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March 22, 2006

Family Backs Ahern Finucane Doubt

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 03/22/06 Family Backs Ahern Finucane Doubt
IT 03/22/06 Finucane Inquiry Findings May Be Suppressed
BB 03/22/06 Impasse Due To 'Poor Leadership'
SF 03/22/06 Time To Get Institutions Back Up And Running
BB 03/22/06 Unionist Anger Over Blair Remarks
DI 03/22/06 Eamon Dunphy: ‘Irish Society Is Corrupt’
BN 03/22/06 McCord Meets Ahern Over Son's Murder
DI 03/22/06 SDLP: ‘DUP Shouldn’t Be Indulged’
DI 03/22/06 Ex-President Blasts US Over Human Rights
BB 03/22/06 Protesters 'Behaved Like Nazis'
BB 03/22/06 Hoax Device At SDLP Man's House
BN 03/22/06 Dissidents Blamed For Hoax Bomb At SDLP Man’s Home
BT 03/22/06 Police Ombudsman Staff In PSNI Probe
SF 03/22/06 Gerry Adams Welcomes ETA Ceasefire
BN 03/22/06 Opin: Reasons Sought For Detaining Adams
BB 03/22/06 Opin: Iraq War Allies Remain In Step
BT 03/22/06 Opin: Lindy McDowell: Gerry Has Woes In Washington
BN 03/22/06 One-Third Of Irish Lakes And Rivers Still Polluted
BN 03/22/06 McAleese To Mark Davitt's Centenary In UK
DI 03/22/06 Women Injured After Falls From Cliffs


Family Backs Ahern Finucane Doubt

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have backed
the Taoiseach's criticism of the British government's plan
for a restricted inquiry.

Bertie Ahern told the Dail that Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain is seeking a judge to head the inquiry.

However, Mr Ahern said this was proving difficult as the
international legal community has advised its members
against accepting the position.

Mr Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead by the UDA
in 1989.

It is one of the most controversial murders of the
Troubles, with allegations of collusion.

Prominent lawyers

His son Michael said prominent lawyers have already been
critical of the British government's plans to carry out the
inquiry under the Inquiries Act, which the family argues
cannot establish the truth.

"Justice Peter Cory, who wrote the report recommending an
inquiry into my father's murder, said no self-respecting
judge could accept a position and that he would urge his
colleagues on the Canadian bench to decline if offered," he

"Lord Saville, the chairman of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry,
was quoted as saying he would not be prepared to preside
over an inquiry if at his back was a minister making

In a statement on Tuesday, the Northern Ireland Office said
the restrictions on the inquiry would only apply to the
bare minimum necessary to protect national security and to
fulfil the government's legal obligations.

It said the inquiry's conclusions would be made public,
including whether or nor there was collusion.

Earlier this month, an all-party motion in the Dail - the
Irish parliament - called for for the British government to
hold "a full, independent, public judicial inquiry".

Judge Peter Cory, the retired Canadian judge who
investigated several controversial NI murders, also
recommended a full, public inquiry.


Mr Ahern told the Dail on Tuesday: "Secretary of State
Peter Hain told me on Thursday that he was going ahead with
his inquiry and that they are seeking a venue.

"I am told they have a venue for the autumn.

"They are also seeking a judge. I understand from
international connections that they are having great
difficulty getting a judge."

Mr Ahern said he did not believe the inquiry would satisfy

"It will take five years to do it and it will cost 50m
euro, nobody will ever believe it, at least none of the
people we must try to represent," he said.

"Perhaps some people in the United Kingdom will believe it,
although I have my doubts about that too, especially where
the legal profession is concerned."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/22 07:49:39 GMT


Finucane Inquiry Findings May Be Suppressed

The British government conceded last night it could
suppress findings of a public inquiry into the murder of
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

The argument of protecting national security could be used
to hold back publication of the full report of the inquiry,
the Northern Ireland Office said.

Pat Finucane

The admission came after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the
Dail that the British government was pressing ahead with
the setting up on an inquiry into the murder of Mr Finucane
under the controversial Inquiries Act despite widespread

The Finucane family, the Dail, human rights groups and many
international lawyers have opposed the use of the Inquiries
Act for the probe because it gives ministers a say over
what is published.

Mr Ahern told the Dail that Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain had told him he was seeking a judge to head the
inquiry which should get under way later in the year.
However, Mr Ahern said securing a judge to chair the
hearing would not be easy as the international legal
community had advised its members against accepting the

Earlier this month, the Dail passed an all-party motion
calling for an independent inquiry into allegations of
state collusion in the 1989 murder.

The Finucane family, the murdered lawyer's widow Geraldine
and their sons, have campaigned far and wide against the
use of the Inquiries Act. They have visited British Prime
Minister Tony Blair in London, Mr Ahern in Dublin, Brussels
and Washington, and said they will not take part in the
inquiry if it is established under the Act.

Mr Hain has decided to go ahead despite the opposition.

The Northern Ireland Office said the suggestion that
ministers could impose restrictions on evidence to an
inquiry under the Inquiries Act was wrong. A spokesman
said: "Ministers will have no say in who the inquiry calls
or what evidence it sees." The inquiry would seek:
"Absolutely everything that is relevant", said the
spokesman, and have full powers to compel all documents and
evidence to be provided, and witnesses to attend.

However, crucially, the Northern Ireland Office statement
added the words the Finucane family had feared. "The
inquiry report will be published and anything held back,
redacted, will be the bare minimum to protect national
security and fulfil the Government's legal obligations.

