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February 05, 2006

O'Loan: Spec Branch Destroyed Evidence

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SB 02/05/06 Sp Br ‘Destroyed Shooting Evidence’: O’Loan
BT 02/04/06 Gardai Will Ask PSNI To Re-Open Death Case
BN 02/04/06 Adams Demands Restoration Of Devolution
BB 02/04/06 IRA Weapons Claim 'Blatant Lie'
ST 02/05/06 Good Friday Deal 'Is Dead'
SB 02/05/06 Hain Puts Pressure On Reluctant DUP
DJ 02/04/06 New Republican Splinter Groups Pinpointed
BT 02/04/06 The Human Touch: Alf Mccreary, This Life
II 02/05/06 Ministers Quit City Hotel Amid IRA Spy Fears
II 02/05/06 Lone Ranger With Back-Up
IT 02/04/06 Following The IRA Money
SB 02/05/06 Opin: DUP Hides Behind IMC Report
SB 02/05/06 Opin: Sinn Fein: Time To Move On
BB 02/04/06 Opin: Why Is Political Focus Still On IRA?
TO 02/05/06 Opin: SF & IRA Are 2 Heads Of The Same Monster
SB 02/05/06 Opin: No Settlement In North For At Least 5 Yrs
BT 02/04/06 Opin: Provos Have Badly Overplayed Their Hand
EX 02/04/06 Opin: No End Insight For The Other Irish War
BT 02/04/06 Opin: Why Rush When We've Waited So Long?
IA 02/04/06 Ltr to Editor: British Army On Parade
SH 02/04/06 Opin: Cooler Heads Must Prevail
BN 02/04/06 Cancer Victim's Family Awarded €325,000
SF 02/04/06 Ógra SF Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign
SB 02/05/06 Vatican Refuses To Intervene In Cobh Argument


Special Branch ‘Destroyed Shooting Evidence’, Says O’Loan

05 February 2006 By Anton McCabe

Nuala O’Loan will say in her report that PSNI Special
Branch officers deliberately destroyed evidence about the
2003 killing of Neil McConville in Co Antrim, and that PSNI
officers in Belfast attempted to frustrate her
investigation into how McConville was gunned down.

McConville, a native of Bleary, Co Down, was shot by armed
PSNI officers on April 29,2003, in Upper Ballinderry, Co
Antrim. He was driving from Belfast to Craigavon with
another man.

The report comes at a time when Sinn Fein are under
pressure from the two governments to sign up to the new
policing structures in the North. O’Loan has also concluded
that there were major faults in the PSNI’s handling of the
operation leading to the shooting.

Officials from her office have told McConville’s family
that the officers deliberately sought to cover up
information relating to the killing.

According to the minutes of a meeting between the family
and O’Loan’s officials, the ombudsman was obstructed from
investigating the events surrounding the death.

‘‘When the ombudsman arrived at Special Branch offices,
they [the officers] had removed all material relating to
the case, including the hard drive used to store the
intelligence on. ‘Human error’ was said to be the cause,”
said the minutes. The ombudsman’s staff said they believed
this was deliberate.

Staff in the police control room overseeing the operation
against McConville were described as ‘‘non-cooperative,
obstructive and difficult’’. At 3.10pm on the day of the
shooting, the PSNI received information that McConville’s
passenger, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was going
to collect a gun in Belfast.

‘‘Further intelligence was received at 15.50 stating the
location the gun was to be picked up at,” the ombudsman’s
representatives told the McConvilles.

‘‘At 16.30 Operation Trill was initiated to locate the red
Cavalier car [this man] was in.” Police officers from the
PSNI’s headquarters mobile support units (HMSU) were
mobilised to support the surveillance team entrusted with
finding the Cavalier car.

‘‘They were told if the car leaves Belfast assume there is
a gun on board,” according to the minutes.

The Ombudsman’s officials said McConville and his passenger
were under constant surveillance in Belfast. A police
helicopter was used in the operation.

When McConville and his passenger left Belfast, 21 PSNI
officers in seven cars were involved, with more on stand-

At 6.55pm, two police cars pulled up behind McConville’s
car and ordered him to stop. Police claimed they identified
themselves after pulling up alongside McConville’s car,
which allegedly swerved into their vehicle, went into a
spin and turned sideways in the road. Police left their
cars and smashed the driver and passenger windows on
McConville’s car.

McConville allegedly reversed his car, striking a PSNI
officer. Another officer then fired three shots, hitting
McConville. The officer, who had allegedly been knocked
down, administering medical assistance, but McConville died
just over an hour later.

The Ombudsman also criticised the police command structure.
‘‘Superintendent B [in charge in Belfast] fails to appoint
a firearms and tactical advisor in the control room to
advise him on the best way to stop the vehicle,” said the

‘‘Superintendent B did not keep any verifiable records of
the operation in the control room, and the ombudsman stated
that they do not believe he is telling the truth and that
they will state the fact clearly in the published report.
There was no clear command of the HMSU on the ground.

‘‘According to the HMSU, stopping from behind is the last
resort option; it is a ‘hazardous method of stopping a car
where a weapon may be on board, this can result in a
chaotic situation’.”

McConville had no links to paramilitary organisations, but
was known to have been involved in petty crime.


Gardai Will Ask PSNI To Re-Open Death Case

By Michael McHugh
02 February 2006

The PSNI is to be asked to re-open the RUC investigation
into four loyalists suspected of murdering a Co Louth
forestry worker 30 years ago.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is to ask PSNI chief Sir
Hugh Orde to order a re-examination of police evidence on
four men accused of the murder of Seamus Ludlow (47) near
his Dundalk home in May 1976.

Police interviewed the north Down-based suspects - linked
with the UVF - during a privileged court hearing last year,
and forwarded a file to Northern Ireland's Director of
Public Prosecutions, who took special legal advice before
deciding not to run a case.

Nobody has ever been charged with the murder despite two of
the suspects making admissions over the killing in 1998 to
the RUC. The other individuals deny all knowledge of the

On asking the PSNI to review the case, Commissioner Conroy
told a meeting of the Dail's Justice Committee in Leinster
House: "I'll have no difficulty doing that if that will
help the inquiry. They may not have the power. They may
have exhausted their powers in assisting us in the
investigation and unfortunately they didn't get the
evidence (in 1998)."

Mr Ludlow was picked up in Dundalk town, shot dead then
dumped in a laneway. Commissioner Conroy's commitment
followed a grilling on the lack of success of the Garda

He said he had "absolutely no difficulty" in apologising to
relatives of Mr Ludlow, who have been pressing for a public
inquiry into concerns over the police investigation.

Mr Conroy said he was apologising for the failure of the
police inquiry as well as the mishandling of the original
inquest in 1976.

"I regret very much that we did not bring this
investigation to a satisfactory conclusion," he said.

Areas of concern include the fact that Garda didn't
interview the four suspects despite a tip-off from RUC
Special Branch in January 1976 as well as the loss of a
report on the investigation from Dundalk Garda station.


Adams Demands Restoration Of Devolution

04/02/2006 - 13:53:09

(Poster’s Note: See full text of this speech at: )

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams today called for an end to
the rhetoric surrounding the peace process, insisting
devolution had to be restored within a short time-frame.

With all-party talks planned for Monday, Mr Adams said the
Democratic Unionist Party had to be given the chance to
voice their ideas and concerns and added that republicans
were willing to listen attentively.

“This party stands ready to work with the DUP. We do so
already in Councils across the North and we did in the
Assembly when it functioned,” Mr Adams said.

“Each day British direct-rule Ministers take decisions on
spending reviews, health, education, the environment,
energy and other matters which adversely effect every
citizen in the North and have a knock-on effect throughout
the whole island.

“The DUP’s refusal to work with Sinn Féin in government is
allowing this to continue.”

In an address to the national conference of Ogra Shinn Féin
in Dublin, Mr Adams noted that a new round of talks would
begin in earnest on Monday. And he said Sinn Féin would
listen to the concerns and ideas of the DUP and the other

“But the main objective of these talks has to be to end the
suspension of the political institutions within a short
time-frame,” the Sinn Féin leader insisted.

“The two governments have received that very clear message
from us. Now is the time for the two governments to act.
Rhetoric is not enough.”

Mr Adams made his comments as the DUP met in Belfast for
their annual party conference. The Reverend Ian Paisley
told delegates that the party would work with all democrats
regardless of their background but not those with links to
criminality and terror.

Challenged with Sinn Féin claims that the DUP was not
interested in working with Catholic politicians in the
North he said: “To those who say we will not work with our
Roman Catholic fellow countrymen, let me say that we will
work with all democrats, regardless of where they come
from, but we will have no truck with those who pursue
terror and criminality.”


IRA Weapons Claim 'Blatant Lie'

The suggestion that the IRA has completely disarmed is a
"blatant lie", DUP leader Ian Paisley has said.

He told his party's conference there would be no executive
with Sinn Fein as long as the IRA was "in business".

Mr Paisley said the fall-out from the Independent
Monitoring Commission report last week had "justified"
their scepticism about the IRA.

He claimed General John de Chastelain, the head of the arms
body, had been "misinformed".

The Independent Monitoring Commission said on Wednesday
that it had received reports that the IRA held on to some
of its weapons - after a final act of decommissioning last

It said these were possibly for personal protection or area

However, General de Chastelain, said there was no
indication that the "quantities of arms involved were

Mr Paisley told his party conference: "When I look back
over the last month, I see the mighty host of forces intent
on pushing down the throats of the Ulster people the
blatant lie that the IRA has decommissioned all its

"That falsehood was so blatant even Lord Haw-Haw would have
blushed to utter it."

Mr Paisley said the British and Irish governments had to
play their part in the political process by delivering
fairness and equality to unionists.

"Both governments must accept that unionists will not be
forced back into the failed structures of the Belfast
Agreement," he said.

"The Irish government must stop insisting that Sinn Fein is
fit for government here but not acceptable in Dublin.

"The message to Dublin must be if the IRA is not acceptable
to you they cannot be forced on us.

"The message must be crystal clear. The IRA must be packed
off for good."

Outside the conference at a Belfast hotel, a small group of
Christian protesters handed out leaflets calling for the
DUP to toughen its opposition to civil partnership.

Earlier, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson told the BBC that
the DUP would withdraw from the Policing Board if Sinn Fein
took places on it in the near future.

The board is due to be re-appointed with new members in
April and two places will be reserved for Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein, however, said it would not consider joining
until policing powers were devolved to local politicians.

Mr Robinson said Sinn Fein participation would "undermine
the board".


The British and Irish governments will launch a fresh round
of talks with the political parties on Monday in a bid to
restore devolved government to Northern Ireland.

Mr Robinson said there would be "no credibility" in having
on the Policing Board representatives of an organisation
"that, according to the government's advisors, were still
involved in criminal and paramilitary activity".

Sinn Fein has been demanding more reforms to policing and
has called for policing and justice powers to be
transferred from Westminster to Stormont.

The party has refused to recommend the Police Service of
Northern Ireland as a career for young Catholics or take
its seats on the Policing Board which holds the force to

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/04 12:22:46 GMT


Good Friday Deal 'Is Dead'

PETER ROBINSON, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist
party, yesterday pronounced the Good Friday agreement dead,
while his party leader likened the British and Irish
governments’ negotiating positions to Nazi propaganda.

Ian Paisley said the claim that IRA disarmament was
complete was a “falsehood so blatant even Lord Haw Haw
would have blushed to utter it”. He questioned the
objectivity and judgment of General John de Chastelain and
his decommissioning body, accusing it of preferring the
word of the IRA and gardai to that of the PSNI.

“They were prepared to accept the reports of the police in
the south, and their intelligence from IRA sources, and the
reports from the police in Northern Ireland were not even
asked for,” Paisley said.

