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February 15, 2006

Hain To Get Snap Election Power

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 02/15/06 Hain To Get 'Snap Election' Power
BT 02/15/06 Blair Steps Up Devolution Bid
DI 02/15/06 Parties Call For Real Attempt At Progress
SF 02/15/06 Orde Says MI5 Won’t Investigate Loyalists
BT 02/15/06 Keeping An Eye On The Spies
BT 02/15/06 MI5's Expanded Role Unacceptable, Says SF
UT 02/15/06 Home Searched In Bank Raid Probe
UT 02/15/06 Blair To Be Warned Over NI Policing
BT 02/15/06 Parties Demand Blair Spells Out Plan
IT 02/15/06 EC Warns Sellafield Operators Over Safety
SF 02/15/06 SF Ard Fheis This Weekend To Be The Largest Yet
BN 02/15/06 McDowell Called Before EU Torture Inquiry
SF 02/15/06 Omagh For Irish Unity, Strabane Will Follow
RT 02/15/06 Ó Cuiv Defends Translation Requirements
BN 02/15/06 Ahern: Govt Will Examine New Stardust Evidence
BT 02/15/06 Bugging Question
AN 02/15/06 Opin: Why Ireland Is Unfree
BT 02/15/06 Opin: Devolution Of Policing Now An Illusion
BT 02/15/06 Opin: Confronting The Truth And The Pain
BT 02/15/06 Opin: Coming FaceToFace w/ Murder A Good Thing?
BN 02/15/06 Footage Reveals Leaks In Dublin Port Tunnel
SF 02/15/06 Stagg Annvrsry - Adams On Horrors Of Eng Jails
TJ 02/15/06 James Teague To Lead Pearl River Parade


Hain To Get 'Snap Election' Power

The Northern Ireland secretary is expected to be given
powers to call a snap assembly election later this year.

The move would allow Peter Hain to call a poll as early as
the autumn, rather than wait until the spring of 2007.

It is believed it will be included in new legislation to be
unveiled on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair is holding separate
talks in London with the DUP, SDLP and Ulster Unionists on

Mr Blair is to discuss the prospects for a return to
devolution, as efforts to end the political stalemate in

It is thought that the government has decided to include in
Thursday's bill a change in law that would give the
secretary of state flexibility about the date of an
assembly election.


At present it is fixed for the spring of 2007, but an early
poll could be used to endorse a new deal.

Mr Hain, in the past, has said he is not interested in
calling an election to another suspended assembly.

The new bill is expected to make new provisions for the
devolution of policing and justice power so that a speedy
transition could be made once the assembly reaches
agreement on the matter.

Wednesday's talks in Downing Street come amid speculation
that Mr Blair is preparing another visit to Belfast,
possibly within the next fortnight.

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy
said Mr Blair had two objectives.

"These are to kick-start the assembly and to tie Sinn Fein
into the Policing Board," she said.

"The DUP last met Mr Blair in January and presented him
with the party's plan to reopen the assembly.

"It involved phased devolution, with direct rule ministers
keeping the functions of the executive until there was
sufficient confidence to build power-sharing.

"The SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, has already rejected this
out of hand, but Mr Blair will be hoping to find some
common ground between the parties."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/15 13:23:48 GMT


Blair Steps Up Devolution Bid

'Shadow' Assembly move believed to be on the cards

By Noel McAdam
15 February 2006

Efforts to revive devolution move towards a decisive stage
in the next few days ahead of Tony Blair's first trip to
Northern Ireland in 15 months.

Amid speculation the Government is considering trying to
establish a 'shadow' Assembly, DUP leader Ian Paisley heads
a delegation to meet Mr Blair in London later today.

Then tomorrow a number of the parties, including the SDLP,
are due to attend detailed discussions with Political
Development Direct Rule Minister David Hanson.

And on Monday the parties are back at Hillsborough Castle
for a second session of separate meetings co-chaired by
Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern.

However, there are no signs of softening or closure of the
gaps between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

A senior Government source said "depending on how things
go" over the next few days Mr Blair would "maybe" be in
Belfast by the end of the month.

Sinn Fein is also due to see the Prime Minister before his
long-anticipated visit, expected in the next few weeks.

It will be his first time here since he and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern unveiled the terms of the collapsed
Comprehensive Agreement in December 2004.

Gerry Adams was initially also due to travel to Downing
Street today but is now expected to lead a delegation
probably next week - after the party's ard fheis this
weekend in Dublin and publication of the Governments'
devolution of policing and justice legislation.

A second 'shadow' period could perhaps run up to new
elections, scheduled for May 2007, at which stage an
Executive could be nominated.

Mr Blair is expected to spell out the options - with the
Government making clear there will be no May 2007 election
without agreement - in what is being billed as a major

The DUP is also today due to meet Conservative leader David


Nationalist Parties Call For Real Attempt At Progress

McGuinness says British government and DUP must embrace the
need for change

by Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin and SDLP leaders yesterday made separate demands
for the British government and Democratic Unionist Party to
ensure political progress occurs in coming months.

Ahead of an expected meeting between Ian Paisley and
British prime minister Tony Blair later today, Sinn Féin
chief negotiator Martin McGuinness insisted that the DUP
must embrace the need for political change.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan is also expected to meet Mr Blair
at Westminster today.

With legislation for devolution of policing powers to a
local Assembly due to be published on Thursday, Mr Durkan
said his party “will be raising concerns with the prime
minister about the role of MI5”.

“While the British government gives with one hand with
technical legislation facilitating the devolution of
justice and policing, it is taking away with the other by
removing intelligence gathering from the PSNI and giving it
to the faceless men of MI5.

“This weakens accountability, it is bad for policing and
bad for politics. It must be challenged,” Mr Durkan said.

The Foyle MP also called for Mr Blair to set a date for the
restoration of the North’s political institutions.

“We will also be urging the prime minister to set a date
for restoration of the institutions, to call time on the
charades and games played by political parties,” Mr Durkan

Urging Mr Blair to “stand firm for the Good friday
Agreement”, Mr Durkan said his party will raise the case of
Pat Finucane and the wider considerations about deaking
with the past in discussions.

Sinn Féín’s Martin McGuinness emphasised that efforts to
make significant political progress “will continue in
coming days”. He said: “The two governments have already
indicated that significant progress has to be made in the
coming period.

“The current situation where we have an Assembly which has
never met and British direct rule ministers taking bad
decisions is unsustainable and unacceptable.”

Focusing in particular on the DUP, Mr McGuinness said: “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


Orde Admission Shows Convergence Of Interest Between
British State And Unionist Paramilitaries

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Gerry Kelly today
said that the admission from Hugh Orde that MI5 will not
conduct operations against unionist paramilitaries is an
admission that there is a convergence of interest between
the British State and the unionist paramilitaries.

"MI5 operations in Ireland are unacceptable. It has long
since past the time that the British government followed
the approach adopted by the IRA and commit themselves to
solely peaceful and democratic activity." ENDS


Keeping An Eye On The Spies

Plans to let MI5 take charge of intelligence gathering in
Northern Ireland have opened up an old question: Who are we
going to rely on to watch the watchers?

Chris Thornton
15 February 2006

The trail of wreckage from the Omagh bomb went further than
the death and intense devastation left by the blast. When
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan released her 2001 report on
the investigation into the bombing, it became clear that
the damage extended all the way to the police's most
sensitive operations.

Much of the attention after her report was released
concentrated on how well police had handled imprecise
warnings about a bomb. But Mrs O'Loan also found damaging
indications that the hunt for the killers had been
handicapped by the way RUC Special Branch jealously guarded
its information.