"The inquiry's conclusions — that is what happened and
whether or not there was collusion — will certainly be made

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in their
North Belfast home by loyalist gunmen and there have been
continuing allegations of British security force collusion
in the murder.

© The Irish Times/


Impasse Due To 'Poor Leadership'

Northern Ireland's politicians are out of step with
ordinary people who strongly support the restoration of the
assembly, according to a report.

University of Edinburgh researchers examined devolution in
Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

They blamed the political logjam in Northern Ireland on a
"failure of leadership".

However, they said structures set up by the 1998 Agreement
encouraged sectarian politics rather than co-operation.

They also found support among DUP voters for power-sharing
doubled between 1998 and 2003.

The findings follow an extensive £5m investigation into
Devolution in the UK - The Impact on Politics, Economy and
Society by the Economic and Social Research Council.

A total of 38 research projects were carried out, 17 of
which dealt with the situation in Northern Ireland.

Professor Charlie Jeffrey, Professor of Politics from the
University of Edinburgh, said devolution was popular among
people from both communities in Northern Ireland.

"Exactly 50% of those questioned said an assembly should
have most influence over the way the province is run," he

"And more than 50% plump for either a devolved parliament
or assembly as their preferred constitutional option for
Northern Ireland".

Direct rule

The research said the prospect of politicians to co-operate
has become less likely amid the electoral polarisation
which has seen the DUP and Sinn Fein become the biggest
power blocks.

But it pointed out that a survey of DUP voters showed there
are signs of movement towards a position favourable for a
relaunch of devolution.

Between 1998 and 2003 support for cross-border bodies among
those voters increased from 21% to 39%; support for power-
sharing doubled from 35% to 71%; support for the assembly
rose from 69% to 73% and belief that DUP party leaders
should be willing to compromise increased from 30% to 38%.

The report concluded that while people in Northern Ireland
are favourably disposed to devolution, their political
leaders "may not be minded to take the steps that would
make devolution work".

"In the present circumstances, in particular in the absence
of a commitment to co-operation between Northern Ireland's
two largest parties, DUP and Sinn Fein", that would appear
to mean continued direct rule by Westminster".

The report found that two political shifts were needed to
break the current devolution logjam: a revisiting of the
structures set up by the Good Friday Agreement and a strong
commitment to address the "simmering resentments" in the
wider society.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/22 06:45:48 GMT


Time To Get Institutions Back Up And Running

Published: 22 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader, John O'Dowd MLA has
welcomed the publication of University of Edinburgh
research highlighting the fact that ordinary people
strongly support the restoration of the assembly and called
on all political parties to work together to get the
political institutions back up and running.

Mr O‚Dowd said:

"This report reinforces what Sinn Féin are hearing on a
daily basis not just from ordinary people but also from the
business and community sector, namely that they want an end
to direct rule and the return of the local institutions
with accountable minister taking the important decisions
about our future.

"The message is clear. It is time to get the institutions
back up and running. All political parties need to work
together. The time for excuses and barriers is over.

"In terms of tackling sectarianism and division, the best
way to show leadership is by demonstrating that we can all
work together positively to find solutions to what are
common problems faced by people no matter what community
they come from. Issues such as Industrial de-rating, water
charges, cuts to education services and access to hospitals
theses are issues that affect everyone.

"This research indicates that a majority want local elected
politicians taking responsibility instead of direct rule
ministers and that the DUP are increasingly becoming out of
step with their base. It is the time for leadership and
time to show the most reactionary sections of our society
that all of us work together for the common good.

"Sinn Féin have told the two governments what they need to
do to get the institutions back up. The two governments
should lift suspension and run d'Hondt with the purpose of
electing a First and Deputy First Minster and the
appointment of Ministers. If that fails then If this fails
then the Assembly should be scrapped and the salaries paid
to the MLAs should be withdrawn." ENDS


Unionist Anger Over Blair Remarks

Unionists have criticised Tony Blair over a reference he
made to "Protestant extremists" during a speech on global
terrorism and religious intolerance.

He said Muslims who committed acts of terrorism were no
more true to their faith than the "Protestant bigot" who
murdered Catholics in Northern Ireland.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior said this was "ill-thought out
and provocative".

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the prime
minister's remarks were "far-fetched" and "dangerous".

Mr Blair's speech in London on Tuesday was the first of
three on foreign policy and terrorism.

It comes three years after bombs started dropping on
Baghdad at the start of the US-led campaign that resulted
in the fall and eventual capture of former Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein.

He told the audience at a Reuters event that religious
extremism - including the term Islamist extremism - should
be labelled as such.

Mr Blair said he realised his remarks were going to be
controversial, but there was an "interesting debate" being
conducted within government about how to counter extremism
in British communities.

"There are those, perfectly decent-minded people, who say
the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not
true Muslims, and of course, they are right," he said.

"They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot
who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper

"But unfortunately, he's still a Protestant bigot.

"To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to
misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the
strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise
to it."

Mr Blair said terrorism "will not be defeated until its
ideas, the poison that warps the minds, its adherence, are
confronted at their essence, at their core".

Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland reacted angrily to
Mr Blair's comments, with the DUP's Ian Paisley Junior
saying it was a "studied insult of the Protestant

"The prime minister's comments, singling out Protestantism
as a root cause of terrorism, is so unbalanced that it not
only reveals (his) true nature, but also identifies a
weakness in his judgements, his character and his
understanding," he said.

