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March 28, 2006

Policing Board Again Ignores Human Rights

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 03/28/06
Policing Board Once Again Ignore Human Rights Standards
BT 03/28/06 Stun Gun Linked To 150 Deaths In US By Amnesty
RT 03/28/06 Reports Of Device Find At McDowell's Office
BB 03/28/06 Sinn Fein Press For Peace Money
IN 03/28/06 Bulk Of Victims’ Fund Not Paid Out
IN 03/28/06 PPS Director Speaks For First Time On Spy-Ring Case
BN 03/28/06 McAleese Visits Staunchly Unionist Towns In Antrim
IN 03/28/06 Opin: Is Blair Without Sin To Cast First Stone?
IN 03/28/06 Opin: Paisley Jnr Et Al Seem To Have Missed Blair’s Point
IN 03/28/06 Opin: Foot-In-Mouth Remarks Cheapen The Holocaust
II 03/28/06 Gay Byrne The Lifesaver
BB 03/28/06 NI 'Worst Beach Visitor Litter'
IM 03/28/06 Launch Of Origin Of British Propaganda In Ireland 1920
IN 03/28/06 Tributes To ‘GAA-Mad’ Missionary
BT 03/28/06 The Real Hero Of The Great Escape


Policing Board Once Again Ignore Human Rights Standards

Published: 28 March, 2006

Sinn Féin’s Equality and Human Rights spokesperson
Caitríona Ruane MLA has slammed the Policing Board’s
contempt for equality and human rights by proposing to
introduce the use of Taser electric shock weapons in the

Ms Ruane said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the Human Rights Commission’s response
today to the Policing Board in which it highlighted that
the case for introducing TASERs, in a limited way or
otherwise has not been made.

“In March 2003 the Commission supported the findings of
research into plastic bullets and alternatives being
proposed and recommended that the PSNI not be equipped with
any type of electroshock weaponry.

“The Policing Board will be taking a decision today about
whether to introduce a pilot scheme to equip the PSNI with

“The reality is that plastic bullets should be banned yet
this Policing Board has purchased thousands of new
potentially lethal devices and now they are seeking to
obtain these equally controversial weapons.

“Sinn Féin has also made representation to the Equality
Commission to raise serious concerns about the way in which
the Policing Board has totally set aside its legal equality
obligations to engage in a transparent and meaningful way
on this issue. We believe a two-week consultation exercise
demonstrates the degree to which the Policing Board is
attempting to have these weapons introduced with least
public input into its proposals.”ENDS


Stun Gun Linked To 150 Deaths In US By Amnesty

By Jonathan McCambridge
28 March 2006

Human rights campaigners today claimed that 50,000 volt
stun guns - which the PSNI wants to add to its arsenal -
have been linked to more than 150 deaths in the US since

The Policing Board is meeting today correctto decide
whether the PSNI should be allowed to use the controversial
taser guns on a limited basis against people who are
considered dangerous.

The Chief Constable has told the Board that he wants to buy
a dozen X26 Advanced Tasers at a cost of £750 each. The
laser sighted weapons fire barbed electrodes up to 21 feet.
The electrical pulses induce skeletal muscle spasms that
immobilise and incapacitate the individual, causing them to
fall to the ground.

If they are introduced in Northern Ireland they will only
be used by specially trained officers.

They are already used by most UK police forces, typically
in situations against a violent deranged person.

But Amnesty International has revealed the results of
research into the use of the electro-shock tasers in the

Their report states that since June 2001, 152 people have
died in the US after being shot with tasers. There were 61
deaths in 2005. Most who died were subjected to multiple or
prolonged shocks.

In 23 cases coroners have listed the use of the taser as a
cause or a contributory factor in death and in three cases
in 2005 the taser was listed as a primary cause of death.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland
programme director, said: "Our research in the USA shows
that tasers can kill. The Policing Board must exercise
extreme caution in giving the Chief Constable a go-ahead
for even limited use in Northern Ireland and such a
decision can only come after an adequate period of public
consultation. Two weeks is nowhere near adequate.

"Amnesty is worried that their increasing use in the UK is
a slippery slope towards arming all police officers with
tasers. We want a public statement from the Government that
these weapons will only be used by specialist trained
firearms officers, as an alternative to firearms.

"Arming all PSNI officers with a potentially lethal device
that delivers a 50,000 volt electric shock, causing the
subject to collapse in 'intolerable pain', would not be a
wise or welcome move."

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood said he hoped the
board would decide to carry out a full consultation process
around tasers before any decision of their use.

He said: "Science suggests that we need to be very cautious
and I hope the board recognises that."


Reports Of Device Find At McDowell's Office

28 March 2006 13:01

There are reports that an army bomb disposal team is at the
Dublin constituency office of the Minister for Justice,
Michael McDowell.

An explosive ordinance vehicle is said to be at the scene
in Ranelagh village and armed soldiers have surrounded the

The Army said it had been alerted by gardaí that a suspect
package had been delivered in the post to the Minister's

The army said white powder was emanating from the package.

Members of the public are being directed away from the


Sinn Fein Press For Peace Money

A Sinn Fein delegation is to press for a £10bn peace
dividend at a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain on Tuesday.

MEP Bairbre de Brun said the cash should be channelled into
all-Ireland strategies as well as tackling social and
economic disadvantage.

She said the money should be spent over 10 years.

The delegation to the Stormont meeting will include Mitchel
McLaughlin and Caoimhghin O'Caolain TD.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms de Brun said: "There is a
clear responsibility to build the peace and tackle many of
the causes and effects of the conflict.

"Sinn Fein believe that any incoming local executive should
have a major peace dividend so that local ministers can
deliver an agreed programme that puts stability and growth
on the fast track.

"There is significant scope for moving 'security'
expenditure into a major strategy that can underpin the
transformation of our society.

"We believe that the two governments can deliver a £10bn
10-year peace building strategy.