Special Branch compiled at least 360 intelligence documents
concerning Omagh. The bombing's investigators were shown
less than a quarter, and were refused access to some
surveillance videos that might have given information about
the bomb's progress.

Material was often held to protect sources, but there was -
and Omagh was not an isolated example - a wall between
detectives investigating a crime and the detectives
handling secret intelligence.

In another notable example, the detective investigating the
UVF murder of pensioner Roseanne Mallon was looking for a
car that scouted the scene. He was not told that a Special
Branch officer in the same police station was watching
footage from a surveillance camera overlooking the same
scene. In that case, the secrecy of the camera appeared to
be more important than the investigation of the murder.

Special Branch decided what detectives in CID should be
allowed to see, even though they were, in Mrs O'Loan's
words, often "ill-placed to know" what was relevant. She
concluded that "whilst it is acknowledged that Special
Branch have made very significant contributions to policing
in Northern Ireland, there is nevertheless a deficiency in
the information flow from Special Branch to the rest of the
Police Service".

In the years since her report, the wall is said to have
come down. Major reviews of intelligence handling and a
restructuring that melded Special Branch and CID have taken
place. At least a quarter of Special Branch's informers
have been discarded, many for their criminal activity, and
intelligence practices are routinely examined by Mrs
O'Loan's office and the Policing Board.

But there are concerns that the wall will be rebuilt, even
unintentionally, after MI5 takes over responsibility for
gathering intelligence about terrorism in Northern Ireland
next year. The safeguards built up around the PSNI will no
longer apply, and there will be a separation again between
people handling intelligence and the people investigating

The separation may not be complete - the PSNI will still
gather intelligence on crime, and protocols are being
developed to guide MI5 on what has to be passed on to
criminal investigators


MI5's Expanded Role In Ulster Unacceptable, Says Sinn Fein

By Chris Thornton
15 February 2006

Sinn Fein attacked MI5's expansion in Northern Ireland
today, saying it will raise the agency's new role in talks
with the Government this week.

Assembly member Gerry Kelly said his party finds it
"unacceptable that an organisation which has set itself
against policing and political change throughout the course
of this process should be given an expanded role".

MI5 is currently running covert operations jointly with the
PSNI. The Security Service will take over as the lead
intelligence gathering agency next year. The move means
that political control of anti-terrorist intelligence
gathering will remain in London, even if policing powers
are transferred to Belfast.

The Government is expected to refer to the transfer in a
discussion document on the devolution of justice to be
published tomorrow.

Mr Kelly said his party also wants police intelligence
gathering cut back.


Home Searched In Bank Raid Probe

Police are carrying out new searches as part of their
investigation into the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery,
it was claimed today.

By:Press Association

Sinn Fein said officers raided the home of Francie Braniff,
one of its former councillors in Ballynahinch, Co Down.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed a
number of searches were being carried in the area.

A spokeswoman would only say these were in relation to
serious crime.

Sinn Fein South Down MLA Willie Clarke hit out at the

He said: "The PSNI raid on the home of Francie Braniff this
morning on the pretence of looking for materials related to
the Northern Bank robbery was motivated by a political
policing agenda.

"The PSNI was there for less than 15 minutes."

Police on both sides of the Irish border have blamed the
IRA for the December 2004 Northern Bank heist in Belfast.

Four men, including bank employee Chris Ward, 24, have so
far been charged in relation to the biggest cash theft in
British history.


Blair To Be Warned Over NI Policing

The British government could weaken policing in Northern
Ireland if it persists with plans to give MI5 the main
responsibility for intelligence gathering, British Prime
Minister Tony Blair will be warned today.

By:Press Association

As he prepared to meet Mr Blair in the House of Commons,
nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan signalled his party`s
opposition to legislation due to go before MPs tomorrow
which will propose that MI5 should be given the lead role.

Mr Blair, who will also discuss Democratic Unionist
proposals for reviving devolution with the Rev Ian Paisley
at Downing Street today, is planning a Northern Ireland
Bill which will include a commitment to transfer policing
and justice powers to a future devolved administration at

Sinn Fein has long regarded the commitment to transfer
policing and justice powers to a Stormont administration as
being a crucial step towards securing republican support
for policing.

But as he headed to London, Mr Durkan said the Bill
amounted to the British Government giving with the one hand
on policing and justice and taking away with the other.

Mark Durkan

The Foyle MP argued: "While the British Government gives
with the one hand technical legislation facilitating the
devolution of justice and policing, it is taking away with
the other intelligence gathering from the PSNI and giving
it to the faceless men of MI5.

"This weakens accountability, it is bad for policing and
bad for politics. It must be challenged."

Police handlers are expected to continue under the plan
working with agents.

However they will, in some cases, report back to MI5.

MI5 is expected to move to a new Northern Ireland base in
Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down in preparation for its
expanded role which comes into effect at the end of 2007.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has given his approval
to the plan, arguing it would bring Northern Ireland into
line with other parts of the UK.

With Northern Ireland`s politicians engaged in a new round
of negotiations to revive devolution, the British
government also wants to use its new Bill in the event of
any agreement as a vehicle for changes to Stormont`s system
of devolution.

However unionists and nationalists remain divided on the
type of devolution they want.

The province`s largest party, the Democratic Unionists have
proposed phased devolution, with the Assembly being
convened without an executive being reformed.

However Sinn Fein and the SDLP have ruled this out, arguing
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain must call the
unionist parties` bluff by starting the six week countdown
to the restoration of power sharing.

Mr Durkan said the SDLP`s delegation would press the Prime
Minister for a date for the restoration of the

He also vowed the party would push for a more open inquiry
into allegations of security force collusion in the 1989
murder by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane and for greater recognition of
victims` needs.

A DUP spokesman said his party`s plan for reviving the
Assembly would be high on the agenda at their Downing
Street meeting.

"He has had time to study the proposals the party has
tabled and we are keen to find out whether he believes, as
we believe, they provide a basis for moving forward," he

"The party will also be raising the issues of a generous
package for Royal Irish Regiment soldiers affected by
demilitarisation plans, the future of education and
policing ahead of the Prime Minister`s visit to the
province later this year."


Parties Demand Blair Spells Out Plan

By Noel McAdam
15 February 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair was today coming under pressure
to spell out the Government's plans - and timetable - for
work towards restoration of the Assembly.

Ulster Unionists were urging the Prime Minister to spell
out his intentions while the SDLP warned that giving MI5
the lead role for intelligence gathering could undermine
the political process.

The DUP was also due to meet Mr Blair this afternoon, with
the focus on its demands for a raft of confidence-building
measures for unionist and loyalist areas - including the
severance package for the Royal Irish Regiment.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said today: "We will be trying to
establish the basis upon which the Government intends to
conduct the talks. The DUP says the (Good Friday) Agreement
is dead. Is this what the PM thinks?"

The UUP delegation, including North Down MP Sylvia Hermon,
deputy leader Danny Kennedy and senior negotiator Alan
McFarland, said they would also warn Mr Blair against the
continued strategy of "side deals" and "concessions".

With the devolution of policing and justice legislation due
tomorrow, SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned: "While the
Government gives with the one hand technical legislation
facilitating the devolution of justice and policing, it is
taking away with the other intelligence gathering from the
PSNI and giving it to the faceless men of MI5.

"This weakens accountability, it is bad for policing and
bad for politics. It must be challenged."

Tomorrow both the UUP and SDLP are due to attend detailed
discussions with Political Development Minister David
Hanson which could include mechanisms to restore Stormont.

Then on Monday the parties are back at Hillsborough Castle
for a second day-long session of separate meetings co-
chaired by Secretary of State Peter Hain and the Republic's
Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern.

A senior Government source said "depending on how things
go" over the next few days Mr Blair would "maybe" be in
Belfast by the end of the month.