Meanwhile, former Presbyterian moderator Ken Newell said
bigotry could be found in all religions and needed to be
challenged, but Mr Blair's comments were not balanced.

"I think his words were unwise and unbalanced and he does
point the finger at the Protestant community in
particular," he said.

"I know for a fact that everyone within their own faith
traditions realises that in those communities there are
people who are extreme and very bigoted."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/22 08:38:51 GMT


Eamon Dunphy: ‘Irish Society Is Corrupt’

Veteran broadcaster Dunphy blasts misuse of Dáil privilege
over Frank Connolly affair and praises SF leadership’s

David Lynch

How a slightly built midfielder for Millwall FC ended up
as the most recognisable face in Irish journalism is one of
the more intriguing stories in the history of the modern
Irish media.

Eamon Dunphy is the most capped player in Millwall’s
history but only the most passionate of Lions fans would
know him for that.

For many, he is better known as the author of biographies
of two of Ireland’s most high-profile human exports – U2
and Roy Keane. To others, he is the passionate and
entertaining face of TV soccer punditry.

But in recent years, it is as a radio broadcaster that
Eamon Dunphy has made his most enduring mark — first on
Today FM with his critically acclaimed Last Word programme
and now with The Breakfast Show with Eamon Dunphy on
Dublin’s NewsTalk 106.

It is on this show that Mr Dunphy and his team have
highlighted a number of issues that he obviously holds

One of them is the recent clash between a journalist “with
a great reputation” and justice minister Michael McDowell.

Last December, the journalist Frank Connolly denied a claim
by Mr McDowell that Mr Connolly had travelled to Colombia
on a false passport. As a result of the minister’s claim,
the funding for the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI), of
which Mr Connolly was a board member, was withdrawn by its
US-based financial supporter.

“The significance of it [the Frank Connolly controversy] is
the use of Dáil privilege to take a person’s reputation
without allowing them due process when the Director of
Public Prosecutions can’t build a case,” Mr Dunphy told
Daily Ireland in the NewsTalk 106 offices.

“It’s unjust, I feel. The Centre for Public Inquiry was, in
my view, in the public interest and there was very
respectable people like Feargus Flood involved. It was
something that we badly need, and Frank as a journalist had
a great reputation and he had exposed scandals in Donegal
and planning scandals and corruption elsewhere. He is
someone who I admire greatly and to see him taken out in
this way and to see the CPI taken out in this way is
profoundly worrying.

“The media establishment didn’t care. The political
establishment don’t care. For sure, there is not much of
the governing elite that care about the taking out of a
good investigative reporter. They are the people who have
most to worry from investigative journalism.

“We live in a corrupt society, and the corrupt people are
not going to go to the barricades to save Frank Connolly.
But I think we have found our listeners very interested and
very supportive of Frank but they do not have any voice.
For the moment, we have to wait and see what course of
action Frank chooses for himself.

“But at the moment, it’s a very shabby case that reflects
very badly on the people responsible for it and that’s
putting it mildly.”

In a linked issue, the feelings of Mr Dunphy have also been
very clear.

When five men from Co Mayo were sent to jail last year, his
show covered the issue with passion.

“The people of Rossport are trying to save their community,
trying to defend their rights as citizens. They are facing
a government and a multinational corporation that are very
powerful. In their case, our programme and other people
brought their story to the wider public’s attention and we
campaigned while they were in prison for them.

“We are a campaigning programme when we can be. I think the
more is known about what is happening in Rossport, the
better chance they have of victory in their campaign. That
is our role — to bring it to the attention of the wider

Mr Dunphy’s views over the years on everything from
politics to soccer seem to have gone through various
stages. He is evidently a man who does not believe that
changing one’s views on issues is a sign of intellectual
weakness. His writings and musings on the conflict in the
North have also developed over the past decade.

He was once one of the most trenchant critics of Sinn Féin
when working for the Sunday Independent in the 1990s. His
radio shows in recent years have been noted as forums where
views from all sides of the Northern conflict will be
listened to and respected.

Despite the change, Mr Dunphy said he still believed he had
been right to be highly critical of the IRA’s armed

“I think that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness and the Sinn
Féin leadership are remarkable people, considering what
they have achieved.

“I would generally be very supportive of what they have
done. I don’t think you can wind down a subversive
organisation in a short period of time. It might just take
a generation before it happens because the kind of people
you might need to fight a war are not necessarily the kind
of people you need to fight for peace and to go on to
democratic politics.

“Nevertheless, you have to respect what they have been
through although I detested it when it was happening. That
is my view. Unlike other revisionists, I do not stop
revising,” he said.

After almost three decades working in journalism in
Ireland, when asked to sum up how he viewed the changes in
the sector, Mr Dunphy struck a pessimistic note.

“It has not changed for the better, no. Journalism now in
Ireland is much weaker than it was when I began, which is
now 27 years ago. It does not have the crusading zeal that
it had. It’s much more interested in celebrity, style and
stories about people’s personal lives. There is nothing out
there like Magill at its best.

“There is nothing like the Sunday Tribune at its best. The
Irish Independent was a fine newspaper. The Irish Times had
its era also of fine writing. All of that seems to me to be
diminished considerably in the present highly competitive
situation. One has to say it is highly competitive out
there and that has an impact. It is not better. I think
effectively the game is dying in a way.”

However, he does still see a role for the Irish media in
highlighting issues, and he see his own radio show as part
of that.