"This should be targeted at eradicating the regional socio-
and-economic disparities that exist and at supporting the
development of all-Ireland strategies and synergies,
particularly along the border corridor."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/28 06:12:17 GMT


Bulk Of Victims’ Fund Not Paid Out

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

TWO thirds of a fund established by the Irish government
for victims of the Troubles remains unclaimed.

The E9 million (£6.2m) Remembrance Commission, set up in
2003 to allocate compensation payments, last night
confirmed that less than E3.5 million (£2.4m) of the total
fund had been paid out.

Just 251 individuals have applied to the fund which was
allocated E3 million (£2.1m) per annum over three years.

A commission spokesman said it was expected that the fund
would be wound up by the end of the year, potentially
leaving many people affected by the Troubles uncompensated
for their suffering.

Victims groups have estimated that around 130 people were
killed in the Republic during the 30-year conflict.

In a last ditch bid to drum up interest the commission has
launched a radio campaign to raise awareness of the fund.

The commission spokesman said it was “impossible to
quantify the total number of people injured”.

“We do want to make sure that as many people as possible
are aware of the scheme,” he said.

The scheme is open to people who have been injured or
bereaved as a result of violence related to the Troubles.

It can also apply to people forced to flee their homes who
now wish to return and to victim support groups.


PPS Director Speaks For First Time On Spy-Ring Case

By Maeve Connolly

THE director of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has
spoken for the first time on the decision not to prosecute
senior republican and British agent Denis Donaldson.

Charges of operating a spy-ring at Stormont were brought
against Mr Donaldson, pictured, and two other men in
October 2002 in an episode which helped end devolution.

However, in December 2005 the charges were dramatically

Days later Mr Donaldson was expelled from Sinn Fein after
admitting he had been working as an informer for 20 years.

The PPS has never given a reason for its decision not to
proceed with the criminal case against the three men and
speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Ulster yesterday

PPS director Sir Alasdair Fraser explained his position.

“I don’t accept that a detailed explanation has not been
given. It was stated in court that I had concluded that the
public interest no longer required prosecution,” Sir
Alasdair said.

“That was the position; that is the position. It is well-
known as a matter of common knowledge, as the attorney
general has indicated, that there was sensitive and
confidential material which was the subject of what are
called disclosure hearings.

“Disclosure is a duty on the prosecution. Where we don’t
use information or material we have to examine that
material and decide whether it undermines our case or
whether it helps the defence case and if it does then we
are duty bound to disclose,” he added.

“But there may be circumstances where there is confidential
material and there is a risk of prejudice to a public
interest such as national security, such as the safety of
individuals and in cases such as that we would place the
material before the judge for a ruling and of course the
judge in making his ruling grounds the ruling on the
requirement for a fair trial.”

Sir Alasdair said if a judge rules that confidential
material must be disclosed it is the prosecutor who must
decide whether to go ahead with a case.

Asked if a perception that the PPS drops a case when it
could embarrass the security forces was fair, he replied:
“Well, if I may offer an assurance that that would never
form any part of any consideration of the service which I

“This is a service bedded in integrity and I and my
colleagues would not countenance that.”


McAleese Visits Staunchly Unionist Towns In Antrim

28/03/2006 - 11:49:03

President Mary McAleese is visiting two staunchly unionist
towns in the heart of Ian Paisley's constituency in Co
Antrim today.

The visit to comes amid ongoing unionist unhappiness about
Mrs McAleese's remarks last year comparing some Protestants
in the North to Nazis.

The President caused widespread anger when she said some
Protestants had raised their children to hate Catholics in
the same way that Nazis hated Jews.

Mrs McAleese apologised for the comments, but this failed
to appease many unionists.

Dr Paisley launched a scathing attack on her at the DUP's
annual conference in February, claiming she was hostile to
the PSNI and hated the North.

The DUP had considered holding a protest during the
President's visit to Larne and Ballymena today, but it
eventually backed down.

It is still unclear, however, whether individual unionists
will mount protests when Mrs McAleese arrives in the area
for a number of engagements.


Opin: Is Blair Without Sin To Cast First Stone?

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

It’s as if Tony Blair lived a million miles away and had
not yet grasped what makes us tick. In 1994 in response to
research on loyalists, his assistant told me: “Mr Blair was
pleased to note that your group are seeking to work in
harmony with your neighbours” and “at this time it is
particularly important that everyone concerned tries to
ensure a peaceful future for Northern Ireland”.

Something about the tone of this made me cringe. Leading
members of the “group” had engaged in dialogue for years
with people from other communities – including republicans.

His latest remarks about Islamists being “no more proper
Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in
Northern Ireland is a proper Christian but, unfortunately,
he is still a Protestant bigot” also seemed condescending
and lacking in appreciation of the complexities.

The loyalist cessation was the product of years of painful
reflection among people who wanted something better. They
paid a heavy price at the hands of right-wing politicians
and reactionaries and now Peter Robinson adds insult to
injury by condescendingly offering to consider talking to

Loyalists had been told to go slow or alternatively were
damned as “hard men gone soft” by some DUP politicians.

In recent years and with reservation, I supported Blair
when he and Bush went to war in Iraq but, apart from
revulsion at the horrors of the war and misgivings at the
spurious justifications, reported remarks by George Bush
made me wonder how a Labour prime minister could
contemplate an alliance with someone given to such
religious rhetoric.

Some of Bush’s words seem eerily familiar. They are similar
to those that motivated some of our most militant

Bush seems convinced God is on his side and while Blair
might seem divorced from such thinking, he also brought God
into the equation as somehow involved in his decision to go
to war.

Among the dreadful consequences are that Iraqi Christians
are among the most tragic of victims of that terrible

Fundamentalist Muslims are little different from
fundamentalist Christians, though whether one can be a
follower of Christ and a fundamentalist is questionable.

Fundamentalists paint the world in black and white and
place themselves firmly on the white side.

But the awful bigotry in Northern Ireland bears the stamp
of Tony’s US friends and is not confined to one side in
Ireland, Iraq, Britain or the USA.