Sinn Fein is also due to see the Prime Minister before his
long-anticipated visit.


EC Warns Sellafield Operators Over Safety

Last updated: 15-02-06, 12:32

The European Commission has warned the operators of the
Sellafield plant in Cumbria that they are in breach of EU
rules imposing strict nuclear safeguard standards.

British Nuclear Group Sellafield (BNGSL) was told to step
up controls to ensure that nuclear materials "are not
diverted from the peaceful uses for which they have been

The warning follows a series of Commission inspections at
the Sellafield plant, which resulted in a report stating
that "accounting and reporting procedures presently in
place at BNGSL do not fully meet Euratom (EU) standards".

But the Commission emphasised in a statement that the
warning relates solely to issues of the adequacy of those
procedures: "It does not find that nuclear material was
actually lost or diverted from its intended purpose and
does not concern the issue of nuclear safety."

A British government spokesman said: "The UK always takes
EU nuclear safeguard standards extremely seriously. The
BNGSL has held its own inquiry and a review of these
safeguards is now being fully implemented."

© 2006


Sinn Féin Ard Fheis This Weekend To Be The Largest Yet

In the 25 years since the Hunger Strikes, the anniversary
of which will be a huge feature at this year's Ard Fheis,
Sinn Féin has made massive strides forward as a party. Its
growth can be seen not just in its ever-expanding
membership or electoral success, but also in the range of
areas where it is now recognised as the leading party of
the left. This achievement will be reflected in the party's
annual conference on the 17, 18 and 19 February in the RDS
in Dublin.

Over 480 motions will be debated by delegates from across
the country in Sinn Féin's biggest ever Ard Fheis.

The intensive conference will put to rest once and for all
attempts by Sinn Féin's opponents to label it as a single-
issue party.

Health, housing, the economy, culture, the all-Ireland
agenda, the environment and workers' rights will be just
some of the topics receiving attention over the three days.

In our annual preview of the Ard Fheis Clár, An Phoblacht
points out, this week and next, the key debates to look
forward to.

Friday night

Following an opening address from the Sinn Féin leadership,
the weekend will kick off with discussion on equality and
human rights.

The sensitive issue of the party's policy stance on
abortion will be just one of the debates in this section.
Motions range from the 'right to choose' to the 'equal
right to life' and the diversity of views should make for
an interesting argument. Delegates will also look at the
growing problems of the sex industry, human trafficking,
violence against women and anti-racism.

Between 7-8pm, the Peace Process will be discussed in

Sinn Féin is the party most committed to the Good Friday
Agreement, and this has been obvious in the last year, with
republicans fulfilling all of their commitments. As usual,
an update on the process and negotiations will be given to
delegates at the start of this section.

Truth and reconciliation will probably feature prominently
in this year's debate. Ard Chomhairle motions set out
clearly Sinn Féin's commitment to the Good Friday
Agreement's requirement that "it is essential to
acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims and
survivors of violence as necessary elements of
reconciliation", and call for Britain to acknowledge its
role as the primary protagonist in the conflict. There are
also motions calling for an end to discrimination against
victims of British state collusion and in support of An
Fhirinne's campaign for truth and justice.

This section reflects the democratic and vibrant nature of
the party, with motions calling for a new debate around the
future of the Peace Process.

Demilitarisation, outreach and parades are also discussed
in this section.

Friday night ends with a discussion on the EU and
International Affairs. Two EU policy documents will be
presented to the delegates for acceptance. There is also a
detailed motion on the Services Directive, which Sinn Féin
has being leading the campaign against in Ireland. If
introduced by the EU, the party fears it will encourage a
'race to the bottom', with companies using it to undermine
workers' rights.


McDowell To Be Called Before EU 'Torture Flights' Inquiry

15/02/2006 - 08:30:45

Justice Minister Michael McDowell is to be called before a
special European Parliament committee to answer questions
about whether CIA "torture flights" are passing through
Irish airports.

The committee has been established to investigate claims
that several EU countries have allowed their territory to
be used as part of the controversial US "extraordinary
rendition" programme.

Under the scheme, the CIA has been detaining suspected
Islamic militants in several countries before transferring
them to secret interrogation centres around the world.

Many victims of the programme have turned out to be
innocent after months of alleged torture in countries such
as Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights
watchdog, has already concluded that the CIA is using the
programme to "outsource" torture as the practice is banned
under US law.

The council has also concluded that EU governments are
turning a blind eye to the fact that several victims of the
scheme have been kidnapped by the CIA on European soil and
transported through EU airports.

The European Parliament has set up a special committee to
question each member state about their knowledge of the

Irish anti-war activists claim planes used in the CIA
scheme have landed at Shannon Airport on numerous occasions
in recent years.

They have been demanding inspections of US flights at the
airport, but the Irish Government says it accepts US
assurances that no detainees have ever been moved through

Irish MEP Simon Coveney, a member of the parliamentary
committee, has said these assurances are not good enough
and Mr McDowell will be asked to tell MEPs exactly what the
Irish Government knows about the contentious flights.


Omagh Declares For Irish Unity, Strabane Will Follow

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has said that last
week, Omagh District Council officially declared for Irish
Unity and that Strabane District Council is almost certain
to follow suit this week.

He issued the statement following the passing of a Sinn
Féin motion challenging Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the
Dublin Government "to begin to pro-actively pursue all-
Ireland agenda policies in accordance with the
democratically-expressed wishes of the majority of Irish
citizens in this part of the 32 Counties".

The motion was passed with nine Sinn Féin councillors
voting for, six unionists against, one independent
abstaining with the three SDLP and the other independent
councillor absenting themselves from the debate.

Speaking after the motion was passed Barry Mc Elduff said:
"Last night's council decision is a highly significant
statement showing that the majority of people of this area
want Irish unity. It also sends a powerful message to An
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Dublin Government
administration that we expect the same rights and
entitlements as Irish citizens in the 26 Counties and that
we expect the Dublin Government to begin to pro-actively
pursue initiatives, policies and strategies aimed at
achieving a united Ireland, which is the stated objective
of all nationalist parties on this island.

"This message will undoubtedly be reinforced when this
motion is debated in Strabane District Council next
Tuesday. We can no longer be treated as second-class Irish
citizens in our own country and the primary onus is on An
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his administration to bring us
into a new era of equality and to begin to take a lead in
planning for Irish unity.

Motion to Omagh and Strabane District Councils

* This Council welcomes the fact the Irish Unity is now the
stated objective of all nationalist parties on the island
of Ireland including the present Irish Government

* This Council therefore believes that An Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern TD has a unique responsibility in giving practical
_expression to his administration's and nationalist
Ireland's stated objective on the issue by immediately
commissioning a Green Paper on Irish Unity: a paper
focussing on the compelling logic of this outcome in
political, social and economic terms as well as spelling
out what pro-active strategy his government is going to
undertake in pursuance of the stated objective of
nationalist Ireland.

* This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
TD to an initiate a holistic consultation process amongst
all sectors of society North and South to assist in the
formulation of a Green Paper.

* This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
TD to give immediate effect to the Constitution's
recognition of the entitlement of every person born on the
island of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation by
legislating for: Six-County representation in Dáil Éireann,
the right of people in the Six Counties to vote in national
referenda on articles of the Constitution and the right to
vote in Presidential elections.

* This Council communicates the above requests in writing
to An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD.


Ó Cuiv Defends Translation Requirements

15 February 2006 12:59

The Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs has
defended provisions in the Official Languages Act 2003 that
requires public bodies to provide Irish translations of
some official documents.

Éamon Ó Cuív said that the cost of such translations was
only a percentage of the cost of the reports themselves.