Robinson attacked British and Irish efforts to persuade
Sinn Fein to join Northern Ireland’s policing board. He
said Sinn Fein participation would “undermine the board”
and lead to his party withdrawing its representatives.

The tone set by yesterday’s annual conference of the DUP in
Belfast provides a gloomy backdrop to the governments’
reopening of talks with the Northern Ireland parties at
Hillsborough Castle tomorrow.

A Sunday Times survey of 100 delegates at the conference
revealed that the party is united around Paisley and
Robinson’s hardline stance.

The only serious differences of opinion arise over whether
the party should have broken the law to oppose the use of
council premises for homosexual civil partnerships (36%
felt they should) and whether the party should share power
with Sinn Fein, even if an end to IRA criminality is
verified by the Independent Monitoring Commission.

More than one in three, 37%, said they would prefer direct
rule to sharing power with Sinn Fein, whatever the IRA did,
while 24% had no opinion.

“It’s such a remote possibility I’m not worrying about it
or giving it much thought,” one delegate said.

Of the 39% who said they would share power in those
circumstances, many would also like a two-year
“decontamination period” and a public apology from Sinn
Fein for IRA violence. The idea of restoring power sharing
within months, as the governments intend, finds little
favour among party members.

The two factors uniting the party are Paisley’s continued
leadership and the belief that the IRA has not
decommissioned all its weapons. Only 4% of delegates
believe that decommissioning is complete, as de Chastelain
has stated.

Asked if Paisley, who will be 80 in April, should step
aside as party leader later this year, 85% said no. “If
you’d asked me 15 months ago, I would have said yes, but
after his operation he looks so well I think he can carry
on for a few years yet,” one delegate said.

Some 82% believed that there would not be a united Ireland
within the next 20 years. “Under the DUP leadership the
unionist people will have the strength to hold it back for
my lifetime at least,” one said.

Another declared: “The IRA has been defeated and so will
the entire nationalist project. More and more Catholics see
the benefit of remaining in the UK now that we have peace.”

Eight out of 10 delegates (82%) believed the DUP should not
negotiate directly with Sinn Fein, but there was a
different attitude to the SDLP. Although Paisley made his
early career opposing power sharing with nationalists of
any hue, 96% of his followers believe that they should
“share power with the SDLP if that is an option”.

None of the alternatives to Paisley as leader enjoys
majority support. Robinson is strongest with 37%, while
Nigel Dodds scored 25%. If Dodds’s support was combined
with that of other possible candidates on the hard-line
Free Presbyterian wing, such as Jim Alister (9%), William
McCrea (2%) and Gregory Campbell (2%), the total would put
him ahead.


Hain Puts Pressure On Reluctant DUP

05 February 2006

‘This is not the secretary of state wielding a big stick,”
said Nor the r n secretary of state Peter Hain last

He may have been referring to his plans to suspend pay for
the North’s politicians but, when it comes to his
government’s proposals on new all-island structures and
closer cooperation with the Irish government, unionists
could be forgiven for thinking he currently wields a
baseball bat.

Only 24 hours after publication of the report by the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) on IRA activity,
Hain was ploughing ahead with his agenda for North-South
reform. The very notion of more all-island bodies terrifies
unionists. The list is long and startling.

The British government is seeking agreement with Dublin on
a joint inward investment strategy, plans to set up a
single island-wide renewable energy body and increased
cooperation on matters of health and security. None of it
depends on the possible restoration of powersharing. ‘‘I
believe there is an increased recognition among unionists
that we’re all in this together. We’re a very small island
with common problems,” Hain told reporters.

‘‘This is not a Trojan horse. It’s not some closet strategy
for constitutional, political goals, but a practical and
commonsense strategy.” Try telling that to DUP leader Ian
Paisley. While Hain batted away any suggestions that the
timing of these planned initiatives was designed to
pressure unionists, the political context could not be

For years, the two governments have been grappling with the
problem posed by the DUP’s reluctance to come to the
negotiating table. The suspension of the Belfast Assembly
in 2002 and the imposition of direct rule from Downing
Street have suited the Democratic Unionist Party and
provided political grounds upon which it has thrived.

Paisley, so long as the Northern Ireland Office is able to
run the show, need not take any political risks or gambles.
While former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble sought a
deal with Sinn Fein in the belief that it would strengthen
the union, Paisley - perhaps correctly - views prolonged
direct rule as a safer bet for unionists than shared
government with republicans.

In recent weeks, government sources have said that both
London and Dublin are intent on devising strategies that
would force the DUP’s hand. Unless the DUP enters serious
talks, so the thinking goes, then ‘‘we’ll make life as
difficult as possible for them’’.

Enter Peter Hain. Not for the first time since he began his
tenure as Northern secretary last May, Hain has on occasion
sought to frighten the unionist horses.

In November, the former ‘‘troops out’’ campaigner told the
Irish Echo newspaper in New York: ‘‘The Northern Ireland
economy, though it is doing better than ever in its
history, is not sustainable in the long term.

‘‘In future decades, it is going to be increasingly
difficult to look at the economy of North and South except
as a sort of island-of-Ireland economy. ‘‘We are deepening
North South cooperation in a number of areas.”

The comments caused outrage among unionists, who called for
his immediate resignation. While some observers speculated
that Hain may have slipped up, his briefings to journalists
last week would instead suggest that his comments are
calculated and come with the endorsement of British prime
minister Tony Blair.

Hain does or says little without the imprimatur of Downing
Street. Blair’s running man on the North is not his bronzed
secretary of state, but backroom boy Jonathan Powell. The
latter, according to the political parties, calls the shots
- Hain merely delivers on them.

Tomorrow, Hain will meet the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Dermot Ahern, at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, in an
attempt to forge some sort of plan that would bring the DUP
around to the notion of power-sharing.

The IMC’s report has strengthened Paisley’s position. Its
references to alleged criminal activity by IRA members,
continuing intelligence gathering and the possible
retention of weapons, have taken precedence over any
suggestion that the IRA arms decommissioning last summer
was monumental.

John Grieve, a member of the four-man IMC team, appeared on
BBC television on Thursday night to respond to criticism
from republicans that the body was little more than a tool
of the PSNI’s Special Branch.

The report by decommissioning boss General John de
Chastelain last week caused some embarrassment to the IMC.
The Canadian said that he, like the IMC, had received
reports that the IRA had retained some weaponry. However,
unlike the IMC, de Chastelain sought further advice from
the Garda. They told him they had no reason to believe the
reports were accurate.

De Chastelain reported the two contradictory positions, the
IMC simply reported the allegation. The IMC did not
disclose from where its information came, nor did it report
the gardaý’s analysis disputing the claim. Grieve’s
performance would not have reassured any of the IMC’s
doubters. He refused to say where the IMC got its
information from or what lengths it went to substantiating
its claims before publication.

Regardless of what the IMC had to say last week, it is
likely that the DUP would have found some justification for
refusing negotiations with Sinn Fein in any event. The
party receded from the frontline after the negotiations of
December 2004. It had given the impression to many
observers that it had come close to signing a deal with the
republican movement. Since then, Paisley has appeared
content to bide his time.

The DUP came within a hair’s breadth of wiping out the UUP
in May’s general election, and has been able to veto
political progress ever since. The plans for various all-
island strategies by the two governments may yet change all

In addition to the proposals outlined last week, plans are
afoot to reduce the number of local councils in the North
from 26 to seven. This would mean that every council west
of the Bann river would be dominated by Sinn Fein. Some
commentators have referred to the plan as the effective
political repartition of the North - a vast swathe of
‘‘green’’ enveloping a shrinking ‘‘orange’’ strip along the
east coast.

The psychological impact of such initiatives on the
unionist populace cannot be underestimated. Paisley’s
mantra for years has been ‘‘no to Dublin interference’’,
yet, as Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams never tires of
pointing out, a group of Irish civil servants based in
Armagh now has day-to-day input into the running of the

On top of this are the existing all-island bodies and the
new ones set to come on line in the coming months and
years. If unionists have any wish to curb - or at least
hamper - such an approach by the two governments, only one
long-term political option is available to them.

If Paisley in his declining years cannot bring himself to
make such a call for fear that he will forever be labelled
a ‘Lundy’, it is tempting to think that his successor will
have no other choice.


New Republican Splinter Groups Pinpointed

Friday 3rd February 2006

Two new hardline republican groups are operating across the
North, the latest report from a ceasefire watchdog has

The four-member Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC)
identified the splinter groups as Oglaigh na hEireann and
Saoirse na hEireann.

The IMC claimed Oglaigh na hEireann, a breakaway faction
from the Continuity IRA, was responsible for one assault
and a robbery at a post office in the period between
September 1 and November 30 last year.

It also tried to recruit members of the Real IRA.

Saoirse na hEireann was described as a group of
disaffected, mostly young, republicans, the majority of
whom are based in Belfast.

The organisation also claimed responsibility for two hoax
bombs in September.

The commissioners said: "It remains to be seen how and to
what extent these new groupings develop.

"Previous experience with splinter dissident groupings
indicates that they might not necessarily be longlasting.

"We will include any further information in future

The IMC said it was difficult to attribute some dissident
republican activity during the period to specific groups.

The incidents included the planting of a viable bomb at
Belfast City Hall at the end of November and two hoaxes at
the home of a senior member of the SDLP.

The Commission also noted two hoax bomb alerts in October
and one the following month.

The report speculated that hardline republicans were using
the bomb scares to study how the security forces reacted in
such circumstances and help those responsible plan future

The IMC said the Continuity IRA remained a threat and was
training members, continuing efforts to recruit new
members, developing its equipment and seeking to acquire

The organisation was responsible for a hoax device under a
Royal Irish Regiment member's car and planned a campaign of
viable and hoax bombs against private, commercial and
military targets.

"We think it probable that the organisation was responsible
for planting four explosive devices in the period under
review, one against an Orange Hall and for hoaxes at
commercial premises and the Down Royal racecourse," the
report said.

"It instructed some members of Oglaigh na hEireann, the new
grouping which has splintered from CIRA, to leave Northern
Ireland. We conclude that CIRA remains a threat; that it
will continue to mount real and hoax attacks; and that it
will continue to plan violence and to seek to enhance its

The report said the organisation behind the 1998 Omagh
bomb, the Real IRA (RIRA), continued to have two factions
within it.

Nevertheless, during the period examined in the report,
RIRA tried to develop its equipment and intelligence-
gathering capabilities, particularly against the security
forces, and also recruit members.

RIRA was accused of engaging in a campaign of intimidation
and violence against those it regarded as anti-social
elements such as drug dealers.

The organisation carried out more assaults than any other
hardline republican group and remained involved in
organised crime, including contraband cigarettes.

The IMC also reported that the INLA maintained a low
profile during the period but deployed weapons for
defensive purposes during the loyalist riots which followed
the Orange Order's Whiterock parade in west Belfast in
September last.

The INLA tried to recruit, and was involved in at least one
unreported assault and in an arson attack on the home of a
District Policing Partnership member in Strabane, Co.
Tyrone, as well as a number of hijackings.

"We believe that the INLA remains involved in organised
crime, including drugs and smuggling," the IMC said.

"During this period, the Police Service of Northern
Ireland, in the course of investigations into money
laundering, recovered an INLA weapon, documents and
computer equipment.

"We conclude as before that the threat of the
organisation's more active involvement remains, although
its present capacity for a sustained campaign is not high."


The Human Touch: Alf Mccreary, This Life

04 February 2006

In another week of political wrangling, it is uplifting to
note how a Catholic priest has shown recently that a soft
answer can turn away wrath and lead to a positive outcome.