The ‘war’ here was fought from very different perspectives,
with some loyalists veering towards religious rhetoric and
republicans towards political rationalisation. Both
ideologies were murderous and at times tinged with fascist

But war always takes on religious characteristics by
fostering immovable positions for which people wound and
kill while they present themselves as victims.

It always seems that the others are the grievous offenders,
and such mindsets hinder us solidifying peace and bringing
reconciliation here as in Iraq.

Whole communities have been dehumanised and callous
killings legitimised.

Few, however, fight theological battles, and conflicts are
semi-religious in being centred on apparently
irreconcilable differences between implacable opponents.

Who then are the real bigots?

As far as Ian Paisley is concerned, the word ‘bigot’ is a
corruption of the words of Protestant martyrs as they
burned at the stake. Refusing to recant, they began ‘By
God’ before stating their determination never to recant.
Therefore, it was claimed, they became known as ‘bi gods’

This attempt to transform bigotry into a positive
characteristic is implausible but even if it were true, it
is surely scandalous to link Protestant martyrs with
bigotry and intolerance. They would surely turn in their
graves at such an insult.

Singling out Protestant bigots is a two-edged sword because
the founders of Irish republicanism were mainly Protestant.

Tony Blair follows in the train of Mary McAleese, who
apologised, and Fr Reid, who claims he was goaded and
misrepresented, but Tony does not intend to comment.

He knew full well that his hypocritical words would offend
and perhaps this was the intention.

We know too well the horrors we inflicted on each other.
Perhaps we should now contemplate the words of Jesus, who
told accusers to let the one who is without sin cast the
first stone.



Opin: Paisley Jnr Et Al Seem To Have Missed Blair’s Point

By Tom Kelly

Tony Blair got into trouble last week for calling ‘bigoted’
Protestants un-christian.

What is the problem?

He did not say that all Protestants were bigots – he said
that Muslims who committed acts of terrorism were no more
true to their faith than Protestant bigots who murdered
Catholics were proper Christians.

Ian Paisley jnr and other unionist representatives seemed
to miss his point and in doing so appeared to many to be
playing a sectarian card.

But welcome to Ballygobackwards, where everything has to be
counterbalanced and Blair’s crime was to forget the bigots
who may be Catholic. And there are quite a few.

Any Protestant who commits a sectarian murder is not being
true their Christian faith. Any Catholic who commits a
sectarian murder is not being true to their Christian

No Christian should be committing murder unless they missed
the class covering the Fifth Commandment.

That many of the murders in the north carried out by
loyalists were of innocent Catholics is a plain and simple

That they were sectarian and indiscriminate in the choice
of Catholic is another. Unpalatable as these matters are,
they cannot be undone.

That by far the vast majority of God-fearing and practising
Protestants in Northern Ireland abhorred the base
sectarianism of UVF and UDA death squads is another fact.

Cardinal Daly often used the strongest possible language in
attacking the IRA and often repeated that those who engaged
in murderous activities and who called themselves Catholic
were in effect excommunicating themselves by their actions
from the Church.

When the cardinal said these things, much to the annoyance
of the Provisional movement, did any mainstream unionist
object to him saying that these murderers were not true

The plain and simple answer is no.

Facing up to inherent sectarianism is not easy for
Catholics or Protestants.

Bigots will take succour from any ambiguity by politicians
on sectarianism.

They only need a nod in the right direction. Or perhaps
they only need responsible leaders to turn a blind eye to
justify an act of desecration in a graveyard, or to taunt
couples in mixed marriages, or murder workers for being
from the wrong religion, in the wrong place at the wrong

Our inherent sectarianism is diversifying into other forms
of hatred such as the attacks in Derry on gays or the
intimidation of migrant workers or ethnic minorities.

The bigots are bullies who hide behind masks and scarves
while attacking their victims in the dead of the night but
in the light of day these same bullies will take whatever
political cover they are given on air by mainstream

One of the biggest crimes of the Troubles was the attempt
to caveat atrocities by trying to understand or
contextualise them. Who were we kidding?

You can’t understand the senseless murders of Danny
McColgan, Robert Hamill, or the savagery behind the
stabbing of Senator Paddy Wilson, or the mindset (not the
mindlessness) of those who murdered at Enniskillen, La Mon
or the Shankill Road.

The real glue that held the fabric of Northern Ireland
society together for 30 years was the fact that 90 per cent
of us did not understand what was going on.

Now in peace there are still those who cannot face down

Many of our politicians are prepared to save whales, feed
the world’s poor and deliver global justice, while the
naked prejudices that stoke up sectarianism in the north
burn brightly on.

Alasdair McDonnell got it right when he called the
intimidation of migrant workers in the Donegall Road

That is not a slur, it is a fact.

Intolerance breeds intolerance and this area has a history
of the worst kind.

This is the same area where loyalist paramilitaries spread
leaflets asking ‘Did you know if your neighbour was a
Catholic?’ The same area which forced young ethnic families
to flee their homes and that prevented the Chinese
community from having a welfare centre.

Generations from both sides of our sectarian divide, whose
world existed in one colour, are now finding it difficult
to adjust to the kaleidoscope that is Northern Ireland in
2006. Pluralism is hardly a hallmark of ‘The Village’ but
it is only one of many places in the north where if you are
not orange and you’re not green you just should not be


Opin: Foot-In-Mouth Remarks Cheapen The Holocaust

By Susan McKay

Michael McDowell put his foot in his loud mouth last week
when he compared the mild-mannered Richard Bruton of Fine
Gael to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

The Republic’s minister for justice apologised the next day
for his outburst but the damage was done.

Not to Bruton, though, but to McDowell.

He had trivialised the Holocaust and shown himself an
ignorant bully.

His is the most idly offensive example but he joins a line
of public figures in this country who have similarly
damaged their case in recent times by ill-advised
references to Nazism.

There was President McAleese who last January visited
Auschwitz to commemorate the Holocaust’s 60th anniversary
and compared the way German parents gave their children an
irrational hatred of Jews with the way “people in Northern
Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred
of Catholics”. She, too, apologised.