He said it was not true to say that Irish speakers gained
little benefit from having such documents available in

The minister was speaking during a debate in the Dáil on
the Official Languages Act.

A Government motion for more public bodies to come under
the terms of the act being discussed at present.


Ahern Says Govt Will Examine All New Stardust Evidence

15/02/2006 - 13:08:36

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has promised that the Department
of Justice will examine any new evidence it receives in
relation to the Stardust tragedy 25 years ago.

Mr Ahern told the Dáil today that the Government was
prepared to investigate any fresh evidence about the fire
that killed 48 people at the Stardust nightclub in the
Artane area of Dublin in 1981.

He also said it would consider using DNA tests to identify
the four victims who could not be identified at the time.

His promise follows a television documentary last night
which included new scientific analysis relating to the


Bugging Question

A snooper's charter or an essential crime-fighting and
intelligence weapon? crime correspondent jonathan
mccambridge examines the use of secret surveillance

15 February 2006

Over the past nine years Monmohan Sandhu has built up a
successful legal practice based in the North West. The 41-
year-old Indian-born lawyer - known to his peers and
clients as 'Johnny' - deals mainly with criminal cases
which make up 95% of his workload. Through his work he
would have been a regular visitor to the Serious Crime
Suite at Antrim Police station, the only facility of its
type in Northern Ireland.

Sandhu would most likely have been familiar with the
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 which is
the legislation police employ to permit surveillance and
intelligence gathering operations - often used directly in
the fight against terrorist and organised crime gangs.

What he could not have realised was that police were using
the same powers to secretly record over 70 conversations he
had with clients in Antrim. He now faces four charges of
perverting the course of justice and one of attempting to
incite murder - he vehemently denies all the offences.

As the lawyer was released on bail last week it emerged
that the police case is that he was using his mobile phone
to pass on information to senior members of the UVF during
the terror group's bitter feud with the LVF last summer.

Detectives have stated clearly that their only evidence
against Sandhu consists of the taped conversations gathered
during a huge and complex bugging operation. Sandhu's legal
team plan to launch a challenge to the admissibility of the

The Law Society, the body which represents the legal
profession, have complained directly to the Chief Constable
that the principle of lawyer/client confidentiality has
been damaged. The police position is that the unusual and
serious nature of the charges justified their actions.

This is the first known occasion in Northern Ireland that a
lawyer's confidential conversations with clients have been
bugged and it has placed one of the more shadowy aspects of
policing practice firmly in the spotlight. Legitimate
questions about invasions of privacy and breaches of human
rights are being posed.

Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights
states that "everyone has the right to respect for his
private life, his home and his correspondence". However
written into the convention there are important exceptions.
Primary among these are cases where national security may
be threatened or for the prevention of disorder or serious
crime. Any interference with a convention right can only be
authorised under strict legal regulation.

When RIPA first became law in Northern Ireland in 2001 it
was designed to protect the public's right to privacy by
bringing all the gathering of surveillance information
under one controlled piece of legislation.

For decades the security forces in Northern Ireland have
fought an intelligence battle against terrorists. This
included the recruitment and use of informants and opened
the police to allegations of abuse of power and collusion.

RIPA established a system of intelligence gathering that
was both thorough and accountable. The legislation replaced
the Interception of Communications Act 1985, the Security
Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994. It
established a single combined Intelligence Services
Commissioner who reviews the authorisation of surveillance
operations. He reports annually to the Prime Minister.

Under the RIPA legislation a warrant to carry out a bugging
operation would need to be approved by the Chief Constable
or his deputy. The warrant would then have to be signed by
the Secretary of State and authorised by a RIPA
Commissioner before it can be acted upon.

The RIPA warrant will only be signed if the police can
demonstrate that it is in the interests of national
security, for the purpose or preventing or detecting
serious crime or for safeguarding the economic well-being
of the UK. Beyond that they still have to prove that their
action is proportionate and necessary.

In the Sandhu case after the police made the secret
recordings the transcripts were edited by an independent
barrister to remove any items of legal privilege before
they were listened to by police.

One senior Northern Ireland lawyer - who asked not to be
named in this article - said the use of RIPA laws to arrest
Sandhu sent a shockwave through the legal profession.

He said: "It came as a shock to everyone; RIPA was not a
piece of legislation that was well known, even among

"It is not a surprise to hear that lawyer's conversations
are being taped by police. However, we assumed it was just
for intelligence gathering purposes, no-one expected it to
be used as evidence. There will, of course, be challenges
to the legality of this evidence. This is a new direction
in which police intelligence is moving, it will have to be
tested in the courts."

James Dingley, a former lecturer on terrorism, said he
believed that global factors meant there was conflict
between human rights and the operation of security force

He said: "There has always been a very murky line to tread
when gathering surveillance. From the very early days in
Northern Ireland the security forces have been fighting an
intelligence war. They realised quite quickly that shooting
terrorists was not very effective; it was much better if
you could pre-empt what they would do.

"It is not a new concept to gather surveillance but perhaps
it is being taken a bit further, the lines are being pushed
back. The perceived threat of Islamic terrorists means that
new laws and powers are being considered which have
implications for human rights."

After the Law Society visited the Chief Constable last week
they said they still retained concerns about police bugging
conversations between solicitors and clients. President
Rory McShane said: "The Society believes that the vital
issues of principle which have arisen, including the
reconciliation of the provisions of the 2000 Act with
fundamental human rights, require further provision."

However, the reality for the police service is that the
criminal networks are evolving and becoming more
sophisticated and so must the response. The process of
surveillance is more tightly regulated and controlled than
it has ever been. The scope for abuse of powers has been
vastly reduced.

However, police are also employing innovative tactics and
methods as they use all means within the law to gather

During a court appearance by alleged Northern Bank robber
Chris Ward last year it emerged that police bugged a house
he had visited on holiday in Spain - a formidable
logistical challenge. There are more and more cases coming
before our courts where surveillance evidence is critical
to the prosecution.

Police do not talk publicly about surveillance operations
but a growing number of criminal gangs are being disrupted
and planned major crimes have been foiled. It is ironic
that the recent controversy over the police surveillance
tactics comes during a time when the common belief is that
the PSNI is suffering from a self-imposed intelligence

The arrests of Sandhu and of Chris Ward have exposed the
fact that there are few locations which are beyond the
sweep of the electronic listening devices.


Opin: Why Ireland Is Unfree

(Author's note: As this column reports news that the rest
of the news media cover up, corrections of fact remain
warmly welcome and will be included in the following
month's column. So far, none - after ten years.)

Chris Fogarty • Irish American News, February 2006

GERRY ADAMS & CO. (A & Co) - patriots or traitors? You
decide: "by their fruits ye shall know them." Here are
their fruits.

Denis Donaldson, top Sinn Fein (SF) operative and head man
at SF's Stormont Castle offices, was a key Adams confidant
for more than three decades until being "outed" last month.
On RTE television he admitted being a paid operative for
Britain's MI5 for at least the past two decades. How did
MI5, through Donaldson, get SF to front for the
reimposition of British rule in Ireland? If A & Co were not
complicit with Donaldson how could they have possibly
failed to notice the new Brit policy that MI5 was imposing
on Occupied Ireland? After all, the treason was inescapably
obvious for years to the casual observer even here in

Michael Flannery. As far back as 1986 this New York life-
long supporter (R.I.P) of Irish freedom, spotted A & Co as
traitors and permanently severed ties with them. He also
resigned from A & Co's subservient Irish Northern Aid (INA)
and re-established the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF) in
the U.S. The FOIF supported the SF'rs who had not sold out.
These were (are) led by the O Bradaigh family, Dathi O
Connell (RIP) et al who still operate as Republican Sinn
Fein (RSF). At that time I was of the opinion that the
split of SF in Ireland would not cause splits in Irish-
America (IA) if we were careful. Flannery remained faithful
to republicanism until his death in his 90s. A & Co
attempted to marginalize him for rejecting the sell-out and
exposing it.