Last summer, the Catholic chapel at Harryville in Ballymena
was daubed with paint by Loyalists. Curate in charge, Fr
Paul Symonds, had come to the area only recently and was
quickly finding out about the best and worst of human

The worst was there before his very eyes, but he was also
greatly encouraged by a generous offer from local
Presbyterians to clean the mess. Sadly, however, the chapel
was attacked with paint yet again, but afterwards Fr
Symonds and his parishioners received more offers of help
... this time it was a group from several local Protestant

Fr Symonds was deeply moved by such practical help, but he
also decided privately that he was not going to condemn
publicly those responsible for defacing his church.

Last Saturday he told the story of the outcome to a large
congregation during the successful Day of Prayer and
Reflection at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, and spoke to me

He said: "I felt that if people do that kind of thing, they
must be feeling some pain, and I needed to hear that pain."
He sent out feelers to loyalists, though he was not really
expecting a response. To his surprise, however, there was a
reply through a third party, and some time later he did
meet a group of loyalists.

Fr Symonds continued: "I was treated with great respect,
which I appreciated, and I listened carefully to what they
had to say. We talked to each other as human beings, and
not as people with labels, and things developed from that."

As a result, the Loyalists have undertaken to remove
offensive graffiti and kerbstone painting from around the
church, and to replace their large mural with a more
'cultural' image. They also promised to keep Fr Symonds
informed about their plans. Last month he received - and
accepted - an invitation to the opening of a local advice
centre of the Ulster Political Research Group, the
political wing of the UDA.

Fr Symonds is hopeful about a more peaceful summer at
Harryville this year, but he is not complacent.

"There is a need for continued dialogue and for great
sensitivity," he said.

One hopes that this important example of bridge-building
from both sides will hold firm in the months ahead.

Cynics - and I am not one of them - might argue that only a
gracious and deeply spiritual human being like Fr Symonds
would have taken such an approach. They might argue further
that bridge-building now suits the UDA agenda, at a time
when Loyalists seem genuinely interested in change for the

Nevertheless, credit should be given where it is due.

The loyalist community has been feeling deeply alienated
from mainstream politics and reconciliation, and few enough
people have been prepared to listen to their pain - however
crudely it is exhibited at times. Equally, it takes courage
for a priest to reach out constructively to those who have
defaced his church.

Public denunciations can be a more dramatic way of dealing
with hurt, but they drive people further into their
trenches. The key to moving things forward, as seems to be
happening at Harryville, is to find a common human

As Fr Symonds said: "We talked to each other as human
beings and not as people with labels."

I would share his caution about the future, as the best
laid plans are often shattered in Northern Ireland.
However, the Harryville experience could be a pointer to a
better way forward for all of us. When people have the
courage to talk to one another as human beings, remarkable
things can happen.

Here we go again

This is the season for snowdrops and new Presbyterian
Moderators. Every February the Church elects a new
moderator just six months after the incumbent has taken
office. By the time that he (or some day she) starts to get
the hang of the job, it is time to move on. This is perhaps
not the best way to run a Church.

The same could be said of the Methodists - which is why the
public is more likely to recognise Archbishops Eames and
Brady, rather than any current Moderator or Methodist

The Presbyterians will choose their Moderator-elect next

The conservative Rt Rev Dr Harry Uprichard won last year by
a massive majority, and traditionally the Presbyterians
should now be seeking a liberal successor - if they can
find the right candidate - to keep the balance.

This is less likely to happen if those who backed Dr
Uprichard put forward their own candidate again on Tuesday.
Presbyterians don't like to admit this in public, but
whatever the Divine imperative, church politics can be
surprisingly earthy. Watch this space.

Thought for the weekend:

'Wee' Jean remembered for her heart of gold

She lived in New Bond Street. No, not in London but in the
Markets area of Belfast. Was she rich? Very rich. Wherein
lay her wealth? She had a heart full of love for children
in need and fostered them.

I sat at her funeral in St Malachy's Roman Catholic Chapel
recently and heard the priest say that she had fostered so
many children she had lost count of them.

Really? I wondered if the man was exaggerating until I
investigated and found out that he was right. Her name?
Jean McConkey.

I have on my desk as I write Jean's photo dairy of just a
few of the children she fostered. Each is named and their
stay is noted. 'Came 12.10.70. Went 26.1.72' 'Two sisters
came 18.12.70. Left 5.1.71' 'Born 3.3.73. Came 9.3.73. Left
11.7.73' On it goes - and this is just the edge of Jean's

I asked her son Peter - a distinguished chef in our city -
for some of her favourite sayings. He laughed and like a
shot said: " 'What's for dinner, Mum?' 'Ham, lamb and beer
by the bucket!' " Then Peter quickly added that his mother
did not drink, smoke or swear. He had her signed Pioneer

With her husband Joe - a baker at Inglis who was up at the
'scrake of dawn' - she cared lovingly across the years for
her seven children and her seemingly endless stream of
foster children.

'Wee Joe' and 'Wee Jean' McConkey' the people called them.
Ah! 'Wee' by name maybe but not 'wee' by nature.

What I picked up was the sheer exuberance of Jean's life as
she simply gave up her own ambitions to help those
children. 'There was a woman they called her mad, the more
she gave the more she had.'

Somehow when I look across our present age I think of what
my friend Os Guinness, Arthur's great grandson, once said:
"In an age that endlessly celebrates celebrity and
shamelessly consumes the lives of the rich and famous, it
is salutary to remember the ancient Jewish and Christian
axiom: many of the greatest heroes are unknown and unsung,
unaware of their own significance."

He points out that some of those heroes have been "solitary
sentries at the frontiers of a menaced family or
community." Jean was such a hero and such a sentry. Her
children rise up to honour her. And so do I.


Ministers Quit City Hotel Amid IRA Spy Fears

Jim Cusack, Jody Corcoran, Maeve Sheehan

AT LEAST 30 politicians, including two ministers in
sensitive Government departments, have been advised to
avoid a Dublin city centre hotel at the centre of a
Criminal Assets Bureau investigation.

They were contacted by their parties, Fianna Fail and Fine
Gael, last week after the CAB raided the hotel as part of
an investigation into suspected paramilitary links to a
€100m property empire.

The Sunday Independent has established that gardai are
investigating whether the IRA used the hotel as a base to
spy on the politicians who frequented it, including Defence
Minister Willie O'Dea and Minister of State in the
Department of Foreign Affairs Noel Treacy.

The TDs and senators were officially told by their parties
last week of the possibility that it had been used as a spy
base after it emerged that the CAB had raided the hotel.

One Fianna Fail TD said: "A man from the party came around
and told us to keep away from the hotel." Another Fianna
Fail backbench TD added: "We were told to get out. The word
actually came down from the Cabinet."

The Sunday Independent has also learned that the former
government troubleshooter, Phil Flynn, advised the
businessman owner of the hotel.

The link between the former Sinn Fein vice president and
the Armagh-born businessman was discovered last


year in documents taken from Mr Flynn during the probe into
the Stg£26m robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast by the

The documents suggest that Mr Flynn offered advice to the
businessman on expanding his €100m property portfolio of
pubs, hotels and housing estates.

A senior officer said the discoveries prompted detectives
to take a fresh look at the businessman who has long been
suspected of using the proceeds of an IRA-linked VAT fraud
in London in 1989 to build his property empire.

Detectives say there is no suggestion that Mr Flynn acted
improperly. However, the alleged link with the suspect
property magnate will further embarrass the former
financier who was forced to quit public life when he was
drawn into the Northern Bank probe.

The two ministers, particularly the Minister for Defence,
Willie O'Dea, would have access to highly sensitive
security material.

But up to 30 politicians may have been in the sights of the
terrorist organisation, which, if the CAB's suspicions are
confirmed, would have targeted the politicians' telephone
and credit card records, as well as other personal details.

All of these politicians would ordinarily frequent several
hotels and bars in the city centre, including the hotel at
the centre of the CAB investigation, during the course of a
working week.

Mr O'Dea and Mr Treacy have stayed in the hotel on occasion
in the past four years, though it was not exclusively their
Dublin base.

Mr O'Dea, for example, has stayed in other hotels and with
relatives in Dublin, while Mr Treacy also has relatives in
north Dublin, and has stayed with them.

As news of the Garda raid spread to Leinster House on
Wednesday, Mr O'Dea booked out of the hotel, though at
least two members of Fine Gael are believed to have stayed
on until Thursday.

A Fianna Fail TD said: "We are charged €50 a night, that's
€150 for the working week in Dublin, which is good value
considering. A couple of lads stayed for the third night,
just to see out the week.

"But most of us just checked out, including myself. I know
of one colleague who, when he tried to check out, was told
they could no longer process his card. He just left and
sent them on a cheque," the Fianna Fail TD said.

A Fine Gael politician told the Sunday Independent: "I know
the hotel well. I have been going there for years.
Everybody is now telling me to avoid it like the plague,
which I will have to do. It's a pity. I always liked the

News that the hotel had been raided by CAB officers sent
shock waves through the Dail last week after it emerged
that a senior republican figure was the ultimate beneficial

Gardai do not suspect there is any link between the
legitimate people who are currently leasing and running the
hotel and the IRA or any other subversive group.

The Sunday Independent attempted to contact this beneficial
owner via the hotel, but was told there would be no

The businessman cannot be named for legal reasons, but
detectives say that he was served with an exclusion order
in Britain in 1983 and he was arrested for the murder of a
British soldier.

They believe he netted more than €100,000 from a gaming
machine scam, which he used to buy his first pub. The CAB
raided the property magnate's house, and the offices of his
professional advisers on January 24. A huge volume of
material was seized.

"What really drove our inquiries was what we found in Mr
Flynn's searches," said a senior Garda source. "He assisted
them on a variety of occasions when they were dealing in
these pubs. There was documentation to say that he had done
that. We said that is very interesting."

The property magnate has not yet been interviewed by
gardai. He was not present when detectives raided his home
and has yet to make contact with them.

Mr Flynn does not feature in the Garda investigation into
the source of the property magnate's portfolio.

Special Branch and technical gardai accompanied the
Criminal Assets Bureau officers who raided the hotel, two
pubs and another north county Dublin hotel last weekend as
part of the major investigation into the IRA's massive
money-laundering and property portfolio.

It is understood they were looking to see if any electronic
or other surveillance was or had been directed at the
deputies or the ministers.

Yesterday, Mr O'Dea, asked about possibility he could have
been spied upon, replied: "I have stayed in the hotel in
question on and off for a few years.

"Following media reports last week, I checked out of the
hotel and made alternative arrangements. The hotel was
simply a place to stay. All my official ministerial
business was always transacted at my offices both in the
Dail and in the Department so therefore I would have no
concerns whatsoever that sensitive material could have been

Gardai believe the hotel was acquired by the IRA over a
decade ago during the early stages of its operations to
launder money from crime into front businesses such as
hotels and pubs.

Ironically, the republicans made little attempt to hide
their connections to these businesses as they believed they
could not be seized. Sinn Fein even used the hotel for
press conferences and senior Sinn Fein figures stayed

However, since the introduction of the Criminal Assets
legislation, any property deemed to have been bought with
the proceeds of crime can be frozen and seized.

Gardai were led to the hotel and other properties belonging
to the IRA front man last year while examining documents
seized in Dublin and Dundalk following the Northern Bank
robbery. A close associate of the front man who owns the
Dublin hotel is a Dundalk-based businessman whose brother
is a senior figure in the finance world in Dublin.


Lone Ranger With Back-Up

Sunday February 5th 2006

CATHAL O'Neill could probably kill you with a paper clip,
or a plastic cup. The former captain in the Irish special
forces elite Ranger unit has served in war-torn Lebanon and
the then Yugoslavia. But since leaving the army, O'Neill
has used his other specialist training well.

To stay out of sight. His company Risk Management
International (RMI) operates behind the scenes, analysing,
planning and advising businesses on anything from the
threat of dirty bombs to preparing for armed robberies.

