntarily
to the PSNI and co-operated fully.

The men were remanded in custody to appear at the same
court via video link on March 7.


Unionist Council In Equality Probe

By Connla Young

A hardline unionist council in the North may be forced to
remove loyalist flags and a portrait of the British queen
from its debating chamber after complaints were lodged by a
nationalist politician.

Ballymena Borough Council recently launched an equality
impact assessment into the display of a union flag, Ulster
flag and a picture of the British monarch in the council’s
debating chamber.

Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney said she is determined
to introduce an equality agenda to the hardline loyalist
council. She made a complaint to the Equality Commission
last year and has welcomed the launch of the council’s
equality impact assessment.

“After my appointment to council last year, I immediately
raised with the council the issue of inequality within the
council chamber. The display of a portrait of the British
queen alongside both the Union Jack and the unionist state
flag reflects the identity of the unionist community but
there is nothing in the chamber to reflect ratepayers’ of a
nationalist/republican persuasion.

“This council is run using the money of ratepayers from
across the entire community, not just one particular
political or religious persuasion, and council must take
steps to address this. The council must subscribe to either
equality or neutrality when it comes to issues like this
and I would expect the Council’s EQIA [equality impact
assessment] to reflect that.

“The council must take steps to improve its image in terms
of equality and tackling the issues of flags and symbols
would be an all-important first step. I was elected on the
commitment that I would combat inequality whenever or
wherever I come across it and I have already opened a case
with the Equality Commission regarding this. If unionist
councillors are in any way found wanting in terms of
resolving this issue, I’ll not hesitate in taking this case
all the way.”

Ballymena DUP man Paul Frew said he has no objections to
the flags or portrait hanging in the council chamber.

“I would be supportive of it as we live in the UK and it is
the flag of the country and to me the flag of the country
is neutral anyway,” he said.

Concerns about the flags used by Ballymena Borough Council
were raised by the Equality Commission last year. A
spokesperson for the body confirmed that their
investigations are ongoing.


Opin: Going To War Is A Decision For Us All

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The announcement by Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea that
Irish troops will in the future be able to serve with EU
battle groups is a development that has very significant

The idea of Irish troops being sent to hot spots the world
over to prevent, we’re told, local difficulties from
turning into major conflicts has caused concern across the
entire spectrum of political opinion. There are those
reactionary little Irelanders who are instinctively and
opposed to the EU and all it stands for. Then there are
those to the left of centre who see the EU rapid response
units as a sort of European super army mustered to protect
the economic and political interests of the European Union.
In the middle we have those who are not dogmatically
opposed to the idea but who worry about what it means in
terms of Irish neutrality and in terms of how Ireland is
viewed across an increasingly unsettled world.

Mr O’Dea says that Irish participation in the EU battle
groups do not impact at all on Ireland’s neutrality and
that no constitutional difficulties arise from the
government’s decision to offer its 850-strong overseas
military contingent. We’re sure that Mr O’Dea has taken
expert opinion on the constitutionality of his decision,
but as for the effect on Ireland’s traditional neutrality,
well, that’s another matter altogether.

It’s self-evident, regardless of what Mr O’Dea says, that
after the first few Irish engagements the idea of Irish
neutrality – already fraying at the edges because of the
American use of Shannon – will quickly lose all

That said, Ireland has responsibilities to the EU which it
is going to have to shoulder one way or the other. The
rapid transformation of the country from economic basket
case to a member of the global economic elite owes much to
its membership of the EU, and that is a debt that Ireland
will have to repay, both economically and in terms of
engaging in whatever military muscle the EU decides that it
needs at its disposal.

For its part, Fine Gael, while broadly welcoming the move,
wants to see the removal of the legal requirement for the
engagement of Irish troops to have both government and
Oireachtas approval. This requirement, says Fine Gael,
“acts as a barrier to Ireland acting quickly in a
peacekeeping capacity”.

Of course it does, and rightly so. There must always be a
barrier that prevents a nation’s troops being deployed
willy-nilly by an aggressive or dishonest government. It is
not a permanent barrier, it is a barrier which can remain
in place or be removed by the Irish government acting in
accordance with the wishes of the Irish people.

While the debate about the wisdom of Irish participation in
EU battle groups will continue, there is no question that
checks and balances need to remain in place.


Opin: Hunger Striking Prisoners At Guantánamo Being Force-


Prisoners on hunger strike to protest their indefinite
jailing without trial by the US at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,
are being strapped to chairs for hours a day and force-fed.

According to a report in Thursday’s New York Times, 25
special “restraint chairs” were recently shipped to
Guantánamo for use against hunger striking prisoners who
try to resist forced-feeding.

In a prepared statement, Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy M
Martin, who is Guantánamo’s chief military spokesman,
claimed the harsh measures had dramatically cut the number
of striking prisoners - from 84 in December to only four
this week. The nature of the camp – where the movements of
any humanitarian and legal visitors are highly-restricted –
makes independent verification of Martin’s statement very

News of the specialised restraint chairs at Guantánamo
broke a day after the publication of a study showing that
less than half of the more than 500 prisoners being held at
Guantanamo committed any hostile act against the US. The
report by Professor Mark Denbeaux of New Jersey’s Seton
Hall University and attorney Joshua Denbeaux – who act as
lawyers for some Guantánamo inmates – represents the first
detailed analysis of prisoners’ backgrounds.

Based on official Defense Department data, the study shows
that only 45 per cent of prisoners were deemed to have
engaged in hostile action against the US or its coalition
allies. Among the definitions of what constituted a hostile
act, was fleeing from a camp that US jets and artillery
were bombing.

The US has repeatedly rebuffed criticism of its actions at
Guantánamo by saying that the inmates are the “the worst of
the worst” of America’s enemies. However, the study found
that just eight per cent were considered to be al-Qaida
fighters. Among the rest of the prisoners, 40 per cent were
considered to have no clear connection with al-Qaida, and
18 per cent had no affiliation with either the Taliban or
al-Qaida. Most of the prisoners have been held for more
than four years, and so far about ten have been charged
with any offences related to crimes violating the laws of

The report also highlights how few of the prisoners were
actually captured by US forces themselves. In total, US
troops captured five per cent of the prisoners, while 86
per cent were captured by troops of the Northern Alliance
in Afghanistan, or Pakistani troops. According to Defense
Department records, the criteria for suspecting that
someone might be an al-Qaida or Taliban operative included:
having possession of rifles; having used a guest house;
having possession of Casio wrist watches; and the wearing
of olive drab clothing.

At the time when Pakistani soldiers and Northern Alliance
troops were rounding up suspects for the US, America was
offering huge bounties for any al-Qaida or Taliban

Thousands of flyers were circulated across Afghanistan
promising vast riches and power to prospective bounty

“Get wealth and power beyond your dreams,” read one flyer.
“You can receive millions of dollars for helping the Anti-
Taliban Force catch al-Qaida and Taliban murderers.

“This is enough money to take care of your family, your
village, your tribe for the rest of your life.”

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