A & Co. Alienate the US. In 1989 at INA's national
convention in Toledo, Ohio, Donaldson's predecessor (Brian
O'Donnell), was SF's rep in the US. He managed to alienate
nearly everyone present. In retrospect, that is probably
why he was sent to the States. Chicago INA officers told
O'Donnell that they were finished with SF and INA. Soon
thereafter they allied with the true, RSF and joined
Flannery's FOIF, leaving behind a rump INA in Chicago that
continued to tout Adams (perhaps still does). Donaldson,
upon his replacing McDonnell as A & Co rep in the US,
continued their policy of rancor and division in NY. He
removed the officers of The Irish People newspaper and put
Atty. Martin Galvin in charge of it. Not long thereafter A
& Co replaced Galvin with McDonough and Boyle. Later they,
too, were removed. Some time later the Irish People, Irish
republicanism's main voice in the US, died. It is now clear
that A & Co killed it.

A & Co. Oppose Truth about the Irish Holocaust. This truly
shocked us. When an "Irish Famine" book was being promoted
in east coast cities from Boston to Miami, its author was
met by groups demanding that she stop covering up the Food
Removal. The groups (I came to know some of them)
distributed to the author and attendees copies of my Mass
Graves of Ireland; 1845-1850 pamphlet. The distributors
were physically attacked; not by Brits or KKK members, but
by A & Co. affiliates. One such person whose group also
destroyed boxes of pamphlets identified herself as
Padraigin Newell, leader of A & Co's support group at
George Mason U. Newell stated that she was an officer of A
& Co's SF and was acting as such. This was borne out by her

Adams' Visit. While in the US Adams wrecked IA's clout in
Washington. The damage seems to be permanent. Prior to
Adams' visit IA had some 150 congressmen on our side after
years of careful cultivation. Here is how Adams wrecked us
politically. Hoping for the best re his impending US visit
IA had lobbied for a visa for him. But then we noticed that
it was the pro-Brit pols including Kennedy and Moynihan who
postured as pursuing the visa. Upon Adams' arrival he
snubbed the 150 congressmen who had supported Irish
republicanism. He thanked the half-dozen or so pro-Brit
congressmen and gave them the photo-ops and political
credit for the reduction of violence in Occupied Ireland.
By this means he betrayed IA and the 150 congressmen who
had been supportive of justice and freedom for Occupied
Ireland. Politics is a rough business; pols had rightfully
expected recognition for standing with IA. Having received
nothing but insult from Adams and IA's news media as reward
for their support for IA, they obviously decided that it is
too dangerous to ever again support issues such as the
MacBride Principles, the Birmingham Six, or freedom for Joe
Doherty. (In the late '60s and early '70s IA had the
support of four powerful politicians known as "The Four
Horsemen." They were Sens. Ted Kennedy and Dan Moynihan,
House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill and NY Gov. Carey. But after
Bloody Sunday in 1973 the Brits, alarmed by the
international and, in particular, US outrage, began a
campaign of subversion of IA political support. We don't
know the means used, but within months all four "Horsemen"
turned against us and never again voted in favor of justice
for the Occupied Irish.)

Adams' Escorts during his Chicago visits were two MI5/FBI
moles. In a letter we handed to Adams in Kroch & Brentano
bookstore on LaSalle St. we alerted him that one of them
was a mole (we didn't know the other was also a mole at the
time). In retrospect it is revealing that Adams did not
replace them.

Adams and "Terrorism." In that same letter we begged Adams
to use his media moment to win America for Ireland by
making it clear that the Brits are the terrorists. For
example, of the 174 children murdered in the post-1969
phase of the struggle, all but twenty of them were murdered
by British forces. In case he didn't have the homicide
facts on his tongue-tip we also handed him a copy of
Sutton's undisputed An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in
Ireland; 1969-1993. But on network TV that night and
others, Adams smirked his acquiescence to being labeled an
"ex-terrorist" by show hosts. Only he can explain why he
thus used his media moments by abetting Britain's Big Lie
and falsely incriminating as unreconstructed "terrorists"
all who had not sold out with him.

Activists Replacement. Having wrecked IA's political
effectiveness by alienating the 150 supportive congressmen,
Adams further marginalized IA activists. He, with hidden
help, set up groups whom he fraudulently credited (accepted
by the imposters) with the years of successful lobbying and
organizing that the actual activists had performed. IA's
corrupted news media participated in the build-up of the
imposters and recorded their visits to the White House as
if they were legit. Not a one of the imposters had ever
supported the cause or won over a politician. Many of them
had actively opposed our efforts; but now, like A & Co,
they posture as the political activists.

"Achieving Peace." A & Co and the pro-Brits around them
point to MI5's Good Friday Agreement as having delivered
peace to Occupied Ireland. They don't dare to even mention
justice seeing that the Brits are again torturing
republicans as in pre-Hunger Strike days. As to "peace,"
they depend on the news media to keep IA disinformed and
unaware that the homicide rate in Occupied Ireland peaked
way back in 1972 and has been on a sharp decline ever since
and had dropped to small numbers well prior to A & Co's

War Crimes Trials? There won't be any. The reason? Nearly
all of the mass murders and other war crimes were
perpetrated by Brit forces. A & Co's sell-out made the
Brits the winners, and winners never try themselves for war
crimes. The Brits always got the news media to blame
atrocities on the IRA but the truth always prevailed,
usually within days.

"Terrorism." Reasonably well-informed people know, despite
the news media, that British forces were the terrorists in
the Anglo-Irish conflict - they always were, throughout
history. But to the extent that the public depended upon
the news media for their "takes" on Occupied Ireland, they
were misled into believing that the terrorists were Irish.

Article 2 and 3 of Ireland's Constitution. These were the
prominent two articles that laid permanent claim to all of
Ireland's national territory and adjoining seas. It is hard
to believe, but they were rescinded under the Good Friday
Agreement that A & Co were sent to the US to promote. The
sixty-seven pages of the Good Friday Agreement were filled
with baffle-gab, contradictions and aspirational
posturings. There was only one-third of a page of clear
language that was not contradicted elsewhere. It was the
language that rescinded Articles 2 and 3 thus giving
Ireland's Six Counties to Britain. That is what Ireland
voted on when they were told to "Vote Yes For Peace." Adams
was not alone in promoting this unprecedented reduction of
national territory. It is hard to believe, but the Irish
gov't were full participants in it.

A United Ireland has always been the goal of Ireland's
patriots. Britain had proved over the centuries in Ireland
that rule-by-murder is its permanent policy. Now Adams
claims that reunification is his goal, too. He had better
first explain how his successful campaign to abolish
Articles 2 and 3 advanced that goal.

Martin McGuinness, Adams' partner, was the subject of a
radio show last weekend. By phone, NY Radio Free Eireann
show-host John McDonagh told me that last Saturday his show
featured ex-MI5 mole Martin Ingram. Ingram has gone
straight and is now blabbing on his ex-handlers. On air he
reported that McGuinness's Brit handlers protected him from
prosecution for the earlier murder of a Brit spy; and that
the reason for protecting McGuinness was to enable
McGuinness to continue doing the more important work of
winning the war for Britain and securing the Six Counties
for it. Radio Free Eireann can be heard live each Saturday
at 12:30 to 2 pm Chicago time at or recorded
on . It is tragic about McGuinness.
Many doubted that Adams had sold out, not because they
trusted Adams, but because they trusted McGuinness, and
they believed that Adams could not have sold out without
McGuinness noticing it.