"We began developing contingency plans for companies in the
area of kidnapping and abduction," says the 48-year-old
Dubliner, sitting in the boardroom of RMI offices out in
the Citywest Business Park, somewhere close to the edge of
the world.

RMI was set up by a group of former army officers and
senior gardai in 1993, the same year that National Irish
Bank chief executive Jim Lacey was abducted. Lacey's kidnap
was the latest in a series of high-profile snatches by
paramilitary gangs, following on from incidents involving
Ben Dunne, Jennifer Guinness, Don Tidey and John O'Grady.

At the time, a small handful of shadowy US or British
security firms were the only consultants operating in the
Irish market. There was clearly a peach of a niche.

"Banks, building societies post offices and other
organisations. They were all suffering significantly," he

RMI isn't your average bog standard security firm. It's not
a bunch of lads fitting burglar alarms or hiding in bushes.
This is intelligence gathering for suits. The company
consults on a range of security services, from evaluating
risks of terrorist attacks or kidnapping to compiling
"intel" on the possible acquisitions. It prepares companies
for disaster, tooling them up with contingency plans in the
case of civil uprisings, floods or the brown stuff
generally hitting the fan.

"The whole anti-terrorism thing and the idea of managing
risk wasn't new to us. We'd being doing it for years. We'd
been trained for it," says the former army Ranger.

O'Neill is extremely guarded about his client list. As a
former member of the special forces, he's probably been
trained not to give up information under interrogation.
There's probably a cyanide pill hidden away under a fake
tooth in case the questions get too hard.

"The majority of our clients are Irish. We'd work for most
of the top companies in the country across all the sectors.
We're engaged on an ongoing, annual basis by about 45 of
the top 100 companies," adds the father-of-two. "We'd
certainly work with most of the banks and building

RMI has worked for the government. And the semi-States too.
"The whole aviation sector has gone up since 9-11. We do a
lot of work there. We audit a lot of airports," he admits.
RMI wasn't behind the recent smuggling of a fake bomb
through Dublin Airport to highlight security flaws. Last
year O'Neill's outfit was retained by seven of the main
Irish ports to develop security plans and provide anti-
terrorist risk assessment.

Googling RMI throws up a few interesting names. Billionaire
Chuck Feeney reportedly hired RMI last July to inquire into
allegations that Frank Connolly had travelled to Colombia
in 2001 on a false passport. The firm also provided a
security consultancy and risk assessment for the Special
Olympics, which may have been one of the least likely
international events to be targeted by al-Qaeda.

As a business, it's certainly made sense for some backers.
ICC Venture Capital, now somewhere in the bowels of Bank of
Scotland (Ireland) invested in the company in the Nineties,
although that stake has recently been bought out.
Shareholders included Paddy McSwiney, liquidator of former
broker Tony Taylor's companies and ex-IFI and Marlborough
Group chairman Niall Welch.

While the Irish business is humming along nicely, the
former army officer (whose shoes aren't terribly shiny)
sees huge growth internationally. "We're doing quite a lot
of work out in the middle east," he reveals.

O'Neill has just returned from Saudi, where he was keeping
tabs on one of RMI's biggest projects. "It's the
development of a risk management programme for what will be
the biggest industrial city in the world." RMI beat off
some serious spooks to land the lucrative royal commission
for the city near Jubail on the Persian Gulf.

It's a wildly different risk profile. Instead of worrying
about smackheads waving around syringes at post office
counters, the possibility of al-Qaeda going a bit Frank
Spencer in the area is enough to make O'Neill's hair go

He reels off a list of countries where RMI has left faint
footprints. "Algeria, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi, Bahrain,
Qatar," he adds. "There's a project in Georgia at the
moment and we do quite a bit in Eastern Europe." O'Neill
and RMI operatives have also conducted missions deep in
war-torn Iraq.

"And we had a terrorist incident in Africa, where people
were potentially at risk. But we'd developed an evacuation
plan and had rehearsed it about four times over a few
years," he says of recent military conflict in the Ivory

"The situation was made increasingly difficult with the
main airport being closed, so they had to drive 300 miles,
cross a border and go to a different airport that we'd been
to before and had "reccied". They were able to get
themselves and their families out of danger.

Having served in the Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia,
O'Neill is probably well able to look after himself. So are
the other RMI consultants. Apart from a few accountancy
types, most of the operatives at the sharp end of business
are ex-special forces soldiers or former gardai.

With the company set to generate over €2m in fees this
year, with "acceptable" profits, RMI is poised to benefit
from an increased awareness of corporate risks in Ireland,
ranging from corporate espionage and counterfeiting to

"I would say that there's been a relatively steady increase
in fraud," he notes. "Another area is about information
risk. It's not just IT. Corporate espionage is just part of
it. It'd be the security of paper and verbal information

One recent case involved a large firm that kept being
pipped on key tenders. Following a risk assessment
programme, the business tightened up the way it handled the
tender information. "It was the way things were being
spoken about, or being written down or photocopied," he
says. Or leaving sensitive documents in the printer. The
client company has now started to tender more successfully.

But crimes against company assets aren't what's really
vexing big business, it's offences against the bosses
themselves. "Personal security for corporates has grown
very strongly," he says.

RMI doesn't necessarily provide former Spetznaz or Croatian
special forces soldiers to provide close cover protection
to suits, instead it arranges security plans and advice for
its clients. "We work for a lot of people."

Being prepared is the only defence against things going
horribly wrong, according to O'Neill. Following the first
World Trade Centre bombings in 1993, some 250 of the 300
firms there went out of business largely because of a lack
of contingency planning.

"The whole issue of planning for business continuity in the
event of something happening like a fire or a flood, that
would be a big issue," he says. "I suppose the biggest risk
for organisations is not taking risk seriously."

Nick Webb


Following The IRA Money

A publican suspected of laundering IRA money has
accumulated property worth €100 million, writes Conor Lally

As rugby fans enjoy pints in Dublin pubs this afternoon,
taking in the action against the visiting Italians, one
wealthy publican and hotelier will have more than the Six
Nations on his mind. The entrepreneur, who is in his 40s,
has built a property empire worth more than €100 million in
the last decade and a half. He has at least 12 apartments
in Dublin city centre, not to mention other rental
properties in counties Monaghan, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.
He is currently financing a construction project worth at
least €60 million in the eastern region. To cap it all, he
also owns a well-known hotel in Dublin's south inner city
and controls a landmark hotel which carries the most
sought-after postcode in the country.

Not far from this establishment, in another of the
capital's most desirable suburbs, rugby fans will this
afternoon cram into another two pubs he owns. Pints will
flow and the tills won't stop ringing until closing time.

He is the embodiment of the Celtic Tiger. But he also has
dark secrets that his chino-wearing clientele know nothing
about. The ladies and gentlemen of the Criminal Assets
Bureau (Cab) are much better informed though.

Twelve months ago, Cab officers began their investigation
into the discovery of €4 million in euro and sterling notes
in Co Cork. They quickly formed the view that the money was
the proceeds of the IRA's £26.5 million (€37.85 million)
raid on the Northern Bank in December 2004.

The investigation into how this money ended up in the
Republic and was being laundered here has thrown up the
name of the property and construction tycoon referred to
above. Records recovered by Cab over the last year suggest
that the first pub this man bought has been used to launder
IRA money. It is also believed that the pub was bought with
the proceeds of crime he committed while raising money for
the IRA at the height of the Troubles.

He now finds himself at the centre of the major Cab
investigation that was revealed in the media this week.

IN THE MID-1980s he was questioned about the IRA murder of
a member of the security forces in Belfast. He was released
without charge. Not long afterwards, he moved to England,
where he soon came to the attention of the police and found
himself excluded from Britain under prevention of terrorism
legislation. However, after a brief return to Ireland he
was dispatched back to England to oversee fundraising
activities for the IRA.

With a group of at least four others he gained access to
the highly lucrative pub gaming-machine industry. Copying a
ploy that was being used to fund terrorism in Ireland at
the time, the gang manipulated gaming machines to ensure
that they did not pay out to punters as frequently as was
legally required. This tactic was employed in a large
number of premises across London and the unpaid winnings,
retained by the gang, were not declared to UK revenue
officers. The proceeds were channelled into IRA coffers.

It proved a lucrative business model. In a 2001 report by
the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee -
The Financing of Terrorism in Northern Ireland - it was
revealed that in the 1980s single "fixed" gaming machines
earned the IRA up to £27,000 (€40,000) per year.

The gang was defrauding the British exchequer of so much
money that its members attracted police attention and were
arrested and charged just before Christmas 1989. Four of
the gang went on trial and were convicted and jailed for
their role in the fraud.

However, despite the conviction of his fellow gang members,
the businessman now under investigation managed to evade
the UK authorities and slip back into Ireland unnoticed. He
brought with him a six-figure sterling sum, which he used
to acquire one of the south Dublin pubs he now owns.

According to senior gardaí and other security sources who
spoke to The Irish Times this week, the pub prospered and
was quickly renovated and extended. Meanwhile, suspicions
that it was being used to launder IRA money began to form
in Garda circles. Anti-racketeering Garda units started
investigating the premises and its owner. But while a large
amount of evidence was gathered, gardaí couldn't prove
their suspicions. The Garda file on the matter was taken
from the shelf once in a while and dusted down and
reviewed. But nothing ever came of it.

All the while, the owner of the south Dublin pub was
growing wealthier. He put his business acumen to good use
and began acquiring the assets he now owns. The €100
million estimate of his current worth was described as
"very conservative" by one officer who has been closely
tracking him of late.

Having returned to Ireland he remained under the Garda
radar until his name and first acquisition cropped up on
documents during the Cab money-laundering inquiry into the
recovered Northern Bank money. The bureau sent a team to
the UK to conduct what one source described as "absolutely
exhaustive" inquiries into the 1980s gaming-machine fraud.

Based on intelligence gathered in London, and in the
Republic during the Northern Bank money-laundering
investigation, gardaí decided to move against the man two
weeks ago.

Garda teams carried out searches in counties Dublin, Meath,
Wicklow and Louth. A number of hotels and pubs were
visited, as well as solicitors and accountants' offices.
Some 150 boxes of documentation were gathered and will now
be reviewed by Cab and the other Garda units involved in
the searches, including the Special Detective Unit, the
Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the National Bureau
of Criminal Investigation.

THE SUSPECT'S HOME was also visited. He is a separated man
who lives mostly in his hotel or in apartments in counties
Meath and Dublin. Cab believes it can apply the Proceeds of
Crime Act to the man's first pub and confiscate it from
him. Cab officers believe the other assets were funded by
this pub and, in theory, could be classified as the
indirect proceeds of crime.

However, reliable sources have told The Irish Times that
the investigation is likely to focus on undeclared income
generated by his (mostly cash) businesses. Tax assessments
will be drawn up and served on the suspect and possibly on
some of his close associates, who gardaí suspect may also
have committed revenue crimes.

Among the properties searched in the last 10 days were
those linked to four businessmen closely associated with
the main suspect, with some of whom he owned a now closed
pub in north Dublin. The names of these men are listed in
files at the Companies Office as fellow directors of the
firms controlled by the main suspect. These have addresses
in Louth, Monaghan and south Dublin.

Senior Garda sources said that, with the introduction of
the Proceeds of Crime Act following the 1996 murder of
Veronica Guerin, the force is now much better placed to
tackle the main suspect than it was when he was first
investigated in the early 1990s.

As news of the operation against him broke this week, the
Independent Monitoring Commission published its latest
report. It concluded that the IRA was still engaged in
organised criminality and money-laundering. These ongoing
activities, and the numerous property, business and land
portfolios of former paramilitaries, are likely to keep Cab
busy for many years.