Then there was Father Alec Reid, who claimed last year that
nationalists had been treated by unionists “like the Nazis
treated the Jews”. He apologised.

Some Protestant victims’ groups have claimed that their
community was subject to ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’.

In 2004, Families Acting for Innocent Relatives objected to
a visit to Auschwitz by Sinn Fein spokesmen, because they
represented terrorists who were “no different from the

Ian Paisley claimed in 1997 that the “entire pan-
nationalist front is united behind the beast of fascism,
the IRA”.

He did not apologise. Nationalists used to raise their arms
in the Nazi salute and chant, “SS RUC” at the police. The
poet, Michael Longley, left a civil rights demonstration in
the early days of the Troubles in protest at this
behaviour, which he saw as “disproportionate and

Primo Levi survived Auschwitz. His account of the year he
spent there,

If This Is A Man, should be read by anyone contemplating
comparing their experience with his. In later years, he was
asked why he didn’t also condemn the Russians for the
cruelties they practised in prison camps. He said he could
only speak about what he knew but that he believed there
was something unique about the German camps. “To the
ancient aim of eliminating or terrifying political
adversaries they set a monstrous modern goal, that of
erasing entire peoples and cultures from the world – gas
chambers and crematoriums were deliberately planned to
destroy lives and human bodies on a scale of millions.

The horrendous record belongs to Auschwitz, with 24,000
dead on a single day in 1944.” No-one was meant to come out
of the Nazi camps alive.

Levi objected to those who claimed that everyone was
complicit in Nazism, including its victims, that people
voluntarily adopt the roles of persecutor and persecuted,
that no-one was innocent. But if this was a ‘moral
disease’, he also protested against those who divided
people up into totally exclusive categories of the good and
the evil.

There was a “grey zone” he believed.

“There is no doubt about it,” he wrote. “Every one of us
can potentially turn into a monster.” He also warned that
while Nazism was the culmination of fascism in Europe, “in
every part of the world, wherever you begin by denying the
fundamental liberties of mankind and equality among people,
you move towards the concentration camp system and it is a
road on which it is difficult to halt.”

There have been genocides since the Holocaust.

In Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia, efforts were made to wipe
out entire peoples. That never happened here. Levi believed
above all in the importance of remembering and of
recounting accurately exactly what happened.

People here were tortured and murdered in the name of
competing ideologies. Sectarianism has been preached,
racism encouraged, homophobia sanctioned. We need to face
into the history of all this with rigorous honesty and to
put a stop to these hateful practices.

In Helen Lewis’s wonderful book, A Time To Speak, she
describes her journey to Auschwitz as a prisoner of the

“At night the train arrived in Prague and stopped there for
a long while, a long line of sealed cattle wagons, each
with a tiny window behind a grille.

“There must have been people on the station platform,
people who saw and heard. What did they think, what did
they know and how much did they care?”

We should reflect on the moral imperative behind her
question and apply it when we recognise an abuse of human

But let us not pretend we have been in the cattle wagons
with her.


Gay Byrne The Lifesaver

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne and Transport Minister Martin
Cullen at the announcement of his appointment as
chairperson of the new Road Safety Authority. Collins

Tuesday March 28th 2006
Treacy Hogan
Environment Correspondent

VETERAN broadcaster Gay Byrne will quit his new job as road
safety chief if the Government fails to cut carnage and get
rid of vested interests.

The 72-year-old shock choice as Road Safety Authority (RSA)
chairperson bluntly admitted he had no experience for the
job. "None whatsoever," he said.

But he laid down a blunt guideline of what he would and
would not accept.

He said he did not want vested interests like gardai and
the AA appointed to his board to "paddle their own canoes".

He set a target to save 150 lives on our roads every year.

In a stark ultimatum to the Government, he promised he
would resign if the reform promises made to him by
Transport Minister Martin Cullen "all lies".

He would immediately hold a press conference to tell
everyone why he quit. If he is stonewalled or if there is
any lack of political cooperation, he will walk away from
the job.

"If I find, in a reasonable period of time, there is a lack
of co-operation by civil servants or stone walls, or if I
find that what I was told was all lies I will walk away as
quick as Eddie Shaw or even quicker," he pledged.

He was appointed to the new authority by Mr Cullen

He succeeds Eddie Shaw who dramatically quit as head of the
National Safety Council in protest at the Government's
failure to cut road deaths. But the new body will have
statutory authority and it appears Mr Byrne expects that to
help him make a difference.

If it doesn't he said he will not be frustrated by a "solid
wall of bureaucracy".

He is not prepared to stay on in the challenging job if Mr
Cullen fails to deliver the long-overdue road safety

He revealed he was only approached two weeks ago. Mr Cullen
personally offered him the job. He was given one week to
decide if he wanted it.

Sources said last night the minister himself decided to
head-hunt Gaybo as he felt he was the best person for the


But barely minutes in the post, the broadcaster hit out at
the "scandal" of up to 450,000 people driving on
provisional licences. He said he wanted action on speed
cameras and roadside breath tests.

Mr Byrne will get €12,000-a-year for his work.

He said he has been driving since he was 14 and only did a
driving test when given a gift of a Harley Davidson
motorbike by U2.

He said all his authority could do was bring together on
the RSA board, people who bring about change to the best of
their ability.

"I'm not going to make promises other than we will do our

But he made it clear he did not want vested interests
appointed to the board next week by the minister.

"The danger is you would invite onto the board (of the
authority) for example, people like the AA, police or
traffic wardens who would have the expertise but they would
want to paddle their canoes." The RSA is to be established
later this year when it will be merged with the National
Safety Council and the staff will increase from 11 to more
than 300.

Legislation to establish the authority is currently going
through the Dail.

He said the two things that every man, woman and child in
the country knew about were television talk shows and road
safety, driving and traffic.

"We will not be short of solutions or suggested solutions."

His fellow board members will possess "solid common sense"
and will "want to get on with job".


Mr Cullen said Gay Byrne had been at the forefront of
social change in this country and was a person who would
give 100pc to the job.