Denis Donaldson and Martin McGuinness, now both positively
exposed as Brit agents were not as noticeably sell-outs as
Adams was in his public actions. Adams' own deeds nailed
him. The other two could have continued operating for MI5.
But to be innocent they would also have to be considered
blind to not have noticed Adams' deeds.

Sad World! All that danger and death! All those dead
hungerstrikers! All now betrayed. A victory turned into
ignoble defeat. Those three were the undisputed leaders of
Sinn Fein, a once-proud party of patriots, now destroyed.
But the 32-County Sovereignty Movement continues as does
Republican Sinn Fein. They are not likely to be bought by


Opin: Devolution Of Policing Powers Now An Illusion

Brian Walker
15 February 2006

The prospect of Gerry Kelly as Minister of Justice will
have to wait a little longer. Tomorrow, the guys in the
Government wardrobe go back into Narnia and publish a
curious document which, among a few other things, looks
forward to transferring power over the courts and the
police to an Assembly, leaving the mere details to be
filled in after an agreement between the parties.

This is an obvious tactic to ease Sinn Fein onto the
Policing Board, the biggest single move for coaxing them to
join the rest of the world, and over which they've been
prevaricating for years.

Like the recent IMC report, the Bill was supposed to be a
landmark in a brisk negotiation up to an April target date,
leading to the twin outcomes of a deal on the Assembly and
placing Sinn Fein on to the reconstituted Policing Board.
If the comprehensive agreement of December 2004 came within
a whisker of clinching a DUP-Sinn Fein deal, agreement now
stands a far better chance, following the IRA's "historic"
acts, or so the argument runs.

It's hard to find anyone who agrees. Although a big picture
man myself, the devolution of policing powers to a DUP-Sinn
Fein dominated administration always seemed a pretty
fantastic idea even if the IRA had disarmed quickly. Now it
seems an absurd illusion.

In terms of hard politics, the DUP's hardline stance has
been convincing, leaving them in a stronger position and
Sinn Fein weaker in the wake of the bank raid, the
McCartney murder and all the shilly-shallying over IRA
weapons and crime.

Might Sinn Fein surprise us all and sign up at last?
Nothing in their statements suggests so.

And would the unionist parties accept them anyway?

The default position is that DUP won't share policing
powers with Sinn Fein without a long period of quarantine -
far longer than the four months envisaged for enactment in
the comprehensive agreement and another 20 months after
that for "confidence-building".

And Sinn Fein won't sign up until a political deal is
agreed, which would include the model for transferring the
justice and policing powers.

A big headache for Sinn Fein is that the trumpeted handover
of control was never likely to live up to the big build-up
they were giving it.

Powers over national security and terrorism will remain
with the Secretary of State indefinitely. The operational
independence of the Chief Constable and the independent
authority of the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman is
guaranteed, limiting a local Policing Minister's room for
manoeuvre. The Secretary of State is likely to remain a
player in other games too. Can you see cross community
consent for ending 50:50 police recruitment? A new deal on
parades? Or even flying a flag? Forget it.

On Sinn Fein's sorest point of all, the "securocrats" will
continue to operate, meaning the reformed Special Branch
and MI5. The SDLP continue to fulminate about this too, but
they would, I believe, accept the compromise of a split
accountability. Under the compromise, with the PSNI in the
lead security role, the Chief Constable would report to the
Secretary of State on terrorism and national security
matters including the MI5 function, and to a local minister
for "ordinary" crime, Asbos and the like.

And paradoxically, agreement over harmonising relevant laws
north and south and an even closer all-island assets
recovery system would be far easier to achieve between the
two Governments than dealing with the mutual suspicions of
a local administration.

÷It was great to watch close up a Trimble scoring for
Ulster as well as Ireland in the Stade de France last
Saturday. Being there during the first half, I felt the
full Monty of Ireland's biggest humiliation since the
flight of the Wild Geese. When Ireland were down by a mere
19 points, the Ulster wag in the seat in front turned to me
and yelled: "What's your shirt size? Hey Eddie, do
something, anything. Put this man on." Why me, I wondered,
but I understood his desperation.

Poor Ronan O'Gara, who nearly won the game for both sides.
The stunning second half recovery over an unfit France was
the greatest mental victory over despair in sport I have
ever seen in my life and am ever likely to see.

At the risk of coming close to the hoary old "moral victory
to the Irish" cliché, it was almost better than the
stumbling victory over Italy the previous week. Almost, but
not quite.


Opin: Confronting The Truth And The Pain

15 February 2006

One of the most enduring legacies of the Troubles has been
the pain and suffering of the thousands of victims -
mothers, fathers, family members and friends. Helping them
must be a priority, if the community as a whole is to
recover its well-being, and by offering some a chance to
meet their tormentors in a TV series, the BBC has taken a
daring initiative.

Judgement of the three "Facing the Truth" programmes must
be withheld until they are shown next month, but those who
have seen them have been impressed. Killers and their
victims' families have met each other face to face, in
front of the cameras, seeking answers to the searing
questions about horrific events that changed their lives.

The important thing is that no one, so far, has regretted
taking part in the exercise. Clearly the programme-makers
took great pains to ensure that everyone knew what was
involved and that there were experienced counsellors on
hand, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to offer advice.

The Archbishop, who presided over South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission after a long Nobel Prize-winning
campaign against apartheid, was the ideal mediator for
these encounters. More than anyone else, he knows how vital
it is for victims to find out exactly how their loved-ones
met their deaths and what the killers were thinking.

There is no comparison, as he acknowledges, between the
work of the commission, where murderers could escape trial
by confessing, and confrontations staged for TV. Yet the
six meetings, out of potentially thousands, allowed the two
sides to explain their deepest feelings and obtain some
form of closure.

When Archbishop Tutu, with his background, says that the
series is one of the most important things he has ever been
involved in, Northern Ireland, and the world, has to take
notice. Every "armed struggle" in Ireland, over the
centuries, has sprung from the anger of previous
generations, and anything that can be done to minimise it
is worth doing.

At the end of the day, of course, it is only a TV series,
picking on killings which may or may not be typical. There
is always the danger that notorious individuals, like the
Milltown killer Michael Stone, can use the opportunity to
excuse the inexcusable, rather than take full
responsibility and ask for forgiveness.

Nevertheless, the confrontational approach has been used in
Bosnia and elsewhere to good effect and Northern Ireland
can surely benefit from similarly honest, apologetic
exchanges. No one is beyond redemption, if they fully admit
to the truth, and no one has a right to say what the
victims need but themselves.


Opin: Home Truths: Is Coming Face To Face With Murder
Really A Good Thing?

Lindy McDowell
15 February 2006

In a much promo-ed BBC 2 series (to be screened in coming
weeks) victims of violence in Northern Ireland come face-
to-face with the perpetrators. Is this a good thing?

Certainly it will make good (for which read compulsive)

But is it not also exploitative? Insensitive? Possibly even
damaging for the victims? Counter-productive?

These are obviously concerns which the Beeb itself has
taken on board. An indication that it is treating this
series differently lies in the fact that, unusually, it is
allowing quite a substantial amount of the material from
the confrontations in Facing the Truth to be previewed in
other media.

It's almost as if the Beeb wants to break it gently to the
public - this concept of television as an agent for
bringing perpetrator and victim together.

And, of course, the corporation has got good reason to care
about the sensitivities of its audience.

Although the series will be screened nationally on BBC2,
it's here in Northern Ireland that it will have the most
profound personal impact.

Tens of thousands of people watching here will know from
all-too-cruel first-hand experience how it feels to be a
victim of the Troubles.