But with so much wealth having been amassed on the back of
the Troubles, it may prove much more difficult to
decommission these empires than it did the IRA's arsenal.

© The Irish Times


Opin: DUP Hides Behind IMC Report

05 February 2006 By Tom McGurk

Considering what the IMC report said last week, there will
be those who will continue the analogy and wonder if the
IMC is a tug or a submarine armed with torpedoes?

Certainly, as all the political parties involved study the
fallout from the IMC report, there will be few
disagreements about how shark-infested the Northern peace
process waters have now become. Perhaps the most
controversial finding of the IMC report was its claim that
some IRA weapons seem to have been retained.

This part of the report has been headlined and duly seized
upon by the DUP. However, on closer inspection, the report
doesn’t actually say this. In fact, the commission says it
received intelligence that not all IRA weapons were handed
over last September, but that it did not know the nature or
volume of the weapons.

Importantly, it then goes on to qualify this statement by
adding ‘‘if these reports were confirmed, etc...” So what
is the IMC report actually saying? That the IRA has
retained weapons or that it was told by sources unnamed and
unspecified that it might have? Are we back to the farrago
of what we all remember were once called ‘the intelligence
reports’ about the so-called weapons of mass destruction in

To make the matter even more contentious, John de
Chastelain’s International Independent Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD) said the very opposite. Not only did
he reaffirm his judgment of complete IRA decommissioning of
last September, but he added that ‘‘the Garda informed us
that what they regard as reliable sources in relation to
the IRA and its weaponry have produced no intelligence
suggesting any arms have been retained’’.

Given the nature of IICD reports, this statement by De
Chastelain is significant in a number of ways. He is
clearly and publicly disagreeing with the IMC report and,
most unusually, he is publicly revealing his intelligence
sources, the gardai. And then to turn the sword fully in
the IMC report, De Chastelain added: ‘‘We conclude that, in
the absence of evidence to the contrary, our September 26
assessment regarding IRA arms remains correct.”

Finally, he reminded the IMC in his last paragraph that the
arms issue was his ‘‘area of responsibility’’. When one
also considers that, in the opinion of the Northern
security minister Sean Woodward, the IRA threat has now
disappeared, one begins to wonder what the IMC is up to and
where it is coming from?

The IMC was originally invented by the two governments as
part of the ‘‘saving David Trimble from his backbenchers’’
operation. At that time, it was set up to provide regular
reports on the distance that the IRA was putting between
itself and the democratic process. That it was a useful
crutch for Trimble then cannot be denied but, given the
conflicting intelligence assessments it has unleashed, how
credible is it now?

Since its reports are the sum of the intelligence it is
receiving, questions are now emerging about the intent and
veracity of that intelligence. One would have to be a fool
not to imagine that there is a considerable section of the
British and Northern Ireland intelligence community which
will remain bitterly opposed to the republican movement.

Many of these people - both active and retired - feel that
they fought a war against republicanism, lost many close
friends and are now apparently expected just to sit back
and let the republicans pick up the political gains they
have made. Importantly, they believe that London cannot
understand that, once Sinn Fein gets back in to government,
it will move on the police.

Whatever about the whole business of power-sharing, there
is still within that intelligence community a determination
that, whatever else Sinn Fein gets its hands on, it will
not get its hands on the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI). Their nightmare is that, within a decade - after
Sinn Fein enters the new policing structures and after a
new executive is formed - the IRA would have largely
infiltrated and possibly compromised large sections of what
is the last security force bastion against republican

For all of its new happy-clappy image and its public
positioning, the PSNI is still largely composed of members
of the former RUC. Despite all the attempts to civilianise
the North’s police, at its core is a considerable and
significant body of opinion that its primary duty is still
to maintain the NI state within the United Kingdom. For
these people, it doesn’t matter how many votes Sinn Fein
gets: it is still and always will be the IRA, which has now
changed course from a failing paramilitary road for a much
more effective political one.

This constituency now has, in the IMC, a route through
which to cause mayhem. Given the credibility crisis that
the latest IMC report has created - and given that its role
is now itself part of the wider dispute - what further use
has it? Why, for example, shouldn’t De Chastelain now be
asked to join it? The governments have access to exactly
the same intelligence that it has, so isn’t it time they
began governing?

The notion that, one day, an IMC report will give the IRA
full marks is simply farcical; even then, the DUP response
would no doubt be that ‘‘one swallow doesn’t make a
summer’’. Surely we are now abandoning politics to the
dictate of gossip and rumour mongering from unidentified -
and therefore unverifiable - sources?

I’m afraid that unionism - and particularly the Reverend
Ian Paisley’s DUP - are determined to abandon power-sharing
for the very good reason that it is the only sure way of
stymying the extraordinarily efficient political machine
that Sinn Fein has built in the North.

Politically uncertain, financially and educationally under-
achieving and stripped of majoritarianism and its
traditional oligarchical power-base, unionism now sees
devolution within the UK as the IRA’s latest and most
potent weapon.

They would rather have no loaf than half a loaf, and
increasingly find the atmosphere of a political vacuum as
their only secure political shelter. And with republicans
and nationalists all politically dressed up with nowhere to
go, this is - by any Northern historical standards - a very
dangerous place to be hanging around in.


Opin: Sinn Fein: Time To Move On

05 February 2006 By Tommy McKearney

With this in mind, there must have been just a little
trepidation within Sinn Fein leadership circles recently
when opinion polls showed a drop on their ratings over
consecutive surveys.

The small amount of slippage experienced during the past
months is by no means calamitous, and party spokesmen would
no doubt be quick to repeat the old cliche that the only
significant poll is the one on election day.

Nevertheless, a number of factors point to the need for
them to actively consider certain options that have not
previously appeared urgent. This Sinn Fein party has
crossed many bridges on its journey to where it is today.
Ending abstentionism, coaxing the Provos to lay down arms
and entering an assembly in Stormont have all been major
evolutionary stages in the organisation’s transformation.

While every one of these steps required intense effort and
management, not to mention soul-searching, there has never
been any doubt that this programme could not have been
delivered without the well-established Adams/ McGuinness

Now, for the first time since the party reversed its view
on participating in the Dail 20 years ago, it can be argued
objectively that Sinn Fein might fare better without its
longstanding management team.

It may be time for the class of ’71 to make way for the
class of ’94 (the post-ceasefire generation). Sinn Fein is
anxious to see the Stormont assembly functioning again. In
its absence, the party enjoys little influence over local
affairs, and has to endure the torment of watching British
MPs posted to the Northern Ireland Office take decisions
affecting republican constituencies.

In the long term, too, more reflective republicans know
that every political party is vulnerable during a prolonged
suspension of an administrative forum. They need only look
to the SDLP for evidence of this.

A major obstacle to the creation of a power-sharing
executive in Belfast is that the DUP believes it cannot
even broach the subject with its electorate while the Provo
generation of republicans remains in charge of Sinn Fein.
The DUP’s Peter Robinson said as much in a televised
interview shortly after the last general election in the

At the same time, while antipathy towards Sinn Fein is not
as deeply held throughout the Republic as it is among Ian
Paisley’s followers, the old connection with arms and
difficult-to-eradicate accusations of criminality do not
help the party in most constituencies.

They are, moreover, serious obstacles to one of the party’s
main aims of participating in a coalition government. These
associations with the Northern conflict and its by-products
will be difficult to dispel from popular perception while
the insurrectionary generation predominates.

In spite of these liabilities, it has been said with
justification that the Sinn Fein leadership’s huge public
profile and their sheer ‘‘identification factor’’ have
outweighed the disadvantages. Gerry Adams is one of the
most easily recognised faces on television and his stature
(and with it, his vote-pulling power) has increased
enormously with his ongoing role in the peace process.

The exposure of Denis Donaldson as a British agent has now
placed much of this in jeopardy. Coupled with the previous
discovery of the spy Freddie Scappaticci, there is an
acceptance within the republican party that the notion of a
‘‘third man’’ - or even a ‘‘fourth man’’ - is not just
possible but likely.

Worse, Sinn Fein cannot control the timing of such a story
or limit its ramifications, and, though the party hierarchy
survived the Donaldson affair, its supporters will not
tolerate a debilitating and demoralising series of

The reality is that, as long as those who emerged during
the era of armed struggle remain in charge, there will
always be the potential for damaging revelations. The only
way to ensure that this does not happen is to elect a
leadership that is too young to have be en touched by the

When these factors are combined with the fact that those in
charge of Sinn Fein are in late middle age, the party must
now plan for when and how it will transfer responsibility
to a younger generation. The problem is that, if they wait
too long, they may not have the luxury of determining how
this comes about. The last thing any party wants is to have
to call an extraordinary ard fheis in order to resolve a
leadership crisis.

Naturally, there is a great reluctance among the party rank
and file to think along these lines. Those with
responsibility for Sinn Fein’s future will, however,
realise that some issues must be faced. It would be
surprising indeed if the party’s key strategist hasn’t
entertained these thoughts himself. It will be interesting
to see if he gives any indication of a shifting of power,
aimed ultimately towards securing the party, at next
weekend’s ard fheis.

Tommy McKearney, a native of Co Tyrone, is a former member
of the IRA who took part in the 1980 hunger strike. He is
an organiser with the Independent Workers’ Union and a
part-time journalist.


Opin: Why Is Political Focus Still On IRA?

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

From a republican perspective, the response to the latest
Independent Monitoring Commission report no doubt feels
like a denial of natural justice.

The only murder documented by the IMC was the work of the
loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association, whilst
so-called loyalist punishment shootings outnumbered
republican ones by 22 to nil.

The UDA may have told General John de Chastelain - head of
the arms decommissioning body (IICD) - that they would
consider disarming, but so far loyalists have not come
anywhere near matching the IRA initiatives of last year.

Despite this, the political focus remains on IRA activity.

The obvious reason is that neither the PUP's David Ervine
nor the UPRG's Tommy Kirkham are knocking on the door of
the health or education departments demanding to take over
as ministers.


Sinn Fein are victims of their own democratic success.

The current downturn in the political process is also tied
to the history of secrecy and double speak surrounding
republican initiatives and the continuing attachment to
spin by government ministers.

Few doubt that last September's IRA decommissioning must
have been extremely significant.

Maybe unionists would have sought to raise the bar anyway,
but if last autumn's IRA initiatives had been more
transparent, the DUP would have found itself under greater
pressure this spring

Mark Devenport

However, the failure to produce an inventory or any
photographic proof has left the exact nature of the
disarmament open to question.

Perhaps it was inevitable that some IRA members would have
held on to their weapons for personal protection or some
other purpose.

But, given the secrecy of decommissioning, so far it is
hard for the public to weigh the latest claims against last
autumn's assertions by the Reverend Harold Good and Father
Alec Reid that every gun had now been consigned to history.

The government says General de Chastelain's two-page report
puts the matter to rest.

But the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, the man whom ministers
hope to convince, now says the notion that the IRA has
completely disarmed is "a blatant lie".

With the IMC and the IICD, the PSNI and the Garda,
apparently at loggerheads it is hard to know quite what to

This may, as Martin McGuinness bluntly put it, be

But the neutral observer would be better placed to assess
that if the details of exactly what had been destroyed in
September had been made public.

When it comes to spin, why did the government take about a
fortnight to release General de Chastelain's report on the
claims that some IRA guns were still in circulation?

Perhaps it seemed to some officials that this would act as
a counterweight to the more sceptical IMC report.

But handing out the unexpected report to journalists, along
with the weightier IMC tome, only pointed up the apparent
conflict between the two commissions.

Nor did the failure of the IICD to comment on the confusion
help settle the outstanding questions. As an exercise in
public relations, it was as much a failure as Shaun
Woodward's comments on IRA criminality in December.