"I don't want Gay Bryne wasting his time," added the

Fianna Fail TD Martin Brady said Gaybo would act as a
public watchdog to ensure that the Government, the gardai
and others involved in road safety carried out their duties
to end the carnage.

Labour's transport spokesperson Roisin Shortall said Mr
Byrne's high profile would give road safety a much-needed
boost and keep road safety issues in the news.

© Irish Independent


NI 'Worst Beach Visitor Litter'

Northern Ireland has recorded the highest rate of litter
from beach visitors in the UK, a survey says.

More than 8,200 items of litter were collected on eight
beaches over a total length of 4.4 km during 2005.

The Marine Conservation Society's annual beach clean and
litter survey said NI had the second highest instance of
all types of litter.

But those who visited beaches for fun left more litter in
the region than in any other part of the UK, it said.

While there was a 287% increase in litter from 2004, the
authors said that might have been down to an extra five NI
beaches being included in the survey in 2005.

On average, 1,877 items of litter per kilometre were found,
which is less than the UK average of 1,981.

"Northern Ireland recorded the highest density of beach
visitors' litter for all UK countries, and beach visitors'
litter was the biggest source of litter (881.6/km),
representing 47% of all litter recorded," said the society.

'Cleaned and surveyed'

Sewage-related debris was the second most common source of
litter, of which Northern Ireland had the second highest
density of all UK regions.

Fishing debris was the third most common source of litter
(159.5/km), followed by shipping litter (56.0/km).

Northern Ireland was also the UK country with the highest
shipping debris density.

Beachwatch 2005 took place around the UK coastline in
September last year and involved a record number of
volunteers and beaches, said the society.

Its litter projects coordinator, Andrea Crump, said: "It's
fantastic that so many people took part in Beachwatch 2005
and a record number of beaches were cleaned and surveyed
last year.

"Unfortunately, the survey showed beach litter is still
increasing in the UK but everyone can help change this by
taking their rubbish home with them when they leave the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/28 03:27:03 GMT


The Launch Of The Origin And Organisation Of British
Propaganda In Ireland 1920

National Rights And Freedoms News Report Tuesday March
28, 2006 00:03 by Niall Meehan

Implications for how historians, journalists and others
confront media manipulation, historical and contemporary

Reading Brian Murphy on how the British manipulated the
truth in 1920 "made the hairs stand up on the back of your
neck" said Danny Morrison. The parallels between events in
that one year and British activities many years later in
Ireland are striking, he said.

The one time An Phoblacht editor and Sinn Fein Publicity
Director, now author and playwright, launched Brian
Murphy's 'The Origins and Organisation of British
Propaganda in Ireland 1920’ on March 24th in the Teachers’
Club in Dublin.

The 100-page work was also launched by Professor David
Miller of Strathclyde University and by the author, Brian

A major addition to our understanding of media manipulation

Morrison detailed the way in which Murphy's book outlines
how the British plotted to kill a solicitor who defended
IRA prisoners, how they abolished inquests and how they
utilised the "language of criminalisation" in the attempt
to marginalise resistance to British rule. The false
accusation that prisoners' injuries were "self-inflicted"
was the same as that attributed to prisoners in Castlereagh
in the 1970s, said Morrison. The Defence of the realm Act
(DORA) and the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act (ROIA)
legislation would also be familiar to those who experienced
or studied the recent conflict.

Damned lies and statistics

Reading Murphy’s account of the British manipulation of
statistics with regard to IRA actions called for a
reconsideration of recent statistics on the conflict in the
North, said Morrison. Killings attributed to the UDA or UVF
should rightfully be attributed directly to British forces,
which set up and controlled such paramilitary proxy forces
or ‘counter gangs’. Morrison mentioned the attempt on the
life of former Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex
Maskey. British agent Brian Nelson, who telephoned British
Army Headquarters in Lisburn to confirm Maskey’s identity,
coordinated the unsuccessful attempt. Morrison referred to
Sir John Stevens of the British Metropolitan Police who
spent 15 years, or one third of his professional life,
investigating British collusion with unionist
paramilitaries. Stevens published 17 pages of a 3,000 page
report. Morrison asked, “How much more is in there?”.

The point leads directly to the question: who should the 34
deaths in the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings be attributed
to statistically: the UVF, the RUC, the British Army, or
all three?

How the truth was “mutilated”

Morrison said that Brian Murphy’s book should be commended
for the way in which it showed how the British created a
“false narrative” about the conflict and how modern history
books reproduced that narrative. Morrison referred to the
“official” account of British soldiers being “hacked to
death” and of “mutilated” bodies after the IRA’s Kilmichael
ambush in November 1920, an account that was the concoction
of the chief propagandist, Basil Clarke. This is the
account that revisionist historian Peter Hart asserted
“should not be so completely dismissed” in his ‘The IRA and
its Enemies’ (1998). Besides Hart, the historians Roy
Foster and David Fitzpatrick were mentioned in this

The book contains an appendix in which Brian Murphy
questions Peter Hart’s omission of a section from an
internal British intelligence document, The Record of the
Rebellion, detailing British forces’ racist and sectarian
view of the Irish. This is in Hart’s edition of The Record,
entitled British Intelligence in Ireland 1920-21 (2002).
Murphy, in addition, questions Hart’s failure in this book
to account for a previous misrepresentation of a section of
The Record in Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies. An Irish
Times reviewer of Hart’s British Intelligence in Ireland,
Brendan Ó Cathaóir, referred to Hart as “disingenuous” (28
January 2003) on this point.

Spin yesterday and today

Professor David Miller, co-editor of Spinwatch
( ), contributed a foreword to
Murphy’s study and outlined the connection with wider
aspects of British policy. Miller has researched
extensively the origins of British propaganda and its
connection with the development of public relations. Both
were originally designed, said Miller, to preserve the
British Empire and also to subvert democracy in Britain

Miller outlined how Basil Clarke, who ran the propaganda
operation in Ireland, was a key member of British
imperialist networks.