“I work with a team of people. We are committed to our
programme and we do the best we can on a radio programme to
bring to listeners’ attention the issues that we think they
would be interested in.

“I would not make any great claims for it. We do our best.
We have always done, even back to my time on The Last Word,
issues such as the hepatitis C women. We have campaigned on
those issues. And wherever we see a cause, we try and
campaign and support it.

“I am not a lover of the Irish establishment. I detest it
and anything we can do to bring their behaviour to public
knowledge, we do.”

While the state of media and journalism may be a cause for
some despair, the future fate of the Irish international
soccer team surprisingly brings some optimism to the former
soccer international’s lips.

He praised new manager Steve Staunton’s appointment of
Robbie Keane as international captain as an “imaginative”
move. However, he said the Republic’s Euro 2008 qualifying
group would be undoubtedly “difficult”.

“I think the Czech Republic could be the strongest side in
the group actually. Slovakia will be good. I would be
optimistic that Ireland could be contenders in that group.

“But it is very early in Steve Staunton’s era to be making
any judgments. But all the signs from the recent friendly
match and what he did in the lead up to it with the media
etc were all good but it is still very early,” he said.

The Breakfast Show with Eamon Dunphy airs each weekday
morning from 7am to 9am on NewsTalk 106.


McCord Meets Ahern Over Son's Murder

22/03/2006 - 07:03:49

The father of a loyalist murder victim is to seek support
for a public inquiry when he meets Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
in Dublin today.

Raymond McCord is waging a campaign for justice over the
UVF killing of his son, Raymond Jr in north Belfast in

Nuala O’Loan, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, is due
to report on her investigation into the allegations later
this year.

Mr McCord has already met most of Northern Ireland‘s main
political parties as part of his campaign.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is among those who have
pledged their help and insisting the McCord family have the
right to the truth.

Mr McCord Jr, a 22-year-old former RAF operator, was beaten
to death and dumped in a north Belfast quarry in 1997.


‘DUP Shouldn’t Be Indulged’

SDLP leader warns against DUP notions of a shadow assembly

Jim Dee

SDLP leader Mark Durkan sat in a canteen in the bowels of
the Cannon House Office Building last week during a break
from meetings in Washington.

He mulled over the reception he had received from US

“They’re keen to support us. They’re interested. But they
just can’t understand — with all that we have going for us,
the improvements on the island at large — why people want
to continue to live on the edge of failure,” he said.

Mr Durkan spoke to Daily Ireland prior to Bertie Ahern’s
pronouncement that an assembly could be resurrected but
without a working executive for several months.

The SDLP leader insisted that the British and Irish
governments must not indulge Democratic Unionist Party
efforts to secure the formation of a shadow assembly.

“We’re saying to the governments: don’t dally around with
notions of a shadow assembly because, if the DUP get into a
shadow assembly, whatever time limit you try putting on it,
they will simply think they can order more shadow at the
end. And the governments will end up ordering more shadow
at the end. That has been their form in this process.

“So, we’re saying to the governments: show the DUP that
they don’t control the calendar. You set a clear date for
restoration. The parties can use the time between now and
that date to get things ready as they can, with parties
knowing that, if they don’t do that, they’re still not
getting away with changing that date,” said Mr Durkan.

The SDLP leader said such a scenario would leave
politicians from all sides with no one to blame but
themselves if they could not make the assembly work. “We
won’t be able to blame it on the British government or the
Irish government or the IRA. The responsibility will lie
fairly and squarely with the parties who don’t make it
work. But the parties need to be put behind that eight ball
rather than be given a free veto,” he said.

Mr Durkan acknowledged that both the DUP and the Ulster
Unionist Party had stated positions against participation
in an executive involving Sinn Féin “but people’s currently
stated positions might be different by the time we got to a
restored assembly and after the governments had set a date
[for forming the executive] and made it clear what they
were determined to proceed with,” he said.

“If the DUP and UUP won’t go along with an inclusive
executive, they will use debates in the assembly to try and
force us up to a voluntary coalition without Sinn Féin.
They know that we are not going to do that,” said Mr

“When we wouldn’t do it before, when the IRA was at all
sorts of stuff, why would we do it now when the IRA have
cleaned up their scene?”

Mr Durkan said that, two years ago, the SDLP proposed to
the two governments an alternative course of action that
could be pursued if unionists still refused to form an
inclusive executive after a specified time period.

He said the plan would have seen an executive formed, with
ministerial slots being filled by “an acting, civic panel
of administrators from outside the assembly but totally
accountable to the assembly. And those acting
administrators would not only be running the departments —
they would also re-form the North-South Ministerial

Mr Durkan said one impediment to moving things forward was
that the Democratic Unionists “know that the two
governments indulged failure and time wasting on the part
of David Trimble and the UUP. They know that the two
governments indulged failure on the part of Sinn Féin and
the IRA. And so the DUP say: ‘That’s the form in this
process, so nobody’s going to rush us.’”

The SDLP leader also accused Sinn Féin of giving the DUP
“control of the calendar on policing” by saying that Sinn
Féin would not join the Policing Board until republicans
were satisfied with policing reforms. Regarding the
Finucane family’s call for a fully independent inquiry into
the killing of the solicitor Pat Finucane, Mr Durkan said
the Blair government had acted “shamefully”.