Following the IMC report, the DUP now appears to have
raised the bar for a deal again, demanding that the IRA
goes "out of business" before any future executive
including Sinn Fein can be formed.

DUP sources say that is effectively a demand for IRA

Maybe unionists would have sought to raise the bar anyway,
but if last autumn's IRA initiatives had been more
transparent, the DUP would have found itself under greater
pressure this spring.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/04 15:58:32 GMT


Opin: Alan Ruddock: Sinn Fein And The IRA Are Two Heads Of
The Same Monster

Aengus O Snodaigh, a Sinn Fein TD whose associates have
been known to wear masks and carry baseball bats, neatly
underlined the crazy world that is modern Irish politics in
a recent parliamentary question to Michael McDowell, the
minister for justice. O Snodaigh wanted to know if the
Irish government has been “passively or actively involved
in the carrying out of abductions by foreign secret
services on the state’s territory”.

Had the question come from Michael D Higgins, Labour’s
self-styled man of conscience, it would not merit mention.
But from O Snodaigh it brings a reminder that Northern
Ireland’s peace process has managed to corrupt politics so
absolutely on this island that the bizarre now passes for
the normal.

The Provisional IRA and some of O Snodaigh’s colleagues in
the upper echelons of Sinn Fein have engaged in many, many
abductions and murders over the years. That, of course, is
all deemed ancient history in this brave new world of
political forgiveness, but O Snodaigh’s close associates
have more recent form. Niall Binead, one of his electoral
workers, was arrested and convicted in late 2004 of his
involvement in, among other things, an IRA spy ring that
gathered intelligence on cabinet ministers and TDs.
Political subversion, pure and simple.

For O Snodaigh and his Sinn Fein colleagues, however,
actions and associations have no consequences. They inhabit
a charmed world where judgment has been suspended and where
the truth is warped so far out of shape that it becomes
inverted, or replaced by a lie.

We have allowed ourselves to swallow the propaganda that
Provisional republicanism is made up of two branches, Sinn
Fein and the IRA, even though we know they are umbilically
connected, sharing much the same leadership, the same goals
and the same determination to subvert this state.

So O Snodaigh’s question will be treated with all
seriousness, and will be met with nods of approval from the
left. He will not be asked to account for the men and woman
abducted, tortured and murdered by members of his
organisation, because it is just too awkward to drag up the
past. It’s time to move on. So no awkward questions for
Gerry Adams, please, about whether he played a role in the
abduction and murder of Jean McConville. No, let’s fret
instead about American flights to and from Shannon airport.
That’s a nice comfort zone, where moral outrage can be
vented against the Bush administration, and one in which O
Snodaigh can try and make like a normal politician rather
than a tainted mouthpiece for an organisation allowed to
live a lie.

The artificial distinction that Ireland’s political and
media establishments have drawn between Sinn Fein and the
IRA makes for a simple life. Last week Noel Conroy, the
garda commissioner, could talk about a crackdown against
the IRA’s criminal activities, and political life could
continue as normal for the IRA’s elected offspring.

The International Monitoring Commission (IMC) could report
that the IRA was still actively involved in criminality and
intelligence gathering, and Dermot Ahern, the minister for
foreign affairs, could say that the report made a
“persuasive case for politics”. And, thanks to a neat piece
of diversionary choreography, our political leaders could
choose to ignore the IMC’s assertion that the IRA might
have held on to some of its weapons, even though the
organisation assured us that it had decommissioned

Thankfully John de Chastelain’s decommissioning body chose
to counter the IMC’s warning by insisting that its
assertion last year of total decommissioning was “correct”.
He, and therefore we, can trust the IRA. How reassuring.

The big screaming lie in all of this is, of course, that
false distinction between Sinn Fein and the IRA. They are
effectively one and the same, and the continued existence
of the military wing of the provisional movement says all
that needs to be said about its bona fides. Sinn Fein/IRA
represents a criminal conspiracy against this state. It is
immersed in crime, is engaged in intelligence gathering,
may or may not have retained an armed capability, and
remains wedded to its own interpretations of what
constitutes a criminal act.

And what do we do? We clap Sinn Fein on the back, pretend
the IRA is separate, and tell Ian Paisley’s Democratic
Unionist party it had better get used to the idea of going
into government with them.

Conroy can crack down on IRA crime, but there will be no
political consequences for Sinn Fein. The hypocrisy will
grow ever deeper. Sinn Fein will soon, we are told, agree
to accept the policing and justice systems in Northern
Ireland, though there are certain to be more concessions

One concession that the British and Irish governments will
not even attempt to extract from Sinn Fein, however, is
that it assists the police forces on both sides of the
border to shut down republican criminality.

Will Thomas “Slab” Murphy, one of the most senior Sinn
Fein/IRA godfathers, settle down for a cosy chat with Hugh
Orde, the head of the Northern Irish police service, and
with Conroy, and open his heart to them both? Will he hand
over his accounts, map out the money trails and help ensure
that the proceeds of the IRA’s crimes are handed back to
the proper authorities? Will renegades be pinpointed,
affidavits signed and prosecutions assisted?

Or will “community” policing become a new euphemism for
sectarian paramilitary control of an increasingly
Balkanised Northern Ireland? You decide.


Opin: No Settlement In The North For At Least Five Years

05 February 2006 By Vincent Browne

No reinstatement of the institutions of the Good Friday
Agreement, no agreement on policing, continuing involvement
by paramilitaries in criminality and sporadic violence.

But in the long run it won’t matter, for the trajectory of
events in the North was set more than 12 years ago.
Ultimately, there will be an accommodation, if not communal
reconciliation - or rather conciliation.

Tony Blair will be long gone from the political scene.
Bertie Ahern may still be around, but that says little
about any timeframe, for he may be around as Taoiseach for
another decade or so, even if he doesn’t want to be. Ian
Paisley will hardly be around and we can’t say about Gerry
Adams because some day, one of his former - or even present
- comrades may conclude he has subverted the struggle for
Irish freedom.

It would be preferable if there were a ‘settlement’ this
year - a reinstatement of the power-sharing institutions
and the all-Ireland bodies, acceptance by Sinn Fein of the
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), an end to
exiling, intelligence-gathering and criminality. But it
won’t happen this year, nor next, nor realistically for
many years - for two reasons.

The first and less important reason is because it will take
time for the IRA to disengage from all that it did best for
so many years. The situation has been transformed by the
ending of the IRA murder campaign.

But an organisation engaged for nearly 30 years in what it
considered a ‘‘war’’ against ‘‘occupation’’ - which, it
believed, gave it licence to do almost anything - cannot
change its nature, culture and way of doing things in a
short few years.

This is all the more true when that organisation has been
disoriented by conflicting signals from its own leadership
- at one time suggesting that the ending of terrorism was
merely a short-term tactic to gain political advantage, and
at another time suggesting that the raison d’etre of the
organisation was now no more.

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) put it nicely
in the report it issued a few days ago: ‘‘Like an oil
tanker, the organization will take a while to turn
completely and there is likely to be added turbulence in
the wash as it does so.”

It said the IRA was still engaged in ‘‘intelligence-
gathering’’ and had ‘‘no present intention of doing
otherwise’’. It said this was authorised by the leadership,
including some very senior members, but that this
intelligence gathering was predominantly ‘‘directed towards
supporting the political strategy’’.

It is hard to believe this isn’t true, since members of the
organisation associated with Sinn Fein TD Aongus O Snodaigh
were found to be gathering in format ion in the Republic on
the personal movements and associations of ministers and

The point of all this is difficult to ascertain. If it was
the intention to kill certain persons, then information on
their movements would be useful, but, otherwise, what is
the point? Blackmail? But how, plausibly, could Sinn Fein
engage in that without being caught and shamed? Maybe it’s
a case of idle hands needing something to do.

The anxiety is that it signals an intention to revert to
‘‘war’’ at some stage - or at least to leave that option
open. But this same IMC report said repeatedly that the
movement has eschewed the option of reverting to terrorism.

The criminality stuff is hardly surprising. The republican
movement, it is said, has loads of cash that it wants to
launder. This isn’t harmless. It is unacceptable that any
political organisation would have access to massive
financial resources to bias the political system in its
favour. For the same reason, it is unacceptable that any
political party would have access to private cash (such as
cash obtained from wealthy donors) to bias the political
system in its favour.

But I wonder about the reality of this Provo cash hoard. I
have known several of the IRA leadership over the last 35
years - Sean McStiofain, David O’Connell, Joe Cahill,
Seamus Twomey and Gerry Adams - and one thing that always
struck me about them was how impecunious they were.

They had no personal cash. They lived frugal lives. Often
their families were impoverished. So how is it that, if the
Provos had such access to such huge financial resources,
they would not or could not afford their leaders even a
modest income - especially since, if the propaganda is to
be believed, these men ran the republican movement

The tanker will take some time to turn - even though it has
been turning for at least 12 years - and the wash in the
wake will continue to cause turbulence for a while,
postponing, for instance, Sinn Fein’s involvement in the
Police Authority and general acceptance of the PSNI. But it
will happen.

The second, and by far more crucial, reason why there will
not be a ‘settlement’ for years is because the unionist
community is not ready.

Part of this unreadiness is because of a deep-rooted
unwillingness to share power with Catholics, but I believe
this is a minor factor now. After all, the DUP now has no
compunction about sharing power with the SDLP - remember
Paisley’s opposition to the Sunningdale Unionist SDLP
power-sharing arrangement in 1974 - and it has no
compunction in coming to Dublin and lobbying Bertie Ahern
to support its agenda.

A substantial reason for unionist opposition to sharing
power with republicans derives from the memory of the
murder campaign of republicans against their community over
the years 1970 to 1994.

The IRA murdered over half the people killed in the North
during the ‘Troubles’ - more than 1,500 people. Many of
these people were murdered in the most gruesome
circumstances, either being blown to bits by IRA bombs or
being assassinated, often in front of their families.

What was done by the IRA was an abomination and it is
unrealistic to expect the representatives of the community
that was the main victim of those abominations to be ready
so soon to share power in government with those they regard
- reasonably - as the persons responsible.

The unionists failed to see how they were the main
beneficiaries of the Good Friday Agreement, the crucial
part of which required nationalists on the island of
Ireland to abandon nationalism so that the constitutional
future of the North would be determined, not by the people
of the island as a whole (the nationalist position), but by
the people of the North (the unionist position).

Unionists have failed to see generally how the situation
has been transformed to their advantage, and the reason for
this is mistrust of those who conducted a campaign of
murder against them for 34 years.

It will indeed take a long time for that tanker to turn. *


Opin: The Provos Have Badly Overplayed Their Hand

Ed Moloney
04 February 2006

No one with any knowledge of the tangled history of the
peace process should be in the slightest bit surprised at
assertions from the Independent Monitoring Commission that
the IRA has retained a range of weapons despite a pledge
earlier this year that the organisation has handed over all
its arms to be decommissioned. Some will say that the
reason has to do with the Provos' self-appointed role as
defenders of the Catholic community, especially in Belfast.
Others will maintain that the IRA has kept guns to defend
its own members against rival republicans or dissidents.
While there is probably a bit of truth in both those
theories the most convincing reason has to do with the
strategy Gerry Adams and his advisers have remorselessly,
and some would say tiresomely, deployed during the peace

Throughout each phase of the process the demeanour and
response of the IRA and Sinn Fein leaderships to events has
been remarkably similar and consistent: do just enough not
to lose the support of the British and Irish governments or
enough to seriously unsettle their own supporters, but
never do enough to satisfy unionists sufficiently that they
will embrace the notion of sharing power with Sinn Fein.

This helped to create a tension within the process from
which Sinn Fein made great gains.