According to Miller’s foreword, Clarke and his colleagues,
Hugh Pollard and C.J. Street worked closely with the head
of Special Branch in London, Basil Thomson.

“Through him they were connected to the key imperialist
lobby networks in London. These individuals were not
abashed about their politics, describing their network as
the ‘diehards’ and the ‘London Imperialists’. Central to it
and very close to Thomson was Admiral Reggie ‘Blinker’
Hall, who was the director of Naval Intelligence in the
1914-18 war. Together with Thomson, Hall interrogated Roger
Casement in 1916 and personally leaked his ‘black diaries’
to the press in order to ensure that Casement would not be
reprieved as a result of the campaign being run by Arthur
Conan Doyle. According to historians, Hall’s ensuring that
Casement was hanged ‘was all very gratifying; an object
lesson in secret service power which Hall… was never to

Clarke went on to set up the first public relations company
in Britain, and he was associated with the setting up of
‘National Propaganda’, later to become ‘The Economic
League’ in 1924. Clarke and his associates recruited former
Black & Tans after the war in Ireland to break up strikes
and to infiltrate trade unions and left wing organisations.
The Economic League was notorious up until its demise in
the 1990s for blacklisting workers on a massive scale and
for other forms of clandestine reactionary subversion of
left wing and industrial politics. Another of the Dublin
propaganda group, Hugh Pollard, flew Generalissimo
Francisco Franco from the Canaries to Spain in 1936 to
enable him to start his fascist coup that lead to the
Spanish Civil War and nearly 40 years of brutal

Photographing torture

Miller indicated how propaganda was an essential part of
Britain’s attempt to hold on to its empire. He said that
lessons on media manipulation were passed on and honed from
conflict to conflict. Miller, Editor of ‘Tell me Lies’,
which deals with the conflict in Iraq, drew parallels with
that conflict. Miller observed:

“One of Murphy's most extraordinary revelations is that the
techniques, which shocked the world in Abu Graibh, have a
history longer than perhaps anyone outside the military and
their political masters has suspected. He quotes the
records of the torture of Tom Hales and Patrick Harte who
were viciously attacked, kicked, punched, hit with revolver
butts and tortured with pincers. They were threatened in a
mock execution. As Murphy notes 'attempts were made to
humiliate them by making them hold the Union Jack and
photographs were taken of Harte with the flag held loosely
in his hand'. These photographs still exist, and in a
telling aside Murphy simply notes that it is one of these
torture photos which adorns the front cover of revisionist
historian Peter Hart's book, The IRA at War 1916-1923

There were also parallels with the photographs taken of
torture by British troops in the 1970s. Miller referred to
a recent article by Gerry Adams in The Guardian on this

IRA ‘criminality’ in 1920

In his talk on the work Murphy quoted propagandist Major
John Street as saying “the IRA rank and file” were “poor
dupes of the designing criminals who pose as their
officers”. Street’s views are positively civilised beside
those of Hugh Pollard: “The Irish problem is a problem of
the Irish race, and it is rooted in the racial
characteristics of the people themselves,” wrote Pollard in
1922. The Irish he thought were “racially disposed to
crime”, have “two psychical and fundamental abnormalities…
moral insensibility and want of foresight” which “are the
basic characteristic of criminal psychology”. Furthermore,
noted Street, warming to his theme, “the Irish demand for
an independent Irish Republic is… a purely hysterical

Pinning down Kevin Myers

Murphy outlined how propaganda and media manipulation was
organized and how this propaganda ‘spin’ had a shelf life
that infected modern day accounts. Kevin Myers in The Irish
Times republished one concoction of Clarke’s that attempted
to discredit hunger striker Terence McSwiney. McSwiney was
accused of plotting the assassination of the Bishop of
Cork. Uniquely, Myers later apologized for recirculation of
this defamatory lie.

However, it was only at the book launch that we found out
how and why Myers came to apologise.

McSwiney’s grandson, spoke during the Q&A session
afterwards about how getting the apology published was “not
easy”. He accompanied his mother, Maura McSwiney Brugha,
“as her assistant” in pursuing Myers into The Irish Times
building and in pinning Myers to a wall, in order to enable
Myers to listen to his mother’s account of how he got it
totally wrong. Myers was later to admit publicly that he
had been “duped” by, “the insidious concoctions of the
black propagandist,” Basil Clarke.

However, subsequently, Clarke’s other “insidious
concoctions” found in the post-apologetic Myers a willing
receptacle for publication of further propaganda.

Myers did not detect Clarke at work in the British account
of the Kilmichael ambush. In The IRA and its Enemies Peter
Hart thanked Myers for his help. Myers returned the
compliment by praising the 1998 revisionist account as a
“masterpiece”. Myers wrote in his Irishman’s diary how Tom
Barry and the IRA allegedly “systematically slaughtered
disarmed RIC Auxiliaries after they had surrendered”. This
account, following Peter Hart, is from the Basil Clarke
school of media manipulation and, as Clarke puts it,
“verisimilitude” or the appearance of truth.

The role of Erskine Childers

Brian Murphy outlined the very significant role of Erskine
Childers in exposing publicly the extent of British terror
in Ireland. Childers also wrote extensively on the nature
of British propaganda as part of the strategy of a military
machine. This work deserves to be re-published and perhaps
the Aubane Society will consider doing so. Murphy made
observations about the significant role of Childers and
other Irish Protestants in the national struggle that are
still relevant today. They helped expose the nature of
British terror and set up organizations like the White
Cross Society, founded in 1921 for relief in Ireland. This
is another part of the narrative of the Independence
struggle that revisionist voices seek to stifle.

Murphy made the point that the mass imprisonment of Sinn
Fein members in 1918 in conditions of blanket censorship
and other forms of repression makes the election victory
that year all the more impressive.