I haven't seen a preview of the programmes in the series
myself. But in an article in this paper yesterday, Jane
Bell, who has seen an edited version, described in searing
detail the moment Milltown killer Michael Stone came face
to face with the widow and brother of one of his victims,
Dermot Hackett, a breadman who was murdered in 1987.

The courage of Mr Hackett's widow, Sylvia, in confronting
Stone is beyond question. Is it right, though, for
programme makers to capitalise on such courage? On the
desperation of people to find answers about the murder of
their relatives?

These are questions which will doubtless receive a greater
airing when the series is shown.

As I've said, I haven't seen the previews myself. But two
things make me think this series will be constructive. The
first is Jeremy Adams. Adams, the executive producer of
Facing the Truth, is a highly talented and experienced
programme-maker, the man behind BBC NI's Spotlight. Those
who know him say he's not just good at his job - he's also
a man of integrity. Not a man to ride roughshod over
people's pain for the sake of cheap television.

The other reason, and it's one I've raised in this column
many times, is that a series like this could serve to kick-
start another vital confrontation.

It could help force us all to confront the question of how
we treat victims in Northern Ireland.

There is a generation growing up in Northern Ireland whose
view of the Troubles and the scale of its casualties has
been inevitably shaped by a focus in this place on a very
limited number of causes célébres. Millions upon millions
of pounds have been spent on a few cases such as Bloody
Sunday, the Finucane case, the Billy Wright case. And, of
course, it's right that the families involved here not only
have the opportunity to find out what exactly happened the
day their relatives died, but equally important that they
have been able to talk about their loss, to remind us of
the human cost.

The point is that simple right has, however, been denied to
thousands of other victims. Their stories have not been
told. Their suffering has not been voiced. In Northern
Ireland we have swept it all under the carpet like some
dirty secret.

Facing the Truth will inevitably have its detractors. This
being Northern Ireland, there will be close scrutiny of the
"balance" of the programmes. Will it include, for example,
an IRA man confronting a Protestant civilian victim?

In fairness, though, it can never hope to be comprehensive.
But it may provoke a long overdue debate.

Paramilitary organisations, all paramilitary organisations,
have capitalised on the fact that so many of their crimes
have been airbrushed from history simply because there has
been so little focus on those crimes.

In the main, victims in Northern Ireland have not been
given a voice.

Isn't it time that we faced up to that truth - about why it
has taken us so very long to get around to Facing the


New Footage Reveals Extent Of Leaks In Dublin Port Tunnel

15/02/2006 - 07:27:19

New video footage has reportedly revealed that engineers
are struggling to repair widespread leaks in a 50-metre
section of the Dublin Port Tunnel.

Reports this morning said the footage shows extensive
repair work taking place in the tunnel in an effort to stop
the leaks.

News of the leaks first emerged a month ago, but Dublin
City Council insisted at the time that it would be repaired
within two weeks.

The council has now admitted that it may take many more
weeks to repair the problem, but is continuing to insist
that the situation is under control and not a major issue.


Frank Stagg 34th Anniversary - Gerry Adams On The Horrors
Of English Jails

The following is an excerpt from an article first printed
in the 10 January 1976 edition of Republican News. GERRY
ADAMS, writing from the Cages of Long Kesh Prison, writes
of the terrible conditions for republican POWs in English
prisons, particularly of the horrors of forced feeding, as
Frank Stagg entered the final month of his hunger strike.
As it happened, Stagg was not force fed during the hunger
strike on which he died, but he had been on previous fasts
and it was this brutal method of torture that led directly
to the death of his comrade and fellow Mayo man Michael
Gaughan in 1974.

Britain's Ambassador to Chile, Mr Reginald Seconde, said
yesterday that he knew Sheila Cassidy, detained in Chile
for 59 days for helping a wounded Chilean guerrilla, had
been tortured by Santiago police two weeks after her arrest
last November. Mr Seconde was reporting to the Brit Foreign
Office after his recall from Chile and pressure is building
on Brit Foreign Secretary Jim Callaghan to take some firm
action against Chile over the treatment of Dr Cassidy. The
case has achieved immense publicity on the Brit news media
and English politicians have been making very angry noises
against, and about, the use of torture on political

At the time of writing, and for the past few weeks, Frank
Stagg, a republican POW in Wakefield Prison, has been on
hunger and thirst strike, while Roy Walsh and two of his
comrades are still in solitary confinement in the Prison
Segregation Unit (Special Control Unit) of Wormwood Scrubs
after their protest there last November. Republican
prisoners in England are held under solitary confinement
conditions and Paul Holmes, in particular, has spent most
of his time in the Segregation Unit of Parkhurst Prison,
known among republican POWs as 'The Hole'. They are all
making one basic demand, and that is a transfer to Ireland
so that they may serve their sentences nearer home.

The precedent for this move was made when Dolours and
Marion Price were transferred after a long and horrifying
hunger strike and again, when Hugh Feeney and Gerry Kelly
were moved to Long Kesh. Loyalist prisoners, albeit without
hunger strikes, have also been transferred. Once again,
England has shown her ability to condemn torture abroad
against her citizens, while at home in her own prison hell-
holes, day and daily, Irishmen and Irishwomen are tortured
in the most cowardly and bestial manner.

Within the next week or two support for Frank Stagg will
build in the ghettoes and among the freedom loving people
of Ireland. This may be too late. It must be stressed that
Frank Stagg will die if pressure is not brought to bear on
the Brits immediately. With this horrible eventuality in
mind I decided to write a short article on conditions for
republican POWs in English jails, so that while we go about
our daily business, at work or at home, each and every one
of us may understand the daily hell which our prisoners in
England are fighting against.

To assist me in this, I asked two comrades, Hugh Feeney and
Gerry Kelly, to scribble a brief outline of their
experiences, so that I could give an outline of Frank
Stagg's prison 'routine'. Their notes arrived in this cage
this evening and I have used them below almost as they were
written. As a republican prisoner myself, who has spent a
few years in Long Kesh and a month or two on the Maidstone
Prison Ship, I have often felt quite sorry for myself and
many times I have had the audacity to feel chuffed at
enduring all this. Since reading Gerry and Hugh's account
of forced feeding I have stopped kidding myself. My two
brief punishment sessions 'on the boards' here, the odd
beating-up on Brit raids and the conditions which my
visitors endure have all paled to insignificance beside the
plight of our people in England. Long Kesh, Magilligan,
Armagh, Crumlin, Portlaoise, the Curragh, the 'Joy and
Limerick Jails are bad. English Prisons are worse and are,
in truth and fact, living hell-holes.

There is no martyr complex in the following notes, no talk
of doing 'bird', no self-pity. Republicans in England are
there only because of the English presence in Ireland.
Until that presence is removed it is the duty of every
Irishman and woman to push relentlessly for the transfer of
our prisoners from English to Irish jails. The precedent
has been set. English hypocrisy must find no excuse for
continuing their torture of Irish republican POWs. It must
stop now before Frank Stagg dies, alone and unwanted in his
prison cell.

Frank has been on four previous hunger strikes and the
conditions he is at present suffering are as they were when
he was on hunger strike and in solitary confinement in
Parkhurst and Long Lartin. He is now in the hospital wing
of Wakefield prison, under the 'care' of Doctors Knox and
Xavier. Both these men have force-fed Irish prisoners and,
last May, Frank Maguire MP reported that a week after being
force fed, Frank Stagg still bore the nail-marks of Dr
Xavier on his wrists. These doctors call force-feeding,
'tube' feeding.