The refusal or reluctance of unionists to share power over,
for instance, the IRA's unwillingness to decommission or to
do so convincingly, allowed Sinn Fein to portray unionists
as unreasonable bigots and to present itself to northern
and southern nationalists as sincere seekers of peace
constantly thwarted by irreformable political dinosaurs.

That this was a successful stratagem is beyond doubt. On
both sides of the border nationalist voters flocked to Sinn
Fein, the SDLP all but collapsed and it looked as though it
would only be a matter of time before Sinn Fein knees were
under the cabinet table in Dublin. The tribal imperative
worked its way through unionism as well, leading to David
Trimble's fall and the rise of the DUP, a development which
promised even more resistance to power sharing and was thus
entirely to Sinn Fein's liking.

Meanwhile the governments in London and Dublin facilitated
and indulged Sinn Fein, minimising the gap between the
party's rhetoric and its actions, consistently turning a
Nelson's eye to IRA activity no matter how egregious, and
each time making themselves appear weaker and more of an
easy pushover. All grist to the Provos' mill.

This week's IMC report shows that the Adams leadership is
still playing the same game. Evidence that the IRA still
has guns, that its members (up to chief-of-staff level,
incidentally) are still involved in criminality and that
the IRA's intelligence department is still at its work,
albeit mostly on behalf of Sinn Fein was not, and never
would be, enough to derail Tony Blair or Bertie Ahern but
clearly will deter the DUP from considering power-sharing
with Sinn Fein for a long time. What is most surprising
about all this is that it shows an astonishing lack of
strategic nous on the part of Sinn Fein, a party often
credited with an abundance of such skill. Times have
changed but Gerry Adams and his advisers behave as if they
have stood still. While in the past such tactics would reap
a benefit, now they will not.

The most important development in this regard was the
decommissioning of the IRA's war arsenal earlier this year.
Notwithstanding the retention of some guns, the fact is
that the IRA no longer has the wherewithal to wage war
against the British. It has been de-fanged and everyone
knows that.

The other thing that is different now is that more and more
people recognise that the Provos tell lies in the way that
normal folk breathe - that is all the time. This was the
principal consequence for the IRA and Sinn Fein of the
Northern Bank robbery and the cover -up of the McCartney
murder, and it means that when Martin McGuinness fulminates
about the IMC only the faithful really believe him.

Opinion polls in the South - Adams' popularity down 23 %,
SF's by 25% since 2004 - indicate that this realisation has
helped to burst Sinn Fein's bubble. The SDLP's new found
confidence and assertiveness suggests they also have begun
to realise that.

The fact that the IRA's war is over and cannot be re-
started means that the Provos' leverage over events has
diminished significantly. Add to that a widespread, cross-
community weariness with the never-ending peace process and
you have some powerful arguments in favour of putting
Stormont and the power-sharing Executive on the back burner
for a long, long time.

Most people may be happy to settle for the peace, however
imperfect. That's one conclusion. The other is that the
Provos have badly overplayed their hand.

Ed Moloney is author of "A Secret History of the IRA."


Opin: No End Insight For The Other Irish War

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

WHEN you talk about the end of conflict, it depends what
conflict you are talking about.

There is another war going on, the one that’s not being
waged by diehard republican splinter groups or by drug-
fuelled loyalist hoods.

No, this is a horse of a different colour. It’s the war on
the ideological front. And for some of its generals, this
war will never be over.

The film Magnolia has a recurring motif about outlandish

One tells the story of the young man who decides to end it
all by throwing himself off the roof of his apartment

At the same time, in the family apartment below, his
parents are having a violent row.

His mother grabs a gun and shoots at the father but misses.
The bullet passes through the window and kills the young
man as he plummets towards the ground.

For some strange reason, I was reminded of that on
Wednesday, when the International Monitoring Commission
(IMC) report was published.

The IMC wasn’t yet ready to award any gold stars to the
IRA. One of the negatives it dwelt on was money-laundering.

By a curious coincidence, the authorities on both sides of
the Border chose that very day to make very public a series
of raids they had carried out targeted at - you’ll never
guess - IRA money-laundering.

Did Justice Minister Michael McDowell have anything to say
about all that? Well, diligent reporters managed to coax a
few words out of him.

“The good news from today’s story is that the battle to get
those assets into safe hands and to deprive paramilitary
and subversive people of their use for whatever purposes is
ongoing and succeeding,” he said.

For some, the war will never be over. For McDowell and his
predecessor in justice, John O’Donoghue, the republican
movement will remain a threat to the State irrespective of
its mode. The private army will remain the private army
even if its arsenal is composed of ballot boxes and bulging
war chests.

All of this shows up the internal imbalance in the
Government’s response to republicanism and its journey away
from violence.

Even a cursory study of the IMC report on Wednesday will
have told you why Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair went to so
much trouble the previous week.

You can’t expect everything to happen immediately, they
said then. Look at the big picture - July 28 IRA statement
and full decommissioning. You can’t deny that they weren’t
significant, Blair said in his sugary-sincere way.

Preempting the IMC report did not fully soften its sting.
The report was more negative than what Ahern and Blair had
braced us for.

The IRA still held a “range of different kinds of weapons
and ammunition” that should have been decommissioned, it
surmised. It dwelt on money-laundering, on intelligence
gathering, hinted that the Provos were exerting a sinister
influence on community restorative justice programmes in
some areas.

Ahern & Ahern did their best to gloss over these things.
But the IMC itself did not seem as enthusiastic; John
Alderdice pointedly said he was not as confident as John de
Chastelain that the IRA had not retained guns.

And what were we to make of the CAB raids? Is the
Government operating a dual strategy of simultaneously
giving the IRA a slap on the back and a kick up the
backside? Are the divergent approaches of the Aherns and
McDowell all accommodated to coax republicans to peace, and
tear them to pieces (morally and electorally)?

Yes, there needs to be accountability. And yes, republicans
will have to fully embrace the democratic institutions and
the rule of law. But what are people going to do about the
big dark chasm that is the world of loyalist paramilitarism
and criminality?

The most extraordinary - but seldom mentioned - statistics
the IMC reports contain are those related to loyalist
violence. There were zero republican shootings last Autumn.
There were over 20 involving loyalists, who have carried
out at least twice as many assaults as republicans since

Do the unionist parties, especially the DUP, have no
responsibility at all in dealing with that crisis?

Or does the never ending ideological war have only enough
room for one never-ending enemy of the people?


Opin: Why Rush Into A Deal When We've Waited So Long?

Barry White
04 February 2006

Suddenly, after nothing seemed to be happening, everything
is happening at once. Peter Hain has told us we're a basket
case, economically and educationally - although we knew it
already - and our two paramilitary-watchers, the IMC and
the IICD, have fallen out over the IRA's hardware.

We're spending too much on bureaucracy and the public
sector, said the Secretary of State, just as his Minister
for Sport and Political Development was busy writing
cheques for the Nomadic and the Stadium of History at the
Maze. (That'll be a million or two to get the engineless
boat here and at least £200m, I suppose, before the first
fans reach the superbowl.)

Don't get me wrong. Buying the H&W relic had to be done,
giving us a chance to see what the cost of keeping it as a
shipyard memento will be. Belfast has far too few visitor
attractions, apart from the murals and the City Hall, and
we should make as much of the Titanic quarter - including
the classic pump house - as we can.

Meanwhile, the search for the holy grail of power-sharing
will be renewed on Monday at Hillsborough, with the usual
fevered speculation. Messrs Hain and Ahern will go through
the usual rituals, talking up the prospects, and when the
camera catches the politicians, we'll get a different

(How does anyone know, one way or another, about the IRA's
weapons? It is ridiculous to say they've all, all gone, or
that there are lots left, because there's no way of proving
it. Liars and spinners all.)

It's all go, in the political talks, but what exactly is
the hurry? We waited eight years for the IRA to deliver on
decommissioning and the whole world knows we're not ready
for a deal, nor is there any chance of a return to war. Let
it sit, and let Sinn Fein have a think about how they can
get back to 1998, when there was enough trust in them to
let David Trimble joke across the Executive table with
Martin McGuinness.

Angry exchanges in television studios, or accusations of
bovine manure against the IMC worthies - from Dublin,
London, Belfast and America - aren't going to win hearts
and minds. Sinn Fein will remain out in the cold, unable to
prove that if they're in government here, they're
respectable enough to join a coalition in Dublin.

They badly want to get back to Stormont, but they haven't
yet grasped that no one can help them but themselves.
Although Tony Blair will do all he can, to cement his one
political success, he can't restore power-sharing without
unionists' support _ and they will insist on a far less
accident-prone agreement than the last one.

The only hope for Sinn Fein is to acknowledge, for once,
that they've made mistakes and try a little confidence-
building. They've taken on their own diehards, and won, and
they should be confident enough to begin to identify with
the institutions of the state, starting with the Policing

If that's too much for them, and it may be, they should
forget about achieving political power, because they can
only win it through accommodation, and settle for a
permanent protest role. Will they accept that in the brave
new cost-cutting Ulster, Catholic, as well as State
schools, will have to close or amalgamate?

Peter Hain is trying to encourage them, by talking of a
"joined-up" strategy with Dublin on inward investment, but
I'm waiting for the first factory that the south sends
northward. There's no alternative, for Sinn Fein, to
getting stuck into northern politics and attacking the
sectarian divides, like the left-wing party they claim to
be. Who knows, they might eventually recruit some non-
republican left wingers.


Ltr to Editor: British Army On Parade

The British Army will be shortly marching in St Paul at
the Xcel Energy Center. The soldiers of the Black Watch
Regimental Band will hold drums and pipes instead of
weapons but make no mistake about it they are marching
across America to serve the political objectives of Her
Majesty’s Government. How so? Well for one the Irish
peace process as defined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement is
tanking. A key sticking point is the investigation of
assassinations and bombings linked to the British Army.

Now Britain’s failure to live up to Irish treaties is
nothing new. They have done what they wished and literally
gotten away with murder over the centuries. But the Good
Friday Agreement was different and unique. It was the
first crafted with U. S. involvement and is monitored by
a Special Advisor in the Department of State. The failure
to restore democracy in the North doesn’t bother the
British nor does it bother the U. S. But inquiries into
the British Army could be a public relations disaster in
the U. S. . .

This stonewalling on the investigations by England may
come as a surprise to many Americans but not for students
of their brutal retention of six Irish counties. British
historian Peter Ellis depicts the British Army as having
“.. a record of dishonor unmatched by any security service
in Western Europe.” There are several generations living
in the carefully crafted Catholic ghettos of the North of
Ireland who hope never again to see the Black Watch or
any British Army regiment on their streets. While serving
in the North, the Black Watch, Scots Guard, Queens Own
Highlanders and others have killed over 160 civilians
“in disputed circumstances” including fourteen boys and
girls under 16 years of age, 10 women and two priests.
These are not combat deaths. These are what the Derry
Coroner described in 1972 as “sheer, unadulterated murder”
after the British Paratroop regiment slaughtered 14

But is this ancient history? Isn’t the Irish conflict
over? The armed conflict may be at an end but the British
know a real investigation into the Army’s work with
loyalists in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and
assassinations of public figures could expose their role as
an occupier instead of the defender image they have so
carefully cultivated. That’s why public relations
exercises including money losers like this colorful
military pageantry are necessary.

Consider some recent British Army developments:

:: Two members of the Scots Guards regiment were convicted by a British Court of murdering 18 year old Peter McBride
and after serving 2 years of a life sentence were restored
to rank. Thieves and drug users are not admitted to the
British Army but murderers of Irish Catholics are always

:: The mass murder of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings cost 33
lives and injured or maimed 274 men, women and children.
It was Ireland’s equivalent of 9/11. Last year the British
Ministry of Defense refused Irish government inquires on
the bombings. England refused to extradite for questioning
three Ulster Defense Regiment members sought by the Irish
government. The British have never been held to account
for this crime which is one of the investigations required
by the Agreement. The other was to examine the Army
involvement in the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and
Rosemary Nelson. Two years ago the British slipped in a
law at the final hour of a Parliament to make sure the
investigation would not be public.