Erskine Childers was astonished at the imprisonment of his
cousin, Robert Barton after Barton won a seat in the 1918
General Election. Barton was one of many imprisoned Sinn
Fein TDs. The attempt by revisionists to undermine that
victory is made seemingly plausible by leaving out these
and other important factors. Notably, revisionist critics
habitually attempt to suggest that Sinn Fein winning 48% of
the first reference vote in 1918 was a true measure of its
support. They leave aside the inconvenient fact that 25
seats were uncontested by Sinn Fein’s opponents, so
pathetic was the level of (non) support for opponents of
the republicans. No vote took place in those seats. A more
accurate measure would be closer to 70% Sinn Fein support
on the island of Ireland, a truly phenomenal achievement.

Murphy also made the point that the non-appearance in the
historical narrative of the role of the ultra repressive
ROIA and of its predecessor DORA in 1914, “has also
contributed to a flawed analysis” of the causes of the 1916
Easer Rising and of subsequent Irish history.

British Empire and “capitalistic imperialism”

Murphy said that events in Ireland had implications for
Britain’s Empire and the policy of developing an Anglo-
American alliance. Murphy quoted Childers on the post World
War One Paris Peace Conference that resulted in the Treaty
of Versailles, a treaty that sowed the seeds of the Second
World War. Childers wrote: “it has not been difficult to
stifle the voice of Ireland at Paris. Her independence has
no market value, while its repression on the grounds of
military necessity was the best of all precedents for
similar policies elsewhere.” He concluded, “the subjection
of Ireland is international poison contaminating the
politics of the world”.

Murphy said that “Great Britain was free to develop its
empire and its quest for oil in such areas as India,
Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) Afghanistan and Africa. The War
of Irish Independence was fought out in the context of
these and other battles by British forces to make good
their claim to these new zones of imperial expansion”.

In the context of the third anniversary of the present Iraq
war Murphy said it was “sobering to consider that at that
time, the much vaunted Irish-American influence in America
counted for nothing in comparison with the powerful Anglo-
American interests that dominated the corridors of power in
Washington. An interest that still exercises far more sway
than the Irish over American policy today, despite the
generous gift of Shamrock and Shannon Airport to President

Childers said in 1919, “look behind the force that holds
down Ireland and you will recognize, in one of its
unnumerable forms, the ugly face of capitalistic

Lively discussion

A lively discussion took place afterwards, with speakers
asking whether propagandists believe their own propaganda,
if there was anything on the situation in the North at the
time, on the role of the Internet in creating an
alternative view, and observations about how the Irish
Times permits letter writers to question Kevin Myers’ use
of language but not to correct abuse of the facts. Manus
O’Riordan, author of a recent pamphlet on James Connolly,
took up Murphy’s invitation to discuss the problem of
censorship on the Irish Times letters page. Murphy asserted
that he was able to have a letter published recently when
“Madam” was “away”, apparently at a funeral.

Danny Morrison suggested that Kevin Myers “as a human
being” might change his opinion if he took up Morrison’s
invitation to visit West Belfast during the West Belfast
Festival and see for himself. Unfortunately, Myers has
perennially been unable to take up the invitation, on one
occasion, as he informed Morrison, because was unaware that
his wife had simultaneously organized a barbeque in the
Myers back garden.

Brian Murphy was encouraged by many speakers to continue
with his valuable and stimulating research and, as Terence
McSwiney’s grandson put it, to “keep seeking the truth”.

The Origin and Organisation of British Propaganda in
Ireland 1920, by Brian Murphy is available from and .

Related Link:


Tributes To ‘GAA-Mad’ Missionary

By Catherine Morrison

TRIBUTES have been paid to a missionary priest from Co
Armagh who has died aged 84.

Fr Kevin McArdle from Crossmaglen spent nearly 20 years as
a missionary in Nigeria, where he built a church and school
with the help of an architect from Newry.

He also served in Minneapolis and San Francisco in the US
before returning to serve in the parish of Killeeshil in Co

His last position was in Monasterboice in Co Louth before
he retired several years ago to live in Marian House in
Dublin, a home for elderly and retired missionaries.

An avid Gaelic football fan, Fr McArdle was a committed
supporter of Crossmaglen Rangers and his county team.

His nephew, Co Armagh parish priest Fr Martin McArdle, said
his dedication to the Church and his family was matched by
his love of sport.

“He was mad about GAA, was completely absorbed by it,” Fr
Martin said.

“He was also very good to his nieces and nephews. Although
he was away for much of my childhood, he definitely played
a part in my decision to become a priest.”

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at Kimmage Manor Parish
Church in Dublin at 10.30am today.


The Real Hero Of The Great Escape

When Eric Foster, who died at the weekend at the age of
102, found himself in a German prisoner-of-war camp, he not
only escaped but gave birth to a movie legend.

28 March 2006

Had it not been for the Second World War, Eric Foster's
life story would have held little interest for Hollywood's
film-makers. A trained doctor of trichology approaching
early middle age, he spent his days curing the hair loss
and scalp problems of the patients at his London clinic.

With the outbreak of hostilities, like many other single
men, Dr Foster, 36, did the patriotic thing and volunteered
for the Royal Air Force. During the following years, his
life was to be transformed from one of respectable middle-
class anonymity into a thunderous adventure story that was
to provide one of the greatest actors of his generation
with perhaps his most enduring screen role.

Mr Foster, who died at the age of 102 at the weekend, was
the inspiration for Steve McQueen's character, Captain
Virgil Hilts, otherwise known as the Cooler King, in John
Sturges' classic 1963 wartime film The Great Escape. Mr
Foster escaped no less than seven times from German
prisoner-of-war camps. But, although his relentless thirst
for liberty inspired the Hilts character, unlike the
fictional American who was recaptured amid a hail of
bullets as he attempted a motorbike jump to freedom over
the Swiss border, the British airman eschewed two wheels.

He achieved his goal by faking what was referred to then as
"madness". Mr Foster convinced the authorities at Stalag
Luft III, a Luftwaffe-operated camp for downed Allied
aircrews, that he had lost his mind and was transferred
back to Britain. According to his closest friend, Mike
Beresford, with whom he served on Bishop's Cleeve parish
council in Gloucestershire for more than 25 years after the
war, he replicated the symptoms of mental illness by
studying medical textbooks in the Stalag's library.