“The fact is Tony Blair made a very clear, unambiguous
commitment that an international judge would be appointed
and, if that judge recommended a public inquiry, there
would be a public inquiry. Judge Cory made a clear
recommendation. Tony Blair has broken his word,” said Mr

The SDLP leader said that, instead of honouring his
commitments, Mr Blair had new inquiry-defining laws rushed
through Westminster “that are actually truth-suppressing in

Regarding news that MI5 is to take over intelligence
gathering, Mr Durkan said this would set a precedent of
having “a whole ambit of intelligence policing going on
outside of the PSNI, beyond the complaint mechanism of the
ombudsman, beyond the accountability of the Policing Board,
beyond the direction of any future minister or any future

“It is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and contrary
to Patten, in spite of everything that Peter Hain says,”
said Mr Durkan.


Ex-President Blasts US Over Human Rights


The United States has fallen out of step with the rest of
the world in the wake of September 11, 2001, former Irish
president Mary Robinson said yesterday.

Mrs Robinson expressed sadness and regret at Washington’s
erosion of human rights as part of its so-called war on

In a speech in central London, the former UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights praised the British courts
for taking a global lead on interpreting international
human-rights laws.

Highlighting US opposition last week to the creation of a
new UN Human Rights Council, Mrs Robinson said: “It
illustrates the seismic shift which has taken place in the
relation of the US to global rule-of-law issues.

“Today, the US no longer leads but is too often seen merely
to march out of step with the rest of the world.”

She said she hoped it was a “temporary loss of moral

Speaking at an event organised by the human-rights and law
reform group Justice, Mrs Robinson criticised the official
use of Big Brother-style language to cover up its

“Misuse of language has also led to Orwellian euphemisms,
so that ‘coercive interrogation’ is used instead of
torture, or cruel and inhuman treatment; kidnapping becomes
‘extraordinary rendition’,” she said.

The former Irish leader disputed the argument that the
post-9/11 world meant that human rights could be curtailed
in the name of security.

This would lead to democracies “losing the moral high
ground”, she said.

“Almost five years after 9/11, I think we must be honest in
recognising how far international commitment to human-
rights standards has slipped in such a short time,” she
told an audience at Middle Temple Hall.

“In the US in particular, the ambivalence about torture,
the use of extraordinary rendition, and the extension of
presidential powers have all had a powerful ‘knock-on’
effect around the world, often in countries that lack the
checks and balances of independent courts, a free press and
vigorous non-governmental organisations and academic

“The establishment of an offshore prison in Guantánamo
[and] its retention in the face of the most principled and
sustained criticism… are all aspects of this situation.”


Protesters 'Behaved Like Nazis'

People involved in a protest in south Belfast against
eastern Europeans who have moved into the area "behaved
like Nazis", the local MP has said.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said the
demonstration by several dozen people on Donegall Road was

The protesters insist the demonstration on the Donegall
Road was not racist, alleging anti-social behaviour by
people moving into the area.

However, Dr McDonnell said it was time for the police to

"I have a lot of sympathy with the economic plight and
difficulties on Donegall Road, and I have done much since I
was elected MP to ensure government channelled resources
into that area," he said.

"But how long can you go on turning the cheek in that
situation when the people are behaving like Nazis."

However, the protesters denied their demonstration on the
Donegall Road on Tuesday was down to prejudice.

Tom Morrow of the PUP said the authorities had to take
action about the alleged anti-social behaviour.

"We want to live in peace and harmony," he said.

"We have lived long enough in derelict conditions, we want
to improve our living standards."

The protest came a day after three houses occupied by
eastern Europeans were targeted in what police said may
have been racially motivated attacks.

Up to seven men armed with baseball bats smashed their way
into a house on Donegall Road, attacking a 51-year-old man
with a hammer and breaking windows.

The man said it was the third time they had been attacked
and they were considering moving.

Police said the same gang was believed to have smashed
windows at two houses in nearby Fortuna and Coolfin

Mark Hewitt of the South Belfast Anti-Racism Network said
that to say that the attacks were "a heat of the moment
response" to problems caused by East Europeans living in
the area was unbelievable.

"There are real problems faced by everyone living in the
Village - problems of poor housing, unemployment and
deprivation", he said.

Speaking after the attacks, Superintendent Ken Eccles said
police were fully committed to bringing before the courts
those responsible for racially motivated crime.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/22 13:43:44 GMT


Hoax Device At SDLP Man's House

A controlled explosion has been carried out at the home of
SDLP assembly member Pat Ramsey in Londonderry.

Mr Ramsey's wife, Chris, spotted the suspicious device
outside their house at Meenan Drive in the Bogside area at
about 2230 GMT on Tuesday.

Army technical officers declared the device a hoax. Paint
was thrown at police who attended the scene.

Mrs Ramsey was at home with the couple's five-year-old
daughter when the attack happened.

She said the family would not be leaving their home.

It is the 12th time that the Ramsey home has been the
target of an attack.

Mr Ramsey said his family and the local community were also
suffering because of this intimidation.

"Those responsible for these attacks are holding the whole
community here to ransom - and must stop their campaign of
intimidation immediately," Mr Ramsey said.

"I have been blessed with good neighbours for over 20 years
and I hope that I have another 20 years living alongside
such loyal and outstanding friends.

"They should not have to deal with what they have had to
put up with for the last few months. These attacks must
stop, and they must stop now."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/22 10:50:07 GMT


Dissidents Blamed For Hoax Bomb At SDLP Man’s Home

22/03/2006 - 11:50:37

Dissident republicans are being blamed for planting a hoax
bomb outside the home of an SDLP Assemblyman in the Bogside
area of Derry last night.

Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on
the device before declaring it to be an elaborate hoax.

The target of the attack was Pat Ramsey, a member of the
local district policing partnership who has been the
subject of massive intimidation from dissident republicans.

Mr Ramsey's family home has been attacked on at least 12
occasions in recent years.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has described those behind last
night's incident as morally bankrupt cowards and has
praised the Ramsey family for refusing to give in to the


Police Ombudsman Staff In PSNI Probe

By Debra Douglas
22 March 2006

Four members of staff at the Police Ombudsman's Office are
at the centre of a police investigation, it emerged last

The investigation relates to allegations made by a member
of staff against four other members of staff and a former
employee of the Office in connection with a court case
arising from the discharge of a firearm by a police officer
in Co Antrim in 2001.

In a statement, the Ombudsman's Office said: "The police
have launched an investigation into criminal allegations
made by a member of staff at the Police Ombudsman's Office
against a number of his colleagues.

"The allegations concern four members of staff and a former
employee of the office.

"They relate to a court case arising from the discharge of
a firearm by a police officer in Newtownabbey in June,

"The four staff are at both senior and junior levels within
the Police Ombudsman's Office. The allegations do not
involve the Police Ombudsman herself.

The spokesman added: "We welcome a thorough police
investigation of this matter and will co-operate fully with
their enquiries."

Confirming the investigation, a police spokesman said: "We
have received a complaint which we are investigating.

It is believed the allegations focus on the case of
Constable Michael Coote who was found not guilty of
attempting to unlawfully and maliciously wound the driver
of a car when he thought his colleague's life was in danger
following a trial in December. A charge of possession of a
firearm with intent to endanger life was dropped.


Gerry Adams Welcomes ETA Ceasefire

Published: 22 March, 2006

Speaking after the announcement of a permanent ceasefire by
ETA Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

"Sinn Fein has been in dialogue with all of the Basque
political parties and in particular Batasuna. I have also
written to the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.

"Sinn Féin's objective has been to promote conflict
resolution and to assist in whatever way we can the
development of a peace process. I welcome today's news from
the Basque Country.

"ETA's announcement provides all sides to the conflict with
an opportunity of historic proportions. Today‚s
announcement gives a considerable boost to the development
of a conflict resolution process.

"It is incumbent on all sides to the conflict to grasp this
opportunity, and to do everything in their power to make
political progress a reality.

"Sinn Fein believes that the key to progress is an
inclusive process of dialogue in which all of the
participants are treated on the basis of equality. All
possibilities must be on the agenda for discussion.

"There is a particular onus and responsibility on the
Spanish government to respond positively and creatively.

"The Spanish government should immediately intervene to
stop the political trials against Batasuna leaders,
including Arnaldo Otegi."ENDS


Opin: Reasons Sought For Detaining Adams

By Douglas Turner
News Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of Irish-American
congressmen, including Brian M. Higgins, on Monday demanded
an explanation from the head of the Transportation Security
Administration on why Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was
detained on his way to a St. Patrick's Day event in Buffalo
last Friday.

The group, known as the Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish American
Affairs, said "restrictions on domestic U.S. travel for a
legitimate political and elected leader, recognized by both
the British and Irish governments, is unacceptable."

The group includes House Homeland Security Chairman Peter
King, R-Seaford; Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Syracuse, a powerful
appropriations subcommittee chairman; and John E. Sweeney,
R-Clifton Park, vice chairman of an appropriations

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has Adams
on a terrorist watch list because security organizations
list him as a onetime leader in the Irish Republican Army,
which had a long history of violence in Northern Ireland.

Although he was convicted three decades ago of an IRA-
linked crime, Adams denies ever having been a member of the

Sinn Fein is the political arm of the movement to unify

Higgins, D-Buffalo, called the detention of Adams, leader
of the Irish nationalist group Sinn Fein, "shameful." The
committee's letter to TSA Director Kip Hawley said Gerry
Adams is the "leader of the largest nationalist party in
the north of Ireland."

"He is a principal representative in the peace process, was
crucial to the decommissioning of the Irish Republican Army
and is essential to the implementation of the Good Friday
Accords," their letter said.

"Placing Mr. Adams and Sinn Fein representatives on a watch
list that serves as a de facto restriction on movement in
the U.S. is wrong, unjustified and harmful to the peace
process," the committee said. They want Adams removed from
the watch list.

Hawley could not be reached to comment, but getting the TSA
to open its classified watch files could prove difficult,
if not impossible.

The TSA detained Adams here before his flight to Buffalo,
and earlier in the week at Newark, N.J., airport on his way
here to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the White House with
President Bush. "It is unacceptable that a few hours
earlier, Gerry was a guest in the White House for a meeting
with President Bush, and then delayed by airport security,"
Higgins said. The committee told Hawley they want to know
specifically what restrictions there are in Adams' or any
other Sinn Fein representative's files in the TSA or the
Department of Homeland Security.



Opin: Iraq War Allies Remain In Step

By Paul Reynolds
World Affairs Correspondent, BBC News website

One of the most interesting things in Tony Blair's speech
on foreign policy was his disclosure that government
advisers had told him never to use the phrase "Islamic

It was advice he resolutely rejected as he laid out his
beliefs that such extremism - and especially its ideas -
should be "taken on".

The phrase in the speech Mr Blair would probably like
remembered most is: "This is not a clash between
civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation."