:: In 2002 the Stevens Commission reported that a special
intelligence unit of the British Army did supply personal
data to loyalist vigilantes who then killed hundreds
including 6 elected Sinn Fein officials and 9 party workers
from 1986-1990. And these are our partners in bringing
democracy to Iraq?

Her Majesty’s Government should end these propaganda
performances and face the music of their misdeeds in
Northern Ireland. Unless and until those investigations
are fully and publicly conducted and released, the Black
Watch regiment band deserves not the applause of an
appreciative audience but the protest of a concerned

Dr. Robert C. Linnon, National President
Irish Amerivan Unity Conference
611 Pennsylvania Ave Se, #4150
Washington, D. C. 20003


Opin: Cooler Heads Must Prevail

By Cynthia Tucker

The Statue of Liberty gives the wrong impression. Its
fabled inscription - “Give me your tired, your poor, your
huddled masses yearning to breathe free” - is a collection
of beautiful, empty words, a kind of trick welcome mat.
When the tired, poor, etc. have the temerity to show up,
the first thing we do is try to yank that welcome mat out
from under them.

As much as we like to lay claim to our history as a nation
of immigrants, the story of newcomers' assimilation is a
complicated one - a tale of gradual and uneasy
accommodation. Europeans arrived on these shores
desperately poor, many illiterate and unable to speak
English. And many of those who did weren't quickly
embraced. Seeking work or lodging, Irish immigrants were
often greeted with signs that read, “No dogs or Irish

It's worth keeping that history in mind as a controversy
over illegal immigration rages anew. Despite the rants of
the nativists - those who would round up all undocumented
workers and ship them back, sealing our borders behind them
- the United States will survive this wave of immigrants.
Indeed, we will probably be better off for their coming.
Without immigrants, an aging U.S. population would be as
moribund as Japan's, with little prospect of younger
workers to support a huge cohort of retirees.

Edging black Americans into second place, Latinos are now
the nation's largest minority group, accounting for about
14 percent of the population. And that influx has spread
beyond the border states. Since 1990, there has been a
tenfold increase in the number of immigrants living beyond
border areas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Does the influx of illegal immigrants create burdens?
Certainly. In some communities - especially small cities
with fewer financial resources - taxpayers are rightly
frustrated by schools forced to accommodate non-English
speakers, hospital emergency rooms beset by uninsured
patients, and perceptions of higher crime rates. And actual
crime. There are towns and cities where home-cooked
methamphetamine is being replaced by “ice,” a purer and
more potent form of meth manufactured in Mexico and brought
in by drug smugglers.

But the bigger problem may stem from the tendency of
illegal immigrants to work so hard in jobs that pay so
little. A huge pool of undocumented workers tends to
suppress wages for low-skilled jobs, damaging the economic
prospects of other menial laborers, especially low-skilled
black men.

With race and class, crime and economic competition all
thrown in, it's no wonder illegal immigration is such a
touchy subject. It's one that desperately needs cooler
heads and thoughtful leadership.

In his State of the Union speech next week, President Bush
ought to address the growing backlash over illegal
immigration with a dose of straightforward common sense,
reminding Americans that most immigrants, including those
who came here illegally, are productive and law-abiding.
And he ought to own up to federal responsibilities,
including providing resources to communities swamped by
immigrants needing medical care, housing and education.

The president ought to make it clear as well that business
owners should be harshly prosecuted for hiring undocumented
workers. (To make that stick, the feds first have to
institute a reliable and efficient system that allows
employers to quickly check a potential employee's
immigration status. That system doesn't currently exist.)

Reducing the job supply would do more to curb illegal
immigration than any shortsighted policy to deny them
medical or educational benefits. Of course, pointing the
finger at employers would alienate one of the GOP's most
reliable constituencies: business.

Equally important, Bush ought to stand up to the nativist
bullies in his own party. Let's face it: Some of the
backlash grows out of simple jingoism, a resentment of
those who look and sound different.

Just listen to the words of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-
Colo., renowned immigrant-basher:

“I tell you that we are facing a situation, where if we
don't control immigration, legal and illegal, we will
eventually reach the point where it won't be what kind of a
nation we are, balkanized or united, we will actually have
to face the fact that we are no longer a nation at all.
That is the honest to God eventual outcome of this kind of
massive immigration combined with the cult of
multiculturalism that permeates our society.”

That sort of claptrap only inflames prejudices. The
president ought to say that, too.


Cancer Victim's Family Awarded €325,000

01/02/2006 - 18:02:36

The High Court in Dublin today approved a settlement of
€325,000 for the family of a woman who died of cancer eight
years ago.

Anne Broderick of Shankill, Dublin, known as Lulu, was only
30 years of age and the mother of a five-year-old girl when
she died in 1998.

The High Court heard she had three smear tests between 1989
and 1993 in the UK and Ireland but was not told of
abnormalities or they were not detected.

Her family sued the Coombe Hospital, Dublin and the Mount
Vernon Hospital in Middlesex, England. Mr Justice Richard
Johnson today approved the settlement.

In November 1989, Ms Broderick had attended another UK
hospital for a cervical smear test and the results were
sent to her GP in London. The advice from the hospital to
her GP was that a follow up examination was necessary and a
repeat smear test be carried out in six months.

The GP informed Ms Broderick the test was normal and
accordingly no follow up test was carried out.

In February 1992 Ms Broderick had another smear test with
was carried out in the Mount Vernon Hospital in the UK on
February 13, 1992. The test failed to detect any

On January 15, 1993 Ms Broderick gave birth to her daughter
at the Coombe Hospital and was referred for a further
cervical smear test.

This test was carried out in the Coombe on March 4, 1993.
It was claimed that the test and the investigation and
interpretation of the results by the Coombe Hospital failed
to identify any abnormality.

In March 1994, Ms Broderick was referred by a doctor in the
UK to the Mount Vernon hospital and was discharged in April
without any diagnosis of her condition or the cause of her

On May 6, 1994 Ms Broderick underwent a biopsy of her
cervix in the Coombe Hospital which showed the presence of
cervical carcinoma.

A large tumour was confirmed by investigations under
general anaesthetic on May 25, 1994. Two days later Ms
Broderick had a hysterectomy. She died four years later on
April 21 ,1998.

It was claimed that the Coombe Hospital was negligent
carrying out an assessment and reporting on a smear that
was inadequate and unreliable and failing to request a
repeat smear.

It was claimed that the Mount Vernon Hospital was negligent
in relation to the February 13, 1992 test for failing to
have regard to the presence of numerous severely dysaryotic
cells in the smear and misinterpreting the smear.

The court heard Anne Broderick was 30 years of age at the
time of her death and had been employed by Roches Stores up
to June 1997.

It was claimed that she was a hard working and industrious
person and her death has created a huge emotional loss for
the members of her family.

Outside the court, Ms Broderick's husband Kieran said he
did not feel victorious in relation to the settlement of
the proceedings .

"No award of money can replace a mother for a child, a wife
for a husband," he said.

He said he and Anne had been childhood sweethearts . His
wife had begun the court proceedings initially but had died
just days before a court hearing. She had made provisions
in her will for her family to continue the action.


Ógra Shinn Féin Launches National Suicide Prevention

Published: 4 February, 2006

At their National Congress in Dublin this afternoon, Ógra
Shinn Féin launced a nationwide suicide prevention
campaign. This campaign will focus on the dissemination of
information and the demand for an all Ireland approach to
suicide awareness. It will also lobby the Irish and British
governments to ensure that suicide prevention receives the
priority, the funding and resources it requires.

Announcing details of the campaign Ógra Shinn Féin National
Executive member from Derry Andrea O’Keane said:

“People taking their own lives or attempting to take their
own lives is a major social issue on the island of Ireland.
It is estimated internationally that 1 million people take
their own lives every year. Ireland has the second highest
suicide rate in Europe, this rate has increased by more
than 25% over the last decade. Suicide is the biggest
killer of young people in Ireland therefore it is
imperative that Ógra begin campaigning and disseminating
information on this issue.

“There were 577 reported deaths by suicide in the year
2003-2004, a greater death toll than the number of people
killed in road traffic accidents over the same time period
and although statistics are strikingly high amongst young
men, suicide transcends class, gender, and age, ethnic or
religious background. It is suggested that the death toll
from suicide over the last 35 years may be even greater
than the number of people killed as a result of the
political conflict.

“Ógra Shinn Féin’s campaign will focus on the dissemination
of information and the demand for an all Ireland approach
to suicide awareness. It will also lobby the Irish and
British governments to ensure that suicide prevention
receives the priority, the funding and resources it

Speaking at the Congress Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP
commended their campaign on suicide awareness and
prevention. The Sinn Fein leader also revealed that the
Minister of Health Mary Harney has yet to formally reply to
repeated requests from him to meet on the issue of suicide

Mr. Adams said:

“Ireland has the second highest incidence of suicide in
Europe. That is a startling and depressing statistic which
disguises the human cost in lives lost and of families
bereaved and left grieving.

It is the biggest killer of young people in our country.
That makes suicide a national disaster. Our country
urgently needs a national plan to address this crisis.

In the 26 Counties the government established a Suicide
Task Force some years ago which has seen welcome progress
being made. In the north we need a regional plan for
suicide prevention.

But the issue of suicide also needs to be tackled on an
all-Ireland basis. Specifically it should be made an area
of co-operation under the auspices of the North-South
Ministerial Council.

In that context I welcome meetings between the Health
Minister Mary Harney and the British Health Minister Shaun

However, I have yet to receive a formal response from the
Minister of Health Mary Harney to repeated requests from me
for a meeting to discuss this issue. I first asked for a
meeting with her in May of last year and my office has been
in regular contact with Ms Harney’s officials since then.

Concern about suicide is greatest in local communities.
Alongside the anguish of bereavement, there is a growing
sense of burn-out. Families do not receive the support they
need to cope with the strain of someone who is feeling
suicidal, or with the aftermath of someone who takes his or
her own life. Many other parents carry a sense of dread,
worrying about the fate of their own children.

The Ógra Shinn Féin Suicide prevention campaign being
launched today is aimed at increasing awareness about this
problem, particularly but not exclusively among young


Vatican Refuses To Intervene In Cobh Cathedral Argument

05 February 2006 By Kieron Wood

Bishop John Magee of Cloyne travelled to Rome two weeks ago
to enlist the aid of the curia in pushing through
controversial proposals to ‘‘reorder’’ the sanctuary of the
Pugin cathedral which dominates Cobh harbour.

But Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian prefect of the
Congregation for Divine Worship, told Magee that it was up
to the bishop to persuade local people of the merits of his
proposals. In 1998,Magee told a public meeting that no
changes would be made without the consent of parishioners.

Although more than 24,000 people signed a petition opposing
the suggested changes, the bishop lodged a planning
application last July. At the time, Magee said that the
proposed changes had been ‘‘submitted by me to the relevant
congregation in Rome and received its approval’’. But
protesters argued that the changes were not mandated by
Church law or by the Vatican.

Magee travelled to Rome on January 24 with Monsignors Denis
Reidy and James O’Donnell. At the bishop’s request, the
three met Arinze and three officials of his congregation.
The diocese said the liturgical ordering of churches was
the responsibility of the diocesan bishop, so approval by
the Vatican was not necessary.

Cobh Town Council granted permission for the changes last
September, despite more than 200 objections from
individuals and groups. An appeal was lodged in October. An
Bord Pleanala was due to announce its decision on February
13, but has now agreed to an oral hearing, which will be
held on February 28.

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