On his return to Britain, he hit an unexpected problem. "He
was very glad indeed to be back home," said Mr Beresford,
who discovered his friend dead in the bath at his bungalow
home in the Gloucestershire village on Sunday. "But what
really upset him was the reception he received. He was
immediately put in a lunatic asylum because of the
diagnosis - by the German authorities - that he was mad!

"It was then up to him to prove that he was quite sane,
which he did, convincing them he had only done this in
order to escape." On his release, he was promoted to the
rank of squadron-leader.

Mr Foster was a flight-lieutenant with 38 Bomber Squadron
when he was shot down over occupied Europe on 14 June 1940.
He was the only survivor from the eight-strong crew. As he
baled out of the stricken aircraft, his parachute failed to
open properly, and he suffered two broken legs in his fall.
Captured by the Germans, he was taken eastwards to a camp
on the Polish border at Homark.

It was a critical stage in the war. Paris had just fallen
to the Nazis and the British Expeditionary Force had just
completed its ignominious withdrawal from Dunkirk.
Desperate to rejoin the war effort, Flight Lieutenant
Foster staged his first crude escape bid. Despite still
convalescing from the injuries sustained during his
shooting down, he shinned down a fire escape but was soon
recaptured. From there he was transferred to Spangenberg
Castle, an Offizierslager, or officers' prison, east of
Kessel, designated Oflag IXA/H. The castle had been housing
prisoners since 1870 and was soon pressed into war service
by the Nazis.

Despite its fairytale appearance - the medieval fortress
was surrounded by a moat and boasted imposing ramparts and
cobbled courtyards - conditions were harsh. Officers shared
a long dormitory equipped with little more than a long oak
table. They bedded down for the night on mattresses stuffed
with straw.

Spangenberg was used as a staging post for inmates bound
for Colditz, where many of them were shot. This time the
escape effort was more sophisticated. Having managed to
steal a uniform belonging to a member of the Hitler Youth,
Mr Foster managed to bluff his way out of the castle and
even to board a train bound for the Swiss border. There,
his true identity was uncovered and after a dramatic chase,
he was recaptured.

Mr Foster found himself back in the Oflag, this time at
Schubin in Poland. The journey east was notoriously hard.
Prisoners were crowded into railway trucks, with only bread
and water to sustain them on journeys that could last
several days. Dysentery was rife and conditions were
appalling. Many British officers died in Schubin, which
made escape a matter of survival as well as honour. The
former hair specialist now found himself digging tunnels -
a mammoth feat of labour which lasted eight months, only to
end in failure when the complex system of burrowing was
uncovered by German guards.

In 1942, the Germans opened Stalag Luft III to cope with
the escalating number of Allied prisoners of war - a total
of 200,000 were captured in occupied Europe during the
conflict, nearly a fifth of whom died while in captivity.
The Germans were convinced that their new camp would be
escape-proof - especially from tunnelling.

Barracks were raised off the ground and the camp was sited
on bright yellow, sandy subsoil that was easily detected on
the clothes of diggers. In a final deterrent, seismographic
microphones were placed around the perimeter fence to pick
up the sound of any burrowing.

Stalag Luft III was to be the inspiration for The Great
Escape, inmate Paul Brickhill's novel about life as a PoW.
(Eric William's The Wooden Horse detailed another escape
attempt and also spawned a classic film.) By 1943 up to 30
escape attempts had been made - all failures.

In what became known as the Great Escape, British PoWs made
three tunnels - Tom, Dick and Harry - culminating in an
escape hole which came out just short of the forest. After
more than a year of preparation, on a moonless night in
March 1944, 76 men made it through the tunnel. The 77th was
shot as he emerged into the dawn by a German guard. Only
three of the escapees made it to safety, the rest were

Fifty were shot, the remaining 23 - on the orders of
Himmler - were spared and sent to other camps. Mr Foster
was not part of the ill-fated mass escape, concentrating
his efforts on convincing the camp authorities that he was
mentally unfit to be held. He chronicled his exploits in
his autobiography Life Hangs by a Silken Thread, which was
published in 1992. The book, now out of print, also tells
the story of meetings with Churchill, the formation of his
own flying school and the time he built his own plane
inside a church crypt in Chelsea and flew it to Heston,
west London.

Before 1939, the young trichologist had successfully scaled
the Eiger before falling down a crevasse to lay
undiscovered for a day after suffering several broken ribs.
After the war he put his love of the mountains to good use.
Following demobilisation, he met and married his French-
born wife Mignonne in London. The newlyweds moved to the
West Country, establishing a successful travel agency
specialising in alpine holidays.

Mr Foster devoted his life to local politics, becoming
chairman of the Bishop's Cleave parish council - a post he
was to hold at the age of 100, making him the oldest
elected politician in Britain. According to his friend, Mr
Beresford, he regarded his greatest achievements as those
while a councillor. He helped secure a playing field for
the local youth and in 1956 secured the first village hall,
a tithe barn being sold off by the Church.

In later years the couple, who had no children, moved to
Almeria in Spain but Mignonne died of food poisoning in
1983. Mr Foster was devastated by her death and eventually
returned to Britain in 1998, at the age of 95, driving
himself all the way in his car. He returned to local
politics, once again becoming parish chairman. He became
ill late last year and was in and out of hospital after
collapsing at his home in November.

The RAF yesterday paid tribute to their late hero. "We are
deeply saddened by the loss of one of the many great RAF
heroes who fought bravely against Nazi tyranny," said a
spokesman. A Royal Air Force ensign, complete with the
names of the crewmates who died when his plane was shot
down in 1940, will be placed on his coffin at his funeral.

Until his death, he retained his sense of mischief. Mr
Beresford recalls how he used his wartime ruse to tease
people. "He was given a certificate by the War Office
confirming he was not insane. He used to tell anyone who
argued with him, 'I can prove I'm not mad - can you?'"

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