It is a clever phrase because it gets round the awkwardness
of those who use the "clash of civilisations" approach.
They fall into the trap of taking sides between East and
West, Christian and Muslim, secular and religious. Mr Blair
is trying to run up a flag around which moderates of all
faiths and no faith can rally.

In the speech, he sought to elevate a group of policies at
home and abroad into a doctrine of how to fight
international terrorism.

It is an activist and sometimes an interventionist policy
set against what he calls the "benign inactivity" of those
who say that intervention is wrong.

Pre-emption, in the sense of the Bush doctrine of the pre-
emptive strike, is not ruled out, but it is not emphasised.

Iraq invasion

Of course, Mr Blair's critics will see all this as simply
an attempt to justify the unjustifiable and the illegal -
the invasion of Iraq.

Certainly, he sought to justify the invasion.

But in the first of three speeches on foreign policy, he
also sought to put the invasion into a wider framework -
one that would also justify continuing the war in Iraq. He
called it a struggle between "democracy and violence".

If he can convince people that the war is worth fighting as
part of a global struggle, he is more likely to calm their
fears about the cost and the commitment.

President Bush is doing much the same kind of thing in a
series of speeches and comments he is making around this
third anniversary of the invasion.

It is also interesting to note how the emphasis in Mr
Blair's justification of the 2003 invasion of Iraq has

This speech did not mention weapons of mass destruction.
Yet on the eve of the war in 2003, Mr Blair made much of

In the House of Commons on 18 March that year, he went into
detail about Iraq's supposed arsenal and spelt out what he
felt was an acute danger - that of terrorists getting hold
of such weapons from dictatorships.

"The possibility of the two coming together - of terrorist
groups in possession of weapons of mass destruction, or
even of a so-called dirty radiological bomb - is now, in my
judgment, a real and present danger to Britain and its
national security."

There was none of that in this speech.

President Bush

Mr Bush also now avoids mentioning weapons of mass
destruction much. On 20 March in Cleveland, he did what Mr
Blair has done. He justified the war in Iraq by linking it
to the war on terror he declared after the 11 September
2001 attacks.

"The central front on the war on terror is Iraq," he
stated, and mentioned WMD only is passing by referring to
Saddam Hussein's use of them in the past.

But Mr Bush is more open in talking about using military
force. Despite this, the speeches show that the architects
of the Iraq war are still in tune with each other.

Does Mr Blair's speech now matter?

Given that he has said this is his last period in office,
it does not matter as much as if it was his first.

His speech does not change his approach. It confirms it and
seeks to give it a philosophical framework. He has an eye
on history. And certainly on contemporary politics.

And for the moment, he remains in power to put it into

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/21 17:13:08 GMT


Opin: Lindy Mcdowell: Gerry Has Woes In Washington ...

22 March 2006

Traditionally it's the shamrock that gets drowned on St
Patrick's Day. This year it was Gerry Adams who had that
sinking feeling.

How Gerry ended up washed up in Washington? Where to start?

His St Patrick's Day began with the "fund-raising"
breakfast that wasn't. Due to Gerry's visa problems, Sinn
Fein was forced to repay $$100,000 (£57,000) in ticket
sales for the bash.

To the massively wealthy Shinners that sum mightn't seem
like much - to other political parties right across the
spectrum in Northern Ireland, it's a fortune and one which
illustrates the gross inequality they face in a process
unfairly distorted by funding from rich Irish America.

Anyway, after the coffee and pancakes, for Gerry it was
then on to the White House and the humiliation of being
sidelined as the families of IRA victims such as the
McCartneys from Belfast and the Raffertys from Dublin were
given centre stage. This was compounded by news that the
Rafferty family now intends to take legal action against
Sinn Fein.

After this it was on to Dulles airport for a flight to the
next gig. Or it would have been, had Gerry not been
detained by airport security because of the little matter
of his name appearing on an international terror list.

What? And him not ever a member of the IRA either! Or so he

Anyway following the airport hold-up Gerry decided it might
be easier, if not quicker, by train. The journey to his
next pitstop took six hours and, we're told, he had still
not been reunited with his luggage.

Meanwhile to add to his woes, the annual "unified" St Pat's
Day message from the influential Friends of Ireland group
this year, came in two parts.

In the first, signatories including Senator Ted Kennedy,
called on Sinn Fein to join the Policing Board and,
significantly, demanded justice for the McCartney family.

The second statement was more sympathetic to Sinn Fein and
omitted any mention of Robert McCartney and policing. This
one was signed by, among others, Jim Walsh, a Republican
congressman who said it would otherwise be "poking Sinn
Fein in the eye."

Hardly the most sensitive words in the circumstances as a
disgusted Catherine McCartney pointed out. During the
barbaric attack that ended her brother's life, one of the
fatal wounds had been to his eye.

Meanwhile Congressman Brian Higgins, who had invited Gerry
to Buffalo Irish Center, says about the airport incident
involving Adams that: "His treatment was insulting and

He has a point about the "undermining." And the point is

For years and years, Irish America and politicians in the
US hoping to court the Irish vote have fawned over and
feted Gerry Adams.

Back here this has inevitably done to his profile what
Irish American funding has done to the Sinn Fein bank
balance - expanded it out of all proportion. It has
massaged the notion of Gerry's infallibility and
importance. Last year, though, marked the start of an annus
horribilis for Sinn Fein. And it hasn't gone away, you

The "undermining" in America has only been a small part of
a bigger, more critical, picture.