Frank Stagg may be in the hospital wing, but a prison
hospital cannot, in any way, be equated with a civilian
hospital. Frank has been moved from one cell of the prison
punishment block to a greater punishment — the possibility
of forced feeding. He still remains in complete solitary
confinement and he must inevitably face force feeding again
even after the decision by the British Medical Association
to condemn it. Forced feeding has not been stopped, but it
is left to the discretion of the prison doctor. Frank Stagg
was last force fed in May 1975. Jenkins, in a reply a few
months ago in the Brit House of Commons, stated that he had
left it to the prison doctor. If, as is likely, Frank Stagg
is forced fed again he will suffer the following torture
and, because his throat and stomach in particular cannot
have healed properly, his health will deteriorate more
quickly than it is doing at present.

"He will face the possibility of at least one and maybe two
'feedings' daily. Force feeding is always brutal. No matter
how often it occurs the victim does not get used to it.
Some sessions are worse than others, but all are terrible
experiences. If the 'feedings' are not at regular times
each day, and usually they are not, then he spends the
entire day trying to prepare himself emotionally. Trying to
restock his determination to fight.

A team of screws are the first to appear. They come into
the cell with varying expressions on their faces. These
range from snarls, through impassive indifference to the
odd sheepish apologetic smile. He will be 'fed' either in
his cell or dragged outside into another one. He will be
held in a bed or on a chair. Usually six or eight screws
are involved. They swop in an obviously planned manner,
holding and pressing down on arms and legs. He will
struggle as best he can even though he knows it is useless.
One grabs him by the hair and forces his head back, and
when he is finally pinned down in the proper manner the
doctor and his assistant arrive.

Various methods will be employed to open Frank's mouth. His
nose will be covered to cut off air, or a screw or doctor
will bunch their fists or bore their knuckles into the
joints on each side of the jaws. A Ryle's tube will be
used. This is a very long thin tube which is pushed through
the nose. It is supposedly for nasal feeding, but, in
forced feeding, it is simply a torture weapon used to force
open the jaws. It rubs against the membrane at the back of
the nose and, if not coated in a lubricant (which it seldom
is), it causes a searing pain, akin to a red-hot needle
being pushed into one's head. If Frank cries out with this
pain, a wooden clamp will be pushed very forcibly between
his teeth. If this fails to work, the doctor will use a
large pair of forceps to cut into the gums, the ensuing
pain again forcing the jaws to open sufficiently for the
clamp to be forced in. Sometimes a metal clamp, rather like
a 'Bulldog' clip, is used. It is forced between the teeth
and a bolt is turned, forcing a spring and the jaws to

When Frank's jaws are finally pried open, a wooden bit,
rather like a horse bit, is forced into his mouth. This bit
has two pointed ends, which are used to force and to hold
an opening. It 'sits' across his mouth with a screw holding
each end, and there is a hole in the centre of it through
which the feeding tube is forced. A flat piece of wood is
inserted first to press the tongue down and then a three-
foot long rubber tube, coated in liquid paraffin, is shoved
in and down his throat. A funnel is placed on the open end
and they will pour some water in. If the water bubbles,
they know the tube is in Frank's lungs. If so, the tube is
removed and the whole process starts again.

Michael Gaughan Michael Gaughan was murdered in this way.
When the tube is eventually fixed properly, it is pushed
down into Frank's stomach. There are different widths of
tube and obviously the wider they are, the more painful the
torture. Doctors usually use the widest as food goes down
quicker and they don't have to delay overlong. Frank will
feel his stomach filling up and stretching, an experience
he has undergone before. Automatically, he will vomit up,
the disgorged food being caught in a kidney dish. If the
doctor in charge is especially sadistic the vomit will be
forced back down his throat again (this happened to Gerry
Kelly). As the tube is removed it tears at the back of his
throat, more so than before because the liquid paraffin has
worn off on the way down. The last few inches will be
ghastly. Frank will get violent pains in his chest. He will
choke and, at this point, he will be sicker than before, as
the tube coming out triggers off more retching (Marion
Price passed out at this stage once). After 'feeding',
Frank will find it impossible to stand up, to sit up, or to
move in any way.

Frank Stagg is also on thirst strike. This is dealt with in
two ways. The first method employed is simply more force
feeding with water fluids in the food. Since this liquid
bypasses his mouth (via the tube) that is where he will
feel it most. The other method involves putting extra salt
in the liquid during force feeding. This causes a more
concentrated dehydration and increases the desire for
water. To repeatedly alternate between thirst and hunger
strike, as Frank Stagg is doing, is extremely difficult and
indescribably agonising. He may be refused a towel or water
to wash off his vomit as Hugh Feeney was, and his cell will
stink of sour milk and disgorged food. On one occasion Hugh
Feeney was even denied Communion by a priest, so Frank
could find himself denied even spiritual comfort.

This then is a broad outline of the barbarism condoned by
English politicians in England and condemned by them
elsewhere. It is inflicted, with equal savagery, on girls
as well as men. Dolours and Marion Price were tortured like
this during a strike which lasted 205 days.


James Teague To Lead Pearl River Parade

The Journal News
(Original publication: February 14, 2006)

BLAUVELT — A quiet hamlet man who will lead New York
state's second-largest St. Patrick's parade said he was
looking forward to Rockland's annual march honoring the

The Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians has
selected James Teague to lead the March 19 parade in Pearl

"I feel it's a very great honor," said Teague, a member of
AOH Division 5 in Blauvelt. "This is one of the greatest
honors of my life."

Teague, 75, will receive the festive sash Feb. 25 from Cy
Hughes, last year's grand marshal, at the county AOH's
Emerald Ball. Several county residents, including Teague,
will be honored there. The ball and its journal help pay
for the parade, which attracts as many as 50,000 spectators
from as far away as Ireland.

Teague was born and raised in Ardboe, County Tyrone. His
father, William, was decorated by the Irish Republican Army
and was awarded a medal by Eamon de Valera — an Irish
president and statesman who died in 1975 — for his
participation in the country's civil war.

Teague attended St. Patrick's National School and at 18
joined the Irish Army. He was stationed at Curragh, County

After his discharge, Teague said, he had a difficult time
finding work because of "institutionalized employment
discrimination against Nationalists" and was forced to
immigrate to the United States when he was 25.

"I didn't know how I'd make out, ya know," Teague humbly
said of his decision to come to the U.S. "In Northern
Ireland, the Catholics were discriminated against. It was
harder to get a job."

At first, he settled in the Marble Hill section of the
Bronx, where he worked as a plasterer. Nine years later, he
became a building inspector for the New York City Building
Department; he retired in 1992.

He has been married to Brigid for 41 years. The couple have
three children.

During his more than 50 years in the States, Teague has had
a long history of involvement with Irish causes. In the
1960s, Teague became a member of the Tyrone Action
Committee, which assisted victims through Ireland's Civil
Rights Movement.

Teague also joined Irish Northern Aid shortly after it was
formed and was a member of the Bronx unit. After he moved
to Rockland in 1975, Teague joined the county's Sean
MacBride Unit and served as its president and vice

He also has been the chairman of many fundraising endeavors
and remained active with the Rockland Irish American
Cultural Center and the county Gaelic Athletic Association.

George Leahy, president of Rockland's AOH, said Teague was
selected by the county's five AOH divisions because of his
long commitment to Irish issues and organizations.

"This is a recognition of all the things Jimmy has done
through his life, being very much in the forefront, but at
the same time being that quiet man behind the scenes,"
Leahy said. "He's the quiet man who's always there. He's
the quiet man who never says, 'I can't,' and says, 'What
can I do,' and 'When can I be there?' "

If you go

What: Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians annual
Emerald Ball.

When: Feb. 25.

Where: Sheraton Crossroads Hotel, 1 International Blvd.,
Route 17 N., Mahwah, N.J.

Tickets: $85. Proceeds help pay for the Rockland County St.
Patrick's parade in Pearl River.

Information: 845-627-5720.

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