Back here and in the South, the sheer scale of IRA
criminality has been opening the eyes of those who
previously gave the party, and its president, an easy ride.
And as IRA victims become more organised and vocal in their
demand for justice, they illuminate for a new generation,
past crimes the republican movement would really rather
keep hidden.

Add to that the revelations due to emerge in the aftermath
of recent PSNI/Garda border raids and other investigations
into IRA mafiosa style money-laundering.

It is a growing cynicism not just in America, but in his
own back yard, which is "undermining" Gerry's once
seemingly effortless image of success.

Is he really washed up after Washington?

Put it like this, if he was leader of any other political
party in Ireland or the UK, he'd now be under pressure.
Sinn Fein though, is not just any other political party and
its president is not like any other party leader.

His, shall we say, unique position within the republican
movement, means only a fool would write him off.

But the clear message is that he's no longer top o' the
mornin' in the St Paddy's Day White House. And for Gerry
that must only add to all the undermining.

Let's end the heartbreak for Lisa's family

There is something truly heartbreaking - and not a little
disturbing - about the news that, in order to raise more
money for an award for information about the disappearance
of their daughter Lisa, the Dorrian family are considering
re-mortgaging their home.

Heartbreaking because it underlines the desperation of a
family who, since their daughter and sister vanished just
over a year ago, have battled bravely and tirelessly to try
to find out what happened to her.

And disturbing because it underlines the feeling that,
while there may be those out there who have information
that could bring the family some sort of solace and
justice, those people are not going to come forward without
the inducement of big money.

There is in fact, already a reward of £10,000 on offer.

Lisa disappeared after attending a party at a caravan site
in Ballyhalbert in February 2005. Her family believe her
body has been dumped at sea. They also believe that there
are people who hold vital clues to what happened - people
who, for whatever reason, have not come forward.

As I pointed out in this column before it may well be that,
for example, there are women who know something that may
aid the inquiry - but who through a misguided sense of
loyalty are staying quiet. You wonder though, when you see
something like the billboard posters that mark the
anniversary of Lisa's disappearance, just how they live
with themselves.

The posters feature a laughing snapshot of the beautiful
Lisa under the slogan, "One year on, I'm still gone. Your
conscience must be killing you."

Those posters would tear the heart from a stone. Surely
they must provoke some reaction from even a heart of stone?

There is another possibility, of course. And that is that
there is someone who knows something about the case which
they believe to be so insignificant they haven't bothered
to contact the police. Maybe even someone reading this
today. Yet anything, anyone knows, however trivial it might
seem, could help.

You can ring Crimestoppers with the information. You don't
even have to reveal your identity.

What the Dorrian family have proved is that they have no
intention of letting Lisa's case fade from the public eye.

So those who know something about her disappearance and who
drive past those billboards hoping that some time soon it's
all just going to go away, need to think again.

If your conscience is killing you now - it's only going to
get worse.


One-Third Of Irish Lakes And Rivers Still Polluted

22/03/2006 - 07:34:44

More than a third of Ireland's rivers and lakes are still
polluted, with farmers among the prime culprits, according
to the Environmental Protection Agency's latest report on
water quality.

The report says the situation has improved slightly since
the mid-1990s, particularly in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and

However, it says water quality has also declined
significantly in both Wicklow and Donegal.

The EPA says only 63.4% of rivers and lakes have nutrient
enrichment levels that comply with the regulations.

Farming is identified as the main cause of pollution, but
sewage discharges and septic tanks attached to one-off
houses are also a problem.


McAleese To Mark Davitt's Centenary In UK

22/03/2006 - 11:09:35

President Mary McAleese is to visit the UK next month to
mark the centenary of the death of Land League founder
Michael Davitt, it was confirmed today.

Mrs McAleese will unveil a plaque and attend an exhibition
in honour of Davitt in Haslingden, Lancashire where he
lived with his family from 1853-1867.

The president’s spokeswoman said Mrs McAleese will also be
guest of honour at a civic reception hosted by the Irish
Democratic League Club.

Mrs McAleese will also use her two-day UK trip to visit
Jesuit public school, Stoneyhurst College as well as Irish
communities and voluntary groups in nearby Sheffield and

The president’s visit on April 12-13 was approved by the
British cabinet this week.

Michael Davitt was born near Foxford, Co Mayo during the
Famine but moved to Lancashire in 1853 when his family was
evicted from their farm.

Davitt began working in a cotton mill at the age of 10 but
lost his right arm after an accident with a spinning

The Land League was founded in 1879 with Charles Stewart
Parnell as president and Davitt as secretary.

In 1882 Davitt was elected an MP for Co Meath and later for
West Mayo.

Davitt died in Elphis Hospital, Dublin on May 30, 1906 from
septic poisoning.

A museum now commemorates Davitt’s life and works in his
birthplace in Straide, Co Mayo.

The bridge from Achill Island to the mainland is also named
after him.


Women Injured After Falls From Cliffs

Eamonn Houston


Two women were yesterday still being treated in hospital
after falling from cliffs off the coast of Co Donegal.

In separate incidents, one woman was rescued by helicopter
after she fell off cliffs at Bloodyforeland, near the

A rescue helicopter was despatched from Sligo and took her
to Letterkenny Hospital where she was described as
seriously ill in intensive care.

Some 30 minutes later, the coastguard was alerted about
another woman in difficulties in the sea at Kinnego Bay in
Inishowen. The woman, who is in her 20s, was taken by
helicopter to City of Derry Airport before being driven to
Altnagelvin Hospital. Her condition was described last
night as stable.

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